Technology

111 Songs for Advent

Brett McCracken of The Gospel Coalition has compiled a playlist on Spotify of ‘111 Great Songs for Advent’. He explains the playlist here:

...I have curated a new playlist of 111 Advent songs. Not “holiday” songs, mind you. Advent songs. You won’t find “Deck the Halls” or “Let It Snow” on this list (lovely as they are). But you will find songs that beautifully capture the theological gravitas of this season in the Christian calendar—a season that is about both joy and longing, celebration and expectation, gratitude and petition.

If you are a Spotify user, you can follow this link to start listening to his playlist.

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Shout for joy to the Lord!

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I didn’t see it in the news, I think it was because it was the same day as the Royal Wedding and the FA cup final, but here in Sheffield last weekend, the real story played out on the football pitch between 11 men of Christ Church Walkley and what seemed like an army from Christ Church Central. Over 90 minutes on Saturday morning, it felt like I used my legs and lungs more than I had done the entire year beforehand (and my body has told me so this week!)

A football game, like a lot of sports, is a natural place to pour out praise and adulation. One of our players is relentless in his encouragement and throughout the game picked out individual players with shouts of “great footwork”, “keep it up”, “excellent defending”. It might seem like just a little thing, but what is praise other than ascribing worth to someone or something, telling someone how good it is that they have done something worthy of celebration! Praising someone is picking up on a positive attribute and telling them 'that is great!'

We have a God that is worthy of far greater praise than a shout of encouragement to a teammate, Psalm 100 says;

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his.
— Psalm 100v1-3

The writer of this Psalm is encouraging us to join with the whole earth in shouting praise to God! The bible calls this worship.

I really like this live version of 'All Creatures of our God and King' by Kings Kaleidoscope:

It’s  God who made us, it’s God who made everything, so let’s take every opportunity we can to join with all the creatures of our God and King praising Him!

And just incase you were wondering, Christ Church Walkley won for the second year in a row, we’ll try not to boast about it.

Let all things their creator bless,
And worship him in humbleness,
O Praise Him!

An Eternal Ear Worm

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Matt Wiltshire (a member of Christ Church Walkley's band), tells us about another new song we'll be singing this week and why it should be, and is, our eternal ear worm...

What’s this mornings ear worm? 

Do you ever wake up with a tune already in your head? Perhaps it’s a phrase of a song that’s slipped into your dreams? The BBC 6Music breakfast show has a regular feature about exactly this, you send in your morning’s ‘ear worm’ - the tune that’s wriggling around your ear drums - and they play out the best/worst suggestions on air.

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John writes about a song he woke up to in his head after a dream. In it he describes an experience of heaven and when the throne is revealed (Chapter 4) he describes creatures worshiping their creator like this;

Day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
— Revelation 4:8

Day and night, never ceasing, that’s one long ear worm! 

Over the next few weeks we’ll be singing Rend Collective’s 'Hymn of the Ages':

The whole premise of the song is that we are joining in with the endless song that has been sung since the beginning of time and will be sung forevermore, as Rend Collective put it, ‘the song of angels, the hymn of ages, Holy is the Lord’

But it’s not just the angels’ song, it’s our song! We were made in the image of God to glorify God so we also sing:

The purpose in my days is to ever to proclaim, 
How great You are, how great must be Your song.

I'm bursting out with songs of praise!

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Matt Wiltshire, a member of Christ Church Walkley and one of our musicians, writes about how Christian music helps us feed our minds - 

Towards the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians he says this:

...brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
— Philippians 4:8

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you think about? Checking your email or Facebook before you make it out of bed? Praying, listening to music or a podcast while you have breakfast? Reading the news, the bible, or the Christ Church Walkley blog on your way to work?

There are so many different sources of information and entertainment now that sometimes the choice is overwhelming, and it gets more difficult if you are, like Paul suggests, trying to discern which things are true and pure to feed your mind with. 

Christian music is something that Nicola (my wife) has always found encouraging as long as I’ve known her and a good way to set her mind on the things above for the day ahead. It’s taken me a bit longer to recognise the value of Christian music but recently I’ve been hugely encouraged by it, and from chatting to some of you at church, I know it’s the same for a lot of others as well. So as a music team, we want to share some of the Christian music we’ve been encouraged by on the Christ Church Walkley blog, including some of the brilliant recommendations you’ve given us!

To start with, CityAlight are an Australian band who write simple songs with faithful and encouraging Christian lyrics. We’ll be starting to sing some of their songs together as a church over the next few months. The first song we’ll learn is Saved My Soul.

You my God have saved my soul, 
I am Yours forevermore, 
I won’t be moved of this I’m sure, 
You’re my God and You’ve saved my soul.

It’s full of gospel truth and celebration, but my favourite line is towards the end of the song;

You brought me up out from the grave, 
I’m bursting out with songs of praise

Isn’t that an amazing line to sing, knowing God has given you life and you can’t keep it hidden as sooner or later that praise will ‘burst’ right out to God! How great to be able to sing that with other brothers and sisters who want to praise God too!

We’ll put a bit more on here in future blogposts about why we sing, and more recommendations for your listening. Hopefully you’ll be encouraged like we have been and Christian music will help you, as Paul suggests, to think about  ‘whatever’ is excellent or praiseworthy.

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Renewing Your Mind - Part 2

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Following on from the blogpost last week on The Bible Project and continuing the theme of Renewing Your Mind (Romans 12:1-2), this week's blogpost discusses podcasts. All podcasts are available on the iTunes Podcast app and via Google. 

DISCLAIMER: The podcasts in this list are all listened to by members of the CCW church family. Mentioning them, however, doesn’t amount to an endorsement of everything you’ll hear and they must be listened to with discernment. Almost by definition, given their nature (discussion), there’ll be a variety of views expressed on a variety of topics, and controversial and thought-provoking discussion is part of what the format offers. 

Podcasts for everybody on various topics - theology/culture/Christian living/preaching/ministry. 

Cooper & Cary Have Words

Two brits ‘talk about culture, theology, the arts, the church, books and sometimes the weather, well, they are British…’ James Cary is a sitcom writer who has worked for the BBC.  

Mere Fidelity

 A transatlantic conversation about church and culture to feed your inner theology nerd.

Mortification of Spin

'A casual conversation about things that count.' A podcast hosted by Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt and Aimee Byrd on 'the challenges the church faces and what counts in the Christian life.' 

Speak Life

A podcast by Glen Scrivener and Andy Brinkley who discuss a different aspect of evangelism in depth on each podcast. Also features interviews with inspiring evangelists. 

The Gospel Coalition

A podcast that 'features lectures and workshops from our conferences as well as timely interviews and round table discussions on applying the gospel to the issues of our day.'

Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast

A podcast of Timothy Keller’s sermons. 

UP: The Union Podcast

A podcast of the UK-based theological seminary. ‘Theology for everyone, for life.’ They host interviews, discuss specific topics, talk book reviews etc. 

Podcasts specifically for women - (you will need an American-ism filter in place occasionally...)

Flower Mound Women's Bible Study

A weekly bible study podcast by Jen Wilkin. The studies relate to workbooks which you can download from the site but you can also listen to them without needing the workbook in front of you.

Mom Struggling Well

A podcast by an American stay-at-home mum who has a friend on each episode to discuss their story. They cover topics such as 'infertility, adoption, the pitfalls of comparison, living overseas and days spent crying on the floor.' A podcast for mums but helpful for women who aren't mums, too. 

Sheologians

A blog and podcasts by two American women who discuss anything and everything through the lens of a Christian worldview. Podcast titles include 'You Already Love Yourself Too Much (Self-Esteem is a Lie)' and 'So You're a Female. Now What?'

Thankful Homemaker

An American wife/mother/mother-in-law/grandmother talking about how 'the gospel impacts every area of our lives as Christian women.'

Truth's Table

A podcast hosted by three black American Christian women who call themselves 'midwives of culture for grace and truth.' 

What Have You

Two American sisters get together for a coffee date in a car every week to chat about whatever comes to mind.

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Renewing Your Mind - Part 1

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Resources for Renewing your Mind

We recently returned to our ongoing series in Romans to hear these words from the Apostle Paul:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 12v2

This is the first in a series of blog posts suggesting some resources which might help us all know God's ongoing work of renewing our minds by his word & Spirit in our daily lives. That is about more than our bible reading but it certainly involves it, and the resource in this post is designed to help with that.

The Bible Project is a crowd-funded non-profit organisation dedicated to making high quality animations to aid people in their reading and study of the bible. For example:

  • They have videos giving an outline and overview of every bible book of the bible. You can see their videos on Romans here for example. 
  • There is a growing number of videos on major bible themes, such as this one on the Image of God.
  • There are some series exploring the bible in-depth by looking at particular types of book or common words, or like this series on how to read the bible

There is even a way to link their videos with a daily reading plan (scroll down the home page for details).

Check back next week for a blogpost on recommended podcasts...

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