Sunday, May 05, 2019

Grace upon Grace

Two Sundays ago, we were on the way to my sister-in-law's place for dinner when Dinah asked how I felt about the upcoming commissioning. This triggered a flashback. Memories started flooding my mind. I was brought back to 1996 when we discovered that Dinah was pregnant – with twins. We were going to be first-time parents. Everything was going to change. Just 1 month later, I was asked to serve as Senior Pastor of our former church. I had just turned 28. And this invitation came out of the blue. Everything was going to change for our church. After much prayer, my pregnant wife and I stepped into this assignment with fear and trembling. Looking back, God’s grace was on us as parents and for the ministry assignment.

In recent years, I was led to pioneer sexual wholeness and then whole life discipleship. Working with different churches was new. Again, there was grace. It was serving here when Dinah and I got reconnected with RiverLife Church through Pastor Lionel. Eventually Pastor Lionel and Elder Aaron would invite Dinah and I to serve with them in RiverLife. You can read that story here Once again we were not expecting this – but it happened. Here is another perspective of the same story

After 5-10 seconds of flashbacks, I answered Dinah - "I feel God’s grace again being invited to serve as Senior Pastor the second time." (The difference this time: Dinah is not pregnant and I am no longer 28.) The moment I replied was when I realised the date of the commissioning was 05/05. Right then it struck me that the number five is associated with grace and redemption. There were two fives on the date so double grace. That's what I told Dinah - double grace. She replied, “grace upon grace”. And so we both came to this Scripture.

"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" John 1:16 (ESV)

Today is 05/05. This morning I was commissioned by our elders and senior leaders to serve as Senior Pastor. Our outgoing Senior Pastor Lionel Goh was smiling radiantly. He has been very happy for quite a few months. In his final message today as our Senior Pastor, he smilingly said that he and I are the happiest persons present. He was certainly very happy. The emotion I felt leading up to this morning and this morning was not quite happiness but a range actually.  
I do feel a sense of excitement for what's ahead that's mixed with the realisation of what's needed.This might have been how I also felt in 1996. I am sure there is happiness in there somewhere : ) Today I felt very encouraged. Our close friends were present, standing with us. Our twins could witness today's commissioning. They missed the first time because they were still in the womb during March 1996. Then the commissioning service today was very authentic and very honouring. Both services moved many hearts deeply. It felt like something shifted today.

In my message as incoming Senior Pastor, I encouraged our people that when everything seems to be changing, Deuteronomy 31:2-3 (from Pastor Lionel's message) reminds us that God remains the same. He never changes. He is faithful, and that:
“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” John 1:16 (ESV)

With this assurance - I called our church to join hearts and walk together to prepare the Bride of Christ for the imminent return of the Bridegroom.