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Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Scotland

Just flying back from a great weekend in Edinburgh. Have been at a wonderful church here led by one of my good friends, Keith Short. Loved their morning service today and it was a real privilege to preach in the new venue.

Had fab Chinese food on Friday night with the worship team. Could get used to that :-)

Bless you guys loads!

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I’ve been getting some emails and comments about how God has been using the song ‘Hide me again’ (from Heaven Sings) recently, especially the concept of God singing over us as we worship Him. It’s such a beautiful image that He would surround us with song. Music touches our emotions and spirits on a deep level, and to have our heavenly Father singing a song about how he feels towards us is almost too much to get my head around.

I guess the only thing to do is spend some time allowing Him to sing over us more and more so that we can be softened by Him and experience more of His presence daily…this makes me think that we need to spend more time receiving in our worship times at church, and our worship teams should take more time to minister prophetically to help others step into this reality.

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In preparation to record our new EP next week I’ve been reflecting on my recent retreat to the Holy Island (Lindisfarne) in the north of England. It’s one of those places where the depth of prayer on the Island over the years is felt as soon as you arrive, making it so easy to pray and become aware of the presence of God when you visit. It’s been a significant place for us over the years as we have often been to the Island to pray before making some important decisions. It was in this vein that I recently stayed on the Island as our roles change from leading a church alongside the worship ministry, to just focussing on worship leading, song writing and recording.

Lindisfarne was where some of the famous Celtic monks lived such as Aidan, who had a beautiful rhythm of worship, prayer and ministry. They saw some wonderful miracles and led many people to Jesus as they served the poor and worshipped our Lord.

Being somewhere where you can feel the presence of God easily makes me ponder the mystery of how we experience the Holy Spirit. Jacob experienced an open heaven in one place in Genesis 28 and exclaimed in amazement ‘This is the house of God!’, but in John 1:51 Jesus reveals the truth that wherever He is there is an open heaven, and we see this as He brings in the Kingdom wherever He goes.  And so now, this side of the cross, we get to experience an open heaven wherever we are and even when we worship in a recording studio we are able to capture that reality onto a CD – how amazing! So what happens as we worship that makes this happen? It must be that as we proclaim the truth about who Jesus is we bring in the Kingdom of God, creating a climate of faith which helps us to go deeper into His presence. I think that it’s only as we keep worshipping with faith that we train ourselves to become more sensitive to the presence of God so that we can experience Him wherever we are!

My hope and prayer is that next week when we record this new EP that the presence of God is released onto the recording so that each time someone listens to the songs they are caught up in a new place of worship and intimacy with Jesus.

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The overflow of worship

Matthew 2, giving us the account of the birth of Jesus, reveals some wonderful insights into worship.  I have often thought about the effect that worshipping has on our hearts and lives, and how evident the changes are that take place in the great exchange that happens when we encounter the presence of God.  Matthew 2:11 tells us that the Magi came to where Jesus had be born and when they saw him, they bowed down and worshipped. Then, having worshipped Him they ‘opened their treasures and presented gifts to Him…’  What a wonderful flow of truth we see here.  Having given themselves to God in humility they give.  This is what should happen to us when we come into the presence of God.  As we open our hearts in worship, we should also be opening our hearts with the rest of our lives to present to God our gifts, families, finance, time and everything else.

We may feel that we do not have much to offer to the Lord, but the wonderful truth is that as we worship Him we take on His character and become like Him. Jeremiah 2:5 says that the Israelites worshipped worthless idols and became worthless themselves.  You become like the thing you worship.  What great news for us! As we give ourselves to Jesus in worship we become like Him and are filled with His Spirit.  When we’re full of the presence of His Spirit we’ve always got something to offer back as an overflow of a worshipping life.

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I have been thinking recently about the way we honour each other and the way we honour the Lord. We teach a lot about the presence of God and how to develop our life with the the Holy Spirit, but to maintain our walk and a sense of corporate anointing we need to make sure we walk with humility before the Lord, and each other.

Ephesians 6 begins by quoting the commandment with a promise attached to it. ‘Honour your father and mother, and it will go well with you.’ Here we have the precedent that if we honour people, God will honour us and we will walk in His favour. Interestingly, the chapter continues with examples of honour and then speaks about the armour of God. Maybe there is a hint here that when we honour each other, we create a safe place where the presence of God can protect us. But if we dishonour one another, we open up the church to attack from the enemy.

There are other examples in scripture about honour. For example in Luke 14:10 Jesus says that if we choose the lowest place we will be honoured by the host and called to sit at a higher place. The way we live before the Lord can either honour or dishonour Him and others. If we humble ourselves, not seeking to push ourselves forward Jesus will honour us and raise us up to where He wants us. Blessing and favour appear to flow through a humble life.

Jesus, in Philippians 2 is shown to humble himself to the cross, as his act of worship, and the Father then raised Him up and honoured Him. His humility released blessing and favour to us, through Him.

I am desperate to see the Kingdom of God released into peoples lives, and I want to live in the fullness of His blessing in my life, but it seems to me that to walk in His favour and honour we need to humble ourselves and live a life of worship. This will create an atmosphere where He is pleased to dwell…

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What makes us worship?

I have been thinking about the things that cause us to worship.  Often it will begin with what we see, and flow from there.  It happens with the earthly things that attract worship such as materialism.  Advertisers will lure us in with their colours and shiny adverts which draw us to start to desire and ultimately worship the object they are selling. It’s very subtle.  However, there are some truths in this process that help us to understand how we worship and more importantly, how we can deepen our worship life in Jesus.

Psalm 63:2-4 hold the keys to this process.  Verse 2 says ‘I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.’ This is showing that worship starts with what we see. It then goes on to say ‘Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you’.  What David has seen with his eyes has caused him to fall in love.  Verse 4 then continues the flow with ‘I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands’.  The response to seeing Jesus is to love him, which naturally causes us to worship.

The process here is very simple, but extremely powerful.  What we allow our eyes to dwell on will open us to receive it’s power and have our love and worship.  The more of Jesus we allow ourselves to see, the more we will receive his love, and the more we will worship.  It’s a beautiful cycle.

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I’ve just returned from leading worship at this years Ichthus Worship, Prayer & Fasting Conference which was a very special time.  The title of the conference was The Spirit of the Disciplines, where we looked at foundational issues for us such as worship, solitude, secrecy, spiritual warfare and others.  The wonderful thing about the retreat was that everyone came ready to press in to God in worship and prayer. When a group of people gather to seek the face of God without distraction there is always power and breakthrough. The bible tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people, and I have found that when he does, the atmosphere always changes to one of faith and power. We saw this at the retreat as we kept pressing in for more.

I have returned excited about the future and feel ready for the all that God has for this next season…

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