I thank the Lord for the kind and generous compliments I have received since I performed “Find Us Faithful” at Watchnight Service 2010. It’s quite a pleasant experience having church members randomly approach you to say, “You were the one who sang at Watchnight right? Great job!” All this encouragement means a lot to me because it’s communicated in my primary love language.
Isn’t it wonderful that a song written in 1988 still has relevance and impact two decades later? That’s the hallmark of a hall of fame song. I praise the Lord for those who have told me how the song has encouraged them in their pilgrimage of faith but I think no one has heard how this timeless Steve Green song has become an integral part of my own faith journey.
This is a post I have wanted to write for the last year and so I shall publish it tonight.
While I’ve heard and sung it during my ACS days, it was at IDMC 2009 that this song reprised in my life. It was by God’s grace and people’s generosity that I even got the chance to attend this annual sold-out conference. It was my first IDMC and also the first time I sat into Ps Edmund Chan’s sermons. It goes without saying that he instantly became one of my favourite speakers.
It was at the final plenary session that God spoke into my heart and assured me that He’d take care of me. You see, throughout the conference, I was struggling with one decision – whether I should take up Ps Ronald’s offer to step into full-time ministry with R-AGE. This was potentially the biggest decision of my life thus far. I remember the clincher from Ps Edmund that God used to convict my heart and convince my head.
“Obedience is the highest expression of stewardship.”
At that moment, I remember Ps Edmund instructing the worship leader to lead the congregation to sing this song as a prayer of dedication. There was no emotionalism, no hype, no spiritually charged atmosphere and no preacher offering an invite to approach the altar. I sang the song to God from the bottom of my heart. I was certain tears rolled down my cheeks…
And I found myself in a soliloquy with God. Hands clasped, head bowed and eyes tightly shut, I uttered a simple prayer to God – “Okay Lord, I will”.
“Find Us Faithful” became the official soundtrack of my decision to enter full-time ministry.
Fast-forward to the start of 2010. I had tasked my first batch of REAL (2010) candidates to craft the REAL creed and compose the REAL song. After a week of compositions and revisions, their collective effort resulted in the completion of the official REAL creed. I was so proud of them when they recited it in front of R-AGE. However, they didn’t have the technical or inspirational competence to compose the song. So I let it rest.
However, in one inspired moment on a weekday morning, the Spirit reminded me of “Find Us Faithful” and impressed upon my heart to use that song to lead REAL 2010 into a time or worship. So I did that. And as I sang it to them for the first time, I found myself in tears again. This time, it wasn’t about me, but about them, for they represented the generation of young people that I would have the privilege to pastor.
The song became my earnest prayer of dedication for these 16 precious youths – that they would leave a lasting legacy for the REAL batches who would join after them and the batches who have gone before them. I opened my tear-filled eyes and saw a number of them in tears too; one was even on her knees. I knew the Spirit was moving powerfully in and speaking clearly to these kids. It was an anointed moment indeed.
I vaguely remember telling these things: “The Lord wants to engrave this moment onto your heart… You are standing on holy ground… The Lord is here in our midst…” I knew instantly that this was going to be the theme song for REAL (at least until an even more appropriate song is written).
A few months down the road, I led this song at the weekly Tuesday staff devotion. Again, I received the similar responses from my colleagues. There were no tears from me this time but I was sure this song registered something in their hearts. I know this because a few of them came to share with and affirm me.
Come 2010 Q4, Ps Kenny approached me from out of the blue and asked if I was keen to sing “the song that I led during staff devotion some months ago” at the Watchnight Service 2010, just before Ps David delivered his challenge. I was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity that was presented before me but I took a week to consider it before I eventually took up the offer; I wasn’t sure if I could manage rehearsals and REAL camp concurrently.
I had to activate Joel Tay to accompany me in this song because the minus-one track had not arrived from the States. He was kind enough to take on the challenge despite just a couple of days’ notice and we had, at best, two rehearsals – one at his house and the other at the GII Sanctuary a few hours before Watchnight.
Throughout rehearsals, I was constantly reminded of how the song presentation must challenge the church to leave behind an example of faith for the generations that would come after them. I asked God to help take the attention off me and shift it onto the message in the song – minimum showmanship, maximum diversion. And I trust that He has.
Last Thursday, I had the privilege of having dinner with Ps Edmund and his wife Ps Ann, together with Dr Bill Lawrence and his wife Lynna. Whenever I meet new people, I would naturally share about my journey to Jesus and my full-time calling. There and then, at Coleman’s Cafe in Excelsior Hotel, the official soundtrack played in my head.
It kept playing throughout the evening, until I went to bed; and I think the song will keep playing in my head, to serve as a personal reminder for me, for the rest of my life, until I see my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ face-to-face. No prizes for guessing the first question I would ask Jesus when I meet Him.
I couldn’t help but feel that it was a full circle indeed – to share this story (again) in the company of my mentor, who (by divine appointment) is the same pastor who facilitated my decision-making process into full-time ministry in September 2009. Indeed, “God is good, in control and will bring His will to pass”.
Oh Lord, may the footprints that I leave lead young people to believe in You and life I live inspire them to obey You. Please find me faithful at the end of my pilgrimage, Lord. I love You…
I think it’s fair to say that I’m not just a passionate individual but also a person with many passions. And something that I’m exceptionately passionate about is the Word of God. This keenness was originally infused into my spiritual bloodstream by JH, when I was much younger; I saw the fire in his eyes whenever we discussed about the Word of God or when we pursued truth. I also have to thank Him for introducing me to JP, who is undoubtedly one of my greatest influences in this area, even though I’ve not met him yet. It was JH’s gift – Pierced by the Word – that got me into JP’s solid teaching.
And it’s not surprising, a decade on, that I discuss the Word of God with the same fire in my eyes. One of the most satisfying things in life has to be reading familiar scripture and to have the Holy Spirit breathing into you new perspectives. I revel in those kinda revelations – don’t you? And so I find myself asking myself, “What then have I done to impart this passion through my lifestyle and how can I continue to perpetuate that?” I scrutinised my actions and I am inclined to believe that I have done my part.
- I am a keen student and an even keener teacher of the Word. I enjoy preparing lessons and thrive in teaching them – it rejuvenates me when I exercise my gift.
- I prepare sermons with excellence and will never preach something I do not understand fully; the last thing I want to do is to undermine or shortchange the pulpit.
- I memorise scripture in my own time and I encourage everyone within my sphere of influence to do likewise.
- I attempt to give scripture-based advice whenever I have the opportunity to dispense counsel, instead of just depending on my wisdom and experience.
- I base my ministry objectives and vision on the Word of God; the daily themes of PIERCE were lifted from Hebrews 4:12 and the three primary roles of my GII Shepherds were derived from John 21:15-17.
- I invest money into purchasing knowledge and fill my mind with the right things, instead of overspending on things that have little eternal value.
- I make time to attend additional teaching seminars and conferences instead of just depending on the Sunday pulpit for my Word input and whenever possible, I will encourage my leaders to sign up and go together with me.
- I have progressively added audio sermons into my iPod and listen to sound preaching (pun intended) more than I listen to music. In fact, I’ve done this so much there’s nothing but sermons and teachings in my 8GB MP3 player.
- I subscribe to snail-mailers and online feeds and whenever there is new material, I’ll feast my mind on them so that I am able to generate new thoughts.
- I am actually more enthusiastic to shop in bookshops (or online book stores) than in shopping centres or departmental stores.
- I attempt to pray scripturally so that my prayers are theologically accurate and always be aligned to/with God’s divine will.
- Lastly, I try to spend some time each day to meditate on at least one portion of scripture (but I could really do with some improvement here!).
But why do I tell you all this? To boast? (Oh heaven forbid me from that!) I am deliberately detailed in proving my passion for the Word because it has been a journey for me and I wish to encourage you to ask God to expand your capacity to love His Word. You see, I was never so into it right from the beginning. I certainly did not expect myself to end up at this point and I most certainly do not expect myself to stagnate here too – it’s one reason why I am massively looking forward to my theological education in 2012. I concur with what EC said at last year’s IDMC, that while theological credentials are beneficial, theological competence is essential.
But this is the hardest of them all for it is a daily death of self-denial and an utter dependence on the Spirit to enable me to do so – while I make a sincere and genuine attempt to put into practice what I have learnt, more often than not, I fail at achieving this and for that I am the chief of sinners despite all the “accomplishments” listed above. They’re really just merely accomplishments and nothing else. I will never be able to attain godliness (and holiness) by my own doing; I’m constantly a long-shot away from being Christlike and how I long to fare better in this arena. The Word of God repeatedly reveals my carnal nature and humbles me greatly for it exposes my sin and shortcomings. I don’t know about you (actually I do, I’m just writing rhetorically), but no matter how much I profess to love the Word, the most crucial thing is that I live (and do) the Word. In fact, the more I love the Word, the more I discover my sinful desires and the more I realise my need for the grace of God, the counsel of the Spirit and the redemption of Jesus Christ to see me through each moment.
how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
All right, I have no idea how I ended up there but I guess what I really want to say is that, if I could only choose one passion to impart to the next generation, it would be the passion to pursue the Word of God. I pray that it becomes your primary passion too, especially if you are an influential leader in youth ministry.