Carol of the bells – The Piano Guys

Some more fantastic festive music for you from the Piano Guys:

the_piano_guys_family_christmas_5114053 You can find the album here on iTunes

Book of Luke in song

This is a post about an album and a song which is no longer new News, but in case you missed it, it may be worth a look: Songs for the Book of Luke by The Gospel Coalition

You can follow links here to listen and access sheet music for all the songs on the album:

luke-songCome to the Feast (track 9) is a song about the lavish banquet of God’s grace that abounds for any and all who would have it. Yet, it is also a call for the church to serve as heralds of this feast, both to those who know their need (the poor) and those who don’t (the rich). It comes from the parable of the great banquet found in Luke 14:16-24 where Jesus gives us a picture of the gracious kingdom of God that woos and welcomes the most broken, sinful, and lost of people. The musical style is not the mainstream. You may find it a refreshing change. (If used for the congregation, I would suggest the tempo could go up a little.)


Go to the highways and hedges, go to the farthest of fields
Go and compel, the sick and the well
For our Father’s house will be filled

Go to the streets of the city, bring in the crippled and blind
All who would taste this banquet of grace
Must come and waste no more time.

Come to the feast, come to the table
The great and the least, the rich and the poor
Come to the feast, come to the table,
Come and hunger no more

In the robe of the lamb you’ll be covered
Dressed in his pure righteousness
For all of your guilt, his blood it was spilt
So come by your Father be blessed

Words and Music by Jeff Lawson © 2012 Jeff Lawson Music


Help from Heaven

matt-rContinuing the journey through Christmas albums, here is a beautiful song from Matt Redman’s newly released Christmas Lights album, called Help from Heaven.

“When the road ahead is hidden
And we need a new beginning
When the battle’s closing in, still believe oh
One more step into the promise
And the hands of grace that hold us
Just believe, Just believe in help from heaven”

Indeed, this may be where you are right now, facing the hidden road ahead. Yet it is the hope of heaven, anchored in Christ, which brings help and strength to us in the daily challenges . . . and in the more difficult challenges: things like declining health, aging, broken relationships, injustice and inexplicable tragedies. As I listen to this song I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-4.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Christ is our life! What an assurance. If that is not help from Heaven, I’m not sure what is. Blessings to you!

Help from Heaven

There is a moment ev’ry heart needs a rescue
There is a season ev’ry soul needs a breakthrough
Help from heaven, We all need help from heaven

There is a whisper a voice of hope inside you
There is an answer a name above to guide you
Help from heaven, We all need help from heaven
Help from heaven

Chorus 1

When the world is on our shoulders
And we need a hand to hold us
When no miracle is found still believe oh
When the sea of night surrounds us
And all questions try to drown us
Just believe
Just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven

Verse 3

There is a reason these tears will not be wasted
There is a future for all these broken pieces
Look to heaven
All we need is help from heaven
Help from heaven

Chorus 2

When the road ahead is hidden
And we need a new beginning
When the battle’s closing in still believe oh
One more step into the promise
And the hands of grace that hold us
Just believe
Just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven

Misc 1

Taking heart and holding on
Hope is closer than we know
Heaven will not let us go
Help from heaven
(Never will let us go)
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2016 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Crossroad Distributors Pty. Ltd.)


Instant gratification: the disease of now

This very helpful article helps us to take a look at the age we live in, and compare it with a different era, with different implications for what it means to wait on God:

“There’s a lot of waiting in the Bible. Noah had to wait for the rain to stop. David didn’t become king overnight. The Israelites waited 40 years to move into the Promised Land. They waited even longer for the Messiah to turn up.

There’s not a lot of waiting in 21st century Britain. Emails come straight to our phones at all hours of the day, and we impatiently wait for people to reply to the ones we have sent. When we can’t get hold of someone, we assume something is wrong. Pub arguments about which country came third in the Mexico ’86 World Cup, which would previously take days to settle, are now solved by a couple of app taps (it was France, by the way). We can order food, taxis and people to come over or find out how to put up a shelf just by putting a hand in a pocket. We prioritise swiftness over superiority, quickness over quality and speed over service.

We are never really ‘out of the office’ because we can read our emails whenever they arrive

All of which seems a little… sad. That beautiful Guinness advert from years ago, the surfer waiting for the perfect wave to break, seems outdated. Good things no longer come to those who wait. Good things are defined by the availability of 4G coverage in your area. Patience isn’t a virtue; it isn’t even an a necessity at times.

In fact, the idea of patience has always been incredibly countercultural – not just in the last decade, but throughout history. Let’s turn our attention to the temptations of Jesus. Reflecting on the three things that Jesus was tempted with, we see that the temptation is less about ‘what’ and more about ‘when’.


Jesus was first tempted by the promise of food: ‘Turn these rocks into bread.’ What do we know about Jesus’ time in the wilderness? He was fasting. He’d made a deliberate choice to go without food for 40 days. He knew he’d eat again, but not right then. So he’s tempted to shortcut the timeline and bring it forward.

Next, he’s offered the chance to rule all the kingdoms of the world. But Jesus knows the endgame… he knows that this is how the story ends; that one day he will be king of all the world. But not yet. He rejects temptation.

Finally, when Satan tempts him to throw himself from the temple, he is offered the chance to impress people, to command worship. Again, Jesus knows that one day every knee will bow (and not because of a daredevil stunt), so he bides his time. He sits back like the patient Guinness surfer, rejecting the disease of now, waiting for the perfect moment.

In contrast to Christ, we are constantly tempted to demand the future now. We don’t know how to wait. We get fidgety and bang our fists on the table. We want more and we want it now.

The by-product of rushing to the next thing is that we fail to fully value people. Everyone else becomes a means to an end, someone who can help us get to where we’re going, rather than someone we’re called to journey alongside. The disease of now actually stops us living in the now. We miss the opportunity for a divine connection because we’re too busy looking five steps ahead.

But there seems to be a theological imperative towards patience. God’s story isn’t a fast one, but one that slowly unfurls over millennia, revealing more of who God is and what he calls his people into. We see patience referred to as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Jesus tells a story about a son who asks for his inheritance before his father has even died. Things don’t (in the short term) turn out well for that son. The call to follow God, the journey of discipleship, is not about haste.


Life today is lived at a faster pace than in any previous generation, and the rise of smartphone technology seems to have heightened our need for speed. When the first iPhone was unveiled in 2007, Steve Jobs said: ‘Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.’ That was an understatement. Smartphones and tablets in all their forms have transformed 21st century life altogether, connecting us to more people than ever before.

It’s also had a huge impact on the lives of our churches. The rustling of pages as people find the passage at the start of a sermon has been replaced by a couple of clicks and the odd swipe as we open an app to find the right section. We project song words using iPads and phones. We control incredible lighting rigs and sound systems in the same way. When someone in church needs prayer, we can instantly pass it on. It’s never been easier or quicker to be fully connected to our church communities.

Smartphones in numbers

Yet it feels like the immediacy of connectivity can produce further isolation. We’re simultaneously more connected yet lonelier than ever. Mental illness is the biggest issue facing young people; those at the forefront of technological innovation. All of the traditional teenage issues of bullying, peer pressure and self-image are exacerbated by 24/7 connectivity. Even our friends can make us feel isolated – every post on Facebook about the ‘perfect group brunch’, every event we’re not invited to, every photo of a great night out – they all scream that everyone else has it all together apart from you. And if it’s not the social climbing of Facebook, it’s the people you see on Instagram making you feel fat, ugly or useless.


There’s also the danger of constantly being ‘on and available’. We are never really ‘out-of-the-office’ because we can read our emails when they arrive at the weekend. We seem to have lost the ability to step away from technology and interact with the world around us.

Dinnertime becomes a place where the only community expressed is that we’re all looking at our smartphones at the same time. Road incidents caused by drivers or pedestrians looking at screens are on the rise. It’s perhaps made us even more selfinvolved. Phone cameras used to only point outwards; now, front-facing cameras give us the chance to take plenty of photos of…ourselves. We’ve got a whole world to look at but most of the time we’d rather stick our own faces in front of the camera lens.

Those in-between moments in our day, walking to appointments or waiting at the bus stop, might once have been used to talk to God. Now we are more likely to listen to a podcast or check our mentions on Twitter. And have you noticed that we’ve stopped learning Bible verses? Why would we bother? The whole Bible and a decent commentary is available at a click and a swipe. At one level that’s a great thing, but it means we no longer carry the word of God in our hearts. We carry it in our pockets, which isn’t quite the same.

As with so many things, the medium isn’t the problem. The disease of now and obsession with ourselves has always existed, but smartphones have streamlined it nicely into our palms. So what could it look like to hold our phones a bit more loosely? (Metaphorically speaking – those gadgets are too expensive to risk dropping.) How do we slow down in a culture that’s constantly racing to the next thing?


Youth ministry theologian Mark Yaconelli talks about ‘slow club’, which was started by his then fiveyear- old son, Joseph. There are two rules of ‘slow club’: no running and no hurrying. It was only when Mark slowed to the pace dictated by his son that he was able to notice things: rabbits, flowers, lizards, butterflies…things Mark had previously missed in the hurry of everyday life.

Something beautiful happens when we’re able to slow down and truly, faithfully notice. We miss the presence of God in individual moments when we spend the whole time worrying about and rushing towards a destination.

There are two approaches we can take to incorporate this ‘slow club’ way of thinking. One is to be intentional about cutting ourselves off from devices, technology, social media and the Internet on a regular basis. Be it for Lent, a weekly day off or some other length of time, you may feel the need to put your phone away in the drawer and intentionally spend time with those around you, without distractions. Christian author Rob Bell notably takes a day a week away from his phone and emails. If you feel constantly ‘on’ and if you struggle to disconnect from the Internet and talk to those around you, this might be a really important discipline to practise.

But for others, this might be about a more intentional speed of life. It’s perfectly possible to be a part of ‘slow club’ with a mobile in your pocket, just as it’s possible to seek instant gratification without a phone.

If ‘slow club’ really is all about the journey, what if we took more time over our physical journeys? What if we stopped for picnics on road trips? Walked instead of jumping on the tube for two stops? Tried to cram less into a 24-hour period?


This isn’t just about our own individual lives. How can our church communities model it? Is there a danger that we become so programme and outcome-orientated (even when the activities are normally overwhelmingly positive) that we lose out on a communal journey?

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community, believes the pace of our communities should be set by the slowest rather than the fastest. Is that true in your church? Do parents with young children, often late and disorganised, set your pace? Do the old? The infirm? Or are we all such go-getters that we leave behind many of the people we’re called to journey with? The invitation to ‘slow club’ is an invitation to journey together. In a culture where individuals are constantly seeking the next instant fix, this is a prophetically beautiful picture of the kingdom.

The answer to an instant gratification culture isn’t to simply discard technology but to subvert the very values of a society that calls you to produce and consume more, more, more and do it now, now, now. Our society is defined by what we do and how fast we do it, but God looks at us all and calls us children. We don’t define our children by what they come back from school holding; we define them by who they are. And so does God.

Perhaps in slowing down we will find humanity and beauty where we least expect it. And yes, sometimes we could even capture it in a selfie.”

About the Author

Jamie Cutteridge is the editor of Premier Youthwork and Premier Childrenswork.

This is Love – Incarnate King, Begotten Son

I have a number of Christmas albums lined up, ready for repeat performances in our house over the coming months. One of these I bought after Christmas last year, and never really had a chance to listen to: Paul Baloche’s “Christmas Worship“. Tucked away at track number 6 is this beautiful song which is fast becoming a new favourite – “This is Love” – co-written and performed by Kathryn Scott. Enjoy the powerful truth of God’s love.

Heaven’s splendour left behind,
The King of glory born to die.
God and man to reconcile,
You came to offer up Your life.

This is love, this is love,
Incarnate King, begotten Son.
This is love, this is love,
You choose to make your home in us.

Worship fell that holy night,
Angel voices filled the sky.
Lowly shepherds raised their eyes,
Following the star so bright.

This is love, this is love,
Incarnate King, begotten Son.
This is love, this is love,
You choose to make your home in us.

Come thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our peace in Thee.

This is love, this is love,
Incarnate King, begotten Son.
This is love, this is love,
You choose to make your home in us.

Christmas sheet music and more

wp-1451220015671.jpegIf you are looking for a particular Christmas carol or song, then you should try this page at Music Notes. Enjoy planning the soundtrack for your Christmas celebrations!

O come, O come, Emmanuel – The Piano Guys

Listen to this beautiful rendition of O Come, O Come Emmanuel by the Piano Guys. If you would like to know more of the origins of this beautiful Christmas song, read on.

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs, for the very fact that you cannot miss who Jesus is from the very first line – God with us, Emmanuel! This song recognises Christ’s first arrival, and makes us long for His second, expressed in most eloquent theology. Yet who is the author, you may ask? It was penned in Latin by an unnamed European monk, sometime before the 8th century A.D. He must have had a unique and rich knowledge of the Bible, shown by the way he weaves together several Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah: “the rod of Jesse,” the “Dayspring from on high,” the “Key of David,” and “Wisdom from on high.”  For Medieval Christians who did not have a Bible to read, this valuable song would help them know and understand and teach others what the hope of Christ was all about. In the early 19th century an Anglican priest named John Mason Neale came across the hymn in an ancient book called the “Psalteroium Cantionum Catholicarum.” The tune that went with the text was from a 15th century French Franciscan convent of nuns ministering in Portugal. Rev. Neale translated the Latin into English and gave the world a song.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny ;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home ;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Adonai, Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


Our glorious capital ‘C’ Church


Today I have the pleasure of talking about two of my favourite things: author C.S. Lewis and the band Casting Crowns. Both of them have much to say about the church, not just the local church, but the capital C “Church”. By this I mean the fellowship of believers that is spread around the globe, through all time and space. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are all part of this if we are in Christ. The “crowd of witnesses” in Hebrews 12 help make up this great gathering of God’s people. They can already see the reality of the things we hope for in Him. And they cheer us on to persevere with the small ‘c’ church, no matter how frustrating it can be at times. God’s Church marches on as he unfolds his plans. What a great grace and privilege that God…

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Real Love

This is a cover of Hillsong Young and Free – Real Love, sung by a young man I have been privileged to get to know this year, Myles Vele. He came as an intern to teach at my school and will continue with us in 2017. Hope you enjoy this. Blessings to all.

Two new albums: Matt Redman and Casting Crowns

matt-rHere are two new albums I found recently. They contain some great new favourites from artists who reliably point us to Jesus, the living Word of God, Emmanuel! Matt Redman’s Christmas album is refreshingly original with beautiful lyrics to inspire. You may find something special here for your Christmas program. Blessings to you!

MATT REDMAN – These Christmas Lights (2016) Listen on iTunes

Here is a lyric video which could be used at a Christmas carols night:

CASTING CROWNS: The Very Next Thing (2016) Listen on iTunes