{Worship | It’s a Big Deal}

There seems to be something happening in worship gatherings in churches across America. People are talking about it, writing articles about it, blogging about it. The conversation is important though a tiny bit uncomfortable. See, it appears that more often than not people are coming to church, sitting in the chairs (or standing) and watching worshipWe consume worship rather than actively engage and participate in worship. We come with expectations of being entertained by great music rather than expecting to encounter the powerful, life-changing presence of God.

This makes me sad.

Worship leaders must strive to make absolute certain that our worship gatherings are biblically rooted, Christ-centered, Spirit-led, and rightly motivated. Worship is not all about us. It’s all about Him. Wait, what’s that now? I know. Sometimes, it’s hard to wrap our minds around anything that isn’t all about us. I get it.

Now, we all understand that worship is not just singing songs on Sunday morning. Singing songs is a form or expression of worship, but it doesn’t end there. Worship encompasses all areas of our lives. Everything we do, everything we are, everything we say – all of these things point toward a heart of worship. Worship is who we are every moment before the God who created the universe.

We were created to worship. To worship is one of our greatest privileges and it came at a high price. Jesus died. Actually, He didn’t just die. Jesus, the Son of God, was mocked, scorned, falsely accused, beaten within inches of His life and then, then He was crucified on a cross so that we might have the privilege of worship. There’s more. He did it on purpose. It was no accident. It was the plan. While we were sinners, Jesus died for us. (Romans 5:8) And in one moment, God demonstrated His lavish love for us by providing a way for us to know Him. There has never been a greater demonstration of love. Ever.

I know – you’ve heard that a million and one times before, especially if you grew up going to church every time the doors were open. (Any other church girls or guys out there?) Here’s the thing: I cannot help but wonder if that’s part of the problem. Have we heard the story of the Gospel so many times that we’ve lost any sense of wonder and awe? Has the Gospel become inconsequential in our lives, our churches, and our worship gatherings? Has it become a story we like to tell, but one that we are unaffected by? It was never meant to be so.

So, what do we do with that? As we prepare to gather in our churches across America tomorrow, what will we do with that? Can I encourage you to stop for a few moments today and remember. Settle into a quiet place and let your mind rest on Him. Remember who He is – the Creator of the Universe and Savior of the World. Remember that He knows your name. Let your heart be overwhelmed by His lavish and unfailing love as you remember what He did for you, for all of us. And then, respond from that place.

Let the truth of the Gospel blow you away all over again. It’s a big deal.

He loves you so.


Psalm103

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Don’t Forget to Remember

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of celebration. Let’s see – there is turkey, dressing, dumplins, and pumpkin pie. After we feast, we usually spend a bit of time flipping through the newspaper ads, pen in hand, marking our favorite things. Christmas is just around the corner, after all. We play games. We take naps. And, we remember.

I remember Tyler’s first Thanksgiving. He was 7 months old and the life of the party. He most likely had his hands in everyone’s plate getting his first taste of the delicious goodness that is Thanksgiving dinner. I remember the laughter. Lots of laughter.

I remember where I was standing when I received a phone call from the hospital just a few days later. I remember the heaviness in the room when I arrived there. It was suffocating. I remember being told, “He didn’t make it.” It was SIDS.

He. Didn’t. Make. It. The reality of that moment hit me in a way I cannot begin to explain.

I remember walking back to a different room. My eyes landed on my lifeless baby boy and pain pierced me to the very core. It would become a familiar pain. I wept while I begged God to “fix it.”

I remember walking away from that hospital without my baby. I can tell you it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

I remember losing a second child 15 months later. I remember my marriage falling apart. I remember being angry, confused, and feeling completely abandoned by God. The pain was relentless and I crumbled.

I also remember the moment I gave up and laid all the brokenness and pain at the feet of Jesus. I remember the moment He turned my mourning (YEARS of mourning) into joy.

And, I am so thankful.

I belong to a sovereign, perfect, faithful God. I am completely in awe of Him. He heals. He redeems. He restores. There is not one moment of my life when He has taken His eye off of me. (Or you!) He sees us. He loves us. Even in our darkest, most desperate moments. I know that now.

I know it.

So, don’t forget to remember. Remember who He is and what He has done. Remember the cross. Remember His lavish love and perfect grace. And in everything, give thanks…That can be a hard one to take in and live out until we remember Christ. Then suddenly even our most difficult moments pale in comparison to the pain and suffering He endured. For the glory of the Father and for us. 

Fix Your Eyes

20140327-223140.jpgHello, sweet friends.

Today was one of those days. That may be an understatement. The past few weeks have been rough. Really hard. Challenge upon challenge seemed to slam down on my head in unrelenting and unapologetic fashion day after day after day.

Then I remembered.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalms 16:8.

In trouble: I will keep my eyes on the Lord.

In heartache: I will keep my eyes on the Lord.

In plenty or in need: I will keep my eyes on the Lord.

When I feel pressed: I will keep my eyes always on the Lord.

When I feel tired: I will keep my eyes always on the Lord.

See, He is the only sure thing. He’s unchanging, unfailing, and good. He’s my help, my strength, my joy, and my provision. He is HOPE.

I am so thankful that I belong to Him. 


 

On another note:

On my ride home today, I was listening to my new Kari Jobe CD and feeling a little blue because I would not be able to see her on either of her upcoming tour stops. She is in Lexington tonight and will be in Louisville next week, but there was no way we could buy tickets to either event. (Winter has been really long.) These were sure to be powerful nights of worship and I really, really wanted to be there.

Then, I opened my mail.

Some kind and generous soul sent me tickets. The flood of tears burned my cheeks. I could not find my words. My sweet husband had no idea what had just happened.

I have no idea who sent those tickets. I have no idea why they sent them. But, I am so grateful that they did. Whoever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart. God used you to encourage me today in a great big way. I am overwhelmed by your kindness, by his kindness shown through you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Five Minute Friday: Joy

Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday. Five minutes. Just writing whatever comes out. No edits necessary. If you have five minutes, join the party!  Find out how here.

Go.

Always be joyful. 

What’s that now? Always? Yes, always.

That is one of those bits of Scripture that can be hard to swallow. I was taught that there are few instances where the word “always” or “never” really applies. But, there it is jumping off the pages of holy scripture. Always. Be. Joyful.

What about those days when circumstances threaten to overwhelm you? Yes, even then.

What about those days when you are exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally?  Yes, even then.

What about that moment when you’ve just received devastating news? Yes, even then.

What about that week when you aren’t sure how you are going to make ends meet? Yes, even then.

What about those times when your heart is broken and hurting? Yes, even then.

That’s hard. But, I’ve learned that we can choose joy because we have hope. We have hope because we belong to Jesus. The one and only Hope of all the World.

The heavenly hosts declared it from the very beginning: “Do not be afraid, I bring you glad tidings of great joy…the Savior is born.” Great joy. His name is Jesus.

Stop.

Truth Behind Tradition

Happy Monday! And, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (And, happy birthday Mamaw!)

Throughout the weekend, loads of Americans donned their best (and sometimes not quite) green attire and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by attending various parades, visiting Irish pubs, and drinking lots of Irish beer. Confession: I wore green today, accidentally. 

St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland who actually hailed from Britain. He was kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish marauders and held captive for years. During his time there, he converted to Christianity and after escaping vowed to return to Ireland to rid the land of its pagans. He did return to Ireland as a missionary. March 17th marks the day of the religious feast in his honor and also marks the date of his death in the 5th century. And, so we celebrate? I assume this holiday is like others that have been consumer-ized  (I think I may have just invented a word) almost beyond recognition. We wear green and pinch people who do not. Some drink beer and many enjoy parades. We talk of leprechauns, shamrocks,  and the luck of the Irish. But, I wonder how many people know the real story. I am sure many people do, but I could not be counted among them! Blue was actually the color associated with Saint Patrick.  The Shamrock (which does not exist but resembles clover) was used by Saint Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity and was worn later as a symbol of Irish Christianity not luck. Am I the only one who didn’t know?! No matter.  

I never knew the history behind the observance of St. Patrick’s Day, nor did I know the story of the man Saint Patrick until a few years ago when something piqued my curiosity. I heard, for the first time, a portion of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate prayer. And, wow. It’s beautiful. And, powerful. This beautiful prayer reminds me of one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 139.

A portion of the prayer is to follow. I pray the words are like balm to your soul and remind you that He hems us in and has laid His hand upon us. (Ps. 139, NIV) That is good news. Happy news. It’s one of the greatest reasons I can think of to celebrate.

So, celebrate big sweet friends. Jesus knows you. Jesus loves you.

From Saint Patrick's Prayer

*Note: The historical info I included came from History.com. 

#ModelStatus – Guest Blogger, Maddie Grace

My sweet girl, Maddie Grace, wanted to write a little post for my blog. She is only twelve, but what’s she’s talking about here is important; and, I am glad that she wants to use her voice to encourage others to reflect Christ. She’s growing into quite a beauty, inside and out. God’s masterpiece. It makes my heart smile to watch how He’s working in her life. Thanks for reading!
___
The teacher was late. 10 minutes late. It was 7th period spiritual life class. Me,Daisy, Malcolm and Dalton took action, we ran to the wall and struck awkward model poses. They were very, um…disturbing or model-ish as we might say. We stood frozen, and then the teacher came in.
“Hey guys sorry I’m, oh…” He said with just one glimpse of us. We all burst out laughing. Then I started thinking about what a model’s purpose is: to “advertise” clothing and make people want to buy it.
In the same way, we are God’s models. He uses us to go and to advertise his word, his truth and make people want and need Him more.
We are called to be a model for God. We are made in his image, specifically for His purpose. You don’t have to have the greatest hair or the prettiest face! So just remember, the next time you get an opportunity, model God’s truth the best you can. #modelstatus

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Five Minute Friday: Crowd

Five Minute Friday

Linking up to 5-Minute Friday. Five minutes. Just writing. If you’re up for it, join us.  Find out how here.

Go.

I’m not normally one for a crowd. People can get lost in a crowd.

Jesus seemed to attract a crowd. Crowds followed him. Crowds that were full of curious people who wanted to get a look at Him. But Jesus had a knack for finding one. 

I remember the blind beggar lying on the side of the road as the crowd pushed through in pursuit of Jesus.  The blind guy shouted. The crowd disregarded him and even rebuked him, but Jesus heard him and saw him and healed him.

What about Zaccheus?  He climbed a tree so that he could just catch a glimpse of Jesus.  Jesus saw him and called him by name and invited Himself to lunch and saved him.

Then, there’s the woman who had been sick for years. Twelve years. She pushed her way through the crowd desperate to touch his clothes. Jesus knew that she was there and stopped in his tracks to address her, to heal her.

Yes, people can get lost in a crowd. Or, people may even prefer to blend into the crowd.  Then there are some, like the ones I’ve already mentioned, who will do whatever it takes to be found. And Jesus?  Well, he promises that we will find him when we seek him with all our hearts. Whatever. It. Takes. All that I am. All in.

Why? Because, He’s Jesus. I love Him so. I need Him desperately.

Stop.