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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.

 

Blog #3 – Battlefield Sacrifice

Hello Friends!
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve written quite a few new songs. Every time I think “that’s it now, the inspiration is gone and I’ve run dry” I get another song. I wrote one in half an hour this week, but some of them take me a few weeks to work on and refine. I haven’t had much time to record recently and I’m looking at different options to record an EP for release later in the year.

I went to see the film Hacksaw Ridge last night at the cinema and I’d highly recommend it (as long as you can cope with some fairly graphic battle scenes!). It is based on a true story of a soldier named Desmond Doss, who enlists with the US army during the Second World War as a medic, but refuses to carry a weapon. He faces severe criticism, opposition and even a prison term for his belief in God and the sanctity of life. Despite being called a coward for not being willing to kill in battle, he displays the utmost heroics on the battle field in Okinawa after the Japanese have overrun the US forces, who have retreated after suffering heavy losses. Doss has the opportunity to retreat to safety himself but remains on the battlefield and without a weapon, and facing almost certain death, rescues 75 of his wounded colleagues and gives them medical attention. It is one of the most selfless acts of bravery I have every heard about and Doss was hailed a hero, during and after the war. He never fired a shot and never touched a weapon because he held firm to his faith in God and was willing to die for what he believed in and for those he was called to serve with.

Jesus’ sacrifice for us was even greater than this because he saved all of mankind from death. Not only did he save us from death but he has also given us life, now and for eternity. He was mocked, rejected, persecuted and ultimately killed, but in doing so he sacrificed himself for us and allowed us to receive the life and forgiveness that we so desperately need. He chose to go to the cross and could have escaped such agony, but out of love for us he went through with it. He knew that God had sent him to earth for a particular mission and he carried this through with the strongest of conviction, to achieve a victory in the battle over sin and death. Our response should be to live in the same way as we worship with our whole lives, staying close to God and living sacrificially for Him and for each other. Romans 12:1-2 says:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 Desmond Doss was an example of a living sacrifice in the way that he held fast to his relationship with God and was unwavering in his convictions. He also sacrificed his own comfort and lived his faith out in a very real way by saving the lives of his colleagues – this was his spiritual act of worship. Fortunately we don’t have to fight in a gruesome war to live out our faith and demonstrate sacrifice, but we are called to do this in our own situations and we each have battles to fight, whatever they might be. It can be easy to conform to what everyone else is doing and compromise on what God has called us to do especially when we face opposition or ridicule, but by remaining close to Him and renewing our minds by his word in the Bible, we can offer something that is pleasing to God, worship him with our lives, and help to save souls from our own battlefields in the process.

Have a great week!

Andrew.

Blog #2 – Lift your hands

Hello friends,

Since I last blogged I have been busy recording some of my songs as a full band arrangement and have also written some new songs. At the moment I’m writing songs faster than I can record them! I do hope to get them all recorded at some point though.

The two I have finished recording, Holy Holy and Where the Light Shines are available to listen to on the website by clicking the links. I’d love to get some feedback on them, whether good or “constructive”, so please leave a comment or send me a message.

Last Sunday night I introduced Holy Place to our church, Biggleswade Baptist, and we did it again this Sunday morning. It seemed to go down well and it was truly amazing and spine-tingling to hear people singing back to God the words and melody that he has given me! That’s the reason I’m doing this – to share the gift of these songs with others so that they can enter into worship of God and sing them back to Him in praise.

As I sit here writing this my daughter is toddling around and making me laugh with her silly faces and putting her arms up in the air in expectation of cuddles- which of course I am only too happy to give! This reminds me of the amazing love God has for us as his children.

God loves us so much that he has adopted us into his family and we have the promise of an eternal inheritance with all the riches that come from having a relationship with the creator of the universe. We have access to Him at any time because He went to extraordinary lengths to restore our relationship by sending his son Jesus to die for our sins and defeat death for us. We are no longer slaves to fear, nor death, nor illness, nor anything else that can drag us down and become a barrier to our relationship with Him, because we have the spirit of the living God with us, giving us unconditional access to Him for all time.

I am not the perfect father, and although I love my children unconditionally, I do get exasperated with them and I can be grumpy and unkind sometimes. God is not like that. He is the perfect father and is infinitely patient, kind and loving with us. He wants relationship with us, and like with my daughter raising her arms for a cuddle with her daddy, that is all God requires of us – to raise our arms to Him and give ourselves over to his love, so that He can pick us up and embrace us. It doesn’t matter if we have done things that we consider to make us unworthy of His love, because He has already forgiven us. He wouldn’t have gone through the pain of separation from his son Jesus, to then withhold His forgiveness from us. There is nothing that can separate us from Him, other than our unwillingness to come to Him in worship and repentance. Neither is He waiting for us to do something for Him before He will accept us, and we don’t have to earn His love. He delights in us and wants us to delight in his presence.

I don’t want anything from my children apart from a good relationship. I’m not going to love them any more or any less based on what they do for me (or what they don’t!), and God is the same. He delights in us because He made us and He loves us. It really is that simple! I want to spend time each day with Him, reading His word, praying and listening in a quiet place, because without this investment of time, there is no relationship. Out of this springs everything else because when we know Him and understand His character we naturally want to do things to please Him and tell others about Him, which is why the Psalmist says:

“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)

The amazing thing about God our father is that He also gives us gifts and abilities to use to bring His glory and praise. When my children give me gifts for my birthday, I have paid for them and my wife has invariably chosen them. That doesn’t make them any less special and I love to receive them, because it’s not about the gift, it’s about my love for them and their love for me. It is the same with God. We can’t give Him anything that he needs, and everything we have is from Him anyway, but He loves it when we use our gifts to give back to Him and serve Him. One of my gifts is music and I love using that to worship God and draw near to Him, as well as using music to help others do the same. We all have different gifts and I would encourage you to use them to worship God, not out of a sense of duty but out of a love for Him and an expression of your delight to be in His presence. If you don’t know what your gifts are, pray and ask Him to reveal them – you do have them, I assure you!

That’s all for now!

Andrew

First Blog!

Hello friends and welcome to my first blog!

I hope to update this every couple of weeks with news about new songs, recordings and general thoughts about life, faith and music.

Since I began my song writing spree in December I have written over 20 songs. I have recorded 12 of these acoustically, which are available on the website and I have started work or recording these again with new arrangements and as a full studio album – although when I say studio, I mean my conservatory! I’d love the opportunity to record my songs in a proper studio and have them produced and mastered professionally, but that’s a project for the future.

I’ve written a couple of new songs this week, which I’m really excited about and looking forward to sharing soon! I’m also releasing a special Valentine’s Day song – keep an eye out for this on the website and Facebook/Twitter. I’m going to be leading worship at a new prayer and worship event at Biggleswade Baptist Church on 24th March where I hope to share some of my new songs.

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy as I try to balance a full-time job a family with three kids and writing and recording. I’m so inspired and fired up to pen new songs that it is consuming a lot of my thought space and at times I’m a little overwhelmed. It’s a good problem to have though and I trust that God will give me the time and resources as I need them. Amidst all this busyness, I am reminded of the importance of keeping my priorities in order, in particular the most important thing in life, which is to remain close to Jesus in my daily walk and abide in his word and presence through prayer. I don’t always get this right, but all the songs in the world are meaningless without a right relationship with my heavenly father. As John 15:4-5 says..

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 

That’s all for now.

Andrew