“Why we should always be flexible with our song choices”

The Sunday Sample Episode 55

Last week in my interview with Mwamba Bennett she mentioned an occasion when they changed a song during their church service.  As it happened, this coming Sunday gave me reason to do the same thing.

TJ was preaching on the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 6:
“I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:1–4 NIV11)
While he was speaking, the words of the song, “I see the LORD” came to mind:

I see the Lord
Seated on the throne exalted
And the train of His robe
Fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His gloryChorus
Holy holy holy holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy holy holy holy
Holy is the Lord of lord

It seemed right to me that we sing that song after the sermon instead of the one we had prepared.  In the attached recordings I share how we did that and why.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

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

“The Mwamba Bennett interview”

The Sunday Sample, Episode 54

Welcome to my interview with worship leader Mwamba Bennett. She is part of the worship team in the Birmingham church of Christ. We discuss the strengths of the team, her own personal motivations in worship and much more.

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.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

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

“The connection between the kingdom, peace and joy”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 57

What is the connection between the kingdom of the heavens, peace and joy?

I’m teaching a three-part series on the kingdom for the Thames Valley churches of Christ.  There’s no way I will do it justice, but I do hope to make it more relevant to myself and the congregation.  One of the kingdom verses which has given me the most pause to think and pray is Romans 14:17-18.

Here is Tom Wright’s translation:

“God’s kingdom, you see, isn’t about food and drink, but about justice, peace, and joy in the holy spirit. Anyone who serves the Messiah like this pleases God and deserves respect from other people.” (Romans 14:17–18)

Compare that translation with the NIV:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:17–18 NIV11)

Finally, take a look at this translation by Dallas Willard:

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [whether you do it in one way or in another] but is inner rightness and peace and joy sustained by the Holy Spirit. For those serving Christ in this way are well-pleasing to God and approved by men.”

The key phrase here for me, is “inner rightness”.  Far be it from me to criticise the NIV or Tom Wright, and I’m sure the translations are correct, but the Willard version emphasises the personal connection with Jesus. It is this personal connection which ensures our ability to experience the peace and joy of the Messiah.  It is he who gives us peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11).  Why are we confident of this personal connection? Because Jesus promised, “I will be with you” Matthew 28:20.  Since we have the spirit of Christ, we can enjoy the fruits of that spirit (Rom 8.9; Gal 5.22).

As Willard says, “..the kingdom of the heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus’s continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

Would you like more joy and peace?  Practice becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. That is why we pray, and engage with spiritual disciplines. Not to make us “better”, but to make us more aware and thus more connected with the source of peace and joy. And the benefit? Why do we need to question the benefits of more peace and joy! But, we should also be aware that the fuller our experience of the peace and joy of the spirit, the more it will set us apart in this world as people who have something others need. Those with spiritual hunger will sit up and take notice.

The kingdom has many facets. But perhaps, practically, the most fundamental is the opportunity to avail ourselves of a supernatural peace and joy for which we were always designed.

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.

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

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool“, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“A tasty scripture-song sandwich”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 53

The website I refer to in the podcast is Resound Worship.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

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

“Return to be refreshed”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 56

If you are watching the video you will notice that I am not my usual place to record today’s quiet time coaching episode. That’s because I felt called, drawn even, to go back to a place where I prayed regularly five years ago. I have just finished my prayer time there and wanted to share the experience with you.

Where did I go? I went to a viewpoint overlooking the Harrow area of north-west London. You can see all of North West and West London from this place. It’s a wonderful view. I used to come up here regularly to pray. Sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night when the lights were shining and the stars were twinkling.

Behind the car park for the viewpoint are some woods. The area is called Grimsdyke. I came here to pray 3, 4 or five times a week between 2000 and 2013. It became the most important prayer place for me during that time. I came up here with my dog in the sunshine, the rain, snow and whatever else the weather threw at us and we walked, and I prayed.

It’s five years since I was last here. It was so helpful today to reflect on all the lessons God has taught me the last five years. To realise that his disciplining hand has always been for my good. To celebrate his grace to me. My soul is refreshed.

Is there somewhere significant to you, that you could go back to and pray? Somewhere you haven’t been for a while. Perhaps a place where you used to worship, the location of your baptism into Christ, a regular former prayer spot or something similar?

I’m so glad I came here today. I am refreshed and ready for my Monday (I’m recording this on a Monday) and my week.

Have you returned to be refreshed? I would love to know your experiences.

Please leave a comment wherever you read or see or hear these recordings. Please leave it publicly because we learn best when the learn in community.

If you know someone who might benefit from these thoughts, please pass the link on to them.

If you’re listening to the podcast, please leave us a review. If you’re watching the video, please hit the like button and the subscribe button and then you will be notified when new recordings go online.

I pray that between now and the next time we see each other you will find great refreshment from being reminded what God has done in the last year, or five or ten of your life.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

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

“How to be lifted up by God”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 52

Would you like to be “lifted” by God as you lead others in worship? There’s a key to such an experience. I was reminded of that key at a recent Sunday service where I was preaching for the North West Region of the London International church of Christ.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV11)

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.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool“, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“An arrow prayer for every day of the week”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 55

We lead busy lives. Sometimes we forget God’s presence, and we do not have opportunity for lengthy prayer. What to do?

Arrow prayers, pp319-323:
  • These can be a simple word, or a short phrase that is repeated throughout the day bringing remembrance to us that God is with us in all circumstances.
  • “Speak them inwardly and they will speak back to you all through the day’s changing circumstances. Because the words are so few and so simple, they help us to soar beyond language into the mystery of silence.
  • “One single grateful thought, raised to heaven, is a perfect prayer.“ Lessing, Minna Von Barnhelm, ii, 7.
  • “The simpler the prayer style, the easier it will be to bring the spirit of prayer into daily life.”
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7 NIV11)
I’ve come up with a different arrow prayer for each day of the week.
  • Monday: “Marvellous are your deeds, Lord” (Revelation 15:3 NIV11)
  • Tuesday: “I choose you, Lord”
  • Wednesday: “I worship you, Lord”
  • Thursday: “Thank you, Lord”
  • Friday: “Feed me, Lord”
  • Saturday: “Save me, Lord”
  • Sunday: “Sustain me, Lord”
Why not make up your own?
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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Don’t get tired of reminders”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 51

Do you realise the importance of your role in reminding other people of God’s attributes and what he has done?

We mine a couple of pithy sayings from Erickson’s book, “Participating in worship” and reflect on our opportunity to remind people of vital truths on which they can base their faith.

Thank you for listening to and watching this recording. You can find more Sunday Samples here and on the YouTube 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.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Ps 100:2

God bless,

Malcolm

“A meditation on the Lord’s prayer” by Balthasar Hubmaier

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 54

Balthasar Hubmaier was an Anabaptist leader who wrote this short meditation in 1526. Soon afterwards he was arrested, tortured and executed for his faith.

Our Father. Gracious Father, I am not worthy to be called a child of yours or that I should be able to call you my Father. I have not always done your will. I have often done the will of the Father of Lies. Forgive me, merciful Father, and make me a child of yours in the faith.

Who Art In Heaven. Father of goodness, look upon us, we who live in this miserable state of woe. We know that children cannot find a better condition than to be with their loving father, who feeds them, gives them drink, clothes them, protects them and shields them from all needs. Gracious Father, take us, your miserable children, to be with you in heaven.

Holy Is Your Name. Merciful Father, we know that we are guilty of continually dishonoring your name with our words and actions. The suffering of Christ, which for us is medicament for eternal life, we make into an eternal reproach by our cursing and rebuking. Forgive us, Father, and give us grace so that your name will never come from our mouths unprofitably. Help us to cease all blasphemy and swearing so that your holy name will eternally be glorified, enhanced and praised.

Your Kingdom Come. Gracious Father, we know that we are captives to sin, the devil, hell and eternal death. But Father, we cry out and call to you as our loving Father to come quickly with your kingdom of grace, peace, joy and eternal salvation. Come to our aid, gracious Father, for without you we are totally miserable, afflicted and lost.

Your Will Be Done On Earth As In Heaven. Good Father, we confess publicly that your fatherly will does not suit us earthly people. Our will is completely and totally hostile to your divine will. We ask you to send your Holy Spirit to work in us authentic faith, steadfast hope and ardent love, so that our will is conformed to your divine will in all things.

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread. Compassionate Father, we live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your holy mouth. Therefore, we humbly pray that you will feed us with the bread of your holy word. This is the bread of heaven, and whoever eats it will be eternally filled. Make it a living presence in our souls. Make it grow and bring forth fruits of eternal life. Give us diligent Christian workers who will spread this bread among us in pure, clear and untarnished manner so that your Fatherly will, which is known only from your word, will be fulfilled.

Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors. Kind Father, we know that we are guilty of having sinned in words, deeds and evil thoughts. We do not even know the number, portion or extent of our sins. Father, forgive us and give us power to better our way of living, even as we forgive those who have caused our suffering. Father, forgive them too, for they do not know what they are doing. Enlighten all those who misunderstand your holy word, who abuse and persecute us, so that they might come to the true way that leads to eternal life.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation. Heavenly Father! Look on the fear, barrenness, misery, persecution and hardship which we must endure here on earth, and ponder also our human weakness. For this reason, sweet Father, we ask of you, through your Fatherly love, that you do not forsake us in our anguish and suffering, that we not be defeated nor fall away from your holy word. Do not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can endure. We are weak and frail, while our enemies are strong, powerful and heartless. You know these things, merciful Father.

Deliver Us From Evil. Deliver us from evil, from sin, from the devil, from our own lust, which is our greatest enemy. Deliver us from all that keeps us far from you. Moreover, give us all that brings us closer to you. For dominion, power and glory are yours forever in eternity.

Eternal Father, as we have prayed to you here, bring it to fulfilment according to your Fatherly good will. These things we pray through your mercy and through your gracious promises which you have given to us consistently through Moses, the prophets and the apostles. But we pray this especially, pleading with you, through your most beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He has surely promised us, and proved it through his bitter death, that whatever we pray for in your name you will give us. Father, we place our bodies, lives, honour, possessions, soul and spirit into your hands. All that we have received from you we offer back to you, for you give and you take away. Praise be to your name. Amen and amen.

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: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The power of a well-placed poem”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 50

Do you use poems in your corporate worship settings?

I bring you the results of a poetic experiment from a recent Sunday service in the Thames Valley churches of Christ.

Thank you for listening to and watching this recording. You can find more Sunday Samples here and on the YouTube playlist.

Here’s the text of the poem I quote:

Lord, I come to you.

Let my heart be changed, renewed,

Flowing from the grace, That I’ve found in You.

And, Lord, I’ve come to know The weaknesses I see in me

Will be stripped away By the power of your love.

Hold me close, Let your love surround me.

Bring me near, draw me to your side;

And, as I wait, I’ll rise up like the eagle,

and I will soar with you.

Your spirit leads me on by the power of your love.

Lord, unveil my eyes,

Let me see you face to face: the knowledge of your love as you live in me.

Lord, renew my mind as your will unfolds in my life,

in living every day in the power of your love.

Hold me close, let your love surround me.

Bring me near, draw me to your side; and, as I wait,

I’ll rise up like the eagle, and I will soar with you.

Your spirit leads me on by the power of your love.

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.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Ps 100:2

God bless,

Malcolm