Thursday, January 24, 2013

Crimes and Scripture.

I started to write a blog post this week.

But it was terrible.
Not in the "Oh I'm so terrible" way.
But in the "My momma even told me that stunk" way. HA!

So I saved what I was writing and hopefully I'll be able to make something out of it for next week. For this week, I thought I'd just share two things with you.


If you have $10, it should be a crime for you not to buy Chris Tomlin's new album Burning Lights. It debuted #1 on the Billboard charts! It's only the fourth time a Christian album has done that. It's a great album and you should own it!

I must confess though, the first time I listened through the album, I thought it may have been one of his worst albums, and I don't say that jokingly or to be mean. The second time I listened through it, it grew on me, but I was still not a fan. By the fourth time I listened all the way through it, I was fully engaged in worship and the lyrics and I was tweeting about it's awesomeness because it's probably his best album yet!! So if you don't love it the first time you listen to it, keep listening, especially to the lyrics! Maybe it's like some cheese, which gets better with age.


This week, I found out some bad news about a friend's family. I also had some other things weighing heavily on my heart. As I prayed, I wanted some good reassurance that prayers count. I don't know why I wanted that, but I did. So I went to my handy Bible app and looked up passages with prayer. In case you didn't know, there are LOTS of them! But what settled my heart was this passage:

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
    the terrors of the grave overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
    So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
    I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
    for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
    as I live here on earth!
10 I believed in you, so I said,
    “I am deeply troubled, Lord.”
11 In my anxiety I cried out to you,
    “These people are all liars!”
12 What can I offer the Lord
    for all he has done for me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
14 I will keep my promises to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116

So this week as we come to worship, I invite you to reflect on this section of Psalm 116. I love the response in verse 13. As we come to NewSong on Sunday, we have the opportunity to lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord's name. So don't let the opportunity pass you by this weekend!!

Here are the songs from last week, January 20th:
"Awake My Soul" by Chris Tomlin (from Burning Lights!) 
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
"Not For a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
and "This is Home" by Jon Foreman for the offering.

In case you were wondering, that was JD who rapped during "Awake My Soul". He prefers to say that he "rhythmically recited" Scripture, but I like to call it rapping. He did a great job!! In case you were wondering, the song was written from Ezekiel 37 and JD was reciting passages from that story. So take a moment and check out the story if you don't already know it! 

I hope you all have a great week and I'll see you Sunday! We have a great surprise in store and just because you won't see me on stage doesn't mean I'm not there :).  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Living or Reacting.

Everyone should meet my new best friend.
His name is Hulu Plus and he lets me watch lots of good TV shows!

I like to try to distinguish myself from the rest of my generation when it comes to technology. I try to stay off of my cell phone (for the most part) when talking to someone and I try not to say, "Wikipedia said so," too often. I try not to live my life through Facebook or worry about who is tweeting what.

But when it comes to this new idea of watching TV on the internet, I'm hooked. You get to watch all of your favorite shows with WAY less commercials and you can watch the whole season in a row! I love it. At first, I was skeptical. Now I'm all for it!

My day of Sabbath usually includes catching up on my weekly favorites through Hulu Plus. This past week, I kept seeing the same commercial for a TV show. The last line of this commercial says,

"You're not living. You're only reacting."

Normally during commercials, I'm up to get a glass of water or staring out the window, but this line caught me every single time it came on. You're not living. You're only reacting.

Last night at band practice, I was praying when I said, "Lord, help us to pray about our hard times more than we talk about them to other people." I've always loved that prayer. And then today, I realized that I had been talking about and trying to fix a problem for 2 hours and had not prayed about it once.


I wasn't living.
I wasn't taking it to the Lord and asking for help and guidance.  
 I was reacting to the problem and trying to fix it.

I'm a firm believer that God gives us talents and skills and sometimes, we just use those skills to get out of a problem. For instance, when my guitar string breaks, I fix it. I don't pray about it. When a caster on the piano breaks, I replace it. (Or call Johnny to get him to fix it!)
But when I've got a big problem, I need to remember not to rely on my own wit and talent. I've got to seek the Lord and live.

The more I walk with the Lord, I've realized that living isn't just praying when it's tough and accepting blessings. Living is walking with the Lord. It's talking to Him about my problems, big and small. It's hearing His voice and listening to where He wants me to go. Those all sound so cliche and like they're easy to grasp, but they haven't always been easy for me to grasp.
I understand them, but I forget to put them in motion.

So this week, and I'm sure for the rest of my life, I'll be praying a little extra hard to be reminded to live, not just to react.

Here are the songs we sang in NewSong for the last few weeks:

January 6th:
"God is Able" by Hillsong Live
"Never Once" by Matt Redman (what a great song to start out the new year with!)
"10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman
and I sang (after my guitar string broke at 10:40!) "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" by Casting Crowns, which is a personal favorite of mine!

and this past week, January 13th:
"Savior's Here" by Kari Jobe
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin
"Desert Song" by Hillsong
and "I'm in Love With You" by Klaus and Kari Jobe.

Just a hint for the next few weeks:
You all know that I love worship music. One of my favorite worship leaders Chris Tomlin put out a new record a few weeks ago. It's called Burning Lights. If you've ever wanted an incredible record to listen to, this is it. In all honesty, I didn't love it the first time I listened to it, but I can't stop listening to it now because it's so GOOD!
So we'll be introducing quite a few of the songs off of that album into worship over the next few months, starting this Sunday! So just go on over to iTunes and pick it up now. If you don't like it, you can hold me personally responsible. Just come tell me one Sunday. Ha!

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

Friday, January 4, 2013

Unseen Value.

Welcome to 2013!

I use that as an excuse for a departure from the norm on this blog.

Here's the bbbbbbiiiiiigggggg change!

Here are the songs that we sang last week, December 30th, in NewSong:
"Nothing But the Blood" redone by Andy Cherry
"You'll Come" by Hillsong
"Not For a Moment" (my new fave) by Meredith Andrews
for the offering, "City on the Hill" by Casting Crowns
and at the end of the service, "We Are" by Kari Jobe (I love that song!)

Ha! The songs were listed first :).
If it's your first time on, first of all, thanks for being here! Second, it's a change because I normally make people read through all of my willy nilly thoughts before they get the song list.

But for those of you still around, don't fret.
I've still got my willy nilly thoughts for you. 

Last week, Jeremy preached about being a city on a hill. That meant I got to sing a favorite of mine from Casting Crowns.

Rabbit Trail: Most people I know that are "cool" or "hipster" Christians count out Casting Crowns as a cool group.
I think those people are dumb. Don't let people count out music that blesses and challenges you.

Back on track: The song talks about a church that is falling apart because the different parts of the Body of Christ don't value each other. I don't feel as if that's NewSong or Christ UMC in any way, but I do love the gentle reminder that our differences are what makes us strong and influential. Like I wrote about last week in Forgotten Hope, when we stand together in our differences, I think it helps mirror the image of God in all of His vastness.

Verse 2 of the song says,
"You see the poets thought the dancers were shallow,
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak.
The elders saw the young ones as foolish,
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak."

As I went through this song before Sunday, I thought of the many times that I've been tempted to throw someone aside because I thought that what they had to contribute wasn't worthwhile. Or the many times I've trampled over someone who had very valuable input simply because I didn't think highly enough of them.

In all honesty, I hated to write that. 

I absolutely think, feel and know that every person on this planet has something worthwhile to contribute to the body of Christ and to my life, including my understanding of God. 

But in my pride, I am tempted not to act as if that were true all of the time.
Thank God for the grace and forgiveness which He has extended to me so many times, as well as His people who have done the same toward me.

I write this because I was so powerfully reminded in the bridge of the song why I need to continue to look hard at the hearts of people around me.

"It is the rhythm of the dancers that gives the poets life.
It is the spirit of the poets that gives the soldiers strength to fight.
It is the fire of the young ones.
It is the wisdom of the old.
It is the story of the poor man that's needing to be told."

So this year, I pray that you and I will be able to remember that those around us, our community, are the ones who inspire us. We can't be a city on a hill all by ourselves. It takes poets, dancers, young, old, engineers, blondes, doctors, bloggers, mommies, short people, managers, educators, athletes, coffee drinkers, vegans and all sorts of others to form a city that shines brightly.

Next time someone rubs you the wrong way or seems silly to you, remember that they are made in the reflection of God and by sending them along your path, He may be trying to speak something into your life.

Happy 2013. Let's be the Body of Christ. The City on a Hill. 
And as Jim will talk about this Sunday, the Hope of the World. 
See you all Sunday.

Oh. And just to make sure you walk away laughing, my sister got me this for Christmas:

Yes. That's right. It IS a Jesus Snowglobe.
AND! He's a music box.
He plays "Silent Night".

She was highly disliked after forcing a trade for him at an office game of Dirty Santa, but she knew I'd love him.
And she was right. Very right indeed.

I actually call him "Brett Jesus" because this version of Jesus looks a lot like my sister's husband Brett. But don't tell him that. He doesn't read the blog ;).
Also, does anyone else think it's funny that it snows on Jesus' head/beard?! I think Jesus has a sense of humor and this would make him laugh.