The Power of Weakness
The Power of Weakness
WOW! JUST WOW!
Yesterday was a mountain top experience for me at the Advancing Women's conference after various valley lows the past few years. This was more than a typical conference. It was definitely not a group of moping women. Neither was there feminism at play. There were so many nationalities and so much diversity represented, and yet there was undeniably unity of heart and purpose amongst the women present.
I have spoken at various women's conferences and at many other conference; but actually in the past 3 decades I have never attended a women's conference. I never thought I would ever attend a women's conference. Somehow God disrupted me. It happened yesterday. I met some old friends and made some new ones too!
Thanks @Wendy Yapp for cornering me! ;} And more importantly for courageously putting this together with your team. It is hard work and I am glad you didn't shun the hard work! Well done Wendy and team!
I was not just encouraged but blown away by what God did also in using this to confirm and flow into the conference happening on my end next week with Equipping Hub- 5 Gifts of Christ for Disciple-making movement (we have an almost full house of pastors and leaders already - for those interested 23-25 March 3 days of Equipping - register at https://www.trybooking.com/CFJKG ). Nothing short of a divine orchestration by God!
I hope this short blog which I wrote last week and finished today encourages more women to rise up to their God-given kingdom assignments in this city and beyond.
For the past 4 years since I have moved to Perth, my eyes have been opened to see the immense needs in this city and the state of Western Australia. When I first arrived, like Nehemiah I was burdened in my heart to see more labourers rebuilding the walls of the city with ground-up initiatives and movements. And I cried out to God to connect me to others who are serving the community and to meet with them, if they were around. Being new in the city, I met with some pastor friends and some kingdom friends whom I was introduced to, to prayer walk the city as well as to pray together.
Coming from a very compact and densely populated but one of the safest city-state-countries in the world, Singapore, into Perth, Western Australia, I have always wondered where the agents of transformation are in this city. When I arrived with my family to Perth 4 years ago, I was told that one should not be in certain areas in the city at dark; I have read about women who worked in the city having to lock themselves in bathrooms to stay safe from assault even in broad daylight; I have read about teen crime in suburbs, car windows getting smashed even in broad daylight in my suburb which is one of the "safer" suburbs to live in, bicycles stolen from garages, old person got attacked by robbers, homelessness and rough sleeping and the list goes on.
10 years ago in Singapore, I started and founded an organisation challenging the next generation to start ground up initiatives to bring positive transformation in the cities (www.youthtransformnations.org), and together with a bunch of passionate youths have pioneered and was involved in a movement connecting 10,000 fathers and children across 10 public schools. Increasingly so in the past 20 years, I have also seen various amazing ground up movements and initiatives from others, both big and small, in the areas of education, government, family, amongst the youth, ex-convicts, migrant workers, etc. And then in the past 10 years of my journey, together with various other pioneers who have gone ahead of me, a body of teaching was developed to increasingly help shift Church culture to Kingdom culture, where my husband Jason and I find ourselves to be chipping at the sacred walls of church-ianity. (www.mccnresources.org)
Psalm 68:11-12 AMPC
The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host. The kings of the enemies' armies, they flee, they flee! She who tarries at home divides the spoil [left behind].
Above is a word I held onto in my earlier years, as a young leader and woman in ministry.
Today, an army of women has surfaced! Some of them like Kavitha from Chennai (Women of Worth, India) have defied all odds to bring change in their city and nation. It was an honour for me to see and be seated with many of these women yesterday at the Advancing Women conference, who have pioneered initiatives for community transformation uniting, inspiring other women to do so as well.
I am deeply encouraged to see the fulfilment of this verse that has given me hope and courage in my younger days when I was still finding my footing in a male-dominated industry. Today I stand shoulder to shoulder with this army.
The Power of Weakness
I learnt this in my early days as a woman in a predominantly male industry. As a woman we are always thought of as weak. We are smaller in frame, physically not as strong or as fast and frame-wise more fragile compared to men. That in itself I have discovered, is my true strength. My ability and capacity comes from my weakness.
When we are weak, God is strong and can show Himself strong. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. Our weaknesses are the perfect stage for His strength to shine through.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Men, on the other hand, are strong. And that can be their weakness. A man can do something in their own strength and that can be perceived as authority.
Women on the other hand need to make sure they truly have authority when they step into a room full of men. To say women have more to overcome than men, is an understatement. I have been in leadership meetings, in prayer meetings, in boardrooms, in conferences speaking alongside men, and speaking to a predominantly male audience; I have been in places and countries where women are despised, they are nobodies, and treated as second-class citizens and objects, while speaking to local men who are pastors. Through that God has taught me what it means to have true spiritual authority.
Especially in a boardroom full of men, where men make the decisions, the women minority has to be one of substance and have true authority to pull it off. Whereas men on the other hand can get away with more being a man. Minority with God is better than majority without. I was once in that position and was I glad God came through in the end! I still remember the moment very vividly, a male senior pastor turned to me and said after everything was over, done and dusted : "Karen, God is with you."
Isn't that all that matters, that others can see God is with us. Moses cried out to God, if your Presence does not go with us, then how can the other nations know that we are distinctly His? (Exo 33)
Women, find your true identity and true spiritual authority in Christ as His daughter, His beloved.
I am not saying women do not rely on their own strength. But men can get away with more than what a woman can in male dominated industries. In Christ we are neither male or female, and God does not consider your gender ever as a qualifier. God will use a man or woman alike. In fact He can use an animal or an object to achieve His plans and purposes.
So women you can do whatever God tells you. Never let anyone take that away from you and rob you of your God-given potential. I hope and pray women all over the world will arise to be part of this "army" and "great company" as spoken of in Psalm 68 who will bring light in the darkness, hope to the hopeless, and good news to the poor! We are living in the days of greater fulfilment of what scripture says.
Women and men alike, may you rise up to your God-given kingdom assignments in this hour!
Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh]"
All of Creation Eagerly Awaits
All of Creation Eagerly Awaits (8/12/2022, Published 20 Dec 2022)
On the 8th of December 2022, Snowie's body was cremated and her ashes delivered to my home. That day marked 28 years of my walk with Jesus Christ my Friend, Master, Saviour and Lord. So I thought it apt to write about Snowie, of how God as her Creator, has used her in partnering with me to do God's kingdom work and also to parallel some wonderful truths she reflected in and through her life.
I don’t want to sound weird but I do recognise that God can use anyone and anything and can certainly use a dog. I am neither a vegan nor an activist or an animal lobbyist. I am simply a follower of Christ who believes in the redemption of mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but am also an animal lover particularly a dog lover, who recognises and acknowledges God as the Creator of all.
Snowie was with my family for about 13 years (she was adopted at 6 months and fostered for 2 years when my family moved to Perth) since my daughter was 7 years old. Words cannot fully explain how deep the bond was between Snowie and I. If you are not a dog or animal lover this might be hard to understand, but to me Snowie was not just a dog. She was a gift from God, a portion of heaven here on earth, my best mate to a very large degree even though she could not talk. She was highly intelligent and could understand many words and sentences and would listen intently each time I spoke. Many strangers commented the same as I chatted with them. They noticed that Snowie would observe me every time I spoke and tilted her head as well as picking out the words she understood while I conversed with strangers. She was able to express and respond accordingly through those sentences and words. I guess we have had a deep bonding through life interactions and she understood what I was saying as well as my tone, gestures and body language with great sensitivity. Through observing her responses, I have also come to understand what she was also trying to communicate through her eyes, her body language and her expressions.
Snowie was "adopted" and "bought" with a price from a banker who had broken up with his girlfriend and did not have time to spend with Snowie who was then only a 6 month old puppy. When Jason, my daughter and I went into the house, she was in a playpen no bigger than 1 square meter, where she had been locked up day after day. Her white fur was stained yellow from her urine and poo that was not cleared.
She was extremely excited when we arrived and the moment she was let out of the playpen, she zoomed up and down in between the piles of newspapers, boxes and plastic bags stacked up in piles on the floor of the living area, as her first owner’s mum was a hoarder.
She locked eyes with us from the moment we arrived till the time we left. It was love at first sight and we immediately offered a price to the owner to redeem her. We prayed and waited with anticipation for the offer to be accepted as we could not bear to leave her another day in that situation. When the offer was accepted a few days later, we drove to pick her up and brought her home. We immediately washed and clean her, and her yellow stained fur became white as snow again.
God did the same for me 28 years ago when I encountered His love for me - He brought me out of the “shit pen” of sin and hell. I did not know I was stained and wallowing in my own sins. Then Jesus came into my life and gave me a personal revelation of the price He paid with His death and His precious blood shed for mankind which redeemed me from my sins. He rescued and adopted me as a child of God into the household and family of God. His precious blood shed on Calvary’s cross washed me and make me as white as snow.
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
O precious is that flow,
that makes me white as snow.
No other fountain I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Snowie grew up with my daughter, who was then only 7 years old, and became an important part of the family. She was at all the important family functions and events, our birthdays, my daughter’s baptism, and we would celebrate her birthday every year with a doggy cake and a candle. She was in most of our house church gatherings, and she was a very sociable dog who loved having people over at our home. She had the most endearing personality and almost everyone who was part of our church community in Singapore enjoyed taking many pictures with her. Even children who had a fear of dogs, and would jump onto the sofa at their first few instances meeting Snowie, would eventually be won over by her sweet, calm and friendly personality.
Whenever we prayed for someone, Snowie would lick the person being prayed for, from the beginning of the prayer until we said Amen. We commonly joked that “Snowie prayed in tongues”.
When we moved to Perth in mid 2019, we were thankful to find our friend’s family to foster both Snowie and Trixie. We would visit them both and have them stay with us when we returned for short periods in Singapore until early 2020, when COVID-19 resulted in the closing of international borders. We missed them both terribly during the period of lockdowns and no-travels.
Our home in Perth was different without the dogs. There was no smiling face to greet us when we returned and there was a certain sense of emptiness in the house without their prancing and excitable barking. By June 2021, we started making arrangements for them to be relocated to Perth. They had to undergo 4x2 rounds of vaccinations and some health checks, and Snowie had to go through a dental surgery to remove 10 of her teeth. Then in Oct 2021, they embarked on their longest journey ever without family, a flight from Singapore to Melbourne, followed by a 10-day quarantine in Melbourne, which became delayed by another 3-day stay at a kennel due to flight cancellations and border closure uncertainties.
I remember that fateful day, when both Snowie and Trixie were scheduled to depart from Melbourne, I received a call that something had happened to Snowie. My heart sank as I was told that some accident had happened during transit and loading them up into the vehicle to the airport; and that she had struggled and landed with a yelp and started limping on her left hind leg. To prevent further delays to their arrival, I instructed them to have Snowie and Trixie continue their long journey to Perth as there were huge uncertainties regarding when another flight might be available due to closed borders. They travelled via an indirect flight from Melbourne to Sydney, with a 12 hour layover, and finally from Sydney to Perth, landing at almost midnight.
Our hearts broke and we cried buckets, in shock and disbelief, traumatised by the fact that when she arrived in Perth, she cowered in the corner of the crate, looking hurt and in pain refusing to come out, even when we opened her crate. What was supposed to be a happy reunion, turned out to be one of tragedy and trauma. As “parents” to our furbaby looking forward to days of happy reunion, our tears of joy were turned into tears of pain.
We brought her the following days for examinations and X-rays with 2 vets, who confirmed that she had likely torn all the ligaments in her left hind knee and needed specialist surgery.
We saw her struggle to walk and did everything we could to made sure she was comfortable, protected and pain-free. She was extremely resilient and had a positive attitude. Even after each of her multiple surgeries, when the vets said she must have been in extreme pain and huge discomfort, she never once whined, whinged, or complained. She would interact with us and others and would still be cheerful and iniquistive about her new environment.
When we saw Snowie after her intensive 1 and a half day surgery, the first thing she wanted me to do was to wipe her mouth. The surgeon was quite amazed and amused. She must have felt such a relief that I was there to wipe her mouth after eating some meal or perhaps after tubes were inserted through her mouth during surgery. As we brought her home in the car, she remained cheerful despite probably being in severe pain (the pain level was so intense that she was given a morphine release patch on her skin for over a week to help ease any pain). All the time during her recovery period, she exuded such calmness, peace and quiet assurance in our presence. However, she did let us know she did not like to go for walks which used to be her favourite activity. Nevertheless, she exhibited a deep level of trust that everything was going to be alright as long as she was with us.
Unfortunately, 12 weeks later, right after she was given the all-clear by the surgeon to walk freely on her own, she was walking in the field behind us, and when I looked back, I saw that she had collapsed to the ground and could not pick herself up to stand on all 4s. We rushed her to the emergency hospital where she was diagnosed with likely to have tore 1 cruciate ligament in the other hind knee, due to over-compensation and weight-bearing. An X-ray and surgery date was scheduled some days later. And in that meantime, she could not get up to walk at all and had to drag herself using only her front 2 paws. We had to carry and support her for toileting, and wherever she indicated she wanted to go; mostly to be with us and follow us around the house, we would carry her.
Carrying an almost 10kg Snowie also took a toll on my back, but on hindsight, I did get my daily exercise and became stronger in carrying a heavy load. I also thank God that I had recovered from my frozen shoulder well enough to be able to do all of that and be her main carer. I never minded one bit that we had to carry her over kerbs, steps or up and down the stairs. She was always sweet, cooperative, and trusting. Even when we had to clean her wounds, she never once reacted like an animal that is hurting and retaliate to bite. She always bore the pain with complete trust that everything is alright and although care for her was tedious and tiring, it was not burdensome.
I recall with fondness the time when I was very ill with a viral fever years ago in 2012. Snowie would not leave my side for 3 days and 3 nights. She would lay down next to me as if to comfort me the whole ordeal. I felt the best thing I could do for her was to be with her and comfort her as much as I could after her ordeal too.
On the day Snowie returned from surgery, while Snowie was not able to get up at all, my daughter received a dream from God. In the dream, she saw Snowie walking on all 4s. We prayed for Snowie and believed God for her to be able to walk again despite all odds. True enough, 4 days right after the 2nd surgery, instead of seeing her move around using her 2 front legs, she suddenly pushed herself up from her lying position to stand up on all 4s to walk for a short distance! We were in tears when that happened as we were not expecting such a sudden change. What resilience she had displayed in bouncing back from 2 back-to-back leg surgeries and having 2 metal plates, one in each hind and several screws inserted in each of her tiny legs.
Her face always lit up and she never failed to give us her biggest smile when we came home and whenever she got to go out on a car ride with us or whenever she got to sit at a café with us. Very often, we will always burst into song and dance when we see her when we see her after returning home. It was as if God was releasing a joy of heaven in our hearts whenever we saw her.
Snowie never failed to bring a smile on her face no matter what she was going through. She had many check-ups, and several physio sessions, as well as home therapy PEMF (pulse electromagnetic field) treatments and she never failed to go through them with such resolute and calmness. She had to go for an ultrasound scan once and she did not even need to be sedated for that scan which was the normal procedure for any dog. She laid on her back as long as 25 min for the scan while they probed the scanning device into her tummy , which was very unusual for any animal. After the scan, the radiologist’s report read “Snowie was very well behaved”.
Her left hind however never regained the full function to support herself to walk normally as the damage from tearing all 4 ligaments in her knee meant there was no support in that knee, and she would limp every time she walked. She could not walk on normal flooring in the house and most slippery surfaces and could not walk for more than 15 min each time. So we eventually laid yoga mats all over the floor of the house and also got a doggy pram to push her around in. We would still carry her over small steps, and in and out of the pram for very short walks. She was also able to travel many places with us in her pram and in the car. In fact, she went into many places she could never have gone without the pram. She went into shopping malls, into supermarkets, to cafes, and even went on 2 road trips with us in the last month of her life. She had an inside peek into our world most dogs did not have. Never once did she bark at all the new sights and sounds she was experiencing. She was always very calm and would simply soak up all that she could of our world and fitted into every part of it. Her calmness also naturally invited many to come and have a conversation with us as well. And we ended up befriending many of them eventually.
I have heard about and seen dogs that are depressed but not once did Snowie showed that she was sad, depressed or hurting. Even in her sleep, she would smile.
She had a very deep level of trust towards us and she trusted those whom we entrust her to and learnt to trust them too. She was sweet to the vets and nurses who took care of her. She would go through her vet visits with patience and simply treated every vet visit, check-up as another adventure with us. She would be inquisitive with every vet visit wanting to go through every door possible. She also did very well with needles whether be it to draw blood or for standing still for needling during acupuncture. Even right up to the last moments of her life when the needles were being inserted for euthanasia, she was still calm and cheerful.
Many including vets have told us that the animals will let you know when it is time, in that they will not eat for days or they will look sad or in pain. But such was not the case with Snowie. She even looked like she was smiling in her sleep. And right up till the moment she passed, she smiled. That was the most difficult part for us. She trusted us till her last breath that what we did for her was the best.
Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. Without trust it is impossible to build any relationship. In these 28 years of my relationship with God, I have had to trust that God is in control of everything and especially so in the trials of life when I was in pain from a frozen shoulder/ bursitis and tendinitis in my shoulder joint, and had to battle a gut and autoimmune disorder, when I arrived in Australia despite having obeyed and followed His call here. (Read my other blog on “The Baptism in Suffering and the Revelation of Glory”).
There were times when I didn’t know and understand what was happening, but yet I have to trust in God’s goodness that all things work together for good to those who love Him. All I had to do was to rest in the assurance that He has me in the centre of His palm and that He was not going to let me go. I did not need to struggle in my fears, worries or pain, all I needed to do was to trust Him and continue to do so even till my dying breath.
God through Snowie showed me how much trust a dog can possibly have in a human; and if there is no fear but calm assurance in a dog towards a human, how much more we can trust Him who holds the universe in His hands, who numbers the hairs on our heads, and takes care of the lilies of the fields, who are here today and gone tomorrow; how much more will He take care of us?
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today
Matt 6:25-34 (NLT)
God also used Snowie to teach me another quality. Snowie had an ability to be cheerful in suffering. That is reflective of a trait of Jesus my suffering Saviour and God when He was nailed to the cross suffering and dying for the redemption of the sins of humanity. Snowie is clearly no saviour, but she certainly did reflect her Creator God.
If a dog can be cheerful in suffering, how can we who have Christ, not also be cheerful when we go through suffering?
As Jesus said:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
It is interesting that the bible tells us about God’s creation not only in the book of Genesis, but in different parts of the bible. In the beginning, when God created animals and all of his creation. He saw that it was "good" (Gen 1:24). However they could not fully satisfy the heart of God in worship of Him and in relationship with Him, so He created Adam the first man and Eve the first woman to walk with Him and gave them to rule over all the animal and plant kingdom. In that beautiful order, "God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen1:31). However, when Adam and Eve sinned against God through their disobedience, they and together with the rest of creation were subject to the curse of God through death.
Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
Romans 8:20-21 (NLT)
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Rom 8:22-25 (NLT)
The letter to the Roman church from Apostle Paul, tell us that we together with all of God’s creation have been groaning and hoping right up till now to receive the new bodies, which will be released from the cursed effects of sin and suffering. We did not receive this hope when we were saved, but there is a day of the new heavens and new earth of which we will all receive our new bodies.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the Lord.
Isa 65:17, 25 (NKJV)
I look forward to the day we will see our new bodies and also see Snowie in her new body, no longer half bare-skinned, no longer with crippling legs; but with her fully whole legs and beautiful white fur coat. I don’t know what our new bodies will be like, but it will certainly be better than our earthly ones now. I look forward to the day when creation of God will be as new and the animal kingdom would co-exist with humankind where “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”, the lion eating straw like the ox, just like the serenity in the garden of Eden at the beginning before the fall of man. I look forward to the new heavens and new earth God would create, with the patience and trust, I hope I have learnt watching Snowie in the last year of her life here in Australia.
I will never forget Snowie’s smile. She smiled with the smile of heaven here on earth. Earth is real and full of pain and suffering, and heaven is also real but full of joy and free from pain and suffering! God has given me a taste of heaven here on earth I will not forget through Snowie. Till the new heavens and new earth are created, we will live now in the old with a little foretaste of the new and in the glimmer of anticipation of that fullness of the new in time to come.
In Snowie's short 1 year here in Perth, God has used her greatly as a connector to enable us to get to know many others who witnessed how tough and positive she was through the multiple ordeals.
Snowie, you are truly a precious gift from God. In the past year God has used your courage and strength in adversity to teach us to love more strongly, care more gently, and live more positively.
Whilst we knew in our heart of hearts it was time to let you go, we still miss you terribly and cry our eyes out thinking about you. Your work on earth is done, but your legacy of people connected, lives touched, friendships built, and all the memories created together, live on in our hearts forever. ❤️
P.S: Since Snowie's death, we have held several memorial gatherings in our home where we have been able to share with many others including many of our neighbours, family and many other dog owners whom we meet at the dog park about God our Creator, through our life with Snowie together and how God used her in His work for her here on the earth.
The Baptism of Suffering & the Revelation of Glory
The Baptism of Suffering & the Revelation of Glory (Edition 1, 10 Jul 2021; Updated 29 Oct 2022, republished from https://www.mccnresources.org/blog-short-articles)
This is a very late post but one that I would like to share in the hope that it encourages and gives faith, hope and courage to those who are going through pain and inflammation in the body and health issues.
Since being here in Australia from Apr 2019, we have undergone so much as a family in a foreign land; living in great uncertainty and unsettledness. We had to cross multiple hurdles regarding our visas after the pandemic lockdown happened in 2020.
Nevertheless, ministry actually accelerated due to the COVID pandemic, and we were more fruitful in activating disciples to make disciples without being affected by lockdowns and restrictions. By the end of 2020, some who were previously pew-warmers in church were activated and had baptized 10 new followers of Christ in 3 months! God was moving in the midst of the seemingly worst year of most people’s lives with the COVID-19 pandemic. It seemed that God had prepared our ministry which focusses on decentralizing disciples to be missional in bringing God’s kingdom wherever He places them, to thrive in this moment of crisis.
However, there was an attack on my health at the same time. For almost 3 years since arriving in Australia, I was battling and suffering chronic pain and inflammation in my joints.
Firstly, what started out as a shoulder injury during exercise in Oct 2018 became severe bursitis, tendinitis (inflammation of the joint), and frozen shoulder for the next one year or more. When I did an ultrasound scan, the radiologist said, “in my 16 years, this is the worst I have seen. It would take between 12 to 36 months to recover”. That was certainly not very encouraging news to receive.
After 9 months of therapy, treatment, and prayer, I recovered from frozen shoulder. The recovery was shorter than expected! However, shortly after, I came down with tennis elbows and goosefoot bursitis of the knee after some light activity and exercise. I felt attacked in my health, particularly my joints.
While seeking God for healing, I felt the Holy Spirit quickened this scripture from Psalm 103 to me and that I should declare it every morning when I wake:
1Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
In my attempt to be pain-free and as part of seeking God for His healing, I also visited a chiropractor which did not help my condition much. I then tried a naturopath who put me through various tests and was given a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune disease after more blood tests were done. I was prescribed as many as 15 different supplements and placed on a strict gluten-free diet of no grain, no plant oils, with only wild-caught, hormone-free meat, and expensive organic vegetables only. Then following another nutritionist’s advice for food allergy tests to be done, the results led to further dietary restrictions including being diary-free, egg-free, no beef, no flaxseed, no buckwheat, no to lots of vegetables and fruits, which were full of anti-oxidants or considered “superfoods” I thought were good for me, but turned out to trigger an auto-immune response in me.
Having no answers, I was also ordered numerous tests by a GP and had a total of 10 big tubes of blood drawn for many blood tests to be conducted. The test results showed that I was low in quite a number of essential nutrients including being extremely low in iron, hemoglobin etc., and also had gut issues. I was given the diagnosis of an auto-immune disorder which caused chronic pain in my joints.
Although the diet and supplements helped in reducing some inflammation in my body, I would suffer inflammation of my elbow joints for the next year, as well as knee inflammation daily, not knowing what caused the inflammation after each meal. It was not until a few days before anniversary of my water baptism in June 2021 that I received a breakthrough in my health.
During a simple family time of prayer together on 15 June 2021, God started working His healing miracle in me. I felt the inflammation on my joints easing.
In preparation for a short road trip ahead, I also decided to save myself some hassle and in faith, cut all the nutritional supplements I was on, trusting the Lord had begun his healing process, even though my nutritionist had given me more to take. Hence, I know it was not due to the increment of supplementation or the new supplements that helped the healing.
While on the road trip, I was remembering and reflecting on God's goodness on my baptism anniversary on 17th June as I entered into my 27th year with Jesus. As I gave thanks to God, while we were driving, the pains left me completely. It was a powerful moment of healing and restoration in my body.
Interestingly 17 June 2021 marked the beginning of the 27th year since I took the step of obedience and faith to be baptized in water to follow Jesus. 26 years ago, I did not fully comprehend what I was entering into when I was baptized in water. But after almost 3 decades, I am experiencing an even greater fullness of what that entails.
On this special anniversary, my dear heavenly Father granted me the wonderful present of healing and restoration. Now, more than a year later, I have been eating everything without any dietary restrictions or supplements, and I have been pain-free since! I believe that my auto-immune response and the cause of inflammation was also dealt with at its roots, whether be it my gut or whatever other root cause. And I continue to believe that the blood of Jesus has sealed my healing and wholeness.
The greatest gift to all of mankind that God has ever given is His very own Son Jesus, who came to die for our sins, and took our judgment upon Himself. In His death, we have eternal life. In His blood, we have forgiveness of sins. In His brokenness, we are made whole. By His stripes, we are healed.
Providentially, our visa application for the whole family was also put in by my agent on that baptism anniversary date!
Thanks for continuing to pray with us for our visas to be approved so that we can continue to see His kingdom come and His will be done in Australia and in the world!
We also ask for prayers for our beloved dogs who have been with us for over a decade. 🐶🐶 Snowie and Trixie have been so much a part of the family and the ministry for the past decade! Through them we have made many friends and have so many open doors for God’s kingdom to connect with people for Christ!
This past year, we have been walking through the Valley of Baca (weeping) regarding the fur kids particularly Snowie, who was mishandled during relocation and arrived in Perth needing surgery to her hind knees and has now become a special needs dog dependent on us to provide care. God gave us the grace to turn it into springs of refreshing, fresh opportunities, and many open doors and hearts for His kingdom, as we press on from glory to glory and strength to strength to Zion! (Psa 84)
Updates: Snowie has passed on 6 Dec 2022. After her death, we held memorial gatherings in our home where we have had been able to share with many others including our neighbours, family and many other dog owners whom we meet at the dog park about God our Creator, through our life with Snowie together and how God used her in His work for her here on the earth. (Read more on blog " All of Creation Eagerly Awaits")
What glory and what hope, as we persevere in sufferings! As we are baptised into the fellowship of sufferings, we are also baptised into glory with Christ.
May these verses grant hope, encouragement, and peace to you as they did for me.
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."
Romans 8:15-25 NKJV
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
Pressing on to Zion,
How's Our Eye?
How's Our Eye?
This afternoon I was reminded by a FB post exactly a decade ago, when I was stopped in my tracks due to an A & E scare. I went to A & E due to an accident in the kitchen that almost cost me my eye!
I was heating up pork broth with spinach and the silicon ladle backsplashed boiling soup with oil and pepper with much force into my right eye. I felt the heat and pain especially in the corner of my right eye and immediately ran running tap water into my eye for the next 5 to 10 min with slight blurring of vision thereafter.
Half an hour later, Jason drove me to the A & E and about 45 min later, the doctor tested my eye and got my eye checked.
Apart from slight itch and slight pain, thankfully all is fine and well. Even through this incident, I am thankful for the Lord's continued protection and quick recovery.
It was really uncanny that 3 days ago I had gone for an eye check and my eyes were all good and healthy. And then this happened.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus:
Matt 6:21 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light."
I suppose this links back to the fb reminder posted 10 years ago, of the opportunity to preach and conduct a discipleship training amongst Bangladeshi and Indian migrant workers living in dormitories in Singapore. I am thankful to God for that precious opportunity to sow His love and grace amongst these communities.
Many of these foreign workers have left their home country and families to make a better living for themselves and their families back home. Most of them came to Singapore to become construction workers. As a Singaporean growing up in a concrete jungle, these marginalised workers are commonly overlooked, hidden away in dormitories and have living conditions neglected and most are sometimes shunned in public.
It is interesting that in the recent covid-19 epidemic in Singapore, these foreign workers have come into the spotlight due to the spread of the virus in their dormitories.
Out of Singapore’s 58,000 cases of COVID-19, about 95% are low-waged migrants from Bangladesh and India. Over the past 40 odd years I have lived in Singapore before moving to Australia, I have come to appreciate that these migrant men have become the ones who built and maintain most of the Singapore's infrastructures including the subways.
In the past months during the lockdown in Singapore, I am blessed and proud to hear of various Christian believers and pastors in Singapore, who have taken time and effort, and given of their finances and resources to reach out to many of these workers, distributing face masks, hand sanitizers, even food baskets and through various other forms of outreach.
Today's accident is not just an accident but a reminder I will find hard to forget.
Do we SEE others as Jesus sees, with eyes of compassion, love and grace or through judgemental and critical eyes especially on the marginalised in society?
Jesus said: If our eyes are good and healthy, our whole body will be full of light. If our eyes are bad or unhealthy, the whole body is full of darkness and how great is that darkness!
Our eyes are important instruments of light into our body. And as the Body of Christ, may we always see with His eyes and together shine forth the light of Christ regardless of where we are.
Today marks 25 years of my commitment and obedience to following Christ. 25 years ago I stepped into the waters of baptism in obedience to Christ's command, renounced my sins, and publicly announced my faith and dedicate my commitment to following Jesus. It was an emotional heart-wrenching moment, renouncing my old ways and life. In those days, I was the first believer in Jesus in my family. And my parents were not approving of it. But I was glad I obeyed Jesus' commands and never looked back since.
As much I would like to think it was 25 years, actually it goes to at least 6 months before that. Not that the number of years matter or that it was longer. But I will always remembered that fateful night on 8 Dec 1994, the last night of the camp organised for Christians by Cru, and how I encountered Jesus as I acknowledged and confessed my sins, repented from them and turned to Him.
How I wished on hindsight, after repenting from my sins and being overwhelmed with God's forgiveness and grace with 45 minutes of crying and sobbing my eyes out, and more crying and repenting, that someone would have taught me water baptism and to obey Christ in that simple command to then baptised me in water! Come to think of it, It probably would not happen, because it was a "para-church" and para-churches do not water baptise believers.
All these extra-biblical terms that man have created, like "para-church" refers to ministries that are not classified as church because it has less similitudes of church than Sunday church. The question is how is the Sunday church "more church" than what the Bible describes as "church"). And how is being the church, the body of Christ has to do with that? If that is the case, then if I got saved from my sins and encountered Jesus at a "para-church", does that make me less a true follower of Jesus??
How I wished on hindsight, beyond just saying the sinners' prayer after 45 minutes of crying and sobbing my eyes out, and more crying and repenting, that someone would have taught me water baptism and to obey Christ in that simple command to baptise me in water thereafter! Come to think of it, it probably would not happen, because I got saved in a "para-church" setting and para-churches do not water baptise believers.
Aren’t these all extra-biblical terms that man have created? For example, "Para-church" refers to ministries that are not classified as church because it has less similitudes of church than a Sunday church.
The question we should be asking is: how is the Sunday church "more church" than what the Bible describes as "church"? And how is “para-church” less church if we all obey and do the commands of Christ? In the first place, is church-as-we-know-it today really church/Ekklesia as Jesus wants it? If “para-church” is not church, and since I got saved from my sins and encountered Jesus at a "para-church" setting, does that make me less a true follower of Jesus?
Well, besides that I have also kind of felt a bit "cheated" by the whole "church system" telling me when I could be baptised and when I could not be. I was not taught about water baptism, till about 6 months later after I encountered Christ and repented from my sins. Even though there were many opportunities for that to happen as I had then faithfully started “attending a church” and “going to a cell group”.
I was told that there were classes organised by the church administration and they had to compile enough numbers to start a class taught by a church pastor/leader and then I was able to attend a class to learn about water baptism.
I have always wondered why something so straightforward had to be carried out over so many hours and classes anyway (I know some denominations hold their classes over 10 sessions of 1 to 2 hours; some denominations will also issue a "confirmation" after you finish the classes). Never have I read anywhere in God’s word about baptism classes or confirmations.
Baptising Someone You Discipled into the Kingdom
Today, after knowing and reading the Bible, teaching and preaching the words of Jesus, and His kingdom, I do everything so differently - more biblical I would dare say. If someone has a touch from God and have heard the message and are repenting from their old sinful ways, and would like to follow Christ into His death and also resurrection, I would explain water baptism in 5 -10 minutes and ask them if they would like to be water baptised into Christ.
Similar to the choice of confessing and repenting from sins which is the choice of the follower of Christ, the choice to be baptised should never be ours as the baptiser/church/leadership to make, but the baptised. The choice should lie with the one who desires to follow Jesus! And honestly, how long does it really take to explain Matt 28:18-20, Rom 5,6,7 and Matt 3, as well as some verses in Acts 2, especially if a person is already confessing his sins and repenting in godly sorrow in front of you?
Sins are washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus in faith, when we confess them and certainly no one is immediately "perfect" when they come out of the water. It is really only the start of a journey not an end point. Cos if it is the end point, no one on this earth will ever be ready to be water baptised. Baptism is purely an invitation to die to self, sin and the sinful nature and to walk in the newness of life, overcoming sin and becoming crucified in your old sinful nature with Christ.
I will include a very comprehensive teaching about water baptism, which you can use to teach new disciples about water baptism.
At the end of this article, you can click link to go to resources page of my ministry to download the comprehensive teaching on water baptism.
If you are a disciple of Christ, yes you can baptise. Jesus has already given you the permission to. In fact he has commanded you and I to do so. "
What's with the Baptiser?
Now the baptiser issue.
Why does baptiser have to be an ordained leader in a position within the church systems? Did Jesus give that as the criteria? How many of you have been baptised by a pastor who has fallen into sin? How many of you have been baptised by a preacher who was caught in an affair? Has the sins of the baptiser invalidated your baptism?
Of course, the baptiser to the best of his ability should be living for Christ! That is without a doubt. And that goes for everyone who is trying to follow Christ.
How many of you even know much about the life of the one who baptised you? Or is the baptiser mutually accountable to you for his life?
Just because someone wears a robe or a collar, does that mean he is more qualified to baptise? If that's the case, it might be closer to the bible if we all wore camel's hair and leather girdle and not forgetting you need to eat locusts and wild honey, like John the Baptist to do so. Is the baptiser in water important?
We make much about the baptiser when the baptiser is only a sinful human being who is in need of as much cleansing as you and I do. When Jesus said, "Go, make disciples, and baptise.", it is clear that if you make a disciple of Jesus out of someone, then you have a right to baptise them.
You don't need permission from anyone else to do it.
If you are a disciple of Christ, YES, you can baptise. JESUS Himself has already given you the permission to. And He has commanded you and I to do so.
About Water Baptism
Water baptism is a command of Christ to anyone who wants to follow Him and who repents from sins. It is not a feel-good ritual or a feel-holy sacrament. It is a command clearly given by Jesus Christ when He gave a mission to His disciples. As recorded in Matt 28:19-20, this is one of the tasks we are to do when we make disciples of Christ.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
- Matt 28:18-20 (NLT)
In the book of Acts of the Apostles, you see them obeying this command Christ gave them and they started baptising those who follow the Way of Christ, and those who believe on the name of Jesus, His message of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and His death and resurrection as the way to salvation and eternal life.
They were either IMMEDIATELY OR IN THAT VERY HOUR, being baptised into the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and had taken on a new life, and a new spiritual DNA/seed and nature. The old is passed away, and the new had come for these ones. (2Cor 5:17)
Why Can't I Be Baptised?
In many instances recorded in the book of Acts of converts and new followers, many were baptised in water on the same day and some almost that very hour and believing seems to be in conjunction with baptism in water:
1) 3000 who believed when Peter preached (Acts 2:41) "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them"
2) Ethiopian eunuch being baptised in water in the desert (Acts 8:36 "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”)
3) Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) - his baptism happened 3 days later after his encounter with the Lord, because God needed to heal his blindness. Immediately after scales fell off his eyes, he was baptised in water. In Acts 22:16 - Paul recounting his encounter with Christ and his water baptism: "And now, why do you delay? Rise and be baptized, and by calling upon His name, wash away your sins."
4) Cornelius, a Roman officer and his household whom Peter preached to and who were baptised in the Holy Spirit as he preached (Acts 10:47 “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?)
5) Lydia and her household (Acts 16)
6) Jailer at Philippi and his household. (Acts 16:31-33 "They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.)
7) Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, with all his household, and many of the Corinthians (Acts 18:8)
In fact in several instances, it was not just the person who believed and repented, but he or she together with the whole household (which is unlike a nucleus household in our day and age but in those days households included servants and maidservants and many of their relatives living together under one roof, as a community).
Even in the middle of the desert, water baptism can happen! Philip met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch, (Acts 8) and baptised him in water in the desert. In Acts 8:36, the Ethiopian eunuch asked "Look there is water! Why can't I be baptised?". The eunuch commanded the carriage to stop and they came down from it. And Philip baptised him that moment!
You don't have to wait for the baptism pool to be open. You don't have to wait for the only pastor in the church to be available.
The question of someone truly born again should be like that of the Ethiopian eunuch: "Why can't I be baptised?" or "What hinders me from being baptized?”
When was it the last time you discipled someone and walked a person through life with the help of the Holy Spirit and empowered that person to go disciple another for Jesus? Have you ever baptised anyone you discipled?
You don't need permission from anyone else to do it.
If you are a disciple of Christ, YES you can baptise. Jesus has already given you the permission to. In fact He has commanded you and I to do so.
We can baptise and be baptised wherever there is water and repentant hearts! Even at an oasis in the middle of desert.
Over 70% of the earth's surface is water, we have no excuse to say we cannot find water to immerse someone in. Help someone take that first step to cutting ties with his or her sinful past and to live a new life in Christ! In fact running water flows into many of our bath tubs, and we even have swimming pools in our homes or estate.
This command to be baptised and to baptise another disciple-wanna-be in water, is not a hard one to follow. In fact, it is very basic.
If that person is repentant and confesses his/her sins, and genuinely wants to follow Jesus, then that person is qualified to be baptised!
What does it mean to repent? It simply means change of mind turning away from sin and turning towards God.
“John came baptising in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem went out to him were all baptised by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:4-5)
Don't let fear of men rule you. Instead fear God and keep His commandments!
Don't Let FEAR Rule You too, Pastors and Leaders!
The biggest question on a pastor's and leader's mind is "WHAT IF?"
"WHAT IF they form a cult, or the new believers follow the wrong leader?" (Who knows if you are the right one in the first place others should follow? Only God knows the end of a matter.)
"WHAT IF they don't know how to baptise and do it wrong?"
WHAT IF they start a new church? (HOORAY! you have more church planters for the kingdom!)
What if...what if…what if... There is no end to WHAT IFs! Don't go down that slippery slope.
WHAT IF = FEAR.
Don't let fear rule you either way - whether to let someone or to be baptised. Fear is never a part of God's equation. Most leaders in their positions lead and rule out of fear. This is not to be so of God's kingdom and His church.
The fear of losing members, the fear of losing control of members, the fear of giving others control, the fear of "wrong teachings", the fear of heresies (i.e. this is the BIGGEST fear amongst church leaders, pastors), the fear of members losing their way, the fear of failure etc. If you start on the premise of fear, there is no end. And you have fallen straight into the devil's game. He knows how to use fear to control you.
In fact, the very premise of the church systems we see today amongst churches and denominations is a "what-if-fear-based" system. Jesus never came to create a system of hierarchy for the fear of failing. He has not given us a spirit of fear! He has empowered us by His Holy Spirit! He has given us faith to trust in Him as we follow Him.
The systems of fear are falling. Only those who fear God and keep His commands will stand at the end of the day. That is man's ALL.
So FEAR NOT and FEAR GOD.
Let God do what you cannot do - He is the Guardian of our lives, of His church and the Great Shepherd of His sheep. He bled and died for HIS church. There are probably 101 things wrong about the church you are a part of anyway, and we cannot be more right.
The church of Jesus Christ is HIS. He is building His church, not you. He knows how to protect His Bride. False teachers and prophets and apostles will go out from the church in the last days anyway. They are part of God's plan from the beginning and there is no point FEARING it will happen. It WILL happen and is happening.
Let God do His job and us to obey the things He has commanded us to do. Don't take God's place and do His job. You are NOT GOD.
Instead of trying to attain to any title or position you can have in a FEAR-BASED MAN-MADE SYSTEM so you can start baptising another, how about simply be a disciple by obeying Christ, and make disciples who obey Christ. There is no need to be hung up over titles and clamour for positions amongst mere men. We are all sinners. No one is more qualified than the other if we are all living as Christ's disciples.
What matters the most is when our obedience and submission is first to our King Jesus and His kingdom purposes. FEAR GOD and keep His commandments, for that is your all.
The wisest human king who once lived says:
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil."
Ecc 12:13-14 (NKJV)
Bearing Fruit During Lockdown
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
Jer 17:7-8 (NLT)
In my 1st blog post on 27 Mar, I ended off with some questions for you to reflect and think upon, beyond yourself and your family.
One of them is: How can we be creatively making a difference in our neighbourhood or immediate community?
Don’t wait for better days to do it. If we cannot do it now, we will not do it when the lockdown is over.
Make the most of every opportunity, redeeming the time for the days are evil!
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
(Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
Of Churches and Cruise Ships
It is interesting that quite a lot of media highlight has been given to outbreaks caused by church mass gatherings (South Korea) and also the pandemic spread on cruise ships (Ruby Princess, Diamond Princess etc.)
For a period of 10 years from 2002-2012, I was a director at the SE Asia office at an international Christian evangelistic organisation called Christ for all Nations (CfaN), the ministry founded by the late Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, who developed a short film series called "Full Flame".
In Full Flame episode 1, there was a very powerful allegory of a ship called "Corpus Christi (Latin for "body of Christ"). In the short film, the Corpus Christi, a battleship, was in the midst of a raging storm. Nearby, was a sinking ship whose passengers were drowning. But the people on the Corpus Christi were going about their feasting and banqueting, and “1:45 pm church as usual” (quote from the movie).
They were happily enjoying themselves and apathetic to the raging storm outside, oblivious to the urgency of the situation around them. And when the call came for rescue boats to be launched, they refused to leave their sanctuary to go out to save the people drowning in the waters around them.
I hope this clip inspires you. It is a tear-jerker. I warn you. So prepare your Kleenex tissues.
A Note to the "pastors"
We cannot go on with “church as usual”. Our Sunday services can be likened to cruise ships or the above battle ship in the film, which was functioning more like a cruise ship than one ready for battle.
We put on our Sunday best, “go to church“ in a building, greeted by smiling ushers in their smart suits and dresses, distributing bulletins of announcements, upcoming activities and programs. Then we sit in rows in a theatre or function room of a hotel or in a stain-glassed sanctuary with pews, and go through the “service”.
How long are we the church going to cruise around on the sea of helpless humanity with the loud cries from souls screaming for help drowning round about us?
If we cruise around in close containments we can become a potential breeding ground for “viruses”. Just like cruise ships have close confines that enable viruses to spread, our “Sunday Cruise Ships” can become the perfect confines for “infections”.
A study on cruise ships shows that outbreaks seed easily on the vessels not just because of the closed confines but because of the high proportions of older people who tend to be more vulnerable to diseases.
This seems all too familiar with many churches with a high percentage of older people or with “old” or “long-time” Christians who have been warming the pews for a very long time. Isn’t it seemingly true that it is harder to move old folks out of their comfortable confines?
For a very long time, churches have been struggling to keep the young people interested in spiritual things and keeping them “coming to church”. In fact, in the USA, the statistics are that more than 1 million young people “leave church” every year.
The worldwide church is in a crisis and we are losing our young. And if we do not grow up from “doing church” to start making disciples, we will get into a far deeper crisis.
This COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call. Are you hearing the call?
John 9:4 (AMPC)
“We must work the works of Him Who sent Me and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on, when no man can work.”
Let’s learn from Jesus Christ whom we are following and work His works while we can.
Get Creative and Selfless With Reaching Out to Others
God is our Creator and has created us with creative abilities to think outside a box. Now you don’t have to go very far. Look for someone around you in need to help and reach out to.
I have heard about someone with a family of 5-6 moving into one bedroom in their apartment, and getting permission from government authorities to house those who have lost their jobs in the F & B industry, in the other rooms of their apartment.
For me, the day before the COVID-19 lockdown happened in Australia about 2 months ago, I had started an online English Conversation Time with B, my neighbour who is a university student and her housemate. We had English Conversation Time over video calls weekly, sharing about topics of fear, online classes, travel etc. Over the Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday weekend, I had such a wonderful time telling them about the death and resurrection of Jesus!
She's a "person of peace" (Luke 10), a neighbour whom I met in the elevator of the apartment block I had just moved into that week. The Holy Spirit nudged me to get a hold of her contact number.
Last weekend, I had such a wonderful time with B, going through the 1st miracle Jesus performed in John!
The 7 Signs of John is commonly used as a tool by Disciple-making Movements to help people discover God. These are the 7 miracles specifically recorded by John.
John 20:30-31 "The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name."
B was so awed by Jesus. She said, "Wow He's magical, he's amazing, he's incredible and.. !" She was really at a loss for words to describe Him. It really warms my heart to hear someone so excited to read about Jesus and so excited about Him. Sadly most of the time, in countries where there is so much bible, church, etc., people become sceptical and we become overly cautious not to share lest we offend. I was so refreshed by her response!
After going through the 1st sign of how Jesus turned water into wine in 20 minutes, she said "now I can ask Jesus to help me in my problems and trouble too" .
By the 4th question, B wanted to share this miraculous story with her friend! And by the 4th sign in the 4th week, she had invited another friend from China, who is studying in the USA to join us!
Who says COVID-19 can stop us from reaching out and making disciples for His kingdom?
What creative ideas has God given you to reach your neighbour and your community? What talents, resources and gifts has He given you to use? Who can you journey with to do that?
I hope that by the time this COVID-19 situation is resolved (hopefully) or if there is another pandemic which is likely, we would already have many doing the work of an evangelist in such creative ways that we won’t need paid staff in the church to come up with expensive, manpower-heavy programs, concerts, and activities that the organisation of the church puts up!
After lockdown, lots of problems in the world will continue. The needs are going to be immense. Joblessness, homelessness, foreign worker issues, migrant issues, mental health issues, and any existing marital and family problems will escalate.
What then do we do? Do we wait till then to figure things out, or start taking action now, so that by the end of the lockdown we are unleashed not to head to McDonald’s, but to embrace the broken amongst humanity?
I would like to pen off with these words of Jesus in Matthew 6 which we know so well in our heads. But the question is: are you doing it so well?
Matt 6 (NLT)
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
This is the starting point: Seek for the Kingdom of God, not Church, “Churchian-tiy” or Christianity. When you seek God’s kingdom, you will become His Church, His Body, His hands and feet with Christ as the Head.
May His Kingdom and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
No Better Time Than Now - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Lockdown period
I would like to continue from Coronavirus and the Church Part 1- What has Coronavirus to do with the church? 27 March blog post. (If you have not read it, that is a prelude to this. You can read it at :https://www.karengan.blog/mull-stones/coronavirus-and-the-church)
Quite a number of people read and shared it, and some whom I know personally told me they really liked it. One of them said, "wow, I will put this in my resource folder to send it out to different people". Others I know said to me "wow, this is the paradigm shift the church needs".
Great, then let's continue with part 2!
In Singapore, the government introduced a “circuit breaker” (CB) to bring all non-essential services to a complete halt for about 1 month from 7 April to 4 May 2020. As I am writing this, the Singapore government just announced an extension of “circuit breaker” (lockdown) for an additional 40 days to 1st June and to be reviewed thereafter. And oh yes, something really newsworthy, bubble tea stalls are shut, because surprise, surprise, it is a non-essential! Sorry if you are a bubble tea lover...too much of that stuff is bad anyway!
Counting Down or Numbering?
In the midst of the circuit breaker, I observed that many went on social media # hash-tagging each #CBDAY, and were counting down the days towards the last day of CB on the 4 May. Then CB was extended.
Being in Australia when the lockdown started weeks earlier before Singapore’s lockdown, I knew that it was no fun to be at home all the time! After 14 days, even an introvert like me, felt the need to head out and have some kind of real contact with real humans (not just online over video!)
“So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NKJV)
For me I don’t count down days, I prefer to do what the Psalmist says, to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.
You may ask: “What’s the difference between counting down days vs numbering my days?
Oh yes, there is a vast difference!
Counting down days is a sense of resignation to the situation and like a prisoner waiting and hoping for the day of their release; whereas numbering days, is understanding the brevity of life and living life with a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
In this COVID-19 lockdown period, I am experiencing greater fruitfulness than before, living life to the fullest with purpose. So I am thankful for this period that has helped me to have greater focus to accomplish the tasks that I had always wanted to get done.
No better time than now!
quarantine [kwawr-uh n-teen, kwor-]
a period, originally 40 days, of detention or isolation imposed upon ships, persons, animals, or plants on arrival at a port or place, when suspected of carrying some infectious or contagious disease.
Origins of Quarantine
"Entering English in the early 1600s, this “isolation” sense of quarantine comes from the Italian quarantina, a period of forty days, derived from quaranta, the Italian for “forty.” The Italian quaranta, if you’re curious, comes from the Latin quadrāgintā, also meaning “forty.” "(Source: https://www.dictionary.com/e/quarantine-vs-isolation/)
What’s so special about 40? Historically, a quarantine referred to a period—originally of 40 days—imposed upon ships when suspected of carrying an infectious or contagious disease. This practice was done in Venice in the 1300s in an effort to stave off the plague.
Sounds all too familiar? Yes, recent cruise ship sagas – Diamond Princess, Ruby Princess etc! (If you did not know, the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic spread to a number of cruise ships and they were infection hot beds.)
Much ado has been made about the 40-day extension in Singapore.
Singapore’s 40-day CB extension is NOT new prophetic revelation (King Solomon says "there is nothing new under the sun"), because these were all historical practices.
There is nothing magical or mystical about the number 40. Without the sovereignty of God in play, it does not matter how many 40 things or 40-day programs or how much alignment it can have with Jewish festivals and calendar, which one organisation, group, church or movement can come up with and implement.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stay awake in vain and the best of men’s intentions and efforts will come to nought.
Prayer and Intercessions by the Help of the Holy Spirit
Nevertheless, we need be in prayer and intercessions for kings and all who are in authority (1Tim2:1-2), so that we may lead godly, quiet and peaceable lives.
But we do not need another program to tell us how to reach out, to pray, or another discipleship program to make disciples.
We need to depend on the Holy Spirit in our lives to pray together with the others whom we are vulnerable and authentic with and available to - i.e our real spiritual communities. This lockdown is forcing us into a corner to get to know our neighbours, our neighbourhoods and realise the God-given potential we can make on our true communities round about us.
Rom 8:26-27 tells us that “in the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Rely on the Holy Spirit. He is not only the best Teacher but the best Intercessor and Prayer Warrior. Let Him teach you and show you how to pray and intercede. Rebuild your family prayer time during this period. There is no better time than this COVID-19 lockdown period!
Preparing the Ground of Our Hearts for Greater Fruitfulness
These extended 40 days of stay-home can result in you being truly more fruitful or less! There is no better time than this lockdown period!
Here are some things you can learn from the quarantine/self-isolation/stay home situation:
Let this period be a:
1) Time of "Separation"
Quarantine simply refers to a time of separation from others to prevent others from possible infection if you are a carrier of a virus.
There is no better time than now to be distancing or "quarantining" yourself from the things that have made you less fruitful as a follower of Christ. This period of time could bring out the best or the worst in you.
It is a time to be introspective of what you have been distracted with and be more "separated" from the world, to be set apart and consecrated unto God. What are the things in the world you need to be separated more and more from?
You are now physically separated from the materialistic pursuit of material things, because the malls are shut.
You are now forcibly separated from going to the movies and events. But wait a minute, there are alternatives: - online shopping is massive, Netflix is having a higher rate of subscription, online gaming has also increased by leaps and bounds.
Without vision and purpose in life, we will see greater boredom and a rise of more compulsive habits and disorders. It could lead to poorer spending habits, over-indulgence in food, movies and drama serials and online gaming in order to get by. This phenomena will inevitably impact the health and well-being of individuals, whether emotional, mental or physical.
The whole idea of "self-quarantine", CB, or lockdown, is physical separation. But with virtual and online worlds, one can get more and more distanced from the real world too, heightening compulsive and uncontrollable disorders.
So the whole idea of separation from the world in the Bible is not referring to physical separation, or suggesting that you go hide away in a mountain or go into a monastery or nunnery from the ever-increasing crowds in the world. It has to do with our hearts.
Jesus said "where your treasure is, there the desire of your hearts will be also" (Matt 6:21 NLT). Where is your heart's preoccupation all this while? This season will reveal it even more starkly than before.
In Paul's exhortation to the believers in Corinth, believers should be "separated" from idols, so that we can know who we are, our identity as sons and daughters of God our Father. It has everything to do with knowing our identity and who we are and what defines us.
2 Cor 6:16-18 (NKJV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
What is clear is that we cannot serve both idols and God at the same time in our lives. Idols take the place of God. Idols substitute God. Idols, as we know, need not take the shape of a statue, but act as gods we keep close to our hearts and we serve them and are enslaved by them.
Idols can be the love of money, the lust after material wants, lust for fame and fortune, including addictions and compulsions. Even your ministry and service to God as well as relationships closest to you like your spouse or children, could take the place of God and be an idol in your life.
What are the idols that God wants you to be "separated" from, so that you can cleave unto your Heavenly Father and know your identity- who you really are, as a son or daughter of God?
If you do not know what God’s will, plan and purpose is for your life, then it is probably that you do not know your identity as a son or daughter of God. And if you do not know that, then there are idols in your life that takes the place of your Heavenly Father.
It is time to be separate from your idols.
No better time than now to let God define who He has created you to be.
1John 5:21 (AMPC)
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be).”
2) Time of "Denying Self"
The last thing we need once the lockdown/”CB” ends, is for people, including Christians to go crazy over their new found "freedom" and start to let loose, revel and party. You might see long queues of people at the bubble tea stores, or a rush to the shopping mall again to have a spending spree, or long queues at certain food outlets for foods which they have had a craving for.
This is probably the exact opposite of the intended hopeful outcome governments wish for from the lockdown period, which is to have a disciplined people being able to keep physical distancing in order to prevent a 2nd wave of infection!
Deprivation does something to a person. It makes one feel a sense of loss and that they need something even though they don't .
On the flip side, deprivation can make you really appreciative of the things you have as well. Appreciate your loved ones, appreciate what you have - the roof over your heads, food on the table, breath of life itself!
This is the example and words of Christ to every follower of Christ in Matt 16:
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].25 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?
What do you need to die to and what you really need, in order to live the blessed life in the Kingdom of God?
This CB/lockdown is a great teacher. Learn from it. No better time than now!
3) Time of "Shutting Down" Non-Essentials
In this period, the economic implications are huge. The whole economy apart from basic necessities have come to a standstill. People are losing their jobs and income and livelihood.
As of a few days ago, a total of over 26 million people in the USA have filed for unemployment and many are queuing at food banks since President Trump declared a national emergency. This is something not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The spending habits of people have changed drastically. People realise that they do not want to frivolously spend on non-essential luxury items and are beginning to tighten their pockets. And even if they wanted to spend on luxurious items online, they might not be available for purchase, as services for non-essential items have also come to a complete halt without the logistical support to deliver those products.
One thing I find happening to me whenever I am already fruitful is this: God will take out His pruning scissors and start cutting away branches that are dead weight in my life. Dead weight can be very serious if you are a drowning person. It can be a matter of life and death!
I welcome this pruning process because that means that I am already bearing fruit and God is helping me become MORE fruitful. (John 15). Cutting away things can be a painful process if you are experiencing it for the 1st time. But it can be taken with a joyful and rejoicing attitude.
I once had a tomato plant which I watered and nurtured for 6 months, but it bore no tomatoes. I was not happy. So I took a pair of pruning scissors and started to cut off almost 1 to 2 kg of branches with leaves! In a matter of days, I saw my tomato plant fruiting like never before. 10 to 20 cherry tomatoes appeared in the course of the next week! I was a happy gardener again. My 6 months of investment in the plant bore fruit, but only after much pruning!
I then realised that the leaves and branches were sapping up the nutrients from the flowers to bear fruit. And had I not pruned it, it would have continued to be fruitless.
What is sapping your time, energy and even resources?
Perhaps, it is time to prune and cut them off, even if it looks beautiful and even if you have invested much into it before.
Over the years I have learnt to actually enjoy the pruning process, because I have seen the benefits it brings me in the long run! On hindsight, for many of the ministry endeavours I have started or been involved in, shutting them down or handing them over has saved me much frustration, stress and hair-loss which were the results of carrying unnecessary burdens and stress God had not intended for me to carry beyond His season of grace.
I simply recognise that God sees the problems beyond what I can see and when I simply obey by shutting things down, instead of trying to put in more wasted time, energy, resources to prop it up, I remain in His grace. There is no striving of the flesh and I can be in His rest at all times.
I say this with regards to both business and ministry endeavours alike, don’t be afraid to shut them down if you need to. It will save you and help you be more fruitful in the long run.
Discern for yourself if it is God’s time for the season to cut somethings off and move forward to more fruitful endeavours or niches.
Are you striving in your strength or resting in His?
Are there unfruitful activities, endeavours that you can scale down on or stay out of or even shut down?
With the shutting down of non-essentials in your life, you are living the best life you can possibly live – simply.
Those who live simply, simply live.
Let God strip away the clutter. The best of life is ahead of you, with God.
And there is no better time than now!
Part 3 is coming up very shortly...On "Bearing Fruit for Christ". Stay tuned.
Coronavirus and the Church
What has Coronavirus to Do with Church
A tiny virus is sending shockwaves throughout the entire world. At the time of my writing, the worldometer of reported and detected coronavirus cases has gone past 620,000 in a matter of months from day 0. And the USA has topped the charts, overtaking China as the place with the most number of Coronavirus cases. Furthermore, these numbers do not include those that have gone undetected or are asymptomatic.
In Singapore, stay-home is encouraged and social distancing measures like not sitting on marked out chairs in hawker centres, failing which you can get slapped with a hefty fine of $10,000 and/or jail term of 6 months. Social distancing is pretty hard for a densely populated nation of approx. 6 million in 278.6 mi² (721.5 sq. km), with a population density in Singapore of 8358 per sq. Km (21,646 people per sq. mi).
Over in neighbouring Malaysia the lockdown is such that only the heads of households are allowed out to buy necessities. And the shutting of borders between Singapore and Malaysia has displaced 300,000 Malaysians who work in Singapore. This triggered another round of panic buying.
While governments are scurrying around in an attempt to flatten the virus’ curve, the consequence is that it has flattened almost everything non-essential to life. In Australia, measures are even more drastic, such as the closure of gyms, restaurants, eateries, spas, nail salons, churches and anything non-essential to life. Only supermarkets are opened and there are no dine-ins at restaurants at all, only take-outs and deliveries are allowed. (As of 30 Mar 2020: In Australia, only 2 persons are allowed in a public gathering.)
Even private birthday celebrations, weddings and funerals, are limited to a maximum of 10 persons (this number might be updated again depending on the situation!). Church events, mass gatherings and services are now suspended or cancelled in most countries.
I hope in the midst of this craziness and seemingly dark time, you have seen more light or perhaps the COVID19 situation; of country lockdowns, border closures, social distancing measures, panic buying, quarantines, stay-home notices, public events cancelled, church services becoming epidemic spreading clusters (thought about the message this sends to non-believers?), church services closed, jobs lost, over-taxed healthcare systems, inevitable bankruptcies, the race to produce test kits and vaccines, closure of cinemas, shops, tuition centres, businesses, schools closed and going online etc, has awakened you to reality and shed more light on your life and purpose for God’s kingdom.
The reality of what has been happening in the church is this. We have been asleep. And we have been lulled into a deep sleep. God is awakening those who have been in this slumber.
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” (Eph 5:14, Isa 26:19)
However in the midst of all the bad news, there is good coming out of it all.
I understand that there is sickness and death happening with countries like Italy and China suffering the most casualties. There is lots of emotional fear and widespread confusion and panic everywhere, but I also really see a lot of good coming out of it. The good that has come out of this coronavirus pandemic is: It puts humanity all on the same page. No one whether kings or presidents, young or old, rich or poor is shielded from this virus.
I also see it as a great equaliser in some areas of disparity. In one particular area, for eg. no more tuition and enrichment centres in Singapore can go on. And this means those who cannot afford to have tuition will be placed on the same page as those who can. (But then as I am writing, the tuition centers are responding with e-learning and online classes to keep their customer base (i.e. the parents) happy.
Churches Fighting Fires
The churches are scrambling to get their act together and react to this outbreak by hosting their services online and even continuing to ask for tithes and offerings through online payment, for believers to stay home to watch the service or rather their performance called “church”, and to sustain their operations, staff salaries and for some, huge mortgages for the building they use a few hours in a week which is now empty and shut. While most "churches" are fighting fires, where is the real church, His body?
How Can the Church, the Body of Christ Respond to This Virus
1) "When you are outside, put on protective gear to prevent infection"
We all know that in many Asian cultures, they wear masks when they are out in the streets. And in hospitals they even put on a protective suit, surgical masks, and face shield when coming into contact with infected patients.
Similarly in the spirit, we make sure we have our protective spiritual gear on when we are up and about daily for His kingdom purposes. Put on prayer, put on the whole armour of God. However if you stay indoors, safe from everybody else, then you have not much to protect yourself from. The Church of Jesus Christ is not made for staying indoors, and she is not made to insulate herself from the world. Though we are not of the world, we are in this world. And we are called to be salt and light (Mt 5) in this world and overcomers in Christ as He overcame the world (John 16:33). Sadly we have mostly shut our doors to the world and are "locked-up" in the sacred-secular divide of religion way even before COVID-19 came about.
2) "Build Up the Body's Immunity"
One way to fight any virus, is to build up your body's immunity. Your gut health is important for your immunity.
As the COVID-19 virus is sweeping across nations, the supplement industry is booming as people sweep the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets clean.
Our body in the natural and the Body of Christ, i.e. the Church, is designed by God to have strong immunity provided we have good gut health. If there are no output of toxins and wastes from the body, you are constipated and poor gut health will compromise your immune system's ability to withstand any virus.
Similarly, the body of Christ's immune system has been compromised for the longest time because of toxic nonsense and "highly processed canned food" we call "sermons, which we have been feeding ourselves with.
We have not been eating real whole foods. Nutritionists' advice that the very foods hoarded by panic buyers of instant noodles, pasta, pasta sauces and canned food, is not helpful. These things contain high sodium and it will deplete your gut from the necessary good bacteria in your gut.
We need to start eating real whole foods to stay healthy and develop strong immunity.
Start feeding yourself by reading whole letters/books of the bible and not just watch youtube sermons, which is basically processed food pre-digested by someone else. If you are His sheep and have a real relationship with God, you can hear the voice of God. Learning to reading scriptures on your own is essential. No one, after being a follower of Christ for donkey years, should still need to be bottle-fed milk (i.e. a sermon).
Sadly, this is the state of the church today and people have become addicted to drinking milk once a week on a Sunday. No wonder they don't have the strength to do great exploits for God in this world! Start reading His word on your own, and discerning God's voice in life circumstances, because doing that trains your spirit man to know God's voice for yourself and find application through hearing His voice.
It is time to get our immunity into shape. External protection can only go that far, but being internally built up in our immunity, we need not fear.
3) "Get Some Exercise and Good Rest"
We all know these 2 are important components to a healthy body.
Without exercise, even the right eating habits will cause obesity and a compromised immunity and health. Are you exercising your spiritual and natural gifts and talents in the midst of this crisis regularly? Without output and you doing what you hear from God, you are only deceiving yourselves (James 1:22).
Are you WORKING OUT? Are you working out your salvation with fear and trembling? Are you "working out" in obedience what God has "worked in" you? Or are you just keeping yourself isolated from the rest of the world so that you can simply stay protected? Surely, there are ways to shine and work out without putting yourself in harm's way.
Are you finding your rest in God in the midst of this? Or are you worried, full of fear, and anxiety?
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.". (Matt 11:28). Jesus continues in Matt 11:29-30 continues, "Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Are we His Church finding real rest in God through being carriers of His burden and yoke? Are we carrying HIs purposes or trying to achieve ours only? Are you ploughing in the harvest fields of humanity yoking together with Jesus, the Lord of the harvest? Or are you in your own self-consumed bubble still on a Sunday?
the body of Christ's immune system has been compromised for the longest time because of toxic nonsense and "highly processed canned food" we call "sermons, which we have been feeding ourselves with."
What and how can we as the church and body of Christ do to preach and bring God's kingdom to others in a tumultuous time such as this?
The truth is that whilst church services, church buildings and events are being shut down, the Church, which is God's people, and His kingdom can't be shut down!
In fact the real church will arise and thrive in this hour. They do not need events, or buildings to function. They are disciples everywhere, in every place where they live, work and play! STOP FIGHTING FIRES and BE THE FIRE!
And the fact that church buildings and events are being shut down, goes to show that we DO NOT NEED IT to live in the first place. Have you thought about that?
I am sure if you are a believer and follower of Christ, you probably already know that church is not a building, nor a service, nor an event, nor a meeting. But wait, why then do we still do that service thing, or try to keep it going even hosting it online during this shut-down? If it can been shut down, then it is NON-ESSENTIAL to you and to your life!
God has not designed His Church and kingdom to be bound or to be shut down by a virus and government regulatory measures. We are a unique organism called the BODY OF CHRIST. Christ's body is not divided up. He has only 1 body although many functions. The Church of Jesus Christ is ONE living organism with Christ as ONE head, and has not been designed by God to shut! In fact, God wills that we His church, His body wherever we might be, arise with greater glory in times of greater darkness! In crisis, we thrive! And we need to be riding on this wave and this curve! Because once this curve flattens, human nature is such that we will go back to BUSINESS AS USUAL.
Isa 60:1-3 (NIV)
1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Time to Reflect, Rethink, and Undo
Well, you might be thinking, "but don't we need one another and community in church meetings?" Oh yes, we absolutely do! But in an authentic expression! What we have mostly today in the modern day society, is merely an artificial construct of "community" with management practices in an organisation or of the world being put into practice to manage people. That is not the authentic expression of a living breathing organism called Christ's church!
We have the the life of Jesus Christ and the breath of the Holy Spirit flowing through the veins and arteries of Christ's body, which makes us believers i.e His church and His body alive forevermore! And we have Jesus Christ as our Head who directs the Body of believers anywhere and everywhere worldwide. We all as His sheep, can hear the voice of our Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for us! (John 10) So what is there to stop this living organism from knowing His will and doing His will daily without the interfering human management principles of men? The Holy Spirit who is the best Teacher will guide you and lead you into ALL truth, as Jesus promised. (John14:26)
A Note to "pastors"
As things shut down, "pastors", instead of focusing on getting the "service" online during this time, one very productive thing to do is to release and encourage the members of the (not your) "church" who have been "going to church" (going to church is wrong sentence structure altogether. If church is not a place where you can go to, but IS God's people, then why do we even say "going to church" or ask people to "come to church") to truly GO for God and His kingdom. I am not saying to take uncalculated risks in the trying to be "gung-ho"(foolishly bold), but to encourage them to think creatively on how they shine their light in the midst of the darkness.
By now you should be able to trust the members (not your members, they are Christ's) to go forth with power to make more disciples. By now, most of them would not even need you to tell them what to do, cos they have an ability to hear and obey God for themselves. If they can't hear and obey God after a real encounter with Christ and after hearing sermons week after week, then what you have been doing is a miserable utter failure.
If what you are concerned about is to keep members in order to keep the tithes and offerings flowing into your organisation, or to keep members in order to prop up an institution, so that you can finance the building, or pay staff or yourself a salary, then mind you, it is high time you realised that you have been serving Mammon/money in the name of God! Who is your God?
What a great time to be reflecting, rethinking and undoing religious practices that we have become unknowingly dependent on or even addicted to other than God and His kingdom working in us and through us! Christ is enough during this season. If those things can be taken away from us, then we are not supposed to be relying on them in the first place!
A Note to Every Follower of Christ
Start making disciples wherever you are and with people God sends your way everyday.
You have what you need for your community and your neighbours i.e the ones living or working around you! That is and should be your true community. The ones whom you bump into at the lift lobbies; the ones you meet when you throw trash out at the bins, or the ones you wave at and greet when you meet them on the walk to the bus stops or to your neighbourhood grocer. The one who sits next to you at your office cubicle. The cleaner who cleans your office. The security guard who works in your estate. Oh wait, I think it should be "the ones you should have"...because now with "stay-home" and "working from home" being encouraged, you don't see them much anymore.
Think about how you can be the Church being sent out 2 by 2 (Husband and wife is enough, any more, it gets complicated) just like Jesus did with His disciples sending them into the harvest fields. Don't find someone living far away to pair with you. Find someone whom you are living with, and if not, disciple someone into the kingdom and go with that person. It is not rocket science. There is a reason why Jesus said "where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst of you". He did not say "where 2 or more", so you really don't need a big group to start something or a leader to tell you what to do to gather you to get you going.
So have a "Going" mentality even in this lockdown season, and you will find faith and joy in doing His will daily and being about His Kingdom purposes!
- How can we have wisdom while having faith, and not be foolish in trying to be fearless. How is the going forth and what can we do?
- How can we be creatively making a difference in our neighbourhood or immediate community?
- When this pandemic ends, how and what can we be doing better to continue to bring God's kingdom here on earth? Is online church the answer to the future? What if there is another problem that arises that shuts the church services again? Are you ready?
I leave you with these questions for you to REFLECT, RETHINK, UNLEARN, and LEARN.
For me the answers are clear. At this time, I am busier than ever before about my Father's kingdom work. The virus pandemic is a great teacher. Learn from it and let the gospel of the Kingdom and authentic church in your community go viral, for that cannot be hindered.
If you would like to find out more on how the gospel of the Kingdom can go forth and what church is really all about, please go to https://www.mccnresources.org
>> Part 2 continues here:
Fear or Faith?
Do you sow faith or fear?
In the current world we live in, our information source comes primarily through media - social or non-social. Our perceptions are formed from the news we hear and receive through the radio, tv, papers, web, Facebook, Instagram, blogs or even youtube videos. In fact everywhere we go, we are bombarded with negative news and bad news.
In the past winter months here in Perth, there has been a lot of flu cases and some deaths from it. The repetition of the news, TV programs on real life on such incidences has instilled fear in the hearts of people. There is also a huge push from programs by government to take the flu vaccinations provided at the pharmacies. Every channel I turn to on TV, the news keeps on repeating the same news, over and over again. Everywhere I went, when someone would sneeze, or cough, I would walk in another direction. I was becoming conscious of the news. Of course, I did not want to fall ill with flu. I was also aware that immunisation only tackles a certain strain of flu and not all kinds. (There are 16 different types of HA and 9 different types of NA, therefore, there are potentially 144 different subtypes of influenza A viruses)
Whilst over in Singapore, due to the hot weather season this time of the year, there has been dengue outbreaks in various estates and again news reports heightens people to not just awareness but to an "Amygdala reaction". The Amygdala is the part of your brain which is responsible for a fight or flight reaction to a threat. Amygdala makes a split-second decision and releases a fight-or-flight response before the cortex (thinking part of the brain) has time to overrule it. This amygdala reaction to such news is what results in fear which leads to huge buys of insect repellents and mosquito patches (similar to the reactionary buys from most people during the Haze periods where face masks are sold out islandwide, and frenzy purchases of air purifiers too).The group that is moved into such purchases are undoubtedly the young parents of babies or young children who also tend to have more protective instincts over their young ones.
However, one can overcome an amygdala reaction through exercising your frontal cortex - by pausing to think and practice mindfulness. When one is able to manage the hijacking amygdala responses, one is growing in emotional intelligence as well. It is in fact scientifically proven that emotional intelligence only develops with age, which explains why young persons are likely to make a brash decision or an uninformed choice with a higher amygdala response than someone usually older in age who have more experience and hopefully put more thought into life.
Fear and anxiety responses inhibits one from thinking with sound and right judgement. In fact it traps someone into the replay of that emotion on a repetitive cycle, which explains why some people are unable to get over certain trauma that has happened to them before leading to what is commonly diagnosed as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The good news is that God can cast out all fear as we place our trust and faith in Him ("Perfect love casts out all fear" and God is Love - 1John 4:8) . Being connected to Him and joined to Him who is Love, can help us recognise that He is much greater and bigger than all our fears and worries. And submitting your life to the One who is in control of all things, realising you are not in control of everything that can possibly happen to you is one of the keys. God truly "has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:6-7)
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.
3 Simple Steps to Overcome Fear or Worry
Here's what the Word of God teaches us and I have summed it up in 3 simple steps for us to consciously practice in our daily lives:
1) SPREAD FAITH NOT FEAR
Let's spread faith not fear. Faith in God empowers, but fear cripples. Faith overcomes , fear traps.
1 John 5:3-5 New King James Version (NKJV)3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
2) SPEAK LIFE NOT DEATH
Let's speak life not death. The power of life and death is in the tongue. (Prov 18:22) We can speak life into a situation where there is so much negativity and fear!
3) STAY YOUR MIND ON GOOD THINGS, NOT NEGATIVE STUFF
This is important to your state of well-being as you direct and stay your focus onto God and all the positive attributes and experiences.
Phil 4:6-9 (AMPC)
6 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
7 And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].
9 Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.
3 simple words to remember to practice:
SPREAD, SPEAK, STAY!
Let's spread faith not fear. Faith in God empowers, but fear cripples. Faith overcomes , fear traps. "
To Use Social Media or Not to Use?
Shall I use social media? Shall I get off Facebook? How can I get my child to stop spending so much time on social media?
This question has come up countless times in my interactions with people who desire to follow God. Some say FB is evil. The question really is: Does it have a hold over you and your life? Is it a servant to you or a master over you? Has it taken captive of you or have you taken captive of it?
God can use anything or everything. Just don't let anything use and control us and our live
God can use anything or everything. Just don't let anything use and control us and our lives."
I have no problems using social media for now because that is one of the ways I connect with many friends and kingdom folks all over the world. Having said that, there are so many better channels that I use to do that anyway.
With social media, I get onto it to post updates and sometimes keep in the loop of what is happening around the world. Sometimes it is interesting to read certain posts or articles, watch certain videos and sometimes just to touch base with others. But I usually blitz past most trivial stuff and don't hover around for hours on end.
I use it to update some friends about my life and ministry, and also to keep tabs with happenings in the life of my friends too. We all know the "friends" we have on FB are not by real definition "friends". Certainly, our friendship and relationships with others should go beyond social media. Social media certainly does not define who we are or who we should be at all.
As a follower of Christ, I use it for God's kingdom influence as much as I can and also for casual updates (it is not all that serious, it is about life and how our life reflects the Kingdom ways). As for me, social media is NOT my life and it will never be. That's simply because I do not post ALL of my life stories there and definitely not here on world wide web too. It will be pretty shallow of me if my life only consists of the things I do that are posted on social media.
IDENTITY. You can have a social identity but not know WHO you really are.
Who am I really? We are our thoughts, our emotions, our love, our being, our WHO, our whats, our ifs, our whens, our hows, our values, our intentions, our will etc.
The big question is DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE? Are you easily swayed, influenced by the latest fad, trend and happening? God is rock-solid and immovable in His character and in who He is. If you are a follower of Christ, is your WHO YOU ARE anchored in WHO HE IS?
Many young people (and old as well) enjoy social media and sometimes get lost in social media. As a follower of Christ, It is dangerous to not know your identity and be on the social platforms allowing it to shape your thinking and the decisions you make in life as well as the choices you act upon.
Trivial as social media might be, it is a powerful influence and platform if you use it rightly for the right causes, such as outcry against animal abuse, fight against human trafficking and other social injustices etc. Businesses and events companies also use that as an advertising platform to publicise their products, to garner sales and to promote their events. Many communities also form on FB and people from all walks of life become one as they share common interests like gardening, babies, pets etc. News, information and ideas are passed along through social media.
However useful a tool and platform it might be, many are very much swayed and influenced and end up spending countless hours on it and even fall into some form of addictive behaviour, obsession with games and stalking or trolling others . Because it is a public platform anyone can get on it, vices and evil can also thrive on it. Hence there is a certain age limit on users. However we all know young kids who get on it usually do not enter their correct age and use a fake age instead, and that leaves them vulnerable on the open platform.
The truth is there is so much happening on social media you cannot keep up. You will spend your whole life keeping up if you don't have a God-given purpose you are living for in life. There is so much KEEPING UP OF APPEARANCES on facebook, instagram, YouTube, and all the other social platforms, that one has to keep that up if you are a "social celebrity" of huge following, or of many "likes", or a "public figure" of some sort or if you desire to be one! It is pretty much like Hollywood stardom style competition out there.
Innate in us all is a desire to be "liked". In fact how Facebook, Instagram and all the social media platforms work and thrive is based on this very basic human need. This is the user behaviour psychology behind most recent designs of smart phones as well. Each swipe and scroll is meant to make you swipe and scroll more.
There are also studies and documentaries on how the algorithm of these platforms work in order to get you going back. Ever wondered what happens to you after you create a post? As any normal behaviour, you go back to check on how many likes you get. And it makes you keep going back on to check. All these is tracked and is factored into the algorithm of some of these platforms, and it affects how much and who your posts will appear to. It does not take a scholar to realise this. What this can create is "an addictive behaviour" - every time you go back in and you get more likes, dopamine (a type of neurotransmitter which you body makes) is released in your body.
Dopamine plays a big role in how we feel pleasure and "happiness". Dopamine affects mood, sleep, behaviour, drive, learning, motivation, heart rate and even kidney functions. Too much creates addictive behaviour similar to drug misuse and abuses. The lack of it causes many mental health disorders and issues like depression, ADHD etc as well as drug addiction, misuse and abuse. Any wonder now how easy it is for one to fall into the additive behaviour of social media usage and excessive smartphone usage?
Deep down within us as created by our creator is an innate desire for love and acceptance. Too much and things can get out of hand. Too little and it can create huge problems too. Alas, can facebook and instagram and online gaming and the things we derive pleasure from in this world etc fill our desires to be "liked" and satisfy our cravings for LOVE?
Do you know you are deeply LOVED by the one who has given His life for you and for your sins? While we were still in sin, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. (Rom 5:8) He became the substitute for us, and satisfied the judgment upon sin. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
May you encounter the love of God through Jesus. His love is like a mountain - unshakable and immovable. When you encounter the Love of God, He will wash away any rejections and fill you with such security. And to as many who would believe and receive Him, He gives us the right to become children of God (John 1:12). To the lonely, the despised, the dejected, the outcasts, regardless of our current status, He secure us in His great love as we are born again into the family of God and in His kingdom, through whom we as disciples are commanded to show and demonstrate God's love to one another and to those who have yet to know Him.
I AM. I AM is the biggest revelation to Moses by God in the burning bush when he was sent to the Israelites. Moses was a man whom God spoke to face to face as a "FRIEND". He said to him to tell the people he is going to speak to "Tell them I AM has sent you." (Exo 3:14). God's name is "I AM" - I AM WHO I AM is the Hebrew translation. He can be your closest friend and fill the emptiness of life and it's meaningless pursuit.
So if you are searching for the meaning of life, and why you exist, and who your "friends" really are, you could start with your Creator God who created you, who knows you and who understands you and why you were created. You can know Him for yourself and have a real relationship and real friendship with Him. And you can walk with Him to discover your life's purpose and find great fulfilment in being who you are and how you have been uniquely created!
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night--
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
May you discover the love of God, grow deeper in it and forge a deep friendship you can have with Him beyond just the "friends" we have on our social platforms!