Focal points for Good Friday and Easter

Lovely creation using cloth: black symbolising death and white symbolising the righteousness of God.

I must admit to feeling regret that this year I had not paid as much attention to Lent and Holy Week, particularly Good Friday and Easter. I sighed and felt drawn to some of the pictures I received on WhatsApp. These are pictures that demonstrated careful attention to aesthetics in worship. These arrangements inspires us to draw near to Jesus. They seem to draw us towards greater devotion and adoration because they point us to a pivotal turning point in salvation history. They point us to God we can relate to easily and who gives us hope: a suffering and victorious God.

Easter – the risen Christ carrying us on His shoulders

The traditional churches are much better at this. There is something we can learn from them. In the liturgical calendar these would be the high points of the year, requiring much preparation and inspiring longing and anticipation. It could be viewed as an annual corporate means of grace for renewal. The repentance and prayerful devotion of Lent, leading to meditation on the passion of our Lord, will lead us to humble ourselves and renew our first love for Jesus. And Easter is when we allow the resurrection power to revive us afresh to new life. 

Good Friday: For God so loved the world He gave us His Son!

Above are some of the beautiful arrangements of worship focal points in the main sanctuaries or other halls. They are all from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary branch in Australia. How lovely  are Thy dwelling places!

(Photo Credits: Juyoung )

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MONDAY HIKES

I have been hiking regularly again. It has been a few years since I have been this regular hiking the Bukit Timah Hill.

After the Hill was closed for works for about two years the trekking group continued with hikes all over Singapore. I wasn’t keen on those kind of flat ground and hot sun hikes. I had my eyes turned: cycling. So I cycled in those years when the Bukit Timah was closed for renovations and restoration works.

I was pleased when the Hill was reopened and for a while I hiked there but ministry demands on Saturdays meant my outings there were erratic and occasional.

Hiking on Mondays with my wife and her brother Kenneth Poh

This has however changed recently when my wife and I started doing the hikes on Mondays, the day off for pastors. So I use the Monday mornings and relish these hours of breathing fresh air, under a green canopy, in quiet and with less hikers around. Furthermore, I don’t have to worry about parking as there is free parking in the vicinity of the Hillview MRT.

I usually walk from there to the Dairy Farm trail, along the Jungle Fall path, up the Summit steps, down to Rengas path and circle back to the Hillview MRT, a good two hours of perspiration and sometimes inspiration and thanksgiving.

On my sabbath, it is always good to do something I relish, something that nourishes me.

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PREACHING A SERIES ON OUR PENTECOSTAL DISTINCTIVE

Missing from Pentecostal pulpits

It is not uncommon for Pentecostal churches to shelve preaching on Pentecostal distinctives as they seek relevance with a contemporary audience. Addressing felt relational, emotional and felt needs of church members take priority over church’s distinctives. This can happen because the Pentecostal doctrine of baptism of the Holy Spirit can be an offence to today’s young adults. Yet it must be talked about or we will lose our heritage, our identity and one of God’s greatest gift to his church and his greatest resource to reaching the world for Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I announced and planned a series on the Holy Spirit. I initially planned something that began with the works that the Holy Spirit would do according to the teaching of Jesus in John 14-16, and then talk about the Baptism of the Spirit, and finally a session on Speaking in Tongues.

However, as I proceeded to prepare, with the Lord’s influence, it began to be (1) The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, covering the five incidents in Acts when the Spirit was poured out as initiation experiences/encounters. After feedback from members, newbies and mature ones, I slowed down and stayed with Acts 2 the Day of Pentecost and drew most of my observations and conclusions from Acts chapter 2, after painting a picture of what happened there, giving the Bible background of the passage. I also brought in two persons, one of mature age, and another younger person to share their experiences of being baptized with the Holy Spirit and how the gift of tongues had blessed them.

At the end I gave an invitation for prayer for fresh anointings and healings, and invited those who wanted to be filled with the Spirit to meet at the conference room after the service. Three adults in their 50’s showed up. After giving them a briefing, several of us laid hands and prayed for them to be filled and remarkably they were granted the gift of tongues within fifteen minutes, and we spent the rest of the time praying, prophesying, anointing with oil, and singing in tongues for another 20 minutes or more.

My Cry and Prayer

It was a blessed time and gratifying. My only disappointment was that not many of the younger age group were there desiring and thirsting for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I am praying that God would stir the hearts of people who had been content with what they have experienced of the Christian life thus far, with a holy discontent that wants more, indeed ALL of what God promised and intended for His people. May we have a people with hearts aflame for the passion of His name.

I wonder if it is the same with the church you worship in. Do they preach about their distinctive? How often?

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