The Worship Conversation

When I worship, I try to open up a conversation between me and God. I praise Him for all He is, and all He has done in my life. I glorify Him with my song and my heart. And then I reflect and meditate on Him, and listen to what He has for me. Often this can be incredibly fulfilling, and uplifting, and convicting, as he speaks deep into my heart and fills it with His love.

When leading worship, I endeavour to do the same thing. To be a worship leader, first and foremost, I need to be worshipping. But secondly, I need to lead both the musicians, but also (and more importantly) the congregation, so that they can enter this conversation with God for themselves.

Like any conversation, it needs to be balanced. We can have our say, through the words in the songs that we sing. But we also need to be aware that God is waiting for His chance to speak into our lives. It’s only when we have space in the worship song to just be, without worry of the song or the words, that we can focus and hear what He has to say.
Too often, we rush through a song; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus twice, end. And that is our worship. Finished. Get in, get out, as quick as you like. But we miss the conversation. We miss out on what the divine creator wants to input into our lives. And who would want to miss that?

So to allow this conversation to take place, as a worship leader, I need to think about the space I am creating. Is it delicate enough that the still, small, voice can penetrate into our lives? Is it void of distractions that can wisp us away from hearing what God has to say to us? Is it long enough for us to focus away from ourselves and listen to Him?

For me, this realisation of space in worship came about because of this song. In it, some say the space is too vast, that it becomes boring or tedious. But take a moment and reflect. If God had something to say to you, wouldn’t you want that space? Wouldn’t you need that space?
The song is This is Our God by Hillsong. Have a listen. Think about how they create the space throughout the song, and allow for the worshippers to connect with their God, before once again lifting up their praise to Him.

This is Our God

It’s interesting, in a purely human term, thinking about the dynamics in this song. With this song, everyone knows that the “Freely You gave” bridge is coming. Everyone loves it. Too often I’ve seen worship leaders rush into it, and it loses its flare. It loses its impact, because we haven’t invested in creating that space. Whether God speaks to us or not, the anticipation of being able to sing that bridge to the one we love is what makes it work. When we rush through to it, it loses everything we are expecting.

It’s a bit like Watching the World Cup final. If you just watched the last 10 minutes, it wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling, as dramatic, as tense, or as painful, compared to enduring and watching the entire match.

So take your time. Create the space. Enjoy the space. Don’t stand there looking at the musicians wondering what they’re doing when they head into a musical interlude. Turn your focus from singing songs to worshipping God. Expect to hear from Him. Close your eyes as the instrumental occurs. Ask God to speak to you. And as the music fades into the background, and His words fill your heart, and soul, and mind, you can begin to fully experience what this thing called worship is, and what I strive for every single time I come to worship; both with the Church, and individually.

Taupo: 2 Years Anniversary

Because I am a teacher, we were able to get married during the July school holidays, and forever have some sort of time off around our anniversary.

This year, for our 2 year anniversary, we took a week and went up to Taupo. We stayed in a little batch (which its biggest draw card was a built in spa pool) just outside of Taupo in Wharewaka, on the lake shore.

The drive up was fine. We left after church (which was a great service as well!) and headed up the line. The traffic was minimal, and we arrived right on time, just after 5pm.

Monday, our first day, I decided to get up before the sun and head out down to the lake to take a few sunrise photos on the lake. I got a few sorted out. It took me a while to get used to the adjustments of the light, as well as trialling out my new graduated ND8 filter. Returning to the bach resulted in a return to bed.

We headed out to the Huka falls and surrounding areas around lunch time. We did a bit of a bush walk, before returning to the falls to get some photos. All was going well until my tripod decided to flare up with an old injury. The head of the tripod completely fell apart, resulting in it resembling three sticks rather than a tripod. And as sturdy!

We headed up to Craters of the Moon, the first of our visits to Geothermal hotspots for a wander around the steam and craters.

Tuesday was our actual anniversary, and we celebrated by going shopping for each other. We traipsed around every street in the township, and after spending all day in and out of shops, we didn’t find anything we wanted. I got a wind jacket which will serve me well on future photo trips, and Vicky bought a dress.
We returned back to Wharewaka and got ready for dinner. We were going to Ploughmans, an old English restaurant and bar. It was actually divine. The menu was straightforward and edible. Every main item was a single price, which just made choosing the meal so much easier and straightforward.

Wednesday was tourist day. We headed up the line to Orakei Korako and to Wai o Tapu Thermal parks. They were quite pricey, but hey, we were on holiday! I took endless photos of these locations, and ended up out of battery. But I decided that I’d make a good person to go around such natural tourist attractions and take photos for their promotional material and souvenirs.
In the evening, we arrived back at Wharewaka in time for the sunset. We headed down to the lake at about 4:30pm to a location I’d found during the dawn photoshoot. Whilst there, another photographer turned up and pulled out all his gear for setting up a landscape timelapse of the mountains. It was pretty impressive. Turns out he is Bevan Percival, an amateur videographer who a few months back released a 4minute video of his work, and even got a mention on Stuff for it. It was good to meet someone new with the same interests.

Thursday was our last day in Taupo. We went Mini Golfing at the two courses in Taupo. It was good to be out in the sun and putting. The second course was very full, and so it took us well over an hour to get through the whole course. But, in the end, Vicky equalled the top women’s score for the day, and I was 2 shots away from the top men’s score for the day.

Friday we travelled home in awkward traffic. It was horrid. But we did stop in at the Tongariro National Trout Centre, and even saw Graeme Sinclair of “Gone Fishin'” TV fame. In the end, it was good to be home.