33 Years Later, National Service All Over Again.

33 years ago, I enlisted for National Service, a requirement for all Singapore boys. 33 years later, I was bound for Pulau Tekong once more. This time, to accompany my eldest son, David, for his enlistment.

No commando jetty. No RPL. No bumboats. Instead, it was a shuttle from Pasir Ris Bus Interchange to the SAF Changi Ferry Terminal where we boarded a ferry together with other enlistees and their loved ones.

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Everything looked and felt different but it didn’t stop the memories from flooding back.

What to me was Infantry Training Depot (ITD) is today Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC). Next to a little old wooden jetty is today a well laid out ferry terminal. Hearing so much of how BMT is much easier these days, it did feel as if we arrived at Club Med Tekong – haha!

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Upon arrival, the boys went off for their briefing and the rest of us were taken for our “PR” orientation and tour. We were shown a typical company line, section bunks, and assured that our sons would be very well taken care of.

At times, my mind would wander off to how it was for me as a recruit in Tekong; and later, as a platoon commander when I was posted back to ITD. Looking at the officers and section commanders, I couldn’t help thinking, “They look so young!” That must have been how I looked then too! And we moved and talked as if we knew so much about combat and warfare.

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Remembering my army days did cause me to wonder how my son would fare in this new environment. As a homeschooler, this would be David’s very first exposure to different people of different backgrounds, culture, faiths, values and language. Other than youth or children’s camps, he has never been away from home for such a long stretch of time. I began to miss him already.

Later, we assembled in the auditorium for the Commanding Officer’s address – more assurance that our sons would be well looked after. I think the most important slide for all was the one that showed the Book Out Date after confinement, and the Graduation Ceremony.

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What followed was the sampling of a cookhouse meal. Gone are the days of metal trays, half-cooked rice, rubber-band bee hoon and a measly piece of meat or fish. Our plates were stacked with a generous helping of rice, a huge piece of chicken leg/thigh, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, soup with mango jelly for dessert.

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All too soon, the announcement came for the boys to “fall-in” at the parade square. We said our goodbyes as David joined his new-found company mates. Soon after, they marched, er, walked off, to be transported to their company line.

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I know that it is usually the mothers who cry when they see their baby boys enlist for National Service. Well, I must admit that there were times I felt rather emotional that afternoon, realising how time had just flown by. One day, David was born. And in a flash – 18 years – we were releasing him into the next phase of his life. Then again, it also seemed like just yesterday when I was charging up Botak Hill, running down 300m range, digging a trench through the night, and singing silly songs on our runs.

33 years ago, in my Temasek Green No. 4. Can’t wait to see David when he books out, for the first time after confinement, in his pixelated camouflage uniform.

Serene’s Point-of-View: When NS Comes A-Calling: Our Family’s Experience

 

When A Simple Shot Reveals So Much More

FullSizeRenderI couldn’t resist snapping this picture of my youngest, Anna Joy, at her desk.

The seven year-old is usually the first to get up each day. And without fail, like clockwork, she washes up, dresses up and starts her homeschool schedule. Yes, all by herself.

Serene and I have been asked many times how homeschooling is like. Is it all about freedom, being able to do what we want, when we want? Well, to a certain extent, we do enjoy that latitude. However, school is still school. And all learning, in whatever form, requires discipline.

Anna Joy has grown up in this environment of homeschooling all her life. Having watched her older siblings go about their routines, she began to establish one of her own too. Each day, in the Lim Tribe household, that’s pretty much the scene. Every child knows what he or she needs to accomplish, and each can be found at their own workstations, diligently completing what has been assigned. That doesn’t mean everything runs perfectly. Once in a while, you will still hear Serene’s voice ring out, “[insert name], you still owe me lesson number …!”

As I observed Anna Joy that morning, I couldn’t help but beam a little as a proud daddy. Yet, more than just a father who is pleased with the development of his children, my heart was filled with gratitude for a very hardworking wife and mother in Serene. To be sure, there has been much pain and sacrifice along this journey of homeschooling. Many tears too. And you can also add frustration and anxiety to the list. No one sees these at all. At times (and there have been many), even I miss the tremendous load that Serene carries, neglecting to be there with and for her, causing the journey to be a lot more difficult than it already is.

This picture of Anna Joy brings a smile to my face. In a while, the other workstations would fill up, one by one. Yes, it’s a lovely sight to behold. No, it didn’t happen by chance, or that we were somehow blessed with perfect, sinless, super-obedient children. It took diligence and discipline, a lot of hard work with consistency over the years. And a whole lot of GOD as we experienced His strength and grace over and over again.

An award-winning shot this is not. But it has caused me to pause, to reflect and to give thanks. I am so proud of Serene. I am so proud of each of our seven children. Thank you, dear Lord, for these awesome blessings You have allowed in my life!

IN THE LAST DAYS: Why a Worldview Conference by Archippus Awakening?

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Click image to go to conference website: http://www.inthelastdays.org
At first glance, it may appear incongruous. Why is a ministry like Archippus Awakening organising a worldview conference? Have we been bitten by the conference bug? Are we simply offering something for the sake of drawing the numbers? Not at all. Allow me to share my heart and the journey we have undertaken.

Bill Muehlenberg (Culture Watch, Australia): It began at Love Singapore’s Pastors Summit 2015 in January, my first time at this annual affair. Besides the keynote speaker, there were testimonies and sessions by others. Bill Muehlenberg was one of these. As I listened to his presentation on Cultural Marxism, I felt that this was the kind of teaching believers should be exposed to. Although provocative, and possibly controversial too, this would help to awaken many who remain largely unaware of what is happening in these times. Upon my return, I dropped Bill an email invitation to partner us in this effort of awakening and I am glad he readily said ‘yes’.

Our Partners: Along the way, our paths crossed with Leo Hee Khian of Worldview Partners. This dear brother, in many ways, is like the local equivalent of Bill Muehlenberg, engaging culture at the frontlines. Without doubt, Leo is fully convicted to bring worldview education to the Body of Christ. Worldview Partners organised the first worldview conference in 2013 with Dr Jeff Myers of Summit Ministries. Earlier this year, they offered a 15-min Defence Seminar, followed by the inaugural Arise! Issachar Worldview Camp in June. With Leo’s input, the programme has been made even more exciting with testimonies and local panels. We are obviously thrilled to have Leo and his team join us in this awakening effort through this upcoming worldview conference!

Conference Title: The title and theme of the Conference is taken from 2 Tim 3:1, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:…” In warning Timothy, Paul gave the reason in the next verses, “For men will be…” These are the times we are living in and we are experiencing much of what Paul had described. Dig more deeply and you will discover that these behaviours are a result of certain mindsets and philosophies – WORLDVIEWS! For sure, it is no longer business or ministry as usual. In a highly intellectual postmodern world, to simply urge someone to believe and have faith is no longer enough. Ask any parent, educator or youth worker. There is today a need to contend for our faith! Hence, we settled for the bold title, IN THE LAST DAYS: Contending for Our Faith in Perilous Times”.

The Programme: We are aware that believers at large are still not very familiar with worldview and what it entails. To this end, Bill will provide introductory teachings like “Worldview & Cultures” and “Truth and Tolerance” before diving into more specific issues like “The New Atheism” and “Bioethics & New Biotechnologies”. Through the six sessions and other contributions, you can look forward to a time of learning and having your eyes opened (awakened) to the challenges we face in these times. Finally, as always, you will be challenged to respond as a believer. Would you participate in the transformation of the nations, to be a world changer for Jesus and His kingdom? [Note: If you can’t make it for the day sessions, the night meetings are free and open to all.]

An Awakening Event: By now, I hope you understand why Archippus Awakening is organising a worldview conference. It is not just another conference for the sake of having another one. Our mission is to awaken the saints and that is what we hope to do through this event. For many believers, they will still not sign up because these topics sound more technical than appealing. This is because many are still looking for the typical spiritual and personal breakthrough messages that we have grown accustomed to. Sadly, too many are not willing to think or process more deeply, contented to simply go with the flow. This conference is not about what is in it for us but how we are to awakened that we may receive our kingdom assignments to shepherd our families, engage culture and transform nations!

This is where we are today, less than one month to the conference on 19 & 20 Nov 2015. Admittedly, I should have written this post much earlier. Even so, better late than never and there is still time to act. The two-day conference fee has been kept very affordable so that more can attend ($95 per person; $80 per person for groups of 3 or more). Although some may have to take leave, I believe that sacrifice and effort will be well worth it. Night meetings are free and open to all. I pray that you will decide to REGISTER for this conference so you can be equipped for whatever the Lord assigns to you.

Thanks for registering promptly as it will help us in planning and logistics. Visit the conference website www.inthelastdays.org and LIKE our Facebook Page for updates. Thanks for sharing this event with others so that more can be awakened and equipped. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

A Lovely Note of Encouragement by Ruth

I am presently on a 10-day Consecration Fast, full fast with just water, in preparation of the next phase of Archippus Awakening; and today is Day #6. Naturally, in the first few days, the body is physically weak and I move about rather slowly. It’s much better now, having adjusted, but I still get breathless at times.

This evening, I decided to go for prayer walk, allowing me to get some exercise and sun whilst I lift up items to the Lord. As I prepared to step out, I found a little heart-shaped note written by my 9yo daughter Ruth.

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I was overwhelmed as I read what she wrote:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid nor discouraged for the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Keep fasting. Keep praying. Don’t overwork yourself. God bless you.”

This is the verse that the Lord used to encourage me when He first gave me instructions to step down from my pastoral position and to go as He would lead. What Ruth added on her own accord was so beautiful, spurring me on towards the end of the fast yet reminding me that prayer is very much a part of the process, but not without cautioning me to go at a pace that is manageable (it’s been a very heavy ministry schedule so far).

Often, as a parent, you don’t really know if you are teaching your children right or if they are receiving all you hope for them to receive. I thank God for these little moments that makes the parenting journey worth it, watching them grow in the Lord and being sensitive and a blessing to others around them.

Ruth’s Baptism

This post is a little overdue owing to ministry commitments following our own church camp. That said, it’s never too late to announce and celebrate a baptism 🙂

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When it was publicised that baptism would be conducted at church camp, our 5th child and 3rd daughter, 9 year old Ruth expressed her desire to be baptised, to openly declare her faith in Jesus Christ. As with her four older siblings, Serene and I did our part to ascertain her understanding of salvation and baptism before submitting her name.

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On 10 June 2014, Ruth was baptised at Pulai Desaru Beach by Rev Wilfred Png and Pastor Jun Undag. After coming out of the pool, our Senior Pastor, Rev Francis Khoo, prayed for her. Ruth became the 5th to be baptised, after David, Sarah, Aaron & Esther. All praise and thanks to the Lord for leading each of our children in their personal journeys.

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home – Restore Ministries

Source: Resource Ministries' Website http://restore-ministries.org
Source: Resource Ministries’ Website http://restore-ministries.org

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home – Restore Ministries.

This is a short, easy-to-read article but it contains some very pertinent points for parents to be aware of. Don’t gloss over it too quickly or you will altogether miss what the author, Barrett Johnson, is trying to share.

The scary thing is that you can behave like a Christian and yet not be one at all. Hmmm …. food for thought? Are you raising your children this way?

God bless you and your family!

The Birth Control Mindset: Anti-Abortion Is Not Necessarily Pro-Life

Picture taken from Generation Cedar's website www.generation cedar.com
Picture taken from Generation Cedar’s website http://www.generationcedar.com

This morning, my wife posted the article “The Connection Between Birth Control & Abortion: Is the Church Really Pro-Life?” on Facebook with the comment: Food for Thought. I read it and decided it was good enough, provocative too, for a re-post or a share on my own wall. In it, the writer addresses “the birth control mindset” very well (and before you jump to any conclusions or defence, please read the article first to fully appreciate the writer’s distinction and definition of such a mindset).

“Hear what I said: “the birth control mindset.” This is a very important distinction. I am not saying, nor have I ever said, it is a sin to use birth control or that a Christian can not, upon careful prayer and discernment, space children. It’s not a discussion about specific circumstances, or sick mamas or hard pregnancies.

The “birth control mindset” is one that treats new life too lightly, fails to give proper authority to the Creator, assumes absolute control over fertility and consequently establishes (either consciously or not) that the idea of “normal” family size is two or three children.

The birth control mindset inadvertently becomes hostile to the practice of forgoing birth control. And herein lies a great problem.”

Indeed, just because Christians are against abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that they are pro-life. On the one hand, the Church speaks out boldly for the protection of life for the unborn, yet on the other, advocate and practise the prevention of life for the yet to be conceived too. The birth control mindset has become a way of life in today’s world, even for Christians, usually rationalising and justifying it as a responsible act. Or to sound more spiritual, that they are not called (?) to have many children.

So does this mean that we who have grappled with this birth control mindset just cannot wait to have more children? I know of some couples who are like that, but that’s not us. We have been asked many times before, “Do you want more children?”, a typical large family FAQ. Well, the answer I give is, “I am happy with the number I have at the moment.” And that has been the answer since we decided to let God plan our family size some years ago. Let’s be honest. Raising children is tiring and calls for many sacrifices. If I had my way, I would do what many have done … STOP. But the truth is, we have chosen to let God have His way in our family, and that means being willing to submit to His plans, regardless the number.

Now, I know that sounds very commendable and full of faith. But do not be deceived 🙂 Each time we found out we were expecting another, let me say that it was not without anxiety or concern. We had to keep reminding ourselves, and still do, that if God has chosen to bless us with a child, He would be faithful to enable us to care for and to provide for this child too.

And so, we have seven lovely children today. I said lovely, not perfect. Is it easy by any means? You’ve got to be joking! Just read some of my parenting posts (rants!) and you will see that we have exactly the same challenges as anyone else, if not more (multiplied by seven, of course)! And for the record, it is not funny when people jokingly pop questions like, “So are you going to stop?” or “Is No.8 on the way?” or “Have twelve la, like Jacob!” Firstly, it really is none of your business. Next, since I do not have two wives and two maids, like Jacob, don’t compare me with the biblical patriarch. And finally, in case you didn’t know, you really should be asking, “Is No.11 on the way?” Yes, unfortunately, Serene has suffered three miscarriages, one in 2007 before Anna Joy (our youngest), and two after in 2012. As such, in God’s books and ours, it’s ten and we are looking forward to the day we get to meet our other three children 🙂 But I digress…

So, back to the question, “Is the Church really pro-life?” Well, on the surface, it appears so. But from real-life, on-the-ground interactions with both clergy and laity, our birth control mindsets are sadly not much different from the world.

Oh, and as expected, as at the point of publishing this post, my Facebook share only garnered one LIKE … from a single male.