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Calling All Families, Just As We AreWhat comes to mind when you hear the word “family”?

The same word could trigger varying responses: a warm, comforting sense of love; a deep, aching hurt or confusion; a sharp, bitter anger or resentment; or a cold, empty apathy and ambivalence. These mixed emotions towards family are inescapable – each of us may have been hurt ourselves or is likely to know at least one person who has had negative experiences with their family, and some seemingly with no end in sight. Such experiences are real and rife, not only as a modern malaise, but indeed for many persons whose family lives were recorded in the Bible. It appears that such are inherent to our condition of living in this broken world.

Yet, the accounts of imperfect families in the Bible offer great hope for us – just as God used them despite their brokenness to accomplish His perfect purposes, He can use us in whatever family situation we find ourselves in. For He does call us – as individuals, as family units, and as a family in Christ – to come to Him just as we are, ‘warts and all’, and promises His grace that works in us to sanctify us for His glory.

Come hear from three esteemed speakers at the upcoming Aldersgate SG 2018, who will draw their sharing both from authentic experiences of family life (in contemporary times and as historically recorded in the Bible), and from their understanding of God’s call for families. Join in the conversation. Pose your questions during the panel discussion, or ‘post’ them on our colourful ‘Thought Wall’.

Come join our Methodist family in a visible sign of unity at the Aldersgate Sunday Celebration, as we re-commit ourselves to the Lord together through the Aldersgate SG Prayer of Commitment. Visit the booths of various Methodist agencies and learn how they can resource you and your churches’ ministries. Come “just as you are” to Aldersgate SG 2018, and answer God’s call!

 

Grace Toh –
is the Editor of Methodist Message and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

 

Source: Methodist Message (Apr 2018)

Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup

In the early days of my pastoral ministry, I was drawn to books, sermons, and meetings which had a revival theme.

Then it dawned upon me one day that pastors can be so enchanted with stirring this movement in their churches, without realising that it could actually be an indictment of their own ministry.

If as a pastor, I say that my church needs revival, is that not an acknowledgment that my church is dying, if not already dead, spiritually speaking? And whose responsibility is it that it turns out that way? Mine? Or am I shifting the blame to my predecessors and the preceding generation of leaders?

Strictly speaking, ‘revival’ refers to bringing (eternal) life to people. Paul wrote: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:1-6)

So before we jump on the bandwagon, we need to check ourselves - when we make the rallying call for revival, are we also acknowledging our failure at discipleship? Authentic disciples are people truly alive. They do not need revival. When they sense their faith faltering, like David, they know how to “strengthen themselves in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6). They are the very agents God uses to bring about revival.

Where we have ‘failed’ at discipleship in one important aspect is in doing it mostly in terms of programmes, of which there are plentiful.

We end up trying to complete a curriculum by passing on information, without any transmission of the virtues of Christ and formation of His character in those participating in the programmes. For this transmission and formation to be effective in discipleship, it demands that we focus more on relationships where we are honest, transparent, and teachable with one another.

Effective discipleship takes place either in a one-to-one setting or in the community as a whole. When one’s faith begins to flag, a close brother or sister, or others in that community, must actively reach out to encourage and edify.

Yet a faith that is solely dependent on others in community to invigorate it runs the risk of falling into an unhealthy dependency. One’s faith is ultimately one’s own personal responsibility.

Discipleship also takes place in the family - the basic unit upon which communities are built.

The one-to-one aspect is found between parent and child. Where we have failed here is in parents abdicating their roles as ‘disciplers’, and outsourcing it to pastors, church staff, and other persons interested in being spiritual fathers and mothers in this aspect of the children’s lives.

As a result of this outsourcing, the subsequent generation of Christians has no role model on how parents should disciple their children. The parental art of discipling children is lost, compounding the church’s weak efforts at discipleship.

Pursuing revival on its own is not the panacea for a faith in need of awakening, for when a revival does come, we still have to ask the question, “Then what?”

We still have to disciple the revived. It is when we have lost the art of discipleship that we look for the quick fix of a revival.

Discipleship has a beginning but no end while we are on earth, as it is something we work on through our lives. When we pay attention to it, our faith remains alive. We are then equipped and empowered to carry on the task of reaching those who really need revival with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup –
is the former Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore between 2012 and 2016. He is currently a Pastor at Paya Lebar Methodist Church. Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee will be one of the speakers at the Aldersgate SG 2018 where he will share on God’s expectations on families.

 

Source: Methodist Message (Apr 2018)

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Aldersgate SG 2018 will see an active social advocate step up to share an intimate glimpse into her “secret weapons” of coping as a “working mother in a busy world”.

Ms Denise Phua is no stranger to many Singaporeans, being a Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency, and Mayor, Central Singapore District. But she is best known for her advocacy and volunteerism, particularly in the area of special needs.

Ms Phua supervises two charities – Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) and Autism Association (Singapore), and two special schools – Pathlight School (which she co-founded) and Eden School. She helped start The Purple Parade, an annual parade to support inclusion and showcase abilities of persons with special needs; and The Purple Symphony, an inclusive orchestra.

Prior to her current portfolio, she acquired more than 20 years of local and overseas corporate management experience with Hewlett-Packard and the Wuthelam Group as well as founded the Centre for Effective Leadership (Asia). She gave up her corporate career in 2005 to become a full-time special needs volunteer, before being approached to join politics in 2006.

Methodist Message asked Ms Phua to give us a hint of what she will be sharing as one of three keynote speakers at the Aldersgate Lecture and Panel Discussion on 24 May 2018.

Ms Denise Phua: “As a parent of a special-needs son, wife, parliamentarian, and disability advocate, I learnt very early on that it is grossly insufficient to rely on sheer human grit and strength to juggle my different roles. The open secret to my ability to survive – and sometimes thrive – in what I do is my relationship with God.”

“At the Aldersgate Lecture, I will be sharing the highlights of my faith journey, from my corporate days to serving in the special-needs sector, and my initially reluctant but eventual move to politics. I will also share some practical tips from my toolkit of life that I have assembled, especially through the challenges and moments of doubts I confronted.”

“The Lord has wonderfully made every one of us, and each of us is precious in the sight of God, regardless of our ability, form, and background. He knows exactly which ‘button’ to push, to fulfil the potential He has granted to each of us.”

“I believe God wants us not only to survive or succeed in this world – He wants us to be significant in His Kingdom, in whatever role we might play in life.”

“See you at Aldersgate SG 2018!”

 

20 May 2018 | 5.00 P.M.

Aldersgate Sunday Celebration

Speaker: Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup

24 May 2018 | 7.45 P.M.

Aldersgate Lecture & Panel Discussion

Speaker: Bishop Emeritus Dr Wee Boon Hup ∙ Ms Denise Phua ∙ Mr Jason Wong

 

Source: Methodist Message (Mar 2018)

 

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Earthly fathers affect our views of God the Father.

Some of us may have watched the movie The Case for Christ, which is based on the true story of how investigative journalist Lee Strobel took on the challenge of examining the historical evidence surrounding Jesus, and how he changed from being a hardened skeptic to becoming a Christian. The reason it took him so long to accept that there is a God, despite the overwhelming evidence he encountered, was his own difficult relationship with his father.

In Dr Paul Vitz’s book, Faith of the Fatherless, he wrote that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading atheists, he found that a large majority of them had fathers who were present but weak, present but abusive, or absent. The author also examined the lives of prominent theists, and discovered that these theists had good relationships with their fathers.

In John 14:9, Jesus said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (NIV) Do our children see God when they look at us? Do we speak to them the way God would speak to them, or do we shout and ask them to go away?

Do we love them the way God loves them, unconditionally and with longsuffering, or do we love them only when they do something right in our eyes, or match our expectations for them? Do we comfort them when they face failures in life the way God would comfort them, or we are too absorbed in our own pain to even notice theirs?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4a, NIV)

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8, NIV)

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15, NIV)

Since leaving full-time work in 2013, I have been able to find time to mentor young men and fathers. It is through this that I learned the importance of spiritual fathering and one-to-one mentoring. All of us should ideally have three fathers – Abba Father, our earthly father, and one or more spiritual fathers.

My chief goal in mentoring is to represent God the Father to my mentees. For those whose fathers are absent or abusive, I help them see and understand that God does not love in the flawed way that their earthly fathers do. God is love. God cannot not love. Just like ice is cold; ice cannot be not cold.

Why are their fathers not able to love the way God does? If their fathers had loved them the way God the Father does, then they would not have been so broken and struggling with confidence, identity (including sexual identity), and self-esteem issues throughout their lives.

My mentees come from different churches. Why do they look for me? Why aren’t they able to find a spiritual father in their own church to mentor them? Why aren’t older men rising up to be spiritual fathers to the fatherless in their midst? Does the church even know who are fatherless in their midst?

There are many men in our churches. But where are the fathers? Where is God in human skin?

“Even if you had ten thousand guardians (instructors/teachers) in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I become your father through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15, NIV)

Fathers are not perfect. No one is perfect. Our fathers cannot give us what they have not received from their own fathers.

When Jesus was on the cross, He said, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34, NIV) We, too, need to forgive our earthly fathers for not fathering the way they should, and they, in turn, need to forgive their own fathers.

Now that we know how important fathers are, let us father (as earthly fathers and spiritual fathers) like our heavenly Father, so that we can be like God in human skin.

 

 

Jason Wong –
is Chairman of Focus on the Family (Singapore) and also of Elijah7000, a Christian movement to turn hearts of all fathers to their children. He will be one of three speakers at this year’s Aldersgate Lecture. See P8 of this issue for early details of Aldersgate SG 2018, and look out for more details in upcoming Methodist Message issues!

 

Source: Methodist Message (Feb 2018)