Covid-19 Disruptions: Two Reminders for the Church

Disruption is not a new concept but Covid-19 has brought it to a totally new level.

In the past two weeks, there have been so many developments. And each day brings with it more change and fresh challenges.

Where ministry is concerned, I experienced it first-hand recently, in a short span of two weeks. My teaching engagement in Cebu was postponed. Next, the AAA Seminar in Kota Kinabalu was called off. Then, two church camps in June which I was scheduled to speak at … yes, cancelled or postponed.

As for our own Awakening Event, AWE2020, following a very strong impression on Sunday morning, we decided to bring it back to Singapore (originally Batam). That evening, the government announced even stricter health and travel advisories. Thankfully, the Lord had already warned and directed us accordingly.

No one is spared. Everyone and everything is being disrupted.

That said, whilst inconvenient and extremely uncertain, we must not forget what the Lord has already said to us, His people. Amidst the various disruptions, it is easy to be caught up with the adjustments and miss a greater significance of what the Lord desires for His church. Allow me to recap the two main points previously shared:

A COLLECTIVE PAUSE Through the Covid-19 situation, God has pressed the pause button. Note that this is not just for China, or for Singapore, but for the entire world. This also means that churches the world over are affected. It’s a collective pause … for the purpose of praying, to seek Him and to reflect. It is a pause-and-pray that we may be ready for the play that comes after the pause button is released. [Read: Pause & Pray: Play]

A CORRECT POSTURE Whilst all eyes are on news and updates of the Covid-19 situation, our focus must be on God. For the people of God, our starting point must be faith and hope in Him (not fear). To this end, we believe that God will see us through this crisis, trusting Him not only to protect but also to provide, no matter how adverse the global economy may be. With a correct posture, we will see that disruptions notwithstanding, the kingdom of God continues to advance; and we must move with Him. [Read: Covid-19: Faith First]

Pondering the above this morning, as well as recent developments and disruptions, the Lord then dropped these two reminders in my heart.

1. Don’t fill up what God has freed up

Don’t waste the space that you have now. This is the best time for an alignment check. Take stock. Especially for those in leadership, there are many decisions to be made. However, look beyond the firefighting and the adjustments. Don’t let these distract you from what is truly important. Stop trying to fill up what God has freed up. Use the space wisely. Get ready for what’s ahead. Check alignment – to discover assignment, or to be even more effective on assignment.

The Lord then reminded me of what I wrote in my book, Alignment Check. I pray that this will speak to many of you:

“Whilst this [framework] may provide a good overview of the Alignment Check, it is unlikely that any alignment would have taken place. It is like sending your car to the workshop, getting a computerised reading of how misaligned the tyres are, driving off immediately, and then wondering why there are still problems with the steering. Recognising misalignment is only the first step. Allowing the Mechanic to help you with the realignment makes all the difference! And for that, the vehicle needs to be still and stationery for a while longer than what most of us may be comfortable with.

Alignment Check, p29, emphasis mine.

With the lockdown in many countries, the roads are empty. Vehicles are all stuck at home, as are people. I say again, this is the best time to check alignment. Don’t waste the space, the additional time, you now have on your hands or at home. Stop trying to fill up what God has allowed to be freed up.

2. Don’t mistake church-onlined for church-aligned

Thank God for technology where services and teachings can be live-streamed. With church services disrupted, we now have even more online options (think Christian Netflix!). Over the past week, I have also been praying about Archippus Awakening’s digital strategy.

That said, is it just about getting everyone to attend services online? I don’t believe so. The prompting of the Lord came strongly this morning: The solution is not church-onlined; but church-aligned.

And where online articles are concerned, please be careful (yes, even this one – *grin*). There is so much information about Covid-19 … way too much! Staying updated is one thing; but to be inundated with an overload is not healthy at all. In case you are not aware, there is a lot of nonsense out there. If you don’t know how to posture and handle these well, you will either be distracted from what God is saying or be paralysed and not move with how God is directing. Once again: The solution is not church-onlined; but church-aligned.

I am not speaking against anyone, any church, or any practice here. Once again, we all agree that technology is a great tool, especially in these times. However, we must also be mindful that it is just a means to an end – that’s all it is. Just as we can attend service after service and not be aligned with Jesus and His kingdom, we can likewise view live-stream after live-stream and remain unchanged. We can be online, and still not align.

Praise God for leaders and teams working overtime to help you stay connected online. At the end of the day, it is not how many viewed the live-stream or clicked LIKE as the message was delivered. Once again, it’s not onlinement that God is after, but alignment. May the Lord grant you wisdom to discern and process what He is saying to you – personally.

Conclusion

I started out recognising the disruptions that the Covid-19 crisis has caused. Yet, through these, let us not miss what God has allowed. What if we changed our perspective from how Covid-19 has disrupted us to how God is disrupting His church?

Clearly, this disruption is an awakening where God is trying to get our attention. Don’t waste the space by trying to fill up what God has freed up. This is the best time for an alignment check. Whilst getting online seems to be the order of the day, getting aligned should be the focus. In Archippian-lingo, “Focus on the aligning. Let God do the assigning.” This then postures you for kingdom assignments, making you ready for when the Lord finally moves from pause to play.

This article was first published on Archippus Awakening‘s website on 20 March 2020.

Covid-19: Faith First

Last night, following WHO’s declaration of a global pandemic, our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong provided an update on the Covid-19 situation. In the concise 11:28″ live broadcast, he reassured Singaporeans by focussing on three aspects: medical, economic & psychological.

Coronavirus: Full text of speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong on the Covid-19 outbreak

This morning, as I spent some time praying and reflecting, I was led to consider these points backwards – psychological, economic, medical.

The natural response is always to see what is happening, consider its impact and then consider the appropriate response. Applying this to the Covid-19 outbreak, medically, we will first look at the facts and figures, study the clusters and see how best to contain the spread. Next, economic impact is ascertained and the appropriate measures rolled out. Finally, to weather this, psychologically, the people must stand together that we may get through this together.

Well and good, naturally. But in the spiritual, from a kingdom perspective, I felt the Lord reminding me that it is often upside-down; hence the prompting to consider it backwards.

Psychological

Firstly, fear cannot be the primary motivator. It has to be faith and hope in God. This is and must be the starting point for the people of God.

Faith and hope in God does not mean that no Christian will ever get infected with the Covid-19 virus, or die from it. It does mean, however, that in any eventuality and whatever the outcome, our faith and hope continues to be in God and God alone.

We do not want to be infected but we are not afraid should we be infected. We do not want to die from such an infection but because of who we are in Christ and the eternal life we already have in and through Him, we are not afraid to die. If we truly believe that God is in control, then we must acknowledge that He is also sovereign over the measure of our days (Psalm 39:4).

Faith allows us to continue with what we have been tasked with that we may be faithful to fulfil our assignments, come what may. Fear, on the other hand, will paralyse and make things even worse than it already is. We will be responsible but we cannot be fearful. May we learn to discern the difference and have the right starting point of faith.

Economic

Once faith and hope are rightly placed in God, the promise of His provision follows. Jesus said it in this way, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our part is not to worry but to be gainfully employed in the work of His kingdom. God’s part is to look after and provide for His kingdom people.

In a time when businesses are being hit left, right and centre, I know that this can be a cause of concern for many.

This statement by PM Lee caught my attention: “The situation is especially serious for some sectors – hotels, aviation, hospitality, and freelancers in the gig economy. But nobody has been spared. Everyone feels the impact, to different degrees” (emphasis mine). Hey, I thought to myself, that’s me he’s talking about. If churches continue to cancel services, camps and retreats, many of my speaking engagements will be affected … oops.

Well, that is if I depend on the way things have been. What if God is disrupting His people, forcing a shift in their paradigms? Could He be shaking our comfort zones that we will truly and fully trust in Him for provision and not the typical sources of financial support? I’ve always believed that God’s kingdom economy runs counter to that of the world. To see and experience that will require eyes of faith that look to Him and not the facts and figures circulating in the media.

Another statement by PM Lee stood out for me: “We will help our workers keep their jobs, and retrain during their downtime, so that when things return to normal, our workers will be the first out of the gate, and immediately productive” (emphasis mine).

This sounds really familiar. On 15 February, reflecting on a word that the Lord had pressed the pause button through Covid-19, I shared that it was not just a pause-and-pray scenario, but that we are to get ready for the play that comes after. In my #GoViralWithPrayer live broadcast that morning, I said:

“The pause is only a moment, because after the pause is a play. So, it is not just a pause and pray, it will be a pause and play. I believe that this whole situation will pass. God wants us to pause and listen to Him. For those who align or realign, those who are awakened, and we are inclining our ear, leaning in to listen to Him, heeding this word to pause and to pray, assignments will be there. Once this thing moves on, God is looking for men and women – Archippuses – who will be awakened, aligned and assigned.”

Pause and Pray: Pray

To be sure, this is not just a time to look for alternative ways to do church. This is an opportunity for every believer to pause and seek the Lord, to be realigned and retrained “so that when things return to normal, [believers] will be the first out of the gate, and immediately productive” for the work of the kingdom.

Medical

With numerous reports and articles coming from everywhere and anywhere, we need discernment to know which are true and which are not. Even experts and medical practitioners can’t agree on whether to wear masks or not! I am even finding it difficult to keep up with the rate of updates. So how?

Once again, we start with faith and hope in God, not fear. And then, we trust in His provision and leading. Medically, I’d like to suggest that we leave it to the professionals to figure out what they need to do. Unless you have a platform to do something about it, your opinion will remain just that – an opinion, however strong. (Please stop being a Facebook keyboard warrior – it’s not helping.)

In constituting a people for Himself, God required that the children of Israel first acknowledge Him as God, i.e. faith in Him. In that covenantal relationship, God promised to provide for their every need. For their well-being, He laid down communal and societal laws that included basic health and hygiene protocols. Can you see the same order here – psychological, economic, medical?

Whilst I may not fully understand how the virus infects or mutates, I can be socially responsible by practising personal hygiene, washing my hands and not attending functions/meetings if I am unwell. This is not fear but faith working through love, a kingdom value.

Even if religious gatherings are shortened or limited in size, these may inconvenience but should not concern us too much. Kingdom assignments will continue, regardless of size and frequency of church meetings. In fact, this may yield positive outcomes (as some have already experienced) as smaller groups are much better for relationships and authentic interactions. Large meetings, whilst impressive, have a tendency to encourage complacency and apathy, and even provide a false sense of success.

Where mega meetings have become normal for Christians, what if this is the new normal God desires us to embrace – a returning to “the old paths, where the good way is” (Jeremiah 6:16)?

Conclusion

It’s not about just avoiding or surviving Covid-19. For us as the people of God, we must see beyond the natural that we may discern the spiritual significance of the situation. For that, we need faith first.

A Lovely Note of Encouragement by Ruth

I am presently on a 10-day Consecration Fast, full fast with just water, in preparation of the next phase of Archippus Awakening; and today is Day #6. Naturally, in the first few days, the body is physically weak and I move about rather slowly. It’s much better now, having adjusted, but I still get breathless at times.

This evening, I decided to go for prayer walk, allowing me to get some exercise and sun whilst I lift up items to the Lord. As I prepared to step out, I found a little heart-shaped note written by my 9yo daughter Ruth.

Ruth Heart Note

I was overwhelmed as I read what she wrote:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid nor discouraged for the Lord will be with you wherever you go. Keep fasting. Keep praying. Don’t overwork yourself. God bless you.”

This is the verse that the Lord used to encourage me when He first gave me instructions to step down from my pastoral position and to go as He would lead. What Ruth added on her own accord was so beautiful, spurring me on towards the end of the fast yet reminding me that prayer is very much a part of the process, but not without cautioning me to go at a pace that is manageable (it’s been a very heavy ministry schedule so far).

Often, as a parent, you don’t really know if you are teaching your children right or if they are receiving all you hope for them to receive. I thank God for these little moments that makes the parenting journey worth it, watching them grow in the Lord and being sensitive and a blessing to others around them.

Half-Boiled Eggs and Coffee Served With Love

It was a simple gesture this morning but one that meant so much. Although my wife was preparing to leave for some errands, Serene made the extra effort to fix me breakfast. Nothing elaborate, just my usual request for half-boiled eggs and coffee. But it meant a lot.

Not everyone may understand the amount of work Serene has, but I do. Managing a household of our size is really not easy. It is no wonder many impose the title of “supermom” onto Serene, one which she absolutely detests. If anyone has her hands full, it is Serene. Eggs and coffee may not seem like much to some, but to me, it means the world when served with love and sacrifice by my wife.

Henson & Serene Club Med Bintan

Meals aside, I am so thankful for Serene’s support in the ministry. If anyone would appreciate her husband to be around more, I believe my wife would like that. But given the nature of ministry, where engagements are usually at night or over the weekends, this is not always possible. And so, Serene adjusts and makes do with whatever she has, knowing that her sacrifice is really for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Because of her absence from the ministry front lines, given our large family size and additional household demands, some have even remarked that my wife is not with me in ministry, That cannot be further from the truth! Serene is 100% with me, supporting and encouraging me in ways that many don’t see and few can understand.

What I am most thankful for is that Serene and I are able to come together to pray. I never take this for granted at all! Whenever I ask couples if they pray together, the answer is usually, “No.” Truly, it is wonderful that we can share our concerns and struggles with each other, and then proceed to pray with and for one another, as well as for our family and ministry. Through prayer, we openly acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of our lives, our family and our ministry. In that, we do not struggle alone regardless the challenges that come our way. The Lord is with us and will see us through. He has done that before and He will do it again!

Well, this simple post started with eggs and coffee. I didn’t intend to write so much but each time I think about how the Lord has blessed me with and through Serene, I am filled with joy and gratitude. What can I say? I love my wife! And I never cease to give thanks to the Lord for her!

Visit Serene’s weblog, Building Up Moms, for articles and posts to encourage moms and wives.

Related Post: Appreciating My Wife

Pedophilia Officially Classified as Sexual Orientation by American Psychology Association

Pedophilia Officially Classified as Sexual Orientation by American Psychology Association.

Hands up, those who agree that this it is utterly, totally, absolutely, shockingly, horrendously, deplorably ridiculous! And yet, the time has arrived where insanity and foolishness are the order of the day 😦

The headline of this Charisma Magazine article says it all, doesn’t it? You don’t even need to read the full article to be sickened by such an announcement.

Without doubt, we are living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil 2:15) where people call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).

Indeed, every parent needs to pray like never before — but make sure it is done with eyes wide open; don’t let your children out of your sight.

NOTE: Since posting this yesterday, some astute readers have checked the American Psychology Association website with attempts to verify the report. Also, Charisma News has added this paragraph to the above article: “UPDATE: The AFA cannot substantiate its research on this issue, though many agree with its interpretation. Please click here for an updated story with new facts. The AFA is a trusted source in Christian media, but some are disputing its claim. We reached out to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for an official statement and have not yet received clarification. We will update the story if the APA responds.” Regardless, this does not alter the fact that we do live in challenging and interesting times, one that calls for Christian parents to be very aware of the present environment our families are exposed to.

When You P.R.A.Y.

Image

Many things have been said and written about prayer. But this morning, as I laid in my bed, the following points popped into my heart and I thought it’d be good to pen it down as a reminder to myself and as an encouragement to others. Not surprisingly, it comes in the form of the acronym, P.R.A.Y.

PRESENT Yourself Before prayer is petition, it is really a posture of presentation. Admit it. Have you not struggled with finding time or energy to pray? There is always something else that appears more important where you feel your presence or attention is critically needed. That is why the very first aspect of prayer is presentation, the conscious act of disengaging ourselves from the 1,001 things that distract us that we may present ourselves before God. This could mean physically walking to the side of the bed and kneeling down, or simply closing our eyes and tuning out the cares of the world. This posture of presentation enables us to focus on God, acknowledging our great and desperate need for Him.

REST in Him Before you rattle off your prayer list (or your version of God’s to-do list), take a moment to rest in His presence. I guarantee you that this will make a world of difference. Pause for a moment, even if those two or three seconds of quiet might seem like eternity to you. But it’s important as it allows perspective to move from yours to His. Strangely, amidst the anxiety and flurry of your thoughts and concerns, you will experience a peace that surpasses your comprehension. Enjoy the rest. You need it. You may not have said anything yet, but your time of prayer has already begun.

ASK Boldly I hear you say, “Finally.” Yes, go ahead. Ask, petition, question, complain, weep, cry. Table your needs, present your case, ask the toughest of questions. Why don’t we do this first? Once again, posture and perspective. It is one thing to ask and demand like a spoilt brat, fussing and kicking his legs all over the place; and yet totally another to come as a son and a servant who trusts and rests in his Father and Master. The former’s boldness is misplaced whilst the latter’s, rightly positioned and presented.

YIELD to His Will If you have noticed the prayers of the saints and psalmists in the Bible, they always leave room for God to have the last word. Well, the truth is, He has the last word, whether you acknowledge it or not. Prayer is not so much getting our way as it is aligning to His. This may not be what you want to hear, but it just is. However God chooses to answer — whether yes, no or wait — it requires a yielding to His sovereign will. A prayer that closes with this understanding positions the saint for a much deeper work in his life because he is ready to surrender and submit to a situation that may not result in the way he expected. And yet, because he knows that God is in control, he is able to keep on serving faithfully from a position of rested-ness, trusting wholly in the One who holds everything in His hands.

So, the next time you P.R.A.Y., keep these four simple points in mind. May this encourage and enable you to enjoy your times with the Lord. And all who agree say, “AMEN!”

Theological Seminary Accepts LGBT Student Group

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Eph 5:15-17

You can call me conservative or traditional. In fact, for that matter, you can call me anything you want, but this article “Fuller Theological Seminary’s Acceptance of LGBT Group, One Table, Creates Ripples” sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read of how Fuller, a well-respected seminary, has openly accepted Open Table, the very first LGBT student club. That it would even admit a gay seminarian in the first place boggles me.

Interestingly, just a few months ago, I was rejoicing with a brother in Christ when I learned of his decision to pursue doctoral studies at Fuller. At his invitation, I even considered the possibility of joining him in this quest. After all, I had high regard for this institution, which featured as one of my study options when I first prepared for fulltime ministry. Well, not anymore.

It is one thing for governments to change their position towards LGBT. But it is totally yet another for Christian institutions of higher learning to move in that direction. These are clearly the first steps before it becomes a full-fledged slide down the slippery slope. Then again, should this even surprise us, given how churches are also beginning to waver in their stance towards LGBTs.

Well, I may be surprised but not naive. It won’t be long before others follow suit. The can of worms has been opened and it is only a matter of time when we shall quickly observe how these worms are nothing but slimy slithery serpents of satanic nature.

We can and should pray. No, not for these to be removed. I am one who believes that there are some things you cannot pray away. We have been warned of these and however odd it may sound to us, these are happening just as it has been prophesied. Yes, the LGBT agenda is a fulfilment of prophecy. In some strange sense, that comforts me – not that I relish the present situation but that this did not catch God off-guard. And if this part of prophecy is being fulfilled, then we have great assurance and confidence that God’s plan will also unfold in accordance to His timing and will. Hallelujah!

At the risk of sounding inward and selfish, we must pray for ourselves — that we will be enabled, empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit to speak and live as we ought to, without compromise. As we have already seen, some have and even more will in the days to come. May we not be counted amongst these, but be found faithful and true to the worship and service of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Serene’s Testimony at CVCC

This morning, at Covenant Vision Christian Church, Serene shared her testimony of God’s healing. In her own words, she struggled with whether it was the right time since her skin is still not fully cleared of eczema and she still has itchy bouts once in a while. But after reviewing the photos she had taken along the way, and seeing how her skin was then and how it is now, she felt convicted to share A Story in Pictures of God’s goodness and healing mercies so that Jesus would receive all glory and honour!

After her sharing, Rev Francis and Rev Wilfred prayed for her. It was a bold step of faith for Serene to share the photos and her journey thus far. I believe her faith will position her to receive complete and total healing and restoration for her condition to the glory of God!

To all who have prayed for Serene (and still praying for her), thank you!!! We deeply appreciate your standing in agreement with us.

A Personal Response to the City Harvest Case

“Ever since sharing the following pointers to a closed group at an Archippus Awakening KINGDOM101 meeting on 21 Oct 2015, this post has garnered quite a few views and its fair share of comments. I feel it necessary to point out and remind all readers that this post was written more than three years ago, posted on 27 Jun 2012. Even so, these personal – and I stress, personal – convictions remain the same and the points, relevant. This post is not a commentary of what has taken place nor does it seek to provide my views, opinion or evaluation of the verdict, or the persons involved. As clearly expressed, the social media is not the place for such discourses. To this end, whilst I welcome and respect everyone’s inputs and comments, in the spirit of what has been shared, contributions will be accordingly moderated. Thank you and may you be blessed and encouraged as you read this post and others on One Day At A Time.” Henson, 23 Oct 2015

This is not the first blog post about what has happened to Pastor Kong Hee and the leaders of City Harvest Church and it definitely will not be the last. In this day and age of the internet, everyone can share their opinion over cyberspace and I suppose that is also what I am doing here. Even so, I am mindful that I cannot control who reads this and how they will respond. As such, I will endeavour to be as careful and as responsible as I possibly can, so help me God 🙂

Also, I am fully aware that I am writing as one in fulltime ministry, as a dean of a school of ministry and as a pastor of a local congregation. In these capacities, I have already received questions from those I lead and I hope this post will provide a consistent response. My desire is thus to share my personal perspective and the lessons I am learning; that through this, others who are in agreement may know how to respond accordingly.

And should anyone choose to share this on Facebook or Twitter, my prayer is that it does not contribute to any controversy, but that it offers help and clarity to those trying to make some sense of the situation. There is definitely no intention on my part to speak ill of Pastor Kong Hee or any CHC leader for I do not know them personally nor is it my place to do so at all. To this end, the general observations presented hereunder apply to anyone who serves in ministry and any case that involves such a one who might have walked in error.

So here goes…

1. I am exercising restraint in my thoughts and my words. At this point, it is very easy to be caught up with what is right or wrong, whether the use or misuse of funds is justified, if it was to support a personal ambition or was it truly a ministry to reach the lost for Jesus. Tempting as it is to be drawn into such discussions, I keep reminding myself to hold back, even in my own thoughts and imaginations. No, I am not in denial at all and I most certainly have a point of view. I am merely exercising restraint, knowing how quickly I too can end up being self-righteous, prideful and judgmental. Without conscious restraint, I could be like some on the social media, openly airing my views and feelings. We are all entitled to say something and it has been interesting to read some of the comments posted so far. But I question the necessity of some, however scriptural it may sound.

2. I am hurting because the Body of Christ has been hurt. Without doubt, I am deeply saddened and troubled by what has taken place. But say what you like, these arrested and charged, and those belonging to CHC, are all brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s not “them” and “us” but we all belong to one body. What they are going through now is pain, anxiety and very possibly confusion. And when one part of the body hurts, the rest of the body is affected. I don’t really want to think about it, but I can’t help it. Since reading the first posting yesterday, the matter has not ceased to be on my mind and in my heart. And it has been painful for me as it is also for every believer who understands what community is all about.

3. I am thankful that the power of the Word of God is not constrained by the weakness of Man. I have heard many good things about Pastor Kong Hee and how he preached hard and without compromise. I believe the Word of God has gone forth and has blessed and built many at CHC. These all love and serve Jesus from the bottom of their hearts. That’s because biblical truths and principles still stand, even if the one who brings the message falls. God works through and is not at all constrained by Man’s imperfections. The power is in His Word not in Man. That is why, always, God receives all glory!

4. I am challenged to always check out the teaching of the Word. Understandably, some may be concerned and are questioning if they should listen to CHC messages anymore, especially those about money, tithing and giving. That is a valid concern, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. By this, I am not advocating that we accept every teaching blindly. Instead, we are to always check and test out the teaching of the Word. Do we accept the teaching because it appeals to our sinful nature? Oddly, the good news is good news because it offends our sinful nature that we may be convicted to give these up for what truly matters in the Kingdom of God!

5. I am duly cautioned that we are all one step away from falling. How did it happen? When did it start? These are just some of the questions on everyone’s minds. I don’t have the answers, nor should I even hazard a guess. All I know is that no one is exempt from the lures and temptations of this world. And the more I am blessed with, the easier it is for me to rationalize and justify why I do what I do. I could be fervent and zealous for the Lord, but I am just one step from compromising and falling. It happened to King David, a man after God’s own heart, and it could happen to any one of us.

6. I am convinced God is bigger than the situation and He does not need us to defend Him. Some years back, when charities first came into the spotlight and certain churches’ policies were being investigated, the prayer leader asked a believer to pray for the situation. This person prayed in the following manner … “Lord, please blind the eyes of the authorities to anything that is not right so that Your Name will not be tarnished.” Do we need to ask God to cover our wrongdoings so that He won’t look bad? The last I read in my Bible, God covers sin so He won’t have to strike us dead! In all other instances, God is in the business of exposing sin. Truly, God is not afraid of revealing weakness in His people. He has done that with Israel and He will do it with the Church. In that, He displays His righteousness and His holiness even as He demands the same in our lives.

7. I am certain many will be shaken through this episode and it’s ok. In fact, we are to brace ourselves for even more to come as the Bible warns that there will be a great falling away. Those who have a right relationship with God and His people, who are growing and maturing spiritually, will be further strengthened through such difficult and uncomfortable incidents. On the contrary, those who have put their trust and faith in man-made systems and structures will be sorely disappointed and disillusioned. Yes, God is shaking, but God is also building up His Church.

8. I am standing for the restoration of all affected. Our God is all for restoration. And by His grace, we know there will be another chance for those who might have erred in their weakness. Yes, we are to hold to His truth for we are called to be the pillar and the ground of truth. But as His people, and agents of His amazing grace, the Church is to provide an environment where restoration is possible. Not that we overlook the sins committed, but that we help one another overcome through love, through fellowship and in mutual accountability.

Indeed, there is much to be learnt from all that is happening. Over the next days and weeks, months perhaps, there will be a lot more talk and a lot more details that will be presented. We could join in the fray and contribute to the chatter. Or we could join our hearts in prayer … not just for Pastor Kong Hee and City Harvest Church, but for the entire household of faith in Singapore. On a personal note, I will be guided by what I have shared in this post. May the Lord Jesus lead and enable us by His Holy Spirit to stand as one that the world may know that we are truly His disciples.

Praying Together for Spiritual Intimacy

After getting married in 1995, Serene and I committed to doing “Couple Devotions”. And one precious lesson which stuck in my mind was the importance of developing and maintaining Spiritual Intimacy in the marital relationship. In those pre-parenting years, it didn’t pose too much of a challenge to us as we did everything together – and that included attending church services, fellowship groups and seminars. At the same time, the Lord stirred in each of us a hunger for Him and we found ourselves talking about spiritual stuff, reading the Word, being convicted by similar issues and praying together. It was so exciting and fun … serving God and discovering Him as a couple! With that in place, we were both ready and willing when the Lord called me in 2000.

Across my talks on Marriage and Family, I have found that not every couple has had this privilege of growing together and enjoying spiritual intimacy. Both may be church-people but each will have his or her own times of devotion and prayer, if that even takes place. They may go on couple dates or have couple activities. But build spiritual intimacy? Sadly, in many marriages, that is an alien-sounding concept.

Admittedly, it is easy to talk about spiritual intimacy but not quite as easy to implement nor maintain. If anyone has an excuse for not doing so, we have seven! Add to that homeschooling, housekeeping and a packed ministry schedule. To this end, over the years, we had also let this important aspect slip in our marriage. Yes, we pray, but individually. Yes, we read the Word, but separately. Yes, we minister and bless others through our lives and family, but in different spheres and areas. Aren’t these good? Of course, they are. But notice the operative words that should raise alarm bells and danger signals … individually and separately.

In my busyness, I had neglected my wife and the spirituality that must be nurtured together in our relationship. Issues must be discussed and items prayed through and over together. If not, a couple can drift apart theologically, each forming his or her own conclusions and interpretations on how the Word of God should be applied in various situations. The enemy loves couples like that! Theological and doctrinal gaps present great openings for him to drive his diaboloical wedges of dis-satisfaction, discouragement, bitterness, pride, self-righteousness, blame and unforgiveness into! He loves to see husbands and wives take biblical stands on marriage and family issues just so they can argue with each other from opposite sides. How sneaky, how deceptive, how disastrous!

More recently, the Lord convicted me of this area of neglect (yes, there is no softer word) in my marriage. As the husband and the head, I am fully responsible for the level of spiritual intimacy that Serene and I share. By assuming that we were both doing ok and obediently serving the Lord, I had allowed the gaps to widen and that began to show up in many aspects of our marriage and family life! We became tired and worn out by the workload. We were easily discouraged with things that didn’t go right. We were frustrated with the behaviour of the children. We lost focus amidst the 1,001 things to do. Soon, we were questioning God, wondering where He was in all these. It was just so easy to get into yet another pity-party, a woe-is-me and nobody-understands-our-problems session. We knew we had to bring it to the Lord – not individually, but together!

And that is what we have been doing … we have begun, once again, to pray together. Each night, after Serene puts our youngest to bed, we would spend time praying together. No TV, no computer, no newspapers. Just the two of us, crying out to the Lord. We would pray for one another, for the children, and for anything the Lord lays upon our hearts. And if there was nothing to pray for (as if), we would just pray in the Spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf. These have not been earth-shaking moments and usually after the “amen”, we’d just chat or go back to our tasks. But in the spiritual, there has been a powerful shift! We have drawn so much closer to each other spiritually. It’s hard to explain, but somehow, the spiritual environment and climate at home is different from what it was just a few months ago. It’s less tense and there is more joy, more singing, more smiles, more laughter. There is a renewed consciousness of God and His presence in our lives and conversations. We sense it in our relationship with each other, and also with each of our children. In the natural, we are still struggling with the same issues and challenges. But in the spiritual, we just know that God is leading us and taking us through step by step; and that in turn, will affect and direct the natural.

We know that this is just the beginning and there is just so much ahead of us. Spiritual intimacy must be maintained and developed even more and more, and there must be no letting up. If not, we will find ourselves back at square one. Life presents new challenges each and every day, for our marriage and for our family, in the lives and situations of each growing child. For the family to be strong, the marriage must be strong; and only spiritual intimacy will ensure the solidity of that foundation. Out of our prayer times, I believe the Lord will cause us to identify and deal with other issues. These will cause us to search His Word, to rightly interprete and apply it together. Our unity in the Spirit will also affect the raising of our children. In time, we want these prayer times to extend to and include our children as they come of age.

Much has been written about this. Even more has been said about this. But spiritual intimacy cannot be simply read or talked about. It has to be developed and the best first step couples can take to draw closer spiritually is to begin to pray together.