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Be Bold, Be Strong for the Lord our God Is With Us

Faith, Youthwork and Family…

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November 2016

Be intentional, Be conscious! Don’t sleepwalk in worship!

I have been in some churches where the time of “worship” has been like standing in a room of zombies, i can recall singing “joy is in this place” and half the congregation seemed unable to move their arms, let alone scream dance and sing for joy!

I often have a discussion with my mum about church and how lively, jovial or relaxed it should be, I have visited her church and although the preaching and teaching is some of the best I have heard, they sing psalms and hymns that I haven’t heard sung this century!  I spent most of my life in a lively spirit-filled church, so any visit to churches which repeated words from prayer or reading books, felt alien and odd to me.

I am now fully aware that different believers like different styles, I don’t envy the worship leader who has to try and mix hymns and newer worship songs to satisfy a congregation of varying ages, but there seems to be a growing number of songs being sung that are meaningless or nonsensical, and I regretfully understand my parents viewpoint a little more.

How many of our songs that we sing in churches are even bible-based?  If they do use verses from the bible in their verses or choruses how many are in context? I had to stop myself singing a song when I saw it said:-

“But we’ll have eternal life

And we’ll never be condemned,

For God’s promises are Yes and Amen!

Yeah, yeah, yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah and Amen!

I was confused! I knew part of that was truth, we will have eternal life, we will not be condemned thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, but “God’s promises are yes and amen” is taken from 2 Corinthians 1:20. If the bible says that God has promised it, then it is a yes, but it is US that say “amen” because it means “I agree”!  Why would God say  “I agree” with his own promises?! What is with the need to repeat words like “yeah, yeah, yeah?”

I don’t know how many of you consciously sing the words that you see on screen, I have sung some old hymns and it feels like I should do it in a Yoda voice as they are arranged in a way that star wars fans would expect him to speak!  (I don’t do it in a Yoda voice as that would be wrong!)

I was at a training day and someone played “In Christ alone“, I suddenly realised how many times I had sung that without really thinking about the words, I really needed to hear and see the lyrics to that song at that moment in time, it dawned on me that all I do will fail unless I stand in Christ who gives me strength and enables me to do all that he has called me to do!

Another verse I stopped myself from singing had a lines which said:-

Holy spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

The problems I have with those lines are that they were written by the worship band from Bethel, Redding, where “glory clouds”, gold-dust and feathers are apparently appearing! I am still unsure why they think they are real and/or from God?! Secondly, they are unbiblical! Sure, you can say “Holy Spirit, we welcome you” but if you are reading God’s word, praising his name and declaring the awesomeness of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is already with us?

I long for God’s guidance and wisdom, I want to overcome by his love and knowledge that my sins are forgiven! Nowhere in the bible does it say a group of believers were gathered together and they were longing for God’s glory!  At Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were anointed by the holy spirit, they didn’t fall back, they didn’t start muttering odd phrases like “shaka bonke!” They were accused of being drunk but obviously weren’t as it was too early and the disciples were speaking in languages that other jews could understand!

What does “Glory of your goodness” mean?! We cannot experience God’s “glory” and live!  Even if we glimpse it, we would be physically unable  to stand as the weight of failure to live his way would cause us to fall on our knees and cry for forgiveness!

I have been to conferences where the worship was inspiring and the feeling of thousands of worshippers in unison, praising our father and Saviour is incomparable (on earth anyway).  But as worship leaders often find, it is virtually impossible to bring that “awesomeness” home to their local church.  You may have “conference fever” inspired by the words and worship, but how long does it last?

Hillsongs church is known for “amazing worship” and a lot of local churches use their songs, but how much of their “worship” is “performance“? I know a minister who once was involved with the operating of their sound equipment, who told me that it was so extensive that a sound guy for a rock star’s concert would be jealous!

There must be a middle ground, I don’t think that we are called to just sing and listen to songs from the 19th century, but some of the songs that we are singing in our churches these days, seem more secular and feeling-based that Christ-centered and Bible-based!

This video really made me think, I am not a worship leader but like some of the pastors in the video, I am worried for the future of churches in the world, if we are promoting shallowness and prosperity being the way followers of Christ should enjoy!

You may disagree with me, and I would welcome the feedback, but if King David wrote and sang from the heart, worshipped God for who he is, repented to God for the mistakes, pleading to God to help him in his dark times and cried out when he was in distress, then surely we should be doing likewise, not asking for things which we do not need to and barely being conscious of the words we are declaring with our lips!

Be intentional,

Be conscious!

Don’t sleepwalk through church services or you may find yourself somewhere you are not meant to be!

The Best Garden ever!

There once was a landscape designer, who created the most incredible garden ever seen, he managed to put in every type of plant and tree imaginable and made it possible for wild animals, birds and fish to inhabit his “creation”.  After a few days he decided that he wanted someone to tend and look after this amazing place, “we need someone after my own heart”, and so the man managed all that was in that place.

A little while later, the designer felt that the man needed help, it wasn’t good for him to be alone in that place, so the man was given a companion. Both occupants of the garden were told that all the fruit was good for them, the only thing that they were not allowed to pick was the fruit from a tree that would alter their minds!

As time went on a creature invaded this perfect habitat, it spoke to the companion, questioning the rule against eating the fruit saying things like surely the designer wouldn’t have put a tree in the garden which would cause you harm! Try a bit, go on!”

He was so convincing that she did take a bite, she then offered it to the man and he also bit a chunk out of the fruit.  They suddenly became more aware of themselves, no longer happy and content with their life and surroundings, they saw all the imperfections within themselves. The fruit caused a sickness within themselves for which the cure had not yet been created on earth.

When the designer returned that evening, he had to shout for the disobedient pair as they were hiding and were ashamed, instantly knowing what had happened, he found them and asked why?  The man blamed the woman, the woman blamed the creature and the designer was saddened by the betrayal. Ordering the pair out of the garden he told them life would now be harder for them all including the persuasive creature.

Human beings have within them the capacity for doing good and doing evil, whether it is lying to others, lusting after someone that they are not in a relationship with or killing another human being, we are all guilty at some time in our life!  We are all “sick” with a disease for which the cure came 2000 odd years ago, I thank the Lord Jesus that he came for the sick, he is that cure!

We have laws and morals for living our lives, in theory so that we all live in peace but if one or more don’t follow the same laws or beliefs, harm comes to us and others.  I don’t agree with calling other people horrible names as i said in “sticks and stones” but others do not have an issue with treating others poorly! Racism is ridiculous as the human genome project is proving, we are all related if scientists look far enough back in our genetic history, but there have been laws based on racist thought processes, some people including Donald Trump still think this mindlessly!

The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, we are programmed to live selfishly, some may try to “do good” to compensate their misdeeds but that is akin to a bank robber suddenly deciding to help an old lady across the street to make up for the robbery!  We deserve punishment for our failures to love our fellow man and always do good and as i said last week, there is only one person (in three parts) who can help with our debt of love and that is the one person who has an abundance of unconditional love! That is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If you don’t believe that this is true then what do you believe? Are we just primordial ooze accidentally formed into meat with random firings of cells causing us to act a certain way?

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