Camp Echo

Reflections on 1st message: Rooted in Christ

This is my first church camp with CERC and it is a great delight for me to be able to write a review on it. First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the camp committee members for organising   and planning the camp. Not forgetting, the camp speaker, Rev Ronald Hanko from the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, for being the camp speaker and bringing the Word of God to us.

I was sceptical when I was first approached to write this review, but I agreed reluctantly. However, after attending the camp, my thoughts have changed and now I am really thankful to God for giving me this chance to share with fellow saints what I have learnt throughout the camp.

On Day 1, Rev Hanko brought us the first message of the camp, which was “Rooted in Christ”. The word ‘rooted’ has a very special meaning. It emphasises a very special way of how we Christians are connected with God. To be rooted in Christ means that we are united to Him by faith with thanksgiving. We have to believe ‘rooted in’ literally.

Faith is not something that comes from us; it is a gift from God (Eph 2:8). To have faith means that we not only hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also have a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in the elect by the Gospel, that forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits (Heidelberg Catechism Answer 21). To be rooted in Christ also means that we are in Christ. When God saves us, He joins us with Christ in an inseparable union. We are regenerated when God puts Christ in us. (Gal 4) That is what being a Christian is all about – to be in Christ. We share everything that is in Christ. When we are rooted in Christ, we draw strength and nourishment from Him. And as we do, we continue to grow and are built up in Christ. The more we grow, the more deeply our roots take hold of Christ, increasing our yearning for Him.

Apostle Paul warns us of what will happen if we are not rooted and built up in Christ. He spoke of how so many were led astray by opposition that based their teachings on human reasoning: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8). It is of utmost importance that we stand firm in our faith, being conscious and aware of our connection with Christ. Living in Christ means trusting His Word and cherishing the forgiveness He earned for us.

Rev Hanko mentioned that he has a friend who has a very peculiar tree which has a variety of fruits on it and how his friend grafted different fruit trees together into just one tree. Next, Rev Hanko mentioned how God grafted us to the same tree through faith.

To be rooted in Christ is important to the Church and in our daily lives. First, we should always live our daily lives as children of God, so that when unbelievers see us, they will see Christ in us. However, we should not only let unbelievers see our lives as Christians, we should also set examples for, and edify, our fellow church members. Having Christ in us also means that we are able to do all things according to His will, and for His glory. We “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Php 4:13). Secondly, in church, to be rooted in Christ also implies that all of us are brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, we should never feel that anyone is not needed in Church; we are a family. You do not feel that a particular member of your family is unwanted, do you? There must also be forgiveness among one another because we are in Christ. Rev Hanko gave an analogy using different parts of our body. When we fall and injure our head, the head cannot blame the leg for falling. Therefore, there should always be forgiveness in the church. To be rooted in Christ also brings forth unity, and this unity will bring us closer to Christ.

On the first day of the camp, I was asked a question, “What do you want to achieve in this camp?” My goal was to get to know the fellow church members better. So, you may ask, “Have you succeeded in achieving my goal?” I believe I did. Now I am able to differentiate between Iva and Isa. I have also got to know more church members. I also hope that with this camp, people have got to know me better, like the correct pronunciation of my name and much more!

With this, I am going to end my review. Thank God for His providence. Soli Deo Gloria.

Written by: Paul Ong | Issue 9

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Reflections on 2nd message: Stablished in Christ

To be stablished in Christ is to be stablished in the faith. Like a deeply rooted tree, the firm foundation in our Christian life comes from drawing nutrients mainly from doctrines and teachings in the Word of God. Through the hearing of God’s Word through the pulpit, Bible study, personal and family devotions, we grow and are strengthened in our faith. The result is stability, like a house built upon a rock i.e. stable Christian lives, stable homes, and stability in the Church. The opposite is trouble, chaos, and lack of peace and assurance.

In Rev Ron Hanko’s message, he explained that a tree does not grow its roots deep into the ground until it has been through many storms. He said that God also uses trials and adversities in our Christian life to stablish us. I think many of us will be able to relate to this point. I recalled that some years back, God taught me about His sovereignty from Bible verses and in particular, Psalms 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” When I pondered about this verse and its meaning to my life situation then, the Lord humbled my heart to accept His plans and He restored peace in my heart. My head knowledge of God’s sovereignty was brought to reality in my life and I am thankful that He has opened my eyes to see these glimpses of truth.

We are also reminded to be a blessing and provide shelter to our brethren. During the camp, some sisters gathered for a “chit-chat” session on the eve of the last day of camp. This was an opportunity for us to share of certain events in our lives and of God’s blessings upon us. The various sharings reminded us of spiritual lessons, God’s presence, and His goodness. We do need to make time in order to support one another in our spiritual walks, for example, lending a listening ear and praying. Very often, one is tempted to give excuses to skip church activities for a variety of reasons like work overload, discouragements, etc. Do you know of anyone who needs prayers and/or a nudge through SMS (Short Message Service) to be reminded to attend a Bible study or church activity?

May we encourage one another to make use of the various means that the Lord has graciously provided us, to build up and remain steadfast in our faith. And in doing so, have assurance of salvation that does not waver under all circumstances. Jeremiah 17:8 speaks of a man who puts his trust in the Lord. He is like a growing tree, fruitful and without anxiety: “For he shall be a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” I learnt a new song in the camp. Do we bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.
The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
If we live by the Spirit, we will keep in step, keep in step with the Spirit.

Lastly, we are grateful to all campers for your friendship and kindness shown to our aunty, Jane and little niece, Dazzire. This is the first time that they have attended church camp. We thank the Lord for the simple faith in Dazzire. She loves coming to church and singing Christian songs. Also, we thank God for brothers and sisters who have shown patience while explaining the scriptures to our aunty. May the seed grow in their hearts.

Written by: Tan Wei Choo | Issue 9

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Reflections on 3rd and 4th Message: Bearing Fruit and Abounding in Christ

Hi everyone!

It has been such a long time since I last attended church camp that I do not even remember when I attended the last one. But I do remember church camp as a time when I had the opportunity to remove myself from the worries of school work, reflect and learn more about God and of course, have a good time of fellowship and catch up with my church friends. The recent CE camp was no different and I hope many of you enjoyed the camp as much as I did. Kudos to the Camp Committee and all those who spent much time and effort in making the camp happen. Nonetheless, I hope that through my short reflection about the recent CE camp, some of you might be edified and may God be glorified.

It was definitely a great joy to see many familiar faces during the camp. Most of you still look the same, especially all the ‘uncles and aunties’. You still look the same from what I remember, but your kids have definitely changed! Well, for those who are wondering how I ended up at the CE camp, here it is. Initially, I wanted to join the FE church camp as it was a rare opportunity for me to get a chance to take leave from work during the June period. However, I later realised that I had an event at work to attend to during the FE church camp week. One Sunday after service, Bak Wei approached me asking if I was attending camp and I told him that I had to miss another year of camp yet again due to work commitments. He then informed me that CE was having camp the week after and asked if I was interested to go. After checking my work calendar I realised that I could indeed go for camp after all! Considering how much I have been missing out over the past few years, this presented itself as an opportunity too good to be missed. I jumped on it. Not knowing anything except that the camp was from 20th – 23rd June. Sheer coincidence or providence of God? You be the judge.

I was really excited to attend camp after all these years, especially since how every camp was a good memory and I always had something good to take away from each camp. Camp this year was no exception. The theme for the camp was “Rooted in Christ: Bearing Fruit”. I thought the theme was very applicable considering how life in Singapore is usually rooted in many things other than Christ.

In message 3, Rev Hanko preached on bearing fruit, which was the second part of the camp theme, and walking in Christ. Rev Hanko opened the sermon by saying that it was IMPOSSIBLE for a Christian NOT to bear fruit for the glory of God. The reason is because the same saving grace that God gives to His children would always result in the Christian bearing fruit in Christ. Rev Hanko also made mention of the parable of the g tree in Luke 13:6-9 in which we see that a tree without fruit would be cut down. Luke 13:7, “Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this g tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” Rev referenced how bearing fruit in a Christian’s life is all for the glory of God, much like how the owner of an orchard plants fruit trees to bear fruit for his profit. Also, fruits serve as a witness not only to unbelievers, but also to each other. One of the things that struck me from this message was that repentance for sins is a fruit and that fruit also acts as an assurance of our election. How comforting is that? Another point that I remember quite clearly from the message was that Rev pointed out the difference between “walking with” and “walking IN” Christ. Walking IN Christ is walking in the consciousness that we are absolutely IN Christ in everything we do and we are, realising that the faith is never dependent on ourselves but lies fully on Christ.

In the fourth and final message of the camp, Rev preached about abounding in Christ from two main passages: Ephesians 3:14-21 and the camp theme passage in Colossians. Rev put forward the idea that abounding in Christ really means growing in the knowledge of the love of Christ. “Eph 3:17-19 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be lled with all the fullness of God.” And, through this greater understanding of the love of God, we will be more fervent in prayer and glorifying God. One of the points in the message that I am sure spoke to many of us was how a tree must receive pruning to bear more fruit. John 15:1- 2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” It is thus a good reminder for us that when God sends us trials and dif culties in life, it is for our good, such that we can bear more fruit for His glory. As such, do not be discouraged when trials come our way. Instead, we must humble ourselves to try and understand the will of God, knowing that God never tries us more than we are able to withstand.

It has been quite awhile now since the church camp has ended. Nevertheless, it was a great pleasure for me to attend the camp to learn more about God’s Word and to spend a good time of fellowship with all who attended the camp! Hope what I wrote was useful for you! Soli Deo Gloria.

Written by: Jeremy Ee | Issue 9

 

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Church Theme for 2011: Rooted and Built Up in Christ

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6, 7

Dear Young People,

Every year, around the month of December, the Session of CERC will pick a church theme. This will serve as the theme for pastoral visitation, the various camps like CK, CKS and family camps and other ministries in the church for the New Year. So, for 2011, the Session has chosen the theme, “ROOTED AND BUIILT UP IN CHRIST”, which is taken from Colossians 2:6, 7.

Verse 6 begins with the words, “As you have therefore Christ Jesus the Lord”. The apostle had previously warned the saints against false teachers. In verse 6, the apostle presents the positive conclusion. Rather than listening to the beguiling words of the false teachers, they must walk in the sphere of Christ, even as they have received Christ. The word “received” does not mean to emphasise the activity of faith whereby they accepted Christ as we may say it today. Instead, the emphasis is on their having received Christ and having come into contact with Him through the preaching of the gospel. We see this in verse 7, where the apostle writes “as ye have been taught”. Through receiving the gospel, Christ had been brought to them.

Who did they receive? Note the full name of the Saviour: Christ Jesus the Lord. He is the Christ, that is, the anointed. He is anointed to be the officially appointed Saviour. Anointed to be the qualified Saviour of His people. He is anointed in the three-fold office of Prophet, Priest and King. As their Prophet, He is anointed, appointed and qualified to instruct them. As their High Priest, He represents them in heaven. He sacrificed for them, intercedes for them to the Father, and gave the promise of the Holy Spirit. As their King, He rules over them, as one who is officially appointed and qualified to be their King. He is also Jesus, that is, Jehovah Salvation. He is ordained to be their Saviour from sin and death and give to them righteousness and eternal life. As such, He is not only ordained, He is also qualified. And thus, He is also the Lord. As your Lord, you have been taught to know Him through the gospel. As your Lord, you have so received Him. This means that you know Him and are conscious of the fact that you are His possession which belongs to Him both in body and soul, in life and death. It implies that that you are conscious of being His servants, so that it is your delight to listen to His Word, to keep His Word and thus to do His will. Hence, because you have received Him as Christ Jesus the Lord, you must walk also in Him.

The word “walk” refers to the entire active life of the believer, both outwardly and inwardly. It is the active life of the body as well as of the soul: their thinking, willing, desiring, powers, gifts and talents. It is their active walk and life in the midst of the world and in every relationship of life, in home, in school, in church and in state. And this walk must be in Christ as they have received Him through the gospel. In no way must you move away from Him in your walk. In Christ, you must be moved by Him as you have received Him. In your behavior, you must be ruled by His Word. Thus, you have received Him, as the Lord who rules you inwardly by His Spirit and directs you outwardly by His Word of Truth.

Verse 7 constitutes the necessary means for such a walk in Christ. This means that the main thought of both verses is “walk ye in Christ”. If you are to walk in Christ, it is absolutely necessary that you be rooted and built up in Him, taught and established in the faith and abounding in thanksgiving. “Rooted” refers to the abiding in Christ and the firm relation of believers with Christ and they must never be separated from Him. The source of all our spiritual life is Christ. As the tree draws all its life-sap from the soil in which it is rooted, so believers draw their entire spiritual life and blessings out of Christ. Without Him, you are nothing and can do nothing. How did we become rooted in Christ? How did the plant find its place in the soil? Did it plant itself in the soil? Surely it was the gardener who decided to grow a chili plant and so he planted chili seeds and then through the process he has a chili plant. So, in the same way, we are rooted in Christ. Our Father is the Gardener and by the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, the Father engrafts us into Christ. The picture here is stem grafting where a stem from another plant which is not growing is cut and engrafted into another plant which is very fruitful and in turn that stem becomes fruitful. Why is this stem chosen for engrafting and not others? God chose us sovereignly and sent His only begotten Son to die for us in order that we may be engrafted or rooted in Christ. Being rooted in Christ is absolutely necessary for us to be built up in Him. The believers are here as a building, established on a foundation. This foundation is laid by the preaching and teaching of Epaphras, their pastor. And this foundation is laid by preaching that is in Christ only. So the figure of the building is not that the stones are believers and that the building grows by adding more stones. Rather, the stones are the truths and doctrines of the Christian faith. They must be built up in Him: that is, in the sphere of Jesus Christ and in Christ, they can be built up by increasing in the knowledge of the truth.

It is also necessary that they be established in the faith.   They must grow in Christ by means of increasing in the knowledge of the truth. But this knowledge of the truth must not be a mere intellectual knowledge of the various doctrines of salvation, but by the spiritual knowledge of the faith. And by that faith they must be established lest they be driven to and fro with every wind of doctrine   and by false philosophy. They had   been taught so that they could be rooted and built up and stablished by the faith in Christ. And they are to abound in thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the principle of gratitude of the heart. This is the mark of a Christian. You are to be a thankful Christian. And you are to be abounding in thanksgiving. Here is the picture of a cup that is full to the extent that it is overflowing. Therefore, you are to conduct your life in such a way that it is overflowing with and abundant in thanksgiving unto the Lord. Why? The reason is that we have received Christ Jesus the Lord and all the blessings of salvation. It is a great joy to walk in Christ.

What is the implication of these truths for us? This year’s theme is “Rooted and built up in Christ”. And this year’s focus is on being rooted in Christ and next year’s will be on being built up in Christ. The focus for 2011 is very important for how can we be built up in Him before we are rooted in Him? First things first: being rooted is first, and then we are built up in Him. We said that to be rooted in Christ means that we are to abide in a firm relationship with Christ and we must never be separated from Him. In other words, the source of all our life is Christ. Practically, we can be more firmly rooted in Christ in two ways that you can put into practice in your life. One: daily and earnest prayer. You cannot be said to be rooted in Christ if you are prayer-less or not communing   with Christ daily. Pray daily; attend the church prayer meeting monthly. Second: daily reading and memorising of the Scriptures. How can you commune with the Lord if you are not interested to hear what the Lord will say to you? How many of you have read through the Bible? Let’s try to read the Bible within two years. Are you reading the Bible daily? Or are you more religious in going to Facebook than the face of God in the Scriptures? Covenant Instruction teachers should give their students weekly memory verses and their students must eagerly memorise them. Lastly, you cannot do all these in your own strength. How do we get strength for all these things? Pray. Dear young people, I pray that in this year you will be more rooted and built up in Christ.

Written by: Paul Goh | Issue 6