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Blog #13 -Rainy Day

Hello Friends!

The weather has been so hot that I thought I’d save the writing of my next blog for a rainy day. I’m on the train on the way to work and it is indeed raining! Although we like to moan about the rain in this country it is a welcome relief from the seemingly endless weeks of baking sunshine. The ground is dry, the plants are dying and at times the humidity and soaring temperatures have been energy sapping and sleep depriving. No doubt when we’ve had six weeks of solid rain, we’ll all be longing for some sunshine!

So which is better? To have endless sunshine or continual rain?

Well, quite simply, neither! We need both sunshine and rain to survive. In a perfect world we’d have the perfect balance of both. Too much rain and we get floods. Too much sunshine and we get drought.

The same can be said of our lives. We all go through different seasons in life. I’ve been through times where I feel parched, dry and everything around me seems to be shrivelling up in the heat of the trial I am experiencing. There are other times when there is a downpour of opportunity, growth and progress. There are times of wandering in the desert and times of enjoying the oasis. I realise that this is the pattern of life and I need both seasons in order to grow in my character and faith.

Jesus experienced times of wilderness and dryness, for example when he was in the desert for 40 days, but that was all part of the preparation for his fruitful ministry where there was growth as he invested in his disciples and came to fulfil his purpose in saving us from death and bringing his Kingdom to earth. Almost every great Bible character experienced times of hardship, testing, trial and drought before being released into a time of abundance, and an outpouring of God’s favour in their lives, leading to an advance of their ministry in the gospel.

Why am I saying all this? It’s an encouragement to keep going in during the times of drought because the rain will come. It may take years, or even decades, but the important thing is to remain in close relationship with Jesus. It may be uncomfortable; indeed, it may be unbearable, but it will not last forever. Don’t be like the Israelites who moaned and complained about their predicament as they wandered around the desert for 40 years, forgetting to look back at God’s provision and faithfulness. Remember what God has done for you in the past and cling to the promises he’s given and the dreams he’s laid on your heart. Understand that there is a season for everything and find reason to worship him in every situation.

And now for a news update!

I’ve finished building my home studio, and it’s fully functional! It took me a few weeks longer than anticipated (DIY always does!) but I’m really pleased with the finished project and it’s amazing to have a dedicated space for writing, recording and doing admin. It also doubles up as a chill out and prayer area for me and my wife – a little haven away from the busyness of life.

I’ve already started recording some demos for my new EP. I aim to produce a record of 5 songs to be released in Spring next year. After making enquiries with a few studios and producers I decided to work with Jez Nunn and the guys from Lion of Judah, who are based in Haywards Heath. If you haven’t heard of them, check out their music online. They’ve played at Big Church Day out and Creation Fest this year and are making some great music! I’m really looking forward to working with them and producing a top quality EP.

My plan is to release a single in the next few months as a precursor to the main EP, and then to do some crowdfunding to raise funds for the rest of the project and give people the opportunity to share in the journey with me. I’ll post some details of how to get involved nearer the time, but in the meantime the best way to keep up to date is by signing up to my mailing list.

I’ve not had many gigs or events recently (it’s been a dry spell!) but this is partly because of staring a new job and adjusting to a different working environment and a longer commute to work. I hope to book some more gigs soon so watch this space. I did have the opportunity to play a few songs at KingsStock Music Festival in Moggerhanger, Bedfordshire this weekend on their Clearing Stage. We also spent a few hours there as a family on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a great little festival that with some quality music and a relaxed family feel. Check it our for next year because it definitely deserves a bigger turnout.

I continue to start new songs, but I’m having trouble finishing them! I’ve got about 20 ideas on the go at the moment. Hopefully some of them will develop into decent songs, but more often than not it’s a process that involves perspiration, not inspiration!

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and God Bless.

Andrew

 

Blog #12 – Going Deeper

Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy few weeks!

I’ve been getting back to writing some new songs. I’ve got about 20 ideas on the go at the moment and I finally finished a song called “Deeper” that I started over a year ago! I’m particularly excited about sharing this song as it’s taken a lot of hard work, multiple revisions and plenty of frustration along the way. It’s very satisfying to have finished it and it reflects my desire to go deeper in my relationship with God and shake me out of any leanings towards a comfortable and mediocre existence that has no eternal significance.

I’ve played a few gigs since I last wrote a blog. The first was in Wisbech at After Hours Live, which I thoroughly enjoyed, sharing a mix of my own songs and some covers. It was also great to meet Matt McChlery who runs the events and is also a fellow Ministry of Music artist. The second gig was supporting Noel Robinson on his UK tour in Bedford. It was great to meet Noel, who is full of energy, enthusiasm and encouragement, as well as being a phenomenal musician and worshipper of Jesus through his songs. It was also great to meet some other musicians from the local area who I hope to link in with in the future. Last week I returned to More Than A Coffee at Costa in Huntingdon to play a set of my own songs and a few covers. It went down well and I’m developing a good relationship with Debbie Porsz who runs these and the sunday night events as part of her vision to see God’s Kingdom grow in the area. I also led worship at Sandy Community Church yesterday and it was great to be in God’s presence with a group of people that are hungry to worship!

 

 

I’ve been making good progress with my home studio and hope to have it finished by the end of this month. I can’t wait to have a dedicated space to write, record and be creative and it also means I can leave everything set up, rather than having to pack up to prevent kids from fiddling with my instruments and equipment!

 

I’ve been making plans to record my next project. I had intended to record a whole album of songs and do it all myself in my new home studio. However, I would love to do a really high quality record to take my songs to the next level. In light of this I’m beginning to explore options for recording another EP in a professional studio. This will be quite an expensive project that I hope to fund partly from my day job and partly from a crowdfunding campaign. If you’re interested in getting involved with the project, I’ll release some details once I have finalised my plans. I’m really excited about this venture and I hope it will open some doors of opportunity going forward, but it’s also quite daunting! A great way to keep up to date with any developments is to sign up to my mailing list.

To make life even more interesting, I’m starting a new job next month. I hope that this change will give me some more time with my family, but also free up time to work on my music. I’ll have a daily train commute that will give me an opportunity to do all my music admin, which takes up a surprising amount of time! There is so much I want to do, but I only have limited time and need to prioritise where I spend my efforts. It’s easy to get sucked into doing lots of admin, social media work and trying to book gigs, to the detriment of developing my musicianship and song writing craft.

It is also easy to put all these things before my relationship with God. Without spending time with him and listening to his guiding voice, the song writing and hard work in trying to make progress in my ministry is empty and worthless. I want to be working to spread the Kingdom of God, not building my own little empire. This can be a struggle because the pride in my music and ambition to see it expand can get in the way. I’m reminded of Matthew 6:33 “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”.

This verse comes at the end of Jesus’ teaching about worrying. We all have a tendency to worry, mostly about things that are completely out of our control, and this often leads us to seek God for guidance, but Jesus turns this process upside down and tells us to seek his Kingdom first. This can be difficult to do when there are so many things to worry about in life, but I have found that being in the Lord’s presence and seeking him is the only way to find peace. We sometimes treat God like a problem solving dispenser and go to him when there is an issue we need help with. He wants more than this though, he wants a relationship with us regardless of what our circumstances are. When I’m walking closely with Jesus, either the worries of life become less significant, or he gives me the strength and resilience to deal with them. Nothing is impossible for the creator of the universe!

That’s it for now!

Andrew

P.S. – don’t forget to check out my social media pages and like/subscribe.

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Blog #11 – New Things

Hello friends!

Its been a while since my last blog and there is lots to catch up on, so I’ve broken it down into sections for you!

NEW SONGS

At the beginning of the year I took an old hymn by William Cowper called “God Moves In A Mysterious Way”, wrote a new melody and added a chorus. I’ve been working on recording this song, which is nearly finished. I just need to record some extra vocals and mix and master it. I’ll be releasing it as a single very soon. Watch this space….

NEW SKILLS

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Speaking of mixing and mastering, I’ve been doing a lot of research and learning in this area as I’m keen to be able to produce my own music rather than rely on others, which can be expensive. Ideally I’d have a huge budget and record everything in a high quality studio and have professional mixing and mastering. However, as an independent artist with very little money or time I have to do most things myself. Having said that, I’m really enjoying learning about the processes involved in creating great sounding music on a tight budget, and although subject is vast and complicated there are some fantastic online resources for self-learning. YouTube is a wonderful thing! If you’re interested in music production two of my favourite YouTube bloggers are Recording Revolution and Music Tech Help Guy.

NEW FRIENDS

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Something else I’ve been working on since Christmas is making connections and building relationships with other musicians and worship leaders. It’s a very small world when you start meeting people! Last month I worked on a project with Richard Heywood and Aaron Esdale from BuskingPraise. They are two guys that write their own material and go out on the streets to busk and share the songs that God has laid on their heart. I love their vision for this and as part of my mixing and mastering development I mixed and helped to arrange one of their songs “What Love” which is now available online. Please take a few minutes to listen and please give them your support by leaving a comment and following them on social media.

NEW EVENTS

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I’ve played a couple of events since Christmas and I’m really enjoying getting out there with my music and sharing it with people in person. Recordings are great, but nothing beats live music, especially when there are opportunities to explain the stories and inspiration behind the songs. At the end of March I played and led worship at More Than A Coffee, which is a church plant that meets in Costa in Huntingdon and is led by Debbie Porsz. I loved being able to play some of my songs and lead people in worship in a coffee shop and I’m booked to do another midweek event on the 11th June where I’ll be playing more of my own songs. Please come along if you’re nearby and available.

Last Sunday I lead worship at Encounter, which is a monthly event held at Cambourne Church. Not only did I have the opportunity to lead and share some of my songs, I was also interviewed about my day job and met some great people. I love what Chris Duffett and the team are doing there to bring people from different churches together for worship, teaching and prayer.

I have a few more events coming up in the next few weeks. The first is this Friday 4th May at After Hours Live in Wisbech. I’ll be playing a set of cover songs as well as my own material. I’ll also be sharing the inspiration behind some of my songs and how they relate to my journey of faith over recent years. Again, come along if you’re able – it’s a free event!

On the 11th May I have a very exciting opportunity to support Noel Robinson on the Bedford date of his UK tour called “Outrageous Love”. Noel is an international worship leader, music pastor, songwriter and producer whose mandate is to see the body of Christ rise up in worship, intercession and unity in this generation. Check out his website and YouTube videos to get a flavour of what the evening will be like – it promises to be great! Tickets are available here

I was given this opportunity through Ministry of Music who I have been working with since Christmas. If you would like to book me to play at your event, please get in touch through the website.

There are some other events in the pipeline for later in the year and even into 2019, but I’ll advertise those when they are confirmed.

NEW REVIEWS

I’ve had my EP “Where The Light Shines” reviewed twice this month.

The first review was from Rob Allwright at OneManInTheMiddle – you can find the review here

The second review was from Cross Rhythms – you can find the review here

I’m really pleased with both of these reviews and they were better than I expected!

NEW STUDIO

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Much of my recording and writing is on hold at the moment, because I am in the process of converting part of my garage into an office/studio. Like most other things, I like to do it myself rather than pay builders a small fortune to do it for me, but it’s making progress and I hope to have a fully functional studio and creative space very soon. Once it’s up and running I plan to crack on with recording my album. It will also be a great space to spend time in prayer and worship and writing new songs. Oh, and I also need an extra four hours in every day, and an extra two days in every week!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Having just read over what I’ve written, I realise how much has happened in a few short months! I often get frustrated at how little time I have to spend on music ministry because I also have a family and a full time job that come first (in that order!), but I am also very grateful for all that I am able to do, for a supportive and encouraging wife (according to her I’ve never written a bad song!), and for lots of friends and family that appreciate the music I make and the way I can use my gifts to lead people in worship. I would of course, love to do more of it. In fact, I’d love to do it full-time, but God knows what I need and I trust that at the right time and in the right circumstances he will release me to do what is on my heart. In the meantime I keep chipping away and doing what I can with the time and resources I have. As Proverbs 16:9 says “A man’s heart plans his way but the Lord directs his steps”. I have champagne ideas and a lemonade budget, but as a good friend pointed out, Jesus turned water into wine, so there is hope!

Before I go I just want to ask you one favour. If you haven’t already, could you head over to my facebook page and hit the like button. It really does help and it’s a good way to keep up to speed with new songs and other news.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew.

 

 

Blog #10 – Stay on the train!

Hello friends!

Almost unbelievably, it’s nearly the end of 2017! Each year seems to pass by more and more quickly, perhaps propelled by the increasing pace of life and demands upon my time. As strange as it sounds I measure the speed of my existence by the apparent frequency with which I put the bins out for collection. It seems to come round more quickly each week!

As I look back over the past year I’m reminded of the following verses from James chapter 1…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Each year presents its own challenges, but this year seems to have been particularly testing for a variety of reasons. I’ve faced a number of disappointments because things haven’t worked out as I had planned or hoped, and battled with a variety of stresses and a period of illness, but through everything God is teaching me just to keep going and to trust that my life and my future are in his hands. I think we too often rely on our own ideas, resources and effort, or we put our faith in other people to fulfil the plans we have, rather than placing our full trust in God.

When things don’t work out as we had envisaged, its easy blame God or question his guidance. Sometimes however, things just don’t make sense and it is a case of digging deep, realising we don’t have the answers to all the questions, and persevering through the trials. It’s in the testing that we are made stronger and our characters are shaped and refined. God is more interested in our relationship with him and our trust in his provision, than in what we can achieve for him or how successful we are.

When we are in the midst of the difficulty our instinct is to want to get out of the situation and find relief from suffering. This passage in James seems counter-intuitive as it starts out by telling us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. It’s not suggesting that we enjoy the pain in some masochistic way, but we look to what the hardship is achieving, which is perseverance. The passage also tells us to allow perseverance to “finish its work” so we can become complete. Life can be unbearable sometimes, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, because if we’re walking with Jesus there is hope and a future beyond this world where we will be made whole and there will be no more suffering. Someone once told me that if you get off the train when it’s still in the tunnel because the journey is too dark, you’ll still be in the dark. Stay on the train, persevere, and reach and light!

Despite some of the difficulties of the last year, I also have a lot be thankful for. I have a lovely family, a job and my health, and God has blessed me with about 50 new songs! I’ve managed to record an EP and share my songs with people, which has been a great joy! I’m planning my second EP for next year and it’s going to be bigger and better! I also have some exciting developments in the pipeline which will hopefully open up more opportunities to lead worship and play gigs. Watch this space for updates!

Have a great Christmas and New Year and I’ll be back in 2018 with more music, blogs, gigs and videos!

Andrew

 

Blog #9 – Plodding On

Hello Friends,

It’s been a while since my last blog, but I’ve been busy! Mostly with work, family, and general life and trying to keep my head above water! I don’t have enough hours in the day to release all the creative ideas that I have stored up, and my passion for music isn’t particularly compatible with my day job! I’m working on about 10 new songs at the moment and hoping to get some of them finished soon.

I have managed to find time to record a couple of “live” YouTube songs recently. One of them is a new song that I wrote a couple of months ago called Do You Not Know? and the other is a cover version of a song written by my friend Allan McKinlay and his friend Pete Crockett called Give Thanks To God. You can listen to them by clicking on the links. I hope you enjoy them – please like and subscribe to my fledgling YouTube channel!

I’ve also got a couple of gigs in the pipeline, so watch this space for dates and locations! I had my EP launch event a couple of weeks ago, which was great and a good chance to give more of my songs some air. I had some really positive feedback and I really enjoyed playing through a selection of the songs I’ve written over the past year. I also played a few of my songs as part of a time of worship at the recent CPA leaders conference. This again was a great opportunity and I loved sharing my them with good friends from around the UK. There is a vulnerability in writing, recording and playing songs for people, because they are a glimpse into my inner thoughts, struggles and walk with God, but when people are able to connect and identify with what I’m singing about, it is really  satisfying, so I pray that I will have more opportunities to do this and that people will be blessed by them.

I have a constant struggle with the desire to spend all my time writing songs, recording, leading worship and performing my songs, and doing the things that are necessary to earn a living, support a family and do the job I’m paid to do! However, I’m reminded in scripture of the following verse:

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

I may not feel that I’m in the perfect environment to express and use my gifts and talents, but I have been given a work to do and I should work hard and diligently at what God has given me. At the moment there is nothing I can do to change my circumstances, and as much I feel a sense of frustration, I trust that He has my life in his hands and is directing my steps. Much of life is about being faithful and content in the small things and doing each day what is set before us. It is good to have dreams and expectations, and to aim high, but we can’t live in a constant state of longing for the next “big thing”. I have to regularly remind myself of this and I am learning to be satisfied in being who God made me to be, and doing what he has given me to do. He is more interested in my character and my obedience, than in what I can achieve for him. He is more concerned about how I love my wife and children than whether I write lots of songs. He looks more closely at how I treat other people than how well I play the guitar. Most importantly he wants me to have a relationship with and worship him before anything else. In everything I do, I need to work as though working for him, not myself or others.

That’s all for now!

Andrew

 

 

Blog #8 – Where The Light Shines

Hello Friends!

I’m very excited that my EP “Where The Light Shines” was released a few weeks ago! I’ve been working on it for the past 6 months or so and it’s very satisfying to see the end result. I really hope you are able to listen and enjoy the songs. The EP is available on my website via BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and all the other major digital music outlets. I’ve also made some lyric videos for YouTube so you can listen there…for free!

I am doing an EP release and new song evening on Friday 27th October at Biggleswade Baptist Church. It’s going to be a very chilled-out evening where I’ll play some song, give the background to some of them and hopefully have a good sing-a-long! If you’re able to get there I’d really appreciate it!

The title of the EP and the first song are based on John 1:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

It is my hope and prayer that these songs, born out of my personal journey of faith over the last few years, bring some of God’s light into your life in some way. I hope that that the words and melodies help you to enter into a place where you can know Him more, wherever you might be in your journey with Him. My longing and passion is to see people worshipping the loving God who created them and gives them life in all its fullness.

There is so much darkness in the world and we all experience this in different ways and at different times. Sometimes it seems as if the darkness is too much to bear and that our struggles and suffering will never end, but the darker the circumstances, the brighter the light shines. The greatest light of all is the one that God sent to us to bring us out of darkness, and give us life and hope. The greatest light is Jesus who came to earth to break the power of death that was over us and set us free to live in relationship with our heavenly Father, not just in this life, but forever – the best is yet to come! I have experienced dark times in my own life but found light, hope and comfort in my relationship with Jesus. It is through these dark times that I have grown the most in my faith, even though they were difficult. No matter how dark the situation is, “where the light shines, darkness cannot overcome”

That’s all for now.

Andrew.

Blog #7 – I love it when a plan comes together!

Hello friends!

Exciting news! I’ve finished recording all the guitar, percussion, bass and keyboard tracks for my new EP and there is just the small matter of the vocals to complete before I mix it and send it for mastering and duplication. A small spanner in the works has been a chest infection that I’ve been suffering with for the last month. I’ve not been able to sing without croaking or coughing, which wouldn’t sound great on a recording, so the project is on pause until I get my voice back to full strength. In any case I’m still hoping to release the EP by September. I also plan to do a “release gig” to play the songs from the EP and some of the others I have written recently. That sounds quite grand, but it will be more tea and biscuits than champagne and vol-au-vents! I’ll find a venue and put the details out nearer the time. I’m hoping to make the EP available on iTunes and other online platforms as well as having the old fashioned hard copy so look out for details soon.

My good friend Ed Sneller (RedhotRockit Design) has finished the artwork for the EP and it looks amazing! I hope it sounds as good as it looks. Here is a sneak preview…

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I’ve been reflecting on a verse from Proverbs over the last couple of days as I think about the future and what I might be doing this time next year, and in the years to come.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” Proverbs 19:21

There have been so many times in my life where I have formulated great plans for my future and spent time and energy trying to forge a way forward, only for God to intervene and change my course completely. That’s not to say that my plans are always off course, because he has given me ambitions, gifts and dreams that are part of his design for my life and he uses these to fulfil his purposes.

The important thing to remember is that the Lord’s plans are greater than ours and his ways are higher than our ways. Our plans often centre on our own interests, even if we approach them with a selfless attitude – that’s just human nature. God on the other hand has a divine perspective and can see where our man-made plans will lead, just like parents can often see how their children’s decisions will work out with the benefit of life experience.

It takes faith to trust that even if our plans fall apart, our heavenly father has something greater in store, not just for our good, but also for his glory. How do we do this? By coming daily into God’s presence and seeking his will for our lives, praying for his spirit to work in guiding our decisions, and listening to his voice through scripture and the many other ways that he speaks to us. I encourage you to carve out some time over the coming weeks to be with God and listen for his voice among the business of life.  He has a plan for each of us that eclipses anything we can dream up, and each of our lives is part of a greater purpose that will prevail in this life and in the one to come.

That’s it for now,

Andrew.

 

 

Blog #6 – Made To Worship

Hello Friends!

It’s been a while since my last blog but I’ve finally managed to sit down for half an hour and put some thoughts down!

We had another worship evening at Biggleswade Baptist last weekend, which was great! We’re planning another one, probably for Saturday 1st July, although I’m just waiting for confirmation that the church is free on that day. Please come along if you are local (or even if you’re not!). It’s a great opportunity to spend time together without too much time constraint, and without any agenda or programme, other than to spend time worshiping God and being in His presence.

On the recording front, I haven’t got much to report! It’s ground to a bit of a halt but I hope to get back on the wagon after a much needed holiday to France. My good friend Ed Sneller is designing some artwork for the EP and it looks amazing! I can’t wait to get the it finished!

I preached at church on Sunday on “Frontline Worship” . I really enjoyed preparing and speaking about the story of Jehoshaphat from 2 Chronicles 20 and you can listen to my talk by clicking on the link above. (Starts at 30:00)

I’ve been thinking recently about why God has made us to worship. Here are some thoughts…

We were made to worship God. That is our purpose above everything else.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says…

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

When God made Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden it was perfect and they worshipped Him simply by being in his presence and having a relationship with Him. (Genesis 1:31) However, they were enticed by Satan to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – they wanted to be like God and for their world to centre on themselves. They broke the perfect relationship with God and from then until now, man has sought to replace worship of God, with worship of self – power, money, sex, religion, ambition, human relationships, sport, music, art…the list goes on and on!

We all worship something, because it is a basic human need that God wove into our DNA (Psalm 139:13-14).We worship the things that we spend most of our time, money and energy on, and the things that we get most excited and passionate about. The problem is that we often choose to worship things that have no eternal value and only temporarily satisfy our human desires. Like Adam and Eve, we eat the fruit that tempts us and promises much, but fails to bring fulfilment.

Although the perfect relationship with God was broken in the Garden of Eden, God established a covenant with his people because he wants us to worship him (Exodus 24). He allowed his people to have access to Him through a system that involved keeping commandments, worshipping at the temple and making sacrifices to atone for sin, in order for them to enter into his presence and praise him. This was the pattern throughout the Old Testament, but we also read frequently that above law-keeping, sacrifice and ritual, God desired heart that was devoted to him and a lifestyle that pleased Him. (Hosea 6:6; Psalm 40:6-8; Isaiah 1:11). He desired genuine worship from a place of love and reverence. A good example of this is King David, who had “a heart for God” but also made some monumentally bad decisions, and didn’t always follow God’s commands. Despite this, God blessed him and used his worship to achieve great things. (1 Samuel 13:14)

This old covenant was replaced by the new covenant when Jesus came to earth to demonstrate perfect worship (Hebrews 8). He and the father were in perfect harmony and he made the ultimate sacrifice by dying as a perfectly innocent man and rising to life again to allow us permanent and unconditional access to God. There is nothing we can to do earn God’s love and there is nothing He requires from us, other than to worship Him – not by being religious and following rituals, and not by earning a place in His Kingdom by hard work, nor by achieving a goal or accumulating spiritual credit. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

Worship is happening all the time in heaven (Revelation 4), and when we worship here on earth we join in the heavenly realms, praising God and finding purpose and meaning for life, entering into the presence of God and finding that the Holy Spirit has power to bring freedom from our sinful ways. Worship brings breakthrough of God’s Kingdom to earth and brings healing and deliverance from sickness, pain and suffering; worship changes the spiritual atmosphere and is a weapon that we have in the spiritual battle, because God’s presence brings light to dark places and releases people who are captive to fear, addiction, and in bondage to evil. (Ephesians 6:10-20). Worship brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control – these are the fruits of God’s spirit and ours to enjoy as we spend time with Him. Who doesn’t want these things?! (Galatians 5:22-23) Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit and turned their back on God, but through his incredible grace he allows us to have these fruits instead.

There is no greater thing in life than to worship God and the most amazing thing is that it is completely free. All we have to do is grab hold of the gift and enjoy it because it is what we were made for!

That’s it for now!

Andrew

 

Blog #5 – Easter (I am the nail)

Hello friends!

Thanks for coming back for another blog! I’ve been bit less busy with work over the last couple of weeks and been able to write a few more songs and progress my recording project. I’ve decided to abandon trying to record a full album of songs and I’m sticking to doing an EP of six songs, which I hope to release by the summer. I don’t have enough time, equipment or skill to record and produce a decent sounding full album!

I’m leading worship at my sister’s church in Loughborough next week for my nephew’s dedication, which I’m looking forward to, and will be a special occasion. I’m also starting to prepare for the next prayer and praise evening at Biggleswade Baptist Church on Saturday 13th May. Put it in your diary and come along if you can.

I wrote an Easter blog for my other website four years ago and read it again this morning as I was pondering what to write this year. Instead of writing something new, I thought I’d share the old one with you because it is just as relevant as it was four years ago ( and indeed 2000 years ago!). I pray that it helps to you draw near to God this Easter in praise and thanks for what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Happy Easter!

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i-am-the-nail

I have often read the account of the crucifixion of Jesus and had contempt for the disciples for falling asleep, denying and betraying Jesus.

I have despaired at the blindness and hypocrisy of the religious leaders, so intent on his destruction and mockingly telling him to save himself from the cross.

I have been disgusted at the brutality and callousness of the Roman soldiers – beating, mocking and crucifying Jesus.

I have found myself getting angry at the crowds who call for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus – the same crowds that had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem as a King, only a few weeks before.

The reactions I have had towards the people involved in Jesus’ last few hours are from a deep sense of injustice. He didn’t deserve this. It wasn’t fair!

I like to think to myself:

 “If I had been there I would have done everything I could to prevent Jesus from going to the cross. I would have stood up for him, spoken out, put myself on the line to protect him. He had done nothing wrong and it was the most monumental miscarriage of justice!”

However, when I consider my own sinfulness and selfishness I have to concede that I would be no better than those I have mentioned. I didn’t fall asleep in Jesus’ hour of greatest need, I didn’t stand at the foot of the cross and mock him, I didn’t shout from the crowd that he should be executed, I didn’t drive the nails into his hands – but, in the words of that great Hymn “It was my sin that held him there”.* 

Even if I had managed to overcome my own desire for self preservation and hung on a cross next to Jesus for defending him, I could not have prevented it from happening. This was God’s rescue plan for humanity – a defining moment in history, and the very reason that Jesus had come to earth. The God of justice gave his Son over to death, and used an outrageous act of injustice to save us from death.

Isaiah 53:5 says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Written seven hundred years before Jesus’ crucifixion, it beautifully and painfully describes why Jesus went to the cross.

The sin of those involved in Jesus’ last hours is what held Him to that cross. He died for those that betrayed, denied, mocked, persecuted, flogged, insulted and crucified him. It is my sin  that held him there – I am the nail. He died for me. He died to save me from the consequences of my sin. He died so that I could be free from the snare of Satan and have an eternal relationship with him. That absolutely blows my mind!

*Before the Throne of God Above – Charitie Bancroft, 1863. Music: William Bradbury, 1861.

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Taken from www.strengthforthebattle.com – 29th March 2013

 

Blog #4 – Folding tables and polystyrene cups

Styrofoam-Coffee-Cup

Hello friends!

I feel like I’m just coming up for air after a frantic few weeks since I last blogged. My day job has been all-consuming and taken up too much of my time and energy, and the small amount left over has been given to my family. Needless to say I haven’t written or recorded anything for about three weeks and I’m feeling slightly bereft! However, last night I sat down with a guitar and made a start on a new song – one of six that are currently “in progress”. I was also featured in a short article in the monthly newsletter for the Christian Police Association, “On and Off Duty” and although it was certainly not the most important article, I was grateful for the mention.

Last Friday night I led a prayer and worship evening at our church, Biggleswade Baptist, with our pastor Steven Anderson. It went really well and there was a good turnout, especially as it was the first one we’d done. I’m really keen to do these events on a regular basis to create a space where people can come together to worship God and pray together, experiencing the life changing power of the Holy Spirit. My desire is to see these gatherings grow, not just in numbers but in expectation, that as we meet and seek God He will move powerfully in our lives and in our town and nation. It can be easy to come to God in prayer with a list of requests, and to spend all our time talking at Him, rather than just “being” in his presence and listening for what He is saying to us. Like any relationship there needs to be two way communication, and particularly in today’s world where there are so many things competing for our attention, it is vital that we carve out time to be with God. He can speak to us in many different ways but we have to be listening!

Using music is a powerful way to express ourselves and call out to God, and is also a form of prayer. That is why music features so much throughout the Bible – it has a unique way of connecting body, mind and soul. I think we need to get away from our image of prayer as being huddled around a folding church table, in a stuffy church hall, drinking tea in polystyrene cups, hands clasped and eyes closed, mumbling quietly to each other! (although God does hear those prayers). Prayer is our communication with the living God and our heavenly father! We should be able to shout, sing, laugh, cry, sit quietly, dance, jump around and fully express ourselves as we go deeper in our relationship with him. It’s important that we do this on our own with the door closed, but also as we come together as members of a family. I’m really excited to see what is going to happen with these monthly prayer and praise meetings and if you are local to Biggleswade I encourage you to come along. You don’t have to be a church member, and you don’t have to have any faith in God at all. Everyone is welcome! The next one will be in early May – date to be decided.

Have a good week.

Andrew

I leave you with Psalm 150…

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.