Enjoy God

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the power of the Holy Spirit.
— Romans 15 v 13

Last year I was sat in a church in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside - this place was known for a move of God’s Spirit that happened in the 1960’s & 70’s. During that time they led hundreds to the Lord, there were healings and many people were transformed by the love of Jesus. Those who encountered God then went on to plant churches and ministries across the world.

I sat there as the leader of the church (now in his late 80s) led us in worship with a band of elderly people - armed with squeeze boxes, banjos, rainbow guitar straps (and of course tambourines).  Being a music lover and someone who appreciates the new things of God it was stylistically challenging but I couldn’t help but notice there was something they had in God that I didn’t have. 

Their lives were displaying true fulfilment and joy in the Lord. They had truly encountered Jesus in a real way and their worship was reflecting it.

 

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For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
— Matthew 12 v 34

Travelling up to Scotland with Rivers & Robots we were listening to a mainstream Christian playlist on Spotify and I quickly noticed that almost every song had verses covering serious themes of trials, personal struggles and cries of lament. There’s nothing wrong with being honest but when that becomes the main theme I would suggest it reflects where the heart is. 

If the theme of the old guys with the banjos was joy and peace, it would seem (from listening to the playlist) that our theme was the trials of life, (difficulties, storms, valleys, mountains..) Maybe in our quest for “being real” we’ve lost the art of simplicity. Could it be that we’ve taken our eyes off Jesus and placed our focus on the winds and waves?

I’m not suggesting we ignore the trials - I know following Jesus isn’t always an easy road. However Jesus did tell us, “I have come that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” I believe that God doesn’t want us to just survive life, He wants us to thrive. I feel if there’s one theme we should return to as songwriters it’s the goodness of God - and the benefits that come from a relationship with Him.

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God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.
— John Piper

I have invested the last few years of my life to see a new generation of musicians and artists around the world rise up and use their gifts to glorify Jesus. I believe strongly that the world needs to hear our voice and our expression and I believe that a generation that catches His heart and learns to find their fulfilment in Jesus will transform the world. 

What the world needs to see is Christians who know God and live fulfilled lives in right relationship with Him. 

Now is the time for a new theme. It’s time to enjoy God again - to lift our eyes, beyond our situations and circumstances to the one who alone can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. 

God wants to fill you with His joy, “that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” As you allow Him to fill you with His joy and enjoy Him, your life will in turn become a truer reflection of His goodness to the world around you.

What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
— Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1648

I bought an alarm clock

This week I bought an alarm clock. I bought it for two main reasons.

  1. I'm not a morning person. I'm also self-employed. Meaning I'm often working late into the night until my eyes won't stay open and then waking up at whatever time in the morning, or repeatedly hitting snooze on my phone. My alarm clock is on a table at the end of my bed which means I need to actually get out of bed to turn it off. It's a way of disciplining myself to get up early and start the day.
  2. I don't want the first thing my eyes see in the morning to be a screen. The problem with my phone being my alarm is that as soon as I've switched it off, I'm met with a screen full of notifications - calendar, emails, tweets, things I need to do. And that's not a great way to start the day.

It's this second point that I want to spend a little more time discussing. I've recently been reading John 15 a lot. The chapter where Jesus speaks about abiding in Him.

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" - John 15:4

It's been getting me thinking about how I can do a better of job of abiding in God's love in my day to day life. And one of the practical little things I thought of doing was spending the morning either reading the Bible, praying, or both at once. In doing this I realised something really simple, but important.

IT MATTERS HOW YOU START THE DAY

It really does matter how you start the day! I find that however I start the day sets the atmosphere of that day. When I start the day being faced with my job list and incoming emails, the first thoughts of my day are the things that I need to do. From the moment I'm awake my mind is on a to-do list. But when I start the day with prayer, or with the word of God, I have the opportunity to set the mood of the day rather than having it set for me. I can start the day from a position of thankfulness, or praise.

"My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up." Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

Even on a busy days where there's a lot to do, it helps to bring those things to God in prayer. To the one who can actually give me the strength, energy and joy to carry out those things.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14.

In all honesty, I'm not always the best at doing this. There are days where I crawl out bed and check my emails, or spend half an hour watching videos of cats on Vine while eating breakfast. But it's much better to connect with the True Vine, Jesus. (boom!! Christian pun! #relevant)

But, in all seriousness, I can tell the difference when I start my day spending time with God. Even for a somebody who's not great in the morning, just 10 minutes reading through a psalm or a passage of scripture and a mumbly prayer where I forget what I was praying about in the first place is a better start to my day than the notifications screen. My favourite thing is to take one verse or phrase, and pray that back to God. Even just repeating it over and over, that's easy enough in the morning. However small it feels, it kick starts the day's conversation and dialogue with God, and that helps me to continue it throughout the day.