Welcome!

This is the website of Claire Musters, freelance writer and editor. Please feel free to look around – check out ‘About’ for more details of Claire’s publishing career.

Watch this space for some personal blogs from Claire on subjects ranging from juggling a writing career with young children to what life is like now her record-producing husband has become a full-time pastor!

Thanks for visiting the site – hope you enjoy it.

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Worship Central: pithy quotes to ponder

This year’s Worship Central Conference was full of great times of worship, unsurprisingly, but also jam-packed with wisdom to take away and ponder. Here are some thought-provoking quotes taken from the weekend, which I have been spending time with ever since. Hopefully they will give you something to reflect and act upon too:

“Every great thing requires a great sacrifice.” Louie Giglio

“God has lots of children in the church today; I’m honestly not sure He has many friends.” Mike Pilavachi

“Life comes from death. To the degree that I can live in the death of Jesus – to that degree I can channel God’s life to others.” Louie Giglio

 “Worship starts with seeing something great and then reflecting it to the world. Let’s see God so we can reflect God.” Louie Giglio

 “My life is not about the set list, it is to be set apart.” Louie Giglio

 “Worship should be about united values instead of united styles.” Mark Underwood

 “Whatever your story, the world does not need to mould you.” Tim Hughes

 “As long as we are faking it we are just showing the world how to fake it – but they already are! They want to see us get real.” Louie Giglio

 “Invite failure into the process of song writing; allow yourself permission to fail. Rock bottom becomes your foundation on which to build. Have you reached rock bottom so you can know what matters to you – what God has put into you?” Nick Herbert

 “We don’t tend to focus on our creative processes but on the final outcome. We’ve lost the art of enjoying our creativity.” Rev Will van der Hart

 “Write songs which reflect God’s perspective and then you’ll see God move.” Jake Isaac

“Quit trying to do what I already know you can’t do and let Christ do what only He can through you.” Louie Giglio

 “Our culture doesn’t like being told what to do; that’s happening in the Church.” Mike Pilavachi

 “The Holy Spirit was not sent so we can have bless ups in our churches but so the world can be changed.” Mike Pilavachi

 “You have to get out of the boat so you can know the intimacy of walking with Jesus.” Mike Pilavachi

 “Greater intimacy leads to greater fruitfulness.” Rachel Hughes, quoting Heidi Baker

 “As Christians we can call self-health and compassion ‘self-indulgence’.” Rev Will van der Hart

 “Point to the creator, rather than to yourself.” Rev Will van der Hart

 “Are we going to lead safe lives, based on our past experiences or cling to the Lord and His promises?” Rachel Hughes

 

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Are you God’s friend?

“God has lots of children in the church today; I’m honestly not sure He has many friends.”

So said Mike Pilavachi at last weekend’s Worship Central conference. I haven’t been able to get the quote out of my head ever since.

Mike was talking about how we can be more intimate with God. He commented that God wants His church to grow up – not to stop being His children, but to be His friends too.

Exploring the concept of friendship, Mike said that while he’s heard of “the five love languages” God has a sixth: obedience.

I have been pondering this subject for a while myself. As God’s people, what is it that sets us apart, which shows we belong to Him? Surely obedience to Him is a key indicator of that?

God never stands over us beating us into submission, and yet Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey His commands (John 14:15). The ultimate expression of love is doing things that we know will please the other person – and that basically boils down to obedience.

We can see that at work in the relationship Jesus describes in John 15, where He says that He loves because His Father has loved Him, and that He remains in God’s love by keeping His commands. He urges us to do the same, in order to enjoy that relationship of love and joy for ourselves too:

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (vv10–11)

John expresses the same sentiment in 1 John 5:3: “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…”

So why do we find the whole idea of obedience difficult? Well, as Mike pointed out, as a society we don’t like to be told what to do; our culture is a very individualistic one in which I am in control of my destiny.

To read the rest of this article please click here.

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Lessons from the cheese box

This morning I opened the fridge door and immediately spotted that the box that we keep our cheese in had moved shelves. My family had been staying for the weekend and had looked after our kids while we were out, so they had obviously put it back in a different place. I was intrigued by my response: I was both offended and surprised.

The offence came from my immediate reaction: “What’s the cheese box doing there? That’s not where it lives!” and the surprise, “Hmm, it looks neater there – perhaps that’s a better spot”.

As I shut the fridge door I felt God whisper to me, “That’s your response when people do things differently to you”. I knew He was talking about the ‘offended’ response. Ouch.

As part of a leadership training course I’m attending, we’ve spent time looking at how well we foster new leaders. I’ve started asking myself these sorts of questions:

Do I encourage others into new leadership roles or am I fearful of what that might mean for me?

Do I always ‘need’ to be involved in new initiatives or am I happy to see others bring them into fruition?

Do I gladly embrace new ways of doing things suggested by other people or do I do so half-heartedly, grumbling in my heart that it will never work and ‘knowing’ that mine is the better way?

Am I seeking to raise up other leaders who will be able to take over the roles I am currently in, or am I holding on too tightly?

To read the rest of this article please click here.

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Parenting: a spotlight on your soul

Last night I went to the Care for the Family event: Mum’s the Word. Over 25o mums gathered at Everyday Church, Wimbledon for a night of encouragement and inspiration – hosted by the wonderful Cathy Madavan and Diane Louise Jordan.

There was so much I enjoyed about the night. After a frantic rush to get there, it was so lovely to be handed a cup of tea, sit down to a complimentary goody bag and bottle of water and listen to two inspiring women. Sometimes I can find the whole ‘we’re in this together’ approach cringe worthy, as speakers desperately try and show that they are just like you. Because the efforts of said speakers can have me squirming in my seat, totally turned off of what they are saying. But that didn’t happen with Cathy and Diane – somehow they had that mix of down-to-earth honesty, integrity, friendliness and authority just right. They managed to make us feel connected to them; it was definitely an evening of shared experiences. So hats off to them – I was incredibly impressed by their presentation skills.

So what did I learn? Well I was reminded of so many principles that my husband and I started off with as parents, but I guess can get overshadowed in the craziness of everyday life. Here’s some of the gems I took away from the evening:

Put yourself first – if you are frazzled you will have a short fuse with your kids. I think this is one that us mums find really difficult to do, because we can feel guilty about focusing on ourselves. We usually come down the bottom of the list of things to do and people to care for. But, as we were reminded last night, if you don’t look after yourself how can you hope to give out well to your kids?

Find the right priorities for the season you are in – we are all at different seasons and have different kids and different priorities (I loved how they kept emphasising the fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach). We were challenged to look at our diaries and see if they reflect the priorities we have currently. I’ve never thought of doing that so I’ll definitely be trying it!

Keep a long-term view – every now and again stop and think about what you are doing with your parenting approach. Rather than just muddling through the daily mess, step back and check whether your approach is building confidence and security in your child(ren).

Give your kids roots… and wings – I love this one! Our kids need our help to grow solid, deep roots but also need the confidence to be able to fly.

As a parent the days feel long but the years are short – so true!

Diane’s three tips:
It’s all about love
Seek to understand
Look beyond the behaviour – yours as well as theirs

That last one really struck me and so I’m going to be totally honest here. I’m sure (I hope!) I’m not the only one, but I’ve found that parenting has highlighted my shortcomings. It has definitely been a spotlight on my soul and there are times I really don’t like what is revealed.

I can find myself reverting to childish responses when my kids push my buttons (mainly in my mind, but sometimes they come out in my actions too – ouch!). I can get so tired of dealing with the same issues that I just want to shout ‘it’s not fair!’. In fact, I do that sometimes. I go to God feeling like a miserable, moody child and have a good old moan. When I’m finally done with that, I ask Him to replace those emotions and equip me to love my children well.

My daughter, in particular, is the one that challenges me, because so often it is like looking in a mirror. I delight in seeing her fulfilling her potential, and am amazed at her creativity and imagination, but she also seems to have the same weaknesses as me. Sometimes I feel totally helpless and ill-prepared to guide her through how to deal with them, as I haven’t got all the answers myself and am still struggling with some of the issues too. But I’m learning that God is the source of all wisdom so I can ask Him for keys to unlock the issue for both of us. I’ve found also that it can be helpful to share honestly with your children when you make mistakes or are struggling. If I can model to my kids how to take those things to God and deal with them in partnership with Him then hopefully that is a habit they will cultivate too.

Being a mum is SUCH hard work – who knew we had to be an expert in so many areas?!! But it is so rewarding too – and incredible that God has given us such wonderful gifts in our children. Motherhood can be isolating at times, when we are juggling so many balls we don’t have time to share notes with other mums. Evenings like last night are invaluable reminders that we are never alone. And, as Diane and Cathy said last night, we are great mums, with great kids. Let’s never forget that…

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Feeling restless

St Augustine wrote, “[God] you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

“Our hearts are restless”: that’s a great description of life today.

So often I feel restless. I’m rushing around making sure the kids get homework done, get to their after-school clubs, are fed and looked after.

I rush around with church activities, chatting issues through with my husband as he seeks to lead the church well, organising rehearsals and leading worship, trying to spot new people and welcome them as well as look after those who’ve been in the church for years.

I rush around with my work, meeting deadlines and thinking up new ideas for writing projects. Yes there is a bit of space for pondering within that, but too often it is pressurised, rather than restful.

I rush from one evening meeting to another – church meetings, governors’ meetings, music practices, even rushing to exercise classes.

I feel restless a lot of the time. I know the better way is to start by positioning myself at Jesus’ feet, learning from His wisdom rather than trying to do things in my own strength. But I find that so hard to do.

I wrote about finding the rhythm that works for me and my family recently; I’m still working on that if I’m honest!

I arrived at church a couple of Sundays ago totally at the end of myself, but with my keyboard ready to play. I could barely speak, let alone sing, so one of the guys helpfully suggested we prayed together before doing anything else. And what one of them prayed for me really stuck with me – here’s a summary of it:

‘Lord, Claire works so hard for you. Help her to learn to rest.

I’m one of those people who find it difficult to sit down and relax until all the jobs in the house are done. I simply can’t leave dirty dishes on the side or floors unvacuumed. That may be why our vacuum cleaner suddenly stopped working when I was midway through vacuuming one of the downstairs rooms that weekend. I still had the upstairs to do! But I simply couldn’t, which meant that, after church that Sunday, we were able to settle down and have a family film time.

I was forced to rest.

Does God ever make you stop, through circumstances or even illness? If only we’d rest more regularly without Him having to step in and force us.

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The healing paradox

God can heal, so why doesn’t it always happen?

A few weeks ago we had an amazing church outreach weekend. With meetings on the Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday and all day on the high street, we had plenty of time to receive prayer and speak to people about our faith.

Our faith was greatly encouraged through what we saw and experienced. Some highlights included watching a woman on the high street, who had been in wheelchair for over 30 years, walk for the first time and a man who had been deaf in one ear for over 50 years hear perfectly through it.

And yet why was it that, on the Sunday morning as my husband and I were chatting over what had happened and were praying for that morning’s meeting, the conversation took the inevitable turn of talking about those who aren’t healed?

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Finding a rhythm that works

Our children are back to school now and life is settling back into the recognisable term-time pattern. For me, the start of this particular term of each year is a time in which I take stock and look at my life’s rhythm.

This summer became of wonderful tapestry of visiting friends, enjoying holiday time as a family, reorganising my office and celebrating my daughter’s ninth birthday. Oh and we also managed to squeeze in our church’s big outreach event.

It was such a great few months – and yet we didn’t get a chance to draw breath at all. My husband and I commented that we hadn’t had any evenings on our own; we celebrated our 21st anniversary towards the end of the summer holidays and in my card to him I asked whether we could really try and pace ourselves this term!

I am now sitting surrounded by all the work I’ve kept simmering away while the kids were off school, but which I now need to tackle in earnest. I’m so grateful for the work, but taking a break to focus on the kids means there’s rather a big stack of it now!

Of course, the start of the autumn term is also usually the time that churches launch new initiatives and ours is no different. So, as I’m sure you can gather, it’s a busy time of year for us as a family.

With everything that has been going on, and which I know is coming up, I’ve had some moments when I have literally felt the panic rising up, trying to overtake me. I am, for instance, about to start a leadership training course. The material looks great but I’m wondering how I will cope with it all and fit in enough time to mull over and implement what I learn.

In those times of panic I’ve had to come back to God and ask for His wisdom. Of course, some of that is obvious common sense – I need to look after my family and myself in order to be able to serve consistently. So I know I/we need to look at the rhythm of our lives and make changes before we burn out.

To read the rest of this article please click here.

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