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”.

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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!

 

 

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

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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!

Blessings Reel – July 2012

At the beginning of the year, following Joseph Prince’s first sermon of the year, I posted that 2012 would be for me a Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness. Reflecting over the 7 months that has already come and gone, I am all the more convinced of this.

Last week, I was watching the movie adaptation of Dr Seuss’s The Lorax. I thought it as a kiddy film, but Ling wanted to watch it so we bought the DVD.

I’ve never read the book before, but essentially the film is about a completely synthetic society devoid of trees. Years ago, a young, ambitious citizen exploited the environment out of capitalist greed to produce something called a Thneed (it’s sort of like a snuggy-like product) and decimated the entire tree population. And so, the next generation grew up never having seen a real tree. (Yes I know, there seems to be a strong environmental agenda!)

The plot revolves around one boy’s quest to find the last remaining seed in order to regrow the tree population. And his attempts to thwart his arch-villain who tries to eradicate that last seed so that he can continue to sell air to the inhabitants of the town.

And the theme of the film centres around the word “Unless…” The entire motif is revealed at the end as the moral of the story:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

As the movie was unfolding, and I was trying to figure what “Unless” was all about, my mind was led to another “unless” quote, this time, found in John 12:24 in the words of Jesus:

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

I was struck by the significance of these two quotes together. In The Lorax, it took a boy to care a whole lot, to risk his life in order to plant a seed, so that society might be redeemed.

And then I think about how God cared about the world a whole lot, that He sent His son to lay down his life, so that humanity might be redeemed.

When Jesus was talking about the kernel of wheat falling to the ground and dying, He was alluding to His own death and sacrifice, so that many seeds would be produced; so that amongst other things, we can experience unceasing fruitfulness.

Paul says it this way in Galatians 3:16-18:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds” meaning many people, but “and to your seed”, meaning one person, who is Christ… For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise, but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

In other words, we enter into the inheritance and promises of blessings to Abraham not by our adherence to the law, but through the sacrifice of Christ in laying His life down (the seed falling to the ground and dying) so that many seeds, and ultimately, fruitfulness would be produced. Aren’t you grateful for the grace of God?

In this context, I want to highlight some fruitful blessings for the month of July:

First, I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a few days with my cousins, aunt and uncle from Canada, whom I have not seen for over 15 years! They’re all really blessed and doing well, but it was great to hang out with them and get to know them a bit better. They are really wonderful people!

Second, I believe that Ling is increasing in anointing in her healing ministry. She has always had an unusual compassion for the sick and this year, when we planted ourselves in Faith Community Church, Ling wanted to join the healing ministry even though she had for the longest time served in the music ministry. But over the last few months, she has read a lot about healing and actively taken part in FCC’s Healing Rooms.

During the time I was sick with the flu, I was coughing incessantly one night and by about 2 am, I was still awake coughing. It must have kept Ling up too, but I think she was more concerned about me! She turned to me, sharply rebuked the cough and then told me to breathe deeply five times and I would fall asleep. Admittedly, I am not too good with this whole healing business (I believe God heals, but sometimes my experiences don’t match up with what I’m supposed to believe) but I was too tired to argue, so I started breathing deeply. Once…twice…three times. By the fourth breath, Ling tells me, I was snoring away. What an amazing grace of God over Ling’s ministry!

And lastly, I was really blessed by Pastor Benny’s message about surrender versus commitment. It was one of the most profound messages I’ve heard in recent years, and it has impacted me deeply.

I’m excited about the next five months of unceasing fruiltfulness and how God will use me, even in some small way, to impact the world. I am blessed so that I can be a blessing.

Have you been blessed lately? If so, please feel free to share here.

Blessings Reel – June 2012

I know we are already well into July, so reflecting on June has come just a bit late.

Last week at cell group, as we were ending the worship time, one of the cell members blurted out an extempore prayer reflecting on God’s goodness and our need for perspective. “Perspective” is an important word because it often goes together with “faith” (another important word that I want to talk more about in my next post because it links nicely with what Pastor Benny Ho preached last Sunday at church).

As I have said in previous posts, I really believe that this year for me is the Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness – a theme which God impressed upon me during the first church service I attended at the beginning of the year at New Creation Church when I was in Singapore. I believe that in the course of this year, God will continue to help me bear unceasing fruit even in the midst of drought and that each month, I will have a different kind of fruit to thank God for.

To be honest, I struggled a bit to try to think of what the fruit for the month of June would be. I had gone from the exhilaration of Converge to long hours at the office trying to sort out all the 30 June deadlines. It was a trying month.

But during cell group last Thursday (and I believe the Holy Spirit was really orchestrating a move amongst us), another cell member shared that we often approach God with a spirit of complaining rather than thankfulness, particular in relation to our job when we’ve been in the same job for a long time. Rewind to the days when we didn’t have a job, the job we’re in now was the biggest miracle and a long-awaited answer to prayer. But (for me, 6 and a half years later), it’s almost like the presence of God had left the office (yes, I know, that last sentence wasn’t theologically sound, but that’s how I felt).

So, as I reflect on the month of June, I’ve decided to shift my perspective.

I am grateful for the blessing of my job. I get to help people and be a godly influence in the workplace. God uses my job to help me pay my mortgage, living expenses and provides financial resources for me to pursue a lifestyle of generosity. When I look at it this way, as a matter of perspective, my job has a been a huge blessing from God. It’s not just a once-off blessing, but a continuous, sustaining blessing from the hand of God. And for that I am grateful.

And I am grateful for the end of another financial year!

And I’m also grateful, as I reflect on being unceasingly fruitful, my fruitfulness has nothing to do with my own efforts and righteousness, but by Christ’s efforts and His righteousness. There’s an old hymn that goes like this:

I dare not trust this sweetest frame

But wholely lean on Jesus name

Dressed in His righteousness alone

Faultless to stand before the throne

If the blessings of God were due to my righteousness and doing, I’d be one of the most unblessed people ever!

But as I was watching Joseph Prince’s Grace Revolution DVD the other night (recorded live at Lakewood Church), Prince shared a really interesting thought about God’s irreversible righteousness.

In Genesis 12:14ff, Abraham had gone down to Egypt and had lied to Pharaoh about Sarah being his sister. Pharaoh then took Sarah into his household. The result? God inflicted Pharaoh and his household (not Abraham) with serious diseases. And Abraham and Sarah were then sent away with sheep, cattle, donkeys and servants. In other words, Abraham was blessed and prospered despite his sin of lying.

And then in Genesis 20:1-17, the episode repeats itself with Abraham doing the exact same thing, this time to King Abimelech. In verse 3, God appears to Abimelech (not Abraham) and says to him that he is as good as dead because he took Sarah, a married woman. Abimelech then sent Abraham and Sarah away with sheep, cattle, slaves and 1000 shekels of silver. Again, Abraham was blessed despite what he did.

This so grated against my performance-centered conditioning that it was hard to take in. I have been taught for a long time that God’s blessing accompanies our obedience, our doing the right thing.

Galatians 3:5-9 says this:

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

What an amazing revelation! God doesn’t work miracles and blessings in our lives because we observe the law, but because we believe! Because we believe, we are children of Abraham and are blessed along with him. And as we are blessed, we can also be a blessing!

Lastly, I am blessed to be able to say that this post is my 100th! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this humble blog would have gotten this far!

Our New Stash of Stuff

We went to the Christian bookshop today and stocked up on some new stuff for our next season of reading and listening.

Here’s our stash:

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Books:
// Healing Unplugged / Bill Johnson and Randy Clark
// Hosting the Presence / Bill Johnson
// Sun Stand Still / Steven Furtick
// Intercessory Worship / Dick Eastman
// The Devil Has No Mother / Nicky Cruz
// Expecting Miracles / Heidi and Rolland Baker
// Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes / Kenneth E Bailey

CDs:
// Decade / Israel Houghton and New Breed
// Cornerstone / Hillsong
// Centre of It All / Desperation Band
// Lift Him Up With Ron Kenoly – 25th Anniversary Edition

DVD:
// Experience Unceasing Fruitfulness / Joseph Prince

These are going to keep me occupied for some time!

I’m particular pleased with Lift Him Up which was in the bargain bin. I’ve decided that given the volume of new worship recordings coming out all the time, there’s no point buying old worship CDs anymore. If a church hasn’t taken a song up, there’s very little chance of finding good, usable songs from two or three years back. We will just need to give them up to music heaven and push forward with the new things. But I make an exception for classics like Lift Him Up, an album that in my opinion really changed the worship landscape. I listened to my old Lift Him Up cassette so often that the ribbon eventually snapped, relegating the cassette to a different type of music heaven. So glad that I was able to find the CD incarnation. It’s like connecting with an old friend after all these years.

The Day the Holy Spirit Fell

Pastor Benny Ho’s message on “Activating the Gifts of the Holy Spirit” today at Faith Community Church was amazing.

It seemed to me that God was orchestrating a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on FCC.

Pastor Benny began his message by sharing on the common theme of the four church camps from which he had just returned from speaking: the Holy Spirit. And I could sense that in today’s service, Pastor Benny brought with him the same spirit and passion of the camp meetings that he had just attended.

The message opened with a quote from DL Moody: “the key to a life of victory is not to suck out a sin here and there, but to be filled with the Spirit”.

It’s true. So often our Christian lives are so focussed on what we do with sin, and how to modify our behaviour, rather than to focus on Jesus and the life-giving flow of His Spirit. I heard someone once ask: “why do we emphasise so much on dying to self, instead of focussing on Jesus and His finished work?” What that person was saying is that, yes, there is a need to die to self, but I can choose to put my attention on myself, or I can focus it on Jesus. I think if a choice is to be made, I would rather fall into the arms of Jesus!

Anyway, today’s message was about activating the gifts of the Spirit in the life of Faith Community Church. I could sense Pastor Benny’s impassioned plea for the church to return to the Holy Spirit as the source of power, rather than relying on programs, skills and smarts.

There is definitely this sense I have felt since being part of FCC (I could be wrong of course!) that there was a time when the power of the Spirit was manifest and obvious, where you couldn’t say “maybe they achieved that because of good planning and great leadership tempered by anointing”, but rather that everyone would say “despite what we did, the Holy Spirit showed up”. There was a sense that in the near forgotten past, there would be prophecies and words of knowledge given right in the midst of the worship, rather than going from song to song in a structured way.

And so, I felt that today’s message wasn’t just about activating the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church, although that would certainly be a by-product. Rather, the message was about hungering after and falling in love with the Holy Spirit again. When that happens, the church will become supernatural in orientation.

From a personal perspective, it seemed that God has been bringing me to this moment. For the weeks leading up to Pentecost, I had been reading Dennis Bennett’s Nine O’Clock in the Morning and more recently Vinson Synan’s An Eyewitness Remembers the Century of the Holy Spirit. What was obvious from reading these accounts was how revival took place every time the Holy Spirit fell, and how the church was irrevocably transformed to live out its purpose and impact the world.

For months now, I have missed that sense of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit which I was used to in my old cell group at my old church. We used to worship in a pretty unstructured way and give room for everyone to move in the gifts. I’m naturally shy and taking risks in releasing words was always scary, but there was also the exhilaration of being part of the what the Holy Spirit was wanting to do in the lives of your brothers and sisters. Having not been part of such a group for some time, I began to drift away from that reliance on the Holy Spirit. I think I became more assured in my own abilities and felt that sometimes my skills and planning had somehow usurped the place of the Spirit.

Today, something resonated in my spirit. It was as if the Holy Spirit was ready to be poured out afresh again, not only on FCC, but also on my life. That God would renew a hunger and passion for His Spirit once again.

So I went down to the altar for prayer and Pastor Daryl T’ng prayed for me. I don’t think I’ve met Daryl before (except through a Whatsapp tennis group, and even then we haven’t yet play together but as I was at the altar with my eyes closed, he began to give me a word. I was little creeped out at first when he mentioned my name because I didn’t recognise the voice (I only realised it was Daryl after the prayer time and I finally opened my eyes). He said that he saw me like a warrior who was tired and worn out and who had laid down my sword and shield. But now it was time to take them up again and make an impact for the kingdom.

Little did I know that at the same time, our friend (and an intercessor) June Yap had passed on a word she had for me to Ling: that she saw me as a tree that was charred but that when the Holy Spirit fell on me, the tree would become shiny and glorious. She saw fruits as well: fruits of many colours and that the fruits were shiny and were in fact jewels. This represents eternal impact. Wow! Unceasing fruitfulness!

I was really, really blessed today. I am really excited about what God is doing in my life in this season and in the days to come.

And I believe that in days to come, God will also reorientate FCC as we begin to dig up those old wells of the Spirit. We will be a skilful church, but also a supernatural church. Like Paul says in 1 Cor 14, when the gifts are in operation, the unbeliever amongst us will have the secrets of their hearts laid bear, and they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming “God is really among you!”

Blessings Reel – May 2012

May has been a big month! I was so busy that I hardly found any time to write any new posts. But it’s been a great month, part of the continuum of this year of Unceasing Fruitfulness.

May was also a month when I learnt to rest in Christ’s strength.

Certainly, being part of Converge has been a great ministry blessing. I was blessed to see so much of the Church in the city of Perth coming together in unity, particular worship ministers at a grassroots level. Relationships have been formed which I think will endure into the future, forging unity through the pillar of worship which will play a critical role in the transformation of the city.

It was also great just to work with worshippers hungering together after God’s presence and to meet some new people.

Someone said to me today that God was increasing my influence in this city. I’m not sure whether that is true or not. But what I am sure of is that this is not the goal. The goal is to see the increase of the influence of the church in the city. I’m just one part of that process.

But the process has also involved a lot of hard work.

And in the midst of it all, I was so busy at the office with two of the partners being on holidays. It was busy during working hours, and it was busy after working hours!

There were times I felt completely out of my depth and thoroughly inadequate for the task I was assigned. In all of it however, I learnt Paul’s lesson in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (MSG):

And He said to me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

The weaker I get, the stronger I become; or rather, the greater Christ’s strength in me.

So many times, those who counselled me told me to relax, not to stress, to take it easy. In principle, I agreed. But in reality, I struggled. But it was a lesson they’ve already learnt through their many years of ministry. And now, it was a lesson I had to learn for myself as well.

I am so grateful for the counsel and prayers of my leaders and mentors. And I’m grateful for Christ’s strength, shining through in the moments of my greatest weakness that allows me to keep in good cheer, to take limitations in my stride and to let Christ take over!

Blessings Reel – April 2012

It’s amazing to think that a third of the year has just flown by. And not just any year, but the Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness.

I like the idea of fruitfulness, because it has got nothing to do with what you do and what you can achieve; rather it has to do with where you are planted.

Think about it this way: a seed grows into a tree because all the potential has already been put into the seed. We have been created by God with potential. And not only potential, but unique potential. And yet, none of that is activated unless we are planted in good soil. The soil makes all the difference!

As we abide in Christ, we bear fruit naturally. We are blessed with fruitfulness. And our fruit becomes a blessing to others. We are blessed to be blessing!

Last month, Pastor Benny began sharing from the book of Ephesians. The first chapter of Paul’s epistle says this (v7):

In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

I like that God is a lavish God. He always does exceedingly abundantly above all we can ever ask or think. But I also like that even though God lavishes His grace and favour on us, He’s not indiscriminating and random. Rather, He lavishes with wisdom and understanding. A father who indiscriminately gives everything to a child spoils the child; a father who gives with discernment provides the child with what is best for the child.

April has been a full-on month for me and many times I’ve felt like maybe I wasn’t cut out for doing the whole Converge thing! Yes, I’ve always thought it’d be cool to have a day of worship, but organising one is something else! Thankfully,the program is now finalised. I’m really glad that many ministries have put their hands up to serve together on the Day of Worship.

And I’m also grateful for my cell group. I’ve really enjoyed going to cell group and even though I’m usually quite introverted, the people in my cell group have really included us and made us feel at home. God is blessing us with some great friends! And I’m really inspired by my cell leaders. My cell leader Ernie is really balanced and wise and Wen is an eternal optimist, able to see the best of every situation. I’m glad that God has planted us in this cell group for this season to inspire us to be better people!

So God has been looking after us; and even though we’ve worked hard and I’m a bit tired now, I know that I am blessed!

I’ll finish off with a tweet from Nicky Gumbel:

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD

Painful moments, TRUST GOD

EVERY MOMENT, THANK GOD

Amen and amen!

Blessings Reel – March 2012

Psalm 23:5-6 says:

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life.

The Message versions says His “beauty and love chase after me every day of my life!”  What an amazing God we serve!  We don’t need to chase after His blessings, but as we allow ourselves to be led by Him – our Good Shepherd – His promise is that His goodness chases after us.  This means that even when we least expect it, God’s blessings sneaks up on us and surprises us.  In other times, it bears down on us – we can’t escape it!

I can’t believe that we are already one third of the way through the year.  In this Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness, I believe that I will not feel it when heat comes, but my leaves will be evergreen.  As Joseph Prince shared at the beginning of the year, each month will bring a new manifestation of fruitfulness.

One of the major blessings for this month is a vicarious one.

My wife had been looking for a job for some time now and was a bit discouraged after receiving a few rejection letters.  However, one day she was told that the government was going to offer her a position but that it would take some time to process.  The job would be fairly run-of-the-mill, but the hours would be great and it would be a part-time position, leaving her time to do stuff around the home and to be involved in ministry.

As she was waiting for the job to come to confirmed, she saw an advertisement for a job that she had really wanted with a boutique public relations, branding and design firm.  She applied for it not really expecting anything and within a couple of days, she was asked to “go in for a chat”.  Then she was asked to work for a day on a freelance basis.

After the freelance day, she wasn’t sure whether she’d be offered a formal position, but then we went on a trip down to Dunsborough for her birthday.  When we got back, she was formally offered the government job, but she didn’t sense that it was what she really wanted, especially because she wasn’t sure if the boutique firm would give her a job offer.

So, being a wise husband, I suggested to her that she should go back to the boutique firm to ask what their intentions were, otherwise she would take the government job.  The response from the boutique firm was:  “don’t work for the government – we want you to work for us!”

And best of all, even though the job was advertised as a full-time job, the boutique firm was prepared to let her work a three-day week – so she gets a four-day weekend every week!  I’m so envious!

That’s the provision of God.

There have been other blessings too of course.  We’ve finally found a home church to settle in and in the past month, we’ve met some really great people and made some new friends in our cell group.

And as far as this blog is concerned, it has now been going for four months and readership has steadily grown over that time.  Last month, we hit 1,012 views!

I’m grateful to God for His blessings in my life.  God has a way of causing our cups to overflow!  His blessings sneak up on us and surprise us.