Watch “Urban Rescue – His Name (Lyric Video)” on YouTube

I’ve only just discovered this band. See what you think.

Suffering. . . A transforming grace?

“God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as He leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call “our own life” remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make “our own life” less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible sources of false happiness?”

(The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis, p.96–97)

http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/c-s-lewis-on-heaven-and-the-new-earth-god-s-eternal-remedy-to-the-problem-of-evil-and-suffering

Watch a 90-year-old husband and wife play Bach together

They’ve been married for over 65 years: when this couple sit at the piano, something magical happens.

Composer and pianist György Kurtág is one of the most important figures in music from the past 100 years. He has also played with his wife, Márta, another very accomplished pianist, for many years. Recent footage taken from a live concert in Budapest reveals the depth of their musical understanding.

The couple play transcriptions made by the composer of Bach’s choral preludeDas alte Jahr vergangen ist BWV 614, his Duet BWV 804 and a movement from the Baroque composer’s cantataActus tragicus.

György was born in Romania in 1926, moved to Hungary in 1946 and married pianist Márta Kinsker in 1947. The two have duetted ever since.  

This is what it sounds like when you live and play Bach together for 70 years:

http://www.classicfm.com/composers/bach/news/duets-video-kurtag/

Grace

What grace it is that we don’t have to win God’s favour by our goodness.

#timkeller

A photo posted by Tim Keller Quotes (@dailytimkellerquotes) on

From Tim Keller

Let Joy take temptation’s place

I just love the poetry in this song, which challenges us to see ourselves as a people ‘built by hands of love’ to ‘fight back darkness with delight‘. We are to be filled with God’s presence (we are your ‘cathedrals’). And I find this a great concept too: replacing temptation with Joy! These are things we can choose to focus on in our day, to actively make into habits in our living and attitudes. I trust you will be encouraged by these words.

“Cathedrals” by Tenth Avenue North

We were built by the hands of love
Redeemed in spite of what we’ve done
We are the spirit’s dwelling place
And now, children of the light
Fight back darkness with delight
Lift your eyes up to His face
Let joy take temptation’s place
Joy takes temptation’s placeOpen up our souls to feel Your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
Your cathedrals
God, fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see You as You are

Father, let Your kingdom come
Keep us from our lesser loves
Nothing else can satisfy
Like the joy found in Your eyes
There’s joy found inside Your eyes
Your eyes

Open up our souls to feel Your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
Your cathedrals
God, fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see You as You areMay we see You as You are

And our hungry souls reach out to whatever fills us up
But we’ll keep on falling down unless we fall in love
Our hungry souls reach out to whatever fills us up
But we keep on falling down until we fall in love

Lord, Lord, Lord

What? Me (not) worry?

Some more great words from Piper.

sermons and soda water

John Piper

I worried less when I was a child. Partly, my bliss was due to my ignorance; mostly it was due to my parents.Jesus, knowing my tendency to worry more now, says to me,“Rob… Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall (I) eat?” or “What shall (I) drink?” or “What shall (I) wear?” For… your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”  Matthew 6:31-32.
This third brief post on the theme of worry comes from John Piper…

John Piper writes….

“Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry.In Matthew 6:25-34, he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety.One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says,“Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” Matthew 6:32. Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need.He is emphasizing…

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The Faith that magnifies Grace

Today’s post comes from John Piper, but it struck a chord with me. I can faintly remember a similar moment when my dad rescued a mini-me  from under a freak wave at the beach  (in his good shoes). I trust you will find this an encouragement.

I do not nullify the grace of God. (Galatians 2:21)

When I lost my footing as a little boy in the undertow at the beach, I felt as if I were going to be dragged to the middle of the ocean in an instant.

It was a terrifying thing. I tried to get my bearings and figure out which way was up. But I couldn’t get my feet on the ground and the current was too strong to swim. I wasn’t a good swimmer anyway.

In my panic I thought of only one thing: Could someone help me? But I couldn’t even call out from under the water.

When I felt my father’s hand take hold of my upper arm like a mighty vice grip, it was the sweetest feeling in the world. I yielded entirely to being overpowered by his strength. I reveled in being picked up at his will. I did not resist.

The thought did not enter my mind that I should try to show that things aren’t so bad; or that I should add my strength to my dad’s arm. All I thought was, Yes! I need you! I thank you! I love your strength! I love your initiative! I love your grip! You are great!

In that spirit of yielded affection, one cannot boast. I call that yielded affection “faith.” And my father was the embodiment of the future grace that I craved under the water. This is the faith that magnifies grace.

As we ponder how to live the Christian life, the uppermost thought should be: How can I magnify rather than nullify the grace of God? Paul answers this question in Galatians 2:20–21, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God.”

Why does his life not nullify the grace of God? Because he lives by faith in the Son of God. Faith calls all attention to grace and magnifies it, rather than nullifying it.

http://www.desiringgod.org/books/future-grace

Watch “Paul Baloche Vocal Workshop”

This looks like a really great workshop from a humble guy who became a worship/song leader. It would be great to watch together with your music team. I haven’t watched it all yet, but what I have seen so far is really helpful.

7 tips for those who play melody instruments in a church band.

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Players of melody instruments (flute, saxophone, violin etc.) are often left to their own devices to work out what to play in the church band. Listening to what other good players do can help, but sometimes it still remains a mystery. Today I’m sharing the seven principles I work with (in my head) when I’m playing in that role (though I’m most often on keys or vocals). I hope you will find them helpful.

Melody instruments need to see their place in the band rather like the cherries on the top of a cheesecake. The cheesecake still holds together without them (the bass, rhythm and harmonies provide the main body of the music), yet melody instruments can add a great deal of sweetness and beauty, in small doses – especially if they refrain from playing the melody. Here are my top 7 pointers for being an effective single-line instrument in a church band:

1. Know why you are in the band. You are there to serve, as part of an ensemble, to add to the sound in an effective way. It is not the time for you to seek the limelight and show off your solo skills (even though that’s what you have probably been trained to do). Any note or riff you play should enhance the song and the impact of the lyrics. Don’t play just for the sake of it.

2. Less is more. Melody instruments don’t need to play all the time (please don’t!). It is better to add something small and worthwhile, a fill (when singers aren’t singing), or a harmony line for a line or two, than to play too much. Some melody can be useful in the introduction to remind people how a song goes, or when teaching a new song, but other than that your task is to add some light and shade, to help with dynamic build up to chorus, and help set the tone of certain sections of the song. If you find yourself playing start to finish, you are playing too much. If you find that you are standing about doing nothing for much of the time you have probably found a good balance.

3. Play by ear. Most of the effective things you could add to a piece will not be written on the sheet music. You will need to pencil them in during practice, or else learn to improvise. If you know the key (sharps and flats) and know the shape of the melody there is much you can do! Listen to professional recordings of worship music and learn from what the instruments are doing. Copy the types of things you hear that work to add colour and meaning to a song.

4. Fills. Trading phrases is a good thing to learn how to do during the rests of the vocal melody. If the melody goes up you can take a few steps down. If the melody goes down, fill with notes going up. Opposite movement can be quite effective. Think of your fills as a musical response or comment to the words that have been sung. Play along to recorded music to practice this skill.

5. Harmonies. On recorded music you will hear good and limited use of harmonies played by melody instruments. Again, copy good ideas you hear. Write them out if needed. If there is lots of movement in the melody line it is best to harmonise with sustained notes. Choose a note from the chord that is being played at that point. Harmonies work well a 3rd below the melody and up the octave (but it’s a rule that can be broken). Build your confidence by playing along with recorded music. And even if you can play beautiful harmonies for the whole song, don’t. It is best to drop out for whole verse at a time, so that when you do contribute it is effective. Less is more.

6. Improvising. Many people find it helpful to use the Pentatonic (5 note) scale to help with improvising fills. In the key of C major the notes in this scale would be C D E G and A (notes 1,2,3,5,6, of the scale). Play along with recorded songs (of ones you use at church) and try it out.

7. Know the song really well. With all these things I’ve described above you will be better able to effectively add to the arrangement of a song if you know the melody and structure well. It takes time and practice and making mistakes to figure out how to play as a melody instrument in a church band, yet it is a skill worth learning….for the glory of God as His people praise Him together.

His praises resound in us – the new temple!

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“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous.” (Psalm 118:14-15)

The New Testament doesn’t talk a great deal about the use of music in the gathering of God’s people – but what it does say is very clear. Singing the Word of Christ together is designed to build up, teach and encourage one another, while declaring the praises of Him who loves us. In fact our praises are a really important part of God’s plan for the new temple. Let me explain.

Psalm 118 (and so many more) describes the Temple of God as the place from which our praises and blessings towards God should come. But when Jesus turns up to this earthy temple (Mark 11:1-12:12) there is no praise coming from this place. Herod’s fancy bricks and mortar monstrosity is the seat of money making and exploitation. This place is wrong; this temple building in Jerusalem is not functioning as the house of God. So where is the true temple? How can such a place of praise be established to the Glory of God?

The answer is Jesus.
Jesus went through suffering, pain, rejection – the Cross. In doing this he established the true temple, where true worshippers will praise his holy name. Where is this true temple? Well, it is found in us! We are God’s holy temple (1 Peter 1:5-6,9 1 Peter 1:4-5, 9-10)
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…. you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Worship happens not in one tiny location in far off Israel to the exclusion of all other people. Now under new Management, Jesus’ temple is wherever his people are. His people will bring a prayer for the nations and praise for God’s holy name. We are His people, God’s true temple. What a privilege to be part of the true house of our holy God. He lives within and among us; he inspires us to prayer and praise. When we praise Him together we fulfil Psalm 118: People from all nations praying for the nations. We are to be people who pray without ceasing, people who praise his wonderful name. Pray and praise must sound and resound from our Christian communities and individuals. Does that describe you? does that describe us?

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (NLT)

In 1 Corinthians 3:16 the Corinthian church needed Paul to remind them many times about the danger of division amongst God’s people. Paul speaks boldly here, explaining that as a Body of believers, WE ARE the temple of God where He dwells. He lives in us! He no longer chooses to reveal himself and meet with people in an earthly building (as he had done in the past, in Solomon’s temple, God’s house). Now he LIVES in us together. He reveals Himself in us. He has put His Spirit in us, collectively. This echoes the words of Peter (1 Peter 2:5): “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Peter sees that genuine resounding praise can only come from this new spiritual temple – us! So how important it is for God’s people to major on authentic, true, fresh and relevant praise in our gatherings.

For more on this:
https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2012/09/06/stones-or-bricks-god-lives-in-us-together-1-corinthians-316/

https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2013/08/14/10-principles-for-church-singing/