Spiritual Oil

This post is inspired by a recent mechanical mishap we had with our car.  If you know more about cars than me, which evidently is not very hard, then it won’t take you long to figure out what was wrong with the car from the following description:

It started out with a whirring noise changing between lower gears.  Then it got worse.  The whirring became a scraping kind of rattle.  It got louder and lasted longer.  Then there was a clunk.  We bit the bullet and took the car in, hoping it wasn’t going to cost too much to fix.

The mechanic was very kind.  He asked me how long since we’d had the car serviced (not that long, incidentally).  He told me there was virtually no oil left in the car and gently reminded me that checking and topping up the oil regularly is much less expensive than replacing engine parts.  I felt relieved.  And a bit silly.

We had forgotten to check the oil.  For ages.  The oil got so low that the engine, which was actually fine, became noisy and clunky with nothing to lubricate the the moving parts.   After its service the car sounded great.  So smooth.  No rattles, no scraping.  Just sounding like a well-oiled engine should.

I was reminded of how much I need the presence of God in my life.

Without His Spirit working in me I become spiritually dry and clunky.  Without the anointing leading worship becomes hard work and I become discouraged.  Without tuning my spirit into the Holy Spirit even reading the Bible feels like eating paper.  When I become disconnected with God it affects the way I relate to people.  I don’t handle things as well.   Eventually I become disillusioned and I don’t even feel like going to church anymore.

I have learned to make an effort to stay connected with God.  I remind myself that God is with me.  I make myself aware of His presence.  I ask Him to speak to me.  I thank Him and praise Him and worship Him.  I talk to Him.  I ask Him to fill me afresh with His anointing oil.   And I know I need to keep doing this all the time.  I can’t stop.  Because I need Him.  And because I love Him.

I love feeling His closeness.  I love knowing He is leading me.  Things happen in my life that could not happen without His Spirit.  I can lead worship and come away feeling energised even when I’m physically exhausted.  I can read the Bible and be inspired to live it out.  I can speak to people and know that I’ve said the right thing.  I’m still not perfect, but He is perfecting me, and the closer I get to Him the better He can work in me.  (I love how the book of Colossians speaks about being in Christ, and how our state of holiness comes from our continuing in our faith in Christ.)

With the Spirit of God as the oil in my metaphorical engine I know that even though I have a few issues that need work (probably sooner rather than later), instead of odd rattles I can have the joy of the Lord, and instead of clunking noises I have the peace of God.

‘The work which His presence within accomplishes’

There is so much to be said from the Bible about abiding in Christ, living in the Spirit, and dwelling in the presence of God, but for now I’ll leave you with this:  

Galatians 5:22, 23  – it’s a scripture that most of us have heard many times, but what’s caught my attention lately is the way the Amplified Bible describes ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ as being ‘the work which His presence within accomplishes’, meaning that all those attributes to which we aspire come from being in the presence of God.  Not from ourselves, but from His presence in us.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).  Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].   Galatians 5:22, 23 AMP



What’s That You Say?

Sung or spoken, our words have more importance than we often realise.

A challenge:

What if we use our words to guide our emotions instead of letting our emotions determine our words?  It’s not about lying about how you feel.  It’s about doing it God’s way and ‘calling things that be not as though they were’ (see Rom 4:17) and coupling words with faith to bring about God’s best in our lives.  The best words you could speak into any situation are God’s words, and the best way to speak them is in an attitude of faith.  It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

Here are a few thoughts that can help.

Remember the creative power in your words.

From the dawn of creation, when God said, ‘Let there be light:’, words have been used to create.  Romans 10:9&10 says that our words activated our salvation.  If these are the results of godly words, what are the results of ungodly words?  Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue, so let’s watch what we say (and what we sing!).

The Heart of the matter.

What you say flows from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45NLT).  So guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life (Prov 4:23NLT).  What you allow to dwell in your heart will affect every part of your life, including what comes out of your mouth.

Fill your mind with God’s word.

A practical way to fill your heart with the right things is to fill your mind with God’s word.  That is what Biblical meditation is – repeating the scripture in your mind, mulling over it, planning how to put it into action in your life.  At the same time you let your spirit in on the action and allow God to speak to you as you meditate.

It’s a continual process.

God Himself is unchanging, but He is not stagnant.  He moves in different ways, His mercies are new every morning, He gives us a fresh anointing for everything He asks us to do.  We are always learning, always changing, and every day brings something new (whether we realise it or not) so we need God’s word everyday, renewing our mind, refreshing us, sharpening us, fitting us for every situation we face.  Don’t turn God’s word into a spiritual crash diet.  Let it be healthy eating for your spirit and soul every single day.

The result.

When you lay a foundation of God’s word in your heart and put the word into action in your life you are like the wise man who built his house upon the rock (Matt 7:24-27).  The rain and wind may rage against you but you will stand firm.

God’s word is rich and filled with promise.  It is relevant, cutting-edge, for any time and any place.  Let’s keep God’s word central in our lives, and let’s align our words with His and see the difference it makes in our lives.

Be blessed!

Worship – a few thoughts

Here are a few thoughts on worship which have helped me over the years, and I pray that they will help and encourage you too.  Enjoy.

Singing is very awesome but it’s not the only form of worship.

We are meant to live every part of our lives in a way that will glorify God.  Not always easy to live out, but not something to dismiss as impossible.  I think we’d run into trouble less often if we kept in mind the idea of doing everything we do ‘as unto the Lord’ (Col 3:23).

Singing is not the only form of worship but it has huge importance.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Ps 150:6).  One of many calls to worship in the Bible.  It’s not a suggestion.  It’s not just for people who feel musical.  It’s for all of us.  Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19).  Get verbal.  Whether you feel like it or not (I always think of Paul and Silas. Acts 16.)  Just get into it.  Stick your toe in if you’re not sure but don’t stop there.  Jump in the river.  Once you’re in you won’t want to get out!

Repeating yourself is OK.

Sometimes when we’re worshiping it feels like we’re saying the same thing again and again but God never gets sick of hearing our praises.  When they’re heartfelt and passionate we can say those same words of worship over and over and He won’t tire of it.


I love hearing a congregation singing together.  Everyone singing the same words of worship to the Lord.  Everyone with their focus on the same things.  There is power in unity.

Music is awesome.

Music has an amazing, almost inexplicable quality about it that can capture our imaginations and touch and even change our emotions.  Setting the right words to the music brings it to an even greater level of awesomeness.

To God be the glory.

We will be known by our fruit, so we need to be careful of the seeds we plant in our lives and what we allow to grow.  It’s a heart issue with outward signs.  And it’s easy to judge someone else but miss something in our own heart.  So what do we do?  Seek God.  Know His voice.  Speak His Word.  Sing His praises.  Point the way to Him.  Give Him the glory.

Worship Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength.

Be blessed.

Rich and Famous

I used to think that if you were a musician with chops you needed to ‘get out there’ and play shows and sell albums and get rich and famous, and if you didn’t you automatically became one of those musos who hadn’t ‘made it’. A narrow point of view really, and what I realise now is that we as musicians are called to worship, and if were doing that with our music we’re winning, we’ve ‘made it’.  Some are called to lead worship, some are called to a supportive role.  Some worship at home, in their space, with their instrument, and bring God glory in that way.  Whatever the case, I believe that if you’re assisting even one person to worship God and and enter into His presence then you’re fulfilling a calling of God on your life.

In the bigger picture, we are called to build the Church*, wherever we are. Don’t just attend a church*, muck in, get in amongst it, help your pastors and leaders. It’s not about growing an organisation or building a brand name, it’s about assisting people, encouraging them in their walk with Jesus, helping them live a better life. It’s not all about you, and the great thing about that is that if everyone has that same attitude then you’re bound to get some help from somebody when you need it. It’s a lot of give, and bit of take, and a lot of reward.  A tree’s roots take nutrients and water from the earth, and the tree’s leaves do their thing with photosynthesis, and the healthy tree produces fruit that is for someone else’s use, not just its own. Think sowing and reaping, loving your neighbour as yourself, treating others the way you would like to be treated.

Whatever level your music is at, it’s still all about giving God glory and helping others do the same. The music is awesome and we love it, but it’s not just about the music. The music is a facilitator. For most people, music makes it easier to worship. It can create an atmosphere. It can keep a group of singers (more or less) in tune and together, bringing a greater sense of unity.

If you’re a closet musician, use your music to worship God and let His Spirit strengthen you as you worship so you are fit and healthy to do the work of the kingdom. If you like to play but you’re a bit shy, just have a little worship jam with some of your friends in a small group setting. If you’re a bit more out there, join a worship team. (As a side note to that, it does help if you’re proficient enough your instrument that you’re not going to be a distraction, and in the other direction, a musician who takes every possible opportunity to do a ripping solo can also distract from the reason for the music. Balance, people!!)

If you’ve got a voice, and if you’ve got musicianship, and you’re not using them to bring glory to God, I feel like you’re ripping yourself off, because so much blessing can come out of worshiping God, and so much more blessing can come out of helping others to enter into God’s presence.  And in that way true richness and the best kind of fame come into the picture – the richness of God’s love for us, and our witness making God famous.

* Note – in my understanding, Church with capital ‘C’ means the body of Christ, and church with a lower case ‘c’ means the local church – ie: the building where we gather to worship.


I’m riding off an awesome message from Ps Anna Giles last weekend in this post.  She preached a message called ‘No Guts, No Glory; No Surrender’, speaking of how important it is for us as God’s Army to be committed in serving God and building His kingdom.  Commitment is something that we can’t afford to be wishy-washy about.  As Ps Anna said, you can’t be 85% committed.  It doesn’t work like that.  Things tend to go better when we go in 100%.

I am so thankful for my parents, who were also my pastors for many years, for training me in the art of commitment from a young age.  I’ve seen the benefit of it in my life over and over.  It’s something that we need all to be taught, trained in, and encouraged in continually and I hope that what I share with you today will benefit you as much as it has me.

So here are a few things that I would like to encourage you in that I have learned and observed in my time in worship ministry.

There is Value in commitment.  I see this in three ways.  When you make the commitment to someone you are demonstrating that you see the value in them.  I believe that it also makes them even more valuable to you because now you have committed yourself to invest in them.  I also believe that it also brings more value to you yourself.

There is Wisdom in commitment.  Let’s re-word that:  There should be wisdom in commitment.  We should be wise about what we commit to and ask ourselves what our motives are and what we’re prioritising.  Is God glorified in it?  Does it build the Kingdom?  How does it affect your family?  Ask God to give you wisdom when you’re considering these things.

There is Reward in commitment.  God gets the glory but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing in it for you!  I usually find that there’s a bit of stretching and growing that goes on when we commit to something.  Commitment ain’t always easy, even when it’s something that’s right up your ally, but when you come out the other side you’re stronger, more skilled, and, because it’s what God loves to do, you’ve had more of His blessing poured out on you in just the way you need it.

There is Security in commitment.  Security for me is in knowing what’s what.  I don’t like it when things are up in the air and I have no idea which way they are going to fall.  Commitment brings security for me because I’m setting my path.  I know which way I’m going.  I know who I’m following.  I still might not know what the outcome will be but I listen to God and I trust Him that I’m on the right track.  And God always works everything together for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.  (Rom 8:28).  So that right there is security for me.

Of course there is much more to it but I hope this gets you thinking and gives you that little bit of a kickstart into greater things.  Commitment is not always easy but when God’s in it it’s life changing.

A Life of Worship

I’ve been getting back to basics recently and have been reminded of some concepts that I might have lost sight of a little in the routine of things.

One of the things I’ve been reminded of is the idea of worship being a lifestyle.  We use the terms worship and praise a lot, usually when we’re referring to the songs that we’re singing before the preacher comes on in a church service.  Praise = fast song.  Worship = slow song.  It’s convenient to use these definitions when we’re talking about the songs but it’s easy to get used to the terminology and lose sight of what worship really is.

Worship, when it comes down to it, is giving glory to God.  True worship then, is not just singing or verbalising our worship.  True worship is doing our utmost to ensure that what we do in our lives will bring glory to God.  Verbal worship is only a small slice of the layer cake that is true worship.

God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.  I don’t think I would qualify for that if I was worshiping God with a song in church and then going home and doing/watching something that wouldn’t bring God glory.  (This is making me think, even as I write this, about TV shows, movies, conversations, etc – makes you wonder, doesn’t it! )  I’m not going to present you with a list of things you shouldn’t do; that’s a matter of conscience, and of what God is saying to you.  Maybe this is one reason why Paul said in 1 Thess 5:18 ‘In everything give thanks’, because if you can’t give thanks and worship God while you’re doing what you’re doing, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it?!

It’s our heart that’s at the core of this.  The heart is the centre of motivation for our words and our actions.  We live in a world full of influences, some are subtle little nudges, and some are thrown in our face.  Our heart is so precious and so vital to our well-being that we have to set a careful guard on it.  Guard your heart with vigilance, because everything you do flows from it (Prov 4:23).

We can guard our heart by setting up good habits in our lives.  Our eyes and our ears are gates to our heart and we need to filter what goes in.  Our mind can influence our heart, which is why we need to renew our minds with God’s word.  Our own words can influence our heart, so we need to be careful what we say.  All this sounds like we might need to lock ourselves away and only listen to the sound of our own voice reading the Bible but that would render us pretty useless in the long-run!  We can’t show the people around us how awesome God is if we’re locking ourselves away.

The key is to walk this earth with the awareness of God’s presence in us.  We know that He is omnipresent; let’s remind ourselves that He lives in us, and whatever we do, let’s do it for the glory of God! (1 Cor 10:31)

How to Worship When You’re Not Feeling it.

Sometimes, to be totally honest, I find it difficult to ‘get into’ worship.  I feel like I’m hovering on the edge of something great but I can’t seem to get there, whether because of something in my head, or something going on around me.  

In a corporate worship setting, like church, there are a whole bunch of things that are potential distractors.  If I’m not in the band, I find myself watching the band, especially if I’m visiting another church or at a conference.  Musos, you know what I’m talking about!!  Then there are the distractions that are immediately around me, like the guy that smells a bit, and the lady who is singing off-key into my left ear.  Once I get past those things, I have to deal with the internal distractions.  And then when I’ve brought my thoughts into some semblance of order, my insecurities kick in – do I look silly with my hands raised like this?  Am I singing too loudly?  etc etc.  

That is why I am forever grateful to my Mum, who taught me to raise my hands and worship God from a young age.  She would make me close my eyes and lift my hands and sing the songs, and even though at first I didn’t feel like it, I always found that I would begin to get into the worship and enjoy it.

My spirit always wants to worship God.  But there are times when my mind disagrees.  That’s when I have to let my spirit direct my actions and drag my mind along for the party.  I find that eventually my mind will stop fighting and come to the realisation that this is better and more exciting.  I come out feeling refreshed, more alive.

So here are Janna’s tips on worshiping when you don’t feel like it:

1.  Close your eyes.  This works better when you know the lyrics to the songs but don’t worry if you don’t – God doesn’t mind if you get the words a little bit mixed up.

2.  Raise your hands.  This is optional, but I always find that this stance helps my body get into what we’re doing.  To me, raising my hands means that a) I’m surrendered to Him, b) I want to receive from Him, and c) He is of more importance to me than what I might look like to other people.

3.  Make a noise and glorify God!  I find that singing works best but this, too, is optional, since worship is not dependent on music.  However, for most people, music enhances our ability to worship God, which is one of the reasons why we sing and play instruments in our worship services.

And perhaps somewhere in there, there needs to be a step called ‘Get Over Yourself!’ because I’ve found that getting over myself is something I have to do quite regularly.  It should really be the first step but I will admit that it often takes me until I’ve floundered my way through the other steps before I get to that important step.  God, in His mercy, has given us the means to get over ourselves and all our little problems with each other as well.  Rom 15:5 & 6 says that God gives the power of patient endurance!  He also supplies encouragement.  He does this so that we can live in such harmony and sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that we can praise and glorify God with united hearts and one voice.  

That’s one of the things I love about God – when He gives us something to do, big or small, He supplies us with the  means to do it.  That means that we can do it not just to the best of our own ability, but in His strength too.