Sometimes I feel I am complicated. In reality, I am simple but I feel this way when I get overwhelmed by the things going on around me. I have learnt to study myself. I started that recently. I have to go on a voyage of self discovery. I need to understand my deepest thoughts, reasons […]
Pressed out of measure
And despaired of life
I walked through this path
With no end in sight
Heard of tunnels that terminated with light
But these don’t seem to end
Just a labyrinth of darkness
And piercing discouragement
But this is my story;
My gaze shifted to look inwards
There I see Jesus hanged and scarred
From that rugged cross shined my greatest victory
And like little flickers I begin to see light in my labyrinth
On the outside lies fears, tears and the swords edge
On the inside I see light, hope and embracing love
In this conflict of realities
I choose to fix my gaze on the cross that made everything new
‘cos my focus is my reality.
Sometimes I hope I’m not the only one who has noticed that it is easier to sing songs that talk about us than songs that talk about someone else.
It seems to be more comfortable to sing songs that declare who we are in Christ and the magnitude of the blessings we desire.
Of course, this is very good especially for the renewing of our minds and putting us back on the pathway to unwavering faith.
But this is not the ultimate purpose of our worship. Worship is Christ focused, not man focused.
If every song you sing always points back to you, if every act of worship is always about you, then there is something wrong with your heart of worship.
Sing songs that renew your mind. Sing songs that bring comfort to you. Its really good. In fact, it’s necessary. But in a bid to be a balanced worshiper, learn what it means to sing songs that talk about Jesus. Learn what it means to sing songs that are solely for the praise of our King. Let your giving, your service to God be for our king.
To the worship leader;
This is a personal thought that is not binding in any way. For church worship, I feel your choice of songs should always focus on Jesus, His redemptive work and all.
A worship session is not a prayer session or confession time. Lead people to God’s presence. Lead them in a love expression session.
But at other times, when the need comes, or at the call of your pastor, sing songs that bring people to an awareness of who they are in Christ. Sing prayer songs. Sing songs that bring hope, stir up faith and passion in the heart’s of people.
But in the ultimate, our worship is ALL ABOUT JESUS.
This is my sincere thought.
By Ann Icha
Jesus was man
So He understands my pain
When things don’t go as planned
Jesus was man
So He knows when I cry
And how it tears at my heart
Jesus was man
So He understands when I’m hurt
And sometimes mad
Jesus was man
And He loves me
And more than that
He has me in His hands
Jesus was man
So He understands me
And knows how best to speak to me
He didn’t appear to be man
He was man
So everything I go through
Isn’t strange to Him
He knows when I’m weak
He knows how it feels
But beyond that
He has all the answers to heal
He is also divine
Which makes it all better
I couldn’t be anywhere safer
Than in His arms
He was man, He is God
Cass Langton, Hillsong
If you have the privilege of finding yourself on a worship team in a church responsible for the music on a Sunday, there are some very simple things you can do to make life easier on your worship pastor or leader… Here are just a few of them
1. Learn the parts
Don’t waste your team’s time — prepare beforehand on your own time and come ready to rehearse! Know the songs, know the arrangements and be ready to contribute at a higher level — warm up if you are a vocalist, tune up if you play an instrument, etc.
2. Turn up. On time!
As musicians and singers, it’s so easy to think you’ve done the right thing by showing up at all… that song that was running around your head sidetracked you, those lyrics you had to memorise, the latest song that just downloaded to your iTunes account that you just had to stop and listen to…
The truth is though, as a musician you play on a team… there’s no room for lone rangers or late-comers. Respect others enough to turn up when you should and where you should — be punctual! And if you have gear to set up, then arrive earlier! It won’t go unnoticed.
3. Take lessons
No matter how good you are, keep pushing the ceiling and keep getting better! Not just in your leadership and Christian discipleship but in your skill, technique and musicianship — make every effort to bring your very best every time you play and sing!
No matter how good you are, keep pushing the ceiling and keep getting better!
4. Cultivate a ‘can do’ attitude
Try and be one of those people who sees possibility rather than obstacles. Find ways of being able to say ‘yes’, to go the extra mile and to inject yourself into the team. If there are new songs, new ways of doing things, new members to come along side — say ‘yes’ as your default, not ‘no way’… it’s so much easier on your leader!
Be willing to listen to feedback after services and be committed to continuous improvement! Highlight what others have done well and work on your own shortcomings.
6. Love Jesus
As Christians, prioritise your relationship with the Lord! Be someone who brings depth and authenticity to the platform. Be ready to encourage others — know what God’s challenging you on and be willing to lead pre-service prayer meetings and behind the scenes. Developing spiritual maturity means you will become someone your leaders can count on!
As Christians, prioritise your relationship with the Lord! Be someone who brings depth & authenticity to the platform
7. Dig for gold
Help others to see the gifts in themselves. Champion others and look for people in your church who could contribute to the worship team. There’s nothing better than to help people see the talents that God has entrusted to them and help them unearth their potential!
8. Worship off the platform
When you are sitting in a service, be the type of person who leads worship from your seat! Don’t sit back judging what’s happening but engage in worship like you’d expect the congregation to do if you were leading!
9. Be helpful
Think about what it takes to make Sundays happen — photocopying, admin, roster confirmations, communication, setting the stage, etc — and then be proactive to do what you need to do quickly! e.g. confirm your rostered positions and offer to help in other areas if and when you have time.
10. Bring food to rehearsals
Everything’s better with coffee… Or cake… Or chips or chocolate or kale juice… Bring something to share and keep actively building creative community!!
I’m sure there’s a hundred more things we could add to this list, but this is a good start for now
Why don’t you take some time and reflect on which of these things you’re good at and which ones you might need to grow in? You and your worship team will be better for it, I promise!!
I want to be like Jesus!
This has been my thought for a long time. In my God-journey, I have come to realise that what will really matter at the end of the day is how much of Jesus was revealed through me.
I want to be like Jesus!
But how much of Him can I express to a dying world?
How much of Jesus can the weak, discouraged and the hurting relate with in me?
What is my place in giving the gift of a Saviour to a dysfunctional world?
I want to be like Jesus!
And the answer lies in the strength of my focus!
In this same God-journey, I have come to realise that even though I am not yet seeing what I truly desire to see in my person as I would, I am actually changing!
Each time I show up in His presence to love on Him, worship and adore; something on my inside connects to Him and a change is stirred up on my inside.
My focus on Him effects a transformation in me- from the inside out.
“But all of us are like people who have no cloth over our faces. Like mirrors, we shine with God’s bright light. And he is changing us so that we become more and more like him. We become brighter and brighter as the Lord’s Spirit changes us”. Apostle Paul
“Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we will be like has not been revealed yet. We know that when the Messiah is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is”. John
The strength of my focus lies in my acknowledgement of Jesus and His involvement in my life. The more I acknowledge, the more I become. So, focus!
It may not look like it yet, but something in you is giving expression to Jesus.
By Ann Icha
In our battles against foes
In our struggles with woes
In the tempestuous storms of temptation
In the drowning seas of limitations
In our stumbling, in our pain
There lies a greater gain
For though we fall, we shall rise again
For conquering isn’t accomplished
Until He says ‘it is finished’
Even when you return famished
Glee fills your heart knowing that the battles have vanished
So through it all we have a hope
Thus, we should not in sadness mope
Nor in darkness grope
For always a tunnel’s end bears light
For those who persevere to win the fight
A reward awaits much greater than gold
Because through Him we are made bold
A word to hear
For our hearts to cheer
From our master Jehovah
Our chief commander
The lion of the tribe of Judah
The Alpha and Omega
The one who reigns victorious
Always and forever glorious
Lift up your heads and hearts
A voice calls from heavens deepest parts
In all you shall triumph gallantly
In all you shall come out triumphantly
In all you are winning warriors
In all you are MORE THAN CONQUERORS
“For Abraham hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations…
He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb.
No unbelief or distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.” Rom 4:18-20
You’ve probably wondered why there seem to be a lot of good promises concerning you in God’s word, but the circumstances surrounding your life just seem to antagonize EVERYTHING!
Someone probably prophesied some amazing stuff concerning you, but you are just not seeing it happen. This is probably driving you INSANE!
Hey! Father Abe had reasons to go nuts too! Did you hear he was ‘utterly impotent’?!
But the bible recorded that instead of going about in self-pity, he was strengthened in faith!
Yes! He ‘was empowered by faith AS HE GAVE PRAISE AND GLORY TO GOD’!
Asaph had insomnia! He was going crazy too! He yelled all day and lost sleep at night. He said, “I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs… I remember God– and shake my head–then wring my hands. I’m awake all night–not a wink of sleep; I can’t even say what’s bothering me”
But Asaph and Father Abe learnt to handle their situations. Father Abe grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise to God. Asaph too. From their situations, I have come to learn that praise renews your mind and restores your sanity.
As we praise, we remember God’s mighty hand. Praise reminds us of who God is. Praise helps us to go over what God has done and reassure our hearts like Father Abe.
As we open our hearts to praise and declare who God is, our minds begin to align itself to these truths. As we call God ‘saviour’, ‘healer’, ‘deliverer’, our hearts are strengthened in this reality.
It is our strong focus on what society says, what the doctors report says, what the bills are telling us that saps out our sanity.
So in simple terms, shift focus and regain sanity! Let your heart be fixed on God and His amazing deeds, and you will see that life can be reasonable.
“I have set the Lord before me continuously, because He stands at my right hand, I will stand firm”. David.
And as we begin to declare who God is to us, our lives begin to conform to the image of Him we have declared.
So we can boldly say, ‘Jesus, you are beautiful’ and our lives begin to express His beauty, because He echoes those words back to us and says ‘Son, you are beautiful’.
As we honor Him, He clothes us in His honor.
I recommend that you always have a praise-phrase on your lips. Let phrases like ‘perfect healer’, ‘beautiful savior’, ‘thank you Jesus’ fill your mouth as you praise your way back to unwavering faith.
Finally, Asaph agreed to help conclude this 😉. This is what he has to say.
“I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal.
When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,”
I didn’t believe a word they said.
I remember God—and shake my head.
I bow my head—then wring my hands.
I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep;
I can’t even say what’s bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.
Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
“Just my luck,” I said. “The High God goes out of business
just the moment I need him.”
Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.
Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go.
Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron,
You led your people like a flock of sheep“. Psalm 77:2-20
At one end, Asaph was all down with discouragement. But he rose again in praise. This is what it means to praise back your sanity!
#SchoolOfWorship #Praisebackyoursanity #sanereactions
By Ben Fielding, Hillsong Worship
In John 4:24, Jesus expresses the often reiterated words “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth”. As writers that place words in the mouth of the Church, we must be committed to discovering and expounding truth. The Church needs to sing the bible. Our words and thoughts are important, but they must be grounded in a higher authority. All of the songs we sing in church now go through a lyric approval process to test and critique the theological accuracy of our songs – this is incredibly important for us. All of the great hymns and influential contemporary songs have strong echoes or verbatim usage of scripture. Don’t forget Jesus! He said that He was the “way, the truth and the life”. True Christian worship must involve the reality and centrality of Jesus.
The great lyrical tutor Pat Paterson describes a well written lyric as one which could be naturally spoken. Following that analogy with phrasing and metaphor is also helpful. A clunky or long phrase that is difficult or awkward to say will be difficult to sing. Then one must consider melodic structure and range. Cleary the more achievable and perhaps narrow the range, the more likely the song can be comfortably sung by both men and women, and the less proficient vocalists among us.
Just as authenticity is important in the words that we write aligning with the way we live, so to it is important that what we are singing/saying musically aligns. A lyric about the awful brutality of the crucifixion will not readily be placed to a bright and bouncing melody. Prosody is about writing a lyric and melody that feels authentic. Does the melody want to say what the lyric is saying?
One of the most common traps in songwriting is not providing enough contrast within a song. Light and shade provides ongoing interest. Perhaps the melody in the verse is spacious, descending and narrow.. If this leads into a chorus that is also spacious, descending and narrow, the song will tire quickly. Hooks become very important. Each section of the song should have a hook or its own personality (preferably an affable and charismatic one). There should be something to look forward to in each section of the song. We need to get the balance right without overdoing it. Continuity is the counterbalance to contrast. We often sing the same songs in our churches for years. So we need to try to write interesting and robust melodies that can stand up to years of road-testing.
Another common trap is the desire to summarise each book of the bible in every song. (I guess this is still better than no semblance of biblical reference). But our goal should be that each song has its own theme and unique articulation. We should be able to succinctly explain what the song is specifically about. Sometimes even beautiful and brilliant lyrics get lost in a song that has no clear thematic direction.
By way of example, Reuben and I wrote a song called “Stronger”. The song is about the strength of the cross and resurrection to make us right before God (redemption and resurrection). The initial verse lyric read “You defend the innocent”, the final lyric being “You’re my hope and my defence“.. Both are true, though as pointed out by Robert Fergusson (who is the gate-keeper of lyrical integrity), in the thematic context, the later is more true, or at least makes more sense. When talking about the fact that outside of Christ we are all guilty, it is out of place to refer to the defence of the innocent.. In that context, none of us are innocent except Christ Himself. Without further labouring the example. Hopefully you see the point. Theme matters greatly. Again, look at all of the great songs that have stood the test of time – they invariably have a strong theme and consistent message.