It was a young man Zephaniah, who suggested to me that I try doing Instagram reels. Successful reels focus on a niche subject. I told him I would prayerfully consider his suggestion. As I prayed about it over a few weeks, I noticed an increase in faith and courage, an increase in desire and peace. Even inspiration and ideas were formed spontaneously.
I thought the one minute limitation for reels is actually so limiting. What can you say in one minute? Nothing substantial I’m sure. But this is a generation conditioned by Tik Tok to receive byte-sized content. People generally do not have patience for long talks. They are used to receiving content in brief, one minute sound bites. Usually it’s amusing or informative or seductive. I find these impossible to create. I am not humourous, nor detailed, and am not well-endowed!!
What can I talk about in one minute? – I do 40 minutes sermons! What niche subject do I talk about – I have no idea! I have set myself up for failure, with no end in mind, even before I have begun.
How do you make these reels? I thought I could begin it by faith, to begin small. If I use whatever skills and content I have, I will grow. It’s like if I start with five loaves and two fish, and put it in God’s hands, God can multiply it and feed the multitude. I’ll just do whatever and start with wherever I am. Talk about whatever I desire, or whatever I sense, or whatever inspirational insights that pop up.
I decided to start. I cannot figure out a lot of technical stuff, like how to embed Instagram reels into my blog site. Therefore, here is a sample of my feeble, amateurish start in this reel link HERE. Please do support me by liking, subscribing, and commenting. Most of all, pray for the reels I create to cheer up, build up, and stir up God’s people. Thank you so much.
It was pleasant to meet up with blogging friends of yesteryears. I have been blogging a long time and in the course of these years I have met some fellow bloggers and chatted with them. Well it so happens I met with a few of them in recent months.
With one of them, Terence Yeo, we planned morning ride to the Jurong Lake Gardens, culminating with a brunch at Taman Jurong Food Centre. The day was cloudy and pleasant. The weather prediction was that it would rain but thankfully he was already on the way when I informed him of my wet weather plans. Too late. But as it turned out, it hardly rained.
We talked about a range of different things. Terence has always been well informed and has intelligent views on all kinds of information and news whether biblical, extra-biblical, or current news and events. Of course, we also caught up on personal matters and talked about what we have been up to and about our families over a meal of the famous bak chor mee of Taman Jurong.
A fortnight later I met up with Jeffrey Teo and pastor Joshua Lye, two acquaintances from long ago. We met at the Republic food court at Westgate and caught up after a period of about a decade. I was very apologetic because I had forgotten an earlier appointment with them.
Big changes have taken place since I last met them. Jeffrey Yeo who is one of those serious runners who travel overseas to do races, had moved to an Assembly of God church, and Joshua had planted a church, which meant he was a bi-vocational pastor for several years, until he recently answered God’s call, “left his nets” and went into Singapore Bible College’s Master’s program. I shared with them some of the things happening in the church and I was happy to hear that both of them are still very much involved and interested in the church at large, and what’s going on today in the world.
Joshua was a participant in a revival among the members of the Lutheran Church of our Redeemer at Duke’s Road. I asked if he minded if I linked him to Galven Lee and Sina who are collecting Singapore revival stories, and he did not mind. I thought such a story is worthy of retelling over and over again, recorded for posterity to read and be inspired at what the Lord can do when hearts are open to him. Just think about it, the Lutheran Church experienced some form of renewal among some of its members the extent of which I am unsure. Evidently it did not spread as widely in the denomination as the renewal that spread in the Anglican denomination.
I have referred quite a few of these pockets of revival in schools and churches to Galven and Sina and they are very earnest and diligent in seeking such stories so if you know of any let me know in the comment box, and I can pass the tip to them.
These lists were done up for RSS feed readers. The platform makes it convenient for readers to follow blogs. They list down websites about certain subjects that have a record of good traffic, comments and other indications of engagement. This method of regularly and conveniently reading blogs is nowadays less popular than during the height of the popularity of blogs. I used to follow other blogs in an RSS feed reader but not anymore.
Anyway, any form of acknowledgment is an encouragement to carry on doing what I have been doing since 2004. It was my son Joshua who goaded me into blogging with the intention of reaching out to young people. I started with Xanga.com, a now defunct platform. Then a few months later I moved to this website with the help of Vee San (design and problem solving) and an anonymous guy who provides free hosting. I have been using this website ever since. I was pleased to have been cited by Asian Wall Street Journal, Straits Times and The New Paper and other publications. All this can only be the Lord’s favour for I do not really provide informative nor substantial pieces of work.
I wrote for people and as a record for future generations and my family. I wrote authentic personal pieces about myself and my interests like trekking, football and other sports. I wrote about my observations of church life and culture in Singapore. I wrote about pastoral work, spirituality and prayer. I avoided controversial subjects as I find I do not have the intellectual depth to analyze and argue for a particular position. I do not discuss theological-exegetical matters as I find myself in rather shallow waters when I try to do that without a working knowledge of Hebrew or Greek. I wrote more about my observations, experiences, opinions and keep my posts short and deliberately incomplete or open-ended so that readers can make their comments and a healthy conversation may ensue. Things have changed though, and people rarely comment nowadays, no matter what I do. They do not want a discussion, they want to be entertained, and their attention span has shortened to Tik Tok limits.
Anyway, I still feel a compulsion to write, in obedience to the Lord. I have books in mind but they are sort of deposited here in this blog in tiny instalments which I hope one day to stitch together and edit into ebooks. Please pray for me to do this well and in good time.
My staying away from church was meant to be time away from the church so that the new pastor of the English congregation could establish his leadership and bond with the people in peace. For me this has become a blessing partly because this separation was not painful or stressful. Not painful because I was unseen in church but present in spirit through the online services. I also did not have to plan in which church to hide myself. It has become a sabbatical of sorts for me. I could not travel out of the country. I stayed home most of the time, which suited me fine, as I am a homebody. Interestingly, while the ground was “fallow” during the past year, something was stirring deep within my soul – at least three stirrings I can discern thus far.
One was the stirring to write. Straight after my official retirement, it was prophesied over me that I should write. God has given me the enablement, inspiration and desire to write. I have organized ideas for two booklets, and I have more or less collated material for one and now have to learn how convert my material into an e-book. I have begun work on my second book idea but I can see it will take some time as I am working at a leisurely pace without any deadline pressures. Pray for me please.
Another stirring has to do with an amazing shift in interest and desire from teaching God’s Word to preaching/proclaiming the Good News. During forty years of pastoral ministry my main focus was explaining and teaching scriptures to God’s people, making truths understood in clear, simple words and without jargon. I always shunned from evangelistic preaching. It was not my gift. Or so I thought. Now I found myself preaching with an evangelistic zeal and intention I never had before. Even though I knew that I was preaching to the saved and converted, I would include evangelistic content and appeals. God is stirring my heart to pray for an anointing for preaching the Gospel and for the salvation of souls. I saw this develop in my past few sermons. They all had an evangelistic thrust and passion. I believe God is up to something exciting because that is how I feel about this shift. I feel motivated to retool myself and I am praying for an anointing to do this work. Pray for me.
The third stirring is a desire to be formed and trained for spiritual direction. Since it was in silent retreats and through the ministry of spiritual direction that I was saved after experiencing two burnouts, I feel indebted and enthusiastic about making this ministry available to more people. I have tried on two occasions to attend such formation courses but both timings were not right. Then during the recent months an opportunity arose with an ecumenical group of experienced spiritual directors feeling led of the Lord to run a course in Singapore. I nearly did not sign up, but for an anonymous donor who generously offered to pay for half of the fees of the course. I saw this as the Lord’s intervention and invitation to me. Starting in the new year, I begin my twenty one months formation course in spiritual direction. Pray for me please.
Equipping the saints is not a cliché for me but a major reference point for pastoral ministry. It is therefore not surprising that teaching God’s Word through sermons and Christian education courses was something I found great joy in. I loved teaching the Bible and every year I devoured books on preaching, and experimented and incorporated new homiletical insights, ideas and styles into my preparation and delivery. I found satisfaction when I received feedback that the adaptations were effective, and concerned when they fell flat. I also enjoyed the development and execution of Christian education curriculum. I enjoyed running Life in the Spirit seminars to help members receive the baptism of the Spirit, and conducting membership and foundational courses for new believers.
Pastoral Care and Mentoring
Another facet of ministry that I enjoyed was meeting with leaders and members individually and giving them pastoral care, personal counsel or coaching. Patient listening to members’ concerns and struggles is a powerful way of equipping and helping them move towards wholeness. When I first began pastoral ministry in the 1980s, visiting families in their homes was the norm, but gradually I noticed that with the formation of home cell groups, the pastoral care that came through cell groups lessened the need for pastoral home visits unless there were special needs or circumstances involved. Still, it was the one on one sharing and sharpening of life that I found fulfilling.
Blogging as Ministry
Halfway in my forty years of pastoral ministry, I stumbled into blogging through my son Joshua’s suggestion. At that time around AD 2000 I began blogging on Xanga to reach out to the youth in church, and later moved my blog to my own website. Somehow this blogpastor.net website was blessed by the Lord to influence its readers. Readers from around the world read the blog. The blog was cited in the Asia Wall Street Journal, the Straits Times, and in books and articles. The discussion was very active and beyond my ability to monitor and I saw that blogging allowed for conversation/discussion and thus was a good platform for teaching and influencing thought and attitudes. I enjoyed this thoroughly as it also led me to see my writing as an extension of my teaching and pastoral ministry.
Later in the last decade of my pastoral ministry, I was more interested in spiritual formation and spiritual direction. I saw how waiting on God in silence in a retreat setting with a spiritual director to guide helped me recover from a burnout, and I became convinced this kind of ministry to be vital for the spiritual health and vitality of pastors, church leaders and members. I completed a Master’s program on Christian Education and Spiritual Formation with AGST Alliance, went for annual silent retreats, and searched for spiritual director formation training. The whole area of spiritual formation of the soul became a focus for me.
During the last five years of my role as senior pastor, I also became more engaged with issues of pastoral succession and sought to equip a team of new ministry staff so that when I retired, the church would have a leadership team able to feed, care for and lead the church. My main concern was to equip them to do what would be a major means of equipping the saints – the Sunday sermon. As this was my main strength, I designed a simple program to give them opportunities to develop their preaching ministry. They have all been trained in Bible Schools but I wanted them to apply what they have learned in a systematic way and with peer group supervision and encouragement. I enjoyed this coaching role in the last five years of pastoral work.
If leading, feeding and caring are the main roles of a pastor, then I would rank the roles in order of personal fulfilment this way: 1) feeding, 2) caring and lastly 3) leading.