Seeing Jesus in Wonder Woman? Just Enjoy the Movie.

After reading quite a few rave reviews, I must admit that my curiosity was piqued, and my interest stirred, to watch the latest DC movie, Wonder Woman.

What’s more, I remember glancing the title of an article, “The New ‘Wonder Woman’ Is Really A Story About Jesus“, that made me want to watch the movie to see if it were really so. I deliberately skipped reading the article so that I would not have any preconceived notions when I went to the cinema.

In between ministering at church camps, and greatly in need of a break, to space out in front of a large screen, I decided it would be a good time for a movie night – yes, Wonder Woman!

As one used to a Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, it took a while to get used to a Gal Gadot one. Of course, everything is much sleeker, and the special effects much more impressive. I waited for the signature WW spin but the director decided to drop that move. And no invisible plane either! All said, the movie was enjoyable but that was about it – ok la.

Did I see Jesus in Woman Woman? Nope.

I suppose if I tried very hard to, I could force fit some theology into the show, and somehow make it look and sound Christian. Sure, I got the part about saving mankind. Yes, I heard the phrase about mankind being undeserving of redemption. And the final punchline: “Only love can save the world.” And yes, I did not miss the way Diana descended in the shape of the cross. But do these necessarily point to Jesus? Not necessarily.

Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had missed the “Whoa Man!” moments of seeing the Jesus story. Back home, I searched for the article to read what it really said. And, oh man, was I even more disappointed. In my opinion, it is really a case of trying way too hard! Did the writer, M. Hudson, really see Jesus in Wonder Woman, or was she trying desperately to make Jesus into a wonder woman?!

On the point of love saving the world, let us be clear that this is no longer the exclusive chant of Christians. Almost everyone, religious or secular, is shouting this tagline of love! We cannot compare Wonder Woman with the love of Jesus just because she uttered this seemingly profound line. It may sound right and noble but let us not forget that the way she discovered and experienced ‘love’ with Captain Trevor was through a one-night stand after routing the Krauts in the village! Trust Hollywood to always associate and confuse love with sex. Perhaps Crosswalk.com missed or chose to ignore this little scene when commenting that Wonder Woman “should serve as an example of the love God has called us to show our neighbor” in their review “Wonder Woman and the Call for Christian Love“.

If you’re going to watch Wonder Woman, go enjoy it for what it is – a typical superhero story where the good guys triumph over the bad guys. Wonder Woman does not represent Jesus, and Jesus is not Wonder Woman. To this end, there is no need to try so hard to see Jesus in this movie, or to force it into a Christian message of love and salvation. Let’s not make it say what it didn’t mean to say. And for proper theology, read the Scriptures. You’ll find the real story of Jesus there too.

Maybe they will feature Wonder Woman in her invisible jet in the sequel, y’think?

Who Writes the Story of Your Life?

 

Who writes the story of your life?

In a world that tells us to take charge, to create our own destinies, it is easy to think that we are the ones in control of our own lives. After all, “No one owes you a living. Life is what you make of it.” So, get out there, fight for what you want, believe in yourself, and live life as you intend it! (Interestingly, these days, even Christian messages have a tendency to sound like that.)

If you’re like me, every now and then, I buy into these inspirational pick-me-ups. Yeah! Go, go, go! Vroom, vroom! It’s nice. It’s motivational. But truth be told, it’s only one side of the coin.

For sure, I have a part to play, to do what I need to do. No one is going to live my life for me, make decisions for me or traverse the challenging seasons that I often find myself in. However, I don’t get to write the plot or determine how things finally pan out. As much as I am free to choose how I will live, there is a much larger picture that I have absolutely no control over.

Yes, that is the other side of the coin that we must not miss or ignore. Whilst this may frustrate or anger some, it is in this tension – the free will of man and the sovereignty of God – that I find comfort, rest and peace.

In the past three years, this has become even more real to me. Pioneering a new ministry is not easy. However, as much as I desire to be responsible, diligent and hardworking (and these traits are all well and good), I have come to realise that I simply cannot make things happen. Leadership courses will have you believe that if you plan, lead and execute well, you will get the results. Once again, nothing wrong with these leadership principles, but we forget that it is not what we plan but where and how we feature in God’s Plan.

As I closed and opened a new journal this morning, I was overwhelmed by how the Lord has led me, and especially in the more recent three years. As I sought to listen to His voice and to follow His lead, I decided and implemented initiatives as best as I knew how (often with a degree of uncertainty). Yet, as free as I was to do as I deemed fit, looking back, His guidance is clearly noticed. All those times I worried or fretted now seem so trivial and silly. God was always in control and He remains so. When I pushed myself too hard, thinking time and urgency were of the essence, God was never in a rush at all. Everything moved according to His perfect timing!

I looked at the blank page of my new journal, and I found it staring back at me. The psalmist wrote, “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:16). How beautiful. How comforting. The dance has already been choreographed and the Lord invites me onto the dance floor of life with Him. Two left feet notwithstanding, my part is only to take the steps as He takes the lead. “A man’s heart plans his way. But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

More and more, may the journal entries be a record of the discoveries I make, the lessons I learn, and a testimony of His faithfulness, as I align to what the Author of Life has already written for me.

Who writes the story of your life?

Why Don’t We Quote Jesus More?

There’s not a day when my social media Newsfeed is not filled with quotations from well-known Christian authors and speakers. This becomes even more pronounced when a conference is ongoing, and for a few days after. Almost everyone, it seems, is wowing at the revelation of these one-liners. There seems to be so much wisdom and depth in these sayings that these must be shared with the rest of the world.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with sharing these ‘ah-ha’ moments. That’s what social media is all about, isn’t it? You come upon something good and you want everyone to know. Post. Share. Like. Repost. Comment: “Word! Truth!”

Sounds edifying enough. But of late, my concern is if we Christians may just be revering the words of these men and women of the hour so much that we altogether miss the words of Jesus, our Master and King. I began to notice that more and more preferred to quote anyone and everyone, except Jesus. Where congregations are concerned, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, “My pastor says…” Again, it is not wrong to listen to pastors, the under-shepherds. But what about Jesus, the Good Shepherd?

Applying this to myself, I made a conscious effort to read through the gospels again, to see what Jesus said in those accounts, and to hear what He would say to me, and to us as His church. Each day, I would post a saying of Jesus (or two).

The exercise has been an interesting one. Perhaps, I do not possess a big enough ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ base, but unlike the clever and witty sayings of the big names, the sayings of Jesus, the Name above all names, usually do not attract too many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’. Once in a while, you get a few ‘amens’, but that’s about it. (Maybe, if I take the trouble to use a fancy font and insert a breath-taking background image, that might help.)

Personally, it’s been enriching to read and re-read the gospels, to hear my Master and King speak directly and precisely. Naturally, I prefer the verses that remind me of His love, grace and blessings. That said, I cannot skip the parts that appeal less to me, and Jesus, at times, says some rather hard stuff pointedly and without compromise! Whilst I like to hear (over and over again) of how special I am to Him, how highly favoured and richly blessed I am in Him, the truth is that it is really not about me at all! And if I am to be totally honest, the sayings of Jesus promptly reveal how I have missed Him and His kingdom in the way I understand Christianity and do church today! Have you heard what Jesus says about following Him, obedience, faithfulness and readiness?

Ouch! No wonder the writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him, to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

I do not mean to dishonour, discount or discredit any teacher and preacher. As one myself, I am greatly encouraged when someone shares how he or she has been helped by the uncovering of a little nugget of truth through my teachings or messages. Yet, no matter how good, inspirational or motivational a communicator is, his or her words are never to supersede or replace that of Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, read the Word of God for yourself. Listen to His voice for yourself. Hear what Jesus says to you, and then obey Him. It is not just what apostle so-and-so says, or what prophet so-and-so says. It is what Jesus says that truly matter. If you need to quote anyone, quote Him who has both the first word, and also the final say.

22 Years of Music & Dance

Each time an anniversary is celebrated (or Mothers’ Day), this passage would readily come to mind:

“Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.'” Proverbs 31:28-29

Of course, in the earlier years, this passage did not apply as fully as it does now. Our eldest will turn 19 in a month, and our youngest will be 8 tomorrow. As a wife and mother, Serene has given so much of herself to the marriage and the family.

This year, these verses came through a little differently.

Just a few days ago, we received news that a fellow homeschool mother had passed away. It was very sudden. One day Jenny was unwell, and the next day, she suffered a heart attack. She was only 62.

Last night, on the eve of our own wedding anniversary, Serene and I attended the wake service. The passage the family had picked was Proverbs 31:28-29. Jenny was a mother to eight children, all grown up now in their 20s and 30s. Jenny and her husband, Guo Nang, were homeschool pioneers.

At the wake service, they screened a video which the children had produced for their parents’ 38th Wedding Anniversary. It showed how they met and how their family grew, one child at a time. I can’t begin to imagine how her husband was feeling as he watched the video. The eldest son broke down as his wife put her arm around him to console him.

I fought to hold back tears. Yes, I felt much for Guo Nang and the children. But more than that, I couldn’t bear the thought of having the same predicament happen to me and our children. Yes, I know all the promises we have as Christians. But I would still be devastated if Serene were taken from me.

I don’t mean for this to be a morbid post as we celebrate our 22nd Wedding Anniversary today. Instead, it is a poignant reminder for us to never take each other for granted. And more specifically, for me to never take Serene for granted.

However and wherever the Lord has led me, Serene has fully supported me every step of the way. When I first received the call (2000) to go into full-time ministry, Serene was ready. When I finally stepped out (2004) to be a bible school student, Serene was with me. When I took on the challenge to lead a school of ministry (2007), Serene bore the load of looking after the little ones. When I accepted the role of being a pastor (2008), Serene accepted that there would be nights and weekends she had to soldier on without me. When I left everything to start Archippus Awakening (2014), Serene stood squarely behind me, recognising that pioneering work would be tough and demanding. Through it all, Serene continues to watch over the needs of the children and the task of homeschooling.

Thank you, Serene. I am sorry for the times I have neglected you and taken you for granted. I appreciate you and everything you have done and are doing for me and the children. I love you and I thank God for you. I declare Proverbs 31:28-29 over you. At the same time, I have also experienced the truth of Proverbs 19:14 in you:

“Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14

Thank you for 22 wonderful years! God willing, we will get to celebrate many, many, many more years of Music & Dance together as the Lord allows us, by His grace. Blessed 22nd Anniversary!

January 2017 Newsletter & Receiving Newsletters

This is just to highlight that my January 2017 Newsletter has been written and posted! Its location can be found under the “Newsletters” page, along with past newsletters if you have not had a chance to read these (just hold your mouse over the word “Newsletters” on the menu). Or simply click on the image:

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-34-09-pmOnce every two months, to the best of my ability, I write and send out a newsletter update to all who are subscribed to the list, “Rev Henson Lim Newsletter”. If you have not been receiving these updates, then it is very likely that you are not yet subscribed to this list.

No worries, for that can be easily resolved: SUBSCRIBE to Rev Henson Lim Newsletter now.

In case you are not aware, subscribing to receive newsletters through the “Rev Henson Lim Newsletter” list is different from subscribing to receive posts from One Day At A Time (www.brohenson.org). At some point in time, I do hope to streamline these subscriptions. That would require some technical know-how, and for now, I just do not have the tech-savviness or bandwidth to address this adequately. (And I’m not about to risk messing up and having either list, or both!, disappearing on me!)

Thanks for your understanding and co-operation, and I do apologise for the inconvenience of having to subscribe twice. I am grateful for the opportunity to keep in touch with you, and I hope that the articles/updates you receive will always serve as encouragements to you in your own journey with the Lord.

In the meantime, enjoy the January 2017 Newsletter!

It’s Time to Brave the Cave Once More

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The last time I went into the cave was three years ago. No, not a physical cave, but a figurative one.

In January 2014, I had just relinquished my pastoral position, and Archippus Awakening was to be the next assignment. With no idea of the next steps, I retreated into a period I termed as ‘cave time‘ to rest and reconsolidate, and more importantly, to seek the Lord. It was also a time for me to pen down my thoughts and direction as I studied more about what Archippus Awakening would be.

That was three years ago. And a lot has happened since then. [Read 2014: A Year of Baby Steps2015: A Year of Sowing, and 2016: Entering the 3rd Year with Expectation] Needless to say, it has not been easy. In fact, it has been extremely demanding and tiring! But I must quickly add that it has also been very exciting and fulfilling. The challenge, always, is to discern when I have relied on my own strength, and when I have rested in His. Without doubt, I ran very  hard in 2016. And it seems that the lanes have all been marked out for me in 2017.

But first – cave time.

Yes. For the next three months, I will be taking it a little easier. Apart from weekend ministry engagements that I have accepted (see Ministry Schedule), the weekdays will be spent reading, resting and recuperating. I have already begun doing that and I am enjoying the additional ‘space’, both in my schedule and in my mind.

This does not mean I am not working at all, for the assignment of Archippus Awakening continues (AWE2017 is up next: 17-19 Feb!). I am just taking things at a much slower pace – a slow jog, if you will.

In this mode, I get to draw and drink more deeply from the fountains of living water, reconnect with Serene and the children, enjoy coffee with friends and kingdom connections, and more critically, to be strengthened and directed for the way ahead. With a clearer mind, I also hope to write an accompanying volume to Say To Archippus, so that we can help more know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments.

Yes, it is time to brave the cave once more, to be willing to unplug from the buzz and the noise. Not necessarily easy or natural for one as task-oriented as I am. And yet, this is something that must be done. So, cave time, here I come!

2016: A Year of Good Disruptions

2016 has been labelled the “Year of Disruption”. In almost every sphere of society, especially politics and economics – locally, regionally and globally – someone or something was either disrupting or being disrupted.

Sounds like another buzz-phrase that is being trended over social media. But really, when you look a little more closely, it is nothing new. All these ‘disruptions’ are simply good ol’ fashion ‘change’ – just that ‘change’ today is happening at a much faster rate than ever before. Where we were once able to react and adapt to such changes at a more comfortable pace, we don’t have that luxury anymore. Before an idea or a development can settle, another takes place, and another, and yet another! As such, many are finding themselves disrupted and displaced, just trying to keep up with all that is taking place.

As 2016 draws to a close, how have you been ‘disrupted’ with the various changes in your life? I took the opportunity to ponder the year that has zipped by, and here are some gleanings from my ‘disruptions’.

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My year actually started with a disruption. My MacBook began acting a little strange and I was forced to re-install twice. With so much to do, that disruption was totally frustrating! And yet, God spoke through that glitch, telling me not to bring any corrupted file into the new year, and also reminding me to make space for Him. If you read the 2016 Review for Archippus Awakening, you will see that it has been a full, full year. Looking back, I am so thankful that the Lord prepared me for 2016, warning and reminding me through this disruption. [Read: First the Natural Then the Spiritual: The Lord Prepares Me for the New Year]

This year, I found myself responding to certain issues, expressing my opinion a little more ‘vocally’ over cyberspace about Biblical Illiteracy, Biblical Interpretation, Madonna in Singapore, Hyper Grace, Prosperity Gospel, Bill Johnson and Hillsong. Stirring others to confront such key and controversial issues more deeply, I played the role of disruptor. Yet, at the same time, because not everyone agreed with me, I was also disrupted as the articles attracted quite a few opposing comments. To be sure, it wasn’t easy handling some of these ‘disruptions’. But looking on the bright side, these became good disruptions as it generated more traffic to One Day At A Time! 2016 is the year that we crossed the 300,000 mark, and now closing in to 380,000 hits. May this blog continue to positively disrupt people out of comfort zones to consider and ponder critical issues, causing the Body of Christ to be awakened to their roles and assignments in these challenging times!

Our family experienced a rather major disruption when our daughter’s eczema condition flared up sometime in March. It is not necessary to go into any detail of what she/we went through over the five- to six-month ordeal. We prayed. Sarah prayed. Our church family prayed. It was tough, and very painful. We are thankful that that episode is behind us now. What a disruption it was! And yet, so many lessons learnt, and His grace experienced. Not that anyone would want to go through it again, but in the end, we can look at it and see the ‘good’ in what the Lord had allowed. [Note: This is a testimony to the glory of God. Not a request for health products and recommendations. Thank you.]

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Then came another disruption to our family life – National Service! Enlistment came knocking at the doors of the Lim Tribe and David, our eldest, joined the ranks of Ah Boys to Men in October. Each weekend was spent ferrying him to and fro Pasir Ris Bus Interchange, and acceding to his food requests! Disruptive? Totally! And yet, it was heartwarming seeing him interact with his siblings, as he shared army stories with them. It was a proud moment for Serene and myself when we attended David’s BMTC Graduation Parade at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

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Another disruption came in the form of an invitation to participate in our home church’s 30th Anniversary Service. Simply, I was asked if I would consider being a part of a song item. Sure, I thought. How difficult could it be, right? Well, this old man forgot how long it has been since he last performed on stage. And it wasn’t just a song item, but a rap! And so, major disruption amidst message preparations and ministry engagements. I couldn’t remember my part and my words. Then came choreography! Help! The last time I did anything like that was Beauty World, 1988. But, all said, it was fun and enjoyable. Yes, a good disruption that allowed me to stretch the vocal cords once more, and loosen some rusty limbs. And more importantly, it helped me ease in a little bit more at FGA, connecting more with the church family. Now, I’m known not only for my preaching, but also my rapping – hahahaha!

A nagging pain in my left shoulder presented the next disruption. After putting up with the discomfort for more than six months, I finally got the frozen shoulder treated. A good disruption? Well, for one, I received an interesting lesson about God’s No Mercy Policy. And, for good measure, I was once again reminded of the ageing process, that time is not on our side, and we must be faithful to do all that has been assigned to us. So, yes, another good disruption.

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On a lighter note, the Lim Tribe experiences a series of disruptions every year, from January to August. I am referring to all our birthdays – haha! Don’t get me wrong: We love birthdays! But when you have nine birthdays in eight months, it can be rather disruptive to keep thinking of what to do, how to schedule, where to go, and how to celebrate birthdays over and over again! Most definitely, these are good disruptions. And 2016 has seen each child grow up even more, ranging from the youngest entering P1 and the oldest enlisting in the army. Standby! The Lim Tribe Birthday Series 2017 starts in a week’s time!

Indeed, 2016 has been a year of ‘good’ disruptions. It hasn’t always been smooth or comfortable (that’s why they are called disruptions). But we can most definitely say that the good Lord never left us alone, no matter how bumpy the ride was. Truly, with God, all disruptions can be ‘good’ disruptions. (Yes, even Brexit. And yes, even Trump.)

Changes, there will always be. And we can expect the world to experience even more disruption and shaking in the days ahead. Whether Christian or otherwise, everyone will experience uncertainty and even confusion. Should we be surprised? Not at all, for the time is short.

Thankfully, for Christians, our hope is not found in the ways or things of the world, for these are all passing away. Most certainly, our hope is rested and founded upon the name, the person, and the completed work of Jesus Christ! The one who truly understands this, whose faith is grounded upon this truth, will also be one who does the will of God. And 1 John 2:17 declares that these are those who will abide forever.

However disruptive life may be, we have a God who promises to see us through all challenges, to walk with us every step of the way. Let’s continue to encourage one another to view disruptions with the right perspective, trusting that if God allowed it, He will most surely see us through it. May we be able to pray as Joab did, “If it’s good for God, it’s good for me.”

Thanks to one and all for journeying through 2016 with me, Serene and our children. Let’s cross into 2017 with even greater resolve to make every moment count, disruptions notwithstanding, for our King and the glory of His Kingdom!