Friday, November 27, 2015


I first met Ivan in 1995 while collecting aid in Italy for delivery to refugee camps in Croatia and Bosnia. I remember his smile and warm handshake.
It was a few years before we saw him again. He called to offer us some boxes of clothing he had collected, and we went to his home, where we met his wife, Francesca, and their two children. From then on, we stayed in touch, and over time, we’ve learned a lot from each other.
Ivan and Francesca often expressed their frustration in trying to adjust to a society that was losing its values. They wished they could adopt a different lifestyle, but didn’t know how. Then on one of my more recent visits, it was immediately obvious that something was very different. For one thing, their dining room had extra tables, which quickly filled with what seemed like a river of lively children from the neighborhood. Ivan was busy serving and introduced me to Claudio and Manuela, another couple who not only lived in their small town, but also shared a similar vision.
Later on, I got to know other families who were also part of a network called Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale (Ethical Purchasing Groups). The aim is to cooperate in order to buy food and other commonly used goods directly from producers or retailers at discounted rates, while also emphasizing the use of local and fair-trade produce, and reusable or eco-compatible goods. Ivan and Francesca (and their now three children) were some of the founders of the local branch, and needless to say, they always found a way to direct some love and attention to their “neighbor near or far.”
A few months ago, they hosted a lunch for a group of underprivileged families we brought to their home. They went to the nth degree to make all 16 of us feel welcome, and treated us to the most delicious homemade delicacies. After the meal, everyone received a small bottle of olive oil pressed by their family from the olive trees in their garden.
As time passes, it’s clear that what was once an experiment has grown into a tried-and-proven alternative life choice.
Luke 6:38 ESV / Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Proverbs 22:7 ESV / The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
1 Timothy 5:8 ESV / But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


In their 1960’s hit “Can’t Buy Me Love,” the Beatles capitalized on a simple, well-worn truth. They could just as well have sung, “Can’t buy me truth” or “happiness” or “peace of mind.” Those things weren’t for sale either, and they’re still not. While this is a simple truth, it’s not an easy one to live.
It’s a struggle to live simply, though, when nearly everywhere people turn, some new product or personality vies for their attention and part of their paycheck with the same hollow promise: “This is it—the key to happiness at last!” And you can’t blame the hawkers, either. In our money-driven world, everybody has got to sell something to survive, whether it’s a song, a product, a service, or—God forbid—their soul.
All the while, a little voice inside each of us keeps telling us there has to be more to life. The things of this world can bring momentary pleasure and comfort, but they can never truly satisfy the inner self. Only God can do that with His love, and He wants to and will if we reach out for Him.
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV / For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Proverbs 16:4 ESV / The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV / But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Our true treasures are not money and possessions. Our true treasures are the kingdom of God, His love and interaction in our lives, our salvation, God’s provision and care for us, and our coming rewards. Understanding this puts our finances and their use in the right perspective.
In Psalm 24, David exclaims, “The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his!” God Himself claims ownership over creation: “All the earth is Mine,” “Everything under heaven is Mine,” “‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord.” From this, we understand that all that we “own” is actually owned by our Creator, which includes not just our possessions, but ourselves as well. We are simply stewards or caretakers of what God has put in our charge.
While God may own everything, He also wants us to be happy and enjoy the things He has given us, as it says in 1 Timothy 6:17: “God … richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” As custodians of God’s resources—specifically, the things in our possession, and generally, the resources of the earth—we can use them for ourselves and our loved ones, to live our lives, and to enjoy what He has placed in our care. Having the right relationship with possessions, money, and wealth is vitally important to our relationship with God.
Understanding the principles of ownership (that God owns everything), stewardship (that we are to use what God has given us in conjunction with His will and His Word), and the need for developing a proper relationship with possessions and finances helps us to adjust our attitude and behavior regarding those things that we have control over, both tangible and intangible.
One key to this relationship is simplicity. Simplicity can be understood as a means of being freed from some of the unnecessary attachments to the things of this life, a means to set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Jesus told us that our heart is where our treasure is, therefore it’s wise to examine what we consider our true treasure to be. We should have a right relationship with our possessions and recognize the damage that can occur if that relationship gets out of balance. Simplicity can lessen our focus on ourselves and our things and help to keep us focused on our true treasure, our loving God who has given us the most valuable things we could ever possess—His love and salvation.
Live Simply
• Buy things for their usefulness rather than for their status.Avoid basing your buying decisions on what will impress others, and choose according to what you need.
• Simplify your life by developing the habit of getting rid of things that you no longer use or need. Try giving them away and be free from having to store them.
• Guard yourself from being overly influenced by advertising and social trends. The goal of marketing is often to convince you to upgrade to the latest, best, fastest, most powerful model. Use what you have until you truly need to replace it.
• Avoid impulse purchases; don’t buy what you don’t need.
• Enjoy things that you don’t own. Use a library, public transportation, a public beach, or a park.
—This list was adapted from Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline (New York: HarperOne, 1998), 90–95.
2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV / Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV / And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV / For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I have spent the past several years caring for loved ones. I helped care for friends who had serious illnesses, and I became a full-time caregiver for my mother until she passed away from terminal cancer in 2009.
While caring for my mother, I received a carer pension which helped pay the bills and provided a little spending money, but I never had a lot financially. Living on a limited, fixed income has its challenges, but they never bothered me too much. My tastes are simple: I like to swim, walk and cycle; once in a while I go to a movie or have a meal out, and I enjoy visiting friends and chatting over a glass of wine or a barbeque and beer, or watching a sunset over the sea.
I live in a great location twenty minutes from the city and only three blocks from the beachfront, where I can access walking/cycle tracks that go for miles. The train station is five minutes away, along with a main street with shops, supermarkets, library, community center, picnic areas, pier, and friendly caf├ęs with great coffee or chai latte and cheesecake. It has been the perfect location for this part of my life’s journey, and I feel blessed to have been led here.
In caring for my loved ones, there have been plenty of challenges and times when I have felt stretched emotionally. There were also times when a little extra cash would have been nice, but in the years I have been in this situation I never really lacked for anything. Living on a fixed income makes you consider what you really need—after all, how many pairs of shoes can you wear?—and although I don’t own my home, I have a reasonable rent and no debts.
During my journey as a carer, I discovered that peace of mind and heart is something far greater than a smooth ride through life with plenty of cash. Money simply can’t equal the reassurance of knowing I have been in the right place doing the right thing; that I have done everything I possibly could for others, and that I have no regrets.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV / All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV / And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
Isaiah 40:22 ESV / It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

Monday, November 23, 2015


God recognizes our material needs, and His Word contains plenty of promises of supply, even in abundance. But Jesus also warned that a vain pursuit of wealth can be a stumbling block to a Christian life. Human nature also makes it difficult for us to correctly assess our needs. As Benjamin Franklin observed, “The more [money] a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”
So how much is enough?
The apostle Paul addresses this big question in a letter to Timothy, and his conclusion is surprising in its minimalism: “If we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” He doesn’t say anything negative about living above this minimum standard, but his point is that real contentment isn’t related to material prosperity.
Studies have confirmed that beyond a certain point, increasing wealth can have diminishing returns as far as happiness and quality of life. That makes sense—we all need some money to provide for ourselves and our families, but once our basic needs and aspirations are satisfied, the pursuit of wealth often ends up being at odds with the pursuit of happiness.
The bottom line seems to be that much depends on our attitude and what God is doing in our lives at a given time. Above all, whether we are currently abasing or abounding, we should remember that true success and fulfillment in life come through learning about and getting closer to our heavenly Father. “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Philippians 4:19 (NIV) And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 19:24 (NIV) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
1 Timothy 6:8 (NIV) But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


My old friend Jack lived in a large house in a pleasant, leafy suburb. It was a great place to raise his family of five, but his children have long since married and moved on. Around 15 years ago, Jack’s business failed, and although it would have made financial and practical sense for Jack and his wife to downsize, they loved their home and always put off the tough decision.
They ended up keeping the home by default, probably hoping things would improve. Instead, as the years passed, their debts mounted until the inevitable was reached, and they absolutely had to sell. Unfortunately, by this time, the housing market had collapsed, and the proceeds of the sale no longer even covered their debts.
Not making a decision is a decision. Like Jack, I have plenty of my own stories in this regard, finding it quite difficult to “sign on the dotted line.” I think there are a few reasons why we sometimes delay our decision-making as long as possible.
Perhaps we hesitate to face an unknown future. After all, as much as we try to anticipate the results of our choices, there are many factors beyond our insight and control. We cannot know for sure what will follow.
Future fears didn’t hold back Abraham. He said “yes” to God and left his home in Haran not knowing where he was going. Moses showed similar faith, leading the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and onwards to the Promised Land. Jesus’ disciples left their livelihoods to follow Him, which took another kind of faith.
Who knows whether Abraham foresaw the difficulties he would face—famine, family troubles, and battles, amongst others. Could Moses possibly have anticipated the troubled wilderness journey ahead? Jesus’ disciples didn’t always have an easy time of things either. Yet events showed that all these people made the right decisions, helping create the foundation for our faith.
Few of us face such dramatic circumstances as these Bible heroes, but we all face choices, big and small. May God help us to make well-considered decisions.
When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.—William James (1842–1910)
There is a time when we must firmly choose the course we will follow, or the relentless drift of events will make the decisions.—Herbert V. Prochnow (1897–1998)

Prayer Point

1. Please intercede for Corps Family:
Bro Colin Ooi, Sis Catherine, Mark and Seok Mei

2. Please intercede for up-coming Children's Camp

3. Please intercede for peace and stability all around the world.


Cell Group / Sunday School / Youth Fellowship
Will be cancelled during school holiday and December break

Partners in Mission
Self Denial Appeal 2015. Theme: Jesus Hope of all Hearts.
Closing date: 29 Nov 2015

Officer Retreat
Date: 23-26 Nov 2015 / Venue: Johor Bahru

Children's Camp
Date: 28 Nov - 1 Dec 2014 (Sat - Tue)
Venue: Penang Children's Home
In your quite time, please intercede for the childrens, teachers and volunteers for successful camp and a blessed fun time.

Date: 13 Dec 2015 (Sat) / Time: 6-10pm
Venue: St. Anne's Open Field, Bukit Mertajam
Theme: Emmanuel - God With Us

Flowering Offering:
Thank you Sis Shirley Mak to beautify the House of the Lord,

Saturday, November 21, 2015


The prodigal son is probably one of the better known of Jesus’ parables. It tells of a young man who leaves home, goes astray, regrets his decisions, and eventually returns to the loving, warm welcome of his father. It’s a theme that’s been retold countless times in literature and life, portrayed in art, danced in ballet, and even played in contemporary music, such as the Rolling Stones’ cover on their album Beggar’s Banquet. It’s a story of humanity that transcends nationality, creed, place, or even era, a story that is as poignant and relatable today as it was two millennia ago.
In many respects, it’s a story about decisions. The young man’s fateful decision to leave home, wasting his life and inheritance, is part of the narrative; then there are the better decisions, when he comes to his senses and makes up his mind to return.
The father also has decisions to make. Should he accept his son with open arms or chide and punish him for his mistakes? And it’s this part of the story that contains a detail that is often overlooked.
Imagine the scene: the young man, thin, bedraggled, and rather the worse for wear from his terrible experiences of dire poverty. The father, crying tears of joy as he embraces his boy. Yet the moment when the father opens his heart to welcome his son is not as we often picture it, with the son kneeling, pleading for forgiveness, expressing his repentance for going astray. No, this crucial moment comes earlier:
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”
His boy hadn’t yet spoken a word, but the father—who had no doubt gone through anguish and heartache for many months or even years—didn’t hesitate. In fact, he didn’t even wait until his son had arrived; he ran out to meet him.
This is a picture of God’s unconditional love. He doesn’t wait for us to say exactly the right words, He doesn’t look at our bedraggled state or how life has left us the worse for wear and stand back until we clean up our act. He doesn’t chide us for past mistakes and wrong decisions. From the moment we turn to Him, He receives us with open arms and forgives us.
Romans 8:37-39 ESV / No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 3:16 ESV / “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV / For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.