Thursday 22 November 2012




When times get tough, I'm tempted to give up. There have been a number if times in my "career" as a worship leader I have felt like giving up. Times when the pressure became so great, I thought it would be better if I stepped off the stage and never went back.
I want to relate a couple of these stories here today.

Some years ago my wife, family and I were attending  a large Pentecostal church. I was a worship leader in the church and we were quite settled there. Our church was undergoing leadership changes and our Music Director had stepped down from the role and he and his family were getting ready to move to a different city. All this was fine, except that the person who took over as Music Director seemed to have a problem with me. I don't know that he would have admitted that, but I had the very strong feeling that it was as if he was intimidated by me. Under the previous Music Director there had never been any problem, and he had never tried to put any restrictions on me. Now though, it seemed that the more I did, the less it was appreciated. That was not reflective of the church community, just of our new Music Director. I did not want his job, and I was quite happy to let him take the reigns. What I didn't like was being "reigned in" by someone with much less experience and for no good reason. I had to make a decision for the sake of unity in the department and my own sanity. I stepped down from the music department to allow him the freedom to run it in the way he saw fit. This was not a choice I made out of spite or to show him up, it was purely to give him room.

The problem was I missed being on the stage. I missed being part of a team that was bringing people into the presence of God. When you have a calling and an anointing on your life to do a certain thing, that calling tugs at you relentlessly.

God is good and some time later we were called to be music directors at an Anglican Church.
We had 5 wonderful years at that fellowship.  I had a mandate from the priest to bring that church into a new experience in music. Though I had incredible support both from the priest and the vast majority of the congregation, it was not always easy, and sometimes there were complaints. It is human nature that people are adverse to change, and there were those in our church who did not want to change from the old ways, and the traditional service. We had 2 churches in that place, one ran a traditional service, the other a contemporary one. The fellowship that I was at had the contemporary service. We did a more modern song service, and used more up to date songs... Well, we used songs that were considered modern, but some  were in reality more than 30 years old. It was lovely to bring this congregation into the more up to date songs and a more modern style of music. We did this over a period of time, slowly adding new music and deleting some of the older, less relevant stuff. It was a transition that took probably 3-4 years, though I never got rid of all the old music.

It was a beautiful time for our family and we were blessed to see that congregation grow 3-fold.
Our perseverance had paid off, and by the time God called us into a new church, we left that fellowship richer in their experience of worship. But we also were richer for our experience, having learnt much more about intimacy with God from the beautiful people at that church.

Our next fellowship was back to a Pentecostal church. It is the church where we now have been for the past 4 years. When I arrived at this church I chose to sit in the congregation for a period of 6 months, which I believe is important for any new musician to a church.

Our new church is currently undergoing a major change. Our senior pastor is retiring after more than 20 years in this fellowship. He is a wonderful man who lives God with a passion, and is all about bringing God and people together. At the same time, one of the associate pastors who is also the Music Director has also handed in his resignation. Life as a worship leader under this man has had its challenges, and there have been a number of times when I was ready to go back to my seat in the congregation. However, God has had different plans, and I am still here, And two thirds of the leadership team is going.

This leaves our church in limbo, at least for a little while. The new senior pastor is not due to start work until next year, and this leaves our last member of staff, another Associate Pastor in charge. A beautiful young woman, mother of two with an incredible heart for people and especially young people. She has a big task ahead of her, but I am confident that in God, and with the loving support of her husband, she will not only rise to the occasion, but also shine in it.
And me? Well, as of this week I am the new ‘Music Director’; not a position I chose or applied for, I was asked. I guess God had plans for me all along. Proverbs 3:6 says:

"In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."

Often we don't know where God is going to take us, but when we are faithful to Him, He is faithful to see us through the most exciting life we could ever imagine; and who would have gained that I would find myself back as Music Director once again!


When the going gets tough, it is easy to walk away. We don't want to go through the trials and tests if that means we have to suffer or do it tough for a while. A friend of mine told me the other day: Without a test, you don't have a testimony… and God can turn trials into triumphs".
James 1:2-4 says:

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

There are going to be times in your life, (maybe you are in one now) when patience and perseverance are the order of the day, week or month. My Friend, Jesus persevered right through to His death on the cross. He did that with you and me in mind. Isn't it worth the honour to Him that we do the same, and get through this thing? He has already won the victory and put you in the place of the winner!
Hang in there, whatever it is. God is faithful!
Have a great week.

Friday 2 November 2012

When Hands Are Raised


hands raised{image}

As a worship leader there is no greater satisfaction for me than to see hands raised in surrender and worship to the Lord.  The raising of hands in worship has at times and in different churches been somewhat controversial for all sorts of reasons; and most of them wrong.

Some would say it is showy and we should not make and outward show of our inward worship. A scripture used may be this from Matthew 6:18 :

" that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. "

Sometimes our conservative culture is the reason we "exercise self control and show restraint in these matters"....

Jesus talked often about doing things in secret, but when it comes to corporate praise and worship, I believe it is a totally different thing. As the word suggests, Corporate is something we do together.

In my experience there are 3 main reasons why people raise their hands in church during worship (other than at the urging of the worship leader)


The first is in jubilation and celebration.

Psalms 111:1 " Praise the Lord!
I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation."

With my whole heart. That would indicate with every effort I can muster.
The Hebrew word for praise here is 'Yadah' The translation for this word praise is: literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); "
In Psalm 150 we read these words:

"Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!"

The word for praise here is 'Halal ' (from which we derive the word hallelujah. Halal means praise, Yah is God. )
Halal means:  to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate; also to stultify: — (make) boast (self), celebrate, commend, (deal, make), fool(-ish, -ly), glory, give (light), be (make, feign self) mad (against), give in marriage, (sing, be worthy of) praise, rage, renowned," get the idea.
When we praise God it involves an outward manifestation of joy, celebration and great noise, and the raising of hands...


The second reason we raise our hands is in Adoration. It is when we have such absolute love for our saviour, we just want to be closer to Him.
One of my favourite memories of when I was a young father of small children, is coming home from work in the afternoon. I would drive up our driveway and beep the horn. The next thing Tambrey would open the front door and all the kids would come piling out and run to the car to see who could get there fastest for me to pick them up. Those kids adored their father!
That's what it's  like:  when a small child raises its hands to its parent looking to be picked up, held and cuddled. It's very relational and intimate.  When I raise my hands to God in this way, it's like I want to be close to Him; to hug and love Him, to hear Him whisper in my ear: "I love you, son!"

Psalms 63:4. "Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name."
Psalms 134:2. "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord."


When you watch a war-time movie or a Wild Western, what is the term used when a surrender is forcibly demanded? "Stick 'em up! "; "Hands up". When the white flag of surrender is raised, and those that are surrendering have their hands raised as the "I give up" symbol.
The raising of hands is commonly associated with surrender. Christians who raise their hands will often do the same for the same reason, but with one difference: when I raise my hands in surrender to God, it's not because I have a gun at my head. My surrender to God in worship is out of love and total commitment.  I have a mental picture of surrender in which I am down on my knees, with my hands raised before a crucified Christ. I want to be surrendered to the One who surrendered everything for me and gave up His life so I could live... I surrender.

Exultation, Adoration, Surrender.
All three motivations for the raising of hands are voluntary responses. All three responses are motivated by love. When hands are raised, I see people connecting with God in an intimate, joyful, exuberant, surrendered display of affection and Worship.

Whether you choose to raise your hands or keep them by your side, is up to you. Whether someone else chooses to or not, should be their decision. Personally, when I am in a place of intimacy with God, I can't help but raise my hands.

Do you raise your hands?

Have a great week.