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  Midweek Music: Scandal Of Grace
3 May 2013 | Lawrence Kam


Song Title: Scandal Of Grace
Album: Zion (2013)
Artist: Hillsong United
Scandal of Grace is a single from Hillsong United's latest album "Zion". The song speaks about grace in a paradoxical light, that there is nothing we have done or possibly do to deserve it. As the first verse goes, "grace" was murdered for us and accused in the absence of wrong. Maybe the nature of "grace" is best summed up by this line: "the scandal of grace / you died in my place / so my soul will live".

Joel Houston explains the intriguing title of the song. "When we think about scandalous, we think about something that is wrong, negative, but I love the paradoxical nature of the Gospel and the fact is the grace of God through Jesus is completely scandalous," he says.

"It is the reason they crucified Jesus, because of who he said he was and what he was there to do and it is the reason why so many people now have a hard time accepting the love and grace of Jesus."

What is your take on God's grace?



Lyrics:
Grace, what have you done?
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in your blood

Too much to make sense of it all
I know that your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace, you died in my place
So my soul will live

Oh to be like you
(To) Give all I have just to know you
Jesus, there's no one besides you
Forever the hope in my heart

Death, where is your sting?
Your power is as dead as my sin
The cross has taught me to live
In mercy, my heart now to sing

The day and it's trouble shall come
I know that your strength is enough
The scandal of grace, you died in my place
So my soul will live

And it's all because of you, Jesus
It's all because of you, Jesus
It's all because of your love
And my soul will live

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Sunday Wrap: A Time To Be Born
29 April 2013 | Lawrence Kam


Topic: A Time To Be Born
Bible Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
Speaker: Pastor Andrew Yeo
Last Sunday, we had the privilege of having Pastor Andrew Yeo speaking at JYM. He is a local singer-songwriter signed to Integrity Music, as well as a pastor of The City Church, a church plant of Cornerstone Community Church. Sharing his life story and testimony, it was a wonderful opportunity to hear from a young man who had been radically transformed by the grace of God.

Pastor Andrew reminds us that we all have the power of choice. We can choose to be happy or sad, living in the victorious life in Jesus or remain in our sin. However, there are certain things we cannot choose, like our names, our parents and our families' social status. We may have been born into difficult or unpleasant circumstances, broken or financially-challenged families.

However, the Bible tells us that God knew us even before we were born. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" and in Psalm 138:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." We have been "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). God knows what we were created for. He created us for a purpose.

We can find ourselves in the worst of situations, just as Job did. We may seem to lose everything, but God challenges us to praise Him still. This is the choice we can make. We can choose to praise God in spite of our circumstances and live with the purpose that God has created us for. As John 10:10 states, the devil comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came so that we may have life, and have it to the fullest.

Do visit Pastor Andrew Yeo's website and support his work and ministry!

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Sunday Wrap: Forgiving
11 March 2013 | Glenn Chan


Sermon Series: Characters of Jesus Christ
Topic: Forgiving
Speaker: Glenn Chan
Jim Elliot, with a group of missionaries, were trying to evangelise to the Quechua Indians in Ecuador. They begin to search by plane for a way to establish contact with the Waodoni tribe. After several attempts and friendly gestures, they finally made contact with a small group of Waodoni. As the missionaries were on the way to visit the village, they were brutally murdered by the tribe. However, the story does not end here. Elisabeth Elliot, Jim's wife, decided to forgive the very same group of people who murdered her husband and visit them. She lived with them for a few years and shared the gospel. As a result, a church was established and many Waodoni Indians became Christian.

In our lives we may never need to forgive others who have hurt us to such an extent, but have we forgiven those who have hurt or offended us in any way? Or, on the flip side  have we sought forgiveness from those we have offended?

"Forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved." - C.S. Lewis

A character of God is forgiveness (see Psalm 86:5, 103:8-12, Ephesians 1:7). Jesus, on the cross, said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Even while hanging on the cross, Jesus forgave the people who crucified him. Alexander Pope once said, "To err is human, to forgive divine."

The devil tells us two things to two groups of people. First, that our problem is so bad we cannot be forgiven. However, God can forgive the worst of sins ("with God all things are possible", Matt 19:26). Second, the devil may tell us that we have nothing to be forgiven for. But there might be a sin we commit but we are oblivious to. Ultimately, forgiveness is for everyone.

Forgiveness is the basis of Christianity.

1. Forgiveness is not weakness, but strength. It is the ultimate portal to Jesus.

We accept the power of God when we forgive (Phil 4:13). However, forgiveness is not forfeiting justice, rather, it is allowing God to be the judge (Rom 12:17-21).

2. Forgiveness declares that the gospel is true, not by minimising sin but declaring that it has been paid full by Jesus' death on the cross.

When we forgive, we declare that God's plans are the best and we give up the possibility of a better past. Also, the blood of Jesus is the prerequisite to forgiveness and has paid in full for all our sins.
 
3. Forgiveness sets you free.

If we do not forgive and instead seek revenge, we harm ourselves in the process. Joyce Meyer said, "To be full of bitterness and unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping it will hurt your enemies."

Unforgiveness, at the root of it all, is unbelief in God. 

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Matthew 18:21-22

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Sunday Wrap: Faithfulness
4 March 2013 | Ryan Kam


Sermon Series: Characters Of Jesus Christ
Topic: Faithfulness
Speaker: Ryan Kam
"Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?" (Proverbs 20:6) Kenneth Liew, whose wife fell into a coma five years ago, kept his promise to cherish and love her in sickness and health. The Bible often uses marriage and romance to communicate faithfulness to us (see Eph 5:25, Jer 2:2). A great Biblical example is Hosea, encapsulated in Hosea 3:1. God asked Hosea to love his unfaithful wife just as how God loved the unfaithful Israelites.

Luke 21:34 states three things that will lure us away from God: carousing (overindulgence), drunkenness (temporal pleasures) and anxieties of life. However, we can follow the example of Jesus in being faithful to God.

1. Prayer

In Luke 5:16, Jesus "often withdrew to lonely places and prayed". The demands of school and work may leave us with supposedly little time to spend with God. However, we often find ways to make time for the things in love, be it playing games or watching shows. "No time" may have ended up becoming a convenient excuse. We should instead make time for the things that are important, not just for the things we like.

The Cambridge Seven were seven students who studied in Cambridge University and ended up becoming missionaries in China. During their days in the university, they set aside the first few minutes of their mornings to pray and read the Bible, "remembering the morning watch".

2. Obedience

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, "not my will but Yours be done." (Matthew 26:39) Jesus was obedient to even death on the cross.

Is there something dear to us that God wants us to give up? We are asked in Luke 9:23 to deny ourselves and take up our cross DAILY. Obedience to God may sometimes be a one-off decision, but is more often a daily effort.

3. The Word Of God

Jesus was tempted three times by the devil in Matthew 4, and in all three times Jesus quoted the Bible to counter the devil. We need to submit to the authority of the Word of God.

---

Stephen Coffey, a youth pastor, was in a church prayer meeting when he prayed, "I'd give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation". That night, he died as a result of a car accident. His best friend, John Mark McMillan wrote "How He Loves" the day after as a personal response. But several years passed and McMillan wondered when the youth movement would happen, until a mutual friend urged him to release the song he wrote as a tribute. Since then, "How He Loves" has become a Christian youth anthem worldwide and has led many people back to Jesus.

Just as God is faithful to us, we are called to be faithful to Him.

Related links:

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Midweek Music: Beautiful Lord
28 February 2013 | Lawrence


Song Title: Beautiful Lord
Album: Sound Of Melodies (2006)
Artist: Leeland
Leeland Mooring was just 17 years old when he wrote and recorded this song "Beautiful Lord". The album "Sound Of Melodies" was released back in 2006 and was Grammy-nominated for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel album the following year. We may be more familiar with his other song on the same album "Tears of the Saints" but here's a beautiful song (literally) about our God. Do take notice of the well-penned and meaningful lyrics!


Lyrics:
When the storm is raging all around me
You are the peace that calms my troubled sea
And when the cares of this world darken my day
You are the light that shines and shows me the way

Oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me!

Beautiful Lord, awesome and mighty
I'm captured by this love I see
Beautiful Lord, tender and holy
Your mercy brings me to my knees
It's Your mercy that has made me free
Beautiful Lord

When my sin is all that I can see
Your grace remains the shelter that I seek
And when my weakness is all I can give
Your gentle Spirit gives me strength again

Oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me!

And I am lifted by Your love to sing!
It's Your mercy that has made me free!

You're beautiful, my Lord
You're beautiful, my Lord

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Sunday Wrap: Commitment
25 February 2013 | Ivan Chan


Sermon Series: Characters of Jesus Christ
Topic: Commitment
Speaker: Ivan Chan
There are two types of commitment: heart and head commitment. A heart commitment is a passionate following, like a fan of a popular singer. A head commitment requires a sacrifice, like a student studying for his examinations in which he gives up his leisure time to study.

Commitment to Jesus is both a HEART and HEAD commitment.

A key moment in Jesus' life can be found in Luke 9:18-26, where he confirms himself as the Messiah for the first time. Following that, he states that whoever is to be his disciple must "deny himself and take up their cross daily and follow him." (Luke 9:23) Knowing this, the disciples were left with only two options: to commit fully to Jesus or not at all.

There are three points on commitment: cause, condition and decision.

1. Cause

The cause of our commitment to God is the kingdom of God.

WHEN: The kingdom of God takes place when Jesus comes again. Meanwhile we are to build this kingdom and prepare ourselves.
WHO: The kingdom of God is for everyone.
EFFECT: The kingdom of God is the answer to people's suffering and hope for the broken.
PRINCIPLE: The kingdom of God is the reversal of earthly principles.

2. Condition

Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" (Luke 9:20) Our answer to that question bears serious consequences.

Condition 1: We are to share in Jesus' suffering and persecution.
Condition 2: We are to be prepared to give up everything (Luke 14:26).
Condition 3: We are to be willing to go the distance.

3. Decision

We are to count the cost of how much it takes to follow Jesus (Luke 14:28-33). Bearing in mind the cause, condition and cost of following Jesus, are we ready to deny ourselves and commit to being a disciple of Jesus?

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Sunday Wrap: GR-Atitude
18 February 2013 | Pastor Henry


Sermon Series: Characters Of Jesus Christ
Topic: Gratitude
Speaker: Pastor Henry
Jesus was always giving thanks to God during his time on Earth. Although it was not mentioned much about his early teens or young adult life, the glimpses of his life is of one who was dedicated to his occupation as a carpenter, a filial son to the parents and of the confidence his mother had in him. For example, during the Wedding at Cana in Galilee, his mother said to the servants, "Do whatever He tells you." (John 2:5) Jesus gave thanks to God for the 5 loaves and 2 fishes (Mark 8:6-7), and even on the cross where he remained calm and forgiving (Luke 23:34).

Looking at Jesus gives us the assurance of the kind of God we worship and the hope we have in Him. He has set the example for us to follow.

Gratitude, or being thankful, can be broken up to GR-Atitude.
G - Give thanks
R - Rejoice always

1. Give Thanks

"Gratitude goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of the gifts received, but now I realise that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy." Henri JM Nouwen

We can learn to appreciate life in God's perspective and give thanks in everything. There are almost 200 verses in the Bible on thankfulness. For example,

1 Thessalonians 5:18 - Give thanks in all circumstances
Ephesians 5:20 - Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything

It is an attitude that God is constantly shaping us. Even when we are in a crisis, Phillipians 4:6-7 says, "In prayer we also give thanks in all circumstances."

I believe what I went through last year had an impact on my faith and what it means to give thanks in adverse circumstances. When I discovered the condition of my health, I did ask God what His plan was fr me. There were times when I felt scared for my own destiny, my family etc. The Lord assured me with the passage from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances."

2. Rejoice Always

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Paul was in prison and telling the churches to rejoice. Paul was teaching an important lesson, that our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstnces. He was full of jou because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. How can we cultivate an attitude of rejoicing, of thankfulness?

Let me share with you another 2 Rs to make it 3 Rs:

a. Rooted in Christ

Our faith must be anchored in Christ. We walk by faith and not by sight. In Christ I can rejoice always because He sees to my every need. In His time He makes all things beautiful, even death.

b. Restedness in Christ

Being rooted in Christ results in restedness in Christ. Colossians 3:15-17 says:
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Let us be reminded to be thankful: GR-Atitude. Give thanks and rejoice always, so that we will grow into Christ-likeness.

1. What is one thing I can thank God for? Why?
2. What is one thing I can thank God for in each of my cell members?
3. What are some things I can do to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness?
4. What can I do this week to show my gratitude for my family members and others?

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Sunday Wrap: Compassion
4 February 2013 | Joel Pang


Sermon Series: Characters of Jesus Christ
Topic: Compassion
Speaker: Joel Pang
What is compassion? It is the love for someone who is suffering, the feeling for someone else (empathy) and the desire to help the person.

So why compassion? It is God's nature as demonstrated numerous times throughout the Bible. As Christians, we are called to become more like Jesus who himself was described as having compassion. Also, compassion moves us to help others. Compassion helps us to act out genuine, sincere love. After all, we are God's preferred way of showing compassion to others.

How to show compassion?

1. Forgiving offenders
We should show compassion for those who have offended us. In other words, we are to love our enemies. Make the first move in making amends and in doing good.

2. Care for the less-cared-for
Jesus gave special attention to outcasts. If you are blessed with a good family and friendships, bless others who have less. Intentionally go and talk to them.

3. Meeting human needs
Jesus fed more than 9000 hungry people in Matthew 14 and 15.  We can give money and/or food to those who need it more. Be on the lookout for needy people and give generously as God compels you.

4. Telling others about God
Spiritual needs are more important than physical needs and we should have compassion for souls. One practical way is to invite our friends to Youth Alpha which is starting in July.

And as for you, do not be too proud to share your problems which others. Sometimes God wants to answer your prayers through others.

How to have more compassion?

We can firstly ask God for it, and secondly expose ourselves to the discomforts and troubles in the world out there.

Matthew 25:35-40
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

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Sunday Wrap: Love Tribute, Transform, Transcend
21 January 2013 | Pastor Henry


Sermon Series: Characters of Jesus Christ
Topic: Love
Speaker: Pastor Henry
There are four types of love: Storge (affection), Philia (friendship), Eros (romance), Agape (unconditional). Storge (affection) is fondness through familiarity, especially between family members. Philia (friendship) is the love between friends, often through similar interests or activities. Eros (romance) is the emotional connection with another. Agape (unconditional) is sacrificial love that God has for us, regardless of circumstances.

The focus is on Agape, or unconditional love.

1. Love Tribute

Jesus' love is shown by his obedience to God, even to death upon the cross (John 5:9-13). John 5:13 reads "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Obedience is the key to loving God and this also means obeying our authorities and parents.

God's love compels us to love others, but with our own might or strength it is impossible. God sends His Holy Spirit to help us to love (Zechariah 4:6, Matthew 19:26).

2. Love Transform

Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector and a cheat, but after experiencing the love of Jesus, his life changed dramatically (read Luke 19:1-10). Love transforms lives. It is not enough to just feel good when you receive God's love, but it has to be shown by a changed behaviour.

3. Love Transcend (Surpass, Excel)

Without love, we are nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says "If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." The Message version reads "bankrupt without love". Reading on to verse 13, it is stated that the greatest is love, over faith and hope.

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Sunday Wrap: Taming the Tongue
12 November 2012 | Ryan Kam


Sermon Series: Book of James
Topic: Taming the Tongue
Bible Passage: James 3:3-12
Speaker: Ryan Kam
Sometimes, all it takes for you to run far far away is a small little cockroach. One little bug can somehow affect us in a way much bigger than its size suggests! That's how it is with our tongue, actually. The small tongue can cause huge damage - to you! James gives 3 reasons why we must pay attention to that small little organ in our mouths: 1) It greatly corrupts you; 2) It can greatly harm others; 3) It reflects the condition of your heart.

1) My small tongue can corrupt the whole of me by the great boasts it makes.
James 3:5-6 "the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts... It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire"

Maybe you're saying I don't boast about myself all that much. But brothers and sisters, we give ourselves away in the way we talk about others. Have you called someone 'messed up' or 'weird' maybe? You might have just set yourself above that person, who is created in the image of God. If so, you're in huge danger, in terms of your relationship with the person, and in terms of your coming to God. How difficult it is to come to God thinking we're a somebody who's above others! It's contrary to the cross and how Jesus lowered Himself to save you!

The same goes for others sins of the tongue - gossip, slander, ridicule, sarcasm, a critical tongue, etc etc. These are boastful tongues as well, because they set you above others.

2) The tongue must be reined in because it is a restless evil
James 3:8 "no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

As the SPK song taught us (SPK is the children's programme that many JYMers went for when they were younger): Don't say something that isn't nice, better listen to this advice: When your mouth is making fun, you can really hurt someone, so keep your lips together and...Shhh!

Words can cut very deeply. And sometimes when our tongue slips, it's easy to walk away and forget what we've said soon after - but we've no idea the kind of damage we might have caused. A little slip of the tongue can affect someone else for a day, or days, or weeks, or even years! Hurtful words take an especially long time to heal and can affect someone's self-worth, or even his view of God! Be careful, alright. God is a judge.

How about rebuking someone? How do we know when to do it? Rebuking must be done out of love. Because unloving rebuke can crush a person; loving rebuke will make a better man. There is also a time for everything - a time to rebuke, and a time not to. Just think about how God has dealt with you - did he rebuke you for every single little thing? If so, I think I'd have been so disheartened, I'd just sit in my bed every day and not dare to live for fear of making a mistake! We're a work in progress and God knows some things take time to mature. On the other hand, if He does discipline you, do not regard it lightly! There's much to be said on this, but we're getting outside the lesson of James here. Hebrews 12:5-6 will be very helpful to look at.

3) The tongue must be redeemed through a transformed heart.
James 3:10-11 "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?"

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth, what? Speaks. This is from Luke 6:43-45. A good heart says good things, an evil heart says evil things - it is as simple a law of nature as that.

But this is the precious promise: For those who love God and have been called by Him, God has predestined you to become more and more like Jesus, and finally on the day you see Jesus face to face, you will be! This is from Romans 8:28-29. God is at work, we are His workmanship (Eph 2:10). God is the potter, we are the clay. Maybe you've been trying very hard to be a better person and are tired or discouraged. Rest in the promise that God desires and purposes to transform you - radically! We don't always know how we growing, but 2 Corinthians 4:16 says "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we're wasting away, inwardly we're being renewed day by day."

If you have not yet made a decision to put your faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for you - dying for your sins, and if you would like to do so, do not hesitate to approach a leader or Pastor Henry. We'll be more than happy to hear from you and help you along!

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Sunday Wrap: SPK Teachers' Day
8 September 2012 | Lawrence


Click here to view the photo album.
Photography by Joel Chua.
JYM celebrated Teachers' Day by giving the teachers of SPK a break and conducted the whole programme: from games to worship, songs to skits. As many of us are graduates from SPK ourselves, coming back to serve in this ministry was a sense of nostalgia. While many of us will remember fondly of our time in SPK, we often neglect the amount of work it takes to run this ministry week after week.

The photo album can be found on the JYM Facebook group. Below are the snapshots, courtesy of Joel Chua, of the Teacher's Day celebration we had in SPK:









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Sunday Wrap: Have We Forgotten?
16 August 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Psalms - Songs of Ascents
Topic: Life is Temporary
Bible Passage: Psalms 126
Speaker: Ryan Kam
Psalm 126 is split up into two parts. The first part (verses 1-3) refers to a past event in which God brought the captives from Babylon back to Israel and there was much rejoicing. The second part (verses 4-6) however indicates that the current circumstances of Israel are not good. The psalmist hopes that God will restore the nation's fortunes, like he did in the past.

Memories of what God has done for us in the past can help to assure us that He is still with us and loves us today, and give us faith to pray about our difficulties of today.

There are examples in which God does give us reminders of the great things in the past. The examples include the Passover Feast, and the Holy Communion in which we partake to this day to remember the cruxifiction and resurrection.

So why is it important to remember? We tend to be forgetful, especially when circumstances seem to tell us otherwise.

Story of the Red Sea
God delivered them from the Egyptians by dividing the Red Sea, allowing them to cross. After such a great demonstration of power, they grumbled afterwards about the lack of food and water and wondered whether the LORD was among them.

Don't let cirumstances determine the truth of a situation. Rather they are meant to turn us to God.

Difficult times have a way of allowing us to exercise our faith, unlike good times, Our faith grows the most in difficult times.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3

CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters
Context: A senior demon is writing a letter to a junior temptor and nephew, Wormwood.

"[God] is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs-- to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot 'tempt' to virtual as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood.

Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do [God]'s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

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Sunday Wrap: Look to The Lord
28 July 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Psalms - Songs of Ascents
Topic: Our Eyes Look to the Lord our God
Bible Passage: Psalms 123
Speaker: Ivan Chan
Psalms are a collection of songs. They are God-inspired expressions and personal reflections of the writers. Therefore, the words written in the Psalms are not doctrinal truths; they are not commandments or laws from God. These songs are meant to help us to feel and understand when in a similar situation.

Psalm 123 was written by a person in despair. Even though the writer was in such a situation, he expresses the right attitude by looking to the Lord.

"I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven." (verse 1)

Despite the tough situation, the psalmist looks up to God. This is the correct attitude when we face difficulties. Let us look above and beyond the problem, and see God reigning over our troubled situations.

"As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy." (verse 2)

The writer gives the analogy of slaves and masters, or maids and mistress. In those days, masters and mistresses would communicate to their slaves or maids through hand gestures. Thus, the slaves and maids would constantly pay close attention to their masters' and mistresses' hands. Like them, we pay attention to God, not expecting God just to save us, but to see what God wants us to do.

"Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured no end of contempt. We have endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud." (verses 3-4)

How do we respond to people who ridicule us? Do we take revenge nastily or, like the psalmist, look to God? Focus on God, not the problem.

Food for thought: what if we are the ones ridiculing others, maybe unintentionally? Do we hurt others with our words or actions?

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Sunday Wrap: Joy in God's House
21 July 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Psalms - Songs of Ascents
Topic: The Lord is Your Shelter
Bible Passage: Psalm 122
Speaker: Au Kai Min
Psalm 122, a song of ascents, describes the writer following a group traveling to Jerusalem. As they were on their way, the writer proclaims the joy, the esteem and the concerns they had of the holy city. Today, as we make our journeys to church, are we doing so with the same excitement as described in Psalm 122? Do take note that it is the people, not the physical building nor the location, that makes the church. We may not be making our pilgrimages to Jerusalem, but we are certainly journeying to eternity.

What is it about God's House in which we can find joy in?

1. The Place Dedicated to His Worship (verses 1-2)

Jerusalem was a place where the old covenant believers gathered. It was a city dedicated to worshipping God. Now, we as believers gather in churches for corporate worship. Churches have become the dedicated places of worship.

Consider our attitude when we come for church or any other Christian gatherings. Do we have the sense of joy and expectation despite the troubles and difficulties of life, or are we having the dreading sense of obligation and duty?

2. A Work Built Upon Christ (verses 3-5)

Jerusalem, unlike many villages and hamlets in Israel which comprised of tents and huts, was hewn from rock. The rock foundation gave permanence to the city; the foundation of Jerusalem was strong and lasting. Are our churches today built on rock or on shifting sand? Just like Jerusalem, the foundation of the church must be solid rock, which is Jesus Christ.

People of different tribes were able to gather together in Jerusalem to worship despite diversity. Likewise, our church must be able to embrace diversity and not be an exclusive society. Furthermore, like Jerusalem, the church is to be a shelter for the hurting, abused and mistreated. Church is not just for "holy" and "righteous" people; it is even more for those who truly need God.

3. A House Sustained Through Prayer (verses 6-9)

The greatest danger is not from the enemy outside the church, but the division within. Therefore, pray for the church - the people of God. Pray not just for our own comfort, but for the sakes of our "family and friends" (v7). Let there be peace, not mere tolerance and never division, in the church.

Yet with our prayers comes action. We, as members of the church, have to act. We become the answers to our own prayers. Let us work towards the prosperity of the church.

Conclusion

As Christians, we have to consider three things when we gather together to worship God:

1) our attitude of worship
2) our foundation of worship
3) our response in worship

Ask ourselves, are we right in these three areas?

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Sunday Wrap: Our Worship, Our Prayer
30 June 2012 | Lawrence


Click here to view the photo album.
Photography by Joel Chua.
We hope you all have enjoyed the "special sunday", brought to you with lots of love and dedication by the Worship and Prayer Committee. We have just ended a series on Colossians and are about to embark on a new series on the Psalms. As we transition to the next quarter, what better way to do so with a time of worship, prayer and rededication.

On top of the worship, prayer committee and everyone who helped out in one way or another, give a shout out to Joel Chua for capturing the moments on camera. The link is on the left, so go ahead and check out the album on Facebook!

"Worship is the dramatic celebration of God in His supreme worth in such a manner that His worthiness becomes the norm and inspiration for human living." - Ralph Martin



JYM began with a time of personal preparation. Four prayer stations were set up: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. JYMers could also join Calvin in worshipping God.


As the countdown timer ticked to zero, worship started promptly at 2.30pm.

What followed was a time of rededication and prayer.


And more worship!

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Sunday Wrap: Final Instructions
3 June 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Book Study on Colossians
Topic: Speech of a New Man and Final Instructions
Bible Passage: Colossians 4:2-18
Speaker: Glenn Chan
The second half of Colossians focuses on how Christians, being born again, should live our lives in regard to the people around us. Paul, in chapter 3, points to the home where he gives instructions to every member of the household. Beginning of chapter 4, the boundaries widen to the people around us and also to non-Christians.

1. Pray, pray, pray!
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (v2)

From verses 2 to 6, Paul starts addressing the topic of speech. Now that "the old has gone, the new has come", one important characteristic of our new speech is prayer. Three elements can be seen in verse 2 (above): devotion, watchful and thankful.

DEVOTION: Praying continually has the basic concept of being God-conscious, as Henri Nouwen says, "The most powerful thing that can happen in the place of prayer is that you yourself become the prayer. You leave the prayer room able as Jesus' hands and feet on earth. This is what is means to pray continually, to see with the eyes of Jesus to hear with His ears with every waking moment." More than being God-conscious, devotion to prayer also boldness and persistence. Remember PUSH - Pray Until Something Happens.

WATCHFUL: As you pray, be watchful. Be aware of what you are praying, that you are actually focused on your prayer and not falling asleep. Be aware also that you are not just repeating generalised statements that mean nothing to you. And be aware and be concerned of the things and people around you.

THANKFUL: This is a right attitude in prayer. Be thankful for his presence, that he is always there for us. For his provision, in providing for our needs. For his pardon, that Jesus died to save us. For his promise, that God "works for the good of those who love him." (Romans 8:28). In anything and everything, give thanks!

2. Live wisely. Live a Life of Love.
"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (v5)

Walk the talk. Practice what you preach. Behave the way the Bible has instructed us: to live a life of God's love. John 13:34-35 sums up this point: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

3. Speak Life. Be God's Mouthpiece
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (v6)

In Proverbs 18:21, it says the tongue "has the power of life and death". The words that come out of our mouths are very powerful. Speak gracefully, not bitterly. Furthermore, let your speech be "seasoned with salt". Salt has many properties - to enhance flavour: let our words be sincere from our heart. To heal wounds: let our words build others up (Eph 4:29). To preserve: let our words be pure and life-giving.

4. We Need Each Other (v7-18)

Community is important. We need each other to serve God and carry out his work. We need each other to give encouragement, support and comfort. We need each other to grow in our Christian walk. And we need each other to spread the good news.

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Midweek Music: Take Heart
1 June 2012 | Lawrence


Song Title: Take Heart
Album: Aftermath (2011)
Artist: Hillsong United
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)

Jesus encourages us as his disciples to keep our delight in God and take heart no matter what we are facing, be it a major examination or a rough period in your life when you feel there's no way out. And we can hope and trust in Him because Christ overcame the world and is victorious!

Joel Houston, writer of Take Heart, has to say about this song:

"I wrote this song on vacation in January of 2009 amidst the doomsday predictions in the aftermath of the global economic crisis, and being bed-bound after a foot injury preventing me from surfing. It seemed like an appropriate time to write a song about hope. I love in John 16:33 where Jesus states, 'in this life, you will have trouble...' He makes no illusions of the fact that being a Christ-follower in no way excludes us from the realities of trial and troubles. But He doesn't end there, '... but take heart, for I have overcome the world.' Because of the cross, all our troubles, our trials and pain, our fear and failure are overcome. We live in a different kind of aftermath - one where we can cling to the light and hope of an empty cross."

So take heart, for He has overcome!


Lyrics:
There is a light
It burns brighter than the sun
He steals the night
And casts no shadow
There is hope
Should oceans rise and mountains fall
He never fails

So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again

In death by love
The fallen world was overcome
He wears the scars of our freedom
In His Name
All our fears are swept away
He never fails

All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome

All our failures
And all our fears
God our love
He has overcome

All our heartache
And all our pain
God our healer
He has overcome

All our burdens
And all our shame
God our freedom
He has overcome

All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome

All our failures
And all our fears
God our love
He has overcome

God our justice
God our grace
God our freedom
He has overcome

God our refuge
God our strength
God is with us
He has overcome

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Sunday Wrap: New Man, New Home
27 May 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Book Study on Colossians
Topic: A New Man Makes a New Home
Bible Passage: Colossians 3:18-4:1
Speaker: Gabriel Sim
The Book of Colossians before chapter 3 deals largely with an individual's relationship to God, dismissing false teachings and getting us to have the right idea of Jesus Christ - his power, supremacy and fullness. Now that Paul has corrected our understanding Jesus, he then proceeds to talk about our transformation and our new self with a new direction, destiny, determination and delight. With this transformation comes a new way of living.

Fundamentally there are three problems with mankind today. They are:
1) Anomie/Immoral - lacking rules and standards
2) Anonymity/Emptiness - lacking identity and meaning
3) Alienation/Loneliness - lacking a sense of belonging

These problems was the result of man being cut off from God. Without God,
1) Mankind loses its moral compass and creates a flawed system of rules and regulations
2) Mankind does not God and loses his identity and the meaning of life
3) Mankind feels incredibly lonely due to selfishness and sees nothing beyond this world

However, as a Christian, we know God and are able to overcome these problems. His Word becomes the standard, we recognise our identity as children of God and we join the body of Christ in worshipping the same God.

Since we are renewed, we should be different from the world and live in accordance to the Word of God. Paul writes down instructions for us Christians in relation of our role, or our future role, in the household and society. These instructions found in Colossians 3:18-4:1 are for 3 pairs of people, namely wives and husbands, children and parents, and slaves and masters.

Wives
"Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." (v18)

Submission should be based on love and not grudgingly. There is nothing degrading or humiliating about it, for God designed it this way. However, such submission has its limits, especially when the submission violates your conscience and the Word of God. It is better to obey God rather than to obey man (Acts 5:29).

Husbands
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." (v19)

Husbands are tasked to keep on continually loving their own wives. This love is beyond feelings or emotions; it is activity. Secondly, husband are not to be harsh and embitter their wives. For future husbands, treat your wife as a vessel of God: keep on loving and take good care of her.

Children
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." (v20)

Obey your parents in EVERYTHING - this instruction appears throughout the Bible, and this is the only instruction given to children. It pleases the Lord and fits perfectly in God's set up. Those who fail to do so will face consequences, vividly described in Proverbs 30:11-17. In 2 Timothy 3:1-2, disobedience to parents is one of the evils listed in the "terrible times in the last days".

Again, this obedience comes with a limit. Parents have a God-given authority and responsibility. As children, we are to ensure that our obedience is firstly to God and the things we do as instructed by our parents do not overstep the boundaries of God's will.

Parents
"Fathers [or Parents], do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." (v21)

We know what parents do that discourages us. So when we become parents in the future, we should be mindful that we do not do those same things to our children. [a]

Slaves/Servants/Employees
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism." (v22-25)

Work for God, not for man. God promises an inheritance as a reward. The contrary is true too: those who do wrong will be punished, for God is impartial and shows no favouritism.

Masters
"Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven." (Col 4:1)

In a leadership role over other people, there is a responsibility for the people under you. Treat them as how you would like God to treat you, for God is our master.

Summary
As a Christian, we are living with a new direction, calling and destiny. We are to "put off the old and put on the new". We are called to make a difference in our homes, schools and work, and be a catalyst for change.

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Sunday Wrap: Fullness in Christ
5 May 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Book Study on Colossians
Topic: Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Bible Passage: Colossians 2:1-15
Speaker: Michelle Lim
"I was blind from birth, and people were eager to blame my parents and I for the sin which caused my blindness. One day, I was in Jerusalem when I met this man along the street. He spat on the ground, rubbed some mud into my eyes and told me to wash it in a pool. I thought he was mad, but maybe this man was a man of God who could heal me, who could show the works of God through me. I obeyed his orders and stumbled my way to the pool. At the instant I washed my eyes, I could see!

When I came back, my neighbours were shocked and brought me to the Pharisees. They asked who healed me, and I told them he was a prophet, a man of God. They did not believe me, and called for my parents to be sure I was really born blind. When my parents came, they were scared. Sure, they did affirmed that I am their son and I was born blind, but then they did not dare say who healed me. Instead, they directed the Pharisees' attention back at me and left in a haste!

So the Pharisees came to question me again. I thought they became interested in this prophet who healed me. Without knowing, I angered them and they threw me out of the synagogue! But there I met the one who healed me, and without hesitation I believed and worshipped this man - the Son of God!" - Adaptation of John 9.

Are we like the Pharisees, the parents or the blind man?

The Pharisees were stuggling to control the world. They loved rules and regulations, law and order. When the blind man regained sight, they could not make any sense of it. They believed it was sin which caused the blindness. They could not believe the miracle of God which defied logic. Similarly, have we based our lives on following rules, concentrating on doing "good" things hoping our good record will get us to heaven?

Or are we like the parents? They were concerned of their public image. They did not take any responsibility for their son because they were fearful of being thrown out of the synagogue. Are we afraid of being left out of the "cool" group? Have we succumbed to peer pressure and rejected God's way in the process?

Or are we like the blind man, filled with faith and unafraid of the gospel?

Now, what does really mean to be a Christian? In Colossians 2:6-7, it says, "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

The Colossi Christians were facing an issue. They were unsure on whether Christ was sufficient, and Paul tells them, remain in Him for he is everything. What does it mean be "in Him" then? Consider what it is like to be "out of Christ". Here are some examples from Colossians:

1. Enslaved to Rules/Religion

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." (v8)

We might find ourselves obsessed with not sinning or being religious, going to church every Sunday thinking that makes us holy and righteous. That's not what the gospel is! Salvation is not by what you do, but in Christ alone.

2. Emptiness

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority." (v9-10)

There might be times when we feel empty, when we feel maybe Jesus is not the only one who fills our lives. Paul reminds us that Christ, above all, is the only one who gives us living water that quenches us forever. Jesus is everything.

3. Dead in our Sins

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ." (v13)

We might feel like our sins are too big. We continually feel guilty. Maybe we start to believe that good things must be done to offset the sins in our lives. However, Paul says that you have been spiritually circumcised (v11), buried with Christ from the dead (v12), made alive with Christ (v13) and have the record of charges cancelled (v14). Only through Jesus alone.

As cheesy as it sounds, Jesus turned the man's blindness which the Pharisees and his parents saw as a MESS into a MESSAGE of hope, goodness, redemption and victory. Likewise, Jesus can do the same to you!

"The Son of God died for men so that men could become sons of God" - C. S. Lewis

Have we made Jesus die for nothing?
Are we living lives that display the goodness, mercy, wisom and love of God?
As a follower of Christ, what is the message you are sending to your fellow friends, family, community etc?

Live a life rooted in wisdom of Christ, not determined by the standards and logic of the word. Live a life that is love-inspired, faith-filled and empowered by hope. Be warned, being in Christ means that things are going to start to look differently. Our perpectives will begin to change; our hearts and minds will become set on something new. But in Christ, we are made full.

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Sunday Wrap: Christ Above All
29 April 2012 | Lawrence


Sermon Series: Book Study on Colossians
Topic: Christ Above All
Bible Passage: Colossians 1:15-19
Speaker: Au Kai Min
In a time when a false system of doctrine was being propagated, when it was believed Jesus was not God, that he was not sufficient for salvation. In a time when it was understood that Christ was just a good spirit, not a saviour. In that time, Paul stamped Christ's authority to all who undervalued his superiority. Forward to modern day times, we are now challenged on all sides on our faith and belief in Jesus. Is he really God, or just an angel? A saviour, or just a noble man? A king, or just a wise prophet? No, Jesus Christ is God! He is above all!

For the full sermon write-up, please visit: http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/2135. Below is a summary of the sermon.

In Colossians 1:15-19, Paul let us see Jesus in relation to five things: we see Jesus in relation to God, to the universe, to the unseen world, to His church and to everything else.

1. Relation to God

"The Son is the image of the invisible God" (v15)

Back in the days of Paul, there was a teaching in Colossi that Jesus was just one of the many good spirits from God. However Paul made it very clear - God is invisible but became visible in Christ.

Looking at Genesis 1:27, we too are images of God. However man's image is a flawed one. While we possess the ability to think, feel and decide, we fall short on morality and holiness. We also lack the essence: we do not freely roam the universe like spirits, neither are we omnipotent nor omnipresent. Jesus is the perfect image of God, the exact reproduction.

It is through Jesus that the image of God is restored in us: we reject our old self and become a new creation. Our morals become more Christ-like, and therefore the moral image of us becomes closer to that of God's. In receiving eternal life, the essential image of God is also being restored. While we become more God-like, we can never reach perfection. Only Jesus is the perfect image of God.

2. Relation to the Universe

"...the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together " (v15-17)

Was Jesus a creation or a creator? The word "firstborn" implies that he was created. However the Greek term for firstborn, Prototokos, is a reference of position, not time. Prototokos, or firstborn, in this case refers to the right of authority, supremacy and rank. In Genesis, Esau was born first, but Jacob was prototokos. Psalm 89:27 defines the firstborn as "the highest". Therefore, Jesus is the highest over all creation.

"For in him all things were created" - Jesus was not a creation, but the creator. Jesus has the primacy over the universe, because he created everything!

3. Relation to the Unseen World

"For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities" (v16)

It might have been a case back in Colossi that people believed Jesus was not sufficient for salvation, but require a higher "angel" or a deeper knowledge beyond Jesus. Paul mentions that whatever the hierachy of angels is in the unseen world. Christ is superior to all of them, because all things, visible or invisible, and all authorities was created by Jesus. 1 Peter 3:22 states that angels and authorities are made subject to him.

4. Relation to His Church

"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy" (v18)

The first part uses an analogy of a human body: Christ is the head, the brain, and we are the limbs and organs that function according to what the brain tells us. We are joined inseperably to Christ, and to one another. We are characterised by unity.

Secondly, Paul states that Jesus is the beginning of church. Beginning, or "arche" in Greek is again not a reference of time, but in the sense of source and rank. Thus, Jesus is the power source of the church and the chief, the head of the church.

Thirdly, the word "firstborn", or prototokos, is used again, this time in regards to the dead. He is even above all who are raised from the dead. For he died on the cross and conquered death, and was risen from the dead to be exalted.

Lastly, Jesus "in everything he might have the supremacy" or pre-eminence. Jesus, by nature, is superior, and does not require any "backup" or assistance.

5. Relation to All Else

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him," (v19)

Simply put, nothing is left out from Jesus. Everything is through Christ.

As a conclusion, think about these questions: are we certain that Christ is above all? If so, are our lives reflecting as such, or are we still dependent on our own strength? Maybe we have been confused with other "gods", or teachings that differ from the Bible that question the authority and supremacy of Jesus. Let this be a reminder to all of us that Christ is indeed above all.

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Sunday Wrap: A Prayer for Fruitfulness
21 April 2012 | Lawrence

Katniss Everdeen - winner of the fictional 74th annual Hunger Games. Against the odds, how did she manage to do it? Firstly, she was intelligent; she knew how the game was played. It was after all a bizarre reality television show for the enjoyment of the rich. Gaining favour from the audience, she was able to survive through with aid such as medicine, donated from them. Secondly, while she was a skilled archer, it was patience that won her the games. Stuck up a tree with her enemies below, she waited. Help did finally arrive in the end, and she was finally able to use her skills and qualities to great effect. It was about enduring and waiting for the right opportunity rather than raw, brute strength.

Thankfully, we are not living in Panem, or surviving in such a sadistic world. Yet Paul prays for God to give the Colossians the knowledge of His will and the power to endure, such that they would live a fruitful life, and it is very much a relevant prayer for all Christians today.

EPIGNOSIS: Full Knowledge

Paul prays that the Colossians be filled with the knowledge of God's will through the Holy Spirit, in a time when they were easily confused with false teachings. God has already given us full knowledge through his Word: the Bible. There is no extra, hidden terms and conditions for salvation.

How does this knowledge lead us in "bearing fruit in every good work"? The Message Bible puts it in a rather straightforward manner: "As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work." By learning from the Master, we can work fruitfully.

The way God works is through love. Having full knowledge of God's will is to use the knowledge of God to love.

KRATOS: Power to Endure

"The strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy."

The Message Bible again gives us a clear and simple understanding of Paul's second prayer point. In other words, God's power is the power of patience. Jesus overcame temptation after fasting for forty days. That is a display of power and strength: the ability to endure.

Amazingly, such power "spills over into joy". What is this joy that Paul is referring to? It is the promised reward to "share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light". Simply put, heaven!

LIVE A LIFE OF FRUITFULNESS

While there are many practical ways to put these two aspects into our Christian walk, it is important to note that this was a prayer. Not just any ordinary prayer, but a constant prayer from Paul to the Colossians. It is God who grants us the understanding of His Will and the power to endure through the Holy Spirit, not by our own might nor by our own power.

Before we become quick in application, let us pray for ourselves as well as others for God to empower us with the knowledge of God's will to act accordingly, and the patience and endurance to live fruitfully and joyfully.

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Sunday Wrap: Justice and Mercy
18 March 2012 | Lawrence

Facing a life sentence and 24 strokes of the cane for smuggling drugs into Singapore, he could not have believed his ears when the judge gave him his sentence of just 6 months! Young Glenn Lim was a rebel, conflicting often with his parents and school authorities. An aspiring rock star, he was expelled from school, joined a gang and became involved with drugs. He was then caught at the Singapore immigration with around 600g of cannabis.

Now, a youth counsellor and recipient of the Singapore Youth Award and ASEAN Youth Award, Pastor Glenn Lim cannot be more thankful for his "wake up call": a second chance mercifully and graciously granted to him despite all he had done.

What will be our judgement when we stand before the throne of God? Will we rejoice in heaven with God's gift of salvation or will we face God's wrath in the lake of fire? Gabriel speaks on the topic of judgement and wrath of God - a topic that speaks of doom and condemnation yet covered with the God's grace and mercy. This sermon may very well be our "wake up call" as we re-examine ourselves in the light of God's judgement and mercy.

God the Judge is a central theme in the Bible: beginning with the fall of man in Genesis, to the future when we all stand before God in the final judgement.

Four characteristics of God as Judge

To understand God as the Judge, Gabriel listed four characteristics:

Firstly, God has the authority to be the lawgiver and judge as creator of the universe and everything inside it, and Him being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Secondly, God's judgement is good and right. He loves justice and fairness. Unlike human judges whose motivation might involve money or politics, God simply wants to see right triumph over wrong.

Thirdly, God's judgement is wise. God does not look purely at physical evidence like a detective in CSI; he searches the hearts and judges the secrets of men. As such, we cannot hide anything from God.

Lastly, God is powerful and able to execute the sentence.

In short, God gives the law, passes the sentence and executes the punishment.

But why must God judge?

Imagine a world without law and order. Criminals get away scot free, unpunished. There is no justice! However, God is a moral God; He wants to see fairness: the good gets rewarded, the evil gets punished. Therefore, God must judge. In fact, we can all take comfort knowing that God judges!

So what's our judgement?

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

We humans are imperfect. We fail and fall into temptations. No matter how much "good" we do, we can never match up to the holiness and perfection of God. Sin is anything that stands between our relationship with God. If all of us have sinned, are we still able to reach God, or have we been condemned to death?

The Wrath Of God

The wrath of God is indeed terrifying: the flood which wiped out the entire human population except Noah's family, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, not to mention hell. However, this wrath is not what we humans perceive it to be; God's anger is not based on human emotions. Instead, it is morally perfect! God's wrath is a holy reaction to evil.

Sin is evil. If we are all sinners and therefore evil, will we all face the wrath of God? No! Because along with God's wrath comes God's grace!

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Salvation!

God pursues a love relationship with us even though we are of fallen nature. He died, literally, to get us back! Jesus is the gift of salvation. Because of his death on the cross, we can now experience forgiveness for all our wrongdoings. God did not abandon us; we abandoned God! Now God is extending His hand of grace towards us.

Have you accepted Jesus to be our Lord and Saviour? If not, you should call on the coming judge, God, to be our saviour!

Or have we already accepted Jesus, but have taken this gift of grace too lightly? The problem with Christians today is that we think by our own merits, we are good enough. We go to church every Sunday, we say grace before every meal... We are not bad people! However, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." It is not about what we do, but it is about what has been done. Jesus has already died for our sins!

Therefore, ask for the gift of conviction and brokenness, that you may be faithful, available and teachable in God's sight, and that we can all present ourselves holy and blameless before God.

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Midweek Music: One Thing Remains
14 March 2012 | Lawrence

"One Thing Remains" is a song by Jesus Culture in the album Come Away, released in 2010. The song reminds us of God's love being majestic, unchanging, overflowing and everlasting.

1 Corinthians 13:8-13
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."


Lyrics:
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life
I'm confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid
There's nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

---

Lastly, do check out this song as well: - Youtube Link -

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Sunday Wrap: Perfect, Wholesome and Complete
11 March 2012 | Lawrence

"What kind of guy would I be if I was to leave when you need me most" Two months before their wedding, Juliana met with a tragic car accident which left her with a traumatic brain injury. She woke up, but is now confined on a wheelchair. Her husband-to-be stuck to his vows and became her caretaker. This is the story of Chris Medina, who auditioned for American Idol and sharing his story in hope that people could help his fiancee. "What Are Words" was the song he released to reiterate his commitment to the love of his life. [a]

"What are words if you don't really mean them when you say them?"

The Bible is full of God's promises to us. When God says he loves us, he indeed loves us! However, what is this love that makes it so different from the "warm and fuzzy" feeling we experience with the people around us? Michelle Lim brought us through the love of God in her sermon "The Love of God" in JYM.

The Love of God is Unconditional

Chris Medina loved Juliana, both in sickness and in health. He loved her when she was able to walk; he still loves her when she is on the wheelchair. Similarly, God's love is not determined by who we are or what we do; we do not have to do anything to earn it. Whether you are surfing on top of the wave or have sunk to the deepest of oceans, we are all worthy of God's love, simply because it is HIS desire to love us. No terms and conditions applied. That is the unconditional aspect of God's love.

The Love of God is Generous

God is all ready to pour his love on us, far more than we deserve. The Message Bible sums up Romans 5:6-8 in this: "God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." We are sinful; we have missed the mark. Yet God was willing to send Jesus to be the sacrifice for everyone. Frederick Buechner writes this: 

"The love for equals is a human thing...
The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing...
The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing...
And then there is the love for the enemy... This is God's love. It conquers the world.[b]

Jesus died to save everyone, for you and for me, for the leaders and for the criminals. Kony 2012 has made it so easy for us to pour hatred on a hated man. Does God love Joseph Kony? After all, Jesus died for him too.

The Love of God is Inexhaustible

"A thousand times I failed, still your mercy remains" is the first line of the song "From the Inside Out". How true is that! Paul was the persecutor of Christians, but God had mercy on him and his grace was "poured out on [him] abundantly" (1 Timothy 1:12-17). God will never give up on anyone. His love never fails, never gives up and never runs out on us, no matter how many times we fall into sin.

His love is unconditional, generous, majestic, unwavering, inexhaustible and provides the wisdom we need. His love is perfect, wholesome and complete. There is nothing that can take away God's love. With that, this becomes our hope: everything can be taken away from us but his love. What is our response to his love? King David had nothing but praise and adoration (Psalm 103). Are we doing likewise, or are we still missing out on His love?

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Midweek Music: You Are For Me
7 March 2012 | Lawrence

"You Are For Me" is a song written and composed by Kari Jobe, released in 2010. The song echos Romans 8:31-32:

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

Kari Jobe, also a member of Gateway Worship, mentioned that the song "came straight from [her] journal" in a season of brokenness where she had to tell herself "God, I know that You are for me."


Lyrics:
So faithful, so constant
So loving and so true
So powerful in all You do

You fill me, You see me
You know my every move
And You love for me to sing to You

      I know that You are for me
      I know that You are for me
      I know that You will never
      Forsake me in my weaknesses

      I know that You have come now
      Even if to write upon my heart
      To remind me who You are


So patient, so gracious
So merciful and true
So wonderful in all You do

You know me, You see me
You know my every move 
You love for me to sing to You

---

Also, do check out this amazing link below. It is a Flash-based app aptly named as the Scale of The Universe, done by Mike and Cary, the "HTwins". If you do recall Glenn's sermon on the Majesty of God, this may give you a better idea on how we humans compare in size to the rest of God's creation.

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Sunday Wrap: Higher than Our Ways
4 March 2012 | Lawrence



Linsanity - the latest sensation hitting the NBA. Jeremy Lin exploded into the scene after a fine run of games which turned his struggling team, the New York Knicks, into a force to be reckoned with. As his amazing run continues, the story behind "Linsanity" is even more amazing. He was undrafted, cut from two teams and had a basketball career going nowhere. It did not help him that he was an Asian-American and a graduate from Harvard - two things people normally would not associate with national basketball in the US.

Despite his struggles and the stereotypes he was against, he remained a devout Christian and chose not to worry. Instead, whenever he felt anxious, he whispered this Bible verse to himself [a]:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

He trusted God's wisdom.

The wisdom of God was the sermon topic shared by Ivan Chan today. What exactly is wisdom? Simply put, wisdom is making the best use of knowledge. The majestic God, creator of the universe, knows everything, and He is able to work His knowledge "for the good of those who love him". This is because God sees, God cares and God is in control.

"...in all things God works..." 

God sees. He sees what is best for us in every situation. With the wisdom of the world, we strive for worldly achievements, whether it be getting the best grades or earning the most money, as we believe these things are good for us. However, what is the true value of these achievements? After all, we are merely meeting standards placed by humans, which mean nothing when we stand before God. Let us seek the wisdom of God who truly knows what is best for us, rather than the wisdom of the world.

"...for the good of those who love him..."

God cares. God not only has wisdom, but has power and love. In other words, not only does God know what to do, He is able to do it and He will do it. And because God has all three qualities, we can be assured that God's ways for us are indeed good. Thus, we can rejoice and trust God even in suffering, because we know God has a plan which will not disappoint us.

"...according to his purpose."

God is in control. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Job lost everything, but in God's plan he gained back so much more than he had lost. With the recent release of the 'A'-level results, some may be disappointed. Others may be facing difficulties in life right now. Is God still in control? Yes! We humans are short-sighted; we are often too focused on our current situation until we are unable to see past our problems and failures. Therefore, let us always remember that God has a plan for us, in His bigger plan.

God sees, God cares and God is in control. He knows everything about us, and is more than willing to use his wisdom for our good. To put it simply, God is for you! But we have the choice: to depend on God's wisdom, or to depend on the wisdom of the world. God is able to lift you out of the miry clay, as long as you continue to trust in Him and cling on to His promises.


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Midweek Music: Love Like Fire
29 February 2012 | Lawrence

Sounds familiar? Yes, this was the song sung in JYM last sunday. Love Like Fire is written by Matt Crocker and performed by Hillsong Live. It is found in the album "A Beautiful Exchange", which also contains the song "The Greatness Of Our God".

Love Like Fire is about wanting to be consumed by God's love and surrendering all that we are to Him.



Lyrics:
I am desperate for Your touch
A glimpse of heaven for the glory of Your Son
In a moment You can turn a life around
Forever to be found in You

I am reaching out to find
There's nothing greater than Your love that holds my life
Your grace and mercy that have saved me by Your blood
And swept away my shame Oh Lord

Your love is like fire that burns for all to see
My only desire to worship at Your feet
So let this fire consume my life

Let Your love take me deeper
Draw me closer to where You are
'Cause all I want is more of You
When You call I will follow
At the cross I surrender all
'Cause all I want is more of You

And I'm surrendered to Your love
Forever humbled by the message of the cross
I stand abandoned in Your presence and Your embrace
And I'll never be the same Oh God

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Sunday Wrap: Yesterday, Today, Forever
26 February 2012 | Lawrence

From carriages to cars, from pigeons to postmen... what else has changed from the past? In all the advancement of technology and deterioration of our planet over the history of mankind, there is one thing that has remained the same: God. He is the same God yesterday, today and forever.

The sermon brought to us by Kai Min was about the unchanging God. Imagine the majestic God, as described by Glenn last Sunday, is the very same God whom we are able to know and have a relationship with today. How wonderful is that?

Kai Min pointed out six areas in which God has not and will not change: God's life, character, truth, ways, purpose and his Son. Compare the first five areas with ourselves and our God. In our short ten, twenty years, we have changed so much. 

However, God never changes. 

While all things created have a beginning and an end, God's life exists throughout eternity. 

While we change due to circumstances, emotions and events, the self-existing and self-sustaining God never changes his character

While we redefine truths as we gain more knowledge, God's truth and His Word, in both the Old and New Testaments, stands forever. 

While we change our minds frequently due to the lack of foresight and ability, God's ways and purposes stand firm, as they are made upon complete knowledge and control.

Hebrews 13:8 states clearly: Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always able to intercede for us (Heb 7:25). Always. Even God's Son does not change.

This is the very same God that exists today, who extended his grace throughout the Bible and is extending His grace to us today.

The Bible is not just a historical record; the scriptures are timeless truths. So what makes us different from those in biblical times? We face the same problems and temptations, but we have the very same God and his amazing grace. So take heart, the world evolves and fades, but God will always be the same, ready to take us into His arms. The question is, are we willing to offer our lives to Him?

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Sunday Wrap: Greatness Of Our God
19 February 2012 | Lawrence

Can we ever measure God's majesty? We are nothing but a tiny fraction of the earth, and our planet is nothing but a tiny dot in our universe. Yet in all his marvelous creation, God chose to come down to our small little planet to save us from our sins!

This Sunday's sermon continues the series of Knowing God. Previously, Caleb shared on the question "Who is God?" and emphasized that knowing God is a matter of personal dealing. Glenn Chan brought us through this Sunday's topic - The Majesty of God.

Glenn drove home his message with two simple points. Firstly, God is very, very big. King David explains God's majesty in Psalm 8:1-9, beginning and ending with the same proclamation: how majestic is God! If admiring the wonders of the world isn't enough to make your jaw drop, take a look at the stars - God created all 9 sextillion plus stars and knows each of them by name! We, indeed, have a very, very great and majestic God.

However, it doesn't stop there. God is majestic no doubt, yet He is a personal God! That is the second and main point of the sermon. We are the "significant insignificance"; we are nothing compared to God, yet God values and loves us so much that He is willing to send His Son down to earth as a sacrifice for our sins! What is more powerful and jaw-dropping than the image of Jesus, the Son of such a majestic and great God, hanging on the cross?

In all creation, we are the only ones who reflect the image of God. Are we worth it? God says we are, that He is willing to go through all these so that we can know and meet Him personally.
"The word 'majesty' when applied to God is always a declaration of His greatness and an invitation to worship." - J. I. Packer

Worship is one response to his majesty. How else will you respond? How has this sermon shaped your views on God and yourself?

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Back to Leedon!
4 November 2011 | Lawrence

Hello all JYMers, we're finally moving back to Leedon!

The church rebuilding at Leedon has come to an end and we finally have a permanent place to settle in after two long years in St George's. Just for some info, JYM will occupy the Level 3 Auditorium. It's right next to the lift lobby, unless you want to burn calories by taking the stairs. Of course not everything is ready, so do bear with certain inconveniences as things get sorted over the next few weeks.

But there's plenty to look forward to! We've got an amazing and spacious auditorium and lounge, Esso at our doorstep and Holland Village further ahead, the new Circle Line and of course, a wonderful time of worship and fellowship in JYM.

Again a friendly reminder: COME TO LEEDON RD ON SUNDAY!

On a more spiritual side, let us be thankful that we have a wonderful new building to worship in. Let us be grateful to all who have put in effort to make this possible. And as we embark on a new chapter, let us pray that JYM will be used in mightier ways for the glory of God! Last week we had an amazing time reflecting on our past, but at this present time remember that we are the people shaping the next part of JYM's history! So let's shape it well as we move back to Leedon!

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Just a little update
3 April 2011 | Lawrence

Hello visitors of the JYM Website! Lawrence here.

It's been a while since I've touched this and Joel Chua has done an amazing job in redesigning the website. I realised my designs tend to get overly complicated and thus confusing so I'm really loving the clean yet sexy design we have this year.

Anyway, I'm posting this because this part hasn't been updated in a long time. And I do urge the committee to keep this part alive and the website alive throughout the whole year. I know it's a bit scary and complicated to post stuff into the JYM website but it gets simpler once you're comfortable with it. I'll try my best to assist Joel Chua in updating and fixing problems.

Anyway this is just an appeal to continually update the website, tweet, comment on whatever!

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Sunday Wrap: Choose for this day whom you will support
2 MAY 2010 | Lawrence

Last Sunday night was a big night for English football. Liverpool took on Chelsea, who are aiming for the title and challenged by Manchester United who are a point behind. Liverpool fans faced a dilemma: should they hope that their team wins and potentially hand the title to their biggest rivals in history, Manchester United, or hope Liverpool lose instead and potentially lose their chance to play in the European cup? Who are you supporting?

Thankfully we, as Christians, do not need to face such a tough decision, for we have already been chosen to be partakers. Ivan spoke on 1 Peter 2:4-10 that we are living stones with a firm foundation in Christ, a holy priesthood with unhindered access to God and a people who declare God's praises, reminding us to grow in the body of Christ found in JYM. He ended of with a challenge found in Joshua 24: Choose this day whom you will serve.

JYM started off with a dedicated prayer session of our upcoming Youth Alpha, before heading into worship led by Joanne. The 60-pack memory verses took a break due to May being the Family Life Month, and Gabriel's Susan Boyle expedition was shown instead. This month will be focused on memorising Psalm 1, which is useful and applicable in prayer and in everyday life.

Youth Alpha Intro Dinner will be held in Harding Rd on the 29th May 6pm. It is a laid-back dinner for our guest to be interested in signing up for this course. Postcards have already been issued to you to pass on to the friends you're inviting. As living stones we should not just be stoning, but to be the beacon of light of Christ!

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The Lust, The Lost, The Least
25 APRIL 2010 | Lawrence

The JYM Session this Sunday served as a reminder for us to check our spiritual health.

Sparrow took charge of prayer as the duty cell, centered on the theme as being the light of the world. Phoebe Sng shared her testimony on polytechnic life before Aik Hong showed us a video. David then led JYM into a meaningful time of worship, reminding us on the words we were singing.

JYM went straight into sermon after worship, shared by Pastor Henry on the topic 'Loving the world'. Based on 1 John 2:15-17, he shared on three points that the devil aims to take advantage of: the lust of flesh, the lust of eyes and the boastful pride of life. The sermon, topped with his honest personal experiences, served as a warning and reminder for us to not fall into sin and temptation in loving the things of the world.

After the cell group discussions, JYM had a time of games, led by Joycelyn and Adeline. The game comprised of a few mini-games, in which the top three groups of each mini-game will receive points. The games included keeping a tissue paper in the air for the longest, eating a potato chip from the forehead, saying the alphabets backwards the fastest and pressing a led from a mechanical pencil the fastest. With much enthusiasm from the JYMers, the Sunday in JYM was brought to an end filled with laughter and joy.

The Youth Alpha Intro Dinner will be held on the 29th of May, and what better way to tell your friends about Jesus than to invite them for this exciting event! If you enjoyed the Madhatter Sunday the previous week, your friends will definitely enjoy the Intro Dinner. Continue to pray and seek the LORD for opportunities and open doors.

Next month is Family Life Month, thus JYM will put a temporary halt to the memory verses done by the cell groups and instead show videos based on Psalm 1.

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Ready for Adventure?
9 MARCH 2010 | Lawrence

The Annual March Adventure Camp is just around the corner, and you do need to pack in order to enjoy this fun-packed camp!

In case you have forgotten the details of the camp, it's 15-17 March. Reporting time is 10 am at the Pink House and dismissal will be 11 am at Sentosa. It's 85 bucks per person which is inclusive of meals, MegaZip, Sentosa Luge, games and accomodation.

All excited? Here are the things you need to pack:
- Bible
- Writing materials (pen + journal)
- Toiletries
- Towel
- 4 sets of clothes
- Undergarments
- 1 pair long pants/knee-length Bermudas
- Shoes
- Slippers
- Jacket
- Raincoat
- Plastic bags for dirty clothes
- Water bottle!!!
- Medication if needed
- Money - $20
- EZLink
- Small Backpack

All the above items are a must-have. The following items are optional:
- Sunblock
- Cap
- Insect repellent
- Hanger for towel
- Camera
- iPod (Bring at your own risk)

Any queries? Please direct them to Pastor Henry or Marcus (their contact details are on the camp form). If you are on medication, please inform Marcus!

All ready? Get set and go have an enjoyable adventure camp! It's guaranteed fun!

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Prizes, Surprises and Out-of-Tunes
21 FEBRUARY 2010 | Lawrence

As JYM returned from a 1-week Chinese New Year break, JYMers were obviously still in a festive mood. And they have every reason to be joyful, as the Memory Verse Test 1 Results were released today!

Prizes were given out to the top 2 winners for the Memory Verse B and Memory Verse Normal category, as well as to those who scored 90% or more in the Higher category. Davin Fong (Sparrow) and Dora Foo (Nightingale) were tied 5th spot, achieving 142 marks out of 144 marks. Bryan Loh (Owl) and Gabrielle Loo (Dove) both attained a mark higher, earning them the tied 3rd spot. The overall winners for the test, earning the perfect score, were Grace and Gayle, the twins from Snowfinch.

Snowfinch thus made it to second place in the group overall points. Owl came in third, behind Snowfinch and the winners, Dove, which scored an amazing total of 1193 points.

These results are not finalised though, as group members who have not taken the test can do so and push up their group's points!

The Sunday ended with a round of a familiar game and a crowd favourite, with Pastor Henry listening to songs through earphones, humming or singing them and letting the JYMers guess them. JYMers, however, were left puzzled, as they strained their ears and worked their brains to figure out tuneless melodies. As Pastor Henry left halfway, Uncle Vincent Quah replaced him for a few songs.

Songs such as Rehab and Sweet Escape were guessed quickly, but less familiar songs like Starlight took a while. In the end, four groups were tied first with 5 correct guesses: Tinkerbird, Sparrow, Oriole and Nightingale. Kiwi followed behind with 4, and Dove rounded up an amazing afternoon with 3.

As points stand, Dove still lead the pack, but a good number of groups are tied behind by 1 point.

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Jesus Youth Ministry (JYM) is a ministry under St James Church. Visit www.sjc.org.sg for more info.