Impact 2010 – Day 2 recap

We woke up to a magnificent view of the sun peering over the Pacific Ocean. We’ve been staying with a kind and gracious host family who have a beautiful house in Haumoana, right by the beachfront. It’s a home full of character: poster-sized family photo prints across the walls, ornate bronze tap fittings, a cosy lounge and fireplace.

So Sean drove us down to Riverbend for the second day of Impact Bible Conference. It was another full day of teaching which we were immensely grateful for.

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General Session 3: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding our Freedom from Sin

Scott took us through Ephesians 1:1-4 to help understand our freedom from sin and explained six aspects of our salvation: it has a definite author (God), method (election), object (believers), foundation (in Jesus Christ), time (becore the dawn of time, so no one can snatch us out), and a purpose: that we would be holy before Him. It was convicting to assess my life: “He didn’t save you to look like everyone else!” As expected some questions in Q&A questioned the doctrine of election, which Scott addressed with grace and clarity.

General Session 4: Ken Ramey – The New You

Ken took us through Ephesians 4:17-24 to illustrate a “before-and-after” view of a Christian called to holiness. Four elements of our divine makeover were expanded upon: we have received Christ, we have repented of our sins, we are renewed in our minds, and we are recreated in the likeness of God. “Being holy as a Christian is a divine obligation.” Once again, another great exposition.

General Session 5: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding the Deception of Sin

This was an evening session where Scott unpacked how sin unfolds in a person’s life as outlined in James 1:14-16. He went through the passage’s description of how sin operates: from lust’s sinful desire, to its shameful deception, to it’s sickening disobedience, to separation and death. Any one who takes an honest look at themselves will see something in their life that has manifested in this way, and I was no exception. I also found it helpful to hear Scott explain that the term lust in itself is not always negative. For example, in 1 Tim 3:1 Paul explains that a man who seeks to be an elder desires a fine work – this is the same word in the Greek (epithunea). Utterly convicting to the depth of my heart.

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Cheryl and I also attended Peter’s mid-morning seminar, which was a brutally honest assessment of the personal cost of being in spiritual leadership. I know I developed a greater appreciation of our pastor as a result, and I definitely agree with Paul that faithful pastors are “worthy of double honour” (1 Tim 5:17).

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Blog updates: www.chongsworship.com/tag/impact2010/
Twitter updates: www.twitter.com/wchong (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages

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-William

Impact 2010 – Day 1 recap

It’s been a long but rewarding day for me and Cheryl. We’re mentally decompressing from an awesome first day at Impact 2010 Bible Conference, sitting here reflecting on the day just gone.

The drive down was relatively uneventful- we left at 7 a.m., had a filling lunch at Pizza Hut, and made it to Riverbend Bible Church (where the conference is being hosted) before 3 p.m. Already we’ve bumped into brothers and sisters we’ve met at previous events (e.g. the STAND conference we hosted in April), and it’s been great to meet new folk as well. I’m looking forward to the rest of the conference – 4 more days of solid biblical teaching and fellowship!

There were two sermons today; one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Once I have my notes up I’ll update the section headings below with more notes and quotes, here’s what I could type up for now.

General Session 1: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding the Relationship of Justification and Sanctification

Scott broke down the difference between justification (where we’re positionally made right with God) and sanctification (where we are made more and more holy like Christ).

On justification:

  • it’s defined as the legal act of God in which he declares a sinner righteous in the sight of a just and holy God.
  • it means sin is removed: Scott explained it worked in a way analogous to one pressing the “Clear” button on a calculator (Psalm 32, Psalm 103:12)
  • it’s through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-30)
  • it’s only through faith in the finished work of Christ, not on account of it (i.e. it’s not the fact we have faith that saves us but what we have faith in). Scott pointed out that this is markedly different from the Roman Catholic view of justification which they believe is through Sacraments such as infant baptism, penance and other rituals. Instead of these, however, Romans 3:28 clearly denotes that justification is “apart from works of the law”.
  • it’s where the righteousness of Christ is given. It’s not enough that our sin is removed – we need the Christ’s righteousness imputed onto us to be children of God

On sanctification:

  • Objective sanctification is where God has imputed holiness onto us (1 Cor 6:9-11, Acts 20:32)
  • Progressive sanctification is the process of being holy in this life. It’s both a progressive work of God and a work of believers

The biggest point I took out of this sermon, though, was that justification and sanctification are inextricably linked: if you’ve genuinely been justified, you will be sanctified. An important bible doctrine to consider for many Christians who mix the two up or confuse them to the detriment of their assurance of salvation, or knowledge of it.

General Session 2: Ken Ramey – The Pursuit of Holiness


Ken was our pastor’s seminary classmate and preached on the pursuit of holiness from 1 Peter 1:13-16:

1. Context: 1 peter ch1:1
1.1. Supreme attribute of God is holiness. The setting for showing off the other attributes of God, as a crown shows off the jewels.
1.2. We must seek it. Be holy, because I am holy.

2. Definition of holy: in Hebrew or Greek – to be cut apart, set apart.
2.1. From creation. Holiness describes how he is infinitely unapproachable by us.
2.1.1. From evil. His eyes are too pure to look at sin. Cannot tolerate sin in his presence. Must punish sin.
2.2. How does God make us holy?
2.2.1. Through Jesus. Understanding our sinfulness (repenting) lets us understand his holiness. Curtain torn meant God is now accessible to us. Clothed in the holiness of Christ. Our holiness depends entirely on the work of Christ. God imparts his holiness to us through Christ.
2.2.2. A holiness we must pursue. Sanctification: being set apart from sin. #1 duty is to be different from what we used to be. Primary evidence of salvation is a decreasing frequency of sin, and an increasing sensitivity to sin.

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As always, the food was great: chicken korma and rice for dinner tonight.

Alright, it’s time for bed – hope you are all well!

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Blog updates: www.chongsworship.com/tag/impact2010/
Twitter updates: www.twitter.com/wchong (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages

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-William

Impact 2010 – Looking forward to the long weekend

Impact 2010

I’m looking forward to the upcoming  long weekend because Cheryl and I are heading down for this year’s Impact Bible Conference, hosted at Riverbend Bible Church in Hastings, New Zealand.

Last year I had the privilege of going with a large contingent from HBC (I blogged about it here), and this will be Cheryl’s first time there. I had a great time of spiritual nourishment and fellowship last year, so I’m picking that it will be a blast on all accounts and that we will be challenged from the Word and by each other. The keynote speakers look solid and I think it will be useful to once again  observe the music ministry, led by Warren Jardine, as I’m sure there will be things I can learn.

Interestingly, this year I’m aware of another bible conference that’s being hosted in Auckland around the same time. It’s set up as an alternative to the teaching at Impact  – so I guess some people will be attending that instead.

I’d like to try and keep everyone posted with updates while at Impact, as I know a number of people who would have liked to have gone but couldn’t this year for a variety of reasons. So I’ll do live updates via this blog and also on my Twitter account (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010).

Looking forward to it!

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Blog updates: www.chongsworship.com/tag/impact2010/
Twitter updates: www.twitter.com/wchong (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages

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-William

Songs to suffer well

 cc:kevindooley on Flickr

Our home church has been going through a preaching series on suffering and the sovereignty of God. Before the series began, Pastor Peter and the rest of the worship leaders agreed that the congregational songs during this time needed to help the church to worship and praise God amidst trials and sufferings, in a practical and accessible way.

We’re thankful to a range of gifted songwriters and musicians over the ages who have crafted songs to help the gathered church suffer well. Here are a few we’ve used at HBC over the past few months:

All is Well (Robin Mark) – “He clothes us now then strips us, Yet with his Word equips us, whatever is His way all is well…” One of our worship leaders introduced this just yesterday, and the church picked it up straight away.

Blessed Be Your Name (Matt Redman) – A contemporary favourite. The bridge goes: “You give and take away | My heart will choose to say | Lord blessed be your name”.

Every Day (Sovereign Grace Music) – This one is from their “Come Weary Saints” CD. The chorus explicitly has the congregation sing out: “Thank you for the trials, for the fire, for the pain” – not a common feature in worship music today! For me this line is a great reminder of 1 Peter 1:6-7, where believers are encouraged to rejoice in their trials, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes through it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory an honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Great is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Chisholm) – It’s more stirring when you know the hymn takes its refrain from Lamentations 3:22-23, where the prophet Jeremiah expresses hope in God’s faithfulness amidst the immense anguish of seeing Jerusalem being invaded and conquered by the Babylonian armies (if you know your Bible, God proves His faithfulness and eventually does restore the nation of Israel).

It is Well with my Soul (Horatio Spafford) – Another great hymn that underscores our security in Christ. You can read about the writer’s life and trials here – I’ve also recorded an arrangement of it myself.

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This is just a small sampling – other songs we haven’t tried yet that I can think of include “When Trials Come” (Getty/Townend), “Whatever My God Ordains Is Right” (Mark Altrogge), “I Need Thee Ev’ry Hour” (Annie Hawks), “Be Still My Soul” (Katharina von Schlegel), and so on.

Would you add any suggestions to this list? What psalms, hymns and spiritual songs have helped to sustain you during your trials?

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-William

On marriage and the name game

One of the questions Cheryl and I worked through soon after our marriage was the issue of changing her name. We talked and prayed it through for a couple of days during our honeymoon, before she eventually decided to adopt my family name and become a “Chong”. Thankfully In New Zealand it’s pretty convenient to adopt a new surname, and you don’t need to make an official deed poll change to do so – so once we returned and changed it on Facebook it become official!

Some of you might think it odd that it would need that much discussion, but for Cheryl it’s definitely a major decision – after all, she would be changing a name she’s had for over 20 years! And it’s not just us who wrangle with this life decision.

As a Christian I’d like to throw it out there – is there a Biblical mandate for wives to change their surnames today? I raise this question as a few of my friends consider the same issue in the coming months and years when they similarly tie the knot.

I mean, I understand the concept of changing names as a practical way of demonstrating the joining into the family, or as acknowledging your husband’s headship (Eph 5:20-33). And it’s interesting to note that prior to the Fall (Genesis 1:26-3), Adam and Eve were referred to as man and woman (in Hebrew, ‘ish and ‘isha) – so in one sense the wife shared the same syllable (if not a name).

But on the other hand, this whole concept of surnames was non-existent during the New Testament period (adjectives were used instead, e.g. John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth), and we’re in a different culture today. For example, a recent article highlighted even husbands taking on their wives surnames, for reasons such as keeping the family name going, not liking their paternal family name, and others. And in my opinion, Brooke Fraser sounds nicer than Brooke Ligertwood.

Anyways, back to us. I can’t speak on Cheryl’s behalf on the details of her thought process, but I did offer her the option of keeping her maiden name, mostly to preserve her family heritage (the surname Ning is a pretty uncommon one, and I don’t think there are any male cousins that could carry through that name).

(P.s. Unfortunately, someone already took www.facebook.com/cheryl.chong – so she is still on her maiden name there!!)

But what do you think about the name game? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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– William