Friday, September 10, 2010
One thing I like about the Internet is the instant access to information and resources. It allows you to re-live some things and helps take you back to past times that were precious to you.
When I was in my early 20's I served as a Pastor in a small church in West Yorkshire. I play guitar and introduced many new songs and styles of worship to the congregation. I even formed a group from some of the young people and we sang and worshipped in quite a few places.
One of my favourite artists from that era is an American gospel artist called Andrae Crouch. He was different, very real. More a worshipper than a performer. I managed to see him live on his tours to Britain in the 1970's and was never disappointed. I have several vinyl LP's of him my favourite being 'Best of Andrae Crouch and the Disciples'. Sadly I have no record player anymore but I was able to buy a couple of remixed Cd's a few ears ago with all the favourite songs on them.
I love music, love playing guitar and singing. I am a worshipper. Songs are more than sentiment and words to me but a way of discovering the reality of God's presence in my life. Many times when I listen to music I weep, not because of memories it invokes but truth it speaks of. I love the old Wesleyan hymns because in them is such amazing doctrinal truth. I often find songs speak more accurately of God's truth than sermons.
Worship in song has done many things for me. It has broken depression, brought deep inner healing, inspired prophecy, released joy and happiness.
I remember one beautiful memory when I was in a meeting years ago. A man I knew was attending and had a serious heart condition that threatened his life. I was with him in the meeting when someone performed a song, 'Rise and be Healed'. As it was sung the man I knew stood to his feet in faith in response to the words and was totally healed. A very special memory indeed.
The love for music was imparted by my father. He was not a spiritual man, far from it. He had a great voice. He would sing to me songs his mother sang to him as a child. He was born 1905 so you can imagine the sings were very unfamiliar to me and from an era long gone. I still remember them. The memories are probably the only sweet memories I have of him. His love of singing gave me a love of singing. He was a pub singer, me a gospel singer. In his last days my music was what he heard. The songs of faith and hope. I took him to church one day and he wept as the hymns were played. A few weeks before his death from cancer he made peace with God. His song could have been so different. He would have made a great gospel singer.
Music and song have paid a big part in my journey. I understand why David has so much to say in song in the Psalms. My song has changed over the years. My new understanding means that some songs that were precious I can no longer sing because the words are not accurate. So new songs need to be written and sung.
Friday, May 21, 2010
The past couple of weeks have been filled with incredible acts of kindness. On Friday 7th May I was sat in the evening enjoying a night in with my wife. As we relaxed I received an SMS from a friend in Cape Town. It read something like this: 'André wants you here for conference, ticket paid, when can you come?' At first it didn't sink in. I was all geared up for our trip in July / August and resigned to the fact that that would be the next time I saw my daughter Jenny. It took about half an hour and the arrangements were in place, I was booked on a plane from Birmingham via Amsterdam the following Monday.
As I winged my way over Africa I was so excited and hoped that the trip would be kept from Jenny so I could surprise her. I was almost the first off the plane as it landed and my lift from the airport indicated that it was probable that she didn't know. As we pulled into the drive at Apostle André's house I was a little nervous. It was after 10:30 and I thought Jenny might already be in bed. It turned out that she was the one answering the door. Her face immediately told me she didn't know. At first it was total incredulity, 'is this my dad, can't be he's in England, but it is' She melted into my arms and dissolved in tears. It was the start of a great week with her. She is so happy and I am so privileged to have been able to see it.
Next day I was visited by the other two Brits in the Church, Duncan and Beverley. It was great to see them and even after just three weeks it was obvious they were benefiting from their time there. Lots of catching up.
The week was so blessed. I feel at home in the church there. I received a message from one of the church members on my return: "just having you here at church is heart-warming, like an older brother who left the nest to build his family, and comes home for holidays to visit." That's how it feels.
I had mixed feelings as I left. Wanted to stay longer but knew that things needed doing here.
My return was scheduled for Monday 17th on the 23:55 plane to Amsterdam but the ash cloud meant it was delayed until 6 the next morning. More time with Jenny at least. The delay meant I would not be able to make my connecting flight to Birmingham and the earliest alernative was a day later which meant a stay over in Holland.
This is where other old friendships came to the rescue. I have known my friend Anita since school, she is one of my prayer supporters and we regularly visited her and her family in Holland during the 1990's. Business and different journeys meant I had not seen her since 2003. Annie arranged for me to stay there and I wondered if it may feel a little awkward. I needn't have worried. I was made so welcome and felt so at home. It was a great bonus to see them.
I finally got back to be met at the airport by my best friend on earth, my wife. She is truly amazing. I am so blessed, all of this friendship offered freely.
It reminded me of the scripture from Proverbs about a 'friend who sticks closer than a brother'. His name is Jesus. Such a faithful friend.
Thank you God for your blessings, for friends and loved ones who are a gift from you.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
In our last worship service Stuart, our worship leader, led us from Revelation 1. Let me explain that we do not have 'planned worship' we wait for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us. The song began and as the Spirit led others took over the singing and we flowed prophetically hearing God's voice speaking into our lives.
In Revelation 1 verse 17 Jesus says, 'Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last'. In other scriptures He is referred to as 'alpha and omega', literally the first and last letter.
The Spirit began to lead us to sing about Jesus being the first and last. As we sang we became aware that God has been in our lives from day one and will be for all our future. He will have the last word.
The Spirit then inspired us to sing about walking in this and the phrase, 'the next step' was repeated. 'Take the next step, be concerned about taking just the next step'
Duncan was our preacher for the morning, he and his wife Beverly are leaving us for three months training in Cape Town. For them the next step is a big one, leaving friends and home for a new place. I have travelled some of the journey with them and seen them take many 'next steps' that have been painful at times but necessary. God has been with them all the way and is ahead of them planning the next steps they need to take.
Duncan spoke about having contentment in all situations. We can only know this if we understand that Jesus is the 'first and last'. He is in control and that brings peace.
I thank God for His continuous faithfulness. He is always at the other side of the next step we take even if for us it is a leap in the dark. May we all learn to trust Him and be content in Him and find His peace.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I realise it has been a long time since my last posting. Life has taken on a different focus with the church plant we are now involved with. Lots has been happening. My son Ben is almost at the end of his university course, my wife Annie has been at her new school for over a year and Jenny, our daughter, is in Miracle Bible College, Cape Town for at least one year. On top of that we are planting a new church out of our home which is giving us great joy.
The church began to meet on 6th September 2009. Five of us had been meeting for quite a few months on a Wednesday to study the Bible together. God had spoken to me at a meeting in South Africa in September 2008 that we should plant a church. I admit to being reluctant but knew it needed to happen. One night at the bible study I was challenged by my daughter to start it and so we agreed on the date, 6th September 2009 as the first meeting.
At the first meeting there were eight of us, but two were visiting. From the first note on the guitar the worship flowed. This was one of the things that concerned me. What if we can't flow in worship? We believe in God giving us the words and music in the same way David worshipped. In the six months since we began we have only sung two 'known songs' so I needn't have worried.
The next test was the fact that I was away for the next three services. I told George, one of our members who plays guitar, that he must continue in prophetic worship in my absence. He rose to the challenge and has been the one to lead worship for most of the last six months.
In the first six months we have had two regular additions to the Body. Mary is a student at one of the local universities and is from Lebanon. She is proving to be such a delight. Our other addition is Stuart, he is a fine musician and worship leader and has taken on this role in recent weeks. He flows accurately in worship and we are entering another level. We thank God and believe others with be added.
One aspect of the church I really like is the participation and input everyone gives. I think all have prophesied at one point and those who have visited us have gone away greatly encouraged by words given to them. The corporate nature also effects the worship with not only the worship leader bringing the song of the Lord but the whole Body adding to that. It is exciting and effortless to worship this way.
We have had several visitors and are expecting others. Duncan and Beverly Curry are family friends who have recently obeyed the call to go to South Africa for training. They were leading a church in Yorkshire until the end of February this year. They join us whenever they can and are part of us. We will be sending them out next month.
Our first outside speaker was Morné Van Wijk. Morné is from Cape Town and was visiting the UK on business. He spoke to the church and attended a couple of meetings. His impact has been felt since and has brought an impartation to us all.
I do most of the speaking and we've covered a lot of subjects. At the moment we are studying 'Submission'. The feedback has been very good from a subject most preachers never preach. My son Ben has also shared as well as my wife Ann. We look forward to hearing from others in the Body as well.
From February we have begun to meet during the week and have a Household on a Tuesday and Bible Cell on Thursdays. The Household meeting is a led by someone different each week who leads a discussion on what has been taught the previous Sunday. It gives an opportunity to find out if people have understood and makes room for questions. We have had some great times and it is rapidly becoming my favourite meeting.
The testimonies of people with us are fresh and regular. If you'd like to read Katie's testimony go to this link: click here
Last Sunday Duncan and Beverly were with us. Duncan has just had a cataract operation. We decided we would obey the scripture, 'when one member suffers we all suffer'. The following photograph depicts that. As you can see Church is fun.