Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hum this Hymn

1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing, 
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Such a meaningful song. Sang this in church today. Reminded me of the first time I heard this song, sung by someone with heart and soul.
Most beautiful thing I've ever heard.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Heart of Worship

Adapted from Mike Gong on the "Heart of Worship" from a worship leader's perspective:

We begin with a biblical lesson from history. 2 Chronicles 26, as the title suggests, chronicles the life of this one-time king: Uzziah, King of Judah, a man whose position was analogous to that assumed by any worship leader who has had the privilege to step up on the podium. By the time of Uzziah's coming the kingdom of Israel was a shadow of it's former glory. The kingdom had been divided in two: one of which still bore the name 'Israel' and occupied the northern lands, whilst the other was called 'Judah' and was in the south. Many of the kings that came after this division sought to unify the lands and restore Israel to the power and prosperity of its Golden Age, in the time of such great kings as Solomon and David. Naturally, they failed.

But along comes our hero Uzziah, and chapter 26 of 2 Chronicles details the remarkable strides he made in trying to achieve what many of his predecessors had failed to do. Uzziah was, in short, a mighty king who "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done." Indeed, such were his achievements that "his fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful." Tragedy befalls however, for in the next verse it is said "But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall."

Uzziah went into the temple to burn incense to the Lord, a rite which only the priests could perform, and not the efforts of Azariah the priest and 80 other "courageous priests" could dissuade him from making the attempt. Uzziah was made sore wroth by this, and "while he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar at in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead." Uzziah never again set foot in his own palace, and his son Jotham succeeded him as ruler while he yet lived.

So how does the life-story of this once great king Uzziah concern us? The answer principally lies in verse 15, where it is stated -and this is important enough to bear reiteration- that "his fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped." Things went down the moment Uzziah forgot who really ran the show. This is something all worship leaders need to bear mind. There is a saying, that you can plant a seed but God waters it and makes it grow. It is the with the audience, of course. A worship leader does as worship leaders do but it is God who stirs the hearts of the people.

Having said that, Mike draws our attention to a certain prophet who lived in Uzziah's time, Isaiah. As one of the greatest prophets who lived, Isaiah got certain things right when it came to worshiping the Lord that Uzziah didn't. Isaiah 6 details a vision that the prophet had. In it is mentioned two seraphs, "each with six wings, and with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying." And the things that Isaiah witnessed elicited this response from him:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

How we see God determines how we worship him. We are to remember first of all that God is Holy. God's holiness denotes separation. It is with God's holiness in mind that the seraphim cover their faces and feet; and also what leads to Isaiah's curious lament. The point however, is that both actions arise from humility. From the seraphim, angelic beings who acknowledge God's holiness, majesty and sovereignty, to Isaiah, a man and therefore a sinner like all of us, who fears the sight of the Lord because to see God face to face is like a dry leaf to be near a roaring furnace.

There is a pagan story of the Greek god Zeus, who incarnate in the flesh once took a mortal wife. Zeus promises to grant her any wish, much like the Herod who promised the same to the daughter of Herodias. The mortal wished then to see Zeus in his full glory. Regretfully, but nevertheless bound by his word, Zeus acqueisces and his wife is destroyed by the manifestation of his divinity.

There is a lesson Christians might take from this story, and from Uzziah's life-story and Isaiah's vision. Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is this fear, or reverence if you like, that moves us to the right posture of mind, spirit and heart. Churches today have an unfortunate habit of forgetting about God's righteousness. We like to bring God down to our level, and we sing songs about Jesus being like a friend to us. This is true of course, but only to a certain extent. We cannot become 'paly-paly' with God. Our God is a God to whom our finest acts are but filthy rags in His sight. His holiness is so absolute it will tolerate no sin, and the bible makes it clear on so many occasions that we are a fallen race.

But as we say on many a Sunday morning service, He is a God whose property is always to have mercy. That mercy, of course, is Jesus' death on the cross for our sins, to reconcile man to God. It is good to remember this, the epitome of God's love; but it should not eclipse God's righteousness or indeed his holiness. Where the heart of worship is concerned, it does not do to emphasize one to the exclusion of the others. Nor should we forget, of course, that God is good. After all, He blesses Uzziah and prospers Judah immensely. It is only through Uzziah's fault that this blessing is withdrawn.

Thus, it is hard to reconcile 'friend' with 'Lord', 'saviour' and 'master'. Revelation 1: 12-16 describes Jesus in his full glory. For those reading who do not have the inclination to search for the verse, suffice to say that it is not a very homely or welcoming image. However, this same Jesus in glory fully revealed is the same Jesus who said 'let the little children come to me.' The Lion of Judah is also the lamb of God.

Sometimes we think that singing is all there is to worship; that worship starts at 8:30 and ends at 10:30 or such. Worship leaders therefore, worry a great deal about getting the 'worship' right- about choosing the right songs, rehearsing enough or getting the atmosphere just right. Not that any of this is wrong, in fact it is good, but only when done for the glory of God. Our voices, however beautiful, is nothing but the sound of rebellion if not in the praise of God. The focus, first and foremost, should be on God. Get this right and all the rest will follow.

So why do we talk about God's holiness, righteousness and love when we should be talking about the heart of worship? Because to worship in a way that pleases the Lord you must first know what pleases a holy, righteous and loving God. You don't take your father out to an Italian restraunt on Father's Day when you know he likes Thai food. You do things his way, in his timing on his day, not your way in your timing as though it is your day.

Who are we meant to satisfy, God or ourselves? Because if the answer is God, you had better make sure you have the heart of worship that God is pleased with.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Nicholas says:


What is....'fun'...?

I know not of what you speak....

'tis a word wholly unkown to me!

cheryl. says:
















Nicholas says:

/save conversation


Ahh, Cheryl. If anyone knows what 'fun' is, it's you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Well hello there. I don't know who I'm addressing; neither do I care.

I imagine if my blog could speak it would say something like this:

It's been a long time...How have you been?
I've been busy being dead.
You know....
After you murdered me!


Murder seems to be the only appropriate word too. After all, this blog has been by all indications and for all intents and purposes, dead. Jason's blog dates the last update as 6 months ago. That's half a year.

This post has been hard in the writing because needless to say, a lot has happened since then. On the whole? I am displeased with most of what has transpired in the intervening months, although I am somewhat satisfied with the resolution. 2010 featured some of the sweetest (Slash concert!) and bitterest experiences I have had thus far. Some of them so sweet at first, now so bitter in retrospect (not the concert though, that's one untainted memory). I learned more about myself that year than at any other stage in my life- had a good look in the metaphorical mirror, if you like. And I liked not what I saw.

It felt like cresting a peak only to look down and see the plunging depths of the valley below and the mountains beyond that I must climb. It's painful now to look back not so long ago and see how I used to laugh about certain things in life that I was sure would never happen to me. Maybe someday it'll seem funny, and I'll be able to laugh about it and this post, but I can't now. Time was when I'd laugh about people going on and on about their woes on their blogs too, but that time is past, like so many other things.

Poor Weng Yee, who only wanted something interesting to read, but instead prompted a completely emo-fied introspective essay.

This is perhaps the most honest post that's been written on this blog so far, and I thought that it might be fitting too, as an indication (hopefully) of things to come ere 2011 is gone too. On a related and somewhat less depressing note: the resolution. 2010 ended better than I could have expected. The reason for that, as some of you may well know, is Youth Quake 2010. I have said it before: that I could say YQ 2010 was awesome, but instead decided that:


Indeed, my God is an awesome God and deserving of far more praise than bold green font can express. For all the failures, inadequacies and weaknesses I've seen in me, it gives me hope to know that not even one as far gone as I am beyond his power to save, redeem and make anew. For 'tis said that His power is made perfect in our weakness. And what weakness too. It leaves me beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not something within my capability to resolve on my own.

Drink from the river that flows before His throne...

So as much as I cherish some of the better memories of the past year (concert again) I never took anything from it beyond simple remembrance. But I did take a part of what went on in camp back home, and it's not a part I intend to lose.

All in all, I've had to make many decisions twixt this post and the last. Some of them I regret, some I am glad for; others I'm still not sure about. One thing I will never regret though, and will ever be glad of, is God in my life. I am many things, student, a lover of literature, etc... but proudest of all is to say I am a Christian. To my shame (you have no idea) not a very good one at times- worse even, I mean, than I have a right to be as a fallen human. I am, and suspect many times hence will be, ashamed of myself, but never of Christ.

To all whom I have failed, wronged and done evil by, forgive me. I say this of course, not just to everyone, but most of all to Him by whom I have failed the most, wronged the most and done evil by the most. I do want you to know something however. He knows of course, but for your benefit I'll type it out, and as I hope to gain your pardon and be a more worthy friend, brother, son, student, and disciple, be assured:

I'm working on it.....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clause of concession

Alright. So after watching these two films:

My verdict is that not all anime sucks.

Only last week I'd have been shocked to hear myself say so, but there it is. Funny how that works. 'Spirited Away' won an academy award and is listed along with 'Princess Mononoke' as being among the best animated films ever. Critical reception notwithstanding, my personal opinion is that I'd place these two right up there with the Disney classics like 'The Lion King', 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', etc...I found the music to be very moving, something which rarely happens in the kind of animated films we get these days, 'How to Train Your Dragon' being a notable exception. The protagonists are, in my opinion, every bit as charming with 'full as much heart' as their english counterparts, as I'm sure most people would see if but they could get over their bias against anything other than what they are normally accustomed to. To be sure, it is rather different in style as well as language, but that shouldn't blind one to the merits of any film, as I've come to realize. You roll your eyes, and maybe I'm stating the obvious here, but it's one thing to vaguely comprehend the concept of impartiality and another to come to your own understanding of it, or 'too see with eyes unclouded' as it were.

Notice how 'to see' is synonymous with 'to understand'. This is what we call a dead metaphor- one that has become so commonplace that it has been incorporated into everyday language to the extent of ceasing to be viewed as a metaphor. In any case, it perfectly illustrates what I'm trying to say here. So to anyone who discriminates baldly against anime, go and 'see' Hayao Miyazaki's films and hopefully, understand.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't need reason, don't need rhyme

Late I sat down last night,
by request a poem to compose.
Aught but a lamp for light
to spin a tale, and shun repose.

Long and hard was the fight
for words of wisdom- words to move
while away ticked the night,
and with each tick- a sharp reproof.

And with growing ire,
for all my efforts were in vain
I knelt down in prayer
To alleviate the strain.

Lord, said I in earnest-
bless thy servant with clarity
to write- which is dearest-
of precious sacred maternity.

Softly and tenderly,
that still small voice at last did speak.
Only look within, said he
and you will find what you seek.

I did as I was told
and plumbed the depths of memory
-and found worth more than gold
the toil of a mother's charity.

Patience to her ascribe,
fourth of the fruit of the spirit.
boundless her love is described-
love, I hardly merit

Love to purchase pardon
for my every indemnity-
and thus freely given,
her love derives it's sanctity.

Here is a hand, upon which
one might, without fear, surely rely.
A hand that stayed the switch,
-a father's waxing wrath defy.

As I sit here, lonely-
accompanied by solitude,
it occurs to me, how I'd
oft repaid love with ingratitude.

So I, with a full heart,
and mindful of our Lord's statutes,
remember with what art
He bid us act, as men of good repute.

And as in time to come,
When she grows old and her voice falters,
I'll repay her some,
of the love that on me she now showers.

Love will shoulder the debt,
I shall defy conformity.
Mine to give, hers to accept,
out of love, with cheerful gravity.

And even if I should fail,
fail,even at my filial duty,
She goes to one above,
who rewards her for all eternity.