Music triumphs again – even over the desire to NOT take the stairs.

Hope you enjoy this great little clip, about how the fun of music can change behaviour for the better and put a smile on your face!

And here is another great image of some piano stairs in Santiago, Chile – but I don’t think these ones play!

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If I was Jesus . . .

” . . . I’d forgive you and adore you,
While I was hangin’ on your cross”

These two astonishing lines come from the chorus of a song by Paul Colman Trio, called “If I Was Jesus”. Now before you shoot him down for heresy, and me for entertaining the idea, please consider the insights of this somewhat humorous song. I can’t get past those two lines of the chorus. What a mind-blowing concept: Jesus adoring us! We always think of it the other way around, with God and his Son Jesus as the recipients of our adoration, and rightly so.
How could Jesus possibly adore us, with all our sinfulness and pride, our desire to call the shots of our own existence and glorify ourselves rather than Him? But this is precisely what He did. Jesus chose us, He chose the Cross for us. We are the JOY He set His eyes on. We are His reward. Consider the following:

John 10:27-29 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”

Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(If you want to think more on this, click to read my post: “Saved by a Violent Grace”.)

I hope you enjoy the challenge and humour of Paul Colman’s song. Check out some of his other songs too and find them on FaceBook. Well worth the listen!

If I was Jesus, I’d have some real long hair
A robe and some sandals, is exactly what I’d wear
I’d be the guy at the party, turnin’ water to wine
Yeah me and my disciples, we’d have a real good time.

Ooh and I’d lay my life down for you (woooooh)
And I show you who’s the boss (woooooh)
I’d forgive you and adore you
While I was hangin’ on your cross
If I Was Jesus.

I’d have some friends that were poor
I’d run around with the wrong crowd, man I’d never be bored
Then I’d heal me a blind man, get myself crucified
By politicians and preachers, who got somethin’ to hide.

Ooh and I’d lay my life down for you (woooooh)
And I show you who’s the boss (woooooh)
I’d forgive you and adore you
While I was hangin’ on your cross
If I Was Jesus.

If I Was Jesus, I’d come back from the dead
And I’d walk on some water, just to mess with your head
I know your dark little secrets, I’d look you right in the face
And I’d tell you I love you, with Amazing Grace.

Ooh and I’d lay my life down . . .

Beautiful, Beautiful

“Like sunlight burning at midnight”.

This is how singer Francesca Battistelli describes the grace of God which illuminates the darkness of our world, and our hearts. His grace transforms our lives into something unexpectedly and incredibly beautiful, as we are transformed into the likeness of Christ.
I hope you enjoy this song (and discover a great Christian musician who has particular appeal for girls/young women . . . if you are looking for gifts).

BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart, Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so
Beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so Beautiful, beautiful

Now there’s a joy inside I can’t contain
But even perfect days can end in rain
And though it’s pouring down
I see You through the clouds
Shining on my face

(Chorus)

I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace

Album: My Paper Heart
Artist: Francesca Battistelli

To know Christ means to . . . ?

Knowing-Christ-Screen-530x397” . . . everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ”.
Philippians 3:8 (NLT)

Knowing Christ is what makes us Christians. We know Christ and have decided to follow Him. We want to know Him better. We wouldn’t be following Him if we had never met him or realised his worth. But how well do we go at explaining, in practical and understandable terms, what it means to “know Christ”, to “know God”. This is something that non-Christians really want to know. What does it mean to have a relationship with God, what does that look like? We need to get a whole lot better at explaining this.
Probably a good place to start is to talk about what it means to “know” another human being. If you know a person it means you have met him, you have knowledge of their name, appearance, you have encountered their character and spent time with them. Just a knowledge of their existence is not actually “knowing”, just as you don’t know some random Facebooker who applies to be your friend, or some far distant cousin you have heard exists, sitting far out on a branch of your family tree. Knowing is about a relationship.

So knowing God means having a relationship, which has a beginning point. This may be for some a slow and gradual growing relationship starting in childhood, or it could be a sudden meeting in a dark alley, as with a stranger. And once you know Him, how could you forget – His character, His love, His grace is irresistible. HE draws us into a relationship with him, and we grow to know Him better, as we spend time soaking in His story which is revealed to us in all the pages of the Bible. He speaks to us there. We know and understand more of His character and ways. We speak to him in prayer.

And He is not far from us; He is with us. His Spirit, the Spirit of His Son has come to live in us! And we are IN Him! We are found in Christ, wrapped up in His righteousness and made perfect in Him. How much closer could this relationship be? One song my youngest daughter sings at school asks about The Creator (which is the song title):
“What if he was much closer,
Closer than your toaster,
closer than your tie?”
An interesting way to phrase it!

To me, knowing Christ means I am in the growing process of having my selfish and sinful desires replaced with his desires. I know peace with God, forgiveness through Christ’s finished work on the Cross. So I want to follow His agenda and align the desires of my heart with his. I want to obey and please Christ. I want to know Him better – He is the Word of God to us. None of this comes from myself! I am certain of that. So I know I know God because of this.

How would you go at explaining what it means to know Christ?
Casting Crowns has attempted to answer this very question in the song below – and the emphasis is on that desire to grow in knowing.

TO KNOW YOU (Casting Crowns)

To know you is to never worry for my life, and
To know you is to never to give in or compromise
To know you is to want to tell the world about you
‘Cause I can’t live without you

To know you is to hear your voice when you are calling
To know you is to catch my brother when he is falling
To know you is to feel the pain of the broken hearted
Cause they can’t live with out you.

More than my next breath, More than life or death
All I’m reaching for, I live my life to know you more
I leave it all behind, you’re all that satisfies
To know you is to want to know you more
To know you is to want to know you more

To know you is to ache for more than ordinary
To know you is to look beyond the temporary
To know you is believing that you will be enough
Cause there is no life without you

More than . . .

All this life could offer me, could not compare to you, compare to you
And I’ll count it all as lost, compared to knowing you, knowing you

 

How to encourage your music team, even when you’re not the leader

praise-godtaintedcanvasdotcomSometimes church musicians are so busy being musicians that they forget how huge the task is for their Music Ministry leader. They expect the leader to do just about everything, to encourage and hold the team together, sort out all problems, plan ahead and keep things running smoothly. Now while the leader is the leader for a reason (like their good musical and leadership skills) how great would it be if every single player and singer and sound technician took up the opportunity to positively influence the way their team functions. Consider the following list, of 10 ways team members can be more encouraging members of their music team:

1.  Read God’s Word regularly and let it impact your daily life. Be growing in your both your knowledge and likeness of Christ.

2.  Pray for your team leader, for other team members, and your own role in the team. Pray for the impact of the Gospel through your music, that people will be saved, that people with grow in Christ.

3.  Engage in deep relationships with others, investing time and showing genuine concern.

4.  Consider others as better than your self. Listen to others as you rehearse and play, and give “space” in the arrangement where others can contribute. (Don’t just play non stop from the treble clef to the double bar line!) Remember that your ears are the most important instrument in a band.

5.  Reflect on the songs you use in church – give your leader feedback (positive and negative).

6.  Show initiative: Keep your ears open for new songs which are encouraging, Christ-focused, catchy, beautiful and singable. Suggest new arrangements for old songs.

7.  Be consistent in attending rehearsals, and on time. Rehearse at home if possible. Be at church consistently, even when you are not singing/playing.

8.  Go the extra mile; hang around, tidy up, pack up music.

9.  Be more than a musician: don’t see music ministry as your only role in the body of Christ. Don’t become blinkered to other gospel opportunities. Take a break and look at other areas where people are needed to serve.

10.  Promote peace and unity of purpose.

Now while I’m no expert at leading music teams, I have been working on that task for quite some time … And I find these are the areas which team members most often neglect. I hope this list will be helpful for your musicians and if you are the leader, I hope you reap some rewards from these suggestions very soon! Bless you!

You may also like:

Oh for a humble attitude to church, especially the music

Keep your ears tuned to the Gospel of Grace

Found a great quote about grace from Tim Chester the other day, in a post over at The Blazing Center. It goes like this:
In Greek mythology, the Sirens would sing enchanting songs, drawing sailors irresistibly toward the rocks and certain shipwreck. Odysseus filled his crew’s ears with wax and had them tie him to the mast. This is like the approach of legalism. We bind ourselves up with laws and disciplines in a vain attempt to resist temptation. Orpheus, on the other hand, played such beautiful music on his harp that his sailors ignored the seductions of the Sirens’ song. This is the way of faith. The grace of the gospel sings a far more glorious song than the enticements of sin, if only we have the faith to hear its music. – Tim Chester, ‘You Can Change’

God is pure GRACE! Our salvation is grace, our faith is grace, Christ living in us – is grace!
God is the source of our faith, he gives us the faith to hear the music of the Gospel, he opens the eyes of our heart to see and receive Jesus as the risen Lord, glorious Saviour.  And He comes to live in us. Let’s keep our hearts and minds and ears tuned into the gracious music of the Gospel*.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

(* And might I just add that actually listening to music which handles the grace of the Gospel well can really help! Check out some of the songs in Church Songs shortlist. I’m gradually adding to this list; so many great songs to go!)

New songs we’ve been singing in 2012

Just reflecting here on the range of new songs our church family has enjoyed this year, songs of great encouragement and challenge, songs which speak God’s truth well. I’ll describe each one a little for you below (click on the title to listen), with my suggested best key for each. Hopefully you will find something refreshing to inspire your congregation, and continue to grow everyone together in the grace and knowledge of God . . . through the power of His Word in song!

My Hope (2010) – Paul Baloche, Alyssa Mellinger, Ed Kerr, Sheila Rabe (album “The Same Love”). This one has been a real blessing, particularly the line “Nothing can reach the end of all your faithfulness”. I have introduced this at two women’s conferences during the year also, where one woman told me it was an answer to prayer. Awesome. It has a fairly gentle verse, and a rousing Chorus which echos the thoughts of “My Hope is built on nothing less”. I’ve talked more about this one in another post. (Key: A Major)

Majesty of Heaven (2010) – Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Matt Redman (album And if our God is For Us). This song gives a great picture of King Jesus ruling over this creation, and each of us. The nations bow down to the Majesty of Heaven, in whom all things hold together! We also taught this one in January to a gathering of 600+, mainly mature folk at a CMS convention. They caught on quickly and sang well! (Key G Major).

Hail the Day that Christ Arose (2011) – Charles Wesley, Steve and Vikki Cook (Sovereign Grace Music, album Risen). This song is about the day of the Ascension, something not written about all that often. It is based on an old hymn, but has a really triumphant new ‘Hallelujah’ chorus, which points us to see the King of Love on His throne. We use the Coda section as a Bridge and finish with the Chorus. (Key D Major)

By Our Love (2009)- Christy Nockels (Album Life Light Up). This song is a great one for encouraging unity and acts of love in your church family. It is based around the verse which says the world will know we are Christians by our love. Each verse addresses a different group of people, men, women, and children – who will be reaching with the words of the Gospel “long after we’ve gone”. (We use G major – starts quite low, but chorus is too high if you shift up a key.)

Stronger (2007) – Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan (Hillsong – Album This is Our God). This song has a really victorious feel, which celebrates the power of Jesus’ resurrection over our sin. He is stronger than every thing that burdens us, He is Lord of all, so let’s lift up His name. (Try this in C or Bb major.)

Oh What a Day (2011)  – Mark Altrogge (Sovereign Grace Music, album Risen). This is pretty speedy and rhythmic song, which can be carried by a drummer or pianist with good rhythm! The Day this song focuses on is the Day Christ defeated death and rose from the grave. (Default key is D – we find it works better in C.)

Glorious Day (2009)- John Wilbur Chapman, Mark Hall, Michael Bleecker (Casting Crowns, album Til the Whole World Hears). You will find the whole Gospel in this song. Each verse speaks of a different glorious day: Christ coming to earth, dying, rising, and then looking forward to the day of his return! (Key A Major.)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

Blessings to you as you encourage God’s gathered people to praise Him!

NEW ALBUM: “Hymns for the Christian Life” by Keith and Kristyn Getty

NEW ALBUM SPOTLIGHT: “Hymns for the Christian Life” by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Click on the link above to find out info about a new album by the Gettys, who always can be relied on for writing singable, beautiful and Truthful modern hymns. Enjoy!

Who is “The Idea of North”?

The Idea of North is widely acclaimed as Australia’s premier vocal ensemble. While I would love to speculate about the reason for the snazzy name of this a capella jazz quartet, I think it’s best if we just get on to introducing them. (And while you may not have heard of them as being “Christian musicians” there is much Gospel, heart and soul in their music).

So who are The Idea of North? In short, they’re a quartet of musicians, serious about their music without taking themselves too seriously. Their instrumentation: voice (soprano), voice (alto), voice (tenor) and voice (bass), with a little bit of vocal percussion thrown in. They have a beautifully distinct sound and style, but they cross many musical genres: jazz, folk, gospel, pop, classical, comedy – exactly what you see and hear at a concert is difficult to describe. With eight albums in the catalogue, a significant local and international fan base . . . ” You can read more here.

They have plenty of awesome covers of songs, along with their own original work. Their first, self-titled album may still be my favourite (1997), but THE GOSPEL PROJECT (2006) is a close second (listen to the sample of “People get ready“). They have been touring internationally with FEELS LIKE SPRING (2010) and EXTRAORDINARY TALE (2011). So be on the lookout, my readers in the Northern hemisphere. They will probably be coming to a city near you. Not only do they sing brilliantly, but their concerts are also lots of great fun with considerable audience interaction! Have a listen below (and let me know if you do get to see them live.)

Just a closer walk with thee – this one is lots of fun (filmed in concert), with much vocal percussion

Sweet Sweet Spirit – just the audio here

Coheirs with the Child of the Promise (Galatians 3:16)

Unlike other memorable Three Sixteens in this series, here in Galatians the 3:16 verse is no piece of cake! It is perhaps quite confusing. It talks of the promises to Abraham (land, people, fame, blessing) which you usually think of as being received by many descendants. God made the promised family group descending from Abraham into a great, blessed nation. Through this nation all the world would be blessed. Yet here Paul seems to be saying ONE person receives the promise. Have a look:

Galatians 3:14-18 (NLT)
Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. 15 Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. 16 God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. 17 This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. 18 For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.

The Scripture referred to here in verse 16 is Genesis 12:7 and 13:15, where God promises he will give this land to Abraham’s “offspring”, or in Hebrew “seed”.
Now like me you may be taken at this point with the fact that “seed” could be used as a singular noun, or a plural one. Perhaps Paul was using this grammatical anomaly to his advantage (as some commentaries would suggest), playing on the “seed/seeds” confusion to make a point to his Jewish audience. Just because they were Jews, one of the many “seeds” who had sprouted up as part of Abraham’s family tree, this did not automatically make them a true child of Abraham, a true child of this promise. Afterall, these were the “foolish Galatians” (3:1) who were hoping to receive the salvation Christ won for many (by his death and resurrection) by their own good works – by keeping the Jewish law. Paul says no. Don’t go back to trying to keep the law! You must be IN Christ, who is the true heir of this promise.

This is the certainty we have. Christ and only Christ is the way of blessing, open to all who receive him as their Lord and Saviour, regardless of their racial credentials. Through Christ many can come into God’s family, not by their own merit, but by Christ’s. Jesus is the ONE descendant from Abraham who makes it possible for us to receive the GRACE of this promise. He is the promised Seed, who fulfilled all the promises of God, promises to Adam and Eve, promises to Abraham, promises to King David – promises made through Isaiah of a suffering servant King who would give his life as a ransom for many. The Promise was to Abraham, and it is fulfilled in Christ. We must be IN Christ, not just in Abraham’s family tree, to be co-heirs of the Promise, with Christ. This is a remarkable reminder of God’s grace to us IN Christ. In Him we receive the undeserved favour of the Son who should ALONE receive the blessings of the Father. But we also receive these blessings IN Christ, if we are IN Christ.

Let’s continue to rest in His righteousness and not our own.

Ps. If you are intrigued by that CD cover image at the top, you can click here to find out more about the album.