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!

Worship in the Heart of the Perth Cultural Precinct – Part 2

Last week, I posted on an idea I had about doing a worship event right in the middle of the Perth Cultural Precinct.

I have lots of crazy ideas, but sometimes I wonder whether many of these are actually from God. So, as I prayed through this idea, I started articulating it with some fellow worshippers in our city, just to see whether it resonated with them.  Surprisingly (or maybe I shouldn’t be surprised?), they all got excited about the idea.

Yesterday, I attended a conference on “Israel and the Nations” presented by David Davis and Peter Tsukahira from Kehilat haCarmel in Israel.  I was really impressed by how God was fulfilling biblical prophecy in our lifetime as it pertains to Israel and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

One of the things that really struck me was how pedestrian our concept of spiritual warfare can be compared to our Israeli brethren who are daily in the literal line of fire.  As David Davis was teaching, he said that one of the keys to advancing in spiritual warfare was public worship.

And it made me think about how worshipping publicly in the middle of Perth’s cultural precinct might not only be a display of God’s glory in our city, but might also somehow be a means to advancing God’s kingdom.

One of the things that is becoming more clear to me is that when we do this worship event, it will be just that: worship and nothing else.  Yes, we will be musically excellent, but we won’t worry about impressive riffs and intros.  We won’t worry about choosing “seeker friendly” songs.  We will be focussed solely on exalting the name of Jesus publicly in our city.  And as we do, we wait with expectation that God might answer with the fire of His presence and turn the hearts of the lost to Him.