As we approach the end of 2011, I am reminded of Psalm 65:11 (NKJV):
You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
It has been an eventful year for me, but looking back, I am amazed at the goodness of God in my life, both in the valleys and mountaintops.
This year, after being in the same church for 21 years, my wife and I both felt the call to move on. It was difficult because we have many close friends at the church and we were both actively involved in ministry. I was almost like part of the furniture. We had been working with a great team of people in the worship ministry but yet we felt that God was calling us out.
We went through about 5 months of uncertainty as we waited on God, spoke to the pastor and took counsel from our friends. I had sensed that we would sort of be like Abraham, leaving the comfort of a place we know, and wandering into unknown territory. It was a time of both fear and excitement.
At the time, a friend of ours was staying at our place and she had been praying for us. She reminded us that all things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28). We felt a bit more at peace that God does indeed work all things together for our good. Sometimes, we believe in “faith detours” as if somehow the so-called wrong decisions we make can somehow stop us from experiencing God’s goodness in our lives. So we tell people to be careful about the decisions they make; to discern the right path.
Now, don’t get me wrong: there are some things which do cause us to stray. So, if we decided to leave our church and fill our Sunday mornings with other activities (like sleeping-in!) and we stopped going to church, that would be a bad decision. But we weren’t going to do that. We just simply wanted to go to a different church. It wasn’t like we were turning ourselves over to live like heathens. As long as we actively serve God in church, that’s a good thing!
So in that situation, I don’t think that there is a bad decision. We just have to trust God that He will work everything out, not only for our good, but also for our best.
In July 2011, we went to the 25th Hillsong Conference and were so blessed by the atmosphere of faith and awesome teaching. At the conference, Israel Houghton introduced the song “Jesus at the Centre of It All” which really became an anthem for this season of my life (as I’m sure it was for many other people who were at the conference). If that was the only thing I learned from the conference, it was worth it.
John Maxwell taught on leadership, but also emphasised the need for discipline in honing our anointing. He taught his “rule of 5” and I was convicted to find the 5 things I needed to do everyday to fulfill my potential in God.
(I am still a “work in progress” and I am still working on centring my life on Jesus and being disciplined in my walk! I thought I’d mention that in case anyone thought I had “arrived”.)
After coming back from Hillsong, we felt that God was firming up our decision to leave our church so we met up with our pastor. Whilst it was a sad moment, to realise that we would no longer be part of this local house, we were encouraged by the fact that as we finished the meeting, our pastor prayed Romans 8:28 over us, the same verse our friend had encouraged us with a few months earlier.
So in the end we just had to take the step of faith.
Since then, we have been visiting different churches and seeing how awesome God is in our city. In all the different expressions (from 2 hour services to 1.25 hour services; deep teachings to inspiring messages; so-so music to technically excellent music; big-congregation-impersonal to small-church-warmth), we had no doubt that the Spirit of God was moving in all these expressions, using them to minister both to the members of the church and the unchurched as well.
We also had the privilege of serving in the Commonwealth Prayer Initiative and meeting up with different worship leaders in the city. I sense that our leaving our church opened the door for us to participate in this important milestone in the history of the church in Perth. It did leave us feeling a bit awkward though because when you attend these meetings, people always ask you “what church do you fellowship at?”
At one meeting, my wife said “we are part of the church in Perth!” That really resonated with me because even though at that point in time, we didn’t belong to any congregation, we were definitely part of the church in Perth. We served the city-wide church and we participated in its destiny.
I also sensed that God was beginning to start something in our city amongst the worship leaders and I believe that will evolve in the next few months as we begin to take steps of faith.
I am glad to say that in the midst of the seeming disruption and dislocation, we have experienced the goodness of God working in our lives. God did really crown our year with goodness. His paths on which we were led dripped with abundance.
Thank You God for your faithfulness, provision, protection, healing, wholeness and prosperity. We are thankful for our friends and family who prayed with us, encouraged us, served alongside us, cried with us, rejoiced with us and journeyed with us as we walked in His destiny for our lives.
We believe, as Joel Osteen often says, that 2011 was great, but 2012 will be our best year yet.
Happy new year Worship Revolutionaries.