What I Don’t Get About Christians & Halloween

I don’t get it.

There are so many things Christians can and should celebrate but we spend so much time and energy over why we can or cannot celebrate Halloween.
Why this obsession with wanting to celebrate a festival that is questionable and controversial?

I don’t get it.

It is not as if 31 October is an open slot in the Christian calendar, where there was nothing eventful in church history, so we might as well occupy ourselves with the next best thing – Halloween! In case we have forgotten, 31 October is significant to Christians because this was when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg. This sparked off an entire movement which we have come to acknowledge as the Reformation. Since 1517, we have had great reason to celebrate on 31 October because of the recovery of the true gospel: justification by faith alone. And yet, between Reformation Day and Halloween, so much more attention is given to Halloween?!

I don’t get it.

Every year, without fail, there will be so many articles for and against Halloween. It doesn’t matter if ex-satanists or ex-witches state openly and clearly that Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween. There will always be a counter-argument that there is nothing wrong, that Christians have the victory, that there is nothing to fear. (It’s the same with yoga.)

Then, this year, there are suggestions by well-meaning ministers that we can join in the Halloween festivities by dressing up as noble characters like Paul the Apostle, Martin Luther, Mother Teresa or other key Christian figures. After all, even superheroes like Iron Man and Wonder Women have appeared in the Halloween line up. And of course, Elsa, of Frozen fame! Surely, we can let it go and Christians can join in the fun by dressing up as their favourite biblical hero too. (See how we are trying so hard to fit in again?)

In the first place, why do we even need to celebrate Halloween? To celebrate means to participate, to partner, to share, to fellowship, to koinonia. Secondly, to dress as these biblical characters is to put them on the same level as demonic characters. Thirdly. if you really need to dress up, go organise your own fancy dress party. Why wait one year, on 31 October, to argue about whether dressing up is ok or not for the Christian? Can’t we see that the issue is not what you dress as but that we are choosing to hang out and celebrate with questionable characters – the very ones that Jesus died to save us from?

I don’t get it.

I hear you say: “But we are saved! Jesus has overcome powers and principalities! We need not fear demons and zombies at all!” Amen. I wholeheartedly agree with these declarations.

However, the issue is not about victory in Christ (which we have), or the fear of being possessed by the spirit of Spiderman, or dirtying my favourite white shirt with cosmetic blood, or getting rashes from cheap makeup. The issue is holiness.

Personally, I don’t celebrate Halloween not because I am afraid of ghosts or gore, or that I will be jumped on by evil spirits. That would be totally missing the point. I don’t want to have anything to do with Halloween because I am called to be holy, to be set apart to the Lord and from the world. To this end, there are just some things I don’t do and some events I will not participate in. Period.

It baffles me that Christians accept that they are to be different and yet crave so much to be the same as everyone else! Once again, why this great need to do whatever the world is doing? Why so desperate? (On the point of fear, I suspect it is more FOMO – the fear of missing out – that Christians, adults and children, struggle with.)

In constituting a people for Himself, God told the children of Israel not to wear clothes of mixed material (Lev 19:19; Deut 22:11). Today, we tend to spiritualise this instruction; but fundamentally, it was about being set apart (to be holy) from the rest of the nations. Simply, don’t be like them. Don’t dress like them. Sadly, these days, we see Christians justifying why it is totally fine to dress and look like everyone else; even demons.

Before you throw me the we-are-not-under-old-testament-law card, allow me to appeal to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 (that’s in the New Testament #justsaying). Addressing the Corinthians who were at the same time spiritual and carnal, Paul had to warn them that the two just don’t go together.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them,
I will be their God,

And they shall be My people.”
Therefore
“Come out from among them,
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,

And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:16-18

Paul’s source? The Old Testament scriptures: Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, Ezekiel 37:27, Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, 41, 2 Samuel 7:14. And don’t miss the punchline in the next verse:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness …

2 Corinthians 7:1 (emphasis mine)

I hope you got what Paul was saying: Because we have a glorious promise of being God’s people, His sons and daughters, our response is to be holiness.

Ironically, “hallow” means “saint: one who is holy or set apart” (noun) or “to honour as holy” (verb). Halloween is simply All Hallows’ Eve, the day before All Hallows’ (Saints’) Day on 1 November. Today, there is nothing hallowed about Halloween. And God’s people, His sons and daughters, His holy ones (saints) keep trying to justify why it is ok to be participate in something that is anything but holy. Even worse, we are desperately trying to make it holy by Christianising it. And to prove that they have no need to fear spiritual darkness, the scarier, the spookier, the more ghastly, the more frightful the costume or character the better.

I don’t get it.

I mentioned above that the issue for me is not one of fear. Well, it isn’t; and yet it is. It is not because of the fear of the dark forces that I choose not to participate in Halloween. As we all believe and agree, we are victorious in Jesus Christ. However, it is because of fear – the fear of God – that I determine to be holy. After all, Paul exhorts believers to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1, emphasis mine). Unfortunately, like holiness, the fear of the Lord is not exactly trendy or popular these days amongst Christians.

If you ask me, the Word of God is very clear: It’s about holiness and the fear of the Lord. I get it! But why aren’t others getting it? Perhaps we have been so well tricked with a deceptive treat of Christian freedom that we just can’t see it or simply refuse to get it?

I don’t get it.

I am fully aware that a little post like this may have little or no impact. This is just me thinking aloud, as with my previous two articles “Christians & Halloween” (2012) and “Halloween. How?” (2017). What is it with Christians and the obsession with Halloween? Why the desperate need to fit in? Why so many FOMO Christians?

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. 😦

More Than Just Pray For Your Pastor, There Is One Thing That Will Really Help.

Recently, there has been an increased focus on mental health and emotional wellness. Not just in society, but also in the Church. Suicide rates are up as more and more are feeling down. Depression is the latest buzzword. Not just in society, but also in the Church. And it hits hardest when we discover that yet another pastor has taken his own life, the latest being that of Pastor Jarrid Wilson.

When that happens, it raises more questions than there are answers. How? Why? Is it even possible? Was he saved? Is he still saved? If you’re looking for a point of view, theological or otherwise, there are enough articles and contributions for you to consider.

Interestingly, most of the commentaries seem to focus on the person and his own self-care, or lack of. As a minister, I am fully aware of how easy it is to neglect this critical aspect whilst determining to give all to the Lord and His people. But there is more to it than just scheduling that personal retreat or chilling over a cappuccino every once in a while.

According to this Church Leaders article, Why Are Pastors Depressed?, a Canadian study by Rev Andrew Irvine of Knox College, University of Toronto, highlighted five key contributors to stress and mental illness in clergy:

  • Lack of Rest or Day Off
  • Lack of Support From Fellow Clergy and a Sense of Competition
  • Lack of Personal Community
  • Marital Strain
  • Signing Up for Ministry but Feeling More Like a CEO Than a Pastor

Please read the full article for a better appreciation of the points. Having served the Lord in a full-time capacity since 2004, I can relate to each and every one of these points. Allow me to add some of my comments so that no one misreads, misunderstands or misinterprets anything.

Lack of Rest or Day Off: It is not that I don’t want to rest, but that it is difficult to do so. Yes, I know the theology of rest and I have preached it more than a few times (to myself too). More easily said than done. I am thankful that presently, I have the flexibility to push hard or pull back. Many pastors do not have that luxury. The demands of ministry and our acute sense of responsibility are a potentially dangerous combination.

Lack of Support From Fellow Clergy and a Sense of Competition: This is really ironic, right? We preach family and teamwork from the pulpit. But when the rubber hits the road, it is often ‘every man for himself’. Sadly, this is still the case in many places. Although we would like collaboration, it is competition we experience. Real or perceived? Perhaps we still need to deal with our own insecurities. Sigh.

Lack of Personal Community: Ministry is all about people. And yet, ministry can be extremely lonely for pastors and leaders. It is not that we don’t want to get close to the people but as odd as it sounds, the people don’t always want the leader to get too close. We are good for vision, direction and instruction. But when it comes to interaction, building authentic relationships, there seems to be this barrier. And since all ministers are busy and stretched, it is difficult to form relationships there too.

Marital Strain: I thank God for Serene and all she has had to put up with. More than a few times, I have neglected her and her needs for the sake of the ministry. It has not been easy for her (seven children & homeschooling) but she has stood by me in every season. Few understand the dynamics and challenges of our family and ministry. Our pet phrases are: “If it’s not you, then it’s me. If it’s not me, then it’s you.” and “If don’t laugh, can go crazy.” Thank God that we are still able to laugh.

Signing Up for Ministry but Feeling More Like a CEO Than a Pastor: Oh man! I sure can relate to this! Back in 2012, it became so frustrating and unbearable: I left my job for the ministry, only to find myself back in a job! I am so thankful that I discovered my kingdom assignment in Archippus Awakening. Now, if only I can just go awaken the saints without having to worry about strategy, administration and management! Hmmmm …

Yes, I have good days and also bad days. There are times when I feel so low that it is scary (no joke). Thankfully, these moments are brief and few; and they go away after a good run around the park. (Of course, read bible, pray, worship, etc.) This does not mean they do not return every now and then. I am well aware that physical and mental exhaustion can trigger such negative feelings and emotions. At the same time, I am also mindful that the enemy is all too ready and willing to help me feel worse about myself, the ministry and others around me.

Thanks for reading and sharing in my struggles and that of many others who serve as pastors, ministers and leaders. We appreciate your words of appreciation, encouragement, support and prayers.

However, more than just a call and reminder to “Pray for Your Pastor” or observe “Pastors Appreciation Month” (coming up in October – in USA, not Singapore), there is one thing that would really, really, really help: that you know and fulfil your God-given kingdom assignments. (Did you see that coming?)

I believe every minister desires to serve God and His people well. That is why we do what we do, often at the expense of our own well-being and health. On our part, we must strive to achieve the right balance and seek help when needed; hopefully not when it is too late. That said, the people of God have a part to play too. If the majority largely remains consumeristic, then the load and stress will remain on the same small percentage of workers. If that is the case, just telling your pastor or leader, “I will pray for you, for God to enable you to do great and mighty things for Him!” sounds nice but is not going to help very much.

Please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate every prayer uttered for me and on my behalf. However, as sweet as these may sound, it is music to our ears when we hear faithful ones step up and say, “Pastor, I know what my kingdom assignment is. I am going to co-labour with you. It is not easy but together, we will share the load, so help us God.”

The above five points are indeed great reminders for me as I navigate the challenges and demands of ministry. Most definitely, by His grace, I will be careful to constantly check my own alignment where these are concerned. As I do my part, I pray that you will do yours too. More than just pray for your pastor, seek to know and fulfil your God-given kingdom assignments.

Trust me. That would really help.

Show Horses or War Horses?

The headline says it loud and clear: Matt Chandler warns Church is no longer about discipleship but ‘being entertained’

As reported by Christian Post, Pastor Matt Chandler’s 12 May sermon challenged The Village Church’s congregation “to participate in the Body of Christ for the purposes of discipleship and community — not entertainment.”

You and I are so overstimulated, you and I are so overwhelmed with fast-paced, energized entertainment that we have developed a real idealized sense of life with a real low pain tolerance. The Church herself no longer is about discipleship, no longer is about being shaped, no longer is it about being formed. It’s about being entertained in the gathering.

Far too many people, Chandler warned, are interested in the more external elements of ministry — such as impressive light shows and worship bands — instead of actually growing the Kingdom of God.

Matt Chandler warns Church is no longer about discipleship but ‘being entertained’

Revelation? Not exactly. If you have been a Christian for a while, this should not surprise you at all. No, this is definitely not a new observation. We should just be thankful that someone is willing to stick his neck out to say it like it is.

That said, Chandler is not the first pastor to mention this and he most certainly will not be the last. As rightly noted by Leah MarieAnn Klett, the Christian Post reporter, “Pastors and church leaders have long warned of the dangers of the entertainment and amusement-driven church.” Consider these familiar statements from A.W. Tozer:

The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment.

Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.

I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the church, the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the ‘program.’ This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the public service which now passes for worship among us.

A.W. Tozer

Indeed, the Lord, by His grace, will always send His messengers to warn His people so that these might then be awakened, aligned and assigned for Him. I am very certain that more than a few pastors, leaders, preacher and teachers have been issuing this same warning over and over again. However, since these are not big names the likes of Chandler, they will never be quoted or featured. (This is another consequence of the entertainment-celebrity-influenced-church but that is for another post, another day.)

After receiving the assignment of Archippus Awakening to awaken the saints to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments, I was drawn to learn more about the name, Archippus. Since many names in the Bible have prophetic significance, I wondered if there might be a message contained in this rather obscure name. As I discovered that Archippus is about horses (greek: hippos), the Lord revealed the condition of His Church. When I wrote my first book*, Say To Archippus, I devoted an entire chapter to this, aptly titled, “Enough Horsing Around”. I hope you will read the whole book. But for now, allow me to share a relevant section here:

Show Horses or War Horses

There is a very famous horse show that is staged by the Spanish Riding School of Vienna featuring a breed of horses known as Lipizzaners. These horses are so well trained that they can perform each move and execute each jump with precision, finesse and poise. The most challenging, and the most impressive, are the airs above the ground exercises where the horses can strike poses with both or all legs in the air. It is no wonder then that thousands would flock to watch these talented horses.

So precious are these Lipizzaners that through more than a few wars, instructions were specifically given to ensure their safety and survival. On this point, it is interesting to note that although the principles taught are based on the same ones taught to calvary riders to prepare horses for warfare, these show horses were never deployed in war. It seems that they were worth more in a show than on the battlefield.

Could this be symbolic of the Church today?

We certainly know how to put on a good show week after week: the lights are just right, the band is technically competent, the worship leader looks cool, the speaker delivers an inspiring message, the congregation is stirred, and the service ends right on time! In terms of training, we have more material today than we can ever hope to cover in our lifetime. We are spoilt for choice as we feed on the best there is from the most experienced in virtually every field of ministry. From hearing God to knowing our identity in Christ; from inner healing to deliverance from demons; from spiritual disciplines to spiritual warfare; from the apostolic to the prophetic.

But the question must be asked, “Are we like the show horses of Vienna, so nice to watch and so entertaining? Or are we ready for battle?”

Chapter Four: Enough Horsing Around, Say To Archippus, pp45-46.

Since then, whenever I declare the message of Archippus Awakening, I will share this ‘parable’ of show horses. What is encouraging is that leaders have begun to realise that we have bought into the world’s narrative of entertainment and amusement. Most, if not all, confess a certain tiredness from having to “put up a show” week or week, month after month, year after year.

Although everyone means well, this is taking a toll and robbing us of the time and energy needed for deep and authentic discipling relationships. As I have said many times over: It is one thing to preach and teach about discipleship; it is totally another to really and truly disciple. More easily said than done. Why? Because discipleship requires time; and we just don’t have time. Discipleship also requires commitment, but most just prefer entertainment.

I am thankful that Pastor Matt Chandler has used his platform to warn the Church. I pray that more pastors, teachers and leaders will be willing to lovingly and graciously do the same. Even more, may it not remain just another good message from the pulpit with shares and likes on social media. I pray that church leadership will go one step further to honestly (and brutally) examine how they may have, consciously or unconsciously, propagated an entertainment church culture; and then take steps to realign with Jesus and the ways of His kingdom.

Finally, let us acknowledge that it is all too easy to point a finger at pastors and leaders. Please fight the urge and not yield to that temptation. Instead, we should reflect and honestly check ourselves if we have become consumer Christians expecting to be entertained by our leaders and ministry teams. If so, then we will be the ones who will complain the most and present the greatest resistance when kingdom changes are proposed and implemented. God forbid.

My prayer is that as these warnings are issued and heeded, Archippuses will be awakened to the real condition of their hearts and the condition of the Church, be willing to align with Jesus and all that He stands for and be ready to be assigned for the purposes of His kingdom.

“The horse is made ready for battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31 NIV

*To order SAY TO ARCHIPPUS and ALIGNMENT CHECK, email archippusawakening@gmail.com. Also available at CRU Media and Faithworks.

Lighten Up. The Orchard Road Light-up Is Just That. A Light-up.

Artist’s impression of the centrepiece of this year’s light-up. (Image: Orchard Road Business Association)

I suppose the latest hoo-ha would be how Disneyland has hijacked Christmas in Singapore.

If you have been following the news, Disney characters will adorn this year’s Orchard Road light-up. Instead of the traditional Christmas symbols, the main icons will be Mickey Mouse and his gang.

But what are traditional Christmas symbols? Well, it all depends who you talk to, isn’t it?

As reported in Orchard Road Light-up: Is it Christmas or Disneyland?, a certain Ms D’Silva “feels it would be more appropriate if the decorations used motifs associated with Yuletide cheer, such as Santa Claus, reindeer, colours like red, green, gold, or beautifully wrapped presents.” In other words, to many, Christmas is identified by Santa Claus and the accompanying paraphernalia.

Commenting from a marketing perspective, NUS Business School Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon feels that the Disney theme is perfectly fine – not an “overkill” – but “could be made tighter by associating each Disney character with a Christmas icon, say for example, a Disney princess with Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer or Mickey Mouse carrying Christmas gifts.” Once again, we see how closely Christmas is tied to Santa (Rudolph is Santa’s lead reindeer and Christmas gifts are all courtesy of Santa and his company of elves).

As Christmas has largely become a secular affair celebrated by everyone of all faith orientations, religious or otherwise, the above responses are not surprising at all.

That said, it was appropriate that the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) should have issued a statement to express its disappointment, “saying that its exclusive focus on Disney characters buries the original meaning of the festival.” To this end, it “has no meaningful connection to Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.”

In response, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) explained that “the Orchard Road Christmas light-up was just ‘one of several components’ of the Christmas on a Great Street event, which also features pop-up booths along Orchard Road, including one run by Celebrate Christmas in Singapore, an associate member of NCCS.”

[Hmmm … reading between the lines, might the underlying message be, “Hey, you knew about this all along – that your Christian pop-up booth would be a part of the larger Disney-themed light-up. Why are you making a fuss now?” Taking it a little further … I can’t remember past light-ups in recent years but I believe there were no biblical symbols either. Why was that not an issue to be raised then?]

Whilst I appreciate that a statement has been made by the body that officially represents the Christian community in Singapore, my personal opinion is that Orchard Road is not the actual battleground for Christmas. If we want STB (and others) to regard and respect Christmas as Christian, I believe we must start by looking at how we Christians celebrate Christmas in our churches, events, families and homes.

Think about this: if we ourselves are sending mixed signals to the world, how can we expect others to protect the sanctity of the season for us?

Although we proclaim that Jesus is the reason for the season, we must also admit that many are all too ready to include Santa and other Christmas symbols in our celebrations. Like the responses above, these have become Christmas defaults. Like the stores and malls, the moment we get into the Christmas season (or Advent, in church-speak), churches somehow feel the need to create the Christmas spirit. Before we know it, Santa hats, snowflakes and candy canes begin to appear alongside nativity scenes. Hang on! If it’s about the birth of Jesus, why do we need Santa-ccesories? So, is it Jesus or Santa? Can we please make up our minds?

And we wonder why, of the more than 260 entries in the children’s art competition “What Christmas Means To Me” (recently organised by The Treasure Box), “only about 15% featured the birth of Jesus or something otherwise related to the story of Christmas (e.g. Wise Men, Angels, Shepherds etc). The rest were a cornucopia of everything and anything but – plenty of Santas, reindeer, Christmas trees, candy canes, presents, families eating Christmas food and so on.” It must be noted that many of these submissions were by children “from churches and faith-based kindergartens”  (Why we should care about the commercialisation of Christmas by Elvin Foong). Then again, should we even be surprised by the children’s authentic expressions when Christian adults have no problem having these symbols in their supposedly Christian Christmas celebrations?

My point is simply this: how can we expect others to take us seriously if we are all mixed up ourselves? As far as STB and the world are concerned, the Church seems to be okay with everything. If Jesus and Santa can co-exist, then why not Mickey Mouse, Woody or Elsa? Perhaps, next year, Christians would be appeased if Mickey donned a Santa hat. Or have Kristoff of Frozen as the main character since his name sounds closest to Kris-mas and his best friend is a reindeer. (Who knows? Sven and Rudolf may even be related!) Or better still, feature Toy Story characters gathered around the manger.

Personally, whilst I am not thrilled with the commercialisation of Christmas, I am not too concerned what they put up along Orchard Road, whether Disney characters or Marvel superheroes. And even if the entire retail stretch should be decked out with baby Jesus, choirs of angels, shepherds and wise men on camels, does it necessarily mean we would have scored a victory? I think not.

If Christians sincerely desire to recover Christmas, we don’t start with the lights and decorations along Orchard Road. We must begin with ourselves.

– Stop hoping and depending on the world to help us declare our King. The values of the world will always run counter to the things of the kingdom (have we not learnt that already?). Why are we so happy just to have a pop-up booth as only one of the many features of the Great Christmas Village when Jesus should be the main and only attraction? (Well, better to be represented than not at all, I guess.) Why do we need Orchard Road when we have more than 700 churches around the island to accurately proclaim the true meaning of Christmas?

– If it is truly about Jesus, then stop embracing Santa iconology and other commercial Christmas paraphernalia. You can still go carolling or have your cell group Christmas parties without Santa hats and reindeer hairbands. Really! Stop sending mixed signals, compromising and confusing ourselves and others. Maybe, just maybe, that’s why our children are drawing Santas and reindeer when asked what Christmas means to them. They are just following our example.

– Dispense with this Christmas spirit thingy; there is no need to compete with the retail malls (or other churches)! For all we know, the so-called Christmas ‘spirit’ is none other than the spirit of mammon in disguise. For sure, the only spirit we need is the Holy Spirit and we are to be led by Him not just in December but every day of our lives.

– Be a generous and cheerful giver throughout the year, not just at Christmas. Fox News just reported that “this holiday season, $16B will be wasted on unwanted gifts“. I wonder if this includes the Christmas gift exchanges so many are forced (er, encouraged) to participate in, just for fun, in the spirit of giving? (There’s that ‘spirit’ again.) Not exactly good stewardship, is it?

– The birth of Jesus is most accurately declared and demonstrated when He is truly birthed in our hearts and through our lives. No point being Christmassy for a season only to be considered as hypocrites for the rest of the year. To this end, it is His death and resurrection that we must fully embrace on a daily basis; not just celebrate His birth once a year. (Did Jesus Ever Celebrate His Birthday?)

I assure you that I am no party-pooper, and I know how to have a great time celebrating Jesus. In fact, I do that all year around.

Lighten up. Go enjoy the Orchard Road light-up without reading too much into it. All said, that’s all it is – a light-up to draw tourists and rake in more retail dollars. In a few weeks, the lights will be all gone; but not your love, worship and testimony of the True Light, Jesus. The way your face lights up each time you mention and share Jesus will mean lots more than what Mickey and his friends can ever hope to achieve.

Here’s wishing one and all a very merry and blessed Christmas!

The Crossing Over to the Other Side Always Begins with a First Step

I snapped this shot whilst on a short family break five years ago. As I looked over the horizon, the way forward extended into nothingness.

Having been instructed by the Lord to drop everything without even knowing the next assignment, this picture sure described my situation so accurately. And yet, I knew I had been told to cross over; and that cross over must begin with a very first step of obedience by faith.

It would be 10 days later, on 27 Oct 2013, that the Lord would reveal the next assignment to me – Archippus Awakening. Five years and many steps later, what a journey it has been! Even so, I still don’t know what lies ahead. All I know is that my King and Master, JESUS, is more than faithful and He will lead me forward as I determine to fulfil all He has assigned to me entirely by His grace.

Today, I face a new horizon and another crossing over. After five years, is it not odd that the next step still feels like a first step all over again? The principle remains: every step must be taken with obedience and faith. Truly, it is not where we have been, but where we will continue to go with the One who deserves all worship, praise, glory and honour.

And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry
which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfil it.” Col 4:17

Do You Remember the 23rd Night of September?

I know the first line of Earth Wind & Fire’s hit song very well – “Do you remember the twenty-first night of September?” – except, for me, it’s not the 21st but the night of the 23rd that I remember.

While waiting for the train that night, I snapped a picture of the arrow just for fun. As recorded in my first book, Say To Archippus:

The next day, as I reviewed the post, the Lord prompted me to look more closely. Although the arrow was the object of the photo, it was the red line about the arrow that came into focus. I remember remarking, “Something’s blocking the arrow from moving forward.” And as soon as I said that I realised, “Hey! I’m that arrow and something is blocking me from moving forward!”

Soon enough, the Lord removed that line, inviting and allowing me to move forward with the assignment of Archippus Awakening.

This brief post is to mark the significant date of 23 September 2013: that night, the Lord used a simple visual device on the floor of an MRT platform to direct me into my kingdom assignment.

It’s been five years. Archippus Awakening just celebrated her 4th Anniversary on 3 August 2018. The Lord has opened many doors for the message of awakening to be declared – in Singapore and abroad. Soon, over the weekend of 3-8 October 2018, Team Archippus will bring this message to Guam, USA.

Just a few days ago, I shared this little arrow episode at the commissioning of Archippus Awakening’s second publication, Alignment Check. When Sujuan (designer) proposed an arrow for the cover design, it reminded me of the MRT arrow. Unknown to her, I had also been using the same visual to demonstrate the advancement of the kingdom of God. In the same way, before anyone can move forward, every believer must also find his or own alignment with the Lord and the purposes of His kingdom.

I firmly believe that the kingdom of God continues to advance and He graciously invites His people to participate in all He is doing. Dear Archippus, you are included too. Get on board. Do not allow anything to block you from what God has already prepared for you (remove the red line).

Focus on the aligning. Let God do the assigning. Move forward for Jesus and His kingdom.

To order SAY TO ARCHIPPUS and ALIGNMENT CHECK,
email archippusawakening@gmail.com.

It’s ok. Really. The Lord is at hand.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed and anxious? Have you ever felt upset and frustrated? Have you ever felt alone and lost?

Yes, yes, and yes! Guilty, as charged.

Oops! I hope I didn’t stumble anyone. After all, how can someone serving the Lord, living by faith, moving purposefully on kingdom assignment have such experiences?! Well, you just met that someone!

I’ve always maintained that the work of the ministry is no walk in the park. As much as I’d like to inspire and encourage others with nice, pick-me-up statements and Instagrammable posts, I also believe in being real and authentic. And that means admitting and acknowledging that it’s not about mountian-highs all the time. There are moments – and quite a few I might add – that valley-lows are encountered and experienced.

In the past weeks, I struggled with such a moment.

On the surface, everything seemed normal. In fact, things must have looked quite good (have you seen my Facebook feed?). My schedule has been packed and I was kept duly engaged in my kingdom assignment of Archippus Awakening. Looking ahead, the trajectory seemed to be pointing up and up. My schedule is packed and there are more than a few items on the to-do list to take care of.

In Christian-speak, we would say that the Lord is enlarging the place of my tent! And yet … that was why and when the pressure mounted and concerns began to overwhelm. Yes, I found myself in one of those moments. Anxiety, frustration, helplessness, aloneness … you name it … I experienced it all! And the enemy was more than happy to help me feed on my self-pity, that I may sink even further.

Day and night, I wrestled with many questions and issues. At times, I even took it out on those around me. (I am not proud about this, but I did say that I would be real and authentic.) Everything felt wrong. But faith is not based on feelings, I preached to myself. Ya right, more easily preached than lived out. And so, the tussle went on.

Last night, the Lord graciously intervened, reminding me of Philippians 4:4-7.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

There are many familiar words and phrases in this passage, but this was the line that hit me: “The Lord is at hand.”

Oh how I needed to be reminded of that!

My heart wanted dearly to please the Lord. However, amidst the many details to handle, I must admit that He did seem a little distant. In my bid to be responsible and faithful, I didn’t realise that my focus had shifted, ever so subtly. As the saying goes, “If you feel that God is far away, guess who moved?” Ouch. In Archippian parlance, I allowed myself to be knocked off alignment!

How that one little line ministered to me: “The Lord is at hand.”

Situationally, nothing has changed. There are still many things to take care of and to handle. But being assured of the Lord’s presence made all the difference!

I don’t try to rejoice. I can rejoice because the Lord is near! I don’t try to think positive so that I don’t fret. I don’t have to be anxious because the Lord is at hand! And that also means that I can boldly bring my concerns to Him and make my requests. Because the Lord is not too far away that He cannot hear me. He is near and very present! I don’t try to have peace. I have the peace of God because the God of peace is at hand, near me, with me!

Are you overwhelmed and anxious? Are you upset and frustrated? Are you feeling alone and lost? Perhaps, like me, you have lost perspective of who God is and where He is.

Take heart, my friend. It’s ok. Really. Remember … the Lord is at hand.