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yet another centenary to celebrate.

Last week, this blog crossed its 20,000th readership mark – an achievement I am honestly thankful for because it gives me acknowledgement and affirmation as a aspiring author-to-be.

It’s been a wonderful journey for me as a writer. Amongst the many benefits I’ve experienced, I am thankful for how I’ve gained access into people’s lives and how God has used me to minister to strangers and acquaintances alike. But above all, I’ve enjoyed writing in and of itself (just as I trust that you have enjoyed reading what I have written); to be able to put into words the things in my head and heart – I see that as God’s free gift to me (1 Corinthians 4:7), and even the enjoyment of this gift is a gift in itself (1 Peter 4:11)! Writing truly disciplines my mind and forces it to frame thoughts into understandable words in a systematic and concise manner that all can relate to and with.

The last few entries have been heavy stuff – both in length and content. So for this 201st entry, I shall attempt to keep it light.

One of the many things I find useful about WordPress is its “Blog Stats”; It gives me a quick and (if I want a) detailed overview of how people navigate into, within and out of my blog. I thought it’d be interesting to share that piece of trivia, now that I’ve generated a considerable amount of original content on what started out to just be an open journal where I store my thoughts and share my testimony; I praise God for this for He has certainly multiplied my three loaves and one fish beyond my imagination.

Hence, 2,400 tags later, kindly allow me to present the all-time top five in four different categories:

Referrers | Views – This is how the traffic rolls in.

  1. facebook.com | 418
  2. sweetestgoodbyeee.wordpress.com | 118
  3. thefuneralmasqueradeforlove.blogspot.com | 113
  4. theupperroomdiaries.wordpress.com | 105
  5. morethanwordscansay.wordpress.com | 84

Search Terms | Views – This is what people google to get here.

  1. joey asher tan | 138
  2. joey asher | 55
  3. signs of insecurity | 40
  4. is it possible to dream within a dream | 35
  5. misunderstoodsunshinekid | 25

Clicks | Views – This is what people click on when they’re here.

  1. krystalite.wordpress.com | 758
  2. fortunecookieman.blogspot.com | 359
  3. theupperroomdiaries.wordpress.com | 354
  4. onthemark2046.blogspot.com | 347
  5. rachaeljewel.wordpress.com | 334

Top Posts | Views – These are the entries with the most views.

  1. is heavy metal music really satanic? | 223
  2. understanding your personality temperament. | 201
  3. a dream within a dream – is that possible? | 192
  4. announcement! change of address in 2016! | 184
  5. full-time calling. | 171

It is my desire that my humble little space on the world wide web fulfills what Paul attempted to accomplish in 1 Corinthians 10:33; I want to play my role in the theatre of redemption so may the next 100 entries and beyond be written with the intention and hope that one day it will benefit many more so that they may see Jesus and be saved!

“… just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

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the fire on the altar kept burning.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it. The priest is to put on his linen robe, and he shall put on undergarments next to his flesh; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire reduces the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not go out, but the priest shall burn wood on it every morning; and he shall lay out the burnt offering on it, and offer up in smoke the fat portions of the peace offerings on it. Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out.

– Leviticus 6:8-13 (NASB, emphasis mine)

It doesn’t take a genius to realise the key message that Moses communicated to the Levites; this was a part of their daily duties – to keep the fire on the altar burning through the day and night. It sounds simple but I reckon that it actually takes a great amount of diligence to execute this task. Think about it as you re-read it; they had to don different sets of attire for burning the offering and clearing the ash. It was probably cumbersome to follow through the detailed instructions.

The fire.

Firstly, it’s important to note that this fire first fell from heaven (Leviticus 9:24); God put the fire there Himself. This I think, represents a fire of devotion, a symbol of uninterrupted worship and an undying presence of Christ in our lives. Hence, it has to burn with heavenly fire (since it was of a heavenly source). Let’s recognise that this fire cannot be fueled by earthly means – the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. For the fire to keep burning, the priests had to keep refueling it. Again, this was a cumbersome task and I think it represents our constant need for atonement; as believers, we have to fervently persevere in offering ourselves to God as this is a perpetual fire, not a temporal one. This fire must keep going until we meet Christ.

As with any fire, I think that the priests faced three main dangers in their mission to keep the fire burning on the altar:

  1. Ashes – that’s why they had to keep clearing it… We have to keep clearing the junk out of our lives!
  2. Negligence – when they fail or forget to fuel the fire… We have to be alert when we pursue God!
  3. Apathy – when they can’t even be bothered anymore… We have to be aware of the dangers of luke-warmth!

Are you able to identify with any of the above-mentioned as you fan your own flame? For the priests, the presence of these elements would inevitably dim the fire and cause an immediate reduction of the fire’s supposed influence, intensity and interest (or relevance). Let’s avoid these pitfalls.

On the altar.

If there was a holy of holies in our physical bodies, I reckon it to be our hearts. God looks at our hearts indeed and we must remember that it burns only by God’s grace and supplication, which we should ask boldly for so that God will get all the glory. I think our hearts should be fueled by two things – scripture and time with God. I propose three necessary elements for our altar of private prayer:

  1. Regular – set it at the same time so you develop a habit of prayer.
  2. Frequent – seriously, how effective can praying annually or quarterly be?
  3. Undisturbed – get away from all distractions that compete for your attention.

We must remember that all fires are borrowed from the fire of private prayer. Again, I’ll say it – the revival of a ministry comes by the prayer of its people and not by the pursuit of its programme(s).

Kept burning.

It must have been a “holy barbecue” for the priests on duty. I can imagine them, at the commencement of their duties, being given the offering (lamb, fats, meat etc.) to be burnt.  For sure they couldn’t burn it all at one go as if they were at a Korean grill! I’m certain they had to burn it like they were preparing Chinese double-boiled soup. They had to measure the quantity of the portions, observe how it burnt and calculate the burning time; they took turns to be on “guard duty” to tend to the fire, to ensure that it kept burning the entire night and that the offering set apart for that night would last until the morning. Don’t you think that it’s actually similar to guard duty in the army? There’s no need to do guard duty in the daytime because everyone’s at work and on guard; it’s always at night that we let our guards down. Likewise, it’s easier to keep the fire going in the daytime when everyone can see, but it’s indefinitely harder to keep the flame from being extinguished at night as we’re on our own.

I find this analogy especially relevant to ministry leaders. Question is, what exactly are we burning? I think that there are three things which we normally burn:

  1. People – without people, ministry won’t exist or make sense.
  2. Ideas – without ideas, people’s effort would be wasted and misdirected.
  3. Events – without events, there’ll be no platform to execute ideas.

We must realise that we cannot burn everything at once otherwise we’d suffer a quick burn-out! The solution here is to offer a continuous offering with a spread-out intensity instead of an initial offering that overwhelms everyone – that’s our responsibility as leaders in the ministry. To be consecrated, we must establish a “slow burn” that takes place over a long time that has to be attended by leaders and pastors (priests). It’s crucial then, that ministers of Christ have the fire of their zeal constantly burning. We must remember that giving ourselves completely to God is not a “quick work” but a “slow burn”. But be careful, for sometimes we’re on the fire for too long we don’t realise we’re actually the ones burning!

It is with this passage of scripture that I felt led to start a couple of prayer initiatives because we’re simply not praying enough. Did you really think that 30 minutes of PUSH, five minutes of pre-service prayer and two hours of P&P would do the trick of ushering in revival? Far from it! From now until the end of 2011, with the right resources and people in place, I’d like to prayerfully initiate at least a quarterly 12-hour overnight prayer session, add in an annual 24-hour “Pray like Mad” prayer concert (inspired by an event of the same namesake I attended a decade ago) and invite parents to pray with youths.

Leaders – feel my heartbeat. I want to encourage you to mimic the priests. If you observe the way they lead their people spiritually, you’ll realise that there was really nothing beneath them to do; that’s right, they served their sheep with a no-matter-what and a whatever-it-takes attitude! That was their house-keeping responsibility – to ensure that their fire (and their sheep’s fire!) never burns out, but is kept burning continuously! Leaders, that is your mandate – to keep the fire of your youths continuously burning for God. Ask God to show you how!

You know, I’ve only had “Buddha Jumps Over The Wall” once in my lifetime and when I tasted it, I could almost taste the 48 hours of preparation, the expertly cut delicacies, and the freshest and most premium ingredients. It was one of my most memorable culinary experiences and I think that our prayer lives can be as gratifying and as tasty as that! Just remember to keep the fire on a “slow burn”!

a five-year prequel in-the-making.

I joined the intercessors at the weekly Prayer Room Ministry this evening and I was tremendously blessed by the brothers and sisters who were present. The pastoral staff are rostered to attend this time of prayer and it was my turn tonight – so I went there with a heart to minister to these intercessors. However, it was I who left the prayer room feeling absolutely ministered to. Anointing flowed freely through the powerful time of prayer and I take comfort knowing that Grace AG has a team of faithful intercessors. I thank God for them and I am inspired to lead our weekly PUSH to a whole ‘nother level.

At the end of the hour-long session, they prayed for me and a number of them released words of accuracy and prophecy into my life. For instance, I know God has called me into this season of youth ministry to lead, preach and mentor – And I kept hearing the intercessors, most of whom I did not know before tonight, pray these exact few words over me. It was like when these words were verbalised, it amplified in my head – so imagine the throbbing volume in my mind! I must say that it was an extremely faith-building session tonight to say the least; it was as if God was reassuring me of the specific things I needed to do during this time of service.

But the event that takes the cake – and the highlight of my evening – was when the chief intercessor closed in prayer. As she closed, she released scripture to me, which practically got me grinning from ear to ear. I couldn’t recall which version she used, so I’ll just show four different versions of Deuteronomy 33:24-25.

New International Version – About Asher he said: “Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.”

New Living Translation – Moses said this about the tribe of Asher: “May Asher be blessed above other sons; may he be esteemed by his brothers; may he bathe his feet in olive oil. May the bolts of your gates be of iron and bronze; may you be secure all your days.”

English Standard Version – And of Asher he said, “Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be.”

New American Standard Bible – Of Asher he said, “More blessed than sons is Asher; May he be favored by his brothers, And may he dip his foot in oil. Your locks will be iron and bronze, And according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.”

Now, get this – I checked with her if she knew my baptism name. She said she only knew that I was “Joey A. Tan” – according to the name on the roster given to her. She thought it was a “happening” thing to do to have that “A.” in my name. I told her that I chose to be baptised as “Asher” in 2005 because of its befitting meaning – blessed, joyful and happy – I felt these adjectives truly represented my personality, especially “joyful and happy”.

The funny thing is, I’ve always skimmed through the word “blessed” and gave its significance little thought; maybe it was because it was such a common word. But tonight, I found new insights into my baptism name from a passage of scripture that I’ve never read before – even through my meticulous decision-making process of selecting a baptism name!

She was stunned and awed by the “coincidence”. I mean, of all names – there were 12 tribes of Israel! – she chose Asher! And from an obscure book like Deuteronomy – how often do you get people referring to Deuteronomy!? And she didn’t know me or my baptism name previously! Seriously, WHAT WERE THE CHANCES of that happening!?

I was extremely humbled by what the Holy Spirit was doing in my life tonight. So there I was, with my eyes shut, head bowed, sporting an ear-to-ear grin and whispering, “I love You, Lord” (almost instinctively and uncontrollably) again and again until she said finally said, “Amen”. Excuse me everybody, but WOW! – tonight was truly an extremely special and anointed experience which I will remember for the rest of my life each time I see my baptism name.

Tonight’s “coincidence” was five years in-the-making; I don’t know if you get this or if it even makes any sense at all, but it’s like the Lord omnipresently KNEW in 2010, that I would select “Asher” for myself way back in 2005. A jaw-dropping episode indeed – I’m stunned, baffled, astonished, amazed and absolutely dumbfounded. Thank You, dear Lord – Your grace is enough for me!

For now, I will be meditating upon those two seemingly obscure verses. I’m buzzing with anointed excitement.

the link between ministry and (in)security.

When you are secure in yourself, and more importantly when you are secure in God, you’d realise that there’s no real need to prove anything to anyone at any point in time; I’d like to imagine that if you are a really secure person, you’d be a carefree and relaxed individual, and you won’t feel the need to explain your actions or decisions at all.

There’ll be no need to tell others how good you are, how well you’ve done your job, how much better you could have done, how unfair the situation is, how unhappy you are, or simply how and what you think or feel. There’s no real need, for what (good) does it do for you anyway? It hardly changes your situation or outcome and barely alters the condition of your heart. Find your security in God alone and not in what you do, for what you do, you do for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23). So why bother about what others think about you? You need not prove anything to them anyway (and neither them to you). No one owes you an explanation; in fact, no one owes you anything.

So the next time you find yourself complaining about the situation, or gossiping about other people, or justifying yourself and your thoughts, speech and behaviour – think again – for that could well be a warning sign for you to dialogue with God about who you really are, need to be and ought to do. Please, for your own sake, do not get entangled in the mire of insecurity and get caught in an endless cycle of wanting to prove yourself! Whatever for!? You eventually get nowhere.

Junior leaders, please liberate yourself from your work and ask God for a revelation of your necessary roles in ministry. Senior leaders, don’t get frustrated with your fellow workers; if they are already giving their best, what more can you ask for? And if they are not, what can you do about it, seriously? Let us always remember that we are all first ministers, not just workers, so let’s think about how we can minister to others in our work and not how to work others in our ministry!

the best way to write song lyrics.

My first-ever self-composed song is called “Neighbour” and I wrote it when I was 18, when I barely knew how to play the guitar and with the only four chords that my fingers could press – G, C, D, Em. This simple song was about the Good Samaritan. A couple of years later, I formed a band with present it to my band, and performed it soon after.

I’m not a prolific or an accomplished song writer like DH or SL but I’ve written a number of songs along the way. I’m a lot better with writing words than music and so I always pay greater attention to the lyrics than the melody. In my journey as composer, I’ve written songs themed on falling in and out of love, worship, about my history, current affairs, popular topics and of course, those inspired by scriptures. Over a decade, I realised that songs based on scripture always stand the test of time; these songs are timeless because they’re based on the everlasting Word of God! Hence, I’m inclined to write more spiritual and scriptural songs these days simply because I want my songs to last.

One of my personal favourite scriptural song is “Tears in a Bottle”, which is inspired by Psalm 56. I remember writing it at my place together with RL and we completed it in about an hour. Upon finalisation, we just knew this would be a good song. He was confident of the melody and I, of the lyrics; I had a listen to one of our live recordings recently and it’s strange to say this, but my own song inspired me to draw closer to God! I’d like to attribute it to the combination of these two components – its lyrics speak to your spirit and its melody speaks to your soul. Simply put, it’s a song that ministers!

There are many ways to write a song but in my humble opinion, there’s nothing better than to write a song based on scripture. If the Word of God has lasted all the ages and still continues to speak to people, then I’m confident that a song based on the Word will last for a long time and continue to speak to people after a long time!

TEARS IN A BOTTLE
Psalm 56

V1: Your love is a shelter over my head / In times of fear / The world can destroy my faith today / But I’m not afraid / Many tear me down to see me hurt / They stab me from the back / The ones who wage war against my soul / Oh Lord, please take them away from me

PC1: In Your love, a voice sheds light on me / In Your hope, I hang my portraits of faith on the walls of / My shattered hopes and broken dreams

C: I look at the stars, I gaze at the moon / And marvel at the wonderful You / When I am afraid, I won’t hide my head / I know it’s because You’ve carried me through / Sometimes I’m attacked, sometimes I get scared / But what can mere men do to me? / You watch my footsteps, You carve me a way / Tears in a bottle, You’ll save it for me

V2: My Lord has rescued me from death / When He died on that cross / My shame He bore so willingly / And now I am cured / Countless things I’ve done, I’ve hurt the One / Who sacrificed His Son / And now I realise, I recognise / What a true Friend He really is

PC2: In His love, I’m washed as white as snow / In His hope, I fight the fear of the endless battles / That fiercely rage within my soul

Guitar Solo / Repeat Chorus / Fin.

Words: Joey / Music: Ricky & Joey / 1st Feb 02 / © 2002 FhLY

P/S – I’m silently hoping that this song would make its debut in R-AGE sometime this year and also be featured in the next No One Else album, if we’re gonna produce another.
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