I was listening to live worship songs led by Kent Henry earlier today and I was led right back to times of worship in the past where there was so much hunger for God, such great desire to be pure and holy, and determination to be like Jesus. Something else also became very obvious to me – the fact that musical accompaniment was simple and was mainly in the background which naturally allowed the words to be in the foreground. What we say to God in worship was certainly far more important than what we play. There was so much more meaning to worship. The musical arrangement may not sound so cool by today’s standard, but it was hot – full of holy fire! It led me to ponder, what do worship teams focus on today? What are our priorities? Sometimes it just seems like we prefer hype to holy, and that’s just terrible.
Check out this Kent Henry album:
It is very easy for pastors and church leaders to unknowingly let our passion for God and love for God’s church turn us into manipulators, dictators and politicians. When that happens, the church becomes our personal kingdom where we rule as kings and queens. (Additional note: What happened to praying and waiting on God and letting Him make the moves in His perfect time instead of us actively engineering things?)
On the subject of healing at TRAC Healing Service, allow me to share a testimony. At the March 2018 TRAC Healing Service held at Christ Methodist Church, our guest speaker was Pastor Jeff Yuen. He preached an anointed message and the ministry that night was fantastic. During prayer time, the whole TRAC Healing Ministry team of pastors and prayer ministers was mobilised to pray with many people coming forward for prayer. Near the end, Della a two month old Christian brought her friend Joannah, a non-believer at that time, forward for prayer. (Both Della and Joannah were there to support their other good friend Sandra – also a two-month old believer who had cancer and was there for prayer ministry. She’s been very well since. That’s another healing testimony!) Della said Joannah had been trying to have a baby for a couple of years and was unsuccessful despite 3 IVFs, 3 IUIs and TCM treatments. She was even told that she will probably never conceive. I started to pray for Joannah. After I finished my initial prayer, I paused for a moment and the Lord gave me a word of knowledge, and I said to Joannah, “I believe the Lord had just told me that you’ll have a child by April next year (2019)”. We prayed again and this time thanking the Lord for His word and receiving it. A couple of weeks after that, Joannah received Christ as her Lord and Savior. In May 2018, her gynaecologist confirmed that she was pregnant, and the baby will be due in Dec! On 8 Dec 2018, Harrison George Hitch was born! God can do amazing things when we come humbly before Him to seek Him and His involvement in our lives!
(Further note: Karen heard Joannah’s testimony when I shared it at BRMC in Sep last year. She had 4 unsuccessful IVFs and was going for her 5th attempt in Oct. Marcel and Karen came up for prayer at the end of the service. It was confirmed the following month in Nov she was going to have a baby girl in Jun 2019, and she did!! Karissa was gladly welcome into the family! There is another couple I had the opportunity to pray for in Feb this year and we are still waiting on the Lord for a miracle – do pray for Kevin and Katy.)
If you’re reading this and faith is rising within you, and if you’ve been praying to be pregnant, don’t give up praying and seeking the Lord for a child – keep pressing in and may the Lord grant you the desires of your heart!
Next TRAC Healing Service is on Wed 3 July, 8pm at Pentecost Methodist Church.
What does Christian fellowship look like in your church? There should be several key stages. Level 1: Light chat about everything under the sun, areas of interest (food, travel, pop culture, economy, etc.), humour, etc. Level 2: Sharing of personal concerns, encouraging one another in the Word and praying for each other. Level 3: Intentionally mentoring one another, enquire of each other’s spiritual journey, teaching one another, training each other and even correcting one another with love and grace. Spur each other on towards love and good works.
Ideally, we should move from level 1 to 3. Being stuck at level 1 means your interaction with one another is quite superficial. If you’re at level 2, that’s really good and you’re really getting to know each other and you’re supporting one another. But don’t stop there, move to level 3 and intentionally make disciples of each other, love each other enough to shoot straight with each other, know each other’s hearts well enough to be willing to listen with humility and learn from one another. If you work at it intentionally, your group should be at level 3 within a year or two. Which level is your church or cell group fellowship at?
Heb.10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
There is little reference in the New Testament on large corporate worship with a team of gifted musicians and singers. While such corporate worship is not a bad thing and there are some references to it in the Old Testament, and while it doesn’t mean just because it is not commonly found in the New Testament that we can’t do it, what it does mean is such corporate worship is not a priority with the early church, thus it should not be our priority today too. And when we try to look for teaching on how to lead worship better, we find nothing much on it in the New Testament too. There are teachings on the attitude and the posture of a true worshipper and those are references not about how to sing better but how to live better as a 24/7 worshipper. What we do find in the New Testament are believers boldly and courageously proclaiming the gospel from Jerusalem outwards into other cities. What we do find are teachings, commands and instructions on how to live as true believers – how to have true Christian fellowship with fellow believers, how to live holy lives, how to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to make disciples. Singing is really a small thing. Read the Bible for yourself and you’ll see. Young people, some 15-20 years ago, had asked me, “Pastor, can we have an extended worship event with no prepared sermon?” My reply was, “We should always have the Word preached, it’s part of our worship.” Since then, I’ve seen many other people organizing extended worship events and the main focus is always the singing or worship as they would call it. On further reflection, I’m thinking hey, I haven’t come across many people who would approach their pastors about having an extended preaching or teaching the Word event, nor an extended prayer event (that gives high emphasis on prayer and intercession instead of singing, not that singing cannot be part of prayer – I’m thinking about the emphasis), or an extended evangelism or missions night in church (maybe 3 or 4 times a year). I believe that most of the resources in church should be directed towards proclamation of the gospel and making disciples who will go on to make other disciples. If we do not intentionally check ourselves and we end up unwittingly making worship (singing) a big deal in church, all we will have is a congregation (small or big) of people who enjoy the singing experience, and the church will not be effective in winning souls and making disciples because something else has taken priority, and there will only be mediocre church growth in the long run. I’m not suggesting that we scrap the kind of worship we have in church today. But we really need to make what is main and plain in the early church main and plain in the church today as well.
(Note: I’m speaking as one who had been involved in worship leading and in the worship ministry for more than 30 years, and the kind of worship I am more inclined towards, to this day, is Spirit-led, spontaneous and prophetic worship. I’ve been a worship director and also a worship pastor before and I value the corporate worship experience as one that can be truly God-encountering and revelatory. Yet, I believe with all my heart that worship as we know it today is not an emphasis with the early church and I believe it shouldn’t be for us too.)
2Tim.2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Going a little further about the fear of the Lord. While “fear” in the OT and NT primarily means “fear, terror, dread” (as mentioned in my post a couple of days ago), it is not a fear that cripples our relationship with God! In fact, it should strengthen our walk with God who is also our Friend! I spoke to a lady some 30 years ago who was struggling with her faith and relationship with God. She had been attending an AG church for some years and had a healthy walk with the Lord. One day, she met people from a new church then and was invited to their Bible studies. She was taught about the fear of the Lord in a way that caused her to be so scared of God that she stopped praying altogether! She no longer dared to approach her loving Heavenly Father! Over a long phone conversation and with the Lord’s help I was able to “detox” her and help her back to a healthy relationship with the Lord. I don’t know what she was specifically taught at the church Bible study group, but I do believe that when the fear of the Lord is emphasized without an emphasis on the friendship of God, a young believer could end up like that lady I spoke to. Friendship with God without fear of God leads to casual faith. Fear of God without friendship with God leads to crippled faith. Fear of God coupled with friendship with God leads to true faith!