If Only All Rehearsals Were Like Today’s

I have just come back from an amazing rehearsal with the Converge Asian Worship band at the Hen House rehearsal studios.

It was an interesting evening. As I was collecting the six pizzas for the band, Darren had gotten to the studio early and sent me a picture of the studio. Apparently, one of the walls was painted with a fairly confronting mural of a topless female angel. I wasn’t really sure how the team would feel about it, so I was stressing out a bit.

To my relief, we all laughed it off and thought it was a pretty funny situation, almost slighty ironic. But for the protection of the wider church, I don’t think I’ll post a picture of the room. Here is a “safer” picture of Darren, Yvonne and Ling on the “clean” side of the room.

And here’s another shot taken at the end of the rehearsal of the whole team, courtesy of Darren Woon (from Lto R: Darren Woon, me, Jun Wee, Gabriel Tan, Addie Choon, Derwin Bong, Yoy Alberastine, Yvonne Mohan, Ling Chua, Clement Ch’ng), and also taken from the “clean” side of the room.

I did come with plenty of faith however, to the extent that I thought that maybe, just maybe, as we were worshipping, the mural might supernaturally melt and all the other bands in the surrounding studios would come and see. They would be amazed and say “what God is this who dissolves unholy murals?” and we would then lead them to Christ.

Okay, so that didn’t eventuate, but every now and then, as we were deep in worship, I would just peek out of the corner of my eyes just to see whether perhaps some of the paint might start to come off.

Anyway, after we had eaten some pizza and introduced ourselves to each other, I told the band that it was great to work with anointed worship musicians whom I have admired and for whom I have the highest esteem. In fact, when I looked at the band, I realised that I had worked with most of the musos and singers before and I had longed to work with them again – so today was the opportunity!

I then wondered what it would be like if Converge wasn’t what we were working towards? What if, like Pentecost, it was the birth of something? What if it was the beginning of more times of worship together across churches, at a grassroots level? What if it sparked a movement of passionate worshippers and psalmists joining together across the city?

With that thought, we started running through the 15 songs on our songlist.

One of the songs which Derwin had chosen was “One Thirst” by Jeremy Riddle (good choice, Derwin!). When I first heard that song earlier last week, something had clicked and I somehow knew that that song would capture the heart of what we were trying to do.

Most of the band were pretty unfamiliar with that song, however. As we listened to it on my iPhone, Pastor Yoy said that we should approach it more pensively and prayerfully, almost in an “IHOP” style. What he said rightly set the tone for that song.

As Derwin began to lead that song, the music started to take on a life of its own and the various worship leaders began to sing over the top of the song. We must have gone for about half an hour of the most amazing worship I’ve experienced for a long time. It was like we were soaking up the presence of God and God’s weighty glory somehow descended. Alas though, no melting mural. Instead, we just experienced wave after wave of God’s presence as intercession and prophetic singing flowed.

In times like these, you are just too scared to do anything because you don’t want to be the one responsible for ruining the move of God. That was how real the presence of God felt. I understand more why the “fear of God” is associated with His presence.

And Yoy began to pray that there would be a convergence of psalmists, priests and prophets in this city.

And I prayed that as the church stood in visible unity, there would be a breakthrough atmosphere in our city that would affect our society and transform its values. That all our churches would experience the intensity of God’s presence that we experienced just then.

I don’t think we really wanted to stop.

And I wondered if it would be like this on the actual day itself. I wondered whether our worship would keep flowing like a mighty torrent that can’t be stopped. Whether God would break free from our programs. Whether the whole day would just be seamless. Whether the other bands that came on the day would simply fold into this one. Whether worship would just start and never end. Whether Pentecost would really come like it did at Azusa Street and change the face of the church and the city all at once.

If only all rehearsals were like this one. If only all worship services were like this one! I can feel the mountains tremble, the singers roar. I can sense the time of jubilee coming, when all the streams flow as one river, when the brokenness and fragmentation of the church are washed away, and young and old will turn to Jesus. Tonight didn’t feel like just another rehearsal. It was a prayerful prying open of the windows of heaven over our city.

Five Years of Total Awesomeness

Five years today, I married the love of my life and my best friend.

It’s been an incredible journey so far.

It all started on 5 May 2007 (well, at least our marriage did; our relationship started well before that) at the Fremantle Town Hall. We wanted a wedding where worshipping God was the focus. So we deliberately chose not to have any messages or exhortation – it would be just worship.

This is what we put in our wedding program:

A Note about Worship

The starting point for living is worship. Harold Best observes that “worship is at once about who we are, about who or what our god is and about how we choose to live.” At any given time, everyone everywhere is worshipping someone or something. Ling and I have chosen to dedicate our lives to worshipping Jesus Christ. So, today’s service is so much more than being about us; it is first and foremost about glorifying God who brought our lives together.

One of the most significant ways in which Christians have been called to express our worship is through praising God in song. Early on in our Christian walks, Ling and I have felt the calling in our lives to minister in music. So today’s ceremony is very much an extension of that but moreover, an extension of who we are. It is therefore our privilege to be able to lead you in an extended time of singing.

We appreciate that many of our guests today are not Christians. We make no apologies for how we have chosen to conduct this service because we wanted it to be about God. However, we do invite you to participate. The songs we sing may be unfamiliar to you, and it might feel strange for you to sing, but I want to encourage you to ‘let loose’ and give it a go. If anything else, allow the words and meaning of the songs to minister to you.

For those of you who are Christians, we encourage you to bring your best offering of praise to God. We would like nothing better than to join with you in giving glory to the God of all blessings.

Finally, we would like to thank the wonderful team of musicians and singers who have volunteered their time and energies in making this possible. They are anointed servants of God and we are privileged to be able to call them co-labourers and friends.

We assembled an awesome team of great friends and anointed worshippers and Ling and I had the privilege of leading our wedding guests into worship. It really was a dream team: on vocals we had me, Ling, Joanna, Yvonne, Juls (who also played violin) and Stephanie Truscott. Elayne and Mabes took the keys. Darren and Edmund on guitars. Boon on bass. And Clem on drums. Derek did the AV.

I still enjoy reliving the day. But every time I ask my friends over to watch our wedding DVD, Ling tells me off. So here are some shots from the day.

Here is the set list:

// Opening Prayer – Shaw Cheong

// Oh Happy Day – led by Stephanie Truscott

// Everyday with You, Lord (Sweeter)

// Friend of God

// Scripture Reading: Psalm 16 – Louis Ong

// Joy of My Desire – with Yvonne Mohan on lead vocals and Julien Lim on violin

// How Great Thou Art

// When I Think About the Lord

Of course, that day was just the starting point of an incredible journey over five years.

I have had various mentors and inspirations in my life, but none compares to Ling. She sees me at my best, my worst and my most mundane. She encourages me to pursue everything that God has in store for me and sacrifices so that we can both live out God’s calling to the full. She pulls me back when I get too far ahead of myself; she gives me the look when I’m being stupid and compromising my witness; she asks if I’ve done my devotion. She inspires me to press forward by her own faith in God. And she makes me smile often, and quite regularly does silly things to make me laugh – and laugh hard! She is the funniest person I know. Apart from the Holy Spirit, she is the most inspirational worship leader of all – because of her, I am living out all that ministry that is worship, not just on-stage, but also off-stage.

So happy fifth anniversary Biggles! Love ya lots. We will break open our fifth anniversary wine later! May there be many more bottles of anniversary wine to come!