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Alex Tang



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Come Rest in Me

Educators' Retreat 2016

3-5 June 2016

Jointly organised by the Institute for Christian Ministry (ICM), Methodist TRAC and Christian Teacher Fellowship (TCF)




Retreat Notes


This is a Guided Retreat. Certain portion of the retreat will require you to be ‘silent’. What this means is that you do not talk to your friends (including spouses) during this period (colored blue in your retreat schedule) especially during meals time. You are in solitude and bring your solitude along with you wherever you go. Do not worry. You will be allowed time to talk. Please restrict your reading to the Bible and this retreat note.


What to bring

·        No expectations

Come with no expectations. Do not expect God to speak to you. No expectation of spectacular divine revelations, projects to complete, KPI to be achieved, or great stories to tell. Just come open and free to the Spirit.

·        No intention to fast from food

Unless you really want to fast, I usually discourage fasting in such a short retreat. The reason is that you will be distracted by your hunger pangs from what is happening during the retreat.

·        Intention to fast from connectivity

It will be good to ‘fast’ from your handphone and Internet connectivity. Do plan not to be contactable during the time of the retreat especially during the ‘silent’ part. If you are worried about emergencies during the time your phone is off, you can arrange for a member of the group to be contactable for emergencies only while the rest of you can keep your phone switched off.

·        Yourself

Bring yourself and other comfort items you deem essential to your well-being. This is a retreat, not a monastery.



Retreat Director: Dr Alex Tang







Friday, 03 June 2016

Saturday, 04 June 2016

Sunday, 05 June 2016

Quiet Time


Reflect on Numbers 13:1-33

Reflect on Joshua 15:13-19

8 am





Reflection #2

Rest in Seeing


meditate and pray on reflection #2*



read, meditate and pray Numbers 13:1-33



Sunday Worship

& Reflection #5

Rest in Me (John 15:5-8)





Reflection, Sharing and Review







Check in

Reflection #3

Rest in Waiting


meditate and pray

Joshua 14:1-15








Reflection #1

Invitation to Rest


Reflection #4

Rest in Giving






                      Indicate ‘silent part’ of retreat


meditate and pray*




a word about retreats…

A military retreat is often considered as losing ground as the soldiers are involved in moving back or withdrawal. However, not everyone sees it as that. General Oliver Prince Smith during the Korean War declared, "Retreat, hell! We're not retreating, we're just advancing in a different direction”! A spiritual retreat is not losing ground. It is taking a step sideways to reflect upon and to consolidate the advances of our spiritual life.

Our lives are very busy. We are swept away by its non-stop demands. The insistent attention-grabbing noise of the mobile phones, television and social media drowns out the voice of God. Our bodies are stressed resulting in hypertension, heart attacks and strokes. Our souls are fragmented and disjointed. Our lives feel disconnected and surreal. We feel as if we are drowning in a strong flowing river, being swept away with no control over our lives. All we can do is to try to keep our heads above the water. And when we do have a moment to take stock, we wonder where the months and years have gone.

It is essential for those who are serious about their spiritual life to take time out for retreats. As mentioned, retreats are when we intentionally step aside to reflect about our life in Christ and to listen to Him who is speaking into our lives. Retreats are opportunities for us to

·        assess the state of our spiritual life

·        making important decisions

·        pray

·        listen to God

·        rest

·        recharge

·        recommit

·        renew

·        reassess our ministries

Retreats are of many different forms. There are the formal guided retreat (usually under a spiritual director), informal group retreat, and personal retreat. Personal retreat may be conducted by a person on his/her own. Frequency of taking a retreat depends on individuals. The length of a retreat may varies. It may be a 3 days retreat, a one week, one month or three months. In silent retreat, speaking is kept to the minimum. There are no fixed place for a retreat. We may have a retreat at a retreat center (which is ideal because they provide accommodation and food), a hotel/resort, a caravan or a tent. Or even in a home. Example of a personal retreat in 2011 < >

The focus of a retreat is not in how it is structured but in spending time with ourselves and with the Lord. The keyword is listen.

·        In a retreat, we listen to our bodies. Some of us are not very good custodians of our bodies. Often I find that most people sleep a lot during their retreat. This is because many of us are not aware of how tired we really are.

·        We listen to our lived experiences. Many of us need time to process our experiences. There are grief processes that need closure. Issues of deep hurt and wounds need to be identified and undergo the process of healing. There are areas of forgiveness that needs to be worked through.

·        We listen to the silence in our lives. These silence which is found between words speaks of our deepest needs, and of our innermost demons. Silence allows us to name and face these needs and demons.

·        We listen to the sound of our prayers. Our prayers reflect our inner spiritual life. This is especially true of our prayerlessness. Though we give a lot of lip service to prayer, time for prayer is the first to disappear in a busy life.

·        We listen to the word of God by reading the bible. Bible reading is an essential component of a retreat. In a retreat, we have time to read the bible slowly and reflectively. In normal days, many of us read the bible either to prepare a sermon or for cell group bible study.

·        We listen to the voice of God. This may be an inner strong impression, a strong conviction or even an audible voice. The whole process of a retreat is to slow us down so that we can heard the small still voice of God. As Elijah cannot hear God during the noise of wind, earthquake and fire, we often cannot hear him in the earth shaking and stormy events of our everyday life.

In a retreat, we step aside to listen to the whisper of a small still voice, to reevaluate our lives, pray and to obey. That is why it is essential for us to make time for retreats. This is especially if our lives are very busy. Allocating time for retreat should be part of our planning and ministry. I recommend that we plan for at least two retreats a year. We must realize that we serve out of our being. There is always the danger that we run on empty. We may get away by serving when we are spiritually empty but it will be a matter of time before we crash and burn. We must realize that when we fall, not only we will be hurt, more importantly many others who depend on us and look up to us will be hurt too. So take time out to step aside in our busy life and listen.



Reflection #1: Invitation to Come and Rest








My soul in silence waits





Bitter night for the morning light my soul in silence waits,

creeping cold darkness embracing are my soul’s contends,

endless corridors wandering lost escape seeks through gates,

fear of death and loss, regrets and pain, my soul’s portends.


Hiding from the scary world outside where evil seem to reign,

snatch thief pull and kill for bag and some dollars and cents,

corruption, bribery, loss of rule of law the country’s bane,

shooting children, random acts of violence makes no sense.


God’s apparent absence concerned my soul seeking verity,

random unfortunate events happening leave lives in shambles,

seeking reasons why bad things happen to good people clarity,

day by day, year by year, the Beast slowly to Jerusalem ambles.


In the depths of my innermost self lies my soul its longing,

to where distraction distract no more nor satisfaction,

to peace and contentment with the One my soul belonging,

Spirit peels aside the filthy scabs, real self extraction.


Death no sting, suffering no pain, end of hostilites,

introvert in extrovert realm not desperate straits,

always the faith never the fear, endless possibilities,

be still my heart and mind, my soul silently waits.



Reflection #2: Rest in Seeing

Numbers 13:1-33


1.     Who are your giants? List them out below

2.     Why are they your giants?

3.     What can you do about them?



Reflection #3: Rest in Waiting

Joshua 14:1-15

1.     What are your struggles with where you are at this moment? (your family life, relationships, workplace, sexuality)

2.     Why are you struggling?

3.     What opportunities are there to show love and grow spiritually in your present situation?






Waiting for the Light: Mastery Inactivity

Advent 2015 reflection

In clinical medicine, there is a very powerful treatment called mastery inactivity. An experienced clinician knows that there are times in the management of a patient with a serious medical condition that the best treatment is not to do anything but allow time for nature to take its course. This is the hardest treatment to prescribe because it involves the physician not doing anything. The default mode is to do something. Order some form of treatment. Perform some form of surgery. Our hearts are restless and we associate activity with progress. Not to act is a sign that we are negligent or indifferent.

This is also what happens when we are hit with some catastrophes in our lives. In such situation, we are full of an urgency to act. An urgency to do something to get us out of the situation. Anything at all, even though the action may not be beneficial or at times may cause harm. An alternative option is to sit idly by and ride out the storm. Judy Brown creates a scenario in which we are caught in a stormy sea and where inaction may be more beneficial than reactive action.



There is a trough in waves,

A low spot

Where horizon disappears

And only sky

And water

Are our company.


And there we lose our way


We rest, knowing the wave will bring us

To its crest again.


There we may drown

If we let fear

Hold us within its grip and shake us

Side to side,

And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.


But if we rest there

In the trough,

Are silent,

Being with

The low part of the wave,


Our energy and

Noticing the shape of things,

The flow,

Then time alone

Will bring us to another


Where we can see

Horizon, see the land again,

Regain our sense

Of where

We are,

And where we need to swim.


The Sea Accepts All Rivers, Judy Brown

This is what I called mastery inactivity. It takes knowledge and wisdom to discern when to act and when not to act. It requires mastery over our emotions as the default mode is to do something. It also requires faith. The sailor in the storm has faith based on her knowledge of the waves. We need to have faith that our catastrophes will blow over, that we need to remain calm in the eye of the storm. And we need to have faith in Him who is able to calm the storm and walk on water.

There are an ebb and flow in the rhythm of our lives; a time to act and a time to cease from action; a time to do and a time to rest; and a time to stress and a time to distress.  That is the only way to ride a storm. This is what Advent is all about. It is a time of inaction, rest and reflection. It is a flashback to more than two thousand years ago when the whole of creation kept still and held its collective breath, and waited for the Light. We live in a broken world, at the bottom of the cesspool, in the trough of pain and suffering. Let us wait together. Wait for a glimpse of the sky. Wait for the Light and then lean into it.

Soli Deo Gloria



Reflection #4: Rest in Giving

Joshua 15:13-19

1.     What prevents you from giving your all in your present situation?

2.     Why are you holding back?

3.     What can you do to give generously and sacrificially?





Reflection #5: Rest In Me








List at least five items/things you have learned from this retreat

1.     ………………………………………….

2.     ………………………………………….

3.     ………………………………………….

4.     ………………………………………….

5.     ………………………………………….




List at least five steps/actions you plan to take regarding the items/things you have listed above

1.     ………………………………………….

2.     ………………………………………….

3.     ………………………………………….

4.     ………………………………………….

5.     ………………………………………….


Retreat memories














"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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