“All Things Worship Great And Small”

Malcolm’s Major Moments, 28 September 2019

One in voice and joy

I enjoy singing when we have house church. That’s probably what it was like for Jesus and his disciples – “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30 NIV11). 

It doesn’t matter how big or small the group, the quality of our worship can remain the same. However, I have to say that occasionally singing with close to a thousand people or so is something else! That’s what happened this last Saturday and Sunday at our UK and Ireland conference in central London. 

One of the great joys in leading others in worshipful singing is the ability to see everybody. To see them singing. To see them moving. To see their smiles! It was my privilege to lead a couple of songs on the Saturday of the conference. It really was a privilege. The energy, the zeal, the overflowing joy was palpable.

Perhaps the reason this is so inspiring is because it gives us a glimpse of what it must be like in that other realm which will be joined to ours one day:

    “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: 
    “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
        to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength 
        and honour and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: 
    “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
        be praise and honour and glory and power,
                for ever and ever!”” (Revelation 5:11–13 NIV11)

It’s not that one context for worship is better than another. Each has its place. But, it must be a healthy thing for a Christian who is habitually in a large group to occasionally participate in small group worship. And it surely adds something to our faith if we are in a small group to occasionally participate in a large crowd offering praise to God.

Have you had the opportunity, or can you find a way to worship with a larger or smaller group than is normal for you? Seek it out. You will find it a blessing.

I offer my recordings this week in the hope that they will keep you connected with Jesus and effective at proclaiming his love and truth.

The podcast summary contains a reminder of what’s been posted on my site this week. I.e. the usual TTT, SS & QTC. To watch/listen to any posts, just head over the the website.


Prayer request

This week’s prayer request is that by this time next week I will be able to fix a date for the spiritual disciplines group retreat. I have found what I think is a good venue (more in the section on that in the newsletter). Now I need confirmation of interest and then I will make a booking for March next year. Of course, if this is not God’s will then I also need to hear that.


Thank you for reading this far, and encouraging me in my endeavours to support our times of quiet with God, our corporate worship experiences, and the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching.

If you know anyone who might enjoy these materials, please send them a link to my website and encourage them to sign up for this newsletter.

God bless, Malcolm

The Sunday Sample, Episode 102: “Watch and Learn”

Something different this week. I spent Saturday and Sunday last weekend at our UK/Ireland annual conference in central London. I was privileged to participate in leading worship on Saturday evening, but on Sunday I was a humble congregant! I enjoyed being able to sing along with everyone else and not having any responsibility for a change.

I loved many things about the atmosphere, the content and the attitude with which the musical aspects of the worship were conducted. I took some video of the final song led by my old friend Morris Ximinis. He is a leader of worship I respect and who leads me into the joy of God like few other people can.

I have no comments this week, simply an offer and a couple of questions.

I’m going to show you a clip of the final song, “I want to see Jesus lifted high”, led by Morris. Then I’d like to ask you what you see in this clip which you would consider to be healthy, admirable, worthy of imitation and the reason why the congregation responded with such enthusiasm. 

Now, if you’re listening to the podcast, you’re not going to see the visuals, but I think you’ll get something even from the audio. I would recommend, however, that you pop over to the youtube channel to watch at least that part of today’s recording.

So, to summarise with two questions:

  1. What practicals do you see which you believe led to the song’s effectiveness?
  2. What principles apply to where you are, given that your congregation’s corporate worship setting might be significantly different to what you see on the video or hear on the audio?

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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Beatitudes series: Introduction and Retreat Update”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 107

I’m diving deep into Matthew 5-7.  It’s all in preparation for a teaching and preaching series for the Thames Valley churches of Christ, and a teaching day for the Watford Church of Christ based on the sermon on the mount.

Today I want to bring you an overview of the Beatitudes based on chapter 8 of the book “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker.

The podcast contains the full commentary on my thoughts of their approach to the Beatitudes. For these show notes, I’ll content myself with inserting the text of Matthew 5:3-12, and a few choice quotes from the book.

““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

(Matthew 5:3–12 NIV11)

These beatitudes are effectively priorities for a follower of Jesus. Three stand out:

  1. Our relationship with the Creator-father.
  2. Our relationship with other people.
  3. Our relationship with our own self and our circumstances.

Quotes from the book

  • Blessed (makarios) “carries a sense of unassailable wholeness.”
  • “Meekness is a kind of compound quality which includes moderation, self-control and self-awareness.”
  • “We need to offload the pressures we put on ourselves by simplifying our lives and wholeheartedly pursuing the just, the good and the healthy.”
  • “We will not have makarios if we simply use people and love things, rather than use things and love people.”
  • “If we live expecting to receive from others, we will always be disappointed, but if instead we live giving to others a “womb experience” of deep emotional connectedness, we cannot be disappointed even if they do not respond.”
  • “Peacemakers seek resolutions, not the attribution of blame.”
  • “Jesus did not advocate social rebellion. He began an inner revolution that promotes a love of others and a gentleness of spirit, while giving all the glory to the father.”

Let me know what stands out to you from these thoughts today. How might digging into the Beatitudes help you unload the overload?

In the weeks ahead I shall be posting more about each of the Beatitudes as I wrestle with them both in understanding, but also with application in my own life.

Retreat Report

  • I have found a terrific place for a group retreat.  Last Friday I went to have a look at St Michael’s convent in Gerrards Cross.  It’s secluded, quiet and has a pervading sense of peace.
  • A pencil booking has been made for the final weekend of March 2020. That’s the 27th-29th March.
  • Schedule: Friday night to Sunday lunchtime.
  • Maximum capacity is 17 people, which, if we took all those places, would mean we were the only guests at the convent.  
  • Accommodation: Bedrooms (3 Double, 2 Twin and 8 Single) are simply and comfortably furnished. Each room has a hand basin and three/four bedrooms have ensuite WC/shower rooms. Additional showers are mostly shared between just two guests. A bath is available on the second floor for those who prefer.
  • The extensive gardens would give people opportunities for a stroll, prayer walk or simply to sit and read or meditate on God’s word. The house is very quiet, and includes a beautiful intimate chapel which we would be able to use as well as a meeting room. 
  • The location is easily accessible by many routes. Not far off the M25 and M40 and only a few miles from the M4. By Train: Marylebone to Gerrards Cross about 20 minutes. Also good service from Aylesbury, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, Birmingham and Kidderminster via Chiltern Railways. Walking distance from the Gerrards Cross train station is about 10-15 minutes.
  • The cost is £120 per person which includes full board for 48 hours, use of the meeting room and other facilities. The chef can make allowances for a wide variety of dietary needs. 
  • Next steps:  receive feedback and comments from you, my lovely audience, then make adjustments and set up a registration page.
  • Watch this space.

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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 175: “Use Your Imagination”

Preaching and teaching without using your imagination robs your listeners of the power in God’s word.

It looks to me as if Jesus used his imagination in his speaking. Considered the parables.  Stories with a powerful point informed by Jesus’ imaginative reflecting on old covenant themes illuminated by new covenant realities.

This is on my mind because of a book I’m reading. This one is called, “Wilderness Time”  by Emilie Griffin.  it’s a book about taking a spiritual retreat, not speaking, but a point she makes under “The discipline of meditation” on page 28 caught my…er…imagination!

The section is too long to quote in the show notes here, so go and listen to the podcast or watch the video. But she makes excellent points connected with meditating on Mark 3:1-5

What helps your imagination come to life? How does it benefit your Bible study and speaking? What are the limits of using our imagination? Not too long ago I heard someone say that Jesus was tired and frustrated, when the passage he was talking about does not say so.  Is that legitimate? I imagine he imagined that was the case.

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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Tambourines, Dancing to Bob Dylan and Connectedness”, Malcolm’s Major Moments, 21 September 2019

The importance of not getting above ourselves

Last Sunday I had a fun experience. Bill plays guitar with our church in Walford, but he also plays tambourine on occasions with a band called “The Zimmermen” – a Bob Dylan tribute band. They play now and again at a pub called “The Horns” in Watford. I discovered they were performing last Sunday afternoon. Danny and I went along to support Bill as he played his tambourine with great vigour accompanying, of course, “Mr Tambourine Man”.

The band were excellent. Energetic, tight, musically competent. Everything you could want. Yet there was something extra that made the event special. It was the atmosphere. An atmosphere of intimacy, closeness, connectedness and a lack of pretension. The pub was full of people. Quite a variety. Younger and older, tattoos, clean-skinned, porkpie hats, smart and casual, different cultural backgrounds, some sitting silently, others singing along lustily, some dancing (yes, I now know that it is possible to dance to Bob Dylan).

At one point the band took a break. But they didn’t retire to a green room in splendid isolation. No, they mingled with the crowd, chatting and sharing a few laughs. The bassist invited younger people on stage to try his bass and drums. He even gave impromptu drumming and bass lessons. All that during his break. I was hugely impressed.

It reminds me of the value of small church – as we have it in Watford. In the pub the band had only a low stage. It kept them connected with their audience. In small church it’s so important that we don’t have barriers between us and one another. Our setup does not include a stage, but we need to constantly monitor whether the way that we are seated is helping to facilitate connection or weaken connection. The band were competent but not pretentious. In small church you can’t get away with being pretentious.

What’s the setup like where you are? Is it maximising connectedness?  I’d be interested to know your experiences of what helps and hinders that connectedness between not just those who are speaking or leading singing, but all of us in our collective worship settings.

I offer my recordings this week in the hope that they will keep connected with Jesus and effective at proclaiming his love and truth.

The podcast summary contains a reminder of what’s been posted on my site this week. I.e. the usual TTT, SS & QTC. To watch/listen to any posts, just head over the the website.


Prayer request

I have two dates which need to be fixed fairly soon. One is for the Watford teaching day on the “Sermon on the Mount”. Could be mid-March.

The other is a date for the first group spiritual retreat I’ll be leading which is likely to be the end of March.  Please pray I pick the dates which work best for God’s glory.


Thank you for reading this far, and encouraging me in my endeavours to support our times of quiet with God, our corporate worship experiences, and the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching.

If you know anyone who might enjoy these materials, please send them a link to my website and encourage them to sign up for this newsletter.

God bless, Malcolm

The Sunday Sample, Episode 101: “New Harvest Songs”

Do you have a “Harvest” service in the autumn? If not, might you consider it? It’s not healthy to get too removed from the reality of God’s provision. It seems to me rather healthier to stop every now and again and consider the fact that we should not take for granted what we eat and drink.

This is one of the reasons I really love our outdoor allotment service twice a year in Watford (spring and autumn). We have an autumn harvest service in Thames Valley which has also become a focus for an annual food bank collection.

However, we do not have many songs with a harvest connection. I found two new ones this year which we used in Watford earlier in September, and we will use in Thames Valley on October 6.

The links are below. Let me know what you think of them.

“God the maker of the heavens”
“We see the fruitful harvest”

Both songs use familiar tunes, and one adds a new chorus. A brand-new song involving new lyrics and new music is great. But, less work for a worship leader and a congregation, is to learn new lyrics to a familiar tune.

This week two questions:

1. What harvest songs do you use?
2. What songs do you sing which involve new lyrics to an old tune?

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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 106. “Taking a personal spiritual retreat”

In today’s quiet time coaching episode I tell you the story of my first overnight personal spiritual retreat which I took in 2003. This might be my most vulnerable and personal podcast yet. Truthfully, I feel nervous about sending it out into the world. However, I have benefited so much from taking these kinds of retreats that it would be wrong of me not to be transparent about the circumstances for that first retreat.

The other reason for telling you the story is to make it clear why I’m planning to lead This a small group on an overnight spiritual retreat. I’ve considered doing this for many years, but it never seemed to be the right time. For some reason, and I can’t explain exactly why, I sense that God has laid it on my heart to plan a group retreat.

More details forthcoming in the future, but for now I’m thinking of a two night retreat (Friday and Saturday nights) for a small group, perhaps a dozen, at the end of March 2020. I’m going to look at a potential venue tomorrow (as of the day of recording).

In the near future I will post a tentative date, draft schedule and approximate costs so that I can gauge the level of interest before I book something.

If you’d be interested in joining me on a two night spiritual retreat, please let me know. And if you have participated in anything like this, please tell me what worked best for you.

I do hope you enjoy my reflections on my first retreat and my hopes for the group retreat next year.


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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 174: “What All Younger Speakers Need To Know”

Are you a relatively inexperienced speaker? Are you younger than many of the people to whom you speak? I have a class series coming up that might be useful for you. 

In the month of October I shall be teaching a three-part series in the Thames Valley churches of Christ for relatively young and relatively inexperienced speakers.

The series will cover the basics of speaking in a church congregational context. Provisionally, the three classes will be as follows:

  1. Why we speak
  2. What to speak about
  3. How to speak

I would be very grateful for your input into this class series. If you are an experienced speaker, please answer these questions:

  1. What would you liked to have known when you started speaking?
  2. What one tip would have made all the difference?
  3. Now that you have the experience you have, what would you tell a speaker starting out?

If you are an inexperienced speaker, please answer these questions:

  1. What would you like to know?
  2. What is the greatest challenge you face in speaking?
  3. What kind of support would help you most to develop as a speaker?

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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Malcolm’s Major Moments, 14 September 2019

Digging deeper

We encourage the wildlife in our garden. Bird and bat boxes are up on trees and poles. Plants have been selected for their benefits to butterflies and bees. Nuts and fat balls are displayed for our feathered friends to enjoy. What’s next?  What’s next is the need to dig deeper.

All our current wildlife offerings are primarily aboveground. But Penny wants a wildlife pond. Newts, frogs (to eat the slugs), insects, a place for a hedgehog to take a drink, damselflies, dragonflies and much more will be attracted into our garden. What do we need to do? Dig. Dig deeper.

I spent all Saturday afternoon and all Wednesday afternoon digging. Saturday was about removing the turf. Wednesday was about beginning the serious digging. The photograph above shows you what I had achieved partway through the afternoon. I spent five hours digging on Wednesday. This is the result…

It doesn’t look like much. That’s five hours of work! My elbows, knees, lower back, shoulders, well, and everything else in my body aches and tells me I spent five hours digging. But my eyes tell me it’s unimpressive. That’s the problem with digging. You don’t get the visible results that the physical effort merits.

Isn’t that rather like the spiritual life? We expend significant time and energy and emotional investment digging, digging and digging into God’s word and prayer and spiritual disciplines hoping for massive impressive visible breakthroughs. Yet we forget that God works patiently and with his appropriate timing to develop us step-by-step more and more into the likeness of his Son.

As I continue to dig this Saturday and probably for several Saturdays hence, I need to remind myself of the vision. A completed pond teeming with wildlife. That will keep me digging even when I don’t see significant visible results. Similarly, if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I will not be discouraged or disheartened when the transformation into his likeness takes longer than I would like. 

I offer my recordings this week in the hope that they will keep you focused on Jesus, and motivated in digging deeper in your spiritual life. 

The podcast summary contains a reminder of what’s been posted on my site this week. I.e. the usual TTT, SS & QTC. To watch/listen to any posts, just head over the the website.


Prayer request

In 2003 I took my first personal spiritual retreat (more on that in this coming week’s quiet time coaching podcast). A three-day time away with God which changed my life.  Since then I’ve taken a few more, and contemplated leading a group retreat. I think the time has come.

In the first part of next year I am planning to offer a spiritual retreat for a small group of people. I’m investigating venues and planning the schedule. Please pray for the success of this venture, if it is in line with the Spirit’s will for my life.  If you think you’d be interested to attend, please drop me a line: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.


Thank you for reading this far, and encouraging me in my endeavours to support our times of quiet with God, our corporate worship experiences, and the effectiveness of our preaching and teaching.

If you know anyone who might enjoy these materials, please send them a link to my website and encourage them to sign up for this newsletter.

God bless, Malcolm

The Sunday Sample, Episode 100: “When to lose the leader”

We tried something different this Sunday in Thames Valley. A song with no leader!  How did that work? And why? Have a listen to the podcast for the details.

How do you decide the right context for a ‘leaderless’ song? What works 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 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.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John