Where Are You? Gen 3:9

Well, Lord, I was on the mountaintop enjoying the fresh air and views with You. Freed from pastoral work in church, and able to do only what I love and want to do, I felt a new lease of life and vision. My physical health improved and the doctor took me off blood pressure pills. I enjoyed the slower pace of life, the simple joys of home-bound living during the two years of the covid pandemic, and enjoyed preaching in my home church and in other churches as well as in teaching missions. I received formation as a spiritual director with a wonderful community of brothers and sisters, many of whom became friends and fellow ministers. I was blessed by an ecumenical community of spiritual directors and religious who taught, formed and loved us. I tasted the privilege and joy of accompanying others in their journey of growth. Thank You, Lord, for a sweet retirement and transition in new avenues of ministry.

Lord, this year I found myself in the valley of distress and uncertainty when my wife was attacked by bacteria on her spine which caused unbearable pain for her, and anguish for me as I felt powerless to relieve that pain. Thankfully, even in the valleys of life, You are actively present. You gave me this verse in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” You spoke and I was strengthened (Daniel 10:19).

My wife was in the ward and the community hospital for a total of 51 days. You were with her in her pain and her deliverance from it. She went through the spinal operation You granted us a godly surgeon, Dr Reuben Soh, and his skillful hands stabilized her spine and removed the cause of her pain. She had antibiotics infusion for weeks on end. You gave the infection specialist Dr Jean Sim the wisdom to treat my wife. It was a medical emergency and she was in grave danger, but You, O Lord, was with her, and today she is recovering well.  You moved many pastors, friends and my church family to pray and You heard and answered them: today she is well and no longer in pain. Lord, You are so good.

Lord, I thank you that now I am out of the valley and in the plains. My wife Jenny is at home getting stronger with her twice-a-week physiotherapy sessions at St Luke’s Hospital and she continues with an oral antibiotics course. I am less tired and at peace. I am also beginning to return to the routines and joys that were a part of my usual schedule.  I continue to preach and teach and this gives me joy. I continue to give spiritual direction to a few persons who want You to direct their lives. I have begun to edit and refine the first draft of an e-book that I have written. I was able to continue playing pickleball twice a week whenever possible. Beginning in May, I will be putting on my backpack and hiking shoes and preparing pilgrims for their camino in October 2024. Lord, You also answered one of my longstanding prayers as I did not know what course to use my Skills Future Credit on. Soon I will attend a course on Artificial Intelligence, and it will be conducted near my home too. Thank you for sending Susan who talked about and recommended the course and helped me to sign up.

Lord, I know there are some limits to ministry and meetings when they conflict with physiotherapy and medical appointments. These limits, I believe, are necessary and will only be temporary.  I believe Isaiah 43:2 and You will strengthen my wife and make her as active and healthy as before.

Lord, does this answer Your question?

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Only Asian in Top Pastors Blog Lists

I was pleasantly surprised to see my blog appear in two lists of Pastor Blogs. One is the “80 Best Pastor Blogs and Websites” (Feedspot). It is listed at number 27 but not according to any rank.  The other appears at number 12 in the “53 Top Pastor Blog to Follow in 2021” (eztoolset.com). In both lists I am the only Asian blogger.

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.

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Prayer Overcomes Procrastination

One of the tasks that I have procrastinated is painting all the ceilings and rooms in my home. It has been nine months since I retired, and I am only halfway done. What do I do with procrastination? I bring it to God in prayer. This task goes on my prayer list and I let God know I have a problem and ask for power to overcome the inertia. I was reluctant to pay people to do it. I am virtually a one man show, and an old man show at that. Thank God my wife helps out to move furniture and clean up. Still I needed divine help most.

One morning I woke up and the idea of paint, paint, paint persisted until it overcame all excuses and resistance. It had to be an answer to prayer. I announced my sudden inspiration to my wife, who was leaving for her Friday ladies’ prayer meeting. I think she must have thought this idea would not take off and was probably surprised when I actually got it done.

I was amazed at the power to do. The Lord must have energised me to finish three quarters of the painting. I was so excited that the next two days, I completed the finishing touches, and moved in all the furniture to make ready my retreat room – the sacred space for me to withdraw, study, pray, idle, nap and write.

The momentum steamrolled its way into progress in other areas as well. What happened was that we had to reorganise a lot of old files and paper documents, books, clothes, bookshelf, storage boxes and a storage space. The result was stunning for us as we had lived with and accepted all this junk for so many years, and never had the motivation or strength of will to overcome the million excuses we came up with not to change things. Suddenly, like magic (and hard work) it was all done.

Looking at the results gave us great pleasure. For me it was a lesson in the power of prayer. Do as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did. “Son they have run out of wine.” Perhaps we should make of list of things to do, and that we tend to procrastinate, and simply bring it to God in prayer. Allow God to do something in the situation or in our life and co-operate with him. Let Him empower us even in the mundane problems of everyday living.

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Write what you see

The blank page is no longer a blank page for me. As I delight in the Lord, and observe the desires that the Spirit fans aflame in my heart, I get an idea of what the Lord wants of me in this new season. Writing is one of them. 

Therefore, I need to start writing in simple faith and obedience. What better way than to return to blogging. Even if the traffic and eyeballs may have gone to Facebook, Instagram and all kinds of other social media, blogging is a great way to build a rhythm and discipline of writing. It’s a way to get the ideas flowing, and I am trusting that the Lord would help me surface some themes and burdens that can be turned into an e-book.

Writing three paragraphs seems such a small first step, but I should not despise small beginnings. The more I faithfully obey the Lord, the more he will add on, and inspire and sharpen. As I have been reading the book of Revelation, one of the phrases that attracted my attention was: Write what you see. Its another prod to me to Write, write and keep writing. I am also reminded of prophecies from prophet Amos Jayarathnam, and others, exhorting me to Write. So write I must.

Lord thank you for stirring this desire to write. I will take steps of faith to do so – even if they are tiny steps. Let your anointing be present to make words flow from my fingertips and fly off into cyberspace and land on hearts that are open and hungry for you. May those words find root, resonance and stir holy desires for more of You. Amen.

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