26 Nov 2023

36th Anniversary Thanksgivings [Mark 10:45]
  • Topic: Baptist, Called, Church, God, Gospel, Light, Pastor, People, Place, Program, Provision, Purpose, Serve, Singapore, Sunday, Wonderful, Word, Work, Years


In this thanksgiving message, we look back at how God has blessed Gospel Light in the five important factors needed to build a solid church. 1. Purpose. 2. People. 3. Program. 4. Place. 5.  Provision. May this message help you understand how wonderful God is and how thankful we should be to him. May we give thanks for a good church to worship in.



Sermon Transcript

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many – Mark 10:45 (ESV)

36 Years of God’s Faithfulness Vis-a-Vis Our Faithlessness

We are thankful for 36 years of God's blessing. This year, our anniversary message is actually split into two Sundays. This Sunday we will give a thanksgiving to God for His faithfulness for 36 years. That is the good part. Then next Sunday, we are going to look at ourselves - how we are doing and see our faithlessness to God for the last 36 years. So, today [we see] the good part. Next week? Get ready. Buckle your belt to see how we are doing. God has been extremely faithful to us for 36 years; I wish we could say we have been extremely faithful to God too. Like a typical anniversary, you want to look back - be thankful. Look where you are; how are you doing now and look forward to see what you should be doing. Today we are doing the “looking back” stage. This is not your usual sermon. Do not have to take out any notes and flip here and flip there. [Mark 10:45] is probably the only verse you are going to have. We are not going to journey through the Bible which is typical in Gospel Light where we journey through the verses of the Bible (we tour the Bible through the verses to see the goodness of God). Today, we are going to tour with God through time. See the goodness of God in our lives as a church. Now, right now, there are lots of Gospel Lighters on tour. I can see by the number of empty chairs here. They are all running around Japan or New Zealand, like our pastor and his family. They are all seeing the wonder of God in nature, the wonder of sushi (the great sushi chef, the master can slice fish in 16 different ways!)

You know? We are going to see a better tour! I guarantee you: it is free. This is a PC [Paul Choo] Tour Company. Take you through a tour. No hassle. No cost. Nothing. And [this tour] will beat anything Pastor Jason sees in New Zealand, [and] anything your friends saw in Japan (whatever big bucks and stuff they have got.) We will just sit here and enjoy the best of all. Fasten your seat belts. We are going on a tour and be watching the hand of God. [This is] a different kind of message.

Sermon Goal? To be Better Children of God and Better Gospel Lighters

Goal? What is the goal? [In] everything, you must have a goal. The goal is [that] at the end of this tour you will know God better. You will know how real He is, how wonderful He is. A secondary goal at the end of it all? The first goal: [that] you would know God better [and] be a better child of God. Secondary goal: [that] you would know your church better and you would be a better member of GLCC.

Last week we had some membership. And it is like, “Oh! You are going to be a member of the church? Wonderful! How long have you been in church? 20 years! Wow.” Some of them have been [in Gospel Light for] as long as me [Pastor Paul] and they are not even members of the church yet. So, if any of you are not members of the church, I hope at the end of the service, you will be thankful that there is a church, a family to be [a] part of, and you will be a member of this church. So, [ the goal is that you would] be a better child of God at the end of the service and [be] a better member of Gospel Light at the end of the service. That is the goal.

Are we going to go through again, like any anniversary service - go back to the history, [our] roots (where we started in Hilton, started at the Botanical Gardens)? [No.] I am going to do a slightly different approach this year. Because it is [our] 36th anniversary, I am going to use what has been very important to me: It is the way I start any project. The way I start any project - it does not matter whether it is Gospel Light or whether it is Goducate or whatever - I usually have the “Five Ps”.

The Five Ps (in correct order)

1. Purpose    2. People    3. Program    4. Place    5. Provision 

I have done this [state the Five Ps in correct order] because I have always seen a perversion of this. Now the first P - when you want to start any project – [is] to be clear on your Purpose. You say, that is obvious. Our Purpose is [to] get the Gospel Light. Then if the project is to succeed, [if] it is God's project, God will bring the People. You get confirmed [on this project] by seeing, “Whoa. God’s bringing in the right People.” Then we will get the right People in [and] they will figure out the right Program. They will do the right Program. You do not have to worry about that. Right Purpose. Right People. Right Program. Then of course, you will need a Place to do things and that will follow. Right Programs? God will provide the Place. And lastly, Provision. You say, “What’s new, PC? What is the big deal about this?” The big deal is [that] I am tired of working with churches that flip this [order of Five Ps] around, including our own church!

Mis-prioritizing Ministry Work

What do you mean by that, [PC]? Classically, this is how churches function and it must never be like that! They say, “Pastor! Pastor! Someone gave a million dollars.” Provision [has come] first, right? The last P becomes [the number] one [P] you know?! “Hey, now we have got a million dollars. What do we do, ah? Buy a place, lah! Chinatown lah! You can reach people there. Or [reach] teenage, pregnant women or whatever!”

So, after you have got Provision, you buy a Place! After you buy the Place - eh? What should we do here ah [Program]? Look for some Program lah! Then you look for a “Program.” Now after you have looked for a “Program” – who is going to run it? Then you look for People.  At the end of it, when so many people come to do the “Program” they do not know what the Purpose is. One [member’s “Purpose”] is about teenage pregnant people. Another one’s [“Purpose”] is about Singapore's problems. One is about the Gospel. [This is] typical! God is accursed on all churches! Never flip [the Five Ps] around! If this [church] is going to be about Gospel Light, we get our Purpose right first.

Clear Purpose. God will bring the right People. Right People. They will bring the right Programs. Right Programs to be put in the right Place. And I guarantee you, God will Provide. We have never worried about Provision. And every time [someone says], “Oh, we don't have the provision.” I say, “We need a Purpose first! The Provision will follow.” So, that is how we must operate. And God help us! Thank God, He has blessed us along the way. So, today's message is not about our roots, where we started 35 years, 36 years ago, etc. I am going to use this little [set of] Five Ps to thank God for what He has done for us.

Our Purpose: Are We Doing Many Good Things but not the God-Thing?

Let us look at the first [P]. You have got to have a clear Purpose. What in the world are we here for? There are so many churches in Singapore, why another one? What is the purpose? Competition? “I am a bit better here? [Or] I am a bit better at singing, etc.?” The clear thing is our Purpose. I thank God that God has allowed us to stick to a clear Purpose, not because we are very clear people (we are easily distracted). (The devil is a master at distracting. Christian, I can tell you this: Your biggest danger is not doing evil things. If your biggest danger is doing evil things, then I wonder whether you are even a believer. Because if you do evil things, the Holy Spirit will convict you like crazy. Any of you are in adultery or in pornography, or whatever - I do not have to warn you - the Holy Spirit will warn you. The danger for Christians is not doing bad things! The danger for Christians is doing good things but not the “God thing.” All right? The devil has many ways to trick us e.g. put doubts. He told Eve, “Did God really say that? Is Genesis true or not?” That kind of thing. The doubts! Then divisions! Adam blamed his wife. Blame my wife – BMW, right? “She asked me to do [disobey God].” Many of you “drive BMW,” do you know that? Everything “blame your wife.” After that, Cain killed Abel. Divisions! But let me tell you, for a church like this, the greatest danger is distractions. A lot of good things to do! You would run here [and] run there. Doing lots of “good” things, but not the God thing.)

I am thankful that though we are not clear, though the devil is so busy distracting us, we kept on Purpose over the 36 years. You saw that little clip that Pastor Jason did for GLCC? A Gospel-centered church. After 36 years, there are so many issues to fight about: LGBT, anti-vaccine, Israel and Hamas. [People often ask] “Pastor, what do we do here? What do you stand for here? Where do you stand there?” I say I stand on the Gospel. You want to fight issues? Go to another church! People have a lot of issues to fight about. Of course, there are a lot of issues to fight about, all the time! But what are we as a church? What is Gospel Light as a church here for? Fight issues? Fight LGBT? We do not talk about those things in [Gospel Light]. If any sermon is about “issues,” take it out! There are many people called to fight issues and God bless them. Maybe we can call them The “Issue” Church [or] The Current “Issue” Church. We are not. We are Gospel Light Christian Church.

Our Purpose is Gospel Light – It is a Name We Must Live Up To

How do we keep on Purpose all these years? Are we that clear? I thank God. From the beginning, God gave us the right name. When we started the church, I was a seven-year-old Christian; I had no idea what name to name the church. We had all kinds of fancy names. Name [ourselves] after a famous missionary. Name after a famous this (a famous that.) [Name after a] famous mountain. Mount this. Mount that. Katong Baptist Church? Punggol whatever [church]? You can name it so many names. If I tell you the story of how we got this name, [you would be surprised] it was not because we were very clear. I went to the Philippines and it was a friend who had started a church called Gospel Light Baptist Church. Eh! Not bad, this name! So, I took it. So smart! I said, “[But the term] Baptist? Not so good lah.” Because quite divisive. Baptists always like to fight each other. I think I don’t keep the “Baptist” [term in the name]. Just change to “Christian” [church]. Eh! Not bad leh! I must ask my friend, “Got copyright [or not]? No copyright? Okay!” So, you see, God allows you to sometimes bumble and stumble onto something, but He directed you and that kept us on track. So, today, what are we as a church? I mean, if you have a name, you must live up to your name to some extent, whether you like it or not. You call yourself “The Macho Division” in the Army, then you have got to be macho (even if you're not macho.)

We were of course, distracted by all kinds of issues too. Every time [I hear in church]. “Pastor, should we talk about this?” Or, “How come [the pastors] just never talk about this?” “How come our church -” Every time I come to church, everybody has a suggestion for some topic! Because everybody has all kinds of [ideas]; the latest trend (we are all trendy, right?) What's “trending” [that] you would like to talk [about]? No! We say, “Sorry, ah. This one is not our thing.” This church called Gospel Light. Got it? Gospel Light! Not Anti-Vaccine Light. Not COVID etc. No. No. No. No. No! “[Pastor], you are not troubled about LGBT?” I am troubled but there are other churches very good at [confronting LGBT issues]. You go and support them! For us, it is [the] Gospel. Over the years that has kept us focused.

Do We Fake Our “Gospel Light” Only for Show?

The word “Gospel” - of course [it] is the nice one – [and do not forget the word] “Light.” The “Gospel” is one thing, but you [have] got to be a “Light” too. [If you say] “Gospel Church,” okay... [But we are] “Gospel Light.” What [kind of] “Light” are we? Half dead? [Is it like] going to go to your office [and people ask,] “Hey, do you know John from my church?” [And the listener replies,] “[What!] He is a Christian?” I hear this many times! “[Yes.] My church member!” “No, I didn't know he's a Christian.” No “Light”! What happened? A black-out? (Filipinos call it “Brown-out.” At least brown is better than black.) There is plenty of blackout in this church! Most of you! Where is your “Light”?  [Maybe you will reply me,] “Sunday lah, Pastor. On Sunday my “light” comes on like those timed-switches.” You enter a house, you step in, then the light comes on. [At Gospel Light] we have a “timed-switch” at our door. Many Gospel Lighters come in, “TING” the “light” comes on [with social niceties]! “Oh, Pastor, hello!”

[But] go to office? Another guy! So, remember you are a “Gospel Light.”  We have to shine. A light attracts. Let your “[Gospel] Light” so shine before men, not so shine before your pastor. We are Gospel Light.

The Term “Christian Church” Is Inclusive

[Now we turn to the word] “Christian.” People write to me, “Hey, Pastor. Why do you call your church Gospel Light Christian Church? A church is Christian! You are an oxymoron! Why do you add ‘Christian Church’? Is there a Buddhist Church?” I have never thought about that - to be honest. These are people who want to donate money [asking], “What is your church called? Gospel Light Church?” “No! No! Gospel Light Christian Church. Can you write it properly or we cannot bank the cheque in.” Then they [are puzzled] and say, “Gospel Light Christian Church? Why are you called a ‘Christian Church’?” “Because if I call myself Presbyterian, the Baptists do not like me. [If] I call myself Baptist, the Presbyterians do not like me. I call myself Brethren, they do not like me. I call myself Methodist – and so [on]! [If] I [use the term] “Christian,” all like me! That is very useful today. [We live] in a world where there are 42,000 denominations (that is a fact, go to Google and check that out). There is no other major religion with 42,000 denominations! Crazy. We have got Shiites and Sunnis. Just two [for the Muslims]. We have got 42,000. Even [for the] Baptists, we have Bible Baptist, Independent Baptist, Fundamental Baptist, Conservative Baptist, International Baptist. How many Baptists!  And they all do not like each other! Some Baptists here are laughing. I know they are Baptists because they are laughing. Some of you do not understand the Baptists. And Presbyterians? We have Bible Presbyterian, Independent Presbyterian, General Presbyterian, “Don't-know-what” Presbyterian!

Thank God we are Christians! When we get to heaven, [would we question], “You are a Baptist?” No Christ lives in us. So, by the grace of God, we have got a name that helped us stay focused, stay shining. We have a duty to shine, and not to divide, not to think we are better than anyone else. We are all part of the same family. So, by the grace of God, [we have a good] name some 36 years ago. [Do you know] - the church when [we] first started – what is the name of [our] church when we first started? We started in the Hilton Hotel because a friend owned it and he let us use a room for $50. Hilton Hotel $50! The first day I walked into the church I got a shock. There was a signboard that said, “Paul Choo’s Church.” Because the owner knew me he asked, “What’s the name of the church?” “No name lah!” [The friend assigned it as] Paul Choo’s Church! So later, I said [to my friend], “Take it out lah!” We became like the seafood restaurant [chain], “No Signboard Seafood” which went bankrupt already. I really had to think, “What is the name? What is the name?” Quickly! It was very embarrassing. Every Sunday [we rent the room] and we have got no name. So, that was how [our] name popped up. By the grace of God. At that point, I had no idea how useful it [would be] to keep me on track. I look back and it was so clever. “Wow, Pastor, you are so clever! You have named the church [well]. See? Pastor Jason, after 36 years, is still on track because of the name.” No. Thank You, God. That is life, right? You think you know what you are doing when frankly, you do not. It is the grace of the Almighty God.

Our Mission: Leading Generations into a Life-Transforming Relationship with Christ

I thank God after that, the vision [and mission] of the church continues. 36 years leading generations [into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ]. How do you lead generations? You share the Gospel [with] them. And when you share the Gospel, their life changes because there is now a relationship with Jesus. When they are now “Light” and shine, they attract others and [we] become an Acts church that attracts people. We have an Acts church; a church with a clear Purpose, like in the book of Acts: The Gospel; the light of the Gospel bringing people to one another. The church is not a place. The church is about people gathering because we have all tasted the goodness of God.

That is the first thing that I want to thank God for. Thank you, God, for keeping us on track. Not easy! Not easy in a world of many good things to do, many needful things to do. Although there is a huge temptation to run from here and there, to follow trends here and there, to follow peer pressure here and there, we have kept [on track] 36 years with the Gospel. The Gospel. The Gospel.

Our People: We Want People Who Desire to Serve Faithfully Even in Obscurity

The second P [stands for] People. Right Purpose brings in the right People. I really thank God for God bringing in wonderful People. We had that verse just now in Mark [10:45]. Jesus did not come to be served. He came to serve. I thank God, God brought People in who want to serve. When we started the church, we were all rookies. I was a seven-year-old Christian, my wife was a six-and-a-half-year-old Christian. Honestly, we had no idea what to do. [We were] worse than “blur.” (South East Asian slang for clumsy and confused). God brought in the right People. Today, I can say, [our] Purpose is clear; the People are wonderful, including [Elder] John [Chng of the Chinese Ministry], who is going to join us soon [as a Church Elder]. John is not a big name. Just not one of these high-flying, guys. In fact, he is a “low-down” guy with 10 operations that [have] brought him down. But I love people like that; people who - even with his cancer here, there, and everywhere - still want to serve!

Last week, Pastor Jason was talking about our church. This was a chart he showed. He [asked,] “Who's the Head of this church?” One little boy was the only one who could come up with the right answer. He said, “Jesus!” All the rest [of the congregation wondering,] “Who is the Head of our church, ah? Jason? Paul? Who?” And this little fellow - I do not know who he was - said Jesus Christ, and he was dead right. This is our organizational chart. This is an official organizational chart of our church. And then below that [chart] is not even a name of a person. It is the [phrase] B.O.E. Or “Boe”. After [the phrase B.O.E.] below, there is also no name of anyone. There are three committees. One committee makes sure the church is properly run. It is called the Church Committee. Then one committee runs the Local Church. And one committee runs Missions. Then after that [Pastor Jason] showed [photographs] called the B.O.E. or Board of Elders but [they are] still anonymous, [and the Elders are] still a mystery. So, [Pastor Jason] very kindly showed [us] the pictures [of the Elders]. After that, I heard comments, like, “Pastor! Who are all those people in the picture? I have never seen them before.” I heard those comments. And those people [commenting have been] in the church for 20 years. They do not know who these guys are. Now, is that a good or bad thing? In some way, bad. In some way good. Because our Head is Jesus Christ. It is good that these [Elders have served] very faithfully. These people are very faithful [though obscure.]

After I had started the church - my wife and I [trying] to do something [meaningful in the church] - a guy called Victor Yeo pops up. Now Victor was my patient. He was not a believer. [Then] he got saved. My goodness, he grew fast. He loves to serve. The little he knew, he served. He came [on board to serve in Gospel Light] and soon became our first Elder. There is another guy. His wife used to work in Shenton [Medical Group] as a doctor; Elder Leong came in. These are my right-hand and left-hand men.  When we first started, [we had] a “blur” leader and two new rookie believers. But three “blur” [fellows are] not as bad as one “blur” [guy]. If [there are] three “blur” fellows at least [we can help point each other out.] So, we were three complementary “blur” people. Victor was wonderful with finance. He was a venture capitalist guy in the early days. Venture capital. In those early days, I did not know what a V.C. was. And Elder Leong was working in Central Provident Fund. It was perfect. I am trained as a doctor I do not know anything about finance. [But] here is a finance guy! As a doctor I do not know anything about the legal things e.g. How to register a church or [write our] constitution? I do not know all this! [Here is a] doctor. Where got constitution? A doctor only has patients, right? Constipation, not constitution right? What is a constitution for? “Eh, [PC], [you need, lah.] An organization needs a constitution. Go figure this out.” So, I had these two wonderful people. Then Dr. Muk [Kin Son] came in and other [Elders] came in!

My point is this: God brought in the Right People. Over the years - it is amazing for the first 10 years of Gospel Light - as we grew, we never had one single paid staff. Never one. We had a refinery manager come in and be our Administrator. You can run an oil refinery? You can run a church, no sweat. Oil refinery - so many processes. I just tell [my Administrator], “[By] Christmas I want this.” [She lists the steps systematically] Tak. Tak. Tak. Tak. [She replies,] “You need to do this, this, this, this.” Very good! I had a bank secretary be my first Missions coordinator. “Eh, Pastor! You need money, you know? For this!” Things like that. People just came in along the way to fill in the gaps.  Right Purpose. Right People. Then you are somewhat on track. [Perhaps] you think, “I’ve got the right purpose!” [But if] nobody comes, maybe [you do not have the Right Purpose.]

The “Right People” Are the Silent Servants at Gospel Light

As the Right People came in, it was amazing. It was a church of servants. I love that! There were doctors carrying garbage. I am not kidding. Every Sunday they would clear the garbage, carry down to the public dump, through the people with real BMWs - not the [Blame-My-Wife joke] mentioned. They say [to me], “Pastor, I'm a new believer what can I do?” “Drive! Your job is to be a driver.” Wow, they pick people up in their BMWs. There is a guy that comes in and says, “I don't know how to serve God!” I asked, “What do you do?” “I own this business, that business.” [PC replies], “I see. You can wash dishes?” “Can.” “Go wash!”

In the early days, we did not even have a toilet cleaner in our church. An expatriate - because they had been travelling elsewhere – [his] wife was my official toilet cleaner. Faithful. The cleanest toilet I have ever seen. She is here somewhere. Now she does not clean [the] toilet. Why? Because we have got people from Sarawak to do, from Vietnam to do. I just thank God that we still have wonderful servants [in this church].

I love this! Every Sunday I come in the first thing I do is go to the kitchen because [the kitchen crew] come first to church. Many of you just walk in. 9:10am you [saunter] in. 7:10am they are here! Serving faithfully. You do not know their names; you [only] eat [and] you only complain the food [is] no good [or say things like,] “Why [is all the food] finished? I just came down late and the food is gone.” You think this is a restaurant? These people serve faithfully. I love these people. Five teams of them. Just serving silently. Serving God. Not asking for anything except the privilege to serve God. May this tribe continue! They are not the only tribe, right? There is a little tribe upstairs called “Coffee Connects.” I love them. They make coffee. They make cakes. You buy cakes. The money goes to Kyrgyzstan, you know that? Every time you eat cake, somewhere the [money goes to] Kyrgyzstan. $1 is how many [Kyrgyz] som? You know, these are people that just serve quietly. Car Park attendants. I love them. I love the Welcome Crew. I love the Sunday School group - silently serving. This is the church. These are the people I really salute.

Today I salute [Elder] John Chng. Knocked out by cancer left, right and center. He has every right to say, “Pastor, take care of me. Pastor, the church should serve me.” He does the reverse! To me, that is a [true] picture of an Elder (not how much doctrine you know). That is the kind of people that God has blessed us with. So may God continue to bless us.

The Word “Servant” is Mentioned 800 Times; The Word “Leader” Only 3 Times

In the Bible, the word “servant” is found roughly about 800 times. In the Bible, in the King James Version, how many times is the word “leader” found? Anybody want to guess? 800 times – “servant”. How many times “leader”? Do not let a small boy answer. Do not embarrass me! KJV experts, how many times is the word “leader” in the King James Version? Some of you [think] “Die, die, [must use] KJV only! The only translation!” Three times. I am not saying the word “leader” is not found in other words, but in the KJV, the word “leader” is only found three times. “Servant”? 800 over times. In different versions, different ratios. But always “servants” vastly outnumber “leaders.” This church must be full of servants. If someone must lead, let them lead, but never forget that they are servants [first]. No big fat title. No big fat salary. We do not have reserved carparks for pastors here. If I come late, I park at the public carpark. We do not have reserved chairs for anybody.

Most of you do not even know who my wife is! (Some of you think I do not even have a wife.) I am serious! Because when they see my wife, they say, “What? You are the Pastor's wife?” And they are shocked because she is cutting vegetables. Most of you do not know who Winnie is! Pastor Jason’s wife. She is not [some “hotshot”] Mrs. Lim. Big fat titles [but] small little jobs. There are nobodies here. We are just privileged to serve God. What a privilege! Many are unpaid and I just thank God. I have never been paid one cent from this church. I thank God because the greatest privilege is to serve God. In the early days, [Pastor] Mike Redick – [our] evangelist – has never been paid. It is our privilege to serve God. God provides for us, thank God for that. Title, no title? Who cares!  The privilege [is] to serve God, May God increase this tribe! May we all be serving in some way. We do not want spectators in this church. Christ came to serve (Mark 10:45). You come to Gospel Light to serve.

Some people who have left this church for years said, “Pastor! After COVID, I go back to church I do not know anyone.” [To which Pastor Paul decries,] “You have been in our church for 30 years! Your job is not to have people know you. You better go and make friends with people.” Are you following me? Our job is not for people to serve us. We have already Someone serve us - with His life! Can we serve with our lives? I thank God for the tribe of servants. May this tribe grow; always be growing. No big fat titles. No. Nothing!

Our Program Has Areas for Improvement: Word – Worship – Wonder – Work

We thank God for a clear Purpose; that is the name of our church. We thank God for the right People because God brought them in. I had no idea whom God is going to bring in. I never knew [Elder] John Chng before. In fact, I really do not know him that well because he is in the Chinese service. His English is not great. But his heart is huge. And I love that! So, that is John - may his tribe increase!

Now, we have come to Program. What is the Program of this church? Typically, we can say our church is a Word-centered church. Most people come to church because “I like Pastor Jason’s preaching.” Very few come in and say, “I like your worship.” Very few. Sorry, to the worship team ah? It is no fault of yours because we get you into one little corner. Somehow, when you really get people into [an obscure] corner [on stage], you forget them. I always say this is a nice big stage. But our worship team? Actually [the team is] slightly bigger now. But before [this, they stand in] one little corner. I hope their tribe will increase. But very few come in [say,] “I love your worship.”

Even [fewer] will come and say I love the “wonder” [of God]. “Wonder” means how you pray for the sick; how we see amazing things happening. We should! It is a great God [we worship]. I am sad that we do not have enough of that. When people are sick, I tell them “Come! The church elders will pray for you.” [To which the sick believer is shocked,] “You all pray for us ah? I thought you never pray for the sick! This church!” Because they thought we [are] just the Word. Word. Word only! Do not pretend. You know [our church is like that.] It is like [our people thinking,] “What? God still works wonders? I thought that [wonders are found] only in the book of Acts!” [To which Pastor Paul replies,], “Really? Then why do you pray?”

Our Program is very, very strong because of the Word. And then Work. When we have the right Word, you praise God – Worship! When you praise God, you know God, you expect Wonders from God. Of course. Then the outflow of that [God-centred] life is Work: Serving, serving, serving. These are the W's that we have. Sad to say, sad to say, [our track record of these four W’s is] not so good. Next week, I am going to talk a lot about this one. God has been faithful to us, and I thank God, at least, we are strong on the foundational W (Word). Because if your Word is not strong, you do not have a foundation. Then you are on shaky ground.

[If] of the four W's (Word-Worship-Wonder-Work) you must only choose one - God never said you must only choose one - if you have only to choose one, take the first one (Word). Good foundation is always important. I thank God [that] at least our foundation is not bad. But we are not built very well on [the Word]. Someone once said: “The Word without the Holy Spirit- you dry up. The Holy Spirit without the Word - you blow up. The Word and the Holy Spirit [together] - you grow up.” Can we have that [in Gospel Light]? Sad to say: We are “Word” largely. Every Sunday, I think you are all taking notes about what Pastor Jason is saying. (Some are watching Instagram. I know because I sit at the back and watch. I never sit in the front row; I like to see what is happening. Because - like it or not - what you see on your cell phone, I can watch you. Right here, some of you [are scrolling through TV dramas], “Quite interesting ah, this Korean show.” Plenty [are doing this in church!]) All right. But thankfully, the Word is preached and with the Holy Spirit, we will grow up. Let us have a better balance.

We Must Press on As a Welcoming Church

We have another W in this church; not [found] in normal church-growth teaching. Our last W is actually quite unique to us: Welcome. We are quite strong on the “Welcome” side. We are quite strong as a  Word church and Welcome church. We welcome [newcomers] by eating [with them]. Because you welcome people by eating! That is a standard thing, right? I always tell Pastor Jason, “PJ, the newcomers [that] come here, do you think they appreciate you or they appreciate the kitchen?” What is your answer? Of course, the kitchen lah! Half of them do not know what Pastor Jason is talking about for 40 minutes! This verse, this verse, this Greek, this Hebrew. Alamak! When is the lunch? Let us be honest! If you are an unsaved person coming to church for the first time, it is boring to listen to Pastor Jason. Absolutely boring! But at least you have a highlight after that. Lunch! Our last W (Welcome) is not bad. First W, Word - good. [Our] Welcome - quite good. Nice food downstairs. Thank God for the kitchen crew: You are actually the main attractor of unsaved people. Because even [if] the preaching [is] no good - they do not understand a word Pastor Jason said - they enjoy the food and fellowship after that! That is a wonderful thing.

Our Program Has Areas for Improvement: Know – Grow - Go

Our Program needs a lot of help. We have LOLMD (Life on Life Missional Discipleship). We have care groups - all kinds of stuff. It is good. But basically, this is what we always say in our church; it is our Program the third P [which comprises] KNOW – that is evangelism; GROW - that is equipping [the believers]; GO – that is empowering the believers. [Our performance in this KNOW – GROW – GO Program is] not so good also. Not so good. Next week, we will highlight some of these areas where we are not terribly good. Our evangelism is not “lifestyle evangelism;” most of us [do] “event evangelism” e.g. for Christmas [outreach] we want to bring people, that kind of thing. But in your daily life [the evangelism is silent.] Do not know what to do. Not equipped. Not empowered. This [aspect of our Program on “KNOW – Making the Lord known through the evangelism of daily living] needs a lot of working.

Now, I can say in our mission field - of course, I am very biased because I am in-charge of missions - we are much better than the local church. Miles better than the local church. Partly because the world is bigger than these four walls. The world is bigger than Punggol. But in our mission work, we do try to evangelize, equip, [and] empower. We have one institute which I focus my life on now. It is the Asia-Pacific Institute of International Studies where I train, equip, and empower people who want to serve God, wherever they are. There are about 1000 students from 30 countries, and I love to do this. Because you can actually do all the equipping (everything) from one location in your house. So, next week we are going to talk about [our performance for our] Program - which means you [have] got to do something. The name “Gospel Light,” you could not do anything - the Purpose [is defined]. The Right People? You can volunteer. The Program? You have got to see where we are lacking.

Our Place Is in Punggol but Our Focus is on Serving People

Place. I like that. You know, for many years of our life, we were migratory until five years ago, we came here [to Punggol]. 36 minus 5; for 31 years we were migratory. 12 places we went to. First 4 years, we went to four different places. We were literally like nomads. First 4 years, four different locations. God did not give us a place. Was that a bad thing? It was a good thing. It was a good thing because we were never focused on the place. Never focused on a place. We always focus on People, because that is all we had. We moved to this Place (Punggol is a new place), but the [same] People were still there.  The church learnt to focus on People because we did not have a Place. But imagine [if] from the beginning we had a place, what do you think we would be doing? [We would] focus on the place! “Hey, this is a nice place, you know? We're proud of it.” But I'm more proud of you guys. Frankly, I do not care if the government takes this [Place] away, but do not take my People away. It is very hard. It is very hard. In Singapore, people like to own property. “Die, die, marriage [is] not important.  Where we buy the BTO (Build-To-Order homes) [is more important.]” You do not even propose to the girl; you propose where to get the house! It is all about what you own. Again, thank God that for the many years of our life, [the focus] was [on] People. People. People, and Purpose and Program. Now that we have a Place, I hope we do not lose track of [People, Purpose, and Program.] But we are thankful that we are in a wonderful place called Punggol. It is a new town which means new opportunities. We are in a wonderful place called Singapore, where we have freedom of worship. Amazing. [We are in] a wonderful place called Asia, where Singapore is connected to Asia. So, in terms of [our] Place, next week I am going to challenge you: God has put us in a unique Place with the Right People, the Right Program – let us get going!

Our Provision Comes from God when Purpose, People, and Program are in Place

Very quickly, [we will mention] Provision. I am going to spend exactly one second on this. If you get your first 4 Ps right, “suat liao,” (Hokkien slang for “You are all set and good to go.”)  God will provide. God will never give you a Purpose, and the Program, and the People, and the things to do, and not give you the money. That will be ridiculous. It is like your Big Boss sending you, saying, “Hey, I want you go to Vietnam. I want you to start a shoe factory. [Or] make a Microsoft factory, make laptops or whatever.” Then you do everything: You have got the Right Purpose, the Right People, the Right Place, the Right Program, [but] then the Boss says, “I won't send you any money.” Are you okay [in your brain]? The only one thing you should do is to resign from the company straight away!

Why worry about [Provision]? If God has a Purpose for you, He put the People there, He wants you to do that Program, He will get the Provision for you. May we get that clear in this church! Do not tell me about Provision. Tell me about what the Purpose of God [is]. I do not want [an] upside-down church. Or shall we say [sarcastically] the “right-side-up” church - budget first? Purpose first! What is God's Purpose for us? So, this one [Provision], no need to talk! But [it is] talked too much in most instances. I am tired! [When] I go to a meeting I hear this, I walk out. [I] do not to talk! (I might as well stay back in my medical practice and listen to my accountants.) This is church. This is God's house. If God has a plan for us, God will provide for us.

As we look back - 36 years - God has been so good to us. I have had the privilege to sit at a front-row seat to watch how God overrode things, how God brought People in, how God did things. I hope you will all have front-row seats one day, as you start something for God. It is very different to hear [about God’s acts] “second-hand.” You have got to taste it first-hand. If I tell you how good a sushi is, or [how good a] durian - I explain to you with all the adjectives in the world – it is not the same as you taking one [bite.] One taste is better than a million explanations. Have you tasted the goodness of God? Have you journeyed with God? Have you ventured out with God and say, “I sat on the front-row and watched these things myself?” You can! All right? May God bless all of you in Gospel Light. May we thank God as we look back for what He has done: Purpose, People, Program, a Place, and our Provision. Next week, come back and we will see how though God is so good and faithful, how unfaithful we are. Do not take a holiday next week. Do not try to escape. Cancel your holiday plan. [It is] better here. God bless you.