Have you ever seen a branch struggle, strain and strive to bear fruit? Neither have I!
And yet, this is what so many Christians find themselves doing as they seek to be fruitful for the Lord. In our meritocratic, performance-oriented culture, there is a great tendency for us to give our all and strive for excellence in every area of our lives. Unfortunately, we erroneously presume that when we apply this same principle to ministry, we will likewise achieve stellar results for the Kingdom. Sadly, this is not the case at all. Trust me, for I have committed this grave mistake (yes, pastors make mistakes).
Looking back, 2012 was a busy, busy, busy year. Determined to give my best to Jesus, I more than pushed myself. Sure, many things were done and accomplished. But along the way, many things became undone too! I was physically drained, my mood was not exactly the best, I cut corners in my relationship with Serene and the children, I was easily agitated with situations and people, I became frustrated and impatient with others who did not perform as I did or seemed to hold me back. I sure bore fruit … just not the right ones! And if I hadn’t experienced the discomforts of Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder, I might have really pushed myself off the edge!
The words of our Lord Jesus in John 15:5 came gently but powerfully to me as a stern reminder: “I am the Vine, you are the [branch]. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.” Needless to say, the Lord was spot-on! Not that I did not know this truth, but in my busyness (and pride – ouch!), I had disregarded it.
Entering 2013, I am resolved not to commit the same mistake again. The ministry belongs to the Lord and He will enable me to achieve all that needs to be done in His time, in His strength and in His way. Without doubt, I will still give my best to Him, but I will not fret nor be overly concerned with people or matters that are beyond my control. I will do my part and leave the rest to Him. Truly, apart from Jesus, I cannot be fruitful in the way He has appointed me to be.
2013 opened with a few high points! My personal blog and website, One Day At A Time, achieved 100,000 views on 23 January. This figure is of course extremely modest when compared to others that have garnered millions of views. It is still a milestone for my ministry to know that readers are being encouraged and blessed through the accounts, articles and updates that I post from time to time. If you have not recently visited the website, you may want to check out the new look for the new year. If you have suggestions on how I can improve, I’d be glad to hear them. Thanks to everyone for your support!
On 26 Jan, we celebrated with 49 students as they received their Certificates and Diplomas at Covenant Vision School of Ministry’s 5th Graduation Ceremony! As I remarked after the ceremony, “Each year, it’s like giving birth.” I’m just so thankful for the privilege to be a part of the students’ spiritual journey in Christ. Even as these finished their terms, we welcomed another fresh cohort of 37 Certificate students and 20 Diploma students for this academic year. Since our first batch in 2007, CVSOM has had the opportunity to impact believers from nearly 50 local churches. Praise the Lord!
In 2013, Covenant Vision Christian Church will MOVE FORWARD through a series of new initiatives and programmes, aligned to our new process of LOVING JESUS, LOVING ONE ANOTHER and LOVING OTHERS. Assisting my Senior Pastor, Rev Francis Khoo, I will be actively involved in the formulation and the implementation of these plans across various ministries. It is indeed exciting to see how the Lord is moving the church forward. Still, there is much to be done and I am so thankful for the timely reminder for me to always remain in the Vine! Please pray for the pastoral and leadership team as we manage the different issues.
I’m also thankful for opportunities to teach and share beyond CVSOM and CVCC to bless the larger body of Christ in Singapore. In January, I ministered at two Bartley Christian Church events: Sunday School Teachers Training and Zone Leaders’ Retreat. I’ve had to be more selective in accepting invitations, given my wider scope of responsibilities. Here are some confirmed engagements for this year: Bartley Christian Church Zone Leaders Meeting (Mar), Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church Camp (Jun), One By One Ministry (Jul), St Luke’s Hospital Staff Devotion (Sep), Yishun Methodist Mission (Oct), and Pentecost Methodist Church D&N Teaching (Nov). Thanks for praying for me as I bring the Word to these congregations!
Last but definitely not the least, some family updates. The Lim Tribe Birthday Series kicked off with Aaron celebrating his 11th birthday on 6 Jan. Next up will be Ruth, who will turn 8 on 26 Feb; and then Anna Joy on 12 Mar (a day after Serene and I celebrate our 18th Wedding Anniversary!). We covet your prayers for us as we enter a new season of homeschooling. David and Sarah are in “secondary” school, and Aaron begins his P5 preparations towards PSLE. Family dynamics are also changing as the children grow up into teenagers and tweenies. There is a lot of learning, unlearning and relearning for Serene and myself as we adjust ourselves to these changing seasons. Most of all, please pray for us as husband and wife. We firmly believe that a strong, godly marriage is the core of the household that will provide the right environment for the children to grow up knowing, loving and serving Jesus.
Thanks for sharing this journey with us! As always, even if I repeat this again and again, I want to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you. We really appreciate your love and support for our family and ministry. Your prayers too provide a constant source of encouragement and strength.
Stand steady and strong as you go through 2013. There will be much confusion arising from conflicting incidents and reports all over the world. This should not surprise nor shake us for we know that these are but birth pangs that precede the glory of the coming of Jesus. Rather, these should challenge and encourage us to be counted amongst those to be revealed as “the sons of God”, for whom creation eagerly waits! (Rom 8:19) Be fruitful for Jesus and be found faithful when He comes; not as branches that struggle, strain and strive, but as ones totally and completely rested in Him.
In His love and for His glory!