Hurt By God

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.”

Isaiah 53:10 is a well-known messianic prophecy and picture of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead hundreds of years before it happened. The bruising is the crucifixion and death of Jesus, making Himself an offering for sin. Verse 10 says it was the Father’s pleasure to do this. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.

In the early days of my Christian walk, I used to have trouble reconciling how the Heavenly Father could find delight in bruising and hurting His own Son. Jesus told Peter in John 13:7, “You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on.” I’m beginning to understand.

Does God really do as He pleases and call it good? Well, the short answer is yes – God does what He wants, whenever He so chooses. However, something did not sit well with me as I pondered and meditated. Upon further examination of my questions and short answer, was it truly right for me to say that the goodness to God is whatever He wants it to be?

I, too, can honestly say that the more I know about God, the less I know about Him. Remember Who we’re dealing with here: God is immanent (so close) and yet transcendent (so utterly above and far from us). He is knowable, and yet unknowable. God is inside us and beside us, yet He’s wholly different from us. For this reason, Augustine wrote, “If you understand, it’s not God you understand.”

Yet our God is not capricious and His ways are not arbitrary. Perhaps brokenness is God’s way of bringing His children to maturity and glory. A great quote from AW Tozer, “Whom God would use greatly, He will hurt deeply.”

Every follower of Jesus at some point will confront these painful moments, or, as the ancients called it, “The dark night of the soul.” The moment our ‘good feelings’ of God’s Presence evaporates, we feel the door of heaven has been shut as we pray. Darkness, helplessness, weariness, a sense of failure or defeat, barrenness, emptiness, dryness descend upon us. The Christian disciplines that have served us up to this time ‘no longer work’.  We can’t see what God’s doing and we see little visible fruit in our lives. 

This is God’s way of rewiring and ‘purging our affections and passions’ that we might delight in His love and enter into a richer, fuller communion with Him. God wants to communicate to us His true sweetness and love. He longs that we might know His true peace and rest. He works to free us from unhealthy attachments and idolatries of the world. He longs for an intimate, passionate love relationship with us. 

For this reason, John of the Cross wrote that God sends us “the dark night of loving fire” to free us. (Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality)

Therefore, for in so much as I’m capable, I’m asking in this season for those who are struggling to trust in His goodness when it seems arbitrary, to not give way to cynicism and offences. And be encouraged by the amazingly wonderful ends like in the stories of Joseph who turned from a jailbird to ruler of all of Egypt. Like Queen Esther and Mordecai – who, through a strange turn of events, went from being wanted dead as Jews to being given the estate of the man who wanted them dead. And, most aptly, Jesus – Who laid His life down at the Cross only to rise again three days later.

How many of us will be able to endure the dark night of our souls? In this life, it’s inevitable for us to be hurt, but we can be healed.

“Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.” Hosea 6:1

If you’re in the season of the ‘dark night of the soul’, I’d like to pray with you:

“Heavenly Father, teach me to trust You even when I do not know where You’re going. Help me to surrender and not turn inward into myself out of fear. The storms and winds of life blow strongly all around me. I cannot see in front of me. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to drown. Lord, You’re centred, utterly at rest and at peace. Open my eyes that I might see You with me on the boat. I’m safe.

“Awaken me, Jesus, to Your Presence within me, around me, above me, and below me. Grant me grace to follow You into the unknown, into the next place in my journey with You. In your Name, amen.”

Ps. Timothy Chong

A Hero of the Faith

This week, I had the privilege of having a meal with my hero in the faith – the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. What a man. What a legacy. At almost 80, he’s still lucid, still strong, still full of the Holy Spirit, and still on FIRE. I related this story to Bro. Bonnke, of how I first met him in 1998.

I was a young pastor, with a fledgling ministry, and I get a call inviting me to lunch with the evangelist. It was a dream come true. I remember driving to the luncheon, praying all the way there, hoping I wouldn’t say anything embarrassing.

There were eight of us and the conversation revolved around what was happening in Africa. I took a deep breath, and I asked Bro. Bonnke to explain how the anointing works and how I could flow in read more…

The Journey of Faith

Over this weekend, we cross Singapore’s 54th year as a nation. I can consider my journey as a Christian living in Singapore and God’s faithfulness to us as a nation, but I’m thinking about my heavenly citizenship – I want to tell of my recent visit to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

This is my most unforgettable encounter with a giant of faith in our lifetime. Words are insufficient to express the immense overwhelming presence of Evangelist Billy Graham when I stood on the grounds. Although he’s no more with us, who he was and all he’d done while on earth was tangibly felt that day.

As I entered the grounds, the first place I stood at was the grave of Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Memories, recollections of the innumerable scenes of thousands read more…

I Want To Help

A group of us has been in the United States of America this past week attending a conference on church growth. The unique thing about this conference is that it doesn’t advertise the conference. News about it spreads only through word-of-mouth. Into its 9th year, the 6,000 tickets for this conference get snapped up within hours of its release each year.
 
The vision is to help 1,000 churches break the 1,000 growth barrier. It isn’t focused on showcasing a lineup of incredible speakers but structured more like a school. Hundreds of their staff and volunteers walk around everywhere, ready to answer any question you may have about how something runs in the church. Everything you see and encounter is curated to reinforce what’s taught during the sessions.
 
Over the three days of the conference, read more…

From Calling to Covenant

I’m often asked regarding the calling of God “How do I know the call of God in my life?” or “How do I know if God has called me into full-time ministry?” And I’ve come to realise that while giving them some guiding principles and advising them that “You’ll know when the time comes” was helpful to a certain extent, I wasn’t really answering their question. Neither will I be able to fully do so.

I can share from my personal testimonies of God’s divine leading and providence in my life, and listeners will be wowed and encouraged by my journey of faith in the Lord. Yet, as sincere as that may be, I’d then see an ‘encouraged face’ turned into a ‘blank face’ because, after all, the calling of God is a personal journey that you need to embark read more…

A Place For You!

What an amazing time to be alive! I’m so excited that it’s Cell Month once again – where we get together to celebrate and build the Body through the cell community.

We can never underemphasise the importance of community in the Christian faith – it’s a place for transformation, edification, and fellowship. If you watched the Cell Month video last weekend, you’d have gotten a sneak peek of what cell’s all about.

1. A Place For Transformation

In 2001, Malcolm Gladwell authored a secular marketing book entitled ‘The Tipping Point’. A tipping point is when an idea, product or movement becomes accepted by the masses. One of his studies revolved around John Wesley and the Methodist Movement. ‘Wesley realised that if you wanted to bring about a fundamental change in people’s belief and behaviour, a change that would read more…

The House That Built Me

Over 10 years ago, we planted a tiny plant in our garden, slightly more than a foot tall, not knowing that one day, that tiny plant would grow into an imposing, gigantic tree that would dominate our entire garden and even the street we’re on.
 
It’s now grown to well over 60 feet, but it hasn’t come without a cost. The roots of the tree now spread threateningly all over the garden, absorbing much of the nutrients, and the whole area around it is just sandy. No grass seems to be able to grow, because it cannot compete. So, really, the tree has been able to rise but only at the expense of the rest of the other plants in the garden. 
 
My point? There’s no such thing in the Kingdom of God as read more…

Community Is Life-Giving

We set aside each July to focus on life as a community as part of our church journey. And when we belong to the cell community, we can walk this journey out.

Community is life-giving and Scripture exhorts us that we’re better together than alone. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, ‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.’

This idea of community develops from the sense of responsibility we have for one another and we’re encouraged to take care of our brethren while following the Word of the Lord. God created us to desire companionship and we do better when we have someone to love, serve with, have fun read more…

Are You Stupid?

There’s a word that’s banned in our family. Actually there are lots of words that are disallowed in our home – profanities, rude language, angry vituperation, and the list goes on.

Essentially, that’s what you get when you’ve three boys in the home. Still, my wife, Wendy, hates it when we use the word ‘stupid’ on one another. I agree, we don’t use the word for its literary value, but more as a means to hurt one another.
 
But, guess what, the Bible uses the word ‘stupid’! If you haven’t read Proverbs recently, it’s time to make it one of your regular reads. After all, the whole book is about wisdom and, if there’s something we desperately need in all our lives, it’s more wisdom.

The word actually appears three times in the Bible, read more…

What About You, Daddy?

Four Sundays ago, on 26 May 2019, after I had served at the last service for the weekend and sent off some guests who were in town, I went to pick up my little boy, David, from the Children’s Church office as he had stayed back to play with his friends while waiting for me.

We came back to my desk and it was already 2.15pm. I was hungry and remembered I had a hot dog which was meant to be my breakfast. As I was about to bite into the bun, I suddenly remembered that my wife had texted me earlier to settle David’s lunch. So I offered him the bun.

What he did next touched my heart deeply. He asked me as he held the hot dog in his tiny hand and pushed it towards me, “What about read more…

The Promise of The Father

One of the biggest highlights of the church calendar is our Annual Family Camp. It’s probably the one event that we look forward to more than any other each year. We had an overwhelming response with more than 1,000 campers travelling up to Melaka for a 4-day convocation. In my opinion, this year’s camp is probably one of the best we’ve ever had as we grow from glory to glory.

Through the speakers, there was a deeper revelation of the spiritual realm and the things of God (1 Cor 2:9). Incidentally, the camp was held between Pentecost Sunday and Father’s Day Weekend. During the week, I was intrigued by the occurrence of a particular phrase that may not be altogether inappropriate for our consideration since it’s Father’s Day this weekend. It’s the phrase ‘The Promise of the Father.’

So the read more…

Send The Spirit Now, For Jesus’ Sake

BLESS WALES was a transformational event that went beyond our wildest expectations. After months of praying, planning, meetings, and interacting with pastors in Wales, it culminated in three days of power encounters that revitalised many Christians in Wales.

Organised by the Bible College of Wales, in conjunction with partner churches in Wales and Cornerstone Singapore, the conference featured powerful speakers such as Ben Fitzgerald and Dr. Sam Matthews. We knew things were going to be different after the first night, which really was epic – and I don’t say that lightly.

Ben Fitzgerald was up on the pulpit to speak but, even before he could get into his message, the Holy Spirit took over and wave after wave of worship, intercession, and prophecy just flowed from the congregation, and the whole meeting took a life on its own. And it read more…

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