Hi, I’m Verge Ascabano.
I’m a pastor, worship leader, and church leadership coach. I help motivated but overwhelmed pastors and church leaders learn how to clarify their focus so they can become more effective leaders and fulfill their God-given purpose in life.
I want a new phone. No, I want the new iPhone. The iPhone 11. And I also want a new iPad and a new Macbook Pro.
I actually have an iPhone 8 already. And an iPad. And also a Macbook Air. But why do I want the new ones?
People are wired to want new things. We’re not content with what we already have. We must have new ones. The better ones. Because we need more than what we have now.
We tend to look for things we don’t have. If only I could get a better phone, then maybe I can be more productive in my work. If only I have a better laptop… If only I have a better job… If only I could speak better… If only I could write better…
What if all you need is what you have now? What if instead of looking for things you don’t have, you begin to value what you have and start to maximize them?
The boy who had five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish had enough food to feed the five thousand.
What you have is enough. Stop trying to acquire more things. Start giving away what you have and you will see them multiply a hundredfold.
So what do you have in your hands now?
Somebody once gave me two pairs of shoes. One pair was a gorgeous Under Armour basketball shoe. I was so happy to receive it. The other pair was a brand that I did not recognize. It was a nice-looking brown leather sneaker but since I was not familiar with the brand, I wasn’t as pleased as I was with the other pair.
One day, somebody noticed the new brown leather sneakers I was wearing. He said, “Wow, that’s a Cole Haan! That’s expensive. Nice shoe brother!” I didn’t know that it was a brand of high value. From then on, I treated that shoe differently. I started to wear it with more delight and greater confidence.
Knowing the value of something changes the way we treat that very thing.
Knowing your true value changes the way you live.
Do you really know your true value?
I told a bedtime story to my four-year-old son the other day. It was about a boy named Pedro who wanted to become a builder someday. He studied diligently in school so he could learn how to read well. He would then read books about how to build so that he could become an excellent builder when he grows up.
The next day, my son came home from school and he was so eager to share with me what they did in school. He even shared with me details about the exercise they did about the words “is” and “are”. This was uncommon for him to do. He doesn’t usually share with me details about school when I ask him about it. But because of the story about Pedro, he became more excited to study in school and share with me what he learned.
Stories are powerful. More than just giving principles or instructions, stories inspire and motivate us. The story that I shared with my son inspired him to become a good learner. I could have just instructed him to study well in school and give him incentives in doing so. Or I could even punish him if he doesn’t do well in school. But one simple story made all the difference in him.
What story has inspired you lately?
Leading worship is not an easy task. It could be very overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out as a worship leader in your church.
Here are five tips to help you lead worship well:
1. Prepare – Don’t just prepare for the worship set you’re leading. Build a lifestyle of worship. Develop your personal moments with God in worship.
2. Listen – Take time to listen to what the Lord is saying in the place of rest.
3. Practice – Master the songs well and rehearse with your band.
4. Coordinate – Coordinate with your pastor or worship service coordinator regarding the topic of the sermon and program flow.
5. Be authentic – Be real in your worship. Make sure you’re actually worshipping God and connecting with Him as you’re leading in worship.
If you want to dive deeper about these 5 tips, watch this video that I made a few years ago. (And don’t forget to subscribe in my Youtube channel!) It has now garnered more than one hundred thousand views on Youtube and it has helped a lot of people improve in leading worship. I hope this helps you as well.
Every time I travel to Singapore, my way of speaking automatically adapts to Singlish, the Singaporean way of speaking English, in a matter of days or even hours. I am amazed and surprised when I automatically say “la” at the end of my sentences, the way a typical Singaporean does. This is the power of immersion. Our brain automatically soaks up the culture that we’re immersed in, influencing and changing us.
When Jesus said his last words, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, I think he was not just talking about baptizing people like John the Baptist did. I believe he’s also saying that it’s important for us to baptize or immerse people in the name and identity of the Father, in the name and ways of the Son, and in the name and culture of the Holy Spirit.
We are transformed when we are immersed in the identity and ways of God. If you were given a chance to stay in heaven with the Heavenly Father for a few days, wouldn’t that change the way you speak? What about if Jesus were to hang out with you every single day for a month, wouldn’t that change how you behave? What if you get to have the Holy Spirit as your best friend, wouldn’t that change your schedule and your priorities?
Just think about all those possibilities. They can be your reality. Start immersing yourself in the reality of who God is today.
Worship doesn’t start when we sing to God. It doesn’t start when we raise our hands up high in praise and adoration. It doesn’t start when we do something for Him. Well, worship doesn’t start with us. It starts with God.
Everything starts with God. He created all things, including us. Worship is our response to all that He has done for us. We worship Him because He is so good. We give Him thanks because we’re so grateful for all the things we receive from Him.
If you want to grow in worship then you need to grow in how you respond to God. And we respond better when we receive better.
Everything in God’s kingdom is to be received, not achieved. We must learn to become better receivers so we could steward well all that God gives to us. We’re so used to trying to work harder to achieve more. If this is our mindset when we worship God, then we’re missing the mark.
We need to change the posture of our hearts when we worship. Instead of trying to do something or trying to give something to God when we worship, why not try to receive first from Him. He already gave so much. Just open your heart and remember all that He has done. You will be amazed how effortless it is to worship God after all. When our focus is on receiving His love and not trying to love Him by our own strength, then loving Him back and worshiping Him will just be a natural response of who He is and what He has done for us.
We all make mistakes. We fumble and fall. We slip up. But we are not our mistakes. And we are not defined by our sins.
Whether you believe it or not, you are special. You were created for a purpose. Your creator made you just the way you are for a reason. And you are His masterpiece.
You are not defined by what you do, but rather, what you do is defined by who you are. “But who am I, really?”, you may ask. You are who you think you are. Your identiy is defined by how you see yourself.
No one knows you better than the one who created you. If you really want to know who you were meant to be, then you need to look at your maker and you will see in His eyes your true reflection. Through His eyes of love, you will see your perfect reflection—the way God sees you. Nothing is more important than seeing yourself as God sees you.
Have you ever really thought about why God wants us to sing to Him? We get the point of why we need to pray and talk to Him. But singing, really?
There are more than 400 references in the Bible about singing and 50 direct commands to sing to the Lord. Singing must really be important to God. Well, He actually sings! In Zephaniah 3:17, it says that He rejoices over us with singing.
If our God sings, then we might as well sing because we want to become more like Him. But I think singing in worship should be more than something we need to do or we must do in order to please God. It’s something that we get to do because we love God.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God (Matthew 22:34-40). Loving Him is our response to Him loving us (1 John 4:10). This is what worship is all about. It’s our response to what He has done. We thank Him in response to His goodness. We sing for joy because He is good!
Singing is a way of expressing what we feel. And if we are to love God with every passion of our hearts, with all the energy of our being, and with every thought that is within us, then, by all means, let us sing to Him in worship as an expression of our love and devotion to Him.
Like an artist painting his masterpiece on a canvas, you are painting your life’s work on the blank canvas of time. But unlike the painter, you cannot make erasures or somehow edit your work. Every act you do is permanently imprinted like indelible ink.
This thought is scary, to realize that we only have one chance to make our best work. How do we undo our mistakes and failures?
We will always make mistakes in life and fail in so many ways. The good thing is that God has already made a way for us to deal with our failings.
For every fault we do (or had done, or will ever do), God is painting over it with the indelible ink of His love. His love is more powerful than our failures. And His love never fails.
The greatest act of love God did for us is to give up His own son and let him die on the cross so that all our errors could be undone once and for all. His very blood covers all our sins—our wrongdoings.
So don’t be afraid to make mistakes in life. Go ahead. Seize the day. Take that paintbrush and paint something. It’s so much better than just standing there frozen because of fear.
Take every opportunity to paint the best painting you can ever make. Don’t be afraid to fail because Jesus has got you covered.
Remember this. You are painting your masterpiece with an indelible ink of God’s love.
We are all stewards of our own personal stories. They are arrows in our quiver. In them lies the potential to inspire others and change cultures.
Each experience we have contributes to the story of our lives. But it’s up to us to fashion them into meaningful stories. A bad experience doesn’t have to ruin your story. You have the power to attach the right meaning to it.
David (who killed Goliath) was not free from failures in his life. He made some terrible choices but this didn’t stop him from making his story great.
You have a great story to tell. It is great because it has the imprint of God etched in the very fabric of your story. When you recognize His fingerprint, you will never see your story the same way again.
Your story is part of the greatest story this world will ever hear. It’s the story of God and how much he loves his children. It is still being written as of this moment by billions of co-writers all around the world, including you.
So go and write your story. Share it to others. If not, just share it with yourself. And you will be inspired by it. You will grow because of it. The more you share it, the more you grow and the more you inspire yourself and others because of it.