For the last three years I have been involved in a project called Parklife.
The idea is really simple. Put up a big tent in the middle of a Southampton city-centre park, invite people of all ages and backgrounds to come along and show them that God is real, alive and loves them.
The concept really boils down to #churchinthepark. Culture, and in turn the media have moved from a default position of openness to the Christian message to skepticism. Our job as Christians is not to just preach, but actively demonstrate through real down-to-earth actions that God cares and his message really is good and really is for everyone.
One of my favourite stories from this year was a man who came to the event in a wheelchair, was healed and literally left his wheelchair behind in the tent!
Another lady was prayed for depression. She was so overwhelmed by what she believes is total healing that she became a Christian and was baptised today. And who can blame her? If you were on medication every day for years and were healed in an instant after a normal Christian bloke prayed for you, what would you do?
At the centre of the Christian message is the word “gospel” which means good news. Just because some Christians and some churches have given the impression that Christianity is boring and pointless, doesn’t mean that’s true! I’d like to think that most of the people who saw us at Parklife went away understanding that.
When I’ve written about healing before, I’ve been immediately bombarded with messages explaining why healing isn’t true and how I’m either mistaken deluded or simply lying. The trouble is with that is it’s incredibly arrogant to state that you know for a fact that no one has ever been healed of anything supernaturally.
To put it another way, just because you’ve seen some counterfeit diamonds, doesn’t mean there aren’t any real ones in existence in the world today.
Let’s be clear, there are ‘faith healers’ out there. They do it for money, fame and self promotion. Sometimes they will even plant people in the audience who claim to have been healed when they haven’t. I accept these things happen. No religion or community is immune from imposters. They can creep in.
But, in my view, they aren’t too difficult to spot. If the meeting revolves around their charismatic personality, their entourage of security personnel, there’s lots of money around and they have their own TV channel then we have every right to be skeptical. But the best way to spot a faith healer is by looking at their actions. Are they claiming to heal people?
No one at Park Life claimed to be able to heal people. They merely followed the example in the Bible, which goes something like this: God is an all powerful creator > Jesus was God > Jesus healed people > Jesus allowed his disciples and all who believed in him afterwards to heal > Christians today can pray in Jesus name and Jesus will heal.
Here all the attention is directed away from the individual and put on God. It’s all through Jesus power, not our own. God delights in humility. When people recognise they haven’t got it all sorted and trust in Jesus, things happen. And when people recognise they are nothing special, but humbly ask God to work in their lives, he does.
The Centre of the Christian Message
It’s been wonderful to be reminded of the simpleness of the Christian message again. My favourite aspect of this ‘good news’ is that it’s only good for those who haven’t got life figured out! If you think you’re perfect then you probably will find the Christian message irrelevant.
But I’ve never met anyone who really believes they are 100% perfect.
So if you know you’ve not always measured up to your own standards, let alone God’s standards, then the good news is you can find forgiveness, purpose, healing, joy and hope. No wonder the early followers of Jesus called it ‘good news’.
You don’t have to look far to see people searching for fulfillment in other things. Whether it’s living for the weekend or living for your other half or living for the next drink, everyone worships something. Ultimately we won’t find fulfillment. As Jim Carey put it, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.”
Finally, I know of no other religion where I can turn up with a Les Paul, whack the Marshall amp up to 11, mess around with some effects pedals, strum a few chords and it be understood and acceptable to God as ‘worship’. Of course the reason for this is true worship comes from the heart, so whether it’s a Les Paul or vuvusella, if you’re doing it for God’s glory and not your own, it’s worship.
It was a pleasure to work with Tim Kendall on preparing many of the songs for the week. Leading the band in singing some of these songs was a new experience for me. I’d like to end by giving a big shout out to them all, they played their hearts out all week. One of the favourite tracks we did was this one:
I think it perfectly captures what we did this week.
All pictures copyright David & Katy Carter [email@example.com], Debs Ford and Joe Kilby [firstname.lastname@example.org].
I get the impression that a large percentage of people my age are a little disillusioned with the monarchy.
In a straw poll during one lecture at university, we were asked to raise our hands if we cared about the monarchy. Out of a full lecture theater, only a handful of us were bothered.
Since then we’ve had a royal wedding which may have helped renewed interest in Britain’s most famous family, but overall my generation is cynical.
Sometimes it even takes foreigners to remind us of our own nation’s unique standing in the world. Today on The Mall, much of the front row were made up of Americans who had camped out just to catch a glimpse of her Majesty.
My mother is, other than the Queen herself, the biggest royalist in the world. To illustrate this point, while at home last night watching the royal concert on TV, my Mum stood to sing the national anthem…
Today was a first for all of our family as we went to London to catch a glimpse of the Royal family. But why bother? That question bugged me all morning, but especially when my alarm went off at 5.30am.
The answer had started the night before.
It wasn’t Cheryl’s shocking vocal performance, Grace Jones bizarre costume, those comedian’s terrible jokes, Cliff Richard’s embarrassing “Dad dancing” or Will.I.Am’s usual “it’s all about me” attitude that impressed me.
The beauty and magnificence of it all came later in the evening. Stevie Wonder’s unfortunate moment of singing; “Happy birthday to you” led to @Queen_UK tweeting “It’s not one’s Birthday. Awkward.” But Stevie rescued it magnificently when he changed the lyrics of “Isn’t She Lovely” in honour of the occasion.
“Isn’t she special/a young eighty-six years old/I can’t believe what God has done/let’s celebrate the royal one”
Madness performing “Our House” on top of Buckingham Palace was a special moment, as was Paul McCartney leading all of the artists and thousands of onlookers in a rousing rendition of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.
By the time the national anthem had been sung and Prince Charles had delivered the best speech of his life, I could almost see the earlier cynicism melting from my Twitter feed.
At the mention of the DofE’s health, her majesty looked close to tears. The outpouring of love towards the Queen was touching.
I’ve always supported the monarchy, but this weekend has gone a long way in cementing my belief that this country needs the Queen and to do away with the monarchy would be a travesty.
Those on the other side of the argument have made my beliefs even stronger. Peter Tachell’s disgusting and offensive opinion piece that The Guardian dared to print incensed nearly everyone who read it. Then there was the New Statesman‘s usual cynicism, but that was to be expected.
Tatchell managed to frustrate me further when he moaned “Media coverage of #DiamondJubilee one-sided in favour of #royals. Not everyone is pro #monarchy. Pro #republic voices should also be heard”. I couldn’t resist hitting back with: “Boo you! Party pooper”. Immature, but he deserved it!
The Queen has counseled 12 Prime Ministers. She’s met with everyone from Churchill to Cameron week in week out. In the often messy world of politics, she has remained a-political. A figurehead that brings millions to our country ever year, the Queen is well respected and rightly honoured throughout the world.
Open about her faith and clear about her responsibilities (all of which will continue until the day she dies), the Queen has remained steadfast in holding the country together through the toughest of times.
It’s not right to ask “what does the Queen do?”. This weekend has reminded us that our identity does not lie in what we do, but who we are. The Queen does a lot for this country. But who is she? The answer is obvious; she’s a living legend.
In ten days time, the result of a lot of hard work from musicians, sound engineers and producers will finally be released. While previous Newday albums have felt rushed, I’m pleased to report We Are Yours has captured the Newday atmosphere extraordinary well.
The album is a little on the short side with just 10 tracks. 4 out of 10 songs are covers, leaving 6 originals penned by the four worship leaders featured: Simon Brading, Jules Burt, Sam Cox and Jordan Dillon.
The album opens with one of the most powerful worship songs of the year. Simon Brading’s cover of Matt Redman’s “Here For You” is yet another version of the song to be released in recent months but it still packs a punch.
Track 2 is Jules Burt’s “No One Better”. It’s a good song, but it’s her other track “Devotion” that really makes its mark. Clear vocals, complex guitar riffs and simple drumming make it the stand out song, and the one to (legally!) download if you don’t want to fork out the £10.99 for the full album.
Title track “We Are Yours” is the song everyone from the event is talking about. From a musical perspective I wasn’t blown away, but thanks to top notch production, there’s plenty of energy behind every pulsating drum beat chant of “we are youurrrr-orr-orr-orr-orr-orr-orrsss”.
One excellent track I can’t get enough of is “Thank The Lord”. I dare you to listen to it without “getting your grove on”! Featuring some outstanding bass and guitar work, this is the funkiest track ever to appear on a Newday album. Top marks go to Jordon Dillon for this phenomenal effort.
Next up is the song that combines football chants of “Who are ya?” with latin, theology and… more football imagery. “Christus Victor” is without doubt Simon Brading’s biggest song since 2007′s “Our God He Reigns”. If you haven’t heard it yet, you’re in for a treat.
The final track: “Our God Is Holy” comes all too quickly. It feels like the album could have done with a couple more tracks to make it whole. Nevertheless, the contemplative, thoughtful song makes for a fitting end to a powerful album. It’s one of my favourite songs on the record, and probably the best end to any Newday album out there.
I’m very happy to say this Newday album stands out above the rest. One of the reasons is the uniqueness of Newday has been captured on the album. When I listen to other Newday albums, I could be listening to any live worship album. But when it comes to large scale events, the four worship leaders featured on the album lead worship almost exclusively at Newday. This album isn’t about inviting other worship leaders in, but recognising the talent and gifting that Newday has raised up from within Newfrontiers churches. So when you listen to We Are Yours, you are listening to the true sound of Newday.
I often have mixed feelings about including semi-preaches or long prayers in the middle of songs. It’s great at the event when you’re in the moment, but when you’re listening to a CD on repeat, hearing the same prayer or analogy over and over again can start to grate on you. While We Are Yours does have the occasional interruption, it helps add character to the album. Not all live albums have character. Some sound like the band are playing underwater and a choir has been added in post-production. But We Are Yours retains a live atmosphere while recognising the need to add in extra guitar parts and vocal lines in the studio.
All in all it’s a great album and you’re all in for a treat when it drops in 10 days time!
Buy this if you liked: Newday 2010: King Of Nations, 10,000 Reasons, Passion: Here For You
Top songs: Devotion, Thank The Lord, Christus Victor, Our God Is Holy
Helllo Samuel Hailes bloggers!
I hope you are all winding down this evening after a wonderful day!
So, I’m a joyful person cause I live with the joy of the Lord in me .
However, I am not so joyful when wax museums decide it is a good idea to make wax models of terrorists and murderers. I mean really? Who’s paying for this? Why would you spend such money to display such people. I for sure did not want my picture taken with someone who killed over 6 million people… he’s no Beyoncé!
I love taking pictures! Lots and lots of pictures to capture all the wonderful moment I have been blessed with! I don’t like it when it rains, cause I can’t wear my favourite colour… baby pink, incase the water takes the colour away.
Colours are interesting things. It’s random to think how we can have a favourite colour. They are all so beautiful in their own ways. The colour blue sparkles in the big wide sea, the colour pink shines at dawn, the colour orange cheers up an autumn day in the leaves, the colour black makes ladies feel slim, the colour green brings happy memories of christmas trees… I love colour!
I paint my nails a lot. I find it therapeutic! It gives me time in the day where I can stop and think about one thing. Nail painting is one way in which girls can’t multi task, unless they want it to go everywhere!
Summerrs rock! The sunshine makes me warm and fuzzy inside. I enjoy a smoothie too. Silly me, left my smoothie maker at church, so this summer hasn’t reached full happiness yet, but I plan to get it back Sunday. If you’re reading this, please do remind me.
that’s all from me.
Blogger Sammy’s FFF xxx