Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Prepare Him Room - An Album Review

Sovereign Grace Music have served the church for over 30 years by writing theologically rich and doctrinally sound songs with contemporary music.

In 2014 they released an album called “Prepare Him Room”. The title makes it pretty obvious that the album is centered around the birth of Jesus.

The really short review would be that that album is excellent. I only bought the album just before last Christmas (2015), but we listened to it on repeat in the car for about a month, and this year we are enjoying it again.

There’s a great balance of traditional Christmas carols (such as O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Joy To The World), some with new arrangements and others with with additional lyrics, as well as some wonderful new songs written specifically for this project.

One of the new songs, which is the favourite of our girls, is called “Who would have dreamed”. It speaks of the how there was a promise of a coming King, God’s Anointed One, but when He arrived, He was not what was expected. The chorus goes like this:

“And who would have dreamed or ever foreseen
That we could hold God in our hands?
The Giver of Life is born in the night
Revealing God’s glorious plan
To save the world”

Another of the new songs called “He who is Mighty” has some wonderful lines in it, but I really like the way that is uses the start of Mary’s song in Luke 1 to form the bridge section:

“Now my soul magnifies the Lord
I rejoice in the God Who saves
I will trust His unfailing love
I will sing His praises all my days”

Lastly let me quote some of my favourite lines from “Our God Made Low”. It’s another of the new songs and the lyrics are very clever at capturing the mind-blowing truth of the incarnation:

“In cattle stall they find a girl
Who holds the hope of all the world”

“As He sleeps upon the hay
He holds the moon and stars in place
Though born an infant He remains
The sovereign God of endless days”

Most of the songs on the album could be sung congregationally, whether you have a lone piano or a full band, which I believe is a real blessing to the church. It means we can have fresh songs to sing together that will encourage us to marvel at the awesome nature of the incarnation.
And yet, at the same time, the album is great to have on in the car or around the house in the lead up to Christmas.

I warmly recommend it to you. It will bless your heart by pointing you to Jesus.

Monday, 7 November 2016

FIEC Conference - Evangelism

(This first appeared in the November edition of our church magazine called the Grapevine)

At the start of November I was at the FIEC (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches) Leader’s conference. It was a million miles from anything, or at least is felt that way, in Hemsby in Norfolk!
The theme of the conference was evangelism. Yes, the “e” word that often makes Christians shudder.

I can’t recount the whole conference to you, although I’d love to, so I thought I’d share some memorable and helpful quotes with you to give you a flavour of the things I heard.

We heard from Ed Stetzer on Luke 5 where Jesus calls Levi and one of Ed’s points was that we live in a world with less and less personal contact. There is much less face to face interaction. And so he challenged us that:

“We need to be people of the neighbourhood if we are going to be people of mission”

We need to get out and about where people are and build relationships if we are going to do mission well, if we are going to evangelize a world that so desperately needs Jesus.
He went on to say that we need to be “culturally relevant and biblically sound” as churches.

Later in the week Ed took us through Matthew 9:35-38. There Jesus tells the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest and that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. And yet, in a few verses time, it is the disciples themselves who are the workers sent out by Jesus into the harvest field.
We need to realise that. Hardwick is a harvest field. We pray to the Lord of the harvest for more workers, but do we see that we are those workers?

Another huge challenge to me from the same sermon was with regard to prayer. Ed pointed out that the logical biblical progression is this: the more I pray for people, the more compassion I have for them and that will lead me to action.

We should pray for a burden from the Lord to reach our neighbours and to reach the people who live in Hardwick. Maybe a specific group of people or a specific street, but we should pray for a burden, a deep desire, to see those people saved.

In the final session Ed led, he began by summing up the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and its counterparts in the other gospels like this: “We are sent to all kinds of people with a message empowered by the Spirit.”

One of my favourite sound-bites from that sermon was this:
“Don’t let your church become a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway.”

We need to be going out and moving forward with the good news of Jesus and “news needs a herald and herald proclaims.”

Finally he used this quote from C H Spurgeon on a few occasions, and as with is Spurgeon’s style, he pulls no punches. I’ll leave it with you to mull over:
“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”