Into The Wild

We are so excited about what God is stirring in us for this year and beyond. This theme ‘into the wild’ is both for us as individuals and as a team.

As we’ve heard Ps Dave say recently. We are not called to live stuck. We’re called to be moving forward in the things of God, taking territory, to see God’s Kingdom established.

Our key verse as a Creative Team for this year is.

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Are there perhaps some dry wastelands in your world at the moment? Do you feel stuck? Do you feel stagnant; not moving forward? Do you hear God’s voice calling you deeper or are there too many distractions? Do you have faith and expectation for God’s plans and purposes for your life? Are you prepared to exercise your faith to be lead by God to that next place, into the unknown, into the wild?

Those are questions only you can answer and are about your personal discipleship journey. But as we think about this team and where God is calling us collectively, some questions that spring to mind are?

Are we playing it safe, staying in our comfort zone? Are we just going through the motions? Are we moving forward and developing in our gifts? Are we exercising our faith every time we lead worship? Are we coming with expectant hearts? Are we holding back or are we forging ahead to where the Holy Spirit is leading us? Are each of us realizing the role we play in creating worship atmospheres or are we leaving it up to the worship leader? Are we fully preparing and honing our gifts so that each time we’re setting atmospheres of worship, we’re focused on one thing and one thing only…Jesus?

‘INTO THE WILD’ is the theme for 2018.

The Bible says in Psalm 22:3 that He actually lives and dwells in our praises. This is the mystery and the miracle of the breakthrough power and presence of God when we worship! When we worship, we affirm the truth of God’s Word, and it is being established deep in our hearts.

Every person is created to be a worshiper. God dwells and manifests Himself in the praises of His people. It is, I believe, our collective prayer to write songs and lead worship so that the breakthrough power of God would bring the lost to Him.

So let’s look again at what worship is.

  1. Worship Is A Battlefield

Worship is how we allow God to fight our battles for us. You may be familiar with the story of Jehoshaphat. 2 Chronicles 20:22 says, “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” (NIV). What a strange battle plan–but the result was that the Lord won the battle for them!

There is something inherent in the act of worship that enables us to encounter the power of God like nothing else. It is not effective to simply tell someone to stop worrying; stop being proud; stop being self-consumed, distracted, insecure, bound and materialistic. But it is effective to tell them to start worshiping. When we make that decision to fix our eyes on Jesus, we quickly realize that God has already begun to release the grip these tendencies can have on our lives.

  1. Worship Is A Declaration

Worship is also a declaration of our weakness and God’s strength. So, challenge yourselves, in your next point of need to make that hard choice to be a worshiper and let the breakthrough God fight your battle for you. It has to start with us. We as a team are leading from the front foot. We are leading our congregation into God’s presence and into breakthrough.

When we worship, the invisible God is at work doing invisible and powerful things. We get realigned, refreshed and refueled; we find unspeakable joy and indescribable peace. We discover the breakthrough strength of God, which enables us to walk in the truth and live in His presence. It is how we can put the beauty of the Gospel on display, receive His many blessings and at the same time be a blessing to the world.

  1. Worship unleashes the prophetic

Prophetic atmospheres create a space for revelation to come. It is crucial that we as a team, learn how to steward prophetic atmospheres. Powerful moments ignite when God’s words are heard. Worship songs are like runways to the prophetic (when David played over Saul, Saul was delivered).

True worship is never one-sided and always involves interaction with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). His voice can be heard anytime, anywhere, but is most consistently and accurately discerned in the context of worship. When people sense God, hear from God, and meet with God during worship, it has the potential to change them for eternity.

  1. Worship is an act of faith

Releasing a prophetic atmosphere in our worship services is really about faith and awareness: faith that God desires and will in fact speak to His people as we worship Him, and awareness as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Exodus 13:20-22
They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people.

Are we willing to be lead to those places that are unknown; where our trust is 100% in Him, be lead ‘INTO THE WILD’?

So, how do we do that I hear you ask?

  1. Be open to the prophetic

1 Cor. 14:1 “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”

Believe it or not, prophets prophesy. They look at a situation and they deliver God’s heart. They speak the mind of God.

We need more creative hearts & minds like this – people who are less in tune with their guitars or computers or sound desks, and more in tune with what the Holy Spirit is saying.

People who lead in the present reality and power of the Holy Spirit. It’s leadership from the inside out.

The people of God need more than incredible musicality.

Are you willing to go deeper?
Are you willing to listen to the Holy Spirit?
Are you willing to prophesy?
Are you willing to go ‘into the wild’?

  1. Know Your Authority in Christ

Creative Team, it is important that we know the power of the Gospel. Inside and out. Backwards and forwards. The authority we have in Christ is essential to worship.

That is what we are reminding our congregation of. That is what the Holy Spirit is awakening in God’s people. They don’t need to stay buried in depression, anxiety, and disappointment. They are children of the King and need to declare that truth.

Knowing your authority as a believer will bring a fresh energy and intensity to your gift and your role.

  1. Trust the Holy Spirit

Prepare like it all depends on you, but lead like it all depends on the Holy Spirit. Too often we as humans leave out the Holy Spirit. We pay homage to him in our prayers but we trust more in our ability than we do His ability to awaken the dead.

What if you implicitly trusted the Holy Spirit this weekend? What if you were relaxed, following His leadership? What if you knew beyond a shadow of doubt that He was moving? How would that influence your role this Sunday?

Let’s realize that creating an atmosphere where the voice of God is heard is an act of faith.

Heb. 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

It doesn’t take faith to perform worship songs. It doesn’t take faith to sing tenor, play an instrument, or run a sound desk. But it does take faith to believe that the singing of songs, playing of instruments, and operating of technical equipment will actually bring a change to the atmosphere that enables people to connect with the Living God.

  1. Make space for the spontaneous and unpredictable.

When we take the spontaneous and supernatural conversation out of our worship, it becomes lethargic! Without the divine interaction of God’s voice, worship times will always be reduced to a formula, a song list, or a religious form that we refine and repeat. What we desire in our worship is the life, excitement, and anticipation that comes when people are hearing from and meeting with God! This prophetic atmosphere was a consistent element in the New Testament Church and is still available today.

1 Cor. 14:26 “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”

  1. Engage Fully

When it’s game time, pour your entire being into worship. The more vulnerable you can be the better leader you’ll become. When you are practiced up and fully prepared, it’s so much easier to enter into worship.

Don’t be afraid to cry when you’re overcome by the love of God. Don’t be afraid to kneel. Dance without shame. The best creative teams put their private life of worship on display. They are authentic worshipers in front of people. No farce. No filter. Nothing is fake.

Don’t rely on your incredible vocals or technical ability. When it’s time to worship, forget everything but worship. Pour out your heart and engage yourself fully.

  1. Eliminate Distractions

This teaching does not just apply to those on stage who are singing, speaking, or playing. It actually applies to everyone from the carpark to the kids area and beyond! Let’s look at one example. Let’s say we’re using lighting and visual effects to enhance the worship experience, which we do. If the lighting and camera people are not sensitive and consciously involved in creating the worship atmosphere, they can become more of a distraction than a blessing. Distractions can come in many shapes and forms. So let’s do what we can to eliminate them.

  1. Guard your heart

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

We need to be aware of the plans and schemes of the enemy and be on guard. You cannot go into the wild un-prepared and un-protected.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

We need to be responsible for our own discipleship. Let’s grasp the eternal consequences of our character development. Let’s make this year the year that we each get ourselves a spiritual coach. Someone who has your back, who is a bit further on in the journey of faith who can encourage you and equip you and keep you accountable. Why don’t you make that one of your personal goals this year.

As we truly praise, the atmosphere is changed and God is enthroned. Our heart-felt expressions of worship literally set up a zone of God’s authority and His kingdom is established on earth. When we realize the power and significance of this one principle, it can change the way we view our role in the Creative team as well as the way we approach the precious moments when we come together for our worship services.

Psalm 27:1-8 (NLT)
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple. 
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

God is calling us out. He is calling us into the wild. Our response to Him needs to be ‘Lord, I am coming.’

It is time in 2018 to step into the calling God has for us. To really tap into what the Lord is saying. It’s time to prepare like we never have before. It’s time to expect the Spirit of God to move. It’s time to take the limits off.

It is time to allow the Holy Spirit to take us places that we haven’t been before in worship; into the unknown, the un-walked paths, the un-sung songs, the wilderness, the prophetic, the faith zone, where we are hungry, expecting the unexpected … into the wild.

Prayer Points

1) Pray for sensitivity and awareness of the leading of the Holy Spirit for every worship experience.

2) Ask for, long for, and earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit to operate in our church gatherings:

3) Pray for a brand new level of faith and expectancy that God will meet with us as we intentionally make new places for his voice to be heard during worship.

4) Ask the Lord to make our place of worship a place where people meet with, hear from, and are radically changed by God… every week!

5) Ask the Lord what taking that next step ‘into the wild’ looks like for you this year, both in your personal walk with God and in your role in this team.

6) Ask the Lord to show you who could be your spiritual coach and for courage to pursue further spiritual development.

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Preparation

Preparation

 

At our Encounter Night and Live Recording were really blessed and encouraged as we experienced a new sound and a fresh move of the Holy Spirit.

As some of the leaders discussed and debriefed the night, we talked about what the difference was compared to our Sunday services. And two of the things we came up with were expectation and preparation. Those two things we know we can control.

As a church we have a new sound as we speak out the sound of victory.

Psalm 144:9 says:

I will sing a new song to You, O God;

On a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You

 

The new bar has now been set, but if we are going to make that atmosphere of worship our new norm, we must be a team who is prepared and expectant. We started this year with the theme ‘expect to encounter’. And I believe we are seeing the fruits of lifting our level of expectation. In this next season, we want to focus on our preparation as a team.

preparation

ˌprɛpəˈreɪʃ(ə)n/

noun

noun: preparation

  1. 
the action or process of preparing or being prepared for use or consideration.

 

As we all know, leading worship is much more than a gig. First and foremost, we are servants. We contribute our gift to help facilitate people’s encounter with God.

That’s why we practice, prepare, and invest hours in this ministry.

You see, preparation is essential for creative teams.

But you knew that. You know you can’t just show up cold turkey; however, I suspect that we all don’t come as prepared as we should be.

 

Private Task:

Write down, on a scale of 1-10, how prepared you think you are for a Sunday service. One number for practical preparation and one number for spiritual preparation.

 

Why Prepare?

We don’t prepare because our reputation is on the line.

We don’t prepare because the Worship Leader said so.

We prepare because the people of God are coming together to meet with their Maker.

It’s not enough to just show up. It’s not enough to wing it.

 

Imagine if we all came fully prepared to set the atmosphere, both spiritually and practically. Imagine if our Wednesday nights were more about the band preparing for prophetic worship than just learning the songs, and the production team dreaming up and creating amazing visual arts and audio to compliment the worship experience.

 

Preparation means different things to different people. Let’s take a look at some ways to prepare and as we do, I want you to write down 3 things that you could work on in this next season to become better prepared for this ministry.

 

Practical Preparation

 

  1. Focused Prayer

When you pray, pray with intention. Matter of fact, I would suggest making a list.

  • Pray for your Pastor – pray for God to fill him with encouragement and revelation. Leading a church is no small feat. Pray that he would stay close to the heart of God and lead with wisdom.
  • Pray for your Worship Leader – Beyond supporting your worship leader with musical preparation, pray for God’s anointing and strength upon his or her life. Pray for strength to lead people in genuine, authentic worship.

Pray for your Congregation – anything is possible in the presence of God. This Sunday could be a catalyst of change in many people’s lives. Pray for that. Pray for the lost to be saved. Pray for people to encounter God.

 

  1. Intentional Listening

You can tell when a musician is prepared or when they’re winging it. I want to challenge the musicians here in your musical preparation. Before you pick up your instrument to practice, become an intentional listener.

 

Here’s how:

Pull out a pad of paper, listen to the songs for Sunday, and create your own charts as you listen. Chart EXACTLY what you hear on the recordings, measure by measure.

The goal here is to know the ins and outs of every song in the setlist.

Don’t make your worship leader tell you what to do. Don’t just fumble through a chord chart. Chord charts don’t tell you enough about the structure of the song and what your particular instrument is doing.

Listen very closely and ask yourself these questions:

  • When does my instrument ENTER the song?
  • When does my instrument NOT play?
  • What type of tone does my instrument sound like?
  • How is my instrument complementing the other instruments?

The more you do this, the more your musicianship will excel. This concept is ideal for the sound technicians also in knowing the ins and outs of the Sunday setlist before the Sunday.

 

  1. Play It

After you’ve created your own charts of entire songs, play them through a few times. Play along with the recording. Shut off the recording and play the whole song by yourself. Close your eyes and play it through again. Stand up and play it again.

You don’t have to do this for 6 hours a day, unless you have the time. We recommend taking a day to chart and another day to practice BEFORE rehearsal (So Tuesday and Wednesday). We want to enter each rehearsal 100% ready. (And yes, this means that Worship Leaders need to have their songs in by Monday mornings at the latest).

 

  1. Practice Stage Presence

It helps for those on stage to think through how we look. I know that may sound vain, but it’s anything but. People may not always recognize if you’re musically prepared, but they can see…you.

Do you look bored? Are you as stiff as a board? Where are you looking? Are you listening to the preacher or are your eyes wondering? Are you energetic and moving around? Are you smiling? Are you engaging with the congregation?

Yes, you need to practice in front of a mirror no matter how silly you may feel.

Are you worshiping? Is it visible? If you’re on stage, it’s your responsibility to visibly worship.

No excuses. Let’s prepare for it.

 

  1. Set Up Early

We all know there’s nothing more frustrating than someone showing up late, especially if he or she has a lot of setup to do.

Let’s refuse to be like that. (and I’m speaking to myself here). Commit to showing up early.

Early setup is essential for band, singers & all production personnel. Not only are you prepared, you’re ready to begin when rehearsal starts.

  1. Prepare Your Attitude

I know, we’re all creative types, we all have strong opinions. But let’s remember, we’re here to serve.

Before you even show up, decide beforehand that you’ll do whatever it takes to serve your pastor, your worship leader, and the congregation.

Not only will you humble yourself, you’ll engage more with the entire service.

 

Spiritual Preparation

The more you do something, the more familiar it becomes. The more familiar something becomes, the less you think about it. The less you think about it, the easier it is to fake it.

Thats why I think the more you lead worship, the more you need to prepare your heart. The longer your lead worship the more intense your heart preparation should be.

Here’s why:

 

  1. Worship is a matter of the heart – It’s not an external observance of religion or songs. It’s the response of your heart. If you don’t prepare your heart, you’ll be more prone to engage emotionally but be passive spiritually.

 

  1. It helps you realize your dependence on God – preparing your heart is a reminder that you can do nothing apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit. You are dependent on God to have an encounter with God.

 

  1. It makes you more sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is moving – when you prepare your heart for leading worship, you’re more sensitive to His voice as you’re leading. You’re more inclined to see how He is moving and what the congregation needs to do next.

 

  1. It keeps you focused on what matters – when you’re spiritually prepared, you’re not as concerned about songs and arrangements. Those things are important, but the engagement of the congregation and the presence of Jesus are so much more deserving of your attention. When you ignore the preparation of your heart, trivial matters tend to steal the show.

 

Creative Team, let’s guard our hearts. Guard our personal worship. Guard our childlike faith and dependence on the Holy Spirit.

 

Proverbs 4:23

23 

Guard your heart above all else,

for it determines the course of your life.

 

Eph 6:13-18

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]

 

In this next season, we are going to be more prepared than ever for our worship services. Lets all commit to developing in this area, and youll be amazed where God can take us.

A New Posture of Praise

As we have been in a season of focusing on BREAKTHROUGH as a church, my prayers have changed for this team. Often I will be praying for more people, or for a new found passion or leaders to rise up, for new ideas to be forged, but recently my prayer has been for our team and our church to experience breakthrough in worship.

Now what that exactly looks like, I am not 100% sure, but I know that we haven’t got there yet. There is so much more to experience in worship, so many more God encounters, so many prophecies untold. I am convinced that ‘we haven’t been this way before’, that our worship is about to shift.

A few Sundays ago I was leading worship and there was a real sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was a beautiful atmosphere and the congregation were engaged in the worship. There was a moment there where I actually felt like I should get on my knees and kneel before our heavenly father. But something stopped me and I haven’t been able to get that out of my mind. Why, in that moment did I feel like I couldn’t take that particular posture of worship? The only answer I have been able to come up with is that the little voice in my head saying ‘we don’t do that here’ or ‘what will people think’ or ‘that’s too out there’ etc. held me back. This has caused me to research the different postures of praise and worship and I hope that from here, we can all draw a line in the sand and say ‘we are going to break free in worship, we are going to experience new levels, we are going to throw off anything that holds us back from worshipping like we never have before.

It’s up to us to lead the way.

As a team, let’s engage in the different postures of praise & worship that are found in the Bible. Just like King David, we are invited to find God’s heart and develop an affectionate connection with Him. We are becoming like the One we worship!

The Hebrew words translated as “praise” or “bless” have a deeper meaning than is conveyed in English. They instruct, command or imply the worshiper is to take specific physical action.

Romans 12:1
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Biblical worship is expressed not only with our WHOLE LIFE, but with our WHOLE BODY. The Biblical model presents corporate praise has a whole group activity. It is intended for everyone to participate, not spectate. Actions speak louder than words. Your outward expression reveals your heart attitude.  Last year we spoke about how we sometimes don’t feel like worshiping and we have to #choosetopraise. Choosing to engage with God will change your attitude. God promises to reward those who choose to draw near to him.

James 4:8
Come close to God, and God will come close to you…

Literally, choosing to praise God is a transformative experience, it renews your mind.

Romans 12:2
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

This is part of the purpose of worship. We position our hearts so that God can change and conform us to the image of Christ. Worship ‘postures’, or outward expressions of our inward passion, are personal but also to be displayed communally. It is really important that, as a creative team, we understand how to be expressive before Jesus so we can encourage our congregation to use some of these Biblical illustrations to help them to be outward expressers of their inward passion.

Every word that describes worship in the Bible describes a posture of the body – without exception.

So let’s journey through the bible and look at the different postures of praise & worship and what they mean. So get your bibles ready and your pens ready.

 

  1. Shabach

Shout praise. Expresses confidence in God’s ability. A declaration of victory.

Psalm 145:4 (NLT)
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.

Psalm 27:6 (NLT)
Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

One of my favourite examples in the bible of shouting praise that brought God’s victory is the walls of Jericho.

Joshua 6:20
When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.

Shouting to God – A lot of Christians think to shout means to sing loudly, not at all. It means to shout. Try it! It liberates us!

 

  1. Barach

Kneel, bless the Lord. Expresses humility.

Kneeling is a physical act that lowers your stature below the one of higher status. It’s actually making you smaller in the presence of someone larger. Kneeling shows humility. It’s the position Jesus took when he prayed “not my will, but your will be done” (Luke 21:41–44). For the longest time kneeling was the position to show repentance. Next time you’re confessing sin or humbling yourself to God’s will, try kneeling.

Psalm 95:6
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,

2 Chronicles 6:12-13
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel, and he lifted his hands in prayer. 13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform 7 1⁄2 feet long, 7 1⁄2 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet high[a] and had placed it at the center of the Temple’s outer courtyard. He stood on the platform, and then he knelt in front of the entire community of Israel and lifted his hands toward heaven.

Ephesians 3:14
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,

Isaiah 45:23
I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me.”

Philippians 2:9-10
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 

  1. Yadah

Spreading out your hands. The extended hand. Expresses gratitude, thankfulness and surrender.

A great worshiper: King David, used his hands in multiple ways as he worshiped.

Psalm 143:6
I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

When you spread out your hands you are open to receive from Him. Interestingly, sometimes it is difficult to hold our hands up for long periods of time. The Hebrew word for glory is the same word for weight. God is putting his glory in your hands.

 

  1. Towdah

The raised hand.  Lift up your hands. Expresses adoration.

Psalm 63:4
I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

Psalm 141:2
Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.

The lifting up of the hands is best described as surrender. When you extend your hands, you are acknowledging God’s majesty, God’s sovereignty.

 

  1. Taqa

Clap, applaud. Expresses joy and victory.

Psalm 47:1
Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!

Worship is not some rigid posture that you sit in; it’s an activity of the whole body. Clapping has less to do with keeping in time with the music and more to do with triumph. In context, Psalm 47 is about the thundering hand claps accompanying a battle cry of triumph.

Psalm 47:2-3
For the Lord Most High is awesome.
He is the great King of all the earth.
He subdues the nations before us,
putting our enemies beneath our feet.

 

  1. Hallal

Celebrate extravagantly. Root of the word “hallelujah” which means “praise (halla) to jah (God)”. Expresses joy, jubilation and celebration.

Halal means: “to praise, celebrate, glory, sing (praise), to be boastful, to rave, to be clamorously foolish.”

Psalm 148 – 150
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!…

…and that is just a snippet. I encourage you to read through all of those chapters. They are inspiring.

Halal expresses our love for God and who He is, and celebrates His goodness in our lives. It is the expression of love by someone who is madly in love with God and will go to extraordinary lengths to express that love. The words ‘celebrate, boastful, rave, clamour’ give us an indication of the nature of this type of praise. They bring to mind the scenes one may be familiar with of supporters at a sporting event, where people are not afraid to voice their support, celebrate their victory with singing and shouting, lose their inhibitions and boast about their teams’ performance.

 

  1. Tehillah

Singing scripture to instruct and encourage.

Psalm 33:1
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.

Psalm 34:1
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 47:6
“Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises.”

This word for praise, Tahillah, means to sing praise. This is the praise that David said that he wanted to be in his mouth continually.

 

  1. Tephillah

Prayer, often sung as intercession and petition.

Psalm 39:12
Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest—
a traveler passing through,
as my ancestors were before me.

This word means intercession for someone, prayer, supplication, hymn. This is the most general Hebrew word for prayer in the Old Testament.  Isaiah 56:7 states that God’s House will be a house of prayer.  This was the scripture Jesus was quoting when He drove out the moneychangers from the temple courtyard (Matthew 21:13). This term meant a prayer that was set to music and sung in formal worship.

 

  1. Kara

Dance.

Psalm 149:3
“Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”

2 Samuel 6:14-16
And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.

Kara means; To dance, leap, bow, worship, rejoice, joy, praise, thanksgiving, be glad – all of these words, when taken back to their root word and original meaning, translate into some form of dance and movement unto the Lord. Essentially, the word Kara means to whirl, leap, jump or skip before the Lord.

 

  1. Zamar

Playing Instruments

Make music by striking the fingers on strings or parts of a musical instrument. When we play instrumentally to facilitate a holy atmosphere, it’s not just church cocktail music, it’s zamar.

Psalm 33:2-3
Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre;
make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

 

  1. Shachah

Bowing. It is a very significant act of reverence.

Psalm 5:7
Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.

In the NIV is says:
But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.

Psalm 95:6
Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,

Genesis 24:26
The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord.

Exodus 4:31
Then the people of Israel were convinced that the Lord had sent Moses and Aaron. When they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

 

  1. Sagad

Prostrate or falling down.

1 Corinthians 14:24-25
But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you.”

This is the most used description of worship we have in the Bible. The root problem of the human race is our desire to depend on ourselves rather than God. Laying prostrate before the Lord demonstrates our total dependence on God.

Genesis 17:3 & 17
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.”

17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed…

The Lord appeared to Abraham twice.

  • FIRST: Abraham fell on his face, God talked to him.
  • SECOND: Abraham fell on his face and laughed.

Abraham was pretty used to being on his face before God. I think if you checked everyone of the great people of the Bible were at one time on their face before God. It is the way to greatness.

 

I hope this helps bring clarity to why we use outward expressions of worship. While these are certainly not the only outward expressions, each one is Biblically founded.

I hope the meaning of these praise words inspires us to break free of our inhibitions and become more engaged worshipers. Hands in your pockets or arms crossed is not the body language modeled in Biblical worship.

The joy of the Lord is our strength. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

I hope these actions and attitudes guide our team and our church to be as expressive in our praise as our almighty, all-loving God deserves.

I hope this challenges us to perhaps adjust our Posture of Praise and experience worship in new ways. But whatever we do during prayer or worship. Let’s do it on purpose. Let’s take on a new Posture of Praise and see what God does.

A Clean Stage = A Healthy Culture

Ok Creative Team, I need for you guys look past what may seem a bit nit-picky for a few minutes; allow me to explain. Yes, this is one of my more annoying characteristics, but I believe that the little details matter! The ‘one-percenter’s’ make a big difference to the overall result.

One thing that I’m a very big fan of is a tidy stage. Why?  Because it communicates a few things to our church:

  • You take seriously what you do on stage.
  • You want to bring your best to God, in every aspect.
  • You want things to be clean & welcoming for New People.

There is something to having a tidy stage that communicates these things to anyone who joins our church services.  We can’t really tell people what to think, but we definitely can influence their perception.

For instance, when someone walks into our church but is looking for any excuse to leave, something as silly as a sloppy looking stage or poorly designed set can be a deterrent.  Think about it: you never leave your house dirty when you are expecting guests.

For some people their perception is definitely their reality, even if this seems unreasonable.  We have the opportunity to effect that perception to help bring them closer to Jesus, so why not? A messy stage distracts the eye and can also be a hindrance when troubleshooting a problem.

Ok, I’ll assume you’re onboard with me now.  Yes, an incredible worship set can go a long way, but let’s leave that for another conversation.

Let’s talk about 3 simple things that we can do to create a more visually appealing stage for our worship services.

    1. CLEAN CABLE RUNS

Clean cable runs are a simple trick to make our stage look neat and professional.

I’m a big advocate of having clean cable runs.  If you can, try and group the cables together that are moving along the same path.  Think through how you need things to be run before you actually run it.  Our Audio Team Leader, Paul Thomason, is AWESOME at this, but we can all help him and the audio team out on this one.

Label Everything!
Audio team –  it is very important to carry two things with you at all times; White electrical tape and a sharpie. Before plugging in a microphone or a DI, take the XLR cable, and wrap both ends two or three times with tape. Label the cable on both ends so you know what that cable is going to connect to. That way, you can quickly identify cables at the floor box and know their destination.

90 degree angles!
Have you ever seen a 12 channel floor box with 12 XLR cables all going different directions? It clutters up the stage and it’s an eyesore. Combine as many cables as you can so they travel along a single path, and when they split out to the desired location, they do so at a right angle.

      1. REMOVE EXTRA ‘FLUFF’

Removing extra ‘fluff’ from our stage will AUTOMATICALLY improve our stage’s look.

Walk about 3 or 4 rows back from our stage and take a look.  No seriously, go ahead and do it this Wednesday or Sunday. What can you notice on stage that doesn’t HAVE to be there?  I’m not talking about stuff that needs to be there, but rather the ‘fluff’.  Chairs, blacks, music stands, papers, cups, rubbish, guitar cases, excess leads etc.  ANYTHING that doesn’t need to be there, take it off the stage.

This is something you can do today, but we need to maintain every single weekend. It needs to become part of our culture as a team. In fact, if we all did this every time we were rostered on, we would have a pretty shmick stage. Stages are NOTORIOUS for being magnets for ‘stuff’, so removing anything that doesn’t have to be there will make our stage look even better immediately.

      1. MODEL STANDARDS

Teaching and modelling standards will keep our stage clean and change our team’s culture.

If there are only one or two people looking out for all these things, then it can get exhausting and even annoying and frustrating.

However, if we ALL take the time to teach and model to new team members the standards of how we do things as a team, then we’ll multiply our efforts.  This point has application far beyond a clean stage, but just imagine if EVERYONE saw keeping the stage, the sound desks and even the stage storage rooms CLEAN because they understood that’s just what we do.  Sounds pretty great, hey?

This will change how each of our team members view their ownership of each service. Instead of just ‘filling a roster’, which we don’t ever want anyone to think is the case, they’ll be empowered and encouraged to take action to improve the worship service as a whole. Remember; what you are part of is bigger than the part you play. Every person has a vital part to play in this team!

Josh and I can’t just say it once, though. This stuff has to be taught and modelled by all of us, over and over again before it becomes part of our culture.  The result of this hard work will be a healthier team culture.

Let’s together work at developing a cleaner, healthier culture in Creative.

Katie Swift

Expect To Encounter

Welcome to Creative 2017

This year’s vision message for Creative is called ‘Expect to Encounter’ and really flows on from last year.

Last year we really believed that God wanted us to rise up. He wanted to take us to the next level, and to do that He needed to stretch us. We focused on the following verse.

 “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs. Isaiah 54:2

Wow – did we need to stretch!

To achieve three services in one Sunday has been a massive stretch for this team, but we have witnessed incredible growth in you all and it’s exciting to see what God is doing in you individually. We went on a journey of being early to our knees and learning to be purposeful in our prayer life. We put strategies and processes in place for making sure we are always working on original songs – written out of the heart of this team. We have seen new, amazing leaders rise up. A camera crew and live feed established. And most of all, we have lead our congregation into incredible encounters with Jesus through preparing our hearts and skills to be used by God in worship.

Our worship services and special events are a huge part of what we do as a team and a church.

The purpose of our time of praise and worship in our services is for God to minister directly to each person in attendance – that is our ultimate goal, that every person would encounter God through worship. We seek to encounter God’s tangible presence every time we gather in worship – this can also be referred to as His manifest presence or his glory.

Glory can be defined as “the revelation of the presence of God. It is the manifestation of His presence. He is glory. He is everywhere, but glory is the manifestation of that reality … When glory comes down, it’s a bit of Heaven’s atmosphere coming down to us, a taste of His manifest presence.” – how good does that sound?

The depth of anointing and God’s presence we experience during our worship services is in direct proportion to the condition of our hearts and the time we spend in His presence.

That verse from Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs.” Still remains at the core of the vision of this team and our church. We want to position ourselves for growth. And position ourselves to encounter God’s presence wherever we are.

This year in Creative – we want to expect to encounter God’s tangible presence because we are a team who remain in His presence.

God has promised always to be with us, but often we’re not aware of his constant presence in our lives. The good news is that God loves to be close to us and wants us to know him better. Let’s long to experience more of God’s presence. There are steps we can take that will lead us closer to him, inviting him to make his presence known more strongly in our lives, our team and our church.

So, how do we expect to encounter and experience more of God’s presence?

  1. Let’s remember him

Psalm 77:11-14

But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.

Remember the passion you felt for God when you first began a relationship with him, and let that motivate you to repent of your sins afresh and return your relationship with God to first place in your heart. Remember what he has done in your life in the past – His unending grace.

Let’s always come back and remember what he has done. And from that place, declare and prophecy what He is going to do.

  1. Let’s seek him out

2 Chronicles 15:1-4 (after King Asa had defeated the Ethiopian million-man army, and he receives this prophecy…)

“Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.

God’s promises are unchangeable, and his word says, “For the rest of your life – as long as you continue to seek me – I will be with you. Whenever you cry out to me, I will always be found.

Anyone can have the abiding presence of the Lord, if he or she will simply seek Him for it. Seek the Lord with your whole heart, and He will come to you with His presence. Indeed, His presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life!” According to the scriptures, our chief concern is to keep seeking God, to ensure his presence is working through us.

  1. Let’s draw near to God with confidence

Hebrews 4:16

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Keep in mind that God invites you to come close to him and welcomes you with great love, but he is also completely holy and all-powerful, so you should always approach God with the reverence and respect that he deserves – never be flippant about approaching him – he it the almighty, creator of the heavens and the earth. When we play music, sing, mix sound, design lighting shows, write songs, creative visual media displays, dance, or hold a camera steady, let’s know who we are in Christ and be confident in that.

  1. Let’s let go of distractions

Colossians 3:1-2

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Let’s let go of whatever is distracting us from giving God our full attention. Remove distractions from your life so you can experience God to the fullest. Confess and repent of sin in your life regularly, since sin interferes with your ability to perceive God’s presence and grow closer to him. The main distractions we face is life and getting caught up in the world. Reasons for distractions include ourselves, money, hobbies, relationships, mobile phones, TV, facebook and more. Turn your worries into prayers, so anxiety won’t crowd a focus on God out of your mind. “Don’t let the noise of the world keep you from hearing the voice of the Lord.”

  1. Let’s be open to the Holy Spirit

2.Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

We need to open both our heads and our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s work. Pursue getting to know God better through the Holy Spirit’s work in both your mind (such as guiding you when you’re studying the Bible) and in your personal experiences (such as touching your emotions through a tangible encounter that makes you more hungry for God).

Moses was a man, on whom the Holy Spirit was. Even though he experienced God’s tangible presence and glory like many today have not, those in the new covenant possess a far greater treasure. The God of glory Himself now lives in us. When His glory descends, it is not only around us, but the Holy Spirit lives in us, permeating every atom of our being. When we are open to the Holy Spirit’s work, the prophetic will be unleashed in this team.

  1. Let’s be discerning

Proverbs 15:21

Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path.

Let’s not be fooled into thinking that we’re ‘bullet proof’ or that we don’t need to do serious spiritual warfare at times. On the contrary, the Creative team are responsible for leading worship, the first ones to ‘march into battle’ so to speak. Without that understanding, you will leave yourself open to attack. We need to be pro-active in putting on the armour of God for us and for those around us, and discern what is happening in the spiritual realm. We have the authority of Christ to take control over the spiritual atmosphere. We need to be prayed up before we arrive, praying as we enter the building and praying while we are serving. And…not just praying that everything will go well, no, we are praying and declaring what God is going to do!

It is God’s desire that every Christian recognize His voice. And this is something you can learn to do. God wants to communicate with you even more than you want to hear Him. It is so important to have discernment especially as we seek to move more in the prophetic. When we as a team know and can recognize his voice and his presence, we will go to new, unchartered places in worship.

  1. Let’s allow God’s presence to transform us

Romans 12:2 Do not 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.

Always remember that God’s presence isn’t simply for you to enjoy; it’s meant to inspire you to open yourself up in deeper ways to the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of transforming you into the person God wants you to become.

  1. Let’s choose adventure over safety.

Psalm 16:11

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Let’s decide to take whatever risks we need to take in order to experience the blessing of getting closer to God. Be willing to have God turn your life upside down, reshape your values and redirect your energy. Rather than trying to stay inside your comfort zones, be open to saying “yes” to God whenever he calls you to follow him on adventures. Expect encounters with God that inspire awe and wonder in you. I believe God is stirring our hearts. He’s stirring our hearts to do something great for Him. He is calling us to opportunities to serve others, to restore the brokenness in the lives of others, to serve here at Energizer, to live generous, to listen (above all), to listen to His voice and calling for us.

God is calling YOU to step out of your comfort zone… to do the unusual thing… to do what might seem odd in order to add value to His Kingdom and to our community and to this church! God is looking for men and women who have a heart for Him… who want to grow and are unsatisfied with mediocrity and are willing to live for something bigger than themselves! Let’s be like the great men and women of the bible, like Esther and Nehemiah who took a risk on God and stepped outside their comfort zones. They went down in history because of their faith and obedience. Let’s step out in faith as a Creative team this year as we journey together to expecting encounters. What are we as Creative expecting and prophesying? Is it safe or is it way outside our comfort zones?

  1. Let’s pursue revival.

Exodus 40:34 “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”. You may have heard about revivals in history or on the news that affect whole churches or entire geographic areas. Keep in mind that large-scale revivals start when individual people like us pursue fresh encounters with God.

Isaiah 64:1-4

Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!

(wow – does that get anyone excited?)

  1. Let’s start with us

Instead of trying to MAKE a tangible encounter with God happen in our services, let’s prepare ourselves for when God decides to manifest his presence to us. The constant presence of God around you (and within you, in the form of the Holy Spirit) that you may or may not sense is his essential presence, while the tangible encounters with God that capture your attention are his manifest presence.

We can’t convince God to show us his manifest presence whenever and however we’d like, no matter how hard we may try or how faithful we may be. God shows up on his terms only, according to his own wisdom and purposes. But we CAN prepare ourselves for encountering God’s presence in the future by making our individual relationships with God our top priority in life and investing it in regularly (such as through prayer, reading of the word, and service), so we’ll grow closer to God and invite him to reach out to us more.

Cultivating our lives for God’s presence isn’t about our own effort as much as it is about responding to God’s initiatives of love and grace so we’ll be in the right place at the right time, and in the right soul condition, when God shows up.

Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of God empowers his children to live for him. And one of the most powerful of these is found in the life of Moses (as we mentioned before).

Exodus 33:15 & 16 “Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

Creative Team – let’s pursue Jesus this year like we never have before. That as we remain in his presence, His presence will remain with us, upon us, and working through us. That we might behold his presence and that his manifest presence would be revealed to us.

2 Chronicles 16:9

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Seek him with all your heart, and desire his presence in your daily life. Then we will know and experience the incredible glory of God!

Let’s expect to encounter God. Supernatural encounters with God aren’t actually rare; God manifests his presence through the Holy Spirit in tangible ways every day to various people on Earth. So expect to encounter God through his Spirit in a way that you can powerfully sense, whenever God decides that it’s the right time and place to show up in your life that way.

As creative leaders we are believing and expecting that we will experience the touch of God’s presence in unprecedented ways in our worship services this year.

Our encouragement for you is to start to expect encounters with Him that you have never had before. Let’s be prophesying and speaking out what we want to see happen in our church and our community. When we as individuals know God and know His presence, imagine what we can achieve in unity when we together begin to lead our congregation in worship. And this is not just for those on stage. Not at all. We ALL play a vital role in creating an atmosphere where every person in attendance can encounter God through worship. It takes all of us (all our individual skills working together as the body of Christ should and as we are called and anointed to) to achieve that goal.

When we walk into this church to serve, let’s take hold of the spiritual atmosphere and come with expectation that God’s glory is going to be revealed.

When glory comes down, it’s a bit of Heaven’s atmosphere coming down to us, a taste of His manifest presence.”

God will do more through us and in us and around us when we are positioned with expectation. In 2017 let’s expect to encounter his presence.

Early On Our Knees: Energizer Creative are Turning up the Heat in Prayer

Lately, I have been really challenged to up the ante in what we are asking God for and what we have faith to believe God will do in us and through us. It seems every message I listen to, every Bible verse I read, every time I am in worship and prayer, this is confirmed over and over again.

Ps. Dave has been speaking on entering a new era. We are moving into a time when God will empower us to do things differently to before.
“But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it?”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)
God is doing a new thing! He is leading us into a new era.

The idea of being early on our knees may not get you excited (especially the non-morning people), but I guarantee that if you jump on board with this, which we hope everyone on the team will, your personal faith journey will go to a new level. This is not for the faint-hearted; this is daily discipline, hard-core, life-changing stuff, so don’t tune out, decide right now that you are going to take up the challenge, walk this journey and see it through!

Earlier this year at our first Team Night we spoke on 2016 being a year of breakthrough for our team and how it would take some stretching. Well, this challenge that we are setting may just be the biggest stretch of the year, but I am certain that it’ll also bring the biggest breakthroughs.

To understand this ‘Early On Our Knees’ challenge, it’s important to understand why we do what we do. So, why do you think we do what we do? To see every person encounter God through worship and the creative arts.

One thing we care about and often focus on in our creative team is the level of excellence in how we lead people to God encounters in worship. We take great joy in bringing our absolute best when we serve God, not for the sake of excellence itself, but because we believe what we’re doing is worth us playing, singing, mixing and creating to the best of our ability. We want to be authentic in everything we do and do it well.

As you know there are certain expectations in joining the creative team. Here are some that spring to mind:

Reliability and punctuality
Communication with team leaders
Accepting dates when the roster comes out or finding replacements where possible
Attending rehearsals
Attending team nights
Dressing neatly
Skill or being willing to learn a skill
Pursuing an ever deepening relationship with Jesus through prayer and reading of the word
Heart to serve the greater vision of the church
Attend heart & soul nights
Represent God and His church in all areas of your life
Be dedicated to improving the gifts God has given you – practice, study, attend lessons, online training courses
Be available for all special events and conferences where possible

They are our ‘not-negotiables’ I suppose, and one of those points in particular is what we want to focus on as we embark on this new era: ‘pursuing an ever deepening relationship with Jesus through prayer and reading of the Word’. It’s something that runs deeper than how well you may sing, play, or mix. What you design, write, and dream is awesome, but we care more about what the rest of us don’t get to see. Yes, excellence and execution as a creative team matter, but to grow and to see breakthrough, we need to give attention to our purpose and devotion; it is an important step in our faith to lift our devotion and expectation by being on our knees in prayer in the unseen hours.

Devotion matters. Prayer matters.
Ultimately, we don’t just want to engage our heads when we serve in church. Focus not just on your execution, but also your devotion. It’s tricky to measure – but is also best indicated by your mindset. How do you feel now about what you bring to the creative team? Is your approach the same as it was 8 months ago? Is there some negative thinking perhaps? Have you stopped working on your gift? Is some complacency creeping in perhaps? The key is to let your devotion to your creativity and giftings be fuelled by a growing private prayer life… hence the ‘EARLY ON OUR KNEES’ challenge.

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” E.M. Bounds – 1907

Prayer strengthens our relationship with God. It’s one of the most important weapons we have to protect ourselves from the attacks of the enemy and to move ahead into what God is calling us to. I know for our team we need breakthrough in many areas if we are going to achieve all that God has in store for us to achieve. So why don’t we, together, accept the challenge to pray daily on our knees? Research suggests that on average, it takes anywhere between 21 and 66 days before a new behavior becomes a habit. So we went for the middle: for the next 40 days, Energizer Creative are on a mission to be early on our knees in prayer.

You may have heard the saying “if you want God to do something new in you, you cannot keep doing the same old thing.” You have to do something different. And if you do, God will create new capacities within you. There will be new gifts and new revelations. But you’ve got to pay the price (or pray the price in this instance). You’ll get out of this what you put into it. So… are you ready to take up the Early On Your Knees challenge?

Here are some pointers to get you started:

1. No More Excuses (ouch)
Let’s MAKE MORE TIME in our day – it’s a choice. Become aware of the enemy’s tricks and don’t let him invade your time with God by using things like busyness and tiredness as an excuse.

2. Teach Me to Pray
Even the disciples had to pray “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11). Don’t be so hard on yourself if you aren’t sure how to spend 15, 20, 30 minutes in prayer. Let that be your first prayer. Teach me how to pray focused prayers. We also encourage you to keep your own journal. It’ll help you not just pray, but pray through until you see the breakthrough.

3. The Posture of Prayer
We are choosing to kneel in fervent prayer because fervent prayer is necessary prayer. It is a total body posturing, focusing, and communing without multitasking. The true purpose of prayer is to get into God’s presence so He can outline His agenda for us.

4. Early Rising Prayer
We encourage everyone to rise 30 minutes before your normal routine each day to pray. We can learn this discipline from Jesus himself – in Mark 1:35 he demonstrates this for us: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

The Early On Our Knees prayer challenge is going to change your life. In fact, we believe the next forty days have the potential to dramatically alter the rest of our lives. We are believing that God is going to begin a good work in us, and He is going to see it through to completion. If you press into God’s presence like never before, you will experience God like never before. You’ll look back on these forty days as the best days of your life. They won’t be the easiest days; in fact, they may be the hardest; don’t be surprised if you experience spiritual opposition along the way. But if you pray through, God will break through in new ways.

The time that Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying, marked a critical chapter in His life. Jesus was tested like never before, but this experience set the stage for His greatest victories. When Jesus returned from the wilderness, He wasn’t the same person. You won’t be either. You’ll emerge from this Early On Our Knees prayer challenge, full of the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we dreamed up this challenge, we were drawn to 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Our prayer is that this daily habit won’t stop on day forty but it will be something we all continue to do for the rest of our lives. Our prayer for you is that each day on this journey will yield a new discovery. Those discoveries will change the way you pray, and when you change the way you pray, everything else changes. We as a team are going to GROW FROM THE INSIDE OUT by being EARLY ON OUR KNEES.

Remember, breakthrough won’t happen when we are operating in our comfort zone, breakthrough will happen when we are operating in the faith zone. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

We don’t want this team to just do what is comfortable or what comes easily; we are called to break new ground, to take back what the enemy has stolen, to pave a way for people to experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, to put on the armour of God for us and the people around us, to bind up the broken-hearted and to set the captives free; we are called to operate in the faith zone. It’s a new era.

Let’s be early on our knees!

Who is going to take up the challenge?

– Katie Swift
Creative Director

Bring on Breakthrough!

Breakthrough won’t happen when we are operating in our comfort zone; breakthrough will happen when we are operating in the faith zone.

“Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

The Bible is full of examples of acts of obedience. One such example is Noah, who pleased God by respecting His warning and building the ark. He must have been a laughing stock, but he did it anyway.

Let’s ask ourselves, ‘What is the ark we’re supposed to build today?’
What is God asking us to be obedient in, that might even be uncomfortable?

Is it to reach out and share the Gospel with someone? To lead a Connect Group that we feel unqualified to lead? To speak up about something that is happening in our community? To step up in a leadership position? To work on and refine our talents and gifts and allow God to take us to the next level? To relook and refocus our priorities, finances or hobbies? To adjust our attitudes or actions perhaps?

Abraham was called by God to set out for the place in which he was to receive his inheritance, without even knowing where he was going! Can we follow God and remain comfortable, when we don’t know what’s next? We have a light in Jesus that pierces the darkness right in front of us, but it only shines so far; to go to the next level, to see breakthrough in our lives, it takes FAITH and it will take us out of our comfort zones.

With Christ, we only need to take one step at a time and wait for Him to illuminate the next. From a human perspective, sometimes it can feel like jumping off the high dive and then checking on the way down to make sure there’s water in the pool! With Christ, however, we are assured that there’s always water in the pool. He’s got our backs and the Bible is full of promises about who we are in Him – I encourage you to start speaking those things over your life.

I am loved. 1 John 3:3
I am accepted. Ephesians 1:6
I am a child of God. John 1:12
I am Jesus’ friend. John 15:14
I am a joint heir with Jesus, sharing His inheritance with Him. Romans 8:17
I am united with God and one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17
I am a temple of God. His Spirit and his life lives in me. 1 Corinthians 6:19
I am a member of Christ’s body. 1 Corinthians 12:27
I am a Saint. Ephesians 1:1
I am redeemed and forgiven. Colossians 1:14
I am complete in Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:10
I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1
I am a new creation because I am in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved. Colossians 3:12
I am established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21
I do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
I am God’s co-worker. 2 Corinthians 6:1
I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. Eph 2:6
I have direct access to God Ephesians. 2:18
I am chosen to bear fruit John. 15:16
I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2:5
I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which I share His nature. 2 Peter 1:4
I can always know the presence of God because He never leaves me Hebrews. 13:5
God works in me to help me do the things He wants me to do Philippians 2:13
I can ask God for wisdom and He will give me what I need. James 1:5

God calls us all to do some faith stretching now and then. Whether we are called to leave our comfort zones, to obey and act, or to rest and trust God during a difficult season of life, He always rewards great faith with wonderful blessings.

Maybe stepping outside of your comfort zone, to obey God, seems like too much of a stretch right now, but let me encourage you that when we are willing to be stretched, blessings begin to flow.

This year is a year of breakthrough for our church and it’s going to take some stretching. I don’t want to live my whole life in my comfort zone and miss out on the amazing blessings that God has in store for me. We don’t want to just do what is comfortable; we are called to break new ground, to take back what the enemy has stolen, to pave a way for people to experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, to put on the armour of God, to bind up the broken-hearted and to set the captives free. We are called to operate in the faith zone. That is our mantle; are we willing to take it up? Are we willing to step into the faith zone this year and see breakthrough happen?

Two verses that encourage us to step out in faith knowing that our God has already given us the breakthrough are:

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

We are believing that 2016 is a year of breakthrough! What are you believing for? What are you asking for? What are you expectant for?

– Katie Swift
Energizer Creative Team Leader

Opportunities

We play a vital role in an exciting time. As Energizer Church, we have so many exciting opportunities coming up; opportunities to build the Kingdom.

As I ponder the season we are heading in, and as I think of our incredible team who already do such an amazing job of serving, I find myself asking questions like these:

Are we taking hold of the opportunities in front of us or are we holding things at arms’ length perhaps?

Are we allowing God to stretch us and increase our capacity, or are we holding back for fear of burning out?

Are we seeing outreach as chores or opportunities?

Are they Energizer Church’s mission or are they OUR mission – do we own them?

Are we just filling a roster or are we willing to do whatever it takes?

Are we allowing God to transform our thoughts, so that we get a greater perspective?

Do we really believe the words: ‘what we are part of is bigger than the part we play’?

As I ponder these questions, I am challenged. Let’s shift our thinking, continue to take up the mantle and ‘be the church’. We have all been anointed, we have what it takes, we are sons and daughters of the King of kings and His ways are higher than our ways. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly, above and beyond what we could ask, think or imagine.

What do you imagine the church COULD be?

Well, God is so much bigger than that and He has so much more in store than that. It is so important for us to lift up our eyes above our here and now and above our day-to-day activities, even above the role we play in the church and begin to see with Kingdom eyes.

Why do we do what we do? Can you easily answer that question?

We are all instruments whom God can use, as long as we’re willing, and the more we worship and fix our eyes on Him, the more He will. We need to take the opportunities or more so, MAKE the opportunities to draw near to Him. As long as you let God use you, He can minister to others through you.
“ God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

To keep our focus where it needs to be, we continue to love and worship Jesus, above everything else.
There is no greater commandment and calling on our lives than this; we must love Jesus.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

We meditate on, consume, and obey the Word of God. It is not enough to preach or sing the Word publicly; we must also be hearers and doers of the Word privately.
“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

We value excellence in everything we do. We strive to be prepared, skilled, and excellent in heart, mind, and spirit. We are a church which exemplifies the spirit displayed in the the building of the tabernacle in Exodus.
“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Cameraderie trumps comparison. Simply put, we do together what no single one of us could do alone. Instead of comparing, we cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s giftings.
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Ministry is an absolute privilege. It is not a chore or a beatdown but a beautiful measure of grace to be able to serve the body of Christ.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)

True leadership is more than earthly wisdom, influence, or charisma. It is seeing what God is doing, responding to His Spirit, and helping others follow.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1, 3)

We choose servanthood over stardom. We realise that the only person who deserves a platform, audience, or spotlight is Jesus Christ.
“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 1:18-20)

Our character is more important than our competency. Artists tend to focus on skill level over character, but character is a necessity for anyone with influence. The eyes of the Lord see the condition of the heart.
“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

We are a relinquishing people. To relinquish something means letting that object be released, scattered, and unleashed. Our teams are made up of people who relinquish everything they have for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. If Jesus, who had every right to keep what was His, still chose to give everything away, so should we be willing to let go of what we consider to be “ours.”
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

We all have an incredible responsibility within our church to help create a picture of who God is through using the gifts and talents that we have been given. We take seriously the call that God has on our lives and the place that has in serving the body of Christ.

We desire to first be worshipers of our mighty God, servants of His house, and faithful with the gifts that God has placed in our hands. We are all part of the body of Christ, and each of us plays a vital role within the local church.

Let’s stay focused, let’s stay ON MISSION and let’s be expectant for what God is doing in us and through us!

Katie Swift
Energizer Creative Team Leader

True Worship

The essence of worship is explained in John 4 as Jesus chats with the woman at the well. Jesus says worship is an overflow of the heart. Worship comes from within a spirit-filled person naturally. It is an outflow of what has happened on the inside. It cannot be stopped, but is a response to the love of the Father. It is fresh, ever-new and ever-flowing.

Worship gives life for others, refreshes and renews. It is not for the person themselves but others, pointing them to the Lifegiver. (Verse 14 says “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. ” John 4:14 NLT. True worship is not barren and dry but refreshes, invigorates and energizes.

Worship is not restricted by place and time. Jesus explained that it is not where that matters: Samaria or Jerusalem; in church or not in church; at the beach; on the mountain; or under a tree. True worship is not a formula, not an order of service, not done this way or that way. Worship is not whether we are of one race, a particular church, Pentecostal, high or low church. It can be free, liturgical, unplanned, organised, chaotic, gentle, challenging, in dance, drama, art, song or silence.

It is not one position; on our knees, face flat on the ground standing or sitting. All of these are acceptable. It is not our pedigree or station in life, our class that matter. It is not just for religious nuts, the regretful or repentant, those in the “in crowd” or those outside.

Worship is not just the worship team or those at the front, on the board, or newly converted, or those in the faith for many years. Worship is for all, everywhere, all the time.

“Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. and But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. John 4:21, 23 NLT

True worship is in Spirit and in truth. Worship is by the spirit. It is empowered by the Spirit, enlivened by the Spirit and enriched by the Spirit. It is filled by the Spirit, and leads to the Spirit. It is a spiritual act from our spirit through His Spirit. It glories in the Spirit but doesn’t point to just the Spirit. True worship draws others to Him. Worship declares who He is.

True worship imposes nothing on others. It lets others to see for themselves.
It is not rushed or pushy. It is prayerful, powerful and personal. True worship proclaims the Lifegiver is here, present and interested in all.

Worship is prophetic, productive and evangelical. It draws others to what He says and what He is doing. It loves all. It picks up the downtrodden, reaches in and puts us on our feet. It is all about Him and begins and ends in His powerful presence. It says He is precious and present always. True worship says He is The One, the Saviour of the world.

Worship is in truth. It is not false, worked up, pretended or a show. It comes from the heart and is expressed in as many ways as there are people. May we learn and worship in spirit in truth. May our worship draw others to Him. May our worship be in spirit in truth.

– Peter Swift
Energizer Creative Team Member