Monday, 2 May 2016

#musicmonday: Calm My Soul | Paper Route



During rehearsals for W;T, Professor Ashford quotes Hamlet, saying "And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."
There's a song somewhere in the universe which ends with this line, but for the life of me, I can't recall the title or the artist.

Here's the nearest.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

#AtoZChallenge: Zerubbabel

Zerubbabel is the guy who started rebuilding the temple (and finished it) after the long Jewish exile. His story’s scattered in across Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah, so you don’t really get a clear picture of who he is and what else he does, except rebuilding the temple and being the governor of Judah, and also, apparently an ancestor of Jesus.

The thing about Zerubbabel is that there is quite a clear demarcation of his life - before the temple and after the temple, and most of this is mentioned in Haggai, one of my favourite books of the Bible because it (sort of) mentions my birthday. Anyway, the main idea behind the book of Haggai is that the Jews aren’t prosperous because they’ve focused their attention on building wealthy homes for themselves (though evidently not quite successfully) and forgotten about rebuilding the Temple — which was why King Cyrus let them return to Jerusalem in the first place. It isn’t entirely their fault because there was strong opposition and several kings in between forbade it, but now there’s a new king and God has decided that it’s time. The current king, Darius, is led to find the old verdict, commanding the Temple to be built, and so he allows it. So the temple gets rebuilt and eventually, worship is restored in Israel. And from that day when the temple was founded, God releases His blessings. In a general blessing of the nation way, but also in a specific word for Zerubbabel, with God declaring that he is chosen, and will be made like a signet ring (a mark of authority).

Whilst this story is based upon the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, I think the same principle holds true - when you put God’s house first and honour Him in your worship, God releases His blessings over you and your life.

Our churches aren’t quite desolate or abandoned, but there is much more to do in building the house of worship. Your role as a worship leader, as a priest in God’s house, is an important one. God is seeking to fill His House with glory - and you will be a part of that as you spend your life building it.

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Are you an A to Z blogger? Send me a message on my facebook page or twitter with your blog name and number and I will send you a coupon to get Coexist on Smashwords for only $0.99!

About the book:

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders – human intruders – in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young-at-heart.

Get Coexist on Amazon or Smashwords. Check out Book Depository or Createspace for paperbacks!

Coexist

Friday, 29 April 2016

#AtoZChallenge: Yearn

In all we do, a key point is to not be satisfied. This isn’t to say that you go around pointing out all the flaws and mistakes in everything we do and be a total sourpuss, making people’s lives difficult. Celebrate your victories. Rejoice in the goodness of God. Congratulate each other for a job well done, acknowledge each other’s strengths. Be content in what you’ve done and what you’ve achieved. But don’t be satisfied.

Yearn for more. Each and every day, each and every week, yearn for more — more of God, more of His presence. Strive for excellence in everything you do — if you’ve done it well this week, strive to do it just as well, or even better, the next. Don’t stay static. Don’t stay complacent. Don’t fall into a routine of “well, we’ve been doing well, and it’s great so let’s keep at this pace.” Don’t rest on your laurels.

Even Paul says it in Philippians 3:12 - 14: He’s still pressing on, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead — to that goal that is Christ.

There’s always more to learn, more to discover, more to hone, more to do. It’s easy to think that we’ve got it made. It’s easy to say that oh, I’ve done well this week, so I’ll take a break next week. That’s how you fall into a rut. That’s how you go from pushing the limits to dragging your heels. Because once you start thinking in your head that you’ve arrived is when you stop asking.

Don’t stop seeking God. Don’t stop asking for Him to reveal more of Himself to you. Don’t stop asking for more of His presence. Even on the mountaintops, yearn for more of Him. There is more that He can show you, even when you think you’ve arrived.

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Are you an A to Z blogger? Send me a message on my facebook page or twitter with your blog name and number and I will send you a coupon to get Coexist on Smashwords for only $0.99!

About the book:

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders – human intruders – in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young-at-heart.

Get Coexist on Amazon or Smashwords. Check out Book Depository or Createspace for paperbacks!

Coexist

Thursday, 28 April 2016

#AtoZChallenge: Xenia

Xenia is the ancient Greek culture of hospitality, where generosity and courtesy is shown to those who are far from home. This was necessary in Greek culture (and mythology), in case they ended up entertaining the gods unawares (a theme known as Theoxenia). This isn’t foreign to Christianity, of course. Abraham entertained an angel (also speculated to be Jesus) who promised the birth of Isaac. An angel appeared to Joshua when he scouted the Jericho. An angel appeared to both Zacharias and Mary, announcing the respective births of John the Baptist and Jesus.

The church, as the house of God, should be an open, welcome space, that shows generosity and courtesy to all who visit, and, of course, to those who stay. What does this have to do with worship? Shouldn’t that be what the ushers do?

True, but worship also needs to be welcoming. It needs to invite people into God’s presence, offering them respite from their cares and worries. It needs to provide familiarity to those visiting from afar and regular members alike. It isn’t pushy, demanding the people stand and raise their hands, or clap and jump and shout, though it can encourage those outward actions. It isn’t all about the newest, latest, hippest songs that not everyone can worship through, though new music does help engage people in a fresh way. It isn’t showy, telling people that my band, my church is better than yours, though excellence is an excellent pursuit. It’s not about old songs vs new songs, though >50% new songs is still a risk and 20-year-old songs get boring.

Instead, it’s about the worship team welcoming the congregation into the presence of God, ushering them in spiritually, just as the ushers did for them physically. You are inviting them in in word and song, reminding them to check their baggage (spiritual and emotional) at the door in order to receive afresh from God. You’re acting as God’s spokesperson, His usher, His butler, even before the Pastor gets up to preach, and you’re telling them that it’s okay to come close. It’s okay to let go a little. It’s okay to be comfortable, because this is home.

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Are you an A to Z blogger? Send me a message on my facebook page or twitter with your blog name and number and I will send you a coupon to get Coexist on Smashwords for only $0.99!

About the book:

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders – human intruders – in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young-at-heart.

Get Coexist on Amazon or Smashwords. Check out Book Depository or Createspace for paperbacks!

Coexist

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

#AtoZChallenge: Worth

I’m not going to talk a bunch about worshipping God because He’s worth it. You know that already. You’ve repeated it many times, in your words, your exhortations, in your song. And it’s true - He is worth it, the Creator of all that was, that is and that is to come. The Eternal one who was, who is and who is to come. That’s why we worship Him.

But that’s not really what we struggle with. We struggle with why I’m worship leading, why I should worship, why I should serve. And most times, past the pride (because I can do it! I have talent!) is the crippling self-doubt almost every artist struggles with. (I admit there are those who have huge egos who probably don’t struggle with this, or those who are already incredibly secure in God and in themselves - Kudos to you!)

Know your worth. You are a child of God, crafted and known from your mother’s womb. God has given you this gift, this talent, this calling because he has chosen you. And only you can do all the things He has called you to do in the way He has intended you to do it. Other people may seem to be better than you in skill or talent, but they are not you. You are unique in the way He has created you, in the things you think and you say, in the words that issue from your lips. You are unique in the way you worship Him!

You are not your success or failure on stage or in the arena of life. You are not the days you bombed, you are not the days you killed it. No matter how badly (or how well) you do, you are worth it. You are worth the time and the effort, worth the friendship and the love, worth the discipleship and the training.

It’s not a competition. It’s a collaboration, and you are a valuable contributor, no matter that you think of yourself. Not because how talented you are, but because of Who has made you. Anchor yourself in that.

Anchor your worth in God.

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Are you an A to Z blogger? Send me a message on my facebook page or twitter with your blog name and number and I will send you a coupon to get Coexist on Smashwords for only $0.99!

About the book:

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders – human intruders – in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young-at-heart.

Get Coexist on Amazon or Smashwords. Check out Book Depository or Createspace for paperbacks!

Coexist

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

#AtoZChallenge: Vulnerability

One of the most difficult things to be is to be vulnerable. If there is one thing that we most often refuse to be - besides wrong, or humble - it’s being vulnerable. And yet, all great art requires vulnerability allowing people to look into your soul. Though “great art” is a strange thing to call worship leading, it’s the same principle. (Remember what I said about beauty?)

People respond to honesty, raw honesty, the kind of raw vulnerability that cries out to God for help from the depths of their soul. It’s what you find in the Psalms when David and the other psalmists cry out to God - in loss, in victory, in sorrow, in joy. It’s being honest about your struggles and open about your pain. You don’t need to tell the congregation your life story in detail - but they need to see your openness before God. They need to feel your emotions, even if they don’t know the details behind it.

They don’t really need to know anything you’re not ready to share either. But what they need is to see you there - on stage - with your heart bared before God, allowing Him to move in you. They need to see your passion, your tears, your joy. At times, it feels like a performance. Can I cry on cue? Can I look ‘enraptured’ on cue? But you’re not meant to put on a show. There is no right or wrong time to do any “worship moves”. You’re meant to model to the congregation what it looks like to come before God in spirit and in truth, in openness and abandonment, to allow Him to work in you in music and song, in the middle of worship, in freedom.

It is only in being vulnerable - seeing our true selves as we are - that we can really come to God in truth, as He requires — and free others to worship Him in like manner too.

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Are you an A to Z blogger? Send me a message on my facebook page or twitter with your blog name and number and I will send you a coupon to get Coexist on Smashwords for only $0.99!

About the book:

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders – human intruders – in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young-at-heart.

Get Coexist on Amazon or Smashwords. Check out Book Depository or Createspace for paperbacks!

Coexist

Monday, 25 April 2016

#AtoZChallenge: Unity

Just as there needs to be unity in the body of Christ, there needs to be unity in the worship team. It’s a no-brainer. I mentioned in Listen that you need to listen to everyone and that in listening to each other, there is unity. And yet, unity is definitely not one of the first things that comes to mind when you think about worship and worship leading.

The truth is, even if you have the best musicians in the world on stage, if they don’t play together and listen to each other, you may very well have the worst band in the world. You could also have a bunch of moderate musicians who don’t always get the fancy guitar riffs right and can’t do that solo thing on the keys or drums, but because they don’t have the need to out-shine each other and they play to support each other’s strengths and shore up each other’s weaknesses, they sound really, really good as a band.

That’s what you should be looking for. You’re looking for a team to work with because you know that thing about you being the worship leader? You’ll find it pretty hard to lead worship all by yourself. Your team needs to lead with you, alongside you.

And this need for unity extends far beyond just music and musicality. You need to support each other spiritually too. You need to be accountable to each other and accountable for each other. Who else understands your temptations just as clearly? Who else is lured by the same craving for fame and recognition? Who else knows the struggles you face?

Pray for each other. Support each other. Hang out together. Jam together. Become friends and partners in this journey of life. The best way to learn how to play together is to play together. The more familiar you are with each other’s styles and quirks, the better you are able to predict what the other will do during worship. This unity is where the magic starts.

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Are you an A to Z blogger? Send me a message on my facebook page or twitter with your blog name and number and I will send you a coupon to get Coexist on Smashwords for only $0.99!

About the book:

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders – human intruders – in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young-at-heart.

Get Coexist on Amazon or Smashwords. Check out Book Depository or Createspace for paperbacks!

Coexist