Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Wrestling with God

Genesis 32:24-31

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

So about 2 weeks ago I had the privilege of getting to attend Reading Fam's worship leaders meeting. Was a brilliant time in which those of us who lead and those who would like to lead met up, chatted about why we do what we do, were challenged in areas but also was a great time of encouragement. Towards the end Liz said that she planned for that we should pray for one another individually and practice stepping out in terms of hearing for God. To be honest alarm bells went off in my head, as i've never thought of myself as a particularly  strong prayer (an area to improve in) but also that I had said i wanted to step out in prophecy so I knew that now was the time!

Anyway so we got individuals to stand in the middle and we gathered and prayed for them. Some amazing words came out and people seemed really stirred and encouraged. As it came for my turn, I wondered what it would be... God delights in my songwriting?... God will bless me with even greater skill  (HA! i make myself laugh) with my guitar? etc... no God intended to challenge me deeply -> that I should be striving to "wrestle with God", that I need to push myself to grow a spiritually broader shoulders were 2 that stood out and this is so that I might become the man God intends me to be. The idea of wrestling with God is a terrifying one but I take refuge and delight in the passage from Genesis. Not only did Jacob do it, but he was blessed because of it.

So I decided to accept what God is saying, let Him humble me and choose to delight in Him. It's quite clear that I've gotten myself into a mindset where I think that I read the bible enough, or that I spend enough time with Him (which clearly isn't true) and so I've probably gotten very relaxed in my ways. The way I would usually spend my free time at the moment during this holiday would be to play some fifa (or some other game of sort), browse various football sites, listen to music or watch a film. I've decided to put the hunt for new music (that seems to be a constant one) on a bit of a hold and choose to listen to podcasts/sermons on my way to work as well as trying to read more and focusing on songwriting. I'm attempting to wrestle and take delight in my Saviour in my spare time and hopefully I won't be limping afterwards like Jacob... hopefully....

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The One In Whom I Trust

I wrote a song not too long ago called "The One In Whom I Trust" it's based on Psalm 91. I wrote it while reflecting on how amazing it is to have a God who is completely faithful and trustworthy and knowing that there is nothing that is impossible for Him be it a massive life problem or a healing simple cold. Surprisingly I haven't fitted in a ridiculous amount of syllables per line so hopefully I'm getting better at writing songs. Its brilliant thinking of how it was just a thought back in September and now seeing people singing it corporately to glorify God like last Sunday. Took me quite awhile to get it finished but I'm really happy with how it sounds now.

The One In Whom I Trust

Verse 1:
I will dwell in the shelter of the most high
I will rest in the shadow of my Saviour
He will be my portion
Ever present help in need

Verse 2:
I will sing of my refuge and my fortress
I will call on the source of my salvation
He has never failed me
He will not forsake my soul

I will say of my God
You are more than enough for me
The One in whom I trust
I will say of my God
You are more than enough for me
The One in whom I trust

Verse 3:
Though the darkness seeks to overwhelm me
On this rock I will stand and not be shaken
Jesus He is stronger
All my faith is found in Him

Love was crucified to save
Hope conquered the grave
Nothing is impossible for You

copyright Josh John 2009 Reading Family Church

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Passion 2010: Awakening

So I'm a big fan of Passion (which is a student movement in America). It's a yearly event and a few well known worship leaders are present so therefore there are often a few new songs floating around. This year is no different and strangely yahoo are letting you listen to the whole album for free before it's been release over here in the UK. So check it out while you can (i think it's til the end of this week) the link is below. One of my faves so far is "Our God"


Friday, 5 March 2010

How He Loves

[the clip in the background is from the film "The Passion of The Christ" please do not watch if you are faint hearted, please watch if you need to be stirred again about just how much we are loved by God]

Love is one of those words that are banded around fairly liberally. From the throw away "oh I love [add random name]" about someone you barely know but maybe makes you laugh or does something amusing, to people's passionate 'love' for their football team (I'm speaking about myself here too), it seems our society has managed to devalue what is one the greatest things we can do as human beings... 

But we are reminded that we have a God that loves us, unconditionally, jealously, passionately, eternally and the list can go on and on. In Romans Paul shows us that the Father loved us so much that He gave his only son Jesus, so that nothing could separate us from Him, not even death itself.

Romans 8:31-39
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

A song that has been stuck in my head for some time is the song by John Mark McMillan called "How He Loves". I prefer David Crowder's version (though that's of little real significance). The story of how the song was written is below.
"He [John Mark] had a youth minister he was close to and he’d been praying and praying for there to be a movement among the youth that he was leading. One morning, when they were meeting to pray he said, “I’d give my life for this if that’s what it takes to see a movement among these youth. Do whatever you need to do God.” That evening John Mark’s friend, Steven the youth pastor, died in a car wreck, and John Mark wrote the song in memory of his friend."

I love the song because it does not conform to standard lyrics or imagery but yet the simple chorus that seems pierce my heart right to it's core. It reminds me of the scene in Good Will Hunting when Matt Damon's character is repeatedly told that it was not his fault he was abused.
It's what we need to hear again and again, He loves us, Jesus loves us and that will never change.

The lyrics of the song are below and I hope your heart melts in your chest just as mine did and all those things of the earth seem to become so insignificant when you think, meditate, about just How much He loves you, me, us all...

How He loves by John Mark McMillan

Verse 1:
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Pre Chorus:
And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.

Verse 2:
We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way