Building the PsalmSongs website

I was delighted to be given the chance to build the PsalmSongs website. With only limited previous experience, it was a very steep learning curve to create a site that looked and functioned in a way needed to support and promote the multi-media course and events.

As a relative newcomer, there was much to get my head around to include the varied content and set up the different links needed to Youtube videos, song samples, connecting other other websites, including the Eventbrite event booking system, and setting up a blog page that others can submit content to.

Configuring the site so it worked equally well on laptop, mobile and tablet was a challenge in itself.

Whilst the process was pretty stressful at times, with the launch event deadline looming ever closer, it was very rewarding and we were all pleased with the final product – with plenty of opportunity to upgrade the site as the PsalmSongs Project develops.

I have also used the PsalmSongs Course in my church Life Group and therefore have enjoyed seeing the project from both ends. It’s a great Course, that draws in all members of the group through its use of different media. I’m looking forward to seeing how others engage with the Project by submitting their own ideas. All in all, I would thoroughly recommend attending the Live events, using the the Course, and getting involved in the Project yourself.

Psalm 146

Here’s a thought to consider – how many small acts of kindness are equal to one big one?

A bit of a pointless question in one sense, yet it entered my mind as I was sitting on a train rumbling into town one Saturday morning recently.

I was reading Psalm 146 and quietly reflecting on the Psalmist’s own reflection that the Lord: ‘upholds the cause of the oppressed … gives food to the hungry … sets prisoners free … gives sight to the blind … lifts up those who are bowed down … watches over the foreigner … sustains the fatherless and the widow …’ Which of these powerful works of righteousness might I engage with in a meaningful, if limited, way?

And then the peace was shattered as a family of mum, dad and two very noisy kids boarded the busy-ish train and occupied various seats around me.

Isn’t it alarming how swiftly one’s inner serenity can descend into annoyance? Yet, this is exactly what happened, as the two young children clambered about me and the parents barked orders at them from across the aisle. Didn’t they realise I was deep in God’s Word considering acts of righteousness?!

Fortunately, God was sitting next to me and nudged me with a radical thought (I guess not entirely without self benefit!): if I moved to another seat nearby, the family could camp on all the seats in the block of four where I was currently the sole occupant, and things would improve. And, sure enough, this simple act of minor kindness transformed the landscape – the kids quietened down, the parents relaxed, and not just me amongst the nearby passengers breathed a sigh of relief at the now happy family. Score!

And when one of the children dropped and could not find a coin – precious pocket money for the day, I guess – I spotted it and handed it back to the lad. The family were oh-so-grateful, and I was on a roll!

So, back to my question. We can’t  always be involved in the major acts of service listed in Psalm 146, but small acts of kindness – like these which were really appreciated by the family (and so blessed me as I lived out a small part of the day by Kingdom values) are there for the taking all around us.

And there’s a flip side to this as well for, when Jesus was talking about who was fit to enter the kingdom of heaven (recorded in Matthew 25:45), He said ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

What small acts of kindness will you do today?

Simon Ward 
February 2018

Leading a study

‘The Course Guide gives the study leader some very helpful background notes and story and also relevant input to its relevance and application to today the 21st century. It draws out the Important aspects of the psalm and applies them to our life and experiences.
The question section  takes you through the psalm from beginning to end and really asks you to understand the psalm, and then to really apply its relevance to us and how we should change. Quite challenging! Asks for us to be honest with ourselves and each other in Life group so that it will make a difference in our relationship with God and help us grow in maturity.
I really enjoyed leading a study (Psalm 96) in my Life Group and the guide provides enough information and guidance that, if you don’t have enough time to do in depth study of your own, gives you plenty to lead on. I felt the group really engaged in the study and enjoyed it.’

Psalm 27 – Intimacy with God

What is the connection between David’s warlike Psalm 27 and Jesus’s famous prayer in John 17? Quite a lot actually, yet one theme, in particular, stands out for me – both are prayers lifted up to God in times of great stress (David on the battlefield, Jesus on the road to the cross) and yet both reveal close intimacy with God.

You’d think intimacy would just be for times of peace and quiet, with testing circumstances calling for a rallying war-cry. Yet, after describing the ferocious attack he is under, David turns to God: ‘to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.’ Jesus, after describing to the disciples the death he would soon face, ‘looked towards heaven and prayed … Father glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.’

 We see deep intimacy here. David desiring closeness to God; Jesus longing to return to the place of one-ness with God He had known from before Creation. Is there not a sense of transcendence from the restrictions of time into the limitless peace and joy of eternity?

David asks that he can: ‘dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life’; Jesus reveals that He will: ‘give eternal life to all those You have given me. Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God.’

The word ‘know’, in the Bible, refers to something far beyond mere head knowledge. It’s meaning can range from sexual intimacy and  experiencing his power and suffering, through to understanding what God approves of … and obedience. If you want to do a quick scripture search, check out: Philippians 3:7-11; Jeremiah 9:23-24. And Psalm 46:10 reminds us that to know God requires us to be still before Him.

If we can find a moment of stillness, maybe now’s a good time to get to know God better, so we can hold onto that intimacy for when the going gets tough.