First The Natural Then The Spiritual: The Lord Prepares Me For The New Year

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It’s the first day of 2016! Blessed New Year, everyone!

My New Year’s Eve was spent in a rather odd way. Just a day before, my trusty computer started acting strange and an error message kept popping up, telling me that I had run out of application memory space. As such, I had to keep force quitting applications before I could continue using the computer. And a while later, it happened again. It was most frustrating, to say the least. For the next hours, I found myself engaged with Apple Helpline as the various advisors guided me through the trouble shooting process, hoping to isolate the problem – to no avail. The last resort was to reinstall the OS, which was what I did, TWICE!

After the first reinstall, I restored my files from the backup and encountered the same issue. So, I had to reinstall again, and this time, I made it a point NOT to restore the previous User data as that might be the cause of the problem in the first place. It worked (and is still working)! The next step was to set up the applications again – one at a time – and then decide which data files should be copied back in. After all, no point reloading the computer all over again after clearing it out!

Not exactly the best way to spend New Year’s Eve! And yet, as I stared at the screen, waiting for stuff to load and for other stuff to be copied back, I found myself giving thanks for this inconvenience I had to go through. It sure wasn’t fun at all, but it was definitely needed! Deep within, I recognised the prophetic significance of this episode and what the Lord wanted to say to me by allowing this to happen – on New Year’s Eve.

For sure, it had been a packed and fulfilling 2015. [Read How Was 2015 For You? and 2015: A Season of Sowing] And like my computer, I was maxed out. Although things appeared fine on the surface, I was running out of application memory space. It was tough juggling the many developments happening on the various fronts, and I was multi-tasking beyond what I could handle. I found myself thinking all the time, and forgetting most of what I thought of. I was like a computer going on overdrive, partitioning and fragmenting. partitioning and fragmenting. It had been a year of keeping the balls up in the air, and there would be new challenges I can expect in the new year! How am I going to manage it? How can I take on any more? And the message came through very clearly: Start fresh. Start anew. Reinstall.

And after reinstalling, don’t go bringing back the old User settings, because that will affect the system again. After reinstalling, don’t go loading the old files that only take up memory space but serve no real purpose other than provide a false sense of security of having them there. Even worse, these will slow down and compromise the effectiveness of the system. Leave those old files, however meaningful and sentimental, in the external hard disk. I can always access and retrieve them for nostalgic reminiscing separately. But for the work ahead, I am not to let anything or anyone hold me back. I need to start fresh and start anew.

Just two days ago, at the end of my personal retreat, I was promptly reminded by the Lord, “Plan. But leave room for Me to move.” Those who know me as a planner and organiser will understand what a struggle this word is for me. Somehow, for the new territories and new frontiers ahead, I sense that the Lord will show me a new way to do things in 2016.

And then – this timely reinstalling exercise on New Year’s Eve! First the natural, then the spiritual. “Yes, Lord, I hear you loud and clear. I am reinstalled. Ready for You to lead me into this new year!”

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A Prophetic Impression of the Church at Middle Mountain

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Sometime in 2005/06, I received an impression whilst reading a particular verse. I have chosen to call it an impression because it wasn’t exactly a vision. Today, this impression is still as vivid in my heart as when I first received it. Although I have shared this at different points of my ministry, I have never felt the need to post it on my blog. But this morning, after reading the post, “A Prophetic Vision of Two Rivers and a Strong Warning” by Josh Fontaine on charisma.com, I feel the time is right to release this…

“My people have been lost sheep,
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains,
They have gone from mountain to hill:
They have forgotten their resting place.”
Jeremiah 50:6

As I read this verse, my mind strayed to a scene much like the Swiss Alps – a breathtaking backdrop of beautiful snow capped mountains. Then, I saw many coaches approaching. As these drew closer, I recognised them as tour buses. These stopped at the foot of the mountain and tourists streamed out, chatting, laughing and full of excitement. The tour leaders waved their flags and group by group, these entered the cable cars. One by one, the packed cable cars made their ascent up the mountain.

Halfway up, the cable cars stopped, and once again, the tourists streamed out. They gasp at the sight and immediately dashed to pose for photos, to buy souvenirs, to collect postcards, and to enjoy steaming hotdogs and cups of delicious hot coffee in the crisp mountain air. The entire place was abuzz with activity, with chatter and laughter. Everyone was having a great time! And almost too soon, and too suddenly, the tour leaders waved their flags once more, the crowds packed the cable cars, went downhill, loaded up on the buses and off they went. And the mountain was quiet once more … until the next group of tourists arrived.

The entire scene happened so fast that I found myself asking, “What was all that about?” And I felt the Spirit whisper, “That’s church.”

“Week after week,” the Lord continued, “My people gather. There is lots of excitement and much activity. They talk, they laugh, and they have fun with one another. And then, as quickly as they came, they are gone. Yes, they had great fellowship and fun, nice photos, stories to tell, and beautiful postcards of mountain tops. But the truth is, they only came up half the way. They were easily satisfied with the hills when there is so much more up the mountain.”

After nearly a decade of having received this impression, I am beginning to understand more critically its significance. More recently, with more experience and maturity, I read the chapter for its context. What I discovered surprised me.

Jeremiah 50 is not exactly a favourite passage for the average Christian. It is actually a pronouncement of judgment against Babylon. As such, it is tempting to speed-read through this passage for something else more inspiring and motivating. But contained within this judgment against the enemies of God’s people are verses specifically directed at God’s people!

Without doubt, God will judge the world’s Babylonian system and Babylon will fall. In the midst of that, the warning is for God’s people to be aware that many have bought into this system too. Instead of coming up to the mountain of the Lord, the Church is satisfied to camp at middle mountain. Interestingly, the Latin words for middle mountain are medius and ocris respectively; from which we get the English word, mediocre.

To be sure, it is not that churches are not active or busy. On the contrary, most churches in Singapore are jam-packed with programme upon programme. However, have we settled for a mediocrity when God is desiring to take us higher and to show us even more? Have we settled for busloads of tourist-like Christians and broad selections of ministry packages, mistaking these as indicators of healthy and vibrant churches? Sadly, so many only have ‘postcards’ of what the mountain tops look like but no personal experience of having gone there. Believers claim to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and yet so many simply do not know Him at all. We are happy to go where the cable cars take us, but not willing to endure the climb to the top. It’s too difficult, I suppose, too much effort.

What about the leaders? Unfortunately, some of us have been guilty of only looking at numbers and resources. We talk about discipleship but too few are discipling and being discipled. We talk about sending people out but get threatened when the same are not seen to be serving in church. We preach the kingdom of God but may be as guilty as the next for building and protecting our own. We point people to methods when we should be trekking with them, showing them the way up the mountain. But that takes too much time and energy, resources that have become scarce in the modern church. In the end, as long as the church machinery is maintained week after week, we are happy and satisfied.

Jer 50:7 goes on to say that “All who found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said, ‘We have not offended, because they have sinned against the Lord…” May the Lord help us discern and respond accordingly.

Although this impression was received many years ago, its significance has become clearer and even more urgent. This has given me more understanding too as to why the Lord led me to start Archippus Awakening and how its message of awakening must be declared boldly and without compromise. I am also reminded that it will not be easy because many will refuse to be convinced of their condition to be awakened. As Fontaine notes, “The part that stood out the most about this encounter with this man [eyes whited out and zombified] was the fact that he was utterly convinced he was alive. He couldn’t be convinced of his condition.” What is worse is that these may take offence and respond negatively or nastily. Hence, the Lord’s exhortation and permission for hard-headedness! (Ezekiel 3:8-11) [Read “When Is It Right To Be Hard-Headed?”]

I am praying for myself lest I miss the plank in my own eye for it is so easy to settle in a comfort zone and miss the “more” that God has for me. The Lord showed Fontaine the requirements to remain in the pure river that flows from His mountain. May the Lord enable me in these areas too as I submit myself wholly to His inspection and correction:

  • Only say what He says with no fear of man
  • Honor Him and love Him more than the praise of man
  • Abstain from sexual immorality
  • Never prostitute the gift He has given me for money
  • Stay humble
  • Always be a good husband to my wife and a good father to my children

I love the Church and its various local communities and I am praying for the Body of Jesus Christ. As you consider this verse again, and its prophetic significance, may the Lord also grant you the discernment and wisdom to know how you should respond:

“My people have been lost sheep,
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains,
They have gone from mountain to hill:
They have forgotten their resting place.”
Jeremiah 50:6

Henson Lim is the founder of Archippus Awakening, a fresh initiative birthed in Aug 2014 dedicated to the awakening of the saints to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments. To know more about the message and heartbeat of Archippus Awakening, consider ordering the book, SAY TO ARCHIPPUS.

Related Post: Illustration of the Church at Middle Mountain

The Need to Rebuild the Walls Around Families

When I received the invitation to LoveSingapore’s Family Foundation Future Symposium, I thought I had to give it a miss as the dates coincided with our 18th Wedding Anniversary and our youngest’s 4th birthday. However, when Serene saw the key topic, she immediately said that I should go. So, with her understanding and blessings, I spent the whole of yesterday and this morning listening to the line up of speakers. So many points hit home, and I was challenged on so many fronts. I found myself evaluating my own personal ministry and that which I am involved in at Covenant Vision.

The points weren’t exactly new. I had heard and even preached some of the same points before but it was still quite an emotional time for me as I was reminded and made even more aware of the times we live in and the threats families face. At the same time, I felt my heart stirred and my mind opened to views and positions I had never considered before. I had to repent of my own pride, prejudice and self-righteousness! I now understand why the Lord instructed me to fast the entire week before.

What kept coming across was the need to rebuild the walls around families, as in the Nehemiah account in the Bible. This shot straight into my heart like arrows from the Lord! Since 2006, I have been teaching the seminar, “Building a Household of Faith”, more recently re-titled to “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World“. In this three hour seminar, I present seven points drawn from Nehemiah 4: Purpose, Prayer, Partnership, Position, Preparedness, People and Prophetic. Through these points, I bring awareness to the threats and challenges Christian families face in these perilous times, and how parents are to respond accordingly. Whilst response and feedback have been encouraging, it is not as well as attended as I feel it could or should be. Is the Lord affirming and encouraging me through this symposium? Is He nudging me to offer this seminar again now that a prophetic momentum has been initiated through our country’s foremost church leaders? Have I been rehearsing for a time such as this?

At the close of the symposium, the Spirit gently prompted me to examine the plank in my eye, convicting me through the speaker’s sharing of how God has already opened doors for a Fathers Movement in Singapore. Once again, this idea of Elijah turning the hearts of the fathers back to their children is not new to me. I had preached about the same Elijah spirit in the message “The Spirit of the Forerunner” some years before. And as a father of seven children, I am fully aware of my role, even as I challenge others to rise up into theirs. But we all know it’s one thing to preach it and yet another to live it. And this morning, I was convicted to take steps to address and plug certain gaps in my own marriage and family. When the symposium ended, I immediately messaged Serene, “I feel we should take time to seriously discuss what we want to address in our family. Not just a chit chat but a purposeful session with clear points of action.” Interestingly, Serene had just attended a seminar on “Preserving Purity” by Generations of Virtue last Saturday. I believe God has prepared our hearts accordingly.

Oblivious to many Christians, things are happening at breakneck speed and at an increasing rate. Our families have been sitting ducks in the schemes and ploys of the enemy. And sadly, we have played into his court without even realising it. Yet, this should not come as a surprise because we have been too caught up with our own brand of Christianity, one that panders to our desires and agendas. This is the deception that we have fallen prey to, thinking we are okay when we are not. Clearly, when we are not focused on God’s agenda, we will be distracted by the world’s agenda!

Thankfully, the trumpet has been sounded through God’s prophetic voices. I have heard and I will heed. Indeed, I am solely responsible for the raising of my family. That said, I acknowledge that it is not a journey to be made alone. I will align myself with those who are gathered for battle, and will do my part to rally others.  Will you join me?

“When you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” Neh 4:20

Him We Preach

At a personal retreat in December 2012, I had a very strong leading to read Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. What was later impressed upon my heart was that this would be the book I am to hold on to throughout 2013. I’m still not certain if it meant for me to teach a Bible Study on this book, or to preach expositorily through this book. All I know is that three words stood out from Col 1:28 which would determine the focus of my preaching: “Him we preach”. Yes, the Lord made it very clear that I must preach Jesus. Not that I have not been doing that, but I believe the instruction [and reminder] was for me to keep doing that, without compromise, and never veer from preaching Jesus at all, nor to preach ‘another Jesus’ (2 Cor 11:4).

That was last year. Now, maybe I’m being a little over-sensitive but I can’t help but wonder if the Lord is trying to get my attention to remind me once again through a few articles these few days.

Take for example, “Sex Symbols Who Speak In Tongues” by Michael Brown (Charisma Magazine). Brown makes a valid observation that there are many today who profess faith in Jesus Christ but do not live holy lives. This, he attributes to the gospel of “self”.  Brown’s word to preachers?: “It’s time to say to say goodbye to this watered-down, sin-excusing, so-called gospel that offers everything and calls for nothing. It’s time to get back to the cross and back to the truth. Otherwise, as America collapses in a heap of amoral ruin, the soft preachers of America will be largely to blame.” (emphasis mine) Have Christians in Singapore bought into the gospel of “self” too? Perhaps not to such an extent as in America but we are certainly headed in that direction.

I was reminded of another article I read some time back, entitled “The Curse of Motivational Speaking” by Conrad Mbewe. The author observes, and accurately too, “Sadly, motivational speaking has become the staple diet of many evangelical pulpits. The message being heard is, “God has put the potential in you and all you need to do is believe in yourself to unlock that potential. Have a grand vision and live out that vision. You must be a man or woman of destiny and the sky will be the limit for you. Don’t let your past failures get in your way of success. Look beyond them, as Jesus looked beyond the cross and thus overcame it. You are the head and not the tail.”” All these sound really good and biblical even; but is this what a relationship with God is all about? Mbewe’s “chief quarrel with motivational speaking is that it reduces God to a means rather than an end.” As much as I want to motivate and inspire others, I have to agree with Mbewe and pray I never resort to such a tactic to draw an audience. Mbewe’s challenge to preachers?:We need to return to the good old gospel that truly gives life to the dead and sets men and women free. Like Paul of old, every truly evangelical pulpit must sound out the clear message of ‘repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 20:21). Let us get rid of this curse of motivational speaking!” (emphasis mine)

This evening, thanks to a dear sister, Lee Grady’s article “The Secret of Becoming a Prophetic Preacher” was shared on Facebook. I identified immediately with Grady when he wrote, “On many occasions after speaking in a church or conference, I would sulk. I battled constant discouragement and wondered if my words had hit the mark. Did I preach OK? Did the message sink in?” Yes, I struggle with this too, rationalising that it is just my desire to do my best for God, when in truth, it was my prideful heart seeking attention and affirmation. Drawing from the Jericho account in Joshua 6, Grady shares three parallels between preaching and the blowing of the ram’s horns (shofar). I won’t spoil the fun for you by revealing the three points so you can go read it for yourself. But for the preacher in me, the following statements resounded strongly:

  1. What we need in today’s pulpits is less scripted sparkle and more messy, raw, honest, tear-stained pleas from broken men and women who are aflame with the Holy Spirit.”
  2. “What God is looking for is not one big sensational sermon but a lifetime of faithful preaching. He wants consistency, not fireworks.”
  3. “Today we need preachers who are willing to faithfully speak God’s Word with no hope of fame or fortune. If you truly want all the credit to go to Jesus, you won’t worry about your performance or your applause. Just do your job.”

I am so privileged to be able to teach the Bible and to speak, as it were, the oracles of God. I never want to take this for granted nor to abuse this great honour the Lord has bestowed upon me by His grace. Sure, it’s nice to be complimented and encouraged when a good message is delivered. Sure, it’s nice to be invited to various congregations, and then to be invited back again. Sure, it’s nice to be looked up to, to be consulted, to be described as one who preaches with anointing and revelation. Question is, Would I compromise Jesus for all these?

Praying for Preachers
Covenant Vision Christian Church: Prayer Powerhouse 4 Feb 2013

Against this backdrop, I was so thankful two nights ago when the Prayer Leader called for the church to pray for preachers, that we would stay true to the Word and be bold to declare the Truth without compromise. As prayers were being lifted up for us and on our behalf, the only words I heard ringing within me were, “Preach Jesus! Preach Jesus! Preach Jesus!”

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Col 1:28

Related Article: Two Cross Words From My Wife

Revelation or Deception?

I just watched a YouTube clip on “ekstasia worship” and I am even more convinced that things are not well with the Church.  My guard is even more heightened and it is causing me to question practices and forms we consider “Christian”.  Many of these are touted and positioned as revelation for this new generation in this final season.  Is that really so?  Or is this so-called revelation merely deception?

We all know that deception is one of the key tactics of the enemy.  But do we realise that he is the Master Deceiver?  In other words, he’s really good at what he does.  The best there is!  Simply put, he knows what makes people tick and he will exploit these to the core.  He is so good that he can make Christians think they are worshipping Jesus when they are in fact participating in occultic practices.  Just because it carries a Christian label doesn’t make it right.

Think about it?  Do you expect the enemy to entice you with a term like “diabolic dance”?  Of course not!  He’s smarter and sneakier than that.  But what about a new form of worship? Oh yes, we Christians like worship where we get to sing, dance and express ourselves.  Add a dash of ‘prophetic’ to it with promises of a heavenly experience and that sounds even better.  Ground it with a bible verse or two, have it endorsed by a prominent prophetic voice and it’s ready to hit the Christian markets!  After all, God is revealing new things, is He not?  He wants you to experience Him, does He not?  And not only Him, but also the tingles of heaven.  With some bonus gold dust too.

Is this revelation for the new age to come?  Or is it simply plain ol’ new age in a different packaging under a new name making its way into our churches?  Is our desperate disillusionment in Christianity and church-ianity causing us to seek after more exciting experiences in the spiritual and the supernatural?  Are we opening ourselves to more of God, or merely opening ourselves up to more of the enemy’s ploy?  Do these satisfy and please God, or do these only satisfy and please ourselves?

I am concerned, very concerned, deeply concerned.

The Raising of Sons

When Rev Francis Khoo released the Prophetic Word for 2010, one picture stayed in my mind …

“The first horse was splendid and radiant white in colour.  The rider was also dressed in white and on his head I saw a crown and in his hand was a bow.  But what struck me was that he had no arrows.  Yet as he rode, he seemed to be drawing and shooting invisible arrows. … I felt the Lord say that the rider on the white horse is symbolic of the Church of Jesus Christ as the Chosen Generation today with a call to be an overcomer by being ‘more than conquerors’.  Believers in Jesus have been called to be ambassadors for Jesus in this world.  They have been given the ability and empowered to establish God’s authority and righteousness on this earth.  However, the Church today has not understood its calling, nor risen up to what God has for them as the firstborn of God.  Deception, distraction, debt, dishonesty and delusion have robbed it of the arrows that it has been given.”

Over the past week, in my time with the Lord, I was led to Zech 9:13 …

“For I have bent Judah, My bow, fitted the bow with Ephraim, and raised up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and made you like the sword of a mighty man.”

Suddenly, the light went on in my spirit.  It all made sense!  Taken literally, the first part of Zech 9:13 will read, “For I have bent [praise], My bow, fitted the bow with [double fruitfulness], …”  This is absolutely consistent with the picture in the Prophetic Word.  The Church has been taught to praise and to worship – and there’s a lot of that – but we are not as fruitful as we are to be.  We have the bow, but not the arrows!  What’s the problem?

From Psalm 127:3-5, we see and understand that arrows refer to sons.  As such, if the Church has no arrows, it just means that there are no sons!  One may respond by asking, “But aren’t we all children of God?”  Yes, we are.  But that is where the real problem lies … too many are contented to remain as children, babes in Christ; and too few are being raised up as matured sons of God, hence “the Church today has not understood its calling, nor risen up to what God has for them as the firstborn of God.”

But God wants to raise up sons, O Zion!  These are matured sons after the image of Jesus Christ!  It is only with such maturity that these will withstand and endure the challenges (the 2nd, 3rd & 4th horses) in these final days.  The sons of Zion will oppose and expose the sons of Greece, those who are wise in the ways of the world but foolish in the things of God.

Indeed, “2010 will be year that we need to get our focus, our priorities and our perspectives right.”  Will we continue to be swept away by the distractions and cares of this world?  Do we watch world events unfolding with wisdom and discernment?  Are we still looking for financial gain and material accumulation, trusting in an economy that thrives on debt, dishonesty and deception?

May we respond to the Holy Spirit as He prompts us ever so gently, “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom 8:14)  God is still looking for those who would be willing to be raised up as His sons who will be doubly fruitful for His purposes and His glory!