Monday, November 23, 2015

Be Hungry

Man I love Thanksgiving!  I love to eat, so one of the best holidays for eating is Thanksgiving.  I am kind of like Jerry Clower who said "I don't know what cholesterol is, but if you can deep fry it or put gravy on it then it will probably be pretty good".  I love dressing and gravy for starters but there are so many good things that go with the traditional Thanksgiving meal that I can't just stop with those two.  Just writing these couple of sentences has made me hungry so I think I will stop now and go eat some lunch!

45 min later:  Okay I'm back now and I feel much better.  I know that many of you are looking forward to the special meals that will take place over the coming weeks and you are thinking about your favorite dishes that you can't wait to dive into.  Do we ever "hunger" for the things of God in that same way?  We should!   I'm afraid that most of us would have to answer in the negative that we don't hunger that much for the things of God.  Lord I pray that you give us a hunger for Godly things.

In September of 1620, 102 Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower to head to the New World that would later become America.  They headed to this New World so that they could have freedom to worship God.  Five of those on board died during the journey and never saw the New World when land was spotted in November, and before the first winter was over 45 colonist had lost their lives.  These people were hungry to worship God, they were so hungry that they headed out to the unknown and almost half died in their pursuit.  During this Thanksgiving we should be thankful that almost 400 years ago people saw a need to leave everything behind in pursuit of religious freedom.  I could go off now on another topic of how America has become a nation striving for "Freedom from Religion" rather than "Freedom of Religion" but I will save that for another day.

Here at MPBC we recently went through a sermon series on the Beatitudes and were challenged to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  My hope is that we will be hungry and that this hunger will lead us to worship Jesus through our singing, praying, reading the word or hearing a good sermon.   Psalm 63:4-5 says "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you."   Just as a rich meal of dressing and gravy satisfies us so should we be satisfied as we praise God for all of his wonderful blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Beauty of Progression

    I'm not sure about you, but I'm a person who likes the idea of pushing forward, learning new things and progressing in my skill, even if I don't always feel like doing it.  Notice I said that I like the idea of it. Sometimes that idea is easier thought of than carried out. I think that this is something that anyone with any skill set will experience.  

    I've witnessed that first hand already with our new album project that will release next year.  Our last project, "Greater Still", was released about a year ago and as far as recording goes, I've had some down time since then.  That down time was nice, but it didn't come without it's disadvantages.  For the new album, I began scratch tracks (a dry run through of the song to give the drummer something to record to) about a month ago and started to get back in the mindset of producing a record.  However, before getting too far into it, I had the idea that I would listen to the previous album to see if there's anything that I'd like to do differently, or if there's anything that I would change for the new album.  At this point, I hadn't listened to a single song on it since we received all the copies in, because from listening to them over and over while mixing them, I was just about sick of it. Within the first minute of the first track I was a bit taken back, to say the least.  Let me tell you that I am not ashamed to say that  I want to do everything differently! I'm talking about everything from scratch tracks to final mixdown...I want to do it all completely and totally different!  Just as much as this fact scared the living day lights out of me, it also excited me.  When I began thinking about it, I would have been really worried had I not found anything I would change.  For me, that was a sign of progression.  

       I think that listening to the previous record was a great wake up call for me.  Had I not heard it, I would have probably subconsciously followed some old habits.  It reminded me of the importance of learning and honing a skill-set.  After all, whatever we do for the Lord, we should attempt to do it with the utmost skill and give it our best.  I know that can sound a bit elementary at times, but it is so true.  No matter what you do, this will apply.  Just like everyone who has a skill and especially one they use for the Kindgom of God, I always want to keep getting better.  I'm a person who loves to learn, so I pray that as long as I have breath, I'm learning.  Not just in this area, but in everything concerning Jesus.  In a year and a half, I hope to begin yet another album project with pages worth of things that I want to change and do differently!  To me, that is where the beauty of progression lies; knowing you are always giving it everything you have for the magnification of Jesus.



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Here I Am To Worship

    This is the title to a fairly popular and well known praise and worship song.  It was written by Tim Hughes.  He penned the words on many other worship songs including Beautiful One and Name Above All Names.  It took him nine months to finalize the lyrics and complete Here I Am To Worship.   I have sung the song many times before as I am sure many of you have as well.  It is powerful and leads me to a place of humbleness and nearness to God each time I sing it.  Although the whole song is beautifully written and each line equally strong, I would like to focus on the phrase "here I am to worship".

    Over the past few weeks and months, God has been revealing to me glimpses of how people worship.   I am blessed to have a different perspective than most of the congregation.  As a member of the worship team, I have the privilege of standing on stage for our worship sets and even leading worship most Sundays.  From this view I can see hundreds of other people worship.  Over the years, I have watched people grow in their ability to "freely" worship our Savior.  Some that used to be afraid to stand or afraid to raise their hand, now do so eagerly.  I have seen them grow spiritually.  I see the look in their eyes coming from their heart silently shouting, "here I am to worship".  Philippians 2:5 states that we should "have this mind among ourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus."  This is the scripture reference that inspired Hughes to write these lyrics.  Worship is an attitude that we must allow to develop and grow as our relationship grows.  That's what I 've seen happen at our church.  People from all walks of life and various ages silently saying, "here I am to worship".

    As of late, God has led to me to two experiences that have not occurred while I have been leading music.  The first happened a few weeks ago.  It was a Wednesday evening and we were singing praise songs.  My daughter, 15, standing beside me nudged me to look to the right.  I glanced and saw what you now see in the picture.  It is one of our members holding his infant son.  I was moved by the look in the baby's eyes.  His dad was worshiping with hands raised while the baby watched so intently.  The picture is a bit grainy, but you get the gist.  Psalm 143:6 says "I stretch out my hand to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land."  This is exactly what the father is doing; stretching out his hand.  This baby is being led by his earthly father to develop an attitude of worship to his heavenly father.  How cool is that?  Dad's face shouts, "here I am to worship".  He hasn't a clue the impact he is having on his son.  Our church doesn't have a nursery.  We want our families to worship together and this is why.  What a loss for this baby to be in a room separated from this experience!  Consequently, my own daughter, having also been raised "in the sanctuary" noticed what was happening.  She was growing in her own attitude of worship.  My heart shouted this is a win, win!

    The second experience happened on a Wednesday night.  Some of our younger females were leading in worship.  One of them, who is now maybe 14 years old was leading a song and playing guitar.  I could stop there and be amazed.  Leading and playing simultaneously is NOT an easy task, not even for an adult.  What happened next brought me to tears.  I saw her lift her sweet little hand to our Savior.  I stared in awe.  I have watched this young lady grow her skills and talents, but this was a deeper, more important step.  She was freely and openly unhindered in her worship.  She had reached a whole new level.  What a wonderful way to say to her Savior, "here I am to worship".  This pleases the heart of God.  

    All of this may sound unimportant to some readers and that's okay.  But as of late, God has laid this on my heart.  He has been intentional in showing me the significance of these acts of worship and reminded me that we are all there to worship.  We have to put aside ourselves and say to Him, "I am here Lord, to worship."  That is the goal of our worship team EVERY Sunday morning.  We believe that God has called us not only to worship in ourselves, but to take part in leading other believers to His presence.  My hope is that through this post, you will take the time to think about your worship experience.  When is the last time or has there ever been a time when you just simply said to your heart, "here I am to worship"?  Don't worry about what others think or what they might say.  Just submit to Him and I pray that you can have an experience like no other.  John 4:23 says, "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him."  He is seeking you to worship Him and He is worthy of our praise!


Monday, November 2, 2015

I Feel Like the One Losing

As I look at facebook, read emails, and hear of those around me hurting so badly, I am burdened for them all. It seems like in some way we are all “losing”. Whether it be our health, finances, or relationships, someone is struggling. I can clearly stand and say that my Father God has saved me from so much, but I still struggle and am no different from all the others.

Yes, my survival is nothing but a miracle. One that I will share until the day I die. But it's a daily struggle. I think about what it’s going to be like when I'm older with this now broken body. I cry often in the arms of my husband with pain that can't be described. This body is a daily reminder of my accident, my struggles and what is to come. But one thing God places ever present in my mind is a peace knowing that this body will pass away and a new one will be given ( NOT BROKEN).

Often when my pain reminds me of why I was hurt so badly (Satan tries to remind me of the past), I am faced with the question of why?  The song below says it all so easily…"Lord give me grace to forgive them, because I feel like the one losing”. 

It’s become a prayer for me. Yes, I have forgiven this man who struck me..but I can't forget the pain, loss, and suffering. At those moments, my Father God whispers so clearly (When “he” reminds you of your past…you just remind him of his future”). You see we can be hurt, broken hearted, and just plain damaged by others. And as humans we want to “get them back” for some reason. We feel that this will make it all better. This is not the case. Anger, hatred, and revenge will eat you alive and bring you to depths you never thought possible.

When we choose to face our struggles head on, knowing that they are already in the hands of Father God, we can make it through anything. I can say that I am happier now (broken, pain filled, and damaged), more than ever before, because I have experienced the clarity of God. He's here now and forever more. Just let him handle things.

Let's promise to let Him shine thru our brokenness so that others can see Him thru us.


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