Technology tells us we can’t sing

ChristianWeek columnist Michael Krahn  writes a perceptive column and points out  the rising trend in people who say they cannot sing. An excerpt:

“I see a parallel between the lack of confidence in singing and the world of visual images in tabloid and fashion magazines. Photoshopped images create unrealistic body expectations. In the modern era of music autotuned recordings give us unrealistically perfect sounds…

… The problem is not that there are people with uncommonly attractive bodies or uncommonly strong voices; the problem is that we have bought into the idea that unless we possess perfection in body and voice we are in the minority and should keep ourselves both hidden and unheard. This idea is an affront to human dignity and to God, who created our bodies and our voices in all their glorious variety.”

I would whole-heartedly agree that as a solid session of  the whole church  singing God’s truths can be revitalising, and almost a foretaste of things to come.  But it’s true sometimes we can get unrealistic expectations of what good singing is  from the pitch-perfect commercially-successful music playing on our stereos. In autotuned recordings, vocal lines are digitally altered so that their singing  becomes perfectly in tune (here’s a notorious example by Cher). And if that inhibits our desire to sing, then that’s not good.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that only the talented vocalists sing worthily. It doesn’t say that Mary passed Grade 5 singing exams before praising God with her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). When Miriam and the ladies celebrated following their Exodus from slavery (Exodus 15:21), the Bible doesn’t say they weeded out the bad singers and sang with a hand-picked choir.

The worthiness of our singing, like anything we do, should be  assessed on whether it’s done  to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31) – why we sing matters more than how we sing. If  I’m in the pews and singing because of my immense gratefulness of the salvation I’ve received, then whether I sound as nice as  John Mayer or  KT Tunstall  naturally becomes less of a concern.

The whole article is worth reading:


Do you think  auto-tuning has  made  us more reluctant to sing God’s praises? What else makes you less likely to sing during a worship service?

Who caused Jesus’s death?

Our pastor preached this on Sunday. In the book of Acts 2:22-23, the apostle Peter explains that both God and man were responsible for Jesus’s death on the cross. That’s God’s sovereignty, juxtaposed with human freedom.  It just blows your mind, and in a good way.

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:37-38)


Honeymoon: favourite places

It’s been a month since we returned from our honeymoon in the South Island, and people have frequently asked us how it went. By now much of it is jumbled in our heads, but we’d like to share some of the enduring memories.

Incidentally, if we were an Old Testament-era Jewish couple, you might not have heard from us until next year! (Deut 24:5) As it stands we thoroughly loved spending undistracted time together with God, enjoying the blessings of marriage, and exploring the solitude of the South Island.

A summary of some of our favourite places:

Hanmer Springs, a cosy and picturesque village nestled in an alpine setting. We took a dip in the thermal hot pools, enjoyed some massage therapy, and stayed at a lodge there – all courtesy of a generous wedding gift! We were told it’s even better in winter when you can soak in the hot pools surrounded by a blanket of snow.

Milford Sound. Rated #1 in AA New Zealand’s Top 101 Must-Do’s for Kiwis. We loved everything from the grandeur of the waterfalls, to the towering mountain peaks, to the stunning mirror-image lakes. Seeing these wondrous places gave us much clarity to Scripture verses attesting to God’s creative handiwork (e.g., Psalm 95:3-5).

Onsen Hot Pools. Serene and amazing time in our own private pool, looking over the Shotover River in Queenstown.

– Avon River, Christchurch. It runs through the Botanic Gardens located in the centre of the Garden City, and we got to enjoy a relaxing boat ride through it. Plenty of big trees and ducks, playing in the vibrant, aquifer-sourced water.

Lake Tekapo. You get a real sense of the southern latitude around here. The lake is a bright ice blue undimmed by overcast skies, waters are coloured pale by glaciers grinding rock down those South Island mountains. There’s a crispness to the air that lingers after the breeze has passed.

As awe-inspiring as the landscapes of the South Island are, as people unworthily redeemed by Him we have something even better to look forward to. The best part of seeing all these places is knowing that the scenery in Heaven will be unfathomably better – streets paved with gold, city walls decorated with precious stones (Rev 21:16-21), And best of all, in the very presence of God there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:4)


Have you been to the South Island before? What are your favourite places?



“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” – Eccl 4:9

Welcome to the newest blog on the block – at least for the next  4.26 seconds.  Given that  is quoted to have indexed  over 133 million blogs since 1992, by the time I’ve finished this paragraph there’s likely another throng of people who’ve taken the plunge with the “publish” button.

So why join the rush? Well actually I’ve been blogging for about seven years now. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I started. It’s also  been a valuable outlet and record of my ongoing regeneration since the most momentous event of my life: coming to know Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour.

Recently however, something almost as momentous happened – I got married to my best friend, lover, and sister-in-Christ. So the start of a brand-new covenant with my wife seemed like a good time to start a brand-new site we could both call our online home.

So what makes this  blog unique? Well, for one, this blog  will give you a glimpse of our life and various ministries – marriage and family, praise and prayer, music and worship  – that you can’t get anywhere else. You can track our triumphs and trials, and hear us describe how and why we live life as we do.

As a worship leader, I’ll use this space to share about what I learn and what God teaches me in serving the body of Christ  at  Howick Baptist Church.

As a visual artist, I’ll show you what I try to glorify God with using a Wacom tablet and pen.

As Aucklanders, we’ll share about what’s going on in this corner of the world, and what we’re thinking about.

Sometimes  it’ll be me  sharing something. Other times I’ll say something!  Regardless of whoever’s speaking, as the Lord wills, we hope that  what we say  edifies and builds you up (Eph 4:29).

Thanks for reading. Soli deo gloria (to God alone be glory)!

– William and Cheryl Chong

(To come: honeymoon report! STAND conference planning! much more!)