Friday, September 30, 2005

How NOT to do lead guitar for worship - a Dummy's Guide

I've started writing a lead guitar manual for guitarists in a worship team. In the first chapter I talk about dos and don'ts, heart attitudes and the like. Here is a tongue in cheek list of how to satisfy that huge guitarist ego in a worshp context. I thought you'd enjoy it. The scary thing is I've done most of these things during my playing life...hopefully I don't them as often now......

How to satisy your ego as a lead guitarist in a worship band (place tongue firmly in cheek before reading):

1. Turn up late (about 5 mins before the service should do it)
2. Bring the largest amp & speaker cab you can and the most effects pedals that take the longest time to set up.
3. Whilst sound checking turn everything up full and insist that you can’t get “the tone” without the walls vibrating too.
4. Play something really inappropriate, loud and badly executed, whilst fiddling with pedals, retuning and make sure that you are feeding back at all times
5. Continue to do number 4 whilst the pastor is introducing the service
6. Spend more time adjusting your tuning / volume / effects / hair / amp than actually playing sensitively through the set.
7. When there is a quiet song in a minor key use this as your opportunity to relive the glory days of the 1980s and play a screaming solo whilst imagining yourself on a cliff top. This is especially effective during ministry time
8. Restraint is for wimps, be experimental and use your guitar “prophetically”
9. They are raising their hands for you so play as many solos as you can just to make sure they know for sure what a great musician you are.
10. Instead of lumping heavy p.a. about and setting down, act like the star you are and let the others do some work for a change!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some worship songs for your listening pleasure

Plenty of blogging today as I've got a bit of extra time. Anywhoo I just uploaded 3 of my worship songs to my public folder. Feel free to comment, ask questions etc. I thought it would be useful as the recordings are all demo stage, although two have been used already in church and one was just written today.

You can listen here

These are the titles and brief description.

Devotion (demo) - Taken from Psalm 108, recorded about 20 minutes ago, I had some of the lyrics already but just spent some time trying different chords, melody etc.

Lord Most High - I actually wrote this and use it extensivley in Southend about 6 years ago, but I re-recorded it a few months back.

Kingdom Come - Another recent song, I've used this ( played a tad slower) in Sunday services at Almond Vineyard over the past 2 months.

Also, nearly forgot to mention. If you are like me and absolutely naff and directionless at reading the bible daily then check out the link for Mike Turrigianno's study at the side nav bar. He's going through Samuel and journalling daily, it's good stuff.

Soul Language

One of the things that really stood out at the recent "What is Worship Conference" was the idea of soul languages. There is a definate western Church culture, and those guys who don't play guitar, or who create and worship in different ways can feel like their expression isn't valid. Now, I'm a musician through and through, it's how I'm wired, but the question in my head is how can I encourage and mentor others who have a different "soul language" or expression to let that out? I'd love to have someone creating art on a huge backdrop as I lead worship, or almost a circus atmosphere where you have different people going around the space each expressing their hearts out to God. Not very practical on a Sunday morning, but it would be interesting to see how we could do it. And I bet when we get to the first worship service in heaven there isn't just going to be a 30 something white guy with a Taylor at the front singing "Shout to the Lord". I'm kinda hoping for some 8th century Viking choir acompanied by an Indian sitar orchestra and Ginger Baker on a giant drum kit putting Buddy Rich to shame......all the while dancers, painters, actors, writers and artisans all do their thing.

If we do have guitarists in heaven can you imagine how big the amps will be!!! Wonder who has to be the roadies? It'll probably be all the worship leaders who've ever been stroppy with a sound man...DOH!

More later....

Guitars, Gold and God.

Deb and I have been really challenged recently about stewardship, finances and materialism. Deb is much better at just getting on with it than I am. I kidded myself for years that I wasn't materialistic until God opened the shutters and let the light in. My biggest weakness was guitars. It's very easy to justify spending money on them when you play for a living. Late last year I started to hear a trickle of God's voice which then turned into a torrent. I felt like he said, stop shopping for guitars and start playing the ones you got! I spent so much time on Ebay buying and selling, changing and swapping that I was using up all that precious resource of time and only playing when I was teaching or leading on a Sunday. I realised that what I was looking for was as much a status symbol as the kid who buys an expensive pair of trainers in order to fit in.

To cut a long story short I now take the mantra of the Sheryl Crow line which says, "It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you got."

The Lord really blessed me with two great guitars, the Gibson Les Paul Faded DC that I mentioned in a previous post and a special Taylor 310 that I got for my 30th birthay a few years ago. I sold the others off. I realised that I was hindereing the Lord's chance to bless me or restrain me by going it alone and just spending money without consulting him. So everyday, just like we do before dinner, I thank God for the great gear he's already given me. The hardest bit is trusting that God really knows what he's doing, but thankfully he shows me tokens of that everyday.

My prayer this week, " Lord, show me what I need in order to serve you, not what I want to show off."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The rollercoaster & some new music

After the intensity and blessing that was last week, the inevitable happens and my mood goes up an down like a yo yo. I guess it's returning to the routine of every day life and work and problems and worries that carries. I think part of it is plain old attack. I often wake up on a Monday, especially after I've lead worship the previous day, feeling like a waste of skin and struggling to get myself into the day. It soon passes but it can be a battle. I guess it goes with the job, take enemy territory and expect to get countered to some degree. Hopefully I'm getting better at dealing with it and just getting on with what God's called me to. Dan Wilt has a phrase, "beauty and brokeness", which has stuck in my head. We are all capable of exercising both, especially the artistic community.

Anyway, on a cheerier note, I was particularly inspired by some music that I found out about from a guy called Jess Duley, a really good guitarist. I admire anyone who can play fingerpicked acoustic guitar this well, but Jesse combines technical prowess with a lot of feel, which is a rare thing. So, whilst I go off and bury my own guitar in the back garden (only joking!) you can download Jesse's album here. Be sure to go to his blog and let him know what you think. And whilst I'm feeling generous, my own tracks are available for a while on my iDisk folder here. It's the "Breaking out the BlueDay" folder. If any of you who read this (hopefully there is more than one) want to post links to your own music the feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Back Home

Well, back home after an intense week. Really enjoyable, got to hang out with some great guys and see some old friends. I learned more about encouragement, mentoring,authentic worship, and community just from watching some of these guys relate to each other and those around them than I have in years of being taught about it.

I feel just that little bit different than when I got on the plane to Bristol on Wednesday night. The Lord spoke powerfully the entire week, both to me and a couple of the guys i was with. I'll post more as I process it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quote of the Week

I don't quite know why but this quote, paraphrased from a recent BB King interview really hit me. I know that as leaders, teachers, musicians etc in the kingdom of God, we are doing what we do, just to serve God, see Him glorified and give Him the reward. But through the years I've seen that used as an excuse to take people for granted, and I'm guilty of doing this myself as they are often the last to speak up. Often we don't reward or "usefully bless" those who serve quite enough. After all in the scripture it says, that a worker deserves his wages. Whilst we should instill the servant heart and preffering others I think we need to look at we look after our co-workers and those we lead.

Heres' the quote, interpret it how you will:

"When I played gospel, everybody said how good I was, but when I played a blues they put something in the hat.....from then the choice was easy and I choose blues".

BB King (paraphrased)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Busy Week Ahead

I'm just grabbing an hour in what is going to be a busy but exciting week. I've got a whole bunch of lessons to do between today and Wednesday, then it's straight to the airport to fly down to Bristol. From there it's over to Coventry for a network day with VMG and a load of worship leaders. Im really looking forward to see what God does, and just hanging out, catching up with a few old faces. Then Friday it's the Dan Wilt conference in Oxford, then flying back Sunday night. Should be a good week.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

D'ya think He's trying to tell me something?

I don't know if it was just a bad choice in late night snacks or if the Lord is continuing His, "Extreme Makeover - Graeme Edition" . I like to think it's the later. I had a couple of pretty vivid dreams last night and there has been a strange vibe around all day.

Here's what happened last night. I was reading, 'Quest for the radical middle", a history of the Vineyard, just before I went to sleep. Now I often dream about what i just read, that's nothinng unusual. What was weird was that I entered that half asleep, half awake stage where you're drifting in and out of sleep. The first dream I had was of Ken Gulliksen standing inside a large wooden cabin. Whilst inside the cabin he started to build another dwelling, but this one was made of brick, and pretty solid, the next thing that I remember dreaming was the ground underneath all this. If you imagine one of those geological cutaway graphics you get in science textbooks showing all the rock layers, that's kinda what I saw. Anyway, running through the ground not too deep under the dwelling ran a huge untapped seam of liquid gold, kinda like an underground river.......

Then I woke up properly. I couldn't get back to sleep because of an irritating pain that had been bothering me all evening. Eventually i fell asleep again an hour or so later but didn't dream anything else. Maybe this dream was my brain's way of processing what I have been reading and praying about. Maybe it was a picture of heritage and things to come from the Lord. just thought I'd share it anyhow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My New Musical Hero

For those of you that haven't heard him, go listen to Rory Gallagher, the late great Irish guitarist and singer/songwriter. I would kill for an ounce of the passion and virtousity he had I just rediscovered him recently on an album called. "Live in Europe", .........just go to HMV or wherever and listen, go on......go on!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Get your praying heads on

Coming soon, see pic, and get praying for us!!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Getting Renovated

if there was a song that could sum up how the past few years have been and especially with greater intensity the past few weeks, it would be, "Change me on the inside". Especially this past week I've felt like there are a gang of builders and decorators inside me ripping out all the old fixtures and fittings and putting new things in. Every day is becoming a little adventure in seeing what God is doing and challenging me on. There have been some tough areas that are finally getting broken, God is really emphasising holiness, integrity and devotion. I get the impression that if I don't listen and take heed, then I'm a dead man.

Sounds heavy, but I think that there comes a stage where we all have to grow up and face the call on our lives. I spent most of mine wondering what I was for, finally at the age of 32 I've started listening. I was thinking back over the 17 years I've been a christian to the advice, words, prophecies I was given and I can really see, with hind sight, what the bigger picture was.

I've started to realise that most of the people who gave me challenging or hard words over the years, might actually have been hearing from God and not just getting at me. Well it took me a while, but now I can see that pastors do talk a lot of sense when they need to. You know who you are...

Anyway, the good side of all this is I have never felt God's presence stronger in my life and all I can do at the moment is spend time with Him, worship Him, read about Him, listen out for Him. It's like becoming a christian all over again.

Todays prayer, " Thanks Lord...You really do know what You are doing."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Monday, September 05, 2005

Go Forth.....

I'll leave you to fill in the blank at the end of the sentence! I've been deliberating over how and where to do this evening worship service that I felt the Lord has put on my heart. I wandered around the area (mainly in the car!) with Kent Chandler a friend of mine from the Almond Vineyard, to see if the Lord was speaking. Although a few weeks ago I couldn't have predicted things working out this way, I've got the impression that He's interested in affecting the Forth Valley with an authentic, worshipping community. For me that is the small cluster of towns that run from Linlithgow, Bo'ness up through to Falkirk and Stirling. Interestingly Falkirk College which has a campus in Stirling also is now called "Forth Valley College". The people (including us) who live around here tend to live in one of the towns, shop in another and work somewhere else. They move freely and frequently from Bo'ness to Falkirk, or Linlithgow to Stirling and every other combination.

This has realy been highlighted to me that any regional church here would have groups in the these towns but be under one banner. So, in my question to the Lord as to which bit does He want, it seems the answer is, "All of it!"

I've mentioned before that when we first moved up here we felt kinda snowballed into doing stuff but we were far from ready. If anything had been successful then it would have been because we felt we had to do it.....something to prove!

However now, it feels different. I can't see us doing anything else. Will this little service and maybe a housegroup become a church or even a satellite. Well, I don't know, but I can't help feeling the Lord about the place and if He wants to use us then all the better,

I remember Steve Barber's advise on church planting, "If there's anything else you can do, then do it", well Steve I don't think there is...