the resurrection changes everything!


When Jesus walked the earth He made some pretty outlandish claims and statements. He upset the religious and political leaders of the day – confusing them with His parables and stories, inciting them by confronting their fastidious laws and self-righteousness; defying them by prioritising the love and care of others over strict observance of the Sabbath. He said He was the Way, Truth & Life, the Bread of Life; the Living Water. He ate with sinners, healed untouchables; offered forgiveness to law breakers. 

This Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the time when all these statements and actions find their fulfilment. Just two days before, He had been brutally tortured and murdered and laid to rest in a sealed tomb. All of His teachings and declarations had a great big question mark over them. Could He really be “the Life” if He was dead? 

What dark days they must have been. 

And then He rose from the dead!!! Putting a massive exclamation mark on everything. He said He was the resurrection …and then He resurrected! 

The resurrection changes everything. The truth it reveals beckons us to respond by receiving its power and surrendering our lives to all Jesus would seek to do for us, in us and through us. 

shaping worship culture


“I think the worship has become too much about performance.” “Did you see the guitarist this morning, what does he think this is, a rock concert?” “Can we go back to the days when worship was about praising God and not all this production stuff?”

You may have heard these comments and others like it – or at least identified or felt the sentiment – the criticism that worship in song is about performance. Or perhaps just comments about worship in general. As one of the more visible aspects of our Sunday church gatherings it seems to cop a high degree of opinion and, ultimately, criticism. Song style, song choice, drums, volume, musicianship, lyrics …it all gets critiqued and reviewed. 

Here’s some of my least favourite comments. 

  • “I think the worship team is a little too obsessed with excellence.”

Of course we use skilled musicians and singers! We don’t let just anyone do maintenance on our building, lead in our kids ministry or cook for our gatherings – we get the ones who can do it to do it! Just because worship teams are up on stage doesn’t mean excellence equals showmanship. 

A worship team exists to lead us in worship, to carry our praises, to draw us to greater love and adoration of God – one of their main tasks is to not be a distraction. Musicians and singers can inadvertently draw our attention to themselves when there is a shortfall in their skill. 

“Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.” ‭‭1 Chron‬ ‭15:22‬ ‭

  • “They’re too focused on performance.”

How on earth can we judge that from our pew? What do we know of the state of the heart of a singer or musician that could lead us to make that assessment? Undoubtedly there are people who can become (or appear) overly concerned about how they look or act on stage – but I’m not sure we are ever in a position to know for sure that their love for God or heart for worship have been superseded by that. 

“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

And as a part B to that – everyone in the church determines the worship culture of that church. Everyone. If you are a spectator, you’ll be feeding a ‘performance’ culture. If you are a true worshipper you can lead from the floor in a way that influences those on stage and around you. Your posture in worship as much as your comments to others afterwards shape the attitude and expectations of people around you. We need to all take responsibility for the worship environment of our churches.

  • “They’re trying too hard to be modern or relevant.”

Those songs that we hold up as traditional were once deemed to be controversial because they were too enmeshed with culture. Much of what we now know as hymns (a word taken from scripture referring to music more generally that is now immortalised as a specific genre or style of music) were theology set to local folk tunes and melodies as a way to help illiterate people gain access to the gospel message. 

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:3

Sing to the LORD a new song … Psalm 96:1 

We are to be always singing a new song. A fresh response of praise and worship to God. It should be flavoured with the sound of a new generation, speaking the language of their hearts and encouraging them to learn their own way of worshipping God. Just as was afforded to us each in our generation.

  • “He/she is only in it for the fame.” 

Let’s be honest. A 7:30am start on a Sunday morning for a non-paid playing spot in front of a couple of hundred people who are often vocal in their critical review is not where you’ll find musos looking for their big break. They are there because they love Jesus and they love you enough to serve with their best. 

Can we not be “those” people who complain and criticise? Can we be people who trust our church leadership to steward worship in context to God’s leading of us as a faith community? Can we be champions of those who faithfully serve our churches and also not be long-distant judges of the Church? Can we be active contributors to dynamic, authentic worshipful gatherings and be positive culture-shapers? Can we seek to understand and support one another in our pursuit of true worship and God encounters? 

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #6: Things are Different Now

Like millions of others, my heart has broken watching the news reports and hearing the stories out of the horrific school shooting in Connecticut, USA. Amongst many other things I’ve processed in the wake of this tragic event, I have found myself thinking about what Christmas will look like for those families. My heart and mind can’t really wrap themselves around all that would be impacted by such trauma and such intense grief and loss.

The reality for many families is that Christmas could look a lot different for you this year than it did last year. You may have moved house or town. You might have experienced loss through the death of a family member or friend. You might have aged parents who are now in care, a sick loved one who is hospital bound, relatives that are overseas or interstate, a relationship that has ended. So much could be different about this Christmas – and if that’s the case for you, it’s a good idea to identify that and process it in intentional and inclusive ways.

People will react to change in a whole raft of different ways. It depends on personality, resilience, emotional maturity, levels of support (perceived or real) and all manner of other factors. Children will also react to change in unique ways but are often impeded in their processing by their capacity to identify and articulate emotions, feelings, fears or thoughts. Some suggestions for self-reflection and/or discussion.

  • Consider what has changed in your family since last Christmas and acknowledge that together. Even if something changed 11 ½ months ago, it may still alter the landscape of your Christmas gathering.
  • Discuss the part that person or situation played in the way you celebrated Christmas last year. Perhaps you had cousins spend the day with you that are now living interstate and won’t be here. Or maybe you lived in a different house that lent itself to certain decorations or activities. Maybe someone who has passed away had a special job at Christmas – they manned the BBQ or handed out the presents, they brought the fruit salad or they led the family Carol singing session.
  • Make a plan for how you will handle that particular difference. Decide in advance who will take on the role or how you will change your celebrations to cope without it being done. Communicate the plan clearly with all who are impacted.
  • Identify the emotions that are attached to the change. Obvious ones would include sadness and grief – but there could be anger, guilt, loneliness, fear, insecurity, hopelessness etc – possibly even relief or happiness. Giving permission for people to feel what they are feeling is a gift that can often bring great release and healing.
  • Be intentional about honouring what HAS been whilst celebrating all that is. New situations, new friends and family to celebrate with, new physical environments all lend themselves to exciting opportunities to add new traditions and memories to your Christmas gathering.
  • Remember that while much may have changed in your life, God has not! He is the same God yesterday, today and forever. He sees everything, knows everything, is not surprised by anything and offers us infinite love, grace and compassion as we process our way through a broken world. Immanuel – God is with us!