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I must confess: Why should someone else know my secrets?

by Adriel Yeo | 26 February 2018, 3:03 PM

After more than 20 years of growing up in church, I’ve discovered there’s an area of my faith I need to work on: The confession of sin to community.

Every week, we privately confess our sin in service and then recite a scripted communal confession. To be clear, the communal confession plays an important role in expressing our awareness of who we are before God and ensuring that we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7).

But I didn’t think we did confession in smaller communities quite as well. You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal about confessing our sins in smaller faith communities?” That was also the question I had in mind as I read up about it. And I discovered something quite surprising.

Confessing to one another can take fellowship to the next level.

I had long felt distant from my church and community. I didn’t want others to find out about my personal life outside church. Having to hide my sin from my faith community led me to put up a front at church – a front that misrepresented who I really was.

“Well, at least I’m confessing my sins to God”, you may argue. But German martyr and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenges this thinking and makes an interesting observation:

“Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother? God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience. But a brother is as sinful as we are. He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin. Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to a holy God? But if we do, we must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness?”

Isn’t that true? I can think of many times where I muttered a haphazard confession to God before sleeping – as though His forgiveness was my right. If God is holy, should it not be of a greater concern what God thinks of our sin – rather than our Christian brothers and sisters? And yet, we often seem to be more fearful in confessing our sins to people than to God.

There may, of course, be legitimate reasons for why one would choose not to confess their sin to a particular brother – such as the fear of causing him or her to stumble in faith. But it’s also true that we often fear the judgment of people more than the judgment of God. After all, the unfortunate reality is that people are far less forgiving than God.

It is not confession that grants salvation. Jesus grants salvation, and we attain it by grace through faith

The way forward, according to Bonhoeffer, would be to understand how God works through communal confession of sin. It enables believers to journey together. Unconfessed sin isolates the individual from community precisely because it remains hidden to community

The Christian who refuses to confess his sin to community may struggle to be transparent or accept help from his community. In confessing our sins to each other, pride is eroded and we are able to stand together, bear one another’s burdens and pray for each other (James 5:16).


That’s not to say that confession within community is without danger. There are at least two dangers I can think of. The first danger involves those who are listening to confessions. The person to whom the sin is being confessed to must always remember that true forgiveness is found in the cross of Christ alone. It is never his or her duty to bestow forgiveness.

The role of the listener is to point the confessing sinner back to Christ for forgiveness. Therein lies the power of community. Not to act as though one is God, but rather to display the love of Christ (John 13:34-35) to the confessing sinner, assuring him that Christ died on the cross precisely for what has been confessed.

The second danger would be for those who are confessing. “For the well-being of their soul they must guard against ever making their confession into a work of piety,” says Bonhoeffer. Salvation is not based on confession or an intense faith, but the blood of Jesus. To be clear: It is not confession that grants salvation. Jesus grants salvation, and we attain it by grace through faith.

Confession follows after faith. Both confession and repentance must result from a faith that is quickened by the Holy Spirit.


How do I confess in smaller faith communities? Personally, I think a good place to start is in a small group of close friends. Tan Soo Inn, founder of Graceworks, has written a few books on spiritual friendship.

He advocates a 3-2-1 model which I find helpful: The idea is for a group of three friends to meet for two hours once a month.

While I’ve never had the opportunity to use the 3-2-1 model, I do have a close friend who I meet up regularly with. With this brother, I’m able to share life and confess sins. One thing that makes our friendship so tightly-knit is the fact that I can be transparent with him, sharing about my weaknesses and the times I fall into sin.

Confessing to each other reminds us both of the need for God’s grace in our lives, and of how we are not alone in this process of sanctification.

If you’ve never experienced communal confession, trying it for the first time may be awkward or even frightening. But if we accept that the Bible calls for this discipline (James 5:16), then we must consider the idea that the lack of confession in spiritual friendships hinders growth and maturity.

Confession within friendship has led me to view my fellow brothers and sisters as fellow sinners standing under the cross of Christ, living life together.

This article was first published on, and is republished with permission.


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Changing church: Moving on to greener pastures?

by H J Yeo | 23 March 2018, 6:28 PM

This was written in response to Elizabeth Tan’s story, “3 questions to ask before changing church“.

I have been a member of my church for more than 30 years. And I can recall a couple of times when I thought about moving to another church. So what made me stay?

Based on what I’ve observed of people I know who have made that move – both from my church and into it – I believe these could be some of the reasons:

1. Leadership: I don’t agree with the church direction or its beliefs
2. Relationships: I have been hurt by people in the church
3. Teaching: I don’t feel ministered to by the sermons
4. Disunity: There are divisions within the church
5. Spiritual health: I am not growing spiritually here

We are often told that no church is perfect – and even if there were one, when you join it, you’ll change your mind! The church I grew up in did experience divisions once – and survived; it has seen its worship service evolve; some of its programmes have tanked; there was growth in numbers during some years and stagnation in others.

I love my church, though I can see its warts and all that might be reasons for some people to feel like leaving.

No church is perfect – and even if there were one, when you join it, you’ll change your mind.

When I contemplated such a move many years ago, I was attracted to a new church that was built next to where I lived. It seemed to make sense to me to move to a nearer church – it was attractive not just location wise, but also for its pulpit ministry, worship style … Its entire service, in fact!

I felt right at home there and could see myself growing and contributing in that church. I even reasoned to myself that joining a nearby church would mean I could participate in community work amongst my neighbours. Surely that was good reason enough?

It of course begged the question: Was I unhappy in my church? Not really, if I was being honest. However, there were a few things I wish it had: More inspiring sermons and more freedom in worship. I was serving actively and sometimes, that means I got to “see” things, such as the imperfections in leadership. It left me struggling to submit when I disagreed with how things were done.

I believe my experience is not unique. So what made me stay?

First, I checked my inner motives. Deciding whether to change church or not should involve praying and waiting upon the Lord for a period of time. What does God say about it? Surely He wants to see me grow and be happy in His church, right?

Well, in our moments of quiet with Him, when we lay ourselves totally bare before our Father, the Holy Spirit and Scripture shine a light into our souls – to question the purity of our desires and motives.

I realised I wanted very much to belong to what I perceived then to be a “better” church – that I’d come to believe my own church was not good enough. I wanted to leave each service feeling spiritually well-fed, with renewed zeal for the Lord. This desire in itself was not wrong, but the way I wanted to achieve it was!

“For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11,12)

Someone preached a message on these verses many years ago and it still comes back to me occasionally: Receive first-hand from the Lord, not second-hand. Too many of us rely almost solely on well preached sermons to teach us or inspire us; that is, we deem it the preacher’s duty to study the word, chew on it and feed it to us in bite sizes.

However, ultimately, we may be like fledglings in the nest forever waiting with gaping mouths for regurgitated food from parent birds. So, if I consider myself to be a growing believer, am I able to read the Bible for myself and receive from the Lord directly? Or do I rely on a Sunday service to be a morale booster instead of having regular, intimate personal encounters with the Lord that change me?

On this side of eternity, probably every family has issues, yet we do not just “change family”.

Second, the Lord gave me a message about perseverance. On this side of eternity, probably every family has issues, yet we do not just “change family”. By His grace, we accept our families, love one another and are discipled at the same time. We learn to forgive one another.

Similarly, we should persevere in the spiritual family He has placed us in, serving together within that community of imperfect believers. Truly, after all these years of belonging in one church, I have seen how God has brought us through, discipled us and who is now challenging us to do an exciting new work.

It is not my place to judge whether someone is right or wrong to change church. In each of the reasons I mentioned above why people change church, the Lord will grant wisdom if His counsel is sought, whether it is time to make the move or stay on.

We need to be totally transparent with the Lord, letting Him search and reveal our inner motives, and ultimately allow Him to guide the final decision in humility and trust.

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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“Missing out on mum”: Learning to love my mentally-ill mum

by Justine Ocampo | 20 March 2018, 9:53 AM

I missed out on a lot of things as a girl because of my mum’s mental illness.

I didn’t have someone to talk to about boys, about my period, about skincare. And I never had someone to nag me about inappropriate clothes, poor grades, my messy room or whatever else it is mums and daughters talk about. I couldn’t talk to her about my dad, sister or brother – and almost everything I talked about with my dad, sister and brother was about her.

I don’t think we had a relationship – and I’m not even talking a Gilmore Girls type of mother-daughter bond at all. I just don’t really know what I mean to her, and I don’t really know what she means to me. Our relationship was never normal, because practically everything was always centred on her – her struggles, her insecurities, her future, her past.

There are many young people out there who experience similar struggles in their relationship with their parent(s).

My hope for this article is that it would encourage those who are struggling to know that a parent is indeed a channel of God’s love for you – no matter how unconventional or non-existent your relationship may seem.

Just because I feel like my relationship with my mum is non-existent doesn’t mean I don’t love her. More importantly – and this a concept I’m still learning to accept – it does not mean my mother doesn’t love me.  

I always prayed for God to heal my mum, but my prayers had become more of a habit than actual fervent intercession. Part of me had already come to accept that her condition is just who she is. As a result, my love for her didn’t look like God’s unconditional love, but more like a dismissive form of acceptance.

My love for her was simply expressed as tolerance.

I thought that not being angry with her or the situation was already the best kind of love I could show. I thought that was already the best she deserved, because I deserved a “real” mum and she took that away from me.

I wanted to remain in a place of hurt because I knew it would hurt her as well.

But that’s not the love God has called us to give – like the love He has already given us through Jesus.

God’s love is sacrificial, selfless and forgiving. As children, we always just expect to be on the receiving end of the relationship with our parents – but I realised that God’s love calls us to do more. To love despite one’s weaknesses, to love without expecting anything in return – unconditionally.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—” (Ephesians 6:1-2)

Learning to love unconditionally was just one side of the coin. Over time, I realised I became a person who just didn’t expect to be loved in return at all. The idea of being loved had long been buried under the piles of disheartening and hurtful reminders of my mum’s unstable condition, which expressed itself in loud tantrums, irrational paranoia and violence outbursts.

A deeper struggle surfaced, which was my reluctance to believe and accept the fact that I needed and wanted to be loved. It became a form of self-protection. I refused to be vulnerable, fearing I would allow my mum’s condition to hurt me again.

God’s grace and forgiveness became difficult to accept because I had internalised the ungodly belief that it was OK for me not to be loved.

But wanting to be so loved isn’t a selfish thought – the ability to receive love is just as important as giving love.

Living with such a mindset, you could miss the greatest love of all that has already been given. You might shortchange yourself believing something other than the absolute truth, which is that you are unconditionally loved by God.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39)

While doing my devotions one night, I suddenly began receiving many messages on my phone which was very distracting.

I thought it was a group chat or something – but it was my mum. She usually messages me random nonsense that I ignore, so I just continued with devotion. I even got angry at her because she was interrupting my quiet time. I was set on ignoring it even after I finished my time of devotion – but I felt prompted to read it then.

The message I opened read, “I hope you know you’re a blessing in my life.”

God broke my hardened heart as tears burst forth. I was reminded that amidst the frustration, selfishness, fear and anger – there is always love. Just as Romans 8:39 tells us, nothing can separate us from God’s love. No matter what form or shape it takes, God’s love for us is always present.

A part of me knows that these moments are rare and most days won’t be like this. She won’t always be in a good and rational mood, she won’t always express herself lovingly and I won’t always have the patience to love her.

But she is still my mum whom I am called to love and honour. Hers is the motherly love God has chosen to bless me with – to accept and receive in my life – and I am at peace with that.

“With His love He will calm all your fears” (Zephaniah 3:17)

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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Ditch the fear of man and preach the Gospel: Ben Fitzgerald at Kingdom Invasion 2018

by | 16 March 2018, 10:42 AM

For Singapore to live up to the call to be the Antioch of Asia, for souls to be saved – we need to deal with the fear of man, said Ben Fitzgerald.

“The fear of man is the Number 1 thing that cripples us from sharing Jesus,” said the leader of Awakening Europe and GODfest Ministries.

“God wants to set us free from the fear of man, because He wants to free you to see more people saved.

“We have a fear of human opinion, of rejection, if we share the gospel, if take it into our office. So we try to live in this grey area of pleasing everybody, but end up pleasing no one. And we don’t do what God wants us to do.

“Let me tell you – if you’re walking right with God, and you’re doing His thing – if even the most powerful person in the world has a bad opinion of you, it shouldn’t mean a thing. It shouldn’t even shake a leaf off your tree.”

Ben Fitzgerald speaking at Kingdom Invasion 2018


The 35-year-old, speaking at Kingdom Invasion 2018, said he came to this realisation after an incident where a pastor he admired walked up to where Fitzgerald had been standing, shook the hands of 6 people, approached Fitzgerald, looked him in the eye – then walked off without shaking his hand.

“I was upset. I was petrified. ‘What have I done wrong? Why does he hate me?’ All of this was in my head! Or was it?!” he recounted.

That’s when Fitzgerald starting to think about the source of his fear.

“God told me: ‘Ben, you’ve made mankind and their opinion of you an idol. You’ve made their opinion of you greater than My worth.’

“I fasted, and something told me to turn to Jeremiah 17:5. ‘This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.’

“It floored me. I said God forgive me, I’m so sorry.”

“God told me: ‘Ben, you’ve made mankind and their opinion of you an idol. You’ve made their opinion of you greater than My worth.’

The question, Fitzgerald, comes down to: Where is your heart? Where is it planted? Where is the source it’s drawing from?

“Is it the opinion of man? You’re feeding from the wrong source – you’re trying to make a fake, false you. It’s exhausting and you lose the real you.

“By making a pseudo, false real, you end up being more rejected. God didn’t make a fake you to be loved. He made the real you to be loved.”

The age of social media doesn’t help, noted Fitzgerald.

“We’re in this generation of micro-judgments. In this age we’re living for the likes we get on Instagram and Facebook. We begin to validate themselves based on what pops up on a screen.

”If you have zero followers on Facebook and Instagram, but you have the love of God, let me tell you – you have everything.”


Speaking at the Singapore Expo on March 16, 208, Fitzgerald said that while there was much to marvel about Singapore as a nation, Christians have to keep focused on the main thing: The need to see more saved, on the island and in the region.

“Singapore and the nations of Asia must hear the Gospel. But you’ve got to be free of the fear of what everyone else thinks of you. That makes you powerless. God doesn’t want that for you,” said Fitzgerald.

“The only way the nations of Asia will truly thrive is if the Gospel is preached.

“I want better economics, better housing, all those things. But God doesn’t want a great economic system if everyone’s going to hell.

“The Gospel is not a secondary, or third-ary, need. It is the primary need.”

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In his personal experience, Fitzgerald said, losing the fear of man and replacing it with the right fear of God has led to boldness in evangelism.

“When I walked out of the fear of man, and just learnt to preach the Bible as it is written, I found more souls were saved!

“God wants us to be fruitful, to see more souls saved. We need to let go of the fear so that the Spirit can lead us into fruitfulness.

“Whatever the enemy has restricted and oppressed you with, we need to break it. We need to have a death party for fear.”

The only way to do this: Ask God to break this spirit of fear. Let go, let go of human opinion. Say, I’m sorry, God, for making mankind a bigger source – of validation, of affirmation, of direction – than You. Forgive me for disobeying your voice and trusting in people more than your love.

Take authority of the spirit of the fear of man. In Jesus’ name, bind and command the spirits of fear to leave.

Then be filled with the love of God, which teaches you to be full of the love for man – and preach the Gospel.

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I CAN ONLY IMAGINE: The untold story of the song that inspired millions

by | 14 March 2018, 5:51 PM

If you’ve been going to church for some time, you probably have sung MercyMe’s hit Gospel song, “I Can Only Imagine”, in a worship service. But you probably have never heard of the story behind it, as filmmakers of “I Can Only Imagine” – the movie – will tell you.

On March 6, 2018, I had the rare opportunity of catching an early screening of the amazing testimony that inspired the song. Indeed – you can only imagine!

The film revolves around Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley), the lead singer of MercyMe. Coming off an abusive childhood at the hands of his father, Arthur Millard (Dennis Quaid), Bart spends years struggling to forgive him. Out of this pain, he is inspired to write “I Can Only Imagine”.

Watching Bart’s story unfold on screen brought new life to one of my favourite songs, and I found myself in tears when it made its appearance in the show.

The central theme of the show is transformation, and how true transformation is like metamorphosis – a radical changing from the inside out.

When God transforms us, he isn’t just transforming us but also the people around us.

God is fully in the business of transforming people from the inside out. This is how he always has been, he transformed a barren old man into a father of many nations. He transformed a shepherd boy into Israel’s greatest King. He transformed 11 fumbling men into apostles of the faith. He even transformed a persecutor of the Gospel to one of its greatest teachers.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

This transformation is not one that is from the outside in. We can never be transformed by that way because of the hard truth that sin is not just a hard, logical issue but a deep heart issue. If we are not first transformed in our hearts, the transformation we bear is simply a mask that we wear.

God needs to totally replace our heart so that our actions may flow from that new heart.

This was the same inside-out transformation Arthur, the father, goes through. And as Bart chooses to forgive Arthur, he witnessed his relationships, including that with God Himself being radically changed.

When God transforms us, he isn’t just transforming us but also the people around us. Transformation is contagious, as we live radically transformed lives for Christ, we see ourselves being used by God to transform another life.

Without spoiling any more of the movie, I leave you with a quote that stayed in my mind: “(His transformation) set me on this warpath for the Gospel, because if the Gospel can change that dude, the Gospel can change anybody.”

When we decide to let God change us, we are going to see a transformation we can only imagine.

Join our exclusive ticket giveaway from now till March 22, 2018. Just head over to Facebook or Instagram, like our page/account and tell us what you think heaven will be like. The 5 replies with the most likes will win a pair of tickets to the preview screening of “I Can Only Imagine” at Shaw Theatres, Lido. 

I Can Only Imagine” will premiere on March 24, 2018, at the NEX Shaw Theatre in support of Come Celebrate Christmas in Singapore 2018. If you would like more information or are interested in bulk ticket booking (40 pax and above), please drop a message to +65 81185165.


JunHeng is a 100% extrovert who loves caffeine – lots of caffeine. He also likes HTHTs, jamming and eating good food. Did he mention he loves caffeine?


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I’m a new Christian and loving it

by Faith Koh Qiwei | 1 March 2018, 2:26 PM

Before I came to know Christ, I went to temples with my family as I was not born into a Christian family. At that point of time, I didn’t know which god I was praying to because there was so many.

In school, I was often bullied by my classmates and didn’t have many friends. I was a very timid girl. Whenever others asked me to do something, I was just too scared to respond. My studies weren’t good as well, and because I had little motivation to work hard, my results were poor.

Helpless, I would hide my problems because I didn’t have anyone to share them with apart from my sister.

But it was also my sister who shared Christ with me three years ago. I started going to church with her, and was even invited to join a cell group for teens.

On August 1, 2015, during an altar call in the youth service, I went forward and officially accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

Things took a complete change after I accepted Jesus Christ as into my life. I wouldn’t say my life was perfect, but my confidence somehow grew significantly and people were looking to me when they felt down and needed someone to confide in.

I became a girl who would send messages and Bible verses to my friends and cell members, just to encourage them. The friendships I’ve made have brought great joy to my life, and I know that God has been the giver of these good gifts.

Things in school also started to look up, as I started putting in more hard work and seeing God change my perspective on studying.

As a new believer, I learnt how to do devotion and pray. My cell leaders were great teachers, and my cell group was there to support me through my new walk with God. When I faced any problems, I had people – even pastors – to turn to for guidance.

Life has been so exciting with God. He’s shown me visions of becoming a leader one day and spoken to me in many ways. Accepting Christ has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

And I’ve got a piece of good news to share! I will be getting baptised soon, as I want to declare my faith to everyone. I truly want to follow Jesus all the days of my life. And because I hope to grow strong in Him with faith, I’ve chosen that as my baptism name. Faith, for the journey ahead with my Lord and Saviour. 🙂

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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Article list

I must confess: Why should someone else know my secrets?

Changing church: Moving on to greener pastures?

“Missing out on mum”: Learning to love my mentally-ill mum

Ditch the fear of man and preach the Gospel: Ben Fitzgerald at Kingdom Invasion 2018

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE: The untold story of the song that inspired millions

I’m a new Christian and loving it