updated on 28 May 2001
(best view with netscape communicator 4.77)
   (Continuation of review of Calvin Miller’s The Empowered Leader. 10 Keys to Servant Leadership. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman, 1995.)

Servant leadership is a vital concern of the church today. We are living at a time when the spirit of individualism is running at an all-time high and the world is power crazy. It is not easy to be a servant, especially if that meant being a ‘bond slave’ (doulos). Miller has written a truly good book despite what I sense as heavy reliance on "reality therapy" and an incidental flaw. Was King David dancing with a "too-short tunic" (p.86). I doubt so. That may have been typical Roman attire for young men, but it certainly was not Jewish! 

What I like about a GOOD BOOK is not that one must agree with everything it says. Rather, one is free to agree or disagree but one essential element of such a book is that it must be provocative. It either stirs a person to give assent to its primary thrust(s) or forces him to think through his convictions or re-think them. On that score, Miller does very well. 

His first letter (given last week) makes a vital point. Servant leadership places the focus correctly on the person being served rather than on the one serving. One cannot go far wrong with that kind of orientation. It is easy in today’s corporate world to toss aside a non-performing worker. Just give that person a warning letter and if he continues to perform badly, replace him! Is that right? Within a Christian context (and I do not equate this with a church or Christian organization) can compassion for a non-performing worker be married to meetings goals for productivity? Miller believes it can be done when a servant leader, like Jesus, gives his non-productive disciples enough ‘rope’ for them to ‘turn around,’ as they did after the resurrection of Jesus. 

Space does not allow me to comment about other parts of the book. I will merely mention two other points worth pursuing: (1) On non-possessive leadership, it may be asked whether "a great leader will allow team members to be friends with those who oppose him" (p.58); and (2) "Most … need friends of the same sex…. There is a level of trust in same-sex relationships that is both godly and important" (pp.56-57).

So, if you are interested to explore further, go to the Display Corner in BGST Library and take a look at the rest of this Good Book. (QSH)


  • We welcome Leong Kok Weng back from reservist.
  • Dr Philip Satterthwaite will be on leave from 4-6 June. If you need to contact him, please do so before the end of this week 
  • Readers of BTW are invited to. 'An Evening at Pops' on Tuesday 29th May 2001, Victoria Concert Hall at 8.00 pm. The Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra will be playing a selection of popular classics, including: 'The Pink Panther', 'Star Wars', 'Themes from 007', 'Porgy and Bess', 'Cats', 'Evita' and Hawaii Five-0'. Tickets are available from SISTIC or through Dr.Satterthwaite (1st/2nd oboe). 


        ‘Revival’ has for a while been a hot topic in Christian circles in Singapore, and ‘revival meetings’ of various sorts are a familiar feature of Singapore church life. But what does the Bible say on this topic? Is God genuinely behind all the events that are sometimes pointed to as signs of revival? Taking as his text Ezra 10:1-6, Rev. Daniel Chua, of Mt. Carmel BP Church addressed us on the topic: ‘Spiritual Renewal: Recognising its Genuine Marks’. The book of Ezra divides into two parts: chs. 1-6, which deal with the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the return from exile; and chs. 7-10, which deal with the spiritual renewal of God’s people. Ezra 7-10, therefore, provide some biblical principles on the topic of revival. Rev. Chua focussed on three such principles in particular.

      (1) In a genuine revival brought about by God, the Holy Spirit will be mightily at work, leading to a true sense of God’s awesome majesty (v. 1). In ch. 9 we are told how Ezra learned how the people had compromised themselves by intermarriage with the neighbouring peoples, and how he responded with a prayer of confession. In ch. 10 Ezra is said to have continued in this attitude of mourning and confession. To start with, that was all he did: he preached no sermon and announced no meeting. 



Page 2                                                                                                                                       28 May - 3 June 2001
Yet a large crowd gathered around him as he humbled himself before God. More than that, the crowd wept with him, and joined with him in confessing sin. This was no stage-managed event, but the working of the Holy Spirit. And so it must always be when genuine revival takes place: you cannot manufacture a revival by human means; you cannot dictate to God’s Spirit how, when and where he is to work.

(2) In a genuine revival of God, there will be a deep conviction of sin leading to a hunger to obey God’s word (vv. 2-4). Shecaniah represents the people as he speaks to Ezra, and his words show a truly biblical balance: on the one hand a frank confession of sin (v. 2, ‘we have been unfaithful’), but on the other a confidence that God can restore his penitent people (v. 2, ‘but… there is still hope’), and a determination to obey God’s word (v. 3, 
‘let us make a covenant… let it be done according to the Law’). Revivals are not sent to make us feel good, but to turn us away from our sins.

(3) In a genuine revival of God, there will be a thorough effort to reform the people of God, leading to godly living (vv. 5-17). It is striking how thorough Ezra’s measures were: placing the priests and leaders under oath (v. 5); Ezra himself continued in fasting and prayer (v. 6); all the people were summoned to an assembly, confronted with their sins and told what they must do in response (vv. 7-11); and, after careful investigation (see vv. 18-44) the appropriate measures were taken. All who had married foreign women were required to separate themselves from them, and none, not even the high-priestly family, was spared. This is another mark of genuine revival: radical, far-reaching transformation of the lives of God’s people.

Singapore seems not to have experienced any revival of this sort since the ministry of John Sung in the 1930s and 1940s. We might ask ourselves why this is. Are God’s people harbouring unconfessed sin? But the main point Rev. Chua concluded with is this: that genuine revival has certain distinguishing marks, and that if these are not present, we have no right to claim that God’s Spirit is at work.
We wish these who celebrate their birthdays this week God’s richest blessings

Joyce Moh 29/5
Celeste Yee Soo Chuen 29/5
Yoong Yuen Soo 29/5
Richard Chia Eng Liang 31/5
Judy Ong Muah Cheok 02/6
Benny Tabalujan 02/6

             What kind of house did our Lord Jesus grow up in? What was life like for him and his family in Nazareth? On one of my field trips we visited The Nazareth Village. It all began with a dream to help Christians understand life in the first century and the discovery of ruins of an ancient first century village in Nazareth some years ago led to a project that fulfilled this dream. We saw houses reconstructed according to the layout of the ruins. Extensive research on every possible detail was done by personnel at the University of Holy Land. 
            When you walk into the village, you may see children playing (balls made with skin), a shepherd leading his flock, women working at cleaning sheep’s wool, or weaving or cooking. A boy on a donkey may squeeze past you or a girl with her water jug. Life is much like that of New Testament times. The clothes worn are sewn by hand and you will see wheat and other plants mentioned in the Bible in the fields. 
          Our lecturer headed this research and it was a treat to hear Steve and Claire Pfann explain passages with this knowledge of what life was like. I learned much. 
         How was such research done? One way was to visit ruins. So to the ruins we went. Gamla was a town sitting on one side of a camel-shaped hill with steep cliffs on the other. The Romans destroyed Gamla in the first century after the time of Christ. Since then it had not been re-inhabited, a fact that was to archaeologists a God-granted boon. We went down one hill then up another to reach the ruins. The layout of the synagogue, houses and watch tower, the water system, baths, and cisterns have been excavated. Much was left behind when the people jumped from the cliffs to their death rather than be captured by the Romans. From these that have been excavated – olive presses, grinding millstones, kitchen utensils (all of stone), and others, we can grasp a little of what life was like for these Jews who lived in the time of our Lord. In the process, we also gained insight into some Biblical passages. 
        We visited Galilee too and learned a little more about the methods and equipment of fishing in the first century. Not that much has changed and fishermen today still use similar kinds of nets to bring in the fish. Just think of all those Bible passages that mention fishing and fishermen. A retired captain gave us his time and told us tales of fishermen’s life and what he had discovered. He was the one who helped to locate the ancient harbours along the shores of Lake Galilee. His tales span far in time and space. From him I heard about the railway that used to operate in Galilee. Each day, a man on his donkey would ride alongside the train and chat with the driver. Then one day, this man apologised and said that he had a busy day ahead and needed to hurry, so had no time to chat. With that he kicked his donkey and rode ahead. 
        Just three days, but what a wealth of information gained - worth all the trekking and walking! 

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