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Friday, April 30, 2010

A Broken Record

Sometimes, when I read other people's blogs, I feel like mine sounds like a broken record. I feel like the words I say are the same thing over and over again. Encouraging, challenging, admonishing... but all to the same end.  Today in my bible reading I had a bit of an epiphany - God has given me a passion and it is out of that passion - I write.

If you know me, I am through and through - a worship leader! Try as I might, I could not find a succinct definition of what a worship leader is (they were all very long and would probably bore you), but if I tried to put words to it, it would be: a person who leads by example, with their lives, on and off stage to guide or encourage others in to the presence of the Almighty God. My happy place is being in the presence of the Lord. I LONG for others to have that experience as well and my heart weeps for those who have never experienced it or choose not to go to that place, for what ever reason.

So today, as I was reading in the Psalms, I decided that it is OK if the words I type on these pages have a theme to them. They reflect the theme of my life and what God is putting on my heart. Let's face it, I am not a very complicated girl. I'm kind of "what you see is what you get." My prayer is that somehow, God would use these words to not only work in my heart and change me, but He would do the same for you. 

WOW - what a set up - this part better be good!

This morning I was reading Psalm 103, I encourage you to read the whole thing, but there were a couple parts that stood out to me. It begins:  

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

When I think about my soul, I think about the very deepest part of me. It is not superficial, it not surface, it is not something that is easily brushed aside. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and ALL that is within me, bless His holy name!"

Moving down a few more verses it says this:

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Thank you Jesus, that you remember I am just dust. I am weak and frail and as much as I long to please Him, I fail. But His love for me is so very great, that when I come to Him in repentance from my very soul, He removes those failures as far as the east is from the west. One of my favorite lines from the new CD by my friend, Carlos Whittaker says, "I am the sum of failing and grace." So true. Thank God for His grace!

So, the broken record of a worship leader in me says WORSHIP HIM TODAY, with all that is within you. Bless His name for the grace He has shown you, bless His name for the transforming power of His love, bless His name for the gift of His son, and on and and on and on... If you are not in the place where you can do that, figure out why - and then move toward Him. Just don't go about your day without getting in touch with your very soul and seeing what it worships. It worships something - is it the right thing?

Get in to His presence and stay there!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Son of...

Being adopted, genealogy has always been important to me. I have 2 - the adopted side and the biological side. Someday I will post that whole story here for you to read, but today I have other things on my mind. In my chronological Bible reading I am in 1 Chronicles at the moment and most of what I have been reading for the last week or so are lists of people. So and so the son of so and so then son of so and so, on and on it goes. You get it. One of the most interesting things about "the lists" is when it breaks off from the normal pattern and tells what this particular family of people were given to do. A lot of them were warriors, it tells whether some were archers or swordsmen. THEN you come to the Levites. They were in charge of the temple (or at that time - the tent of meeting) where the ark of the Lord was kept. In my simple mind - they were put in charge of the church building. Their sole job was to keep things functioning properly, provide assistance to the millions of Israelites who needed to come and give their various offerings and to minister to the Lord. No small task for sure!

For a long time I have been convinced that if you traced back my genealogy you would find that I am a Levite, though I am not completely sure which of my 2 lines you would find it in. 1 Chronicles seems to say quite a bit about the Levites and their duties compared to other people. I guess that is particularly interesting to me given my job at the church. Today in my reading I noted that it listed singers, priests and gatekeepers. If you want to see what their duties entailed you can read it in 1 Chron. 9. I find a lot of similarities between what they were called to do and our modern day worship, hospitality and facilities teams. Sufficed to say - they had a lot on their plates! Just like we do today. The running joke is that Sunday happens every 7 days, so when one is done - you move on to the next one.

Of course, to me (because I am one), the stand out was the singers. It says in verse 33 : Now these, the singers, the heads of fathers' houses of the Levites, were in the chambers of the temple free from other service, for they were on duty day and night. Contrary to what you may be thinking right now, I am NOT trying to use this as an excuse for all the singers reading this to get out of serving in other areas of ministry. LOL I just find it interesting that it says they were on duty 24/7. The music never stopped. They were constantly singing before the Lord (which is funny to me considering so many do not put that level of importance on music in the church today.) In my mind - that just put a whole different level of importance on what I have been called to do as a modern day Levite. Do I really consider myself "on duty" 24/7? Do I keep in the fore front of my mind the thing God created me for? I am giving Him all that He deserves when I come before Him? Am I doing it with the right heart motivation?

Lots of questions to be pondered as I prepare to lead others into His presence on a weekly basis (whether on the stage or off it!)

Everything thing the Lord has given someone to do is of importance. We all play a part. So, today, what ever YOU have been called to do to serve the Lord, and rest assured He has called you to something - think about how you are going about doing that and see if it might deserve to go to another level. He deserves nothing less than your very best. It is all for His glory!!

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:1

Saturday, April 24, 2010


So, by way of update (if you have been following the blog), I am going strong on day 114 of reading chronologically through the Bible. It is actually a very cool way to do it because not only do I get the stories in order as they occurred (as much as possible), but YouVersion has this little box on one side of my page that keeps track of my progress. Today I am officially 31% done with reading the Bible through in a year. Being a big numbers girl, seeing that graph move, knowing that someone is keeping track of my progress gives me the accountability I need to keep going every day.

I have officially moved into the section of the Bible that is the "not so mind gripping" - the LISTS! Yesterday, in 1 Chronicles 1 & 2, I read the lists of people who had these sons, who had these sons, who had these sons and every once in a while a daughter was thrown in the mix (that is a whole separate blog post), etc. When reading through these lists, I noticed something. Occasionally, I would come across a name and there would be a descriptor there like: 
The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. Cush fathered Nimrod. He was the first on earth to be a mighty man. A few more verses down it describes The son of Carmi: Achan, the troubler of Israel... 

In reading 2 chapters, I came across a few more of these descriptors and it made me wonder "why did these particular people deserve the extra line in scripture?" Now, I am not a seminary grad and so I am sure this is probably not the correct answer to this question, but in my head, what makes sense is that they did something that made them stand out and was noteworthy. Some good, some not so good.

Then in today's reading I saw this in Psalm 87:6a The Lord records as he registers the peoples.

Humm... what is He recording about me? Daunting question! What is God recording about how I am living my life? What descriptors would I find behind my name in His record?

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have stumbled across a bit of a heated debate in one of my comment threads about social injustice. ( I so love stirring the pot!) At one point, commentators said something about it being all about "us and what we know" and  "turning into a "who" is more prideful than the other." The funny thing is that I know all of these people and would not consider any of them prideful or self centered (and I certainly know of enough people who ARE to adequately compare!) I guess if anyone speaks from experience or tells others what they know or have done it can come off as prideful or self serving to some. We all get labeled with something by someone, even ourselves. 

We use descriptors to tell people who we are in our profiles, people use descriptors to introduce us to someone new, God uses descriptors when He records things about me in His record book. The latter are really the only ones I care about. I just really pray that of all the things God records about my life, the good outweighs the bad, the action overshadows the apathy, the love outshines the hate, the passion overtakes the indifference. I won't always get it right - I just want to be moving in the right direction.

What will he record about you today?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Modern Day Slaves

Did you know that today, April 21, 2010 there are more slaves in the world than ever before in human history. It is estimated that there are somewhere between 27 & 30 million slaves, but some counts are as high as 200 million. The most distressing fact is that 80% of those are women and children forced into some form of sexual slavery. 80%!!!

Last night I went to a advanced screening of a new documentary film done by a group of students (Artists for Abolition) at Texas A&M Commerce called Worth Fighting For. The event was compelling to say the least. To walk into the room and be confronted with girls behind a chain link fence holding signs with their age and how much it would cost you for an hour of "pleasure", all the while being explained the process by the "sales man" - well it was extremely unnerving! One of the most disturbing parts was that as the girls got younger - the price went up. It made me sick, especially since the girls portrayed were the same ages as my girls. I learned that 6 people are sold into slavery every 2 minutes. In the time it takes me to write this blog post, there will be about 60 more slaves on this planet, some as young as 4.

When the film began, there was not a sound in the room, except the occasional sound of tears being shed for those oppressed. One of the guys that helped create the film said something that will be burned into my memory forever (I HOPE!) He said that when he was confronted with the reality of this injustice in our world he wept. He went to his campus and laid face down with his open bible on the quad cement and cried out to God saying "Lord, I want someone to weep with me." He then felt God answer him by saying "I want someone to weep with me too."

I think we have become so callused to the injustice in our world that we forget that God weeps over it and he longs for someone to weep with him. It brought to mind a line form one of my favorite songs that says "Break my heart for what breaks Yours..." a line that in daily life is pushed to the back of my mind and replaced with my everyday, suburban to-do list. What on earth has happened to me that I have become so comfortable in my life that I forget that God weeps over the enslaved and the broken hearted and the lost?

Well, as I am still trying to process all of this and what it means for my future, I know one thing for sure - I have been changed at my very core and now I have a decision to make: Will I sit and let apathy kill me and others, or will I  embrace this new adventure God seems to have put in front of me, let Him take the lead and just follow?

"For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, Now I will arise," says the LORD; "I will set him in the safety for which he yearns." - Psalm 12:5

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Ocean of Tears

I LOVE this picture, which is really funny because I have a fear of water, but looking at this picture I feel a sense of calm and peace. There are many other pictures of the ocean that are anything but calm and peaceful. (Deadliest Catch anyone?) I think it is the rough sea and what is IN the sea that I fear. I don't know what it holds and it makes me afraid. 

A few years ago, my husband and I were taken on a trip with his work to Mexico. It was a great trip! First one in our marriage that we didn't go with any kids YAY! They had all of our days planned out for us and one of the excursions they planned was on a large catamaran out into the ocean to go snorkeling.  GULP!!! I seriously almost didn't go. I was to afraid. But after taking some dramamine I boarded the boat, knowing that God had my days numbered and if I was supposed to die in this ocean and I didn't go, then He would have me miraculously dropped in the middle of said ocean to fulfill His will for my life. Melodramatic - maybe! But I was scared and it helped me to rationalize it that way. 

Anyway - I got on the boat and ended up having a really good day. The ocean was realatively calm and I even kind of fell in love with snorkeling (with the exception of scraping my legs up on a bunch of rocks and bleeding in to the water as I swam the 100 yards back to the boat fearing a shark attack! (No really - that part is true!) As much fear as I had of the unknown ocean, I conquered it and it felt really good. I would probably do it again.

Some ocean experiences don't end like that. I mean Titanic, Posiden Adventure, The Deep, JAWS. Ha! But seriously. I have heard stories of friend who have been on cruises that have hit rough sea and it was NOT fun. Not sure I ever want to go there. I am sure they didn't want to either, nor did they think that would be their experience when they set out on their adventure, but sometimes God has other things in store for us than what we have planned. 

I thought of the ocean today as I was reading in Psalm 56. Verse 8 says this:  

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?

In my head, I tried to imagine a book that God keeps that has written down every time I (you, the whole world) tosses because we can't sleep due to life circumstances or are tossed to and fro by the "waves" we encounter.  I also pictured a bottle big enough to hold every tear drop that has ever fallen from the eyes of the human beings He created and loves so much. That bottle must be bigger than any ocean I have ever seen. Some of those tears were cried in the middle of the tempest and some were cried in a calm respite, but He knows every one of them. That thought kind of blew my mind!

In life, there are no guarantees of what is to come. Right now my life feels somewhere in the middle of the two pictures posted here, but that could change in an instant. As I am writing this I think of many in all sorts of places - friends who have recently lost a baby, a daughter who is wading through the stress of college, a woman who for the first time in a long time is at peace in her life, a couple who is homeless and through all that stress is still seeing God's provision for their precious family, a couple awaiting the arrival of their new daughter, a husband and father who feels imprisoned by his job and yet fights through it every day for the ones he cares about, the young mother who is overwhelmed, a precious 6 yr. old and her family fighting her cancer, and one who is grateful for a year cancer free. The list could go on...

No matter what the sea of your life looks like today, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the next take these words of David to heart in Psalm 56:9b -10:

This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. 

This was written during a horrible time for David as he and his men were being hunted by King Saul. Yet he knew that God saw him, held every tear that he cried, counted every tossing and David trusted. God is in control of your life if you have given it to Him. He sees you. He knows you. He loves you!

And next time you see the ocean (stormy or calm), remember God has it all in the palm of His hand. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

World Changers

Over the last few weeks I have been increasingly challenged about what I am put on this earth for. The easy answer would be music. I love it! It is "in" me. But I think God is pushing me to go deeper than that. I guess one might say that I am dealing with a good old fashioned case of "Holy Discontent" as Bill Hybels calls it. What fuels the fire of my personal vision in life? Why am I here?

Most who know me would agree that I am a very passionate person.  Usually when people describe me, they do not use "wimpy" adjectives. While in a way that can be a little off putting, I have chosen of late to embrace the intensity that God has put in my spirit and ask myself this question - "What am I supposed to do with that?" A coffee conversation the other day led to this verse:
  If I say, "I will not mention him,
   or speak any more in his name,"
 there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
   shut up in my bones,
 and I am weary with holding it in,
   and I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9

I think that just about fits where I am. I am feeling a "fire in my bones" and I can't seem to hold it in. I feel it swelling and at some point, will not be able to contain it. The issue I am wrestling with at this point is trying to identify what exactly is causing that fire. What is fueling it? What is it supposed to drive me to?

I know that I want what I do here on earth to REALLY matter for the Kingdom. I know that the fact that there are people hurting and suffering around the world every day that need the saving power of Jesus and yet - don't know him boggles my mind.  I read one blogger who has just returned from Russia and Moldova doing a documentary on the sex trafficking over there. (check out Flowerdust HERE) I have a some friends who are getting ready to spend weeks in Uganda helping to relocate orphans to a new, safer home and trying to raise awareness of their need. (you can see what they are doing HERE) And still others picking up and flying to Honduras to help children who have no one else to help them. (more amazing photos of that HERE) The thing about all of these great "causes" (as some would term them) is that they are all connected to people! People who need to see the love of Jesus.

During my quite time today, this verse came to mind:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
  and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
  and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

That definitely strikes a chord with me. Not sure why quite yet, but I intend to find out. The plan? Glad you asked. I intend to jump in to Bill Hybels Book - Holy Discontent and pray for God to show me what is next.

If you are stirred by this and would like to join me going through the book, please let me know. I bet it would stir some great coffee conversations. But in the mean time you can check out a short check list to get you started HERE.

Where is God stirring you? How are you going to change the world for HIS Kingdom purpose? Even today, pray for opportunity to be a world changer. I guarantee if you look at life through that lens, someone's world will be changed every day. Even if it is just yours!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Pea Shooter vs. The Bazooka

I Samuel 17: 4 - 11 
And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

It's a story most of us have heard. A young boy called from shepherding the sheep defeats the giant with only 5 stones and a sling shot.  As I read this story afresh today in my bible reading time, I was struck again with the magnitude of what actually happened. Israel had been at war with the Philistines for a long time. Battle, after battle. Then comes the giant, Goliath. How much of a giant was he really that a whole army could be afraid to fight him? Glad you asked! Best estimate is that he was around 10 FEET TALL!! Now I have a friend that I sing with who makes all of us who stand next to him feel like he is a giant, but he is no where near 10 feet tall. I think the tallest guy I have ever know was 6'11" - and that is really tall. But 10 FEET! Whoa! No wonder all of Saul's men shied away at the prospect of being the one to defeat the champion of the Philistines. 

So here's the cliff notes of the rest of the story - The war could be over by just one man defeating this giant of a man, but there were no takers, until David came along. His father sent him to give food to his brothers who were fighting in the army. While he was there, David hears about this giant and says he will be the one to go and fight him. Most everyone thinks he is nuts! Saul (the king) tries to outfit David with armor, which was to big for him to move in, so David went out to met Goliath with only his sling shot, his shepherd's staff and 5 small rocks he picked up in the stream on the way to the battle field. Goliath laughs at this boy who thinks he can defeat him. David shoots a rock into Goliath's head with his sling shot. Goliath goes down. David takes Goliath's sword and cuts off his head. End of story!

This got me thinking, why was David so confident that he would win against this 10 ft. tall seasoned warrior? Well, he had the God of the universe on his side and he knew it. Seemed like not much of a risk when you looked at it stacked that way. But so many times when I look at what life is throwing at me it can seem like I am looking in the face of a bazooka and I only have a pea shooter in my hand. So I asked myself this morning, what giants I am facing in my life and am I trusting the God of the universe, who is on my side to defeat them and I ask you to ponder the same question?

He doesn't ask us to come fully equipped. David certainly didn't. He didn't have experience. He didn't have armor or a sword, and for all those looking on didn't seem to have long to live(given the challenge ahead of him.) But God more than made up for where David was lacking and David knew He would!

God + David's willing heart + 5 small stones and a sling shot = victory against a giant long ago. 

God + YOUR willing heart + the little you have to give = victory over what giants in your life today?

God IS faithful. God IS working in you today. God IS waiting and willing to fight your giants today. Will you let Him?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Swimming Up Stream?

I was having coffee with a friend today and we were talking about growth in the Lord. We talked about how hard it can be to not conform to what many people's view of the Christian life is (going to church on Sunday and being like the world the rest of the week) and also how hard it can be to stay outside the "Christian bubble" we have made for ourselves and really effect change in the rest of the world around us who need Jesus. 

Growing up in the church - I'm a PK (preachers kid), my tendency is always to immerse myself in all things Christian. Christian music, christian literature, christian movies, christian friends... It is easy that way, comfortable. And yet, I don't believe Jesus ever meant for the word "Christian" to become a adjective instead of a noun, and I certainly don't believe He ever said it would be easy to be one. Staying in side my little comfort bubble won't do much to bring other people to Him. As of late, I have been feeling an increasing burden to reach those who shy away from those so safely tucked in their Christian comfort zone. if my world is only the "bubble", how can I relate to those who want no part of it? 

At some point in the conversation, I thought of the analogy of a Salmon swimming upstream. A salmon swims upstream for one reason and one reason only - to reproduce. I would imagine that they have to be very strong to make this journey. It is hard work and in the end - they give their very lives for the new lives that come from their struggle. 

I feel like I am at a place in my Christianity that God is asking me if I am willing to put in the hard work for the new life that will come out of it. Am I willing to go against the flow? Am I willing to do what it takes to grow to a point that I am strong enough to endure the struggle that will come from the journey? I believe I am! I trust He will guide me along the way. It will not be easy, but in the end I pray that God uses my journey to produce lots of new lives that will go through the same process of reproducing themselves for His kingdom.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Controversy on Easter Sunday

As most of you know, I am the Programming Director for my church - McKinney Fellowship. I love my job! I am tasked with designing services where people can commune with the living God. One of the best parts about working for my church is that we are a church who is not afraid to take risks to reach others for Christ. Having said that, with this job comes great joy but also great responsibility. What if I am not hearing from the Lord enough when I am designing the services week after week? What if I "miss it" or get "it" wrong when I think I am following promptings from Him? It is a bit challenging to say the least, but a challenge I gladly except.

This Easter was no exception. Easter has it's own special challenges every year and the extra pressure of knowing that we will have people come in the door who would never come to church on a "normal" Sunday. It is those people my heart is burdened most for. So, as many churches were already toiling away on their Easter plans many weeks out, I was still struggling with what God would have us do. Long story short, what came out of that toil and struggle was something that no one expected. A drama/music/video combination that left many speechless after it ended but wound up the topic of conversation for many hours after the service ended. If you would like to watch it you can find it here.

As expected, we got some less than stellar comments on the heavy nature with which we tackled these issues on Easter Sunday - which I will admit caused me to second guess if I heard the Lord correctly on this one. After all, Easter is supposed to be a celebration of the risen Savior. Had we possibly gone to far? But I am reminded that it is only a celebration for the ones who know Him, and as the stories of life change slowly begin to emerge, my spirit soars! Like the man does not know Christ and yet was so moved that we would "do that in church" that he not only was talking about it days after, but called his sister who lives some distance away to tell her about it so they can watch it again. The son who rarely attends church and is far from the Lord but came with a friend and talked about it all day with his precious mother. (He will surely never listen to Evanescence again and not remember this day!) And the stories of many who have issues that mirror those in the drama (including cutting and suicidal thoughts) who came forward to get help for their lives they feared were long dead and unsalvageable. I am certain there are many more that I may never have the privilege of hearing.

So today, as I think back on the weekend's events, I no longer fear the ones who would question if we (I) made the right call to do this controversial piece. I rest in the fact that Jesus was not afraid to offend and be radical to save the lost ones no one else could reach. It is His footsteps I choose to follow in and will continue to push the limits to reach the unreachable whose lives are broken and desperate for a touch from the Healer who makes dead things come alive again!

All glory to the Risen One!