How Was 2015 For You?

Family at A&W Melaka

Yes, all checked in and nicely settled into what will be my sanctuary over the next two days. As you might have guessed, I am on a personal retreat to rest in the Lord and also to receive from Him. It’s been a full year and I am indeed looking forward to a time of silence and solitude.

And since there’s no better way to get into His presence than to begin with praise and thanksgiving, that’s exactly what I shall do. To be sure, I have experienced so much of the Lord’s love and favour this year. Rejoice with me as I reflect on just 10 highlights of 2015.

1. 20 Years of Marriage: On 11 March, Serene and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary! Looking back, I still marvel at how we met; and even more significantly, how the Lord drew each one of us, individually and personally, to Himself. This prepared us to embark on a journey of faith and adventure with Him as a larger-than-normal family, a homeschooling family and a ministry family! Whilst Serene has always been supportive and understanding of the ministry demands I face, I confess that I have not always reciprocated adequately to her needs and challenges. I’ve learnt much over 20 years and yet, there are still many areas to improve in. Still, 20 years is a milestone to be celebrated and we will build on the foundation we have in Christ as we enter new seasons of our relationship and the family. [Read more…Marking 20 Years Of Being Together]

2. Me on the Trapeze: Surely, this is worth another mention. This may not seem much to some but at 50 years old, it’s a big deal for me to be able to execute the Knee Hang Catch at Club Med Bintan. Definitely the first and last time I attempt this acrobatic feat! Don’t believe? Watch the video. [Read more…I Believe I Can Fly!]

3. Intergenerational Ministry Trip: In January, the extended Lim Tribe went on a ministry trip to Tacloban Leyte, Philippines as part of TEAM ARCHIPPUS. This was the very first time three generations were involved – my father and mother, myself and three of my children (David, Sarah & Esther). It was really meaningful serving the Lord together as an extended family. [Read more…Houses for the People of Tanauan Leyte: Ministry Trip 22-26 Jan 2015]

4. One Day At A Time registers 200,000 Views: On 28 Sept, this blogsite registered 200,000 hits. Although it takes time to write and contribute articles, I continue to make an effort because I know many have been encouraged along the way. Going forward, it remains a challenge as I do not only manage ONE DAY AT A TIME, but also ARCHIPPUS AWAKENING. So, keep cheering me on by liking and sharing the posts 🙂 [Read more…200,000 Hits: Thanks for Your Support & Encouragement]

5. My Experience of Going Viral (well almost): Within a month of reaching 200,000 hits, someone shared my personal response to the City Harvest Case after the verdict was delivered. Over the next days and weeks, this post garnered thousands of views. As at the time of writing this post, it has exceeded 43,000 views! Not bad for a post written 3.5 years ago, back in 2012. Looks like we will be hitting 300,000 views sooner than expected 🙂 [Read more…A Personal Response to the City Harvest Case]

6. Three Homeschool Achievements: This year registered three milestones for us as a homeschool family. Our eldest, David, completed his High School Diploma as well as his SATs. Esther cleared her PSLE and Ruth, her P4 Exams. All three did very well and I am so proud of them. Of course, Serene deserves mention and definitely, full credit for her hard work. Now, we brace ourselves for David’s NS enlistment next year!

Gold Coast

7. The Lim Tribe Goes Down Under: For obvious reasons, it’s not often we attempt a major holiday for the Lim Tribe. This year, we thought it would be timely for us to venture a little further than the usual church camp escapades and destinations. Although a little last-minute (understandably), we planned and booked everything within two weeks (kudos to Serene again!) and flew off immediately after Esther’s last PSLE paper! Although it wasn’t much of a rest for Serene and myself, we sure appreciated the nice, cool, crisp, fresh air in Gold Coast … before returning to the haze! The children enjoyed the farm stay and most definitely, the theme park rides! Still thanking the Lord for His provision that we can enjoy such an experience.

8. Our Home Church: At the close of 2014, we felt that it was time to look for another home church. We went back to last checkpoint at Full Gospel Assembly and found ourselves staying put there. A key criterion for me was that the pastors and leaders must understand and support my kingdom assignment in Archippus Awakening (which they do!). At the same time, FGA has a vibrant youth and young adults ministry, which works out well for our growing up children. It’s been encouraging to see our children fit in well and involved in the ministries of FGA.

9. Kingdom Connections: On the ministry front, this year has been a time of meeting new people and making new friends. This has been a breath of fresh air as my circle of contacts expanded beyond what I had been accustomed to. I welcome these new exposures as it enlarges my perspective and challenges certain mindsets I may unknowingly hold to. More critically, I sense that the Lord is opening new doors and presenting new frontiers for what He has called me to do. It’s really wonderful to discover like-minded kingdom friends who really stand alongside you, and willing to travel with you on this kingdom journey! [Read more…Kingdom Connections Can Be Messy]

10. Archippus Awakening Milestones: I have already written about this in a separate post on the Archippus Awakening Website so I shall not repeat myself. Suffice to say that it’s been a great year, entirely by the Lord’s grace. Even so, I know that we have only just begun and the new year holds even greater promise for this movement. I just need to hear and move as He directs. Sound easy but it is not quite as straightforward, I assure you. And that’s why I am here on a personal retreat. [Read more…2015: A Season of Sowing]

What a year it has been! I know that the Lord has been with me through it all, and He will continue to walk with me into the new year. One of my favourite messages this season is Trekking Through Transitions, inspired by last year’s year-end reflections. Truly, the God who goes before us is also One who promises to walk closely with us. In that, we can be strong and very courageous to accomplish all He has assigned to us!

How was 2015 for you? May this encourage you too as you make your transition into the new year and into all that the Lord has in store for you!

Eczema is a Cursed Disease: Please pray for Anna Joy

It reared its ugly head in our family when Sarah’s skin erupted with red and itchy patches. She was about 5 years old then. What followed was years of discomfort and tears, not to mention diet restrictions from foods she loved to eat. Today, at 13, she is better, but still not cleared of the effects or threats of eczema.

Just about two years ago, it attacked Serene, and it was very aggressive. It started with a small spot on her hand, but quickly spread to both hands, ankles and the entire neck region. My dear wife really suffered. But as the main caregiver, she had no choice but to press on, bearing the heat, sweat and discomfort of the kitchen (and weather) as she prepared meals for the family. To the glory of God, Serene is much much better now. Read her Story in Pictures.

Now, our youngest, 4 year-old Anna Joy, has been hit. It began as a small patch on her ankle after church camp in June. It was under control for a while but just a few weeks ago, it went on a war path. Today, it has spread to her elbows joints, her neck and face 😦 Bath times are especially trying for the little one as any contact with water stings the open wounds. She is terrified of these times, begging her mother not to bathe her. And this morning, while in the shower, she was screaming and crying all the way through.

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When her sister, Sarah, went through this ordeal years ago, it broke my heart. Which parent can bear to see their child suffer like this? And yet, there is a feeling of helplessness because we know there is absolutely no cure for this dreaded and cursed disease. We prayed to the Lord and we pleaded with Him. We quoted verses and we stood on the Word. We broke generational curses, we anointed with oil, we declared the name of Jesus. We mustered every ounce of faith we had. And then, we rested and trusted in Him and the completed work of the Cross. Yes, we knew what to do as bible-believing, faith-filled Christians. And yet, there is no escaping the waiting and the walking through the entire situation.

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Now, we find ourselves going through the exact same process with Anna. We hear the same comments and we have to answer the same questions. And if you are thinking of recommending some miraculous treatment, diet, supplement, oil, or water, we would have most likely heard of it (and even tried it to no avail). Each time I see my little baby, I recognise the same pain in my heart. I wish I could do more than just pray. And when I see her play and laugh (when temporarily relieved of the itch and pain), I get all emotional. I want that “joy” to always be there for my Anna Joy.

As before, we thank you all for your love, care and concern. We are seeking the Lord as best as we know how. Even so, when all is said and done, we will rest in Him, praise Him and position ourselves to see His salvation and deliverance. The battle is His, not ours. He will do it and bring glory to His name. He has done it for Sarah and Serene before, and He can do it again for Anna Joy. For the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!

Please stand with us in prayer. That is most appreciated and most precious to us at this time.

Expressionless Worship

If you lead worship from the front of stage, I am certain you would have encountered some of these so-called ‘worshippers’ before. You can spot them a mile away — yes, they are the ones with arms firmly folded and blank looks on their faces. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fast or a slow song, a familiar or a new song, a hymn or a chorus, the expression (or the lack of, more accurately) on their faces reveal absolutely nothing. They look more like in a poker game than in an environment of praise and worship to a Most High God!

It boggles and befuddles me totally! What makes it even harder to understand is that these are the same ones who, just a moment ago before the session started, were spewing Scriptures and encouraging others towards deeper faith and obedience to God! They speak passionately of personal interests and pursuits! And surprise, surprise, they can even laugh when a joke is cracked! But the moment the music starts, a sudden stupor comes over them, their arms fold and their faces grow stone cold. And that posture remains throughout declarative statements like, “How great is our God!”, “How marvellous! How wonderful!”, “Jesus shall take the highest honour!” and “Amazing grace how sweet the sound”. And don’t even try changing keys! It only encourages them to embrace themselves even more tightly.

Please, I am not begrudging anyone of different styles and personal preferences of praise and worship. That is not the issue here! If worship is the ascribing of the “worth-ship” of God, that He is totally worthy of all honour and praise, surely it must involve some expression! What place does expressionless worship have in the lives of believers? Can we call it worship then?

The Bible is replete with physical expressions of praise and worship, encouraging God’s people to shout, to make a joyful noise, to clap, to dance! For sure there are also times to keep silent, to ponder, to reflect. I am no Hebrew scholar but I really don’t think any of these contain nuances that suggest the folding of arms, the courteous movement of lips and the tuning out of minds until the Levites go for their coffee break.

Of course, what we don’t want are professional or religious worshippers who know how to fake it with all the right moves. Jesus warns of these when He quoted Isa 29:13 (NLT): “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” On the contrary, what the Lord is seeking in this day are true worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). What this means literally is that God desires that we worship and praise Him from the depths and the honesty of our hearts. In this regard, what is in our hearts must outflow into our physical expressions of worship!

And if we have truly experienced the love of God, the grace that cost Jesus His life on the cross, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the faithfulness that sustains us day to day, mercies which are new every morning, how can we but burst forth with great gratitude and deep appreciation? That is why I sing out loud, I dance with joy, I raise my hands in surrender and I bawl uncontrollably. My entire being is involved in praise and in worship because my God deserves everything I can give and more!

Oh, may all the saints encounter afresh the greatness of our God that this oxymoron of expressionless worship be totally weeded out of our midst, that we may all join with David as he boldly declares:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul
And all that is within me
Bless His Holy Name!” Psalm 103:1

Haze in Singapore 2013: Responding Like Everyone Else?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Water from the Wells of Salvation

My impression of the book of Isaiah is that it is one l-o-n-g book of 66 chapters.  It surprised me this morning when I “stumbled” upon Isaiah 12.  My eyes fell on Isaiah 11 first and I began reading it, moving on to Isaiah 12.  I found myself drawn to the beautiful words of this “hymn of praise” (NKJV).

To my surprise, I discovered that there are only six verses in this chapter – the shortest chapter in the entire book!  And yet, it is packed with such wonderful truths and promises.  In these six short verses, you will find themes of praise, mercy, grace, comfort, strength, trust, salvation, joy, worship and exaltation!  What wonderful material for meditation!  What truths that bring joy, comfort and strength!

And in that day you will say:

“O LORD, I will praise You;
Though you were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.'”

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.

And in that day you will say:

“Praise the LORD, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted,
Sing to the LORD,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”

My favourite line is found in verse 3 … “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  This is a promise for every child of God.  And yet, there are so many who are parched and dry.  These are either not aware of the wells, or have forgotten to draw daily from the rivers of living water.  I will be the first to admit that I often fall into the latter category.  In my busyness and hurriedness to do the work of the ministry, I find myself “dehydrated”.  My intentions may be good, desiring to serve the Lord and give my very best, but good intentions are not enough.  Over time, I dry up and burn out, even very possibly serving out of drudgery and not with joy and gladness.

Isaiah 12:3 is a reminder for me, as for many others I believe … “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  How refreshing!  How revitalising!  Verse 1 & 4 declare, “In that day you will say …”  That day can be today!  Lay hold of these six verses and the promises in them!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, and fellow ministers, may you be encouraged by this as you continue to serve the Holy One of Israel!

In the Dryness of Praise

As I read Psalm 63 this morning, my eyes were led to the introduction: “A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.”  How interesting, I thought.  Judah means ‘praise’.  But is there ever a wilderness in praise?

In much of today’s praise and worship teachings, we have been taught to keep praising no matter what.  Praise will lift our spirits, we are told.  And like Jesoshaphat, high praise can even secure a mighty victory for us.  So when you are feeling down and out, praise and worship is the answer.  Well, nothing wrong with these points.  But try telling that to King David in the wilderness of Judah, in the dryness of praise.

It’s happened to me before, and I guess you might have had the same experience.  Tired and worn out, I determined to get into high praise for my breakthrough.  The worship band strikes up, the worship set gets going and I am praising my guts out!  Wow, that felt really good … for the moment.  And soon after, I am down and out again.  Yes, you guessed it.  I am right smack in the wilderness of Judah, in the dryness of praise.  And no amount of jumping or clapping is going to change anything.  Am I then wrong to think that I can sing and clap myself out of my present predicament?  Not exactly.  But more accurately, it is not the activity of praise but the focus of my praise that needs an alignment check.  Ever so subtly, I can miss praising and worshipping God, and end up praising and worshipping praise and worship!

David cries out in Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God; early I will seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”  In the next verse, he presents the key … seeking God in His presence and encountering God’s power and glory!

However attractive or convenient the praise and worship industry has made it, there is simply no replacement to the presence of God!  This cannot be created, generated or hyped up at all.  To be sure, what we need is not a savvy worship concert, sophisticated sound systems or hip-hop cheerleaders.  What we desperately need is precious time with the Lord in His sanctuary, in His presence.  In the wilderness of Judah, David knew that deep within his soul and he looked for God with that hunger and thirst.  David didn’t praise God that He may be found.  Instead, he sought to find God that he may then praise Him!  Communion with God so satisfied his soul that praise naturally flowed out of his mouth and lips (v5).  To David, praise was not merely a remedy for dryness in his soul but a response to fulfilment in his God!

Are you in the wilderness of Judah?  Is there dryness in your praise and worship?  Look for God in His sanctuary.  Press in and dig deep until you receive the rivers of living waters that overflows!  Then with joyful lips, praise Him, worship Him, exalt Him, extol Him!