Investing in a Friendship

We need to ask three crucial questions:

  • When do we get involved?
  • When do we quit?
  • When do we keep investing?

When do we get involved?

I think I answered that question in a previous blog, “Four factors in a friendship”. I listed Common Interests, Common Values, Chemistry and Trust.

When you have all four, the friendship sparkles, glows, energy is received and given back. When one is missing, the friendship is going to slide or perhaps take a back seat. When the crucial element of Trust is missing, the friendship is doomed.

When do we quit?

In that blog, the deal-breaker for me is when someone holds a grudge and refuses to mend broken bridges. The typical scenario is the person who just ghosts you. I know of longsuffering friends who will hang on and make excuses for bad behavior. I have observed that denial doesn’t really solve the problem; rather, it prolongs it. Those friendships end despite their efforts.

Will I keep investing in a friendship that has negative returns? Probably not.

When do we keep investing?

What are the returns that we may look for in a friendship? For me, it is the freedom of being understood; that the other party isn’t going to second-guess everything I say; that if she doesn’t understand or has a negative perception of what I say or do, she won’t take the role of judge, jury and executioner.

She will ask and listen for my perspective. She doesn’t allow the prejudices of third parties to sway her thinking — she will observe for herself. She will allow time to show her the truth. She will also allow for the possibility that some of her negative reactions could be the result of her projecting her inner hurts at me.

When I was working full-time in church and in charge of many of the younger generation, I found that some of them had mother issues. Not all, fortunately. But my ears always perk up when they say, “You’re just like my mother!” Actually, time will tell that I’m not like their mum, not at all!

Are all the disappointments in friendships worth the risk? Yes, yes and yes.

The benefits of having good friends by my side, tried and tested through time, outweigh all the disappointments of having friends who were less than what I had expected. The rewards outweigh the losses. So, I will continue risking.

After all, I am an investor.

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

Steps to Keeping Your Healing

Start with a clear idea of what the issue is that you received ministry for.

An example is a strained relationship; every time you think of the person, you think of all the things that you could have, should have, done but didn’t. There’s pain, there’s regret, there are inner vows to never ever… (fill in the blanks). As the emotional pain keeps nagging away and doesn’t leave, you decide to contact your counsellor and arrange a time, praying for God to work during the session.

Then, you receive the ministry. What I have noticed is that after the ministry, some people forget what happened. Things may have changed for the better, but they attribute it to circumstance or their own personal resolve. As far as they are concerned, the ministry was a non-event, it was their own doing that caused the change. So there’s no praise, no thanksgiving to the Lord, no testimony to share.

In the Old Testament, a public offering of thanks is customary. It is a declaration to all that God is intensely interested in our lives and builds faith in others. When we testify, we add to our storehouse of memories of God’s faithfulness that becomes a bulwark of strength in times of adversity that are sure to come.

So it’s important to do something to remember the event. Keeping a diary is an effective way. Remember to note the following:

  1. What happened?
  2. What did God say or do in the session that impacted you? I had a client whom the Lord ministered to in such a deep place that she said, “Stop, stop. I must write it down and have it on my Screensaver!”
    1. Time and again, recall that wonderful moment; drink deeply from it as you relive it in your mind and heart. Give thanks to the Lord your healer.
  3. Next, note changes in your behavior in real life. For instance, your enemy’s speech or behavior doesn’t hurt you anymore. Celebrate that.
    1. Let your ministry giver know about the change. Have her celebrate with you too!
  4. Continue to read and pray Scriptures in your quiet time. This is most important. It’s your daily connection with the Lord that helps keep you whole. Note any fears, worries and other negative feelings that bubble up; talk these over with the Lord until you have a sense of peace. If you don’t have a sense of peace after trying to deal with issues on your own or with a friend, it’s time to contact your trusted counsellor again.
  5. The reality is that healing is an ongoing journey, even for the most experienced prayer ministers. We are all going through a sanctification process and time and again, we need help from one another.
  6. There will be seasons when you’ll be very active in pursuing your healing, and seasons when you will be resting in what you have gained.

When I compare myself now with how I was when I first met the Lord, the difference is immense and I’m grateful.

The abundant life that Jesus mentioned is real, but it’s not handed to us on a platter. We have to work for it.

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

The Perfect Word of God

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,[c]
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
(Psalm 19, NIV)

“Reviving the soul” — I recall how the Gospel of Matthew drew me in when I chanced upon it as a child; there was peace, stillness, calmness when I read it — something that was a rarity in a tumultuous household. Indeed, my soul revived under the influence of His Word.

“Making wise the simple” — the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realise that though the Gospel is simple in its basic message, it isn’t simplistic. While in theological college we were admonished to read the newspaper with one hand and the bible in the other, I have been occasionally challenged by surprising spiritual experiences to read the Word from a new perspective.

Jesus Himself challenged the Scribes and Pharisees to read the Word in a different way when He said the Sabbath was for man, not man for the Sabbath. What a fresh and freeing perspective — and from the Lord Himself!

“Rejoicing the heart” — I was 31 when I first read the Gospels in its entirety. It struck me how welcoming Jesus was of women. Raised in an environment where the males, regardless of character or aptitude are frequently preferred over the females, I had expected Jesus after his resurrection to appear to one of his male disciples. That was the conclusion I anticipated.

I was astounded when He appeared to Mary. For a whole day, or more, I couldn’t get over it.

“Jesus — You love Mary. Jesus — You love women. Jesus — You love me.”

I still am astounded.

“Enlightening the eyes” — after reading the bible in its entirety, I found myself able to think better, faster, and with greater clarity. Much of the confusion that had plagued my earlier thinking disappeared as the Word gave me the grid through which to evaluate life and come to better conclusions. I think it’s no coincidence that some of the greatest universities in the world were founded by Christians.

“The fear of the Lord is clean” — I would juxtapose that with Jesus saying to His disciples that He had cleansed them with the Word (John 15:3). Somehow, coming to the Lord with reverence for His Word and reading it as a journey of spiritual discovery has had a cleansing, calming effect on spirit and soul.

The Lord is in charge. Be at peace.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A Time of Convergence

Growing older is a good thing; or, to be more precise, growing older with a healing community is a very good thing. To journey with a band of people who share similar values and goals, who are open about the brokenness in their own lives, and whom God uses to heal one another, is very precious. And to journey with those who have had more experience than you in your calling, and are willing to share with you their expertise, is invaluable.

In the past 24 hours I have been very aware of convergence. The past events in my life, the ups and downs, the times of togetherness and the times of separation are starting to make sense. It seems like everything is converging as He leads me on to a fresh path. I am embarking on a time of spiritual cleansing and renewal even as I join my newly-formed band of sisters and brothers for the next step in my journey.

Together with the psalmist, I concur:

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

You make known to me the path of life; (Psalm 16:6,11, ESV)

If I had a choice, I don’t know if I would still have chosen my life with all its really bad bits. But it has been invaluable in finding God, and in stumbling on those who are truly after God’s heart.

Leaving a Legacy Behind

“There’s no such thing as aging gracefully. We age in fits and starts,” my older sister declared.

As the youngest of five siblings, I am now watching the older ones age first. I have watched as the once strong and loud ones diminish over time as bodies start giving way, disease start creeping in. Once so sure of themselves, always walking ahead of me, I now have had to slow down so that we can walk in step.

I have seen others go through the ravages of divorce and abusive marriages and now, in their 70s and 80s, have found solace in gardening, switching to vegetarianism, making soothing drinks from plants that were common a few generations ago and spontaneously bursting into childhood songs, holding hands as they sang. I could be wrong, but I wonder if that was the way they coped with pain — by keeping busy and escaping into the past.

Then I look at how I have coped. I had decided early on to look squarely at the past, to see where I have undergone Type A and Type B trauma and to seek ministry for these once I knew where to go.

And even as I have been healed, I ministered healing to others and found satisfaction in watching them grow into warmer, healthier, more loving and more successful human beings as the fears and wounds that stunted their personal growth were dealt with, one at a time.

So, what is my legacy I hope to leave behind, even as I am now entering the winter season of life?

When I leave planet Earth, I hope to leave behind a group of people who have had their souls and spirits healed to such an extent that they become a force for good to those whom God will send into their path.

Finding Keys to Freedom

Some dreams are prophetic.

In the late 90s when I started work in church, I dreamed I was on a path which was intersected by a flowing stream. Across the stream, an angel slept under a tree. When he sensed my presence, he jumped up and handed me a bunch of keys saying, “These are yours. Use them.” I woke, wondering what it meant.

Then, I was in charge of the newly-formed prayer ministry and by default, anything involving healing or deliverance would be referred to me. I was a newbie, and I knew I had to search for keys to freedom. I learned from Ellel Ministries, then Trinity Christian Centre, and then Restoring the Foundations. Each had its strengths and weaknesses. Each was helpful to set myself and others free, but each had limitations. We soon hit a ceiling as to how much freedom we received.

Then through a series of divine coincidences, I came across Sapphire Leadership Group, helmed by Arthur Burk. Through his teachings, I became aware of generational curses and blessings, and how seemingly “harmless” lifestyle choices can result in pretty dire consequences. I also learned how unholy spirits can have strongholds, not only in people, but also on land and property. I drank from his stream, and for many years was helped, and also helped others get free — but I hit a ceiling again.

A year passed, and then in April 2022, the Lord led me to HeartSync Ministries. That was revolutionary. I was set free from the abandonment issues that had plagued me since childhood — and in the process, I set others free as well.

I realized that the Lord had given me a bunch of keys in the spiritual realm, and a big part of my life consisted of finding and using them, one by one. When the key I had used to help others stopped working, I needed to wait until the Lord led me to the next key. And my friends who were patient and waited while I learned are reaping the results now.

You know who you are: Thank you for being patient and not giving up when the keys I had stopped working; thank you for having the faith to say Yes, when I said “I have a new key, would you like to try it?” Thank you for remaining a friend while I looked for the new key that would set you and I free. To each of my friends, I enjoy seeing you:

  • Reaping the rewards of inner satisfaction and material success in doing what God has created you to do
  • Immersing yourself in the abundant spiritual life which was hindered for so, so long
  • Overcoming the fear of death that you had sought ministry for over many years

And these are only a few testimonies that were shared with me.

It has been a long, eventful journey and I am sure more adventures, and more keys, await us. Thank you for being faithful friends. You know who you are.

Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

Can Church Handle a Revival?


After the Covid lockdown and with services resuming, some church congregations have shown signs of repentance and revival. Is this just a spark that will die down, or will it be fanned into flame?

Much of it depends on the leadership team. From my perspective, reflecting on a previous revival in the late 80s, most church leaders are unprepared to handle the manifestations, both human and demonic, that can occur during a move of the Spirit.

The main issue is lack of discernment and because of that, lack of confidence. Humans can act in a very out of the ordinary way when the Spirit is on them; sometimes, it’s an unholy spirit that’s on them and leaders struggling with both fear of “quenching the Spirit” and fear of man, fail to act and inadvertently cause the work of the Holy Spirit to be questioned; humans who have been struggling with low self-esteem can suddenly find a new sense of purpose when the Spirit comes upon them, and wielding their gifts as a way of achieving some recognition for themselves can overwhelm others not only with their gifts but also with their brazenness. So leaders are challenged.

Charismatic churches which have some kind of healing and deliverance ministry have a slight edge over traditional ones — I say “slight”, because too many of the healing and deliverance people I have met lack self-awareness. Most healing and deliverance ministries that have any calibre make it mandatory that all volunteers should go for their own healing once issues are surfaced. Sometimes, they can’t discern that there is an issue.

I recall a volunteer who would repeatedly go into bouts of near-hysterical weeping during team prayer– clearly it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, and that she was using the prayer time as an outlet for her own unresolved hurts. I spoke to her privately about getting some ministry for herself. She declared that she was being used by another deliverance ministry as an intercessor and offended, immediately resigned. All of us heaved a sigh of relief.

Most traditional churches sideline the prayer ministry; the “team” would consist of a handful of dedicated volunteers who are tolerated rather than welcomed. I was fortunate to have a Pastor-In-Charge who was spiritually aware enough to sense that oppression over the church increased exponentially without regular intercession, and backed me in my efforts to recruit volunteers.

All this is to say that without a team of spiritually mature leaders, those who not only know the Word but have experience working with the Spirit, a revival is very challenging to steward.

Photo by Bree Anne on Unsplash

A Lesson from my Pilates Journey

Four months after starting Pilates exercises, I have a pretty good idea of the range of instructors out there — some very technical-oriented, others very free-spirited and creative in their exercises.

I need both. I need the physiotherapy-trained instructor to carefully put me through my paces in structured, fairly predictable programs. Good, but a bit boring. So I balance that with the free-spirited one who challenges me with new exercises in each session and leaves me invigorated. And, there were others who were just “okay”.

Then I decided to look at their credentials. The technical ones cited their degrees or certificates from various bodies; the “okay” ones had sports backgrounds but no certification.

The free-spirited one didn’t bother to cite anything.

Obviously, she has had good technical training. Her demonstrations were clear and precise but more important, she was quick to spot and correct any misalignment, and to lower the difficulty level for beginners like me. I could feel her passion for the sport as she cheered us on. She has many loyal followers.

I enjoy her boldness in being herself in a very credentials-oriented society.

In contrast, years ago when I was a cub reporter in The Straits Times, the bosses in an experiment hired a new employee that had a PhD in something or other. Weeks passed, and she couldn’t produce. She was one lonely woman in the newsroom. The veterans, many who started their career when degrees weren’t required and climbed the ladder through sheer grit, scoffed: “Got PhD, but cannot write.” Three months later, she was quietly let go.

In my journey, I have met those who have some credentials but cannot perform and everyone can see it; I have met those with good credentials, perform very well, but have naysayers on the side; I have met those who don’t cite worldly credentials but their life-changing, pioneering ways have changed my life and the lives of others and who have had to constantly deal with persistent, toxic criticism of them. They are like someone all Christians are familiar with.

Photo by The Nix Company on Unsplash

The “Two or Three” Principle


Many Christians are aware of Matthew 18:18, where Jesus introduces the “two or three” principle, but may not be aware that the enemy also uses it.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The presupposition in this passage was that if believers would agree on something that would be in the will of God, that it would be done for them “on earth as it is in heaven.”

The enemy also uses this principle, but to do his will. How does he do it?

Usually, he preys on one person first — someone with bitterness in their lives — and gets the person offended. Then Sally, filled with anger and distrust, instead of gently approaching the offender with the aim of getting clarification, decides to unload on Amy. And Sally wants Amy to agree that Mary is this really bad person.

If Amy disagrees, then Mary remains free of oppression for a time; but bitter people are persistent. If Amy doesn’t cave in over time, she will find other people who would agree with her. With enough agreement, Mary finds herself oppressed and her ministry has difficulty moving forward. But if she knows in her heart that the ministry is God’s calling, not her doing, she will wait on the Lord for vindication.

Every person I know who has God’s call in their lives and are acting on it, have to face the opposition of bitter believers.

If only all believers can receive the abundance that Jesus has promised in His Word! And His Word is true. The abundance is there. I have received it, and I am continuing to receive it.

And people who are bitter resent those who are enjoying His abundance, not realizing it’s there within their grasp but — they need to change their mindset. And change is hard for many.

Once, someone came to me in a desperate state. I said, “Okay, I know you’ve gone through traditional healing and deliverance and it hasn’t worked. How about I do something different, and bless your spirit?” She couldn’t receive the blessing. So I went back to praying the more “traditional” spiritual warfare prayers and there was some release for her. But I knew she would have to work hard at rebuilding her spirit and soul, and it would take at least 1-2 years to see a breakthrough. I also knew she wanted a quick fix and wouldn’t be back.

So, the evil one plays on the immaturity and the ignorance of believers who insist that God must do a miracle now to restore their lives but forget that it was many years of the same habits that got them in this mess and it will take years to get them out. God says we need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” — the sanctification process is a lifetime commitment.

It needs a lifetime to grow up and wise up and it won’t be smooth sailing. In our search for a healing ministry, we can come across wounded healers who may help us, but also wound us; or we come across people who have skill but not enough knowledge at the time to deal with the particular issue you’re struggling with (all people called to the healing ministry will face something that they can’t tackle — it comes with the territory — and they need to further learn from others to upskill themselves. And if they can’t help you despite a number of tries, please don’t badmouth them. They didn’t hurt you in the process, so don’t hurt them. Don’t help the enemy in his lies and slander).

As the apostle Paul says, who faced much opposition from his own people (1 Corinthians 4):

judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

And as Psalm 27 says to those who are oppressed:

14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Image by Ria Kartika from Pixabay

The Power of Blessing


Living in community is difficult. In his day, Paul wrote of the Corinthian church: “I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (2 Cor 12:20). Two thousand years later, not much has changed.

Someone asked, “How do you reconcile the fact that this is church and these are Christians?”

I said I don’t bother to reconcile.

Paul has already said that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). And their favourite sport is to pit Christian against Christian, using another favourite weapon — lies and suspicions planted in their minds, manifesting in destructive words and actions aimed at their target.

But Jesus has already given us a counter strategy: “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). So we are to build up in prayer, those who desire to tear us down.

To be honest, it took time for me to get to that point. As a new Christian, I just gritted my teeth and decided to pray for the person because God said so. But that Christian discipline guarded my heart from stewing in anger and bitterness.

Later, I learned to get my hurt ministered to by the Lord and then pray from that healed place because anyone who would systematically tear down another is seriously wounded herself.

I also saw the fruit in the lives of those who would slander others: inner darkness and torment, disease, and even death. Once, I saw a heavy cloud hovering over them, oppressing them and reaching a dark tentacle out towards their listener. When I saw that in the spirit, I told the speaker and asked her to stop. She did so and the cloud disappeared.

The Word tells us to stop slandering others. The Spirit showed me in one brief instance what was happening in the invisible realm.

Another story:

Years ago, I met someone who was so offended with another that she went to each church friend to rant against her target. I was rather taken aback by her abrupt approach and couldn’t make head or tail of her story and honestly, didn’t care to. I already knew the problem was her. Her target stayed silent and as far as I know, said nothing against her.

(One thing I have observed throughout the years is that people who are walking in the Spirit can discern the truth. So, if you’re the victim of a smear campaign, take heart. The people who matter are for you.)

One day, she suddenly fainted and her lips and nails started turning blue — a precursor of death; fortunately, she was with other Christians who interceded fervently for her life and rebuked the spirit of death. She revived; a subsequent medical checkup showed nothing wrong. After that incident, she stopped her activities.

God does judge; He also shows mercy.

And so, I learned to let offences go and be at peace.

You can’t change people’s minds about you. Much of it is projection because your looks, mannerisms and attitudes — innocuous to others, but triggering to them — remind them of someone, usually in childhood, who hurt them seriously.

You can only pray for them and then, move on.

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash