“We hope it will be a stream of encouragement, reminding him that there is a community of people cheering him on and keeping him in their thoughts.” Lydia Cole
issue two | august | twenty-fourteen soulpurposemag.com
where is your security? God’s plan for being healthy bringing new life to your career
JONNY BE GOOD NZ MUSO’S RALLY BEHIND JONO WILSON AFTER AN ACCIDENT LEFT HIM FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY MANNA BOOKSTORES AND THE CHRISTIAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION
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26 October to 2 November 2014
Barnabas Fund is calling on churches and individual Christians to set aside Suffering Church Action Week to focus on our brothers and sisters who suffer for their faith. The theme, Living in Babylon: Faithful to Christ in a Hostile World, provides an opportunity to consider how Christians need to remain faithful to Christ in countries where they experience persecution. Order a FREE Inspiration Pack full of resources for the week.
contents... issue two | august | twenty-fourteen
3 key Steps to Getting the Important Things Done
The church’s male exodus
COVER STORY: NZ musos support one of their own
How to bring new life to your business or career
God’s plan for a healthy life
Lydia Cole chats to SP
18 What the un-churched don’t like about Christians Thom S. Rainer 20
Sons of Korah
Where is your security?
pure power at Transition “Transition is always a highlight. It really strengthened my spirit and helped me in my struggles.” Nicholas
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14 4 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
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3 key Steps to Getting the Important Things Done words: berni dymet There are two types of things that you have to get done today. The important things and the urgent things. The two are rarely the same. Berni Dymet looks at how you can get your (daily) life in order. What happens for most of us is that the urgent things crowd out the important ones. And our failure to address the important tasks in our lives invariably is what comes back to bite us down the track. Big time!! So how do you make sure you don’t allow the urgent to crowd out the important? Here are three steps guaranteed to help you get the important things done in your life. Step 1 – Decide on Your Priorities 6 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
Would it surprise you to know that since life is all about successfully juggling priorities (or not!) the Bible is replete with discussions about that very subject – our priorities? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt 6:33) You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3) Those are just two of a few hundred. God’s Word even talks about management priorities: For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? (1 Tim 3:5)
The first reason some people don’t get the important things done in their day-to-day lives, is that they don’t decide what’s important. Guess what. You may have 150 emails in your in-tray, but chances are that none of them are a matter of life or death. So, are you going to spend your evening answer emails, or doing some exercise; spending time with people that matter; praying and reading God’s Word? The emails may appear urgent, but those other things are important. So, Step 1: sit down, quietly, prayerfully and decide what are the things in your life that are really important.
THE BIGGEST MISTAKE WE MAKE IS THAT WE ALLOCATE TIME TO THE URGENT THINGS, BUT WE DON’T ALLOCATE TIME TO THE IMPORTANT THINGS. If you don’t exercise, your body is going to give up on you early. If you don’t spend time with your wife or husband, your marriage is going to come apart. If you don’t spend time with the Lord, your faith is going to fall by the wayside … and one day, you’ll stand before the Lord on that day of judgement and say what? Sorry Lord but I was too busy? What are the two or three or four really, really important things in your life? Decide. Step 2 – Allocate the Time The biggest mistake we make is that we allocate time to the urgent things, but we don’t allocate time to the important things.
Here’s an example. Running a ministry like Christianityworks means that a lot of urgent tasks come my way. Several hundred emails a day. Technical issues. Radio station issues. In fact, I have enough urgent tasks out there to keep me going, quite literally, 24/7. The problem is that I’m also the guy in the ministry who writes and records the radio messages; who writes these blog posts; who writes the books and booklets that we produce. Those are really important tasks, because unless I do them, there’s no ministry, right? So – here is what I do. This is the key. I take those tasks and put them
in my diary first. So, if you could see my diary – several weeks out – I already have my research/writing and recording times blocked out . So now, as urgent tasks come, they have to fit in around the diary block entries that are already there for program production. And (the other members of our team will attest to this) when those times come, nothing else is allowed to crowd them out. I don’t take phone calls. I don’t answer emails. I won’t let other priorities interrupt those important tasks unless (as happens in a very, very small percentage of cases) there is some other life or death issue that demands my attention. But that is very, very rare.
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This is the key! We all have things on our to-do lists. The problem is, we don’t allocate time in our diaries, to the important things. And so as a result, the urgent things steal our time and the important things don’t get done. Whether you use a diary to allocate your time or not, the key is allocating time to important, nonurgent tasks. When we do that, they get done. It’s that simple. Since I’m a very early starter (4 or 5 am!) I normally go for my daily walk (5 to 7 kms – 40 to 60 minutes) in the afternoons when I’m less mentally productive. But this afternoon I have a 4:00pm and a 6:00pm appointment in my diary. So, I’ve planned to walk to my 4:00pm appointment (30 minute walk) and walk back again (another 30 minutes) to make sure my exercise happens with plenty of time to shower and make my 6:00pm appointment. Is the exercise urgent? No. Not at all. Is it important? Absolutely
– because I’m 54 years old and the single greatest predictor for premature death from heart disease, stroke and diabetes is …. no, not high cholesterol. It’s a lack of exercise. Do I always get all of my important tasks done this way? No. But I get far more done than if I hadn’t planned on doing them, simply by allocating blocks of time to them in my diary. Step 3 – Don’t Squib Now – this is really important too. It’s really easy to squib on the important things, because they’re not urgent and other things are screaming at you saying that they’re far, far more pressing than this time you’d planned on spending with the Lord in prayer. Part of it is a physical reality. And part of it is spiritual. Do you think that the devil wants you to spend quiet, unhurried time in prayer so that your relationship with Jesus is strong? Do you think that the devil wants you to get out there and exercise so that you’re bright-eyed and bushytailed?
Do you think that the devil wants a husband and wife to have great time together, without the kids to make their marriage strong? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out do you? Sure, sometimes – very rarely – we need to juggle our diary because other things come up. But here’s what I’ve found. I am pretty brutal about not allowing the urgent things to squeeze out the important things, no matter how urgent they purport to be. And you know, getting on with the important things and letting the urgent things wait has never, ever caused me any harm or pain. So – and you should expect this – when the hour draws near for you to do that important thing, there will be a strong temptation – physical and spiritual – to squib on the deal and yield to the urgent. To give in. Don’t. You won’t regret it. And more and more, you’ll see the fruit of right priorities bursting forth in your life.
Berni Dymet is the CEO of christianityworks.com. You can learn more at www.christianityworks.com
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The church’s male exodus The men have decided. Church is not for them. Increasingly, men and boys are abandoning their congregations. As we conducted the research for our recent book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore we noticed men were leading the exodus. Statistics show that America’s pews are disproportionately populated with 61 percent females and 39 percent males. We wondered why. After digging deeper, we heard several recurring themes: Feminization Many men say the current church is designed for feminine tastes. Everything from the decor to worship behavior seems just a bit too “girly” for many guys. “It’s intimidating for a man to hold hands in a circle,” says David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church. “A male visitor detects the feminine spirit the moment he walks in the sanctuary door. He may feel like Tom Sawyer in Aunt Polly’s parlor.” One-way communication Many men no longer desire to sit at the feet of a preacher and passively take in a lecture. This week popular Christian author Donald Miller admitted in his blog that he rarely attends church anymore. “I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon,” he wrote. He said, like most men, he finds that the typical church service “can be long and difficult to get through.” Other men told us that, rather than sit passively through a church service, they want to offer their thoughts, and join the conversation. Avoidance of tough questions Many men have serious questions about matters of faith. They feel their questions
10 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
FRUSTRATED, HE LEFT THE CHURCH. HE WASN’T LOOKING FOR AN EASY ANSWER FROM A CLERICAL KNOW-IT-ALL. HE SIMPLY WANTED A DEGREE OF HONESTY, AUTHENTICITY, AND HUMILITY.
are unwelcome. David, a college student, told us how his difficult questions about the canonization of the Bible were deflected and dismissed. Frustrated, he left the church. He wasn’t looking for an easy answer from a clerical knowit-all. He simply wanted a degree of honesty, authenticity, and humility. Lack of adventure Church happenings are too programmed and predictable for many men. They’re looking for a little risk and challenge–just as the original disciples encountered while
living with Jesus. But, as David Murrow says, “the actual mission of most congregations is making people feel comfortable and safe–especially longtime members.” Even the concept of discipleship has been stripped of its original meaning. It’s been reduced to a sheltered academic exercise in most churches. Their discipleship programs amount to no more than a Bible study class. Murrow is looking to return to a real biblical process to disciple men. He calls it Men’s League. It engages 12 men at a time in a year-long series
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When tragedy struck musician Jono Wilson, the Christian marketplace came up with a novel way of supporting him. SP talks to LYDIA COLE (pictured inset) about how they achieved it…
NZ musos support one of their own
ne of the most endearing things about living in a country the size of New Zealand is that the concept of community is almost forced upon you. This can certainly be said of our local musical community; a family of multi-talented artists connected by only a few degrees of separation. It’s this family ethos that presided when tragedy struck Jono Wilson, the drummer behind bands like LIFE Worship, Lydia Cole, Clap Clap Riot, Ginny Blackmore and many more. In the wake of a serious car accident, which left Jono facing years of recovery, his musical family rallied together, contributing work to a fundraising album they dubbed Jonny Be Good. The “musical getwell soon card” debuted in the NZ Top 20 charts and continues to raise money for Jono’s recovery. We spoke to Lydia Cole about the genesis of the
12 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
album and the voices behind it. SP: How did the idea for the album come about? Lydia Cole: My mate and drummer Jono Wilson was in a really serious car accident a few days before Christmas. He was in a coma for a few weeks, it was a really scary time for everyone. I just couldn’t stop thinking or talking about it. Everyone in my world soon knew about Jono and what he was going through. One day I was chatting with a good mutual music friend of ours. We talked about the accident, about what Jono and his wife were going through, how it might feel, what their needs might be. We talked about the kind of person Jono is - a generous, passionate, enthusiastic and generous spirit. Someone everyone loves. We talked about how he brings positivity to the community of musicians that
surround him. How he speaks well of everyone, and everyone speaks well of him. And how maybe this is a time where the community can give back some of the good vibes that he has been investing in us all along. SP: Was it hard to wrangle the musicians? LC: It is always hard to wrangle musicians! But every one of Jono’s music friends we invited to be involved were so keen, everyone was more than happy to be involved however they could. SP: This isn’t just a whip-round of B-sides - there is some very special, unique stuff on the album? LC: There is some extremely special stuff on the album! Some very personal stories and songs. The first response I received from
cover story a musician was an email from Nathan King. He had just finished recording a song he had written about Jono since the accident, and was wondering what to do with it. I love how well he captured Jono in the lyrics: “Your heart, it is straight and true - and there’s no stopping you” Another song written just for the project was ‘Tomorrow’s Gold’ by Nic Manders. Nic was the person who first introduced me to Jono, in a 2010 recording session. Since then these boys have been my dream team, on stage and in the studio. Nic has been making a beautiful and substantial impact on music in New Zealand for a long time, having worked with iconic acts such as Brooke Fraser, Kimbra, The Feelers, Goldenhorse, and Bic Runga. Yet until now he has kept his original songs close to his chest. This man is a gift to the world. My personal highlight is ‘Dearest’ by Sam Bentley (The Paper Kites). Sam and Jono had met in previous years at events like Parachute, and I distinctly remember them hitting it off. In May, The Paper Kites were in New Zealand playing a couple of shows, and Sam kindly got up early one morning and joined me in the
studio to record this stunning song. It’s the kind of special tune that makes you feel warm and homesick and content and sad, all at once. And it is such a good feeling to finally have our voices on record together. SP: Tell us about your song ‘Dream’ LC: I wrote Dream in 2012, and that’s when Jono recorded this demo for me in his studio. We spent an afternoon on it together. A few days later when he emailed the mix through to me, I could hear his vocals come in on the last chorus. Vocals he must have recorded after I’d left the studio. Such a cheeky guy. I smiled to myself, knowing that his judgment was correct - it sounded beautiful. But what blew my mind was months later, after Jono had his accident. He was in the coma, all his friends were praying for recovery and healing, and it was scary times. I went back and listened to Dream, for comfort. And when I heard his vocals in the last chorus, singing “stay safe” I knew that he would be okay. SP: What was Jono’s reaction to the album? LC: I don’t think Jono really
comprehended exactly how this was going to play out until a couple of days into the release, downloads were through the roof (Jonny Be Good charted in the first week). And then we got a call from Sky News wanting to do a story on it, and they wanted to go to Jono’s house and talk to him. He and his wife are overwhelmed with the support that so many people have been giving. SP: Where to now for Jono? LC: Jono is finally living at home again after months in the hospital and rehab centre. This is good! He will continue his timetable of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and singing lessons. His goal is to be back at work in a year. It will be a long road, requiring lots of patience, but we know he will do it. All donations from Jonny Be Good go directly into his bank account, assisting with all this therapy. But more than that, we hope it will be a stream of encouragement, reminding him that there is a community of people cheering him on and keeping him in their thoughts.
Download the album at www.jonnybegood.co.nz
How to bring new life to your business or career words: peter irvine
n the desert there are two categories of birds: The Vulture – looking for and surviving on dead things The Hummingbird – looking for fresh new living plants
14 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
Despite changes in government, the economy or other issues that come and go, we should always be looking for fresh, new and living ways to improve our business or career.
How can we learn from science? Most of us are familiar with Newton’s laws of motion and his experience with the falling apple. We can all gain inspiration and new ideas from the way a scientist thinks.
Develop a sense of wonder: As we grow up we lose our sense of wonder at the world and life around us. Keep asking questions - Why? Is there a better way? Why not try….? I wonder what would happen if…? Stay curious: Be nosey - Look into what is being done here and around the world. Find out what’s happening beyond your own walls and what’s possible right where you are. Create an uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant. Ponder: Create time to think through things. Breakthrough ideas come when we are relaxed. The eureka moment: When we have interests in a range of things, the crossover effect leads to
new ideas developing. Stay connected to people with different ideas and ways of doing business. Making it work: Never underestimate the importance of detail and design. Any new idea, be it marketing, product, service, staff training or internal process, needs to work effectively. Don’t be afraid to ditch something if it fails. Bring new life Momentum comes out of impetus Often we just need to start on that new idea or concept. At the other end of the scale, sometimes people end things that are not over – a new look, a slight improvement or better targeted marketing could bring that to life. Lack of resource Isn’t a drawback, it can actually make
us more creative and cost effective. Too busy? This problem isn’t new - 1,500 years ago a great church leader, St Augustine said: “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full – there’s nowhere to put it”. In business – and life - we fill our time with so many processes, systems and unnecessary tasks that there is no time to innovate. So challenge yourself and start to bring new life to your business or career.
Peter Irvine Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of ‘Win In Business’ and ‘Building your Business, your People, your Life’ and keynote speaker.
God’s plan for a healthy life words: carolyn boyce
In Western populations lifestyle changes are pushing obesity rates and lifestyle disease statistics to alarming new heights. This has triggered, in some quarters, a reactionary response as many embrace fitness programs. This might seem to be good news, but the bigger picture is not about diet, exercise or physical health, but rather about balance in one’s being. It is important that as Christians we do not go through life simply reacting to triggers, or falling prey to popular trends but that our actions are led by the Holy Spirit of God. Regaining balance in Western culture is no easy feat. It is as challenging as swimming upstream. Yet to realize God’s perfect plan for our Earthly existence, we need to strive for balance in our entire being. Balance is not limited to the issues of finance or time. Balance begins in the mind. Since thinking affects emotions, and feelings influence behavior, change ideally begins in the mind (Proverbs 23:7). This is one of the primary benefits of Scripture. The Bible presents a perspective of life very different from our own. Its teaching is meant to challenge skewed and faulty thought patterns. Such thought patterns may seem harmless, but given time can do considerable damage. It takes a conscious, personal decision to bring our thinking in line with the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Salvation by faith in Christ is an active response. We cannot simply know about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and not accept His gift. To reject salvation would be a passive response. To accept salvation would require an active response. We all know these things. But I am amazed that after having accepted salvation, many then proceed to live out the Christian life in a passive, reactionary mode. Passivity is a major factor in the struggle to regain balance of the soul. Truth be told, many of us have grown passive in our thinking and how we allow our emotions to rule our lives. We therefore excuse our behavior blaming it on superficial things such as situation or personality. Yet, Scripture reveals that faith demands an
16 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
active rather than a passive response. Consider the following verses: • Be sober (1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 5:8) • Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) • Renew your mind (Romans 12:2) The Christian who is being led by the Spirit of God with not go through life reacting to situations but will become increasingly more balanced in each area of life. The Christian who is led by the Spirit of God will not relinquish the controls to any other but the Lord. Such a person is well poised to impact his or her environment rather than allowing the environment to influence action. Are you concerned about your weight, body shape, health, diet or lack of exercise routine? Don’t settle for superficial quick fixes, but do the hard work and deal with the underlying struggles in your heart and mind. Sickness according to Scripture has little to do with your body and more to do with the health of your soul (3 John 1:2). Are you confused by medical science which seems to say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow? Why not rely on the instruction of the all wise, unchanging God? Since He designed your body He knows how to get it to work to its optimum. The best intentions of man are limited, but our God is unlimited. We know the phrase take time to smell the roses which in a nutshell epitomizes that mode of a life in balance. When we are in balance we have time for Christ and those things which are important to Him. We also have time for family and wholesome friends, for hobbies, for work, for healthy meals, for diet and exercise. But getting to the place of balance requires an active, conscious decision to allow Christ to order our days. Such a place demands that we fully trust Him to make the best choices for our life. Balance will never be achieved by relinquishing the reins to the most demanding people in our lives. Balance will never be achieved if we cannot make up our minds to be balanced. In life there are very few quick fixes. Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and begin the process of eliminating instability from your life. You will not be alone. This is the struggle of every child of God.
What the un-churched don’t like about Christians words: thom s. rainer
Somebody is watching you. I’m still amazed at the stories I hear from my three grown sons. They remind me of things I did and said when they were children. Some good. Some not so good. Yes, I’m really amazed how closely they watched their dad. Somebody else is watching us Christians. The unchurched. NonChristians. 18 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
And you might be surprised how closely they are watching us. Listening to the Formerly Unchurched In a previous article I wrote about research my team had conducted on the formerly unchurched. These were men and women who had been Christians less than a year. They were able to give us some keen insights about their lives as unchurched, non-
Christians, especially since those days were in the recent past. One of the more fascinating times in our interviews took place when we asked them what they didn’t like about Christians. We asked them to specify issues, attitudes, actions, and words that turned them away from the church and the gospel. They gave us an ear full.
Five Negatives Though the responses varied in their specific wording, we were able to group the negatives into five major categories. So what it is that the unchurched don’t like about Christians? Some of the responses hit too close to home for my comfort. . I don’t like Christians who treat other Christians poorly. The unchurched don’t expect us Christians to be perfect, but they can’t understand why we treat each other without dignity and respect. “I thought Christians were supposed to love one another,” Sandy from Pennsylvania told us. “But the more I observed Christians, the more I thought they really didn’t like each other.” . I don’t like “holier-than-thou” attitudes. The unchurched know that Christians will make mistakes, and they often have a forgiving attitude when we mess up. But they are repulsed when Christians act in superior ways to them “It would help,” said Bailey of Tampa, “if Christians showed just a little humility.” . I don’t like Christians who talk more than they listen. Many of the unchurched, at some point, have a perception that a Christian is a person who can offer a sympathetic and compassionate ear. Unfortunately, many of the unchurched thought Christians were too busy talking to listen to them. . I don’t like Christians who won’t get involved in my life. One of the many surprises of our study was discovering how much many unchurched persons would like to have a Christian as a friend. Yet very few Christians are willing to invest their lives in the messy world that evangelism requires. . I don’t like Christians who don’t go to church. The
I don’t like Christians who don’t go to church. The unchurched saw the disconnect between belief and practice...
unchurched saw the disconnect between belief and practice in the lives of Christians who did not or who rarely attended church. “You would think that Christians would want to have the time together to worship and study,” noted Frances. “But I am amazed how many Christians just are not committed to any church.” The Takeaway The unchurched really are not too bothered by some hypocrisy with us Christians. They are well aware that any human will stumble at times. But these lost men and women want to know that Christians will treat each other well. They want to see humility in our lives. They want to know that we will take the time to listen, and even take more time to really be involved in their lives. And they want to know that we love our churches. The unchurched really want to see a Christian live incarnationally. Most of them will gladly listen to us if we show love toward them and toward other Christians. Most of them desire to see a Christian live his or her faith as well as speak about it. I have learned much from the world of the unchurched. And I know I have still have much yet to learn. This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/ Thom.S.Rainer.
20 SP: issue two â€˘ august twenty-fourteen
SONS of KORAH AUSTRALIAN BAND SONS OF KORAH CELEBRATE 20 YEARS - PLUS THEIR UPCOMING NZ TOUR
years ago, in 1994 Matthew Jacoby and two fellow musicians set up in a church hall and advertised: “Sons of Korah in concert.” Matthew was studying for a theological degree at the time and came up with the band name during an Old Testament class where he was introduced to some of the original composers of the psalms. The band was primarily driven by the idea of putting music to the psalms but hadn’t adapted enough psalms material to fill out a concert. So, for enthusiastic friends back in 1994, they played a hotch-potch of material including psalms 23, 45, 144, 34 and early versions of Psalms 1 and 27. 20 years on and Sons of Korah travel worldwide sharing their Psalms project which now includes over 75 of the biblical Psalms. With 8 CD’s and 2 DVD’s, sales exceeding 200,000 units worldwide and a ministry that seems to connect with audiences around the world the Sons of Korah Project has certainly grown since those early days 20 years ago. Today Dr Matthew Jacoby is the teaching pastor of a large church in Victoria Australia, and international author, a lecturer at the Melbourne School of Theology and still finds time to lead and collaborate in the collective project that is Sons of Korah. In this 20th Anniversary year, we took time out to ask Dr Jacoby (or Matt, as he prefers to be addressed) some questions about the project and where the next 20 years might take it. We see “Sons of Korah” in the subtitles of a dozen psalms, mostly in the second and third books (Psalms 42-89). Who was Korah and who
were his sons? Writers, musicians, or both? The name “Sons of Korah” comes from a group of Old Testament Levitical musicians to whom at least 13 of the Psalms are attributed. The original Sons of Korah were responsible for the ministry of music and song in the Old Testament worship and particularly with the musical composition and performance of the psalms. What follows is the remarkable story of this family according to the brief records of the Bible. The Story of the Sons of Korah is a wonderful story of God’s grace. In the Old Testament text of the Psalms reference is made to those who were involved in the composition of the psalms. Psalms 42 to 49 as well as Psalms 84 to 88 are attributed to a group known as the “Sons of Korah” (see the small print titles under the numbers of the psalms). It appears that this family of musicians were descendants of the same Korah who led a rebellion against Moses in the desert (Numbers 16). This was a serious crime that led to serious consequences for all those involved. We read that God caused the ground to open up and swallow all those who were involved in the rebellion along with their families (vs31ff). In Numbers 26:11 we read the words: “The line of Korah, however, did not die out.” And sure enough as we follow the genealogies through Chronicles we see that that the line of Korah did indeed continue. According to 1Chronicles 6:31ff, David, when he was organising the different tasks for the temple worship, assigned the ministry of song for a large part to the Kohathites. The head of this group
was Heman who is the writer of Psalm 88 and more significantly is a direct descendant of Korah the Kohathite. Hence the psalm is also attributed to the Sons of Korah. It seems that at some point this musical family came to be named after their rebellious forefather. The continuing existence of this family line was a testimony to the grace of God that they were happy to declare. The Sons of Korah were therefore a living testimony to God’s grace. They certainly had much to sing about. We feel the same way. The “Sons of Korah” subtitle is found on several bright psalms, like 84 and 85, but also on Psalm 88 — one that N. T. Wright calls “the darkest poem in the whole book.” Do you sing the darker psalms as often as you do the brighter ones? How do people respond differently to these genres? We sing many of the darker psalms. We believe this genre to be a really important aspect of the prayer life of the Christian community. They are an acknowledgement that there are things that grieve God and in some way they are therefore the reciprocation of the sadness of God over the lost state of the world. If we are to take hold of the truth of the good news we must first face reality. Unless you face the dark realities of life the good news will be meaningless. In the lament psalms the psalmists are faced with the realities of a broken world and even their own depravity. As they face these realities their ‘groaning’ sets their hope on what God is doing and faith rises up. According to Psalm 126, “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” The goal of the psalms is joy but the first wrung of the ladder to joy, www.soulpurposemag.com 21
so to speak, is down in the depths of lament. The idea of complaining to God is a vital expression of faith. It is a faith that will not lower expectations of God when the human situation seems to contradict the promises of God. We should not be content with alienation and spiritual powerlessness when God promises us fellowship and empowerment. So when the psalmists feel that they lack what God has promised, they complain. The psalms are showing us what faith does in this respect. They model prayer and worship in the tension of life in a broken world in which we await the culmination of God’s work of redemption. The psalms are the expression of the groaning that Paul talks about in Romans 8. This groaning, according to Paul, is a fruit of the Spirit. The psalms are not Old Testament songs, they are songs for the church because they are the expression of people “praying in the spirit on all occasions” (Eph 6). We tend to want the joy without the sorrow. But that is not possible. James speaks to this situation when he says: “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:9, 10). That sounds like the lament psalms to me. Sorrow is not a thing of the past it is a vital aspect of faith. So long as there are things in the world, and things in us, that grieve God, so too will there always be a cause for lament. In what way do the Psalms speak to the postmodern world? They present a faith that is real and grounded in reality. Spiritual expressions are not romanticized, they are authentic, real and honest. This is a gutsy and relational 22 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
spirituality that goes beyond the prayer of token piety. It is people relating to God through the roller coaster ride of human experience. As a result you have a far broader range of expression than you find in popular spirituality today. There are so many expressions in the psalms that would be so counter-cultural in a modern church context. And yet for the world we live they speak powerfully. They
this sort of assurance. Psalm 139 is another Psalm that people tend to go back to. It has always been one of my favorites. The other one that is very popular, and this is my favorite adaptation of all that we have done, is Psalm 27. We recorded this psalm in four parts and to date it is the work I am most happy with. But that may be also because I have just always loved that psalm. It is an amazing
show us the journey of faith not in abstract form but from the inside. They are experiential in nature and they invite us into an experience.
expression of a heart devoted to God and therefore so impervious to fear in the midst of the greatest threats.
Which few psalms have become your audience favorites and why? Psalm 121 is probably the most requested of our Psalms. It is a Psalm of assurance and comfort and in the uncertainties of life I think we need
Do you stick verbatim with mostly one translation of the psalms for your lyrics? Which one? We take some liberties with the text in order to make it work with the music but not so much that the text itself becomes unrecognizable. We
THEY [PSALMS] PRESENT A FAITH THAT IS REAL AND GROUNDED IN REALITY. SPIRITUAL EXPRESSIONS ARE NOT ROMANTICIZED, THEY ARE AUTHENTIC, REAL AND HONEST.
want people to recognize the psalms and memorize them in a form that is as close to a good English translation as possible. We use the NIV version as our main guide simply because it is the most widely used translation, but also because I think the NIV translators did a good job of keeping the poetic element in the psalms.
psalms. But in other cases the psalms do fit into a simpler folk-pop form which keeps them accessible. We play mostly acoustic instruments to keep a timeless element in the music. We do use some electronics though to create a kind of movie soundtrack effect that acts as a bed upon which the acoustic sounds can create an ambient and reflective mood.
Does your group have a default music style, or does each psalm call for a slightly different genre of music? Yes each psalm calls for its own style and to express the wide range of emotions in the psalms we draw on a wide range of music styles. With many of the praise psalms for example we draw on the exhilarating sounds of latin music. For the lament psalms we often draw on the haunting tones of Arabic music which also evokes the original eastern context of the psalms themselves. There are hints also of celtic music here and there. Overall all these styles are hybrids and blends and the result is something interesting and engaging I believe. To work with the psalms we have had to move outside the standard three minute pop song in many cases. Many of the psalms run over a few tracks on our albums and they are structured more in movements that follow the emotional content of the
Finally, you have written a book and had it published by Baker USA – Deeper Places. How does this book relate to your work with the Psalms? Read the Bible and pray. That is the nutshell prescription I was given as a young Christian for building my personal relationship with God. It is simple and achievable. You read God’s Word, and you pray for yourself and others. That advice will get us started, but it won’t be long before we realize that the spiritual journey, the experience of relating to God, is far from simple. Due to the complexities of our dysfunctional hearts, we all begin our journey with God in the middle of a vast spiritual labyrinth. There is a sense of simplicity to be gained in the spiritual life, but it is not where we begin. If we make the spiritual life a simple matter of achieving goals using step-by-step processes and daily habits, it becomes more about personal achievement than We urgently need real relationship. pilots, engineers and It is so easy, then, for the spiritual life finance managers to become little to join us in this more than a religion life-saving work. of token gestures of piety that only serve to make us feel we have fulfilled our duty toward God. www.maf.org.nz We should indeed 0800 87 85 88 read our Bibles and pray, but this advice Where flying is not a luxury but a lifeline is just too simplistic
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24 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
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to be helpful to anyone who really wants to have a deep relationship with God. So where do we look for an account of spirituality that is deeply relational, that is congruent with the complexities of life, that affirms the tensions of human existence, and that goes beyond simplistic and pragmatic notions of the spiritual life? To me, the answer is obvious, but not because of any brilliance on my part. It was an accidental discovery and by no means unique. The answer has always been right in front of our eyes and most probably on the tips of our tongues, if we have been a Christian for any length of time. It is contained in the book of the Bible that has been the most utilized part of Scripture (though less so in our time), the one most widely quoted (even in the Bible itself), and the one that successive generations of Bible scholars have acknowledged to be the defining example of biblical spirituality. I discovered a book of songs in the middle of my Bible. It took years to understand the psalms, partly because the spirituality they portrayed is so countercultural to the spiritual environment I came into as a young Christian. With Sons of Korah, as I have worked adapting the psalms to music and touring the world, singing them night after night, I have found them doing unexpected things to me. As a result, I have begun to understand what the purpose of this book actually is and how it can perform its function in my life.
Sons of Korah will tour New Zealand in October. For tour details visit www.sonsofkorah.com
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where is your security? words: sarah perrett I was driving home recently when I saw a billboard suggesting that I should purchase a car that could save my life. It asked, how safe is your car? It’s an interesting idea, and an interesting marketing tactic – playing upon people’s fear. But what struck me was the question: what am I trusting for my safety? Where does my sense of security come from? Do I need to rush out and buy a new car – a safer car – in order to feel safe? Or am I trusting in something, or someone, else? I’m not against safety features in cars. I think they’re sensible and see no reason that, as people God has created with minds able to come up with ways to make things safer, we shouldn’t take advantage of those safety measures. I’m certainly not advocating driving around without seatbelts or in un-roadworthy cars. I do, however, question where our sense of safety, of security, comes from? If my sense of security comes from knowing that I have done everything humanly possible in order to be safe – then I would rush out to buy a new, safer, car. Why? Because I would need those safety features in order to feel safe. I would be trusting in human ingenuity to save my life. If I trusted in money to give me security, then I would spend all my time and effort accumulating it – so that if anything went wrong, I would have the resources to fix it. After all, what can’t money buy? If I trusted in my own self for security, then I would be driven to achieve perfection, always be checking and double checking that I did absolutely everything I could. If I trusted in other people for my security, then I would be always turning to them, relying on them, and unable to deal with things going wrong – as that would seem a breach of trust. These are extreme examples, but hopefully highlight what God has been teaching me over a few years now. A feeling of safety, security, is something that we all want. We want to feel safe. We want to feel secure. And that desire, that need for security – that can drive us. What we chase after, worry over, and rely on in our bid for that security depends on where we look for our security. A few years ago (the beginning of my learning on security), I was placed into a position where that basic question – where do I find my security – was rather prominently called into question. 26 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
But it wasn’t the stolen items that worried me so – it was the feeling of having the security of my home breached. Home, that safe haven, was no longer impregnable. I was facing the fact that the security of doors and windows, of home, was not as safe as once thought.
Driving home from work one evening, I was involved in a car accident. A car to my right went through a give-way sign. I had only a moment in which to react, a moment in which I saw the other car headed straight for my driver-side door. I screamed. And for a moment, I thought I might die. The other car hit the front driver-side wheel, my glasses (without which I can see less than a foot in front of my face), flew off. I hit my knee on part of the steering wheel in the impact, but was otherwise unharmed. Those in the other car were also unharmed. When I think back on the accident, there are a few clear memories that come to mind. One is the fear. Another is an absolute sense of safety I felt – in that moment of impact (right after the moment of screaming and thinking I might die), I felt as though God wrapped me in a bubble of His protection, keeping me safe. The final one is the panic I felt without my glasses. Somehow, in the impact, my glasses flew off my head into the back of the car. It was night and dark, I was in shock, and I couldn’t find my glasses. So, while people stood around asking if anyone was injured and looking at the damaged cars, I was frantically looking for my glasses, and asking for help to find them. In that moment, I realised just how much I rely on them to provide me with a sense of sight. Without them, I was unable to deal with anything else – questions about what to do, sharing of details for insurance claims, even looking at or talking to the others involved took a backseat to finding my glasses. I realised just how easily my physical safety could be endangered or taken away from me. Despite that, I had the utter conviction that God had protected me that night – which helped me to deal with what happened later. Not long after my accident, I returned home from a weekend away to find that my house had been broken into. My wardrobe had been emptied onto the floor, my things rifled through, items stolen. I felt a sense of utter violation – how dare someone enter my home and go through my things? But it wasn’t the stolen items that worried me so – it was the feeling of having the security of my home breached. Home, that safe haven, was no longer impregnable. I was facing the fact that the security of doors and windows, of home, was not as safe as once thought. Only a week or two after that, I was doing my weekly grocery shopping, when my bank card refused www.soulpurposemag.com 27
to put through the purchase. Amid the embarrassment of standing at the checkouts, fumbling for another card (which I also wasn’t able to use); the frustration of the time I had spent carefully selecting all the groceries; and the worry over the melting icecream, there was a fear building up within me. I knew I had enough money in my accounts to cover the shopping bill. But my house had been broken into not that long ago and one of the things that had been rifled through was some correspondence from the bank. I had no idea how someone could use something like a bank statement to get access to my accounts, but despite my desire to try and think positive, faced with the inability to pay for my grocery shop, the thought rose unbidden. What if they had emptied my accounts? What if there was no money left? Nothing to buy groceries with. No more savings. Nothing. In my mind, my financial security was teetering on the edge of a precipice – for all I knew, it was all gone. I returned home, sans groceries, and rang the bank. When I got through (finally), I found out that there had been some kind of technological error to do with the bank’s Eftpos, meaning
that no-one had been able to use any of their cards from that bank for a set period of time. My accounts were fine, the money all still there. You’d think I would have heaved a sigh of relief, secure once more. I am more than thankful to God that He kept my money secure through that instance. But while there was some relief, beyond that, there was an overwhelming feeling as though all my security had been torn away. My physical security had been threatened, the security of my home breached, and then my financial security also threatened. I had been shown just how easy it was for all those things I depended upon for security to be taken away. Sitting there, quite emotional with all that had happened, I felt as though God was asking me – if everything is taken away, what do you have left? Or, as I’ve now redefined it, what am I basing my security on? The answer was immediate, painful, and changed my life. If everything was taken away, all I had left to rely on was God. In which case, shouldn’t I be relying on Him in the first place? As the only one who couldn’t be taken away from me? That night saw a redefining of my priorities, and an acknowledgment
that I couldn’t rely on myself, others, buildings or money for my security. I needed to rely on God. Life, as we all know, isn’t just sunshine and roses even, or perhaps especially, not for Christians. So when I talk about relying on God for my security, I’m not saying that I don’t think that bad things will happen. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world, so they will. All we have to do is look through the Bible to see numerous stories of men and women of God who faced suffering and trials and just plain ‘bad stuff’ throughout their lives. David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, spent part of his life living in caves – he was basically living as a fugitive with a price on his head. So I know that trusting in God for my security doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen. So why bother? Because, if I’m trusting in God – no matter what happens, or what areas of my life are shaken, what things are taken from me – I know that God will always be with me. That he cannot be taken from me. All I have to do is read through the Psalms to read the cries of people going through hardship – and the praises of those same people as they found
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strength and refuge in God. Because, if I’m trusting in God, then I don’t need to run around trying to buy or earn or create my own security. I can relax, resting in Him and trusting that whatever happens, it’s all part of His plan for my life, and that He will work it out for good (Rom 8:28). Because, if I’m trusting in God, then I know that I’m trusting in someone who actually has the power to provide me with security – something no-one and nothing else can do. So what does trusting in God for security look like? How do you know where you find your security? Honestly, this is something I’m still working on. A continual process of changing my thoughts and actions, of coming to God and asking Him to change me and help me to trust in Him. For example, I was recently challenged to question where my security comes from in medical situations – am I trusting in the doctors, those with years of medical experience, to heal me; or am I
trusting in an omnipotent and loving God? Here’s a few tips I’ve found from my own life:
. To determine where you’re currently finding your security, think about how you would feel and what you would do in certain situations. You may want to try the test I went through – if you were physically threatened, how would you react? If your home was invaded? If your money was all gone? Or, on a less extreme scale, when you face problems, what is your go-to reaction? For example, with medical problems (large or small), what is your reaction? Is it to seek medical advice? Or to pray? (I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek medical advice – God has gifted humans with the ability to perform amazing medical operations, find and create medicines, etc. But, I have been recently challenged, if my first reaction is to seek medical advice, then am I trusting in doctors before God – who created me and controls
the universe? Shouldn’t I pray first – and then seek medical advice? It’s not an either/or, but it could show up your priorities).
. Think about where you spend your time and energy – and where you worry. I have recently been reminded that if I am worrying over things, I’m not trusting in God to look after them. If you spend a lot of time and effort towards earning money, and worry what would happen if you didn’t have money, it may be that you find security through finances.
. Pray. Pray. Pray. (which perhaps should have been first). Pray and ask God to show you where your security comes from. If you feel you are trusting in something else for your security, pray and ask God to change your security from whatever it is, to him. Be aware of actions, thoughts, worries, that are driven by your need for security – and pray about them. Take captive your thoughts (2 Cor 10:5), they have an amazing power over you and can change the way you
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act (Rom 12:2). And when you do worry, pray (Phil 4:6). Then keep praying.
. Build up your foundation. The more time you spend with God, the more you get to know him, the easier it will be to trust in him. Read his Word and put it into practice. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus talks about the wise and foolish builders – if you build your house on sand, then when the storms come, it will fall down. If you build it on the rock, when the storms come, it will stand firm. How does he say we build on the rock? By putting his Words into practice. Another way I think of it is this: I am one of those people who is not too bothered by heights. I tend to say, ‘so long as I trust what I’m standing on, then heights don’t bother me’. But, if I don’t trust what I’m standing on – well, then heights are incredibly scary. In this case, think of heights as all the stuff that goes on in life that we wish didn’t. If I trust what I’m standing on – if I know that the foundation where I am standing is firm, then I can deal with whatever heights life throws my way – and so can you.
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30 SP: issue two • august twenty-fourteen
. Be honest with God. Don’t pretend. Pretending that you aren’t scared, that things are fine, or that you trust God more than you actually do, doesn’t actually help you in trusting him. God made you, he understands you completely and desires to have an honest relationship with you.The people you are closest to are always the ones you feel most comfortable being yourself with. God wants to be close to you, he wants you to be yourself with him – good, bad, ugly – he already knows it all. And it’s when you’re honest with him about how you’re feeling and reacting to situations that he can then help you to change.
. Learn some Bible Verses. Yes, I know it’s old-school (and Sunday School), but learning Bible Verses means that you have God’s Word readily available to you to be used. His Word is a double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and Jesus himself used God’s Word to combat the Devil when he was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11). Some of the verses I’ve found useful are: Phil 4:6, Rom 8:28, Rom 8:38-39, Ps 46:1, Ps 23, 2 Cor 10:5, Rom 12:2, and Jer 29:11.
. Don’t try and do it alone. This goes back to 3. Pray, as I have found that it is absolutely essential that I don’t try and change or become more like Christ without his help – it just doesn’t work. But more than that, don’t try and do life alone. We were created to be social, relational, people. And as Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us, there are benefits from not trying to do things alone – including having someone there to help us up if we fall, someone to help us succeed, and someone to watch our back. I’ve found that the best way to see growth and change in any area of my life is to firstly ask God for his help, and that he would change me; and secondly, to get another person involved. As soon as someone else is involved, you are accountable, encouraged, and strengthened. Not to mention the power of their prayers for you. While I’m not completely there yet, I’m learning to trust in God and find my security in him. It’s a continual process of giving things over to him, changing my thoughts, being honest with him, and seeking the support of other Christians. And every time I think I’m finally trusting God fully – he shows me another area I need to work on. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Realising I can be free from actions (driven by my need for security), which have bound me for years, is amazing. So, I want to ask you, as I’ve asked myself: Where is your security? Sarah Perrett is currently working as a Librarian in Melbourne’s West, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, graduating from the University of Technology in Sydney.
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