One moment, we are wondering what new year resolutions to make (or which to renew). And the next, we are wondering where the year went!
It’s November! Christmas lights and decor have all gone up in the shopping malls. Before you know it. the year will be over.
How has your year been?
Well, busy is not bad … if you have been moving on kingdom assignment for the Lord. But … if it has been just one big busy blur, may I suggest a little pit stop to review, to recalibrate, to realign?
Here comes my shameless plug for AWE2017.2. And I make no apologies for being upfront and bold. Reason? You have only ten days more to decide and to register. Yes. Registration closes on 10 November (there are ferry tickets to purchase and hotel rooms to book).
Date: 1-3 December 2017
Venue: Swiss-Belhotel Harbourbay Batam
Fee*: S$360/pax (twin sharing); S$460/pax (single) *includes ferry ticket, hotel accommodation and all meals
AWE2017.2 is Archippus Awakening’s fourth Awakening Event (AWE), and the second in 2017. I have seen too many awakened, only to fall back asleep. I have heard too many ask, “How?” and “What next?”
With all the teachings, programmes, seminars and conferences in Singapore, you’d expect every Christian to know and be very purposeful to know and discover kingdom assignments. Sadly, this is not the case.
For this reason, we have made these 3D2N getaways very intentional and intensive. It is an assembly of Archippuses with a common desire not only to be awakened, but also aligned, and finally, assigned!
AWE2017.2 will show you what an alignment check is all about that you may review your own journey, and move forward into the new year with clearer perspectives and purpose. We firmly believe that when we focus on the aligning, God will do the assigning.
Don’t take too long to pray and decide. This is the final call for AWE2017.2. Registration will close on 10 November.
It’s October and ’tis the season for ghosts, zombies, witches, blood and gore. Yes, I’m referring to Halloween.
My position about Christians & Halloween has already been expressed. To me, it is very clear that “we as children of light should have nothing to do with anything that manifests the kingdom of darkness.” That said, I am also well aware that not all Christians hold the same view. And each year, we will get the same debate all over again (much like yoga, Christmas and Easter).
Take, for example, the article by Darren Wilson, “The Halloween Predicament“. Wilson is of the opinion that it is simply a matter of opinion. To those who think Halloween is harmless, it is fine to dress up as whatever and to freely celebrate Halloween. To support his position, Wilson quotes Romans 14:2-3 where Paul taught about the non-issue of food.
To be honest, it is quite a hermeneutical stretch to extend the non-issue of food laws to the participation of believers in a celebration that involves witches, demons and death.
“Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” 1 Cor 10:20-21
Also, whilst Paul said it is alright to eat food offered to idols in 1 Cor 8, he specifically told the believers in 1 Cor 10:20-21 not to partake of the table of demons thereby entering into fellowship with demons. In my humble opinion, I believe 1 Cor 10:20-21 relate more directly and clearly to the question of Halloween.
Then again, this is only my opinion as a teacher of the Word. And according to Wilson, “always remember that your convictions are your convictions.” In other words, whilst we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to share these with anyone else lest it “leads you down the road of judgment and condemnation of others.” It would seem that Wilson is more concerned about appearing judgmental to others than he is about stumbling others.
To make a very strong point, Ramirez opens the article with a statement from Anton Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan: “I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween.”
According to Ramirez, Halloween is “very different from every other night in the witchcraft world”. It is as important to the dark world as Good Friday or Resurrection Day is to Christians. Halloween is celebrated as “the devil’s holiday”, or holy day, or a day set apart for devil worship.
By participating in the activities of Halloween, Ramirez warns that “you have turned over your legal rights, and you have dedicated yourself and your kids to celebrating the devil’s holiday. You have just made a pact with the enemy, and you are already sacrificing your children spiritually by dressing them up and changing their identity.”
Interesting. These are but two rather differing views from two Christians, both appearing in a reputable Christian magazine. One says that it is perfectly fine to celebrate or not celebrate. The other says that Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween for it is the devil’s domain. So, which is right?
Is Halloween simply a matter of opinion for the Christian?
I chose to write this post on the Archippus Awakening website as the subject matter relates closely to all who identify as Archippuses, as soldiers of the Lord’s army. That said, this is also a good reminder for one and all as we consider our willingness to serve as the Lord assigns, whatever and wherever. Blessings!
Who would have imagined that the Elected Presidency would become such a hot topic in Singapore? To date, not everyone is convinced if it is necessary to have a reserved election that the next President would be one from the Malay community. Whilst that is still being debated, the discussion has moved to who is a Malay?
And with Mdm Halimah Yacob’s decision to run for the Presidency, a side story emerged – that of Mr Tan Chuan-Jin’s appointment to be the next Speaker of Parliament – surprising many and prompting speculations that the full minister (ex, as of 10 September 2017) has been demoted.
As the House convened today (11 September 2017), Mr Tan was elected as its 10th Speaker. Amidst all the views, comments and criticisms, it is the response of Mr Tan that has not only caught my attention, but also earned my respect.
June has been a whirlwind month – church camp season! Thanks to one and all for praying for me as I ministered across four camps. Trust you enjoyed your own church camp too. But now that church camp is over, do spend a moment considering the next steps before the routines and requirements of church douse the fires of awakening. Blessings!
Let me begin by giving praise and thanks to the Lord.
This year, He opened the doors to four church camps. That means four opportunities to declare the word of the kingdom, to speak into lives. And for some, more specifically, the message of Archippus Awakening. Yay!
Yet, as exciting as it sounds, this church camp season has also been tremendously demanding and tiring. It was literally one camp per week with a couple of days of rest and recovery in between. If not for His grace and strength, I would never have made it through this entire month. (For the record, I am still recovering and have not exactly caught up on my sleep yet.)
Even so, with whatever energy and strength I have, I will shout and praise His Name! I never take any of these for granted, and I will always count it an honour and privilege…
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.
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.
Each year, Oxford Dictionaries will pick a word to describe the trend or sentiments of that year. And it has just been announced that the Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth, an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
The prefix post- used to refer to a time after a specified situation or era. However, in recent years, it has been modified to mean ‘unimportant’ or ‘irrelevant’. In other words, post-truth literally means that truth is no longer important; or worse yet, no longer relevant.
Although mostly associated with Brexit and the recently concluded American elections, one cannot help but wonder if this sentiment is applicable beyond the arena of politics? In community? In relationships?
What about the Church?
Noticeably, in the past decade, there has been a steady departure from the Word of God. This is not to say that preachers do not refer to the Bible for their messages. They still do. However, the focus and emphasis on sound doctrine is considerably much less. Theology is regarded as boring and too complicated, so let’s not waste too much time on such academic stuff. And so, messages today tend to major on addressing issues of self-esteem, positive thinking and personal pursuits of health, wealth and happiness. Simply, as long as it makes you feel good, then that’s fine. After all, God is a good God and He loves you very much. And since the truth hurts (and it does), let’s not dwell too much on that.
This type of thinking is so pervasive in the Church today that many are willing to disregard truth and discard doctrine. Feelings and emotions, although subjective, are considered more important and better indicators of a relationship with God, than that which is objective and true. Have we not heard this before: “I know it contradicts the Bible, but I have been so blessed by that person’s teaching and ministry.” Even if some of these fringe on being heretical, believers are willing to accept it on the basis of it-feels-right-so-it-must-be-right reasoning. Besides, if it’s wrong, the Holy Spirit will prompt me accordingly. True?
Anyone who has not experienced the same experience is deemed to be less spiritual, or spiritually dead. To not go with their flow is seen as not being led by the Spirit. What is worse is that any attempt to question is seen as legalistic, judgmental and Pharisaical! And soon, we’d have to add Bereanic to the list too because the searching of Scriptures is no longer relevant (Acts 17:11).
This does not mean that the Bible is no longer needed. Not at all. For sure, Bible apps are cool and will continue to be used. It’s easy to find verses and really good for creating image posts on Facebook and Instagram. Bible studies will continue to be well attended too. After all, that’s what Christians do – gather in groups, read a passage, and then give personal opinions of what it means to them. But to consider it absolute Truth, to live out the Word and be totally submitted to its authority? Does God require that at all? Surely not, since we are no longer under the law, right?
You may think I’m being a bit extreme here, over-reacting perhaps. I assure you, I am not. Truth be told, the Church is struggling to understand what it means to remain relevant in a society that is post-modern, post-Christian, and now, post-truth. To the post-modernist, truth was relativised and each decided what was true or not. In a post-Christian climate, Christian fundamentals were challenged and done away with. Alternative worldviews slowly but surely replaced the Christian worldview, both in the society and in the Church. In a post-truth world, anything goes. It no longer matters what is true or not, because truth is neither important nor relevant. Whatever works and produces the results, that’s cool. Yes, the end justifies the means.
As in the case of the recent elections, Christians were divided as Christianity became more politicised. It mattered not if the candidates told the truth or lied. Moral conduct was of no consequence. Truthiness, “the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true”, instead, was the order of the day. Why? Because truth is totally irrelevant in a post-truth era … as long as we get what we want and are allowed to continue to have church as usual.
But is it really church as usual? We have already seen denominations split over doctrinal disagreements. Some have embraced LGBT in the clergy and in key ministry positions. Others have endorsed same-sex marriages. In the name of grace and love, sins are glossed over. One day, a prominent minister confesses sexual misconduct, the very next day he is re-instated and no one bats an eyelid. Oh, I am sorry. Who am I to judge? And on what basis? Truth? What’s that?
But seriously. Church as usual? Let us not be so naive.
I suppose the Apostle Paul saw this day coming when he wrote to Timothy: “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim 3:14-15 NKJV (emphasis mine)
Yes. The Church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. Whatever the world says, whichever era we may be found to be in, we are people of the truth. However, more and more, we can expect that truth will be resisted and even rejected (2 Tim 3:8-9). There will even be those who regard themselves as Christians, who talk and sound Christian, but never come to a knowledge of what truth really is (2 Tim 3:7)!
As the pillar and the foundation of the truth, the Church is not there to just talk about truth, teach about truth, or have lofty philosophical discourses about what truth is or is not. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy was that the truth would be clearly demonstrated and seen through their conduct. Along the way, false apostles, prophets and teachers will appear. But the Church is never to compromise, holding steadily to the Word of Truth (2 Tim 3:16-17), paying careful attention to doctrine (1 Tim 4:16), led by the Spirit of truth, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13).
I am fully aware that come 2017, there will be another Word of the Year. But this does not mean that truth will necessarily be returned to its rightful place of importance or relevance. Our Lord Jesus Christ has already warned about the increase of deception in the last days, that many will be deceived. The post-truth era merely opened the door of deception even wider.
May all who profess to know Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life – continue to hold fast to Him and His Truth. And may we, His Church, also be found to “be diligent to present [ourselves] approved to God, [workers] who [do] not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15