What I Don’t Get About Christians & Halloween

I don’t get it.

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

I don’t get it.

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

I don’t get it.

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

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

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

I don’t get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 6:16-18

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

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

2 Corinthians 7:1 (emphasis mine)

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

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

I don’t get it.

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

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

I don’t get it.

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

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


Halloween? How?

It’s October and ’tis the season for ghosts, zombies, witches, blood and gore. Yes, I’m referring to Halloween.

My position about Christians & Halloween has already been expressed. To me, it is very clear that “we as children of light should have nothing to do with anything that manifests the kingdom of darkness.” That said, I am also well aware that not all Christians hold the same view. And each year, we will get the same debate all over again (much like yoga, Christmas and Easter).

Take, for example, the article by Darren Wilson, “The Halloween Predicament“. Wilson is of the opinion that it is simply a matter of opinion. To those who think Halloween is harmless, it is fine to dress up as whatever and to freely celebrate Halloween. To support his position, Wilson quotes Romans 14:2-3 where Paul taught about the non-issue of food.

To be honest, it is quite a hermeneutical stretch to extend the non-issue of food laws to the participation of believers in a celebration that involves witches, demons and death.

“Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” 1 Cor 10:20-21

Also, whilst Paul said it is alright to eat food offered to idols in 1 Cor 8, he specifically told the believers in 1 Cor 10:20-21 not to partake of the table of demons thereby entering into fellowship with demons. In my humble opinion, I believe 1 Cor 10:20-21 relate more directly and clearly to the question of Halloween.

Then again, this is only my opinion as a teacher of the Word. And according to Wilson, “always remember that your convictions are your convictions.” In other words, whilst we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to share these with anyone else lest it “leads you down the road of judgment and condemnation of others.” It would seem that Wilson is more concerned about appearing judgmental to others than he is about stumbling others.

Am I over-reacting and being too cautious?

Well, let’s consider another article about Halloween by John Ramirez, “I’m Shocked Christians Celebrate Halloween“. As a former worshipper of Satan, perhaps he knows something that we don’t?

To make a very strong point, Ramirez opens the article with a statement from Anton Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan: “I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year. Welcome to Halloween.”

According to Ramirez, Halloween is “very different from every other night in the witchcraft world”. It is as important to the dark world as Good Friday or Resurrection Day is to Christians. Halloween is celebrated as “the devil’s holiday”, or holy day, or a day set apart for devil worship.

By participating in the activities of Halloween, Ramirez warns that “you have turned over your legal rights, and you have dedicated yourself and your kids to celebrating the devil’s holiday. You have just made a pact with the enemy, and you are already sacrificing your children spiritually by dressing them up and changing their identity.”

Interesting. These are but two rather differing views from two Christians, both appearing in a reputable Christian magazine. One says that it is perfectly fine to celebrate or not celebrate. The other says that Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween for it is the devil’s domain. So, which is right?

Is Halloween simply a matter of opinion for the Christian?

I know where I stand on this. Do you?

SCOTUS & Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: When God is Reduced to a Penalty Shoot Out

5-4. By now, the entire world should know what this scoreline means.

Yes, the impression of a penalty shoot out was what I had when news of SCOTUS’ decision on the legalising of same-sex marriage flooded the social media. It sure looked like nine players having their chances at goal from the penalty spot. One by one, they took their shots and it was tied at 4-all. Finally, the last shot was taken and the deadlock was broken. 5-4! And same-sex marriage is now a legal right across all fifty states of the United States of America. By the system, it is described as a landmark decision by majority vote. In my opinion, one vote can hardly be regarded as majority; not when it concerns an issue as critical as marriage. Honestly, it is as if God was outvoted by these judges and His original design and intent for marriage was reduced to a penalty shoot out.

As I scrolled the news on my smartphone that night (26 June, Singapore time), I felt my stomach churn. It wasn’t exactly the kind of news you’d want to be reading after a long tiring day before going to sleep. The next morning, even more articles appeared, both for and against. I posted a few comments on my personal and ministry page, as well as shared a couple of these articles. This morning, I thought it’d be good to put down some observations and thoughts. These are done in a personal capacity as I wrestle and process what is happening around us in these times. I hope this helps you in your own processing too.

1. Christians are not united on this topic. This may be shocking to some but that’s the reality. And I am not just referring to the flurry of formal counter responses on the internet. To my surprise, some of my Facebook friends have used the online app to “celebrate pride” through their profile pictures. In other words, these Christians are supportive of same-sex marriages and are not shy to declare their position openly. You would think that believers of Jesus Christ would be standing together on this critical matter. Well, no. There is a need to have both wisdom and discernment that we may know how to respond, not just to the world out there, but also within the so-called Christian community.

2. Truth has been absolutely relativised. In the midst of post-modern culture and mindsets, the battle for Truth rages on. I cannot understand how Christians who claim to hold to God’s Word on the one hand can celebrate pride on the other hand! But let’s not be naive at all. The battle for Truth is really a battle of worldviews. Today, Scripture is being read, interpreted and processed with secular and humanistic worldviews. No wonder major denominations have changed their position about marriage and LGBTs. Make no mistake – God’s Word has not changed. However, Scripture has been adjusted to cater to culture when all along, it should be culture that is to be shaped by Scripture. Interestingly, the Church is to be the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15) but sadly, I fear we are not doing too well in this aspect.

3. Some things cannot be prayed away. This is not a statement of little faith. On the contrary, this is a declaration of faith in the Word of God. We are told that lawlessness will increase in the last days and that is what we see happening all around us. This is prophetic fulfilment as in the days of Israel and Judah. The Old Testament prophets declared impending invasions from the enemies. At the same time, they prayed and pleaded with God, not desiring to see their own prophecies come to pass. They appealed to the mercy and grace of God, as well as His covenant love for His people. Yet, in God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, He allowed Israel and Judah to be devastated and deported regardless of how hard or long the righteous prayed. In the same way, there are some things that just cannot be prayed away. These must take place for these have been prophesied and we are seeing the Word of God come to pass.

4. We must keep praying. I know this sounds as if I am contradicting the previous point but I assure you that I am not being fickle. Without doubt, we are called to pray, and pray we must. This is a battle that is spiritual and it is entirely beyond what we can do in the natural. We pray because we acknowledge our great need for the Great Judge to act in His way and in His time. We pray because we still believe that He is in control over the situation, however dire or hopeless it looks to us. We pray not only for ourselves but also for our children and our children’s children. Whatever the outcome, may we be found faithful as ones who stood in the gap, who offered the incense of prayer that rises to His throne.

5. Don’t miss the backdrop. In case you haven’t noticed, it is no longer business as usual. The most powerful nation on earth has set the tone and it’s not a pretty one at all. If you think this is largely a Western problem, I urge you to consider again. In this day and age, the threat is much closer than you think. It has been rightly pointed out that the LGBT Agenda is only a front to something that is more sinister. John Piper, in the article “So-Called Same-Sex Marriage“, reveals the “new calamity” of “normalisation and institutionalisation”. And this just might become a global phenomenon, and much sooner than you think.

6. This is not the time to be found in slumber. The alarm is sounding and it is getting louder. The signs are all around us if our eyes would be open to see and perceive. For sure, it cannot be church as usual. The question is, “Is the Church awake?” Or are many in the Body of Christ still found to be in slumber? And I am not talking about attendance in a building on any given weekend. The fact that Christians are generally unaware and apathetic is cause for concern. The Church in America is crying out for a Third Awakening and I am standing in agreement with them. But why only in USA? Let’s believe for an awakening in Singapore and throughout Asia too!

7.  There’s still work to be done. Whilst a major disappointment, the SCOTUS ruling is only one little setback in God’s greater scheme of things. The Church must not be distracted by this decoy and miss her mission. Even more so, the believer must not be derailed from his or her kingdom assignment (Archippus Awakening). There is work to be done and God is calling all hands to be on deck. In the face of great challenge and ridicule, Noah knew his assignment and kept on building the ark. Similarly, we must stay focussed to know and fulfil our assignments regardless of how difficult it may be.

For now, the scoreline remains 5-4. LGBT advocates and their supporters the world over are celebrating this victory. Needless to say, I am not in the least thrilled. In Singapore football jargon, I am almost tempted to shout “Referee kayu!!!” (useless referee). After all, how can such a predicament be allowed to happen? How can God’s institution of marriage be redefined through a penalty shoot out?

Even so, I am promptly reminded – the judges of SCOTUS may have ruled in favour of same-sex marriage but it is our God who has the final say as the Ultimate Judge. Indeed, God is still in control and the game is still in play. The Divine Referee waves ‘play on’ and that is what we must do, for it ain’t over until He says it is over … and Scripture reveals a very different scoreline.

Our Adequacy Is Found Entirely In Him


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.

Bill Hull: I find no biblical evidence for a separation of Christian from disciple.


Some months back, I came across this book “The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ” by Bill Hull and decided to add it to my library. It is, after all, positioned as “the definitive A-to-Z resource on discipleship”.

Learning more about discipleship is always good. However, my main objective was to see what Bill Hull’s position was with regards to believers and disciples. Simply: Are believers and Christians one and the same? or Is there a separate decision believers have to make to move on to being disciples? Do Christians get to choose whether to be or not be disciples? If you have read my posts on this topic and issue, you would know my view and position. If not, here are the links for your easy reference:

Whilst I used to think that there was a difference, I am today solidly (and biblically) convinced that all believers are automatically disciples. The question for me is no longer whether we are disciples or not, but if we are faithful or unfaithful ones. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this position. In fact, what is more commonly taught and propagated across churches is that discipleship is a separate and distinct decision a believer makes.

Given my schedule and priorities, it would be a while before the book made it to my bedside table. I finally read the first pages and I didn’t have to get too far to be encouraged.

The Introduction opened with a bold quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” Hull notes that today, “non-discipleship ‘Christianity’ dominates much of the thinking of contemporary church” because “we evangelicals accept and even encourage a two-level Christian experience in which only serious Christians pursue and practice discipleship, while grace and forgiveness is enough for everyone else.” Hull goes on to state that “we can’t truly follow Christ without desiring to become like Him. Following Him requires regeneration or new birth. If we’re reborn, we’ll follow Him – unless we’re taught that we don’t need to.” (pp15-17, emphasis mine)

In Chapter One: Biblical Foundations of Discipleship, in defining a Disciple, the author writes, “A disciple, then is a reborn follower of Jesus. I’ve already mentioned my distaste for the teaching that a difference exists between being a Christian and being a disciple. The common teaching is that a Christian is someone who by faith accepts Jesus as Saviour, receives eternal life, and is safe and secure in the family of God; a disciple is a more serious Christian active in the practice of the spiritual disciplines and engaged in evangelising and training others. But I must be blunt: I find no biblical evidence for a separation of Christian from disciple. In answer to the age-old question, ‘Are disciples born or made?’ I contend they are born to be made.” (pp32-33, emphasis mine)

Hull then clarifies, As a new Christian, an individual doesn’t take a ‘second step’ toward becoming a disciple. Instead he embarks on a seamless journey of growth that passes through spiritual childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to maturity.” Hull believes that “When the distinction between disciple and Christian disappears, so does the damaging belief in a two-tiered church. A disciple, then, is the normal Christian who follows Christ.” (p33, emphasis mine)

I love this guy! And I believe that I’m going to enjoy reading the rest of the book too 🙂

That said, it is not about winning an argument about believers and disciples. So what if I am right positionally but totally miss it relationally. I do not want to merely talk or teach discipleship and not be engaged in the lives of others. There is already enough for that in our churches where we run discipleship programmes but do not really disciple anyone at all. My prayer is that the Lord will enable me to be a faithful disciple who will in turn lead and impact others for Jesus. Amen!

Santa? Or No Santa? Can We Please Make Up Our Minds?

I’m feeling a little schizophrenic, a little confused; and in wrestling with some of my own thoughts, a little legalistic too. And I don’t like feeling that way. I guess a few words on blogsville will help me air my thoughts and share the conundrum I am facing.

This being the Christmas season, the standard Christian phrases are making its rounds on Facebook and church posters. The two most popular, I surmise, are “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Without Christ, there is no Christmas”. And so, all Christians say a resounding “AMEN” to these statements. After all, when it comes to Jesus vs Santa, it is a no-brainer, right? Of course, Jesus wins! And to prove the point, a recent post from Matt Walsh “Who needs Santa when you’ve got Jesus?” garnered thousands of SHARES and LIKES.

But wait!

If that is what we Christians are trying to tell the world, that Jesus, and not Santa, should be celebrated, why do we still see so many Santa-ccessories in churches and Christian Christmas parties? This is what I don’t get! Okay, at this point, I can really sense all the Pharisee-arrows pointed at me. But before you release those arrows, would you pause for a moment to think about it?

Here we are, shouting and declaring that no other name should be exalted above Jesus. And especially at Christmas, we are desperately (or at least that is the impression we give) trying to reclaim the season for Jesus. And as soon as we do that, we put on Santa hats to create that Christmassy feeling!? Duh? No?

Imagine guests who visit. They hear us singing about Jesus but see us donning red and white outfits. Mixed signals, no? On the one hand, we take our stand that we are not for Santa. But on the other hand, we dress like him. Confusing, no? Friends join us for Christmas services, and greeters and ushers with Santa hats welcome them. Odd, no? Did they make a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in the North Pole Community Church? So, are we promoting Santa? Or no Santa?

Of course, this discussion (debate?) can go on. And it has, for the longest time. Others will then question the appropriateness of the Christmas tree, hollies and mistletoe. I guess we will spare Rudolf the hot seat since he already has enough attention with a red nose. On that note, if people can believe that reindeer fly, why do they find it so hard to believe in the virgin birth of the Christ-child? But I digress.

I guess these Christmas “symbols” are here to stay as are my feelings of schizophrenia. I don’t really want to be a spoil-sport as if I don’t know how to have some fun. And yet, I wonder how others will react when I politely decline anything Santa the same way I say ‘no’ to a glass of wine? But if I play along, would I have compromised my Lord and Master, Jesus? Sigh.

If nothing else, what this exercise has demonstrated is how inconsistent we are. We pick and choose what we want, and we justify and rationalise our actions. And conveniently, the festivities of the season provide a mask for our duality. More importantly, we must ask, are we like that too for the rest of the year? Ho, ho, ho?

Related Post: Jesus be the Santa of my life?

Haze in Singapore 2013: Responding Like Everyone Else?

IMG_5070Okay, there’s no denying it. It’s the worst haze our country has ever experienced and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Like everyone else, I do not enjoy the smell of smoke, the itchy eyes, the stuffy nose and the dryness in my throat. Like everyone else, I do not like being cooped up at home without being able to open my windows, wondering if my next electricity bill would look like the ever-rising PSI. Like everyone else, I also would like to slash-and-burn those who have slashed-and-burnt for commercial gains without much thought that their actions would cause much discomfort to others way beyond their own national boundaries. Like everyone else, I would very much like to post something on Facebook and Twitter, to have my share of voice online.

Yes, it would have been very easy to be like everyone else. And I must admit that I have grumbled and complained under my breath as I experienced the discomfort in my body and the environment. Each time I look out the window or drive through the hazy conditions, it is depressing and discouraging. An automatic response would be to join the fray and the chorus of complaints, to play the blame game, to look to the government for deliverance from this awful plight.


That is why I struggled when prompted by the Holy Spirit this morning that I am not to be like everyone else. He told me that I did not have to gripe nor complain, that I could instead choose to keep my eyes on the Lord and to praise Him regardless. He reminded me that the skies may be hazy but I carry the brightness of His glory within. The situation might be gloomy but His joy is not dependent on that at all. He encouraged me to take comfort in His Word rather than be affected by the dismal posts and pictures on Facebook.

I don’t know how long this haze will last — even the governments do not know. If weather conditions remain the same, the haze could be around for weeks (months?!). What was made clear to me by the Spirit is that life goes on, and those who proclaim Jesus as Lord are to respond differently.

As Christians, we are not to be like everyone else. Stop blaming the governments. Stop pointing fingers. There is not even a need to respond to rude or offensive remarks, much less make the same and be found no better. Sure, have fun and have a good laugh at some of the better PSI jokes. But don’t stoop so low as to demean another.

As Christians, we can pray, trusting in the One who holds all things in His mighty hand. Pray for rain as Elijah did. And keep praying until the heavens open. In the meantime, hide in Him as our Protection, even as we do our part to stay indoors and to don those uncomfortable N95 masks. Be careful and responsible but there is no need to live in fear. Discern the various health advisories coming from every direction. Not everything you read is true nor accurate.

As Christians, look to God, for in Him alone is our salvation and deliverance. There is absolutely no point in tracking the PSI so religiously. As with everything else in the world, it will fluctuate from hour to hour, from place to place. Only God is unchanging and stable, and He is the One we must keep our eyes fixed on. Thank God that our government is taking active steps. Pray for them too and refrain from questioning or judging them. You are only concerned with irritated eyes and noses. They have to manage the sentiments of an irritated country and other irritable factors – both internal and external.

As Christians, let’s remember to bless. To this end, instead of becoming angry with our neighbors, let’s begin to bless them. Yes, bless them! I know this sounds ridiculous. For a start, stop posting all your hate remarks on Facebook. There is enough going around without Christians having to add to it. If you have to vent, cast it upon the Lord and let Him handle it. We are not to take things into our own hands. But we are called to forgive, and we are called to bless.

As Christians, rejoice! And again I say, rejoice! Have a good sense of humour and lift one another’s spirits. Don’t fuel each other’s discouragements and frustrations. Don’t commiserate in each other’s misery. Instead, rejoice in the Lord (not in the situation) and keep drawing strength and hope in Him. Choose to praise and to thank Him! It may not change the PSI but it will sure change the way you handle the situation. As I posted on Facebook, “Through the daze, maze or haze, He is still worthy of all praise!”

As Christians, the work of the Kingdom continues. Nothing, not even the haze, will stop God’s move in the hearts of people. Don’t allow the slight inconveniences to deter or distract us from a higher purpose. Let us not stand in the way by responding wrongly through unkind words and negative behaviour. Instead, this is an opportunity to be a testimony for Jesus!

As mentioned above, I struggled when the Spirit flooded my heart with these points. It is so much easier to be like everyone else. But I am glad He reminded me. Pastorally, I am concerned with how some may be responding to the haze situation. As I am inconvenienced and affected, so are many others. Yet, how I choose to respond will also set an example – whether good or bad – to others.

Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to me so gently, reminding me that I bear the name of Jesus. Enable me to respond rightly, especially when it is tempting to react as others do. Lord, You are in total control of the situation. I look to You and You alone! Deliver us, O Lord!

The Need to Rebuild the Walls Around Families

When I received the invitation to LoveSingapore’s Family Foundation Future Symposium, I thought I had to give it a miss as the dates coincided with our 18th Wedding Anniversary and our youngest’s 4th birthday. However, when Serene saw the key topic, she immediately said that I should go. So, with her understanding and blessings, I spent the whole of yesterday and this morning listening to the line up of speakers. So many points hit home, and I was challenged on so many fronts. I found myself evaluating my own personal ministry and that which I am involved in at Covenant Vision.

The points weren’t exactly new. I had heard and even preached some of the same points before but it was still quite an emotional time for me as I was reminded and made even more aware of the times we live in and the threats families face. At the same time, I felt my heart stirred and my mind opened to views and positions I had never considered before. I had to repent of my own pride, prejudice and self-righteousness! I now understand why the Lord instructed me to fast the entire week before.

What kept coming across was the need to rebuild the walls around families, as in the Nehemiah account in the Bible. This shot straight into my heart like arrows from the Lord! Since 2006, I have been teaching the seminar, “Building a Household of Faith”, more recently re-titled to “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World“. In this three hour seminar, I present seven points drawn from Nehemiah 4: Purpose, Prayer, Partnership, Position, Preparedness, People and Prophetic. Through these points, I bring awareness to the threats and challenges Christian families face in these perilous times, and how parents are to respond accordingly. Whilst response and feedback have been encouraging, it is not as well as attended as I feel it could or should be. Is the Lord affirming and encouraging me through this symposium? Is He nudging me to offer this seminar again now that a prophetic momentum has been initiated through our country’s foremost church leaders? Have I been rehearsing for a time such as this?

At the close of the symposium, the Spirit gently prompted me to examine the plank in my eye, convicting me through the speaker’s sharing of how God has already opened doors for a Fathers Movement in Singapore. Once again, this idea of Elijah turning the hearts of the fathers back to their children is not new to me. I had preached about the same Elijah spirit in the message “The Spirit of the Forerunner” some years before. And as a father of seven children, I am fully aware of my role, even as I challenge others to rise up into theirs. But we all know it’s one thing to preach it and yet another to live it. And this morning, I was convicted to take steps to address and plug certain gaps in my own marriage and family. When the symposium ended, I immediately messaged Serene, “I feel we should take time to seriously discuss what we want to address in our family. Not just a chit chat but a purposeful session with clear points of action.” Interestingly, Serene had just attended a seminar on “Preserving Purity” by Generations of Virtue last Saturday. I believe God has prepared our hearts accordingly.

Oblivious to many Christians, things are happening at breakneck speed and at an increasing rate. Our families have been sitting ducks in the schemes and ploys of the enemy. And sadly, we have played into his court without even realising it. Yet, this should not come as a surprise because we have been too caught up with our own brand of Christianity, one that panders to our desires and agendas. This is the deception that we have fallen prey to, thinking we are okay when we are not. Clearly, when we are not focused on God’s agenda, we will be distracted by the world’s agenda!

Thankfully, the trumpet has been sounded through God’s prophetic voices. I have heard and I will heed. Indeed, I am solely responsible for the raising of my family. That said, I acknowledge that it is not a journey to be made alone. I will align myself with those who are gathered for battle, and will do my part to rally others.  Will you join me?

“When you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” Neh 4:20

Misconception #1: Discipleship is a separate decision/event from believership [Part Two]

Part Two: What about the Multitudes?

Misconception 1.2

At this moment, I hear you ask, “What about the multitudes? Did they not follow? Are these also believers but not disciples then?” Please do not be offended, but those who ask this question are usually the ones who have no desire to be disciples. And if they can prove that multitudes are believers, it gives them the justification to stay right where they are. Well, you can’t really blame them for to these, to believe means to be saved, not to follow Jesus as a disciple.

Multitudes in the Gospels In the gospels, the word multitudes is always used in contrast to disciples. This can mean one of two things, depending on one’s perspective. The traditional view is that they are believers of Jesus Christ but have not made the decision to be disciples. However, this raises a few questions that I find very difficult to answer and reconcile.

If these are indeed believers, why would Jesus send them away? If these believed in Jesus, why would Jesus deliberately keep the mysteries of the Kingdom from them, as if they are some second-class believers? Can you imagine your pastor telling you to go home so that he can share deeper secrets with those more deserving? If these were His own, why would Jesus describe them as sheep without a shepherd. Plainly, He was not their shepherd – yet. That means, they were not His sheep.

“But they followed!” you say, “surely then, they believed.” Indeed, they believed; but not necessarily in what Jesus would have them believe. They believed in what they wanted to believe. After all, they did want to make Jesus king. But the moment they did not receive a Messiah of their desire, they abandoned Jesus.

That said, let’s also be clear that one can follow without believing or understanding anything. Look at the crowds and mobs of today. Do you think they really believe in everything they picket about? I think not. Of course, it all begins with a core group who believe enough to do something (see, faith produces action). Yet, with herd mentality, it’s easy for many others to follow without even knowing why they are there. It just sounds and feels right. After all, everyone is doing it (sounds familiar?).

Without doubt, there would have been some who genuinely wanted to know more about Jesus. And these would constitute those who approached Jesus to be disciples. Once again, it is premised on their faith in Him that compels them to follow Him. The One we believe, we follow.

From the above, you will agree with me that it is not quite as straightforward to broadly declare the multitudes as believers or not believers. We will never know but the Lord does. That is not the point of this article at all. All I am convinced about is that one can follow without believing; but one cannot believe without following. Against this, the more pertinent question for each Christian is this: “If I believe, would I then follow? Why do I fight being a disciple so much?”

Multitudes in Acts By the time we come to the book of Acts, the word multitudes, and its various forms, is used very differently. Acts 6:1 records that “the number of disciples were multiplying”. The twelve apostles then “summoned the multitude of the disciples”, not believers. And finally in Acts 6:7, we are told that “the number of the disciples multiplied greatly.” Notice that it is used in conjunction with the word disciples. And when it is not used in this context, the crowds referred to non-believers, who more often than not, opposed the disciples.

Do you honestly think that they had such a good discipling programme that many believers signed up immediately? I don’t believe this is the right interpretation at all. Consider this instead: In the book of Acts, there is simply no distinction between believers and disciples. On the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 were added to the disciples; and then 5,000 more later. From Jerusalem, the gospel travels to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. Acts 11:21 tells us that “a great number believed”. What the city of Antioch saw as believers of Jesus Christ, Acts 11:26 records as disciplesOnce again, we see that believers are disciples. And right there in Antioch, these believer-disciples were called Christians, which literally means “followers of the Christ”, for the very first time.

Considering the number of mentions of the word disciples, it makes for a very interesting observation (revelation?). Of the 274 NT mentions, 242 are found in the gospels and only 32 in Acts. Surprisingly, there is not a single mention in the epistles and Revelation! How do you explain this? Jesus’ Great Commission was for them to make disciples, and there is not a single mention of the word disciple? Either they missed this important detail and messed up big time. Or there was simply no need to make any distinction between believers and disciples because there was none in the first place. Every New Testament believer of Jesus Christ is a disciple of Jesus Christ!

Christians & Halloween

Let me say from the onset that this article might offend some brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s about Halloween, or more precisely, Christians who see no problem celebrating or allowing their children to participate in such activities.

Halloween was never a big deal for us in Singapore. Not until recently, at least. I guess we are occupied enough with our own version of ghastly ghostlies in the Festival of Hungry Ghosts, or the traditional 7th Lunar Month, when disowned and disenchanted spirits are released from hell to roam the earth for food. In recent years, with the influx and influence of the West, Halloween is being celebrated in a much bigger way. Walk into any department store or supermarket and you will see pumpkins, scary masks and spider webs! Even nightspots and tourist venues are staging Halloween themed events.

Interestingly, local Christians are very clear that we are not to participate in the Festival of Hungry Ghosts. That’s a no-no. But Halloween? Sadly, we don’t have as clear a consensus on this. To my horror, I saw a Facebook photo post of a brother-in-Christ’s house being decorated for Halloween! Then, there’s another post of someone else’s child all dressed up for a Halloween party!

I simply cannot understand why Christians would want to be associated with demons, monsters, vampires, black cats, witches, blood, gore and death?! Rationalise any way you want, but it is all spiritually extremely dark and evil! How can Christian parents even think their children look cute and attractive in those costumes, simply in the name of fun and entertainment?

On the one hand, we war against principalities and powers, against rulers of darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph 6:12). Yet, on the other hand, we dress up to look like them! 1 Thess 5:22 exhorts us to “abstain from every form of evil” and we are rushing out to be ambassadors of evil. Something just doesn’t add up! Have we become so de-sensitized by pop culture that we no longer see these as Satan’s agents and co-workers? Do we not realise that these would one day share the same fate with the devil in the lake of fire and brimstone?

I know not everyone will agree with my position, passing this off as legalistic or narrow-minded. That’s fine. I will agree with you that we may not necessarily interpret our freedom in Christ in the same way. To this end, if you sincerely feel that celebrating Halloween brings glory to our Lord Jesus, I won’t stand in your way. As for me, I remain convicted that we as children of light should have nothing to do with anything that manifests the kingdom of darkness.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light … and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph 5:8-11