Soldiers Don’t Get To Pick Their Battlefields

I chose to write this post on the Archippus Awakening website as the subject matter relates closely to all who identify as Archippuses, as soldiers of the Lord’s army. That said, this is also a good reminder for one and all as we consider our willingness to serve as the Lord assigns, whatever and wherever. Blessings!

Archippus Awakening

Who would have imagined that the Elected Presidency would become such a hot topic in Singapore? To date, not everyone is convinced if it is necessary to have a reserved election that the next President would be one from the Malay community. Whilst that is still being debated, the discussion has moved to who is a Malay?

And with Mdm Halimah Yacob’s decision to run for the Presidency, a side story emerged – that of Mr Tan Chuan-Jin’s appointment to be the next Speaker of Parliament – surprising many and prompting speculations that the full minister (ex, as of 10 September 2017) has been demoted.

As the House convened today (11 September 2017), Mr Tan was elected as its 10th Speaker. Amidst all the views, comments and criticisms, it is the response of Mr Tan that has not only caught my attention, but also earned my respect.

Please read…

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Seeing Jesus in Wonder Woman? Just Enjoy the Movie.

After reading quite a few rave reviews, I must admit that my curiosity was piqued, and my interest stirred, to watch the latest DC movie, Wonder Woman.

What’s more, I remember glancing the title of an article, “The New ‘Wonder Woman’ Is Really A Story About Jesus“, that made me want to watch the movie to see if it were really so. I deliberately skipped reading the article so that I would not have any preconceived notions when I went to the cinema.

In between ministering at church camps, and greatly in need of a break, to space out in front of a large screen, I decided it would be a good time for a movie night – yes, Wonder Woman!

As one used to a Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, it took a while to get used to a Gal Gadot one. Of course, everything is much sleeker, and the special effects much more impressive. I waited for the signature WW spin but the director decided to drop that move. And no invisible plane either! All said, the movie was enjoyable but that was about it – ok la.

Did I see Jesus in Woman Woman? Nope.

I suppose if I tried very hard to, I could force fit some theology into the show, and somehow make it look and sound Christian. Sure, I got the part about saving mankind. Yes, I heard the phrase about mankind being undeserving of redemption. And the final punchline: “Only love can save the world.” And yes, I did not miss the way Diana descended in the shape of the cross. But do these necessarily point to Jesus? Not necessarily.

Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had missed the “Whoa Man!” moments of seeing the Jesus story. Back home, I searched for the article to read what it really said. And, oh man, was I even more disappointed. In my opinion, it is really a case of trying way too hard! Did the writer, M. Hudson, really see Jesus in Wonder Woman, or was she trying desperately to make Jesus into a wonder woman?!

On the point of love saving the world, let us be clear that this is no longer the exclusive chant of Christians. Almost everyone, religious or secular, is shouting this tagline of love! We cannot compare Wonder Woman with the love of Jesus just because she uttered this seemingly profound line. It may sound right and noble but let us not forget that the way she discovered and experienced ‘love’ with Captain Trevor was through a one-night stand after routing the Krauts in the village! Trust Hollywood to always associate and confuse love with sex. Perhaps Crosswalk.com missed or chose to ignore this little scene when commenting that Wonder Woman “should serve as an example of the love God has called us to show our neighbor” in their review “Wonder Woman and the Call for Christian Love“.

If you’re going to watch Wonder Woman, go enjoy it for what it is – a typical superhero story where the good guys triumph over the bad guys. Wonder Woman does not represent Jesus, and Jesus is not Wonder Woman. To this end, there is no need to try so hard to see Jesus in this movie, or to force it into a Christian message of love and salvation. Let’s not make it say what it didn’t mean to say. And for proper theology, read the Scriptures. You’ll find the real story of Jesus there too.

Maybe they will feature Wonder Woman in her invisible jet in the sequel, y’think?

Why Don’t We Quote Jesus More?

There’s not a day when my social media Newsfeed is not filled with quotations from well-known Christian authors and speakers. This becomes even more pronounced when a conference is ongoing, and for a few days after. Almost everyone, it seems, is wowing at the revelation of these one-liners. There seems to be so much wisdom and depth in these sayings that these must be shared with the rest of the world.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with sharing these ‘ah-ha’ moments. That’s what social media is all about, isn’t it? You come upon something good and you want everyone to know. Post. Share. Like. Repost. Comment: “Word! Truth!”

Sounds edifying enough. But of late, my concern is if we Christians may just be revering the words of these men and women of the hour so much that we altogether miss the words of Jesus, our Master and King. I began to notice that more and more preferred to quote anyone and everyone, except Jesus. Where congregations are concerned, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, “My pastor says…” Again, it is not wrong to listen to pastors, the under-shepherds. But what about Jesus, the Good Shepherd?

Applying this to myself, I made a conscious effort to read through the gospels again, to see what Jesus said in those accounts, and to hear what He would say to me, and to us as His church. Each day, I would post a saying of Jesus (or two).

The exercise has been an interesting one. Perhaps, I do not possess a big enough ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ base, but unlike the clever and witty sayings of the big names, the sayings of Jesus, the Name above all names, usually do not attract too many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’. Once in a while, you get a few ‘amens’, but that’s about it. (Maybe, if I take the trouble to use a fancy font and insert a breath-taking background image, that might help.)

Personally, it’s been enriching to read and re-read the gospels, to hear my Master and King speak directly and precisely. Naturally, I prefer the verses that remind me of His love, grace and blessings. That said, I cannot skip the parts that appeal less to me, and Jesus, at times, says some rather hard stuff pointedly and without compromise! Whilst I like to hear (over and over again) of how special I am to Him, how highly favoured and richly blessed I am in Him, the truth is that it is really not about me at all! And if I am to be totally honest, the sayings of Jesus promptly reveal how I have missed Him and His kingdom in the way I understand Christianity and do church today! Have you heard what Jesus says about following Him, obedience, faithfulness and readiness?

Ouch! No wonder the writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him, to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

I do not mean to dishonour, discount or discredit any teacher and preacher. As one myself, I am greatly encouraged when someone shares how he or she has been helped by the uncovering of a little nugget of truth through my teachings or messages. Yet, no matter how good, inspirational or motivational a communicator is, his or her words are never to supersede or replace that of Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, read the Word of God for yourself. Listen to His voice for yourself. Hear what Jesus says to you, and then obey Him. It is not just what apostle so-and-so says, or what prophet so-and-so says. It is what Jesus says that truly matter. If you need to quote anyone, quote Him who has both the first word, and also the final say.

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!

Blessed A-B-C from the Lim Tribe!

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Did I achieve the snowy effect to make this picture look more Christmassy? LOL!

Truth be told, I don’t feel very Christmassy.

Perhaps, it’s a sign of growing older, and getting tired of all the commercial hype and hoopla of this season. Even in the Church, it’s sometimes difficult to discern if Jesus is really the One who is being celebrated.

If you’re feeling the same, I suppose we are not alone.

Perhaps, that explains why so many go to great lengths to feel Christmassy … put up the Christmas tree, string the lights, co-ordinate the red and green colours of Christmas, play the good ol’ Christmas favourites and carols, order the ham, hang up the stockings, don’t forget the presents, and to top it off … Santa hats and reindeer hair clips! Oh, and for good measure, we must have the manger scene, shepherds, the magi, and the bright and shiny star. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season.

All these have become Christmas staples that it is almost unthinkable if any of these were missing. Unfortunately, for many Christians, and church celebrations, this is also the default. Make no mistake! Jesus must be present … along with all the other symbols, whether biblical or not.

Unlike some, I am not canvassing for the abolition of Christmas celebrations. And yet, I am not exactly thrilled with how we have become so dependent on mythical and commercial props to make Christmas feel Christmassy. Somehow, although it is about Jesus, Jesus alone is not enough. Sure, we worship and adore Him, but for some strange reason, we still need Santa around … just to make it feel a little bit more Christmassy.

Although Jesus was not born on 25 December, I have no problems remembering His birth. My friend, Bill Muehlenberg, rightly points out that it is not the date of His birth that we are acknowledging, but the fact of His birth. When I recount the births of each of our children, other than my memories and their baby photos, I sure don’t need additional props to help generate any feelings at all. Similarly, with the birth of Jesus, all we require are biblical accounts of His birth, and our personal experience of when the Christ was truly birthed in us. Glorious!

I believe it’s perfectly fine not to feel Christmassy at all. In fact, there are many who feel terrible during this season because their pains and troubles are that much more magnified against the hype of the season. What’s worse, those who party too hard have been reported to suffer post-Christmas blues when they get back to work!

Christmas is not about our feelings, but our faith in the Christ – the One who was born that He may die to save us from our sins. Let’s dispense with the hype and the paraphernalia. Jesus IS enough! It is that straightforward, and as simple as A-B-C: Acknowledging, appreciating & announcing the Birth of Christ. Accurately. Biblically. Contextually. … hmmmm … good Christmas message material … this is where I must end this Christmas reflection before I complicate things further as a preacher-teacher. Haha!

From our little tribe to you and your loved ones, Blessed A-B-C!

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

Related Posts:
Santa? Or No Santa? Can We Please Make Up Our Minds?
Did Jesus Ever Celebrate His Birthday?

Word of the Year 2016: Post-Truth Christians Too?

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The Straits Times, 17 Nov 2016.
Each year, Oxford Dictionaries will pick a word to describe the trend or sentiments of that year. And it has just been announced that the Word of the Year 2016 is post-truthan adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

The prefix post- used to refer to a time after a specified situation or era. However, in recent years, it has been modified to mean ‘unimportant’ or ‘irrelevant’. In other words, post-truth literally means that truth is no longer important; or worse yet, no longer relevant.

Although mostly associated with Brexit and the recently concluded American elections, one cannot help but wonder if this sentiment is applicable beyond the arena of politics? In community? In relationships?

What about the Church?

Noticeably, in the past decade, there has been a steady departure from the Word of God. This is not to say that preachers do not refer to the Bible for their messages. They still do. However, the focus and emphasis on sound doctrine is considerably much less. Theology is regarded as boring and too complicated, so let’s not waste too much time on such academic stuff. And so, messages today tend to major on addressing issues of self-esteem, positive thinking and personal pursuits of health, wealth and happiness. Simply, as long as it makes you feel good, then that’s fine. After all, God is a good God and He loves you very much. And since the truth hurts (and it does), let’s not dwell too much on that.

This type of thinking is so pervasive in the Church today that many are willing to disregard truth and discard doctrine. Feelings and emotions, although subjective, are considered more important and better indicators of a relationship with God, than that which is objective and true. Have we not heard this before: “I know it contradicts the Bible, but I have been so blessed by that person’s teaching and ministry.” Even if some of these fringe on being heretical, believers are willing to accept it on the basis of it-feels-right-so-it-must-be-right reasoning. Besides, if it’s wrong, the Holy Spirit will prompt me accordingly. True?

Anyone who has not experienced the same experience is deemed to be less spiritual, or spiritually dead. To not go with their flow is seen as not being led by the Spirit. What is worse is that any attempt to question is seen as legalistic, judgmental and Pharisaical! And soon, we’d have to add Bereanic to the list too because the searching of Scriptures is no longer relevant (Acts 17:11).

This does not mean that the Bible is no longer needed. Not at all. For sure, Bible apps are cool and will continue to be used. It’s easy to find verses and really good for creating image posts on Facebook and Instagram. Bible studies will continue to be well attended too. After all, that’s what Christians do – gather in groups, read a passage, and then give personal opinions of what it means to them. But to consider it absolute Truth, to live out the Word and be totally submitted to its authority? Does God require that at all? Surely not, since we are no longer under the law, right?

You may think I’m being a bit extreme here, over-reacting perhaps. I assure you, I am not. Truth be told, the Church is struggling to understand what it means to remain relevant in a society that is post-modern, post-Christian, and now, post-truth. To the post-modernist, truth was relativised and each decided what was true or not. In a post-Christian climate, Christian fundamentals were challenged and done away with. Alternative worldviews slowly but surely replaced the Christian worldview, both in the society and in the Church. In a post-truth world, anything goes. It no longer matters what is true or not, because truth is neither important nor relevant. Whatever works and produces the results, that’s cool. Yes, the end justifies the means.

As in the case of the recent elections, Christians were divided as Christianity became more politicised. It mattered not if the candidates told the truth or lied. Moral conduct was of no consequence. Truthiness, “the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true”, instead, was the order of the day. Why? Because truth is totally irrelevant in a post-truth era … as long as we get what we want and are allowed to continue to have church as usual.

But is it really church as usual? We have already seen denominations split over doctrinal disagreements. Some have embraced LGBT in the clergy and in key ministry positions. Others have endorsed same-sex marriages. In the name of grace and love, sins are glossed over. One day, a prominent minister confesses sexual misconduct, the very next day he is re-instated and no one bats an eyelid. Oh, I am sorry. Who am I to judge? And on what basis? Truth? What’s that?

But seriously. Church as usual? Let us not be so naive.

I suppose the Apostle Paul saw this day coming when he wrote to Timothy: “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim 3:14-15 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Yes. The Church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. Whatever the world says, whichever era we may be found to be in, we are people of the truth. However, more and more, we can expect that truth will be resisted and even rejected (2 Tim 3:8-9). There will even be those who regard themselves as Christians, who talk and sound Christian, but never come to a knowledge of what truth really is (2 Tim 3:7)!

As the pillar and the foundation of the truth, the Church is not there to just talk about truth, teach about truth, or have lofty philosophical discourses about what truth is or is not. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy was that the truth would be clearly demonstrated and seen through their conduct. Along the way, false apostles, prophets and teachers will appear. But the Church is never to compromise, holding steadily to the Word of Truth (2 Tim 3:16-17), paying careful attention to doctrine (1 Tim 4:16), led by the Spirit of truth, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

I am fully aware that come 2017, there will be another Word of the Year. But this does not mean that truth will necessarily be returned to its rightful place of importance or relevance. Our Lord Jesus Christ has already warned about the increase of deception in the last days, that many will be deceived. The post-truth era merely opened the door of deception even wider.

May all who profess to know Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life – continue to hold fast to Him and His Truth. And may we, His Church, also be found to “be diligent to present [ourselves] approved to God, [workers] who [do] not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15

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.