12 Fruit for 12 Months: The Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness in Review

Unceasing Frultfulness

So we come to the last day of 2012 and it’s always good to end by revisiting the premise set forth at the beginning. It helps us to see how far we have come and how faithful God is.

As I shared in an earlier post, we were at the first and last services of 2012 at New Creation Church. New Creation Church itself went through an amazing journey this year, settling into some swanky new premises at the Star Performing Arts Centre.

On 1 January 2012, Pastor Joseph Prince announced that 2012 would be the Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness based on Jeremiah 17:7-8:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

And then, taking his cue from the tree of life in Revelations which bore 12 different fruits, Prince declared that in 2012, we would experience a different fruit each month of the year.

He finished the first service by asking us to present three different requests to God, believing that in the course of the year, God will provide an answer to each one of those requests.

I remember still lifting up those requests during that service.  The first was that Ling and I would find and settle down in a new church family. The second, that I would see our investment property sold at a particular price. The third, which I was even too scared to fully articulate, was that God would use me to somehow bring unity amongst worship leaders in the city of Perth.

Miraculously, I saw God answer each and every one of those requests over the course of 2012!

So here is 2012 in review – 12 fruits for each month!

JANUARY: REST AND REFRESHING

We had a great time of rest in Singapore and was inspired when we went to New Creation Church with the theme for the year. It set the course for the year of our experiencing great blessings even in the midst of drought. Even when heat came, we remained ever-green!

We also connected with an apostolic leader in Perth, Wendy Yapp, who has been instrumental in encouraging us forward in our ministry in the city.

FEBRUARY: A NEW HOME IN FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH

We were so blessed to settle into our new church family, Faith Community Church!

The messages we’ve heard Sunday after Sunday have been inspiring and life-changing. Pastor Benny Ho is a visionary and a brilliant teacher of the Word. And we’ve enjoyed meeting new people and being part of the church’s various ministries.

MARCH: LING IS BLESSED WITH A NEW JOB

Ling had been freelancing for a while and had been wanting to get permanent part-time work. God oversupplied and she found herself in a dream job in a dream company with great colleagues. How she ended up in that job was a miracle!

APRIL: AN AWESOME CELL GROUP!

It’s one thing to be part of a church, but another to actually be part of the church community.

We are really grateful to our cell members and our cell leaders, Ernie and Wen for making us feel included and loved.

Having such a great bunch of new friends has been instrumental in seeing us through a period of great transition in our lives. It has been one of the great highlights of the year!

MAY: CONVERGE

Converge full logo

 

We got to be part of the Converge organising committee, putting together a week of events during which the church came together in our city to pray and worship. I was privileged to help organise the Day of Worship – 14 hours of non-stop worship – anchored by different church groups throughout the day.

JUNE: ANOTHER FINANCIAL YEAR IS OVER

For the industry I work in, everything revolves around the financial year i.e. 1 July to 30 June. God sustained me for another year in my job!

JULY: LING JOINS THE HEALING MINISTRY

I was really grateful to see Ling begin serving in a new ministry in healing and intercession. This was something that has been on her heart for some time, and even though I miss serving together with her in worship, I have seen how excited she has gotten every time she sees God works in a person through healing.

Also, Pastor Benny preached one of the best sermons of the year on surrender versus commitment.

AUGUST: CINDY RATCLIFF COMES TO PERTH

Cindy Ratcliff signing

Metrochurch hosted one of my favourite worship leaders, Cindy Ratcliff. And we got to take a photo with her!

And I started serving again in worship ministry at Faith Community Church! Team 3 and Lisa Palm (our worship director) rock!

SEPTEMBER: ARROWS COLLEGE

I was so blessed to attend a one-week module on worship at Arrows College taught by Ray Badham. It was great to see a fresh perspective from a seasoned teacher of worship and also to catch some of the passion from the other students.

OCTOBER: INVESTMENT PROPERTY SOLD

We sold our old apartment! We had been thinking of selling it for quite a while, but the timing had never felt right. So one of the requests at the beginning of the year that I presented to God was to sell the apartment at a specific price. However, as the year was panning out, the economy wasn’t doing well and I began to think that it would be unrealistic to sell for that price.

However, just as we listed the property with our real estate agent, property prices started to recover and we went out on a limb and put up a higher asking price.

Miraculously, within one day of the home open, we had an offer at the asking price, which far exceeded the price I had specified in my request at the start of the year! God is good!

NOVEMBER: JOURNEYING TOWARDS GLOBAL DAY OF WORSHIP

I was privileged to work with a great bunch of worshippers in organising GDW!

DECEMBER: GLOBAL DAY OF WORSHIP

Global Day of Worship

In December, I had the privilege of seeing GDW come to fruition and how God exceeded my wildest expectations!

I really believe (as one of the intercessors had prayed) that it would be an historic moment in our city and that God will orchestrate greater unity amongst the church in Perth, particularly at a grassroots level!

And this blog reached 15,000 hits yesterday!

So, it’s been an amazing year. Never would I have thought the year would have been so fruitful! But God is true to His promises and He always oversupplies, doing exceedingly, abundantly above what we could ever ask or think. The year 2012 has indeed been a year of Unceasing Fruitfulness. I am so thankful to God for what He has done in and through our lives. If 2012 was great, I believe that 2013 will be greater still. I can’t wait to see what great adventures God has in store for us!

Happy New Year and God bless you. May 2013 be your best year yet!

Blessings Reel – September 2012

It’s a long time coming, but I’ve finally had the time to sit down and put down my thoughts about God’s blessings in my life for September in this Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness.

I think that my reflections for September are best captured in Zechariah 4:6:

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

In the Message paragraph, Eugene Peterson renders it this way: “You can’t force these things. They only come through by my Spirit.”

By far the greatest blessing for me in September was the experience of being part of Arrows College for the Worship and Songwriting module. As I had shared in a previous post, God reminded me again about who the main stakeholders were of worship: namely God, the congregation and the lost.

I also got to try my hand at songwriting and I’m actually beginning to think that Faith Community Church could probably write enough songs for a live worship recording in the near future!

Beyond that, I was really inspired by the stories of some of the students and how God had brought them through their own journeys to their “now”. Even though some of them had gone through some difficult times, it is clear that God was with them through it all, teaching them important life lessons as they learnt to trust Him more.

One of the students shared from an interesting passage in Judges 20, which describes how the Benjamites were shielding some wicked men (who had committed a heinous sin) from Israel’s just retribution. The tribes of Israel, the passage says in verse 18, went up to Bethel and enquired of God, and God told them that Judah should attack the Benjamites first. However, instead of victory, the Israelites suffered the loss of 22,000 men.

The Israelites again enquired of the Lord and the Lord answered, “Go up against them” (verse 23). Again however, instead of victory, the Benjamites cut down 18,000 Israelites.

On the third occasion, the Israelites again inquired of the Lord and the Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.” It was only on this third occasion that victory came.

The student who shared from this passage was a ministry leader who felt God had challenged her to make some radical changes to her ministry methodology and she had felt at times that she wasn’t seeing the results of those changes.

I can relate to this, particularly because this year, I felt that God had called me to play a bigger role in worship within the city, rather than just within one congregation (Don’t get me wrong though. I am blessed to have started serving in Faith Community Church’s worship team and to work with an awesome band!). There have been several confirmations of this, and more recently, I was privileged to be asked by the Director of Global Day of Worship to organise a GDW event in the city of Perth. But I have to admit that I don’t completely feel comfortable doing any of this. I feel completely stretched, taking steps of faith in unfamiliar territory!

But I was really encouraged by the lesson from Judges 20. Even though you have enquired of God, and He has given the confirmation, the answer might not always come immediately. There may still be times when it seems like nothing is happening, or there may be some setbacks. (I like what Joel Osteen often says: “God uses your setbacks as a set-up for your greatest comeback!”) But in time, God will bring it to pass.

I felt that God packaged this lesson nicely for me last week when Edmund Chan came to preach at Faith Community Church on the message “When Your Dreams Remain Unfulfilled”. He made three points:

  • Make sure your dream is rooted in the promise of God.
  • Make sure your confidence is rooted in the resources of God.
  • Make sure your perspective is rooted in the timing of God.

The key to understanding Zech 4:6, Rev Edmund says, is the context. Unlike David or Solomon who was endowed with material resources, Zerubbabel was confronted with the task of rebuilding the temple with very little manpower and materials. And in the midst of this apparent lack, the voice of God came as if to say “don’t focus on what you don’t have, because God will cause it to happen by His Spirit. It’s not about you and what you don’t have, but about Me and what I do have.”

And this is counterintuitive because when we face challenges, we tend to rely on our little resources. God however is calling a kingdom people who will live counterintuitively and rely on His resources.

So I am encouraged to live what Rev Edmund calls “diachronistically”, i.e. to live through time, i.e. to take a long-term view, to see the long haul, not to look at disappointments and challenges, but to focus on the destiny.

And so, now that we are in the final quarter of the Year of Unceasing Fruiltfulness, I am convinced that God who started a good work will be faithful to complete it. As it says in Zechariah 4:7, the capstone, the point of completion, will come forth with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” By His grace alone!

A Fresh Perspective on Rehearsals

One of the things I really enjoyed from my time at Arrows College was hearing Ray Badham’s fresh perspective on things I had already known and read copiously about.  Such as how we approach rehearsals.

I come from a background where “worship” (in the narrow sense) was the primary call of the worship team: which means (for want of a better term) the worship team must learn to practise the presence of God before they practise music.  So for me, a good rehearsal means one where the musicians and singers at some point will “lose themselves” and “just worship”. (Actually for a team of musicians with varied skill levels, it’s ironically quite difficult to achieve this without the musicians flowing together, which in turn takes practice!)

Ray Badham’s perspective, on the other hand, is that if worship is all encompassing (as it must be), then our rehearsal is our worship. Put another way, our investment in getting the technicalities right (even at the cost of “losing ourselves in worship”) is our offering to God when we function as musicians.

Similarly on a Sunday, when we lead worship, “losing ourselves in worship” shouldn’t be our priority. We should be completely aware of the congregation, what is happening on stage and be continuously communicating with our fellow band members. Because in our function as worship leaders, our leading worship is our worship.

Presumably (and this goes for everyone, whether you are on a worship team or not), we can get lost in worship on our own time, rather than on the time of our team members or on the congregation’s time.

So do you agree? Is there a place for musicians to “get lost in worship” on a Sunday?

 

What is Essential, Preferable and Can Be Developed

During the week at Arrows College, Pastor Ray Badham shared about building a worship team and he posed the question: in selecting your team members, what characteristics are essential; what characteristics are preferable; and what characteristics can be developed?

The students started brainstorming different answers for each category. Some people thought that it was essential that worship team members have a “heart of worship”. Others thought a “good attitude” was essential. Some students then said “attitude” was too wide a concept: perhaps certain traits like humility and teachability were essential whilst other traits could be deemed preferable.

Depending on your school of thought or ministry background, some also thought that skill was something that was essential; whilst others thought skill was only preferable.

“Availability” was also an interesting one. Some people thought that availability was essential; but others felt that availability was something that should be looked at depending on the season of life that a person was going through.

At the end of the day, all these characteristics are actually questions of degree. Ask yourself this: if having a heart of worship is an essential quality of a worship team member, what do you mean by a person’s having “a heart of worship”? If worship encompasses our whole life (and it does), then does that mean your ministry candidates must be fully sold out and surrendered to God? Less than completely sold out suggests that a person may only have a “partial” heart of worship. Quite possibly, the worship leader may not yet have this quality!

Some people thought maturity was “preferable”. But what level of maturity? How mature is mature enough? Can’t maturity be developed?

What about skill? Most worship teams desire to have musicians, singers and technicians with a level of skill. But ultimately, the leadership of the team must decide what degree of skill is acceptable. For example, if you are Lakewood Church, you would expect your musicians to have a high skill level – because you have that option and a huge pool of talent to work with. If you are a small local congregation, you may have to accept a much lower skill threshold.

Ultimately, I think there is only one requirement that is essential. It is a requirement on leaders of worship ministry – not on the candidates themselves. It is this: to exercise wisdom and to hear from God in the recruitment process. Leadership will need to consider their vision and goals and to formulate a policy as to what they would like to see in their worship teams, but then also exercise a great deal of flexibility in dealing with people on a case by case basis – because at the end of the day, there are no perfect people.

I remember one time a member of the worship team told the worship pastor, “I think I need to step down because I haven’t been doing my quiet time”.  The pastor simply replied, “Don’t step down – just start doing your quiet time!” What wisdom!

Another time, one worship team I worked with took in a member who had a difficult attitude and was only marginally skilled. The worship pastor sat down with this guy week after week to do devotions and Bible reading together; and the team spent time investing in this person’s skill.  Three years later (!) the guy had developed a much better attitude and became extremely skilled at what he did.

But it took the patience of the worship pastor to come alongside this guy and to journey with him.

Sometimes, the worship ministry can be an entry point into community for people who would not otherwise find a sense of life-giving community in a church. If we exclude these people from the worship ministry for, say, attitude or lack of skill, could we be jeopardising their Christian walk?

On the other hand, if we put someone on the team with very little skill, could we end up delivering a second-rate worship experience so that we value one person over the countless others in the congregation who depend on the worship team to lead them into worship?

These are all things which worship ministry leadership must grapple with and strike a suitable balance.

Here’s a final interesting thought. I put in the category of “can be developed” the item “a saving faith in Jesus”. It sounds pretty funny, but I think it’s possible for even non-Christians to be part of the worship team.

I came across this in a thriving church plant in Japan where to reach out to young unsaved musicians, these musicians were given the opportunity to serve in a worship band. This was because whilst young Japanese people may learn a musical instrument as a hobby, they seldom have the opportunity to play in a band setting. So the church picked up on this as an evangelistic possibility. Sure enough, within months, all the unsaved worship musicians became Christians as a result of being in God’s presence week after week and hearing the preaching of the Word.

Some great worship leaders of the contemporary worship movement started playing in the worship team when they weren’t yet Christians. Henry Seeley and Lincoln Brewster come to mind.

I heard another great story about a new church plant in a former Soviet bloc country. The church was started by the pastor and his wife. They had no one else. So they hired secular musicians to “perform” the worship leading function every Sunday. At the end of the message, they would give an altar call and over a period of months, the church began to grow. The worship team then finally fronted the pastor and asked “you have been inviting people to receive Jesus at the end of your message whilst we played. When do we get the chance to receive Jesus?” The band front person is now the senior pastor of that church!

Yes, even saving faith is not necessarily an “essential” in worship team building. It can be developed!

 

An Adventure in Missing the Point

Today Ray Badham taught about building a worship team at Arrows College.

We were asked to brainstorm along the lines of who the stakeholders were in our worship service.

One by one, the students called out ‘worship leader’, ‘musicians’, ‘vocalists’, ‘sound technicians’, ‘dancers’, ‘visuals’ etc. I thought I was being pretty savvy by calling out ‘senior pastor’.

Funnily enough, it took us ages before the three main stakeholders were identified – ‘God’, ‘the congregation’ and the ‘unsaved’. Suddenly there was a gasp of recognition.

Talk about the wood for the trees! At a time in history when the church is recovering ground on the arts, today was a timely reminder for us to realign ourselves with what’s important; to not get too caught up in music and production at the expense of true worship.

More Definitions of Worship

Today at Arrows College, we delved deeper into the theology of worship and creativity.  I was really inspired by the first session in which we surveyed worship through the Old Testament. Because of time constraints, we couldn’t look into individual passages in much detail, but I was thinking it’d be a great idea when I get some time to properly survey the Bible from Genesis to Revelation through the lens of worship. That will be a fairly big project to undertake in the future!

Anyway, in this post, I want to consider in more detail what “worship” means.

So far, we’ve had the following definitions.

Harold Best:

Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am, all that I do, and all that I can ever become to God.

Timothy Keller:

Worship is ascribing ultimate value to something in a way that engages the whole being.

Here are some more definitions:

Evelyn Underhill:

Worship is the total adoring response of man to the one Eternal God, self-revealed in time.

Archbishop William Temple:

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God.  It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of His will to His purpose—and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.

Warren Wiersbe:

Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are—mind, emotions, will and body—to what God is and says and does.  This response has its mystical side in subjective experience and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed will.  Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.

Judson Cornwall:

Worship is an attitude of heart, a reaching towards God, a pouring out of our total self in thanksgiving, praise, adoration and love to the God who created us and to whom we owe everything we have and are. Worship is the interaction of man’s spirit with God in a loving response

David Peterson:

Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.

Louie Giglio

Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God for who He is, and what He has done; expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.

Having looked at all those definitions, it will be clear to you that it’s pretty difficult to comprehensively nail down the concept of worship.

During our worship survey, our group was asked to look at Micah 6:6-8 and answer the questions: (1) What worship is; and (2) What worship is not.  Lisa, Nicky, Serene, Hilary and I came up with some profound thoughts which I will try to synergise below. So these thoughts are not mine. Rather they are the combined work of a bunch of inquisitive thinkers.  Here’s the passage:

With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

First, what worship is not.  Worship is not about offering of things or possessions. It’s not about systems and formulae and rituals. Nor is it about quantity, quality or even extravagance. The prophet asks: what can I offer? Rams? Oil? My firstborn? I think we all agree that our firstborn is one of the most precious things we can offer. It not only signifies our affection, but also our help, support and our legacy. Notice that the offer of the firstborn is for “my transgression”. When it is “me-centred”, it cannot be worship.  So you can give your most precious thing, and it will still not be worship. Worship is not about our trying to buy God’s favour.

The key is your attitude.

The prophet poses the question: “What does the Lord require?” This points to obedience to God’s requirements. Worship is therefore essentially a lifestyle of obedience which manifests in outward actions: “to do”, “to love” and “to walk”. And it is not only about our being in proper relationship with God, it is also about our right relationship with the people around us.

It is only in that context then that offerings, lavishness and extravagance, when done towards God, have their proper place, be it the widow’s mite, Mary’s alabaster box or Abraham’s placing of Isaac on the altar.

And I think it’s apt that it’s never about our firstborn, but God’s firstborn. Jesus is the inspiration and progenitor of our worship. We love, because He first loved us. When we were unable and unawakened to worship and in a state of sin, Christ died for us. So, shall we offer our firstborn? No – the suggestion is that because God has offered His firstborn, He has now paved the way for us to worship! Hallelujah!

Going Back to (Worship) School

Today, was my first day back at school following my last exam at uni and after 12 years of working life. It was quite a surreal experience. I almost felt like I should have packed a piece of fruit and a muesli bar and 15% juice in a tetrapak. I also wondered whether the cool kids would want to sit with me.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but I was glad to be back studying again, even if it was just for one week at the Worship Module of Arrows College with Pastor Ray Badham of Hillsong College teaching on worship and songwriting.

The first thing that really amazed me was just how many students had set aside 10 weeks of their life to complete the Arrows course. There were people from all generations and all walks of life. I was really impressed by a young worship leader from Faith Community Church who decided to step out of the comfort zone of his job as an accountant in a Big 4 firm to pursue God’s call for his life in church ministry.

During the morning chapel time, Pastor Benny Ho shared an insight from John Maxwell about three zones that we can live in: the challenge zone; the comfort zone and the cruising zone. When we operate in the challenge zone, this is where we are stretched and stimulated, ultimately leading to our growth. When we are in our comfort zone, all we are doing is something we already know. The worst is when we fall into the complacency of the cruising zone. This essentially leads to stagnancy and death. Pastor Benny encouraged us to always reinvent ourselves and put ourselves back on the shelf of the challenge zone.

I feel that this year, God has really challenged me beyond the things I am used to – particularly in the context of ministry where I am stepping out to do more things within the city itself. I feel completely out of my depth but at the same time needing to rely on God all the more.

So there I was, sitting in a class of 30 or so students, hoping that God would somehow speak to me about this next phase of my journey. I didn’t come with much of an agenda, except perhaps that I was getting a bit tired of my day job and hoping that this will be a week of refreshing and re-firing and being receptive to whatever God would say to me.

Today was also about going back to school on the basics of worship.

Pastor Ray shared about what worship is: essentially making the point that it is a lot more than just what we do on Sunday.

I have in two previous posts, Defining Worship and Defining Worship Part 2 sought to define worship. Looking at worship in contrast to idolatry, Pastor Ray adopted Timothy Keller’s definition: “worship is ascribing ultimate value to something in a way that engages the whole being.” And Pastor Ray shared that the primal design and direction of our lives is to worship God. When idolatry comes in, it distorts our lives.

Martin Lloyd-Jones says this:

An idol is anything in my life that occupies a place that should be occupied by God alone… An idol is something holds such a controlling position in my life that it moves and rouses and attracts me so easily that I give my time, attention and money to it effortlessly.

The psalmist observes in Psalm 135:15-18:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them

We become like what or who we worship. And that is why Paul says in Romans 1:18ff that as a result of idolatry, God gave humanity over to futile and foolish thoughts and to the degradation of their bodies.

True worship on the other hand transforms us into the image of God. So worship transforms us in an upward spiral towards becoming more and more like Christ, from glory to glory, strength to strength. As Christ-followers, we don’t always engage in true worship, but when we do, transformation is always the result.

We often equate worship with music and singing, but it was great to be reminded about this foundational truth: Worship is much more than what happens on a Sunday. It is about ascribing God his true worth and in the process being changed to be more like HIm.

Blessings Reel – August 2012

Ephesians 1:11-12 says this:

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

The Message paraphrase puts it this way:

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

August has been a busy month, but it was entirely filled with God’s blessings.

First, there was the Israel and the Church Conference with Peter Tsukahira and David Davis. I am always dumbfounded whenever I hear people teach about Israel. I’m not a fan of those who teach about Israeli politics and somehow try to use the Bible to justify their stance, but it’s completely different when teachers take a biblio-historical perspective and show us how Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled right before our very eyes.

If anything, it makes me love the Bible more. Sure, people try to challenge the authority of the Bible in all sorts of ways, but frankly, I’m tired with apologetics and proof texts and all that stuff. Skeptics can argue about these things all they want. But when I see the heart of God for Israel, both in the Old and New Testaments, and see how current and historical events pertaining to Israel are fulfilling prophecy, you have no doubt about the divine authorship of the Bible, and God’s passionate heart for His chosen people.

You might say that before the foundations of the world, God had already predestined to reconcile Israel to Himself in conformity with the purpose of His will for the praise of His own glory.

Second, getting to see Cindy Ratcliff lead worship in Perth was pretty much a dream come true. Okay, so maybe there is a bit too much celebrity-ism in worship, but the take-home message was that God uses humble vessels like Ratcliff to entrust big visions and ministries. I was impressed by her voice, stage presence and songwriting skills, but above all, I was inspired by her lack of pretension; her love for people and her passion for God’s presence.

Third, a friend of mine for whom I was praying survived a job cull in his company. Even though 75 per cent of the team lost their jobs, my friend experienced God’s favour in being able to keep his!

Fourth, I finally signed up for Bible School. Well, sort of. I’ve always wanted to try going to Bible School, but it’s difficult to take such a big step. But I am grateful that Pastor Benny organised Arrows College and an impressive faculty to teach a 10-week course. I couldn’t arrange to take 10 weeks off work, but I am going to a one-week module on “Worship and Songwriting” being taught by Ray Badham.  I’m really looking forward to it.

Fifth, this blog reached 10,000 hits in August. It is only by God’s grace and I am trusting that it will grow from strength to strength. This month, as part of Faith Community Church’s Season of Prayer, my wife has forced me to “fast” (i.e. give up) checking up on my blog stats. I was quite obsessed with seeing how many hits the blog was getting each day, but I’ve decided to leave that issue up to God.

Finally, I was blessed to become part of Faith Community Church’s worship team. After having not served in a church worship ministry for over a year, it’s great to get back into a ministry which I feel God has made a life-long calling for me.

As Peter Tsukahira shared during the Israel and the Church Conference, based on Ephesians 1:11-12, before we were even born, God had already designed us with a destiny. When God starts restoring us to the dreams He had for us, this is “our calling”. And the Holy Spirit gives us gifts to support our calling – gifts which are more than just talents. This is called “our anointing”. The gifts and calling are without repentance, i.e. God does not change His mind on them.

When we align with God’s calling and anointing, we come into our inheritance and we begin to bear fruit.

Indeed, this is a year of alignment, and a year of Unceasing Fruitfulness! It is indeed “in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for!” Amen!