Month: May, 2016

Dads and Daughters

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Daughters are precious to dads. Dads love and idealize their daughters, and it is not uncommon to find moms taking a firmer line on their daughters than dads.

I recently came across a scary question about raising daughters that made me think long and hard. That is: “Now that your daughters are grown, how would you raise them differently if you can do over?”

It is scary because it is immediately an admission of short-coming. And as a father, I desperately want to be as perfect as it is humanly possible. I know I cannot be perfect, but I want my imperfections to be so insignificant as to be unnoticeable. But truth be told, I am probably the last person in the family to notice my own short-comings! So any admission on my part would come as no revelation to anyone but me.

And when I start thinking about the question, I know I have more than one point to say about how I could have done better.

I have two daughters and a son. One value I have is to love my children equally, and not play favorites. It is apparent that I relate to my son differently from my daughters simply because his interests are different. But I wish I had related to my two daughters differently. I had noticed their differences, but I treated both of them in more-or-less the same way. I was relating to them as though there is a median between them, when in reality, I would have done much better relating to them as individuals. I allowed one value (equal treatment) to dominate when equal value does not necessarily translate into same treatment in many areas. I suppose seeking a mean or a median between my daughters would have been fine if they are both quite similar. But they are poles apart.

One daughter loves to elaborate and another loves to abbreviate. Just on this alone, I notice my failure to engage them differently. If I could do over, I will spend more them with each daughter, with one, to listen more and encourage towards lucid brevity; and with the other, to solicit more engagement. Whether loquacious or taciturn, I wish I had spent more time listening to them, because both silence and words can hide pain.

It is difficult to apportion airtime when the family is together. But my efforts were somewhat limited to family time and not enough individual time.

I had allowed the fact that they are both daughters to flatten out the other reality that they are very different individuals with quite contrasting aptitude, personality, etc. I was dispensing parenting as a broad-spectrum antibiotic capable of curing all ills rather than giving careful regard to each child’s different need. The result is that what they hold in common would be addressed, but what they hold in distinction would be ignored. And they had significant distinctiveness.

There is a word in current use, which describes my own short-fall. It is the need to be intentional. Intentional parenting for my daughters, one-on-one time for each of them would be what I would do differently.

My two daughter are born 14 months apart from each other. They rarely not-share what could be shared. Even as babies, we put them in the same stroller and people thought they were twins. They have always shared a room, sat beside each other at table, etc.

I do not regret raising them together. It was the only practicable thing to do, and it was fun for them, and for us. But I regret not spending intentional time with each of them. And I don’t have the excuse that I have too many children to be able to spend time with all of them. So, answering the question how I would parent my daughters differently has made me realize I still do not spent enough individual time with each of them. Perhaps it is time my regret should be turned into action.

As a child, I suggest you ought to create intentional time with your parents. You do not need to wait for your parents to create that time. They will be more than happy if you say you want to spend time with them to chat with them. As a parent, I suggest you can do better than I, if you will spend time with each child as an individual. And together, we can encourage each other to listen more than we talk—even in parenting.

Pastor Peter Eng

Fulfilled Daughters

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The Lord Needs It

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What Jesus Teaches Us About Focus

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“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51).

This seemingly obscure line is the watershed in Luke’s Gospel concerning Jesus. There came a time when Jesus set out resolutely towards Jerusalem. From this point in the narrative to his resurrection and ascension, everything is depicted as a journey to Jerusalem.

“… because he was heading for Jerusalem” (9:53)

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way …” (10:38)

“… as he made his way to Jerusalem.” (13:22)

“In any case, I must press on … Jerusalem (13:33)

“Now on his way to Jerusalem …” (17:11)

“We are going up to Jerusalem …” (18:31)

“…because he was near Jerusalem …” (19:11)

“… he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” (19:28)

“As he approached Jerusalem …” (19:41)

Jerusalem will be the epicenter of Jesus’ mission. Luke tells us “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” He will not be distracted. The Jesus before the Jerusalem journey is a little different from the Jesus on the Jerusalem journey. The clarity and focus on Jerusalem does not allow for any distraction.

The distraction of alternate locations

The immediate response to this Jerusalem journey is rejection. He sends disciples ahead to a Samaritan village and the people reject him. Why? “The people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.” (9:53). They would be very happy if Jesus tells them the place of fulfillment is in Samaria. They reject Jesus on account of his destination being Jerusalem, but Jesus remains steadfast.

I am not saying this implying any criticism on you. We had unanimous agreement to move to where we can serve the Lord even better. Our Jerusalem is where we can engage even more in the mission of Jesus our Lord. We are not fixated on one property/location, but we are fixed on the mission that Jesus gave us. We can rightly rejoice in our unanimous agreement on the mission. What I am saying is that we need to be aware of the distraction of alternatives. Once we have settled on a mission, we should focus on it.

The distraction of good

Jesus says to one, “‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ You sure you want to follow me?” Another man says to Jesus he needs to bury his father first before following Jesus, but Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” Another says, “First let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replies, “No one who puts his hands on the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62).

Any way you want to cut it, Jesus appears unreasonably demanding. He does not make the same type of demands elsewhere, and people try to explain away why he is so demanding, but forget the occasion. Jesus is heading for Jerusalem. It is now or never. Whereas at other times, we read of God’s patience with us, here we see Jesus’s focus on Jerusalem.

We will have the distraction of personal issues. We need to learn from Jesus, that when there is a Jerusalem to be seized, we must set aside many personal concerns that may be legitimate at other times. We see this regularly in life. Sitting down with family and friends for a meal or a drink and a leisurely chat is a wonderful blessing. But that is not the right attention when someone is dying and needs our immediate attention.

There is nothing wrong with having a place to lay your head. There is nothing wrong with burying the dead. There is nothing wrong with saying goodbye to our family. But there is an urgency of Jerusalem in the life of Jesus that will not wait for these good things.

The greatest enemy of great is good. It is the good things that keep us from the great thing. And there can come a time in life when we must reject the good to seize the great. This is a time to deny ourselves the blessings of good to seize the great. The Lord’s work requires haste, and the time has come for us to hasten to obey him.

The distraction of rejection

Another passage that puzzles Christians is when Jesus tells his disciples “…when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you.’” (Luke 10:10-12). This is followed by curses on Chorazin and Bethsaida (Luke 10:13-15). Yet in most other places, we see God’s incredible patience.

Jesus’s instruction to his disciples to reject those who reject him, and his curse on the two towns should be understood in light of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. There is no more time. The time for judgment is at hand. (The Jewish nation will be conquered and Jerusalem will be destroyed in AD 70). Jesus faces rejection in certain towns, but they will not detain him or his disciples. He no longer pauses for them. They need to repent now! Tomorrow is too late.

Jesus calls for disciples up to a point. When that point is reached. There is a final call, but he will not be detained by their rejection. “God is not willing that any should perish” and the return of Jesus is not immediate because he is waiting for the repentance of those who do not yet know Jesus. But there will come a time when he returns and at that time, there is no more waiting.

Brethren, we have heeded God’s call. We have become conscious of the end of our lease here. We have grown while we are here. We see we can obey Jesus even better if we reposition ourselves. Our community in agreement is the amazing work of the Holy Spirit to unite our hearts.

At the same time, we must not be surprised if we face rejection. I am confident even if some reject in their hearts, they will eventually see the blessing. We just need to remind ourselves that a rejection or two, should it come, must not distract us from the opportunity to obey Jesus more fully in his Great Commission to us.

Our Jerusalem

Our Jerusalem is to serve Jesus our Lord even better. To extend our ministry from worship to children, youth, and singles; to extend our reach to the community around us. Our Jerusalem is to do the best with the resources God has provided us. And when we put this mix together, we see the opportunity open up for us in Yishun.

There is a greater blessing waiting for us. We were blessed with Sophia, blessed with our current location, and there is a Jerusalem from which we will receive greater blessing – if we will stay focused and not be distracted.

The time for action is upon us. Action, not distraction. Focus, not fuzziness. Faith, not fear.

Pastor Peter Eng

The Tale of Two Houses

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David ben Jesse sat before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting (1 Chronicles 17:16). No different from how he sat at the feet of Jesse his father when he was a child. Today, David is a king secure in his reign. But he continues to come to God as a child. A child who knows he is loved. He does not forget the LORD is his Father.

David wants to build a house for the LORD. David looks at his own house made of fine cedar wood. But the ark of the covenant, representing the presence of the LORD, resides in a tent. “If my house can be so nice, isn’t it a disgrace that I have done nothing for the ark of the LORD? It is the LORD’S presence that has brought me thus far. It is high time I build something for the LORD.”

David consults Nathan the prophet. Nathan immediately recognizes this is a good thing. David has taken the initiative to build a temple to house the presence of the Lord. “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” Nathan replies. But that same night, the Lord tells Nathan he does not want David to build a house for him. Instead, his son Solomon would be the one who builds that house.

This is not a rejection of David. He has shed too much blood and if he were to build the house of the Lord, it will be forever associated with his bloodshed (1 Chronicles 22:8). All life is sacred, even the life of God’s enemies. Here we catch a glimpse of God’s heart even for those who hate God and want to thwart his will.

The Lord then sends Nathan to David with a message. First David must get this understanding of God right. The Lord does not live in a house. His presence on earth, though represented by the ark of the covenant, is not limited by it. Instead his presence is with his people. “I have moved from one tent site to another.” Indeed the Lord says, “I have moved with all the Israelites” through the wilderness from Egypt to this land. (17:5,6). So the first point that David and all Israel must learn is that the Lord is not limited by location. And this lesson will eventually resurface when Israel was sent into exile. The Lord’s presence is no less when the physical house of the Lord is destroyed.

The second thing David learns is God’s goodness to him. “David, you love me and want to give me a house. Do you know how much I have loved you and continues to love you?” That is what God is saying in effect. “You were a shepherd boy when I took you from the fields. You had no prospect of greatness, but I appointed you ruler over my people Israel. You live securely and in prosperity because I have cut off all your enemies. Your name is great now. And my people have a place to live securely and well.” What an amazing God! He blesses David not only with good, but with the blessing of being able to bless others.

But God is not done with his goodness to David. He tells David,

“One day, you will die. You will then have no ability to influence your family in any way.” (David has made a right royal mess of raising his children, but God will bless in spite of the mess.) “One of your sons will be established and he will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.” And, “I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever”(17:11-14).

“You want to build a house for me? I will build a house for you, a house that you have no control over, and a house that will be infinitely greater than any you can imagine.”

David wants to build a house for the Lord—a physical house, a temple. He wants to do it to thank God for his goodness. But God tells David He will build a house for him—a household. David has already built his own physical house. But David has poor parenting skills and his sons have died. The biggest blot in David’s life is his dysfunctional family. God takes that up with David.

David’s son, Solomon, who would build the temple will eventually die like all men. Yet God says to David, “I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever” (17:14). God has just declared his forever kingdom and his forever king who will come from the line of David. It is from David’s line that the Messiah will come. It is from David’s line that God will establish his forever kingdom.

God allows David to assemble material for the building of the temple. David needs that. He needs to do something tangible for the Lord. And David kept within his boundaries.

There are times when God sets a boundary on what we can do for him. But what he does for us is without measure – like David.

Peter, disciple of Jesus asks him quite honestly, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Peter makes sacrifices and wonders what that means to God.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:27-29).

David’s heart, your heart

Last Sunday was amazing. I presented you a vision of what we can do to better fulfill the Great Commission Christ gives us that we go make disciples. Yishun has opened up. Yishun had never crossed my mind. Yet it becomes such a wonderful fit for us when this opportunity opened up. And your response is what amazes me. I had two concerns: (1) we don’t want to lose people in the move; (2) we don’t have the funds.

The Lord answered my concerns through you. I was too afraid to ask who wants to go and who wants to stay, but when Pastor Tan asked that scary question, you all wanted to go. Your decision is clearly without personal gain. You have to travel farther to a place that may not be as nice as our current premises. But your vision is set on serving Jesus with greater effectiveness.

We will note for posterity that no one asked for donations or loans, but you all came forward spontaneously with pledges for interest free loans. And before the day was out, you pledged 20% of what we need. Your pledges came in fast and unsolicited. I wish more people were there to witness the moving of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Do you know of another time when the congregation jumps in with pledges without being ask? I don’t.

You have David’s heart to build a house for the Lord. And in this case, it will happen, God willing. But I want you to see what God says he will do for David. God will give David what David cannot get on his own. God has already given David a house. All of us already have our homes. We want to contribute to God’s house like David wanting to build God’s house. But God tells us what he has for us is far more than we can imagine.

Perhaps David indulges in imagination of what this eternal kingdom will look like, and what this eternal king will be like. He will never imagine that the line of David will be Jesus, and the kingdom will be over lands he has never even heard of.

Imagine what great blessing for all of you who purposed in your heart to build God’s house. David’s generosity can never match the Lord’s goodness. No wonder David sits before his Father as a child truly loved.

Pastor Peter Eng

Unless the Lord Builds

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Beautiful Daughters

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Purpose of Creation

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Why Poor Appetite?

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One sure sign you are not well is when your appetite is not good. Look at the strong young people who eat a ton and stay fit. They are active, they work hard, and they are healthy. Look at the people in hospitals. Many nibble on their food without appetite. They are not picky eaters, they are just unable to eat. And their loved ones know it. I see people taking great pains to encourage the sick to eat more, eat better. And as they regain their strength, they keep doing the things that help them recover. And with recovery, the appetite improves.

This is also true of our spiritual appetite. If we nibble at the Word of God, we have no desire to read God’s Word, or to pray to him, these are sure signs that we are not in good spiritual health. We may be spiritually alive in Christ, but we may not be in a healthy state.

If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and you have that unexplainable desire to draw closer to God, you are on the right track. You may feel like the patient in hospital who has just awaken from a coma. You are ready to have the feeding tube removed and ready to eat. But more likely than not, you will only manage a nibble. That’s ok! That’s good. That’s the place to start.

I once contracted gastroenteritis, a viral infection of the digestive system, and I could not keep any fluid in. If I drank, it would come back up or pass right through. I was fast becoming dehydrated. When I went to see the doc, he had no medicine for me. Instead, he asked me to do the simplest thing. I was to take a tablespoon of Gatorade (isotonic sports drink) every 10 minutes. After my body got used to this, I could take more. This simple treatment helped my body receive drink once more, and set me to the path of recovery. Of course, I could not stop at these tablespoons of Gatorade as though that was all there was to my recovery. It was a good start, it was a right start, but it was a start, not the end.

The normal child craves milk. Similarly, the healthy spiritual child wants to drink spiritual milk. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,” (1 Peter 2:2).
While milk for the infant and nibbling for the sick are good things, we ought also to ask if we should be progressing to solid food. If we do not make the progress, then the milk is no longer a good thing. Some Christians were told, “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” (Hebrews 5:11-12).

Some of us can only manage a nibble. Some others need to go beyond the nibble. A person who wants to recover from an illness may nibble at this food, but the goal is to become healthy with a matching appetite.

If you are stuck on your spiritual growth, the first thing you need to ask is whether it is due to your limited feeding. If you are not consuming enough spiritual calories, you cannot have great spiritual exertions, spiritual success, or experience spiritual struggle and victory. Spiritual feeding and spiritual growth are directly related. Solid spiritual food is your deep daily reading of God’s word. This will feed your soul even more than the Sunday sermon. This will energize you to exert yourself for God, and grow strong.

There are so many Bible reading programs using so many different Bible versions in our smart phone. We are spoilt for choice! “Bible” or “You Version” Holy Bible(it’s the same thing) has more options than you can use! They have reading programs according to themes, reminders, Christian movies, etc. The danger is you want to check so many out that you don’t use any. So just pick one and start. The icon at right is the “Bible” phone app recommended here.

Of course, use a hard copy Bible or any medium you want. So long as you read the Bible, you are feeding and growing.

Pastor Peter Eng