Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thrill Seeking

Since fall has arrived, I decided to watch my fall movie: Harry Potter. I know it's a weird choice, but true. So as I was watching my favorite fall movie, I noticed something that I had never really noticed before. As Harry is flying on a hippogriff (non-nerds, stick around. I'll speak normally in a second) he decided to let go and enjoy the ride. It looked like this:

And I realized that I would NEVER do that. I thought, "How weird. What is he doing?! Put your hands back on!!!! You're going to fall off!!"

I'm just not one of those people!

If you wanted to find a thrill seeker, you wouldn't come looking for me.

Sky diving sounds like a cool way to die.
Riding a roller coaster sounds like a good way to get your organs all out of place or your arms cut off.
Bungee jumping sounds like a super fun time, until you splat. And in my mind, you will splat.

In all honesty, I spent the last two days thinking about this and what it has to do with my life or the Lord. I came up with nothing, but I still thought it was cool and wanted to share it. :) Plus, it's Halloween and Harry Potter is very Halloweeny, so I get a pass.

There are a few ideas rolling around in my head about why this stuck out to me, but mostly, I'm thankful for Harry Potters who do crazy things like that. And another mostly, I'm content that the Lord built me to be a person who convinces my friends that jumping off of the roof into the pool really isn't a good idea.

Here are the songs we did that last two weeks in NewSong!
October 21st:
"This Is My Father's World" is an old hymn that we re-did. I loved it!
"Here For You" by Matt Redman
"Forever Reign" by Kristian Stanfill
"The Earth is Yours" by Gungor

October 28th:
"Set Free" by Chris Tomlin
"Alive in Us" by Hillsong
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong - love this song!!
For the offering, we watched a video called Free that a number of people talked about. It's a great video and this may be illegal, but if you want to watch it again, you can watch it on the company's website that produced it right here! We, unfortunately, cannot give you the video! Hannah said a number of people had asked for it. But you can watch it on the internet again and again!

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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Redesigning the Grocery Store.

**Note: I'm terribly sorry about the weird spacing issues going on. I promise I don't double and single space at weird places on purpose. If you can't see them, then YAY! But I can't seem to fix them since I'm not an internet wiz. So if one of you is an internet wizard would like to help me, I'd love that! But for now, you'll have to ignore the tricks that the silly internet is playing on my blog.**

Just call me the late night blogger.
It seems as if every inspiration for a blog comes when I'm trying to go to sleep.
I suppose tonight it was because I was counting my blessings.

Tonight was Wednesday night. Therefore: NewSong band practice night! Wednesdays are long since we practice in the evening, but my favorite days. The folks in the band are so cool and not only do I like playing with them, but I like hanging out with them! Since Sundays have a a few more things grabbing my attention, Wednesdays are the best days for us to catch up as a group.

This week, Landon is leading worship!! I always love when he leads because
1. He's so good at it.
2. I get to sit back a little and let him take charge.
3. He picks cool songs!
And this week is no exception to all three of those.

But also, this has been deemed

The week of the bassists.

It just so happened that all of our bass players were available this week. I was determined to not let that hinder them from serving so I rearranged them and asked them to do things a little differently. One is playing bass, another is playing acoustic and the last one is playing drums! Talk about talented.
As we practiced tonight, it was definitely different. We have a good group of folks that rotate in and out, but there are a few that like to serve every week. And those people who serve every week had been moved around so it was all the same people, and a brand new sound. Not significantly different, but different.

And at first, in all honesty, it threw me off my game. For the first run-through, it was little walking into the grocery store right after they've done a store-redesign. Same place, same things, same people, but you're totally lost. Then you start realizing the cool things about the redesign. The noodles are finally by the sauce. The sandwich stuff is near the chips, you catch my drift.
Tonight, I started off a little confused, but then I heard the cool things happening. The acoustic, being a bass player by trade, was keeping a really tight beat. The (drum)set player was playing the djembe as a perfect compliment to the other bass player that was playing set. One of our electric players had taken a break for a while but he was available this week. Hearing him get back into the groove was so cool. It was like pent-up creativity was coming out. 

I always tell the band that I just give them chord charts and an mp3 as a reference to what we'd like to happen. Though by day they are doctors, students, engineers, mechanics, teachers, supervisors, etc., when they play music, they are true musicians. Some of them are meticulous and play every note like the recording and I love that about them! The preciseness of their playing keeps us all on track. Some of them are complete creatives and I never know what they'll bring for worship. Some of them play by ear and some write out their own music by hand. They're all different.
And it's amazing.

I think that's what makes the band good. We don't all play together every week. But when each of the members brings their style to the table, whatever style that may be, we get to create something beautiful for the Lord and as a service to help other people worship. You'd think that a melting pot of styles would produce chaos, but it produces a new, beautiful sound.

The church is the same. You'd think that with artists, scientists, teachers, lawyers, stay-at-home-moms, insurance guys, students, newlyweds, oldyweds, singles, teens, athletes, intellectuals, etc., combined, you'd get large group of people who disagree. 
But when combined, we become the body of Christ.

 "Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." 
Romans 12

In God's grace, we make something beautiful. 

This week, maybe God is calling you to get outside of your norm for a minute, to redesign the grocery store. It doesn't have to be forever, but maybe a small change would rattle you enough to realize the beauty of life outside of your regular instrument. 

 Just by the way, if you'd like to serve by singing/playing in the NewSong band, please email me at . I'd love to talk to you! We always need more of every instrument/voice!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hello. My Name is Martha.

I don't know how many of you will give me an "Amen!" on this, but I'm a Martha.

That's where you all say, "Hello Martha!"

Not literally. My name is Courtney. Like in the web address.
But I'm a Martha out of Luke 10.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'"

The first thing I notice about this passage is that Martha is a tattle tale. 
I may or may not have been one of those in school. 
But mostly, I relate to her because I'm a preparer.

Now, most of you know that I (thankfully) live with my parents! Since I'm 22 and still in college and working full time, they let me live with them. 
Not really "let me". I stay because they cried too hard when I told them I was moving out.

That's a lie. It'd be a celebration. That's a lie too.  

I may have demanded that I'm staying. (I mean come on! The church is a half of a mile from their/our house! I could practically walk.. If there weren't HUGE hills...) 

But this means that apart from my dorm years, I don't have a house to decorate and call ALL my own. So naturally, I decorate vicariously through (super-patient) JD. He recently upgraded to a larger house and I've been decorating it while he tries to ignore it. But the gauntlet was thrown down a few months ago when his grandparents decided to come for a visit. 
Mom always taught my sister and I to stuff our guests full of good food, entertain as long as they could handle it, stick them in a too-comfortable bed and have bacon ready when they woke up the next morning. 
Now I, being Martha, went into full time preparation mode, months in advance. New curtains were hung, a new bed was bought, we painted, I made canvases, I bought two new sets of towels for their bathroom (the first set wasn't good enough!), I made JD gravel the driveway that was bumpy, we bought groceries and a water jar for their bedroom in case they got thirsty, etc., etc., etc.,. I was still decorating and preparing the moment that they arrived. I literally broke out because I was so stressed about having not-my-family over to not-my-house.

And I did all that to make sure JD was prepared to do exactly what Mom taught me. And let me tell you.. that house is spectacular! He could easily run a B&B.
 I did so much preparation that by the time they got to his house on Friday night, my feet already hurt from running around all day preparing. We hadn't taken a weekend off to enjoy in weeks. Every weekend had projects. I had worn myself, and probably JD, out in the preparation period. I was so tired that I had a hard time keeping up all weekend to help entertain them when they were actually here. 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Sure, the prep work was needed. And they loved the towels. (a lot.) There's nothing wrong with being hospitable. In fact, we're supposed to be hospitable! But I ran a fine line between being hospitable and being consumed by hospitality and not the people I was with. Luckily, his grandparents were so fun to be around that they kept us entertained!

 I do the same for the Lord, ya know. 

I want to become the best servant I can for Him. But I can't get consumed by wanting that. I have to remember who I serve. And I have to spend time with Him, both in His Word and in prayer. I can't get busy doing work for Him and forget that He wants me, not only what I produce. 

That's why worship every Sunday is so important to me. I worship Him everyday, but when I get to sing with my brothers and sisters, it forces me to be Mary. Every week, we get to spend time worshiping the Lord, hearing from Him through His word and being near to Him. By the time we get there Sunday, no more preparation can be done. All we can do is sit at His feet and converse.

This past weekend, October 14th, we sang:
"All My Fountains" by Chris Tomlin (I mean, really, does it get better than this song?! Hallelujah!)
"God is Able" by Hillsong (I love that song. So much.)
"Holy, Holy, Holy (Savior & King)" by Gateway Worship (probably my favorite hymn)
and "My Hope" by Paul Baloche (off of his incredible worship album that I wrote about here.)

So this week, I challenge us all:
When we gather to worship on Sunday,
let's set our Martha tendencies aside.
Don't worry about your hair or the fact that you were late.
Don't worry about your kids in the nursery. I promise they are being taken care of. 
Don't worry about the fact that you haven't prayed since last Sunday.

Let's pick up our Mary tendencies.
Sit and wait for the Lord to speak to you.
Don't let the hour go by. 
Take advantage of the time that you've set aside to be with the Lord. 
If you'll settle down for chat, He'll talk.  

See you Sunday!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Disco Ball.

Disclaimer. Usually when I write "we", "Christians", or "us", I mean "I" and "me". 

Raw. Honesty. Truth telling. Exposure.

All of those are words that probably made 80% of you not want to read this post anymore. Ha!

Those words make us uncomfortable because saying the absolute truth is an uncomfortable experience. I can think of a few instances even today where I wish I would have spoken up to say what I was thinking or believed about a subject. Not to prove that I was right, but so that I would not have been run over. None of the instances today were matters of life and death, truth or error, or even will matter in the long run. But the little moments that I let pass me today will add up after a while.

Little places where I feel as if someone has wronged me will end with resentment if I'm not careful. Little places where I avoid speaking up for fear of being wrong will lead to fear because it's been so long since I've spoken up.

I think when our soul cries for us to speak up and we don't, it damages us. 

My concern with this idea comes from reading the Bible recently. For a class assignment (I'm still working on my undergrad.. gotta get that diploma baby!) this week, I was assigned to read 2 Chronicles and relate it to worship. But as always with God's word, it spoke not only to worship but, like a disco ball, all of the other aspects of my life. One text reflected into a thousand pieces on my heart and soul.
One of my favorite parts was in chapter 20. Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and the Moabites and Ammonites were coming against them for battle. He was very scared as their numbers were double of his army. I don't know about you, but in places where I feel like I have authority, (such as being a 22 year old white girl) pride tends to creep in and I don't want people to know when I don't have a clue what's going on. As I've gotten older, I have realized that there are lots of other people in this world who know much more than I do. And the best ones remind me of that fact. Enough about me: Back to Jehoshaphat. He was afraid. As king of Judah, he should know all there is about war and unlike our presidents stand in front of us with confidence, he was scared and admitted that he didn't know what to do. He stood before his people and asked the Lord what to do. He humbled himself in front of his people. Incredible. Then he prayed and asked God what to do. The last line of his prayer blew me away.

"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." 
2 Chronicles 20:12

I'm pretty sure I laughed out loud when I read that. I was in a coffee shop so it was little embarrassing. But for all the pride we see in our world, King Jehoshaphat humbled himself by plainly saying "I don't know what to do," in front of a lot of people, people he was supposed to lead.

When was the last time that we were that honest? Maybe it's because I'm opinionated and I know lots of opinionated people, but we like to always have an answer. I've never asked somebody about an important situation in their lives (job, marriage, etc) and heard them say, "I have no idea. But I'm waiting on the Lord." We always have an opinion about what we'd like to happen or a guess at what is going to happen. 
But when Jehoshaphat prayed this, the Spirit of the Lord came upon a man in the assembly and he stood up and said, "Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde[army], for the battle is not yours but God's." (v.15) He went on to tell them that they would win and the Lord would be with them. And all of it was true!

First, I wonder what it was like to be that man. The guy who stood up and answered the prayer that the king had just prayed. He answered the KING! If his wife was there (hypothetical, of course), I bet she wanted to say, "Sit down. Sit down. Sit DOWN. Don't you answer the king. You think you have a word from God? You're going to have a word from ME if you embarrass me!" But when the Spirit spoke to his soul, he spoke up. Second, I wonder what it was like in the room. Jehoshaphat expressed that he was going to trust the Lord, but I'm sure worry was rampant amongst the people. Then Jahaziel (the guy who spoke up) stood up and sent away every fear with a word from the Lord.

So maybe if we started being really honest with each other when we don't have a clue, even about the important things, the Holy Spirit would be free to move amongst the people around us, to speak through them, to reassure us and guide us.

I told you in the disclaimer that I really meant "I" and "me"!

This week as we worshiped together, we sang,
"Heaven Fall Down" by Phil Wickham (new, awesome song!)
"Savior's Here" by Kari Jobe
"Lay Me Down" by Chris Tomlin
for offering, "Do Everything" by Steven Curtis Chapman (a review of that whole album halfway through this post.)
and for Communion, "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant.

So this week, I encourage you to 
1. Read 2 Chronicles 20, or the whole book. There are some amazing stories of God's faithfulness. Probably one of the most encouraging things I've read in a while since I read all 36 chapters in a few days.
2. Be honest! Speak up! When your soul says to speak, don't tell it to be quiet. Your soul is the essence of you. Don't quench it for pride or fear. God is ready to speak, but you have to give Him the opportunity, and that includes talking to other people honestly!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Heart and Flesh

My soul longs, even faints for, the courts of the Lord.
My soul longs, even faints for, the courts of the Lord.

Oh my heart and flesh cry out for the living God. 
Oh my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

And I am satisfied, satisfied in You, Lord.
And I would trade it all for one day in Your courts.
Lord, I am satisfied. 
Oh I am satisfied in You.

Oh my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
 "Heart and Flesh" by Starfield

That's just like me. And the people next to me laughing. 

You know how some people look ridiculous singing and dancing in their cars? Well. I'm one of those people. I sing and dance in my car a lot.
A lot.
So much that I got my windows tinted (probably a little too dark) so that people couldn't see me singing and dancing in my car.  I like to think that since I lead worship every week, people shouldn't make fun of my singing in the car. I'm practicing for Jesus. 
But my dancing: that's fair game to laugh at.

The song above was my latest inspiration for my criminal dancing in the car. I love the simplicity of the song. And it reminded me of a conversation with Jim this week about his upcoming sermon. It's titled "It All Counts" and he's going to talk about how we make every day moments count in our relationship with God, not just the hour devotion. I loved talking about it with him because I know how much my soul, my joy, my happiness and my peace depend on my time with the Lord and Him filling me. But sometimes, honestly, I don't have two hours to sit down and read my Bible everyday. So this song reminded me that I desperately need the Lord. And my conversation with Jim reminded me how easy it is to invite the Lord into every conversation and every thought.
Last week, Landon led us in worship and he did a fantastic job! Here are the songs we sang on September 29th:
"Like a Lion" by David Crowder
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
"Awakening" by Hillsong or Chris Tomlin
and for offering we sang an awesome song called "White Flag" by Chris Tomlin.

Word on the street (or in my office) is that we'll be singing "White Flag" more often in worship so drop by iTunes and pick it up! 
This coming Sunday is going to be awesome. I can feel it my bones. The worship is going to be different and fun and Jim's message is going to be great. So if you ever wanted to invite someone, it won't be like this funny scene: (click here)

Have a good week!