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3 Simple Tips For A Worship Leader

Whether you’re just starting out leading worship, or you’ve been leading for years, it can often be a daunting task.  Sometimes you can feel uninspired and lacking in creativity, or frustrated and unqualified to do the job.  Here’s three simple tips for starters to keep you on the ball, and help you when you lead:light-bulb-2014-500x345.png

1 – Show The Sheep The Shepherd

It’s all about Jesus.  Forget for a minute all your hours of practice, your band arrangements, your sound check, the lights, the monitor mix, your tuning and your performance.  People may be emotionally stirred by these things being done well, but the only thing that can cause people to respond in worship is by having a revelation of Jesus.  Present the person of Jesus, his character, his passion, his love and his works clearly through your songs and your leading.  Nothing will bring a clearer response in peoples hearts than Jesus being revealed to them again and again in clear and fresh ways.

2 – Pursue His Presence Persistently

We were born for relationship with God, and he longs (more than you could perceive) to draw close to his people.  We don’t necessarily ‘sing down his presence’, but through singing truth, we become more dynamically aware of his closeness.

Don’t rush.  Be aware of God working through certain songs, or single lines with songs, where you begin to recognise his closeness pressing in.  Dwell in these moments and enjoy the Creator of the Universe coming close to man.

3 – Surrender Your Soul To The Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the true worship leader, directing and orchestrating our worship back to the Trinity.  The more you lead the music team, the more you will begin to recognise how the Holy Spirit is leading you.  Stay open to where the Spirit is leading – that might be doing a different song to the ones you had chosen, reading a bible verse, repeating a line, bringing a word, a picture or encouragement to the congregation or simply stopping and waiting in silence.

And don’t forget – don’t carry the burden of responsibility by yourself.  The leading of the people ultimately lies with the Holy Spirit, and his gentle works in unlocking, changing and motivating peoples hearts in worship.  You may be a conduit that God uses to help lead the people, but even this responsibility is shared with the rest of the music team, the meeting leader, your church elders and senior leadership team – just stay open and responsive to the Spirit.

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Do You Noel?

So often we can sing songs, without fully appreciating the meaning – especially common with old hymns, where the language can be old fashioned or complicated.  Sometimes words are used that are no longer in common use.  Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing is a good example where we sing ‘Here I raise my Ebenezer’ – not Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but here meaning ‘rock of help’.

noel

So it got me thinking to the Christmas Carols we sing, in particular The First Noel.

Noel, in simple terms is French for Christmas, as in ‘Joyeux Noel’ or Happy Christmas.  So the first Noel, refers to the first Christmas, or the day of Jesus’ birth.

But buried in the etymological history of the word is another glorious meaning…

“A shout of joy at Christmas for the birth of the Saviour”

What a wonderful word!  So in the same way we can sing and shout hallelujah (praise the Lord) or hosanna (a shout of praise, or ‘he saves’), we can use Noel at Christmas time as a shout of joy, to celebrate his birth.  Joyeux Noel to you all!

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Coming Back To The Heart Of Christmas

One of our worship leaders sang Matt Redmans Heart of Worship this week and changed the lyrics to “I’m coming back to the heart of Christmas and it’s all about you, all about you Jesus”.

Once the interruption to my ‘auto-worship’ mode had settled, the stinging truth of that one-word alteration began to settle in my heart.  And though the lyric change seemed a little twee, even cheesy, at first, it challenged me to the core again, and focused my worship anew.  And I’m thankful for our worship leader stepping out to make that change.

And when planning for our Christmas services, I came across this clip from the movie The Nativity Story, which again moved me to worship, and to focus on Jesus once again during this festive time.  This clip, I believe, is conveyed in a very reverent, worshipful way and hope it moves you to thank God for Jesus again, as it did me.

Remember why we celebrate Christmas, and take a moment to turn your heart back to Him!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbo1znOG4ts

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What Notting Hill Taught Me About Worship

In the famous clip above, Julia Roberts character (a super-famous rich actress) tells Hugh Grants character (essentially a nobody)…

“The fame thing isn’t really real, you know.  Don’t forget I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

Worship leaders and musicians have so often gravitated to a rock-star mentality, caring too much about image and ‘product’.  Churches and conferences need to have big lights and staging to be taken seriously.

I believe Jesus is calling for the church to just stand in front of him as a his bride and seek is love.

Strip away self-image, self-promotion, products, packaging, presentation, and come back to heart of worship – simply a full hearted devotion of love to Jesus.

Let’s take away all that doesn’t really matter, and just stand before Jesus offering our love.

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What’s The Deal With “Crown of Praise”?

Crown of Praise started with the small idea of releasing small “chapters” of music. Where recording a whole album can be prohibitive because of the costs involved, I’ve decided to explore releasing music in smaller bite size chunks. Crown of Praise will be the first in a series of “chapters” over the coming months.  Here’s a little detail about the project…

I have loved making Crown of Praise.  I have challenged myself lyrically and musically to be even more creative than I have been before. The emotive sounds of the orchestral elements floating over the piano and acoustic guitars really moves me into worship, and I really hope that it helps you in your personal worship times too.

This first little ‘chapter’ of planned EP’s contains two brand new songs, a new recording of an old song called My Reason and an instrumental.

Praise You For The Blood is a song where I wanted to capture both the reflective nature of acknowledging our sin and shortcomings before God, and the celebratory nature of rejoicing in the grace we recieve.  The song explodes half way in with joy, and seems a wonderful way to open the EP!

My Reason is a number of years old, and I have led with this song many times.  After being pushed by my church leader to re-record the track, I decided to try a new take on it, changing the time signature of the song, chord structure and ambience completely compared to the ‘rock’ approach I had previously used.  I think it works brilliant with the piano track laid down by David Skoppek, and the song still moves me into worship all these years later!

Crown of Praise contains some of my favourite lyrics and thematically follows My Reason with an understanding of our very lives purpose is in the worship of God.

Finally, the instrumental When We See Him finishes the EP allowing the music to inspire your worship rather than words.  The simple repeating melody line throws all sorts of imagery in my head that…well it’s better you just take a listen and interpret it for yourself!

I am on a faith journey where I don’t have a regular job, but I believe God is calling me to write and record worship music for the Church and I want to be faithful in that.  Often money is a barrier in doing what we want to do, and certainly recording music can be a very expensive venture, that can take months or even years to break even on costs.  But I guess that is the nature of a ‘faith journey’ – there has to be an element of the impossible to allow you to put your faith in higher powers.

So please pray for me as I journey – for melodies and lyrics that inspire and encourage the Church…and for resources to do what I believe God is calling me to do. I hope you enjoy this little project and join me in crowning Jesus with your worship.  Download here.

I offer you this crown of praise, formed of my heart, my life, my days
'Surrender' fashions precious jewels and 'sacrifice' the gold for you
And here my alabaster jar, where lie the treasures of my heart
When 'gratitude's' too weak a form, I pour myself, my life, my all

The words of man cannot convey, my debt of love, my breadth of praise
For every hymn and melody, but a token of the love I bring
From time where cells began to form, you watched within my mothers womb
And reason you composed my frame, that I may live to raise your name

I do nor fear the day I die, for you my God are by my side
And final breath won't cease my song, for this symphony has just begun

All blessing, all honour is yours, forever and ever amen
All glory, all power is yours, forever and ever amen
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Taylor Swift Being Prophetic? – Part 2

This post is best read in the light of Part 1 which is here.

Part 1 dealt with the music we listen to, and trying to make a consious decision over where we take our moral-food from…what do we digest into our bodies…what nutritional diet does our soul feast on…

This morning, a news story has emerged about an actor called Angus Jones.  Angus is a highly paid performer, starring in one of Americas most popular sitcoms Two And A Half Men.  The controversy surrounding the article is over his declaration that the entertainment program consists of ‘filth’ and that continuing to act in the program is incompatible with his christian beliefs.

Check out a news story HERE or watch a clip from his interview below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AcZL87J8-xo

This is a brave move from a young guy, who is risking his £200,000+ an episode salary and future working opportunities because he has decided to make a stand for Truth and the moral standards of living set out in the bible.

Having never watched Two And A Half Men, I cannot personally comment on the content of the program, but isn’t this a refreshing stance?

Taylor Swift commented that the songs on the radio are raising this generation, surely the TV is a natural ‘add on’ to this.  If todays moral values of compromise are soaked into the core of our daily TV diet, as well as our music, is it no surprise to see the downward spiraling of generations into ‘not loving your neighbour’, ‘everyone for yourself’ and ‘if it makes me feel good then it must be OK’.

What surprised me is the furious backlash people have had to Angus Jones comments.  Check out the comments at this bottom of this page to read just a few of them.  Where it’s become forbidden to speak out against Islam, suddenly it’s become OK for Christianity to be the easy target.  Because a young man takes a stand for good morals, no compromise and biblical Truth, this is taken as a ‘christian rant’ by a ‘deluded celebrity of limited intelligence who believes in fairy stories’.

Jesus is the only hope!!

I challenge you to also view Angus Jones’ comments in context with his full testimony (which the news outlets have conveniently ignored).  Part 1 and 2 are below.  But before you do, note this quote from Angus from the interview:

“The name of the game right now is compromise…according to the bible, when that happens we’re no longer standing for anything…no longer on the side of the Truth…pick your side now, and you need to be 100% for that…you need to be 100% or nothing at all.”

Part 3 of this blog series is HERE.

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Get Away From The Noise

Stop a moment.

No, really stop.  Stop hovering over your Facebook refresh button, stop checking your phone (don’t worry, it will make a noise when you get a message), take the ipod hearphones out your ears, turn the TV off, leave the room and shut your eyes.

Can you hear it?  The silence?  Now turn your heart to Jesus and just wait a moment.

Isn’t it amazing how busy we are.  The 21st century is full of noise and colour.  Communication tools for every minute of every day.  There is always something to do, someone to see, a message to check and a job to do. Read more “Get Away From The Noise”

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Behind The Song – You Are The Centre

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The Sun & The Satellites was a phrase God gave me in a dream.  That really doesn’t happen to me very often!  Even before the songs were all written, I sensed this phrase was to be the title of the album.

To me, it conveys the need to keep Jesus at the centre of our lives, and we, as his satellites, to always stay in orbit around him.

You Are The Centre was an attempt to capture the heart of that theme.  Through early re-writes, this was a song that never quite settled down, even to the point of re-writing lyrics in the hours before recording.  Chord changes, styles, lyrics, tempo were all played around with. Read more “Behind The Song – You Are The Centre”