Blessings Reel – January 2012

Okay, I admit the title to this post is a bit tacky, but I’m in a tacky kind of mood.

I actually can’t believe that it’s February and January 2012 has already come and gone.

During the first sermon for 2012, Joseph Prince shared on “Unceasing Fruitfulness” and one of the things he mentioned was that the tree of life had 12 fruits. These fruits speak of 12 different blessings for each month of the year. Looking back over the last 31 days, I can say that I’ve experienced the blessings of God.

It’s a bit difficult to say which one blessing is the one fruit for January, but here’s some of the things that I’m grateful for in the last month:

  • First day of the year: a brilliant sermon at New Creation Church on “Unceasing Fruitfulness” to set the scene for the next 364 days (actually 365 as this year is a leap year). In the year of drought, I can experience unceasing fruitfulness as I meditate on God’s word! Amen.
  • Ling and I had a great time in Singapore for holidays, with plenty of eating and shopping and spending time with her side of the family.
  • At work, I won a difficult appeal in the Refugee Review Tribunal for a Coptic Christian from Egypt. The Tribunal accepted that Australia owed my client protection obligations. The Immigration Department is now processing the remaining requirements and I expect that this client will be granted permanent residency in the next couple of months. I don’t care what people say about the refugee situation in Australia, but when you sit across the table from some guy whose life is on the line, all the ideological grandstanding about boat people and border protection goes out the window. This guy is extremely relieved!
  • We got to go to the Influencers Conference (or parts of it) and heard some inspiring preaching. A friend of mine had booked for the entire conference and wasn’t able to make it, so Ling got free use of his pass for a whole day!
  • We had a great jam session with some old friends from Full Gospel Assembly.
  • We had the opportunity to meet with an apostolic leader in the city and I sense that God is starting to open new ministry doors in 2012 (even though I feel a bit disenfranchised at the moment not being part of a local church). I’m also privileged to be able to serve alongside Shaw Cheong and Judy Low in some developing projects as part of Grace and Fire MInistries.
  • We started going to Faith Community Church for the month and I was completely floored by Pastor Benny Ho’s sermon last Sunday. I’m on the way towards building a strong, consistent devotional life.
  • My blog is going well. It’s only been going since December and as at 31 January 2012, it’s recorded 1353 views! (Okay some of that was me looking at the blog myself, but most of it was legit!) I hope it’s been a blessing to others so far!

And to cap it all off, on the last day of January 2012, a friend told me that Pastor Benny Perez had tweeted my blog. In fact, his church had tweeted it first, and then Benny Perez retweeted it. What an honour. I’m actually not sure how twitter works exactly, but I’m thankful that at least on this occasion, my writing has gone half way around the world!

So looking back through January, I’m thankful for all that God has done for me. I’m deeply loved, highly favoured and greatly blessed!

Worship That Changes the Atmosphere

I was at the Influencers Conference 2012 and really liked what Benny Perez shared about John 12:1-3

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

When Mary poured out the perfume at the feet of Jesus, the text states that the fragrance of the worship “filled the house”.  Extravagant worship transforms the atmosphere.

Firstly, extravagant worship transforms the “atmosphere” of the heart of the worshipper.  On the way to the Influencers Conference, we were running late and traffic in the car park had slowed to a crawl.  What began as excitement quickly gave way to anxiety and frustration.  I also had some “discussions” with my wife.  When I finally made it in to the service, the last thing I felt like doing was to worship.

But when I began to sing, when I began to lift up my hands and to applaud, even when I didn’t feel like it, my heart and my emotions began to change.  I stopped thinking about “poor old me” and I began to focus on Jesus.

History is full of stories of encounters with God in worship that have transformed the worshipper.  But the impact goes beyond the individual as the transformed worshipper, revitalised by the call of God, also becomes a history maker.

Second, extravagant worship transforms the atmosphere in the place of worship.  That’s what happened in John 12.  Mary’s worship caused the whole room to be filled with the sweet scent of perfume.  It was likely that the fragrance continued to linger with those who came into contact with it for days to come.  In Acts 4:31, after the believers prayed and worshipped, it says that the place where they were meeting was shaken.  That’s the power of worship to change the atmosphere of the room.

And last, I believe that extravagant unified worship can transform the atmosphere in a city.  I am looking forward to the day when passionate worship ministers join across the city of Perth to lift up the name of Jesus in praise which pushes back the forces of darkness in the city to see transformation in every part of society.