Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Big and Bold

I must say.. an apparent theme for our "Bigger than Church" series is starting to unfold. One of the themes obviously being that church is bigger than what we do on Sunday. The other is that we, as the church, are meant to be bold. As a person who is a little tall for a girl and happens to be a little bit louder than a normal human being, I hate the words big and bold. My dad accidentally called me that.


Then he went swimming with the fishes.

Just kidding. But really.. those words can be so offensive when describing a person. Although the person saying them intended for good, to speak about the outgoing trait that another person possesses, those words can hurt. So when these words started sticking with me, I got to wondering.
Then, for the first time in ages, magic happened.
That's right.     I said it.       On a Christian blog.       Magic.

Jim Kinder blogged. (here)

And when I read his blog, I started to see that the words big and bold were true. But somehow, just like my personality, it's less big and bold than it is   just    the    truth.

The truth.

I'm not big and bold. It's just who I am.
The disciples describing their stories weren't weird because they were not awkward. They weren't weird because their stories were what they had experienced. Jim talked about when we, as Christians, over-spiritualize things.  (no.. that's not a word. but it is now!) When he said that, I began to think of the many times someone who didn't know that I am a follower of Jesus spoke to me about Him. The ones who "weirded" me out were the ones who were over spiritual. Now I cannot gauge their hearts, but I look back on the conversation and I realize that what they were saying didn't sound like it came from experience or their hearts. It sounded like a rehearsed story, not the life-changing, life-giving truth. Even though it was the truth, it was weird because it wasn't their first hand experience.

I think the biggest and boldest Christians are the ones who have the courage to be plain about the truth when it isn't convenient. The ones who tell the truth when it'd be easier to let it go unsaid. That's what the disciples did. They told their stories, knowing the severe consequences, when it would have been easier to shut up.
So I think that's what God is calling me to do.

To take off the make-up of self-togetherness that I put on to make me look good and be open and honest when it'd be easier to leave it unsaid.
To take the chance on just mentioning the difference that Jesus has made in me to my closest friends who try to avoid the fact that I work at a church. I don't want to Bible beat them, but I don't want to hide the truth.
Jesus has saved me. He has brought me out of the pit. He leads and guides me.
I'm really bad at giving Him control, but when I let Him have it, He always makes something beautiful out of my mess.

That's my truth. That's my big and bold.

On this past Sunday, we took some good time to thank God and sing to Him. Here are the songs with the recording artists that I like the best!
"Cannons" by Phil Wickham
"You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman
"Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
"We Are" by Kari Jobe

This Sunday has a big surprise in store so make sure you with us! It's going to be awesome.
 Have a good week. Think about your big and bold. Let us know what it is!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Backstage Pass: EASTER 2012

Well I can't actually give you a backstage pass.
First off because Easter is over.
Secondly because backstage is where all the magic happens.
Haha. Sort of. I guess so. It's where all the cool stuff is stored, at least.

But I would like to give you a look into what went into Easter 2012 at Christ United Methodist Church, specifically in the NewSong service.
Easter 2012 was my second Easter to lead at Christ UMC but the first one where I was a real staff member and had lots of influence on where the service went. As I reflected over my years of Easter at CUMC, I first thought of all the people that come to our services.
Then second, I thought of dress shopping.

Ugh. I hate dress shopping. I love shopping.. but the pressure of having to wear a dress on a specific date makes me nauseous. There were lots of Easters as a child that my mom almost pinched my head off because I hated being all dressed up. I may have been a little bit of a tomboy...

I felt as though God was calling me to make our worship services recognizable. I wanted people to be able to invite friends without fear that we were going to do something weird just because it was Easter. I even wore jeans, just like every other Sunday, so that people who didn't come often knew that we aren't a dressed-up kind of people. The people of NewSong wear everything from shorts and t-shirts to dress pants and a button down. I wanted our visitors to feel as if they could come back without having to go dress shopping.
When I was picking songs, I wanted to sing songs that were relevant to the celebration of the Resurrection, but I also wanted everyone to know them and be able to sing and celebrate on this Holy Day. I wanted to read through the Scripture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus so that we went back to our roots, the recognizable parts of the story that we knew.
I wanted our service to be recognizable. Not all spiffed up and wearing a chiffon dress.
I wanted us to worship as we are.
I wanted us to experience everything again with a fresh view.

I feel like I live my life this way. I like to be consistent in my appearance. In other words, I want to look as natural in heels and an evening gown as I do in Chacos and a tshirt.
It seems silly, but I think I'm stubborn about looking recognizable in my appearance because it reflects what I want my heart to be. I want everyone who sits down to talk with me to see the same person. I don't want to be the man in James 1 ".. he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
I didn't want NewSong to be double-minded. Or even to seem as though it was. I wanted us to each recognize the importance of the day and the celebration that it required on our own, instead of the music or preaching doing it for us. That's why we read the Scriptures. Each person in attendance had their own reactions and praise after hearing the great story.
So maybe this doesn't make a difference to you, but I thought whoever reads this may just want a small insight to why/how we celebrated the way that we did.
I certainly loved the day. To start with "Beautiful Things" by Gungor brought me to tears in planning, at rehearsal and in both services on Easter. He really does make Beautiful Things out of the darkest nights, even the darkest night in history.

So here is what we played on Easter!
Beautiful Things by Gungor
Like a Lion by Kristian Stanfill and/or David Crowder Band
Alive in Us by Hillsong
God is Able by Hillsong
Because He Lives by Haley Morgan Smith

Did you celebrate thoroughly this Easter? Was it recognizable for you too? Feel free to comment below or email me at courtney@christumcmobile.com
Have a good day!

Monday, April 16, 2012


Oh man.
I'm the worst blogger that has ever blogged.
[Except for Jim Kinder of course :)]
By the way.. if he ever reads my blog I'll delete that. But he's been apologizing for not reading my blog for a month, so it's time for a little joke.  :D

Haha. But really.. I'm sorry that I haven't blogged in a while. Easter was a blast! It also knocked me on my rear end after it was over. Too much fun = sick in bed. And by sick, I just mean overly tired.
So now I'm back in the saddle of planning worship sets, singing and all the other cool things that my job entails. Only problem is that they are resurfacing the Christ Center floor which *sooo unfortunately* makes my office a health hazard to work in. (Hellooooo polyurethane! Pink elephants, anyone?) So I may or may not be blogging outside a local coffee shop enjoying the nice weather!

Over the past few weeks, I've been listening to new worship music, trying to get my ducks in a row as to what we play next as a band in NewSong. It's the coolest part of my job. And over this time, there have been a few songs that I just can't get out of my head and my heart.
First, "O the Blood" by Gateway Music (Kari Jobe leads). It's a hymn-like song that thanks God for the wonderful blood of Jesus.  I usually get a little put out listening to gruesome songs about the blood. Yes, it's beautiful, but it also makes me sad and some songs about the blood are just .. well... gross. This one is different though.. I just love it. It's beautiful.
Second, "You Revive Me" by Christy Nockels from Passion:White Flag. I blogged about that one here but I am still loving it. Mobile, Alabama doesn't have a spring season like the rest of the world, but I try to observe the seasons in my moods and the feeling of revival amongst the trees, grass and me is somehow all connected. God breathes life-giving breath in my heart each day and this song reminds me that I cannot be alive apart from Him. He brought me to life and sustains it within my heart.
Third, "Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin also from Passion:White Flag. The chorus says "On the altar of our praise/let there be no higher name/ Jesus, Son of God."
What a lyric!! How many times have I put something on the altar of praise that doesn't belong there?! And instead of being sad about how I've disappointed God and myself,
I love singing for change!! 
Singing for my heart to be put back in line. 
Singing to God that at the end of the day, I remember that I want Him there and no one else.
Singing my deepest desires.
And even if they aren't, I want them to be, so I'm going to sing them into place.

(You know I give advanced tips to anyone who read this, so I'd listen to this song if you wanna be the worship guru at NewSong on Sunday..)

So anyways. That's just a little of what's going on with my life right now. I'm going to publishing a few more blogs this week so stay tuned and check it out. I'm going to talk about Easter Sunday and a few other neat things.

Here's what we did on Sunday, April 15th:
Lift the Name by New Life Worship
One Thing Remains by Kristian Stanfill
Overcome by Jeremy Camp
Lord, I Need You by Chris Tomlin
From the Corners of the Earth by Starfield

Have a great week and I'll see you soon!