“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

Episode 17, Sunday Sample, “Freshen up an old song”

Reflections on corporate worship

Is your congregation switching off when you lead an oldy-but-a-goody? Here’s one way to freshen up a song we want to keep. It’s all here in today’s Sunday Sample.

Here’s the file mentioned in the recording; New Jerusalem Vocal Parts

Please leave a comment or a question.

God bless, Malcolm

Episode 15, Sunday Sample, 10 December 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

 

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Locations: Watford and Lower Earley – in theory

Special Occasion: Lower Earley Carol Service

Heavy snowfall meant I never made it to my second service. Traffic ground to a standstill between Watford and the M4. The Carol service in Lower Earley went ahead without me.

I was bringing the laptop, and all printed materials. Luckily I was able to stop and send the order of service and song sheets via WhatsApp. The worship team accessed the song lyrics via their phones and iPads. The PPt was emailed over.

I was so impressed with the attitude of the worship team. No complaining, just a desire to make the service the best it could be, and make sure God was glorified. The lesson of the day for me was how grateful I am that the service did not depend on me. Others were willing and able to step in.

Question to you if you are the worship team leader: Could you miss church and be confident the worship would be God-honouring and encouraging?

We must plan for redundancy.

The service in Lower Earley was videoed. Some of the singing and the nativity play are below…..

Speakers

The snow also frustrated many from attending our service in Watford. Around half made it to the venue, and we were blessed to have some extras who live near us but were not able to travel to their normal places of worship. The snow brought us blessings as well as challenges! 

We adopted a more informal format as a result of the conditions.  The sermon on Luke 24 was conducted more as a discussion than a ‘lesson’. Small group work surfaced interesting insights as to the experiences of the people encountering the risen Jesus. Our theme was, “Jesus Turns Confusion to Joy”.

Here’s my summary to the session, as well as two years of preaching through Luke:


  • We end Luke’s gospel with the disciples worshipping Jesus.
  • He has taken them from curiosity to confusion and, finally, to clarity.
  • They started out thinking he was a military Messiah, and ended up discovering he was a suffering Messiah.
  • At the beginning they wondered what was in it for them, but at the end they realised the message was for the world.
  • They thought Jesus was a King come to establish Israel’s dominance over the nations, but found out he was establishing a bridgehead of the kingdom of heaven.
  • Luke’s gospel is full of shocks, surprises and revelations.
  • At the conclusion to this two years in Luke, what has helped you the most?
  • Take some time to review your thoughts and write down a summary of the main things you learned.

Music Worship

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to carols and their harmonies. However, I must admit liking this version below. I don’t know who put it together, but I suspect it may have been Tidu Mankoo. It’ll be messy if done with the tradional harmonies. But if the congegation sing the tune in unison, then this works very well. We did this version in Watford on Sunday.

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN Dm

Other Thoughts

Last week I said we’d do the following:

  1. Watford: Deliver an interactive sermon on Luke 24, and do it all in 30 minutes or less. Done
  2. Lower Earley: We’re singing carols. Some are long with many verses. Create variety in the carols so that they don’t drag. – I was not there!

Sunday we’ll do the following:

  1. Watford: It’s our “pop-up” Nativity service. I’m going to do a communion with a difference.
  2. Bracknell: It’s the carol service. The best thing I can do is to be calm! That’s my prayer.

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

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

Episode 12, Sunday Sample, 19 November 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

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Locations: Watford and Bracknell

Special Occasion: none

I was involved in services in Watford and Bracknell this last Sunday. Our entry to the building in Watford was delayed due to a misunderstanding about parking, but we got in eventually. Everyone rushed around setting up before taking a deep breath for a pre-service devotional. We needed it. We were all frazzled.

We reflected on Hezekiah’s prayer, then God’s promise of healing, followed by the King’s poem of praise, culminating in this phrase:

“The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.” (Isaiah 38:20 NIV11)

He knew why he was singing. His fellow-congregants knew why they were singing. See the “we” word in verse 20?  We also know why we sing. The point is not “what” we are about to do, but “why”. Focussing on the “why” helped us to worship and to lead worship with a clearer mind and heart. It’s an important reminder to me that we need those few moments to pray and remember what it’s all about.

Speakers

Charl gave us a communion talk with a difference in Watford. You may see the table, tablecloth, vase and flower between Barry and Kate in the photo above. He asked for volunteers for a demonstration and then set up Barry and Kate as if on a date in a restaurant. Romantic music played through the PA system. Charl spoke about what makes meals special before going on to describe the extra-special nature of the communion. His points were sound and well-made. But what I especially appreciated was the creative thinking that went into preparing and presenting his talk.

Osagie is in action below preaching in Watford. He is another one never short of a handy way to illustrate his points. His use of children’s play tiles was masterful. You’ll have to click here to see him in action on the YouTube channel.

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Music Worship

We tried a new song-sandwich in Watford. 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 didn’t really work. The problem was that we started too fast and had to slow down for “Shine” and then speed up again for the final part of “Soon”. It wasn’t a disaster, but the effect I was looking for didn’t happen. I’m going to try it again this coming Sunday in Lower Earley. We’ll sing the first half of “Soon” slowly, segue into “Shine” and then speed up for the second half of “Soon”. I’ll let you know how that goes next week.

In Bracknell, the stand-out musical item was a new song by Geraldine Latty, “Lord, you hear the cry“. I thoroughly recommend it. How many songs do we sing about the marginalised and needy? Not many. It goes well with the point in our services when we take a collection for HOPE Worldwide UK. Have a look at the lyrics and chord charts here.

Other Thoughts

Last week I said we’d do the following:

  1. Have song sheets for everyone in Watford. Done.
  2. Start the service in Bracknell with a 5-minute countdown video. Done.

Next Sunday we’ll 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)
  2. Have a second bash a the S&S song-sandwich in Lower Earley.

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

Corporate Worship Matters, Episode 5: “Teach on the Trends”

Trends Part 3

Previously

  1. Find the trends
  2. Test the Trends

Teach on the Trends

The final step is to teach the congregation. Why should we speak to the congregation about which ‘trends’ we consider to be acceptable?

  1. Because otherwise members may be inclined to practice whatever worship trend suits them without considering the filters above.
  2. They may also cast negative spiritual judgment on others who act differently.
  3. Not only that, but they could become resentful if their preferences are not included in worship. It may be that they are not included for good reason, but a lack of explanation can be harmful.

Confusion is not conducive to God-honouring worship (1 Cor 14.26-33 – more on that in a forthcoming article). Uncertainty is a form of confusion. A member who sits in a service wondering why we have instruments (or no instruments), or why we have someone centre-stage leading worship (or not) is a member who is finding it hard to set their heart and mind on Christ.

Let’s be worship leaders who are aware of trends, but not with the goal of being trendy!  Instead, our aim is to know the trends, apply appropriate filters and teach clearly so that members and visitors alike have their best chance to hear the Spirit’s voice.

What are your thoughts on the significance of teaching about trends to the congregation? Leave a comment below so that we can all learn from one another.

Malcolm Cox

Sunday Sample 12 November 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

Locations: Watford and Lower Earley

Special Occasion: none

I was involved in services in Watford and Lower Earley this last Sunday. Both had their own special and unique characteristics.

I preached in Watford – with a difference. In one of his letters Paul tells Timothy: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13 NIV11)

There is more than one way to apply this, but what we did this Sunday in Watford is an interpretation of Paul’s instruction. I printed out the text of the crucifixion account from Luke’s Gospel. Then assigned different people or groups of people to read the parts of characters in the story. On Sunday I asked everybody to stand, and then we read the account for the crucifixion together. It was especially gratifying to see everybody take part wholeheartedly, including one of our teenagers.

After this, we broke into small discussion groups to consider the experience of the crucifixion from the perspectives of the different people involved.  10 minutes later we had sharing about what the groups discovered, and I wrapped up with Romans 5:7, and we took communion.

As usual, the groups came up with very interesting insights. Although it was not a typical sermon, I believe this format helped all of us find a personal connection with the crucifixion of Jesus.

Jonty preached in Lower Early, taking on the tricky subject of humility and pride. What a courageous man! You did a super job, Jonty, preaching with honesty and conviction, but without hubris. Thank you.

Music Worship

The singing in both services was encouraging. In Watford we overcame my mistake of forgetting to print enough song sheets and a ‘pink’ projector! Something wrong with the socket, I think.

In Lower Earley we sang a ‘new’ song for us, “Days of Elijah” – Rynhardt led it very effectively.

We sang “Above all” in both services and it was interesting that both congregations struggled with it to some extent. I love that song, but it’s tricky for the church to sing it well. There’s something about the rhythm of the melody that confuses us. I’m not sure what to do about it. Any ideas?

Other Thoughts

Next Sunday we’ll do the following:

  1. Have song sheets for everyone in Watford.
  2. Start the service in Bracknell with a 5-minute countdown video. Here is the draft version:

Please comment on what you’re doing locally 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