The Miracle – A Baby!

On the subject of healing at TRAC Healing Service, allow me to share a testimony. At the March 2018 TRAC Healing Service held at Christ Methodist Church, our guest speaker was Pastor Jeff Yuen. He preached an anointed message and the ministry that night was fantastic. During prayer time, the whole TRAC Healing Ministry team of pastors and prayer ministers was mobilised to pray with many people coming forward for prayer. Near the end, Della a two month old Christian brought her friend Joannah, a non-believer at that time, forward for prayer. (Both Della and Joannah were there to support their other good friend Sandra – also a two-month old believer who had cancer and was there for prayer ministry. She’s been very well since. That’s another healing testimony!) Della said Joannah had been trying to have a baby for a couple of years and was unsuccessful despite 3 IVFs, 3 IUIs and TCM treatments. She was even told that she will probably never conceive. I started to pray for Joannah. After I finished my initial prayer, I paused for a moment and the Lord gave me a word of knowledge, and I said to Joannah, “I believe the Lord had just told me that you’ll have a child by April next year (2019)”. We prayed again and this time thanking the Lord for His word and receiving it. A couple of weeks after that, Joannah received Christ as her Lord and Savior. In May 2018, her gynaecologist confirmed that she was pregnant, and the baby will be due in Dec! On 8 Dec 2018, Harrison George Hitch was born! God can do amazing things when we come humbly before Him to seek Him and His involvement in our lives!

(Further note: Karen heard Joannah’s testimony when I shared it at BRMC in Sep last year. She had 4 unsuccessful IVFs and was going for her 5th attempt in Oct. Marcel and Karen came up for prayer at the end of the service. It was confirmed the following month in Nov she was going to have a baby girl in Jun 2019, and she did!! Karissa was gladly welcome into the family! There is another couple I had the opportunity to pray for in Feb this year and we are still waiting on the Lord for a miracle – do pray for Kevin and Katy.)

If you’re reading this and faith is rising within you, and if you’ve been praying to be pregnant, don’t give up praying and seeking the Lord for a child – keep pressing in and may the Lord grant you the desires of your heart!

Next TRAC Healing Service is on Wed 3 July, 8pm at Pentecost Methodist Church.

What Does Christian Fellowship Look Like In Your Church?

What does Christian fellowship look like in your church? There should be several key stages. Level 1: Light chat about everything under the sun, areas of interest (food, travel, pop culture, economy, etc.), humour, etc. Level 2: Sharing of personal concerns, encouraging one another in the Word and praying for each other. Level 3: Intentionally mentoring one another, enquire of each other’s spiritual journey, teaching one another, training each other and even correcting one another with love and grace. Spur each other on towards love and good works.

Ideally, we should move from level 1 to 3. Being stuck at level 1 means your interaction with one another is quite superficial. If you’re at level 2, that’s really good and you’re really getting to know each other and you’re supporting one another. But don’t stop there, move to level 3 and intentionally make disciples of each other, love each other enough to shoot straight with each other, know each other’s hearts well enough to be willing to listen with humility and learn from one another. If you work at it intentionally, your group should be at level 3 within a year or two. Which level is your church or cell group fellowship at?

Heb.10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Corporate Worship As We Know It Today Was Not an Emphasis in the Early Church

There is little reference in the New Testament on large corporate worship with a team of gifted musicians and singers. While such corporate worship is not a bad thing and there are some references to it in the Old Testament, and while it doesn’t mean just because it is not commonly found in the New Testament that we can’t do it, what it does mean is such corporate worship is not a priority with the early church, thus it should not be our priority today too. And when we try to look for teaching on how to lead worship better, we find nothing much on it in the New Testament too. There are teachings on the attitude and the posture of a true worshipper and those are references not about how to sing better but how to live better as a 24/7 worshipper. What we do find in the New Testament are believers boldly and courageously proclaiming the gospel from Jerusalem outwards into other cities. What we do find are teachings, commands and instructions on how to live as true believers – how to have true Christian fellowship with fellow believers, how to live holy lives, how to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to make disciples. Singing is really a small thing. Read the Bible for yourself and you’ll see. Young people, some 15-20 years ago, had asked me, “Pastor, can we have an extended worship event with no prepared sermon?” My reply was, “We should always have the Word preached, it’s part of our worship.” Since then, I’ve seen many other people organizing extended worship events and the main focus is always the singing or worship as they would call it. On further reflection, I’m thinking hey, I haven’t come across many people who would approach their pastors about having an extended preaching or teaching the Word event, nor an extended prayer event (that gives high emphasis on prayer and intercession instead of singing, not that singing cannot be part of prayer – I’m thinking about the emphasis), or an extended evangelism or missions night in church (maybe 3 or 4 times a year). I believe that most of the resources in church should be directed towards proclamation of the gospel and making disciples who will go on to make other disciples. If we do not intentionally check ourselves and we end up unwittingly making worship (singing) a big deal in church, all we will have is a congregation (small or big) of people who enjoy the singing experience, and the church will not be effective in winning souls and making disciples because something else has taken priority, and there will only be mediocre church growth in the long run. I’m not suggesting that we scrap the kind of worship we have in church today. But we really need to make what is main and plain in the early church main and plain in the church today as well.

(Note: I’m speaking as one who had been involved in worship leading and in the worship ministry for more than 30 years, and the kind of worship I am more inclined towards, to this day, is Spirit-led, spontaneous and prophetic worship. I’ve been a worship director and also a worship pastor before and I value the corporate worship experience as one that can be truly God-encountering and revelatory. Yet, I believe with all my heart that worship as we know it today is not an emphasis with the early church and I believe it shouldn’t be for us too.)

2Tim.2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

More About the Fear of the Lord

Going a little further about the fear of the Lord. While “fear” in the OT and NT primarily means “fear, terror, dread” (as mentioned in my post a couple of days ago), it is not a fear that cripples our relationship with God! In fact, it should strengthen our walk with God who is also our Friend! I spoke to a lady some 30 years ago who was struggling with her faith and relationship with God. She had been attending an AG church for some years and had a healthy walk with the Lord. One day, she met people from a new church then and was invited to their Bible studies. She was taught about the fear of the Lord in a way that caused her to be so scared of God that she stopped praying altogether! She no longer dared to approach her loving Heavenly Father! Over a long phone conversation and with the Lord’s help I was able to “detox” her and help her back to a healthy relationship with the Lord. I don’t know what she was specifically taught at the church Bible study group, but I do believe that when the fear of the Lord is emphasized without an emphasis on the friendship of God, a young believer could end up like that lady I spoke to. Friendship with God without fear of God leads to casual faith. Fear of God without friendship with God leads to crippled faith. Fear of God coupled with friendship with God leads to true faith!

Is the Primary Meaning of the Word “Fear” in the Bible “Reverence”? Absolutely Not!

In minimizing the effect of the phrase, “the fear of the Lord” (Prov.1:7; 9:10), many have said “fear” in the Bible (“yirah” in Hebrew and “phobeo” in Greek) simply means “reverence” (i.e. deep respect). Unfortunately, what they don’t tell you is that it is only partial truth! They also don’t tell you that the Hebrew word “yirah” means fear, exceeding fear and dreadfulness 100% of the time. And its root word “yare” means fear, afraid and dreadful 99% of the time, that means, it is to be understood as reverence only 1% of the time. Likewise, the Greek word “phobeo” in Mt.10:28 and its root word “phobos” are used 87% of the time as fear or terrifying fear. Again, reverence is rarely its meaning.

What does this mean to us then to fear God (which is what Christians are to do)? While God is indeed our friend, comforter, lover of our souls, gracious Father, good good Father, etc., we must not neglect the fact that He is holy, righteous and to be feared! That means on a daily basis that before I consider sinning against God in any way, whether it is not doing what I’m supposed to do (such as obeying God to serve Him and His people, proclaiming the gospel and making disciples) or doing what I’m not supposed to do (such as indulging in sinful desires, material things and all kinds of worldliness), I must not only tell myself not to sin because He loves me and I love Him, but ALSO to tell myself I must not sin against God because He is to be feared! As Jesus said in Mt.10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Yes, we should fear deliberate continuous sinning that leads to eternal death (Heb.10:26,27) – and that is not a bad motivation not to sin, really. (This is not unlike our fear of fines, penalties and jail-time for committing crimes.) As Christians, we must not only love God but fear Him too. And as the author of Prov.1 wisely said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Prov.1:7. Additional note: With the many worship songs written by so many world-class Christian songwriters today, when was the last time you heard or sang a new song about the fear of the Lord?

To add a story to highlight what fear of the Lord meant to a mentor of mine (Sister Esther) back in the 80s. We were at a church prayer meeting praying for an important outreach event. At the end of the meeting, someone suggested synchronized prayer at 10pm every night from wherever we were until the day of the outreach. Everyone agreed readily and passionately, but suddenly Sister Esther spoke up in Mandarin (she’s mainly Mandarin speaking though she spoke English too). She said she could pray every night at 10pm except for Monday (if I remember correctly) because she had a weekly meeting on Mondays and won’t be home till after 10pm (she preferred to pray when she got home properly and for a prolonged period of time instead of a short prayer in the bus), thus she was unable to commit to 10pm synchronized prayer for Monday night, and she said, “我不敢“, which means “I dare not”. So we all said ok and agreed to change Mondays nights to 10.30pm instead. Then, Sister Esther smiled and said ok. I have never forgotten what I felt in my heart and the expression on Sister Esther’s face when she said, “我不敢”. I felt a strong sense of awe, fear of God and terror, while it was disturbing yet it wasn’t disturbing in a bad way, but made me feel like I want to be holy because God is holy. Sister Esther had unwittingly demonstrated what the fear of the Lord meant to all of us in that room. Holiness filled that room.