- Allow the music to do its work – not just the form of the song
- Set the mood with playing/singing before the song begins
- Share your music story & get to know others’
- What role has music played in your spiritual journey?
- Does your worship team know this?Does your church congregation know this?
- Do you know the music stories of your team and your church?
Here’s a Hebrew word to inspire your worship team: HALAL. But what does it mean….?
“Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.” (Psalms 149:1–3 NIV11)
halal: Praise (347x) to praise; give thanks; cheer, extol; Pu to be praised, be worthy of praise, be of renown; to make one’s boast in (the name of God); “Hallelujah” is a compound of the second person plural imperative and the personal name of God: hallelu-yah, praise Yah(weh); boast; exult; praise.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.
God bless, Malcolm
Here’s a Hebrew word to inspire your worship team: YADAH. But what does it mean….?
yadah: To express praise, give thanks, extol, make a public confession, make an admission; to praise is to speak of the excellence of someone or something; to give thanks, has a focus on the gratitude of the speaker.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples yadah you, God; may all the peoples yadah you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples yadah you, God; may all the peoples yadah you.”
(Psalms 67:1–5 NIV11)
“They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me;” (Lamentations 3:53 NIV11)
Leave a comment.
God bless, Malcolm
1. Darkness is temporary
2. Darkness is directional
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Locations: Watford and Lower Earley
Special Occasion: “How to help a grieving friend” event in Watford
I was involved in services in Watford and Lower Earley this last Sunday. As you can see in the picture above, the Watford children enjoyed their class on tree-climbing like Zacchaeus!
Here is the outline of the devotional I shared with the worship teams in both locations.
The Power of Silence to Prepare
• Last week we focussed on: not ‘what’, but ‘why’ we are leading worship
• Today we will prepare ourselves for ‘who’ we are worshipping: God
▾ Silence with God helps prepare us for work of substance – leading others in worship
• Moses & David must have experienced much silence in the fields with their sheep. Jesus (eg Lk 5.16) deliberately chose quiet places to pray. Helped prepare them.
• Robin Daniels (in his book, ‘The Virgin Eye’), “If we do not keep attuning to silence, we lose gravitas, we become lightweight.”
• We will spend one minute of silent reflection on this phrase – “For God alone”
• Then I will pray for us all
• Let’s be silent together before our God …..
The minute of silence seemed to be appreciated by the teams. We gathered our thoughts and consciously placed them on God. Why not try it where you are and let me know how it goes?
Our Watford service was different in that a large chunk of the sermon was spent in small groups. We discussed our experiences of loss and what it was that people said and did that we found helpful, and not so helpful. The results were profound. Some tears were shed, and the mood was sombre at the end. I guess there’s no way around that. The feelings evoked are powerful and not to be ignored.
As mentioned last week, I tried a revised song-sandwich in Lower Earley. The first three verses of “Soon and very soon” were followed by “Shine, Jesus, Shine” and concluded with the final two verses of “Soon and very”. All in G. It worked better than the previous week in Watford. However, another lesson was learned. Because we sang the first three verse of “Soon” slowly, it dragged after the first verse. We’d have done better to sing only one or two verses of “Soon” before going into “Shine” and then back to “Soon” at the faster speed. More helpful lessons learned!
Last week I said we’d do the following:
- Have a devotional for all the service participants that includes one minute of silence – “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” Psalm 62.1, (NRSV) Done.
- Have a second bash a the S&S song-sandwich in Lower Earley. Done.
Next Sunday we’ll do the following:
- Watford: Teach the song, “Lord, you hear the cry”
- Both locations: Create enough time for a meaningful devotional for all the speakers and musicians
Please comment on what you’re doing with your services. What are you trying that’s working? What is God teaching you?
Share reflections with us so we can grow and please God.
You can leave a comment below.
Jesus meets us where we are
Careful with the comparisons
Power up the personal
- Try new things: Follow rabbit trails that interest you. Bible verses, characters, themes, book ideas. Try lighting a candle, going for a walk, experimenting with set prayers.
- Learn from others: Pray with people (see Luke 11.1), listen to podcasts (including this one!)
- Bring your whole self to God in your prayers: Read David’s Psalms (Psalm 18.1; 22.1). He was one never shy of being himself with the LORD. God seemed to appreciate it (1 Samual 13.14).
Do you enjoy silence? Is it scary? Is it enticing? Do you run towards it, or away from it? What part does it play in a healthy prayer life?
When alone I walk around the house with a podcast broadcasting from the phone in my pocket. Car journeys are opportunities to catch up with podcasts. The shower is one of my favourite places for listening to podcasts thanks to the shower-proof phone protector my wife gave me and the shower-proof Bluetooth speaker my daughter gave me.
Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts. A veritable sound-storm of podcasting surrounds my solitude. But is this healthy?
Some of my podcasting obsession is reasonable. But I must admit that occasionally it’s a way of filling the silence when it wants to speak to my soul. This came home to me yesterday.
I’ve been visiting my parents to help with some errands. Here in rural Kent, I don’t have access to my usual broadband. A video upload was needed and I used my phone as a mobile hotspot. The file was big. Really big. The phone remained tethered to the laptop for an entire morning.
I walked around the house, I pruned a pear tree, deadheaded rose bushes, gathered leaves, picked up fallen branches and put them on the bonfire pile. In silence. Wonderful!
I submitted myself to the silence more willingly than usual. The reason was the fact that the previous day I read an article in the November edition of Christianity Today magasine. Sandra McCraken wrote on, “Our Silence, Music to His Ears”. In her article, she focussed on Psalm 65.1.
She said, “Many translations and paraphrases of Psalm 65:1 reference praise with an emphasis on silence. Duke Bible scholar Ellen Davis once translated it as, “To you, O Lord, silence is praise.””
Eugene Peterson translated the verse thus: “Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, And also obedience. You hear the prayer in it all.” (MESSAGE)
McCraken goes on to say,
“In silence, prayer comes up as word-less petitions and attentive expectation. In this, we affirm that prayer is a two-way conversation. Silence is the waiting posture that helps us to be poised to hear God’s voice.”
What is it about silence that open’s our ears to God’s voice? Silence creates the conditions for the decluttering of our minds. Robin Daniels in “The Virgin Eye” says, “Silence is not the absence of sound. Rather, sound is the absence of silence. Silence is primary.”
Perhaps he is right. We believe God wants a relationship with us. He waits for us to be silent so that we can connect. Until the noise of life is tamed we’re in no position to listen to the one who gave us life. In this sense silence is primary. It is necessary for us to be able to receive.
Silence and Speech
Daniels goes on to suggest that, “if we have learned to be silent before the Word, we shall also balance our silence and our speech during the day.” Silence is not the goal. Silence is a means to hearing God’s Word and carrying it with us throughout the day. Silence is not passive, nor an opening to nothingness. Silence is active and focussed.
Silence is a conduit to living a life of substance. Daniels again, “If we do not keep attuning to silence, we lose gravitas, we become lightweight.” How do we access the promised spiritually enriching sound of silence?
Beginning and End
I end with some simple suggestions for making the most of the spiritual discipline of silence:
- Quality, not quantity: One minute of silence regularly enjoyed is better than sporadic longer periods of silence.
- Focus on the Word: One verse, read, meditated on, prayed over in silence will nourish the soul.
- Begin each prayer time with a moment of silence. Don’t rush into your words.
- End each prayer time with a moment of silence. Don’t rush off into your next task.
Silence was the experience of many in Bible times. Elijah, Moses and David come to mind, as well as Jesus himself (Luke 5.16). They benefitted from the quiet. Silence is never expected to be the substance of our lives, but it must be a significant part.
What can you do to surface opportunities for silence to do its work?
Let me know what your experience is with this. What difficulties did you encounter? What stood out to you? What helped you? If you were encouraging someone else to practice this prayer technique, what would you emphasise to them? have I missed anything important regarding the spiritual discipline of silence?
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 quality quiet times.
God bless, Malcolm
At the moment, I’m satisfied with what I know of the camera’s functions. It takes basic pictures and video. Excellent. For now. The ‘quick start’ manual has ben adequate up to now. 11 pages have supplied all I need. But I know as time progresses I will want it to do a wider variety of activities. How do I wirelessly transfer pictures to my laptop? How do I adjust for low light? And much more. I will want to know what all those buttons and menu options are for. At that point I will need the full manual. It would be foolish of me to ditch the camera because I have not read the manual.
When we struggle in prayer or get stale, the solution is not to ditch prayer. Instead we can go back to the manual for advice, input and perspective. That is what the Psalms are for.
- Old hymns: “Praise my soul the king of heaven” – written in the 1800s by John Goss, based on Psalm 103.
- Modern hymns: written in 1993, “Among the Gods” by Carol Owen, based on Psalm 86.
- Recent songs: from the 2000s, “Forever” by Chris Tomlin, based on Psalm 89.1-2.
- Vv1-2: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” Expressing how we feel about our problems and challenges. Asking God to hear these prayers tonight.
- Vv3-4: “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Being open about our sins. Asking for forgiveness. Trusting God that He will forgive. Expressing gratitude for His forgiveness.
- Vv5-6: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Wanting to be close to God. Expressing how much we love God. Telling God that His word gives us hope. Asking for greater eagerness to be with Him.
- Vv7-8 “O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Telling God how much we love Him. Asking God to fill us with greater appreciation for His grace to us. Confidence that God will forgive us and take us to be with Him.
Prayer is Personal
Worship is Work
A Psalmic Pile
- I’ve opened a tab in my Bible software specially for the Psalms. That tab stays open no matter which other part of the Bible I’m studying.
- I’ve pulled my favourite books about the Psalms off the bookshelves and piled them up in one place. Now I see them every day and am reminded to look into them for insights. The books include: “The Psalms and the life of faith” by Walter Brueggemann (more theological). “Music of the heart”, new Psalms in the Celtic tradition by David Allen. “A long obedience in the same direction” by Eugene Peterson (focussed on the Psalms of Ascent). “Prayer, praise and promises” a daily walk through the Psalms by Warren Wiersbe (a devotional focus).