Just a few days ago, the world paused to remember the tragic bombing of the twin towers in New York in 2001. Ten years have gone by and for some, for many, it would seem just like yesterday. For those who lost their loved ones that day, I wonder if the pain would ever go away? For sure, the images of the towers shrouded in clouds of smoke have been deeply etched in our minds. I remember that night as I came home and stepped through the door. Like everyone else around the world, my wife, Serene, was watching the news. I saw the now-familiar clip of the plane ramming into the tower and wondered which blockbuster movie it belonged to. Even now, I can recall the horror I felt in my heart when I realised it was all being played out in real-life!
In the past two months, the messages I had been preaching have caused me to ponder the place of trials and challenges in our lives all over again. Sure, it’s always nice to talk about blessings and breakthroughs. But the truth is, we all still face tough times. I really appreciated the Lord’s leading to preach “Against All Odds”, a 4-part series that draws from the life of biblical Joseph. It made me think a lot more to understand more deeply the significance of suffering. At the same time, I was scheduled to teach about patience, or longsuffering, as an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit. And so, I taught about the need for perseverance, for endurance, for forbearance and the tenacity to hold on, regardless. Interestingly, Part 2 of “i.m.patient” coincided with 9/11.
You can watch or listen to “Against All Odds” and “i.m.patient” at Covenant Vision Media Centre. If you’d like to purchase a set of the CDs, please contact Covenant Vision Centre at 6391 0027 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As if to keep me in proper perspective, I found myself trudging through situations that were extremely trying. I know that what I go through is nothing compared to Joseph, and other biblical characters, but it sure sapped me. Through these, I learn how to empathise with others who have way larger problems and challenges. As much as I believe in the victory we have in Jesus Christ, I cannot ignore the fact that everyone needs to go through their own journey, and my part is to love them and to walk with them. That led me to write the blogpost “Trials Keep Me Real and Humble” on 4 Aug. A couple of weeks later, on 21 Aug, I wrote about “The Other Glory School”, scripturally exploring the relationship between trials, sufferings and the glory of God.
Amidst all these, the Lord put a song in my heart one afternoon when I was just worshipping Him on my own. The development of this song kept me awake on quite a few nights as the melody and lyrics played through my mind. I finally had a chance to share “Holding On” with our congregation at Covenant Vision Christian Church on 9/11. I’m so thankful it encouraged more than a few people. Allow me to share the chorus with you …
I am holding on, I’ll cling; I am never letting go
I will worship and I’ll sing; deep inside me this I know
The flowers will fade, the world pass away
Your Word, Your Truth, Your Love remains,
I am holding on to you, Jesus, right to the very end.
Don’t ask me why the sudden focus and pre-occupation with sufferings and trials. Maybe it’s all a part of my turning 47 in August and having a more sober outlook of life – haha! But seriously, I believe it is an important issue for us to come to terms with, biblically, so that we can be aptly positioned for what is to come in the days ahead.
Yet, however challenging life may be, I praise and thank God for the joy that comes from serving Him and His people. Covenant Vision Christian Church is growing both in numbers and in spiritual maturity. We just celebrated the completion of “Experiencing God” and it was so exciting to see the seven Discipleship Groups come together in fellowship and unity. Covenant Vision School of Ministry is also making good progress. Please pray for the 51 of us, in six ministry teams, who will be ministering in Batam this weekend (17-18 Sept). Also, consider coming to our CVSOM Open House on 20 Sept or 27 Sept, Tuesday, 7:30pm if you’d like to learn more about the Certificate in Practical Christian Ministry (applications now open for Jan 2011 Intake).
Outside of Covenant Vision, I had a great time preaching “The Walk of the Wise” at Tabernacle of Christ on 28 Aug. On 7 Sept, I shared “Big Lessons from Little Ones” from my journey as a father of seven at The Boys’ Brigade’s Stedfast Association Fellowship Nite. This year, I have been invited again to speak at the Young Adults Conference 11-12 Nov in Davao City, Philippines. I covet your prayers for me and the team as we start to plan and prepare for this trip in November.
My dear friends, thank you for being a part of my life and ministry. Each time I write this newsletter, I am reminded of your love and support shown to me and my family. Serene and I are deeply appreciative of your prayers and all you have done for us. Through each of you, we see the faithfulness of God. It is also our prayer that our children discover and experience the same in their lives for themselves. As parents, we can only teach and share, but they each must have a faith of their own.
I hope that this update comes as a blessing to you. Each time I send out a newsletter, I am encouraged to receive emails expressing thanks and gratitude for the timely reminders that help realign lives with godly perspectives. It is for this very reason that I make every effort to be consistent and regular in getting these little points out to all of you. May you continue to stand strong and tall for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever challenges life may throw at you, remember to hold on to Him and never let go. Allow me to leave you with the words that inspired the song “Holding On” …
“The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8
In His love and for His glory!