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Showing posts from 2012

Carols and Unicorns

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My thoughts over the Christmas period this year were partly centred around something I read on twitter. In my twitter feed, a respected Christian teacher tweeted that he had been listening to the famous 'Carols from King's College Cambridge' on the radio on Christmas Eve and that he had heard mention of unicorns in one of the readings.

I had to check this out, so googled "unicorns at Carols at King's College" and managed to find a PDF of the actual order of service used. On page 5 there is indeed a passage that mentions a unicorn. The copyright line reads:

ANNUNCIATION TO MARY
RAINER MARIA RILKE
translated, MARY DOWS HERTER NORTON from the Roads from Bethlehem reprinted by kind permission of SPCK It looks to be an imagined poetic re-telling of the encounter between Mary and the angel when she was told she would have God's child. This is an extract that mentions the unicorn: "O if we knew how pure she was. Did not a hind, that, recumbent, once espied h…

When Disaster Strikes

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Well I must say, this week has been exceptional when it comes to disasters striking the lives of those who are close to me.

It began last week when my wife accidentally knocked my wedding ring off the side and it fell into the toilet as it was flushing. It was gone (believe me - I looked and looked in all sorts of unpleasant places!).

Then on Sunday night when my brother-in-law's girlfriend was driving back home her tyre burst and her car flipped over on the motorway. She escaped with whiplash, concussion and a fractured rib. The car did not get off so lightly. It is a write-off.

Then my sister had booked and paid for a holiday to South Africa to visit relatives over Christmas. On her way to the airport in London, the whole railway system for the North-East of England came to a standstill due to overhead electricity cables that had broken and were on the tracks. So she missed her flight - a very stressful situation. So we managed to re-book her flight for yesterday. She got to t…

Sunday Setlist - 9th December 2012

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Well, we had a great time at church on Sunday. It was an honur to lead, not just the singing, but the service as well. God was good, and againd everything seemed to fall into place and flow smoothly from one thing to the next.

We used a 'Service Starter' DVD from Integrity's iworship series to start the service. It worked well (although the computer which is due to be replaced decided to freeze and we were without words for the first part of the first song - thanks to Anna and the multimedia team for getting things working again so fast).

'Just One Touch From The King' is a great song that carries a prophetic anointing and again it went down very well - declaring God's rule and reign over our town and nation.

We had an offering this week. Singing 'Jesus All For Jesus' fitted very well. The offering verse was taken from Matthew, where the Wise Men bring their gifts to the new born Jesus. their gifts were significant and worth something. Linking with the…

Narrative and Theology in Songwriting

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Well it’s been a while since I last posted on my blog. Thanks for not giving up on me. Being a school teacher (yes, that is my day job!) means that the weeks leading up to Christmas are packed full of every activity imaginable. And volunteering for a Church means pretty much the same – Christmas gets very busy! Anyway, I have now finished writing my reports so am able to take a little time to update my blog.

Last night a few of us from our church travelled to Peterborough (our nearest city) for ‘The Big Church Night In’ with Rend Collective Experiment and Matt Redman playing. We had a fantastic evening as I’m sure you can imagine. The lighting was awesome, the bands sounded brilliant – most importantly Jesus was glorified!

During one of Rend Collective’s songs ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’, whilst standing in the 2000 strong crowd, I started thinking again about something that I had pondered over the summer: the songs we write need to

1) be full of the truth of God’s word – to be theolo…

'The Me I Want To Be' - part 4

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Having started back at work I have been incredibly busy. I've managed to squeeze a few blogs in centred on other topics, but finding the space and time to simply sit, read and think just hasn't happened - until now. Aren't holidays great? A vital time to relax, unwind and re-commect with your loved ones. my one-week holiday has seen me tackling the next few parts of John Ortberg's book 'The Me I Want To Be'. I've been really enjoying reading, thinking about and blogging about this book over the last few months (see previous blogs) and trying to live a less complicated and more real and authentic life that is full of God. This next part of the book continues on that trend of being enlightening and very freeing. Here are some of my thoughts about Part Four . . .
Part Four - Redeeming My Time Prayer Ortberg tries to demystify the whole concept of prayer and encourages us that prayer is not some high and lofty activity that only the super-spiritual can engage …

Christmas Worship Song

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As the daylight hours get shorter and as the autumn leaves fall off the trees in blustering breezes, the time has come for worship leaders to start to search for Christmas songs. This gives enough time for important decisions to be made, think through how things fit together etc.

I would imagine most of us will include a few traditional christmas songs to include, but are still searching for Christmas songs that will fit within the sound of a modern worship setting. With this in mind, I set about writing this Christmas song called 'Emmanuel'. It centres around the theme mentioned in Isaiah 14 and Matthew 1:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulf…

Sunday Setlist - 21 October 2012

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This week’s service went very well in my opinion. I had not been briefed as to the content of the sermon beforehand. I just love it when the Holy Spirit is clearly at work and weaves everyone’s story together during the course of the service.Even the songs and the order in which they were sung fitted perfectly with the various testimonies and contributions people had brought. We learnt a new song ‘Our God’ (Water You Turned Into Wine) which we declared prophetically over our church situation with uncertainties over council’s decisions as to the community centre we use for our meetings, as well as over people’s individual lives, one who has just been diagnosed with cancer, for example; ‘Our God is healer, awesome in power’; ‘And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us’.
This then lead into the sermon which was about changes that are going to be happening with the church. The church leaders are wanting to create the space and opportunity for people to grow in their ministry and…

My Experiences of the Christian New Media Conference 2012

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Picture by Matt McChlery (Creative Commons Copyright, Non-Commercial)
The Journey Waking up at 5:30am on a chilly and foggy Autumn morning is not usually my idea of fun. But yesterday I was on a digital mission! I was on my way to the Christian New Media Conference 2012 - my first time!
Having begun writing this blog with a little more intent earlier this year, as well as running my own website for my songwriting and music, and also my church's site, I thought it was about time I sought out some teaching from like-minded people to check I'm on the right track, or not!

Picture by Matt McChlery (Creative Commons Copyright, Non-Commercial)
So with meatloaf sandwiches and my smartphone packed, I set off to Peterborough station. I just made it onto the train with only three minutes to spare so was unable to get that Starbucks on platform 2 that had been on my mind during the drive. I fell asleep on the train a few times but eventually arrived at King's Cross Station in London. T…

What if God worked at Starbucks?

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Picture by Matt McChlery (Creative Commons Copyright, Non-Commercial)
I saw this advert at Starbucks a week ago and knew there was a blog in there somewhere just waiting to jump out - although I didn't know what. But now I've got it!

Tweaks Let's begin by making a few 'tweaks' to the advert's message:

I promise perfection. After all, it's your life. That's why I've put my name on you and promise that I will make you perfect - like me. If not, I will make you again until you are. God - the Barista If God was a barista working at my local Starbucks I think he would appreciate the re-worded version of the advert above. When we invite God into our lives, He is not satisfied to leave us as we are - in our sin. He rolls up his sleeves and gets to work deep within who we are, in our heart, spirit and lives. He brings about change and transformation. Moving us from where we are to where He wants us to be. Changing us from who we are to who He has made us to …

Sunday Setlist - 7th October 2012

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Church went well today - We examined the book of Ruth, that Boaz's generosity towards her is like Jesus' generosity towards us. It was good seeing this book from a slightly different perspective. There is always something more to learn!

The songs I chose this week complimented the sermon quite well - the songs focusing more on the awesome majesty and amazingness of God: His faithfulness and worthiness (as reflected in Ruth's story).

A few months ago I blogged about rediscovering slience in worship. I have lead the singing element of the service since then with trying to incoroprate moments of 'selah' (pause and consider the goodness of God) as well as silence as all part of the collective worship experience. The first few times of trying it, the congregation who are so used to 'moving on to the next thing' did not stay or dwell in the silence. So I have been a bit more intentional about it and now give a word of encouragement such as: 'let us pause and…

National Day of Prayer & Worship - Wembley Stadium 2012

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I was thrilled to be part of the National Day of Prayer and Worship at Wembley Staduim last weekend. For one thing it meant I got to go to Wembley! Which was an added bonus, but most importantly it was a fantastic time of UNITY - the National church was there, 40 000 of us, with one common purpose: to pray and to worship God! The walls of doctrine and prefered minstry styles were stripped away and we all jumped in together: CHURCH as it should be - the CHURCH as I've never seen it before! My spirit just kept saying 'Yes! This is how is how it should be!' Not necessarily in a staduim of on such a massive scale (although that part was fun!) but THE church, TOGETHER! God's church. There were many testimonies of things God had done during last Saturday just from within the min-bus load of people from our church who made the journey to Wembely for the day - I can only imagine what 40 000 other Christians had to say, how many things God had brithed, how many flames were …

Sunday Setlist - 23rd September 2012 (& other service ideas)

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So this week I was not only leading the musical elements of the service but also how the entire service all 'hangs together'. This includes the welcome, prayer times, notices, introducing the speaker, and allowing for times of testimony and prophecy throughout. So there was quite a lot to think about - praise God it all went well.

One element I would like to mention before I go into the musical aspect of the service is the use of a word cloud. At our church we like to get the whole congregation involved, to worship and grow together as a community and place less emphasis on 'up front' ministers. So after the sermon (which was a wrapping up of a series we have had on 1 Thessalonians) we used a word cloud which I generated on wordle.com of the whole of 1 Thessalonians. We then broke into groups of 4 or 5 and talked about one thing from the book that we had learnt. There were some good discussions and I think everyone felt involved and participated. I must say a big tha…

Excellence AND Authenticity in Worship!

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Chatting to a friend recently about our local church band and worship music scene has got me thinking again about excellence and authenticity in worship:

What is authenticity? Authenticity is vital to any member of a church worship band. I would go so far as to say that authenticity is so much more important than excellence. Authenticity is being real about who you are. Being real and open with God, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you and change you to be the person who God has created you to be. It is also being real and open with who you are with the people you worship with - in the band and in the church. This means loving each other, prefering each other above yourself, sharing your life journey with them - the good and the bad. All too often it is far too easy to hide behind the microphone or the guitar (or whatever), to put on the mask of 'I'm ok. My life is great! I'm at the front in church so of course I've got everything sorted. Look at me, I'm a…

'The Me I Want To Be' - part 3

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This blog is the third of a series I am writing about 'The Be I Want To Be' by John Ortberg - a book I am currently reading. It is having an impact on my life and these blogs are a way of sharing this with you. I have finished reading the third section entitled 'Renewing My Mind' and these are some of the things I have learnt, thought about and applied (or am currently trying to apply) in my life. If you have only just joined me on this journey at this point, it may be helpful to look in the archive to read the previous parts so that this third installment will make a little bit more sense to you, rather than being purely some discombobulated ramblings from a random bloke! If you like what you read - please comment or better still subscribe to the blog so you don't miss out on any future installments! Thanks for reading.

Part Three - Renewing My Mind I must admit, my mind is one of those places I sometimes fear to tread. It can be a source of such great joy and fr…

Sunday Set List - Sunday 2nd September 2012

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 Running with the overall theme of 'being joyful' I hopes to choose songs that had a fairly up-beat feel to them, although I still included a reflective one (Lord I Need You) as we can still have God's joy in us even in difficult circumstances. I also tried to choose some older songs (Jesus Is The Name We Honour / Majesty) to mix in with the newer ones.

All in all, the band gelled and played together very well. There was a good sound which is always great to hear when everyone in the band is able to play - layers of synth, keys, and electric guitars with a solid groove by the bass and percussion.

All in all, a great day at church with songs that worked well together as well as with themes that supported the sermon.

Here is this week's list: Jesus is the name we honour - Philip Lawson Johnston
Our God Saves - Brenton Brown / Paul Baloche
Father Into Your Courts We Will Enter (All The Earth) - Wayne Huirua / Andrew Ulugia / Jack Hayford
Lord I need You - Jesse Reeves, …

Demo for Springharvest 2013

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Picture by Matt McChlery (Creative Commons Copyright, Non-Commercial) 

I had great fun on Sunday afternoon when loads of friends and supporters from The King's Church, Wisbech (and a couple from further afield) descended upon Grange Farm Studio in Emneth! We were there to record a 'live congregation' sound of a brand new song 'Perfect Love'.
This is all because Springharvest (a large Christian Festival that happens during Easter in the UK) invited me to submit a song/songs for consideration to be added to the Springharvest 2013 Songbook. I was not successful in other years past, so this year I was (and am) a bit more determined to try harder and hopefully succeed. So this year I've gone all-out! I have written a song specifically for Springharvest 2013 - after doing much research on their website as to 2013's theme and the book of the Bible they will be using as their major text. I even took some of the congregation along with me to the studio to help give …

'The Me I Want To Be' - part two

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Continuing with my blog about the book 'The Me I Want To Be' by John Ortberg, I have reached the end of part two 'Flowing With The Spirit'. These are my thoughts and reflections as I have read this second section of the book. If you want to read the first part and start with me on this journey from the begining, please have a look for 'part one' in my blog archive. How about subscribing or 'following' my blog so that you don't miss future installments?

Part Two - Flowing With The Spirit The key to happiness and fulfilment is staying connected to God (not the gaining or money, prestige or celebrity, not succeeding at an achievement or the gaining of fame). This simple, yet powerful concept underpins this second part of the book. For me to fully become the me I want to be, the me God created me to be, all I need to do is to stay connected to him. This will give me ultimate fulfilment, satisfaction and happiness - everything else in life will fall int…

Sunday Setlist - 19th August 2012

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I almost did not write this blog. The thing is Sunday's musical aspect of the service was  . . . ok. It was nothing spectacular, it was just mediocre (in my opinion). However, thinking about it, I decided that it would be less-authentic of me if I did not publish or write this blog. Why should I try to project and 'image' where everything is sparkling and successful? Often it isn't. Often it is a lot of hard work. And often things don't quite work the way I think they should.

There were a few challenges to face this week. Being the summer holidays here in the UK quite a few musicians and singers were away on holiday. In fact I had only just arrived back from a holiday myself a few days before the service. So we were quite thin on the ground - only one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar and a violin. An interesting combination of instruments to work with to say the least!

Anyway, despite the challenges, the congregation were mostly engaged, but from my point of v…

Song Spotlight: Always and Forever

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I first heard this song in Zimbabwe over a decade ago! It was during the time that I had just been introduced to Ryan Baker-Barnes in our home town of Marondera. Little did I know that we would still be freinds today and continuing to write songs together!

This song started off as 'Ryan's baby'. He had written the verses - I liked the simplicity of the concept and at the time he had some original lyrics that included 'landscapes burn and people turn'. but some years later he revised these as they were quite obscure and it was not very obvious what they were refering to, even though they sounded quite poetic.

I liked the song, but felt it needed a chorus to help hold it together more comfortably as well as add interest and variation to the melody from time to time. So I added the chorus and Ryan liked it.

As far as I know, this song has never been recoreded on a CD but through the wonders of the internet, churches in various countires around the world have played i…

'The Me I Want To Be' - part one

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 During our recent holiday to South Africa my grandmother gave my wife and I a gift voucher each as our birthday presents. They were for a fantastic Christian bookshop in Somerset West Mall. When it came to redeeming the vouchers, I scoured the shop, finding it difficult to decide what to get. In the end I chose a book by John Ortberg called 'The Me I Want To Be' as I felt it would apply to what God is doing in my life right now beacuse I feel I'm not the me I want to be at the moment. he has also written 'Everyone Is Normal Till You Get To Know Them' which my mother-in-law has read and really enjoyed - so that's got to be a good thing, right?
I still had some reservations! With a title like that, and with a giant 'ME' written in capital letters on the cover, I was worried it would turn out to be a self-centred pseudo-spiritual self-help book. But after reading 'Part One: Finding My Identity' my fears were calmed. This is an extremely self-les…

Worship Leader Q & A

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One stop on our recent South African holiday was Grahamstown. I went to university here (Rhodes University) and attended a fantastic church while doing so called 'Hie People'. I wanted to share this part of my life with wife: take her around, show her the sights etc. There were some university friends still involved with the church and living in Grahamstown so it was also a great opportunity to catch up with them. A few emails later and I had been invited to have a chat with the worship leaders of the church, give a prophetic worship seminar/workshop and possibly play in the band on Sunday! Fantastic!

The worship leaders chat is what I'm blogging about here. It was great to see so many on the leadership of the worship side of things, and really exciting to learn some co-lead together and that there was also a choir! Also great to see those who've been doing it for a while creating space and helping those who are very new to worship leading grow in their gifting.

I sta…