13th October 2016
Last weekend, a large group from CCBS travelled to Bedford for the Father Heart Conference. Nicola McCormick shares with us her experience of this powerful weekend:
"After almost 40 years as a Christian, I would have thought that my understanding of my Heavenly Father was pretty solid. The input that approximately thirty of us from CCBS had at this amazing conference demonstrated that there is eternal revelation to be received of the love of our Father.
One story that was shared at the conference stands out in my memory… In Armenia in recent years there was a devastating earthquake. In one small town, most of the buildings were flattened. A father who had survived the quake began running towards the local school in which his son studied. Upon arrival at the school he was horrified to see that the entire building was flattened and dozens of distraught parents were gathering together and wailing in shock and grief.
Undeterred, he ran to where his son’s classroom building had stood and began clawing at the rubble with his bare hands and calling his son’s name. No-one helped him and many tried to get him to stop, telling him that his efforts were hopeless. Ignoring their advice, this father kept going… 10 hours passed… 24 hours passed… 38 hours later with his fingers in tatters he again called out his son’s name in desperation.
Suddenly, but faintly, he heard a muffled reply… “Dad?... Dad!... I’m here!... I knew that you would come!” The classroom had fallen in such a way that a small space had formed around the son and a few of his friends. All through the hours of fear and suffocating darkness the boy had kept telling his friends, “I know that my Dad will come!”
What a story! What a portrayal of the Father’s love! Even typing it out several days later has reduced me to tears!
Before we went to the Father Heart conference I knew that an intimate relationship with Father God was available. I have been hungry for more revelation of this love, but also very aware of blockages in my heart and some unhelpful patterns of thought that have held me captive to living like an orphan rather than a beloved child of God. Despite these internal hindrances, Father God met me with love and even pride in His eyes!
For the first time in all these years of walking with God I experienced the Father’s love and He has given me rest and deep peace.
As I walk forward from this point I am confident that these blockages and hindrances will continue to dissipate and my orphan heart will increasingly transform to become the heart of a secure and loved daughter, knowing the smile of my Father, safe, protected, affirmed, and full of glistening hope.
Father God invites you to journey deep into His transforming love. Say ‘Yes’ to the journey."
7th April 2016
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song (Psalm 95:2)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name (Psalm 100:4)
I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the name of the LORD (Psalm 116:17)
Worshipping God should always start with thankgiving. If God is who He says He is, then He is altogether higher, greater and stronger than anything in this world and altogether our Saviour and provider. Thanksgiving allows our immediate focus to be on Him, even when we are anxious and concerned about life's circumstances.The Bible asks us in everything start our prayers to God with thanksgiving (phillippians 4:6). Thanksgiving reminds our very soul of all that God is, and all that He has done.
What a great place to start your day? What a great way to face any situation - 'God you have done so much and I will remind myself of these things!' This is fundamentally right and appropriate but as ever, we also benefit from this as faith rises within us as we utter the words of 'thank you God!' By comaprison many social commentators bemoan how rude people can be in modern life. In particular they despair about how people neglect to be grateful – specifically that they fail to say thank you. Author Lynn Truss says that ‘saying thank you is way of positionng ourselves in humility. It brings with it recognition that we need help, that we can’t do life on our own, and it demonstrates a grateful heart.'
So what does thanksgiving look like? It could be keeping a ‘thankful list’ of things large and small, so you armed and ready with your thanks. It could be seeking out testimonies and stories of what God is doing, and indeed sharing you’re own journey of who you see God to be, an how he has provided for you and those around you. Maybe bring thankfulness into all aspects of life - the office, the car, the dinner table, your worship. Paul Manwaring one of the leaders at Bethel Church, California often says that starting meetings with good news and with thanks is culture shaping. He did this here in the UK as a prison Govener before moving to the USA, and the shift in perspective of the whole team was significant.
Wouldnt it be great if we were known as people who oozed with gratitiude and thankfullness?
Reflecting also on Psalm 100:4, which says that thanksgiving leads us into His presence, I am reminded that if we want to draw closer to God, we need to start with thanksgiving. Let's be ready with our lips and hearts to express thankfullness straight away when we come before God!
If our worship is strongly flavoured with thanksgiving and honour of His name, we will have a very healthy worship diet! There are of course many other aspects of sung worship, ways, means, and how we can worship but in this next season can I challenge you to be ready to give thanks, and to praise His name? Come ready on Sunday mornings to thank Him and start everyday by coming into His presence with thanks.
In our modern day culture of convenince, express service, and a ‘me’ focus, let us take the time to worship with thankfulness and a renewed focus on the Name that is above all others. Let’s not allow the ‘great I’ to take precedent over the ‘great I AM’
13th March 2016
Why do we worship God?
In the last blog (blog part one) we looked at the fact that God is greatly to be praised. In part two I want to ask the question 'why do we worship God?' Why does an all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present God, need created beings to worship Him? Is He an attention seeker? Is He egotistical?
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am easily distracted...(ooooh look, a bird)...I can easily be overwhelmed and let the busyness of life overtake me and then let other things, people or situations take the priority.
Is this just me? Or are you the same? Do you start the day wanting to focus on Jesus and pray as you work, only to stumble across 5pm and realise that you've not had any time to even think about God?
Let me tell you straight - it is absolutely worth your while to let Jesus be the priority of your life! Psalm 63:3-5 says:
"Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live,cand in Your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You."
There is a need, a craving if you like, for our lives to be satisfied. I want to tell you that satisfaction in all of life can be found. Read that last sentence again - satisfaction in all of life can be found! In praise, in worship, in the best meal, in the richest of foods, you can be fully satisfied!
It’s no secret that I love both preparing and eating food...lots of food...and I've learned that finding satisfaction when eating is an active process! We have to engage our hands in order to use our cutlery, we have to feed our mouth, smell the food, mentally we must like the look of what we see and we have to enjoy the taste and the warm glow of culinary satisfaction.
The same is true with God - to find satisfaction you need to actively engage your body, lift your hands, feed your mouth with worship and truth, allow your senses to become enlightened, be amazed at the picture you see of God, and know the after effects of worship are for your good, and that you will be sustained. It requires engagement and my first encouragement is to approach times of corporate and individual worship fully engaged!
Setting our attention and focus on Him, allowing our lives to be built on His greatness, His character is good for us. Jesus modelled this for us by spending much time alone with the Father as an anchor for his life, but yet found refreshing, satisfaction, and strength for his own life. If Jesus found it necessary to rely on the Father, the same is true for me, you and every other Christian in the world today.
Where else is there to turn to? What else in life offers the kind of satisfation that worship to our God does?
Three years ago my wife Katherine carried our first son, Finley James, to full term. Finley was born stillborn. In the midst of what must be one of lifes most devastating moments, the only place that Katherine and I could go to for solace, for peace, for any satisfaction in life was in worship. For many months the only way we could sleep was to have worship music filling our house, our mouths and our ears.
In the midst of confusion and pain, we need to worship. And the same is true when we're in the midst of joy and excitement. Its good for us. Its sets our hearts right. It brings satisfaction to our souls.
When time is spent in the presence of God, who is the better for it? Is it for my benefit or for God's benefit? Every-time I have sung, worshipped, praised, served, prayed and sought after God throughout my entire life, I am the one who leaves feeling more loved, honnoured and supported. Even though I am the one giving of myself to and for Him, by the great grace and kindness of God I am the one who is blessed.
So why do we worship? Firstly, because He is greatly to be praised, but secondly because it is the only way we can taste true satisfaction.
Hillsong wrote the song ‘Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me, Everything I need is in You, Everything I need.
Let this be the call of our mouths, our hearts and very lives; You, Jesus are enough!
12th February 2016
"Oh sing to the Lord a new song sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory amount the nations, his marvellous works amoung all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods." Psalm 94:1-6
I recently heard Church leader and author John Piper say, ’in worship, indeed in life, there is no greater foundation than Great is the Lord, and therefore greatly to be praised! We should be trying to figure out in our lives and in our worship, whether alone or in the crowd, what it means to Praise Him greatly!’
Worship has many definitions. The one I personally lean on the most is Matt Redman’s description which says that ‘worship is a response to revelation.’
As with any relationship, you cant love someone if you don't know them and one of the great encouragements in the Bible is for us to explore and seek our God. Infact, it is to the glory of kings to investigate such matters [such as] to search out the Lord (Proverbs 25:2). Oh the pleasure, the wisdom and the joy in knowing that the greatness of God is to be found, sought out, understood, cherished and loved. It cannot do anything but bless you, and as you seek Him it honours the Lord.
As we know more, as we see more and as the greatness of God is revealed in our hearts and minds, our response to Him changes. As our understanding grows and matures,our response becomes more genuine, more authentic, more honouring, more courageous and more passionate. Our praise of Him becomes greater!
Therefore, revelation of Him must lead to response. As we see Him, it is only right that we worship.
So, are our souls singing - He is great and therefore greatly to be praised? When we gather together on Sundays, or in groups, and as you spend time with Him during the week - ask God to reveal his greatness to you. Purposefully engage with songs, preaching, prayers and discussions that describes who God is and let the truth focus and shape your thinking.
Let’s allow our understanding and pursuit of God, to feed our expression of God so that we forever declare ‘You are greatly to be praised!’