Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Off to New Wine

Next week we all head off to new Wine in Sunny Shepton Mallet for New Wine (Central and South West).

Yesterday I went down to New Wine (London and South East) for a day to meet some friends and have a few meetings. I went down with Jules and Dave who will be leading worship with me next week.

Every time I turn into the Bath and West showground, memories come flooding back. Over the 12 years I have been going to new wine, I remember the great times of meeting god in worship, of seeing my children grow in faith, of times of hearing god speak to me: great times. As we chatted with a few of our friends who have been going for many years, we heard their stories of their children coming to faith whilst in the incredible kidz work, stories of their own days of youth where they encountered god and were changed and propelled to a life following Jesus. We remember how soul survivor, once the youth work of new wine, was born and grew and started to become what it is today. These memories are so so precious. And to still be involved in a small way, leading worship is still amazing.

As we left the site last night to drive back we were chatting about the week that is to come. My hope, my passionate hope, is that we will encounter god - above all that he would turn up and move amongst us, speak to us, refresh us, inspire us, heal us. In my mind, everything else is a side show.

Come Lord Jesus


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Let's hand it to drummers

Let's hand it to our skin bashing, metal whacking, 'are your ears bleeding yet?' friends.

As this article shows they really do burn up a huge amount of energy when they play.

Mind you, they would save a few calories if they didn't speed up the whole time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yes, this is the way things are going!

This is music to my ears!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

OK so I was caught

Ok, it's confession time.

I went to starbucks today.

Despite my critisism of them in a recent post, I ended up getting my sunday morning fix from there.

It was too early for nero, and I was in the car, so rather than park and walk to soho, I stopped outside starbucks, snuck in, and got a coffee.

Rather embarrassingly they still remembered my order - grande latte extra shot extra hot.

And to make it worse I was caught 'at it' by this morning's worship team as I rolled up there.

But I am definitely right. The coffee is not really up to it any more. It was pretty tasteless. And the ginger nuts I got to go with them were too sweet and stuck to my teeth.

In fact the only thing that really lived up to expectation was the Sunday Times I picked up whilst I was there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Who are we worshipping?

Michael W Smith releases his new worship album called 'a new hallelujah'.

We are told:

Smith has scored several film projects, written 11 books and been named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People. His tours consistently rank among the best attended in the country and he has performed to capacity crowds throughout the world.


That's such a relief!

After all you wouldn't want just any old ugly bloke recording a worship album would you...

What do you mean credit crunch?

In a week where we are told that heating bills are set for a 60% rise, food prices are soaring, and outrageous bank charges are once again being defended by the financial institutions, it maybe is worth remembering some figures:

HSBC profits up 10% to £12.2bn
British Gas profits up 500% to £0.6bn
Shell profits up 9% to £13.9bn
Tesco profits up 13% to £2.5bn
Number of children below the poverty line up 100,000 to 2.9million
Number of pensioners below the poverty line up 300,000 to 2.5million

It makes me think that this is not so much a credit crunch but a greed epidemic.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I remember getting my first LP. It was Making Movies by Dire Straits. I remember taking out the 12 inch disc, putting it on one of the record players with the plastic arm that came across, then lying on the floor with my ear against the speaker, reading through the artwork. A complete five-way sensation: the sound of the band, the feel of the record sleeve, the smell of the print, the sight of the artwork, and the taste of the cheap instant coffee that we used to drink those days.

Now Trinity Publishing has made it to iTunes, you can now download some of my tracks from there.

iTunes doesn't quite do it for me though. Seems to lack that rich, multi-sensory experience.

I wonder if it will catch on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I love hillsong

I love Hillsong

Well OK, maybe that’s going a little far. And certainly my affection for them is well behind my wife, my children, my family, my church, many of my friends, extra shot lattes.

Oh, and Jesus of course.

In fact, lets face it, Hillsong are probably only in the top 200 of things I love, maybe not even that.

But I’ve just started to listen to the latest hillsong dvd, and it’s awesome. I thought hillsong worship had begun to lose momentum in the last couple of years, but their latest cd ‘this is our god’ seems to recapture things.

Now I know you are probably wondering why someone as cynical about the whole worship industry as me is enthusiastic about Hillsong. Well let me explain. First and foremost is that they are being themselves. The only church that really should be doing Hillsong worship in the Hillsong way, is Hillsong. Over the years they have established their own identity in worship by having adventures, taking risks, and alongside it all, put a huge amount of money, effort, resources, and time into developing their worship. And they have pursued their calling in this despite huge critisism along the way (the level of which seems to be match only by the number of churches trying to copy them!)

And now, having pursued their own identity in worship, they are making a few quid out of it, which I suspect goes into building their church. Well I say “good on them”.

Now I know we can argue about their pentecostal theology. We could also debate about some elements of prosperity teaching. But as in many things in life, we have to see what God is doing through our own theological frameworks, and learn what we need to learn. And from hillsong I learn about passionate, heartfelt, authentic worship. I learn about worshippers who are unafraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

And unfortunately, I also learn that beards seem to be back in fashion in Australia.

The other thing that is hugely moving about this cd is that there is a song on it called ‘Healer’ by Mike Guglielmucci. The song was written by Mike the day he was diagnosed with serious cancer. The song is performed on the dvd by mike in the throws of his illness, having to use oxygen to get through it. It is hugely moving, and there is also a video section where he gives some of his testimony. On the DVD he stands in front of the many thousands of people gathered for the recording, with tubes in his nose, declaring that ‘by his stripes we are healed’. It an awesome song of faith from someone who is in the midst of extreme suffering.

This is a truly inspiring cd and dvd. listen to it, have your spirit lifted in worship through it.

Just don’t try and copy it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The diary of an international worship leader aged 43 3/4


This is the final diary entry for two reasons. Firstly, today was our last day in Swedelburgh before we get back on another Whine-air flight back to the UK. but secondly, and more significantly, I am very soon to have a birthday and so I will no longer be 43 3/4.

Tonight I led worship in the main gathering, which I loved. Fortunately the Swedleburgish people all worship just as much in English as Swedleburgese, so I didn't have to sing in a foreign language. Which is just as well really, as I tried to learn just one word in Swedleburgese before I came here, and it took me over ten minutes.

As I led the worship I could see my good friend, and that night's speaker, Brucie Blather, worshipping away. I always find it encouraging when the speaker really worships. Most speakers tend to sit down 2 minutes into the worship and start to flick though their notes, which I think is a shame because they really miss out on the anointed bits.

Mind you, I often leave for coffee after the worship rather than sit and listen to the talk, so I guess I can't really complain.

But anyway, I am always impressed by old Blather-boy. He speaks with real conviction, but without any pretentiousness or hype. With so many speakers these days you seems to get a very ordinary message wrapped up in an overly extraordinary package. But with Brucie you feel that you seem to hear a very extraordinary message delivered by a very ordinary person.

And that's strangely comforting.

After he spoke he then said that we were going to pray for some healings. He gave a few prophetic words and asked a few people to come forward. He and the team prayed whilst gently laying hands on them. And a few people got healed. But even when people got healed, which is incredible, there was still this sense that this was a very extraordinary event, happening to and through very ordinary people.

And how I need to be reminded of that.

Ordinary. That's me.

Extraordinary. That's God

I reflect on all the trappings that ministry can present to me: the status as an invited, visiting worship leader to another country; my name as songwriter at the bottom of the words on the projector; the recognition wrapped up in the royalty cheque that comes through the post every quarter; the evidence of my gifting provided by by cd on the shelves in the bookstore; the stage provided by the big conference. How easy it is to think that I am the extraordinary one.

But I'm not.

It's God who is the extraordinary one.

I'm very very ordinary.

And that's very very comforting.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The diary of an international worship leader aged 43 3/4


The place we are staying in this week in Swedleburg is fantastic. We are sharing a family room in this wooden house, which is part of a collection of wooden houses situated on the coast. This family room contains two sets of bunk beds, the arrangement of which means that Sarah sleeps in the bunk above my wife, and Lizzy sleeps in the bunk above me. It's great to do this - we all go to bed together and wake up all together - it's a wonderful bonding experience.

This morning I was awoken by my eldest breaking wind ('good one') and then leaning over the side of the bunk and giggling at me. I decided to respond in a similar fashion, and then my other daughter joined in and soon everything got a little out of hand. I'm convinced we got a credible three part harmony at one point. Only my wife didn't join in the musical session and left to go and have a shower. I sometimes get frustrated that she doesn't fully appreciate that us international ministry types need to unwind like this sometimes.

In fact, whilst we are on the subject of showers, this being Swedleburg, the showers are communal. The Swedleburgish people are apparently far more relaxed about their ablutions than the English, and there is only one set of showers - used by both men and women - with of course the obligatory sauna attached. To save our embarrassment, though, the conference hosts have allocated certain hours for men and certain hours for women for the duration of our stay. This is fine in theory. But last night I obviously misread the time sheet and barged in on a rather round bottomed Swedleburgish lady in a state of semi undress. Fortunately I managed to exit very quickly without her seeing me (one can just imagine the headlines...). Anyway, to avoid any further possibility of unsuitable encounter, today I made do with a body wash using the sink in our family room.

Then over breakfast I had a strange conversation with my wife when she used a lot of words like self centred, egotistical, hot air and boring. I didn't quite get the drift, but anyway the outcome was that we decided that she and the girls would benefit from sacrificing another chance to hear me speak today, and they are going off on the boat for the day. So I would have to go to the morning bible reading on my own, and would also be on my own for my next seminar 'how to write anointed worship songs that change the world'.

I arrived at the seminar room to find it fuller than the day before. I was sort of quite pleased in a humble sort of way, and chatted away to the venue host trying to appear unconcerned at the greater numbers. I slipped a question into our conversation about why there were more people than yesterday. Apparently, according to him, it was because people had never seen or heard anything quite like me before and wanted to make sure the rumors were true.

I took that as a compliment.

There was obviously quite a lot of holy anticipation in the room, because as I stood up to speak I saw quite a few people nudging each other, pointing at me, whispering and giggling. It made me quite nervous, as I didn't want to disappoint them. I then talked about song writing, and how important it was that our focus should be on effecting the whole world, how exciting it is when your songs get put on those '1000 best ever worship song' cd's. I talked about my other most inspiring cd called 'the totally fresh new sound of worship volume 17', and how wonderful it was that every month there was another volume of 'the totally fresh new sound of worship' released. I also gave a theological exegeses of the CCLI top 25. Someone in room interrupted at this point and asked me if it was true that CCLI stood for 'Cash Comes in Large Installments'.

I thought that was quite harsh really.

At the end of this seminar there was no need to have any formal ministry time, as by the end of my talk people were so clearly under the influence of the holy spirit - laughing and chattering and moving around the room. So I just withdrew quietly. One lovely lady stopped me on the way out and thanked me for what was a wonderful seminar. She said that up until today she had only thought of songs as a way to connect with God, but now she realised that there was just so much more involved than that.

I'm glad I'm having such an impact on people.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The diary of an international worship leader aged 43 3/4


Well I think that was a great first day.

We headed off to the church bright and early for the morning session. Remembering that I was doing my seminar on 'famous but humble' I made sure I was modeling what I was going to be talking about. I went up to the registration desk and said who I was in a very quiet and unassuming and self effacing manner. Clearly there is a language problem, which is understandable, as the person on the desk didn't seem to know me and couldn't find my name on her list. I told her I was a rather well known worship leader from England and then she seemed to show a spark of recognition, and she started looking down her list muttering 'Matt Redman'.

She got to the bottom of her list again and then looked back at me slightly confused. Eventually I managed to explain who I was, and she then looked slightly disappointed for some reason. Anyway, eventually she gave me a hand-written badge with 'day pass' written on it. That was slightly annoying, but again i remember my up and coming talk and walk away with a smile that hopefully looked genuine. As I walked away from the desk towards the auditorium I just heard her whispering to another person on the desk - something about being worried that people might start asking for their money back. It's just as well I am here to help because it sounds like they are struggling if people want to ask for a refund so early in the conference.

My seminar came after the first session, and I think it went really well, in a humble but life changing sort of way. I talked about the pressures of being so famous whilst trying to look unaffected and servant-hearted. This being in Swedleburg, I had a translator who translated my English into Swedleburgish. I'm not sure how good the translator was, as they all kept laughing at my most serious points, and were all strangely quiet when I told jokes. Anyway, we had a time of questions at the end, which I think went well, although I was slightly confused when one of them asked me where Matt was.

I finished my session with a time of ministry where I offered to pray for people who felt that the Lord was calling them to be famous and humble. No one actually came forward for prayer, but the Lord was clearly blessing people as many of them started laughing and hollering and rolling around on the floor, presumably in the power of the Holy Spirit. It really is amazing how God is using me on this international ministry trip.

I then went off with my family for a meal with some of the wonderful Swedelburgish people. They really are so very friendly and generous. They even offered to take my wife and children off on a boat trip tomorrow whilst I do my next seminar. I thanked them but say that my family always like to come to my seminars and listen to me talk whilst they also uphold me in prayer. Funny, at that precise moment the Holy Spirit must have fallen, because my wife's leg jerked under the table and caught me on the shin, and both my girls started to weep simultaneously.

During the evening celebration that followed, I was sitting with my family and was really blessed by the worship, even though it was in Swedleburgish. Funny how that God's presence transcends language and culture in such a beautiful way.

During the ministry time I felt that God spoke to me and encouraged me about the talk I am giving tomorrow called 'how to write anointed songs that change the world'.

It should be good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The diary of an international worship leader aged 43 3/4

Recently I've been reading the odd blog of international worship leaders, and I quite like the look of an international worship leader ministry. So I've decided to go on an international ministry trip and record my own travels.

And tomorrow I start with a trip to Swedleburg.


It's early in the morning and we're just about to leave for the airport. I am really looking forward to my international ministry trip to Swedleburg.

I must admit, I am slightly confused, though, as I've done a search on google and i can't seem to see any publicity about my appearances over the next week. There must be something wrong with my internet connection or something, because normally someone with an international ministry would cause quite a stir in the countries they visit. I must try and sort that out once I get back home. Any way, my flights have been pre booked for me by the conference hosts. That really helps, because someone of my reputation and standing is really too busy to get involved with such details. I've also heard so many other people with international ministries talk about how the Lord generously upgrades flights to first class, so I'm really quite hopeful of a very relaxed journey.

In the last few moments I have before we leave I ask the Lord for some specific words of knowledge for the country of Swedleburg. It really is such a huge burden and responsibility for international worship leaders, and I begin to understand how much of the spiritual health of that nation rests upon my shoulders. It's quite humbling really.


Well what a journey yesterday was.

We arrived at the airport to find the check in queue was huge. I tried to find the fast track desk for international worship leaders, but it seems that some member of staff must have been off ill or something so we had to join the queue with everyone else. In many ways that had hidden blessings, particularly for all the others in the queue. It must have made quite a statement about how humble I was, and they seemed really glad that someone of such fame was brushing shoulders with them. I must admit, however, that I felt a little bit of righteous anger rising up in me when I reached the check in desk and was asked to take 2 kilos out of my suitcase because it was over weight.

Of course, I then took some photos of my guitar in the airport, because it is so important to be able to communicate to people at a later stage the fine line someone like me treads between humble worship leader and famous rock star. Hopefully these pictures will be able to inspire people to be like me.

Unfortunately there was no upgrade to first class. Apparently there are no first class seats on Whine-air flights. Ah well, it is character building. It took us another hour to get through security. When our flight was called, we went through the 'priority boarding' queue, as clearly that was something an international worship leader should expect. However, the lady turned us away and said we weren't eligible for priority boarding. I did tell her that I was an international worship leader, and I think she was quite impressed as she said 'congratulations' with a sense of awe in her voice. At least I think it was awe, but I can't be quite sure. But she was unfortunately unable to let us through. This was all character building of course, and I think I will use my story when I give my talk tomorrow at the conference, a talk that I have called 'famous but humble'. I think that may help illustrate things quite well.

We arrived in Swedleburg late in the afternoon and was dumbstruck by the beauty of the country. The roads were clear, the sky was blue, the sea was clean and sparkling. And everywhere we went people were helpful and friendly. The conference hosts were generous beyond belief and we arrived in a rustic house right by the sea close to the church where the conference was held. We have a family room for me, my wife and two girls. We unpacked and walked the 20 yrds to the sea front and took in the wonderful fresh air, and outstanding views. We had a really warm feeling inside as we looked forward to the week ahead.

I chatted to my wife about the seminar 'famous but humble' that I am giving tomorrow. She confused me when she suggested that it was interesting that I was talking about things that I had no experience of. I'm not sure what she meant, and assumed that she was tired after our day's travels, and I don't want to spoil the moment.