Saturday, 27 April 2013

Here I Am To Worship

I have always been a 'rock n roller' at heart.  In fact, I'm going to a fancy dress party next week where the theme is 'when you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up'........... I'm going as Joe Elliott from Def Leppard............ 
I know, I'm the wrong gender and being Joe Elliott isn't actually possible because Joe Elliott is Joe Elliott.

Growing up I loved listening to Def Leppard, Whitesnake, AC/DC, Led Zeppalin, The Who, yes, the devils music...........if they had tight ripped jeans, leather jackets, screaming guitars and drums I was hooked.

As you can imagine I didn't go a lot on the hymns we used to 'sing' at church accompanied by a spinster in her 70's on the organ!

Spot the mistake? This woman does not have a hat on!

But guitars and drums are the devils music, they can't be played in church - oh really?

Psalm 150:1-6
English Standard Version (ESV)

Let Everything Praise the Lord

150 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens![a]
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Each week in church I have always loved the worship and really felt that is when I am most moved by the Holy Spirit, the words of the modern songs, which some traditional hymn singers frown upon, are very often a re-written Psalm! How can that be unacceptable?

As a child I had a dream, a dream for the future, where man, woman and child would stand and sing 'Happy Day' in church, and they might actually smile while singing it, where a group of musicians might accompany the singing with drums, guitars, keyboards, violins, trumpets, and maybe the frozen chosen would unpeel their arms from their sides, and occasionally clap along with the beat or give God a round of applauds at the end of their worship, where a beautiful, traditional, sentimental hymn, written 500 years ago can be followed by an uplifting modern worship song and give Gods people the strength and belief and hope to carry on and worship him more!

Would this dream ever become a reality? Sadly not as far as I know in any of the churches I attended as a child. No, I would have to cross over to the other side to see this dream realised I would have to become 'happy clappy' that's right, I would have to attend ...........a Baptist Church, dun dun duuuuun.

A few years ago the frustrated musician/performer/rockstar call it what you will, in me, wanted to take my worship to the next level, I wanted to join the worship band. So at the grand old age of 'late 30's' I decided once and for all I was going to learn to play the guitar, I had attempted it on and off teaching myself a few chords and strumming away, but I wanted to have some real tuition, so I called on my mate, whose husband who regularly plays in our worship group and made her an offer she couldn't refuse; lend me your husband for an hour a week and in return I will iron his shirts.

I made my debut in the worship group last Sunday and it couldn't have come at a better time for me.  My week had gone from good to bad to worse and I really thought how can I stand up there and do this? I'm not even talking to God at the moment, is this really the right thing for me to be doing? I talked to my closest friends who are also regulars in the band and they really encouraged me with sound words and good advice, and it turned out it was the right thing for me to do!

Worship is for God, whatever form it takes, but it has to come from the heart.

John 4:24
English Standard Version (ESV)
 "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
If you are in a place where the worship isn't to your liking, don't assume it isn't to God's liking, if someone is waving a flag or dancing or clapping their hands or if the musicians are loud and the kids are running around, just take a moment to think these people are made by God and they are worshiping their God and he loves that, and the same goes for the organ playing spinsters who accompany the folk in their Sunday best, they are worshiping their God and if it is done in spirit and truth he loves them for it.

This is the song we opened with last week My Guardian and I have been singing it to God ever since, I think that is a sign of a good worship when you still sing the songs through the week and continue to worship your Lord.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Cassette Recordings and iPod Downloads

I can remember when I was about 10 years old and went to church every week, there was a very old man who used to regularly tape the services using a very modern cassette recorder. Now, nearly 30 years on (I'm definately not 40 yet!) services in the church I go to and churches all over the world are recorded and available via the internet. I know, who'd have thought in the future I'd still be going to church!

As a child I went to Church every week, 3 times a Sunday with my family. This wasn't a grand Church of England church with stained glass windows, pews and carved memorials in the walls, that might have entertained my wandering mind. 

It was a purpose built, for want of a better word 'hut'. And it wasn't called a Church, it was a Gospel Hall, and we didn't go to 'church' we went to 'the meeting'. So when I refer to going to church, I'm actually talking about a small group of about 30-40 people who all met on a Sunday, at the same times and sat in the same seats to hear the same story, which to me at the time seemed pointless.

I used to look up at the tiles on the ceiling, they were polystyrene with an indented pattern and depending on how I squinted I could make the cubes jump in or out, and if I got particularly bored of that, I would count them and multiply them - I really should be a lot better at maths than I am, given the amount of 'revision' I put in on a Sunday!

But it was the regular recording of the service by Uncle Percy, (who was almost 100 at the time) that I have been thinking about a lot lately. As far as I was concerned, we were sitting through excruciating boredom first time around, why would anyone record this to listen to it again?! His stubby old man fingers, carefully waiting to press record and play simultaneously as the speaker began his message just baffled me, nowadays such recordings are a matter of course, and available for download by whoever wants them.

So nearly 30 years on, I often wonder what surprises me more, that I now regularly go to a church and very much enjoy it, or that I scour the internet looking for services I might've missed, or think I'll find interesting to download to my iPod!

Boy do I wish the internet and iPods had been invented when I was a kid, there was just no discreet way of smuggling a bright red Sony Walkman into a meeting to listen to Thin Lizzy instead of the boring speaker! And if you'd got caught there was no excuse, no quick touch of a screen and 'look, I'm not on facebook, it's my online Bible app! What did you think it would be?'


I'm sure Uncle Percy and the likes of that time would be overwhelmed with the resources available to us today through which to hear Gods word spoken and taught! Here are some of my favourite links:

Unbelievable Radio Show Each week this show pits a believer against a non-believer to discuss topical issues and occasionally has two believers coming from differing angles, always a good show!

Liquid Church An American Church, most sermons by Tim Lucas. Upbeat preaching but always with an excellent message!

Tim Keller is a Theologian who has done some thoughtful series on believing in God and how it makes sense to us.

Reasonable Faith Dr Willaim Lane Craig answers the apologetics questions of the time.

Thornbury Baptist Church Better plug my own Church! Paul Ferguson does most of the services but other favourites to look out for are Dave Day and David Lawrence!

I've been thinking about this because as I said, I love to look online for Bible sermons or commentaries that interest me, if I miss a service at the church I attend and it's a speaker I enjoy, I know I can go onto the website and download the talk, and almost every time I put my earphones in and slide my finger across the screen of my phone, I think of old Uncle Percy and his cassette recordings...........