A Clean Slate

There are two theories for the origin of the idiom ‘a clean slate’, which means to be given a fresh start, an opportunity to begin again with no strikes against you. The first refers to a time when slates were used to tabulate orders when a party came into a tavern for food and drinks. It was subsequently and literally ‘wiped clean’ when the patrons paid their bill in full.

The second theory is something I’m quite familiar with. When I was young, our school blackboards (made of stone, i.e. slate) were cursorily erased but still dusty and smudged throughout the week. But, by Monday morning, we came to class to find they had all been wiped clean – shiny and like new.

My year began with a clear message from Isaiah 54:1, ‘Sing, O barren one!’ Not only did it set the tone for my year, little did I know that this chapter would keep coming back to me like a ping pong ball these many months – through sermons, prophesies as well as the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

A few days ago, God again led me to Isaiah 54 as a question reverberated inside me: What chapter does this follow? I knew instantly. This is the chapter graphically portraying our crucified Saviour, ‘smitten by God, and afflicted’, bearing our griefs and being wounded for us. Then I heard the Lord say, “The riches I have for you in Isaiah 54 are unearthed because of Isaiah 53.”

To fully appreciate what it took for a barren woman to sing, let us consider how worthless a childless woman felt in ancient times.

She harboured rejection, imagining herself cursed and socially marooned. Take Sarah as an example. In her pain, she suggested the unimaginable – “Abraham, go in to my maid!”

Oh, how she regretted such a brainless decision when Hagar ridiculed and despised her following the birth of Ishmael.

As the ‘barren woman’ in Isaiah is told to ‘enlarge the place of her tent’ to make room for the children she will soon raise, God makes it clear he intends to restore more than just her womb.

The bruises and stripes of the Man of Sorrows, Himself despised (Isaiah 53:5,3), are applied to deeper scars:
‘Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.’

Oh, the ocean of mercy contained in this one verse! The Holy Spirit shows that He understands every excruciating emotion infertility causes. He knows the fears. He knows the disgrace and public humiliation, the sense of alienation and abandonment.

The Hebrew here is rich, using three distinct words for shame to describe the crippling impact it has on the human heart. Every one of them is completely healed, once and for all.

As I studied and meditated on this verse, I was undone for a time. As I considered the scourging, the crimson-thorned brow, the penetration of spikes crushing the bones of His feet, I could only worship.

Beloved, survey this scene with me! Let the wonder of what our Lover and Lord has done for us sink in like the nails that day. Lift afresh the bread and cup of Communion.

In the shadow of Calvary’s bloodied beams, all fears, contempt, mocking, and shame in all its forms – all the pain we have carried unwittingly in our barrenness –is, like those old tavern slates, wiped completely clean. Paid in full.

It’s time to break forth into song!

 

Pastor Kevin Graves

Faithfulness & Self-promotion

One of the most important qualities spoken about in the Bible is faithfulness. Proverbs 20:6 says, ‘Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?’ 

God has called us to be faithful in small things, which shows they’re esteemed and remembered by Him. We’re evaluated and rewarded in eternity based on the small things we do in this age. Knowing this does something powerful in our hearts. It gives us strength and confidence to be faithful, while imparting a sense of significance in us.

We tend to devalue faithfulness in the small things while giving our time and effort to pursue what looks and feels impressive. However, the Word of God is clear that our eternal impact is tied to our faithfulness in small things.

read more…

Course Correction

One thing many people don’t know about me is my dream job to be a pilot. Although the bubble was burst after I failed the Air Force medical test, my current role as a pastor puts me in contact with all kinds of pilots. I’ve learnt many life lessons from them, and course correction is one essential skill that can save us in navigating these perilous times.

Midcourse correction is defined as a navigational correction made in the course of a ship, airplane, rocket, or space vehicle at some point between the beginning and end of the journey. Commercial flying is so sophisticated that a pre-programmed autopilot function now does most of a pilot’s work. That’s great for efficiency but, the more a pilot relies on autopilot, the more he or she loses the actual flying skills.

You’d be surprised how many plane crashes occur because the autopilot read more…

Of Angels and Of Men

I’ve just finished reading the Book of Daniel. In my opinion, it’s the most exciting of all the books among the Major and Minor Prophets. The visions are at times mesmerising, and others, horrifying.

The death-defying escapes by Daniel and his three friends get speckled between the visions, leading us on a constant ride of action, lessons, and confounding utterances.
 
It’s also in the Book of Daniel that we’re first introduced to two princes – archangels by the names of Gabriel and Michael. Their mention in Scripture is sparse, but their roles seem most defined.

Gabriel appears five times only in the whole Bible – thrice in Daniel and twice in the Good News of Luke. In almost a measured proportion, Michael is mentioned five times as well – thrice in Daniel, once in the Letter to read more…

We Know The End Of The Story

I was reading a book by a journalist, an Ivy League student raised in a secular environment, who chose to go ‘undercover’ at a private Christian college. The book is quite funny and interesting. The author’s experiences at the college did not convert him, but instead gave him a better understanding on the Christian’s worldview.

The author sought to enrol in as many core classes as he could at the college. These included Old and New Testament studies, Evangelism 101, and A History of Life – a Creationist biology class, etc.

There was a phrase in the book which really intrigued me where the author commented: (paraphrased) “If Christians believe that the Rapture and eternity are real, why don’t people at this college take it more seriously?”

What a statement read more…

Power Of Your Witness!

As much as ideas change people, where advertising, mass marketing, and communication have been most successful, people change people, and that is really the strongest influencing force.

This week, we’ve our WoW! Conference for women from 14 nations with over 88 churches. We chose the theme ‘Women of Witness’ because the power of personality is often greater than the idea itself.

In its latest online advertising campaign, Shopee engaged mega movie star Jackie Chan as its brand ambassador, believing the power of a personality will draw in the crowds. These star personalities have short-lived influence as they’ll need another big name for the next big draw. This pressures it to keep pushing for something or someone novel to pique interest.

For Christians, it isn’t a system, a building, an idea or even ethical practices that engage us. There’s only One read more…

A Future and A Hope

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

This is one of the most loved and frequently quoted verses of the Old Testament. And well it should be! It contains one of the greatest messages of all time – one worth shouting from the rooftops. It’s a message the world desperately needs to hear in our day. And the Church is the only legitimate, exclusive, and authorised ‘dealer’ of this priceless commodity – I’m speaking of HOPE.

A little context serves to magnify the beauty and power of Jeremiah’s words. Israel was facing a Holocaust-like moment, one on which its very survival was hanging in the balance. Whole towns had been emptied of their citizens – read more…

The Samuel Initiative

Four years ago, I heard these words ‘The Samuel Initiative’ vividly in a dream. I’ve never heard anything like that and had no idea what that meant. Wanting to dig deeper into its significance, I began to study the book of 1 Samuel.

The nation of Israel had a priesthood that had lost its vision and was corrupt. They had a form of godliness but denied its power. God was desirous of birthing something new amidst a barrenness. The story of Hannah who birthed Samuel was God’s solution to spiritual and societal compromise in the land.

Israel had undergone repeated cycles of backsliding and deliverance generation after generation. Eli, the spiritual leader of that day, had not disciplined his own two sons. As a result, Israel had become a barren wasteland due to the read more…

Pray Always

I’ve just completed my yearly consecration of a 40-Day Prayer and Fasting on our National Day. This season was unusual and special in several ways. In previous years, I satiated the 40 days with daily prayer meetings organised by Elijah 7000, Love Singapore, and other church prayer ministries. I’d fill my mind with the Word of God through reading, studying, attending conferences, and teaching seminars.

This year, I upped the ante by organising daily and weekly prayer meetings with my community in response to Pastor Yang’s call and preparation for revival. And it’s been an awesome season, riding the waves and building the momentum of praying together. It’s special because I’ve experienced a fresh grace for prayer. 

In his book Virgin Eye, Christian author, Robin Daniels, calls it ‘unceasing prayer’ – something I’ve been trying to learn and experience daily.

Prayer, read more…

I’d Rather Have A Buffet!

One of the most popular verses in Ecclesiastes is in chapter 3, where it talks about the different seasons in life and a time for every matter under heaven.

The first thing that caught my attention was two key points: 1) Everything 2) Has a season. The entire chapter reveals a time to be born; to die; to plant, and to pluck up what is planted; to kill, and to heal; to break down, and to build up, etc.

This list really is not just things that randomly happen but what God sovereignly allows to happen in our lives. This fact is hard for many of us – I too struggle with this greatly.

Sometimes, I’d watch food videos on YouTube before sleeping. Don’t ask me why, I still have no idea why I keep doing this! I recently saw read more…

God says, “Ask of Me”

In the last week of July, we convened our annual Cornerstone Global Network Conference with 23 countries from 5 continents meeting across the online platform. This global Covid pandemic has thrust us into this engagement, and God should have His way in this pandemic season.

Psalm 2:8 declares, “Ask, and I will give you all the nations; the whole earth will be yours.”Another version says, “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.”

The picture here portrays the relationship between prayer, asking, and receiving the ends of the earth which belong to Christ. It’s about the nations of the earth praising Jesus as His inheritance.

Hebrews 1:2 says Jesus has been ‘appointed heir of all things’ and we’ve become fellow heirs, joint heirs, and heirs read more…

Cultivating a Tinder Heart

“In the eighth year of his reign … he began to seek the God of his father David, and … purge Judah and Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 34:3

During camping trips growing up, as the youngest of four boys, I was often tasked with foraging the woods for tinder to light the campfire. Spiritually-speaking, as God prepares to set His people ablaze, His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth looking for tinder among us.

2,650 years ago in Judah, God’s eyes fell upon a young king named Josiah who would usher in one of the greatest renewals the nation ever saw.

Josiah re-instituted the Passover, something no king of Israel had done before, and he ‘removed all the abominations in all the country … and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God’ (2 read more…

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