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Welcome to the 7th Family Worship Newsletter, 31 July, 1999
With relentless "Humour spots" in-between every item...
FW Site stats
Recent site additions - Kids Zone
Story behind the song
What do children need most?
FW Site Stats
Visitor numbers soared this month after the website was featured in the monthly "Internet for Christians" newsletter from http://www.gospelcom.net which has a circulation of around 100,000. This is an excellent resource, and their website is the only christian site in the world's top 50 Internet sites.
Thanks for visiting, and a special welcome to visitors from new countries including Slovakia, Chile and Portugal.
Two small boys, Peter and James, were fighting over the last cake on the plate. Their Mum said to them: "Now boys, think what would Jesus do? He would be kind and let the other boy have it." "OK Mum, you're right", said Peter, and then he quickly turned to James and said "Hey James - you can be Jesus"
Recent site additions:
As promised, the Kids Only section has been completely re-worked, and now features several new sections, designed by children for children. One section that we're very excited about is the "Prayer Zone", where children can post items for prayer, and pray for each other. (This will be moderated by adults to keep it completely safe and anonymous). If you are a parent or children's worker then do encourage your children to check this out. There will also be a email monthly newsletter just for children, again written by children. If you'd like to subscribe (for yourself or on behalf of a child) then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject blank and subscribe in the body, and if it's for a different email address than your own then put that address after subscribe.
Kids Zone: http://www.familyworship.org.uk/kidszone.htm
Prayer Zone: http://www.familyworship.org.uk/prayerzone.htm
Please let us have any feedback on these sections, and suggestions for
other items you would like to see covered.
The US order facility, with dollar pricing and local US delivery from the River of Life Discount bookstore has proved popular - check it out at http://www.familyworship.org.uk/orderusd.htm (FW is non profit-making and prices are kept as low as possible, and any surplus is put towards future recordings)
Continuing the series of instrumentalist jokes, this month we feature viola players. Now, not being a classical musician, I've never quite understood why viola players should be the butt of such unfair jokes, but who am I to stand against the tide of convention?
What's the definition of a string quartet?
One good violinist, one bad violinist, one really bad violinist who became a violist, and one cellist who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about composers.
What's the difference between a viola and an onion?
No one cries when you chop up a viola
What's the difference between a viola and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off when you jump on a trampoline
How is lightning like a violist's fingers?
Neither one strikes in the same place twice.
What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
The viola burns longer.
The viola holds more beer.
You can tune the violin.
How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune?
The bow is moving.
The long-awaited teaching booklet for children, to accompany the latest FW
recording, "Teach us to pray", will be out in August. Prices are incredibly
low (one of the reasons for the delay was in negotiating for cheap enough
printing costs to keep prices within pocket-money levels for children).
Written by Faith Forster (one of the leaders of Ichthus Christian
Fellowship, and a widely respected international preacher and evangelist,
with a particular ministry emphasis on intercession), the booklet is an
excellent way for children (aimed at the 6 to 11 age range) to gain an
understanding of prayer, and to put it into practice for themselves. The
booklet is based around the Lord's Prayer, and introduces a dynamic new
character "Prayer Bear" (!) Along with the cassette of songs, which
includes backing tracks, this is a complete resource for use in the home
and in Sunday schools.
You can order an advance copy online now, with discount for bulk orders of
the booklet for use in Sunday schools and children's clubs, or send a blank
email to email@example.com for a return email with details of
prices and how to order.
A viola player decides that he's fed up with his instrument - he'd had enough of all the cruel jokes. So he decides to change instruments. He goes into a shop, and says, "I want to buy a violin." The man behind the counter looks at him for a moment, and then says, "You must be a viola player." The viola player is astonished, and says, "Well, yes, I am. But how did you know?" "Well, sir, this is a fish-and-chip shop."
Story behind the song...
This month, "Oh I'm fighting", from the latest FW recording "Teach us to
Oh Im fighting, but not against people
Its a battle of good and evil
But I dont need a gun
I dont need a sword
I dont need sticks and I dont need stones
My weapons are not of this world
Ill fight with a prayer of faith
Ill fight with a shout of praise
My weapon is the Word of God
Its sharper than any sword
It cuts through the darkness of this world
And the enemy's walls come crashing down
As God's kingdom get built
Copyright © 1998 Daybreak Music
Star Wars has only just been released in the UK, and I'm feeling very smug while people around me scrabble to get tickets, as I saw it in June while I was in Chicago. I have, however, been trying to persuade my daughters to go and see it again with me, and they have promised to see it sometime this Summer, but right now are more interested in a load of other activities that they have planned first (like shopping for clothes and meeting friends!). The UK-based friend that I saw it with in Chicago, however, has 2 boys of a similar age, and they couldn't drag him to the cinema fast enough. Whilst I don't want to be too stereotypical about the differences between boys and girls, it does emphasise the point that boys really like the kind of fighting portrayed in Star Wars, and having seen the movie, will plead with their parents to buy them the latest double-ended light saber toy.
Sometimes for children of a certain age, worship can be seen as more of a "girl's thing" - singing can be perceived as a soft thing to do, and as for actions and dances, well, enough said. In writing "Oh I'm fighting", I particularly had boys in mind. I wanted to stress that as christians, we are called to battle - not against flesh and blood (or people, as a child would more easily understand) but against principalities and powers. Psalm 8 encourages us that the very sound of praise from the lips of children will silence the enemy, and we don't need to get "heavy" with children about spiritual warfare - we just need to teach them in a way that it becomes natural to them.
It upsets me sometimes when I watch boys play with toy guns or swords, and it seems to me that if we can somehow manage to channel their natural aggression and energy into the spiritual realm by teaching them how to pray, worship, and apply the Bible in their lives, then we will raise a generation of true warriors.
You can request this song by email from
and an MP3 file is now available at
How many worship leaders does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but soon all those around can warm up in its glowing
(if you're younger than 25 this joke may not mean anything...!)
What do children need most?
I believe that if you ask any child the question: "What do you need most?", you may firstly get an answer that reflects their immediate situation (eg. money, clothes, good results in my test tomorrow), but if you clarify that you mean in general terms, what do they, or any other child need most, they will almost certainly say something like "their parents" or (if they're well-taught church kids!) "Jesus", and then if you ask what it is that their parents or Jesus could give them that they need, they will probably say "love". I've tried it with a few children, and either first, second or third time round it ends up at the same conclusion: love.
It's been suggested that you and I, and virtually everyone who is alive or has ever lived essentially has the same basic spiritual problem. That is, we simply don't know how much we are loved. If you really knew (in your heart as well as your head) how much God loved you, then all your other problems and struggles would take on a whole new perspective.
So, for children, we could sum up everything that we need to do for them as children's workers in a church setting, or as parents in the home, by simply saying that we need to love them, and by our words and actions, let them know that they are loved. Of course, teaching, training, encouraging, correcting, are all valid and essential activities, and we should do them, but without love, as Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 13, it's nothing.
In the UK, some of the greatest modern-day heroes to my mind are school teachers, because many manage to hang on to their ideals and motivation for wanting to teach, despite the generally poor pay and conditions. Many, sadly however, do not, and end up going through the motions of teaching, without the spark of passion and care for children that they maybe once had, but has been diminished or extinguished by "the system". Sadly, the same is sometimes true in our churches, and for many different reasons, children's workers can often feel isolated (out of sight, out of mind), under-valued, and embittered. The challenge to church leaders is to love and cherish children's workers in a way that will enable them to do the same for the children in their care. (If you want to check out the spiritual health of a church, don't just go to the main service, go with the children to their separate groups)
How does this concept that we need to demonstrate love for children translate into practice? Or, simply put, how do you let children know that they are loved. As with any relationship, some of the keys are:
- spending time with the children to develop friendship and understanding, especially outside the set times of the church timetable.
- talking to the children as equals, and showing an interest in their hobbies, family, pets, schoolwork, whatever. (Many children arrive at church, but no-one talks to them until they get to Sunday School; worse still, they talk over them.)
- being prepared to tolerate and forgive where necessary. Children are, by definition, immature, so whilst we should expect and teach high standards of manners and behaviour, we should be quick to forgive
- standing up for the children whenever necessary; championing their cause
- giving children the best, in terms of our time and effort, the quality of the teaching materials we use, the songs, the equipment, and so on. (Why should the "adult church" have all the best resources, and the children be left with the crumbs?)
Ultimately, it's not the content of our teaching programme, nor the excellence of our presentation, teaching and discipline skills that will matter, important as all of those are. What counts in the long term is whether we love children, and how we show it.
If you thought tuning a guitar was difficult (and my philosophy on the subject is that it's easier to find the string that is out of tune and then tune the other 5 to that one...) then spare a thought for the harpists.
Here's a quote from Igor Stravinsky:
"Harpists spend ninety percent of their lives tuning their harps and ten percent playing out of tune."
One of my songwriting heroes is Garth Hewitt - a "veteran" of the UK CCM scene (contemporary christian music if you were wondering!). When I first became a christian at the age of 15, I remember going to one of his solo concerts, where his combination of acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocal style struck me as a cross between Bob Dylan, Don Francisco and Graham Kendrick!
Garth describes himself as a modern-day troubadour, and his songs have focussed on issues of justice, reconciliation and peace. Shunning the commercial attractions of the western christian music "scene" he has travelled to the far corners of the world, and some of his most striking songs are written for the world's poor and forgotten - both individuals and nations.
He seems to have written out of personal experiences (his and other people's) in an effort to capture some of the pain and anguish of the world, yet in a way that expresses profound hope and trust in a God of love. I wish that there were more writers like him, and would encourage anyone with a heart of compassion to consider writing - songs, poetry or prose - or using other artistic gifts - dance, drama, painting, sculpture, etc. - to reflect the heart of God towards the poor, the needy, the broken-hearted: the very people to whom Jesus came to bring Good News.
I was thrilled to learn that Garth Hewitt will shortly be releasing his first album in 5 years through the same UK record company that distributes the FW series - ICC. (By the way, ICC have a new website at http://www.iccrecords.com and if you check out the links for Music and Artist Bios, you'll find descriptions of me and the latest FW recording which are far less modest than the quietly understated ones on our own website, but then that's record company hype for you...)
Talking of Stravinsky reminds me of the old Tommy Cooper joke: He walks on stage holding a violin and a painting and says: "I found these in the attic the other day and took them to an antique dealer. He told me that, incredibly, I had a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt. Unfortunately, Stradivarius was a terrible painter, and Rembrandt was hopeless at making violins..."
We've had several links sent through this month, all of them great.
"Family Worship" in the context of worship in the home is not something we focus on in the FW website, but is a crucial subject, so do check out http://www.fiveloaves.com for resources related to that subject
PSALM (= Please Sing a Lively Melody), has the intriguing invitation: "come and see what two grandparents in Scotland are doing" http://www.btinternet.com/~skitol/index.htm
30 pages of practical advice for using puppets for evangelism in schools, all-age worship etc.
Details at http://www.cleaford.co.uk/booklet.htm
The Holy Co UK christian directory http://www.holy.co.uk
Wigtune Company Praise and Worship Resources http://userzweb.lightspeed.net/wigton/wigtune.htm
and don't forget ICC's new site http://www,iccrecords.com
If you have a website that you would like us to feature in future
newsletters, please email
This newsletter is written by Mike Burn and is published by Family Worship
Resources, part of Ichthus Christian Fellowship, London, UK . Copyright
1999, Mike Burn. Inclusion of links and quotations does not imply full
endorsement of the contents. The newsletter may be forwarded or reproduced
in full or in part providing that the source is acknowledged.
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