The Multiplying Power of Teamwork

As I reflect on this morning’s worship service, one thought which comes to mind is how much I love my music team. I feel so invigorated each time we serve together. It’s not that we always get the music and arrangements right. But it’s in knowing that it’s not so much about the results – it’s about the journey we share together.

I often tell my team that we aren’t the best musicians in the church. We have really good musicians, no doubt. But what I love about our guys is that we understand what it means to be a team, to bring together our individual talents and efforts and know that, when combined together, we become a lot better than what we could have been individually!

Today’s worship session was a great example of how our team works well together:

  • I’m not musical, but I reckon I’m pretty good at constructing a worship set and to make sure it flows and tells a story. So I communicate my vision to my music director, and he interprets my vision into something which our musicians can understand and follow.
  • My music director is brilliant. Like me, he goes by feel. So what he does is that he goes hunting on youtube for different links and points out to each muso what parts of different arrangements they can play and emulate.
  • Our musos then go off and learn their own parts before we have a rehearsal. I really value this. The preparation means that when we actually gather for our rehearsal, we keep momentum going and rehearsals are fun!
  • Our sound guy pulls it all together and makes us sound great! When the sound sparkles, our own confidence in our playing increases!
  • And our AV person rehearses with us on Sunday morning to make sure that the lyrics follow with the flow of the songs.

This week, we tried pushing the envelope a little by trying a pretty tricky version of “Trading my Sorrows” by Israel Houghton. We don’t normally play gospel. But our bassist spent hours learning to slap the bass; the drummer followed the gospel rhythms; one keyboardist had a computer program which allowed him to capture the youtube recording, change the key on the recording and slow it down so he could play the piano part exactly right; another keyboardist wrote her own charts! Our singers blended well together in three-part harmonies. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by how much ownership we all had of the worship set!

In his book Beyond Talent, John Maxwell says that teamwork multiplies talent! He sets out the following principles:

  • Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect
  • Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships
  • Teamwork is not about you. Maxwell quotes C Gene Wilkes who observed: “Team leaders genuinely believe that they do not have all the answers – so they do not insist on providing them. They believe they do not need to make all the key decisions – so they do not do so. They believe they cannot succeed without the combined contributions of all the other members of the team to a common end – so they avoid any action that might constrain inputs or intimidate anyone in the team. Ego is not their predominant concern.”
  • Great teams create community.
  • Adding value to others adds value to you.

It also so happened that Joe Wee Chuah ended up in my team this week! I’ve got a goal of training and releasing as many worship leaders as I possibly can! I tell people that I am trying to work my way out of the job by training others to replace me. Joe Wee is a great worship leader in the making. So I was really privileged when he agreed to lead half of today’s songs. (I’m actually harbouring 3 other worship leaders in my team!)

Here’s the recording of today’s worship (unfortunately, we missed recording the awesome introduction).

I’m really proud of what our team did today, and I’m generally proud of our team. I know that I can’t do much without each and everyone of them. But together, we can raise the watermark of worship in our church! So, here’s to more culture-defining gigs for 2014!

What Legacy Will You Leave?

On Tuesday, I was checking Facebook at work. Now, I know I really shouldn’t be. But bear with me here. I had been doing some solid submission writing for a couple of hours. It’s mind-numbing stuff. So I just needed a moment to chill.

As I opened my Facebook app, I found that my friend Wendy Yapp had tagged me in a post. The post belonged to Rae-Helen Fisenden and it went something like this: “I’m looking for a new home for my books and CDs as I no longer have space for them. Does anyone want to collect them from my place?” And Wendy had tagged me.

I like to think it was more than the greedy Asian in me, but I immediately messaged Rae-Helen and offered to pick up the books and CDs. By that evening, I had ended up with a massive box of resources which Rae-Helen had collected over her years in ministry.

library

Rae-Helen is a pioneer musician, vocalist and worship leader in Perth. When she was worship pastor at Churchlands Vineyard, her live worship recording Winds of Worship 11 probably became the first internationally distributed worship album recorded in Perth. She has inspired many worship leaders in our city and taught many world-class musicians.

So, whilst I like books, but these were most than just books. These were books that have graced the shelves of a spiritual giant!

As I flicked through some of the books, there were highlighted passages, dog-earred pages – thoughts and ideas that have shaped Rae-Helen’s thoughts and from which she must have taught countless others. I felt that I was holding a mantle of anointing – a legacy gift – and it gave me goosebumps.

Rae-Helen told me that she was so glad she her prayers were answered – that she had found a good home for her collection so quickly and that her legacy could now be passed on.

What sort of legacy will you leave?

The way I see, God has his mind on “generations”. Psalm 71:17,18 says:

Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

Everything God has taught us or gifted us with, we are to declare now. But not just that. We must continue to declare them to the next generation, to those who are to come after us. This is the highest call of succession planning in the kingdom of God.

And then I think about the legacy that Christ has left us.

God’s law says in Deuteronomy 5:9 that God “punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” In charismatic circles, we call this generational curses. Now, I for one don’t really understand why Christians like to build an entire doctrine around such a macabre subject.

But I don’t believe in generational curses. I believe in generational blessings!

In verse 11 of that same passage, God promises that He “shows love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

No one has ever fulfilled the requirement of keeping all of God’s commandments, except Jesus. Romans 5:19 says that:

For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

By Christ’s perfect obedience, I am made a beneficiary of God’s blessings. I haven’t counted the number of generations that have passed since the time of Christ, but I am pretty sure I’m in one of the thousand generations!

What am I going to do with the books I inherited? Well, the first thing I did was give about a third of them away. A friend of mine had told me how one day he would like to start a library of Christian books. So now he’s got a pretty good start!

Then, I want to read the books I’ve kept, teach the principles I’ve learned to others, and ultimately pass the books onto others, but not just the books. I also want to pass the mantle that God has given me to the generation that comes after me!

 

 

If Our Walk With God Was a Song

Today, we have a guest post from my good friend, Darren Woon. Darren is the guitar leader at South City Church. We have had the privilege of serving together in our previous church and even though we are now in different churches, we still minister together in city-wide events when we get the opportunity to escape from the rigours of local church commitments. I have a strong respect and admiration for Darren’s passion for God’s presence and his ability to “push the envelope” and challenge the status quo. 

Darren’s post below was actually first written in 2004. I came across it again recently and asked him if I could republish it. 

The context for my wanting to publish this post was because of Pastor Benny’s first sermon of the year at Faith Community Church. Pastor Benny shared from Jeremiah 29:11. One of the points he made was that when God said that He knew the plans He had for us, the word “plans” in the Hebrew is “khashav”, which means to “count” or “reckon”. The word picture it evoked was of a composer. 

According to Pastor Benny, our lives are never played out in just one note. Rather, the different notes go up and down – individually, they may not make sense, but in totality, they form a beautiful melody. So God’s plans are never set in concrete, but they are flexible to take into account our own decisions and volition. But yet, He is able to manoeuvre around the choices we make to produce a beautiful composition. And that reminded me of Darren’s post, written all those years ago. So here it is below. Hope you guys enjoy it!

If our walk with God is a song, I don’t think it will be like a symphony orchestra, where the parts to be played are fixed and completely predictable. Neither will it be like a wild and uncontrolled jam session, where the musicians play whatever they want, oblivious to what the others are doing.

I believe that a close relationship with the Lord is in between these two extremes – it is more like improvisation in a jazz tune. There is a theme, but at the same time, it is unpredictable.  Musicians rely on tight (and wordless) communication and they play it by ear, complementing each other.  An action of one musician calls for the others to react to it, to build on it, making it more beautiful than what that single musician did on his own.  There are no strict rules and no pre-defined direction, just an ability to play from the heart, flow with the others and to “feel” what to do next.

This is similar to what God has called us to.  He wants to have a relationship with us, not a dictatorship. He gives us the opportunity to be actively involved in the “song” of our life. There may be times where the will of God may not have a definite or specific direction. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve sought God’s will, only to feel that He’s not going to say anything. I always thought that I just had to try harder and wait longer. That may be the case sometimes, but I’m starting to understand that God often leaves the choice to us. He does not keep silent in order to frustrate us but instead, He is giving us the chance to take the wheel.

To take this “jazz band” illustration a step further, picture this: We are the bassist and God is the trumpeter, the lead instrument in this case. We play the bass notes and outline the basic chord. Then God steps in and plays the melody. The notes He plays not only create a stunning melody, but also add the final nuances to the chord, defining it completely.

In this illustration, each chord represents a phase of our life. God enters in and makes it meaningful and complete. The problem arises when it is time for a “chord change” – when we are faced with a decision in life. With so many choices and unknown outcomes, this can be very pressurising.

I believe that God guides us to give Him the right “chords changes” (representing our decisions) for Him to work with, to support the melody that He has in mind for our lives. Sometimes, He leaves it to us to decide what chord to change to next and then improvises over it. It is up to us to “read” Him on the fly make a decision. However, there is really no such thing as a wrong chord (or decision) as He is more than capable of accommodating any chord change beautifully, even if it involves altering the melody here and there. That is what music (and life) is all about. There is no chord or decision that we can throw at Him that will make him say “Oh, that’s wrong. You’re so messed up because I just can’t work with that”.

But this is not to say that we can live recklessly. Our decisions will have an effect on our lives. But out of His love and grace, God will find a way to make the outcomes of our decisions beautiful. He is by no means limited to “playing the same notes” in our life. He is infinitely creative and innovative – He created creativity. Many times He will prompt us to make our own decisions but even if we fail miserably, He will always be there to make it work out beautifully.

I think of our Lord as the ultimate lead musician. As I’m fumbling with the chords, He is turning each seemingly wrong chord into a very right one. As I’m making decisions in my life, He is causing every one of them to result in splendour. In life, some choices may be better than others. But with God’s grace, there is really no such thing as a wrong decision.

Christ’s Strength Perfected in My Weakness

Happy 2014 everyone! I hope that this year will be your best year yet!

For my first post of the year, I want to talk about weakness. This is not a popular subject in contemporary Christian circles. We are taught to work on our weaknesses and play to our strengths. We are seldom told to rejoice in our weaknesses.

But listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:9ff:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In the Greek, the word “perfect” is teleioo which means to complete, accomplish, to consummate. If we are honest, we like doing things that we are good at. This is because it means we can be responsible for, and guarantee, the results. If I am an amazing singer, then in all likelihood, people will be moved when I sing. But that muddies the waters. Who is doing the moving? My amazing voice, or the Holy Spirit?

Tozer once said:

If God took his Holy Spirit out of this world, what the church is doing would go right on and nobody would know the difference.

The church today is good at doing a lot of stuff. We are good at stirring messages, creating sights, sounds and imagery and producing great programs. But how much of it is the presence of God?

When we play to our strengths, there is less room for God’s miracles.

I love how God uses the weak things of the world to shame that which is wise. I remember Joseph Prince telling how he used to stutter when he was in school. Today he preaches to millions. Or hearing about how Nick Vujicic, with no arms and no legs, can inspire people to live life to the full.

Even to this day, I wonder how I ended up leading worship. People seem to think I sing well, but those closest to me and who know me well (or who listen to our Sunday worship recordings) will tell you that I haven’t got a great voice. (Granted, I have a loud voice – my wife reminds me of this frequently!). When I was in school, I was told my voice wasn’t good enough for me to join the choir. And yet, I have this privilege, week after week, in meetings of varying sizes, to use my voice to lead people to encounter God in worship.

When I stop to really think about it, God is really performing a miracle each time by His grace. His strength is being made perfect and complete in my weakness.

You could say that it is when we are most empty that Christ is most complete in us.

What are you weak at? What do you struggle with? What trait don’t you like in yourself? Perhaps God is using that very weakness to miraculously demonstrate His strength. Perhaps it is in those very things that are broken and empty that gives space for God to pour out His strength completely.

In 2014, allow Christ’s strength to be perfected in your weaknesses!

2013 in Review: A Year of Open Doors

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of another year.

In preparation for the new year, which I am calling the “Year of His Presence”, Ling and I have spent most of the last couple of days trying to remodel and reimagine our study room. The piano (not that I play it) and guitar will still be there, but we are setting a nice comfy chair right in the middle of the room where we can meet with God, read the Bible, pray and worship. It will be a space much like in the story Pastor Benny shared of the guy whose life changed as he met with God on his special rocking chair and in line with what Ken Lee recently preached about “making room for God’s presence”.

But even as we prepare for the coming year, it is always good to reflect back on the year that was.

The theme for this year was from Isaiah 22:22:

I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

What a wonderful promise for those who praise, because praise is the key to the open door. And it has indeed been a year of open doors and unceasing fruitfulness.

In January of this year, I had the privilege of going to East Timor on a short-term mission trip. Our church had been making a concerted and consistent effort to plant an indigenous church in the village of Kamalalera. It was the first time I had been on a third world mission and we were able to minister to a group of believers there. At this point in time, FCC is already on a program of training indigenous leaders towards planting a “church proper”.

Photo9

I also had an awesome holiday in Bali straight after the mission trip with some of my cell group who had come along on missions.

In February, I started a Certificate in Creative Ministries course at Metroworship Academy, the first course of its type in Perth. It was great connecting with other worship leaders in our city studying the course and being inspired by some amazing teaching.

In March, I had the privilege of leading worship as we inaugurated the House of Prayer for Everyone WA. I also had an awesome holiday with Ling in Melbourne as we celebrated her birthday. Needless to say, I came back with some excess weight.

In April, I began having talks with Ps Benny about taking up leadership in the worship ministry at FCC. It was a scary thought since I didn’t really want to have much involvement in local church leadership, but it turned out to be a highlight for the year!

In May, I had the honour of leading a worship segment at Global Day of Prayer. I also had an amazing time at our Young Working Adults Camp, and I’m pretty sure that during the camp, we discovered a new worship leader in our church 🙂

In June, I did my first ever “paid gig”! I was invited to lead worship at a Deborah Company conference and I served with an amazing team of musos from FCC and (then) Influencers City Church.

In July, our amazing worship director Lisa Palm started a new church plant, Kingsway Christian Church and Dave Wong took up the worship directorship. I had the honour of being his Assistant Worship Director. For a young person, Dave has shown a maturity beyond his years. He is fearless, full of conviction and passion and wise in his decision-making. I have been so blessed to work with Dave and our amazing leadership team. Thanks Dave, Yvette, Kimmy, EP, Lukey, Joe Wee and Addie for making it such a joy to help lead this ministry.

In August, Darren and I organised our first ever Warehouse Session. (I realised I never got the chance to blog on it!) The idea was we would just gather a group of worshippers, position ourselves in a circle, and just worship off our instruments. For many of us who serve in our respective worship ministries, it’s sometimes difficult to just tune out of the technicalities. In part, our faithfully presiding over our musicianship is part of the worship offering we give to God on Sundays. But we thought it’d be pretty special if, every now and then, we could just gather and worship without a secondary audience, without anyone to pastor, without worrying about a congregation.

So we hired a rehearsal studio and did just that. With musos from South City Church, FCC, Kingsway Christian Church and The Big Table, we just went for it for a solid couple of hours. It was a time of refreshing in God’s presence.

Here are some pics courtesy of the awesome drummer Clement Ch’ng!

Warehouse Session 1 Warehouse Session 3 Warehouse Session 4 Warehouse Session 5 Warehouse Session 6 Warehouse Session 7

In September, Dave, Lisa and I had the privilege of leading worship at a conference called “Festival of Light”. We met some amazing musos from other churches too who served with us on the team.

In October, I got to sing for Ray Badham from Hillsong. It was freakin’ awesome.

In November, I got to lead worship at FCC with my good friend Ps Yoy Alberastine. Ps Yoy used to lead worship at FCC before itinerating, but he’s come back into the worship team and we finally co-led together in our common home church!

In December, I graduated from Metroworship Academy! And my brother and sister-in-law had their first child (my niece, Emily). Sadly however, my sister moved to Korea to pursue a career in English teaching. Whilst I’ll miss her, I’m proud of the fact that she has taken the bold step to live and work in another country.

I thank God for another amazing year, for an awesome wife, great cell group, best ministry team ever, fantastic band and an amazing home church. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store!

 

 

Making Room for the Presence of God

Presence Sunday South City

As worship ministers, it’s so easy, isn’t it, to play wonderful music, sing beautiful songs, move a big crowd, all the while thinking that God was in it all? I’m not saying He isn’t, by the way. But I wonder how much of it can sometimes be viewed as a substitute for God’s presence, even without our knowing?

Harold Best says it like this, in Unceasing Worship (p 166):

Whenever we assume that art mediates God’s presence or causes him to be tangible, we have begun to trek into idol territory. Our present-day use of music as the major up-front device for worship is a case in point. We need to ask ourselves if we, as worship leaders, are giving the impression that we draw near to God through music or that God draws near because of it. Is music our golden calf? Have we come to a place in our practices where God must say to us, ‘You cannot worship me in that way,’ meaning that music has moved from a place of offering to one of lordship, from servanthood to sovereignty? Or might he be saying ‘You shall not worship me in their way,’ meaning that we have adopted a pagan worldview that imputes a causal force to music that it does not properly have? We need to discover the critical theological difference between being merely moved by music and being spiritually changed by it. Yes, music might bring pleasure and change our pulse rates or blood pressure, but so does taking a simple walk in the park.

At the end of the day, music, programs, artistic expressions – all are means to an end. And the end must be nothing less than the presence of God. As worship ministers, we need to walk this fine line carefully.

This was really brought home to me tonight when I attended Presence Sunday at South City Church. My friend Darren Woon (who is one of the music directors at South City) had told me what they were doing at their church earlier in the week. My first thought was that I was going to be “churched-out” today. But I decided to go anyway. Partly because I wanted to see Darren and another friend of mine Clem do their thing on stage, but also because I thought it would be good just to worship from the audience.

Even though I only serve on stage two weeks in a month, as Assistant Worship Director at my church, it’s pretty hard to “switch off” from serving mode. You’re always wanting to gauge how the ministry as a whole is going, so instead of just letting go and worshipping, you end up critically evaluating all the worship sets. Then, instead of wholeheartedly singing, part of your mind is trying to remember some things that you want to feedback to the team at the end of the service.

So it was nice just to be in the crowd for a change with no agenda, with no one from your congregation expecting you to act in a particular way. Just you, God and some family members from a different neighbourhood, most of whom you haven’t met before!

After a pretty liberating time of worship, Ps Ken Lee came up to preach a short message about “Making Room for God’s Presence” from 2 Kings 4 – the story of the Shunnamite Woman.

In verse 10, the Shunnamite Woman decides that she would arrange a small room, put in a bed, table and chair so that the man of God, Elisha, can stay at her house whenever he visits the village. And here was Ps Ken’s point: even though the woman knew she had regular access to God’s presence (as represented by His prophet), she wanted to create space so the presence of God could stay. All it took was for some small adjustments in furnishings.

As a result, despite her barrenness, God worked a miracle and she conceived a son.

And years later, the son, who is then grown up, dies. The woman takes the dead miracle in her arms, and in verse 21, lays the body of her son on the “bed of the man of God” in her home. Elisha came into that very room and brought the son back to life. And Ps Ken’s point was that we must not only make room for God’s presence, but keep room for God’s presence.

It would have been easy for her, after receiving God’s miracle to rearrange the room. After all, her long-held prayer had been answered. She could easily put Elisha’s room to a different use. But she decided to keep room for God’s presence. And the result was that Elisha revived a dead miracle.

The message this evening really spoke to me.

I wondered what adjustments I needed to make to my life; to unclutter. Don’t get me wrong: the ministry opportunities this year have been amazing. In this Year of Open Doors, God has opened lots of doors of ministry and I’ve been able to confidently walk through them. But this has become singularly clear: Programs have replaced Presence. It’s been easy to try to implement change and to invigorate the culture of our ministry, to come up with brilliant new strategic ideas, but how much of it was birthed in God’s presence?

Pastor Benny likes to show us a video of Bill Hybels talk about a guy whose life was transformed because he chose to meet God every day in his rocking chair. This guy went from being a nominal believer to eventually going into full time ministry. Every decision he made was a result of sitting in the rocking chair and meeting with God.

I used to meet with God in my study room. But now it’s full of clutter. There are papers and objects everywhere. We treat it more like a store room. In my quest to keep the visible part of my apartment (the living room which guests get to see) neat and tidy, I shove things into the study room and close the door.

The analogy of furniture and clutter was too hard to resist. God was speaking to me about the need to de-clutter, to come back to His presence again. Programs can only go so far. It’s time for me to clean up the study and get me a comfy chair, where I can sip coffee, read my Bible, pray and host God’s presence.

I think as we draw near to the end of this Year of Open Doors, the thought that God impressed upon me was this: it’s one thing to walk through the doors God opens for us, but 2014 will be a Year of His Presence. It will be about making room for Him and opening the door for Him to walk in whenever He wants.

Set List: Faith Community Church (17 November 2013)

I’m really excited as Fantastic Team 3 prepares to lead worship this Sunday at Faith Community Church. Every time our team is on, there is a real sense of excitement, as if it were all playing together for the first time. And I think that’s the way it should be! So often, our service to God can become dutiful, as if we were just going through the motions. I am grateful for all the members of the team who practise hard and approach serving with enthusiasm!

This week, Ps Benny is continuing his series on Spiritual Warfare.

As I was preparing for this week’s worship, I sensed God speak through 2 Corinthians 2:14:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
We often see this passage as saying that “God leads us in triumph”. But I think “triumphal procession” is more correct. God doesn’t lead us into triumph because He has already brought us victory through the cross. Rather, he leads us into a triumphal procession – an act of recognising and celebrating His victory!
In Roman times, the victorious Roman army would parade through the city with the captive enemy in train. In Colossians 2:15, Paul says that “having disarmed the powers and authorities, [God] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Not only has God won the victory, but the captive enemy is made a public spectacle. Imagine that! This is what happens every time we praise God and testify of His goodness in our lives. When God brings healing, He also makes a mockery of disease. When He brings provision, He makes a spectacle of financial lack. When God brings salvation, He makes a statement against sin and death!
One more thought: in those days, when the winning general rides in procession, his family rides with him. That is a picture of us – the church! We did nothing to win the victory. Jesus did it all on the cross. But as His family, His brothers and sisters and co-heirs, we partake in the victory which we did not earn or achieve! What an amazing blessing!
So here are the songs for this Sunday.
//  Nothing is Impossible (A)
//  In Jesus’ Name (E)
//  10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) (G)
//  Anchor (D)
“In Jesus’ Name” is a new song from Darlene Zschech’s album Revealing Jesus.  Here’s the youtube video so if you are worshipping with us this Sunday, you can learn the song beforehand.
Finally, I’m also super-excited that this Sunday I’ll be leading worship with Ps Yoy. We’ve been waiting for this moment for well over a year! We’ve led worship together in other events, but this is the first time we are doing it together in our home church! It’s going to be an awesome time in God’s presence.

Weekend Ministry with Ray Badham

Ray Badham Photo

I had the honour last weekend of serving with Ps Ray Badham as he led worship at Faith Community Church. Ray is a music director and songwriter at Hillsongs and currently serves as principal of Hillsong College. One of Ray’s songs, “Magnificent” has gone around the world and was most recently re-recorded on Darlene Zschech’s album Revealing Jesus.

Ray led worship with Fantastic Team 3, a great bunch of humble and capable musicians.

Whilst the rehearsal was gruelling (even more gruelling I suspect for Ray who had just arrived in Perth a few hours earlier), I learnt a lot about the hard work that goes into the preparation phase. Because we went over a lot of the details of transitions and turn-arounds, the delivery of the set went really smoothly on Sunday and there was a powerful sense of God’s presence.

Needless to say, our team really enjoyed ourselves (even Caleb our drummer, who shouldered most of the load).

We also got to ask Ray a lot of questions under the guise of taking him out for dinner and lunch!

I am really grateful to Ray for his servant leadership and for our amazing team for supporting him so well.

Last weekend, we also saw the return of Ps Yoy Alberastine to FCC’s worship team. Yoy and I have been close friends for some time even though we had served in different churches, but we both had a heart to see churches connect together through worship. So when I came to FCC, I had always hoped to serve together with Yoy with the team. Unfortunately, around that time, Yoy had just begun his itinerant ministry. Yoy has been a defining influence in my own ministry after I had met with some 8 years ago, and we continued to serve together in various capacities in inter-church events. So I felt a real sense of joy when we finally got to share the platform together at our home church last Sunday!

On a sad note, last week was one of our vocalist’s last day with our team. Tim Loy has been serving with us for some time and was one of the individuals I connected really well with early on when I first joined the church. Tim has just answered God’s call to go to Kingsway Christian Church and help with the pioneering work. I really admire his courage and conviction for taking the step of faith, especially when he felt that a lot of things he had been praying and hoping for in FCC was starting to come to pass. I was told that when Timmy first joined the ministry, he was a bit of a “rascal”. But five years on, he is passionate in his pursuit of God, a ministry leader and a leader in the marketplace. It is a testament to how people’s lives can change when you believe in them! We are going to miss you Timmy!

Young People are the Present

Last night at the Festival of Light conference, Shirley Brownhill (director of YWAM Perth) was speaking about the role of youth in God’s restoration plan.

She shared this amazing thought: that our young people are not just our future, they are both our present and our future!

Indeed, God has always used young people for His purposes! Samuel heard from the Lord when he was 5; David was 16 when he slayed Goliath; Mary was a teenager when she was chosen to bear the Son of God; Josiah was 8 when he reformed a nation.

We often so easily slip into a mindset of thinking that young people only possess passion and enthusiasm which still needs to be tempered by the wisdom that comes from age and experience. This may be so in the natural – but if we think this, we ignore clear biblical examples of how God can use young people, even children, to accomplish His purposes and plans. Indeed, God sees young people as his present mission force.

Case in point: I have had the privilege of serving in a worship ministry full of amazing young people. My worship director at Faith Community Church is only 23 years old. But he is functioning at a level well beyond his age (if we are to use age as a yardstick).

Over the last few months, I have seen him step up to the role of worship director, envisioning our worship team of over 40 people; forging unity amongst us and inculcating godly values. I have watched as he mobilised a team of musicians from different churches to facilitate worship at Festival of Light.  I was 34 years old before I started doing the things that he has been doing.

It would be wrong to think that perhaps God is accelerating his agenda for young people. In fact, as Shirley Brownhill shared, He has been using young people throughout Biblical and church history! Maybe it’s time for us to put aside our prejudices and open our eyes to what God is doing in his restoration plan!

Set List: Faith Community Church (15 September 2013)

It’s actually been a long time since I last posted on this blog. In part, it has been due to the busy-ness of my new role as Assistant Worship Director of Faith Community Church. It has meant spending more time with people and less time in terms of my personal pursuits, such as writing.

I used to say (quite tongue-in-cheek) that I would never consider taking on any pastoral function because I didn’t like people much. In a sense, nothing can quite disappoint you like people. But on the other hand, nothing is more rewarding than seeing people come alongside each other, supporting one another, loving one another and changing for the better. In the last couple of months, I have grown in utmost admiration for my worship director who has unending capacity; my band music director who is one of the most humble and kind people I know; and the amazing members of Band 3 who always work really hard to bring excellence to their worship whenever they are rostered on. I have even had a young guy from youth ministry ask me to mentor him in all things worship. So I am really enjoying this aspect of my journey even though it has taken up more of my time than I might have at first been willing to spare.

The reward of working with people was all the more apparent this week.

As usual, I was really excited to lead today’s worship with Fantastic Team 3. Unfortunately, we couldn’t rehearse on Saturday so we had to come early to church at 6.30 am to set up, sound check and run through the set. I had sent out some instructions during the week for the team to prepare, but then on Friday night, I came down with a bad fever. Like, really bad.

I got worried about whether I would still be able to lead. I tried sleeping it off, but that night, I had chills all night and was aching all over. Saturday came around and I started pumping myself full of antibiotics. I still wasn’t sure if I would make it for Sunday but I was reluctant to get someone to replace me since I was so excited to serve with my band this week. So with some prayer and meds, I felt a lot better by Saturday afternoon and I was determined to keep going.

For a sick person, waking up at 5.15 am on a Sunday morning is no mean feat. I dragged myself trance-like out of bed, had something to eat, took some more meds, took a shower and drove off to church. I felt a bit light-headed, thinking maybe it was a mistake after all trying to lead worship in my condition.

But when I got to the church car park, our sound guy enthusiastically ran to my car and asked me for the keys to the auditorium to open up the place. Normally, I would have to do that. But I was really touched by his servanthood. Everyone looked so excited, I didn’t want to let them down.

By the time we started rehearsing the first song, which I thought was quite tricky (it being a new song after all), my spirit had lifted. These guys had practised hard during the week and everything came together on the first go. From that point on, I could just feel my team ministering the love of God to me. It was a great experience that just flowed through right into the service!

The theme for this week’s worship came from Isaiah 54:10:

Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you

Our chairperson Amos Ngoi opened the service reading from 1 Corinthians 13: that God’s love never fails! As we sang, I just felt the Lord ministering His love to His people. When we got to “Joy of My Desire”, Pastor Benny came up to release a word from Ps 46, that there was a “river of life which made glad the city of God” and that God was our refuge and fortress.

Even though I often try to, when preparing for worship, separate my own needs from the needs of the congregation, today, I really felt God ministering to me during the worship time, that even despite how I was feeling, His love for me never fails.

Here is the list:

// One Thing Remains (A)

// Nothing is Impossible (A)

// Above All (A)

// Joy of My Desire (A)

// Forever Reign (bridge and chorus only) (A)

Here’s One Thing Remains by Bethel Church:

Have a blessed week!