Monday, February 27, 2012

Just a smudge or is it broken?

If you don't mind, today I'll skip the fun intro because we've got serious business!
Wow. I honestly can't remember what Jim exactly preached on yesterday (without cheating and looking at our printed plan for the day), but I certainly do remember the instructions pertaining grief and sin. Jim reminded us that we need to make sure that we grieve the sins that surround us and not just brush them off.
Sometimes, I have the tendency to take sins to heart and let the devil entrap them there. They stay there and continue to eat me up. Like most Christians, I have found this nasty habit can be avoided by remembering that Jesus has forgiven us and extended grace. The only problem with this is that I can tend to let them bypass my heart and go straight to the "as far as the east is from the west, so shall your sins be removed" pile. That pile is a good one and I thank the Lord for it, but I was reminded yesterday that I need to let them pass healthily through my heart. I need to grieve the sins around me. I don't know if you did this yesterday after the service, but there was one particular sin that was around me and when I laid down last night, I couldn't let it out of my head. As tired as I was from leading worship at 4 worship services, this was keeping me up. When I remembered what he said, I asked the Lord to guide me through the grief process. Boy!!! What a difference!! What a blessing can come out of taking time to let this sin process through my heart!!
Needless to say, I fell asleep like a baby who just played at the park for four hours. This wasn't just a "get to sleep" exercise though. This morning as Jim and I talked about some changes in my life, he reminded me to take time to grieve even the necessary and good things. This is where I realized.. Is it a smudge or is it broken? Until I clean it and take a good look, sometimes you can't tell the difference. And something broken takes a lot more care than something that is smudged! The broken things require an extra dose of the Lord's hand!
I pray that you all take time to see if it's broken or smudged. It's amazing. I'm a "let it roll of your back" kind of gal, but that tendency can leave me unhurt, but also empty. So don't let it roll off your back. But don't let it fester in your heart. Ask for the proper tools to sift and grieve before it reaches that "east to west" pile. I know mine is getting bigger each day, but maybe now my sin will go there processed.

Yesterday, Landon led us in worship and we sang
Hosanna by Starfield
Healer by Kari Jobe
Overcome by New Life Worship or Jeremy Camp
Forever Reign by Kristian Stanfill.

I loved worshiping with all of you yesterday and I pray that you'll rejoin us next Sunday as we continue to worship together, encourage each other and venture deeper into the heart and mind of God!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We Are

I sincerely apologize! I realized today that it has been a while since I last posted! Two weeks have come and gone! Thankfully, it has been excitement that has pulled me away from my blog as my sister and somewhat-newly-acquired brother-in-law came to visit last weekend! Anytime that they get to come down to hang out with my family and me is such a special treat!
A while ago, Kari Jobe's new album Where I Find You came out and it is incredible. Kari is an amazing worship leader with a real gift for writing. Being close in age and having similar tastes as me have definitely led me to admire her quite a bit! I follow her on Twitter which can sometimes create the illusion "knowing someone". I don't take this to a creepy level, but I definitely feel like we're best buds. Oddly enough, that feeling only comes around when I've had a lot of waiting or boredom in my life. AKA the only time that I have to read Twitter. Anyways- she's quite inspiring and I love listening to her.
Out of her new album we have sung "We Are" and "Savior's Here". We Are was a radio release a while back that I fell in love with. In the first verse, she says "Every secret, every shame, every fear, every pain live inside the dark. But that's not who we are. We are children of the day." Something in that first line resonated deeply with me. I think we as Christians have the horrible tendency to define our Christian worth on the things that are kept inside the darkness of our hearts. While outwardly we profess that Christ defines us, inwardly the evil one is manipulating us into believing that maybe we aren't so saved. He tells us if that's the kind of stuff we are hiding, maybe the light and love of Christ hasn't reached deep into our lives. Maybe we aren't children of the day, the city on a hill, or the light of the world. That lie creeps up in my life all too often. It's only when I actively stop this thinking and turn to the Word of God that satan is banished from my heart. 1 Thessalonians 5 says "But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober." Here is a link to an acoustic performance of We Are.
This past week, we took a step back and had some time to breathe. It was an acoustic set. This is probably one of my favorite ways to have musical worship. As much as I love a big band and a big sound, there is something calming and non-intrusive about an acoustic guitar, some percussion and a grand piano. We sang "God is Able", "All My Fountains" and "Where Would We Be" along with "Saviors Here" by Kari Jobe. We all took some time to reflect before Where Would We Be. I know as I think of my life, I can truly say that Christ has truly brought me to a new life full of joy. While I still waver and falter as a human, my life would be dark, lonely, and utterly awful without the Cross and the love of Christ.
This week, Landon is leading us in worship!! Let me take a minute to brag on him, as I'm sure he won't be reading this blog! If you ever get a chance to talk to Landon, he is a freshman at the University of Mobile and has a true heart for what we do together on Sunday mornings. He has been such a blessing to our band and our congregation. He actually took about two months of checking out our church and making sure that it was a good place to be before he wanted to be on stage. Most young people want to jump on stage without knowing anything about the church. This young man is eager to do the will of God and to help the people of God with his talents. If you get a chance, please encourage him with kind words after Sunday! He was highly involved at his last church, and I want to make him feel as welcome and at home at our church! Having the worship band encourage you is one thing, but having the congregation encourage you is completely different! I remember that I was once his age and not nearly as good as he is now. Christ UMC, my home church, was so gracious in encouragement that it led me to keep pursuing God's call on my life as a worship leader and I have no doubt that you all will do the same for Landon!
I hope that you will come with eager hearts and the confidence of the children of the light this week to worship! I like Matt Redman's description of what happens in worship. It helps me describe what happens as we sing on Sunday morning. He says "The first step of worship is to affirm our faith in Jesus and acknowledge reverently that He is every single thing He ever claimed to be. The next step is to let our confidence in Him begin to infuse a hopeful, expectant confidence into our own walks of faith."

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Beautiful Things

This past week in NewSong, we had the privilege of learning under Jeremy Steele, our Next Generation Minister. Jeremy and I both love a Christian band called Gungor. For months, he has been asking the band to do a song called "Beautiful Things" by this band. We finally had the perfect instrumentation last week and did the song. Wow. In light of the tragic murder of Officer Steven Green, Jim led us in a prayer time where we remembered Officer Green's family as well as the family of his murderer. To sing the words "All around hope is springing up from this old ground. Out of chaos, life is being found in You," was a humbling and and emotional experience. God truly does make beautiful things out of the dust and out of us. I am consistently reminded of that when I look back to the beginning of my walk with Christ. To remember where I've come from doesn't show the great work of me and how I've improved myself. It really shows where the Lord has brought me! I could not have taken a single step towards the life I lead now without Him showing me the path. I was truly surrounded in darkness until He came.
We also sang the old hymn "It is Well." In case you have never heard the history behind this old hymn, you should read this page.

As we move forward to this week *** SPOILER ALERT!*** (quit reading if you don't want to know what's happening this Sunday)
Tammy and Paul will be joining us to read Scripture throughout our worship service. We will also be singing the song "Never Once" by Matt Redman. I encourage you to be in prayer that the Lord will move in our hearts as we are immersed in worship and Scripture. Come prepared to meet with the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is great and mighty. Holy and wonderful. And certainly faithful!
I can't wait to be with all of you again on Sunday!!