Month: February 2018

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Collaboration: The Model of Kingdom Creativity

    By Shawn ‘Walrus’ Wong

    God loves collaboration. Right from the beginning of time in Creation, we see the Trinity collaborating in perfect unity to form life.

    The Father who spoke, the Word of God (a.k.a. Jesus) was released. By the authority inherent in the Son, the Spirit of God, who had been hovering over the waters since verse 2, empowered the atoms and molecules into motion. The earth, hitherto formless and void, scrambled to align itself to the command that was spoken, like paint adhering to the motion of the Painter’s brush on canvas.

    As wonderful as the outcome of Creation was, let us pay attention to how it came about. Notice that each person of the Trinity had an integral part to play in the eventual result. It was a combination of the Father’s command, the Son’s authority, and the Spirit’s power. An example of perfect teamwork – 3 distinct persons acting with aligned values, demonstrating the spirit of unity like no other. That, we believe, is a model for what creativity was meant to be for us – collaborative.

    In January, AG held our first-ever Songwriting Retreat, where songwriters from different churches and denominations gathered to craft songs for our next live worship album, which will be recorded in July. We were so humbled by how the Lord blessed us with original, powerful worship songs that we believe will impact the nations.

    (Above: AG Songwriting students working together on a song.)

    One of those songs started out with a lyrical idea that I had about God speaking light into darkness. As a group, we came up with a melody for those lyrics, added more sections, and worked tirelessly to refine it into the best version it could be. After two days, we had finally completed the song!

    What struck me about the whole process was that by the end, 7-8 songwriters had contributed to it. The people who helped finish the song were totally different from the ones who started on it. There was no way I could have written the song on my own, without the group’s collective input.

    We were never meant to operate in a silo. The Bible is replete with stories of people coming together for the success of a specific purpose or project.

    When the Lord saw the Tower of Babel being built, He said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” (Gen 11:6) Remember, God was saying this about a project that He did not even support! What more, when we begin to listen to His heart and come together in unity to create pieces of art that are Spirit-breathed?

    Let us decide today to throw out the spirit of competition, and to put on a spirit of humility that says, “Yes, though we may be quite different, I’m willing to learn from and work with you.” If a brain had an idea, it would do little good without eyes to look for the pen and paper to write it down, or legs to get to the desk when it finds them, or a hand to pick them up. We were always created to operate as One Body. As Lou Engle put it, “We can only fly UNITED”; and he wasn’t talking about the airline.

    We believe collaboration is the model of Kingdom creativity, that no piece of art can reach its utmost potential apart from a community – friends who love one another, are rooting for one another, and whose values and goals are aligned. Remember, if we are one people and have the same language, nothing which we purpose will be impossible for us!

  • Blog
  • Generosity: The Mark of Sons & Daughters

    By Ian Chew

    “A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
    (Proverbs 11:25)

    I used to think, “If only I had more money, I’d be willing to bless others. If only I were rich, I’d be more generous”. Yet it’s sobering to realise the Bible illustrates it as the generous who will prosper (Prov 11:25), and NOT the prosperous who will be generous. It’s true: Status or wealth does not guarantee that one will exhibit generosity. I have known wealthy people who are unforgivably selfish, but at the same time witnessed those who have little give unreservedly. The latter humbles me greatly.

    ‘As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”’
    (Luke 21:1–4)

    Generosity is more about posture than it is about value. In other words, it matters not the amount you can offer, but the spirit and heart behind it. It was said that the poor widow out-gave all the rich despite putting in only two very small copper coins. I used to stumble over the little I was able to give or sow into anything. It felt negligible. Then I realised God specialises in using “little”. Had a young boy not offered up his seemingly insignificant 5 loaves and 2 fish into Jesus’ hands, 5000 would not have had their fill that day and experienced one of the greatest demonstrations of divine provision. God is not in need of resources – He owns the universe. What He yearns for is that, in our giving, we cultivate a spirit of generosity and selflessness. What He seeks are sons and daughters who would partner with Him in releasing heaven’s resources by sowing the first seeds.

    Which brings me to this: Generosity is not even an issue of personality; it is actually an issue of identity. My problem was not that I was naturally thrifty or prudent; my problem was that I had not yet fully understood sonship. The orphan spirit hoards for fear of lack, but the renewed mind gives from a place of security. If I truly believed He owns all of heaven and earth, and that He calls me son; it means I have access to unlimited resources in heaven and on earth. Would I not be compelled and provoked to live generously? To be a conduit of His blessings and resources?

    God wants us to be generous because it models His heart. We ought to be generous not just financially, but also with our time, words, and deeds. I believe the way we live generously partly determines how much resources God will put in our hands, with ever-increasing influence and authority. Ever since stepping into ministry, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of being friends with many who exemplify radical generosity. More often than not, they carry great influence and are impacting our world profoundly. After all, God shows he readily adds to those who have been faithful with little (Luke 16:10).

    Let us therefore endeavour to walk in radical generosity, demonstrating the Kingdom wherever we go.