Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Too Full.

My head is full.

My head is full and its hard to sort through it all, much less try to explain it all.
I feel like I'm one of those clowns spinning 38 plates on tall poles and I don't know how to set any of them down gently without breaking them.

Right now, the children's band is practicing on the stage behind my office, and I'm blaring music in my office. None of the beats match. The muted sounds of a  kick drum and over-driven guitars are conflicting wildly with my banjo-filled, bluegrass worship music.
But I don't mind.
After all, my head is full. What are a few more conflicting beats to compete with the worry-filled riddles and questions of my insufficiency.

Am I doing a good job at work?
Am I loving JD the way I should?
Am I spending enough time with friends?
Is is okay that I texted my sister when I should have called her?
Did I make him angry when I said that?
Is my wedding budget too big?
Did I exercise enough last week?
Oh! That meeting...

Not to mention the spinning plates of my life with God..
Am I spending enough time in the Word?
Maybe I should have prayed more about that.
Is that Bible study the right one?
Am I spending enough time "sitting at His feet"?

It's too full. My head is too full. I keep cramming things in there and then other worries just jump in on their own. It seems as though worry is like misery: it loves company. Lots of it. Company that doesn't want to move out either.

So it got too full. 
And everything seemed like it was encroaching on my ability to think. 
Even the car radio annoyed me. Advertisements everywhere were curses as they distracted me. Television was silly and superficial conversations were good chances to escape to my own thoughts. I only had to nod my head and keep asking the right questions like, "How was your day?" for the conversation to keep going while I retreated to my too-full head.

So JD called me on it. 
I couldn't think of any other way to say it except, "My head is just so full."
He said, "We'll pray and study together tonight and maybe you can tell me some of what's in there."
So I promptly headed out to yoga class. But like I said, the car radio was even annoying to my overfilled head. 
I knew I needed to pray, but I didn't know how to get through it all. So I plugged in my phone and opened up my Bible app. (how technologically fancy I sound!) 1 Peter was the book that I read right after I came to trust the Lord. Sounds familiar and comforting. 

Chapter 2
22 He never sinned,
    nor ever deceived anyone.
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
    nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
    who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
    who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
    the Guardian of your souls.

"So that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds, you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls." (it was worth repeating)

 Jesus sacrificed so that I can live for what is right. By His wounds, I am healed and I have turned to my Shepherd, the Guardian of my soul. What do I have to worry about? Those spinning plates don't matter anymore. They can drop, or better yet, be gently handed over to my Shepherd. 

And worries of my insufficiency as a daughter of God? 
As Uncle Si would say, "Nah." By his wounds.

My head doesn't need to be full. Let Him have it all. Jesus didn't carry our sins in his body on the cross for us to just hold on to our old lives and old worries. He didn't sacrifice for our heads to be full, constantly worrying and questioning.
Maybe for you, it takes something different to empty your head. Today, my method was listening to the Word of God and meditating on it during a drive to yoga class. Maybe yours is singing a worship song or going on vacation. But don't let your head get too full. Turn to the Shepherd, the Guardian of your soul.

On September 15th, I read a part of Psalm 40 and we sang:
"Never Once" by Matt Redman
"Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin
The kiddos sang "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman
and we responded to the message by singing "You Are For Me" by Kari Jobe - what an awesome song!

Last week, on September 22nd, we sang:
"Holy Spirit" by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
"Give Me Faith" by Elevation Worship
"Lay Me Down" by Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman
"You Are My Vision" by Rend Collective Experiment (great rendition of "Be Thou My Vision" from their new album Campfire, which is a great bluegrass-y worship album)
and we responded to the message by singing "Cry In My Heart" by Starfield - an old song that I've loved for a long, long time. What a great song!

I hope that you can empty out your head and be filled with the peace of Christ sometime this week. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Memorization and Mercy.

As many of you guys know, I am finishing my degree in Worship Leadership at the University of Mobile. I became the NewSong worship leader over the summer between my junior and would-have-been my senior year of college. So I take one class at a time each semester, in hopes of finishing sometime before I am gray-haired and need a hip replacement.
But it actually is taking me a while.

A few months ago, Jeremy Steele started bouncing ideas off of me for his new sermon series in Evening Worship. He finally settled on the Sermon on the Mount and declared that for the last sermon, he would actually deliver the Sermon on the Mount - from memory. Incredible, right?! As someone who can memorize hundreds of songs, I am awful at remembering text - I need melodies.  So I was super excited to hear it!

So imagine my surprise when on the first day of class, my professor declared that over the next 15 weeks, we'll be memorizing the entire Sermon on the Mount! Of course, we have weekly quizzes and thankfully don't have the deliver the entire thing. So, like the good student I am, I got about to memorizing Matthew 5, 6 & 7. I'd heard it a lot before so there wouldn't be any big surprises.
Before my second quiz, I had just finished swimming in the pool at South's Rec Center when I decided to sit in the sauna for a few minutes. It was 9pm and I laid down in the ferociously hot room and began running through my Scripture in preparation for the next day's quiz.

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. 

The Beatitudes

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, 
for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, 
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
 for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, 
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, 
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses...

Those who are merciful.

mer-cy [mur-see] noun,  plural mer-cies
1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
2. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
3. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor:
4. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:

When was the last time I was merciful?
I don't have a murderer to forgive, or anything else huge, but when was the last time I showed mercy to the driver who cut me off? When was the last time I didn't throw up my hands in frustration or think, "What a jerk?" When was the last time I didn't roll my eyes and repeat myself extra-slow when JD didn't hear me clearly? When was the last time I defended that offensive person?

Now I'm not saying I'm without mercy... But I can act like it sometimes. It's not always my gut reaction. In a society that is entitled to always have justice for the smallest wrong-doings (too-hot coffee, a coupon that didn't go through correctly), we are easily swayed to believe that when someone makes a small mistake, we should make them fix it at whatever it costs them - because are entitled to have things go our way. We are counted as cowards or push-overs when we extend mercy to a driver who made a mistake, a spouse who accidentally snapped at us or a server who brought us lettuce on a hamburger ordered without lettuce. 

And yes- I get it. When your brother barks at you every time you speak, being a pushover doesn't work. But when did we last kindly respond to him and ask him in love to speak to you in a way that you find less offensive?

When did we ... no, I, last show mercy in a way that "gives evidence of divine favor; blessing"? And I don't mean to show people that  I have divine favor - I mean give them a blessing by being merciful.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

 I guess this "memorizing Scripture for class" thing may have a few surprises...

On August 25th, we sang:
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
"Jesus, Son of God" by Chris Tomlin
"Lord, I Need You" by Matt Maher
and for the offering, "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong

On September 1st, we sang:
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor
"Forever Reign" by Kristian Stanfill
"Alive in Us" by Hillsong
for the offering, "Let it Shine" by All Sons and Daughters (it meant more each time I sang it that week)
and for Communion, "His Glory Appears" by Hillsong

On September 8th, Landon led us in worship and we sang:
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman
"One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill
"Give Me Faith" by Elevation Worship (awesome new song)
and "Hello, My Name Is" by Matthew West
and then "Give Me Faith" and "Brokenness Aside" by All Sons and Daughters for Communion.

 We'll see you this week for a great Sunday of worship - including some kiddos!