Even in the Wrestling There is Rest

Almost out of the blue, as if an overnight occurrence, the most talked about topic is that of mental wellness.

The sad irony is that, just a while before this, the tone was a lot more accusatory and damning with many wondering why the younger generation is a lot less resilient and a lot more ‘strawberry’. Today, the narrative has been flipped on its head. If anyone as much as dare suggest that someone doesn’t have that mental mettle, he or she is promptly taken to task.

Here’s the scary thing. It’s not just a local problem. It’s a global one. Here’s a scarier fact. It’s not just experienced by non-believers. It’s also experienced by Christians. And judging from the sudden surge of articles, sermons and seminars in Christian circles, the percentage is not low.

Since I am no mental wellness expert, I will not attempt to write anything that may be misconstrued or challenged. All I offer is a simple word picture that popped into my mind as I pondered the place of wrestling and that of rest in the midst of challenges. The Lord opened my eyes to see ‘rest’ embedded in ‘wrestle’. Wow.

It’s all too easy to think that it is one and not the other. Clearly, we have swung to one extreme. But in trying to correct it, we must be careful not to swing to the other extreme. The key really is in knowing how to wrestle well and still be rested in that endeavour.

In Archippus Awakening – where I challenge many to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments – the phrase that is used is ‘knowing how to work from a posture of rest.’ Yes, perseverance and endurance are required that we may fulfil our assignments. Yet, rest and restedness are very much a part of the process; without which, we will break down, give in and give up.

There have been many times where, in striving to give my best to the Lord, I have succumbed to stress, negative anxiety and even experienced extremely low periods of depression. Understandably, the work, demands and pressure may have been very heavy but the real issue is that I have taken myself out of His rest.

Kingdom goals, however well-intentioned, had become my own agenda. My reliance, regardless of how well I spewed Christian cliches, had been more on my own strengths and abilities than it should have been upon the Lord and His empowerment. My pressing on (more Christian-talk) was really more about preserving my pride than it was about persevering in humility. No wonder I was stressed and anxious. I was not rested at all. (I often quip that ‘stress’ is simply messed-up ‘ressst’.) I readily declare that it is all about Jesus; when in reality, it became all about me. Remembering the rest that I have in Him has helped me bounce back to continue to wrestle. And to wrestle well.

We have much to learn from Jesus, our King. He worked very hard but was always at rest. He knew when to engage and when to dis-engage. If anyone had to live up to expectations, Jesus did as Messiah and the Saviour of the world. #nopressure

Was Jesus ever mentally and emotionally stretched, anxious, stressed or perplexed? I believe so. Mark 14:33 records that our Lord was “troubled and deeply distressed” in the Garden of Gethsemane. To the point that it manifested physically through His sweating drops of blood, a condition known as hematidrosis (Luke 22:44).

Yet, through it all, because Jesus knew His assignment, He never once gave up. That He may fulfil what the Father sent Him to do, the only thing He gave up was His own will in submission to His Father’s will.

Jesus wrestled. Big time. Yet, in and through that wrestling, there was rest. It didn’t feel ok but He knew it would be ok. I believe this promise is available to us too – if we would learn how to appropriate it in Christ.

Today, more than ever, there is a battle for our minds. The pace of this digital world and the influences of social media are not helping one bit. What we set our minds on matter. A lot! If we do not renew our minds and be transformed, we will conveniently conform to the default pattern of the world (Rom 12:2). If we do not hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we will be held captive by the arguments and philosophies of this world (2 Cor 10:3-6). If we set our minds on the things of the flesh, it will lead to death. But if we would set our minds on the things of the Spirit, the promise is life and peace (Rom 8:5-6).

It is really encouraging that there is increased awareness of mental wellness today and more attention is being directed to help those who are struggling and suffering. In this area, I have lots more to learn and catch up on.

If you are wrestling with any issue, don’t let it escalate or wait until it’s too late. My prayer for you is that you will discover the rest that is found only in Jesus Christ. That said, being a Christian doesn’t mean that you will no longer wrestle with the challenges and issues of this life or your own faith. Trust me – I am still wrestling with God on so many fronts. The assurance is that if our focus is always on Him and His promises, it’s ok to keep wrestling. Because in and through that wrestling, there is the promise of rest.

21 Years: A Coming of Age

Turning 21 is a milestone. In many cultures, it marks the transition from childhood to adulthood.

In our family, our first-born turned 21 in 2019. A month and a half ago, it was his sister’s turn. Serene and I still find it a little odd but officially, they are both adults now. Our babies have grown up, come of age. Even so, at any age, they will always be our children.

This was the impression that came to mind – a coming of age – as I considered the significant date of 8 July. Each year, I will take time to reflect, remembering the day I heard the Lord’s invitation to follow Him at a much deeper level. This year, it would have been 21 years since I first said yes to Him in 2000.

What a journey it has been and continues to be. I have experienced God’s love, grace and faithfulness every step of the way. If you have not started following Jesus (and I mean, really follow Him), don’t waste another moment. Make this day the day you decide to follow Him and we can celebrate this anniversary together.

Here are my past reflections if you’d like to know the details:

In a blink of an eye, it’s been 21 years.

I can’t really explain this impression of ‘a coming of age’. Truth is, I don’t even know how to express it adequately. Notwithstanding, I will try my best because I want to have a reminder of this.

Back in my days, we didn’t have the concept of adulting nor the complications and complexities attached to it. We just reached a legal age of responsibility and were expected to conduct ourselves accordingly.

As I entered adulthood back then, as I came of age, I enjoyed a new level of freedom. I could come and go as I pleased. I decided for myself without having to explain or justify. It was a nice feeling. That said, I quickly learned that I would be responsible and accountable for all my decisions – both the right ones as well as the wrong ones. Not quite as fun. In fact, very serious and rather overwhelming. Yet, that was how I grew and matured. Experience is a great teacher.

In the same way, after 21 year of following Jesus, it is as if a new level of freedom has been unlocked for me. This is not to say that I was not free in Christ before this, for those whom the Son has set free is free indeed (cf John 8:36)! In Christ, I always had the freedom but perhaps I never knew how to enjoy that freedom to its fullest.

As I ‘turn’ 21, I am hearing the Father give me permission to enjoy this new level of freedom as I embrace new responsibilities ahead. To be sure, this coming of age is not so much about arriving than it is about arising.

As children, we would ask for our parents’ permission before being allowed to do anything. As adults, we no longer have to do that. With experience and wisdom (and a lot of hindsight), we are free to choose and decide.

It is with this freedom that I believe the Lord is challenging me to move forward with greater boldness and confidence.

With all I have learned in the past 21 years, led and guided by the Spirit, He is saying to me, “I trust you. Go ahead. You know your kingdom assignment. Do what you need to do. You don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder, wondering or worrying about what I will say.”

At the same time, the Lord reminds and encourages, “You may have come of age, but remember that you are and will always be My son. As an adult, it may feel scary and uncertain at times, as if you are out there on your own. But you are not alone, My son, I will always be with you.”

On this note, I am reminded of how my father trusted me enough to let me to run the advertising agency he founded and painstakingly built up. He gave me the freedom to do what needed to be done. Yet, freedom didn’t mean ‘anything goes’. On a regular basis, we met – for me to give account, to seek advice; for him to give input, to provide counsel. I may have appeared to be out there alone, but I was never left to struggle on my own. Mistakes, I made quite a few. But he continued to give me the freedom to learn and grow from those mistakes.

Please don’t read this as there is no longer a need for me to read the Bible or pray or seek the Lord for His will and direction. That would be a totally wrong takeaway. This is why I mentioned upfront that I don’t quite know how to express this ‘coming of age’ impression. I certainly do not wish to confuse or stumble anyone. Let me state it a little more clearly: There is a certain level of freedom that comes with maturity and yet the adult remains a son that desires to please the Father and fulfil His will. Makes better sense? I hope so.

21 years of following Jesus. And as the Son went about His Father’s business, I too am learning what it means to partner Him in the same business. In the purposes of the kingdom of God. With the same liberty and joy in the Spirit. With the same favour and authority as His son.

A coming of age. With this fresh understanding of freedom, I am looking forward to learning so much more in the days ahead.

I have no idea how that will be or what it would look like. For now, I will just celebrate turning 21.

Faith & Vaccination

Those familiar with this site will know that this is where I share my views and thoughts. At times, strong points are made and firm positions are taken. Then again, at other times, I may ramble a little as I process matters that are not quite as straightforward. This is one such case.

Regardless of how simple or complicated the issues may be, I strive to remain biblical, to the best of my own hermeneutical ability at that point in time. In no way and at no time do I wish to confuse, stumble or mislead anyone.

I am starting with this rather serious-sounding disclaimer because this post is about vaccination. Or more precisely, the place of faith for Christians where Covid-19 vaccines are concerned.

I am not supporting or recommending anything. Hence, there are no links or references to anyone or anything. I am merely making a personal observation. So don’t pick a fight with me here. Also, please do not spam this site with articles for or against vaccination. This is not the place for pro-vaxxers or anti-vaxxers to convince the other group of your stand. If you wish to comment, please do so cordially and politely. In any case, inappropriate comments will not be approved. Remember, once again, it’s more about faith than it is about vaccines. Thank you.

Here goes…

According to experts, the narrative is: Get vaccinated. It’s safe. Let’s label this as Position A.

However, the alternative narrative according to another group of experts is: the vaccines are experimental, not proven, and thus not safe. This will be Position B.

An over-simplification perhaps. But at the end of the day, it does boil down to two groups: those who are willing to be vaccinated; and those who prefer not be vaccinated.

At this point, I must emphasise again that this post is NOT about any particular vaccine. Instead, it is more about the faith of believers and how they respond to the above two broad positions that I find interesting.

For those who have accepted Position A, these have faith. In the authorities, experts and the system. Ultimately, they have faith in God since He is the One who has put these in place. Where spiritual leadership is concerned, pastors and elders have encouraged members to be vaccinated. Whilst not all have done this openly over the pulpit, many have led by example by being vaccinated (and proudly posting on their own personal social media accounts).

For those in Position B, these have faith in God to protect them whatever the outcome. For one, that they will never ever get Covid-19. For another, if they should be infected, that they will recover. And in the worst case scenario, it is still good news because they get to be with the Lord. Similarly, as for Position A, there are spiritual leaders who have opted not to be vaccinated. Or have adopted a wait-and-see approach.

Whether Position A or B, both groups have faith.

More recently, more information, discoveries and warnings have surfaced. Those who have already taken the vaccination are understandably concerned. But what’s the typical Christian response? Faith, of course. Vaxxed but not vexed (sorry, couldn’t resist that). For example, “I believe that even if the vaccine is harmful, God will protect me.” Or “If I pray in Jesus’ name, the negative effects will be reversed.” To these, those in Position B will ask, “If God can protect you from the ill effects of the vaccine, is He not also able to protect you from the virus? Why take the vaccine then?”

Again, both groups have faith.

But which is the correct faith? Or should such a question even be asked? After all, who are we to question a person’s faith, right?

If you have been vaccinated and are generally well, I am thankful for that. Yet, for those who have experienced less than favourable conditions and outcomes – although no one can or is willing to attribute any of these to vaccines – my heart goes out to these too. Sure, the percentage may be negligible but I sure do not relish that I or any of my loved ones be counted amongst those statistics, however small.

Does this mean that one has less faith if one opts not to be vaccinated then? Not necessarily. Does having faith automatically mean that one will never get Covid-19, vaccinated or not? Not at all. Faith, for the vaccinated as well as for the unvaccinated, means that no matter what happens, we are able to give thanks in all situations, continue to trust the Lord and to keep praising Him.

As at the time of this writing, where Singapore is concerned, vaccination is very strongly encouraged but remains voluntary. I am thankful for that and pray that it remains as such – voluntary. This is where decisions can be carefully and prayerfully considered and made according to one’s faith and conscience. This also means that whatever the decision, there should not be any reward or stigma attached. It would be totally inconsistent if the government says it is voluntary yet allow organisations and businesses to set their own rules and requirements, thereby making it mandatory. Yet, since vaccination is very strongly encouraged, a certain pressure to conform is only to be expected. Even so, for now, there is freedom to choose. Who knows what tomorrow holds?

At this point, you may be wondering where I am going with this post. You’re not alone. I am also wondering what I am trying to say, if anything at all. As mentioned, I am merely making an observation about the place of faith in this hot potato topic of vaccination.

Notwithstanding, please permit a small opinion here.

However faith is exercised, especially within the Body of Christ, this issue must not divide us. I am not here to tell anyone to vaccinate or not. At the same time, I will not judge anyone according to his or her vaccination status. Likewise, church communities should not discriminate between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated. We must also be careful and responsible how we comment about the authorities and policies, whichever position we hold to. It would be totally ironic that we as people who profess and declare radical faith end up being viewed as those who respond as if gripped by irrational fear.

End of my one-cent opinion.

All said, I am thankful for the measures (vaccinations aside) that have kept Singapore’s Covid-19 numbers comparatively low. Admittedly, this has permitted me to ramble and reflect in a certain way. Would I offer the same perspectives if I were in a place where cases have spiralled out of control? Then again, should faith not be consistent wherever or however?

Hmmm… the processing continues 🙂 In the meantime, keep the faith.

I Am Still Here

I know. It’s been a while since I last posted anything here. So here’s a short post to let you know that I am still around 🙂

Like everyone else, this season has been a time of constant adjustment and adaptation. Disruptions notwithstanding, things picked up on the ministry front for Archippus Awakening. As such, much of my focus has been directed over there; which explains the silence on brohenson.org. (Honestly, it’s hard to maintain two websites.)

After consistently writing newsletters to update friends and partners (and anyone who is interested) – since 2004 – this exercise lapsed after September 2020 Newsletter. My apologies if you have been waiting for the next newsletter to land in your inbox.

From my own observations, other than the odd acknowledgement and encouragement, I wonder if these updates have become a blind spot, just another email in the inbox clutter these days. To this end, I decided to pause for a moment to consider and decide if I should continue writing these updates.

This does not mean that you don’t get to know how I am or what I am presently engaged with. I continue to be active over at Archippus Awakening website and social media accounts (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Soundcloud); as well as my own Henson Lim Page on Facebook. I also write regularly from Archippus Awakening’s platform through “From the Desktop of Henson”. If you’d like to hear from me as well as receive other AA updates, subscribe at tinyurl.com/aaupdates.

In case you are not already aware, I do all my teaching and preaching through Archippus Awakening, a ministry dedicated to awakening the saints to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments. I share this because I still get queries as to where I preach or how can one hear my messages, etc. Understandably, most still expect to find a pastor preaching in a particular place or church. Not anymore.

Going forward, brohenson.org will continue to exist. God willing and schedule permitting, I hope to revamp this personal website to better cater to and serve the needs of subscribers, followers, readers and visitors. For this, I’d love to have your input as to how I can do this more efficiently.

Drop me an email at brohenson@gmail.com if you have a thought, suggestion or request. If nothing else, it’d be great just to hear from you so that I know at least someone has read this short post and has made the effort to keep in touch. Thank you!

That’s all from me. For now.

For Jesus and His kingdom
Henson

Christmas 2020

What a year it has been.

2020 may be drawing to an end. But we are still far from the end of the present crisis. I don’t know what new normals the new year will present. All I know is that we can expect more adjustments and adaptations ahead.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”, which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Although Christmas may be celebrated a little differently this year, the truth of Christmas remains the same. Jesus is still Immanuel. God is still with us. My prayer for you and yours is that you will experience this truth in the person of Jesus Christ even more powerfully and personally in and through these uncertain times.

The message of Christmas remains the same too. More than just a word of comfort, it is an offer of salvation.

“And she shall bring forth a Son and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

The salvation we need is not from an external crisis of Covid-19 but an internal condition of sin. Theories may abound as to the origin of this dreaded virus. The truth is that the virus is a consequence of sin and sinful humanity. Even if one does not die from the virus, without Jesus, one will still die in his or her sins and forever be separated from God. For this reason, God sends His Son to save mankind from sin, and be reconciled to Him. All that is required is faith in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps, it is good that Christmas is not as festive this year. It allows time and space for reflection and response. If you are not a believer yet, would you accept the Christmas gift of salvation through Jesus? If you are already a Christian, with church and Christian activities drastically disrupted, ponder the true essentials of the Christ life.

From our family to yours, here’s wishing you a very, blessed Christmas. And may the new year present you with new opportunities to live for Jesus and His kingdom.

Henson & Serene
with David, Sarah, Aaron, Esther, Ruth, Deborah Hope & Anna Joy

7km to Mark 7yrs of Colossians 4:17

I’ve never been much of a runner. It was only in the past decade or so that I started running more regularly.

The motivation? It didn’t take me long to realise that ministry life can be quite sedentary. Read bible. Prepare message. Set up presentation. Repeat. Ok ok, very sedentary. And since the park was just one block away, I had no excuse not to get out for some fresh air and to work up some sweat. The runs were good for my own health and fitness. The fresh air out in the open also helped to clear my mind. More than once, I’ve received new ideas and prophetic insights.

The distance? Nothing impressive here. Since the objective was not to participate in marathons any time soon, I kept to the humble IPPT’s 2.4km. Once in a while, I’d push myself to 3km. If more ambitious (or just feeling masochistic), then 5km. Suffering for Jesus, y’know? Haha.

You’d think that my stamina would be really good. I wish. Another rude realisation is that stamina and pace do not necessarily correspond with age. Oh wait. There is a correlation. On the other side of 50, I could still push myself for a better timing. On this side of 50, whenever I try to do that, it will take me one week to recover before my next run. Sigh. Sadly, the correlation is a negative one. At least for me, as age goes up, pace comes down.

7km? Then this year, for some strange reason, I get added to a Facebook Group, called “Kingdom Runners”. As these run, they pray and then post to the group. The idea is much akin to prayer walking. Except that this is prayer running. (I know this sounds crazy, right? I’m just trying to survive, finish the run and get home alive.)

Well, two weeks ago, the leader of the group posted an invitation to participate in YOLO RUN’s first virtual race. I was all ready to swipe away but the distance of the race caught my eye. In most races, the categories are usually in multiples of 5 – 5km, 10km, 15km, etc. Oddly enough, the only category for this race is 7km. All I had to do was run 7km in a go, anytime within the window of 21-26 October 2020. I signed up.

Note: The race has been extended to 22 Nov 2020.
Register with this code: KINGDOMRUNNER (all caps) and get 40% off.
For the T-shirt, use the phrase “I run for JESUS”.

Here’s why.

7 years ago, on 27 October 2013, the Lord gave me the Archippus Awakening message through the one verse of Colossians 4:17. Since then, I have been proclaiming this wake up call whenever the Lord provides the opportunity. The ministry has also grown and matured. More have come onboard and are now serving alongside me. God has been so faithful and gracious. As I thought of how to mark these 7 years, I sensed that a new season is just ahead. Then, the YOLORUN invitation popped up. It’s as if the Lord was challenging me: “Would you run 7km to mark 7yrs?”

And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfil it.”

Colossians 4:17

What was I thinking? Signing up was the easy part. I still had to run the distance. Up until then, the farthest I’d ever pushed myself was 5km, usually ending with aches and pains for the next few days. You wouldn’t believe the kind of thoughts that flooded my mind: Are you sure or not? What if you injure yourself? Why is my knee suddenly hurting so much? Am I being responsible? Talk about spiritual attacks – haha!

Here we go! Well, the day of the run finally arrived. Coincidentally or not, the two days before were crazy days, tiring me out both mentally and physically. I am thankful that my daughter, Ruth, opted to register and run with me. That kept me accountable as I sought to honour her partnership and support.

This was how it went.

4:00pm Warm up and stretches.

4:10pm We prayed to dedicate the run to the glory of God, asking Him to keep us safe.

4:17pm Here we go! No prizes for guessing why I chose to start the run at this time. For those who are still clueless, here’s a hint: 7km to mark 7yrs since receiving the Archippus Awakening message through Colossians 4:17 (get it?).

The first half of the run went pretty well. Ruth took the lead and I trailed behind. I was very clear that I was not gunning for a great timing. I just wanted to run the whole distance without walking or stopping.

After the 3.5km mark, however, was the challenge. It seemed to take forever to get to the 5km mark. I was still pacing well. But somehow, the number on my tracking app didn’t move as quickly as the first few kilometres.

Thankfully, the 4.17km mark gave me the boost I needed. These words rang out in my mind, “This is what I am running for. I have to keep going for as long as the Lord wants this kingdom assignment to continue. I will keep preaching and proclaiming Colossians 4:17. Not only that, I am setting the pace for all Archippuses. To finish the race. To go for gold. This run is dedicated to all who desire to be awakened, aligned and assigned for Jesus. I cannot stop. I must keep going on.”

At 5km, the psychological battle kicked in. On one hand, it’s just 2km more. Yet, on the other hand, 5km was when I would stop in my previous runs. 2km more? You’re kidding me, right? Enough la. Surely, I can just walk the rest of the way and still register the 7km. Run, Henson, run!

Here again, I am thankful that Ruth ran with me. Or rather, that I ran with Ruth. By cheering her on – 2km more. 1km more. Last burst. C’mon! – I was actually cheering myself on. By running together, we were encouraging one another all the way. We were going to finish together and finish well.

5.01pm We made it! 7.02km in 44:31mins. Yay! Instagram poses and posts.

My running app congratulated me: “A New Personal Record! Longest Run.” Even better, the race app recorded me as the very first finisher of the virtual run (globally). This meant that I occupied the first spot on the leaderboard for a while (cheap thrill, I know).

Yes. Quite an achievement for this not-so-young athlete wannabe. It was fun. But more importantly, it was significant. 7km to mark 7yrs. If the Lord had not instructed me through Colossians 4:17, I would have no business awakening the saints toward their kingdom assignments. That I get to run this race of Archippus Awakening is entirely by His grace.

What keeps me running? It has not always been easy these 7yrs. Like the run, there have been many moments of doubts and discouragement. I am also ever ready to make excuses and give myself reasons why I shouldn’t, couldn’t or needn’t. Even so, I press on because ultimately I am running for Jesus on the purposes of His kingdom. At the same time, I am also running for Archippuses; that when these see me plodding on, they may be encouraged enough to do the same for the Lord.

Across these 7yrs, I am ever thankful for the many ‘Ruths’ whom the Lord has led to run with me. Above all, I give all thanks and praise to the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness, “who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry” (1 Tim 1:12). Through these 7yrs, I have personally experienced that “the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 1:14).

A new season? As 8 comes after 7, so I brace myself for the new beginnings that are just ahead. Colossians 4:17 remains relevant and I believe a fresh anointing will be given for a new season. My part is simply to keep running. Whatever it takes.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God”

Acts 20:24

8km to mark 8yrs? One day at a time. One step at a time.

#iamarchippus #7kmtomark7yrs

Taking a Rainbow Out of Context

We’ve heard of using verses out of context. What about rainbows?

Recently, the frequency of rainbows seem to have increased. Some attribute it to the cleaner air and clearer skies in view of reduced human activity owing to circuit breaker measures. Possibly. But is there more to it?

The moment a rainbow appears, social media will be flooded with pictures of these lovely arcs, accompanied by enthusiastic posts and positive comments. The Christian ones usually associate the rainbow with God’s promises and His faithfulness, taken to mean that God will fulfil the promises made to the individual or to a country.

These all sound good and right – very encouraging and uplifting. But how accurate are such interpretations and applications?

To ascertain this, we cannot rely on impressions or how we personally feel about this beautiful phenomenon in the skies. We have to go back to the source, to Scriptures.

The first rainbow

I believe we are all familiar with the biblical account of the flood in Genesis 6-9. Mankind had become corrupt and God decided to start over. God told Noah to build an ark, by which he and his family would be saved when the floodwaters covered the face of the earth. Noah obeyed. The rains came. And all of humanity, except Noah and his family, was destroyed. When it was all over, God gave fresh instructions to Noah and made a covenant with creation – with the rainbow as the sign of the covenant.

13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:13–17 NKJV

This covenant made between God and creation is referred to as the Noahic Covenant. The sign of the covenant serves as a reminder to both parties of the covenant. In this case, whenever a rainbow appears, God, as the initiator of the covenant, will be reminded of what He had promised. As for creation, we can look at the rainbow and be thankful that a covenant keeping God will hold to His end of the deal. To this end, the rainbow is indeed associated with promise or covenant keeping and the faithfulness of God.

But what is the promise to be kept?

The answer is extremely straightforward and can be found in Genesis 9:15 – “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

In recent years, there have been more and more floods that have caused much havoc around the world. We are told that this is largely due to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. As critical as the situation may be, we can be certain creation will never be wiped out by floodwaters. Nations and their leaders may make and break climate deals and accords but God will never break the Noahic Covenant.

Interestingly, rainbows are also mentioned with the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 1:28) and around God’s throne (Revelation 4:3). This is not difficult to understand since we now know that rainbows are essentially the result of reflected, refracted and dispersed light. And since God Himself is full of light (and His angels too, Rev 10:1), it is not surprising that rainbows are found in His presence. How wonderful that God does not need to wait for a heavy downpour to be reminded of the Noahic Covenant. With a rainbow perpetually around His throne, He is constantly reminded of His promise not to destroy the world by flood.

Can we extend the sign of the rainbow to every other promise or wish?

I know it is tempting to do so and many have (as evidenced by social media posts). But honestly, that is a real s-t-r-e-t-c-h by all counts. The rainbow is only the sign of the Noahic Covenant and not of the other covenants in the bible. Sure, borrow it. Just don’t use it out of context.

Will earth never ever be destroyed again?

More critically, more than just be mesmerised by this beautiful sign, we must be mindful of what the covenant is about and what it is not. To be clear, God did not say that He will never ever destroy the earth again. What He promised was that the earth will never be destroyed by a flood again. That is a huge difference.

This is important because Scripture does speak of heaven and earth passing away (Matthew 5:18; Mark 13:31), that we can look forward to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). There will be another destruction, just not by water as in the days of Noah. This time, it will be by fire (2 Peter 3:10-13).

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:10–13 NKJV

A reminder and a warning

Whilst we can look back to the first rainbow and be assured of God’s faithfulness to keep His word, we must also look forward to what will happen when God keeps His word concerning the destruction to come.

Seen in this context, the rainbow serves as both a reminder as well as a warning. I fear that we have emphasised only the former and have all but missed the latter. 2 Peter 3:7 provides the right balance: “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:5–7 NKJV

Is destruction reserved only for non-believers?

Lest we think this warning is only for non-Christians, we must read on for 2 Peter 3:10-13 was written as a warning to believers – “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness”. Paul addressed believers too when he spoke of the same fire that will finally test the works of believers (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Let’s summarise.

The rainbow is a sign of a covenant – specifically, the Noahic Covenant. For other covenants, there are other signs. In the Noahic Covenant, the promise that God will keep is that the earth will not be destroyed by water again. No, the rainbow is a not a promise fulfilment symbol for personal or national agendas.

Since the rainbow is closely associated with the issue of destruction, it then also serves as a reminder and warning of how God will eventually destroy both heaven and earth; not by water, but by fire. With hope, we look to new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells. With this knowledge, we are thus expected to respond by living godly, faithful and fruitful lives.

The next time you see a rainbow, go ahead – ooh and wow at it, snap photos of it, share it on your social media feed. Just remember not to take it out of context. Instead, remember the significance of this beautiful sign in the skies.

What about the increase of frequency of rainbows these days? With more sightings of double and triple rainbows? Honestly, I don’t think God needs more reminders. What if these are the Lord’s way of signalling to us that the time is short and the window is closing fast?

People of Truth Not Theories

Especially in times of crisis, conspiracy theories abound. These are not new – they have always been around – but in uncertain times, the more certain these theories sound, somehow providing answers to why things are the way they are.

The most recent is that of QAnon, started by an anonymous post by ‘Q’ and has since taken on a life of its own. Of greater concern is how QAnon has attracted a very large Christian following, both in the USA and around the world. The narrative of good vs evil fits right into our kingdom psyche. So as people of righteousness, we must do our part to fight back and to warn others. Sounds right. But is it?

In the past weeks, more has been written about this movement. But hold on! Can we trust what is published in the mainstream media? More pastors have stepped up to warn their congregations about the dangers of QAnon. Oh wait. Maybe these pastors are part of the conspiracy, wolves in sheep’s clothing?! After all, anyone who speaks against QAnon speaks against Trump and hence cannot be trusted. In fact, anyone who votes against Trump contributes to the end of the Church. Really?

Chances are you have received one of such warnings or heard a few of such teachings from well meaning Christians. How are you processing these? Did you spam, er … share, these with your friends and pastors too?

I must confess that it is very enticing and tempting to feed on the QAnon offerings. It is like receiving some higher level information which normal people are not privy too. It makes one feel smarter, in the inner circle, and more spiritual. But is this how it is supposed to be? Is this what discernment looks like? Or is it quite the opposite?

Led by the Lord to read through Psalms and to post a verse each day with my own thoughts and reflections (#apsalmaday), today’s gleanings from Psalm 2 provide perspective as to how we should respond.

Reading this verse, I can’t help but think of the many conspiracy theories circulating these days. A new world order. A global government. A ruling elite. Population control. DNA-altering vaccine. Big Brother system. Whatever or however, these all go against the Lord and His Anointed.

Here’s the good news. God is not surprised or perturbed at all. In fact, He will have the last laugh (2:4). His Son, His Anointed, His Messiah – Jesus – will come to judge and to rule His kingdom in righteousness. How cool.

Don’t miss the hint in the final verses – be wise, be instructed.

No need to fear hidden agendas. Look instead to God’s plan that has been clearly made known to us.

No need to spread conspiracy theories or add to the rumours. Proclaim instead the gospel of the kingdom. Invite and remind all to “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” 2:11

And remember: “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” 2:12 (not in conspiracy theories or whoever the next president is).

9 September 2020 #apsalmaday

This may or may not be satisfactory to you. But as for me, it brought me comfort and helped me focus.

To be sure, where conspiracy theories are concerned, there are way more questions than there are answers. Depending on which way you go, it will lead to confusion, distraction and fear on one end, or a radical almost maniacal vigilante Christian resistance movement on the other. I believe that either extreme is not what the Lord expects of matured believers.

Whilst we may not be entirely clear of how things will pan out, or what is actually true or false, I hope we can at least agree on the following:

Yes, the world is in a mess in need of salvation. No, we don’t need more conspiracy theories to confirm that. Yes, the Church needs to wake up and fulfil her assignment. No, the Church is not ending anytime soon, nor can her existence be determined by the outcome of an election. Yes, we must be aware of deception in the final days. No, we should not add to the deception by spreading more lies and rumours we cannot verify. Yes, the days ahead may get more challenging for followers of the Christ. No, we are not surprised because these have been foretold and we have been forewarned.

There are still many more assignments to be fulfilled. The Church must not be distracted. There are enough fakes around. Let’s not add to that by being flakes.

We are people of Truth. Know the Truth. Live out of that Truth. Proclaim the Truth. Not theories.

May My Work for Jesus Never Be in Vain

It doesn’t happen all the time. But this morning, it did.

I opened my Bible and the first verse my eyes fell on caught my attention, spoke to me:

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.

1 Thessalonians 2:1

Paul’s words echoed a deep desire in my heart – that my kingdom work will never, ever, be in vain. Like Paul, I want to be able to say this with confidence. I uttered a quick prayer under my breath. “Lord, may there always be fruit, even if I may not know it or see it.”

To encourage me, the Lord answered almost immediately – through an article in the Tung Ling Bible School Newsletter that just arrived in the mail.

It was an Open Letter to TLBS from a recent graduate who signed off simply as “Archippus W.” In case you are wondering … no, there was no student named Archippus in that cohort. Which makes this even more meaningful for me. From the module that I teach at TLBS, “Knowing & Fulfilling Kingdom Assignments”, the name and significance of the “almost anonymous” Archippus made a difference in this person’s journey.

I know that this may not mean anything to anyone. And that’s ok. This one’s specially for me. Courtesy of my King.

I know that all I need to do is my part and then leave the rest to God. But I wonder often if what I do or say is getting through at all. I know that I am not to be too results-oriented or performance-driven. I know, I know. Yet, who wants his or her work to be done in vain?

Paul was never ashamed of using these two words “in vain” and I guess we should not be apologetic either. After all, Scriptures clearly exhorts us towards fruitfulness. And Jesus says that we are to be known by our fruit.

There’s only one little problem. Sometimes, I may never know or see the fruit of my labour.

This is why I am so thankful for the Lord’s gracious encouragement this morning. Just one small article with a little sign-off of an obscure, little known name – Archippus. It is as if my King was whispering to me, “Keep doing what you are doing. It is not in vain.” Thank you, Jesus.

Dear Archippus – whoever you are – thank you for penning this open letter, sharing your journey to encourage so many others. That one phrase “to be like the almost anonymous Archippus in Colossians 4:17” and your identification with this biblical character have given me new strength to continue to proclaim the message of Archippus Awakening, knowing that it has not been and will not be in vain.

To God be the glory.

Awl for Jesus

Awl: a small pointed tool used for piercing holes

I reached Deuteronomy 15 in my bible reading this morning. Once more, Deuteronomy 15:12-18 spoke to me. How timely, as I reflect and rejoice about 20 years of Following Jesus. We may think that this passage about bondservants is no longer relevant for New Testament Christians. However, we must be note that it was Paul’s preferred term whenever he introduced himself.

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,…” Romans 1:1

“Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ,…” Titus 1:1

In celebration of the honour and privilege of following and serving Jesus, allow me to share an extract from Say To Archippus, from Chapter Six: The Kingdom Keeps Advancing, pp74-77.

Awl for Jesus

When writing to the churches, Paul would introduce himself as a doulos first, before using the term, apostolos (apostle). Although different English translations have rendered the Greek word doulos as servant, slave or bondservant, it is clear that Paul considered himself as belonging to Jesus.

As a servant or slave of Jesus, he is firstly one who serves the Master before he is one who is sent by Him (an apostle literally means one who is sent). Unlike the other English versions, the translators of the NKJV and the NASB opted to render doulos as bondservant instead of servant or slave.

Appreciating the difference between the terms makes for an interesting observation as well as application.

Servitude and slavery may have been common and accepted in Bible times, but given the fallenness of humanity, there would have been the possibility of unjust and inhumane treatment of those in such categories and situations.

To address that, God, through the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:1-6), made a provision for servants to be set free after serving six years, without having to pay anything. This was so that they could have a chance to start over.

“Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”

Exodus 21:1-6

Although freedom is due to him in the seventh year, the servant still has an option available for him to exercise. If he had been well taken care of and well treated by his master (or ex-master, more accurately), he could choose to forego his freedom and voluntarily serve this master.

Forego his freedom? Yes! His master had provided adequately for him and his family and even protected them from any eventuality. He has benefitted from the master’s fair dealings as well as his wise and prudent decisions and direction. He trusts and loves his master.

Freedom notwithstanding, there is absolutely no reason why he would want to risk facing the challenges and uncertainties of the world on his own. It is far better to stay and to continue to serve this good and loving master! His relationship with his master is worth far more than his own freedom!

By saying, “I love my master…I will not go out free,” he voluntarily and willingly offers himself back to the master. When the master pierces his ear with an awl, this freed servant becomes a bondservant who will serve the master, not just for another six years, but for life!

This is a beautiful picture of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! Like the servant, we too have been set free from slavery without having to pay anything. Instead, we have received every blessing in Christ and every promise is a ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ for us to start anew!

And yet, the freedom we have accounts for nothing if we don’t have Christ, the best Master there is. With freedom, we could serve ourselves and do whatever we wished but how could that even be compared with the protection, the provision and the purposes of the Master?

Truly, nothing compares to being in the centre of the Master’s will and plans. The best thing to do is to offer ourselves back to the Master, voluntarily and willingly, and to be His bondservant for life.

Being slaves of God and servants of Jesus is not to be taken as drudgery or a chore. It is true that we have been bought with a price and are no longer our own but a relationship with Jesus is never akin to forced labour or life imprisonment.

Not at all! Otherwise, it is no longer a relationship of love, for love cannot be forced upon a person nor can a person be coerced to love.

Jesus has every right to enforce His ownership over us but that is simply not in His nature or character. He loves us and thus saves and sets us free from the tyranny of sin. And so, we are His and in this, there is no choice. But we do get to choose how we respond to His love. We could just say ‘thank you very much’ and go about our own devices, or respond in love to stay and serve Him.

If you ask me, it’s really quite straightforward. If I could have made it on my own, He didn’t have to come and save me in the first place. The truth is, I am and have nothing in and of myself. The moment I walk away from Jesus, I walk right back to where and what I was saved from! For sure, sin is a terrible master and I am a lousy master of my own destiny.

There is only one Master who is worthy of love, praise and service: JESUS!

It is when we come to a revelation of this that we, like Paul and the apostles, readily choose to be bondservants, or love slaves, of Jesus.

Voluntarily. Willingly. For life.

For more information about Henson’s books, visit archippusawakening.org/books. Both Say To Archippus and Alignment Check are available at archippusawakening.org/shop.