A Word from the Dean

GOD LOOKING AT US

 I am writing this "word" to all of you, our dear readers of BGST This Week, from my harbour view room on the 45th floor of Swissotel Stamford. A well-wisher couple has decided that my definition of "light duties" (which I am permitted to do) is not quite right and certainly not "light" and my wife and I have been given an opportunity to have a getaway for a few nights as we both recuperate, me from my hip surgery and my wife from the many duties recently added to her schedule as she looks after me.

Underneath me from the balcony of our hotel room lies the whole expanse of the inner roads of the 'old' harbour of Singapore. The twin 'durians' Esplanade sit majestically as a truly iconic building. I remember the many fine moments I enjoyed listening to choral, organ and symphonic music in the state-of-the-art auditoriums. To the right of it the Singapore Merlion is just a small speck spouting water as tourists gather around it looking like ants. The placid waters of the inner harbour are pushed aside gently as ripples by a smart-looking white motorboat. Standing in the the middle of the basin is a gaudy Chinese junk carrying tourists wishing to savour something of the old charm of 19th Century Singapore. As the Kallang and Singapore Rivers meet I can see the beginning of a 'barrage' that will eventually enclose the whole inner harbour as a fresh water reservoir, as well as bring to an end the flooding of low-lying areas in the city centre as one benefit of the barrage is to control the tides entering the river estuaries during periods of heavy rain. To the right of this neck of water is a large tract of land that has been set aside for one of the two integrated resorts (the other being at Sentosa Island) promising several thousand jobs as well as two more iconic buildings that will draw gambling tourists who are the target of an elaborate plan to entice "responsible gamblers" to throw their money away in Singapore. Ironic isn't it? Think of the social cost involved. We have recently announced our plans to start a training programme to train counsellers who can be certified to handle gambling addiction cases. During the previous night as the lunar new year revellers turn the area that was once Queen Elizabeth Walk into a pasar malam complete with an imposing God of Prosperity, a piercing searchlight penetrating the nigh sky and of course also fireworks!  It was very impressive to see much of the fireworks display happening below us. On the TV screens in our rooms we can see the Chinggay floats moving through the crowded streets in a kind of mardi gras atmosphere as dancers, pole handlers, big-head dolls and doggies of all kinds and sizes strut their stuff at the start of the Year of the Dog. As our President together with several cabinet ministers stepped off the birthday cake dressed up as a float and the button was pressed and firecrackers exploded loudly, I wondered what a nightmare it must have been for the security personnel as terrorist threats still loomed around Singapore. My mind wandered to a Batman film when revelry turned out to be one massive trick to kill as many people as possible in Gotham City.   

Then I asked myself, what is God thinking as He looks at us from His heavenly throne? Is He pleased or angry with us? Quo vadis? Where are you going? Where are we going? Like the MGM film epic portraying Christianity versus the decadence of  Rome, can we say that for all our progress and in spite of all the accolades given to Singapore, that we have not become decadent? We embrace technological advance, but what is lacking is a firm anchoring on biblical values. Is Singapore society going to the dogs? How can churches and Christians respond to the swirling events that threaten to engulf us and make holiness and moral purity an even more elusive goal in our corporate and personal life? Is BGST preparing Christian people who can be at the vanguard of an army of Christian soldiers marching onward and forward to defeat the Devil? Or are we like the Christians in Amy Carmichael's nightmare who are happily making daisy chains while wave after wave of non-Christians fall over the cliff into eternal damnation? 

We have been snacking on Chinese new year dainties during the visits to family members and friends. Let what I have written be food for thought as we evaluate ourselves and as BGST moves on to yet another year. Do pray for us as we seek to glorify God in all that we do for Him and for His Kingdom. And I hope that you will also remember to include BGST in your tithing as you support us in our mission to train the laity and others for the work that God has entrusted to each of us. And beside our operational financial needs, do remember also to pray for us to begin soon to whittle down the large building loan we have incurred as we stepped out in faith a year ago to have finally our own campus at No. 31 Tanjong Pagar Road.

Dr Quek Swee Hwa

A Blessed Birthday to… 

Dr Bryan Lim Shyan  13/2

Mr Gan Kim Choon  13/2

Mr Moses Kim  14/2

Mr Andrew Chua  15/2

Mr Chia Yee Xian  15/2

Dr Edith Quah  16/2

Ms Doreen Yeo  16/2

Mr Ahn Tae Yoon  17/2

Rev Yap Wai Keong  18/2

Ms Josephine Pang  19/2

INTRODUCING OUR RECENT GRADUATES

We continue our presentation of our recent graduates. Praise God with us for Mathews Abraham and for others to be presented next week.

Mathews Abraham Puthuppallil, MCS (awarded in absentia)

Mathews has been a teacher at a high school for the deaf and a government employee in the state of Kerala. He is currently a deacon of the St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India. He will be ordained a priest of this church in April.

Thesis Summary: ‘All Things to All Men’: The Pauline Paradigm of Mission as the Basis for an Indian Mission Strategy to Reach Brahmins for Christ

Hinduism is the religion of a vast majority of Indians. In spite of much missionary effort, Christianity has not made any sizeable inroads into the minds of the majority community. Why? Brahmins are the priestly class in the Hindu caste system. Because of their social and economic status they have great influence in almost every sphere of Indian public and social life. They consider themselves the custodians of the Hindu religion. Failure to understand the social and cultural practices of Brahmins has restricted the progress of the gospel, not only among them but also among Hindus in general. A few persons have attempted to reach them, among them Robert De Nobili, a Jesuit, and E. Stanley Jones, an American Methodist, and Pandita Ramabai and Narayan Vaman Tilak, who were Brahmin converts; but their concerns and methods have not been adequately studied. Above all, the Bible gives the model of the greatest missionary to Gentiles, the Apostle Paul. This thesis looks into the missionary practices of the above metioned persons to reach Brahmins and evaluates them on the basis of the Pauline Paradigm. Observations are made for an Indian mission strategy to reach Brahmins for Christ.

CHAPEL
 on 1 February 2006 by Rev Peter Chng

The Life-And-Death Matter For Us
(Philippians 1:19-26)

Everyone is talking about the matter of life and death, even Straits Times devotes an article about this recently. However, the life-and-death matter to the world centres on the issues of wealth, health and wellbeing.

What’s our life-and-death matter?

As we serve the Lord, or are preparing to serve the Lord, what’s our life-and-death matter? Not that wealth, health and wellbeing are detestable to us, but that we should go beyond these. It’s sad to hear that some ministers of God I know are resorting to all sorts of means to fight for survival in the ministry. We must learn from the apostle Paul, who says in Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Someone translates this verse as: “For, so far as I am concerned, to be living, both as to my existence and my experience, that is Christ, and to have died, is gain.” Our very meaning and act of living should focus on Christ. Christ should then be our life-and-death matter. Focusing on Christ should keep us, and our ministry, ticking.

How do we realise that Christ is our life-and-death matter?

A life which is centred on Christ will naturally flow through his act of living. Philippians is one of the most personal letters the apostle Paul has written, surpassing even the Pastoral Epistles. In this letter, Paul bares his most innermost thoughts and experiences.

When Christ is our life-and-death matter, we will want Christ to be made great in our lives. Paul says, “…Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (v.20). The Apostle was in prison, probably in Rome, when he wrote the letter. To rub salt into the wounds, some “preach Christ even from envy and strife…from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to [Paul’s] chains” (vv.15-16). I can understand how Paul felt. When I left my former pastorate after pouring so much effort and time into it, I heard unfounded and unkind remarks about me. It was so hurtful that I almost gave up serving. But I had to learn from the apostle Paul. Instead of feeling hurt, he said, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” (v.18). Only when Christ is the central focus of our lives can we ever utter this!

When Christ is our very act of living, we go beyond self and want to live for the benefit of others. This is exactly what Paul means when he says, “…to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (v.24). Paul isn’t over-inflating his self image, but that he genuinely knows that his continuing living will bring spiritual benefits to the believers in Philippi, and to all who come in contact with him. We talk so much on “What will I get?” But Paul says “What will they get?”

Why should Christ be our life-and-death matter?

Why should I get hurt by unkind remarks? Why should I cop this “nonsense”? I do have my own right, don’t I? Not only in Australia, but also in Singapore, we stress on our rights quite a lot.

But I think, as ministers of God, it’s a good time for us to look into the essence of a “bondslave”. This is precisely how Paul addressed himself and Timothy (v.1). They were bondslaves of Jesus Christ. A bondslave has no will of his own, but that of the master. If we acknowledge Christ as Lord, then it’s His will, and not ours. Our lives should focus on Him and not ours. It’s His rights, not ours. This is hard, but it’s essential!

Chapel speaker on 15 February will be Dr Ng Liang Wei.

NewsBits

Introduction to Church History (CH101, 3 credits) by Dr Quek Swee Hwa. There has been request for this course to be conducted. We will only run this course as a videoclass, to be scheduled in March 2006, if there is a minimum of 5 students. If you are interested, please call Anthony or Kok Wee on 62276815 so that we can contact you in due course. For full course description, click on this link http://www.bgst.edu.sg/courses/pdf/ch101-06.pdf.  Inquiries may be directed to Dr Quek at bgstdean@starhub.net.sg.  This is a required course for M Div students.

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