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

42 Parents Turned Up For “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World”

I want to give God all the glory for what took place at Wesley Methodist Church today.

At the invitation of the Family Life Ministry, I had the opportunity to share about raising families for Jesus in today’s challenging and ever-changing landscape. A total of 42 parents turned up to attend this talk (from Wesley MC and also other churches).

The morning started a little tentatively with me experiencing some technical and connection problems – interestingly, this tends to happen at Wesley MC … perhaps, it’s time for a new computer (MacBook?) – haha! Anyway, one of the parent-participants, Jonathan, helped me troubleshoot and got everything set up. Truly, God-sent!

With so many things to share, the three hours zipped by so quickly. As far as I could observe, the crowd was attentive and everyone was duly engaged with the SEVEN key points presented, drawn from Nehemiah 4:1-20.

Another high point was that for the first time, my wife Serene was able to join me (albeit a little later). I’ve always felt that we should be doing this together as husband and wife, father and mother. And today, with the children able to stay home themselves, Serene could be present. During Q&A time, the women had a chance to ask questions, which in my opinion, are better answered by my dear wife 🙂

Feedback and responses after were positive, indicating that the participants were provoked to think further and more deeply. Is it all about surviving the rat race, education and academic grades? Or are they raising Christian families centred upon Jesus that these would be purposefully used for God in the advancement of His Kingdom?

I am praying that the Holy Spirit would have convicted the parents who attended, and continue to lead them as their cast their vision for their families and make choices that would glorify Jesus!

Here We Go Again

I guess it can’t be helped. As long as the problem remains, it will be headline news, over and over again. In case you’re wondering what I am referring to, I’m talking about babies. Or more accurately, the lack of babies in Singapore.

In his address at the Tanjong Pagar GRC National Day Dinner, our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew urged Singaporeans to “get married and have babies.” Simply, our most senior statesman has raised the red flag. Of course, this triggers a whole new barrage of comments, opinions and suggestions in the media and online. I understand that this will also be the topic for Channel News Asia’s Singapore Talking next week. I wonder what will be discussed or raised? Would it not be the same points, reasons and excuses again? What new discoveries and revelations will there be? Truly, this baby talk is getting tiring.

Anyway, since this is the talk of the town (again), permit me my share of air-time …

Two days ago, I was approached by a friend if Serene and I would be keen to be interviewed by the press. I wonder why? – haha! This friend thought that it would be a good idea for our family to be featured that others would be inspired to have more children. Such optimism, but honestly, I think it will take more than an article with a family of nine to convince Singaporeans to have babies. With present mindsets, a picture of our family might just scare them off … for good 🙂 So, we declined the interview.

Two weeks ago, at the “Day of His Power” prayer concert organised by LoveSingapore, the time came for all to pray for families. The prayer leader led the way, praying with full conviction as his voice bellowed over the mega sound system of the Indoor Stadium, “LORD, OPEN THE WOMBS…” Indeed, for those who have been trying to conceive but can’t, this is the prayer for them. But I don’t think this addresses the right target audience. The more appropriate prayer, in my opinion, should be, “Lord, open the hearts and minds of those who refuse to have babies …” Unless and until they – Christians included – see that children are indeed blessings from the Lord, nothing is going to happen. I’ve always wondered if the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for Christians is significantly higher than that of society?

So for the next few weeks, let us brace ourselves for more media coverage on this great Singapore conundrum. Already, articles and blogposts have been circulating on Facebook, with many sharing their views and perspectives. Yet, however well presented these socio-economic papers and propositions might be, they remain Man’s attempt at solving the problem, for God is never mentioned, understandably, in our secular setting. And yet, the institution of the family is entirely God’s idea. As such, it can never be solved apart from Him and according to His ways!

Read more closely and you will discover that it’s the same blame game, … blame the government, blame the economy, blame the housing, blame the high cost, blame the education system, etc. Then, in the end, it’s the same hopeful Singaporean suggestion: that the government will do something about it. Really, if the government could manufacture babies for the nation, they would. After all, we Singaporeans expect them to do everything for us, including raise our children on our behalf. And if we are not happy about how our children turn out, at least we can blame someone else again.

Enough said. Until we stop talking and start doing, it’s going to be a very different Singapore in the years ahead. Lord, help us.

Raising Christian Families in Today’s World

At the invitation of Wesley Methodist Church’s Family Life Ministry, I will be sharing this family seminar, “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World”*, on Saturday 18 August 2012, 9am to 12nn. Registration Fee: S$5.00 per person. For more information, you can contact Priscilla Shin at 6837 8610 or priscillas@wesleymc.org

Synopsis: Families today are under extreme pressure as they face new challenges in a fast-changing landscape. The enemy knows that if he hits the family unit, relationships will be broken and the testimony of the church will be weakened. What then are our roles as Christian parents? How do we protect our families from the spiritual and moral decline that is prevalent in societies today?  Indeed, parenting skills are important; but even more critical is a return to God’s Word and His mandate for parents to raise godly families for His Kingdom and glory!

If you can make it to attend, I’d strongly encourage you to; even better if both parents can make it. I won’t position this as a parenting talk, but a talk to and with parents. Feel free to share this seminar with others from your Christian community. It’d be a wonderful time of interaction, learning from one another and being made aware of the challenges that surround the Christian family in these perilous times.

*formerly titled, “Building a Household of Faith”

What We Take From Our Children When We Spoil Them

It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to spoil a child. And yet, these days, it has even become somewhat fashionable to indulge the little ones, to give them what they want – NOW – that it’s totally ok to spoil them. Also, experienced parents – otherwise affectionately referred to as grandparents – often see it as their right and privilege to spoil grandchildren.

Perhaps, these have never really understood the meaning of the word “spoil” and what it entails. Hopefully, the following definitions might help.

As a verb, to spoil means to ruin, to mar, to corrupt, to damage, to diminish, to destroy. Or as one dictionary puts it: “to damage severely or harm (something), especially with reference to its excellence, value, usefulness.”

Let’s apply this, word for word, to our son or daughter. When I spoil my child, I am practically ruining, marring, corrupting, damaging, diminishing and destroying him. With reference to his potential of excellence, his value and and his usefulness, I am consciously or unconsciously doing harm to him and what he could be!

As a noun, spoil refers to booty, loot or plunder, as in “the spoils of war”. In the context of spoiling children, we are in essence, plundering and removing what is valuable from them – the opportunity for discipline and character training that pertains to right and godly living.

Given this understanding, why would anyone want to spoil their children? It runs counter to everything a parent seeks and desires for a child.

Rising Costs. Rising Faith?

I remember the day in 2003 all too clearly. Prior to leaving my job and company for fulltime ministry, I did what most would consider a responsible thing to do – I reviewed our family’s finances. Taking our savings and dividing it by monthly expenses, the wave of emotion that overwhelmed me caught me totally by surprise. Fear flooded my heart, my knees went weak and all I could manage was a prayer that whimpered, “Oh God…” Quite immediately, I heard the Lord ask, “Have I not shown you I am faithful?” Although I struggled, I decided that day, that moment, to trust God completely with finances.

Fast forward a few years to 2007, to when Serene was pregnant with Deborah Hope, our 6th child. One afternoon, when I was just thinking about how we would manage with a growing family and one more on the way, fear gripped my heart … again. What followed was a series of questions in my mind, pondering and considering the financial needs of our larger-than-normal family way into the future! Amidst the voices in my head, the Spirit spoke, gently but so assuringly, “One day at a time. One day at a time.” I can’t explain the peace that ensued but it sure brought me back to the right perspective, putting my trust in the Lord again.

Well, it’s 2012, and today, we have seven children. Yes, in total, nine of us in the Lim Tribe. In terms of finances and provision, one would think that there would no longer be any shred of doubt in my heart, having heard so clearly from God and experienced His grace and provision all these years in full time ministry. Well, yes and no. Yes, because we are still trusting in God, holding on to His Word and standing on His unfailing faithfulness. We are so thankful for what we have and how He has blessed us by His grace. Does it mean that I am no longer affected by what goes on around me? I wish that would be so, but truth is, I am still learning and growing in Him. And until I get there eventually, I still struggle and waver every now and then in my journey of faith.

At times, I like to be that proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand. It’s easier that way, I rationalise, if I don’t take too much notice of news reports of inflation and rising costs. After all, I don’t want fear to affect my faith. Sounds nice and spiritual, but this is merely denial and totally unrealistic. The fact is costs have risen across the board and our family needs and expenses have all increased.

The same trolley full of groceries costs more this year than one year ago. Our special diet and health needs require less processed foods and more fresh foods – organic at times. I am also discovering that a growing teenager eats more than growing toddlers, and more often too! Eating out is a luxury so I am thankful that we eat home quite a lot – thanks to Serene’s labour of love in our furnace of a kitchen. Then again, the rates for utilities, like water, electricity and gas, are also climbing.

The younger ones may be more easily occupied by recycled toys and books but new hobbies and activities for the older ones all cost money. How I long for the good old days where kids catch fish in the longkangs and spiders in the bushes. Today, you must pay for artificial longkang fishing. Plus, don’t forget the cost of petrol to drive there.

Grateful as I am to list ACS as my alma mater, my only regret is that I did not take Chinese more seriously, preferring instead to join the league of ACScians who proudly declare our deficiency in the 2nd Language. This simply means that I am unable to save on Chinese tuition fees since I do not have the capability of teaching my own kids – not that my schedule permits it in the first place. Thanks to Singapore’s education policy, we have another figure to consider. It has also just dawned on me that tuition fees for three children is different from that for six. Seven soon?

Still on education – homeschooling more precisely – the question, “Lord, we did hear you correctly to homeschool, did we not?”, pops up a lot more in today’s economic scenario. For one, we lose out on subsidised education and Edusave. Even public transportation is more expensive for our children because they are not issued Student Passes to enjoy student rates. For another, we have to purchase curricula and books on our own, often importing from USA.

Like I said earlier, it’s extremely tempting to just be in denial, to ignore the rising costs and the crazy economy. If I position it really well (ostrich butt sticking out and all), I might even be seen as extremely spiritual and full of faith! Well, I don’t think that’s the right response at all. As a steward of the finances God has blessed us with, we must do our part to be prudent, to spend wisely and to cut unnecessary expenditure. To do that, we should and must evaluate our family’s finances in the context of the economy and determine how to best manage with godly wisdom.

Invariably, the issues of contentment and covetousness will have to be addressed – not just once, but over and over again. When we can afford it, are our wants rationalized and justified as our needs? The line is just so fine and the heart so deceitful. Now that belts have to be tightened, would we remain satisfied or would we grumble and complain? Would we continue to give thanks for what we have and not gripe about what we don’t have or could have?

All said, one thing remains very clear to me. The Lord has called me into fulltime ministry, to serve Him and to serve others. As a servant of God, I am convinced that I have the best Master who loves me and truly knows how to look after me and my family. The Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out grain,” and, “The labourer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Tim 5:18)

In the words of Jesus, we are of more value than the sparrows and the flowers of the field. If God looks after them and provides for them, how much more will He take care of His children? For sure, there is no need to worry at all for my heavenly Father knows our every need. My part is to continue to faithfully serve Him, to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”; His part is to ensure that “all things are added to me” (Matt 6:33).

The words of the Lord still resound in my heart: “Have I not shown you I am faithful?” and “One day at a time … one day at a time.” Yes, Lord, You have been more than faithful! Even when I have been faithless, You remain totally faithful for You are consistent and unchanging. I will take it one day at a time. As You have seen me through my yesterdays, You will walk with me today, and will also lead me into all my tomorrows.

Amidst rising costs, let faith arise! … “Hey, who left the fan on?”

Deborah Longs For Jesus’ Return

It’s funny what 4 yr olds say during their bath time.  The last time, when Ruth was 4 yrs old, she said she wanted to have 13 children. (Ruth’s Random Remarks)

This time, 4 yr old Deborah Hope surprised me with the following …

‎Deb: Is Jesus coming soon?

Me: Why?

Deb: Because I want to hug Him.

Me: Why do you want to hug Jesus?

Deb: Because I love Him so much!

Me: !!?? 🙂

Be a Super Parent!

I knew this title would catch your attention 🙂

Some months back, I was asked to contribute a few points to Scripture Union’s newsletter on how “to be a super parent”.  My initial reaction was to ignore the request, or give some excuse that I had no time to meet the extremely tight print deadline.  Serene and I have never considered ourselves as super parents and we definitely did not want to give any wrong impression that we were even close to being good or great parents; that perhaps, with more than a few children, we are now more qualified than others.

Well, despite my attempts to ‘run away’ from this task, I could not ignore the persistence of the editor.  And so, I penned a few statements and sent it off for print.

Reading these statements again, after leaving it for a while, I thought it’d be good to share it on my blog.  In no way are these “super parent” tips 🙂  Just great reminders for all parents, including Serene and myself.  And if you feel others can be likewise encouraged, feel free to share.  Be blessed …

As published in Scripture Union News Oct-Dec 2011.

Where Are We Headed?

The Straits Times, Thurs 8 Dec 2011, A9.

Yesterday, I flipped our local newspapers, The Straits Times, to discover yet another sign of the times we live in.

In the name of human rights, US will lead the charge to boost gay rights around the world. To be sure, the world has been blessed by many good things from the USA. At the same time, the negative influences of the world’s most powerful nation have also made its way into many countries and cultures. And now, they are wanting to champion gay causes globally. Perhaps, this is to distract people from their ailing debt-ridden economy that they are shifting focus, or to buy more votes and support from a fast-increasing group of influential people. Who knows? Whatever the reasons or motivation, whether political or not, I won’t mince words to say that there is a spiritual, demonic force behind it.

What is happening to this nation that was once built on biblical foundations? Have they taken for granted their rise to success, that it was all due to their own hard work, talents and creativity? Has this great nation forgotten God?

It is indeed worrying that the highest powers of USA have stepped out with this rallying cry to accept and promote such lifestyles. It is as if there is no shame anymore, that society is now subtly pressured to normalise such behaviour. Years ago, this would not have happened. Back in my theatre days, I came across some who struggled with their attraction to same-sex relationships. How they struggled! When they finally resolved that tension, they would “come out of the closet”. Even so, it was not widely publicised. But today, even Singapore has taken to inviting the likes of Elton John and his partner, with their adopted son, to grace our stages and opening ceremonies! How sad, that USA, with her Christian Puritan roots should today lead the world in the coming out of the closet.

Is there any stopping such a move, and others like it? I think not. And that is not due to a lack of faith in my God who does the impossible. The Bible is very clear that in the last days, these activities would increase. There will be compromises at every level; even in the Church, and those who call themselves Christians.

The world is headed for disaster. On the one hand, the World Health Organisation is battling a potential global AIDS epidemic. Yet, on the other hand, governments like the Obama Administration is pushing for gay rights, which further promotes sexual promiscuity and encourages the spread of such fatal diseases. On a smaller, but no less alarming, scale, Singapore recognises the need to strengthen the family. Yet, we also face the increasing pressure to allow and accept gay initiatives, rationalising it as needful for any nation that has come of age. Where are we headed?

Still, God has not left the world alone to die without hope. He has already made the way open through His Son, Jesus Christ; and those who would repent and believe in Him will be saved! This invitation is for all mankind. God loves all gays and lesbians, and desires that they be saved too. This is not the place to debate whether gays are born that way. All I know is that we are all born in Adam, in sin. Hence, the need to be born again, of the Spirit, through faith in Jesus Christ. And, to be sure, repentance and salvation will result in a change of values and lifestyle, one that is holy and pleasing to God.

The world may be heading for disaster. I thank God that there is hope in Jesus Christ.

On Radio

It’s been a l-o-n-g time since I stepped into a recording studio.  Back in my youth and working days, I really enjoyed those times in the studio – recording, directing, producing, mixing.  It was really fun, at times tiring, often working into the wee hours of the morning, getting the sounds and mix just right.  Sure miss those days.

Testing, testing, 1-2-3.

This week, on Tuesday 11 Oct, I had the opportunity once again to step into a small studio at Oops!Asia, a ministry offshoot of Far East Broadcasting Assocation (FEBA).  At the invitation of Roslyn, I was asked to share a little about marriage and family.  The whole session took about an hour to record sufficient material for four 4-min segments.  They will also be playing “Yes You Are” in support of local Christian songwriters.

From left: Caleb (sound engineer), Alarice and Roslyn (the hosts).

It sure brought back memories as I put on the headsets and experienced the deafening silence of a well-padded studio.  And I still cringe when I hear my own voice through the cans 🙂  But I’m sure Caleb, the sound engineer, will do his best to make me sound great – haha!

You can catch the Heart Tunes broadcast on Monday, 17 Oct, and Wednesday, 19 Oct, at 9 – 10pm on Hope 106.5FM.  Or you can download the programme from their website the day after the broadcast.