Before we planted the Junction Church, I had a dream of a community where incredible musicianship would be provoked and amazing songs would be produced. You see, I seriously reckon that church ought to be the most brilliantly creative community in town. So I guess part of the reason for this blog is to do some provoking!
For me, music is a passion. Growing up in Belfast, I studied classical piano at the school of music. This was one of the greatest institutions in the city, inspiring creativity during the weary days of ‘the troubles’. It wasn’t easy to get into it (which gave it a certain prestige) – and the standard of teaching was absolutely first rate. Whilst there, I went on to develop a keen interest in jazz piano, and that fascination has never gone away. I love music today more than ever. When it’s bad and ill-disciplined, I’m appalled by it. When it’s really good, I SO appreciate it!
Music is an art that stirs the heart, creates moments and gives expression to emotion that goes beyond words. In a sense, it’s a universal language. Imagine your favourite movie without the sound track? Wouldn’t be the same, would it? That’s the power of music – it changes the atmosphere.
In the Psalms, King David encouraged great musicianship. For example, in Psalm 33:3, he says ‘Sing a new song and play skillfully‘. This pretty much sums up my dream for music at the Junction Church.
Here are 10 keys (excuse the pun) for great musicianship:
1) Take interest – this stems from having passion, which is the child of inspiration.
2) Practice much – if this isn’t happening, then the musicianship will never be taken seriously.
3) Be disciplined – learn how to patiently flow with music rather than trying to force it to happen.
4) Listen to the vibe – this is especially important when playing as part of a team. Listening creates great music.
5) Be selfless – the greatest musicians understand the power of subtlety and not drawing attention to themselves.
6) Develop your craft – for music to be performed with skillful ease, it needs to be carefully crafted behind the scenes. That takes W.O.R.K.
7) Challenge yourself – learn to play proficiently in every key, especially the more uncomfortable ones.
8) Be teachable – every musician has something new to learn.
9) Master one instrument – stop trying to be a multi-instrumentalist. Be excellent at one instead of average at many.
10) Do it for God’s glory – let this always motivate the why behind the what.
If you’re a musician interested in being part of a great worship team, email: email@example.com
Hey!! We’re excited about releasing two albums. Yes, TWO!!
The first is called VIBE, a 14 track instrumental album which is a soundtrack to what’s happening in the life of our church. We really wanted to create something that’s upbeat, capturing the heart of what God is doing. We’d LOVE it if you would download the album HERE.
Then in 2018 (January), we’re releasing our first worship album. This is called HOPE WILL ARISE. We’re currently finishing it off and you’ll hear more details about this soon!
Worship means SO much to us at the Junction Church. When we meet together as a community, we sing songs that express our love and passion for God. But why is music so important? Well, for a start, this is an art which is clearly used in the bible. For example, over 55 of the psalms were actually song lyrics that are prefaced with the instruction ‘for the director of music‘. It’s a pity recording devices weren’t around then as it would be awesome to hear what those songs actually sounded like!! Then in the New Testament, Paul sometimes quotes words from what many scholars believe where early Christian songs. Philippians 2:5-11 is probably one of them (it’s totally worth a read).
At the Junction Church, our heart is to create songs that are biblically based and which also reflect life in Century 21. Our boundaries are ancient but our outlook is eternal. The first part is really important to us and we totally believe in the importance of declaring God’s Word rather than just writing a bunch of nice lyrics. It’s the Word that produces faith (Romans 10:17). Without the certainty of biblical truth, all you get is a clash of confused noise. However, it’s also important to us that we reflect what God is doing today. Our heart is to help a generation connect with Jesus through the language of music.
Junction Collective is a team of musicians at the Junction Church who are passionate about using our skills for the glory of God. Our ethos is that none of our individual names are attached to the songs we write. That’s because we want to keep our ego’s in check. Our heart is to serve and we think this is really important. We really love our church and we’re excited about what God is doing today.
If you’re a musician or singer and you’d like to get in contact, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Christians have a habit of ruining really great songs. I think I know why. It’s because they sing them to death. Simples.
Take the song ‘Ten thousand reasons’ for example. When this first came out, it had a freshness and inspiration that was uplifting. But after years of churches singing it week in & week out, it has lost it’s impact because….yup, Christians have ruined it. When you’re just about to belt out ‘Ten thousand reasons’ for the ten thousandth time, you breathe a little sigh, steel yourself & then psychologically prepare for the journey over the next five minutes. The song has been killed!
Or what about the Hillsong classic ‘Oceans’. Wow! What a truly incredible song this is – lyrically profound and musically beautiful. But this amazing song has been ship wrecked by noble obsession. The countless attempts by Christians to relive the experience of the song again and again make it wearisome and uninspiring to a new generation who’d like a few experiences of their own. When I hear ‘Oceans’ now, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in one. Interestingly, you’ll never hear this song at a Hillsong event. They understand only too well what can happen when a song is sung too much. This one is just too good to be ruined.
Years ago in the 1980’s, there was a song called ‘Shine Jesus Shine’. In it’s day, this was a revolutionary anthem, sung by congregations the nation over. 30 years later, it’s treated (unfairly) as a joke. Why? Not because the song wasn’t good but because Christians have ruined it!! It was for a season. Some churches are still trying to relive the season…but it’s not 1986 anymore!
That’s the problem. There can be a tendency among some Christians to want to relive old seasons over and over again. Under the guise of ‘they don’t write songs like they used to‘, sometimes there’s an unhealthy resentment towards new songs and a gushing sentimentalism for a bygone era. Well ok, no doubt some great things happened back then. But remember, the good old days were never really THAT good.
Meanwhile, our creator genius God has new songs for today. They reflect what he’s doing in the world in THIS season. Lets enjoy them while the season lasts. Then when the next season comes along, lets look forward to those songs too. This is how we stay fresh and young at heart….by looking forward not back. Sure, cherish the good times you’ve had. But keep a strong conviction that the BEST is yet to come. That’s how we’ll keep our music fresh & creative.
They say that time is a great healer. But this really isn’t true. For example, when offence enters the heart, it doesn’t just go away. It actually grows and festers until it becomes the dominant influence over your life. It contaminates your thoughts, your words and your actions – creating a negative vibe in every aspect of your existence. Relationships suffer. Work suffers. Service suffers. In the end, it ruins all that is good in your life by infecting it with poor attitudes, careless words and foolish gossip – all falsely justified by subjective feelings of offence.
The problem with offence is that it’s like drinking a putrid poison in the hope it will destroy your enemy. Ultimately, the person who gets most affected by the cup of bitterness is the one who drinks it’s deadly toxin.
Many years ago, I was asked to speak at the funeral service of a young child. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do. What was strange to me though was the lack of emotion during the service. There was an icy cold atmosphere – as if there was enmity in the air. I just couldn’t understand it. After the church service, I travelled to the graveside to conduct the committal. As the tiny coffin was lowered into the grave, there was a sudden gush of emotion. Tears flowed and broken hearts finally mourned – no longer able to contain their grief. It was like years of pain and pressure were released in that moment. Later, I found out the reason for the earlier absence of emotion. The family had been in a bitter dispute over some disagreement from long ago. It was tragic to think that it took the passing of a young child to bring them to their senses and for reconciliation to begin.
An offended heart will take you places you never thought you’d go. The subtlety of offence is that it convinces you that you are completely justified to ‘feel’ offended. The latter is what creates the greatest barrier to blessing in your life. An offended heart is like a dangerous disease which if not treated, will, over time, eventually kill it’s victim.
Proverbs 4:23 says ‘Above all else, guard your heart for it determines the course of your life.’ You are the gatekeeper of your heart. No-one is responsible for it but you. You must ruthlessly guard what enters it. How? By keeping yourself accountable. By reminding yourself of how God’s grace has forgiven you. By choosing to forgive those who offend you (offence is inevitable but how you handle it is your decision).
There is only enough time to do the will of God. Don’t allow it to be hijacked by the bitterness of offence.
I once heard an old composer advise a group of young musicians to resist the temptation of learning multiple instruments. His reasoning was that it is better to excel at mastering one than be average at playing many. He was right. Genius is found in focused simplicity, not general complexity.
Doing too many things in life can lull us into a false sense of achievement. The reality is that as noble as our efforts may be, the multiplicity of tasks can often end up bearing little or no fruit. That’s why it’s important to simplify your life, taking time to reflect on what really matters so you can keep ‘the main thing the main thing’. This is true of us as individuals. It’s also true of church.
In my own life & leadership, I’m constantly assessing why I do what I do. It can be so easy to get involved in a myriad of projects which are all honourable and important. Virtually every day, I receive an email or advert about some crucial project which I should support. But the truth is that if I were to involve myself in all of them, then I’d become distracted from what I’m really meant to be doing! So here’s the key question: what has God called me to do?
Staying true to purpose needs courage and conviction. This will probably lead to misunderstanding at times and there’s not much you can do about that other than to stay gracious. But it’s crucially important to streamline and simplify. Here are two words that I find helpful in my own reflections:
This is about honestly laying out your life and asking the BIG questions: Whose agenda am I living for? Am I furthering God’s purpose? Is this helping to build God’s house? If not, why not? What do I need to say ‘no’ to? What do I need to prioritise more? What needs to stop? What needs to go? What needs to get better?
This is about the ‘how’ of making changes so that you simplify and align your life with purpose: How do I need to change things in order to remain true to purpose? How do I need to re-prioritise my time? How will I say ‘no’ to noble distractions? How will I maintain my focus to build God’s house? How will I protect myself from becoming overloaded with tasks?
As a regular exercise, it’s wise to take time to look at how you can simplify your life so you are living for what really matters – God’s purpose. This is all we have time to live for.
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Most people love the idea of serving…until they have to serve! Then the vibe often changes. That’s because serving is inconvenient and costly. Servants don’t live for themselves but rather for a cause that is bigger than themselves. They understand that the thing they’re part of is far greater than the part they play. It’s not about recognition. Nor is it anything to do with adulation. It’s about quietly & humbly getting on with it whether you are appreciated or not. This is the essence of a servant heart.
A few years ago, I was speaking at a church on a very hot summer’s evening. When I arrived, I noticed that my car had a flat tyre. Since the service was nearly about to start, I decided I’d just repair it afterwards. When I walked into the venue, I happened to chat to one of the young guys on welcome team and in a passing remark, I jokingly mentioned about my flat tyre. He immediately asked me ‘can I have your car keys?’ Now, I wouldn’t ordinarily accede to such a request – but in that moment I just said ‘sure’ and handed them over. As the worship started, I remember breaking into a cold sweat and thinking to myself ‘will the car still be there afterwards?’ Ha!
Anyway, after the service, the guy came to me and said ‘all fixed!’. He said ‘I’ve replaced your tyre so you can drive home.’ I was absolutely blown away by his act of incredible kindness and I expressed my sincere thanks to him. When I got to the parking area, not only had he replaced the flat tyre but he had washed and cleaned my car to the point that it looked as if it was glistening in the evening sun. This guy had gone the extra mile. He’d missed the service, was inconvenienced and worked through stifling heat – all because his heart was to serve. He didn’t complain or moan about it. It was his total and utter delight. Today, that guy is a leader whose significance and influence is growing both in the UK and around the world. I think I understand why.
Servants don’t have favourite tasks. They just get on with doing whatever needs to be done. The Holy Spirit finds it easy to work with people like this. They don’t make demands. They’re not diva’s. They don’t cry out for attention. They don’t complain and huff when an unglamorous job needs to be done. They just get on with doing it. People may not notice but God does. And that’s the point. As Christians, everything we do is for the audience of One.
Servanthood is not a task. It’s a state of heart. We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving others. So let’s embrace the inconvenience, pay the price and take delight in serving, even if no-one ever notices. Remember, God notices. We are living for the audience of One.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER!
Some battles in life are worth fighting. However, most aren’t. Yet so often, people waste hours, days or even years of their lives battling over things which just don’t matter. It is never wise to live like that.
So how can you tell if a battle is worth the fight? Here are a few questions to consider:
1) Is it a battle that’s FOR people or against them?
Paul the apostle said ‘Fight the GOOD fight’. This is about fighting FOR people – not against them. This is a positive battle. For example, fighting FOR a generation is good. Fighting FOR people to know and understand that God loves them – that’s good too. But fighting against people you don’t like or agree with is never good – and it’s certainly not a battle which God would ever want us to engage in. So this is an important question to think about.
2) Are the spoils of victory worth it?
So let’s think ahead. Suppose you engage in battle and win. Are the spoils of victory really worth it? This is such an important question which wise people will always want to consider. If the result is that you are proven right and someone else is proven wrong, it’s really not worth it. If your ego is stroked, it’s not worth it. If your selfishness is satisfied, it’s not worth it. If, however, you help someone get better, that’s worth it. If someone experiences God’s love and forgiveness, it’s totally worth it. If more people get blessed, that’s a battle worth fighting too. The spoils – they really matter. Does this battle build people up or pull others down? Now THAT’S a question!
3) Is this about your ego?
Come on, let’s be honest. Most of our battles are about our pride and ego rather than principle and purpose. For me, this is particularly challenging when I’m driving and some eejit decides to overtake me in a manner which is not to my liking (don’t judge me too harshly….you drivers know exactly what I’m talking about!!). My pride says ‘drive faster and beat them’. But wisdom says ‘sloooow down and let them win’. I must be honest, sometimes I don’t like wisdom. But I’ve learned that wisdom is ALWAYS right. Hey, the point is…don’t let your ego get in the way of your God given destiny. Think purpose. Think grace. Think long term. This perspective changes everything.
4) Have you really taken time to think it through?
Don’t believe the first thing your emotions tell you. They’re fickle – REALLY fickle. So before you write what you feel on social media, take lots of time to think about it. Before you just go ahead and speak what’s on your mind, submit your thoughts to God and ask him what he thinks. Before you send that strong email, consider seriously how it reflects the love and grace of God. Before you blurt out your anger, consider your own mistakes, failures and blunders. Think, think and then think again. It’s amazing how God can give us wisdom when we pause and reflect instead of just charging straight into battle.
Be sure to fight the battles which really matter. Leave the other’s to God. That takes REAL faith.
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I’ll never forget the first time I visited Harrods. It was a mesmerising, almost magical experience. I’d been on a week long school trip to London and the contrast between the gloom of trouble torn Belfast and the glitz of Harrods was profound. The thing I remember most was it’s sparkle. It was all so fantastically pristine. The attention to detail was meticulous and you could tell. Everything had a glistening ray of excellence about it. Even the floors seemed to glow with a brilliant radiance. The experience was unforgettable.
Recently however, I visited Harrods again and I found myself feeling a little disappointed (though I still love Harrods!). Don’t get me wrong….compared to your average department store it’s still in a league of it’s own. But in comparison to my first experience there, it wasn’t quite the same. The attention to detail was not nearly as impressive as I first remembered it. For example, I noticed some of the the floors were marked with masking tape which covered over rips in sections of carpet. A touch of mediocrity had crept in and I could tell the sparkle had faded a bit.
Truth is…when tiredness creeps into our lives, our sparkle can gradually wane. Creativity suffers. Surviving rather than thriving becomes the goal. What then follows is a downward trend. A sparkle turns to a shimmer, dims to a flicker and eventually fades to nothing.
So what do you do when your sparkle fades? Can you get it back? If so, how? Here’s some thoughts:
1) Face up
Recognise when the sparkle is fading. This requires self awareness. An unwillingness to do this probably explains why the sparkle ever faded at all in the first place. Facing up to the situation with integrity and openness is crucial, difficult though it might be. Don’t be blinded by the dullness of your insecurities. Have the confidence to be honest with yourself.
2) Clear up
The mistake we can often make is to just keep on going in the hope that no-one will notice our lack of sparkle. Whilst the answer is not to quit, it is important to take time to clear up those things which dim our light, things which don’t need to be there. This kind of decluttering can require great courage.
3) Rest up
Stop trying so hard. Take your time. Resist the temptation to panic and rush. Live for the long term rather than going for short term fixes. That means creating rhythms of rest in your life where you can be refreshed and renewed. This will not merely keep you alive but will cause you to thrive.
4) Rise up
Get around people who are doing better than you. Spend time with those who are further on than you. Don’t be mastered by your insecurities that feel threatened and exposed by others who are sparkling brighter. It’s always a trap to measure yourself against that which is mediocre. The latter is where your insecurity would like you to go. It’s no good though. No, get inspired and rise to the shine of excellence.
5) Brighten up
Give loving care and meticulous attention to the few things you do best. It’s not your job to do everything. It is your job to do what you do best. So do it with love. And remember, perfect love casts out fear. It’s your time to shine.
Finally, and above all, think about the words of Jesus:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”
(Matt 11:28-30 MSG)
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THE BLESSING OFLOW MAINTENANCE PEOPLE by Roy Todd
Recently, a couple who have been with us since the Junction Church was first planted in Loughborough came to speak to Lydia & myself after one of our Sunday services. In their usual quiet and unassuming manner, they spoke encouraging and loving words over us and reaffirmed that God had called them to stand with us in the adventure of pioneering a new church in Loughborough, Leicester and wherever else God should call us in the future.
The conversation deeply impacted me, far more than I might have expected. It ignited a renewed sense of faith in my heart. I later reflected on why I felt this way and came to the realisation that the reason why this couple were a gift to our lives is because of WHO they are. They are low maintenance people. Their track record speaks volumes of faithfulness, consistency and love. They quietly get on with it behind the scenes, never making a fuss or expecting anything in return. They’ve never caused us problems nor have they ever complained when they had every reason to. They are more valuable to us than pure gold as we seek to lead our church into God’s purpose.
Low maintenance people are a blessing to the lives of others. Here are 10 reasons why:
1) They’re refreshing – not draining
2) They’re encouraging – not discouraging
3) They’re positive – not negative
4) They quietly get on with it – not crying our for attention
5) They’re a blessing – not a distraction
6) They fight for you – not against you
7) They’re teachable – not argumentative
8) They take delight in responsibility – not pleasure in apportioning blame
9) They do blessing – not complaining
10) They’re into giving – not getting
If you want to be a blessing to the lives of others, be a low maintenance person. You’ll be a greater blessing to them than you could possibly imagine.
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by Roy Todd