“Is presence natural, or can it be learned?”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 44

  • We’re mistaken if we think we can lead a group without paying attention to presence
  • Some have it more naturally
  • Others can learn it
  1. Look at the group – take risks – look up.
  2.  Smile
  3. Stand tall
  4. Move slowly
Remember your goal is to be what they need, not what you feel is comfortable.

Question

What have you tried to help you grow in presence?
Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless, Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Ps 100:2

“What to do when you are stuck with God”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 47

In last week’s episode (number 46) we looked at more reasons why we need a specific place for study. Please let me know how you’ve been getting on with your own study.
 
This week, let’s talk about what to do when you are stuck in your relationship with God. We’ve all been there. I have many times. I will be again, and so will you. What is it that will get us out of our rut?
 

Neither shallow, nor introspective.

We cannot stay shallow. Equally, we dare not become introspective. Perhaps a change of perspective will help. We’re not really trying to go deeper into ourselves, right? We’re attempting to go deeper into God. As Richard Foster puts it,
 
“I do not mean to turn inward by becoming ever more introspective, nor do I mean to turn inward in hopes of finding within ourselves some special inner strength or an inner saviour who will deliver us. Vain search! No, it is not a journey into ourselves that we are undertaking but a journey through ourselves so that we can emerge from the deepest level of the self into God.”*
 
Yes, that’s right. We emerge into God. In other words, we take action and discover that the faith involved in that action brings the reward of a renewed connection with God. It’s so important to remember that a relationship with God is not, in its essence, a concept or a feeling. It is something built by our faithful actions.
 

Confidence comes from action

Confidence with God grows as we take action. It has always been thus in the Christian life.
  • Jesus said, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17 NIV11)
  • The faithful of Hebrews 11 are commended for taking action, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” (Hebrews 11:7 NIV11)
  • Abraham is held up as the example of faithful action, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James 2:22 NIV11)
If you want to grow in depth and intimacy with God – take action. Pray. Often. Read. Often.

Experiment with the ‘examen’

One action you could take is what’s called the ‘examen’. Psalm 139 sums it up:
 
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24)
 
The prayer of ‘examen’ consciously invites God to reveal truth in us. The revelation of truth is a startling stimulus to growth. We do not know what we will discover. As a result, we need to deal with the fear of what is turned up. Foster inserts this prayer at the end of his chapter on the topic:
 
“Precious Saviour, why do I fear your scrutiny? Yours is an examen of love. Still, I am afraid… Afraid of what may surface. Even so, I invite you to search me to the depths so that I may know myself – and you – in full measure. Amen”*
 
Why not pray this prayer, and then practice one of these four suggested methods for going deeper with God?
  1. Meditate on scripture – such as Psalm 62
  2. Pray the ‘Lord’s prayer’, Luke 11.2-4
  3. Pray through the ‘Ten Commandments’, Exodus 20.1-17
  4. Pray through and/or meditate on one or more of the ‘Beatitudes’, Matthew 5.3-12
If you want to grow in depth and intimacy with God - take action. Pray. Often. Read. Often. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Try one of these suggestions for a period of time and note what you learn. What does God reveal? Let me know how it goes.

Question

What happened when you took action on one of these ideas? Were some easier than others? Why might that be?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
Would you like some coaching in the spiritual disciplines? You can find me by clicking the button below.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm
 
Get coached on Coach.me
 

“You’re preaching – who cares?”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 117

“Every single person who sits politely and listens to you on Sunday is one decision away from moral, financial, and marital ruin.” ‘Communicating for a change’ p88

Does this topic really matter? Does it matter to me?

Tips

1. Pray over it – the point, not just the passage

2. Apply it to yourself – how will this benefit your life?

  • What prevent?
  • What enable?

3. Apply it to people you know will be there

  • Imagine what their lives like if do not apply it
  • Imagine what their lives like if do apply it
Click To Tweet

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: http://www.malcolmcox.org/.

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

“How to be bold in leading worship”

Sunday Sample 43

A report on singing a song at a slower speed, and a devotional idea for your worship team.

“I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.” (Psalms 138:0–5 NIV11)
“emboldened” – rahav – to act stormily, arrogantly, might
Question
What helps you to be bold in leading people in public corporate worship?
Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless, Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“More reflections on why we need a specific place for study”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 46

In last week’s episode (number 45) we looked at why we need a specific place for study. “Thank you” to Johann who found the episode helpful and posted his response on the YouTube channel.
 
This week, rather than start a new topic I’d like to give a personal report on my progress and offer some more ideas.

I have had a good week of study. Digging into Acts chapters 7 and 8 has been enlightening and inspiring. The commitments I made last week made a difference. Let’s do a quick check on each one.
 
Last week’s commitments:
 
  1. Phone out of sight: I kept to this commitment by leaving the phone in my pocket, or putting it on to charge behind me.
  2. Noise-cancelling headphones: Using them helped to narrow my focus.
  3. Clear the desk: Removing everything not connected with my Bible study kept visual distractions low.
 
My focus improved and I had a much better week of study. However, I learned of some more areas of distraction which I had not noticed before. Eliminating some issues revealed others. Here are this week’s observations and new commitments:
  1. Headphones: Pairing them via Bluetooth didn’t always work well. Sometimes it took two minutes which was frustrating. I also had some instances of skipping which were distracting. This week I will attach them via a cable if it takes longer than a few seconds to pair them or if more skipping occurs.
  2. Door: Even with the headphones on I still noticed sounds in the house. This week I will close the door to the room in which I do my study.
  3. Reflections: The computer screen faces some windows. This produces reflections when people walk past on the street. I found myself distracted when I noticed neighbours passing my house. This week I will close the curtains behind me while I do my study.
  4. Software: On one occasion this last week I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to run a program called “Clean my Mac” while I was doing my Bible study. How wrong I was! Even though it is silent, and does not affect the computer’s performance, just knowing it was open and running distracted my mind from time to time. This week I will close any software unnecessary to my study.

Conclusion

I’m looking for ‘flow’. A state in which my mind is fully engaged in what I am doing. That’s how I see my study being of the most benefit. You might like this TED talk on the concept of flow. And here is a link to the classic text.

Question

Have you put any of these ideas into practice? Do you have some you would like to share? What helps you to get into a state of ‘flow’ when you study?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
Would you like some coaching in the spiritual disciplines? You can find me by clicking the button below.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm
 

“Why your tone matters”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 116

Why does our tone matter? And what can we do about it?

Considerations – three “T”s

  • Trigger past hurts –
    • Shouted as a child
    • Lectured in stern way – felt small
  • Tyrant
    • Sound like you are incontrovertible – cannot be wrong
    • Sets us up as proud
  • Tune out
    • “He’s against me”
    • Arguing with you in their heads even if agree with your point objectively
    • Audience will not give you the benefit of the doubt
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:2 NIV11
““Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”” (Matthew 12:18–21 NIV11)
“Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:4–6 NIV11)
Questions
  1. Do you ever speak in real life in the way you preach?
  2. Is your tone, generally, one of grace rather than judgment?
Tips
  1. Listen to yourself
  2. Ask others how you come across
Conclusion: “You shout so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying”
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 feel fully alive”, Acts 16.13-15

Our Watford outdoor service, sports and picnic day was held together with the North West London church. I spoke from Acts 16.13-15 on how to feel fully alive.

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 us your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Sing a song at a slower speed”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 42

Last time: what to do when a song doesn’t stick

Time before – pre-service and post-service music – went well in Watford

Today : “Sing a song at a slower speed”

Have you tried singing songs at a significantly slower speed?

Thank you for watching 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)

“Why you need a specific place for study”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 45

Where do you go to engage in the spiritual discipline of study?

I’ve been thinking about this recently because of a podcast I listened to the other day. I like the Renovare podcasts, and enjoyed the recent one entitled, “Spiritual director and author Fil Anderson and lawyer Justin Campbell talk with Nathan Foster about how to study for transformation instead of just information.” If you would like to listen to it yourself, you can find it here.

One of the interviewees spoke of the helpfulness it was to him having a separate room in the house for study. The interviewer, Nathan, does not have space in his home for a separate room, but has a chair set aside for study. Nothing else happens in that chair except study. When he is in that chair he does not allow himself to have his phone within reach or any other device that might distract.

Why do we need a place free from interruption? We need it because intimacy and understanding are bred in a focused environment.

It is well known that Jesus took himself away in order to be with God. In Mark he, “went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV11). In Luke he, “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV11)

Jesus may not have had a house with a study room, nor a chair for regular study. But that did not prevent him from being intentional about removing himself from people and other distractions in order to be focused on God.

To be honest, I’ve let this slip in my life. Therefore, here are my new resolutions. I would like to know what you think of these, and I’d like to know the practices which you have found helpful.

Here are the specifics of what I will do to enjoy more satisfying study:

1. Phone out of sight

The phone will go into my pocket, behind me on a shelf, or in a drawer. I have already disabled almost all notifications on my phone, but even the sight of it can be a temptation to distraction.

2. Noise-cancelling headphones

I have a really nice set of Sony noise cancelling headphones. I need to put them to better use. I already have a favourite piece of music I play when I’m doing my Bible study (Mozart piano concerto in D minor K466 if you’re interested). Now I will pipe it straight into my ears and allow the noise cancelling technology to keep me in my study-world.

3. Clear the desk

I don’t have much on my desk. I think better without clutter. However, I do have one or two things on the surface such as my Full Focus Planner and gratitude journal. These, and anything else I will remove from the desk surface.

Conclusion

I shall try these for the next month and let you know how it goes. Of course, this is not intended to create some new rule as if to say this is the only way to do it. Nor is ‘study’ exclusively connected to Bible study. This could apply to reading books, magazines and other materials.

Your study space might be a particular seat on the train, a park bench, the passenger seat in your car. It does not matter so much where it is. It matters more that we find and make the most of a special space for study.

Question

What do you need to put out of site? What do you need to turn off, or turn on to help you be focused? What else do you do to enjoy deeper study?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best, when we learn in community.

Would you like some coaching in the spiritual disciplines? You can find me by clicking the button below.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.

God bless, Malcolm

Get coached on Coach.me

“How to deliver an extemporary communion”

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 115

You might have heard of the ‘sermunion’.

Have you tried an extemporary communion talk?

Ben May preached on the parable of the wedding banquet, Matt 22.1-14

““But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 22:11–13 NIV11)

I composed an extemporary communion.

Clothing – Gal 3.26-29
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26–29 NIV11)

Could have added disrobing of Jesus on cross so we can be robed.

Tips
1. Know what the speaker’s topic/scripture is beforehand
2. Make notes during the sermon – surprising how more comes to mind when see it written down
3. Don’t force it – if necessary read 1 Cor 11.23-26 and pray

Conclusion
* Tried it?
* Downsides?

Questions
Your thoughts?

Comments….

Pass it on ….

Like & Subscribe….

Thank you for watching this video. You can find more teaching tips here and 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.

Thanks again for watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm