Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inviting No One.

Since August 4th, there have been quite a few incidents where people have encouraged us to elope.
"It'll save money."
"It will mean more."
"You won't have any 'wedding pressures'."
Boy were they right! I'm halfway through wedding planning and I've got decision fatigue like no other. The florist asked me what kinds of flowers I'd like and I told her, "White." She asked, "What kind of white flowers, honey?" and I said, "The pretty ones." HA! That was pretty much all she got from me until my sister stepped in and took over.

I'll tell you what- there have been quite a few times when I've wanted to just chunk all of the planning out the window and waltz downtown to the courthouse in the white dress I've got stored away at home. I don't have white shoes yet, but you probably couldn't tell if I went barefoot.
Ha. I've heard that this "I'm-not-gonna-finish-planning-this-sucker" happens to nearly everyone, so I'm not worried. But after the third or fourth time I wanted to give up on wedding planning, I started giving it some serious thought.
Seriously- why are we doing this?! It's a bunch of money, time and effort. I'm spending a ton of my time trying to make sure that I don't forget what the day is all about, but that's pretty hard when the caterer wants to know what color plates I want and I'm trying to figure out which one of 10,000 different stamps to put on the invites.

But then I remember.
I'm a part of the body of Christ. JD is a part of the body of Christ.

As I thought about just getting married with my family there, I remembered everyone in NewSong. I remembered how awesome it was to see that person finally text in, "I got the job! Thanks for the prayers!" on one Sunday morning. I remembered how awesome it was when I got to go to her birthday party last year. I've gotten to watch her grow up over a whole year! I remembered how hard fourth grade was when it started last August and how their parents have learned that patience and persistence is helping their children. I remembered the text that said the baby had been born and mom & baby were doing well. I've celebrated and prayed for so many people who are near to me and if they suddenly stopped sharing with me, I would feel robbed.

I remembered that celebrating our major life events together is so rewarding.

One of the greatest joys in this life is sharing our stories and living our lives with other human beings. God designed us to live that way and instructed us as the Body of Christ to live in that way. God encourages us to talk together.
Sometimes, it seems like its not worth all of the work.
But then I remember. 
I remember that if I stop living in fellowship, I would be robbed of seeing God in other people. They would be robbed of seeing Him in me.

I remember that if we don't invite anyone, we wouldn't have anyone to celebrate with.
So this week, invite someone. Let someone in. Share your life with someone else. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it.

January 12th, we sang:
"Sing and Shout" by Matt Redman
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong
"Not for a Moment" by Meredith Andrews and
"Oh How I Need You (Find You)" by All Sons and Daughters

January 19th, we sang:
"Reign in Us" by Starfield
"Nothing is Holding Me Back" by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
"O the Blood" by Kari Jobe and
"Steady My Heart" by Kari Jobe

 On January 12th, I encouraged all of you to SING out and bring your sacrifice of worship that morning. I was blown away by you guys that morning and this past Sunday. I love to hear a congregation who is worshiping and I'm fairly certain that God does too.
Keep up the good work troops!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

God's Great Dance Floor?

If you have ever ridden in the car with me for very long, you'll pick up on a habit that my fiance JD loves to laugh about. Whenever a song comes on that I think is less than intelligent or that I'm sick of, I'll say, "NUH UH!" and turn the station. He's learned that when "I Can Only Imagine" comes on, he better go ahead and change it. There are quite a few other songs that I don't like or don't agree with that he knows I won't tolerate for very long.
A song came out about a year ago called "God's Great Dance Floor" by Chris Tomlin. I love Chris Tomlin and his music, but this song drove me NUTS! The song was awesome except for the title and the bridge. It's a pretty easy song. The chorus says,

You'll never stop loving us
No matter how far we run
You'll never give up on us
All of heaven shouts
Let the future begin

Cool enough, right?
Then the bridge.
I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive on God's great dance floor

I've gotta be honest. For months, I was furious that this was a title track and a single on radio. What in the world is "God's great dance floor"? Was he talking about the disco in Heaven, or some magical floor that Baptists aren't allowed on?  I was so frustrated about it because I love Chris Tomlin, but I thought this was the dumbest lyric on planet earth.

On New Year's Eve, I was getting ready in the morning and praying at the same time. I was praying that over 2014, I would follow Jesus more closely and be more in line with Him. As I was praying, I was reminded of Jesus saying, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) Usually, I keep going with that verse-- you know, "And no one comes to the Father but through me," but only the first half kept running through my head. I was thinking about the New Year and how Jesus is "the way" to a better year, "the truth" to how I am to live in order to have joy and peace and "the life". The Life stuck with me for a while. I started thinking on how we never are truly alive except with Jesus. We know that the consequences of sin is death, so our hearts and souls aren't really alive except when Jesus is in us.

I feel alive. I come alive. I am alive on God's great dance floor.

Understanding washed through me quickly when that song popped on right in the middle of this thought. Chris wasn't talking about something ridiculous. He was talking about John 14:6. We aren't really alive and moving until we're with God. We aren't alive unless we're abiding with Christ. I suppose that he could have said, "We're not alive unless we're in God's wrestling ring," but being alive and grooving on a dance floor is so much cooler. (Yes- I said grooving is cool. I am cool too.)

So I remembered and was encouraged by this song that with God, abiding in Him, we are alive and much more likely to dance and enjoy life. We find joy and peace and our groove with Him. 
Although it's still not my favorite song in the world, it helped me to determine my "resolutions". 
This year, I decided that it wasn't so much a year to make resolutions as it was a chance to start over again. As I sat watching Carson Daly on NBC as the big ball dropped in NYC, I realized for the first time that we treat the New Year as a time to start over- to wipe the slate clean and give it another go.

I must admit that I'm pretty partial to 2014. After all, it is the year that I'm getting married, which is pretty durn cool! But more than marriage, I have the chance to make this year different. In our new Follow series, we are talking about not trying harder to do what Jesus says, but learning to just follow Him. If I can learn how to follow Jesus effectively, this year will be different.

The more I follow Him, the more impact He has on my life.
The closer I follow Him and find my way through and with Him, the more alive I will be. 
The more alive I am, the more likely I am to dance.

On January 5, 2014, we began worship with the story from 2 Kings 6 and sang:
Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin
Here For You by Matt Redman
Turn Around by Matt Maher (his live album is awesome- especially for the gym!)
and Nothing is Holding Me Back by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

I'll take a quick moment and brag on my band members this week. Many of you may not have noticed, but Tom (the guy who led the last two songs) just jumped in at 9:15 and 10:40 to sing those songs! Adam, our bass player, was leading those songs and went through practice leading them. After practice on Sunday morning, he was on call for work and they had to call him in. While I was standing there trying to figure out what to do a few minutes before the first service, Tom volunteered and said he could do it. I was floored that he wanted to just jump in and sing songs that he hadn't practiced with- and he did AWESOME!
I'm blessed to work with some really, really great musicians who have incredible hearts. So thank you for practicing with us and being there for all of the leg work Adam and thank you to Tom for stepping up!