7km to Mark 7yrs of Colossians 4:17

I’ve never been much of a runner. It was only in the past decade or so that I started running more regularly.

The motivation? It didn’t take me long to realise that ministry life can be quite sedentary. Read bible. Prepare message. Set up presentation. Repeat. Ok ok, very sedentary. And since the park was just one block away, I had no excuse not to get out for some fresh air and to work up some sweat. The runs were good for my own health and fitness. The fresh air out in the open also helped to clear my mind. More than once, I’ve received new ideas and prophetic insights.

The distance? Nothing impressive here. Since the objective was not to participate in marathons any time soon, I kept to the humble IPPT’s 2.4km. Once in a while, I’d push myself to 3km. If more ambitious (or just feeling masochistic), then 5km. Suffering for Jesus, y’know? Haha.

You’d think that my stamina would be really good. I wish. Another rude realisation is that stamina and pace do not necessarily correspond with age. Oh wait. There is a correlation. On the other side of 50, I could still push myself for a better timing. On this side of 50, whenever I try to do that, it will take me one week to recover before my next run. Sigh. Sadly, the correlation is a negative one. At least for me, as age goes up, pace comes down.

7km? Then this year, for some strange reason, I get added to a Facebook Group, called “Kingdom Runners”. As these run, they pray and then post to the group. The idea is much akin to prayer walking. Except that this is prayer running. (I know this sounds crazy, right? I’m just trying to survive, finish the run and get home alive.)

Well, two weeks ago, the leader of the group posted an invitation to participate in YOLO RUN’s first virtual race. I was all ready to swipe away but the distance of the race caught my eye. In most races, the categories are usually in multiples of 5 – 5km, 10km, 15km, etc. Oddly enough, the only category for this race is 7km. All I had to do was run 7km in a go, anytime within the window of 21-26 October 2020. I signed up.

Note: The race has been extended to 22 Nov 2020.
Register with this code: KINGDOMRUNNER (all caps) and get 40% off.
For the T-shirt, use the phrase “I run for JESUS”.

Here’s why.

7 years ago, on 27 October 2013, the Lord gave me the Archippus Awakening message through the one verse of Colossians 4:17. Since then, I have been proclaiming this wake up call whenever the Lord provides the opportunity. The ministry has also grown and matured. More have come onboard and are now serving alongside me. God has been so faithful and gracious. As I thought of how to mark these 7 years, I sensed that a new season is just ahead. Then, the YOLORUN invitation popped up. It’s as if the Lord was challenging me: “Would you run 7km to mark 7yrs?”

And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfil it.”

Colossians 4:17

What was I thinking? Signing up was the easy part. I still had to run the distance. Up until then, the farthest I’d ever pushed myself was 5km, usually ending with aches and pains for the next few days. You wouldn’t believe the kind of thoughts that flooded my mind: Are you sure or not? What if you injure yourself? Why is my knee suddenly hurting so much? Am I being responsible? Talk about spiritual attacks – haha!

Here we go! Well, the day of the run finally arrived. Coincidentally or not, the two days before were crazy days, tiring me out both mentally and physically. I am thankful that my daughter, Ruth, opted to register and run with me. That kept me accountable as I sought to honour her partnership and support.

This was how it went.

4:00pm Warm up and stretches.

4:10pm We prayed to dedicate the run to the glory of God, asking Him to keep us safe.

4:17pm Here we go! No prizes for guessing why I chose to start the run at this time. For those who are still clueless, here’s a hint: 7km to mark 7yrs since receiving the Archippus Awakening message through Colossians 4:17 (get it?).

The first half of the run went pretty well. Ruth took the lead and I trailed behind. I was very clear that I was not gunning for a great timing. I just wanted to run the whole distance without walking or stopping.

After the 3.5km mark, however, was the challenge. It seemed to take forever to get to the 5km mark. I was still pacing well. But somehow, the number on my tracking app didn’t move as quickly as the first few kilometres.

Thankfully, the 4.17km mark gave me the boost I needed. These words rang out in my mind, “This is what I am running for. I have to keep going for as long as the Lord wants this kingdom assignment to continue. I will keep preaching and proclaiming Colossians 4:17. Not only that, I am setting the pace for all Archippuses. To finish the race. To go for gold. This run is dedicated to all who desire to be awakened, aligned and assigned for Jesus. I cannot stop. I must keep going on.”

At 5km, the psychological battle kicked in. On one hand, it’s just 2km more. Yet, on the other hand, 5km was when I would stop in my previous runs. 2km more? You’re kidding me, right? Enough la. Surely, I can just walk the rest of the way and still register the 7km. Run, Henson, run!

Here again, I am thankful that Ruth ran with me. Or rather, that I ran with Ruth. By cheering her on – 2km more. 1km more. Last burst. C’mon! – I was actually cheering myself on. By running together, we were encouraging one another all the way. We were going to finish together and finish well.

5.01pm We made it! 7.02km in 44:31mins. Yay! Instagram poses and posts.

My running app congratulated me: “A New Personal Record! Longest Run.” Even better, the race app recorded me as the very first finisher of the virtual run (globally). This meant that I occupied the first spot on the leaderboard for a while (cheap thrill, I know).

Yes. Quite an achievement for this not-so-young athlete wannabe. It was fun. But more importantly, it was significant. 7km to mark 7yrs. If the Lord had not instructed me through Colossians 4:17, I would have no business awakening the saints toward their kingdom assignments. That I get to run this race of Archippus Awakening is entirely by His grace.

What keeps me running? It has not always been easy these 7yrs. Like the run, there have been many moments of doubts and discouragement. I am also ever ready to make excuses and give myself reasons why I shouldn’t, couldn’t or needn’t. Even so, I press on because ultimately I am running for Jesus on the purposes of His kingdom. At the same time, I am also running for Archippuses; that when these see me plodding on, they may be encouraged enough to do the same for the Lord.

Across these 7yrs, I am ever thankful for the many ‘Ruths’ whom the Lord has led to run with me. Above all, I give all thanks and praise to the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness, “who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry” (1 Tim 1:12). Through these 7yrs, I have personally experienced that “the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 1:14).

A new season? As 8 comes after 7, so I brace myself for the new beginnings that are just ahead. Colossians 4:17 remains relevant and I believe a fresh anointing will be given for a new season. My part is simply to keep running. Whatever it takes.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God”

Acts 20:24

8km to mark 8yrs? One day at a time. One step at a time.

#iamarchippus #7kmtomark7yrs

Question To Self: How Badly Do You Want Gold?

The Straits Time, 13 August 2016
The Straits Times, 13 August 2016

By the time I saw the front page of Saturday’s Straits Times, Joseph Schooling had already made history by winning Singapore’s very first Olympic gold medal in the 100m Men’s Butterfly at Rio2016.

Understandably, ‘Joseph Schooling’ is trending across all media platforms. It is also interesting to note how everyone is claiming to have featured in his journey – however small the part may be – all desiring to share in this victory. Well, it’s not everyday a little red dot gets an Olympic Gold. And as a Singaporean (and fellow ACSian), I too am proud to be associated with this awesome feat.

However, it is this headline ‘I WANT GOLD’ that says it all for me, really. It is now a well known fact that there was always an insatiable hunger in Schooling to win. Without this, no amount of funding, encouragement or coaching would have mattered. Every athlete wants gold. The question is, How badly do they want it?

Each time I watch the games, the words of Paul in 1 Cor 9:24 come to mind, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (emphasis mine)

I am no athlete but I am a believer of Jesus Christ. And these words were written to Christians. Using the familiar picture of races, Paul is urging believers to “run in such a way” that we may obtain the prize. To be sure, salvation is not the prize, it’s a gift that cannot be earned. We are saved by grace through faith. But, a prize needs to be aimed for, trained for, worked for, fought for. That is why, in the next verses, Paul described his discipline and focus (1 Cor 9:25-27). He didn’t want to be disqualified, to miss out on the prize. As such, The Corinthian Times could have also featured Paul on the front page with the same headline, “I WANT GOLD”.

In my book, SAY TO ARCHIPPUS, I devoted one full chapter, “Running the Race” to explain what the biblical race refers to. Contrary to popular belief, I am personally convicted that “the biblical race refers to our assignment.” Yet sadly, “for many Christians, their race has not even begun.” (SAY TO ARCHIPPUS, p109)  [Read: If You Haven’t Begun Running Your Race, Now’s The Time]

Whilst the spotlight is presently on Joseph Schooling, we can safely presume that every other swimmer that Schooling competed against would have wanted that gold as badly as he did. If they had all clocked 50:39sec, there would have been eight gold medallists, just as there were three silver medallists!

Thankfully, we don’t have to all clock the same timings in our kingdom assignments. The key lies in that phrase – run in such a way that you may obtain it. Yes, we are not all required to finish first, but to do our assignments as if we are all going for the gold. We are to do our best, the very best, in all that the Lord has assigned to us, knowing that there will be a reward, a prize, that awaits us who ‘run in such a way’.

Thanks, Joseph Schooling, for inspiring us all. May you continue to improve and excel in the years to come! I am certain there will be many more golds to add to your collection. Yet, more than these, may you one day “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). As your idol, Michael Phelps, has discovered, his purpose was never found in his medals, but in Jesus Christ.

As for me, watching that 50:39sec record breaking swim has prompted me to examine my own race. It has most certainly stirred up a renewed hunger in my spirit to remain faithful in my kingdom assignments.

Enable me, Lord. Empower me, Holy Spirit. I WANT GOLD.

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Lessons for Archippus

Some personal thoughts and take-aways…

Archippus Awakening

11057381_10153197494784173_1362591127980973212_nThis week, at 3:18am, on 23 March 2015, Singapore lost a great leader intheir founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. For the past few days, tons of tributes and accolades have been posted and shared, and appropriatelyso. In the words of PM Lee Hsien Loong, “we won’t see another man like him.” Clearly, there will never be another Lee Kuan Yew.

Of the many lessons that we can learn from Mr Lee, the following stood out for me, as an Archippus.

1. He knew his assignment. From the early years, the case for action for a better Singapore gripped his heart and that, for him, became an assignment of a lifetime. It became a focus and a passion, a flame that raged on for years to come.

2. He gavehis life. This quotation is well-known by now: “I have no regrets. I have spent my life, so much of…

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Lay Aside Every Weight

It’s been a while since I last posted anything. But no, I NOT BUSY; I just have things to do. And I am very thankful for the ministry opportunities that the Lord has graced me with. That said, the things that I am engaged in can, if I am not careful, be the very things that hold me back or distract me from what the Lord has assigned to me.

As I considered the transitions I’ve had to navigate in the past year – and there will be more to come – it has not been easy and the tendency is to always opt for the status quo, the comfort zone that is not comfortable at all.

Two days ago, as I pondered one of such events, the words from Hebrews 12:1 came to me, “lay aside every weight…” I knew it was a word of encouragement from the Lord, affirming and pushing me on towards what He has in store for me.

This morning, ChurchLeaders.com posted a clip from John Piper, entitled “Running with Jesus“. I don’t normally click on every video that is posted on Facebook, but somehow, this caught my attention. It’s just three minutes long, but wow!, did it help to further encourage and strengthen me for the way ahead.

Our God knows exactly what we are going through and the anxieties that often accompany a journey that involves the unknown. How wonderful that He will send notes of encouragement along the way to cheer us on. It may not always been rosy or easy as we take on the assignments He has for us. But like Jesus, we have something to look forward to. And so, we look to Him and the joy that we will experience when we finally complete the race and fulfil our assignments!

May this encourage you too – to keep running with and for Jesus!

Keep the Pace

“… exercise yourself towards godliness.” 1 Tim 4:7b

In “Run the Race”, I clarified three common misunderstandings prevalent in the Church.  However, before we dash out with enthusiasm and new resolve, we need to be reminded that this race is not a sprint but a marathon.  It is not how you begin, but how you finish that matters.  Every serious marathoner knows that the most gruelling part of the marathon is in the middle.  You put one foot in front of the other.  You plod on with endurance.  You don’t really want to do this, but you just keep the pace.

We may know this in theory but few understand that keeping the pace is not merely holding on with the gritting of our teeth whatever happens.  If you attempt a marathon with that thinking, you can collapse and die!  To keep the pace requires stamina and that comes with proper exercise and training.

This principle also applies to our race towards the goal of godliness.  Using an athletic image, the Apostle Paul told Timothy to “exercise yourself towards godliness.”  The word “exercise” comes from the Greek “gumnazo” from which we have our modern day equivalent of “gymnasium”.  Surely, one does not go to the gym to sip a latte nor to lounge on a deck chair.  Instead, one expects to work out and anyone who has done that knows it is hard work!  And yet, Christians expect to breeze through their spiritual journey with no spiritual exercise.  How to finish the race if we can’t even keep the pace?

How then does one train spiritually?  By observing the athlete in the natural, we can apply the same in the spiritual.

Spiritual Disciplines:  An athlete is very disciplined, from his personal habits to his schedules and regimes.  Likewise, a Christian is to practise the Spiritual Disciplines of prayer, fasting, meditation, study, worship, solitude, silence, etc.  Sadly, this has been lost through the centuries, but thankfully, it is being re-discovered once again.  This strengthens the spirit for the spiritual race.

Spiritual Diet:  An athlete watches his intake to ensure only the best are given to his body.  Certainly no junk food.  Christians are to watch their spiritual intake through the gates of the eyes and ears.  What are we watching in the movies, magazines and the internet?  What are we listening to over the radio and in our music selection?  Without realising it, we are taking in the messages of the world that feed our flesh rather than the Word of God that nourishes and gives life to our spirits.

Spiritual Workout:  An athlete does not simply read a book on “How to Run a Race” and hopes to be able to fare well.  He has to get out there and run!  Similarly, our faith needs to be worked out.  It needs to be stretched that it may be corrected, grown and matured.  How many Christians have you come across who appear well-versed in the Word of God but have never put any biblical principle into practice?  I have seen too many falter and stumble when crises come their way.  In the same way muscles are stretched and built up, our faith too needs to be matured in this way.

Spiritual Trials: An athlete will test himself periodically in time trials where he pushes his body to the limit to meet or even better the timing.  We too have trials in our spiritual walk and these all serve to shape us into better “athletes”.  These will separate the proverbial “men from the boys”, revealing who gives up and who presses on to the finish line.

I’ve often commented that the Christian walk is no certainly walk in the park.  It’s easy to become a Christian.  But to be a Christian?  Now, that’s a totally different story.  In 1 Cor 9:27, Paul said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  Wow!  This is a sobering thought!  If Paul could be concerned about the possibility of disqualification, what about us?  Jesus Himself warned of the distractions in the last days that would “pull” many out of the race and said, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matt 24:13

Clearly, it’s not how we begin the race, but how we keep the pace that we might finish the race.  May we continue to encourage one another when we feel like giving up – keep the pace, keep the pace, keep the pace!

Run the Race

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” 1 Cor 9:24

Ask any Christian if he would like to win the prize at the end of his Christian race and the answer is “Yes!”  If that is so, how come so few are running the race?  Do we not realise that prizes are only given when one completes the race?  The sad truth is that many think they are running the race without realising it is the rat race of the world they are running in.  Honestly, I don’t remember the Lord ever calling us rats ever since we were declared new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).  What is the problem then?  Allow me to suggest three misunderstandings:

1. Wrong Understanding of the Completed Work of Jesus
That Jesus has done it all for us upon the Cross is indeed true.  That simply means there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation except to believe in Him.  When we do that by faith, the race didn’t end.  On the contrary, that’s when the race begins.  Salvation gets us a place in the race.  We will still need to run the race that we can finish it well to win the prize!

2. Wrong Understanding of Grace and Works
But what about grace?  Does not running the race equate to working for salvation?  Certainly not!  Working out our salvation (Phil 2:12) is totally different from working for our salvation.  In the reality show Amazing Race, the last couple to reach the pit-stop is automatically eliminated because they have not met the mark.  As we run the race, we too do not meet the standards of God.  When we stand before Him we know we deserve to be eliminated.  Yet, God looks at us, sees the righteousness of Jesus imputed upon us, and by His grace declares, “This is a non-elimination round!”  That’s what grace is all about.  God’s amazing grace keeps us in the amazing race.

3. Wrong Understanding of the Finish Point.
I want to surprise you that heaven is not the object of the race.  Heaven is only where the prize presentation is held.  Our destination and goal is godliness, to be like Christ.  That is why we run with endurance looking to Him as the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).  As we run, it is the Spirit who changes us from glory to glory, into the image of the Son (2 Cor 3:18).  The closer we approach this goal, the more we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus!  To reflect His face is the goal of the race.

Which race are you running in?  Are you being pulled by the world and struggling desperately to keep pace?  Are you aiming for the prize of fame and fortune?  If so, you are in the wrong race then.  By the grace of God, there is still time to get back on the right track.  Don’t be deceived by the get-saved-and-go-to-heaven theology.  Make a decision today to work out your salvation and begin exercising towards godliness which is profitable for this life and that which is come (1 Tim 4:7,8).

Related Post: Keep the Pace

A Different Pace

It’s 5:28am and I just finished praying.

When I prayed for my family, I sensed the Lord telling and reminding me that we run at a different pace and we are not to be distracted by that of the world.  The pressures and stresses are great and will only get greater.  The world is running at breakneck speed; but like a dog chasing its own tail, it is going nowhere but in circles.

Compared to everyone else, we may appear slow, but that’s ok.  We are not slow, just running at a different pace.  Things may appear to pass us by, but that’s ok.  It’s not a sprint.  Take time to smell the roses and to enjoy each moment we are blessed with.  The world looks for shortcuts to get to the top, to do more and and to earn more.  But we are to take each day as it comes, trusting in His provision and plans for us.

This won’t be easy because the temptation is always there to pick up the pace, to run with the rest, to keep up with the Tan’s and the Lee’s.  This temptation is enticed by greed and covetousness to be and to have what everyone strives to be and to have.  But mostly, this temptation is motivated by fear … of losing out, of messing up the children’s future, of shortchanging them.

A different pace does not mean laziness, slothfulness, presumptuousness or complacency.  It simply means keeping in step with God and His purposes.  There may be a quickening in the seasons in the spiritual realm, but God is in absolutely no rush at all.  Everything is going according to His plan in His perfect timing.  We need to always remember that and to make it a point to teach our children the same.  There is work to be done, but it’s Kingdom work and it has to be done in Kingdom way.  These run counter to the ways of the world and there will be many well-meaning people (Christians included) who will try to convince us to run with them.

When the Lord called me, He called the family too.  Back then, it was me, Serene and our two little ones.  Today, it is all 9 of us.  As I prayed, I saw our family in ministry, together, as one unit.  How is this possible or when will it happen? I have no idea.  For sure, God is at work in each of our lives and if He has shown me as such, then it shall be as such.  My part, together with Serene, is to be diligent in all He has called us to – and that includes sowing into the lives of our children, however tough or challenging the task may be.

The road we have chosen is indeed the path less travelled.  All that keeps us going is the knowledge and conviction that we are only living in obedience to the Lord’s instruction and bidding.  We march to a different beat.  We run at a different pace.