Advisory pastor Phil Pringle brings City Harvest Church back to the basics with a rousing lesson on faith.
By Jeremy Chua
On the weekend of Sep. 1 and 2, the far east of Singapore saw an influx of familiar faces as City Harvest Church moved its weekend services back to the Singapore Expo Hall 1 for a season, while its regular worship venue Suntec Convention Centre undergoes renovations.
There was a sense of new ground being broken as the service kicked off with a time of praise and worship. The energetic and exuberant praise and the deep and intimate worship led to an expectant atmosphere. Loud cheers rose from the congregation as CHC’s executive pastor Aries Zulkarnian proclaimed, “‘Expo’ stands for exponential blessing and growth!”
It was fitting that this first weekend at Expo coincided with the first weekend of the month, and members had the opportunity to come together and partake in Holy Communion, an act that solidified the camaraderie and sense of belonging.
CHC also celebrated Teacher’s Day during the service, honoring the efforts and sacrifices of educators in the congregation. Young singing talents Abigail Yeo and Ryan Sean Flores serenaded them with a beautiful rendition of “For Good” from the musical Wicked, as a slideshow of photos of teachers with their students played in the background. Educators were also presented a practical gift of an emergency charging pack for their smartphones “so that they can remain contactable at all times by their students!” quipped Zulkarnain.
“This is a very thoughtful gift which will be highly utilized! Every teacher needs that extra ‘boost’ to reach out to another student on the phone!” said Schumann Tong, 23, a student and long-time volunteer in the City Harvest Children’s Church.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
It was felicitous then, that CHC had the honor of listening to a great Bible teacher that very weekend. Phil Pringle, the multi-hyphenate who is the founder and president of C3 Global Network of Churches, a thriving movement of more than 200 churches worldwide, senior pastor of C3 Church in Sydney, Australia and CHC’s advisory pastor, exemplifies what it means to be a impactful teacher with his dynamic style of illustrative and interactive preaching that inspires and imparts.
“We think we need a refreshing through hearing something new; but most of the time, we need to be reminded of the things we already know, so that it comes back to the central focus of what we are all about,” Pringle said as he embarked on the topic of faith. “Faith is my favorite thing to talk about, because I know it can change your life!”
Speaking from a plethora of verses from the Bible, Pringle wove an engaging tapestry of what it means to have faith. “The words ‘Have faith in God’,” Pringle pointed out while sharing from Mark 11:21, “means to have the faith of God!” He likened faith to a battery. “When we use it, it runs low, and we need to recharge it by hearing the Word of God,” Pringle said, referring to Romans 10:17.
Unbelief is an insulator to the power of God working in the lives of Christian, said Pringle, emphasizing that faith comes about from a decision to switch it on. Exhorting the congregation with Hebrews 10:23, to “hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering,” Pringle noted, “You need faith when you need faith, and the problem with our problems is that the problem tries to overwhelm our faith.”
The solution to that, according to Pringle, is to constantly have the Word of God on our lips. Highlighting how powerful spoken words can be when a person’s mouths and hearts are in agreement, Pringle painted an analogy of a person’s heart being a computer, and his mouth the keyboard.
“In programming, whatever that is entered on the keyboard not only changes the display, but gives a new way of ‘thinking’ to the program itself,” said Pringle. “We reprogram our thinking each time we speak to ourselves according to the Word of God.”
“Fear [and] timidity [are] not from God. The devil tries to make us think that timidity is from God but fear robs us of power, love and sanity,” Pringle explained, drawing from 2 Timothy 1:7. This is a tactic of the devil, to cause Christians to question who they are in God. Revealing what a Christian’s true identity should be, Pringle taught from James that we should not forget the manner of man that we are. “We will be blessed when we operate out of an identity that is rooted in the Word of God, and we have to see ourselves as the Word of God sees us, and continue in the image that God sees us as.”
“Preoccupation with the past prevents us appropriating our future,” said the preacher. “If you are always thinking about what was, we will never think about what will be. Don’t based your future on your past and present, but base it on God.”
1 John 3 and Genesis 1 state respectively that Christians are children of God, and they are created in His image. Pringle assured the church-goers that should they ever feel inadequate at anything, they can always go back and look in the Bible for their identity.
Reminding them that Jesus Himself constantly established and reaffirmed His identity in God to Himself and to others, Pringle also pointed out how the devil attacked Jesus’ identity and that he comes to steal, kill and destroy through the stealing of the Word of God from the lives of believers.
“What do we say to ourselves today? We have to confess what God says about us in the Bible,” Pringle said. “How do we talk to ourselves? Don’t lose the image that God has of us; who I am in God is who God says I am! Do I believe my context and circumstances, or what God has told me?”
Pringle used the children of Israel as an example to show that miracles do not inspire faith—the Israelites saw many miracles but still lacked faith. It is the Word of God that inspires faith.
Pringle ended the secret to getting the Word of God deeply entrenched in one’s life: it is to meditate on the Word.
“Christian meditation is not emptying your mind, but filling your mind with the Word of God,” Pringle taught. “Meditation is the digestive faculty of our souls, and our appetite for the Word reflects the state of our spiritual vital signs.” The benefit of thinking about the Word of God is that it transforms the Word from being merely information in our heads to revelation in our spirit.
Hundreds of people experienced this revelation in their spirits as they responded to the altar call at the end of the service. The weekend came full circle with people discovering and re-discovering who they are in God through a simple act of faith.
Tan Yun Ting, 20, a film and video student said, “Service with Pastor Phil was great! Even though faith was a basic topic, it served as an important reminder to me of how important it is to align ourselves with the Word of God so that our faith doesn’t run low.”
Thong Jun Xiang, 25, a full-time tutor, felt encouraged by the teaching. “What I got out of the service is that we always need a higher level of faith to see an increase of the power of God moving in our lives.”