Make Him Known Among the Nations

This morning, I had the privilege of leading an epic worship time at Faith Community Church. Epic in the way young people use that word these days, but also epic in theological and prophetic scope.

Isaiah 12:4 says this:

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name
Make known among the nations what he has done
And proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things
Let this be known to all the world.

Too often, we practise a self-serving worship: a worship that, to be sure, focuses on God but then asks: what can God do for me in return? At the very least, we want to end our worship time feeling good. There’s nothing seriously wrong with that, because God blesses us as we bless Him. As Tom Inglis once said, worship is something God cannot give Himself. When we give God that which He cannot give Himself, He gives us what we cannot give ourselves.

But in Isaiah’s song, what starts as a personal act – of thanksgiving – must also end in proclamation: of declaring God’s name among the nations.

This month is Missions Month at FCC and today specifically, we were going to pray for the nations. I wanted to make sure that our worship this morning wouldn’t be “run of the mill” but that it would take our focus beyond our church and to the nations of the earth. I prayed that perhaps even in the midst of worship, God would awaken mission callings in the lives of His people.

John Piper says:

Worship … is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.

So I challenged our team to play and sing prophetically; that our worship this morning would be a prophetic act of declaring God’s fame amongst people groups who wouldn’t know how, but we would stand in their place nevertheless in prophetic prefigurement of that day when those groups will stand before the throne of God in worship.

We were also privileged to have our missionary to East Timor join us on the worship team. I had asked if he could translate the chorus of one of the songs into Tetun (the native language of East Timor) and then I thought it would be even more powerful if he sang it on stage. As I told the team yesterday, there are two types of missionaries: program missionaries and presence missionaries. Program missionaries go to a people group to implement a program, e.g. a program of relief, a program of education or even a program of evangelism. Presence missionaries prayerfully and sensitively mediate the presence of God in the field. They don’t necessary go with an agenda, but they go in God’s Spirit and power. My brother was a presence missionary, a worshipping missionary.

Our set culminated in singing “How Great is Our God (World Edition)”, scripted in the languages of most of the mission fields targeted by FCC. Here are the lyrics:

The splendour of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
Let all the earth rejoice

He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me “How great is our God”
All will see how great
How great is our God

Chorus (Noongar)
Borun Maarman Yira
Kwiyalakinda Borun Maarman Yira
Moort ginaning Borun borun
Maarman Yira

Verse 1 (Tagalog)
Walang hanggang Hari
Aming tinatangi
Lahat ay magpuri
Lahat ay magpuri

Verse 2 (Bahasa)
Terang-Nya bersinar
Kegelapan t’lah sirna
Sujudlah pada-Nya
Sujudlah pada-Nya

Chorus: Chinese
我神真偉大, (wo shen zhen wei da)
歌頌祢聖名, (ge shou ni shen ming)
真偉大, (zhen wei da)
全地都看見, (quan di dou kan jian)
我神真偉大。(wo shen zhen wei da)

Chorus: Japanese
Nante idai na
Warera no Shu arata wa
Zenchi wa shiru
Idai na Kami

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead three in one
Father, Spirit, Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Chorus: Tetun
Jesus Nia boot loos
Kanta ho hau  Nia boot loos
Hotu sei hare Jesus
Nia boot loos

BRIDGE
Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing, how great is our God

Here’s the setlist:

// We Speak to Nations (A)
// You are Good (Houghton) (A)
// Jesus Son of God (A)
// Prayer for the Nations by David Yow
// How Great is Our God (World Edition) (A)

Here’s the recording of this morning’s worship: 

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the amazing servants on Team 3 for facilitating such a significant time of worship this morning. May God continue to lift up our eyes to see the fields that are white unto harvest!

Too Much Fashion, Too Little Passion

Leonard Ravenhill once said:

Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here in the place of prayer.  We have many organizers, but few agonisers; many players and payers, but few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers but few fighters.  Failing here, we fail everywhere.

I think that worship leaders have to be more than just leaders of song, they need to also be leaders in intermingling prayer with praise, worship with intercession.

Worship leading has to more than just a cool fashionable thing where singers and musicians wear the latest hipster gear under the dizzying hues of pretty lights. We must be amongst those who open up the windows of heaven with our praise and through prayer and worship enforce God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

Global Day of Prayer

Pastor Benny preached an awesome message at Faith Community Church today from Nehemiah 8 on 3 Signs of Revival: a return to the assembling of God’s people, a restoration of the Word of God and the rediscovery of the Feast of Tabernacles. He talked about how in Joel 2, the prophet foresaw a day when the former rain and the latter rain will converge and bring about an unprecedented harvest. We are already in that day!

Global Day of Prayer

And then, this afternoon, I had the privilege of leading a short worship session at Global Day of Prayer, hosted by Zion Praise Harvest. It was an amazing time as various marketplace and missions ministries, churches and prayer networks gathered together to pray for our city and nation on this Pentecost Sunday. In these days of the latter rain, may God bring about the greatest harvest this world has ever seen!

One of the Craziest Weekends Ever

I would have to describe it as one of the craziest weekends ever.

It began with an 8 am start for the Asian worship session of Converge 2012, kicking off an entire day of non-stop worship for the city of Perth with different teams coming in to lead worship at Wesley Church, right in the heart of the city.

It was a wake-up call for the city of Perth, probably because Clement played his drums ultra loud and Darren pumped up his amp. The acoustics of Wesley Church probably amplified everything by a factor of 4. But it’s a sound of praise that needed to be heard in the city.

Even though there was probably only about 40 or so people attending, there was a real sense of the presence of God as we worshipped. The band (consisting of worshippers and musicians from different churches) just flowed together beautifully, like we had played together for years instead of having only had a couple of rehearsals beforehand. It was an inexplicable synergy between the team members, all of whom are friends and worshippers I deeply admire.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but the music was also being pumped out through external speakers. We were filling the streets of the city of Perth with the praises of God!

After an extended time of free worship, we began to pray (as it was Pentecost) for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the different churches represented by the people who were in attendance. Clem started prophesying on the drums, which I interpreted as the sound of breakthrough for our churches – that God would bring fresh anointing, strength, vision and growth.

We ended with the prophetic song “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble”. I really sensed that spiritual mountains were shaken that morning. I sensed that the darkness over the city was trembling because the saints had joined in one song. The darkness was trembling because all the streams were flowing as one river: the Catholics, Charismatics, Uniting Church, Presbyterians and Anglicans. The brokenness of the church was being washed away.

After that session, quite a number of people came up to me to say that they thought something quite special happened that morning. As Pastor Yoy describes it, heaven and earth had converged.

Clem was especially blessed. It was his birthday and the Lord marked him with favour. You will see in the picture above that as we were praying, the cross at Wesley cast a shadow across his back. What a picture (thanks to Darren!).

After the session, we gathered outside the church to celebrate Clem’s birthday and Wendy Yapp had us wrap the week’s knitting (which was symbolic of the knitting together of prayer) around us and then around the building. The knitting went about half way around the church. Here’s a picture of the band “knit together”:

Here are some photos of some of us spreading the knitting around the church:

After that, the sound of war cries and congas filled the church as the African team led by Arlene Gregory began to worship. It was vibrant in colour, sound and spirit.

We came back in the evening for the last session of the Day of Worship called “Hear the Nations Worship”. During the session, we wove into our worship elements of Gospel-style (led by Stephanie Truscott), Messianic (led by Kathy Susnjar) and African worship (led by Arlene), declaring the words of Revelation 5 that every tongue, tribe and nation will be represented before the throne of God. We finished the evening singing How Great is Our God in English, Indonesian, Chinese, Tagalog and Zulu.

Here is a picture we took at the end of the evening:

We were told later that tens of people were coming into the church throughout the evening, drawn to the sound of praise!

After that night, I was exhausted.

But the weekend was not over yet. As I was attending the Friday night session of Converge, Patrick Chen of Zion Praise Harvest invited me to lead a worship slot during the Global Day of Prayer (on Pentecost Sunday), which his church was hosting. He was bringing together 35 to 40 different churches and ministries to participate. I was told to pick a song, get to the service half an hour earlier to do a sound check and… that was it. Mentally, I couldn’t picture it.

So I just chose the song “Come Holy Spirit”, a song I love and I thought captured the Pentecost theme.

When I got to the meeting this afternoon, I was given a runsheet that had planned the meeting (incorporating the 35 odd ministries) right down to the minute. Zion’s administration and planning skills are second to none.

But it was amazing how God orchestrated unity even though I came into the picture quite late in the piece. It just so happened that I was given the slot just before the Transformation session, the opening Scripture passage of which was Luke 4 (“the Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me”). The song I had chosen (quite in isolation of the planning) fit perfectly. I was amazed at how God brought unity even in the programming!

So it’s been an amazing, action-packed weekend.

When I went to Global Day of Prayer, I was asked “what ministry do you represent?” It seemed that everyone had come representing a church, intercessory ministry, marketplace ministry or some other organisation. I didn’t really know what to say. I couldn’t say I was representing my church because I wasn’t even part of the church worship team.

In the end, I just left it as “Lester Ong”.

As we were preparing for Converge, I had said to the different worship teams that we shouldn’t see ourselves as working towards the end of Converge; rather, we should see Converge as a time for the birthing of new destinies. And I think that’s probably where God is leading me. This Converge weekend has been the beginning of something. There is not yet any designation for it. It doesn’t have a cool ministry name, logo or constitution. It is the beginning of worshippers gathering together to lift up the name of Jesus in the city of Perth and for no other name. I can’t wait to see what that will look like.

If Only All Rehearsals Were Like Today’s

I have just come back from an amazing rehearsal with the Converge Asian Worship band at the Hen House rehearsal studios.

It was an interesting evening. As I was collecting the six pizzas for the band, Darren had gotten to the studio early and sent me a picture of the studio. Apparently, one of the walls was painted with a fairly confronting mural of a topless female angel. I wasn’t really sure how the team would feel about it, so I was stressing out a bit.

To my relief, we all laughed it off and thought it was a pretty funny situation, almost slighty ironic. But for the protection of the wider church, I don’t think I’ll post a picture of the room. Here is a “safer” picture of Darren, Yvonne and Ling on the “clean” side of the room.

And here’s another shot taken at the end of the rehearsal of the whole team, courtesy of Darren Woon (from Lto R: Darren Woon, me, Jun Wee, Gabriel Tan, Addie Choon, Derwin Bong, Yoy Alberastine, Yvonne Mohan, Ling Chua, Clement Ch’ng), and also taken from the “clean” side of the room.

I did come with plenty of faith however, to the extent that I thought that maybe, just maybe, as we were worshipping, the mural might supernaturally melt and all the other bands in the surrounding studios would come and see. They would be amazed and say “what God is this who dissolves unholy murals?” and we would then lead them to Christ.

Okay, so that didn’t eventuate, but every now and then, as we were deep in worship, I would just peek out of the corner of my eyes just to see whether perhaps some of the paint might start to come off.

Anyway, after we had eaten some pizza and introduced ourselves to each other, I told the band that it was great to work with anointed worship musicians whom I have admired and for whom I have the highest esteem. In fact, when I looked at the band, I realised that I had worked with most of the musos and singers before and I had longed to work with them again – so today was the opportunity!

I then wondered what it would be like if Converge wasn’t what we were working towards? What if, like Pentecost, it was the birth of something? What if it was the beginning of more times of worship together across churches, at a grassroots level? What if it sparked a movement of passionate worshippers and psalmists joining together across the city?

With that thought, we started running through the 15 songs on our songlist.

One of the songs which Derwin had chosen was “One Thirst” by Jeremy Riddle (good choice, Derwin!). When I first heard that song earlier last week, something had clicked and I somehow knew that that song would capture the heart of what we were trying to do.

Most of the band were pretty unfamiliar with that song, however. As we listened to it on my iPhone, Pastor Yoy said that we should approach it more pensively and prayerfully, almost in an “IHOP” style. What he said rightly set the tone for that song.

As Derwin began to lead that song, the music started to take on a life of its own and the various worship leaders began to sing over the top of the song. We must have gone for about half an hour of the most amazing worship I’ve experienced for a long time. It was like we were soaking up the presence of God and God’s weighty glory somehow descended. Alas though, no melting mural. Instead, we just experienced wave after wave of God’s presence as intercession and prophetic singing flowed.

In times like these, you are just too scared to do anything because you don’t want to be the one responsible for ruining the move of God. That was how real the presence of God felt. I understand more why the “fear of God” is associated with His presence.

And Yoy began to pray that there would be a convergence of psalmists, priests and prophets in this city.

And I prayed that as the church stood in visible unity, there would be a breakthrough atmosphere in our city that would affect our society and transform its values. That all our churches would experience the intensity of God’s presence that we experienced just then.

I don’t think we really wanted to stop.

And I wondered if it would be like this on the actual day itself. I wondered whether our worship would keep flowing like a mighty torrent that can’t be stopped. Whether God would break free from our programs. Whether the whole day would just be seamless. Whether the other bands that came on the day would simply fold into this one. Whether worship would just start and never end. Whether Pentecost would really come like it did at Azusa Street and change the face of the church and the city all at once.

If only all rehearsals were like this one. If only all worship services were like this one! I can feel the mountains tremble, the singers roar. I can sense the time of jubilee coming, when all the streams flow as one river, when the brokenness and fragmentation of the church are washed away, and young and old will turn to Jesus. Tonight didn’t feel like just another rehearsal. It was a prayerful prying open of the windows of heaven over our city.

Worship and the Marketplace Part 2

When I wrote yesterday’s post, I was led to Ezekiel’s vision of the river flowing from the temple in Ezekiel 47. As I read that passage, I had more thoughts about the connection between worship in the temple and transformation in the marketplace.

To fully appreciate the connection, we have to get an understanding of what I mean when I say “worship”. To me, trying to define worship is like defining the undefinable. In a later post, I will attempt to do so using Harold Best’s thesis in his book Unceasing Worship. Suffice to say for present purposes, worship encompasses our entire life. When we talk about worship in a church setting, it is simply an intensifying of what we are already doing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In this sense, the expression of praise that takes place on a Sunday could be said to be a subset of “worship”.

So we need to think about worship as a continuum. Praise/seeking God/waiting on Him etc sits on the more mystical side of the continuum; work/going to the office/house chores etc sits on the practical side.

So, in this context, let us go back to Ezekiel 47.

The Outworking of Worship

In the first few verses, Ezekiel describes how the river gets deeper the further it goes from the temple.

This is the outworking of worship. A holistic vision of praise starts and ends in the temple, because God is the beginning and end of everything (as one Biblical writer says, “in Him and through Him and for Him are all things”). But God is in the business of reconciling to Himself all things, which is an action directed towards the “outside”, i.e. towards the world, its people, its systems etc. So worship begins in the temple, but then is propelled out to the world with the mission of bringing “in” those who are “out”.

Colossians 1:19-20 says this:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Second Corinthians 5:18 says:

But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].

This is the same pattern we see in the book of Acts. As the disciples waited and sought the Lord in worship in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit fell on them on the day of Pentecost, propelling the church out into the marketplace to answer the prophecy of Joel 2, that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved”.

The Impact of Worship

Going back to Ezekiel 47:6ff:

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.

When we take the presence of God into the marketplace, it brings with it a divine flow of life into the areas of which are spiritually dead. That goes for people who are dead in their sins, and systems/values/mindsets which are corrupt and perverse.

Even the Dead Sea becomes a place where swarms of living creatures will live and thrive! The salt water will become fresh. Like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3, we become the aroma of Christ, the fragrance of life to those who are perishing.

The Reach of Worship

Ezekiel’s vision ends with this, in verse 12:

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

Indeed, this year is the year of Unceasing Fruitfulness. For those who worship God, our leaves will not wither, nor will be fail to bear fruit.

But notice this: the presence of God is our source “because the water from the sanctuary flows” to us. And further still: the purpose of our fruit is not just for our own sake and prosperity. Rather our fruit is to feed others! This is where worship and justice meet: to lift the poor and feed the hungry.

And our leaves will be for the healing of the nations. Where once the nations have turned away from God, true worshippers will carry an anointing to see the fulfillment of the day when the kingdoms of this world, will become the kingdom of our Lord and King.

Worship begins in the sanctuary and worship flows out into the marketplace to bring transformation. As my friend Adrian Lim once put it (and recently reminded me), true worshippers worship through the 24/7 window, the 9/5 window and the 10/40 window. Worship begins as a 24/7 lifestyle, but then must be manifested in the 9/5 window of the marketplace. And the end game: to see the nations, represented by the 10/40 window (being the most unreached of the nations) transformed and revived.

Apostolic Worship and the Revolutionary Spirit

Last night, I was watching a Jackie Chan film called 1911 which chronicled the 1911 Chinese Revolution led by Sun Yat Sen. I have always wanted to read up on Chinese history, but the expanse of it was always too intimidating and I never really knew where to start.

1911 was a precis about the momentous events that led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the fall of the last emperor of China. What was really interesting (processing it through my sanctified Christian mind) was how the language of the revolution was very similar to the language of Christianity. The characters talked about “reviving the spirits of the people”, the power of standing together in unity and sacrificing for the next generation.

As embarrassing as it is to admit it, after I watched the film, I did a bit more research on Wikipedia and discovered that Sun Yat Sen was baptised into the Christian faith whilst he was in Hong Kong and he pictured the revolution as similar to the picture of the salvation mission of the Christian church.

If I were to define “apostolic worship” simply, it would be this: Apostolic worship is worship that brings in the the governance of God on earth as it is in heaven. In expression, apostolic worship involves intercession, the prophetic and spiritual warfare.

Ultimately, apostolic worship is linked with spiritual revival and societal transformation. When the governance of God comes into our hearts, passions are renewed, wounds are healed, captives are freed, wholeness is restored, dreams are activated. When the governance of God comes into a city, lives are transformed, resources are released, the poor are lifted, righteousness and justice prevail.

Jesus didn’t just to come to seek and save “the lost”, but to seek and save “that which was lost“.

I was talking to a pastor who had recently arrived in Perth and he told me that he felt very strongly that revival in Australia would begin in Perth, and that it would be sparked by the Asian church because of the passion of the Asian church. Little did this pastor know that many well-known international prophets have longed prophesied that Perth would be the catalyst of revival in Australia.

Another pastor once told me that the redemptive gift of the Asian church is its strength of discipleship.

I also learnt that a pastor who is involved in prototyping transformation models under the ministry of Ed Silvoso is now working in Perth.

I get the sense that the church in Perth is on the cusp of great spiritual awakening and worship will play a vital role.

If you look throughout the history of the church, you can see a pattern of loss, beginning at the zenith of the church of the book of Acts, reaching its lowest point in the Middle Ages and now moving into a time of recovery, beginning with the Protestant reformation. Today, we are beneficiaries of the move of the Holy Spirit now known as the Charismatic Century: a move of God that has spanned over the last 100 years and is continuing in greater force than ever before.

In this pattern of loss and recovery, worship has always been a key issue. After Constantine institutionalised the Church, the concept of New Testament priesthood was lost. No longer was worship the realm of the masses, it became the vocation of the professional clergy. All throughout church history, worship has been the centre of friction and fissure, from the Eucharist, to baptism, to the use of hymns, to the introduction of folk song. In recent years, discord has stemmed from things as trivial as whether the electric guitar and drums are valid instruments for worship; to the appropriateness of dance in the church; to silly arguments about which songs people prefer to sing. Commentators refer to this latter phenomenon as the “worship wars”.

But in every disintegration, there is restoration. In recent years, we have seen the recovery of the five-fold ministry, particularly in the last decade the gift, function and office of apostle. There has been a move towards seeing entire cities being reached and transformed for Jesus. The gospel of grace is becoming firmly entrenched in our theologies.

I believe that the restoration of apostolic worship will be one of the moves of God that will signal the redemption of our societies.

Acts 15:16-18 says this:

After this, I will return

and rebuild David’s fallen tent.

Its ruins I will rebuild,

and I will restore it,

that the remnant of men may seek the Lord

and all the Gentles who bear my name,

says the Lord, who does these things

that have been known for ages.

God is rebuilding David’s tabernacle. Whereas worship has in the past been a cause to split the church, I believe that in the restoration of the Tabernacle of David, the church will once again be united around worship. And the presence of God will mark the united church in the city so powerfully that the church will become irresistible to the lost. And as apostolic worship goes forth, societal transformation will occur at every level, from the marketplace, to the government, to the media, to our education systems. God is aligning the city of Perth to walk into its great destiny as a revival catalyst for the rest of Australia.

Revolutionary writer Victor Hugo said this:

No army can withstand the power of an idea whose time has come.

The idea is the restoration of David’s tabernacle. The time has come for the church. And no army can withstand it. Revolution is on its way.

Like A Flood

During Influencers Conference 2012, Brad Bonhomme shared about Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV):

So shall they fear
The name of the Lord from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

He said we often read the passage like this: “when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Instead Bonhomme suggests that the translators have misplaced the comma; that we should read it as “when the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him”.

When we read it like this, it changes the whole meaning of the text.

Whenever we pray this passage during intercessory worship, the suggestion often is that the enemy’s destructive force is overwhelming. It is only when we are completely “under water” so to speak, does the rescue of the Lord come. But this new way of reading the text is different: whenever the enemy is at work, no matter to what degree or intensity, the Lord is ready to come at the enemy like a flood.

In natural terms, a flood is an unstoppable destructive force. We don’t have to wait until the attacks of the enemy become too intense. Rather, God is at hand ready to overwhelm the forces of darkness each and every time. That’s why 2 Tim 1:10 says that Christ has “destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The word “destroy” in the Greek is “katargeo”, meaning to completely render ineffective.

John says it this way in 1 John 3:8 (NKJV):

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy [katargeo] the works of the devil.

Jesus has destroyed the works of the devil, and we are on the winning side. We don’t have to wait until the tide of evil intensifies, but God stands at hand ready to enforce the victory. And the victory is an overwhelming one!

This reading of Isaiah 59:19 is entirely consistent with other translations. For example, the NIV simply says that God “will come like a pent up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along”. There’s no mention even of the enemy!

But what is really exciting about this passage is its context. Not only is God victorious, but He is also bringing the Gentiles from the East and West to worship Him, to revere His glory. The raising of God’s standard is not only to enforce His victory, but also to draw unbelievers to Him in worship.

Isaiah 49:22 says:

“Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
Kings shall be your foster fathers,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
And lick up the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”

Today, the standard of the Lord, our Jehovah Nissi, our banner, is Jesus. For when He is lifted up, He will be our victory. He will destroy the works of the enemy. And He will draw all men to himself. It’s time to lift up the banner of our Lord in worship!

Introduction to the Apostolic

Recently, I came across a phrase which gave definition to the sort of worship which I feel God has anointed me for: “apostolic worship”. In a later post, I intend to unpack that term a bit more fully, but for now, I want to shed some light on the word “apostolic” because I think that phrase is often misunderstood by the church.

Bill Johnson actually introduces the concept in his book The Essential Guide to Healing (2011) at pp 117 onwards, so I’m just going to quote him:

The word apostle in the New Testament means “sent one”. Apostle was originally a secular term used by both the Greeks and the Romans to refer to the leader of a special envoy. That leader had the job of establishing the culture of the empire he represented into the daily lives of the citizens the empire conquered. Leaders had discovered that the citizens of conquered lands went back to their previous way of life rather quickly without a transforming influence. It was extremely frustrating to see no change result in a conquered nation, which nullified the purpose of the conquest. For this reason, they came up with a strategy to transform the culture of a conquered city so that when the empire’s leaders visited, it would feel the same as home…. The position of apostle was created in response to this need. Jesus adopted the term to reveal His intentions. His apostles lead a special envoy of people who have the job of establishing the culture of the empire of heaven into the daily lives of the citizens they serve.

The Lord’s Prayer is an apostolic prayer. On earth as it is in heaven. Make this world like that one. That does not mean you have to be an apostle to pray it. It means that the purpose of the prayer is a clear expression of the apostolic mandate to transform the thinking and lifestyles of the nation so that they are the same as the governing nation – in this case, heaven. This becomes the mandate of the Church when it has a full expression of healthy leadership.

Understood this way, revolutionary worship, worship which transforms, is apostolic in nature. It is about bringing heaven to earth, bringing transformation to those who worship, but also unleashing the culture of heaven to our communities, cities and nations.