Freedom

Based on a sermon by Pastor Lia.

“But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”‭‭ – Psalms‬ ‭22:3‬

God isn’t just found in our hearts, in the Bible, in church or in Heaven. He also lives in our worship to Him. Wherever His name is lifted on high, there His presence will be.

The Christ-centered songs we sing alone in our bedrooms or together with the congregation in church are not like other songs.

It is not for good vibes, fun or hype. It is neither for a performance, nor a karaoke! It is a form of praise the Bible describes as something that welcomes God to take a seat in our midst.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭16:11‬

In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy! We get to experience a true joy and sense of freedom no other thing in this world can give. Once you have experienced the pure pleasures of praising Him and being in His presence, the pleasures of this world will fade in comparison.

If you have never encountered Christ before in the way that I’ve described, believe in Him. Seek Him with all your heart and lift up His name in songs of praise and I assure you, your life will be changed from the inside out.

It really isn’t hard to worship. In fact, we have the privilege to do so anytime, anywhere. Put aside all distractions, press in and focus on God.

As we do so, especially as a church, there is great power. Remember that once we step into church, we are a part of a big family. And though God will impact individual lives, we must now think for the people around us more than just ourselves.

When we worship and lift up praises to Him, we are actually giving to build the faith atmosphere in the house of God. The Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please Him”. Instead of just receiving from the atmosphere, we are producing an atmosphere in which God can move to touch the lives of others.

“Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” – ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭68:1-2‬

Worship is powerful. Worship is warfare. A man’s worship can bring the presence of God that holds power to change lives and drive out evil. Imagine a church of thousands united in worship. We will shake the gates of Hades.

So the next time you hear a church singing passionately and loudly, don’t be taken aback. We just can’t help but praise Jesus.

Pardon the noise. It’s the sound of freedom.

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Best Finds: The X Factor 2016

A couple of months ago, we were given a preview of the new season of The X Factor. And since then, I’ve been looking forward to it. Finally, it has arrived and just last week, the first week of auditions were aired! Here are my favorite performances from Auditions Week 1.

Samantha Lavery

Watch as 16 year-old Samantah Lavery does her grandpa proud with an Ellie Goulding cover.


Christian Burrows

Christian brings everyone to tears with one of the most honest & heartfelt performances I’ve seen on the show.


Caitlyn Vanbeck

Line by line, song by song and Piece by Piece, Caitlyn will prove all of her bullies wrong.


Saara Aalto

All the way from Finland, meet the cheerful, bubbly and talented Saara.


James Hughes

If this was Britain’s Got Talent, the audience would have given a standing ovation upon hearing the first line.


Emily Middlemas

This performance is a good one to just sit back and chill to. Wish it was longer!


Rebekah Ryan

Rebekah deserves respect for just her courage and strength alone.


Best Finds: America’s Got Talent 2016

Hi readers! After putting up my 50th post on Fool’s Bench a month ago, I decided to take a break from writing to mark this little milestone but also to come back after that with even more fresh ideas that I can share with all of you through this site. So now I am happy to say – I’m back! And yes, I have a lot of things on my mind right now that I want to write about. But let’s talk about something fun first, shall we? 😉

Now I must confess; I’ve been watching a lot of competition shows on YouTube recently during my free time. Specifically, I am closely following the current season of America’s Got Talent (AGT). And I’m telling you, it is a whole load of fun and satisfaction to watch incredible people pulling off their acts successfully and receiving praise from the judges. So if you’re interested in this kind of stuff, check the show out!

As for those of you who are a little busier in life (thank you for taking time out to drop by!) and want to just have a little taste of the best acts in this season of AGT without having to look them up yourself, I have put together some of my personal favorites so far and listed them below. Of course, these aren’t the only acts that are great and the show is still running! But as of today, these are my favorite acts & people that have amused, amazed or inspired me. Enjoy!

Laura Bretan

Watch as an unassuming 13 year-old girl awe the judges and the crowd with an opera performance, earning her the season’s very first Golden Buzzer.


Grace VanderWaal

A 12 year-old Grace engages the crowd with a sweet personality, an original song and a unique voice, receiving a Golden Buzzer.


Kadie Lynn

Get great vibes listening to yet another 12 year-old that sings and performs like she’s already 21.


Jon Dorenbos

A professional football player displays his other talent to the judges, ups his game in his second performance, and brings home a ticket straight to the Live Shows.


Calysta Bevier

After appearing on a viral video across social media and eventually even on Ellen, 16 year-old Caly overcame cancer and inspires the world once again with her Fight Song.


Ryan Beard

Hands down one of the funniest personalities I’ve seen on the current season of America’s Got Talent.


Sofie Dossi

With her signature “bow & arrow” move and the fact that she’s self-taught makes Sofie my number 1 favorite contestant on the show so far. Amazing.


ThroWings

The teamwork and mutual trust between this couple, as well as their abilities make me want to see what else they can achieve.


The Passing Zone

This cool duo produces some of the most entertaining acts involving the judges this season.


Steven Brundage

Steven with his sense of humor and distinctive tricks will blow your mind as you step into a realm where you’ll never see a Rubik’s cube the same ever again.


p.s. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Got Talent series, the Golden Buzzer is a concept that allows each of the judges (including guest judges) to send contestants straight to the Live Shows – the quarterfinals of the competition. But of course, it can only be used once by every judge during the Audition or Judge Cut rounds.

Victorious

In every story
In every season
Jesus You’re always here
Through every Journey
In every blessing
Jesus You’re always near

We’ve come this far
Like You’ve promised
In You there is no fear
With grateful hearts
We raise an anthem
Our song our joyful tears
Your love has brought us here…

In You we stand victorious
In You we’re more than conquerors
Let our Church arise
Our hearts are on fire
We live to glorify

We lay our lives
On this altar
Jesus You’re worth it all
We bend our knees,
We surrender.
Jesus You’re all we see.
Jesus You’re all we need…

To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
He shall reign forevermore!

Hi readers! If you’ve been following me on social media over the past week, you would have known that my church has just moved into our New Home! It was such an emotional and significant weekend for all of us, especially for those who have given in one way or another to the building of Heart of God Church over the past decade (and even before).

So in light of all that, the songwriting team of our church worked really hard especially over the past month to produce Victorious for the commemoration of this momentous day. And yes, those words you just read at the beginning of this post are its lyrics.

For myself, over the past few days, I’ve also been thinking on how to dedicate this week’s post to this historical weekend. But even after cracking my brain for a long time, I still couldn’t decide on the best way to approach it. Well that is, until now.

When I saw an Instagram post by Pastor Lia just awhile ago, I knew this was the way to go. Because seriously, this song captures & expresses every single thought and feeling that we all have as Christians in this church. Every line that we sang with this song during service just resonated so strongly with me. Allow me today to explain to you why.

“In every story
In every season
Jesus You’re always here
Through every Journey
In every blessing
Jesus You’re always near”

Some of you may not know this, but our New Home did not come into existence just like that. Our church has been through a long, sometimes arduous but mostly exciting journey to get to where we are! Throughout my 4.5 years in Heart of God Church, I’ve witnessed many things. I’ve been through many seasons with the church – mostly ups, but also some downs. I’ve heard and have been a part of many incredible stories that have birthed forth from the lives of others. There are so many different experiences we all share, but one thing remains constant – Jesus.

No matter whether we were journeying through the valleys or celebrating at the mountain tops, Jesus has always been there. At our highs, we have Him to thank for bringing us there. At our lows, we have Him to thank for lifting us up again and turning it all around for good. Looking back, Jesus has been the center of every story and every season in Heart of God Church!

“We’ve come this far
Like You’ve promised
In You there is no fear
With grateful hearts
We raise an anthem
Our song our joyful tears
Your love has brought us here…”

Even for our New Home, He has already given us a vision of this place since a long time ago. Our pastors and leaders would tell you how God has spoken to them and promised us this land. That is why none of us feared even though it took such a long time for our dreams to come into fruition. We always believed that with man, it may not be possible; but with God, ALL things are possible.

And indeed, after a long wait, He has fulfilled His promises to us! The road here may not have been as easy, smooth-sailing and quick as we’ve imagined, but God’s timing is always perfect, and the results that we got – more than anything we’ve imagined. Throughout this time of praying and waiting, we’ve also seen how God has moved for us in many different ways. It’s now not just man’s hard work that brought us here, but God’s love for us. That is why we are so happy and thankful to give Him all the credit and all the honour.

“In You we stand victorious
In You we’re more than conquerors
Let our Church arise
Our hearts are on fire
We live to glorify”

During the opening service last weekend, everybody’s hearts were just so unified under one cry – the cry of our hearts that was amplified by the chorus of this song. Because even though it was a weekend of celebration, victory and joy, it was also a weekend of thanksgiving unto God. Without Him, we would not have conquered all our battles as a church and as individuals.

Yet even after all these triumphs, we all knew that this is only the beginning of the great story that God is penning for Heart of God Church. This isn’t our destination and place to get comfortable in. It is our launching pad to the world and into the destiny that God has put in place for our church! As we begin this new chapter of our story, we’re going to change the world even more for Jesus.

“We lay our lives
On this altar
Jesus You’re worth it all
We bend our knees,
We surrender.
Jesus You’re all we see.
Jesus You’re all we need…”

Now, let’s talk about Imaginarium. Every single corner of our New Home is amazing and beautiful. I love all of it; you got to come check it out for yourself to know what I mean! Haha, I ain’t spoiling anything for you here. But beyond just the physical structures, I choose to see more. I see that beyond a chair, there was someone in church who sacrificed and gave their best financially. I see that beyond a room, there was someone in church who sweat buckets fixing and cleaning. I see that beyond a stage, there was someone in church who spent hours planning and working.

This is not just a building, this is the House of God and more. To me, Imaginarium isn’t just a place, it’s a story. In fact, it’s God’s story. The very existence of our New Home is a testament of God’s faithfulness and a memorial that glorifies Him. As I stepped into this place, I couldn’t help but be reminded again and again of the journey that God has brought us through. If not for Him, we will really not be who we are today.

So if anyone asks me, “How do you know God is real?” I will bring them to this place, show them around and tell them, “Because I see Him here – at every corner, in every person, in every life.”

But what about you? What do you see? If you have never stepped into Heart of God Church before, join us for our re-opening on the 20th! Come to this place and see it differently; you’re stepping on holy ground. Behind the tangible structures of wood, concrete and steel, lies the intangible stories of sacrifice, hard work and faith. There is so much I can tell you, but to write down all the stories here would mean
this little entry would never be completed, haha.

So today, I just really want to dedicate this post to God and to all the heroes that I count my privilege to be amongst every single day. Thank you Pastors, leaders and fellow church builders for giving your all since the beginning. Truly, every cent, every second, every effort was worth it.

“To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
To God be the Glory
He shall reign forevermore!”