Blessed Christmas from the Lim Tribe!

Christmas 2015 Family PixAmidst the fun, festivities and feasting, it is easy to mark the birth of baby Jesus and yet miss the significance of the coming Messiah. When Matthew recorded the birth account of Jesus, it was not only about a Saviour who would “save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21), but it was also an introduction that the prophesied and long-awaited King has made His appearance in the person of Jesus. This may sound obvious but let us not presume that everyone readily receives the rule and reign of King Jesus.

Like Herod, we are threatened by the prospect of losing control of our lives, to give up our power and position, to truly live for Jesus. Like the religious leaders, we are happy as long as the boat is not rocked, that we can fulfil our religious obligations. Never mind that prophecy was being fulfilled right under their very noses! Their knowledge of Scriptures affirmed it and yet they promptly returned to status quo, back to ministry as usual. Bethlehem was so near and yet, their hearts remained so far. Rather odd, for these were God’s people, supposedly crying for the Messiah to come.

Contrast this with the magi, Gentiles who went the distance. Their exposure to Scriptures moved them to an expedition with a Star. Having served in the courts of various kings and kingdoms, they knew that the One to come would be the real deal! They looked forward to the first Christmas not because of the presents or the party, but the Person of Jesus Christ. I wonder if we might have lost that hunger and desire for the true worship and service of the King?

As we look back to Jesus’ first coming, how many are ready for His second coming? Make no mistake – King Jesus is coming again! And when He comes, will He find Herods in rebellion, religious types playing church, or wise men and women who live circumspectly amidst evil days, truly kingdom subjects who are faithful in their kingdom assignments and ready to give account to their King?

This Christmas, don’t waste time over Starbucks’ marketing controversies, or get unduly upset that the words ‘Seasons Greetings’ are being preferred over ‘Christmas’. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King, whatever the world says or however they try to remove Him. In my humble opinion, it is not whether Christ is mentioned in Christmas or not that matters. It is, however, of greater importance and significance that Christ be found ruling and reigning in your life.

Not a standard Christmas greeting, I must admit. Then again, the times we live in require an exhortation of a more serious tone. In the same way that birth pangs ushered in His first coming, the birth pangs that are being experienced around the world will also usher in the Messiah’s second appearance. As you enjoy the festivities of the season, our prayer is that Jesus the Christ be revealed afresh to you and your loved ones!

From our family to yours, have a blessed Christmas! Thank you for being a part of our journey through this wonderful year and into the next!

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

 

Advertisements

Josh Duggar, Secret Sins & Christian Masks

Photo Source: silverpalmawards.com
Photo Source: silverpalmawards.com
Wow, what a hack!

First, Ashley Madison gets hacked. And next, details of its 32 million subscribers are leaked. And then, comes one of the biggest piece of news (or the juiciest piece of gossip) in the Christian world: Josh Duggar was a registered customer of Ashley Madison!

Photo Source: Josh Duggar Twitter
Josh Duggar (Photo Source: Josh Duggar Twitter)
Months earlier, Josh, 27, married with four children, had admitted that he had molested four of his sisters when he was a teenager. That drew lots of comments and opinion, both for and against how he and the Duggar Family dealt with it. And before the dust can even settle, this. What has made it even more glaring is that he is the eldest of the Duggars of the reality series “19 Kids and Counting”, a model family many look to for marriage, family and parenting issues.

Photo Source: www.duggarfamily.com
Duggar Family (Photo Source: http://www.duggarfamily.com)
The most tempting thing to do, and the easiest, would be to jump on the bandwagon and begin dissecting Josh and his family. What went wrong? Who’s to blame? Well, that is not the point of this post; so, we won’t go there.

What this episode has revealed, rather, is that many Christians (if not all) have secret sins! Of course, we hope that we never find an entire Church’s membership roll on Ashley Madison’s database (or equivalent). But the truth is, we all have some hidden weakness – some are just more scandalous than others. And no one needs to know about them as long as we are able to put up the right front in church and in Christian circles. We simply know the right things to say, when and how to say it.

This really makes me wonder how many of our ministers and volunteers are actually hiding behind Christian masks whilst faithfully carrying out their duties in and around church? Could the worship leader that led us into God’s presence on Sunday morning be accessing pornographic sites on Sunday night? Could the elder who handles the church’s finance be manipulating his own business accounts? Could the caring and ever-present cell leader be an abusive and selfish husband to his own wife and children? Could the Men’s Ministry leader be having an affair with the Women’s Ministry volunteer? Could the charisma of a capable pastor be merely a cover up for his questionable character? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it, when Christian masks are on?

In times past, actors would put on masks to depict and express the characters they were playing. The Greek word for such play-actors is hupokrites from which we get our English word, hypocrite. In his statement, Josh Duggar admitted, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.” Has Christianity today, with all its emphases on sound, lights and action, become a theological theatre that boasts a company of hupokritai?

When I hear Christians lament about why they left a certain church or stopped serving in the ministry because of their encounter with hypocrites, I smile and quip, “Welcome to the club!” We may not have registered with Ashley Madison as Josh Duggar did, but like him, I believe we have, on more than a few occasions, played the hypocrite. The scary thing is that we may have had so much practice and experience in playing the part that we actually think we are that model Christian when in actuality we are far from it. Sadly, whilst others can see that from a mile off, we are usually the last ones to realise it. How devastating when the Lord reveals it!

Dear friends, let us learn from this unfortunate incident involving Josh Duggar. Without doubt, there is no one who does not struggle with sin. Thankfully, the grace of God is available to us in its abundance! Others may not understand us but the Lord Jesus does, He Himself being tempted at all points as we are, and yet without sin (Heb 4:15). Don’t try to mask anything from Him for in His presence, everything – yes, every secret sin – comes to light. Stop playing the hypocrite or trying to be someone that you aren’t. The only identity we need, and have by grace through faith in Christ, is found in Him and Him alone.

Our Adequacy Is Found Entirely In Him

inadequate_721

Have you ever felt inadequate?

We know that as Christians, we should be the most confident people on planet earth (and some say, in the heavens too). And yet, there are times when we experience doubt. We look to men and women of faith for encouragement only to feel worse. These, we feel, are to admired and revered, but only from afar. Finally, we end up comforting ourselves by rationalising that we can’t be ones God will use. Yes, the speaker was inspirational, the anointing was strong, my heart was moved. But nah, it must have been for someone else.

Allow me to share a reflection with you:

It has been a very exciting journey for me since being led out of the institutional framework of church. That said, there have also been many moments of anxiety and doubt where I find myself questioning and rationalising. After all, who am I, really, to be awakening the Body of Christ through the ministry of Archippus Awakening?! I’m a nobody!

Although the Lord spoke very clearly that the days of spiritual celebrities are coming to an end, and that He will begin to raise His army from the ground up, I couldn’t help but still look to the big names for the necessary breaks. Perhaps, I thought, if I would be noticed by some prominent leader, it would open the right doors with the right connections and provide the right platforms for me to launch Archippus Awakening. Well, I did get to know some ‘key’ people over the past year, but nothing happened.

Interestingly, what has taken place is more the opposite. The ones excited about the message of Archippus Awakening are brothers and sisters from smaller congregations, the lesser known communities in the Body. Through these, I get introduced to others, and the message gets passed along, quietly but steadily. For example, I will be speaking at three church camps of average size this June; and all have requested for Archippus Awakening to be declared! The past two ‘overseas’ trips to Philippines have seen Archippus Awakening being shared in Kidapawan City and the town of Tanauan, both small and unknown. Talk is underway for an Awakening Event in Cameron Highlands to awaken the young adults of Malaysia.

Sounds really good, doesn’t it? And it is very exciting that KINGDOM101 has been launched and the expository journey will begin on 18 March and every Wednesday thereafter. Wow! … and then … that ol’ familiar feeling of inadequacy hits me again! Waves of doubt come over me, taunting me, “Who are you as compared to those who have done so much? What’s so different about your message? What if you can’t sustain it over the next months? Who are you that anyone should even consider coming on 18 Mar, much less the next weeks or months?”

This morning, I flipped my Bible and it opened to Galatians. My heart leapt when I read Gal 2:6:

“But from those who seemed to be something – whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favouritism to no man – for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.”

Our feelings of inadequacy are very normal. And if we’d allow the enemy a foothold, he would be most glad to help you sink further and deeper. The reminder from this verse is clear and simple. Our eyes are not to be on man, but on God. For sure, there is lots to learn from the experience of those who have achieved more. There is also great value in what they have to offer. That said, it is God that we must rely on and He can use anyone to accomplish His purposes.

The grace of God is definitely about His favour upon His people; but it is not about personal favouritism where one is preferred over the other. That is the way of the world but not the way of the Kingdom. What the Lord looks for are hearts yielded in submission to Him. He uses the weak to show Himself strong. He uses what appears foolish that He might confound those who think they are wise. In the end, He deserves and receives all the glory (1 Cor 1:31; Jer 9:24).

This was such a word of affirmation to me this morning and I pray that as you read this post, you will be likewise encouraged. Whilst we praise God for the more prominent servants of the Lord, let us not be dwarfed or intimidated by them. We have the same Holy Spirit and we rest in the same position and identity in Christ. He who worked effectively in these will also work effectively in and through us (Gal 2:8).

If the Lord has tasked you with an assignment, then be faithful to obey, relying on Him and Him alone. Not everyone is called to be a Moses, a David or a Paul. Just be who you are and remember that your adequacy is found entirely in Him.

Non-Discipleship is Tragically Costly

Back in March 2011, I posted “The Cost of Non-Discipleship“. Of course, it was just another rambling thought of my searching heart and inquisitive mind. With all the talk about discipleship in church circles, it is rather surprising why there are so few true disciples of Jesus Christ. Perhaps, just perhaps, many hold the view that there is choice as to whether one decides to be a disciple or not.

Admittedly, I used to think that too, but that view has changed in recent times [Read “Seven Misconceptions of Discipleship“]. Today, I am very convinced and convicted that once we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we become His followers, His disciples. After all, we have been bought by His precious blood and we are no longer our own. Sadly, not everyone agrees with that view, thereby contributing to and propagating the more popular understanding that it is alright not to be a disciple. As such, non-discipleship continues to be the preferred option (not that there is one), and thus a major trend in the church.

And since I am a nobody, an unknown, with respect to being a discipleship guru, my little post (and messages) will only go that far. To this end, I was rather encouraged to stumble upon a short clip by David Platt (the current big name amongst other equally prominent ones where discipleship is concerned), entitled “The Tragic Cost of Non-Discipleship“.

In his words, “the cost is of non-discipleship is far, far greater than that of discipleship” and “many [who continue to sit comfortable in church] are eternally deceived.” And if those who call themselves Christians do not awaken to this, “the consequences of casual cultural Christianity in the world are tragic.”

Granted that Platt’s remarks may not have addressed my position on discipleship directly and are more evangelistically skewed, but they are no less relevant. Until Christians rise up to their positions as disciples of Jesus, the sacrifices and challenges notwithstanding, non-discipleship remains tragically costly — to each believer personally, and to the greater good of a world in desperate need of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!

Related Post: Seven Misconceptions of Discipleship

Ashley Madison in Singapore: When Even Negative Publicity Is Great Publicity

The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2013, B4.
The Straits Times, Thursday, 7 Nov 2013, B4.

It is not surprising that Ashley Madison is pushing its way into Singapore despite protests. But does this concern the website that promotes extra-marital affairs at all? Does it even bother them that our minister has openly declared that such websites are not welcomed in Singapore? Absolutely not!

And that is precisely the point. Evil has no regard for morals! They don’t care one bit. Greed knows no bounds. As far as they are concerned, it is a legitimate business and as long as there is a demand for such services, they will supply it. Simple Economics101. And being the devious website it is, even negative publicity is great publicity. They just got thousands more hits for free.

In today’s online world, sadly, anything goes. The authorities can attempt to block it but there are still ways around it. In these last days, we must be aware that evil will stop at nothing for the time is short. We who know and understand biblical prophecy must not be caught off-guard. These things will take place at increasing and alarming proportions! Let’s face it. Regardless the efforts and restrictions of the government, needful and helpful as these may be, it is the sinful lustful heart of the individual that must still be dealt with. Businesses like Ashley Madison know this only too well and are capitalising on it big time.

original

In my post, “Say No to Ashley Madison in Singapore“, I remarked that Christians have a responsibility to speak out in the public arena against such filth. At the same time, in our private lives, we must determine to work at our marriages and families, refusing to give any ground to the evil that pervades our society more and more.

I believe we will see more of Ashley Madison, or the likes of it. Whilst I do not support it one bit, I must be careful not to give them all the credit. In some crazy sense, the founder of Ashley Madison is not inaccurate when he said that the breakdown of marital cannot be entirely attributed to his website. With or without this website, sin rules in the lives of those who have not known the saving work of Jesus Christ. Clearly, the wages of sin is death; and in this case, it is bringing death to marriages and families. It is only the transforming work of Jesus in men and women that will make the difference.

As a minister, it breaks my heart to see marriages and families affected and devastated by such adulterous liaisons. I will do my part to help as many as possible, sharing with them the hope and victory they can have in and through Jesus. That, I believe, would be time and energy better spent than giving more publicity to Ashley Madison.

To join the petition against Ashley Madison in Singapore, LIKE the Facebook Page “BLOCK ASHLEY MADISON FROM CORRUPTING SINGAPORE“.

The Baptism of Mdm Goh: When Simple Faith in Jesus is More Than Enough!

Mdm Goh BaptismI just returned from baptising an elderly lady, the mother of one of our members. From what I know, Mdm Goh Ah Lan was a very staunch Buddhist. At 82 years old, she was recently hospitalised for a weak heart and failing kidneys. Her condition was serious enough for her to be put into ICU twice! The Discipleship Group visited and prayed for her and I was told there was a presence of God in the room. Soon after, she gave her a life to Jesus. Don’t ask me what language she declared her faith in Jesus in; but she did. Don’t ask me how either. She just did! Two days ago, another pastor visited her and returned to share how sprightly and joyful she is. Chatting with her – she understands a little English – his conclusion was, “There is no doubt she is soundly saved!” Then came the request for baptism – that’s where I got involved.

Asked to perform the baptism in Changi General Hospital, I dutifully made my way there this afternoon. I really didn’t know what to expect, nor how I would communicate with her. I don’t speak Hainanese and she understands only a little English. That said, I had all my questions lined up in mind to ensure she understood what salvation and baptism meant. I was, as you would expect, in teacher mode 🙂

When I arrived, however, things didn’t go the way I expected. I found myself struggling with Hokkien and Mandarin, trying to communicate through her daughter, not a believer, as interpreter. All my well-crafted theological questions went out the door! I simplified everything to one question, “Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?” And even that sounded too much of a mouthful! But the dear lady gamely nodded her head and said, “Yes!” That’s good enough for me, I thought to myself, and proceeded to baptise her in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! I can’t explain it, but there was such joy and peace on her face. She was visibly excited and thrilled that she was getting baptised, that she was proclaiming her faith in Jesus for all to see.

Communion was next. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I took my time to explain to her family members (non-believers) what the communion meal was all about. I made it a special point to share the gospel as I presented the significance of the elements. I believe it was especially meaningful to watch their mother partake of communion for the very first time. In the conversation that followed, the daughters commented how their mother had become more cheerful and energetic after turning to Jesus.

Sometimes I wonder if being too theological and doctrinal can be detrimental and unproductive when it comes to reaching the lost for Jesus? Quite clearly, Mdm Goh doesn’t understand everything about the Christian faith, much less theological and doctrinal positions of sin and righteousness. Yet, her simple declaration of faith in Jesus was enough. This shows that when the Holy Spirit draws a person to Jesus, there is no need for any argument or discourse at all. He does all the work and we get to participate in the joy of reaping the harvest!

In no way am I saying that there is no longer a need to present salvation accurately. What I am advocating is that we do not fall into a rigidity of a one-method mode of evangelism. Whether reaching out to someone like Mdm Goh or a college professor, we must always remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, that through a heart of love and compassion, we may rightly direct them towards reconciliation through Jesus Christ.

Don’t keep blaming the devil if it’s sin you’re struggling with

Well, Eve did it when confronted by God and so, I suppose we’ve been doing it ever since. In case you’re wondering what this is all about, I am referring to the blame game. Not just the blaming of others, but more specifically, that of the dark side.

“… the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'” Gen 3:13

Today, it’s still happening although in a slightly different form. Thanks to the deliverance ministry, we have a better understanding of demonic operations and how evil spirits (fallen angels) oppress and attack people. Also, in the gospel accounts, we read of Jesus casting out a deaf and dumb spirit (Mark 9:25) and a spirit of infirmity (Luke 13:11). However, extending from these teachings, we have conveniently named spirits after every sickness or weakness.

Whilst it is good to be very aware of the spiritual battle we are engaged in, we must also be careful not to swing to an extreme (which we are all prone to do) and ascribe every weakness we struggle with to demonic activity and influence! For example, if you are plain greedy and can’t control your food intake, don’t blame the spirit of gluttony. Or if you can’t get off the computer, casting out the spirit of facebook will do you no good. Similarly, binding the spirit of drama serials won’t stop you from watching episode 318 of your favourite programme.

Forgive my overly dramatic examples, but I’m just trying to make a point and I hope you are getting it. Yes, the spiritual dimension is very real but you cannot pin everything on the imaginary demon you think is hovering over yourself. To do that would be far too easy, too convenient. And yet, we all love to do that because it gets us away from acknowledging personal sin and responsibility! And we hate to admit that because it means owning up to our own faults and weaknesses. More accurately, we don’t like coming to terms with how devastatingly and hopelessly sinful we are! Because if we do, we have to deal with it and it takes too much trouble, too much sacrifice, too much effort, and we’d lose too much face. And so, it’s easier to keep pointing the finger at some spirit which we cannot see. Honestly, if it were that straightforward, I would have cast out the spirit of laziness and the spirit of disobedience from my children long ago.

In majoring in naming and casting out these fancy spirits, we have forgotten about the reality of the power and dominion of sin that operates through our Adamic nature. Make no mistake! Often, the so-called spirit of anger or spirit of lust is nothing but a manifestation of the work of the flesh in your life that you have not dealt with. And before you respond too quickly to blame your fallen sinful state and use that as another cop out, let us not forget that it was precisely for this reason that Christ came to set us free (Rom 6:18), that sin shall no longer have dominion over us (Rom 6:14)! And to deal with the evil spirits, 1 John 3:8 says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” That is why we strive to walk in the Spirit that we give no place to the flesh! For in the Spirit is where the victory is and where we will experience true liberty in Christ!

My dear friends in Christ, whatever you are struggling with, Jesus has done and taken it all at the Cross, disarming all power and principalities (Col 2:15) and securing a decisive victory for us who believe. When Jesus said, “It is finished!”, that was exactly what He meant. It is time you walk in that truth and stop passing the buck, giving demons credit when absolutely none is due to them. Instead, take personal responsibility for your walk as you lay hold of the promises you have in Christ. And to do that means to acknowledge your areas of weakness and failings, repenting and confessing that you may always walk in the light, giving the enemy no ground at all. To do that also means holding yourself accountable to others that they may help you in your times of possible compromise. This is what God’s community is about and it would do you well to get into a church that really means business.

Please, let’s stop this blame game. It’s time to wise up and grow up!