“What should we sing at the start?”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 39

 

Dave Eastman:

“When people come together on a Sunday morning, they have been beaten up by the world. As much as we might encourage them to come spiritually prepared, they are not necessarily in a spiritual state when they arrive. It is primarily the job of the worship team to take these people by the hand and walk them into the presence of God.”  "Building Worship Flow"; Dave Eastman, 2014

  • No point putting response before remembering to whom we are responding or why
  • No point putting requests before remembering to whom we are making those requests

Practicals:

1. Songs God-focussed. i.e. not about our response to Him, but who He is and what He has done

2. Flow helps – when gaps between songs are minimised there is less opportunity for the world to intrude

3. Worship leaders connected to God and communicating well with the congregation

4. Pre-service devotional helps the team to be in the state of mind and heart into which we hope to lead the congregation

Key Principle: If we get God at the start we will have an open heart to what his purpose is with us

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more recordings on this topic here and on the YouTube Sunday Sample playlist.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: www.malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for listening.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“What a drowning deer taught me about the heart of God”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 42

It was about 6:30 AM this morning. My customary prayer walk was taking me through Cassiobury Park and into the conservation area close to where I live. My mind and my prayers were centred on Psalm 130. All was well.
Approaching a bridge over the Grand Union Canal, I came across two dog-walking women in animated conversation. One of them saw me. She walked over and declared, “There’s a deer drowning. It’s fallen in the canal. I can’t help because my dog will scare it. Can you rescue it?”
 
Her face was contorted with worry. I could not say “no”. I had no idea how I was going to get a soaking wet heavy deer out of the canal. But I knew I had to try.
 
Annoyed, because she had interrupted my prayers and my walk, I trudged reluctantly into the undergrowth between the path and the canal. Soon I was surrounded by stinging nettles. I was wearing shorts. Not the best combination.
 
After multiple stings, I reached the canal bank. Now even grumpier. No deer in sight. No sound of a deer. No sign of a deer. The lady shouted at me through the undergrowth, “It looks like it got out. Thank you for trying.” I fought my way back through the stinging nettles to the path. Fully fed up now. Interrupted prayer time, interrupted walk, fruitless search, throbbing calves.
 
Then I considered this Psalm:
 
“Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psalms 119:175–176 NIV11)
 
The Psalmist wants to praise God. He has experienced God’s life-sustaining teaching. Yet he is aware of his tendency to stray. Many other Psalms talk about seeking God. But I love this verse. It is a plea for God to seek his servant.
 
And, of course, it reminded me of what Jesus said in Luke’s gospel:
 
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4 NIV11)
 
In this wonderful parable, God is portrayed as the seeking Shepherd. The master of the flock is not grumpy about the effort, annoyed at the time involved, bothered about being interrupted, nor reluctant to seek. I have to confess that some evil thoughts went through my mind about that deer. If it was stupid enough to fall into the canal it deserved what it got. No, I know that’s not the right attitude. Sorry.
 

Conclusion

I’m so glad that God is not like me. I hope that deer did get out of the canal. As far as I can tell it did. What a relief. How much more of a relief it is that God doesn’t treat me as I deserve. He seeks me out to rescue me, take me home, and – He rejoices all the way.

Question

When you pray, do you reflect on the seeking nature of God? Could you meditate on Psalm 119 and Luke 15 in your next prayer time? What helps you to be grateful for the seeking Shepherd?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

 
Get coached on Coach.me

“Interview with podcaster Simon Dinning”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 112

My first interview is with old friend Simon Dinning.  He hosts the podcast, “Prepared to answer”.  You can find him there, or on his blog, or YouTube channel.

The reason I chose to interview him was because, although he has a busy life, he carves out a little bit of time to record podcasts helping us answer common questions that people ask about the Christian faith. He is a man of conviction and compassion.  I think you’ll like this podcast, and I hope you will find this interview inspiring. I certainly came away reinvigorated.

Link: YouTube

Link: Website

Link: Podcast

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist.
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: www.malcolmcox.org.
Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.
God bless,
Malcolm

“How to plan spontaneity in corporate worship”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 38

Today: the place for spontaneity as a worship leader

New Testament

Erickson: “the spirit moves through spontaneity. The spirit also moves through form and structure. Obviously, for Paul both dimensions are vital to the dynamics of worship.”

Erickson: “…a balance between structure and freedom is easier to attain in theory than in practice. The tension between the two can become a source of discord within a congregation. The pastoral challenge is to maintain a creative balance amidst these two constantly shifting elements”

Key Principle: “Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:26)

Before you go spontaneous:

  • Discuss the place of spontaneity with leadership
  • Agree on principles and practicals as a worship team
  • Get feedback

Enabling spontaneity:

  • Do not abandon structure – it enables freedom
  • Give the service structure to your team as far in advance as possible

Practicals:

  • Extend a song
  • Add/change a song
  • Read/quote a scripture
  • Pray
  • Say a few words

What else can you think of / have you seen?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Why the prayer of relinquishment matters”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 41

Is it possible to be surrendered to God’s will without feeling like a pawn?
 
I bring you a sixth look at the book by Richard Foster, “Prayer: finding the heart’s true home“. In the most recent chapter I’ve been reading, Richard talks about the significance of the prayer of relinquishment.
 
 
Richard quotes Andrew Murray, “..union with God’s will is union with God himself”. That being the case, how can we afford not to pray the prayer of relinquishment? In other words, the prayer that says, “not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV11).
 
Easy to say. Not so easy to do. And even harder to mean it.
 
This week we explore why the prayer of relinquishment is so important. We will discover the correct motivation for the prayer. Next week we will look at how to practice the prayer of relinquishment.
 

1. The example of Jesus

Jesus is our inspiration in all things. No less in this prayer of relinquishment. Without this prayer – no cross. Without this prayer – no sins forgiven. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed the prayer of relinquishment more fully, more powerfully, more painfully than at any other point in his life,
 
“not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV11)
 
As Foster remarks, 
“To applaud the will of God, to do the will of God, even to fight for the will of God is not difficult . . . until it comes at cross-purposes with our will.” p51
Thank goodness for the example of Jesus!

2. The door to hope

The Scriptures tell an interesting story – if you are called by God, you will struggle with God.
 
Jesus is the ultimate example, but what about Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, Paul? They all struggled with God’s will for their lives. But, when they came to a place of relinquishment, they discovered that God’s will was better and more glorious than the choice they preferred.
 
When we struggle, and submit to God’s will, and discover his wisdom, it gives us hope for the next struggle. Because there will be another struggle. It’s how we grow. It’s how God gets his will done. It’s how God makes sure he gets the glory instead of us. But even though he gets the glory, we get plenty of joy.
 

3. The soil for fruit

When we pray the prayer of relinquishment we are offering God fertile soil for him to bear fruit. That’s why Jesus said,
 
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24)
 
When we make ourselves available to God, he is able to produce the fruit of the Kingdom in us and through us. As Foster says,
“..we hold on so tightly to the good we know that we cannot receive the greater good that we do not know. God has to help us let go of our tiny vision in order to release the greater good he has in store for us.” p55
 
We don’t have to pray the ‘right’ prayer, we just need to pray the relinquished prayer.
 
Such a self-death brings us the freedom of self-forgetfulness which does not negate a person but sets us free to become all that we can be in Christ.
 

Conclusion

The Apostle Paul found himself at peace with the prayer of relinquishment,
“It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:19–20).
 
What a blessing it is to arrive here. A place of contentment, free from anxiety.

Question

Do you have a prayer of relinquishment which needs to be prayed? In which areas in life right now do you sense a struggle? Have you prayed the prayer of relinquishment in those areas? How do you feel about praying such a prayer? What holds you back from doing so?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm
 
Get coached on Coach.me

You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool“, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to talk meaningfully about the communion: Part 5”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 111

How can we avoid dull repetition or creative confusion when talking about the Lord’s supper?

This is the fifth in a series looking at different views of the atonement as a way of broadening and deepening our appreciation for the cross.

Today we study Paul’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11 to help us understand the meaning of the communion.

We explore some tips on how meaningful communions are constructed and on what they are best focussed.

Questions

What are your thoughts on how we can make the communion talks biblical and relevant? How we do it and what we emphasise?
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Next week: an interview with Simon Dinning of “prepared to answer” podcast – look it up.
God bless, Malcolm
NOTES:
Summary
  • Christus Victor saves by conquering evil
  • Penal substitution saves by satisfying the wrath of God
  • Healing view saves by curing and restoring
A. What is it’s purpose? 1 Cor 11.23-26
  • Remembrance
  • Community function
  • Strengthen faith, hearts, community
B. What are we to proclaim?
  • Christ’s death
  • Solidarity together in this (shared meal)
C. What are we to practice?
Many debatable elements – all have our preferences
  • Cups: 1 / many cups
  • Liquids: Grape juice / wine
  • Prayers: one / two
  • Participants: adults / children; Christians / non-Christians
Core issues
  • Centre: Christ – not the personal sharing/story/illustration
  • Word: scripture relating to the cross and its purpose
  • God: what He has done – not what we are to do
  • Because: remind why taking bread and wine. Confirm at end of talk or during prayer.
Suggestions
  • One scripture
  • One story
  • One idea

“Jealous or Curious” – Acts 5, Sermon, 17th June 2018

Are you jealous or curious? Guilty or curious? Is anything stopping you from living life with curiosity? What gets in the way of being curious about spiritual matters? We explore this topic with the help of an incident recorded in Acts chapter 5.

You can find more videos on my YouTube channel.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

Guest Post: “Senior Wellness Through the Spouse-Loss Journey”

Hazel Bridges reached out to me and sent this article about dealing with the loss of a spouse. I thought her suggestions and observations might be helpful to my audience.  If you’ve been through this experience you will know what it is like. Even if you haven’t, you probably know somebody who has.  Reading this article will give you a better understanding of the challenges faced by those who have lost a spouse.

Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for ageing seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

Senior Wellness Through the Spouse-Loss Journey

Has your spouse recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness? This is one of the hardest things in the world a senior can go through — the idea of going through life without their spouse. Understand that when your spouse passes, you’re going to go through a long grieving process that may bring up various emotions you’re not used to feeling. Know that this is normal, and you’re going to be OK. We’re here to help you get through the spouse-loss journey.

Creating a peaceful home environment

If your spouse has recently found out that they’re suffering from a terminal illness, like cancer, it’s important to create a peaceful home environment for them to spend their final months. This can bring them a kind of comfort that they’ll appreciate in the final stages of their life. Focus on making your house more of a home than a hospital. It can be challenging to make your home feel cozy when there is medical equipment everywhere, but you can make it look and feel a little more homey if you:

  • Keep the bedside toilet hidden behind a screen.
  • Use familiar bedding and decorative pillows on their adjustable bed.
  • Store small pieces of medical equipment in a decorative basket that will look more appealing and organized. 

Be patient with yourself

Once your spouse passes, remember that there is no set time that you’re going to grieve. It’s different for everyone and you just have to give yourself time to feel their loss. During the grieving period, different types of emotions may come up that you’re not used to. You may also find it difficult to make decisions, and if you have loved ones looking after you, let them know this. Beware of triggers that may set off your grief, such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays or first date spots. If you feel guilt over activities you participate in due to your spouse no longer being with you, know that this is normal. Acceptance will finally follow shock, anger and denial if you give yourself time to heal.

Reach out for help

If you have loved ones that can assist you through your grieving period, it’s best to reach out to them. You don’t have to do this alone. You can also sign up for some online courses to help you get through this difficult period in your life. There are online courses out there specifically designed to help seniors get through the spouse-loss journey. Reading stories about others who have gone through something similar may help you get through this a little easier. There are also support groups in your community that can help you understand the emotions you’re feeling and how to overcome them.

Move forward with your life

When some seniors experience the loss of their spouse, they decide to move out of their home and into a senior living community. This can help you move forward with your life because your home may bring up too many difficult memories. If you don’t want to move, just start examining your life and how you can live in it without your spouse. Be open to meeting new people and new experiences you can enjoy. Whether that means participating in new social activities or regularly scheduled phone calls with old friends. Remember that you’re not forgetting your loved one, you’re simply getting yourself to a point where you can remember them in a way that’s not holding you back on living your life.

Photo: Pixabay

I’ll be speaking at the annual Thames Valley churches of Christ outdoor service and barbecue.

It’s always a very special and fun-filled event.

I hope you can make it. Message me if you would like more details.

God bless, Malcolm

Date: 1st July 2018
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Event: Wellington Country Park church service and barbecue
Venue: Wellington Country Park
Location: Wellington Country Park, Odiham Road
Risley RG7 1SP
Public: Public