6 February: Tuesday Refocus

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‘Move, I pray Thee, upon my disordered heart; take away the infirmities of unruly desires and hateful lusts; lift the mists and darkness of unbelief; brighten upon my soul with the pure light of truth.’ – Valley of Vision

Our hearts are divided and disordered (Ps 86:11).  The things we want to do, we do not.  The things we do not want to do we do (Rom 7:15-20).  And it is only in the Light of Life that we can see the light (Ps 36:9).

We can only fulfill the calling we have as bringers of light when our lives are brought under the light of God’s Word, the authority of God’s Spirit, and in sanctifying submission of God’s people (Matt 5:14).

Bring your life into the light, walk in the light and serve in the light (1 Jn 1:5-7).  The Light of the World is the always, forever and only hope of every darkened and disordered heart.

Looking to the Light,

AB

30 January: Tuesday Refocus

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‘The greatest sign of pride isn’t the presence of boasting, it’s a lack of prayer.’ – BJ Thompson

Ouch.

We can wax lyrical about being humble servant leaders, but if we don’t come away from the crowd for communion with our Father (Lk 5:16), if our lives are not filled with unceasing prayers (1 Thess 5:16-18) of dependence, humility is merely aspiration.  And if our songs are really prayers, sung in faith and belief – they must be desperate echoes of a father, ‘I believe! Help my unbelief!’ (Mk 9:14)

Pray like you believe. 

Pray because you believe. 

Pray because you need to believe.

To prayer,

AB

16 January: Tuesday Refocus

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‘O thou who hast the hearts of all men in Thine hand, form my heart according to the Word, according to the image of Thy Son, so shall Christ the Word, and His Word, be my strength and comfort.’ – Puritan Prayer

Everything we do is formative. 
Everything we do is liturgical. 
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. 
As one of my pastors said regularly, ‘Don’t let the world teach you theology.’

So, ‘Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ [Rom 12:2]

Don’t flippantly be formed by the world – but by the mercies of God, ‘present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God…’ [Rom 12:1].

Be formed,
AB

23 January: Tuesday Refocus

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‘The poets, singers, songwriters, novelists, musicians… enable the voices of creation to shout, “How beautiful is the One who made us!”’ – Brennan Manning

There is more taking place on a Sunday morning than we can truly grasp. In the lives of the people with whom we gather, there is joy and sorrow, sin and brokenness, faith and doubt, striving and rest. Spiritually speaking we stand in the very presence of God with Jesus as our Mediator as He inhabits our praises (1 Tim 2:5, Rom 8:34, Ps 22:3). Our praise never stands alone but is joined in the song of heaven and earth, the saints that have gone before, and those that will come after us in God’s story (Ps 19:1, Rev 4:8, Is 6:3, Ps 145:4).

What a privilege as worship leaders to lift eyes to that greater reality. What a privilege to give voice to the people of God to declare the beauty and majesty of God. And to not only to give voice but to put on display the beauty and majesty of God through all we do… well-balanced sound, beautiful harmonies, practiced musicians who are well-rehearsed, lyrics displayed clearly, intentionally-crafted liturgy, a welcoming environment… There is no part of our gathering that is devoid of opportunity to display God’s beauty.

So let’s work hard, practice well, and be intentional in all we do, while still recognising the thing that will most clearly display to our people the beauty of God in our gathering is whether or not you and I have been captured by the beauty of God.

Be captured,
AB

14 January: Set List

Welcome/Call To Worship: Isaiah 44:6-8

  • JESUS!
  • I LOVE YOU LORD

Corporate Confession: 

We are not righteous, no, not one;
We do not understand;
We do not seek for God.
We all have turned aside; together we have become worthless,

Not one of us does good, not even one.

Our throats are an open grave, and we use our tongues to deceive.
Our lips are venomous, our mouths are full of curses and bitterness.
Our feet are swift to shed blood;
in our
path there is ruin and misery,
and the way of peace we have not known.
There is no fear of God before our eyes.

From Romans 3:10-18

  • POWER TO REDEEM

Sermon

Communion: Psalm 86:8-13

  • MY JESUS I LOVE THEE
  • BEFORE THE THRONE
  • REVIVE US AGAIN

 

9 January: Tuesday Refocus

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‘We need to reorient our hiding places today. We have attempted to hide from God, but by the cross, He declares that we have been hidden with Christ in God! We can still hide, but today we hide in God rather than from Him.’ – Jennie Shut
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I am praying that the truth of God’s Word, who He is and what He has done, and who we are because of Him become anchors for your 2018 and beyond.

I am praying the excitement and joy of the New Year, our greatest treasure our deepest joy is found in the person and work of Christ.

I am praying in our deepest sorrow, struggle, and sin, we fight against the automatic response of isolation in an attempt to put distance between us and God, us and God’s people, and instead run to the Strong Tower that is our lives hidden with Christ in God. Finding God's care and provision toward us in and through His people - the family of God [Pr 18:10, Col 3:3, Ps 68:6].

I am praying that this year, our hearts are soft and attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit… As He leads us in all truth – Jesus, who stands before the Father as our advocate – the Father who has set His affections on us before the foundations of the world, the One that allows us to stand in His presence because of the perfect and complete work of Christ, who’s Spirit allows us to cry ‘Abba Father!’ [Jn 16:13, 1 Jn 2:1, Deut 10:15, 2 Cor 5:21, Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6].

In subtle and significant ways 2018 will try and convince you otherwise, but ‘This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has purposed, who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?’ [Is 14:26-27]

I am praying for you, for me, for our leading and serving, and our people that Truth will be the anchor of our souls [Heb 6:19].

Be anchored in what is true. Lead others who are anchorless to the Rock who is higher [Ps 62:2].

Be anchored,
AB

7 January: Set List

WELCOME/CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 5:1-8, 11-12

  • PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY/GOOD GOOD FATHER
  • JESUS MESSIAH
  • BUILD MY LIFE - Psalm 19:7-11

Sermon

  • WHEN I SURVEY/HERE'S MY HEART

CONFESSION: Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. In Your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways, to the glory of Your holy name. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

  • LET IT BE JESUS/BUILD MY LIFE
  • REJOICE

12 December: Tuesday Refocus

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‘Peace does not dwell in the outward things, but in a heart prepared to wait.’ – Elisabeth Eliot

Advent reminds us that we have always been people who wait.

Scripture is full of stories of those who await their liberation from captivity, freedom from slavery, and return from exile.

Even within our own stories, as children we wait to open our gifts on Christmas. 

As adults we wait for time off from university, work and responsibility.

We wait as God’s people for the return of our Saviour and King – the One who reigns with righteousness, rules will peace, our Hiding Place, our Lord and our God (Is 32:1-2, Jn 20:28).

But did you know, even God waits?

‘Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore exalts Himself to show mercy on you.  For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.’ (Is 30:18)

We are not alone in our waiting – and we are blessed in our waiting.  He is gracious to us as we wait for Him (Is 33:2).

Wait well,

AB

10 December: Sunday Set

Welcome/Call to Worship: Psalm 78:1-4

  • O COME LET US ADORE HIM
  • CROWN HIM (MAJESTY)
  • ADVENT VIGNETTE

'Glory, the earth is full of Your glory / Immanent, transcendent, incarnate / The heart of God is found in flesh, and the earth is filled with Your glory.' 

  • TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

SERMON

COMMUNION:  Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Your sins are pardoned.  The penalty paid.  Thanks be to God!

  • COME AND STAND AMAZED

May His name endure forever, His fame continue as long as the sun.  May all the nations be blessed in Him, may Jesus Christ be praised! [from Psalm 72]

  • BE ENTHRONED
  • O COME O COME EMMANUEL

19 November: Sunday Set

Welcome/Call to Worship: 

to all who are weary and need rest

to all who mourn and long for comfort

to all who feel worthless and wonder if God cares

to all who fail and desire strength

to all who sin and need a Savior

this church opens wide her doors with a welcome from Jesus Christ, the ally of His enemies, the defender of the guilty, the justifier of the inexcusable, the friend of sinners, welcome. [10th Presbyterian Call to Worship]

  • GRACE ALONE
  • HERE IS LOVE

Responsive Reading: Romans 8:32-39

  • THIS IS OUR GOD

Communion: Psalm 27:1-5

  • THERE IS A REDEEMER
  • JESUS!
  • RAISE UP THE CROWN (ALL HAIL THE POWER)

 

21 November: Tuesday Refocus

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‘A servant of God has but one Master.  It ill becomes the servant to seek to be rich, and great, and honoured in that world where his Lord was poor… and despised.’ – George Muller

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.  For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:15-20

In my own preparation for Advent and Christmas in these past weeks, I have been overwhelmed with the reality that our Saviour who sustains the universe by the Word of His power, is the same One who humbled Himself to the point of death (Heb 1:3, Phil 2:8). 

I am praying that our hearts will echo the wonder of the Psalmist, ‘what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?’ (8:4).  And that our lives and service will be shaped by the humility of our Saviour as we lead and give our lives away.

Servant>Served,

AB

14 November: Tuesday Refocus

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‘You know you have an idol when you have to perform.’ – Ann Voskamp

Earn. 
Prove. 
Strive. 
Perform.
Those are the messages, both subtle and overt, at the core of every worldview and religion. Save one. For the Christian, we are invited to rest (Matt 11:30). Rest in an identity already won – our identity in Christ.  Our performance is as filthy rags – so we rest in the ‘it is finished’ of Christ’s cross (Is 64:6, Jn 19:30). 

Our striving is but chasing after the wind – so we rest in the word spoken over Jesus’ identity by the Father: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ (Ecc 2:11, Matt 3:17).
Our efforts to prove ourselves first mean that we will be last (Matt 20:16). So we rest in perfect submission of the One who has been given the Name above every other name (Phil 2:8-9).
Our efforts to earn evidence the reality we do not understand grace (Rom 11:6), so we rest in the free gift of God (Eph 2:8).

Whether it is behind a microphone or instrument, at home or at work, with your family or your friends – search your heart (Ps 139:23). Because anything that whispers your acceptance is tied to your performance is an idol. Root it out with truth and rest in your true identity.

Searching/Resting,
AB

7 November: Tuesday Refocus

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‘Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen.’ – Martin Lloyd-Jones

Read that again.
And again.
And again.

Do these words resonate with who we are as a team of people that lead corporate sung worship?
Do we actually expect God to show up? 
Do we expect Him to move? 
Do we expect Him to speak?

Another, more painful question… do these words resonate with your own personal walk with God? Do you expect the One who thunders, and whispers to speak to tenderly to you (Psalm 29:3, 1 Kings 19:12, Hosea 2:14)? Do you expect the hands that flung stars into place to hold you secure (Psalm 8:3, John 10:28)? Do you expect the One who is faithful in all His words and kind in all His works to keep you from falling (Psalm 145:13, Psalm 121:3)?

I desperately desire for our people to show up expectant. Ready. Prepared. Not merely to sing, but for God to speak and for our songs to rise, minds to be renewed, hearts to be transformed, lives to be conformed as we respond to our God who does not keep silence (Psalm 40:3, Romans 12:2, Romans 8:29, Psalm 50:3).

Brothers and sisters, expect God to move. Not only as you serve from the front, but as you sit in the congregation, and in the quiet monotony of life, work, and studies. God, give us ears to hear, and hearts that wait in eager anticipation.

Expecting,

AB

31 October: Tuesday Refocus

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'Flee to Jesus that the torn may be mended, the mob silenced, the weak bolstered and the scared made brave in the presence of Him who is King.' - Beth Moore

There is no hierarchy in the family of God. No division, none more valuable than the next. We gather together every Sunday, walking through the doors echoing the Psalmist, ‘As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O my God.’ (40:17).

I become increasingly convinced that to lead people well, we must go first. We must first recognise our own weakness, and flee to His strength before we can truly invite others to do the same.

Let’s go first,
AB

24 October: Tuesday Refocus

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‘Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover.’  – Brennan Manning

‘For from His fullness we all received, grace upon grace (Jn 1:16).’  Our God lacks nothing.  He does not grow weary, He does not slumber, He does not sleep, He does not need to be replenished or refreshed (Is 40:28, Ps 50, Hag 2:8).  He is without beginning or end, and every aspect of His character flows perfectly, fully, overwhelmingly without end from eternity past into eternity (Rev 22:13).  And it is out of this fullness that we have received grace upon grace.

If grace is sufficient to save you, grace is more than sufficient to keep you, and sustain you (2 Cor 12:9).  Serve from this past, present and future grace that carries you along.  Do not serve from your fullness that changes moment-to-moment, serve from His fullness that never ends.

From grace,

AB

17 October: Tuesday Refocus

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‘Grace is God’s refusal to allow us to define ourselves or to have the last word.’ – Michael Horton

Words have weight – carrying the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21).  Flowing from the heart, coming out of the mouth to bless or curse (Luke 6:45, James 3:10).  Our Enemy – the father of lies – is constantly attempting to leverage the words we hear in culture, in passing, in relationship, and the words we speak to ourselves to convince us of his truth – which is, in fact, lies (John 8:44).  But over the life of a Christ follower, there is a Better Word Spoken.  The Word Christ, the Word of His blood, the Word of His sacrifice, the Word of Grace (Hebrews 12:24).

And as Paul shared with Cornerstone Liverpool on Sunday – this grace is a liberating truth!

Believe the Better Word this week.

Be liberated by the Better Word this week. 

Serve in and by and through the power of the Better Word this week.

Believing,

AB