Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Methods as opposed to intent

Preamble: I continue to spend time regularly, reading Ps Prentis’ blog entries. I can’t really put a finger on it as to why his blog, even though his entries are sound from core theological point of view (and that is important). Perhaps, it is a desire of the Lord put in me, for the season, so that it serves as a means to stimulate in me, the development of a capacity to draw out relevant truths from the Word.

From ink on paper, when we study the Word, we transfer the reservoir of God’s words into ourselves. We need to develop a capacity to draw out the relevant truths from this internal reservoir, as well as what has still remained in the physical words in the Bible. The principle given in Heb 5:14 applies here, too, that by constant use, we develop our retrieval system in order that we can apply the Word of God; even when we acknowledge that the prompting of Holy Spirit is part of that system.

Do you transfer at least some of God’s Word into your internal reservoir? Do you still continue to do that transfer? Do you even keep that physical book handy to refer to, or is it collecting dust on a shelf? Or do you have so many copies of this book that you are having them lying all over the places, but they remained un-thumbed!? It is still just ink and paper if they are NOT retrieved and applied? They are still raw data in you if you have developed a capacity to draw them out or retrieve them, to apply in your life situations, or in the situations of others. God maybe using Ps Prentis’ blog to help me to achieve this end; what about you – what do you do or use regularly, towards this end? Just going to church for the weekend service, is perhaps NOT enough; just test it: Do you still remember or able to retrieve anything from your last weekend sermon you heard in church? One point or none? Even the title or theme, you forgotten!

What you read below, I entitled it, “Methods as opposed to intent” is the entire comment that I put up on reading one of Ps Prentis’ regular blog entries. Ps Prentis’ entry is this, “We can’t forget the crowds“. Because I spend a lot of time on my comments on Ps Prentis’ entries, I figure I cannot afford the time to additionally write up articles on my own blog, as regular as I have done before; for I have also, since October last year, started preaching my own sermons, which I have to prepare, in the Marketplace Divine Healing Meetings I have started and headed up. Additionally, I do hold down a regular secular job, and I have also become the father and mother for my own 2 teenage children.

NOT one method
I cannot agree with you {Ps Prentis} more. The one common problem with many is that they are so fixated on methods or methodology. Be careful, legalism can rear its ugly head. Always differentiate between “intent” and “method”. Generally speaking there are many ways to skin a cat, although of course, NOT in every situation, every single way is acceptable. If it is method, clearly, Scripture supported diverse methods for the same intent, to reach non-believers for God.

Shortcoming of myopic view
One of the things that immature Christians (everyone has come that way, before, including me!) to is to zero in on particular verses, and failed to see the various bigger pictures in collective scriptures; it is like we have a huge painting before us, and all we do, is to be so focused on a part of the painting, seeing, say, an apple on the ground, and NOT seeing there are many apple trees in the painting – in other words, taking a myopic view. To fully get the most out of a painting, one has to look at the picture, NOT only in close proximity, but also from various distances. Like using a microscope, one zooms in and zooms out, seeing singly, and seeing over a wider area. Those familiar with Science, will agree, if you zoomed in, on one amoeba, you may conclude it is one shape, but if you look over a wider area, seeing more, you will know that amoeba has no definite shape!

Constant use
A mature Christian, because of “constant use” (Heb 5:14), can develop more acute discernment of what is good and what is evil, which is the one, for the occasion, and which is NOT the one.

When you eat with someone often enough, you get to know how he holds his chopsticks (I am Chinese-lah), but can he NOT hold it differently at times? Of course, he can. Well, he is the one eating, and that is his intent, to put food into his mouth to eat. If for this one occasion, he holds the chopsticks 2cm higher up the length of sticks, it is NOT unacceptable for his intent and purpose, which is to put food into his mouth. No, if he can manage it, let him be.

He is Master, please Him
Now, is there a difference between that generic “he” in the above example, and God, and between a general stuff like putting food into the mouth with a pair of chopsticks and the doing the things of God? There is; and the core difference is that we are in the context of serving our Master. When we are serving our Master, then the overriding concern of ours, is to please our Master.

Suppose, you need to wrap a gold foil around the part of the chopstick where God would hold the chopsticks; to please God, you observe, and you put the foil at the part you noted your God would customarily hold the chopstick. So, invariably, we are talking about our serving Him, our honoring Him, our loving Him, and so, we pay attention to what He wants. We are to treat God with due reverence concerning all of His ways; that is our duty, that is our job. It does NOT matter God chooses to move the foil higher up the chopstick, for a particular occasion; He is the Master, He can do what He likes. But that which would please your God, is your attentiveness to what pleases Him. Am I sure God likes people to be after His heart? Yes, God held David of the Bible in great esteem for being a man after His heart; and I submit to you, in the Book of Revelation, when Jesus said to one of the churches NOT to lose her first love, in a significant part, Jesus was referring to the church’s lack of attentiveness to what would please God at the moments.

It is about Him, Not about you
In other words, if he prefers you to attention the gospel to the mass in this place for this period, rather than to concentrate on small groups or individual evangelism, you do what he preferred for the moment. You use whatever method or approach God wants, not what you want for the moment, because it is NOT about you; it is about God and His will, His desires, and His intents and purposes.

Often, there is nothing wrong, in itself, of the various methods; it is simply He is the Master, and we are to do that which our Master wants; yes, please Him. He is God, He knows what He is doing, and there is probably a good reason for Him preferring one approach over another at a particular occasion; the fact that we know NOT, the good reason, matters NOT. Even if there is no good reason, if you love Him, you just do it. Is it NOT so, when your darling tells to you to use the love-shape jelly molds instead of the round ones, you just do it? Of course, both sets of mold can do the job; you just use the ones your darling likes.

For success
Another angle to look at why we should just use the approach or method He wants, is that it is His intent, His project, and if it is also His approach, surely, when you are in full agreement with what God wants done and at the time it is to be done, there is every reason to expect God to render His grace for a success. Often, it can be we, of ourselves, are inadequate to accomplish a mission without the backing and resources of the Master, after all, we are servants or slaves. It makes entirely good sense to defer to the Master, in how His mission is to be accomplished; unless you want to show off, but remember, pride often comes before our downfall.

Beware of legalism
Having said all of the above, I must repeat, when it comes to methods, do NOT be dogmatic, and even be found to be guilty of legalism. God does NOT like that, and Jesus showed that, in His earthly ministry. In short, still the best safeguard is to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and to subscribe to Heb 5:14, and note Prov 11:14 which said that there is safety in the multitudes of counsel.

NOT one method but many, to reach people for God
Specific to the subject matter on hand, the intent is clear; God’s desire is none be lost to Hell (1 Tim 2:4), and the way is one, through the gospel, but the methods or approaches to reach out and to present the gospel are varied, and God’s preferred method for you and for your season, and for your setting, may be different from another, but it is NOT necessarily that, that method is wrong and this is right. What is right is to be viewed from its agreement with the desire of God then, in terms of action to be taken and timing. Of course, it is NOT to say there are no boundaries or guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is NOT; often there are. For example, God is NOT evil, so do NOT lie and engage in deceptions. God is holy; he cannot join you in sin.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, I have sensed "heat" coming upon me as I write and review this, perhaps, the things said here have struck a chord in your heart. May you use this to exhort many in what you want them to learn. Amen.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do I have to forgive (another man)? PART I

Preamble: Before I talked more, I want to say that some of the points here are NOT in agreement with the understanding of the “overly grace” believers who hold onto the theology that they are forgiven AT their born-again, of all their sins, past, current and FUTURE.

In this part I, we will cover a few key points in this very important subject of the need for us, a believer, to forgive another. I feel it is easier to give understanding on this topic, through point by point form; the layout of this article is in this manner.

Point No 1 – We have to forgive because we have unmerited forgiveness from God (unmerited, meaning, out of grace).

Point No 2 – We have to forgive as God forgave us.

The support for these 2 points come from Col 3:13 and Eph 4:32:

Col 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Eph 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

1) because we have received forgiveness from God, we are to forgive. When we received God’s forgiveness, we received it, out of grace (we did NOT merit it), as such, in gratefulness, subsequently we should be forgiving towards others; and

2) in the manner we received, we give, or freely we received, freely we give (Matt 10:8b). In other words, we are to release forgiveness also out of grace, without the counterparty meriting it.

3) It is clear, the 2 verses are talking about the manner in which we are to forgive, and NOT timing; the use of “as” for timing, would be like “AS I pass out” these song sheets to you; you “pass them on”, but in this case, it wasn't used this way.

Point No 3 – forgiving is practising love

Prov 17:9 – NIV84 - “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” NLT2007 – “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” God’s Word Translation – 1995 – “Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends.”

I like the interpretation of “covers over” as “forgive”, as in the NLT & GWT.

When God forgave us, God was promoting love. Likewise, when we forgive, we are promoting love or practising love. Love prospers when forgiveness is rendered. As a Christian, do we have to put love into practise? Yes, we must; and forgiving is a very important way.

Is it NOT true, if we kept on, the bringing up of a wrong, it will separate the closest of friends? Yes; and so, when we forgive another over a matter, don’t keep bringing it up with the person, to put the person down.

Before I go on to point No 4, let me repeat the 1st 3 points:

1) We have to forgive because we have received unmerited forgiveness from God.

2) We have to forgive as God forgave us, or we have to forgive in similar fashion/manner as God forgave us.

3) We have to forgive because to forgive is to practise/promote love.

The next point is one that is very important, and is where “overly grace” preachers would definitely NOT agree with us.

Point No 4 – forgive, for we need on-going forgiveness from God

I will express here, the “overly grace” preachers do NOT believe a believer needs to get on-going forgiveness from God; their theology is that a believer needs only be forgiven once, i.e. AT his born-again, for all his sins, past, current, AND FUTURE. According to them, a Christian should NEVER ask for forgiveness from God again!

If you are like me, unlike the “overly grace” believers, we are to believe in our need for on-going forgiveness from God; and we forgive, for we need on-going forgiveness from God.

The supporting texts are these: Matt 6:14-15, Mark 11:25 and Luke 6:37

Matt 6:14-15 – “14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” {Note the future tense used, “will not”}

Mark 11:25 – “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Luke 6:37 – ““Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

It is obvious that believers are being referred to, here. Don’t you agree!

If, as the “overly grace” preachers have taught, believers need only to be forgiven once, for all his sins, including future ones, AT his born-again, these verses are WRONG to suggest God will be forgiving believers subsequent to their entry into salvation.

If you are like me, believe the verses are NOT WRONG, but the “overly grace” preachers erred, and that we need to receive forgiveness of God from time to time, even as a believer, because we do sin (from time to time), we need to forgive others; for if we don’t, God will also NOT forgive us.

My purpose here is NOT to refute the claims of the “overly grace” believers, but I must state an important point on this subject of forgiving another, and that is, I repeat, “we forgive, FOR we need on-going forgiveness from God.”

Point No 5 – we are to forgive, forgive, and forgive.

Scripture texts:

Matt 18:21-22 – “21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (NIV84)

Luke 17:4-5 – 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” “

Do these verses support the notion that if one (ok, a brother) sins against you 7 times a day, for 11 days {7x11=77 times}, and on the 12th day, you don’t need to forgive him?

The answer is “No”, I believe such were a manner of speaking in that time and culture, meant to say there is no limit to the number of times. 7 was thought to be already the perfect threshold, and Jesus was saying one had to go beyond that, “go perfect, perfect” or “7,7” NOT just “7”.

It was how superlatives were expressed, like when, “Verily”, was used twice as “Verily, verily” or in the extreme superlative, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (“Holy”, repeated 3 times, to express extreme superlative).

Or alternatively, if you read verse 22 of Matt 18, as, “70 x 7” times (as in the NIV footnote), similarly, “1 x 7” is already considered “perfect”, there is the “7 x 7” (or 49 – the Hebrew’s jubilee), and “70 x 7” (or 490, the grand jubilee); essentially, what was intentioned, was to indicate to go, to the maximum no. of times imaginable.

What are we supposed to do? Forgive, forgive and forgive.

Point No 6 – we forgive, regardless

This is an extremely important point, and supports come from these sets of verses: Col 3:13, Mark 11:25 & Luke 17:4-5

Col 3:13 said, “Whatever grievances”, forgive. Mark 11:25 said, if you hold anything, anything at all, against anyone, forgive him. This includes all cases where you have grounds to be “unforgiving”; you have to forgive, regardless, so that God may forgive you your sins.

Luke 17:4-5 is saying the same: Just imagine, a brother wrongs you, one time, and says, “I am sorry”, and you forgive him; he repeats that, and you forgive him, and then he repeats it again, and again, for another 5 times, all in the same day, and on the 7th time, you are still to forgive him when he has said, “I am sorry” or “I repent”.

If you ask me, if a brother has wronged me 3 times in a day, I will be quite dull, to NOT realize, that brother is lacking sincerity. What this tells me is that, Jesus was deliberate in saying what He had said, which was in substance, this: “If the offender comes claiming he knows he was wrong, and now seeks forgiveness, even at face value, you just accept it, and release your forgiveness to the person.”

The exclamation of the disciples (“Increase our faith!”) was recorded to emphasise the need for us to forgive, regardless; despite we have NOT seen better or higher gauge of repentance than a mere claim, “I repent”.

Let me now take the time to explain the concept of forgiving and releasing forgiveness. Firstly, there is our forgiveness in the heart for the offender, and then there is the releasing of forgiveness to the offender. We must first forgive the offender in our heart, regardless; then we release our forgiveness to the person. In other words, before we could release forgiveness to the offender, we must have forgiven the person in our heart first. That forgiveness from the heart, in the heart, is to done, regardless, without condition attached – forgive, regardless. So, despite the Luke passage was more on releasing our forgiveness to the offender, it implicitly included forgiving.

Point No 7 – in forgiveness, we are to be our brother’s keeper

The Scripture text is this:

Luke 17:3-5 – “3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” “

If our brother sins, we are to rebuke him. We are to stress to him what he did is wrong; and this is line with our responsibility for our brother (we are our brother’s keeper!). In other words, the Luke’s account was also incorporating the teaching of how to function as a brother’s keeper in rendering forgiveness.

In living out our Christian lives, we are always to be aware, we are our brother’s keeper, and a key aspect of that role is to avoid stumbling, confusing or misrepresenting to our brother. So, even in matter of rendering forgiveness, we are here being taught, how NOT to stumble a brother. Only when he claims repentance and seeks forgiveness, which is PRIMA FACIE that he understands he has done wrong and wants to turn from it, do we RELEASE forgiveness to him.

Please NOTE that I have said, “Release forgiveness to him, and NOT forgive him”. We have to forgive the offender in our heart, regardless, and then in discharging our brother’s keeper’s role, we release our forgiveness on prima facie repentance. Prima facie simply means “as it seems, without investigation”.

By verse 3 of Luke 17, I believe Jesus was intentioned to stress 2 things:

1) we have a certain responsibility towards our brother, so that “his blood is NOT on us”; and

2) we are to forgive the brother for the wrong he had done to us.

The “repent” bit was only to indicate when to release your forgiveness to the person, NOT so much as to be a condition for forgiveness; that was why Jesus had to follow it with verse 4, to explain what He meant by “repent” that He had just mentioned.

As a timing or sequence of events, it is this: a brother sins, we tell him, that is wrong (we rebuke, in other words), and then at his claiming of repentance and seeking of forgiveness (“I repent” was to indicate this), we are to release our forgiveness to him. This was what Jesus meant when He said, if that brother sins against you 7 times in a day(!) and comes back to you, every time (!!), saying, “I repent”, you are to forgive him!!!

The text should NOT be interpreted as requiring “truly repented” as a condition for forgiveness. As I have said before, just imagine, a brother wrongs you, one time, and says, “I am sorry” (and you forgive him); he repeats that, and you forgive him, and then he repeats it again, and again, for another 5 times, and on the 7th time, you are still to forgive him when he has said, “I am sorry” or “I repent”.

As I have said earlier, Jesus was believed to be saying, “If the offender comes claiming he knows he was wrong, and now seeks forgiveness, even at face value (prima facie), you just accept it, and release your forgiveness to him.”

Jesus was intentioned more, to explain how you are to discharge your responsibility towards a “failed” brother rather than on stating there is a proviso, for forgiveness. If we remove the “repent” (its more exact meaning, as explained in verse 4) from verse 3, it would then appeared that Jesus would be instructing us to rebuke the person who has done wrong and then, on finishing the rebuke, tell the person he is forgiven – what kind of message would that be, would it NOT, be confusing to the person who sinned? Yes, it would, to say the least; it might even suggest to him as being quite alright to commit the wrong/sin in question!

Point No 8 – If there is prima facie repentance, and forgiveness is sought, you are to release it

We are still looking at the same Scripture text of Luke 17:3-5.

It is because the way Jesus explained the “repent” of verse 3, in verse 4, that made the disciples said, “Increase our faith!” Why?

Because first, Jesus required us to be our brother’s keeper, to tell the person he is wrong, then even when there is no repentance according to our “stricter gauge standard”, we are to release our forgiveness to the person as long as there is prima facie repentance (the person claims repentance, and seeks forgiveness, that will do). Isn’t that hard, and that was what the exclamation was about!

Had Jesus said, for example, “When he truly repented, you forgive him”, the disciples would NOT have said, “Increase our faith!” as an indication of it being a hard thing, Jesus was asking them to do. You see, the minimum test of “truly repented” would be the “test of time”. Given reasonable time, if the brother does NOT repeat his error, we may at least, have a degree of comfort that he has indeed repented, but that was NOT what Jesus indicated (Jesus deliberately used “7 times in a DAY”; there is no test of time).

Neither did Jesus suggest some other form of actions, like restitution (in situation where it is possible), or paid the “damages” to you, or paid the fines, or surrendered to the police. If one of those was suggested, perhaps, it would have been easier for the disciples to “stomach” it; but Jesus did NOT. Jesus said you just take it, when the person says he repents, which is basically means “he claims he repents”; and he wants your forgiveness, you are to give it!

Jesus was NOT intentioned, in these verses, to lay down a proviso we are to demand, before we forgive. Don’t quote this verse, Luke 17:3, to support our own purported understanding of requiring a “failed” brother to have “truly repented” before we forgive. We forgive …….what? Regardless. We release forgiveness on … what? Prima facie repentance.

Point No 9 – Despite we are to forgive regardless {point no 6}”, and “to release forgiveness on prima facie repentance (NOT to insist on “truly repented”) {point no 8}”, we are to repent in asking for forgiveness.

I felt it is necessary to insert this point, in case, people go away with wrong idea that we do NOT need to repent when asking for forgiveness from God, or from each other.

Despite the above exposition, on Luke 17:3-5, the text does NOT suggest, the “failed” brother need NOT truly repent of his sins. The text is addressed to the one offended, how he was to forgive and to perform his role as his brother’s keeper.

There is a very valid guide for receiving in of truths from the Word, and it is called, “Please read your own email, and NOT that addressed to another”. Here, God tells you, the offended one, what you are to do; you don’t ignore that; instead, go read the email to the offender, in which God tells him what he must do.

I repeat: “The verses do NOT suggest, the “failed” brother needs NOT truly repent of his sins”. Let me explain:

Be the first one to throw a stone at me, if you honestly was NEVER, as a believer, ever, intentioned to repent before the Lord, and then went on to commit sin again.

Do you think God did NOT forgive you on those occasions? Or that God waited until you truly repented before He forgave you? When you purportedly said that you would NOT sin again, when can God truly be sure that you would NEVER sin again? Can you tell me, for sure, when? Most of us, can’t, right!

At the same time, it is NOT God is saying you are NOT to truly repent of your sins; in fact we are, to truly repent of our sins. And so, it all comes back to the same thing said earlier, concerning Col 3:13: “we forgive in the same manner God forgives”. God forgives us at our expression of repentance, and so must we forgive another, that way; although in both cases, it is NOT that we are NOT required to truly repent. Let me explain further:

Forgiveness is expression of love, and practising forgiveness is practising love, we have seen that, above (Prov 17:9 / point No 3). Yet, because ultimately, God can only love us unto righteousness (‘ahab love), God does desire that we repent from our sinful ways.

In the same way, we love with the love of God, our brothers; and we, therefore, must love our brothers, unto righteousness, desiring him to repent; but just as God forgives out of grace, we, too, are to forgive out of grace. Just as God would release His forgiveness to us at our expression of repentance, so must we do the same – release forgiveness to another at his expression of repentance (“I repent”).

When it is out of grace, it means the person receiving it, has NOT merited it. So, really, you cannot be attaching conditions to your forgiving another, like he must truly repented first, done this and done that, or suffered this first, and that, too, before you forgive. If your mindset is that way, when the offender does NOT satisfy any of the conditions, you will be reluctant to forgive, and that goes against the wish of God, which is that we forgive, regardless.

Because God’s love for us, ultimately is love unto righteousness; we must repent; and we love our fellow brother with the love of God, we too, love him unto righteousness, and so rightly, we desire his repentance, and he should repent. So, you see, in our asking for forgiveness we are to repent.

God’s email to the offender would have read along the lines that I have just given (he should repent), yet you, the offended one, still should just go to the instruction God has given you, “Release forgiveness to the offender on prima facie repentance, just as He (God) also does, when you ask for forgiveness”.

So, please do NOT go round quoting me saying that, in asking for forgiveness, we do NOT need to repent; you have to (repent).

Many misinterpret Luke 17:3-5
Because many misinterpret Luke 17:3-5, so before I end, I repeat: It is NOT right to interpret the Luke passage to say, the Word of God said, we are to forgive another, only when that person has truly repented, excusing ourselves to harbor unforgiveness against that person. The correct rendering is, we are to forgive (from our heart, and in our heart), regardless; it is that we may hold back the release of our forgiveness, in our proper discharge of our role as our brother’s keeper. But when there is prima facie repentance, you are to release your forgiveness to him; any reluctance on your part goes only to show you have NOT forgiven the person, in your heart, in the first place; and that is NOT right.

If you ask: Can I release forgiveness to the offender without him asking for forgiveness? Yes, so long as you are still properly discharging your “brother’s keeper’s role”. Sometimes, our relation with some people is such that we know, there is already prima facie repentance on the part of the person, even without him claiming it and seeking forgiveness; in such a case, it is NOT wrong to release the forgiveness to the person (legalism is to be avoided).   To proceed to Part II, click here <Part II>

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Carolyn Quek has passed on, too (31 Dec 2011)

Less than 3 months ago, I wrote an entry on Liz Mah’s passing on {Liz has passed on (6 Oct 2011)}; this time, I am putting up this entry for Carolyn Quek’s passing on. It is NOT my intention nor do I want to, make it a ritual to do this, putting up articles on people who passed on; but because Carolyn Quek, Liz Mah and I, had been engineered by God (I believe) to cross path, and be “intertwined” for a time longer than days or weeks, I feel it proper to put up an article for Carolyn, as I did, for Liz.

If you read the entry on Liz (the link given above), you will know that, despite Liz was resided in another country, Malaysia, I came to know her, in 2009, without meeting her; through her blogging. A year later, some time, towards the end of 2010, Liz had wanted to come to Singapore, where I am residing, for a short holiday, over a weekend. I emailed her on the possibility of dropping by at my church so that I could pray for her, in person. I emailed her the map and direction to come to my church, but I had NOT, her telephone number. That weekend, I waited in church over 3 services, over Saturday and Sunday, but Liz, her husband (Henry) and their 2 sons, did not turn up at the church. The surprising bit was this:

A lady, with her husband, and 2 boys were in one of the services, and they were seated right behind me. I was seated in the 1st row of the pews, and these folks, as visitors, surprisingly sat right behind me, in the 2nd row (many people do NOT like sitting so near to the front). At the end of the service, as the congregation was leaving, the 2 boys took turn to ask me questions, one each, tough questions, I remember; questions that most Christians do NOT ask. Because of the depth of the questions, I tried NOT to give “simplistic” answers. When I have finished answering the boys, the mother of the kids said that the reason the kids were asking those “tough” questions was because she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. When I heard that, it was like a light bulb suddenly lighted up, as I thought about the similarity - the 4 persons, a mother with her husband, and their 2 boys (although {later I learned} Carolyn had 2 other sons, {much much older}, but were NOT at the church). You see, I was expecting Liz Mah who was also diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (her case, she was diagnosed in 2009), coming with her husband and their 2 boys. So, I believe in place of Liz and her party of 4, God has engineered Carolyn Quek and her party of 4 to come, instead. This was how, back in 2010, I first met Carolyn. I subsequently explained to Carolyn about Liz Mah of Malaysia, and connected the two. Carolyn followed Liz’s journey even as she travelled hers. Liz, as I have said in my entry (link given in the first para.), was really steadfast in holding onto the faith and trusting God, and it was reflected in her entries in her blog, which Carolyn, in Singapore, followed. Liz Mah was an encourager for Carolyn. This was evidence that Liz, in her own affliction, she had encouraged, and aided another in the same tough journey of life.

Recently, when Carolyn was first hospitalized, because the cancer had spread from her lungs to her brain, I visited her. Her husband, Anson, told me that, because of the widespread cancer growths pressing on her brain cells and taking up spaces in the skull, Carolyn suffered loss of memory, and she could NOT recognize or remember many people. She could only remember and recognise a handful of people. Anson said she was able to remember me, and indeed, she could, when I was there in the hospital. It seemed somehow, when Carolyn could only have a few names she could keep in memory, she was able to select those dear to her, her immediate family members, one or two church people (I am greatly honored she had kept me in), and Liz Mah, even though Liz had passed on! Anson told me, she remembered Liz, and kept talking about her. Carolyn was much older than Liz, but she took Liz as her model (because Liz’s longsuffering, perseverance and faithfulness), and she did lament that Liz had to go (passed on) so young.

Now, Carolyn has joined Liz in Heaven; yes, my faith tells me both of them enter Heaven, to be with their Lord.

Actually, both women, Liz Mah and Carolyn Quek exhibited longsuffering, perseverance, and faithfulness; they remained steadfast unto the Lord even though their days were numbered. The examples of Liz Mah, you can read from the entry I made on her, given at the beginning of this article.

Carolyn, too, was steadfast; her husband, Anson, who was NOT a believer before the discovery of her cancer affliction, was touched by her steadfastness, and opened himself to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and received Jesus into his life. Anson told me that Carolyn then made use of the time she had left, and reached out to her maternal family side, and members there received Jesus, too. Anson, when I talked with him, and in one visit at the hospital when I asked him to lead in prayer for Carolyn, I realized, for a young Christian, Anson sure understood things well, and prayed well; Carolyn had continued to encourage him to continue to attend classes at church, even when she could not go with him (because of her hospitalization).

Carolyn continued also to further her own understanding of the faith, and would go to church services, and attend classes, as far as possible. I remember Anson said, she would insist on sitting just behind me, a couple of rows behind, and I often prayed for her in church. Carolyn would ask me things of the faith she did NOT understand well. For short answers, I would answer her in church; for longer ones, we would exchange emails. From the emails, and through the questions she asked, I learnt too, that, during this time, Carolyn was also teaching her kids about the faith.

Just as in the case of Liz, in their final days, it was difficult for them to be coherent; Liz’s husband, Henry, said so, from reading the uncompleted last blog entry that Liz was doing; and for Carolyn, the cancer growth in her head reduced her to be like a small child. So, when asked, what they (Anson, and the children) should do for Carolyn, I thought about how steadfast both women were, and I felt that helping Carolyn to stay steadfast unto the Lord, was the best thing to do, and so, I agreed that praying by her bedside, reading Scriptures to her, and letting her hear Christian songs through headsets (in hospital), were the best things to do for her, to help her to “stay in the Lord”. I visited Carolyn at the hospital for the last time on Christmas morning; and on New Year Eve, she passed on.

Even in their cancer afflictions, both women, Liz and Carolyn were beautiful in my eyes, despite their then physical state; in them I saw the longsuffering, the perseverance, and the faithfulness and steadfastness unto the Lord. No matter what they have failed in the past, in their final lap, they possessed the important attributes of a man or woman of faith, finishing their races with thumb-up.

Carolyn has now joined Liz. These words I uttered in my heart, “Sisters, be at the Heaven’s Gate to welcome me when I come.”

[Added: 1 Feb 2012 - Last Sunday (29th Jan 2012), I witnessed Carolyn's husband, Anson's baptism in the church.  I was happy to see him and his 4 sons at the service.  I am happy for Anson, for he has continued with the faith, even though he came into the faith subsequent to Carolyn's cancer diagnosis, and Carolyn was NOT divinely healed; in a way, a test of faith, he, Anson, has passed].

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, you know that in Carolyn’s last days, it was difficult for me to pray with her and her loved ones, for I had encouraged them to be positive to continue to live life. Yet, I still went, be there, in their difficult moments of life. I thank you that you have seen me through those times that I thought it would be awkward to face the sick and their loved ones when the inevitable was coming for the sick, for I had been praying with them for healing. I will continue to pray and minister to the sick, only I ask of your grace for me to know how to carry myself in such inevitable scenarios, where the sick would pass on, Lord. Amen.

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