“Silence is a song”

The Sunday Sample Episode 45

Do you use silence as part of your corporate worship? Deliberate, creative silence. Not the accidental kind.

We take a look at this, prompted by some words of Soren Kierkegaard in the book, “Participating in worship” by Craig Erickson

 

Please leave a comment. Pass this on to someone. Subscribe to the feed.

God bless, Malcolm

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

“Why slides are your friend”

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Episode 118

We look at the usefulness of slides for our teaching. Even though ‘death by PowerPoint’ is a thing, that does not mean that slides are not helpful. We talk about the ways they can help us to clarify our structure, and how they can help an audience relax and listen.

 

Thank you for watching 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 watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

“For God Alone”, Introduction

Thames Valley churches of Christ

Would you like to know how to have ‘better’ quiet times? This series is for you!

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. Here’s the email: tvcochrist@gmail.com.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“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)

“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)

“What to do when a song doesn’t stick”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 41

Last time: pre-service and post-service music
Today : What to do when a song doesn’t stick
Things to consider:
  1. Did we teach it well?
  2. If there are men and women’s parts were they taught clearly?
  3. Is the theology really important?
  4. Is it a type of song we don’t have many of?
  5. Is it beyond the musical abilities of their congregation / worship team?
Possible solutions
  1. Re-teach
  2. Persevere
  3. Ask people what they think of the song
  4. Play in background so people become more familiar
  5. Perform it as a solo or group
Have you had this experience?
Please leave a comment and pass this on….
God bless, Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“What happens when you grab for the wrong support”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 44

My morning prayer walk was messier than expected. It was all caused by a casual grab at the wrong support.
 
 
One of my favourite prayer walks takes me to the edge of a canal. There is no bridge at this point, but you can cross by walking along the top of the lock gates. It’s narrow, but there are handrails. This particular morning I stepped up onto the top of the gates. I reached out towards the ironmongery with my right hand to steady myself.
 
Instead of feeling the cool iron under my fingers, I sensed a sticky gooey mess. I stopped, looked at my right hand and saw thick black grease. Instead of grabbing for the handrail, I had mistakenly reached for the mechanism which moved the sluice gates. They are heavily greased to protect them from the water.
Stepping off the lock, I approached a tree. With the help of several leaves I removed most of the grease from my hand.
I reflected on what lesson there might be for me from this experience. What do I grab for? What do I reach for when I need support?
 

1. Superficial support

Too often I prioritise feeling better instead of getting better. The instant-fix support sees me turning on the television, listening to a podcast or raiding the fridge. None of these are wrong in themselves. They are meant to be enjoyed – God gave us lots of things specifically for our enjoyment (1 Tim 6:17).
 
It’s just that they cannot provide the kind of support I need when I am struggling with something spiritual. You know the kind of thing. When I don’t want to persevere. When I don’t want to love someone. When I don’t feel like praying.
 
The problem with reaching for the superficial support is twofold. Firstly, it is only a temporary diversion and distraction. The original problem comes back with a bang.
Secondly, the consequences are a stickiness in my soul – rather like the grease on my hand. Because I have delayed dealing with the situation spiritually, procrastination is now clogging up my spirit. If I had dealt with the matter in a more spiritual manner, I could have moved onto the next challenge to my faith. Now, however, I have one piled on top of another. Not a good situation, and not a winning feeling.
 

2. Spiritual support

What I really need is spiritual support. What does that look like? Here are two suggestions.
 
i. Church support. I don’t mean the organisation, but the network of relationships. We are meant to be interconnected. If we are, we will feel the support of our community. Paul made the point in Ephesians:
 
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16 NIV11)
 
Those friendship-ligaments are a source of support when I am weak. Are you connected enough to feel that support? What is your part in that?
 
ii. God support. He is a very willing supporter. We don’t have to push him into it. We understand this intellectually. The point, however, is to grasp it from the heart. The Psalmist accepted this:
 
“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalms 94:18–19 NIV11)
 
There is no substitute for the support of the Lord. It is his love that convinces us of his unconditional support. It’s personal with him. He wants to support us not because it is a duty or a project. No. His heart is one of compassion and connection. He is able to grant us not only the fact of support but the feeling of support if we are willing to accept it.

Conclusion

What did Jesus say? “I am with you”, (Matt 28.20). Reflect on him walking with you. Today. Pray to be aware of his presence and support. Next time you need some support, pause before reaching for the remote. Take a moment to call a friend and call on God.
 
If he is with me, that’s enough. He may not change the situation. His support may not change how I feel. But I know he’s in it with me, and that’s enough.

Question

What happened when you tried this? What difference did it make to your day?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community. Pass the link on….
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm
Get coached on Coach.me