Author Archives: SingaporeChristian.com

How to Receive Peace Over Our Circumstances

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (ESV).

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. (Amplified Bible)

Isaiah 26:3

We live in a time of great uncertainty.

The battles in Ukraine rage on, and nobody knows when it might stop.

The Covid situation – although improving in the West – is causing serious lockdowns in places like Shanghai, China.

Over in the US and Europe, rising inflation is causing many to wonder how they might be able to pay their bills and put food on their tables.

In the midst of all these difficulties and uncertainties, God in our only help.

Indeed, even in the midst of the storm, God promises ‘perfect peace’ to those whose minds are focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Wouldn’t you like this peace? Ask God to give it to you:

Almighty God, only You and You alone are our help in these troubled times. We ask that as we look to You for help, may you grant us the peace that you have promised according to Your word. In Jesus name we pray; amen.

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Parable of the King Who Lost His Finger (Story with a Moral): God is Good, Even When Bad Things Happen to Us

A king had a male servant who, under all circumstances always said to him: “My king, do not be discouraged because everything God does is perfect, and He makes no mistakes.”

One day, they went hunting and a wild animal attacked the king. The servant managed to kill the animal but couldn’t prevent his majesty from losing a finger.

Furious and without showing any gratitude, the king said; “If God was good, I would not have been attacked and lose one finger”.

The servant replied: “Despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good and everything He does is perfect; He is never wrong.”

Outraged by the response, the king ordered that the servant be imprisoned.

Later, the king left for another hunt and was captured by savages who used human
beings as sacrifice.

On the altar, the savages discovered that the king did not have one finger in place,
and released him because they considered him to “incomplete” to be offered to their gods.

On returning to his palace, the king authorised the release of his servant and told his servant: “My friend, God was really good to me. I was almost killed but for lack of a single finger, I was let go.”

“However, I have a question,” the king added. “If God is so good, why did He allow me to put you in prison?”

The servant wisely replied: “My king, if I had gone with you, I would have been sacrificed because I have no missing finger.”

Parable of the king and his servant

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18. KJV)

Testimony of Ex-MediaCorp Actor Peter Yu and His Wife Brenda Leow

This is the amazing testimony of ex-Media Corp actor Peter Yu and his wife, Brenda Leow. However, the video is in Chinese and there are no English subtitles.

Individually, Yu and Leow attended church when they were young, but their foundations in Christ were not firmly rooted and they drifted deeply into the world.

When Yu divorced his first wife, T.V. star Quan Yifeng, in 2008, he tried to numb the pain of a broken marriage through gambling and clubbing. He met Leow at a club he had patronised, and subsequently, Yu and Leow moved in together.

The lowest point in their lives occurred when Leow attempted suicide after a serious altercation with her mother. It was at this point, when both Yu and Leow yielded their lives over to God, and it was also at this point, when the Holy Spirit could begin an amazing work of transformation in their lives.

Step-by-step, the Lord renewed them. Shortly after Leow’s suicide attempt, the couple started re-attending church. Later, they attended their church’s inner healing and deliverance classes, during which they were taught to confess all their sins. In so doing, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by the speaking in tongues. The couple was so deeply impacted by the experience that they after that individually spent much time in prayer and worship.

Yu and Leow married in 2011 and they have a young son. Yu now works as a taxi driver, and although he earns far less than what he used to earn as an actor, Yu says that he is content, and indeed, as he shares his testimony, one perceives a great peace in his heart.

Testimony of a Former Temple Medium and Drug Abuser (In Hokkien/Mandarin)

This audio-only testimony given by a former temple medium cum drug abuser was recorded sometime during the 90s, and in it, this brother-in-Christ shares how he got saved, of his marvellous transformation, and his miraculous healing from a painful stomach ailment.

He also explains, in some detail, the business of being a temple medium — of how the demons enter and leave the medium’s body as they please (even at the most importune time for the medium), and of how the medium does not feel any pain when the demons are controlling him to mutilate his own body.

Kindly take note that at certain parts of the testimony, the volume levels may be soft, so please adjust the audio volume accordingly.

The Lust of the Eyes — Lessons from the Life of Samson

By and large, all sins can be categorised into one of three types:  the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16, NIV).

From the story of Samson, we perceive that he struggled with the lust of the eyes. We first infer this from the account of Samson asking his parents for a Philistine wife:

One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.” (Judges 14:1-2; NLT; with emphasis added)

His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” (Judges 14:3; NLT; with emphasis added)

Samson got his wish, but it ultimately led to his grief:

When Samson did not explain his riddle to her, the bible says that she “tormented him with her nagging” (Judges 14:17; NLT) until she got her way.

Later on, Samson’s father-in-law gives Samson’s wife away, and when confronted by Samson, interestingly, Samson’s father-in-law’s reply was: “But look, her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is. Marry her instead.” (Judges 15:2; NLT; emphasis added), suggesting that he was well-aware of Samson’s weakness for beautiful women.

Shortly after, Samson’s lust of the eyes is once again exposed when he visits Gaza, and “where he saw a prostitute” (Judges 16:1; NIV; emphasis added), and was apparently so smitten by her beauty that he spent the night with her.

Subsequently, Samson meets Delilah, and the bible does not provide details over how they met, but as in the case of his Philistine wife, Samson seems to have focused on Delilah’s external qualities, rather than her inner ones, which eventually brings him grief, as Delilah is just as capable as his previous Philistine wife of “tormenting him” and the bible says that shetormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it” (Judges 16:16; NLT).

The bible warns that “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23), and perhaps one might infer from the fact that Samson got his eyes gouged out (Judges 16:21) that this was his ultimate penalty for repeatedly yielding to the lust of the eyes.

Many men in modern society have a weakness for the lust of the eyes just as Samson did. This is reflected by the popularity of Internet pornography among many males.

While the lust of the eyes is often considered as a male issue, are women exempt from its temptation? Perhaps not. Some women can spend hours browsing Internet shopping sites, eventually buying things they want but don’t really need — is this not also an example of yielding to the lust of the eyes?

That said, if one has a propensity for the lust of the eyes, the best way forward would be to confess it to the Lord, and to ask Him to save one from it “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NIV), rather than to ignore the problem and someday have to face up to its tragic consequences.

Church of the Thessalonians: Understanding What Life for Those Believers Was Like (Travel Photos)

On a trip to Thessaloniki in November 2011, I visited the Museum of Byzantine Culture, and it is a place that I would recommend for those of you who would like a deeper understanding of early church history in Thessaloniki.

Museum of Byzantine Culture

Museum of Byzantine Culture

At the museum, look out for exhibits related to the early Christian church:

Museum of Byzantine Culture

Museum of Byzantine Culture

Here is a panel which nicely explains what early Christian life in Thessaloniki was like:

What early Christian life in Thessaloniki was like

Meanwhile, here are a couple of random things that caught my attention.

Firstly, here is an archaeological finding of a mosaic floor from the reception room of a house of the 5th century Thessaloniki:

Mosaic floor from the reception room of a house of the 5th century Thessaloniki

Mosaic floor from the reception room of a house of the 5th century Thessaloniki

Here are some oil lamps used during time the early Christian period (I have seen similar lamps in Israel). It serves as a reminder to me of what the Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 25:3 (NIV): “The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

Oil Lamps in Thessaloniki

Here is a 4th century statue depicting the parable of the Good Shepherd (John 10):

4th century statue depicting the Good Shepherd

4th century statue depicting the Good Shepherd

Finally, here is mid 19th century engraving of the Last Judgment. In the engraving, you see magicians represented among the sinners of hell.

Mid 19th century engraving of the Last Judgment

TRAVEL AND HISTORY: Agios Pavlos — Paul Preached Here When He Was in Thessaloniki, Greece (Travel Photos)

In a previous post, I reported that while in Thessaloniki, the Apostle Paul desired to preach at the Roman Forum (Roman Agora) but was denied permission because of the strong pagan influence around the area. If Paul could not preach at the Roman Forum, then where did he eventually preach at?

Well, on a trip to Thessaloniki in November 2011, I visited the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, where at the ‘The Jews at Thessaloniki’ exhibition, I came across a poster which indicated that the Apostle Paul had preached at the city’s synagogue in 50 AD.

Poster at the ‘The Jews at Thessaloniki’ exhibition in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

Indeed, this would be consistent with the book of Acts, where we read:

When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came toThessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. (Acts 17:1; NIV; emphasis mine)

Tradition has it that the Apostle Paul had preached in the area of Agios Pavlos (Greek: Άγιος Παύλος; which means ‘St Paul’), an uphill suburb.

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

One day, while preaching in the area, Paul was purportedly chased by the Jews, and while taking refuge at a slope of the hill, drank water from a spring.

The spring is located in the Old Agios Pavlos Church and the water of the spring is considered by Christians living in this area as agiasma (holy water).

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

The church was undergoing renovation when I visited it, and I was prevented by the workers from entering the premises. Nevertheless, I was able to take photos from outside the gates. Here, you can see a statue of the Apostle Paul on the left.

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

The spring is located in the open-air shelter, next to the rectangular pool of water. The church is on a hill, so, as you can imagine, the source of underground water that supplies the spring, also flows downwards to fill the pool.

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

This photo shows the steps leading to the open-air shelter (which houses the spring where the Apostle Paul is believed to have drunk from). The steps has a sign that reads agiasma (holy water).

Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki, Greece

Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians: This is What Thessaloniki Looks Like Today (Travel Photos)

Besides the two epistles (letters) written by Paul to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians), Thessalonica is also mentioned in the New Testament in a 7 other occasions:

  1. When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. (Acts 17:1; NIV)
  2. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11; NIV)
  3. But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. (Acts 17:13; NIV)
  4. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. (Acts 20:4; NIV)
  5. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. (Acts 27:2; NIV)
  6. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. (Philippians 4:16; NIV)
  7. For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Timothy 4:10, NIV)

The fact that the Thessalonica is mentioned on numerous occasions within the New Testament reflects its importance to the early church.

Where is Thessalonica? It is in Greece and is today known as Thessaloniki.

Map of Greece Showing Thessaloniki Relative to Athens

Specifically, with regards to its location, Thessaloniki is in the north of Greece, while Athens is in the south.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2, we read: “So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (NIV).

I visited Thessaloniki in November 2011 and it took me a good 50-minute plane ride to reach Thessaloniki from Athens. Considering the length of my plane journey, it is understandable that distance would have been the primary reason that the Apostle Paul could not personally keep in touch with the Thessalonian church as much as he would have liked to.

Today, Thessaloniki resembles any other modern city in the world, as the following photos would attest to:

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

However, unlike many modern cities such as Singapore, Thessaloniki possesses a rich past dating back to ancient times, and it is just amazing to see how beautiful ancient architecture juxtaposing with the city’s vibrant, modern way of life

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Statue of Alexender the Great, Thessaloniki, Greece

Here’s a great video by Alkis Kakaliagos to introduce the city (mixed with Greek music):

Church of the Thessalonians: Where Is It and Does It Still Exist Today? (Travel Photos)

One of the first Christian communities in European soil was established in Thessaloniki and according to Wikipedia, the “Rotunda is the oldest of Thessaloniki’s churches“.

Wikipedia also notes thatsome Greek publications claim it is the oldest Christian church in the world, although there are competitors for that title“.

I am in doubt over Wikipedia’s claim of the Rotunda (also known as the Church of Agios Georgios) being the oldest church in Thessaloniki. In particular, the Rotunda was formerly a pagan temple before it had been converted into a church, and perhaps if you also took into account the number of years that the building had pre-existed as a pagan temple, then yes, the Rotunda would be the “oldest” church. The Rotunda is believed to have been built in 306 A.D. by the Romans.

That said, on a trip to Thessaloniki in November 2011, I visited the Rotunda and took some photographs of it:

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Rotunda,Thessaloniki, Greece

Arch of Galerius, Thessaloniki, Greece

Just a couple of months before visiting Thessaloniki, the Greek Reporter newspaper reported the finding of the oldest Christian church in Thessaloniki:

Greek Reporter report on the oldest Christian church in Thessaloniki discovered

The ruins of this church was discovered during the construction of a metro and the site was not open to the public when I visited. Based on the pattern of floor mosaic discovered at the site, the church is believed to have been built sometime toward the end of the 4th and start of the 5th centuries A.D.

At the time of writing this article, I could find no further information (in English) about this archaeological discovery.

Before travelling to Thessaloniki in November 2011, I had the good fortune of purchasing the “Walking Thessaloniki‘ guidebook directly from the author, Parissis Panou (I highly recommend this guidebook to anyone travelling to Thessaloniki)

Walking Thessaloniki travel guide written by Parissis Panou

I had purchased the guidebook over Ebay, and on discovering that I had purchased the guidebook directly from Panou, I wrote to him to ask some questions concerning Thessaloniki, and he was most helpful.

In the guidebook, it is stated that the “oldest” basilica (a 4th century one) ever found in Thessaloniki is situated beneath Tritis Septemvriou Avenue. However, that information was correct as at the time of the publication of the guidebook (in early 2011), and in writing to Panou in 2011, he conceded that it was probably made outdated by the finding reported in the Greek Reporter newspaper.

However, going back to the question of whether the church of the Thessalonians (the very one which the Apostle Paul had written to in his letters) still exists, sadly, I think the answer seems to be ‘no’, and I am not aware of any existing fellowship in Thessaloniki that has claimed to be a continuation of the one associated with the Apostle Paul.

Nonetheless, there exists very old church ruins in Thessaloniki (dating as far back as 4th century A.D.) — for example, one situated beneath Tritis Septemvriou Avenue, and another reported by the Greek Reporter newspaper — and perhaps either of these (or even all of them) may have had a connection with the Apostle Paul.

During my trip to Thessaloniki, I managed to locate the one situated beneath Tritis Septemvriou Avenue. It is actually rather inconspicuous; beneath a highway (so inconspicuous that I had difficulty finding it).

Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

The site was enclosed by a wire fence, but could be accessed through a metal gate that was open on two occasions that I visited.

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

There was no security guarding the place, and I didn’t have to pay anything to get in. On both visits, there was nobody there but me — which was nice, because it allowed me to sit down, reflect, and just unhurriedly soak in the surroundings.

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

4th Century Basilica Found at Tritis Septemvrious Avenue, Thessaloniki, Greece

The Hidden Spiritual Meaning of the Nazarite Vow and How Samson Might Have Avoided His Untimely Death

The bible encourages us to meditate on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:2), and I think it is not without reason that we are instructed to do this. For one, I think (and this is also based on m own personal experience) that as we meditate on God’s word, we uncover hidden, spritual truths, that are not apparent on a cursory reading.

I find it painful to read about the story of Samson (Judges 13) and have often wondered if he could have avoided his untimely death.

Indeed, I do not think it was God’s plan for Samson to have died the way he did. Rather, I speculate that his fate is the outcome of the bad choices that he had made over a lifetime.

Samson’s birth was an extaordinary one. An angel of the Lord appeared before his mother to instruct her that her would-be born son was to be a Nazirite for life, “dedicated to God from the womb” (Judges 13).

Therein lies the secret of how Samson might have avoided his untimely death.

You see, nazarites were prohibited from three things (Numbers 6:1–21):

  • Wine and other fermented drink
  • Shaving their hair
  • Proximity to a dead body

Whey were nazarites prohibited from things? Ah, this is precisely the question that Samson should have asked, and if necessary, to have spent an entire lifetime meditating on these things, rather than on chasing after women and other wordly pursuits.

Beneath the religious practice of the Nazarite vow lies, I believe, a hidden and deeper spiritual meaning of each of these three things.

Let’s start with avoiding wine and other fermented drink. Why? I believe it was to prevent the Nazarite from being involved in drunkedness or rowdy behaviour and unnecessary trouble. Proverbs 20:1 (International Standard Version translation, with emphais mine) says: “Wine causes mocking, and beer causes fights; everyone led astray by them lacks wisdom.

Now, in the bible, it is never explictly mentioned that Samson had drunk any wine, but in Judges 14, we read that “Samson threw a party. (This is what young men used to do.)” (Judges 14:10; God’s Word translation), and I think it wouldn’t be too unreasonable to imagine that alcohol was served. Later, we read that Samson challenged his guest with a high-stakes riddle, and if you read further, this challenge lead to a host of trouble, and even the eventual death of Samson’s prospective wife and father in law (Judges 15).  Perhaps Samson was inebriated by alcohol when he made that challenge and could have avoided “loose lips” had he been more sober.

Next, we move on to the Nazarite’s prohibition from shaving their hair.

In the bible, hair, is an emblem for “covering” or “protection“. We see this principle in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NIV):

14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.

That said, I believe that for the nazarites, their long hair was the emblem of God’s “covering” or “protection” over their lives.

Indeed, in Judges 16, we see that shortly after his hair had been shaved (verse 19), “the Lord had left him” (verse 20) (implying that the Lord was no longer “covering” over Samson’s life). At the same time, Samson’s amazing strength left him (verse 19).

Herein, it should be apparent that Samson’s strength was not physical, but supernatural (from the Holy Spirit).

Finally, we discuss the Nazarite prohibition from getting close to dead bodies.

Why the prohibition? Well, the New Testament tells us that the Lord Jesus had a disciple who promised Him that he (the disciple) would follow Him but needed to bury his father first (Matthew 8). Instead of commending this disciple for his filial piety, the Lord Jesus seemed rather harsh when he replied: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22; NIV)

What did the Lord Jesus mean by “let the dead bury their own dead“? How can a dead person bury another dead person? Have you ever seen such a thing?

Well, the NLT version enlightens us by translating Matthew 8:22 this way: “But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.”” (emphasis mine).

In other words, it seems like the Lord Jesus Christ was instructing this disciple that he (this disciple), being spritually alive, had more important things to attend to (namely, “to preach about the Kingdom of God“; see Luke 9:60), and that he should leave non-spiritual matters into the hands of the spiritually dead.

Coming back to the Nazarite prohibition from getting close to dead bodies, I believe that the deeper spiritual meaning behind this prohibition was for the Nazarite’s to separate themselves from the spiritually dead.

The tragic irony in Samson’s life is that he seemed to have spent most of his time associating with the spiritually dead and so little with God’s children (the children of Israel). Lest we forget, Samson was judge over Israel for twenty years (Judges 15:20 ), but how much of his leadership do we learn about in the bible?

Eventually, Samson died with the Philistines. Note that this was something he had prayed and requested God for (see Judges 16:30, NLT translation, which reads: “he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.”“)

Why did Samson have to die this way? I mean, had Samson requested God to allow him to die elsewhere, couldn’t have God granted his requested and delivered him from the Philistines’ captivity? I would think so, but wish to bring you back to my point that God had answered Samson’s very request. It seems to me that even at death, Samson could not dissociate himself emotionally from the spiritually-dead Philistines.

Perhaps had Samson trained his mind since young (by meditating on the Word of God) to stay away from the spiritually dead, his life could have taken a very different turn, and could have avoided all the tragedies in his life, and lived a ripe old age, instead of dying in such an untimely manner.

Is there any relevance of this to modern-day believers? There is; like the Nazarites, we are not to establish close relationships with the spiritually dead: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14; NIV)