Quiet 2010??!!

18 01 2011

Wow!! Looking back at 2010, it appears that the posts have been sparse and not even present in the second half of the year!!

College studies were the main factor in keeping me away from blogging. Studying 3 subjects each semester and the associated reading, writing essays and exam prep. meant that this side of internet life took a back seat!!!

 

However, my time was well spent, as I was extremely happy not only with my college results, but also with the things that I was able to learn from the subjects I studied and these included:

Content & Setting of the Gospel Tradition

Early New Testament Church

Old Testament Foundations

Old Testament Prophets & Writings

Patterns of Spiritual Formation

The Church from 1550 to Modern Times

This was a great selection of foundation subjects for my first year at Bible College and I am excited about 2011 as I begin learning New Testament Greek!!!

 

Along with study it was such a privilege to be a stay-home dad a few days a week and Daddy Day Care adventures with the kids were a genuine highlight, especially as it was Ruby’s last year before starting school in 2011!!! Timmy is also growing quickly and starting to talk lots now!!

 

Continuing with my part time role as a High School Music Teacher was a challenge but my HSC students were again an amazing group of young adults and two students in this group achieved our school’s highest ever Band 6 results in the NSW HSC Music 1 Course!!! Well done guys!!!

 

There are obviously many other dynamics in life that contributed to a great and busy 2010, including my role as a Worship Leader at church (which I am continuing to love and enjoy!!) and most importantly celebrating 11 years of marriage to my beautiful wife Greer!!

 

Well for those interested there is a quick update and I hope to have some more posts coming in early 2011…if you are interested!!!





Set Lists 21st March Morning & Evening Service

22 03 2010

A.M. SET LIST

P.M. SET LIST

Yesterday was a big day in which I led worship at both our morning and night services. One highlight was introducing the song Glory To God Forever in our evening service. This song was written by Steve Fee and Vicky Beeching and has a very singable chorus and a bridge that contains lyrics of sacrifice and offering:

“Take my life and let it be

All for You and for Your glory

Take my life and let it be Yours”

It was a fantastic day of worship and it was again a genuine privilege to lead our community in this way. In the morning we used Brenton Brown and Brian Doerksen’s song Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing) for the first time in ages and I was almost surprised at how fresh this song felt. I love the story behind the writing of this song. Brenton Brown was visiting Brian Doerksen to write some tunes and was busy writing whilst Brian had his hands full looking after his kids. The story goes that Brenton came up to Brian with the lyrics and tune to the first verse at a time where Brian had his hands full with his children. Brenton asked Brian if he had any ideas for a chorus and possibly with some exasperation Brian exclaimed: “Hallelujah…Hallelujah…Hallelujah…Your love makes me sing!!!” Apparently Brenton looked at him and said something like  “No…surely not! It can’t be that easy!” And that is the song as we sing it!!!

Anyway I will keep these posts coming when I lead worship.

God bless!!





Set List 28th February Morning Service

28 02 2010

This week I discovered the screen image saver on my iPhone, so I thought I would use it to upload my set list each time I lead worship at church. So here it is!!!

Not too much else to say except that in this service we introduced Here Is Love which is a hymn from the Welsh Revival of 1904/05. Inspiration for this arrangement comes from recent recordings by Matt Redman (Hymns Ancient & Modern)and Brian Johnson (Bethel Live). For a song that is over 100 years old, it has such wonderful lyrics and tells such an amazing story of God’s love and mercy!!! The other songs have become pretty standard for our church community. Bless His Name by Tony Sanchez (popularised by Jeremy Riddle’s recordings), Love The Lord by Lincoln Brewster (which we use as a Kids Song with actions) and Everlasting God by Brenton Brown.

Anyway I will try to post one of these each time I lead. feel free to comment on these songs and songs that you enjoy or are using at your church.





Reclaiming Worship

18 11 2009

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

 

“If all creation is voicing praise to the Creator, when was the last time we stopped to listen and maybe even dared to join in?”

 

In this excellent interview between Dan Wilt and contemporary theologian N.T. Wright we are provided a number of excellent insights into worship and the result of listening is a sense of grasping on to the title and “Reclaiming Worship”.

 

Often we don’t stop to consider our role as God’s Imagebearers in the midst of his creation. We are reminded that as stewards of God’s creation (roles outlined in the Bible’s first book – Genesis), we have important, if not vital roles to play when it comes to worship. If we are ‘the flower of creation’, as Wright so poetically describes us, then undoubtedly our role is huge. Have we been living up to this?? What can we do to recapture our rightful position as sons and daughters of the Saving King?

 

Perhaps the phrase that has thrust itself into my mind space has been the claim by Wright that our key role is as worship leaders of all creation!! He puts it in this way:

 

“the whole point then is to voice creation’s praise” 1

 

We are called as people to be the spokesperson if you like, when it comes to creation’s worship of its Creator. I can’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees at his Triumphal Entry, as He says that if the people keep quiet and don’t worship Him, even the stones will cry out!! (Luke 19:40) We are called to lead. We are called to worship. We are called to voice creation’s praise. This is now possible through the saving grace of Jesus Christ who acts as our Mediator in worship. Wright goes on to expand on this with reflections based on Revelation 4 & 5. These two chapters contain excellent insight into the type of worship happening in God’s throne room and the responses of all involved.

 

“we have this layer upon layer of praise, all creation, human beings gathering that up, human beings recognising that something is wrong with the world and that in Christ God has dealt with it  – and so this crescendo of praise and it’s all about God and what God has done, is doing and will do.” 2

 

With this in mind, it has been interesting to travel through each day with a realisation that the surrounding creation is praising and worshipping God. More often we need to allow space to listen, look and join in with this cosmic worship that is happening daily. Cosmic worship by a creation that realises who its Master is and is surrendered completely to His will and Word.

 

As a worship leader this added dimension to the role is worthy of consideration. Wilt makes this comment in relation to worship leaders in the church and their role:

 

“we are in the role that we are in, as lead worshipers, to make a way for people to meet with God, and to create a space where simple songs can put wings to the prayers of those who have gathered to worship. We usher people gently to a place where they can respond to the love of God – it’s as simple as that.” 3

 

Not only do worship leaders have a responsibility to the gathered church but also to God’s creation. In listening and watching creation, our hearts will undoubtedly be stirred to write songs that reflect the praise of creation. This is evident in so many contemporary songs that reflect on God’s majesty as evidenced to us in the created order.

 

The grand narrative of God involves a process of restoration of so many things to their rightful state. Worship is an important part of this process and provides an experience or foretaste of what this restoration will be like. As we listen out to creation and respond to this through giving it a voice, we continue on this path to reclaiming worship and directing it to the One who deserves it!

 

 

 

(1)  N.T. Wright, Reclaiming Worship – A Training Interview With N.T. Wright (Vineyard Worship Resources, 2004), CD

(2)  Ibid

(3)  Dan Wilt, essentials*green: Online Studies in Worship Values & Spiritual Formation – Online Course Text (New Brunswick: The Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies), p.5





Music & Time – Reflections on Jeremy Begbie

4 08 2009

One of my biggest musical challenges in recent months has been time. Leading worship from guitar has so many innate challenges, especially for one who is only new to playing an instrument whilst leading. Communicating the lyric melodically through the voice is obviously essential for a worship leader. Combine this with musical direction of a band and team of singers and providing solid rhythmical drive on guitar and there is a definite challenge. At the same time, one is listening to guidance from the Spirit for His plan and direction during a time of worship.

 

Hence my challenge of playing ‘in time’ with the rest of the ensemble, particularly the drummer is evident. Time is so important to music. I have recently been reading through a book by musical theologian Jeremy Begbie called “Resounding Truth – Christian Wisdom in the World of Music.” This book is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in music and theology. In his writing, Begbie travels with ease through these two realms, establishing amazing and insightful links between the two. Begbie is quickly developing into a popular commentator on Theology and the Arts and after reading this book it is easy to see why. Begbie focuses one section of his book on time and here are a few quotes that stood out to me about time:

 

“The world is created not in time, but with time; time is a dimension built in to the way things are. And here music comes into its own, for, more than any art form, it is bound up with time, time being part of the sonic order.” (p. 219)

 

And another great biblical idea:

 

“Musical experience, in other words, can serve to remind us of what is arguably a profoundly Christian insight: that time belongs to the very fabric of the good creation to which God is committed, something confirmed and sealed in the life, death, and raising of Jesus Christ” (p. 220)

 

I really enjoyed this comment as it has great links to my recent study on worship languages, particularly the language of Time& Space. God’s endorsement of time as a good part of His creation is evident and puts an understanding and consideration of time into perspective.

 

 

“In any case, what we are driving at should now be clear enough: music can be one of the most powerful and wonderful ways we have of enjoying, discovering, exploring, and interacting with the time and the time patterns God has imprinted in his physical world. And as such, it can play a part in reminding us of the reality and goodness of time (and thus, in turn, of the reality and goodness of physical things in time).” (p. 221)

 

I found these quotes to be great reflections on the importance of time, not just to music, but also in God’s created order.  Let’s be thankful for time when we play, hear and enjoy God’s great gift of music.

 

As for me and my time ‘issues’ – back to the practice room and metronome me-thinks!!!

 

Jeremy Begbie (2007), Resounding Truth – Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic)





No Greater Love

20 05 2009

In recent weeks I have been reminded of love. It sounds crazy I know!! How can we ever forget about something that is so important to life, our relationships and an understanding of our purpose. My thoughts have been stirred through reading Mother Teresa’s book – No Greater Love.

 

The book contains reflections written by Mother Teresa on a range of concepts including Prayer, Giving, Poverty, Work & Forgiveness. Reading through her wisdom is inspirational, especially considering the life of the one who writes so clearly, honestly and to the point concerning such important issues for all humanity.

 

A number of gems jumped out at me as I read through her section on love.

 

“Jesus came into this world for one purpose. He came to give us the good news that God loves us, that God is love, that he loves You, and He loves me. How did Jesus love you and me? By giving His life.” 1

 

It is great to be reminded of the enormity of God’s love for us. The depth that he went to in demonstrating this love by becoming human, living on this earth and walking a life full of love. But not stopping there, continuing to demonstrate His amazing, sacrificial love through His death on the cross and His resurrection. Proving beyond a doubt that HE IS LOVE and that HE LOVES US!!!

 

Mother Teresa’s heart continues to shine as she almost pleads for us to love each other. She says, “This is all Jesus came to teach us: that God loves us, and that He wants us to love one another as He loves us.” 2 How can we not listen to someone who ‘walked the talk’ in her very life and actions? After all Jesus insisted that the greatest commandment was to love God and the second: to love our neighbour.

 

We need to be constantly reminding ourselves and others of the importance of love. We need to grow in our understanding of God’s love and in demonstrating love for each other. At times, I know I forget or don’t consider love in my actions. Mother Teresa suggests that, “what we need is to love without getting tired.” 3 A great challenge for us all!!

 

I will finish my thoughts with two quotes, one from Mother Teresa as an encouragement and one from Jesus as a reminder of His ultimate act of love. Let’s constantly revisit love!!

 

“Loving must be as normal to us as living and breathing, day after day until our death.” 4

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” 5

 

(1)  Mother Teresa, No Greater Love (Novato: New World Library), p. 21

(2)  Ibid, p. 29

(3)  Ibid, p. 22

(4)  Ibid, p. 23

(5)  John 15:13 , The Bible – NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan)





Worship Values Part 1

28 03 2009

I’ve Been Thinking About  Values

(Essentials Green)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Green Online Worship Theology Coursewith Dan Wilt

 

 

Two of the fundamental values of worship are intimacy and integrity. This week I have been reading and reflecting on these values and relating them to the life of the church and particularly in the life of a worship leader.

 

Dan Wilt suggests that,

 

“We want to create spaces that give people both the time and the context that they need to reveal themselves to God in a fresh way, and for God to reveal Himself to them in a fresh way.” 1

 

This is so vital in a corporate gathering but at times we choose to rush through services for a variety of reasons (reasons which are both positive and negative). This does not fully allow people space to connect with God in a self-revealing manner. We need to create space for breathing, lingering so that people can explore a relationship with God intimately. This may mean not rushing into the next song, not speaking and also some flexibility in the service order and timing. Music can create such an amazing space for intimacy. This can be in quiet, reflective songs but also in loud celebratory songs. Hence one of the key tasks of the worship leader is to provide an atmosphere and opportunity for their congregation to worship God intimately.

 

Intimacy in musical worship has been a real connecting point between myself and my Creator. Through music and lyrics I have always felt the presence and co-self-revealing relationship that exists due to God’s initiation and my opportunity to respond to him through worship. This relationship is expressed by Wilt in this way;

 

“When we turn to Him, and respond to His love with honesty, vulnerability and self-disclosure, then we are engaging in the intimate relationship into which He Himself is inviting us.”  2

 

This week I was challenged to consider my personal worship times so that when I am leading in a communal context it is an overflow of what God is doing in my heart of hearts through my personal moments of intimacy with Him. Brian Doerksen puts it like this,

 

“Real intimacy cannot be created by simply singing the right songs. Intimate worship really happens when the songs come as an overflow of a heart full of love.” 3

 

I have noticed that when I worship God in a quiet place at home with the songs chosen for a particular event or service, there is a depth and richness to these songs when led in a communal setting. Andy Park puts it this way,

 

“The imagery of intimacy is one way of describing a deep, interactive life with God.” 4

 

I want my life to be interactive with God in a relationship centred in the intimacy he has displayed through His Son, Jesus Christ. Intimacy in worship demonstrated in a variety of settings will undoubtedly point to the saving grace of our Great God through Jesus Christ. Doerksen states that, “when we embrace intimacy – real intimacy  – in worship, we are fulfilling our destiny to be in a surrendered relationship with God.” 5 It is also quite likely that the response of worshipping God intimately will be a proactive one. Worship leader Matt Redman claims that “when people’s hearts are caught up with the Lord in an intimate way, then their hands will follow.” 6 A life connecting intimately with God in worship will be one that is outward focused with a strong conviction of loving one’s neighbour in a global community context. This leads us quite fittingly to the value of integrity.

 

Integrity is such a key value in my approach to worship leadership. At times, it has led to feelings of inadequacy and doubt in my calling. Realising the difficulty to lead a life that is full of integrity in the midst of struggling with sin and relationships (well life in general really!) can result in losing confidence in being involved in communal worship settings.

 

The passage in Amos 5: 21 – 24 is one that often reminds me of the importance of integrity in worship. In this instance the religious practices of Israel are rejected because of the way people were worshipping. “Away with your songs” is a reminder that worship is not all about music and whist considering integrity it is important to reflect on the lifestyle of the worshipper.

 

Remembering that we are being made more like Jesus through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is essential to establishing confidence and walking in a worship leadership path. Dan expresses it nicely and I love this idea of our “general trajectory of life aligning with the values of and ideas we are communicating.”  7

 

I want my life’s trajectory to match up to the words that I sing, the direction I lead my communities and the values expressed by Jesus during His ministry on earth. Again this feels precarious at times. It is vital to constantly evaluate the state of our hearts and minds and as Andy Park says, “as worship leaders we should regularly ask ourselves whether we are leading worship through our lives or just through our music.” 8

 

These two values must be at the forefront of our thinking in relation to worship. They are ideas that must be regularly communicated to our leaders, teams and communities. We must set our life and those we lead on the track of integrity and intimacy. These two values are closely related and feed off one another. This final statement and encouragement of Dan Wilt’s is a great summary:

 

“The worship leaders or writers or musicians often that we most respect have a very rich ongoing secret life of worship with God and its because that dynamic is so much a part of who they are…over time it changes the integrity of what happens up front.” 9

 

(1) Dan Wilt, essentials*green: Online Studies in Worship Values & Spiritual Formation – Online Course Text (New Brunswick: The Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies), p.7

(2) ibid, p. 7

(3) Brian Doerksen, Intimacy In Worship – Inside Worship Magazine Vol. 62 (Vineyard Music USA, 2007)

(4) Andy Park, To Know You More (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2002), p. 35

(5) Brian Doerksen, Intimacy In Worship – Inside Worship Magazine Vol. 62 (Vineyard Music USA, 2007)

(6) Matt Redman, Intimacy (New Brunswick: The Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies), Video

(7) Dan Wilt, The Worship Value Of Intimacy (New Brunswick: The Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies), Video

(8) Andy Park, To Know You More (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2002), p. 60

(9) Dan Wilt, The Worship Value Of Integrity (New Brunswick: The Institute Of Contemporary & Emerging Worship Studies), Video