Music Train

As I walked through a shopping centre today I realised that I was walking along to the beat of the song playing behind the busy noises of people shopping, coffee machines and shopping bags rattling….yes, I am that person

Music has a way of lifting or settling your mood, through rhythm, melody, harmony, words and story I find my brain flourishes in the richness of information music offers, and takes down my mental barriers, but there is something that is different about worship music- it not only lifts the mood, but it speaks truth and life and puts everything into perspective as our eyes lift from our situation, to the God who is over and above all things.

Music is a bit like a train, if you jump on it can take you on a journey, but depending on the music you are listening to, you may find you didn’t quite like the destination, or the destination is disappointing. When music is used in worship however, when its listened to and joined in with a humble and open heart, it can change not only your step, but honour the true living God- a destination you not just want to visit, but to live.

May I encourage you to take a moment today, right now, to put on some worship music and let your burdens be lifted, your strength renewed as you re-focus and wait upon God and be filled with His presence and peace.

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord

Please Explain #2 Worship

Probably the most foreign part of a Christian Sunday Service is the worship aspect. Everyone looking in the same direction singing out, possibly dancing, clapping or even crying alongside one another does look a bit freakish when done without an explanation. Live music concerts or sports grandstands are likely the closest we come to an equivalent of this phenomenon from the outward appearance, but what is happening in people’s hearts is essentially very common throughout everyday life.

Worship is when we express with our hearts and actions how much we value someone or something, (therefore singing is only one expression of worship). When we are singing together on a Sunday we are focussing our hearts and minds on God, who He is and what He has done and we are responding together in heartfelt song.

While worship is a very religious sounding concept, we can (and often do) actually worship many other things other than God. Sure, worship may not always look like bowing down to someone or something but our actions clearly reflect our value systems and what we see as worthwhile of giving our lives to. We see throughout the bible God telling His people to worship Him only, to worship no other god or created thing, He is the one true God, there is none other (Exodus 20:3-4). This worship of things other than God is called idolatry in the bible. Idolatry need not involve a literal idol like a statue, as long as it is priority over God in your life it is an ‘idol’.

So if music and singing is only one aspect of worship and it can be done anytime anywhere, why do we do it like this together in church?

Worshipping God on your own is great, whether it be with or without music, but worshipping together not only is instructed in the bible, it is refreshing (Psalm 100:2). Worshipping with others helps unite your hearts on what is important and as God responds to your worship often very powerful things happen.

As worship is greater than singing, we as a church also hope to give others a chance to express worship in other ways, through silence, surrender, giving, serving, using creativity, preaching, reading the bible etc. There is truly no end to the ways in which we can worship God because it is a heart response, not a rule of ‘proper church conduct’.

 

Want to know what you worship? Ask yourself these simple questions…

  1. What thing (or person), if you lost it would devastate you to the point of not wanting to live anymore?
  2. Where do you turn first when things get tough?
  3. What person/thing overrules God’s instruction in your life?

The answers to these questions will likely provide you with what/ who you worship, and God wants to be the sole object of your worship. He alone is worthy of our lives, and He alone is powerful enough to see us through even the darkest of hours. Would you consider turning to God in worship today and allowing Him to be the love of your heart?

Day 2 & 3

Day 2&3 Prayer Focus: Worship (Personal and Corporate)

Now many people who hear the word ‘worship’ in a church setting resist the groan caused by their frustrated attitude towards singing in church. If this is you, keep on reading. If it is not, keep on reading.

The fact is that although music is universal, tastes in music and the use of the music is not the same for everyone. Some enjoy classical, others a bit of rap, still others love a good country and western (if that even exists), and a bit of techno is all it takes for clubbers to get on the dancefloor. Some use music to win over a love, others to express emotion whether it be joy or a bit of blues, its used as a weapon of wits, and a confession of guilt, possibilities endless. Some enjoy a good piece of music in an opera or grand event while others have it playing constantly day and night. Need I keep going?

The fact is when we limit “worship” to music (as we often do in church settings), it is not always going to strike a key with everyone. But it doesn’t need to either.

  1. What worship really is: Worship is expressing to God how much He means to you, and this needs to be more than simply words you sing. This is a heart attitude and can be expressed in limitless ways. Creative people will sing, dance, draw, design and so forth; intellectuals will write; social people will talk and facebook; introverts may simply pray quietly; as we are all unique this can really look totally different for different people. What does it look like to you? Worship God today in your own unique way.

 

  1. Corporate worship: Some people do connect with God in corporate singing, and you only need pick up the bible to find an example or an encouragement to practice this expression of worship together. This in itself should be enough for those who love God and His church to take part. If God enjoys it when we sing, when we are unified, and when we hold the interests of others above our own, why not put aside our own agenda for only 30 mins a week and glorify God with your attitude? Pray for your attitude towards corporate worship, and the whole church’s corporate worship time. Pray for those who lead worship, and those with creative giftedness. Pray our church will continue to grow in creative ways to worship without song.

 

  1. To also note: Life Group is a place to honour God together in many different ways. With fewer people worship time together can be extremely personal and powerful. Some people do enjoy connecting with God in song but don’t like the styles they have heard, the good news is, at home and in life groups there are plenty of styles available to you. Search the web, Christian bookstores (and your own musical giftedness of course).

 

What Does a Life Group Look Like???

It all can sound a little strange, small groups of Christians meeting in homes to do “Life Group”… so to take away the mystery of it, this is a little run down of what would typically happen at a Life Group and why.

WELCOME- Everybody arrives (usually about 8-10 people). This is an element of life group where we all just get to know one another, and although different groups go about this in different ways, it seems to ALWAYS involve yummy food and drinks! Often the official part of the night will kick off with someone saying a short prayer to focus the time on God, but as God cares about the people in the group, so do we. Whether its chatting about how the week went, laughing about stories from when you were young, or just getting to hang, its really nice to come into an environment where people genuinely care about one another and love another.

WORSHIP- Worship simply means to give expression of honour to something or someone for what it is worth. So in Christian worship, we give honour to God in many ways. Our main expression of this is by living each day in submission to Gods awesome plan for us, but practically on a night at Life Group, someone may play a song, someone may share about what they think about God and who He is, Read a bit of the bible, or Praying for one another… Worship in Life Group has that awesome element of not having restrictions of lots of people or “official business” so it can be raw and different. Do not be alarmed if you are not a Christian or dont understand somebody’s worship, there is no pressure involved in worship and we all do it differently, which is part of the wonder of worship in life Groups- seeing how many different ways we can give glory to God. This part of the night is often a blessing to me, my favourite is when someone who is really gifted in singing, just sings a song of worship and I get to think about God and listen to the beautiful sound.

WORD- Ever wondered what the bible says and what it has to do with you? This is the part of the Life Group where you get to all look at a bit of the bible together and see what it means, see how it impacts your day to day life with God, and ask the hard questions. In our life Groups at Living Temple, we leave our bible ‘teaching’ for Sunday. Life Groups is not about a Bible College student laying out some knowledge on everybody, but it is about about reading what the bible says, applying the bible to your life, nutting out the hard stuff and finding the answers together. After the word for the night, there may be a chance to pray for one another, depending on how the night is going. 

WITNESS- We want to encourage the Christians at Living Temple not to get comfortable with their relationship with God without thinking of those who are not experiencing the same blessing. So in different ways each group has an element where they pray for their friends outside of the group, see how they can bless them (Just like Jesus), and love them. We encourage each of the groups to have a blessing list, which is a list of names of only 2 special friends each who the whole group pray for daily (how nice it is to think that people love their friends, and their friends friends enough to pray for them each day!). We have seen great answers to prayers for friends, and want to continue to remember those people God has put in our everyday lives to be a witness to the awesome love and Power of God. On the night a life group may be planning a hang out for the group and their friends, planning ways to help somebody out, someone may share about an amazing thing God has done in the week, or simply pray.

IT DOESNT END THERE… After an hour and a half, (for some groups 2 hrs), the group has ended for the week and everyone goes home, but life together continues each day. Your group (and life support partner) are right there behind you in prayer and support every step of the way.

Time spent in life groups is well spent, it is an investment in the spiritual health of your life and your future. Those who come empty, leave filled and encouraged. Perhaps consider today, will you be at life group this week?

The stink of bums on seats!

One of the biggest challenges I have faced since planting a life-group based church is shifting my thinking and focus from inside the church building, to outside.

I have been in traditional churches for about 9 years – 7 of them as a paid pastor –  and I need to say it’s EXTREMELY hard to shake counting “bums on seats” as a measure of success… I use the term “success” loosely.

The reality is that our life groups are absolutely charging!

  • They are growing, bearing fruit and reaching people for Jesus.
  • God is being extremely faithful and gracious…
  • God is blessing us with exactly what we were praying for.
  • People are truly living for Jesus everyday… and
  • Our Sunday celebration (although awesome) is NOT the big deal at Living Temple…

Now all I need is for old habits to die, as I yield completely to the Holy Spirit. I need my thoughts and feelings to line up with the truth.

The truth is that “bum’s on seats” is a bogus indicator potentially championed by Satan and insecure men. It causes a spirit of competition, pride and false self-worth and hinders God multiplying his church his way. In the past it has caused me to sell-out on my convictions and banter to humanistic needs instead of God’s will. Christians obsessed with “bums on seats” (as I have been before) need a reality check…it’s a joke and nobody is laughing (just my opinion).

God is growing Living Temple Church. I cannot control it, I cannot manage it, and all I can do is leave it to God who is actually able to do the job I cannot.

Please God, Kill everything in me that is not of you, and give me freedom to follow you, your way. I repent of counting numbers and choose now to humble myself and pull my head in. Thanks for understanding me God, you’re the best!

Dave

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