Friday, 25 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

false humility

Because I agree with this post.

random disassociated thoughts on deconversion and the like

It's all circular reasoning, really, using the Bible to reason with people who do not believe anymore. I mean, it's things they know. It's stuff they've decided not to believe in. Knocking them on the head with it isn't going to make things any much better. It's just going to confirm their belief in your utter lunacy. I mean, you pick some fresh target who has no clue about the Bible, no knowledge about anything of your creed, and sure, they'll listen. Sure, they'll think something of it, or not. You try cramming down your beliefs to an ex-Christian who can probably quote every single word of it back to you... and refute it in the same breath, will just leave you standing with egg on your face.

At least they're honest. More honest than the other 50% (or more, I'm just projecting a number here), who've grown up in church, built life in church, lived church and God and all that schmuck and never given it a second thought, never raised their doubts, never questioned, but just lived it as another lifestyle, another religion, another way of life. And they get uptight when people question and dig, because - heck what do you think? - they can't answer because they just don't know.

Rather than addressing the real issue - the questions that beg for answers, the real confusion, the deep-seated need to realise the reality of it all - you (they?) get faced with a whole barrage of worried questions if you are okay (duhhhh), why don't you believe, why can't you have enough faith, the devil is behind this, you must pray more, we will pray for you, what's wrong with you...

Then again, knowing the lingo sets you up for life. It doesn't really matter if you actually do believe or not, because knowing the right words and the appropriate actions keeps you safe within the fold. Any show of honesty in admitting lack of faith, or uncertainty, or the slightest smidgen of doubt unsettles everything and throws over whatever security you had, or used to have, in your own religion.

And there it is again, that word.

What is it? Is it merely a religion? Is it merely a relationship? These words are bandied about so often, so many times. It gets so old and stale. Yes, knowing God isn't a religion, it's a relationship. Worship is a lifestyle, bla de bla de bla. Does it really make any difference?

Sometimes religion is overrated. Christianity is overrated. I agree with the huge amounts of people out there who believe that it's full of lies, full of hypocrisy, full of everything it isn't supposed to be.

But I also agree with the large body of witnesses who can testify and say that I believe it is real, because God has done something for me. It's intensely personal because I can only tell you what He has done for me, or rather what I believe He has done for me, which is really rather open to debate, because anyone can say that this almighty-being-in-the-sky did this for me, when in actual fact, it was just a matter of course, a matter of nature, a piece of coincidence.

So it comes down to worldview.

And the truth behind acts of deconversion is this: the clash between my worldview and that of the 'church' was too far different to be reconciled.

We live with fuzzy worldviews. We're reconciling basically pagan / heathen / irreligious lifestyles and beliefs with one that proclaims an ultimate Truth and Good and Holiness (and lots of other supposedly absolute stuff). And most of us live in those margins, blurring the lines between true Christ-like actions and churchy actions lived out of... lifestyle and expectations, rather than true conviction.

We struggle with the small actions that will show our good works, making a big fuss of them, as if it will somehow gain us a better place in heaven. Truth? Make a fuss now to make it biiigggg... it's a biiiigggg sacrifice, notice me! I'm good! I'm so spiritual! I'm so awesome! Right. (And any right-minded person will puke right now, go ahead, we'll wait).

That's not to say that everyone is like that. There are the true gems, who fall between the cracks, who by the virtue of their true humility and Christ-likeness are never noticed, never applauded, never remembered, until after they are dead and gone.

But we fall away, not because of lack of concern, just the realisation on waking up one morning and wondering - what has all this been for? What is the truth behind it? Where is the peace and joy and love that's supposed to be there, but is not? It's waking up to a sudden emptiness, where there used to be a glow, opening your eyes to the fact that everything you once believed in, lived for and breathed for, makes little or no sense anymore. It's waking up wondering - where's the reality in this? Where's the something more that I've always been waiting for?

And some will push on, but some will not.

For some fuzzy reason, that's much better than living the lie.
Maybe because He did say he'll spit (vomit) out the lukewarm.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Commentary: Induction

At the end of a self-imposed hiatus, the question still begs to be asked: what are you in this for?

I find it's not a question for me alone, but for the whole team. Why are you here? Why do you commit your weekends, or pretend to anyway?

There seems to be a lack of structure, a lack of commitment and a lack of leadership. Or maybe it's too early for me to say, from one experience and one discussion. Maybe the way I see it - the way we see it - is not how they do. Maybe for them, it is commitment enough.

But the passion seems to be lacking when people who agreed to come at 9.15AM only turn up 9.45AM, and there is no time even for a quick sound check, a quick prayer, a short preparation. The passion seems to be lacking when people wander up to the stage as if there's nothing terribly important going on today. There is something terribly lacking when the worship leader does not turn up for his own 7.15PM prayer meeting.

Wake up!

YOU ARE THE WORSHIP TEAM.

YOU are the ministers that God has chosen to usher in His presence, to draw people to Him, to prepare their hearts before the Word can fall like seeds and be buried. You are the priests who minister to Him before the Holy of Holies.

How can the people enter prepared if you are not prepared? How can the people follow where they are not led?

How can you not feel the awesomeness of your responsibility before God that makes you tremble, that makes you prepare and consecrate yourselves? Even those outside perform their best, practice their best and offer their best, if only for human accolade and monetary reward.

What have you to say for yourselves when your simple act of worship becomes a stroll up to the stage to sing / play for the sake of it?

Or maybe I am too serious about this, hypocrite that I am.

Do not complain about the youth. They have learnt it from you.

So flame me. It may be time to burn.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

What's Stopping You?

I find that as time goes by, I get to know myself better. Life throws me into situations that challenge me to think, act and hopefully, change.

It seems that any time you want to take up something new, or progress in something known, the same question pops up. It's been popping up very frequently of late, as I think about what my goals are going to be in regards to my health and fitness level (yes, it's time I got into a shape other than round and pear-ish), my artistic (writing and performance arts) goals and my goals at work.

What's stopping you?

Frankly, what's stopping me is plainly, well, me.

First and foremost, there's that whole thing of having to actually get off the computer and off facebook and off msn, twitter, gtalk, blogs and all that (online) distracting stuff. It's not that I don't have time to do things. It's that I waste time doing things that aren't important. That was one major point brought up during camp. It's not that I didn't already know it. I just needed some reminding and prodding.
And I'm trying. I used to think I had very good self-control. I've realised that over the years, I've been giving in to my impulses so much that I need to work on it again. I need to be able to tell myself no, and keep to it.

Secondly, it's my very nature, for good and for bad, of being a shy perfectionist. What does that mean? It's basically this: I am shy and afraid of embarrassment, and anything I do that is short of perfect in my eyes, or which will potentially make me feel stupid, dumb, embarrassed, idiotic, weird, will make me shy away from doing things that I really want to do, or on the other side, that I know I really need to do.
Writing this could possibly make me feel somewhat stupid or embarrassed, especially if some especially insensitive comment comes into being. What makes it possible for me to write this is that I am used to it. I have been blogging and writing long enough, sometimes in a very frivolous way, but at times in as much as a deep and open way as I feel is possible for the moment. And the fact that I know how it's done, what to do, and what kind of response to generally expect, I can do it.
Knowing this, I'm trying to build patterns and partners in my life. First, I need partners to walk me through the initial fear and fright. Then patterns, so that I can continue even when I am alone. It's not as easy as it seems. For some reason, I need to see what I'm going to do before I do it. Some people can wing it, and I'm jealous of that. For now, I'll focus on the patterns in my head.

What's stopping you?

Coming to the knowledge of what is really stopping you is very helpful. It helps you to realise your weaknesses. It helps you to think of alternative ways to get around your blockage. Every one has a blockage, at one time or another. What you do with that, and the realisation of that, is really up to you.

I'm trying to change.

Are you?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Post-camp reflections

It’s been a year since I considered switching fields altogether, and a month since I’ve wanted to change jobs. And yet after iBridge Camp, I have a peace about staying where I am. It seems as if everything is on the green. (Wanted to list out what the green lights were, but realised that that was the part of the notes I didn’t take. But anyway…)

You know the complete cycle of years in sevens? Where on the seventh year, the Sabbath year comes and everything is renewed? During reflection at camp, I was thinking, ‘seven years,’ and I don’t know exactly what that’s supposed to mean. But from where I stand at the moment, it looks as if I’m where I’m supposed to be, at least for the next four years. I’ve been working here, in the same job for three years. Some people find it tough. Most of my peers have left. And yes, the job can be tiring. It can be tough and demanding. Somehow though, it isn’t really, for me.

For reasons that I can only ascribe to God’s blessings and provision, I’ve never worked later that midnight more than once or twice. Well, maybe more but a smattering. I rarely, if ever, work weekends nowadays, unless the deadline is on Monday and I’ve been sitting on things for too long. When (or if) I take files home, they normally lie peacefully untouched throughout the night or over the weekend. The nights I actually work late are normally due to close deadlines that are over within the week, or the nights before I take leave and I want to clear as much as possible away so that I won’t be disturbed over my holiday.

So if this isn’t where I’m supposed to be right here and right now, where is?

The itch that can’t be scratched

And yet at the same time, there’s an underlying feeling of restlessness as well, right alongside the peace. Don’t ask me how it works. It’s like, I want to move to KL, because I want to be a part of the GCF there, I want that community that I only get glimpses of through e-mails and little tastes of during camp and the random holidays. I want to move there because that is where Footstool Players is. That is where the auditions are for stage plays, theatre, musicals. It’s where I can do something that I want; that I dream of, or have forgotten how to dream about.

I have a friend pursuing the dream, studying performance arts, musical theatre, in the USA, with plans to intern at Disney. I have another friend, pursuing her dream, taking a Masters in Film Studies. And all this makes me think, what about me?

Dreams: not quite there

What about my dreams? What about the things I thought I would do, the things I wished I could do and all the things that I wanted to do but am not doing anymore? When did I lose myself in this endless cycle of work and rest, with no thought to really living? Sometimes I wish I could be anywhere but here so that I could pursue those things more easily, more readily. The problem with that is my dreams are here.

Say as much as I wish, there is a locality to my dreams. Yes, I want to build a drama team. But I want to build it here, in Penang. Yes, I want to be a part of a larger vision in the GCF. But I want that to be here, in Penang. I don’t want to always be wishing to be elsewhere.

I guess in the end, a substantial part of my dream is for my dreams to be present here.

The road goes ever on and on

And maybe that’s what these next four years are for, assuming that there’s any rhyme or reason to that thought of the seven years. I’ve been taking things lax for long enough, letting things stream by with the reasons that I don’t know enough, I’m not trained enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not ready enough. These are the years to build the GCF – to build and bond and train, and most of all, to dream together. These are the years to hone skills – to utilise the youthful energy for dance classes and drama classes and vocal classes and any other thing that might come in handy.

These are the years to discover if there is passion enough in me to pursue what I believe God is calling me to.

If I go, who will build HERE?

At times I don’t believe in it. It hurts when people say, so why don’t you move there? Why don’t you go to such and such a place to study/work? I do want to. But if I go, who will build here?

And if this is my sacrifice for now, so be it.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

i call you friend. do you?

When I was younger I used to have this unnatural fear of 'what if they don't come home today?' when my parents went for a late night meeting. I don't know why I used to think that way. I learnt to dismiss it as a stupid thought and laugh at myself for being silly. Thinking about it now, what if it was more than a silly childish fear, but a symptom of a deeper-rooted problem?
Sometimes I wonder if there is something in my psych that makes me withdraw from people that I want to be close to, as if I am afraid of intimacy. Looking at my track record of maintaining friends over any sort of distance, or non-distance, it's not very encouraging. I have many acquaintances, yes. My cg leader accuses me of being a church-politician - I seem to know many people from everywhere. And it's true. I meet people. I remember (most of) their names. I recognise (most of) their faces. More often, they remember me when I don't remember them.
[aside] And yet within a year of leaving, it's as if I don't exist in their memories anymore.
Maybe it's my fault. I haven't been very intentional about building friendships, or very purposeful about maintaining them. Maybe for all intents and purposes I am the one who has ditched them, in a way. But why? Maybe because I never felt like I belonged with them. Maybe because I always felt the awkward one, the odd one out. I read blogs and feel bitter and envious of the strong friendships that some people have built from childhood up to the present. I am bitter about the bonds they have because I feel that I have missed something in this intentional/unintentional solitariness of mine. Unintentional because I want to be part of them. Intentional because I do not want to impinge on a group that obviously does not want or need me.
Maybe at the very core of this bitterness is the fear of being left alone, left behind. It always feels like I'm one step forward, two steps back when everyone else is keeping a steady pace and momentum. Maybe at the core of this fear is the disappointment of broken relationships in the past, whose ghosts I have never laid to rest. The ghosts of little girls and adolescent boys. The ghosts of friends who were acquaintances. And maybe it's time to lay these ghosts to rest.
Sometimes I think to compensate for this, I am overly grabbing in my relationships with those I met through iBridge camps. It's like I have finally found a no-holds-barred group that I am comfortable with and I do not want to lose it. Overcompensation? Maybe.
Or maybe this is what building friendships is about - pursuing fellowship, making time, sharing thoughts and experiences. Occasionally being in your face, because I want this friendship to work, and I am tired of drifting.
I cannot help the me-time I need as part of my nature. But I can help the friend-times I wish to see. It's time to intentionally build those bridges.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Him

"This is Caspian, Sir," he said. And Caspian knelt and kissed the Lion's paw.
"Welcome, Prince," said Aslan. "Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?"
"I - I don't think I do, Sir," said Caspian. "I'm only a kid."
"Good," said Aslan. "If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not. Therefore, under us and under the High King, you shall be King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands"
excerpt from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

This conversation often runs through my brain when I think about the GCF in Penang. Of course, it's nothing as impressive as being crowned King, but still, it's the taking up of leadership, of responsibility.
Often, I feel inadequate. I feel small and weak. In the main, I feel stupid and frustrated. At the core of me is a nugget of fear. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? I'm not old enough for this, not strong enough, not man enough.
And yet it feels right. It feels like I'm stepping into the unknown, ready for an adventure. It feels like taking fear by the reins and letting faith reign.
So maybe he's right. If I had felt myself sufficient, it would have been proof that I were not.
Because this way, it's really not me. It's Him.

Monday, 6 July 2009

pet peeves

Whilst I am in a writing mood...

What I don't get sometimes (depending on my frame of mind) is why everyone says that just because Joseph asked the baker & cupbearer (my translation reads chief of the butlers, but my mind keeps thinking butcher... and candlestick maker) to remember him to the Pharoah it means that he wasn't ready, therefore he was left in jail for two more years.

The way I see it, absolutely nothing happened between when the cupbearer forgot about him, and when the Pharoah had his dream. If God wanted to show some more character development, He would have made Moses write a few more explanatory verses, rather than leave a great silence, wouldn't He?

So how do you know that those two years didn't passed just because it wasn't yet time? Time to bring the crops to its good seven years, time to bring the right Pharoah to power who would listen to Joseph rather than brush him aside (or to prepare him to be receptive), time to bring the rest of the Israelites to a ready place physically and spiritually and mentally.

Why does everyone say that Joseph wasn't ready? Just because of that one phrase? Think about it: if he hadn't said that at all, maybe the cupbearer might not have thought to mention him to Pharoah at all...

But that's just a pet peeve. Haha.

Another one was when that Chris Alfred speaker told the story of Van Gogh trying so hard to be a missionary in Belgium or something but never breaking through, and then gave up and went into art instead. He said it was a waste of his calling, he should have pushed through, bla bla bla. The thing is, how do you know that he wasn't fulfilling his calling by being the best artist that he could be? How are you so sure that he wasn't fulfilling is real calling by being an impact in the world of art? Does it mean that you must be a missionary / spend your life in another culture / leave your home / do something super spiritual before your works can be fruitful for God?

That is total NONSENSE. We don't know so don't intrapolate your own deductions there.

Okay. Peeve time over. Haha.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

by the fireplace: honesty

I would rather you
Flung your defiance at me
Than hide behind masks


The question for today was whether we could continue living in sin with grace as our safety pin; or whether we should continue to strive to meet the impossible ideals presented in the sermon of the mount. I don't know if I was taking a rather high-brow, hard-line stance, or maybe if the things I've been reading have been getting to me.

The problem with that kind of Grace teaching, is that it downplays repentance. It lets you go on continuing to sin, continuing to take your salvation lightly. What is repentance but turning away from sin and turning towards God? But when you live in an atmosphere that says it's okay to sin, God will forgive you anyway, that's not repentance. That's not turning away from sin, and your very salvation is suspect. (Like I said, I think I was harsh.)

It's not that you will never fall, or never ever make a mistake or sin ever again. I take it for a fact that we will never reach those ideals. Try as you might, we would always fall short, and the more we try, the more we know how far we still have to go. And yet the thing is, that doesn't mean you need to stop trying. I guess as Rachel put it nicely, the more you sin, the more you get entrenched into it. As impossible as it sounds, we need those examples and ideals before us, to keep us pressing onwards, to give an end goal.

Yet in the end, it isn't so much about how hard you try, but it's about the positioning of your heart. It isn't about how well you've gotten it all together, but where your heart is pointing you to. It's not the absolution of the Law either. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, or nullify it. He came to fulfil it. And that fulfilment is by the offering of His Absolute Grace to cover the requirements of the law. It's not a cheap grace that tells you you can continue to do whatever you want, because He will forgive you anyway, but it's a grace that covers all that you have done, and all that you will ever do, but requires your honest, sincere response of acceptance and repentance.

How honest is your heart to you? Sometimes I think that God is closer to those who seem to have fallen by the wayside; those who are arguing with Him, than those who are holding it all prettily together in church. Because it is then that you are really actively searching for Him, looking to satisfy the real heart-needs and mind-needs. What was that verse to the church? I would rather you be hot or cold... (Revelations 3:15b) Our God is not so small that He cannot be questioned. But is your understanding of Him so small that He can't question you?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

disbelief

So maybe I don't believe in the church anymore. I don't. Really. It has its place, yes, but it is not all-important. Your church shouldn't define you, or your faith. Because the church is only human and humanity has a 110% success rate at tearing itself apart.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with finding the right church for you. It's about being hurt by the church, and being hurt by the people who should have known better, should have cared more and who will be held accountable for your soul.

Maybe when we've realised how flawed the church is the time when we've healed enough to take that step back. But until then, disassociation and de-conversion works takes its toll on our lives. And it is at that very point that the church, which should reach in grace, pushes its legalism and judgement, tipping the breaking point.

The feather of grace becomes the hammer of judgement.

So maybe I don't believe in church anymore, because the church has failed us too many times, where it really matters the most.

What I believe in is the Bride Unsullied. I believe in community. I believe in finding friends who won't let you go, no matter how far you run. I believe in friends who may not understand where you're coming from, and friends who have been where you are, and friends who may or may not agree with you, but friends who will still be friends, even when you've fallen from grace, or think you have fallen from grace. I believe in holding you to a higher standard, because I believe in you. Because i know you can rise again and it doesn't always have to be this way.

And I believe it when it says there is no condemnation even if I don't understand where you are, or why.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Power Plays

Matthew 4:1-11 "Then was Jesus let up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil..."

It was a power play; a stand off. It was a show down, but wasn't. The tempter came and threw all he had, but Jesus refused to be lured. He changed the terms of engagement. Rather than coming to fight in the devil's arena, He brought the fight back to His own camp. Back to His own terms.

What man, when challenged, doesn't rise to the challenge and fight back with all he's got? What man answers that with mere words?

But there isn't a need for that, if you know where your true value lies. You don't need to engage if you already know who the victor will be. Sometimes there is such a thing as pointless fighting.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

plunge | fly

So it looks like this is it.
This is where I get off.
This is where I say that my senses have taken their leave.

And yet there is that strange exhilaration of a whole new adventure to begin!

It's like a plunge into the depths of the unknown, or taking a leap to fly.

Or maybe it's like Kirk and Sulu when they're falling without a parachute.
Beam me up in time.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Of meekness

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Mark 5:5
Ps Lee Choo was preaching about meekness being strength under control, and it brought to mind a status I had posted up a few weeks before, which went something like, "but I thought I was stronger than this."

It's not that I'm weak. I'm far from weak.
I have strength, but it's a wild kind of strength. I have the kind of strength that holds me together until I break; which is a really silly sounding statement, but true enough. Thinking again, I may be too strong - which is why I need to be broken.

The thing about meekness (and I love this) is that it requires innate strength. You can't be meek if you're weak. It's no big deal giving in all the time if you don't have the strength to fight. True? Strength wields power and authority. Meekness, being strength under control, gives you a choice: to retaliate or to submit.

And therein lies the conundrum. Actually, it's not a conundrum, I've just always wanted to use that phrase. :D
If I was not so weak
If I was not so cold
If I was not so scared of being broken
Growing old
I would be...
[frail - jars of clay]
The problem really is that people are afraid of being broken. People - I - am afraid of being weak, or being seen to be weak. And that in itself is its own weakness. Because I refuse to lay down my 'rights' or I refuse to submit to discipline, I build up my own pitfalls. Sure enough, things seem to be going fine; it seems as if we're coping - until something snaps. Until the straw falls that breaks the camel's back.

That's the problem with unharnessed strength. It breaks at all the wrong places; it breaks when it matters the most.
It's just enough to be strong
In the broken places, in the broken places
It's just enough to be strong
Should the world rely on faith tonight
[faith enough - jars of clay]
Before you can have meekness, you must have brokenness, so Ps Lee Choo said, and it is that submission of all you are to discipline that allows you to harness your true inner strength and enhance it in ways that you've never thought possible. Sometimes it isn't the awesome things that you think you're going to achieve that makes the difference. Often enough, it's that quiet word of encouragement, or that silent vote of confidence to put the right person in the right place (although by all means, I should be the boss, or I want that post - and it degenerates into a political squable) that changes the whole atmosphere of the thing.

And maybe in the end, it all boils down again to choice; being big enough to choose the right thing over the selfish thing. Choosing to put yourself in a position where God can break you again (though really, what qualifications does he/she have?). Places where He can stretch you (Not again, I thought we were through with that!). Situations where you cannot run away.

It really isn't about blind obedience, or silently accepting the axe that falls. It's not even about having no opinion and therefore not caring what the outcome is. It's about knowing your strength and arguing with God all the way, but finally choosing His will over your own and in that way taking on His yoke, which is easy because it fits you to a T.

Because meekness is strength under control.

[major train of thought courtesy of Ps Lee Choo, SIB KL]
edit: see GCB's post. Mmm, yummy.

i think of odd things at odd times

Thought for the morning while anticipating breakfast:
 
Prayer without fasting is still prayer. Fasting without prayer is a diet.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Worship Leaders / Coordinators - Worship @ 10 Days & GDOP

Dear Worship Pastor / Leader / Coordinator

The Global Day of Prayer is just around the corner. For the first time in Penang, we will be holding 10 Days of Prayer (May 21-30) building up to the GDOP on Pentecost Sunday (May 31). We are believing that as the Church unites in prayer and worship, we will see the heavens open and His Spirit poured out in a powerful way.

Here is what's going on. Please feel free to forward this email to your team.

==========================
THE GLOBAL DAY OF PRAYER
Ten Days. One Event.


Penang Christian Centre
(Shalom Hall, Level 2)
1 Jalan Khaw Sim Bee

==========================
The Overview:

TEN DAYS of constant prayer. (10 hours for 10 days)  MAY 21 (Thu) - MAY 30 (Sat)
[Daily Schedule]
Noon-2pm: Harp & Bowl (Corporate Worship and Intercession)
2pm-4pm: Prayer Slot
4pm-5pm: Intercession Hour
5pm-7pm: Prayer Slot
7pm-10pm: Night Session with Harp & Bowl and Teaching

ONE EVENT. The Global Day Of Prayer. MAY 31 (Pentecost Sunday).
Venue: Shammah Hall, Level 3, PCC
7:00pm
=======================


I want to extend the invitation for you (and people on your team who would be interested) to participate in one or more of the following ways. This is open to your church's main worship team as well as the youth / young people's worship teams.

1. Be a part of the team that leads worship at the Night Sessions. We are hoping to assemble teams each night made up of people from different churches. We are looking for worship leaders, singers, musicians (keys, guitars - electric or acoustic, bass, drums, and also other instruments like the violin, saxophone, etc.), and intercessors. You don't have to commit to all the 10 days, you can come for 2 or 3 or more nights. Just let me know!
Send me an email <penanghouseofprayer@gmail.com> with 1. the days you can come, 2. what role you can play (singer / musician - what instrument / leader, etc.) and 3. who else in your team can come

2. Come be a part of the Harp & Bowl Workshop on Saturday 23 May from 2pm-5pm that will focus on Harp & Bowl style worship (spontaneous worship that involves antiphonal singing and building on the prayers and intercessions being offered up). If you have wanted to step out in worship in a freer way, this is a great opportunity to equip yourself with the right tools! We are privileged to have April Lupo and Evan Olsen, full time worship leaders and intercessors with the International House of Prayer (IHOP)-Tallahassee: http://www.ihoptallahassee.org/ who will be joining us for the duration of the 10 days - leading, speaking, imparting - and will be leading the workshop as well. Depending on the number of teams interested, we may or may not have to limit the number of participants, so please have in mind a core group of your singers / musicians you would like to bring with you. We will also try and have the session be translated, if you can let us know ahead of time!
Send me an email <penanghouseofprayer@gmail.com> to let me know if you are interested. 

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have further questions!

Blessings on you and your ministry,
Josh for the PenHOP Team

Saturday, 2 May 2009

chasing Aslan

So I picked up the Chronicles of Narnia again, and reread the whole set. (Don't talk to me about how I'm going to regret that, because I'm already stressed looking at the time I 'lost'.)
But the truth is, I was wondering - why do we intellectualise God so much? Why do we talk as if Theology is the only thing, Apologetics and the like are the best of all arguments, when the most basic ideas of all can be communicated in a mere story?
Like it or not, Lewis puts it the clearest when he states over and over again, that Aslan is not a tame lion. He doesn't come at your beck and call, but as and when he wishes to. And as Cor commented, he seems to be at the back of all stories.
Read into that what you will.

So further up and further in, to Narnia and the North!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

living large

So maybe all it takes is a little step and a little commitment and everything starts to change.
I don't know what it was - it was a flowery, dancing feeling, something indescribable. It was a conviction that I needed to stop that. And so I did. I should have done it a long time ago, but I guess I wasn't ready. Maybe I wasn't listening hard enough.
I've realised this past few weeks that if I listen hard enough - and not just listen, but act - I would be seeing God's providence in so many different ways. Like the time I was thinking, maybe I shouldn't lock my gate, but I did anyway. And later on my neighbour calls to say that they need me to unlock my gate because they're doing roadworks on the drain. There - should have listened. And the time where I ran upstairs to get extra money even though I thought I probably wouldn't need it, and then found out that I did need it because we ended up dinnering somewhere fancy. Well, there was also the time I decided not to get the money, and ended up having to card it because I didn't have cash. Things like finishing up some outstanding work the night before the manager asked for it. There are other things, things that have slipped my mind at this moment, but I know they're there. Small things, but reminders.
It's butterflies and rainbows and promises that dance in my head.
And I want to dance.
It's difficult, I look up with longing at the unread books - just recently bought - that tantalise, and yet I remember that I promised. The rest of the year is a long stretch. I don't know if I will last that long. I might.
But I know I should, because His promises and His life is surely better than a stolen sleepless night.

Monday, 23 February 2009

anew

And so here I am. Where I thought I wouldn't be, where I once said wasn't home, but now is. Isn't that what the journey is about? Little steps, one at a time, finally landing you at places you never thought to be. And here I have friends I never thought I'd have. Depth of relationships I that had only ever had in CF. Never in church! I thought... These kinds of things don't happen in church.
It seems sad, somehow, as I said to her, that in the almost-a-year that I left, she's been the only one to voluntarily seek my company personally. Excepting two wedding invites, confirmed before I pulled my disappearing stunt, of course. It seems sad, somehow, that after about a decade of growing up together (give or take a few years here and there, I guess) we still don't have anything much in common to talk about; our lives were never really shared, per se. And so we've drifted apart effortlessly, and funnily enough, it doesn't even feel like anything is missing. Shows you how deep those relationships were, huh? I guess every once in a while, I feel a pang of bitterness at how it might have turned out, if everything were different, but I guess I am who I am; nothing would be much different.
And so here I am. It took 4 months to decide, a month to dither. But, forms are submitted, along with a letter of transfer, and a tiny butterfly of nervousness. No glitches, I hope. Why should there be? But sometimes, me being me, I get anxious and start over-thinking. Funny, I haven't even been 'enrolled' (my brain died, I can't think of a better word) and they've been asking me if I would join the worship team (and trying to answer yes on my behalf) and straightaway all those niggling thoughts jump and overstretch themselves in a race to the finish. Will I, won't I? Because of this, that? But I will not think about it now. Let it sort itself out in its due course. Isn't that what this journey is about? A step at a time, led by Him who keeps us from falling.
And so.
It seems strange to be here, and yet, almost right.
Almost because I don't know anymore if anything is ever perfectly right. I give up on ever saying that this is the absolutely best and no other option place for me, because I don't think I'll ever know if it is. Maybe I don't need to know either.
So.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Letting go

Sometimes you look at their youthful fervency and wonder, what happened to me? How did I wake up four-and-twenty and jaded? But there is fire in their spirits, and it's a thin line to walk between channeling that fire to God and breaking their wings before flight.
It's a balm to the soul, sometimes, when I do the little I can, and get thanked for nothing. It's like hey, maybe I really did do something right after all. Maybe it's just enough for them that I be there, no matter how useless I feel.
And there - that exposes again that stupid need in me to feel as if I have done something, accomplished something, when over and over again God says there is no need. It's been done! All you have to do now is to come and surrender.
Like I told him, echoing the wise words of leaders past, (was it Tryphena? I forget)
don't you think that as much as you care for the cf (or isca in this case) that God cares even more?
No? And so it comes down again to the issue of letting go.
Let go, let God. It's fast becoming an overused cliche.
But it isn't easy letting go of the past. In some way or other, who we are is really a culmination of who we used to be. Our present 'now' wouldn't be the same if we hadn't gone through some of those painful experiences in the past. Yet sometimes the hardest parts of our pasts to let go aren't really the painful ones. Those we sometimes step out of easily, remembering that all our sin and shame has been taken away, redeemed, by Christ on the cross.
The greatest bugbears to give up are often our successes. It's our remembrances of what it used to be like that keeps us worrying and fretting over the future of our 'pet' youth groups or cfs, taking a healthy sense of ownership one step over into possessiveness. That's where pride steps in, saying, if I were there, I would be able to help direct this. I wouldn't have made those stupid mistakes, tolerated those attitudes, allowed those things to happen.
And yet sometimes we need to remember that if our season for it has passed, we must move on and hand the reins to those in position. And though we sometimes wince and think but that's not how it should be, we should always keep in mind that these experiences too will shape them to become who God wants them to be.
It may mean that things might get messy, but God has never called us to be perfect has he?
He's called us to be real.

Friday, 30 January 2009

a moment of doubt

It's simple questions that make you think again, and think hard, about your faith. Maybe it's a trait I have, for good or for bad, to over-think in so many ways. But it makes it difficult to fill in membership forms with long, open-ended questions, when with every intended sentence, I think of additional information - necessary or not - to add to the fuller theology as I understand it.
I doubt it's necessary.
I doubt that other people stare at these questions for so long and ponder about what to write.
I'm weird that way, though I wish I wasn't.
I've stared at it since yesterday and it's still not yet half filled.
But it boils down again to that question: what do I really believe?
Not just the pretty words, easy to express. What does my worldview truly show? Have I truly embraced the Kingdom and the life of the King, or am I merely splashing in the shallows?

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

dichotomy

This dichotomy has to stop; this segregation of sacred and secular I keep saying is wrong.
And yet, I maintain two blogs because this one contains things I don't want all my 'regular' readers to read. I have clothes I define as 'okay for church stage', 'okay for church but not for stage' and 'not so okay for church'. There are CD's I think of as 'okay' and 'not to listen when certain people are in the car'.
I'm saying that I should be one. There should be no sacred and secular. And yet there is.

Monday, 12 January 2009

BRP 3 & 5

BRP 3

On the same random thought, as the people were scattered during the uprising of Babel, does it necessarily mean that only the Jews (or the forerunners of the Jews) were the ones who kept the word and knowledge of God?

It seems not, because in a classic foreshadowing, the King of Salem took bread and wine, the Holy Sacraments and blessed Abraham in the name of the Lord. And Abraham gave him his ten percent, acknowledging him as a priest of God.

Gen 14:18

And Melchizedek, king of Salem, the priest of the Most High God, took bread and wine,

BRP 5

What made Jacob any better than Esau?

The fact that he desperately wanted the blessings of God for the firstborn whilst Esau saw it as nothing?

Esau didn't have to sell his birthright. Even if Jacob refused to feed him, he could have gone to any of the other tents in Isaac's settlement. Any one of them would go out of their way to do a favour for the obvious heir. Why not? When he got into power, he would have his favourites, wouldn't he? Why not wriggle their way into his favour now in anticipation?

But Esau didn't think of the future. He thought only of his hunger in the now.

In a time where birthright determined your status and all that you would ever have in life, he threw it away for bread and bean stew. How silly.

Gen 25:34

Jacob then gave Esau some bread and some of the bean stew, and when Esau had finished eating and drinking, he just got up and left, showing how little he thought of his rights as the first-born.

--
anna

http://natanna.tabulas.com

Sunday, 4 January 2009

and so i said...

I figured I might as well post up what I intended to say during the worship camp. It didn't exactly come out that way, but well... does it ever? I think I will stay writer for a while. It sucks to speak. Here goes:

Backup singers. Vocalists. What do you call yourselves? It doesn’t matter. Keep in mind that there is no distinction in the team. Your role is being there to worship in song and to spur people on to worship. You may have different functions and responsibilities, but ultimately, what you are doing is simply availing yourself for God to use you and your gifts.

The worship team is meant to be that – a team. It sometimes feels as if there are two things going on at the same time… the musicians are working out their chords and the frills… and the vocalists are sitting around, waiting. That’s not how it works. As much as you need them to play right, they need you to sing right. They can’t continue playing if they can’t hear you sing – they won’t know where you are. The guys working the sound system can’t mix you right if they can’t even hear you. They can’t hear you if you’re not even singing. Everything has to work together.

I think one of the main things to remember as the worship team, whether you are playing an instrument or singing, or leading worship, is that this is your sacrifice to God. Yes, in some ways it’s about the music and how it sounds, but the core of it is your heart. You may be in a bad mood, you may not feel like worshipping God, but the fact is that you are on the team – you have a responsibility to lead people into the presence of God, no matter whether you want to or not.
If it were solely the responsibility of the lead worshipper, you wouldn’t need to stand on that stage and hold that mike. The thing is, people are reactive, rarely proactive. They are going to react to what they see, in spite of what they feel. And if they walk into a service and see the vocalists being lackluster and half-hearted, they are not going to be excited about singing to God, no matter how awesome the music is, or how passionate the worship leader is.

On the other hand, there’s a thin line between passionate, proactive worship, bringing your all and mere performance. Charismatic worship is becoming very rote. Fast songs – jump, clap, shout. Slow songs – raise your hands, close your eyes. You know by heart the outward actions and it’s as much tradition as it is church culture. That is something you have to decide. What you have responsibility over is why you do it.

What is the purpose of this? Awesome music, check. Raw emotion, check. Focus? Always remember the purpose of all of this. Your purpose – worshipping Jesus. When the music fades, when all is stripped away, what is there left? Think about that.

If you must have an audience, let it be Jesus alone. Anything other than that, there is no point. Get out, join a band. Go ahead and show off. So this is YOUR sacrifice. It is you, giving up the glory of yourself, for the greater glory of God.

Your responsibility is:
• To know your songs, LYRICS especially
Make sure you are familiar with the songs that your leader has selected. You can’t lead people into His presence if you are struggling to remember the tune, or the lyrics. It’s hard to even worship in song if you don’t know what you are singing. Understand the lyrics. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SINGING? What does this mean to you? What does it say about God? It’s the easiest to lie to God in a song, because you hardly ever think about what you are singing.


• To practice, practice and practice!
When the musicians are working out their notes or timing or sequence, practice your parts (if you sing parts), get to know the song. As much as the musicians need to practice their instruments and get them in tune and in time/rhythm to play together, your instrument is your voice; SO DO YOU. The musicians can practice like crazy and get that perfect start / stop peak… but if you don’t know when to come in, there’s no point in all that work.


• To be a part of the team
Understand what it means to work together. Listen carefully to each other. Singing as a team is more than just knowing the words and the tune. It’s also knowing how to flow together. Different worship leaders have different styles. Different musicians have different strengths. Some will give you cues; some expect you to dive straight in. Remember – THERE IS NO DIVISION between musicians and vocalists. Learn to resonate with them.


• To bring a worshipping heart
You’ve practiced hard, you’ve done your homework, you’re nervous about singing it right… but when it’s crunch time, give your all and focus on just one thing – bringing worship to Jesus.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Questions

I wonder why my greatest successes bring me as much embarrassment as my greatest failures. Am I afraid of success? Or am I just afraid of anything at all that will make me different from everyone else, even whilst striving to show that difference, that excellence, just to be noticed?

What is it that drives me to be alone, and yet makes me despise the isolation that I willingly place myself in?

What is it that drives me to seek praise so desperately and yet makes me ashamed, unwilling and embarrassed to receive that praise?

Maybe my biggest success is my biggest failure, because I know deep down that I have missed it. That I'm still seeking my own vainglory, no matter how much I tell God it's really for Him.

And maybe even in doing this I am glorying in my own words.

Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts, let us not lift our souls to another.

You search me. You cleanse me.

I can't.

BRP1

On a random thought, is it possible that the story of Adam and Eve is merely that - a story? Or that out of all the people that God made, he chose to tell the story of the lives of one specific couple?

Take it this way - God chose only to tell the story of Israel. He doesn't say much about the other nations, except where their lives intersect with that of His chosen nation. And yet we know that there were many other nations and there were many other lives and many others who had chosen to follow God in their own way and culture. Why not the same with Adam and Eve?

Because even before the story of Adam and Eve, God had already said that He created man in His image, male and female.

Gen 1:27

And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.