Friday 30 December 2011

Making the Most of your Time


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.


I was reading a devotion today and it was on the subject of time. It got me thinking about that precious commodity and how we are bound by it, ruled by it, and for the majority of us, we try to make the most of it.
The devotion describes our attitude to time like this: "We manage time; we waste time. We spend time; we save time. We wish the time would come; we wish the time would pass. We see time fly; we feel time drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars, creating the illusion that we somehow control time, yet all the while moments flow forward like a mighty river that cannot be stopped, harnessed, or re-routed."

A Time for Everything

The book of Ecclesiastes states that there is a right time for every activity under heaven. 
In the Book of Esther, Mordecai tells the young queen that maybe the reason for her great beauty, the reason that the King chose to marry her, was to bring deliverance to the Jews, for such a time as this. 

Making Time.

It's funny that for how little time we say we have, we all make time for the things we deem important. We are hard pressed for time and pulled in all sorts of directions; with time demands placed on us that at some points seem completely unreasonable.  And yet somehow we manage, we get through another day, exhausted, ready to sleep it off and be refreshed for another crack at it but of course more time has slipped away. 
As I write this, I am attending a family reunion. Almost everyone of my large and ever increasing family has made it to this event. 
 We have come literally from all over the world to be here to catch up and have time together; it truly is an amazing scene. Over the coming weekend, we will take the time to re-aquatint ourselves with family, renew friendships, to forgive past hurts (if there are any), to reach out to that person sitting on their own. Time is short, time is precious, and the only thing you can take to heaven with you is family so this is an important time for all of us. 
Among the range of fun activities lined up, we will take the time this weekend to relax, unwind, have fun, catch up, and make great memories that we can take with us. 

The importance of time

To me family is very important, so is time. Both are precious gifts from God, and God will hold us to account for both: "What did you do with the family I gave you? What did you do with your time?"
Time is a challenge that will not go away. It does not stop or wait, we cannot turn it back. Today, according to our text, it is time: 
Time to plant 
A time to heal.
 A time to build up.
A time to laugh. And maybe a time to cry
 A time to dance.
A time to embrace 
A time to keep and a time to throw away
 A time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love 
And a time for peace.

How are you spending your time today, this week, this month, this year?
God Bless you as you ponder this thought. 

Monday 12 December 2011

Turning a bad Sunday into a good Sunday

I never cease to be amazed at the Holy Spirit' ability and willingness to complete what I start.
I was rostered on the lead worship this morning , and to be quite honest, with all the Christmas based commitments like carols by candle light, church production, and other, I was completely unaware that I was rostered on until last night.
Needless to say I felt a little "behind the eight-ball" to start with and unprepared even though I still had plenty of time to get ready.
I went to bed really tired from the Christmas production, with a promise to myself and God to get up early the next morning. I did get up at 5:30 this morning and quietly snuck out to the lounge for my one-on-one with my Jesus. I prayed, looked through the music, read a bit of scripture, did a devotion, and chose a couple songs. I spent a couple of hours doing this and then showered, got dressed, made my wife coffee ( a very important part of my day) and shot off to church.
All the time I felt uncertain about a couple of things. Firstly, how was I going to keep it all together and give the God the best I could give Him in my somewhat depleted state of tiredness.
Secondly I was uneasy with my song choice; and yet somehow nothing else jumped out at me when I was doing the song list. This is when you really have to trust God. I also picked a couple of Just-in-case songs.
Practise was terrible! The sound man wasn't cooperating with me, one of my backing vocalists didn't turn up, another one was having a off day, and I was feeling the tiredness building. Not a good recipe for great worship.
I found myself snapping at the sound man, repeatedly asking the bass guitarist to (wait for it:) turn up the volume, and phoning my wife to ask her if she could please come early and grab a mike, because I was desperately short of confident singers.
In short, I felt a little out of control.
Good thing is, when I am out of control, there is a good opportunity for God to take over.

Worship leader, I want to encourage you, when all you have to offer God is 2 widow's mites worth of preparation and practise, He will value that as more than $1000 worth of profession and polish.
That does not negate the need to be prepared, practised and polished, we need all that to be ready at all times. You can not withdraw money out of a bank without first having made a deposit.

So what transpired this morning? The worship went great! God was in the house, and the songs I had picked somehow miraculously worked their way into a beautiful theme of God's undying love, His amazing, consistent and unceasing provision, and how this gives us the ability and capacity to sing :It is well with my soul!" a theme which our pastor picked up on, ran with and a base from which he immediately launched into his message.

When you submit to God and prepare your service, No matter how ill- prepared you feel, God will not leave you hanging. After all didn't He promise in John 14 to send you another Helper?

Have a great Sunday!


Saturday 10 December 2011

Vocal Preparation

The other night I was at a music practise. 
  We were preparing for a Christmas presentation and being a Thursday, everyone was nearing the end of a "full on" week.  We have busy lifestyles and I know that in my business things start to become manic at this time of year. Needless to say, I have had no time to even think about singing or practising outside of the designated commitments. 
It was interesting to hear out music director giving instructions to singers about voice conservation and preparation. 
So I thought I can feel a blogpost coming on. 

The importance of warming up

I have been a singer ever since I could string a row of words into a sentence. I remember my first big part, I guess I was about 6 or 7 years old and I had to audition for the part. In the end it was between me and this girl, and I got the gig.  The only other thing I remembered about my first brush with fame was that I swallowed in the middle of a line! … nerves… 
I have sung to congregations as small as a hand full and as large as 10,000. Every time I have done so has been a privilege. 

Because I was young and I sang constantly, I never saw the need to practise or warm up. The vocal warm ups to me back then seemed a little silly at best and a complete waste of time at worst. 
Of course, now that I am a little older, I have also become somewhat wiser... Or at least I'd like to think that. 
When you sing all the time, your vocal chords and throat muscles are constantly being stretched and exercised.  And like any muscle there are keys to keeping your throat and vocal chords in good shape. 
I want to share with you what I have learnt over the years. 

How to kill your voice

Some years ago, when my children were still in primary school, our family went to a large Christian convention. There we were among thousands of adoring followers, and pretty soon swept up with the proceedings. Everyone was excited. So was I. So excited in fact that I couldn't contain myself, and soon I too was screaming at the top of my lungs until something went' pop. That day I lost the top 1/3 of my vocal range. And it didn't come back For a long time. 

How not to kill your voice

This is my number one point; don't strain your voice. Don't abuse it by throwing your voice into compromising situations. Last week I sang Using a mike that was faulty. The result: voice strain. For the past few days I have had a rough throat. 
I have been sucking on vitamin C and drinking heaps of water.  

Learn how to be loud

Don't scream and shout. If you need to raise your voice, do it with your head voice. 
If you can yell high pitched ( bit like a siren) this should not affect your  voice. You need to exercise extreme caution at all times when raising your voice. Voice projection is a skill that can be learnt.


What goes past your gums is really important to the quality of your voice. 
I know that different people respond differently to each other but I have learnt that the majority of people are at least the same. 
High protein and low dairy are what I eat. Dairy gives me the gurgles. If I have anything like cheese, milk, yoghurt or ice-cream, I end up with that much phlegm I could start a collection service.  
I also think it's really important that you watch your food intake prior to singing. Personally I never sing on a full stomach. This means if I am leading worship on a Sunday morning, I fast until after the service. 
If I am doing an evening gig, I make sure there is at least 4-6 hours of no food intake before I sing. 
There are drinks we definitely should be staying away from before and during singing: like coffee, alcohol and milk drinks. I have already explained about dairy. Alcohol is to be avoided not least because of the altered state it can produce but also because it is a diuretic which can de-lubricate your voice. Coffee has the same effect. I love coffee, but can't drink it before I sing. 
Lastly it’s really important to lubricate your voice while singing. But here is a big important key: Don't drink sweet drinks, don’t drink coffee, don’t drink cold. The best thing is water at room temperature or slightly warm.

Vocal Warm ups.

There are a number of exercises that work really well as warm ups and stretches:
 I like sirens. This is a technique whereby you start low and wail like a siren, increasing pitch to the most comfortable pitch and then ease back down to the lowest you can go. Repeat this any number of times, gradually pushing your voice both higher and lower. You'll be amazed at the progress you make. 
Breathing is another good one. One singing teacher I had years ago would get us to fill our lungs with as much air as possible, and then in a very controlled manner pronouncing each letter accurately,  recite the alphabet as many times as possible. Again the more you do this the better you will become. Give each letter no more or less time than it takes to pronounce it properly. 
Another good beginning warm up is humming scales. 
The good thing with this exercise is that you don't have to do this at the top of your voice, so you don't annoy or scare anyone, especially at 6.00am. 
The humming exercise involves humming harmonic scales, increasing one semi-tone at a time until you reach your top register. 

Don't sing tired. 

I really want to encourage you to be conscious of your rest patterns. Like most other parts of your body, your voice involves the use of muscles, and these need to be well rested to be at the top of your game. 
If you are a singer, your voice is your instrument. You never heard of a violinist leaving his Stradivarius lying around e exposed to the elements, not being cared for?? Treat your voice like that Stradivarius! A good example is Celine Dion. Check out what she did and does  to preserve and protect her voice. 
You are blessed to be a blessing, use the God given gift to His Glory!

God bless you, 
Have a great week! 


Sunday 20 November 2011

Karma and Grace

Good Karma, Bad Karma

I was listening to a guy on the radio the other day and he was talking about Karma. Basically he was saying that there is good karma and bad karma, and depending on how you live your life, either one will happen to you.  
Karma is defined as a reaction caused by an earlier action; cause and effect. 
They say that for every action there is an equal reaction. In Biblical circles we may refer to it as sowing and reaping. When someone is experiencing a tragedy in their life, an observer may say "he had it coming to him after all he's done!" that's bad karma. 
Or we see someone who has been doing it tough but always was kind and had a good attitude all of a sudden experiencing a miraculous turn around in their fortune, our response may be:" it couldn't have happened to a more deserving person" that's good karma". 

Karma vs Grace

The problem with karma is that it is based on the law of sin and death. In a lot of ways, it leaves no room for Grace, as when we have spent a lifetime being "bad", doing nasty things to people that they didn't deserve, then in reality we are signing off onto the rest of our lives in misery, and if you're that way inclined and you believe in reincarnation, you will come back in the next life as a cockroach or something and have to purge your soul in that next life to earn your way back into the following good life, and so on it goes, I think.  Confusing isn't it?  

I love the concept of Grace. I love that God sent His son Jesus to die on a cross for my sin; He who knew no sin became sin in order that we may have life. He took upon Himself our punishment so that we could have relationship with Him forever. And all we have to do is receive it. 
That's grace! 

The prodigal Son

I love the story of the son who spent his inheritance, which he demanded off his father even before his father had died, in prodigal living. It was a bit like saying:"I wish you were dead, give me now what's coming to me when you pass away, old man". Not exactly the most respectful thing you would do your parents? 

For those who are not quite sure, "prodigal” just means living life wastefully, spending money on wasteful living, living it up. 
So there were a number of insulting, humiliating, and bad things that happened to this young man as a result of his bad choices…I guess you could say the result of his prodigal living was bad karma because of how he'd treated his father when he demanded his inheritance. 
However, grace steps in where karma can't rescue the young man. The Bible says, when he came to his senses, he said to himself; how many of my father's servants have enough to eat and a place to sleep, and here I am having to fight it out with the pigs for a feed. I'll go back home to dad and see if he can't hire me as a servant. 
This is the grace bit, for when he is yet a long way off, his father sees him coming home and before the son even has the opportunity to give his well rehearsed speech about how bad he was and how he is prepared to come back and work as a hired hand, his father runs to him with arms wide open, falls on his neck and kisses him, puts a brand new coat on him and orders a ring to be put on his finger (a symbol of sonship). Then he throws him a welcome home party the like of which the neighbourhood has not seen. 

See, when we are in relationship with our heavenly Father, we are under His grace. Karma and the law of sin and death no longer apply, because God sent His son to take upon himself the result and effect of our prodigal living. 
Don't you just love grace? 

Have a great week!

What happens when it all goes south.

I was in church last Sunday and the worship team was doing a great job. 

Unplanned distractions

The worship leader was a beautiful young lady who has been leading worship at our church for some time now. She is competent, confident, and has a great passion for the heart of worship. 
Last Sunday she felt her time at the front wasn't that successful. 
I thought it was great, but I wasn't leading. 
A couple of things didn't go exactly as planned, and they became a distraction to her. A flat battery in a radio mike, a song that was started in the wrong key, words on the screen that weren’t correct; little foxes that spoil the vines. (Song of Solomon 2:15)
Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. What do we do, how should we react?  

What happens between input and output

If you are a worship leader and can identify with what is written here, I want you to be encouraged with is this: God will have His way. If you are well prayed up and prepared, there is nothing that will stop the Holy Spirit from achieving God's purpose in the service. You can be confident of that. 

Years ago when I sang in a contemporary Gospel choir, we had a saying: "God works miracles between the mouth and the mike.” We knew this because there were sounds that were made on the stage that had no right to be there, and we would have tears in our eyes trying to control ourselves and keep our stage presence. Singers would cringe on the inside whilst confidently appearing as if nothing was wrong. 
Afterward members of the audience would come to us saying what a great song that was and how anointed the music was…Case proven! What went in was obviously completely different to what came out; God had worked His miracle. 

God hasn’t left the building...

Obviously sometimes no matter how well prepared we are, things will go wrong. 
I encourage you to take heart. God has not abandoned you; The Holy Spirit has not taken his bat and ball and gone back to heaven, leaving you to your own devices. 
Here are some keys:

1) Don't drop your bundle! 

You must keep going, keep your head together, smile confidently, cast a glance upward and throw a prayer behind it. Usually a short prayer like: "HELP!!" works well. Keep your head in the game!

2) If you can fix the problem quickly, do it. 

A mike with a flat battery can be changed, a guitar with a broken string can be re-tuned or maybe if you have more than one instrument on the stage, the string can be fixed. 
This is where preparation is so important. I often bring 2 guitars on the stage in case I break a string. I also carry spare strings with me and can replace a string on my guitar in less than a song if I break one. 
Today I beckoned a member of the congregation, and he took the mike and changed the batteries while a backing vocalist gave up her mike while the battery was being changed. 
An old acting saying is: "the show must go on!"

3) It's better to restart a song than to keep painfully going with a mistake.

Recognise the problem quickly, make the change and move on. Don't make a big thing of it, because drawing unnecessary prolonged attention to the problem will distract people away from their focus on the Holy Spirit.  

4) Back up plans are handy. 

This is more to do with being adequately prepared for the unexpected. One of the problems we had today was with our projectionist. We use a programme called "Easy Worship" it is a great computer programme that helps run the service via a digital data projector onto a screen. Any programme is only as good as the person running it. While everything was programmed well for the order of service, the person driving the programme got distracted and before you knew it, words were up on the screen that weren't meant to be there. Not only did the congregation get lost, but the leader, who was dependent on the correct information being on the screen also got lost. If she had had some sheet music in front of her, she would have been on the front foot and known where to take the congregation.  The same advice could have applied if something had gone wrong with the projector or the computer. 

God in the house

Being prepared covers a lot of areas, and you are not always going to get it right. However, never forget: God is in the house and He's in charge. He will not allow your foot to slip (Ps 121:3). And however inadequate and failed our beautiful worship leader felt when she got off the stage, there were people crying under the anointing of the Holy Spirit as they were being ministered to and many people came to her (and to me) after the service commenting on how beautiful the worship was today. 

God Bless you! You are an amazing anointed worship leader!
Have a great Sunday!

Tuesday 8 November 2011


Worship and hymns. 

Recently I was at a seniors conference…as a guest. 
One of the speakers was bemoaning the fact that there is a general obligation on the part of the older generation to embrace what he referred to as the modern contemporary music in the worship service, without there being any requirement of the younger generation to honour the oldies with their music. 
I agree. We keep getting more and more modern with our church services, and it is good to embrace  change, however as church we are a community of people that should embrace all generations. 

To confirm history we  look further back. The reason we trust the Bible is because throughout the ages it has proved itself to be true and accurate time and again. So if we embrace history as confirmation of the present, then why don't we embrace those who have been part of it? 
I love worship. I love leading worship, and I love seeing a church full of raised hands. 
I am one of those people who also loves all types of music. There is not much I can't listen to, from Pink Floyd to Vivaldi, from Enrico Caruso to the Corrs, I count myself as having a good taste in a variety of music. In worship I am the same, and I also love hymns. 
So should we do hymns in a Sunday worship service? 

Not a backward step

I am not suggesting we need to replace the modern contemporary worship service with hymns. And for that matter, if you talk to the older generation, they wouldn't suggest that either. There are however, a number of hymns which do not know the boundaries of time or the generations. Great, anointed songs that have blessed, filled, and lifted the generations for, well, generations! We should incorporate hymns into our worship service. 
There are great hymns like How Great Thou Art, and Holy, Holy, Holy, which can be re arranged to suit modern music, instrumentation, arrangements and music tastes. My only very strong suggestion is that if you are going to do a hymn in a service, don't re-arrange the song so much that it is no longer recognisable. 
I personally use hymns regularly, and it is amazing to see when you look out over the congregation, how many eyes are closed and hands are raised when a hymn is sung. People don't need to look at a screen, they  have the words written in their hearts.  The music is familiar, so they sing it with gusto, with great passion and often with great emotion.  
There is something so amazing about using hymns in your service that you won't get any other time. It is unique. 

If you are a young modern church with a mainly younger congregation, you may be surprised at the incredibly positive response you get if you introduce a hymn into your service. Most young people don't know what a hymn is, and many people in our church have not been part of a church tradition, so for them it is another song. 
I also note with interest that there has been of late an increase in the use of hymns in places like Hillsong and other churches which regularly release praise and worship albums. 
I also like to string together contemporary songs and hymns, rolling from one into another, and using the hymn as a build into worship. 
I recommend you think about what I've written and think about ways in which you can incorporate hymns into your worship service. And watch what happens…. 

Which Hymns?

Some of the hymns which I regularly include in my worship leading also include: The Old Rugged Cross, Amazing Grace, Blessed Assurance, All to Jesus I Surrender, Great is thy Faithfulness, Just as I Am, and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. 
There are many other richly anointed  awesome songs which have stood the test of time. 

Oh and by the way, the song we did at the  conference was an old hymn: "T'is so sweet to trust in Jesus". What a great and challenging way to finish a blog!

Have an awesome Sunday 

Monday 31 October 2011


I was driving to work the other day and got to thinking on the subject of Heroes of the Faith.
Most of us are familiar with that passage in the book of Hebrews about the heroes of the faith as talked about in the Old Testament. People like Abraham, Isaac, Moses, in fact there is a brief synopsis of a number of famous Bible Heroes who did extraordinary things, by faith. 

Ordinary people 

The interesting point made about these people is that they "died, not having seen the fulfilment of the promise". (Heb 11:13) Ordinary people, being extraordinarily obedient to God without actually seeing the out working of their obedience, but trusting Him none the less.

I sometimes think we have a tendency to put far too much holiness on these great faith  people, (that these people were a cut above ordinary folk with a special handle on God) when they had very real struggles in every day life, just like me.
That led me to thinking about people in my life. People that I have had the honour to meet and rub shoulders with over the years who have been great witnesses of Gods power and love. Ordinary people living extraordinary lives.

Heroes of the faith 

My friend Brenda

 Brenda is a sweet old friend of 80+ who never  goes a day without a smile on her face and a kind word. Brenda had to give up her home because she could no longer get up the steps due to the pain in her back, hips and legs. She used to say to me:" …Oh I'm alright, God is so good, and I'm really very fortunate because there are so many people worse off than me. "
Brenda came to me once and said:" I really admire you and your family. You have such love for Jesus, it encourages me so much!"
I was really taken aback. This beautiful woman who at her age and in her pain still has an amazing relationship with Jesus. I said to her:" You know Brenda, you are my role model and hero. If I can get to your age and still love Jesus the way you do, I will have done well."
Interesting isn't it? We come across  so many people who on the outside are very ordinary, normal people but inside are solid strong God fearing, Jesus loving folk who I look up  to as living heroes.

Ken Bytheway

We can all aspire to be like Ken, who recently went to be with Jesus. Married for years, and faithfully attending church so as not to upset his wife, Ken was himself not a believer. When his wife passed away, Ken (by now already retired ) began to really delve into this faith his wife had. He was prompted to give his life to Christ and became so aware of Gods love in his life that he gave himself over to study of the word, and then became a scripture teacher at the local school. He personally influenced at least 2 of my kids in their journey with Jesus. I loved Ken, he loved Jesus, and was a true worshipper; he was my hero.

Heroes defined

I read this statement the other day in a devotional:
"Heroes of faith do not seek their own glory. They recognise that their life is an instrument for use by the living God."
We're a funny bunch, you know. We look to people who perform well in Sports, and declare them heroes. While they may have conquered the sporting field, they have actually never performed a heroic deed. 
You see, it's not the outward greatness that makes you a hero, it's what happens on the inside, and in the places where no-one is watching you. The glitz and the glamour are for the rich and famous, but the real heroes are those who daily lay their lives on the lines for our safety, security, well being, etc. the unsung heroes like our soldiers who fight wars on behalf of innocent defenceless civilians, or people like fire fighters and rescue specialists who, every time they attend an emergency to save lives, put their own lives at risk. These are the people who regularly save lives at the peril of their own.

And then there are those who go into battle for us on their knees. These are the unsung heroes of the faith, many of whom we'll never know about until we get to heaven. People like my mother, who prays for her children, grand children, and great grand children every day. People like the intercessors at church who fervently go into battle for those who can't themselves, praying for the sick, the needy, Governments, law keepers, the list goes on. In some way I can't help but think that these are the people who keep the World turning.

Bob Carlisle used to sing a song, the words of which go something like:
 "I can stand tall
On my knees, I can see forever, on my knees, I can face it all,
I feel like I can climb a mountain cause on my knees the worlds a
little smaller and I stand taller on my knees."
David Meece sang about the "Unknown soldier;
His words are few, he saves them 'til he's home and on his knees,
That's where he's a warrior; and he fights to see them free.

He's the unknown soldier, the unsung hero, the brother on the street,
He's the unknown soldier, the holy warrior who will never sound retreat,
He's your unseen comrade, and his triumph will be sweet,
He's the unknown soldier...

Both writers capture something of the heroism that goes on when no one's watching.
You too can be a hero of the faith. You can be a part of God's rescue team saving lives from the devastation of eternal separation from His Love. Go on, be a hero!
Now there a challenge.

 Have a great week.

Saturday 29 October 2011


I have been a worship leader for over 3 decades. If someone had asked me 20 years ago for a definition of worship, I probably would have given a different answer to the same question if asked 10 years ago, and definitely different again now.
I think my appreciation of worship is much more full now than it has ever been.

The early years

I was brought up in a traditional Dutch Reformed church. As a young child I had some, although very limited, exposure to Pentecostalism.
When we migrated to Australia, my parents found a new freedom in worship, and they decided to visit a number of different churches. As a result we became quite ecumenical; that is, we worshipped at a number of different denominations.

Worship was differently defined in different churches. I distinctly remember as a young boy the minister would always use the word "Worship" in relation to taking up the collection. "We will now worship the Lord with our free will offerings". So the only form of worship I knew as a kid was the one that cost me money.

Young worshipper

Some years later when I gave my life to Christ I began to understand what worship really was ( or so I thought): 3 fast songs followed by 3 slow songs in which the Spirit would move...
Then a number of years after that again I understood that worship was actually the whole music service before the preacher got up the preach. And if you didn't have the right ingredients or formula, well then you didn't have the spirit of worship on you. I was confused.

True Worship

It wasn't until I spent 5 years at an Anglican church that l really began to get a fuller understanding of what true worship is.
My Priest at the time, Father John, used to say to me:" People have a different way of connecting with God". That's the part where people get that tangible sense of the presence of God. I used to love seeing people "connecting with God" at different places in the service. Some responded in the music (my bit) others in the couple of minutes silence after the music-a kind of quiet reflection time; still others during the communion or the prayers.

It was interesting to see where different people responded to the "tug" of the Holy Spirit. It is this "connection " that points to true worship.

To kiss the face of God

I see true Worship as attaining close intimacy with our God. When we are in true worship, we are in His presence, so much so that you can almost sense His breath upon you. To me true worship is to "Kiss the face of God" it is the ultimate close intimacy, where nothing else matters.

When I kiss my wife intimately, I close my eyes and I absorb her. She and I are one. It is a beautiful example of totally giving yourself. This is what worship is totally giving yourself to Jesus in total intimate surrender. As worship leaders, you and I have the privilege and the honour of bringing people into His throne room; Into the very Holy of Holies. I love that! This is a good opportunity to capture God's heart. This is how I see worship and you and I have an amazing opportunity to experience it this Sunday.

Have a great week!


Sunday 16 October 2011

Are you desperate enough?

What drives me?

I ask myself the question why do I do what I do? What motivates me? What gets me out of bed in the morning? What drives me?

Other than the obvious answers of : I have bills to pay, my wife makes me, because I would be bored, etc, a deeper look at this question is required.

In every area of our lives there are things that make us tick. There are things that we are passionate about.

I love good coffee.

I love coffee so much that I was willing to make the decision to buy a good machine and find a really good roaster and grind and blend my own bean. The result is that people love coming for coffee at my place, because they are going to get as good a coffee if not better than one they pay money for at a coffee shop.

I am good at my job.

My boss and I started our business virtually from scratch, and we now have 6 stores employ some 33 staff and have a fleet of trucks on the road delivering goods all over the place. we are passionate about our business and want it to succeed and do well. We are keen to have the right people with the right attitude working with us so that our business prospers and in turn our staff share in the profitability of the company.

In order for me to stay on top of my game, I do a lot of research and development. I invent new products and look at ways of doing things better to achieve a better outcome for the client. In turn the clients love our ideas and purchase our product.

There is a cost.

Every time I have an idea, it may well cost us money. Some of my thoughts have cost our company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately they have been successful and we are on the way to making a profit from them.

There is a risk involved. Every time I have an idea, there is a risk that it won't succeed. That the idea is just too far fetched that people won't see it and therefore embrace it, and no matter how good my idea is, it doesn't get off the ground, and the money spent does not bring a return.

We do our homework well.

We research thoroughly. We build prototypes and test them. All these things because we are desperate to succeed. And then we market the new product and train our staff in the features and benefits of that product.

Are you desperate?

When you are desperate to achieve goals in life, you will do anything for that. Look at great sports people or famous inventors, scientists who have discovered life saving technologies or drugs.

As a Christian you are no different. You have a similar calling. Not only in your life as a student, professional, factory worker, checkout operator, but in your faith.

We all want God to do great things in our lives. We want to see the Holy Spirit move mightily in our lives, families, church services. We want to see healings, we want our churches filled with people who need Jesus.

Or do we??

How desperate are you?

How much do you want to see God move in your service? How much do you want to see the Spirit release His power in your Praise and Worship?

Are you prayed up? Daily? Are you seeking God? Daily and earnestly? Are you making changes in your life that fall into line with a holy calling? Are you doing the R&D; getting into God's word, seeking Him, communing, fellowshipping, meditating on Him?

Yes just as I mentioned all the prerequisites for success in business, there are requirements for successful church.

Proverbs 8:17 : I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me.

When Lachlan asked me the first time if he could marry my daughter, I asked him what he was prepared to give up to marry her. His answer was hockey. Some months later when he asked me again if he could marry my daughter, I asked him the same question. This time his answer was: "I will give up anything and everything to be with Bethanie"

I am writing this blog from Bethanie and Lachlan's home.

What are you willing to do to see a full and vibrant church of people making strong inroads into your community, where the worship is great, and the Spirit of God manifests himself daily?

Have a great week.


Thursday 13 October 2011

Another milestone.

Today my family passed another milestone.
Yes, it's official. Everyone in my family is a worship leader.
I have had the privilege of leading worship in churches for many years. As a young father I was privileged to see my wife become a worship leader. She was a little uncomfortable about doing it, but when she launched out she was awesome. Not because I said so, but because people responded to her leading and the Spirit of God was present in the place and that is always a good sign. Her season as a worship leader was not a long one due to the pressures of motherhood. Tambrey spent many years alongside me as a backing vocal. Her support has been invaluable.
Joining the team
As our family grew up, it was so cool to see them join with us on the stage in various capacities as singers and musicians. Now they are all adults. My eldest 2 are married and living away. But I have seen both my big girls bring congregations into the presence of God as worship leaders in their own right. My eldest daughter Zoey is now a worship leader in her church in the town where they moved to 9 months ago. I also hear that the pastor of my second daughter Bethanie recently called her up to the stage to lead the congregation in song. Bethanie was a worship leader in our church before she married and moved away. 
Alexie and Jordan are still at home with us, and Alexie has been leading worship in our church for a little while. She is serving her apprenticeship well a d is a confident worship leader. (I have written a blog about her first time as worship leader a while ago, and I will post it on this site soon.)   
The latest addition to the team
Today I was privileged to see my son Jordan lead worship for the first time in our church. He did an amazing job! I'd like to think I have had something to do with them becoming worship leaders, however this is not true in the sense that I never encouraged them in it. It has always been the church leadership that has encouraged and called my kids into this ministry. 
So there you have it. We are a family of worship leaders. Maybe it's because they have seen me get so much satisfaction and joy out of this ministry that they have felt comfortable in going into it too. Whatever the reason, I'm glad. The ministry of worship is in good hands when we see young, dedicated keen Jesus lovers enter into this ministry.  It's not because they are my kids, if you are a worship leader, you too have a responsibility to pass on the baton to other up and coming leaders. Not to create clones, mind you; but to mentor and train them into their own unique calling. 
God bless you in your calling. Yours is a unique and Holy calling, give it your best and encourage others in their call as well. 

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Holy satellite navigation (Seeing things from God’s perspective)


Looking at the obstacle

In business as well as in life we come across all kinds of obstacles that hinder us or try to prevent us from reaching certain goals. These obstacles can range from situational to emotional to physical and spiritual. Obstacles are a nuisance and can be down right debilitating; overcoming the obstacles, a challenge.

I'm sure you can look back even at the last 7 days and recognise situations that haven't gone to plan or even went in quite the opposite direction.

What was your response? Or should I say what was your reaction?

The book of James tells us right at the beginning to "Count it all joy, brothers, when you come across all kinds of tests"

But I’m Different

"Well that's easy for you to say, you haven't seen what I'm going through right now!" And you're right. I don't have a clue what's going on in your life: but then again you don't know what my struggles are doing to me either.

But I have learnt something special that I want to share with you today.

Have a look again at James chapter 1 and verse 2, now read the next 2 verses: James 1:3-4

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Whoa there! Step back a minute! You mean that if I endure this tough season with patience and prayerful consideration, that good will come of it? Well, yes that's what my bible reads... I have found in life and am finding more and more, the importance and the value of looking past the obstacle.

Examples from History

I want to draw your attention here to the book of Ruth. When she tethered herself to Naomi her mother in law, even though they both were widows with little or no hope of a future, the obstacles in their lives had been great, they had lost everything. a stranger in a strange land, a foreigner with no possessions and no future and a bitter past. Her attitude was: "your people will be my people and your God will be my God." obstacle words? No words of hope and determination. What did the testing of her faith bring? Only the richest dude in town! She ended up lacking nothing.

When Jesus hung on the cross, what did he say to the penitent thief? "today you will be with me in paradise". Don't you think that kind of weird when you really ponder this? I mean, here were 3 men crucified, suffering the most painful torturous death imaginable, and Jesus looks past His pain, and sees the thief with Him in paradise.

Little Obstacles

We think we're doing it tough when we get a flat tyre on the way to work or someone we thought was a friend spreads malicious gossip about us, but I scarcely think we really understand what real suffering is about; especially suffering for our faith.

Where am I going with this? Little obstacles in our way are opportunities to honour God and grow in spiritual stature. Without the tough times we would not be half the people we are.

I know a lady, a dear friend, 70+ years old and suffering with cancer. Suffering? There is little left of her, she can't keep food down, there are artificial bits added to her body to help make life comfortable. I asked her how she deals with this. She said: " I don't know why God hasn't healed me yet, but every time I have to go to the hospital for chemotherapy or treatment, I look for someone I can encourage and talk to about the goodness of God. I think this is my mission field ."

Don’t blame God

This beautiful lady does not blame God for her obstacle, she praises Him in it. I'm not saying she's hyper faith, she's certainly not in denial, how can she be? But she loves Jesus and knows that whatever she faces, she is a part of God's bigger picture, and she has her part to play in it. She rarely misses an opportunity to attend church, and she always looks amazing.

This lady has her eyes firmly fixed on the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Count it all joy... Keep your eye on the call... You have a holy calling, and obstacles will get in your way.

I see the Bible, God's Word, as a kind of holy roadmap. The Holy Spirit is like the voice on my Spiritual Sat Nav.

When God directs you to go somewhere, He usually means for you to get there. And when you stray off the directed path, the Holy Spirit gently re-writes the route to your goal. When you come across obstacles in your way, preventing you from reaching your holy calling, God's Word is there. His Holy Spirit is the voice in your ear to direct and guide your path.

Are you listening? Are you hearing the voice? Like the Sat-Nav, He never loses patience, he's just saying:" take the next turn..." and directing you back to the call.

Have a blessed week.


Tuesday 11 October 2011

Love is the principal thing (Part 2)


In part one of this blog, I started to speak about the reasons why we are in relationship with Jesus, and everything that is involved and included in this...that Love is the principal thing. I then left you with a challenge...

Did you do it??? Did you read and meditate on Psalm 91? Isn’t it the most amazing piece of scripture? “He who dwells in the secret place of the most High...” and right down to :” With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation” Such love, such intimacy...

The Challenge

Why did I challenge you to read this psalm? You are a worship leader, whether at the front leading the singing, or at the back, keeping the beat, or somewhere in between, you are a worship leader. If you can get a revelation of what this psalm is saying, then you will find it much easier to communicate that love and intimacy to the church today.

Worship leading can be a real struggle. Why do I do it, especially week after week, and especially when the congregation seems so unresponsive, and unappreciative? The reason I keep coming back to this wonderful call is the title of this blog: Love is the Principal thing.

Response to rebellion

As a parent, I have experienced in my own children rebellion, un-appreciation, ignorance of my instruction, un-responsiveness... but never once did I stop loving them, never once did I give up reminding them, encouraging them, disciplining them, loving them. Now that they are older, and mostly independent, they have a much greater appreciation of what Tambrey and I did for them all those years ago. In doing what we did, we helped to build their character and personality, and we helped shape their sense of intimacy with Jesus.

Worship-leading is not that far different. You have an amazing opportunity to impart into this congregation principals of worship, grace, mercy and love. Even though it may seem to be falling on deaf ears, your job is not to reap the harvest, yours is to sow and to water and to nurture. Many is the time when I have walked away from the stage exhausted and drained, feeling that the worship had gone absolutely nowhere, and wondering if God was in the place at all. Then someone would come to me later and say: “Erick that worship really ministered to me today, thank you!” Wow! The challenge is: am I doing this for earthly reward or for a heavenly one?

The Principal Thing

Today I have been reading a book by English author Adrian Plass. It is called “Jesus: Safe, Tender, Extreme” He makes this statement which really brings home my point about the principal thing: “The sacred and mystical truth is that when we Christians touch each other, we are touching Jesus. When that touch is the touch of care and love, heaven smiles on us...”


John 15:12-17 says this (Words of Jesus, written in red): “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from the Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”

How strong the instruction, how beautiful the promise, how pertinent the reminder. The very instruction Jesus starts with is the same as the one He concludes with: “That you love one another”. Bear in mind, dear worship leader, that this is a command. See, sometimes with your family, your worship team, your congregation, your Pastor, things aren’t going to go the way you planned or even wanted. The principal thing is love. Let love be your guide and your motivator. This week you have the opportunity to bring your congregation into “the secret place of the Most High”. Whether your worship experience is a fantastic time or it all goes pear shaped, remember: LOVE IS THE PRINCIPAL THING.

God bless you real good, and have a great week!


Monday 10 October 2011

Love is the principal thing. (Part 1)

Greetings from China!
As I sit here in my comfortable hotel room in China, listening to Worship music streaming through my computer, my thoughts are with everyone out there today who is at Church, participating in the anointed worship, diligently prepared by you, our faithful Worship Leaders, taking in the anointed Word of God, a message in-season, prayerfully prepared by our Pastors, refreshing us from the week past, and re-charging us ready for the week that lays ahead.
This is my second week away from the Studio, and I really miss Darin, Suzie and Chris. These guys are the high-light of my week! We talk with each other, joke with each other, share Jesus with each other, pray together, eat together, laugh together, and we share our thoughts, experiences, highs and lows of life, the church and specifically aspects of Worship leading.
We are in this together
In all of this, we all feel very much a part of you and your world as you join us on the Worship Leaders Podcast each week. It is an honour to have you join us each week, sharing those experiences, and allowing us to encourage you from the Word of God and by the example of our own lives. Thank you!
There is really only one reason why we record the Worship Leaders Podcast each week: you! We are so passionate about this thing we call worship; the act of falling on our faces before a Mighty, awesome, majestic, righteous, loving God; a God who is not too busy to be intimately interested in every part of my life, who knows the very number of the hairs on my head!! (Matt 10:30). Our desire is that as we share that Passion with you, that it will rub off onto you, encourage you, build you up and charge you up in your holy calling.
My Week in China
It has been a busy week here in China. I have spent the past week in a half star hotel. The bed felt like it was made up of layers of re-cycled worn-out carpet, there were things not working, and every night upon my return to my room there would be an array of business cards slipped under my door with photos of scarcely-clad women on it and telephone contact numbers. As if! I have been married to the most amazing woman in the world for about 28 years! No one could come close so I am definitely NOT interested. I ended up that week with a sore back and neck, tired of walking through the Fair I was attending. So now I am in a 5 star Hotel, enjoying some of the creature comforts like a comfortable bed. (Phil 4:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound!)
The thing about all this is that as I am away from family and daily routine, it is easy to forget the things established at home; Prayer, devotions, giving myself to the study of God’s word. And yet here it is so much more important even than at home. I am in a strange land, with strange customs, where communication is difficult at the best of times and almost impossible most of the time! So I need Jesus, my constant companion; and the Holy Spirit in me to guide me to the right people, the right business deals, keeping me safe from danger, and keeping me safe from myself.
I am not alone!
Am I on my own? Yes. Am I alone? Certainly not! Jesus said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5) See, no matter how I look at it, Jesus loves me, this I know! He is my constant companion and my guide and protector. The reason why we record the Podcast, the reason God gave His Son, the reason Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me; the principal thing is LOVE!
At the completion of reading this, I challenge you to do something radical: Get out your bible, and read Psalm 91. All of it. Then take some time out to meditate on it. This is one of the most wonderful Psalms about the promise of God to those who are intimate in Him... but I am giving it away. I dare you! And let us know what you have discovered.
God bless you real good this week.

Sunday 9 October 2011


Attitude or Gratitude. 

Has there ever been a time when you were preparing for worship when you said to yourself or to God; "I just don't want to do this thing today". 
I know there have been times when I have felt exactly like that. 
For example the time I had to prepare for the worship service and the only resource given me was a song book with about 30 songs in it, 28 of which I didn't even like. I had a real attitude attack and it wasn't pretty. I ranged from frustration to anger to snide remarks about the music director; I was full of stinking thinking. 

The point is that this sort of attitude was not and is not helpful when trying to put together an anointed worship service. In fact, it won't work. The Devil knows that in true worship, you are a direct threat to his kingdom. When people enter in to true worship, when they see Jesus, when the Spirit of God moves in the church service, the devil is left powerless. So he will use any tool possible to thwart great worship. 

Apologizing to God

My first response when I realise that I am falling into his trap is to apologise to God. Literally: "I'm sorry, Lord. This is just not helping you or me. Please forgive me and help me to bring the songs you want to this service. "
See, then I can change from attitude to Gratitude. I can begin to thank Him for who He is and what He is going to do in the service. I can thank Him for leading me to the correct songs, regardless of the choice before me. 

Let me say right here, dear worship leader, that I do not subscribe to the notion that only the thirty songs in the current song list that the music director ( or whoever) has given me are the only songs relevant for our congregation in this season. They may be anointed, they may be great, but so are the thousands of others that have been written to honour our king, to present to Him our thanks and praise, to bring us into the place of falling on our knees before Him in humble adoration, repentance of convicted sin, or intercession on behalf of others. 

How many songs in your repertoire

I recently met a music director and Worship leader who has 5 music teams in his church. He has a plethora of people who are involved in the music ministry in his church. He also showed me his song list. He has over 450 songs that he makes available to his worship leaders to choose from. As he said to me: "With 5 different teams, I have 5 different worship leaders, each of them having their own style and method of tapping into God. The congregation is really responsive to each of them, because they are so different, and no 2 worship services are the same. We love it that way, God really moves in different ways each Sunday" 
They say variety is the spice of life, and I agree! 

Mirror Jesus in your Worship

It is really important that when preparing for the worship service, our attitude has to reflect Jesus. 
If you are finding any of the emotions I have mentioned earlier creeping into your preparation, do what I do; put the music book down, pick up your bible, some great devotional material, and whatever else you can get your hands on, and clear and cleanse your mind with the Word. Repent, pray, seek, forgive, love. 
Then get back to your preparation, but earnestly seek God and ask Him what He would say to your congregation this Sunday. If you have a 30 song list as I did, satisfy the quota by putting a couple of songs from that list in. There are old songs that carry a great anointing; even hymns. Songs that people remember and don't have to look at an overhead screen to read. Use these familiar songs to lead people into the presence of God. 
Remember God can work with Gratitude much easier than with Attitude. 
You are an anointed Worship Leader. Follow these principles, pray up and get excited, and see God move in your worship of Him!
God bless you, have a great Sunday. 


Saturday 8 October 2011



On the week of the 20th July 2011, I was saddened by the news of the passing of a great friend and brother in the Lord, and a wonderful praise and worship leader on his chosen instrument.
Bruno had been diagnosed just not that long ago with Mesothelioma, more precisely malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs, the mesothelium. It is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.(courtesy of Wikipedia)
He didn’t get much notice about his impending appointment with destiny, but he spent his last months on this earth talking to anyone who would listen about his Saviour, Jesus Christ, and how we can have the True Peace that only comes from God.

Bruno was a worshipper. He was possibly one of the most anointed sax players I have ever known, and he had a revelation of Jesus, and the power of Praise and Worship. In his own way, Bruno was actually a Worship Leader. You see, there is a common misconception that the “praise and worship leader” is just the one who organises the songs and stands up the front leading the congregation in the prepared song list.
I want right here and now to dispel that myth. Anyone who occupies the “stage” whether you are the song leader, a musician or a backing vocalist, you are a Praise and
Worship Leader. Yes, even the drummer is anointed to lead worship on his instrument. How? By playing your instrument to God, and worshipping Him with your instrument you are being a praise and worship leader.
An old pastor of mine used to say: “Leaders lead by example”. You know, even when you are not occupying a spot on the stage, and are standing in the congregation, you are still called to
be a Worship Leader right there from where you stand. Your very act of worship will encourage others and lead them to do the same.

I loved the way Bruno played his instrument. He was Jazz trained, and knew his way very well around the Tenor, Alto and Soprano Saxophone, as well as the Clarinet. We invited him to play on one of my albums. One of the songs  is a jazz number called “Let’s not limit what we are” . Bruno came in and said what do you want me to play? Darin played him the song, and said “Just play as the Spirit leads”.Darin pressed the record button, and Bruno played. By the time he had finished, we were in tears. The anointing was so powerful in that Studio, we were overwhelmed. Bruno knew how to worship God with his instrument.
20 years ago, I was in the same church as Bruno. I remember even then in worship, the Spirit would come on him as he played. The result was that people would be released, there would be healings and other miracles.

There are 4 keys to Bruno’s ability to be a praise and worship leader with his instrument.
1) Bruno was a true worshipper. He had an alive and active relationship with his God and Saviour. He knew about the amazing Grace of God that saved him and he was grateful for it. He loved his Jesus.
2) Bruno was skilled in his instrument. He was well practised and well rehearsed in the instruments he played as well as having a good knowledge of the songs.
3) Bruno was obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When the anointing came on him, he did not back down, or quit, he played and played to God, to the best of his ability.
4) Bruno did not outplay his anointing. He knew how to be sensitive; when to play, and when not to play; when to play loud and when to play soft. His playing was not ego driven, it was not to show off, but to honour God and worship Him. .
These keys apply not only to Musicians, but also to singers.
Fellow praise and worship leader, we can all learn from Bruno. Like him, you too are called to be both a worshipper, and a worship leader. Get close to Jesus this week, and ask Him for a new boldness in worship. Love Him passionately; not just on Sunday morning, but every day. Worship Jesus in Spirit and in Truth, and allow His Spirit to reveal in you new facets of God’s Glory.
To the memory of Bruno, Have an overcoming week.
God Bless you real good, and keep on striving to be the best praise and worship leader you can be, whatever your role in the team!