Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thank You Mr Lee Kuan Yew

SCRIPTURE:Romans 12:15
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 25th, 2015

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15)

Sombre streets, sober faces.
Singapore this week looks the same but something feels different.
Painfully different.

From riding on the world-class MRT system, to the humble and reliable buses,
amid the flood of sadness, there is a profound mood in everyone.

Echoes of gratitude for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Grateful for the way he fought for the country.
Grateful for the care he showed during calamities, fires, and tragedies.
Grateful for the leadership he demonstrated through the years.
Grateful for the opportunities he provided for families both near and far.
Grateful for the love he shared with his family and citizens of the country.
Grateful for the passion and patriotic spirit in him for Singapore.
Grateful for the years of wisdom and tough decisions made for the greater good.
Grateful for the prosperity and economic miracle he has helped to create.

During such tender moments, tears speak louder than words.
Emotions leaked ceaselessly from people all over the island, even the world.
It is not a time to be shy. It is simply a time to be appreciative.

Since March 23rd, it has brought people out in numbers.
It has evoked global tributes and responses.
It has unleashed emotions at memorial centers all over the island.
It has also squeezed out poetry from people who don't usually write prose.
That speaks volumes about one death. 

There are no words that can describe how many people feel.
Amid the tide of sadness and gloom, I see hope.
That what one man had started will continue to grow.
How one man can do so much and inspire others to do more.

There are many reasons to celebrate the past achievements.
There are more reasons to celebrate the spirit of nation building already seeded in many.
I see the wonderful solidarity among people of different races, religions, and cultures.
I see a nation weeping together and mourning as one people.
I know my late father would have cried. He had been a long-time admirer of Mr Lee.

No words can describe how most people feel today. Only tears.

Come Sunday, as the nation prepares to say goodbye to him,
Some would call him "Founder of Singapore."
Others would affectionately address him as "Ah Kong."
Still many would readily say he's the "Father of modern Singapore."

Whatever the differences, whatever the disputes or policy disagreements,
Let us this week just put them all aside.
Let us simply remember the good that he had done.
Let us also remember that nobody is perfect.
Like all humans, we all have our flaws.

For the critics, remember that we all too have our imperfections.
For the admirers, remember too that he is human, like us.
For the people of Singapore, just remember him as someone
Who had given his best to Singapore.
This is the legacy he has left for us.

May we all learn humbly from him, what it means to live, to love, and to leave a legacy.
For our children, our children's children, and beyond.

Mr Lee's photo and the Singapore flag at half-mast are left in colour
as a way to honour the meaning behind his name,
which is "light and bright."

This Sunday, I am ready to weep with the nation of Singapore.
Whether one wears black, white, sombre colours or not,
It doesn't really matter.
Mourning is a universal expression of sadness and appreciation.

The Bible says, mourn with those who mourn.
Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.
Be comforted, people of Singapore.
We will cry. We will weep. We will remember. 

Mr Lee, sir, I salute you.


Dr Conrade Yap


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three Thoughts On Youths

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 1:4-6
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 20th, 2015
4The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 6“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” (Jeremiah 1:4-6)

This week, I offer three brief thoughts about youths. The first follows the calling of young Jeremiah. the second is about the responses of youths and how energetic they are all over the world. The third is about the choices we make when we are young.

A) God Inspires Vision

(Picture Credit: sermons4kids.com)
Jeremiah was in his early twenties when he was called to be a prophet for God. Some Jewish commentators even put him as young as 14. The Hebrew word "naar" (young) can also be translated as a "boy" or someone who is not an "adult" yet. It is hard to pin down the exact age, so we can only identify clues in the passage. We know that God spoke with him and he heard it. God even brought him all the way before he was in the womb. Frankly, for a person that young, it is perfectly understandable. In our society, would we trust someone who had never been to college to be mayor of our city? Would we vote for a young chap under the age of 20 to run our municipality? In many places, people that young should be in school and not meddle around with adult matters. So we should understand where Jeremiah is coming from.

Yet, there are biblical precedents of how the LORD overturned the common perceptions to remind us that in life, God always has the final say, not man. Moses was resisting his call by giving the eloquent excuse (Exodus 4:10). Solomon confesses his lack of maturity as he humbly requests God for wisdom to govern (1 Kings 3:7). Even Elizabeth was humbled when Mary came visiting.

"But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Facing Cancer

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 12th, 2015
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Ps 13:1)
What do we do when our high hopes of faith clash with the harsh realities of life?

I remember being trained for evangelism years ago to share the gospel with people, to open up the Word of God to them, and to share my testimony with them. With step by step explanations and diagrams, I would lead individuals with questions, be engaged with them about the questions of life, and often concluding with a personal testimony of what life in Christ looks like. A typical flow would be something like sharing the powerful effects of faith on born again believers.
  • “I used to be very hot-tempered, but since coming to Christ, I have mellowed.”
  • “I was self-centered but since Christ came into my life, I have become more God-centered and other-centered.”
  • “I was a very unhappy and dissatisfied person, until I met Christ.”
  • I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” (John Newton)
I can also rattle off a list of blessings that people receive from time to time. It can be a huge salary jump or a triple promotion. It can be one’s book entering the list on the New York Times bestseller books. It can also be a surprise present from nowhere, or an answer to a poor missionary’s prayer. For the sick, people’s hopes rest on miracles. For the down and out, hopes rest on a quick turnaround or in extreme cases, a quick end to life. I am not saying that these are bad. No. I thank God for every benefit that comes from God. What I am concerned about are people who place the hope of such blessings as the primary purpose of faith, instead of the glory of God. For people who converted to Christianity on the basis of blessings, good health, and prosperity, the moment the perceived blessings stop, there is a high chance that they will leave the faith.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

In Memory of Chua How Chuang

TITLE: In Memory of Chua How Chuang
SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 12:9
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: March 5th, 2015

"9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Cor 12:9)

Dr Chua How Chuang
Today is a day of much grief. Dr CHUA How Chuang went home to the Lord this morning. He is survived by Kaori and his three year old daughter Airi. He was a fellow Regent alum, who recently returned to Singapore from Hokkaido Japan as a missionary-teacher on behalf of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship). After completing his PhD from Trinity, he was back in Vancouver for a visit. I met him for coffee and it was a really enriching time of sharing and caring. Though he was a scholar-theologian, and I was then a student at Regent, I could sense his gift in pastoral care emanating from his warm tone. We chatted like friends even though we had not seen each other for ages. The last time I saw him was way back in Varsity days. He was a VCF Staffworker then and spoke regularly at various Christian Fellowship events. I knew him then as someone who can speak and articulate biblical truths well. He was a well respected figure at Regent, and I remembered hearing about him being one of Dr J.I Packer's best Teaching Assistants. He was one of those students from Singapore who had held the Singapore flag up high in terms of research quality and academic excellence. How Chuang's thesis was based on the Puritan, Richard Baxter, entitled: "Christ, atonement, and evangelism in the theology of Richard Baxter." Not surprising as Dr Packer is an ardent reader of Anglicanism and Puritans.