Why Don’t We Quote Jesus More?

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.


Christian Music & Arts: Creative Licence or Trying Too Hard?


In case you are not aware, Hillsong has been in the internet spotlight this week. In Hillsong NYC’s Women’s Conference, it was reported that a youth leader dressed up and appeared as the Naked Cowboy. Over in Hillsong London, concern has been expressed over a voodoo ritual being used in a segment of the 2016 Easter Special.

It is, as always, very interesting to read the comments, both for and against. In the “for” camp, these would argue for relevance and defend the creative freedom to share the gospel in any way that is effective. In the “against” camp, those who are bold enough to say anything about holiness and purity are promptly labelled as modern day Pharisees.

I wasn’t at either location or presentation so I don’t have the full picture of what really went on or how these came about. But still – Why have a semi-naked youth pastor on stage? Was the ritual just a creative portrayal of evil, or an actual offering of occultic worship? Were these necessary at all?

The side story is equally interesting. Thanks, Dr Michael Brown, for writing When Hillsong Offends the Naked Cowboy.

Apparently, the original Naked Cowboy, Robert John Burck, is an ordained minister; yes, a clergyman! According to a statement issued by his representative, “Mr. Burck is an Ordained Minister & would NEVER attend church in the house of the Lord in his Trade Dress and is EXTREMELY offended by this activity due to his deep Christian beliefs and respect for the process of gathering in the name of Jesus Christ and in the presence of God to worship and praise the Holy Father.”

Although Mr Burck would never appear “naked” in a church setting, he has no problem with being the Naked Cowboy in the streets of New York. I can’t help but wonder: Was he upset that nakedness was displayed in a Christian meeting? Or that the necessary permission was not sought and as a result, he wasn’t paid royalty for the use of his Trade (un)Dress?

This reminded me of something I encountered some years back which prompted me to write No Sports Bras in Church Please. Addressing the issue of modesty in a youth camp, the leader reminded campers to be appropriately dressed. Sounds right and commendable. However, the message that is being conveyed is: When in church or in a Christian setting, it is clear that certain things are out of bounds, not even to be considered. But when you’re out in the world, everything is fair game and par for the course. Sadly, we don’t realise it but we practise this often. No wonder Christians are often viewed as hypocrites.

By this, I am in no way advocating that we bring what is in the world into the Church, that we may appear to appear consistent and relevant. That said, I am all for recovering what has been lost to the enemy, to redeem music and the arts for the kingdom of God. But what does this really mean in practice? How far can or should one go in the name of creative and artistic licence? Is it ok as long as the name of Jesus is proclaimed? Does the Church need to try so hard to make the good news even better than it already is?

Unfortunately, the line has become so blurred that it is not quite as easy to determine when it is crossed. I know that this should not be the case at all, that it should be plain and simple, black and white. However, seeing how everyone has an opinion, and how everything can be justified these days, the only certainty is that the responses will comprise of varying shades of grey.

Note: Brian Houston, Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church, explains in Have You Heard The One About The Cowboy? that the appearance was “unauthorised” and that “It won’t happen again.”

A Prophetic Impression of the Church at Middle Mountain


Sometime in 2005/06, I received an impression whilst reading a particular verse. I have chosen to call it an impression because it wasn’t exactly a vision. Today, this impression is still as vivid in my heart as when I first received it. Although I have shared this at different points of my ministry, I have never felt the need to post it on my blog. But this morning, after reading the post, “A Prophetic Vision of Two Rivers and a Strong Warning” by Josh Fontaine on charisma.com, I feel the time is right to release this…

“My people have been lost sheep,
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains,
They have gone from mountain to hill:
They have forgotten their resting place.”
Jeremiah 50:6

As I read this verse, my mind strayed to a scene much like the Swiss Alps – a breathtaking backdrop of beautiful snow capped mountains. Then, I saw many coaches approaching. As these drew closer, I recognised them as tour buses. These stopped at the foot of the mountain and tourists streamed out, chatting, laughing and full of excitement. The tour leaders waved their flags and group by group, these entered the cable cars. One by one, the packed cable cars made their ascent up the mountain.

Halfway up, the cable cars stopped, and once again, the tourists streamed out. They gasp at the sight and immediately dashed to pose for photos, to buy souvenirs, to collect postcards, and to enjoy steaming hotdogs and cups of delicious hot coffee in the crisp mountain air. The entire place was abuzz with activity, with chatter and laughter. Everyone was having a great time! And almost too soon, and too suddenly, the tour leaders waved their flags once more, the crowds packed the cable cars, went downhill, loaded up on the buses and off they went. And the mountain was quiet once more … until the next group of tourists arrived.

The entire scene happened so fast that I found myself asking, “What was all that about?” And I felt the Spirit whisper, “That’s church.”

“Week after week,” the Lord continued, “My people gather. There is lots of excitement and much activity. They talk, they laugh, and they have fun with one another. And then, as quickly as they came, they are gone. Yes, they had great fellowship and fun, nice photos, stories to tell, and beautiful postcards of mountain tops. But the truth is, they only came up half the way. They were easily satisfied with the hills when there is so much more up the mountain.”

After nearly a decade of having received this impression, I am beginning to understand more critically its significance. More recently, with more experience and maturity, I read the chapter for its context. What I discovered surprised me.

Jeremiah 50 is not exactly a favourite passage for the average Christian. It is actually a pronouncement of judgment against Babylon. As such, it is tempting to speed-read through this passage for something else more inspiring and motivating. But contained within this judgment against the enemies of God’s people are verses specifically directed at God’s people!

Without doubt, God will judge the world’s Babylonian system and Babylon will fall. In the midst of that, the warning is for God’s people to be aware that many have bought into this system too. Instead of coming up to the mountain of the Lord, the Church is satisfied to camp at middle mountain. Interestingly, the Latin words for middle mountain are medius and ocris respectively; from which we get the English word, mediocre.

To be sure, it is not that churches are not active or busy. On the contrary, most churches in Singapore are jam-packed with programme upon programme. However, have we settled for a mediocrity when God is desiring to take us higher and to show us even more? Have we settled for busloads of tourist-like Christians and broad selections of ministry packages, mistaking these as indicators of healthy and vibrant churches? Sadly, so many only have ‘postcards’ of what the mountain tops look like but no personal experience of having gone there. Believers claim to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and yet so many simply do not know Him at all. We are happy to go where the cable cars take us, but not willing to endure the climb to the top. It’s too difficult, I suppose, too much effort.

What about the leaders? Unfortunately, some of us have been guilty of only looking at numbers and resources. We talk about discipleship but too few are discipling and being discipled. We talk about sending people out but get threatened when the same are not seen to be serving in church. We preach the kingdom of God but may be as guilty as the next for building and protecting our own. We point people to methods when we should be trekking with them, showing them the way up the mountain. But that takes too much time and energy, resources that have become scarce in the modern church. In the end, as long as the church machinery is maintained week after week, we are happy and satisfied.

Jer 50:7 goes on to say that “All who found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said, ‘We have not offended, because they have sinned against the Lord…” May the Lord help us discern and respond accordingly.

Although this impression was received many years ago, its significance has become clearer and even more urgent. This has given me more understanding too as to why the Lord led me to start Archippus Awakening and how its message of awakening must be declared boldly and without compromise. I am also reminded that it will not be easy because many will refuse to be convinced of their condition to be awakened. As Fontaine notes, “The part that stood out the most about this encounter with this man [eyes whited out and zombified] was the fact that he was utterly convinced he was alive. He couldn’t be convinced of his condition.” What is worse is that these may take offence and respond negatively or nastily. Hence, the Lord’s exhortation and permission for hard-headedness! (Ezekiel 3:8-11) [Read “When Is It Right To Be Hard-Headed?”]

I am praying for myself lest I miss the plank in my own eye for it is so easy to settle in a comfort zone and miss the “more” that God has for me. The Lord showed Fontaine the requirements to remain in the pure river that flows from His mountain. May the Lord enable me in these areas too as I submit myself wholly to His inspection and correction:

  • Only say what He says with no fear of man
  • Honor Him and love Him more than the praise of man
  • Abstain from sexual immorality
  • Never prostitute the gift He has given me for money
  • Stay humble
  • Always be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my children

I love the Church and its various local communities and I am praying for the Body of Jesus Christ. As you consider this verse again, and its prophetic significance, may the Lord also grant you the discernment and wisdom to know how you should respond:

“My people have been lost sheep,
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains,
They have gone from mountain to hill:
They have forgotten their resting place.”
Jeremiah 50:6

Henson Lim is the founder of Archippus Awakening, a fresh initiative birthed in Aug 2014 dedicated to the awakening of the saints to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments. To know more about the message and heartbeat of Archippus Awakening, consider ordering the book, SAY TO ARCHIPPUS.

Related Post: Illustration of the Church at Middle Mountain

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.

The Question I Thought I Had Answers To But Didn’t

Image Source: http://www.infusecgi.org/treasure-in-heaven-or-on-earth/
Image Source: http://www.infusecgi.org/treasure-in-heaven-or-on-earth/
One morning in 1999, I felt the Lord ask me this question: “What have you laid up in heaven?”

Without any hesitation, I found myself confidently answering, “I am very active in the church, Lord. I serve in the worship team. I’m in church by 6:30am most Sundays. I also attend cell group and am involved when called upon to contribute in various aspects…” And I rattled on and on with the ‘this’ and ‘that’ of what I had done or was doing then.

Silence. Then the Lord asked again: “That’s nice. So what have you laid up in heaven?”

I was quite taken aback by Him asking the same question a second time. And so, I thought harder and said, “Oh yes, I forgot. I wrote and produced an entire musical for the church last year. For at least six months, I was in church three or four times a week, each time for at least four hours, overseeing and directing rehearsals. The musical presentation was very well received and it played to full houses on both nights!”

Silence. And then once more the Lord asked: “What have you laid up in heaven?”

Honestly, I thought I had answered rather well. But that morning, I began to realise that it was not how much I did in church that mattered to the Lord. Whilst my credentials and contributions looked rather impressive to myself and others, for some strange reason, these didn’t seem to be the right answers to that one question the Lord kept asking. All along, I had been taught that it is good to serve in church and to give back your talents to the Lord. Not that these are necessarily bad or wrong, but why was the Lord not ‘satisfied’ with my answers? It was a question I thought I had answers to but apparently didn’t.

And so, I asked in return, “So Lord, how can I lay up treasures in heaven?”

That little ‘revelation’ back in 1999 started my search for the ‘right’ answer. It pushed me to seek the Lord rather fervently, desiring only to be engaged in what mattered to my Master. With my ears inclined to Him, I heard the call to full-time ministry one year later, on 8 July 2000. Today, 15 years later, on 8 July 2015, with more experience and exposure, my understanding has been fine-tuned even more.

Those who have been journeying with me would know that my present focus is that of Archippus Awakening, dedicated to the awakening of saints that these may know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments. Although the Lord used Colossians 4:17 to define this ministry, on reflection, I see this as an extension of my search for the ‘right’ answer which started way back in 1999. To be sure, being involved in church is indeed commendable. However, we must be careful to discern if it is merely Christian activity we are busy with, mistaking it for doing God’s will. That said, it is indeed a very fine line between Christian activity and kingdom assignment.

Back in 1999, I was not able to make the distinction. Had the Lord not provoked me that morning, I would have gone on ‘doing’ church and feeling really good about it, “veneered over with Christian sentiment” (Oswald Chambers). Later, even as one in full-time ministry, I started out well but slowly became activity-oriented again without even realising it at all! This explained the unsettledness in my heart that pushed me back to the Lord for a re-alignment all over again, resulting in His instruction in October 2013 for me to leave everything behind and to start Archippus Awakening.

Today, 8 July 2015, I remember clearly the voice of Jesus who called me to follow Him. That was 15 years ago. I am reminded that I left all that I may fulfil kingdom assignments and not be caught up merely in Christian activity. That is my focus and that is where I will channel my energies towards.

Today, if the Lord would pose the question once more, “What have you laid up in heaven?”, this is how I would answer…“Only you know, Lord. Thank you for the privilege to partner You in all You are doing. Teach me to discern what is needful and important. Enable me to fulfil all that you have assigned. Amen.”

Related Posts:
14 Years of Following Jesus
Remembering His Call
Follow Me: It’s Been 9 Years

The Believer’s Conference Survival Guide


All Christians in Singapore know this statement to be true:

“There is no shortage of conferences and seminars in our sunny island state!”

Hardly a day goes by without us receiving an email, announcement or invitation to hear the most anointed speakers, to tap into the prophetic realm, to have the most powerful encounter, to experience the biggest breakthrough, to see the most unusual miracles, or to receive the latest download from heaven!

Truth be told, as interesting and promising as these may sound, many of us are experiencing conference fatigue. After a while, we realise that much of this is marketing and advertising language (take it from an ex-adman). This is not to say that such offerings are not good or needful. However, regardless how fantastic a meeting is touted to be or reported to have been, one must question its effectiveness beyond the registration numbers and post-publicity campaigns. Yes, intellects were provoked and emotions were stirred. Then what?

For sure, it cannot be the presentation. After all, these are the world’s best, the most sought after, supported by platinum album worship leaders with extremely impressive lights and sound. Perhaps, then, it is the posture of our hearts we must examine. Hence, as one who has also attended (and organised) more than a few of such events, this is how I personally navigate and survive the conference jungle out there:

RESIST For starters, don’t go running all over the place, attending every meeting however attractive these may sound to you. I am certain every conference that is organised and offered is good. But the truth is, you don’t have to attend each and every one. Simply, you don’t have all the time and money in the world. And even if you do, you want to be a good steward of these resources. Check your heart if you are simply going to get the next high or that you won’t feel left out when your friends tell you how good it was and what you have missed. Don’t laugh, but this actually requires prayer, discernment, focus and commitment; and for some, sheer strength and will power.

REST & RECEIVE Serial conference participants will find this difficult to achieve as these thrive on the spiritual buzz and highs that conferences offer. Yet, as much as these meetings set out to revive or reignite, don’t be overly concerned with man’s good intentions or at times, soulish methods. Don’t get too caught up with the outward but determine inwardly to rest and to receive. It is ok not to go with an expectation of “I must get something out of this!” Don’t get me wrong for there is still an expectation in your heart – to rest and receive; whenever, whatever, however. When you are truly rested in the Lord, that is when you become sensitive to His still small voice, regardless of the level of the sound system or the hype, ready to receive all He has in store for you.

REMINDERS & RHETORICS Let’s be honest. If you are a regular on the conference circuit, you would have realised that most, if not all, of the principles mentioned are the same – intimacy with God, obedience is better than sacrifice, how much God loves you, His amazing grace, God has a plan for you, etc. Even prophetic utterances are not very much different, seriously. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. Depending on the posture of your heart, these could easily become rhetoric or they could be great reminders. You could come away thinking you have heard them all and be disappointed for having wasted time and money, or you could be duly prompted by the Holy Spirit to address a certain aspect of your walk. For sure, it is not more teaching we need but we must carefully examine what we are doing with all the information we have acquired.

RHEMA & REVELATION Thankfully, there are times when a gem of an idea or concept shines through. These would be different for different people depending on the situation or season you are in. Some refer to this as a rhema word whilst others may consider it a revelation of sorts. Regardless, it is something that caught your attention enough to make you sit up. Hold on to this nugget. Write it down. Don’t let it flit in and then out too easily. Transfer your notes to your prayer journal so that it can be referred to over and over again, along with other revelations you have received in the past. God never speaks in isolation but consistently through various means and times. The rhema you received at a conference may be significant. But the greater revelation of seeing God at work in your life in totality is by far even more amazing!

REVIEW & REFLECT How easy it is to enjoy the experience and then promptly forget it the moment the conference is over. This explains why people flock from meeting to meeting, hoping to recapture that moment or feeling. After all, it is so much easier to have someone else do the hard work for you. However, the way, the truth and the life is not the conference itself; it is the Living Word of God, Jesus. As the speakers are declaring the Word, use that time to reflect. After the event is over, review and reflect. If you have received a rhema or a revelation, then even more so, review and reflect. Keep reviewing and revisiting the points by meditating upon these and praying through. What did God say? What does it really mean? What does He want you to do with it?

RESPOND This, to me, is the most important point. Whilst it does happen, it is not enough to just make your way to the front to receive a touch, to shed a tear, or to spend some time on the floor. To respond really means to put into action all that has been received at the conference after the conference is over. No point leaving only with another conference booklet with blanks filled in and another name tag to add to your collection. Don’t make the mistake of being a hearer of the Word and not become a doer, deceiving yourself. It is not the number of conferences you have been to, or how many great speakers you have heard. It is what you do with what you have received that truly matters.

As we have already established, there are just so many Christian conferences and seminars in Singapore. Add to these, Church-based training and programmes, and we Singaporean believers are, without doubt, spoilt for choice. I pray that the above points would be helpful for you as you consider what to do with that conference flyer you are holding in your hand, or those invitation emails that just arrived in your inbox. [Of course, if it’s from me, you should register immediately – haha!]

Let me close with this verse that describes the explosion of information in the end times, often taken to refer to global travel and the knowledge-based internet economy of our days:

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4

I can’t help but wonder if this might, in actuality, be describing the running to and fro of God’s people from meeting to meeting, seminar to seminar, conference to conference, and the knowledge that is ever increasing and abounding? If so, oh Lord, by Your grace, may we have the fruit to show for it.

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!

Theological Seminary Accepts LGBT Student Group

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Eph 5:15-17

You can call me conservative or traditional. In fact, for that matter, you can call me anything you want, but this article “Fuller Theological Seminary’s Acceptance of LGBT Group, One Table, Creates Ripples” sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read of how Fuller, a well-respected seminary, has openly accepted Open Table, the very first LGBT student club. That it would even admit a gay seminarian in the first place boggles me.

Interestingly, just a few months ago, I was rejoicing with a brother in Christ when I learned of his decision to pursue doctoral studies at Fuller. At his invitation, I even considered the possibility of joining him in this quest. After all, I had high regard for this institution, which featured as one of my study options when I first prepared for fulltime ministry. Well, not anymore.

It is one thing for governments to change their position towards LGBT. But it is totally yet another for Christian institutions of higher learning to move in that direction. These are clearly the first steps before it becomes a full-fledged slide down the slippery slope. Then again, should this even surprise us, given how churches are also beginning to waver in their stance towards LGBTs.

Well, I may be surprised but not naive. It won’t be long before others follow suit. The can of worms has been opened and it is only a matter of time when we shall quickly observe how these worms are nothing but slimy slithery serpents of satanic nature.

We can and should pray. No, not for these to be removed. I am one who believes that there are some things you cannot pray away. We have been warned of these and however odd it may sound to us, these are happening just as it has been prophesied. Yes, the LGBT agenda is a fulfilment of prophecy. In some strange sense, that comforts me – not that I relish the present situation but that this did not catch God off-guard. And if this part of prophecy is being fulfilled, then we have great assurance and confidence that God’s plan will also unfold in accordance to His timing and will. Hallelujah!

At the risk of sounding inward and selfish, we must pray for ourselves — that we will be enabled, empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit to speak and live as we ought to, without compromise. As we have already seen, some have and even more will in the days to come. May we not be counted amongst these, but be found faithful and true to the worship and service of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taking Things For Granted In Singapore

I am thankful for the freedom to worship in Singapore. Without having to worry too much about anything, even with today’s sensitive and tolerance issues, we can gather safely in churches, in offices, in homes as Christians to sing, to praise, to preach, to study the Bible, and even to share the good news of Jesus. In case we forget – and we tend to – this is an awesome privilege never to be taken for granted.

Whilst we enjoy this status in Singapore, the same cannot be said of Christians in other countries. Allow me to share a little about what a dear brother-in-Christ is presently going through:

Pastor John [not his real name] had planted a church in the city of Bekasi (about an hour from Jakarta) some years ago. The church grew and things were going well until they had to change their location of worship in July 2012. Just 1.5 months in the new place, they were confronted by a group of Muslims demanding for them to stop holding services in that shop house. When they continued to worship there, the group interrupted the service in November while Pastor John was preaching, shouting for them to close the church. A discussion followed but the group would not accept anything.

The next day, the Police contacted Pastor John and warned him of the group’s intention to use force to expel the church from the shop house. Considering the safety of his flock and family, Pastor John had no choice but to move out. Since that decision, they have been meeting in various places, but primarily in a member’s home. Over time, some have left the church out of fear and numbers have dwindled.

In their search for a more permanent place of worship, Pastor Paul has identified a meeting room that is presently rented to another church in the afternoon. The morning slot is still available but the church does not have the funds to commit to the rent of Rp1,000,000 (approx S$128) per week for a term of one year. But until they raise enough funds, they will have to meet in the home, constantly under the threat of being confronted and challenged by the opposition.

When I learned of this, it really challenged my perspectives and preoccupations in the ministry. In Singapore, we fret about the lack of worship venues and churches in industrial and commercial properties are concerned if they might evicted. Still, these number in the hundreds and worship services continue. In looking for viable locations, we complain about the lack of parking spaces and the distance from bus-stops, MRT stations and food courts(?!). We gripe about anything and everything that does not sit well with our preferences and demands. Perhaps, things would change if a group barged into our services shouting and wielding machetes, you think?

No, this is definitely not what I am praying for. Instead, I am praying that in our affluence and  comfort, we do not become complacent and take things for granted. I am praying that we learn to recognise and seize the tremendous opportunity we have to freely preach and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. For all we know, this might just be the God-given window we have before circumstances change.

For starters, I am praying for Pastor John and his church in Bekasi. And I am going to sow into his church fund.

NOTE: For reasons of sensitivity and security, I have deliberately not named the pastor and the church. If you feel led to contribute, it will have to be on the basis of trust via my account. Please note that I am doing this in my personal capacity because of my relationship with Pastor John. If you need more information or clarification, please email me at henson@covenantvision.org.

UPDATE [20 June 2013]: I am pleased to update that the moment this post was published, a dear sister contacted me about contributing funds amounting to six months rental! A while later, another sister messaged me to contribute — twice. Just yesterday, a couple gave enough to cover rental for another six months. I have already informed Pastor John of the good news, that he can commit to a full year’s rental. I am so thankful to these who gave as prompted and led by the Lord. Surely, they shall reap as they have sown. Indeed, our God is faithful and His arm is never too short! All glory to Him!

Saturday 29 June 2013: Family Day?

Saturday 29 June 2013. This would be an interesting date and day to watch. Not only in the natural, but also in the spiritual.

NFC Family Day Article
The Straits Times, Tuesday 23 May 2013, Home, B10.

This date will mark the end of Singapore’s National Family Council‘s (NFC) month-long National Family Celebrations 2013. They have designated it as Family Day Out, and families are encouraged to spend that day together, visiting places of interest or participating in activities and events together as a family unit. And specifically at 6:29pm, the NFC hopes everyone would call, tweet, text or hug their family members because “6:29 is Family Time”.

Pink Dot Article
The Straits Times, Tuesday 23 May 2013, Home, B12.

Coincidentally, or otherwise, the Pink Dot Movement will also be holding their 5th rally at Hong Lim Park on 29 June. As we know, this group that represents the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders) seeks to establish these ‘alternative’ expressions of love and relationships as fully acceptable and mainstream. Put another way, LGBT relationships that include same-sex unions and marriages are hoping to be recognised as “family units” by society, not to be frowned upon nor discriminated against at all. This rally has been gaining momentum and popularity since its first event in 2009. The high point is when congregants, comprising LGBTs and non-LBGTs, adults and children (family), form a giant Pink Dot to show their support for this cause.

Without thinking too much, these are simply two separate events. But are they? Events and dates are not determined overnight, at least not for these of such scale, size and significance. The question is, which came first? Is the Pink Dot Movement riding on and taking advantage of the NFC’s efforts, cleverly positioning themselves as a family-related event to the unsuspecting man-on-the-street? Or might the NFC be subtly supporting the Pink Dot Movement’s event, thereby sending a message that the family is being re-defined to include LGBT relationships? If not, would the national agency change anything so as not to send a wrong signal? Or would they gently request the Pink Dot Movement to consider shifting their Hong Lim event, at the risk of appearing as discriminating against LGBTs?

Surely, there are no easy answers or solutions, not that these are necessarily desiring to find any alternative (no pun intended). Am I suggesting that I know something, that I might have an idea that there is more than meets the eye? No, not at all. I am just a concerned Christian Singaporean parent, wondering where all this is leading to and how I am to respond. Indeed, 29 June is a date to watch. I may have no control over these events taking place in the natural, but I can and will pray because the authority I have is in the spiritual.

All said, I guess I shouldn’t make too big a deal of it. After all, it might really just be pure coincidence that both events are taking place on the exact same day. But why then did the two articles appear on the exact same day in the Straits Times, one page after another!? Sigh, there I go again — I will just wait and watch to see if the Pink Dot will be formed — at 6:29pm.

Related Post: The Need To Rebuild the Walls Around Families