For All Generations (2nd posting)Posted: September 11, 2014
Hey folks! Just returned from an amazing week in Southeast Asia! Before leaving, I honestly was not feeling like getting out of town –It had been such an eventful summer for me (youth camp, teen camp, community group leader’s retreat, CLA family retreat, and staff retreat) all great stuff but I was pretty wiped out. I hadn’t been able to prepare much for the journey, cause I had little or no cell / internet access for the week prior. On Wednesday I went straight from our staff retreat at an awesome mountain location to our midweek service, thinking I had Thursday to research my trip, pack and get ready (all my flight info said “Thursday”). I realized right as I was heading to bed that my flight was actually Thursday 1AM and I had only 15 minutes to pack and head for the airport!
Anyway, I mention all that to say I began the journey overseas not really wanting to go, but also feeling really guilty for not wanting to go, thinking about all the disciples who sacrificed and scraped together funds all year long to be able to attend the ILC. And so I was not prepared for what an amazing flood of encouragement and inspiration the leadership conference was to be. It started with being able to worship on Sunday with the awesome group of disciples in Johor Bahru, in the country of Malaysia just across the water from Singapore (I was able to make an adventurous bus journey over there). The disciples were amazing, and so warm and welcoming to me and my sister Holly and her husband Anthony and their family. I was honored they asked me to speak to them and they were so excited as they this was their first visit by any westerners since the beginning of the church there.
Then the ILC was so filled with encouragement. It was so amazing to hear what God is doing in our churches all around the world. The theme was “Build,” and it was awesome to see our fellowship of churches growing in number and in health, with more churches than ever before in more countries than ever before (over 650 churches 160 countries, more churches outside the US than in). It was inspiriting to hear the faith of brothers and sisters who face persecution and death on a daily basis and yet continue to preach the word. The brothers and sisters of Singapore were so welcoming and encouraging. Along with help from brothers and sisters from Indonesia they put on a musical that Steve Johnson directed that was amazing and had over 2700 visitors. This in a country that is predominantly Muslim. And the musical was all about Jesus. I heard about the brothers and sisters in Abidjan who stayed faithful during war (and how there were 62 weddings in the church during the war! Their attitude was, “Hey why not get married and then go to heaven?”). I heard about how the Middle East churches have grown by 33% in the last few years even in spite of terrible circumstances in so many countries there and the heartbreaking loss of Maher Hin. It was cool to hear from younger voices and younger leaders and to witness our church being passed on to a younger generation.
On a personal note it was great to get time with an awesome worship leader in the Singapore church, Kevin Tan who let me stay at his place and fed me all the local food. It was cool to hang out with the Singapore worship team he leads and to see brothers and sisters younger than me who are so passionate about worship and with whom I could share stories of things I had gone through and see them encouraged as they could relate so much in their current challenges and opportunities.
Finally, it was very humbling and moving to hear about how people around the world read this blog or use the videos or resources I post here. I had no idea how God would use these simple songs I write, and it was so surreal to have person after person from India or Indonesia or Africa or the Philippines come up to me and encourage me with how God had used my ministry in their live or church. I feel like I am no one special, like David said, “who am I and what is my family that you have brought me this far?” And yet God has given me such amazing blessings – my wife and kids, my local church family, getting to serve full-time in ministry, and these songs that bless other people. There is nothing like being caught up in something so much bigger than yourself. And that is truly God’s kingdom.
I thought I would share a song today I have posted before but being at the ILC really brought to mind for me, “For All Generations.” It’s about what started in Acts 2 and has passed on to us. It is amazing to consider all those who have gone before us, and the impact our service to God may have on others in ways we don’t even know or may only find out about in heaven. As I mentioned above, its’ so incredible to be used by God for a greater purpose, something so much bigger than our individual selves but that brings God glory. I love how Paul said it, “in him you are being built together to become a dwelling [a holy temple] in which God dwells by his spirit” (Eph 2:22). Each of us is just a brick, but together we form a beautiful temple of God.
Here is the sheet music for the song
Here is a video of me leading the song at the 2008 Southwest Conference – you can hear the choir well! (Wish you could see them.)
Below is the version that appears on my 2010 album, “The Whole World Will Know”