Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Testimony by a Regular Worshipper

It is strange that nowadays, even a believer could not freely give a testimony in church. I could not speak or read this testimony openly in church at the watch night service due to fear of persecution from the leaders and their hardcore supporters in Calvary Church, but I believe God is worthy of all praises, and I want to take this opportunity to share my testimony here and give Him all the glory He deserved. I don’t mind if anyone of you courageous enough to read it in the church. But bear in mind that they who threaten to hurt those concern members after the publish of the articles in the Star, may persecute you right at the spot. The persecution we face within the church today is real.

My testimony begin like this:

Somewhere middle of last year, I felt so upset with the pastors and the leaders of the church. Such frustration is accumulated over many disappointments over several years on what I saw in the church leadership and their hardcore supporters. Their actions, teachings and behavior really tell me that they do not really follow Jesus. I saw all these in their fruit and I was upset to know nothing have been done to address such.

I wonder to myself, “How can such obvious contradiction against God’s Word and His Spirit can be tolerated and even justified in the house of God?” But it seem at that time, every one simply follow along the trend of the church culture, without much check on the Scriptures or even consult the Lord on their direction. I kept the matter to myself, thinking I alone can do nothing about this, and I might as well shut up. But I could not ignore it. Such matter kept arising to my mind. In every church services I attend, every time I pray, and as I study God’s Word, the matter arise in my mind, as though as it matter to the Lord. But as I am upset and confused at why the church succeed in doing wrong, I argue with the Lord, saying, “But You don’t care, else why they who go wrong can still be successful in their wrong ways?” Sometime I argue, “What can I do, when Lord, You let it happen, and yet does nothing for them to repent?”

It was some where in the middle of last year, that I wept in prayer in my car every time I went home from church. I remember one Sunday afternoon, as I wept in my car, while still inside Avenue building, I begin to ask the Lord to intervene. I asked, “Lord, send people to speak to the pastors. Lord, send at least 50 people to tell the pastors that they are wrong and need to repent, as a sign to me that You intervened; and that’s enough for me to believe You care”.

After that Sunday, I did not attend Calvary Church for a year. When I discover the blog Calvary Today several months ago and found out that they are about 50 of them who started it, I was over joy. You see, I am not a register member of the church, and therefore do not attend any General Meeting on church issues (I refuse to be one because of the prejudice scheme of member selection that I saw, and how possessed are some members by the institution spirit and pastor adoration) Due to such, I was isolated and I do not know that God Himself actually already raise up several people to speak His Words or warning to the pastors, and the number of these people is arising.

When I first found the blog several months ago, I felt my burden lifted. I still do not know who they are, but I felt the Lord has intervened through them and has listen to my cry when I was in my car in Avenue building last year. Now I knew how foolish I was, when I complain to the Lord that He does not care; when actually He does and has indeed already prepare the answer through TT&G before my prayer. While I was not a registered member and may not able to do anything about the present situation, I felt that the Lord want me to stand with Him, grow in the ability in distinguishing right from wrong, good from evil (Heb 5:14), for to Him, such attribute in us is much more important than merely getting rich or enjoying luxury life as seen in some church leaders today.

I want to encourage you who have the same concern with me, who may be confused at the contradiction seen between God’s Word and church practices, to take heart for the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Lord who commanded us not to greed for money and fame, has not changed. His character, virtue, and stature mentioned in His Words remains true. What is right remains right, and what is wrong remains wrong, no matter who tried to preach to sway it or even prophesy to divert it. God want us to think wholesomely (2 Peter 3:1) and that His standard has not changed.

Do not be confused or led astray by all kind of sermons, false prophesy or cunning strategies, but rather stay focus on His Words that penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12). Be discerned and be concern. What you have learned in your walk with the Lord is not superseded. They cannot be superseded. His Word remain true. For the virtue that God has molded into you, the Godly character He built in you through His Spirit and His Word, is a progress of your spiritual growth. It is not to be demolished nor superseded. It matter to the Lord and He will not let people lead you astray.

While the church over-occupied by CCC, God never divert His focus from His people. We are the people of the Lord; we are the apple of His eyes. In this end time, He builds us, His church, not any death structures.

I want to thank the Lord for answering my prayer through CalvaryToday and all those concern members who support TT&G. Through them, God has told me that He cares and listen to the cry of His people. It is easy to build CCC in this fallen world, where with enough money, influence, dirty scheme and deception, evil can prevail; but it takes God’s miracle and a lot of faith in God to speak the courageous words of the season and return truth back to the church today. Thank God for those who dare to speak for truth.

We are the concern members and He is the concern God, not an ignorant one. He cares!!! While leaders merely concern on not abandon CCC, our Lord’s concern is on His people and their spiritual health. Goodness is not when one chase after luxury while ignore the rest. Goodness is when we see the Lord intervene as a response to our prayers. The Lord is good in year 2009 and He will always be.

“Thank you Lord for answering my prayer. May the will of the Lord for His church be accomplished, and His truth set His church free. All glory to the Lord. Amen!!”

Thankfully submitted by Lee.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Great Present For Jesus

Christmas is a story of giving! As we join millions of Christians around the world to celebrate this special day, we are reminded of the greatest Gift of all and that is, God’s gift of His son, Jesus to us. The Bible gives us a little glimpse of where Jesus really came from in John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” So the Bible tells us that Jesus is really God Himself in the form of man. Here’s the first Christmas story from the Bible.

Luke 2 : 1- 7 - The Birth of Jesus

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

The Bible also records 2 groups of people who came to visit Jesus to celebrate His birthday.

1. Luke 2: 8-20 - The Shepherds and the Angels

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

2. Matthew 2 : 1-12 - The Visit of the Magi

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: " 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."

What can we learn from the Christmas Story?

Firstly, Jesus’ birth was a supernatural one. He was born out of the ordinary. This shows us that when God does something here on earth, it is always supernatural and out of the ordinary. So we can expect God to do NEW THINGS, in NEW WAYS, with NEW VESSELS or PEOPLE that we never thought of. So expect the unexpected this Christmas.

Secondly, God will reveal His plans to people according to His will and when He does, the only response He expects is WORSHIP. The shepherds left their flock to worship Him. The Magi went through great lengths to find Him. Both brought gifts according to their means or what they could afford to give Jesus. So does Jesus expect more from us than what we can afford? No, He only wants us to give Him what we have and bring it to Him with a heart of worship.

Thirdly, even King Herod with all his earthly power and authority is no match for our God because God turned the hearts of the Magi to obey Him alone. So no matter what position a man holds or what authority he has over others, he can never stop the plan of God for us. We need to fear and obey God alone and not man. Our duty is to worship God alone and not man.

How do we express our worship and what presents do we give to Jesus this Christmas?
In fact, how are we to give our presents to Jesus?

Matthew 25 : 34 – 40

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "

The above passage from the Bible, tells us how we are to give our presents to Jesus and to whom Jesus says are His representatives to receive presents on His behalf. So this Christmas, let us all pray and ask Jesus to open our eyes and help us to see those whom He would really want us to give to. Let’s take a closer look at who Jesus said would represent Him to receive our gifts.

Can we identify some of these people in our midst this Christmas?

1. The hungry for both the physical and spiritual food.
2. The thirsty for both the physical and spiritual refreshing.
3. The stranger who has no home, family and friends.
4. The poor who need clothes to keep warm.
5. The sick and those needing care.
6. The prisoner or the lonely who needs visitation.
7. The widows and the orphans.

Let’s be wise and bring our presents to Jesus by giving to the right people whom Jesus would identify with. This Christmas, let’s make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate around us. It will be a great present for Jesus.

God Bless and Have a Very Blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who Should Christians Give To In Times Like This?

Last Sunday, our Board of Deacons (BOD) chose to continue with the yearly tradition of asking worshippers in Calvary Church to give an APPRECIATION GIFT FOR OUR CHURCH PASTORS for this Christmas season.

Christmas is a season to celebrate the BIRTH OF CHRIST or JESUS' BIRTHDAY. When we say we are celebrating Jesus' Birthday, do we bring a gift for the birthday boy or do we bring a gift for the birthday boy's servants?

This collection for the Pastors was in place of the regular Sunday offertory. By taking advantage of the Christmas season to collect an appreciation gift for the pastors, have we not ROBBED JESUS OF HIS BIRTHDAY GIFT? Or ROBBED the Church of her regular Sunday collections?

One may argue that this is the usual tradition in Calvary Church to collect an appreciation gift for our pastors. However, the BOD should be sensitive to the many financial issues that shrouds the church TODAY. Members are already questioning the BOD in arbitrary decision-making where finances are concerned including unauthorised transfer of funds without members' knowledge and making generous monetary gifts to certain invited pastors without proper due consideration. The BOD has displayed poor financial stewardship and total lack of transparency. Now, in taking up an appreciation gift last Sunday, they have obviously not taken to heart the concerns of church members to the wise use and prudence in managing church funds.

With the fears and uncertainty surrounding our abandoned CCC project and the possible financial disaster looming ahead, the members are unhappy, to put it mildly. Amidst the turmoil and crisis that Calvary Church is in today, we would have thought that our BOD would have been wiser and would have asked themselves, "WOULD A COLLECTION LIKE THIS HELP TO BRING ABOUT HEALING AND RECONCILIATION IN OUR CHURCH?"

While we pondered on this, we remembered an OPEN EMAIL written by a church member addressed to the BOD, which was sent to us last year. We hope that this letter will remind us to be wise with the blessings that God has blessed us with.

On Sat, Nov 8, 2008 at 1:11 AM, a member wrote this Open Email to the BOD:-

The Board of Deacons,
Calvary Church
2 Damansara Endah
Damansara Endah, KL

Dear Board of Deacons,

Re : Christmas Offering for Calvary Church Pastors.

The offering taken at the Worship Service on 02 November 08 for pastors and church workers serving in the missions field is commendable. These Servants of God truly deserved to be appreciated and encouraged with a love gift during Christmas time. We are like wise encouraged by their faithfullness and how they do live by Faith and not by sight in their labour of love for God's work on earth-- the Great Commission.

However, I would like the BOD to review the annual practice of collecting money for Calvary's Pastors as a Christmas -year end gift. The Congregation has been giving generously over the decades thinking, I believe like I did, that this monetary gift was like a annual 'bonus'. However, little did we know, that *everyone of them enjoyed a 13th month pay, which in the private sector is as good as a bonus. (By the way, did the BOD approved of 13th month pay? Is this Contractual?)* perhaps, except the general staff, and some others. Does the BOD know?

Although there is no transparency in the financial management of the church, and non- disclosure of salary scale (even though I had personally asked that it be disclosed during past AGM, of course noted but never ever acted by the BOD) it has been widely known that the salary drawn are very high in particular Sr Pastors. In addition to the high pay, most, including Head of Department enjoy many other perks & benefits too.

The Stipends/EPF/Socso of the Church in 2007 is close to a whooping RM3,000,000 (MILLION) excluding those of the Extended Ministries, which amounted to another RM 500,000 (Approx)

It is very sad to see how these 'leaders' who have already so much still find it appropriate to ask some more from the Congregation. (of course, it is now very difficult to distinguish if's actually the BOD, the CEO of the church, or both, who are outright insensitive to the needs of members. Frankly, many members are themselves financially stretched. And what with the global Financial Crisis to contend with. Under such circumstances It is not unexpected of any caring & loving pastor who heads a church, to show deep concern over the well being of the members in such trying times. On the contrary, we see not only NO sacrifices made, but even there is no let up in their grand lifestyle.

On this point about 'sacrifices' when will the CEO lead by example? Even deacon Patrick who had said secular good practice are adopted by the church, why then measures such as taking a salary cut, cutting wasteful expenses like business class/1st class travel, 5 Star accommodation, housing/car allowances etc, are not activated? Please take a look at how responsible and compassionate, albeit not too many, Government Leaders and Corporate Heads respond--they give rather than receive!

May the BOD see it fit to do the right thing, by not "taxing" (which is the case, honestly) the congregation further with the year end $$$ collection for those who are already more than well-off.

The BOD, however, can rest assured the members will know in their spirit, who God wants them to bless, and surely they will give generously, directly to those true servant & workers who have need, as God enables.

In the meantime, It is imperative that the BOD carry out a comprehensive review of the church's Stipends, Perks & benefits and immediately put a stop to reckless/unjustified spending. The BOD has been entrusted with the role & responsibilites for the finances of the church and thus, must be seen to act with accountablity to GOD, and the congregation whom they represent.

In God We trust,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Legal Action to seek fresh EGM

Last Sunday, the Deacons made an announcement in all the Church services regarding a legal suit taken by seven (7) members against the Senior Pastor Prince Guneratnam (PG), the members of the previous Board of Deacons (BOD) and the Assemblies of God (AOG) Malaysia. The Deacons also announced that the Church has engaged lawyer KK Wong’s firm to represent PG and the previous BOD who are named as Defendants.

The announcement caught many by surprise and caused much confusion among the members and worshippers including PG supporters and TTG supporters.

Having obtained all the facts of the matter, CT now wishes to report as follows:

1. An Originating Summons (OS) was filed on 12 November at the High Court of Kuala Lumpur by seven (7) concerned members, namely Wong Hong Meng, Robert Ng, Teng Luen Foong, Lim Siew Chyuan, KC Lim, Liza Low and Joseph Gerard (Plaintiffs).

2. The OS filed by the Plaintiffs was a class action representing a class of members of Calvary Church. CT understands that a big group of members has recently signed the authorization and support for this cause of action to be taken.

3. The defendants named in the OS are PG, Deacons Phillip Tan, Edward Rajasingam, Patrick Wong, Han Joke Kwang, Stephen Liu and Bernadette Foo, and the AOG Malaysia (Defendants).

4. The OS is filed against the abovenamed Defendants and NOT against Calvary Church. This is also in line with what lawyer KK Wong had said at our 15 August 2008, EGM last year that the Church, being an unincorporated entity, cannot sue or be sued but the Pastors and Deacons can sue or be sued in their personal capacity.

5. The OS does not seek any monetary compensation or damages from the Defendants or the Church.

6. The purpose of the OS is to seek the Court’s ruling for the following:-

i. that the AGM held on 19th and 20th June 2009 be declared null and void;

ii. that the committee members appointed during the AGM held on 19th and 20th June.2009 be annulled and be declared void;

iii. that the Defendants convene an EGM within 30days from the date of the Court Order for the tabling of the resolutions which had been submitted by the Plaintiffs;

iv. that the removal of Dr. Lum Siew Heng as a member of Calvary Church on 20th March 2009 be annulled and to be declared void.

7. The OS has since been extracted from Court and served on all the Defendants personally with the exception of two ex-Deacons, who have been served by way of registered Postlaju, when efforts to effect personally service on them were unsuccessful.

8. The OS has been fixed for mention in Court on 17th December 2009.

The seven (7) plaintiffs have informed CT that they had earlier planned to hold a press conference to make public this legal action. However, after taking into consideration that this course of action was NOT against the Church but rather, it was an action to seek a higher authority’s interpretation of our Church Constitution, the Plaintiffs decided to keep a low lid on this matter.

As the members are fully aware, our BOD had, time and again, in the past, interpreted various sections of our Constitution, according to their whims and fancies, thereby denying the members their very basic fundamental right to have their say and ignoring the spirit behind the original intention of the Constitution. The Constitution is very clear that the members at a General Meeting have full powers of administration but as can be seen at the last AGM, the members' powers under the Constitution have been totally obliterated.

The action to seek legal redress by the group of concerned members was not unexpected, considering the fact that they have exhausted every possible means of resolving the many issues engulfing Calvary Church. From attempts at direct consultations with PG, the Deacons and also the Pastors right from the onset 2 years ago, up to seeking the intervention of the AOG Malaysia, all their efforts have failed. Even the recent mediation efforts by a high profile businessman-member together with the General Superintendent of AOG Malaysia (in his personal capacity) failed as PG backed out after agreeing to the date fixed for the meeting.

As the supreme overseeing body in Malaysia, the AOG council has failed miserably in this whole episode. In replies to letters from members seeking their intervention, they have admitted that some funds were transferred from WAGRA to CIM (personal ministry of PG) and they have also admitted that there was misrepresentation in the original registration of CIM with NECF but, sadly, no action has been taken against PG. Like Pilate during Jesus’ trial, the AOG Malaysia has replied that the current saga is an internal matter for the Calvary Church to resolve and they will not intervene.

If the AOG Malaysia as the ultimate governing body, refuses to intervene, can anyone fault the concerned members to look to the judicial system of the country to hear their plea?

The Bible is clear that as Christians, we are to obey and submit to the laws of the land. That was what Paul did when he submitted himself to the Roman law during his last days. And that is exactly what the concerned members have now done.

As mentioned earlier, the Church has appointed lawyer KK Wong's firm to represent and defend PG and the previous BOD in this matter. Since it is clear that the legal action taken by the Plantiffs is against PG and the previous BOD personally, CT hopes that PG and the current BOD will not commit further wrong by using Church funds to pay KK Wong's firm.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Associate Pastors Join Hoodwink Game

In a latest development highlighted by a CT reader, Calvary Church's Associate Pastors, namely Pas Steven Kum (SK) and Pas Peter Ong (PO) has join in the hoodwinking game.

In an effort to restore Calvary's brand image, SK and PO have turned to an online marketing and public relations website to publicize their strategy to counter the adverse publicity generated by the recent expose in The Star newspaper on the crisis in our Church.

In an article entitled "Calvary calm on convention centre crisis" , the writer, Deborah Peter talks of Calvary's strategy to "not react strongly to recent allegations in the press about mismanagement of funds".

The article quoted Karthi Palanisamy, managing director of Crush Communications who said,
"Keeping quiet is a wise approach since the focus should be completely on the establishment's members [donors/contributors], solely to whom Calvary is accountable instead of the general public."

Mr Karthi Palanisamy was probably ignorant of the fact that Calvary Church has also received lots of funds from the general public in fund-raising events organised for the CCC project such as carnivals, golf and bowling tournaments, conserts, art auctions placed in a shopping complex and "Buy a brick" campaign as well as collections of donations from the public at Christmas and Easter shows at the stadiums.

CT is of the opinion that in a situation where contributions and donations from the general public have been solicited, the Church must be accountable to the public as well, not just the members.

Here are some statements and claims made in the article by our Associate Pastors :-

1. "Steven Kum, associate pastor of Calvary tells A+M this is the right strategy to pursue in order to restore the brand's image."

(CT never knew that our dear pastors regard "Calvary" as a brand. How snobbish have they become!)

2. "Calvary has not held back money in terms of CCC's building expenses. Also, Calvaryland, our large welfare home ministers to over 20 inmates, not 4," Kum said.

(CT is surprised that the number of inmates has suddenly jumped from 4 to 20. If the 20 are real inmates and not counting the care-givers, cook, gardener, security guards, the home staff and the Church ministerial staff, then it is good. Of course, there's still a lot more work to be done to justify the millions spent on the home.)

3. "Peter Ong, a fellow associate pastor confirmed the Calvary Convention Center (CCC) project has not been abandoned, instead has been temporarily put on hold."

(What cheek! Just a couple of weeks ago, the Church announced over the pulpit that they have served a notice of default and non-completion to the main contractor. Now, PO says the project has been temporarily put on hold. Isn't this called a lie?)

4. "Calvary Church under the leadership of Rev. Datuk Prince Guneratnam has a congregation of 3000 to 3500 (comprising 4 locations) and was established in 1968."

(CT is of the opinion that the pastors should be honest and upfront about the actual numbers of worshippers. At its peak, perhaps our Church had up to 3,500 including babies and toddlers but this is Not the situation now. At most, CT reckons the present number is about 2,500.)

Click here to read full article: Calvary calm on convention centre crisis

This is the statement that PG, BOD and Associate Pastors have constantly used to defend their actions, "Calvary believes situations arising within the church should be handled internally as opposed to having dirty laundry aired publicly."

CT has posted a research article in Berita Calvary which explains why the article in The Star newspaper, cannot tarnish our God's name in Malaysia. It may have rocked the image of Calvary Church KL and our Pastors and Deacons but God's image is unshakable.

Click here to read, "Crisis can Rock CC but cannot Rock God"

The "misleading" article is probably another PR and face-saving exercise, organised by our PG and Deacons.