“Zamar Praise Devotional”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 21

We take another look at a Hebrew word for praise described in Chris Tomlin’s book “Holy Roar”.  This week the word is, ‘Zamar’.
praise  זָמַר  zamar – sing, to sing praise, to make music, to chant, sing, or play instruments to worship God and proclaim his excellence. Striking with the fingers; to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music:—give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.
Psa. 144:9  “I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,”
Here are all the references: Judg 5:3; 2 Sam 22:50; 1 Chr 16:9; Psa 7:17; 9:2, 11; 18:49; 21:13; 27:6; 30:4, 12; 33:2; 47:6–7; 57:7, 9; 59:17; 61:8; 66:2, 4; 68:4, 32; 71:22–23; 75:9; 92:1; 98:4–5; 101:1; 104:33; 105:2; 108:1, 3; 135:3; 138:1; 144:9; 146:2; 147:1, 7; 149:3; Is 12:5
See 2 King 3 for the story about Elijah and the harpist.
“Elisha knew the power of a good soundtrack, how it frames the moment. Music so often prepares the heart for the reality of an important message.”….“As we listen to music, can’t we recognise the way it prepares our souls to receive God’s word? Can’t we allow it to soften us? Can’t we appreciate how it serves as a vehicle, carrying our praise to the throne of God? When we do, we are participating in the zamar.”
Music is designed by God to assist our spiritual awakening, listening and growth.
My thoughts:
  • 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?
Tell them. Ask them.
Please post a comment here.
And please pass on the link to this article to one other person.
God bless, Malcolm

“Halal Praise Devotional”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 20

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.

God’s great dance floor

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

God bless, Malcolm

“Yadah Praise Devotional”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 19

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

“It will be worth it. Hold on to your ticket.”

Quiet Time Coaching, Episode 22

Life is not always lived in the light. Not even the Christian life. Especially not the Christian life. What do we do when the darkness invades the light?
I’m deep into the Epistle to the Hebrews at the moment. We’re teaching through it in the Thames Valley churches of Christ (click the link for recordings).
 
One example of faith after another piles up in chapter 11: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses…and the rest. All are “commended for their faith,” (v39), but none “received what had been promised” (v39). At least, not all they were promised. They had a tough time of it.
 
It’s true that Abraham received his son, Noah saved his family, Daniel shut the mouths of lions and Rahab was spared her life.
 
But what of those who were “tortured..faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment..put to death by stoning..sawed in two..killed by the sword..went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated..wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (vv35–38)
 
There is just as much darkness caused by doubt, fear, suffering and disappointment as there is light caused by victory.
 
What do we do when the darkness arrives?
 
Here are two thoughts for reflection to help us when the dark days arrive.
 

1. Darkness is temporary

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” (Psalms 18:28–29 NIV11)
 
Darkness is not permanent. It will depart. It does not always feel that way, but no darkness can hold God back. Hold on to him and wait patiently by faith for the dawn to arrive.
 

2. Darkness is directional

“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed….I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.” (Psalms 143:3–6 NIV11)
 
When the darkness closes in we are left with only one direction to go in search of light. To God. Can you allow your darkness to direct you back to God? That’s what David did in this Psalm.
 
Corrie Ten Boom said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
 

Conclusion

Are you going through a tunnel? Now is not the time to jump off. Now is the time to pray all the more.
 
Pray for the patience to hold on until you see the light. And pray for the confidence to approach God even while you are still in the darkness. After all, he knows what the darkness feels like (Matt 27.45).
 
Do not throw away your ticket. “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:35 NIV11)
 

Question

What does the darkness do to your relationship with God? How might it be helpful?
 
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
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Episode 13, Sunday Sample, 26 November 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

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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.”

Silence is praise and prepares us for praise: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” (Psalms 62:1 NRSV)

 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?

Speakers

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.

Music Worship

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!

Other Thoughts

Last week I said we’d do the following:

  1. 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.
  2. Have a second bash a the S&S song-sandwich in Lower Earley. Done.

Next Sunday we’ll do the following:

  1. Watford: Teach the song, “Lord, you hear the cry”
  2. 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.

God bless,

Malcolm

“How to Make your Relationship With Jesus Personal”

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 15: "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend." Exodus 33.11

Our friendships are personal. No two are alike. Jesus offered his followers friendship,
 
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends..” John 15.15 (NIV11)
 
What about your relationship with Jesus? Is it personal? Is it unique? Or is it a cookie-cutter friendship? One where you are trying to fit your experience of walking with Jesus into a mould someone else invented?
 
What does it mean to make our relationship with God personal? We’re going to look at this today because of something that happened last Sunday.
 

Jesus meets us where we are

The most recent sermon in the Watford church of Christ focussed on the Bible’s teaching about grief. We were looking for material to help grieving friends.
 
Among other passages, we looked at John 11. Lazarus dies. Jesus goes to comfort the grieving sisters, Mary and Martha. I’ve preached on this passage many times and written about it in my book. But I have missed something. Jesus treats Mary & Martha differently. They both come out to see him. They both accuse him with these words,
 
“If you had been here, my brother would not have died”, John 11.21 (Martha) & v32 (Mary).
 
However, they approach Jesus differently. Martha comes out straight away. Mary stays at home. Martha discusses the situation with Jesus. Mary does nothing more than state her accusation. With Martha, Jesus discusses the next life, his identity and belief. With Mary, he weeps.
 
The women are different with Jesus. Jesus is different with them. It’s personal.
 

Careful with the comparisons

Do you see your relationship with Jesus as personal? Do you see him treating you as you are? Not what you are ‘meant’ to be? Are you measuring yourself against others?
 
Taking inspiration from other people is fine. The example of others is helpful:
 
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13.7
But comparisons are odious. I spent a good part of my years as a Christian feeling that my relationship with God was inadequate. I did not pray long enough, loud enough, intensely enough, and so on.
 
The guilt piled up until I realised Jesus did not want to have a relationship with me defined by how others connected with him. Instead, I was invited by God into a relationship with him that was personal, and would develop over time.
 
How can we develop the personal side of our walk with Jesus? There are many ways, but here are three that I have found most helpful so far.
 

Power up the personal

  1. 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.
  2. Learn from others: Pray with people (see Luke 11.1), listen to podcasts (including this one!)
  3. 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).

Conclusion

There is no ‘standard’ for a QT. There is no checklist. But there are ways to learn, to grow.
 
No quiet time has to be perfect – nor can it be. It needs to be authentic. The three practices above will deepen your personal walk with God. Persevere in them and you will experience a more and more personal and therefore satisfying relationship with God.
 

Question

What helps you to make your relationship with God personal? Do you have any tips for me? Are there any examples, verses, in the Bible?
 
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

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“How to succour your soul with silence”, Psalms 62.1 & 65.1

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 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?

Sober Silence

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!

Silent Psalmist

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)

Poised Posture

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:

  1. Quality, not quantity: One minute of silence regularly enjoyed is better than sporadic longer periods of silence.
  2. Focus on the Word: One verse, read, meditated on, prayed over in silence will nourish the soul.
  3. Begin each prayer time with a moment of silence. Don’t rush into your words.
  4. End each prayer time with a moment of silence. Don’t rush off into your next task.

Conclusion

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.

Psalm 62 has a similar sentiment to Psalm 65: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” (Psalms 62:1 NRSV)

What can you do to surface opportunities for silence to do its work?

Question

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

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“How to make the most of praying through a Psalm”

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 13: Scripture's Songs

Why do we have 150 Psalms? Why is there such a big poetry book in the Bible? Why did God think we needed this resource? How can the Psalms help our prayers? We will delve into this topic today.
 

Massive Manuals

Recently I bought a new camera. I like my Canon EOS M6 very much. It does what I want it to do. But I know it does far more than I realise. The manual is huge. 221 pages long! And, yes, the picture above is taken by that very same camera.
 

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.

 

Psalmodic Inspiration

Psalms have inspired many hymns and songs. For example, 
  • 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.

Psalmodic Templates

Psalms have been used as a template for songs. They can also be used as a template for personal prayer. For example, here is the text of Psalm 130 with suggested prayer themes.
  • 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.
Of course, the above suggestions are ideas that are not meant to restrict our prayers. Add other areas of prayer that matter to you, or that the Psalm suggests by its content. Learning to pray through a Psalm is a good discipline and an enriching experience, so stick to the Psalm’s internal themes where you can.
 

Preparation

1. A quiet place
2. Read through the Psalm or section of the Psalm
3. Take your time – no rush
 

Practice

1. Read one verse or phrase – slowly and thoughtfully
2. Pray through it and over it
3. Allow the theme of the verse or phrase to take you to other places in the Bible, in your heart and in your life
4. Move on to the next verse and repeat
 
What themes stand out to you? Godʼs holiness? His generosity? What else? What is your response to this Psalm? Feelings of gratitude? Feelings of love? What else? What do you learn about the character of God? Record your observations and also read through the words of the hymn based on this Psalm.
 
In the video and podcast versions of this article I offer a brief demonstration of these techniques. If you would like to hear those, click the links on this page.

Conclusion

 Why not try praying though a Psalm for your next prayer time? How about tomorrow? We have 150 Psalms. That’s more than enough material to keep us going for a long time.
 

Question

Try it and tell me what your experience is with this. What difficulties did you encounter? What stood out to you? What helped you? Imagine encouraging someone else to practice this prayer technique. What would you emphasise to them?
 
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
 
If you’d be interested in coaching in spiritual disciplines, please click the link below.

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What is the Point of Praying?

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 12: The Mystery and the Majesty of Prayer

Someone asked me recently what the purpose was in praying. Why do we pray? What is it for? It’s a good question. Not only is prayer inherently confusing, but it’s also uniquely mysterious.
 
We pray and are not answered. We pray and find an answer. We pray and don’t like the answer. We pray and like the answer.
 
Abram, Moses, David, Job, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus and Paul all prayed. Their prayers overlap in intent but vary wildly in content and focus. What are we to make of all this?
 

Common Question

“What’s the point?” questions are common. What’s the point of voting if governments break their promises once elected? What’s the point of taking the time to cook a delicious meal for your family when all they do is wolf it down in 10 seconds flat? What’s the point of supporting your team when they never win anything? And, what’s the point of having a sat-nav if it keeps taking you the wrong way? I include this because of two such incidents on my journey to Manchester and back last weekend which led to me paying a toll twice instead of once, and adding an hour to our journey. More on that another time.
 
I’d suggest our purpose in prayer is one of the more relevant, “What’s the point?” questions.
 

Prayer is Personal

There’s no one definition of prayer that can satisfy all it means. That’s because it is, fundamentally, an expression of our relationship with God. Relationships defy simplistic definition. At least, they do if they are meaningful.
 
I like the title of chapter 1 in the BST “The Message of Prayer”. It is, “The Conversation of Friends.”
 

Meaningful Relationships

My ‘relationship’ with my dentist is narrow. The ‘relationship’ I have with my accountant less so. That’s because he is also my brother in Christ and friend. Thanks, Dennis, for being a super accountant and a valued friend! Then, my ‘relationship’ with my wife is on another level entirely. I’d find it hard to sum up my relationship with Penny in a few words.
 
How much more so with God. Because our relationship is different, so also is our conversation.
 

Honest Talk

If there is one thing we know about good relationships, it is that honesty is foundational. Among many examples, the Psalmist cries out,
 
“Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide in times of trouble?” (Psalms 10:1 NIV11)
 
Jesus asks the question,
 
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NIV11)
 
I’d suggest this is the place to begin. Honest expression of facts, feelings, hopes, failings, sins, needs and desires will build a meaningful relationship with God. Are you being ‘real’ with God? If not, start there. Rather than ponder the purpose of prayer, trust that God wants to know you. That means him hearing what’s on your mind and in your heart. It’s a place to start, anyway.
 

Conclusion

As Tim Chester says in the BST book mentioned above, “Prayer is not ultimate but penultimate, a pointer to the days when we shall see God face to face. It directs our attention forward to our participation in the trinitarian community. Prayer is an anticipation of the day when we shall truly know even as we are truly known (1 Cor 13:12).”
 
Well said. When prayer confuses, continue to pray knowing it is preparation for the face-to-face communication we will enjoy in the coming life.
 
I’ve said we cannot sum up prayer in a few words, but I can’t resist having a go. Here is the best I could do this Thursday morning.
 
“My purpose in prayer is to begin the relationship with God I will enjoy in its perfection in the next life.”

Question

What do you think of my definition of the purpose of prayer? Do you have your own? Have you heard or read one that makes sense to you? Could you share your best ideas?
 
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
 

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How to be supplied with spiritual strength from the Psalms

Using the Psalms as God intended

Worship is Work

I lead musical worship in Church congregations. It is a privilege, a joy, and hard work! I need spiritual strength to lead worship. Where is the supply coming from?
 

God’s Songbook

Two weeks ago I chatted about this with my friend Dave Eastman. Check him out on lifechangingworship.com. He shared his conviction with me that a worship leader needs to be constantly in the book of Psalms. It is God’s songbook. A hymnal with 150 songs ready for any and all occasions in the Christian life.
 

Regular Devotion

I love the Psalms. I turn to them from time to time. But I’ve not been devoting myself to them regularly. I wonder how many of us use the Psalms in moments of great joy, or deep crisis, but neglect their day-to-day use.
 
What a shame to relegate this amazing resource to special occasions. They are available to supply us with spiritual strength whenever we need it.
 

A Psalmic Pile

Thanks to Dave, I’ve reflected on my use of the Psalms. So far I’ve made two decisions.
 
  1. 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.
  2. 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).

All About You

Here is a thought from Psalm 86 and some insights from Brueggemann. Read this Psalm, and you will hear a desperate David. But notice that his attitude is not one of self-pity. Instead, he is very focused on the qualities of God. This is emphasised by the use of the word, “You”.
 
Quoting selectively from the Psalm, “You are my God…For you, O Lord are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you… For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God… But you, O Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… Because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.”
 
The force of the Hebrew doesn’t come across in an English translation. But the point does. David knows he must focus on who God is if he is to be supplied with the spiritual strength he needs.
 

Conclusion

I will finish with an old rabbinic prayer quoted in Brueggemann’s book on page 37:
 
Where I wander-You!
Where I ponder-You!
Only You, You again, always You!
You ! You! You!
When I am gladdened-You!
When I am saddened-You!
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!
Sky is You! Earth is You!
You above! You below!
In every trend, at every end,
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!

Questions

What is it about the Psalms you find most helpful? Do you use them regularly? What books would you recommend to help us understand them and apply their message?
 
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