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A Year in the Spiritual Life... Discover Your Purpose

A Year in the Spiritual Life... Discover Your Purpose: January 2012


Waiting is Work!

We talked yesterday about God’s timing and how He wants us to wait. Waiting is an active service to God though, and not sitting on our backsides twirling our thumbs.  
Let’s look at the text again. Isaiah 30:18. (The Message) But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right-everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. 19 Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you'll find its grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he'll answer. 20 just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he'll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, 21 urging you on whenever you wander left or right: "This is the right road. Walk down this road."22 You'll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You'll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, "Good riddance!" 23 God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. 24 oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well 25 near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills.
Now let’s look at verses 19 and 21. First, I feel like I should say that Ecclesiastes is clear about there being a time for everything at one time or another and there is a time for crying, but there is a time for rejoicing too. Here I believe God is saying that time begins when we FIND GRACE. What does this mean? Well I believe it means salvation. The children of Israel were locked in the law, a cyclical situation that could never truly bring freedom. Grace, salvation, comes when we cry out to God and once freedom is received no one can take it away. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  When we cry out to God, He hears, and He moved toward us. (Luke 15:11-32)
So now that God has moved toward us, brought us salvation through grace (Romans 3:22-25) what does He do next? Because salvation IS NOT enough, If it was, God  would immediately take us to heaven the moment we were saved and over half of the New Testament would not have needed to be written. Once we are saved, God gives us a teacher: the Holy Spirit.  20 just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he'll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, 21 urging you on whenever you wander left or right: "This is the right road. Walk down this road. “
I Corinthians 2:13 (KJV) says “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
So now when we think about waiting, it is not such a lonely existence. We have already said we should be moving, but we do not do it alone. We move and breathe IN HIM and HIM in us. (Acts 17:28)  As He guides and teaches us what path to take the Spirit is a vital part of our lives as Christians. When we look at the word for Spirit in Strong’s Concordance (4151) it says this: the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son sometimes referred to in a way which emphasizes his personality and character (the \\Holy\\ Spirit) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasizes his work and power (the Spirit of \\Truth\\) the spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ
He will tell us what paths to avoid and most importantly He will show us which one to take.  The Holy Spirit will lead us the WAY we should go while we wait. I call this Server training. Stay with me…
A server (that politically correct word for waiter) is only as good as his/her training. If he has never been taught to serve from the right side, then he might make his guests uncomfortable or worse yet, mistakenly spill hot food on someone. We are the same. We must be trained (taught) by the Holy Spirit to do things the right way: God’s way.  Who do we serve? Well we serve God by serving one another. (Mark 10:45) No matter what your “dream” is that you are waiting on, you must train. Yesterday we talked about the runner, training for a marathon, today a waiter, serving the body. Do you get the theme? Waiting is work. I am reminded of Nehemiah 6::9. The enemy has tormented us into believing that waiting means being forgotten, and even abandoned. We must remember that WAITING really means working, and we must ask God to strengthen our hands for the task.
Be blessed and be a blessing and remember that training is work and work is a verb! 

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What do you mean You want me to WAIT???

Photo Credit: Creative Commons
God takes the time to do everything right! 


So what about your dream?

You know that one thing you have secretly held in your heart, that thing that no one but you and God knows about that seems like it will never happen: What about THAT? 

Doesn't God give us the desires of our hearts? Yep, but it takes patience, because believe it or not, (and I hope you do) God’s timing is perfect. 

So let’s talk about waiting. 

O no! What a dirty word! Waiting. Oops, did it again! 

That word has caused more melt-downs than any I can think of. We hate to wait. Christian or not, people are impatient; especially Americans. Somehow we have the false notion that first, the customer is always right, and second that we should have what we want 2 seconds after we ask for it. We have been conditioned to being waited on and we need to learn to wait. But, this is not going to be about the practical applications of patience, though we all need to learn that lesson, myself included (believe me), but this will be a closer look at learning to trust God’s timing and what real “waiting” is.

Isaiah 30:18. (The Message) But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right-everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you'll find its grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he'll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he'll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: "This is the right road. Walk down this road." You'll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You'll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, "Good riddance!" God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills.

Did you think I was making this waiting thing up? Nope, I wouldn’t do that to you. But this week we will break this passage down bit by bit and when it is all said and done; we can "geek out" together over the great things we have learned and the exciting things God has for us that are still to come.

Today we will look at this: God is not finished with you and I

The finished work is the Cross. He sent Jesus to die for our sin so first we could be redeemed (bought, purchased back from death) and second so we could become the sons and daughters of God. But you and I are His workmanship, like fine art pieces that take time to sculpt cure, and fire before they are priceless works.(Ps 139:14, Ephesians 2:10) Keep in mind, He is our potter, we are the clay. (Isaiah 64:8)

Sculpting a Work of Art

I know a little about sculpting because I loved to sculpt in college. This involves pounding the clay out, beating it on the table, shaping it with hands and other hard tools, sometimes even cutting away large chunks of clay all together. OUCH. 

And that is just the first part of sculpting: there is curing, which involves being left up on the shelf for a long period of time slowly drying out. Then there is glazing, which means you get dunked in muck, slathered in slime and left to dry again. And the most difficult part is the firing. Temperatures get so hot and pressure so high in the firing that only the strongest and well-formed pieces come out without cracks. 

Sound like something you are ready to sign up for? 

With a Master craftsman working on us, the outcome will be worth it! What if I told you that in this final state, after all the work was done, you would bring glory to your Creator? Interested now? The process is the hard, but necessary part, and we often become impatient to get to the end without the willingness to go through the “creative process”. That is why the passage says the ones who do wait on Him are the lucky ones.

So does that mean we just sit around waiting for some burning bush moment before we get to begin to live our dream, before we get to be that masterpiece? Nope. Let’s look at what wait means in the original Hebrew. Wait means to wait (duh), to tarry, (hang around) to long for (those heart’s desires) and it comes from a root word that means to carve out, to engrave (To achieve our dreams there has to be some preparation right?) So while we wait there is work to be done!

But Wait! There's More!

They that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength… (Is 40:31) But it doesn’t stop right there. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

There are things to do in the waiting, running the race God set before us and walking out our faith daily. You don’t prepare for a half marathon by simply reading about it, dreaming about it and talking about it. You practice running, you feed your body what it needs, and you don’t slack off just because it isn’t a full marathon or a cross-country event in the Olympics - you know- those things you “dreamed” about doing all your life.

In Pursuit of More

I want to close with this. Years ago, a man who spoke a tremendous amount into my life through Bible School, and later when I was a praise and worship leader at his church, told me something I will NEVER forget. 

“Pursue the desire of your heart in the name of Jesus, giving glory to God in both the big and the small things, and you will be in the will and call of God for your life”- Pastor Jimmy Kirby.

Pursue is defined as this: to follow in order to overtake, chase. 2. To follow close upon 3. To strive to gain; seek to attain or accomplish (an end, object, purpose, etc.). 4. To proceed in accordance with (a method, plan, etc.). 5. To carry on or continue (a course of action, a train of thought, an inquiry, studies, etc.).

So when we look at the journey, THEN waiting becomes not just sitting around, but actively pursuing the things of God in our lives and continually striving for that dream He put in our heart in the first place. 

If we want to become His workmanship we have to understand The Master’s creative process. While you walk the path God has for you, and you faint not, you will find (much to your joy) that He gives above and beyond all we could ask or think. The dream you thought was the culmination of all you wanted to become may just be the beginning of what He is doing.

Do you have a "waiting" story?

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Announcing the Winner: Following Drive

Congratulations C. Bergen! Winner of our Following Drive. You have won the $10.00 gift certificate to Bath and Body Works. Please congratulate C. Bergen with me and thank you all for participating. The blog has reached into the Philippines, Chili, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, and the USA. Keep sharing with friends, and lets light the world on fire for JESUS!  


Sunday Reflections January 29, 2012

Well, today is Sunday, and that means I reflect on the week and share with you things small and large that have moved me.
First, I have to say thank you to my Father, to whom all glory is due for the wonderful blessings He has brought through this blog. The fact that in less than three weeks of beginning this blog, over 350 visitors have been to this page is amazing to me! I am especially excited by the number of visitors from Russia, who I have had a heart for ever since it was the U.S.S.R. and I had a pen-pal from there when I was just 12 years old. Knowing that God has brought a desire of my heart (to minister in Russia) back around in such a new way has moved me to dancing, to giggles, and yes, to tears. I can honestly say that with every word I type I develop more love for those of you who have chosen to read this blog, and joined this journey with me. My heart is full right now.
Secondly, I would like to encourage (once more) all of you to participate here with any questions or comments you have. (And you have to push the publish button or it won't work Aunt Ruth <3) this is not just the Dayna show. (No Jesus- complex here, I promise) I want this to be a place of fellowship and a chance for everyone to share the love of Christ.
And finally, I know I risk someone thinking I am beating a dead horse here, but if you like any post, please feel free to share it by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or Google +. Those options are at the end of each post. (See, just below) The gospel is supposed to be shared, so pass this along. I assure you it is not for me, but for Christ. He has given us a mission, and this can be a part of yours in some small way, with just a click of a button.
I look forward to what this new, upcoming week will hold, and I ask that you pray for me as I pray for you. I pray that you would grow in strength and go from glory to glory; that whatever trials you face, you do so sitting in Daddy's lap, and you allow Him to have control. Be blessed and be a blessing, and know that my love is in my words. 


The Attitude of Worship

Oh no- the “A” word! (Insert dramatic music here)
Has anyone ever told you “you have an attitude problem”? I know I have. It seems, at every major junction of my life, as a child, as a teen, as a wife, as a friend, as an employee, as a parishioner, I have been told in one way or another that I have had a bad attitude. Sometimes rather vocally and publically, because I didn’t get the subtle hints I was a jerk from the beginning.
I have been thinking about this and this is JUST the opinion of Dayna, not the Church of Dayna… for me I think it has come down to one thing; I think higher of myself than I ought to. When I am honest with myself, and that is the person I have lied to the most in the past, I have this exaggerated opinion of myself.
Do not get me wrong here! I know God made me with talent, and ability, and intelligence. This is not an issue of esteem. This is an issue of pride.
Romans 12:2-3 Amplified Bible (AMP) 2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. 3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.
Proverbs 16:18 says Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  
Pride in the original Hebrew means arrogance, swelling, pomp, and it can mean to rise up, to be lifted up, to exalt.
When we raise ourselves up, when we are the ones with the haughty spirit, we paint God into a corner. We become so stiff necked, He has no other choice but to bring us low and remove us from His position in our lives. He has to de-throne us, because we climbed into Daddy’s chair, and that is not where we are supposed to be.  
Crashing to the earth in one huge very public wreck because we were stiff-necked (stubborn in our pride) is not comfortable, and the recovery time from that kind of fall can take years to get past. The root of the word destruction in Hebrew is “shabar” which means to be maimed or crippled. Do we want years of spiritual rehab? For some of us, myself included, it is a very painful, raw, and often lengthy process. One we are destined to repeat if we don’t learn to be humble. (The children of Israel wondered the desert for 40 years…I don’t want to circle the same mountain anymore!)
That is why we must humble ourselves before the Lord.
Humility is where it is at!
Humble in the original Hebrew is this: to become low, to sink, (Be still and know!) to rest into, and to abase.  Matthew 5:3 (TM) "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.John the Baptist realized this and we should have the same attitude every day in our walk with God: He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
So what does this have to do with worship? Well, let’s bring this home.
Psalms 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
This is not just a physical kneeling, not just a bending of our bodies. IT IS AN ATTITUDE. We put ourselves in a lower position in our esteem (we value less or take less pride in ourselves) because we actively lift and exalt God in our lives and recognize WHO HE IS!
So in your song service, in your private worship time, in your prayer time, in that moment in the grocery store when you get grief from the cashier and all you want to do is remind her who you are (the customer is NOT always right) keep the attitude of humility. He will give you the grace to do so. He will reward you.
Proverbs 29:23 saysA man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Honor in the Hebrew here is ‘kabowd’ and it means glory, abundance, riches, reputation, reverence, respect. If we want these things, we must be humble.
This is a hard thing for me to write about. I have battled, and will continue to battle pride throughout my life, but one thing I know: that if I did not say these things now, I would not be worthy of writing another word. I would not have the right to teach if I could not take correction from the Holy Spirit myself. I am not perfect, no one but Jesus is, but I strive to be teachable, and I sit at THE MASTER’s feet.
Psalms 99:5 “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; for He is holy.”
Be blessed and Be a blessing and remember that bow is a verb.  

God says RELAX!

Psalm 46
 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth. 11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It shows just how much we can trust him. In Him we are safe, because no matter what happens in our lives, He is present. Think about this.
When we face challenges so big, we have no idea how we will overcome: HE is with us. When we hear “no” so many times we wonder if life will ever throw us a bone: He is with us. When enemies press all around, and we have no idea what to do: HE is with us. When we sit in a hospital waiting-room hearing the doctor say cancer: He is with us. When we are alone because our spouse left, He is with us. When we have given up on life, because we feel like there is nothing to live for, He is with us. When the very foundation of our world seems shaken, He is with us AND He is in control!
Reading verse 4 and 5 which talk about the River flowing, making the city of God glad I get excited. Because that River is God’s blessings and His presence in my life and now that Jesus has come, God dwells in me, not just Heaven!
But by far, my absolute favorite part of these verses is this: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Strong’s concordance says the word “Still” is raphah. It means this: relax, let it go, be still, chill out, drop down, let it alone, be quiet, cut yourself some slack.
We all have deadlines, pressure to perform, demands from family and high expectations from ourselves to be perfect, and we constantly compare ourselves to others. Wow, no wonder we are a mess. No wonder God wants us to be still. God says RELAX! Chill out, let it go, cut yourself some slack and KNOW (understand, become intimately acquainted with the fact that) He is God!
The bible says that God’s people perish (die, bite it, cease to live) because they lack KNOWLEDGE! (John 8:32) Someone pointed out to me recently that it isn’t ‘the truth shall set you free’; it is the truth you KNOW that sets you free. So know this: God is in control, HE is with you, and He will not forsake you and leave you to face anything alone. Be still, relax into His arms and chill a while in His presence. Cut yourself some slack and rely more on Him, He has this!
Be blessed and be a blessing, and remember, relax is a verb. 


Corporate Worship, YES, that means TOGETHER...

Church- body- congregation- in the Greek it is ‘ekklesia’ and it means the assembling of God’s people. Hebrews 10:24-25 says provoke (or entice/challenge) one another to love and do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together…but exhort (build up) one another and so much more. In case you think ‘church’ is a modern idea and God didn’t give examples of it in the Old Testament, then look at Psalms 149:1-4. (The Message)
Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand-new song, praise him in the company of all who love him. Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator, Zion's children exult in their King. Let them praise his name in dance; strike up the band and make great music! And why? Because God delights in his people.
Something I want to point out here. There is an order to Praise and Worship, and it revolves around FOCUS. The focus of our worship should be God. In this text it says hallelujah, sing to God, praise Him, Celebrate the Sovereign Creator, exult the King, praise His name THEN it talks about the music (the actual artistry of sound). What we focus on is what becomes important in our lives. So if we obsess about the style of the music or what the conga drummer did that should have been done by the main drummer, or if someone on the Praise Team sung a flat note THEN WE MISS THE MARK! I have been soooo guilty of this. Nit-picking every little element of the music and missing the opportunity to usher God’s presence into my life, I have spent a month of Sundays, if not more, miserable about the praise and worship service: totally missing the point of why I was there in the first place. It is not about me, it is about sharing with other believers my faith, my trust, my hope in my Father. It is about my neighbor being strengthened and reminded that God cares for them, and by example showing the unbelievers among us that there is something bigger than themselves that calls to them, and that is the TRUTH of salvation.
The funny thing is there will always be those of us that still pout like petulant children and ask why? Why do I need to spend time together with those ‘churchy’ people? Why does God give us these examples of corporate worship? “BECAUSE GOD DELIGHTS IN HIS PEOPLE”  
We get together for so many things in this life: birthday parties, super bowls, getting engaged, getting married, celebrating a promotion or sending someone off as they embark on the next chapter of their life, like graduation, or just to send someone off on vacation… and still there are those that wonder why they should “get together” with other believers and spend some time worshipping God?
To those who feel this way, consider what the psalmist said in Psalms 84:10 “Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere”. To me this is reason enough. Moving on…
Praise and worship should be clear. Whether you are “bringing in the sheaves”, or “giving it all away, away”, songs should be easily understood and followed. Not everyone can rap, and a service full of TobyMac-ish lyrics won’t minister to every age, just like old-style hymns won’t minister to kids who have no idea what sheaves are in the first place. This is not just a matter of personal or “Church” style, but there is a practical application as well. Let’s look at that next.
Earlier I said “showing the unbelievers among us that there is something bigger than themselves”. I want to talk about that for a moment. Corporate Worship should be evangelistic. There are often unsaved among the body on any given Sunday, and our Praise and Worship time should not be so “churchy” that it excludes the non-believer. Remember in the story of King Jehoshaphat that we covered a few days ago in “Jumping Jehoshaphat!”? After all the battles were over, the children of Israel sang and worshiped all the way home to Jerusalem and the other nations heard them and knew that God fought on behalf of Israel and they (the other nations and kingdoms) believed. Songs did that, not a 45 minute sermon, not a prophet standing under some tree…songs
Twenty years ago, my friend Teresa, had never been to church. She was raised in a home that was extremely worldly and she had never heard the name of Jesus in anyway other than as a curse word. So imagine her shock when she went to her first church service with her new boyfriend and all their songs said Jesus in them over and over and some even talked about blood and sacrifice. She told me later that all she kept picturing was a slasher-style movie scene in her head of some Michael Voorhees-like character cussing while ripping out his victim’s guts. She laughs now, because she knows what “power in the blood” means and why Jesus is so precious, but what grabbed her attention was the strangeness of the way the people at church spoke and the things they sang. She was full of questions that eventually got answered by her boyfriend and his parents (later her hubby and in-laws) and she became a believer. I tell this story to say this: our song service is another chance to present the gospel. Praise and Worship should be clear because it is a chance to expose the unsaved to the gospel and spark life in them for the first time.
How do we do this? We stay relevant. We are not part of the world because we are now new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) but we have to live in the world around us, because that is where we were called out of. (John 15:19)

Webster’s online says relevance is this: Definition of RELEVANT

1 a: having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand baffording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony> c: having social importance

We need to change. Not what we stand for or who we are as believers, but we must modify our approach. Change is hard. We are creatures of habit. I can hear several of the people that I grew up around, in my head now, saying if it was good enough then, it is good enough now. And in one way they are right. We still want people to know they can have Victory in Jesus, but what does it hurt to sing that in a newer, fresher way? The message is the same, the delivery is different.
Are there any problems with staying relevant? Only if reaching the lost is a problem. You remember them right, the lost? “Those” people in the mall that don’t look like you because they have rings in their noses, and holes the size of quarters in their ears need Jesus too. So do the rappers, the punkers, the skaters, the bikers, the cowboys, the emo’s and any other sub-culture you can think of. Jesus died for them all. (John 3:16, Galatians 3:28)
I have heard one pastor say it like this: we catch the fish, Jesus cleans the fish. I heard another say this: get them born and let God change the diapers. Hopefully you get the point, catching fish takes effort, and it is work to bring babies into the world. We must prove we have a significantly better way of living life and present evidence to that fact. We must show we have importance socially but most vital is to show spiritual importance. That is relevance.
Finally, allow room for the Holy Spirit to move. If I haven’t lost you already, I may lose you here. I must preface this with two things. First, I believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Malachi 3:6) and secondly that there is a Godhead or trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, and 16:8-13). Since God does not change, and He cannot lie, then the Holy Spirit is still active today! He is a comforter, a teacher, a friend. Allow the Spirit to show you the things of God and you and the body will never be the same. (We can talk about order in a service and the Holy Spirit at another time, but if you want to look at that read 1 Corinthians 13 and 14 to start)  
So if your corporate worship is country and western, or contemporary, or rock; remember these fundamentals:
1.      It must be God focused
2.      It must be clear
3.      It must be evangelistic
4.      It must be relevant
5.      It must allow room for the Spirit
Be blessed and be a blessing and remember that together is and adverb. 

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Investing in your Spiritual 401K with Worship

It is a "Me" Problem 

Whether a praise and worship service is ‘good’ or not does not depend on the band, the leader, or the acoustics, but it does have everything to do with us. 

I have been Praise and Worship leader for two churches, and sang with the praise and worship team in others, and I have been just another singer with the congregation, as I am now in my home church. I have even been in a choir featured on a praise and worship album with Hosanna Integrity (Holy Fire with Paul Wilbur). 

So What Makes Worship Good? 

I have gone to churches where everything that happens in a song service is perfectly planned and executed, and I have been to services, where the congregation sings with backup tapes because there is no band. I have seen song services that are so dry that the dusty bones crying in the desert have more life, and I have been in real worship services that have been so moving, so powerful, it ushered in the Presence of God and it became the only service that day: preaching never happened. Do you know what all those services have in common? 


Jesus said to the woman at the well, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

So break it down: Worship God honestly, (truth) leaving no part of you closed off, even your spirit, (heart) your soul (mind, will and emotions) and your body should be open to Him and His spirit as you enter into His presence and exalt Him. 

Psalms 150:4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.6 Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalms 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

Remember, worship is an UNSELFISH act. We sacrifice our time, our focus (which face it, usually is on us way too often) and give our time and our focus to God. Decreasing our value (in our own eyes) and increasing His in our lives is the goal! (John 3:30) 

We have already looked at God moving on our behalf because we worship, (Jumping Jehoshaphat) and seen that real praise and worship can break chains and change the course of our lives (Turn up the volume and Rock on!

Let the Storing Up Begin!

But it only happens if we invest all we are. Matthew 6 says lay up our treasures in heaven, in other words, invest in what is important! 

Worshiping God is an investment in our relationship with Him, our spiritual 401K, if you will…. And its growth all depends on what you contribute to it. 

Be blessed and be a blessing and remember that invest is a verb!!!

Join the Conversation

What is your favorite way to get into God's presence? 

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Turn up the volume and ROCK on!

Are You Missing Out? 

If all you consider praise and worship to be is the three or four songs you sing at the beginning of a church service, then you are missing out! It is so much more than that.

Today’s text is from Acts. Paul and Silas had been traveling around the city for several days and there was a slave girl, possessed, used by her masters as a fortune teller following them everywhere. When Paul had enough of her interference, he turned, and spoke to the spirit itself, and cast it out in the name of Jesus. 

 Her owners were not pleased because she would no longer be able to be a profitable slave, so they set on Paul and Silas and beat them and threw them into maximum security. Here is where we pick up the story.

Acts 16: 23 (NCV) Then Paul and Silas were thrown into jail, and the jailer was ordered to guard them carefully. When he heard this order, he put them far inside the jail and pinned their feet down between large blocks of wood. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing songs to God as the other prisoners listened. Suddenly, there was a strong earthquake that shook the foundation of the jail. Then all the doors of the jail broke open, and all the prisoners were freed from their chains.

So, beaten, bruised, and in maximum security (inner jail and in stocks) Paul and Silas began to pray and sing! Songs of praise, thanksgiving and worship (The Message version says ‘robust hymns’) were loudly and sincerely offered to God in the middle of some pretty bad circumstances. 

Now I have never been beaten as bad as these two were, but I have some experience being severely bruised and sore from an automobile accident. If I was forced to sit in one position all night in a jail cell after my body had felt such horrible trauma, I don’t know if this would be my response.

How would you respond? 

These men focused not on themselves, but on God. They understood something: this life is temporary and so are our circumstances. 

I want you to think about this. 

Our lives are eternal, having no end. If you have a relationship with Jesus, that means after this flesh dies, you spend more time in some other state than you will in this body, and you will spend it in the PRESENCE OF GOD! 

When you look at life this way, you can walk in confidence and freedom to obey God more than ever before, to worship Him as you never have before.

Now let’s talk about Volume! 

I am not talking about the size of your hair for all you ladies in Texas, but the intensity of sound in which you worship God. 

You should not be ashamed of God, (Luke 9:26) nor should you be ashamed of giving praise where and when praise is due (Ps 96:9).

Psalms 31 says

“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed”.

Turn it up! 

Your praise and worship time with God should be so intense it drowns out all else. It should drown out the voice of the enemy and it should drown out our flesh. It should drown out the sound of your boss, spouse, or kids. Make a joyful noise! PS 81:1 “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.”

Now, what kind of songs?

I am not here to tell you what songs to sing to God. If you enjoy Southern Gospel, Christian rap, or Contemporary like Hillsong United, Hosanna Integrity, and Vineyard, or if you would never sing anything that wasn’t in a hymnal, then that is fine. 

What matters is this: that what you sing should sincerely move you as it GLORIFIES GOD. That is what praise and worship is, glorifying God through music and song, exalting Him above all else.

Rock the house! 

Paul and Silas sang loudly. The other prisoners heard them. They rocked the house! How can I tell that? It rocked the earth and went to the very foundations! This may or may not be a literal translation, but it does have spiritual applications. Real praise and worship ushers in the presence of God. 

Real praise and worship breaks chains, and sets people free. Not only did it break those in literal chains free, it breaks down the walls and barriers that people hold up that keep them from seeking relationship with God in the first place.

Acts 16: 27- 34 “The jailer woke up and saw that the jail doors were open. Thinking that the prisoners had already escaped, he got his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Don’t hurt yourself! We are all here.” The jailer told someone to bring a light. Then he ran inside and, shaking with fear, fell down before Paul and Silas. He brought them outside and said, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” They said to him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all the people in your house.” So Paul and Silas told the message of the Lord to the jailer and all the people in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds. Then he and all his people were baptized immediately. After this the jailer took Paul and Silas home and gave them food. He and his family were very happy because they now believed in God”.

Freedom is contagious! 

Paul and Silas, despite their circumstances, praised and worship God. That ushered in the presence of God, and that sets people free! Worship God today, and every day. Bring His presence into your life and watch Him rock your world to the very foundations!

Be blessed and be a blessing and remember exalt is a verb!

When is your favorite time to worship? 

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Jumping Jehoshaphat!

I said we would be exploring more about praise and worship this week, and jumping Jehoshaphat we will! Let’s look at 2 Chronicles 20: 12b, 15b, (KJV), and 18- 30. (The Message)

12b for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.15b Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.18 Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. 19 The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs! 20 They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, "Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you'll come out on top!" 21 After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, Give thanks to God, His love never quits. 22 As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead.23 The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed. 24 As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies-not a living soul among them. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off-equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away!26 On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that's how it got the name, Valley of Blessing). 27 Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem-an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! 28 They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing. 29 When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel's enemies, the fear of God descended on them. 30 Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned.

Wow, what a story, and what an example for us. Are times hard? Are you facing enemies all around? First, keep your eyes on God. When your eyes are looking in a direction that is the direction you head. Ask any batting coach you screams ‘keep your eye on the ball’ or hall monitor that yells ‘watch were you are walking’. Psalms 121:1 says “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” God is our help. God holds us under his wing, and sings over us. He knows our comings and goings. He loves beyond measure and is faithful all the days of our lives. Look to Him!

Verse 15b shows us, that when our eyes are fixed on Him, when we trust in Him, He answers us! We are not alone in this life. God will never leave us or forsake us. (I Kings 8:57) That promise of God, in itself, is reason to worship God. And the children of Israel did. Verse 18 and 19: they worshiped at the word of the Lord and the priests praised with a LOUD voice (as one) on high. They sang at the top of their lungs! (I will say here, that not all of us can sing well, but all of us can make a joyful NOISE! It is a heart issue, not an ear issue!)

Next, you must understand that PRAISE GOES BEFORE YOU! In verse 21 we see that a choir (or troop) of singers was appointed to go before the army: singing “Give thanks to God, His love never quits.” There is something that happens when we are worshiping God, which is this: He is moved to work on our behalf! Take a close look at verse 22 through 23, because here we see God set ambush Israel's enemies and He causes them to turn on one another and they kill every single one! There wasn’t just one enemy, but many! God was big enough to take care of them all.

In addition to taking care of His people, God supplies the spoils! (Verse 25) there are benefits to worship beyond in that moment. God lines up His blessings for us when we worship. (Ps 84:7 says we go strength to strength)

Now what? The battle is over! So worship the LORD! Sometimes, when the trouble is past, it is easy to fall back into complacency and forget to worship God for what He has done! Israel marched all the way back home jamming out to praise and worship. The band was in full swing! I know God loves worship because creatures in heaven are seated around the throne saying day and night “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

Finally, when the other nations and kingdoms saw that God fought His children’s battles, they backed off and there was peace! Peace! So lay down your desire to fight all your battles on your own. When we worship, God fights on our behalf and does so for His glory. (Ps 19:1-10)

Worship is a reasonable response to His faithfulness, to His goodness, to His love. Worship solidifies our relationship with God, and moves God to act on our behalf. Worship is an extension of who we are: God’s creation, just like those around the throne singing “Holy, Holy, Holy!” So rock out readers! Crank it up, and shout it out! Our God is faithful, and He deserves our Praise!

Be blessed and be a blessing and remember: sing is a verb!

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Sunday Reflections January 22, 2012

Sunday Reflections January 22, 2012

I have had a wonderful time this week delving into the Word. At the same time, I have had a challenging week. I have had physical pain that has really bothered me, a water heater break (we are warming water on the stove right now), parenting was a challenge this week (teenagers, need I say more) and problems with automobiles. So life has continued to happen.
I am reminded of a book by Erma Bombeck, who in the eighties was a favorite in my parents' house, called If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? She had a humorous way of looking at the many mini-challenges we faced in our everyday life, and I loved reading her as a kid. The only thing I would add is that while I am in the pits, I will continue to praise my Lord.
Praise is what reminds us of who He is and all He has done. Worship time with God is important, because it solidifies an intimacy that needs to be in your relationship with God.
We will probably look more at praise and worship in the next week and you can share with me some of your favorite worship titles.
I hope this last week has meant something to you. I really loved writing each one of these and I want to encourage you, readers, to leave comments. I am doing this for the reasons I have shared, but it can get a little lonely. Plus, part of the fun is the fellowship. Also, Please feel free to share this site blog by blog through e-mail, Facebook, twitter, and/or Google +. We can spread the gospel to the world. This week this page was viewed 9 times in Russia. I was so excited. I danced around the house despite my bad foot for at least 2 hours talking about it, praising God for it, and in general geeking out about it.
Our Follow drive is still going on, so tell your friends about the chance to win a Bath and Body Works gift card, time is running out.
I pray that this new week is one that sees you blessed coming in and going out, that you are blessed in your home and at work, that you walk in the favor of God. I pray that you put on the armor of God and stand strong in your faith. Be blessed and be a blessing. Remember that praise is a verb! 


Be the Butterfly

We MUST live our lives with intention. 

If we, as Christians do not, the world will not be able to tell us from everyone else. We are called to be separate. How do we live separate, how do we live a life of distinction? Answer: Choice.

Changes don’t come overnight, but by every choice we make. 

When we first become followers of Christ the change happens inside. 

We change from the inside out. 

Be the butterfly

Metamorphosis happens on a cellular level. Before metamorphosis cells that don’t have a specialized job, become active during metamorphosis and begin developing new limbs, new designs, and new patterns. 

This is true in tadpoles and caterpillars, and spiritually, it is true in you. 

Change happens from the inside out. Change is slow, and sometimes the “creature” you see mid-change isn’t that beautiful butterfly, but the wiggling chrysalis that kind of makes you uncomfortable when you look at it. 

 PUSH through…

Change takes time. Growth takes time. Don't wait for some huge miraculous change. Every day we must crucify ourselves, and follow Christ. (Matthew 16:24) Kill your flesh daily. Kill your expectations, kill your desires, and kill “YOU” as the focus of the day to day. Focus on what the Father wants. (Seek ye first the kingdom of God AND HIS righteousness and all these things [the ones you put off, killed, sacrificed, gave up] will be added to you. Matthew 6:33).

Sometimes living with intention is difficult. I would argue that it is the hardest choice but the easier path. (Narrow path leads to heaven… Matthew 7:13)

Little by little you will find there are times when that thing that you have been crucifying, that thing you have been changing in your life choice by choice, is not a struggle anymore and you don't even have to think about it anymore. This is not always easy.

My Personal Story

I have been a Christian most of my life, but lived without intention for most of that time. Without intention I see-sawed up and down in my life spiritually, emotionally and physically. I battled un-forgiveness and bitterness. 

These are crippling spiritual cancers that unchecked will allow offense to come in and rob you. I have been there; up close and personal, believe me! Emotionally I was a boiling pressure cooker with no release valve: blowing up at the smallest provocation. 

Physically I was a smoker, who when small or large frustrations came, I went to light up instead of taking that frustration to Jesus. Each of these things I still have an occasional mental moment with. 

When I get upset, for a second I think, I would love a cigarette now. But taking that thought captive I choose to make a change. (2 Corinthians 10:5) I intentionally change my mind which changes the physical, and since praying is one of the ways I take that thought captive I change the attitude of my heart.

I don't always get it right! 

Recently I had a run in with a medical professional that really upset me. (This was concerning my youngest daughter's health) I acted very un-Christ-like in my anger. I stormed out of the doctor’s office and slammed doors, with my daughter in tow of course, so great example mom! (NOT!) 

We are supposed to be angry and not sin.(Ephesians 4:26) (Ever just wanna tell God "not fair, that one is too hard!?") Obviously I have not perfected these things yet but these are the moments we must choose to live with intention. We must choose to crucify ourselves, our "right" to be angry, our self-righteousness, and follow Christ. 

Easier said than done? 

I hear ya, but I choose to trust God. He says the rewards will be great: Children rising up to call me blessed, my joy will be full, I will become a light on a hill, all those things in my heart of hearts (that secret place God sees and knows: my spirit-man) I desire, because they are Gods will for me. 

These things are His will for you too, because these things mean we look more like Him, and that means we look less like the world. God has called us out, separated us, we are his sheep and we hear his voice. (Psalms 95:7, John 10:3, 16, and 17) Choose to listen for His voice every day and then live like you hear Him.

Choose you this day who you will serve. (Joshua 24:15)

Be blessed and be a blessing. Remember, choose is a verb: choice is a noun.

Join the Conversation: 

What is one thing you would like to change about you? 

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Q and A Examining the Word

I was going to write more about Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61 today, but I wanted to try something a little different.  Here are the verses as they are in the King James. Read over them, and let’s compare and contrast them. You tell me what you see that is the same and what is different.
Luke 4:18 (KJV) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

1.       Knowing Jesus did not read all of the passage, why do you think He stopped?
2.       Who comforts the mourning if it is not Jesus?
3.       How does the last portion of Isaiah apply to us as believers now?
Do these passages bring any questions up for you? Put your comments below and lets discuss.
Remember, faith takes work, and work is a verb! Let’s get to it: