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!


Blog updates:
Twitter updates: (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages


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.


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?



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 – 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.

– William

STAND 2010 Video online

It’s taken awhile but video for the general sessions of the STAND conference are now available online:

The five sessions are:
Session 1 – Standing Firm on the Sufficiency of Scripture
Session 2 – Standing Firm on the Centrality of the Gospel
Session 3 – Standing Firm: A High View of God in Evangelism
Session 4 – Standing Firm: A High View of God in Worship
Session 5 – Standing Firm: Leading a Disciplined Life

The videos are also available at the STAND 2010 website, and at this site as well.

Our broadband connection should be a bit less tied up now!


John Mayer fans are rather frightening

I found this review of last night’s John Mayer concert in Auckland fascinating mainly because of the quote from the reviewer:

“John Mayer fans are rather frightening. Silence in the foyer, can’t tell if there is a gig on. Walk in to take our seats early – mostly so I could see if the crowd was alive. They were sitting quietly. Waiting. I felt like I was entering a Bible Group meeting. Not far off – just a different god to bow to I guess. A different form of worship.”

Anyone that went that would agree/disagree with that assessment? When does appreciation for a musician or music group morph into worship?