Worship with a human heart

sunset-585334_1920This post comes from a student I taught about six years ago. She has recently started a blog and would no doubt appreciate some visitors and followers. I thoroughly enjoyed her post, the content of which you will find below; please visit the original post:
Worship With A Human Heart

The church fellowship I attend is small. Worship is usually run by a singer and one – or, if we’re lucky, two – musicians, along with someone in charge of displaying lyrics. . . This week, it didn’t quite go smoothly. Sometimes the lyrics were out of order, sometimes the guitar was louder than the singer, sometimes the congregation was off-key or sang at the wrong time. At one point the musician couldn’t find the music sheet for a song, so we ended up singing one song twice!

This is my favourite worship. When we raise up our voices and stumble, when our plans go awry and the guitarist stumbles. And when we continue anyway. Because we must. I love these moments. They make me smile, and I like to think they make God smile too.

Because we aren’t a concert of professionals with a stage and fancy lightning. Because we aren’t here to produce beautiful, on-key music without missing a beat. We are here as humans to worship the one true God.

And how remarkable, how astounding that He loves our worship, stumbles and all. How awesome is it that He loves such imperfect humans.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

We don’t need to be perfect to come before God. In fact, He came to us, arms held wide, while we were unworthy. How can we not praise Him? How could anyone stand to wait until perfection before raising off-tune voices in worship to our God?

Thank you, Lord, that You love it when we worship with a fallible human heart.

Advertisements

Maybe we should begin with balloons?

2015 year 12s GrovesAs the clock ticks over the 11pm mark on this sultry summer eve, I am contemplating the year ahead. Yes, I know we have already celebrated the New Year (and for some reason I like even years better than odd ones! Is anyone else with me on that?) But in just 9 hours time the working day will officially begin and I will be “back” for the school year – along with a few hundred eager, or not-so-eager, students. I’ve spent the day, and the last few weeks, preparing for what is to come. This waiting period is often more stressful than the actual event. Once we are back at school the tasks become more about the day to day than staring blankly at a whole term or year and wondering how on earth we will get through it all.

The students will bring their own problems, concerns, interests and passions. It is up to us as teachers to teach them to be learners, life-long learners, who look at life with a positive outlook, take hold of opportunities and seek to be the change in situations that frustrate them. We encourage them not to let the problems they bring, or the excuses in their head, or their poor self-esteem, hold them back. As you can imagine, this task is no small thing. And half the time we have problems, excuses and doubts about how we as teachers can make a difference.

As Christian teachers there is an extra challenge – or two. We try our best to model Christ, to be Christ-like in our dealings with students. We seek to achieve restoration when students break trust or relationships with us and others. We try to share the Gospel –  ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us.

With all this on my teaching plate, I ask you fellow bloggers to spare a prayer for me when you can, that I can be some small positive influence in the lives of students this year – and that through me they can know a little more of Christ and the acceptance we know in Him.

Blessings!
Ros

(Note: The photo is the final day of school for the students I looked after as Year 12 Coordinator in 2015. Apparently the balloons were biodegradable, in case you were wondering. 🙂 Maybe we should begin with a balloon release.)

Violin design – sonic power

How a Renaissance design doubles a violin’s sonic power

Scientists have discovered that the distinctive “f-hole” (so-called because it resembles a written “f”) in a violin is not just a pretty shape. It is perfectly designed to maximise the sound issued from the instrument.

The shape is twice as efficient at transmitting sound as a round hole researchers found.

MIT accoustics expert Nicholas Makris studied the development of the holes. he found that the the more elongated the sound hole, the more sound can escape from the violin, and set about to prove it mathematically.

He says that, while it is unclear whether the instrument makers understood the mathematics behind the efficiency of the f-hole, it developed in an “evolutionary” way.

He and his team analysed 470 instruments made between 1560 and 1750 and found that the change from round hole to the f-hole was gradual but consistent.

Whatever they knew about the maths, instrument makers “definitely knew what was a better instrument to replicate,” says Makris.

As Jennifer Chu writes in MIT News:

The more elongated these are, the more sound a violin can produce. What’s more, an elongated sound hole takes up little space on the violin, while still producing a full sound — a design that the researchers found to be more power-efficient than the rounder sound holes of the violin’s ancestors, such as medieval fiddles, lyres, and rebecs.

Makris didn’t set out to study violin acoustics, Chu reports, but arose when he took up a new hobby – playing the lute.

“I’m an acoustics expert, but promised myself I wouldn’t think about the acoustics of the instrument, I’m just going to play the thing,” Makris told Chu.

That thinking didn’t last long, as he began trying to understand his instrument better.

How the shape developed

How the shape developed

In all honesty: Tim Keller Praying your tears

Tim Keller Praying your tears
This is a great encouragement.
(Link reference at the end)

I’d like to tell you about two great talks I listened to recently: Praying our Tears and Praying our Fears by Tim Keller. They’re both free online, and are part of a series on the Psalms about responding to our feelings. Today I’ll tell you about the one on tears; next time, the one on fears.

I love the Psalms! It seems that every emotion I’ve ever felt is expressed there, ready to be prayed to God. Sometimes I feel like getting older is just working through the Psalms, one emotion at a time!

There’s no better guide to what to do with our feelings before God than the Psalms. I like Tim Keller’s way of putting it: that the Psalms teach us a gospel third way of responding to our emotions.

1. Many Christians are uncomfortable with feelings, so we deny and suppress them.
2. The world tells us that we need toacknowledge, express and follow our feelings, so we vent and dump them.
3. The Psalms give us a gospel third way of responding to our emotions: to pray our feelings.

But what about suffering? How do we pray our tears? How do we use them to soften, rather than harden our hearts? Here’s what Keller says. I’ve included a few quotes: they’re wonderful, so take the time to read them. I know they’ll live on in my heart and mind for a long time.

1. Expect tears
I’m often surprised when I suffer. Isn’t God good? Isn’t he supposed to protect me? What have I done to deserve this?! But I should expect to suffer more as I become more like Jesus. If I don’t expect tears, I’ll always be crying about two things instead of one. “You’re weeping about the thing that made you weep, and you’re weeping about the weeping …. You’re going to sink under that. Once thing at a time is all we can take.”

2. Invest your tears
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Ps 126:5-6). If a farmer leaves his seed in the shed, or dumps it all in one spot, there will be no harvest: he must sow his seed. We shouldn’t deny or dump our tears, but see them as an opportunity for growth. Tears give way to joy (Ps 30:5) but they also produce joy (2 Cor 4:17). So how do we plant our tears?

3. Pray your tears
When we pour our tears into prayer, it transforms both the tears and the weeper. We should plant our tears in three things.

a. A realisation of God’s grace.
We need to know before we start crying that it’s safe to pour out our hearts to God. That’s why the Bible includes disturbing psalms like Psalm 39, which ends “get away from me, God!” Derek Kidner says,

The very presence of such prayers in the Scripture is a witness to God’s understanding. He knows how we speak when we are desperate. … Psalm 39 shows where your deepest feelings – your anger, your tears – belong. … Ultimately where your tears belong is not managed or packaged or manicured in some little confessional prayerThey belong in pre-reflective outbursts from the depths of your being in the very presence of God. … “I want you to speak and feel in my presence. It’s safe. I understand what it’s like to be desperate. … I’m a God of grace. I understand.”

b. A vision of the cross.
God understands our desperation because Jesus experienced desolation. Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and found heaven empty, so that when we cry “Turn your face away!” God won’t abandon us (Ps 39:13,Matt 27:46).

When I look to the cross, I can suffer withoutguilt, for I know God isn’t punishing me because Jesus was punished instead of me. I can suffer without impatience, for I can trust that God’s purposes are good even when I don’t understand, just like people didn’t understand the cross. I can suffer without self-pity:

Weeping is fine. Weeping and grief is fine. Weeping and disappointment is fine … but weeping in self-pity will make you a small little person, someone who can’t forgive, someone who is always feeling ill-used, someone who gets incredibly touchy and incredibly over-sensitive. … Look at the cross and say, “… My sufferings are nothing compared to yours. If you suffered for me I can be patient with this suffering for you.”

c. An assurance of his glory.
All sorrow ends in joy (Ps 126:6). The final psalms are all psalms of joy. But how does a prayer of tears become a prayer of joy? Eugene Peterson says,

What the psalms are teaching us is that all true prayer pursued far enough will become praise. Any prayer, no matter how desperate its origin, no matter how angry and fearful the experience it traverses, will become praise. It does not always get there quickly. It does not always get there easily. In fact, the trip can take a lifetime! But the end is always praise. This is not to say that other kinds of prayer are inferior to praise, but that all prayer pursued far enough becomes praise. Don’t rush it. Don’t try to push it. It may take years, it may take decades before certain prayers arrive at the hallelujahs of Psalm 150Not every prayer is capped off with praise. In fact most prayers, if the psalms are a true guide, are not. But prayer is always reaching toward praise, and if pursued far enough, will arrive there.

Sometimes we’re afraid to weep because we think we’ll never stop weeping. But if we know that sorrow ends in joy – that sorrow producesjoy – we can dare to weep. Tim Keller asks, are you happy enough to be a weeper? – to get involved in the lives of others even when it’s painful? If so, there will be a harvest of joy for them and you.

He prays, “Father, make us happy enough to weep.” Amen.

images are from Chapendra, IRRI Images and Jacopo Cossater from flickr

http://jeaninallhonesty.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/tim-keller-praying-your-tears.html?m=1

The Word must lead us to Love

This is a great quote – from today’s post over at “In my Father’s House” – which reminds us why we read and seek to understand God’s Word. There are so many other things that could motivate us, but here is surely the most important:

Beloved, our understanding of Scripture must lead us to love—to love God more and to love others unconditionally. Otherwise, we will stay in our fear-based paradigm and ultimately use Scripture as a club against one another because of our insecurities. Our diligent study will only lead to biblical idolatry, “having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”(Rom.10:2), using “the letter that kills”rather than the “Spirit that gives life” (2 Cor.3:6). Our understanding must tenderize our hearts and lead us to show the same grace for others that we would want for ourselves. And this love will never do our neighbor harm, which fulfills all righteousness (Rom.13:10).

The hermeneutics of love – part two – http://wp.me/p3I7Ty-3zy

The things we sing

Love what this post has to say about the richness of lyrics found in praise and worship songs in other cultures, which we so rarely acknowledge or consider.
“According to the mercy I’ve received,
According to the greatness of your kindness,
Help me to serve You, Oh Lord.
And give me the fire of your Spirit.”

Manie's Musings

Much can be said about the songs sung during Christian worship. I am sure many of you have a favourite song or songs that manage to perfectly express your own heart’s cry to God. Then there are those songs which we feel should never have been written and certainly not found their way into the worship of the church. There are songs ancient and modern; songs that proclaim the unfathomable greatness and amazing grace of our Maker; songs about the deep mysteries of the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming of the Christ; songs that express our love and adoration; songs of sorrow and repentance, asking for mercy; songs inviting lost sinners to come to the Saviour; songs that, incredibly, simply … er … perhaps I shouldn’t go there.

What we sing in worship matters tremendously. Singing spiritual songs is not just the part of the worship service that…

View original post 656 more words

His Glory shown in our praise

"The Bible is replete with commands to praise God. God commands it because this is the ultimate goal of all He does—'to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed' (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Three times in Ephesians 1 this great aim is proclaimed: 'In love He predestined us to adoption as sons…to the praise of the glory of His grace' (vv. 4–6, NASB); we have been predestined and appointed to 'be to the praise of His glory' (v. 12, NASB); the Holy Spirit 'is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory' (v. 14). All the different ways God has chosen to display His glory in creation and redemption seem to reach their culmination in the praises of His redeemed people. God governs the world with glory precisely that He might be admired, marveled at, exalted, and praised. The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of the saints. But again and again I have found that people stumble over this truth. People do not like to hear that God is uppermost in His own affections, or that He does all things for His own glory, or that He exalts Himself and seeks the praise of men. Why? There are at least two reasons. One is that we just don’t like people who are like that. The other is that the Bible teaches us not to be like that." Read more at desiringGod.org // Link in profile.

A post shared by Desiring God (@desiringgod) on

Grace can redeem our broken relationships

Grace shows up in unlikely places if we keep our hearts and minds open. What fear buries, grace resurrects. Fear pushed me to withdraw from precious friends for years, but grace promises to redeem lost time. Fear convinced me to lump these friends with everyone else who had hurt me, but grace is a reconciler.

From: http://iamsteveaustin.com/2015/12/07/the-deaf-man-who-spoke-grace-to-my-heart/

Magpie songs

The musical carolling of this Australian songbird is a daily feature of the lighthouse walk at Byron Bay, in northern New South Wales. The magpies live alongside the tourists and local lighthouse lovers.
What a magnificent song from a bird that is often considered a nuisance in the suburbs. The details of God’s artistry in the musical mechanics of the natural world never cease to amaze.
(Video courtesy of Sean O’Shea Art)

One thing 2016 will certainly bring us

Let us make crystal clear at the beginning of the year that all we will get from God this year as believers in Jesus is mercy. Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy. . .
The fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.

John Piper