I Love Our Church

I think I’ve got to stop crying so much in church. It’s getting embarrassing. You can only hold it in so long before it wells up at the bottom of your eyes and one blink sends a little stream down your cheek. I usually do the move where you discretely move your index finger flush across your eye like a windshield wiper to remove the tears.

Today, Pastor Benny Ho was sharing about the power of spiritual fathering from Malachi 4:5,6:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: ‘And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers….’

It was a fitting end to the Intentional Disciplemaking Church Conference at Faith Community Church. It was also Father’s Day.

The photo above shows the huge children’s church filling the stage as they presented a special item. Not only was it cute and heartwarming, it was as if God was putting on metaphorical display the potential of the next generation.

Pastor Benny shared a moving story about how when he started out in ministry, he was a slight figure with a squeaky voice and how he struggled to get speaking engagements. He shared how depressing his journey had been, and it was difficult not to feel sorry for him. But the turning point came when a Methodist pastor looked him in the eye and said “I believe in you” and then asked him to teach a Christian Education class. This became the launching pad for his future ministry.

The story made me think about all the mentors who had, in one way or another, shaped my life and ministry because they had believed in me and the potential of God in my life.

  • Like my first youth group leader, who took a bunch of young, immature guys and told us we could do anything in Christ. Even though we were very young Christians, I remember how he sat us in a circle and told us he believed we could hear from God for a word of knowledge or prophecy, and he made us practise it.
  • I remember a pastor who saw that I had the gift of leading worship from a young age and gave me opportunities to lead, first in a cell group, and then in a Sunday service.
  • I remember a cell leader who met up with me regularly and used to pass me Kent Henry CDs because he saw the potential in me to lead worship with a prophetic intercessory edge.
  • And the worship pastor who believed that God could use me in the city and on the mission field; and that God had given me a calling in intercessory worship for the nations.
  • And another worship pastor I met 7 years ago in a coffee shop who taught to me to dream big; to see worshippers coming together as gatekeepers for the release of God’s glory in the city.
  • And my old senior pastor, who taught me to value God’s Word.
  • And Pastor Benny too, who years ago taught me how to be a teacher of the Word! (To this day, my teaching notes still resemble the Arrows School of Ministry template!)

That’s the power of believing in someone! As Pastor Benny put it in his message today, we all need sponsorship. We all need someone to believe in us first.

I am convinced that Faith Community Church is about to enter a new season of growth as we connect, equip, mentor and release the next generation of leaders!

Pastor Benny concluded his message with a challenge to the sons and daughters as well. Not only is God turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, but also the hearts of the children to the fathers.

We all need to have a heart of spiritual sons and daughters, committed to the house of God, realising that we don’t pursue our own vision, but the Father’s vision; that we are called to build the house out of love, not out of duty.

In Pastor Benny’s own words: “We have to own the house!”

Those words really struck me. Having been a “son of another house”, a congregation in which I had been a part for 21 years, it was actually hard to let go of the past, to keep referring to that congregation as “my church” or “my old church”. I remember even in the first few months I was at FCC, I would say (referring to FCC), “this church” and “your cell group”. But I was convicted this morning.

I am now part of a wonderful, supportive, life-giving cell group with some awesome people and some of whom are only beginning to reach for their potential. My wife Ling has actively been part of the prayer and healing ministry. And yesterday, I started ministering in the worship team. So today, I draw the line in the sand. No, FCC is not just “Pastor Benny’s church” or “this church” anymore. Today, I am clearer that ever before: “This is our church, and I love our church!”

I Heard Angels Singing Today

Today, I heard a sound in worship that I had never heard before in all my years in worship ministry. It left me completely in awe of God.

Here’s the context.

This weekend, Faith Community Church is having its Intentional Disciplemaking Church Conference (IDMC). Intentional disciplemaking is one of the redemptive gifts which FCC brings to the church in Perth. I sensed that for FCC, this wasn’t just another conference, it was a defining moment for the church as it moves into its next season of growth.

As some of you may know, I was recently accepted into FCC’s worship team. My first rostered session is actually on 16 September. But last night, after the first session of the Conference, Pastor Yoy Alberastine came up to me and asked if I could back-up sing for him because he was going to lead the worship at the start of the Young Working Adults and Family Zone Plenary Session (which happened this morning). He said together, we’d blow the roof off the place. I love it when Yoy talks like this. What he means is that God was going to visit, so I agreed, and this became my first time on-stage at FCC. And what a memorable occasion it was.

As the session began this morning, Pastor Yoy encouraged the congregation to give their all in worship. He said that the realm of the dance wasn’t exclusive to the youth, and that he had been in camps where elderly people would dance before the Lord for an hour without stopping. So he encouraged the congregation to come before the Lord without any inhibitions. It was great to see the adult members of FCC coming down to occupy the “mosh pit”.

I believe that this set the scene for what was to come.

As we went into our last song “Consuming Fire” there was suddenly a sense of outpouring of God’s presence that was unmistakable. It was as if the Holy Spirit was responding to our cries of “there must be more than this” and “Lord, let Your glory fall”. And as we broke into free worship, the congregation began to sing out and pray spontaneously.

And here was the unusual sound that I heard: rising up from the open singing and prayer, I heard loud chanting, the sound of a crowd roaring. I couldn’t make out any distinct words, and it was like nothing I’ve heard before. The closest thing I could describe it as was that it was similar to a bunch of soccer hooligans at Wembley stadium chanting together.

My first reaction was that there was something wrong with my earpiece, so I stopped singing. Then I thought maybe it was our East Timor missionary praising loudly at the front (he was such an inspiring sight!), but then it couldn’t have been the sound of just one person. I thought I was just hearing things in my head, but I didn’t really want it to stop. The roar was rising.

At the end of the session, I asked if Yoy heard what I heard as well. Without batting an eyelid, he said “when the heavenly hosts join in worship, it’s a completely different thing.” Could it be that angels sang with us this morning?

I thought maybe it was just the two of us who heard the sound , so I asked a few other people. My wife Ling heard it too, and so did another friend of mine in our cell group. Others whom I asked did not hear anything unusual.

Now, I am convinced that for the first time ever, I’ve heard the sound of the heavenly hosts joining us in congregational worship.

It was significant for two reasons. Personally, I felt as if God was affirming to me, “you are in the right place”. And secondly, it was as if the favour of God was pouring out over FCC in this new season as if saying to the church, “you are heading in the right direction”.

I now have a greater insight into Zephaniah 3:17:

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

I have always believed this in a metaphorical sense, but now I believe that supernaturally, God can and does audibly sing over HIs people to tell them that He is delighting in their worship; that as He joins in our singing, He is bringing us into His eternal perichoresis.