17 April Pastoral Heartbeat
Dear brothers- and sisters-in-Christ,
We trust that you had a meaningful Good Friday and a great Easter Sunday. As Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon reminded us: “The Church must believe and live out the resurrection of Christ!”
Since we started our full online services and sermons on 29 March, there have been about 6,700 to 15,000 playback views of the video recordings from each Sunday onwards, with viewers from Singapore as well as other countries. The number of viewers will be even more if we consider that many families attend and watch the services together. Praise the Lord that His Word has been going forth far and wide!
We urge you to trust in the Lord and do your part in Singapore’s fight against the pandemic during these weeks of Circuit Breaker measures. Please stay home and save lives! Let us keep praying for the severe outbreaks in the migrant workers’ dormitories to be effectively contained and for all the infected workers to fully recover.
The current social restrictions with work-from-home and home-based-learning arrangements are not easy for individuals and families. Households will inevitably see increased tensions between married couples, between parents and their children, and between adult children and their elderly parents. How can we overcome family tensions and conflicts?
Let’s first deal with the fundamentals: We need a new heart.
Jesus said in Mark 7:20-23 – “20 … What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Brothers and sisters, we are not here to judge anyone, for we all have the same struggles. But we want you to know that there is only one solution to deal with all our tensions and conflict – We need a new heart!
Like the Pharisees, we tend to deal with problems through legalistic means, relying on our man-made laws and rules. We try to resolve issues on the external by making certain demands on outward behaviours. That may help for a while, but it does not last. What we really need is a radical change from within! A new heart. A new spirit. We need to bring our frustrations, our anger, our bitterness, our loss of control, whatever toxic emotions, to God and ask Him to transform our hearts and change our sinful nature through Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Only Jesus can change us from within and give us a new heart. This is what will last.
Friends, in all your family tensions and conflicts, will you earnestly ask God for a new heart?
We would like to share two key applications for dealing with tensions and conflicts:
- Count others more significant than yourself (Phil 2:3): To do so, The Message Bible paraphrase says, “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.” So let us strive to find what is good in the other person. Catch our family members doing something good and praise them. When someone fumbles, do not start raising your voice at the person. Be patient and kind.
- Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:4): We know that this can be hard. Again, from The Message: “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
So let us keep looking out for that which satisfy the other person’s needs. Of course, there may need to be some healthy negotiations and mutual compromises, so that we meet each other halfway. But if you choose to listen well to the other family members and ask, “What can I do to meet your needs?”, the relationship dynamics changes.
Those are by no means exhaustive. But if you are willing to change, the Holy Spirit will help you!
Brothers and sisters, we believe that this period is a God-given time for Intentional Family Discipleship and Disciplemaking. The journey may be hard, but the rewards are out of this world!
May God strengthen us with love, faith and hope in Jesus Christ!
Rev Tan Kay Kiong and Rev Tony Yeo
Covenant Evangelical Free Church