2016: A Year of Good Disruptions

2016 has been labelled the “Year of Disruption”. In almost every sphere of society, especially politics and economics – locally, regionally and globally – someone or something was either disrupting or being disrupted.

Sounds like another buzz-phrase that is being trended over social media. But really, when you look a little more closely, it is nothing new. All these ‘disruptions’ are simply good ol’ fashion ‘change’ – just that ‘change’ today is happening at a much faster rate than ever before. Where we were once able to react and adapt to such changes at a more comfortable pace, we don’t have that luxury anymore. Before an idea or a development can settle, another takes place, and another, and yet another! As such, many are finding themselves disrupted and displaced, just trying to keep up with all that is taking place.

As 2016 draws to a close, how have you been ‘disrupted’ with the various changes in your life? I took the opportunity to ponder the year that has zipped by, and here are some gleanings from my ‘disruptions’.

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My year actually started with a disruption. My MacBook began acting a little strange and I was forced to re-install twice. With so much to do, that disruption was totally frustrating! And yet, God spoke through that glitch, telling me not to bring any corrupted file into the new year, and also reminding me to make space for Him. If you read the 2016 Review for Archippus Awakening, you will see that it has been a full, full year. Looking back, I am so thankful that the Lord prepared me for 2016, warning and reminding me through this disruption. [Read: First the Natural Then the Spiritual: The Lord Prepares Me for the New Year]

This year, I found myself responding to certain issues, expressing my opinion a little more ‘vocally’ over cyberspace about Biblical Illiteracy, Biblical Interpretation, Madonna in Singapore, Hyper Grace, Prosperity Gospel, Bill Johnson and Hillsong. Stirring others to confront such key and controversial issues more deeply, I played the role of disruptor. Yet, at the same time, because not everyone agreed with me, I was also disrupted as the articles attracted quite a few opposing comments. To be sure, it wasn’t easy handling some of these ‘disruptions’. But looking on the bright side, these became good disruptions as it generated more traffic to One Day At A Time! 2016 is the year that we crossed the 300,000 mark, and now closing in to 380,000 hits. May this blog continue to positively disrupt people out of comfort zones to consider and ponder critical issues, causing the Body of Christ to be awakened to their roles and assignments in these challenging times!

Our family experienced a rather major disruption when our daughter’s eczema condition flared up sometime in March. It is not necessary to go into any detail of what she/we went through over the five- to six-month ordeal. We prayed. Sarah prayed. Our church family prayed. It was tough, and very painful. We are thankful that that episode is behind us now. What a disruption it was! And yet, so many lessons learnt, and His grace experienced. Not that anyone would want to go through it again, but in the end, we can look at it and see the ‘good’ in what the Lord had allowed. [Note: This is a testimony to the glory of God. Not a request for health products and recommendations. Thank you.]

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Then came another disruption to our family life – National Service! Enlistment came knocking at the doors of the Lim Tribe and David, our eldest, joined the ranks of Ah Boys to Men in October. Each weekend was spent ferrying him to and fro Pasir Ris Bus Interchange, and acceding to his food requests! Disruptive? Totally! And yet, it was heartwarming seeing him interact with his siblings, as he shared army stories with them. It was a proud moment for Serene and myself when we attended David’s BMTC Graduation Parade at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

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Another disruption came in the form of an invitation to participate in our home church’s 30th Anniversary Service. Simply, I was asked if I would consider being a part of a song item. Sure, I thought. How difficult could it be, right? Well, this old man forgot how long it has been since he last performed on stage. And it wasn’t just a song item, but a rap! And so, major disruption amidst message preparations and ministry engagements. I couldn’t remember my part and my words. Then came choreography! Help! The last time I did anything like that was Beauty World, 1988. But, all said, it was fun and enjoyable. Yes, a good disruption that allowed me to stretch the vocal cords once more, and loosen some rusty limbs. And more importantly, it helped me ease in a little bit more at FGA, connecting more with the church family. Now, I’m known not only for my preaching, but also my rapping – hahahaha!

A nagging pain in my left shoulder presented the next disruption. After putting up with the discomfort for more than six months, I finally got the frozen shoulder treated. A good disruption? Well, for one, I received an interesting lesson about God’s No Mercy Policy. And, for good measure, I was once again reminded of the ageing process, that time is not on our side, and we must be faithful to do all that has been assigned to us. So, yes, another good disruption.

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On a lighter note, the Lim Tribe experiences a series of disruptions every year, from January to August. I am referring to all our birthdays – haha! Don’t get me wrong: We love birthdays! But when you have nine birthdays in eight months, it can be rather disruptive to keep thinking of what to do, how to schedule, where to go, and how to celebrate birthdays over and over again! Most definitely, these are good disruptions. And 2016 has seen each child grow up even more, ranging from the youngest entering P1 and the oldest enlisting in the army. Standby! The Lim Tribe Birthday Series 2017 starts in a week’s time!

Indeed, 2016 has been a year of ‘good’ disruptions. It hasn’t always been smooth or comfortable (that’s why they are called disruptions). But we can most definitely say that the good Lord never left us alone, no matter how bumpy the ride was. Truly, with God, all disruptions can be ‘good’ disruptions. (Yes, even Brexit. And yes, even Trump.)

Changes, there will always be. And we can expect the world to experience even more disruption and shaking in the days ahead. Whether Christian or otherwise, everyone will experience uncertainty and even confusion. Should we be surprised? Not at all, for the time is short.

Thankfully, for Christians, our hope is not found in the ways or things of the world, for these are all passing away. Most certainly, our hope is rested and founded upon the name, the person, and the completed work of Jesus Christ! The one who truly understands this, whose faith is grounded upon this truth, will also be one who does the will of God. And 1 John 2:17 declares that these are those who will abide forever.

However disruptive life may be, we have a God who promises to see us through all challenges, to walk with us every step of the way. Let’s continue to encourage one another to view disruptions with the right perspective, trusting that if God allowed it, He will most surely see us through it. May we be able to pray as Joab did, “If it’s good for God, it’s good for me.”

Thanks to one and all for journeying through 2016 with me, Serene and our children. Let’s cross into 2017 with even greater resolve to make every moment count, disruptions notwithstanding, for our King and the glory of His Kingdom!

If it’s Good For God, it’s Good For Me

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It wasn’t a response I was used to. Honestly, I don’t remember being taught to pray or speak like that. Perhaps, that’s why the verse caught my attention as I was reading 1 Chronicles 19.

The Ammonites had engaged the help of the Syrians to fight against Israel on two fronts. When Joab realised that the enemy was both “before and behind”, he assigned Abishai to handle the Ammonites, and himself, the Syrians. After pledging to help each other out should either front proved too strong, Joab said:

“Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” 2 Chr 19:13

Wait a minute! That didn’t sound like a prayer of faith, did it? Shouldn’t Joab have declared boldly that God has delivered the enemies into their hands? Or if that was too presumptuous, then at least that God would deliver the enemies into their hands. Should he not have proclaimed victory in the name of YHWH?

Given the faith teachings I have been exposed to, that’s what I would have done. Yes, victory in Jesus’ Name!!! Or at the very least, a good outcome – in my favour of course. After all, I am more than a conqueror, an overcomer! Yeah! Lemme at ’em! Grrrrrrrrr!

Well, Joab didn’t do any of that at all. In effect, what he said was, “Hey bro, let’s just do our part and leave the result to God. Whatever the outcome, it’d be cool. If we win, praise the Lord. If God decides it’s best to sacrifice a few pieces for the sake of His larger plan, and we lose and die, that’d be ok too. May the LORD do what is good in His sight.” In other words, whatever was good for God would have been good for Joab.

By our understanding these days, Joab would have been considered a doubter, one who is unsure hence choosing to leave it open-ended, just in case. But as I read and re-read the verse, I don’t see doubt at all, but faith. Here was a man who was willing to trust God, no matter what. He would still do his part – his very best – for God, for his king, and for his people. Given a choice, a good outcome would be to defeat the enemy and to win the battle. But ‘good’ was not for Joab to define. ‘Good’ was for God to determine. And whatever was good for God would have been good for Joab.

In no way am I suggesting that it is wrong to ask for favourable outcomes. There are enough examples in the Bible of such prayers. In fact, no one needs to teach us how to pray for good outcomes because we do that automatically. Going on a picnic, we ask for sunshine (not too hot). Sitting for an exam, we ask for good grades (easy questions). Playing against another team, we pray to win (because asking for the other team to lose just doesn’t sound right). Seldom, if ever, would we pray, “May the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

Joab’s response has really caused me to ponder if I would be willing to adopt that same posture in all situations? If I truly believe God is sovereign and in total control of all things, would I trust Him completely for and in all outcomes? If I declare that God is good and His mercy endures forever, would I accept that a negative or bad occurrence can still work for good because a good God has allowed it. And if He deems it good enough to be allowed, would I allow Him to show me the good in and through what has been allowed, even if it didn’t seem very good to me?

Through this reflection, I am reminded that faith is not only the ability to ask and believe what I have asked for, that I may receive. Faith is also the willingness to leave God to be God, to do as He pleases, however that may turn out in the end. And if it’s good for God, it’s good for me.

Make AWESOME AWESOME Again

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I’ve said it before, and most likely, you’ve said it too.

  • After a great time of singing: “Wow, worship was AWESOME!”
  • Someone delivers a near faultless performance: “She was AWESOME!”
  • A message that stirred your heart: “Oh, that message was SO AWESOME!”
  • After a retreat or camp: “We had such an AWESOME time!”
  • A child does well for his exam: “You are AWESOME!”
  • Sampling the latest culinary fare: “That was AWESOME!”
  • Seeing a breathtaking view: “Whoa, AWESOME!!!”

It seems that these days, anything good, beautiful, pleasant, satisfying, exciting, emotional qualifies to be AWESOME. As long as things are going well for you, and life appears to be good, we can boldly sing along with Emmet Brickowski of the LEGO Movie fame, “Everything is AWESOME!”

Yes, AWESOME is the new buzzword and the Church has had no problems Christianising it and claiming it as their own. After all, it does sound spiritual, so I suppose that makes it par for the course.

But is today’s AWESOME what AWESOME really is? Do we even understand what AWESOME means?

Of the 37 Old Testament verses* that AWESOME appears in, only 8 verses use words that may also mean ‘wonderful’, ‘powerful’ and ‘glorious’. But for the majority, in the other 29 verses, the original word used is ‘yare’, derived from ‘yirah’, meaning ‘fear’. In the New Testament, AWESOME appears only once, in Acts 2:20, where Peter quotes Joel 2:31 (addressed below). From these, we also note that AWESOME is always used to describe God, His word and His works; never man or the works of man.

In Psalm 33:8, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”, fear and awe are mentioned together. In Psalm 119:161, “Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word.” can be literally translated as “my heart trembles in fear at Your word.” Persecution may have been unbearable but the psalmist would not compromise God’s word not only because it was beautiful and glorious (although it most certainly is), but for fear of the consequences of dishonouring God through disobedience.

When Jacob encountered God at Bethel, he declared, “How awesome (yare) is this place!” For sure, it wasn’t merely goosebumps Jacob experienced because of the angelic worship team and the latest LED widescreen; it was fear, for Genesis 28:17 clearly records that Jacob “was afraid (yare)”.**

This should not surprise us one bit for our God is an AWESOME God. Indeed, He is glorious, magnificent, wonderful and powerful, and most have no issue with that at all. However, may I suggest that we have not even begun to understand how very, very, very glorious, magnificent, wonderful and powerful He is, to a point of terror and fear!? We have all had our personal experiences of entering the presence of one of higher authority and greater power – principal, commanding officer, prime minister, president. To a certain degree, we experienced fear. How much more the God of heaven and earth?

In Psalm 111:9, the psalmist declares, “Holy and awesome (yare) is His Name!” The KJV translation reads, “Holy and reverend (yare) is His Name!” Keeping in context, the next verse proclaims, “The fear (yirah) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” God’s holiness and AWESOMENESS is not to be trifled with, but to be feared and revered. No wonder Isaiah fell flat on his face (Isaiah 6:5)! No wonder the Apostle John fell as dead when Jesus revealed Himself to him (Rev 1:17)!***

Real AWESOMENESS is when you haul in a miraculous catch of fish and are immediately convicted of your own sin! In Luke 5:8, Peter didn’t go, “Wow, cool! That was really AWESOME, Jesus! You, the Man!” Not at all! Instead, Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” – yes, Peter responded in fear! Which explains why Jesus had to comfort him with the words, “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 5:10)

In Joel 2:31, the prophet Joel described the Day of the Lord as “great and awesome (yare)”. Just in case you think it will resemble something of the closing ceremony of the Olympics to take your breath away, note Joel’s earlier mention in Joel 2:11, “For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible (yare); Who can endure it?” In other words, AWESOME means ‘very terrible’ or ‘fearsome’.

How far we have departed from the true meaning of AWE and AWESOME. According to the Online Slang Dictionary, AWESOME means “very good, excellent, fun, or otherwise appealing”. Sadly, in Christian circles, that is also the definition we have accepted. Without realising it, we have conveniently taken this descriptor, meant only for God, and applied it to everyone and everything. What is even worse is that we have adopted this slang and applied it to God. With this narrow, shallow, cutesy understanding of AWESOME, we have turned a truly AWESOME God into a pop idol that is only fun, entertaining and appealing.

I don’t think this little article can do much to change the way we use our language. When I have a positive experience, the word AWESOME may still roll off my tongue automatically. Likewise, I won’t hold it against you for proclaiming AWESOMENESS on your favourite ice cream flavour.

But let’s make AWESOME AWESOME again in the way we view God and relate to Him. Let’s put the AWE back into AWESOME for He is a holy God to be revered, honoured and yes, feared! Because I know that God is good and that He loves me, I have absolutely no problems with the words ‘fear’ and ‘terror’. Redeemed by the blood of Jesus and clothed in His righteousness, the fear I have for the Lord does not involve torment at all (1 John 4:18), but love, obedience and submission to His will and ways. At the same time, I heed seriously the warning of Hebrews 10:31 where the writer exhorted believers to examine their lives and conduct, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The next time we sing, “Our God is an AWESOME God!”, let us truly, rightly and fully ascribe the AWESOMENESS that is due to Him and Him alone!

* New King James Version.
** This was way before the law was given.
*** John was a New Testament believer under grace.

Related Post: Who Says Faith And Fear Cannot Co-Exist?

What Are Your Core Convictions?

When I set up One Day At A Time back in 2007, I felt it necessary to include a page where I shared My Core Convictions. For churches or para-church ministries, it would be a page detailing their Statements of Faith. But for a personal blog, it’s just a broad overview of what I believe in and what guides my spiritual walk.

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Over the years, this list has not only served as good reminders, but also a great source of encouragement to me. It points me back to what I regarded as foundational (still do), and helps me in my own alignment check. And especially in trying and difficult seasons, these simple lines anchor and hold me steady through challenges.

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Reviewing them again, I am thankful I made the effort to craft these ten statements then. I know that these pale in comparison with Jonathan Edwards’ 70 Resolutions. But then again, it was never meant to be too academic a piece or to sound overly theological. My Core Convictions simply detail what I believe about God, His Purpose, salvation, faith, obedience, the Word, provision, ministry, the Holy Spirit, God’s will and grace (supported by Scripture, of course).

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What are your core convictions? Do you have core convictions? If not, I highly recommend that you take some time to ponder and to write them down. It is a worthy exercise as it will bring clarity to your walk with the Lord, strengthen your resolve as you serve Him, and also provide focus as you navigate through life’s many distractions and uncertainties.

Good Friday Reflections: God Is In Control. He Really Is!

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Then Pilate said to Him, “Are you not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” John 19:10-11

Spending some quiet time this Good Friday morning, I read this passage and these verses caught my attention.

This was the moment of reckoning. Pilate had already declared that he found no fault in Jesus – three times (John 18:38; 19:4, 6)! And yet, the Jews were adamant, insisting that Jesus be crucified. Everything laid in the hands of Pilate.

Or so it seemed.

All power belongs to God. This means that the power that Pilate had, was given by God. In other words, God allowed Pilate the power. Could God have withdrawn it at that moment? Of course. Did He? No. Instead, He allowed Pilate to wrestle with how he would use his power, or abuse it.

Power comes with accountability. Although Pilate sought to release Jesus (John 19:12), he bowed to public pressure. Although he sought to remove himself from the responsibility of crucifying an innocent man, it did not remove the fact that he did not judge justly. That is sin.

There is sin, and there is greater sin. It may have ended with Pilate, but it began with someone else. Who was Jesus referring to? Judas? The religious leaders? The people who demanded his crucifixion? Think about it. Have we all not been guilty of this? One wrong word. One careless act. One piece of juicy gossip. And how that has sparked a chain reaction of consequences. Not only is that sin, it is the greater sin.

Silence and submission. After these verses, Jesus spoke no more. He had made His point and He demonstrated it through silence and submission. To argue with Pilate would be to argue with God. To appeal for clemency would be to oppose the Father’s will. The Lamb of God went silent, ready to be led to its slaughter.

God achieves His purpose. How bizarre does it get? God seemed to have left it to the choices and decisions of men and yet, His purposes were accomplished through them. Instinctively, we would want to jump in, to save the situation, to restore order. But God remained totally in control and achieved His purpose amidst the shouts of “Crucify Him!” and the declarations of “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15) How do we understand this? The free will of Man and yet, the sovereignty of God. Wow!

Upon reflection, I find these points oddly comforting, but also extremely challenging.

The power play in the world increases with each passing day. I am reminded that these have no power if it had not been first granted to them by God. For sure, power in the wrong hands would be bad news for everyone. And yet, through the hand of Pilate, God brought good news! Clearly, I must learn to see that ultimately, all power belongs to God and He is still in total control. In this, I am comforted.

But this comfort does not come without a challenge.

For me, the question is, “How can I remain silent and submitted to the will of God amidst the chaos and confusion in our world today?” When does a Christian make a stand and when does he suffer in silence? Do we fight for our convictions? And if so, how should we fight, remembering the words of Jesus to Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” How do we apply this as people of His kingdom?

I wish I had a ready answer for this, but I don’t.

And so, my Good Friday reflections continue, as I ponder again the example of Jesus, the One “who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth, who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:22-23) and how I am to follow in my Master’s steps.

 

 

 

General Election 2015: Observations for Life & Ministry

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Everyone agrees that this General Election was a little different. Perhaps it’s the SG50 factor, the first election without LKY, the first time without a single walkover, interesting personalities from the opposition parties, etc. Whatever the reason, there certainly was more excitement (and haze) in the air. I actually stayed up for as long as I could tahan (endure) before finally deciding at 2am that I would not wait for the Aljunied GRC recount. This is quite an achievement for one who is not particularly interested in politics.

Now that GE2015 is over, as the dust settles, I thought it’d be good to share some personal thoughts about the process and the psychology behind it. Interestingly, I noted some parallels that would prove helpful to myself as a minister, not in Cabinet, but of Jesus Christ and His Church.

1. Numbers are not everything. However impressive, numbers remain largely deceptive. The opposition parties drew large crowds at their rallies. Many clamoured for Dr Chee Soon Juan’s autograph. Social media was abuzz with seemingly similar views and as many LIKES and SHARES. And yet, when the results were announced, these encouraging numbers amounted to little, if anything at all. Churches and ministries are quite the same, aren’t we? When we report, it’s numbers we present – and the larger, the better. We judge a church’s health by how big it is, and an activity’s success by how well attended it was. This lesson reminds us that numbers are not everything. There can be a lot of hype but very little support. Sadly, the herd mentality has prevailed through the centuries. Look at the multitudes that Jesus preached to. Where were they when it mattered? Jesus was not impressed with nor swayed by numbers, and we shouldn’t be either.

2. Numbers are important. Well, at least for the PAP. The 69.86% result was a “national swing”, a “landslide victory”, a “strong mandate”. To the ruling party, this signalled not just a clear and decisive win but also the support of the people. Although numbers are not everything, certain numbers are important. For the Christian community, we have to look beyond the crowds, registrations and attendances. What we should be really interested in is how many truly love and serve the Lord, translating attendance into action. No point reporting a large number of real-time decisions but finally only a small percentage of real-life disciples. The numbers of true significance may not always be impressive but these are what we must focus on.

3. Complaints don’t necessarily mean a desire for change. I think complaints are here to stay, no matter how wonderful a government is. Even the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew acknowledged the Singaporean as a complainer and grumbler. And the opposition parties found out the hard way when they were snooked into thinking complaints will turn into votes in their favour. Simply, complaints do not necessarily mean a desire for change. I call this the uncomfortable comfort zone. And sadly, this applies to Christians too. I’ve heard enough complaints about churches, pastors and leaders. But when push comes to shove, no one is prepared to do anything – too many years, too many friends, too much investment through tithes and offerings, too much to lose, too much inconvenience, too much trouble, too lazy, etc. Most are discontented with the situation but everyone seems totally content with the status quo. I know this sounds totally irrational but that’s just the way it is. So, by all means, pay attention to the ground but don’t be naive to expect that these would necessarily be there for or with you.

4. We are not desperate enough. Is this not true? Nothing is really at stake. Singapore is doing ok and our lives are rather comfortable. So, let’s make some noise but not too much. Let’s not risk anything. Don’t rock the boat. With affluence and freedom, Christians in Singapore can fall into the same trap. Since we get to worship freely and comfortably in air-conditioned auditoriums, let’s just be satisfied with that. After all, is that not an indication of God’s favour and blessing? But look at what’s happening in America now. That freedom is slowly but surely being taken away. It’s not enough just to complain about poor leadership or questionable doctrines. Believers are forced to take a stand, to put their faith where their mouth is. I am not saying that I desire that eventuality, ever. Armchair politicians are aplenty as are armchair church members. And it definitely takes a certain level of desperation to get these off their religious butts.

5. Be careful what you say about mothers and women. Look what happened to NSP’s Cheo Chai Chen after his poorly considered remark about PAP’s Tin Pei Ling? Enough said.

6. It’s hard to discern who is telling the truth. Many of the candidates spoke well, eloquently and rather convincingly. Of course, some should not even be there in the first place. Everyone had a case for action or for change. But who is presenting the whole truth, really? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? We have our fair share of that in Christian circles. Today, we have so much information and a choice of the best speakers. But is what we are listening to accurate and in accordance with the Scriptures? Or are we merely hearing what we want hear? Just as statistics and data can be presented by politicians to convey the party’s agenda, we must be aware that in these days, the same is being done with and to the Word of God. It all sounds attractive and good but we must discern if it is truly God’s kingdom’s agenda or not.

7. We decided but God presided. Without doubt, every vote, Christian or non-Christian, mattered. Singaporeans decided who they wanted in their constituencies and in Parliament. The future of the nation rested in our hands, or so it may seem. The truth is, whatever the result, God is not surprised and remains totally in control. In the end, His purpose will stand. Such is the tension between the freewill of Man and the sovereignty of God. We think we have the power to direct and to will, as if everything depended on us. As moral agents, God allows us the freedom to decide; and that carries with it responsibility and accountability. Ultimately, through our decisions and actions, and in spite of, God appoints the authorities. We think we are serving our own purposes and that of our nation, but somehow, these all end up serving the purposes of God! My little finite mind still cannot quite figure out how it all works but it does. It would do us well if we remember and apply this in our lives and ministries. We would rest and trust more. He is God and we are not.

These are just my personal observations. All said, I am thankful and blessed to be a Singaporean. May we never forget the grace of God that has brought us to where we are today.

A Prophetic Impression of the Church at Middle Mountain

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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