Friday, September 23, 2011

What Do You Give A God Who Has Everything?

I love to learn about worship. I love to listen to the latest worship music and hear about the creative ways that churches use to incorporate worship into their identity. I've read many books on worship leading, listened to teachings & sermons on worship, traveled to different churches to watch what they do. I've studied the history of worship in churches and denominations around the world. I love talking with people about worship, because talking out what I think helps me solidify my beliefs. Living in our wealthy culture, there are resources upon resources available to me to enhance my understanding of worship. There are more than enough viewpoints and orders of service out there for me to think about and get my hands on.

But all of those things I just mentioned are mere supplements to the true knowledge of worship. In reality, there is one thing I need to learn about worship...and I need to learn it well. Interestingly though, many of the supplements I listed above do not take me to this one thing. They take me to creating song lists, how to work with your pastor for Sunday mornings, how to deal with musicians - to audition or not audition? That is the question, etc. Where can I find the newest sound equipment? They take me to creating a 'worship atmosphere' that is comfortable for the congregants and welcoming of people of all varying walks and situations. They teach me about the importance of enhancing my musical talent and how to sell many of my own worship CD's. They ask me to question how much of my song lists should be rehearsed versus spontaneous. Yet, with all these topics, it is still true that there is only one thing I need to learn about worship...and I need to learn it well.

One thing.
One resource.
One way.

I need to learn the One that I am worshiping. I need to learn the object upon whom my worshiping affections will be cast. I need to learn the One, inside and out.  I need to learn the One I am worshiping. I need to know Him. I need to know His thoughts. I need to know His dance moves, His emotions. And...I need to know what pleases Him.

What do you get for a God who has everything? What makes Him tick? What can I possibly bring that would please such a perfectly beautiful being?

I have no money, no fame, and many mistakes, yet, daily I can bring Him this question:  "Father, what do you desire from me today?" Our Western culture consistently ingrains in us the drive for self-gratification. This drive has spilled over into our churches and into our approach to the King of kings. Worship is relationship, not a great musical performance or expression. Worship is not lights, projectors, smoke machines and drum's not even my Roland keyboard that I love with oh so much of my heart! A "good" time of worship has NOTHING to do with how tight the band was musically or whether the songs played were my very favorite. Worship is Other-mindedness. It is every day. It is covenant partnership...a love relationship. It is sacrificing my desires to prefer what my Significant Other adores.

How do we know what pleases Him? Ask Him. He speaks. He speaks well. He speaks so well that when words are uttered from His mouth worlds come into existence. He speaks so well that all of the created order is sustained by His voice. We have a 66 book manual of His preferences and the things that bring pleasure to His heart. It's the Word. He is the Word. Read it. Know it. Do it. Know Him. Learn Him and proactively surprise Him with what excites Him. Daily. Right now. Abide in Him and learn His likes and dis-likes, His opinions and pet-peeves, His joys and delight.

I do not need one more worship leader conference or book on how to create a song list. I need to know One thing and I need to know Him well. Out of that knowing will spill the Great the Commandment, a love for Him that encompasses and requires every part of my being...a true worshiping heart.Welcome to "for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer", through death we will never part. Welcome to my life's pursuit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Kind of Love This...

All fear is but the notion that God's love ends. Did you think that I end, that My bread warehouses are limited, that I will not be enough? But I am infinite, child. What can end in Me? Can life end in Me? Can happiness? Or peace? Or anything you need? Doesn't your Father always give you what you need? I am the Bread of Life and My bread for you will never end. Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough. In Me, blessings never end because My love for you never ends. If My goodness towards you end, I will cease to exist, child. As long as there is a God in heaven there is grace on earth and I am the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing-love-grace. ~God

I love that AND the very warm chocolate-chip cookies I just pulled out of my oven. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

God's Word Cuts Deep...1 Thessalonians 5:18

NASB:             "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
ESV:                "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
MESSAGE:    "Thank God no matter what happens. This the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." 
KJV:                "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Holy Spirit, I need your help! Thank You that You are the Helper. 

If it is God's will for us to give thanks in every circumstance, that means that there are things to be found in every circumstance to be thankful about. This is a partner verse with "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) If it is God's will for us to rejoice (re-joice = to joy again) in every circumstance, it means that joy can be found in every circumstance. I believe this is true and I am challenged. Too often I look for the wrong things in circumstances - worry, unbelief, fear, bitterness & disappointment. I even find that I live on edge, bearing down, waiting for these things to emerge. WHAT?! What Kingdom do I live in? God is ever joyful, never worried or despairing. God is ever delighting and rejoicing over us (Zephaniah 3:17). I think it is true to say that God is thankful for us...humbling. I want to be like my Father.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 is where God has my heart centered right now and I am in no hurry to leave. I want a thankful heart. I want my natural response to my daily life on this earth to be, "Thank You, Lord." I want to be thankful for others and toward others. I want to have a heart that seeks out treasures of joy and gratefulness that are hidden in every situation of my life. I am thankful for this pursuit, and I also recognize how much my heart needs to be transformed. My mind needs renewed. My habits and patterns need to be changed. 

1 Thessalonians me, O God, and find all ungratefulness within me. Transform me by the renewing of my mind. You are the Good God. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Right Now

I'm being challenged by thankfulness. I'm challenged by my lack of it and I'm challenged by the raw power of it. I'm challenged by how quickly thankfulness humbles me and slaughters my pride and stubborn heart. I'm challenged by how God's love language is a thankful heart. It must be. Thankfulness is the only thing I find in Scripture that is the doorway to His presence, His nearness.

Thankfulness makes right now a sanctuary for God. It's an invitation to the Almighty One to enter this present moment...and now this present moment. It's a glorious intrigue that pulls Him to invade my very thoughts, circumstances, failures, blue skies and dreams. Thankfulness is powerful enough to stop despair in its tracks and replace it with peace and joy and newness.

Too often I spend my thought-life thinking and chasing after the future. I'm driven to experience the next best thing. What I have obtained and am currently experiencing is on the less green side of the fence. There's always something better on the horizon if I can just strain hard enough to get there. Thankfulness puts me in my present place. It's a gift that allows me not to miss a moment of joy over what God is doing this split second in my life. What is spinning around me right now? I hear the crickets singing outside my window which reminds me that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. He is sovereign over creation and He is sovereign over me. I sit in a beautiful apartment which reminds me of His tenacious provision for me. If I only live for the next best thing, I miss the thousand moments that He has tried to reveal Himself today. If I only  live for the next best thing, time flies and I don't know where it went. Thankfulness stops the rapid advancement of time. It causes my mind to pause and reflect on the glory of God all around me and in me. I am a work in progress in the hand of my Maker. The progress is happening right now...and right now.

Jesus gave thanks. When Jesus gave thanks in Scripture, it was usually in the middle of the most mundane activities - breaking bread, cooking fish. But just a few words after His thankfulness, incredible miracles took place, like when 5000-10,000 people were fed on a hillside or at an evening supper the night before He saved me through His torture and death. I believe thankfulness carries the power of heaven and ushers that power into right now.

I want to be a professional thank-er. Thankfulness is a lifestyle of worship.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thinking About Songwriting...

I am a Twitter snoop. I don't have my own account. I mooch off of other people's accounts to get into the thoughts and business of people I know & don't know, but greatly respect. There. I've made my confession public.

Tonight I ran across a Tweet from Brian Johnson from Bethel Redding asking worship leaders to post their set worship list from this morning's service. Upon reading people's responses, almost everyone had similar to identical worship lists. Most of the songs were from Bethel Music or Tim Hughes, who might as well be a part of Bethel Music! :) I enjoy both of these by the way, and also lead much of their music at Redeemer. But, what I was seeing is that across the country or maybe across the world. the same songs were being offered all over the place. I'm thinking this could be one of two things: either unity across the church or a deficit in creativity in the church.

I don't know how it goes for other leaders or musicians, but I find songwriting to be SO difficult. It doesn't come easy to me at all. In fact, up to about a few years ago, I avoided it as much as possible due to my own insecurities. I was convinced that I didn't have song lyrics or melodies within me worth singing. Now I know that this is a lie from the enemy. God has put within my life, and yours, a story that needs to be shared and sung. God commands us in Psalm 33:3 to "sing to Him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts." The Hebrew word for "new" actually means "rebirth, restoration, renewal." God wants us worshiping with new songs that bring about rebirth, restoration and renewal.

Lately I've been listening to the radio, instead of my worship-music-only-iPod. I'm interested in the sounds that are currently being produced. In all honesty I find very little that is creative, new or worth joining in with. It all sounds the same and after awhile of listening, is pretty monotonous.Lady GaGa, in all of her claim to creativity, sounds the same as many female artists that have gone before her...there's nothing new under the sun in her music.

It is making me think about the church right now. From what I see, as a whole, we are severely lacking in creativity as well. It's interesting, though, because we have direct access to the Creator. We should have the cutting edge on songs being produced. But what I find (and I'm just as guilty) is that we worship leaders spend much of our time hunting for the newest band, singer, or worship leader that we can copy. Now, I don't think at all that we should erase this method is good to learn from one another and to gain from one another. But, I guess I'm feeling convicted to write more. I have direct access to the Holy Spirit who desires for me to hear the sounds going on in heaven. It's the easy way to copy others. It takes relationship and abiding (far more time consuming) in Christ for me to write new songs of rebirth, restoration and renewal. Jesus said in John 15 if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. Fruit produced will be unique to an individual's union with Him. For me, I'm thinking, that part of my fruit produced on this earth will be new songs. I want God to hear a great collage of sounds coming from worshiping hearts...not the same songs over and over. I know He's pleased either way because He loves when we love and adore Him.

So, if there are any other musicians or worship leaders out there that actually read my little blog, how do you go about songwriting? I want to learn more about how to do this. After my CD, Created to Worship, was finished last year I felt this relief come over me of, "WHEW! I won't ever have to do that again!" Hmm, I think that is hogwash complacency! More abiding for me...more Presence...more listening for His voice and heart...more fruit coming.

My Kids

I know the title of my blog is "The musings of a worship leader," but today I'm really thankful for the other part of ministry that God has given me and that is my kids at Redeemer. Today 3 of my kids (and 1 of Redeemer's youth) were baptized during our church service. A few weeks agos, one of my girls stood in front of the church and shared a prophetic vision that God had given her for our church. This morning as we worshiped, the front of the sanctuary was filled with kids dancing, singing and laughing. I'm so excited about what God is doing in them!

We've had a tradition at Redeemer since I was a child where we call the kids up to the steps every Sunday morning and pray for them before they go on to their classes. This is always one of my favorite moments on Sundays. This morning as they came running up, my heart felt overwhelmed with how wonderful they all are and the greatness that God has in store for them. Our assistant pastor, Josh, has said many times that our ceiling should be the floor of the next generation...meaning everything God gives us will be their starting point in their walk with Him. I truly think this is happening with our wee ones. I've loved growing up at Redeemer. I'm so thankful for our elders and founding members who have gone before me and trained me up. As good as it was, the kids coming up now have an even greater advantage, as will the generation that comes after them. What an honor to give to them what God has given me, to watch them excel in knowledge I've only recently grabbed a hold of. Sometimes I feel like the "old woman who lived in the shoe with so many children she didn't know what to do!" I wonder if I have enough to share with them and love them. But more often than that, I feel like Will Ferrell in Elf (sorry PJ!), in that I don't realize my size and just join in the fun of the little people! Someday I'll grow the meantime, I'll just keep leading and playing with some of the mightiest young warriors in His Kingdom! Not a bad job!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Heart is Missing!

This building is a great place to play hide and seek!
It's missing because the people of Linden Avenue Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio have stolen it! The thieves! :)

I'm back home sweet home and thinking a lot about the people I've met this week. God is the Rescuer and I just spent 4 glorious days with people who have been rescued from much for Much. I met former alcohol and drug addicts. I met former prostitutes. I met people who are wholeheartedly seeking after God's plan for their lives who yet struggle with addiction...people still crying out for freedom from their old life. I met servants, humility, hospitality, teachability, generosity, vulnerability, gentleness...real people in touch with their weaknesses and need for a Rescuer. I was in good company. I need a Rescuer, too.

I don't ever want to forget what God has saved me from. I never want to become desensitized to my moment of salvation. We all have sinned...we all have fallen short of God's incredible glory and holiness. What a God I have that would provide a way through Jesus for me to rise to the condition I was intended for...His glory. I don't ever want to lose the wonder and thankfulness over this truth. More importantly, I want to look at other people with this same wonder and thankfulness. All of us are on a journey of Christ-likeness. No one has arrived yet. All that God is and can do is available to us but we have not achieved living in that fullness yet. And so each day that I exist is to be spent stepping further into the fullness of God that is available to me now. Every day I exist is to be spent learning how to put aside my dead self and how to live as a new creation. What an amazing life! What an amazing God that He doesn't leave me in my old condition. I want to spend my days thanking Him for this and looking at others around me as "un-arrived" people on their way to living in the fullness of God. This requires the love defined in 1 Corinthians 13 (Pastor John is preaching on this at Redeemer this Sunday! Can't wait!). It requires patience, kindness. It requires that I not be envious, boastful, rude or self-seeking. It requires me to be always hope, always believe, always encourage.

Father, today as I tune into Your voice, teach me how to walk further into the fullness of who You are and who You've made me to be. And may I view others in this same light. PS...bless the beautiful people of Linden Avenue Baptist Church and may today be a day of freedom for the oppressed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hamster Wheel

If I lived in a hamster wheel, this is what it would look like!
I am still in Dayton and yesterday was a very full day...filled with wonderful God moments, coffee, Despicable Me, and good conversation. I spoke twice at Linden Avenue on worship, intimacy and identity. I preached my first "sermon" during a Sunday morning. I think it was preaching...I don't know the difference between preaching and teaching. I guess I should take Pastor John's class to find this out!

I had prepared something specific to give to the congregation before I arrived in Dayton. However, early yesterday morning I woke up and immediately felt like God had something different in mind for me to say. This was fun for me because it means He loves these people so much to give them something straight from His heart that day and it means that He loves me enough to use me to speak it. On top of changing my sermon around, I also felt like He gave me a few prophetic words for 2 people whom I've never met (prophetic meaning comforting, strengthening & encouraging...see 1 Corinthians 14:3). I saw their faces in my mind while sitting on my hotel bed. When I was called up to speak, I saw both of those men sitting in the pews. HA! I love how God works!

Last night I spoke on how worship is our birthright and what we are created for. God calling us to be worshipers is about two things: living our life to magnify, to make Him bigger AND living our lives as worship leaders for others to come along to do the same. This is the same as "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength AND love your neighbor as yourself." Every follower of Jesus is meant to be a worshiper and a worship leader. I'm not talking about music/song leaders. Every follower of Jesus is given the high privilege and calling of living daily to glorify God in such a magnificent way that it is contagious to those around them.

I believe one of Satan's biggest strategies is to get us to obsess over obsess over our thoughts, struggles, shame and turn inward only seeing the small scale of our little world. One of God's biggest callings on us is to get us to turn outward, to obsess over Him and to see and know others. If the enemy can keep us on the hamster wheel of self obsession, he knows God will not receive our attention that He is so worthy of. If we are not giving God the attention He is so worthy of, then the enemy knows that we will not be loving others in the ways that God reveals to us.

Today, and every day, my challenge is to look outside of my unrenewed mind and give God my attention and obsession. Out of that I will love people. Out of that I will love myself. God's hamster wheel is so much more delightful and effective than the round-and-round of the enemy's. Doesn't it feel good to be on the right team? :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

On The Road Again...

I'm sitting in a hotel in Dayton, Ohio. I love hotels. For some reason, they make my heart happy! Even though I'm technically still in the midwest and only a few hours from home, I am in a constant state of giddyness when I'm on a road trip.
The coolest picture of Olivia EVER!

I'm here with Olivia Wantz and her family who are pastors at Linden Avenue Baptist Church. Olivia went to our ministry school this past year and leads the worship ministry at Linden Avenue. I am going to be teaching on worship, identity and intimacy over the next 3 days. I'm excited to meet these people tomorrow morning. God has filled my heart with compassion for them and I believe He is going to do great things in them. I know He is going to speak to them. Why not? I believe God speaks to us today. I believe God wants to speak to us and has many things to say if we will but lend an eager ear and quiet our mouths long enough to listen. I love telling people how much God loves them and what He thinks about them...He only thinks good things. He is only happy over us. I know this is true because He poured out every last bit of wrath over sin upon Jesus when He was crucified. He has none left...which means He is completely free to do nothing but enjoy us and delight in us. If that doesn't move your heart to love Him and worship Him, what will? I get to share these things starting tomorrow and I'm excited to do this.

Tonight Olivia's dad, Doug, grilled the best hamburger I think I've ever had and then topped it off with strawberry cheesecake. This will lead to interesting dreams in hopefully a few minutes in my hotel room bed. Insert sigh of contentment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fill in the Holes

Last night I read a story that has me thinking today. In fact, its directing my prayer time because I'm wondering if God would want to do a work in me this morning as I meet with Him. This story is out of a book I'm reading about a woman who has questions very similar to my own. This portion of her story went like this:

Naomi was re-locating from a rural town, where apartment rent is cheap and affordable, to San Diego, where you can get a 300 square foot studio for triple its value. Finding a place that would fit her budget and accept her golden retriever, India, was proving to be a challenge. Finally, she found a place renting an apartment over a garage, which meant sharing a lawn with the landlord, an older woman with a meticulous lawn. The landlord reluctantly agreed to accept India on a trial basis. Naomi and India moved in immediately.

The next morning, Naomi woke up to find that India had dug, not a hole, but a pit in the middle if this perfect lawn. Scared that her hopes of being home were dashed, Naomi went to apologize to her landlord. Her landlord met her with grace and filled the pit back in with the dirt that India had carefully placed all over the yard. The next morning, Naomi woke up to the same problem. She apologied again and was met with the same grace as before. This happened a few more times with the same result.

At the end of the week, Naomi left for few hours in the afternoon to run errands, expecting to come home to the same problem. She was positive at any moment she and her pit-digging dog would be kicked to the curb. However, when she arrived home, she saw that in place of the pit was planted a beautiful tree that made the meticulous lawn more attractive than it had ever been. It was so pretty, that it made you wonder how the lawn had existed without it for so long. The landlord said, "Isn't it a wonderful way to use a hole?"

I'm thinking about this story. I feel a contradiction in my life. Jesus says that all His fullness is within me and I in Him. Yet, in some areas of my life I feel nothing but gaping wide pits, lacking of fullness. These pits are ugly to me and wounding. It feels like nothing good can or will ever come of those places. But, the truth I know about God is that He,makes beauty from ashes. If I abide in Him long enough, it's an inevitable occurrance that I will see. Where I see a hideous, shameful hole, He sees a place to plant life and bring forth fruit. My prayer this morning is, "God, what kind of life do you see birthing out of this lack and how can I partner with You to tend it?" Jesus said that He came so that I might have life abundant. How literally can I take Him at this word? Thank God I'm a work in progress and not a work finished. Because, in Him today there is hope for more transformation into the identity of the Life Giver and more hope that beauty will arise and surprise me.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.2

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Psalm 97

This summer I have given an invitation to my worship team to join me in studying the Psalms. We've been taking one Psalm a week and meditating on it each day. When God speaks, we email it to the whole team to share with them what we're learning. This week we're focusing on Psalm 97.

I've been reading and reading Psalm 97 this week. To be honest, I'm having a hard time getting past verse 1! I feel really challenged by this verse: "The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad." God is challenging my level of rejoicing. I should be the most joy-filled person ever to walk this planet. The God that I serve is in absolute control and calls me "daughter," "beloved," "friend," and "priest." Not only does our God reign over all things, but we've been given the highest rank, greatest titles and most beautiful position under this all supreme Ruler. In confidence of this, I should be prancing around on this earth like I own the place...because I do. All that belongs to God has been given to me. Verse 11 says, "Light is sown for the righteous and joy for the upright in heart." If God has sown light and joy, then reaping light and joy should be the way my days are spent. I am learning that joy is not so much a state of being. Joy is a decision. Rejoicing is a verb. I need to make better decisions!

PS...verse 2 "Clouds and thick darkness are all around Him." I think this is interesting because in Revelation 4 it describes the greatest rainbow light show surrounding the throne ever created. How do clouds and thick darkness surround Him while Rainbow Bright is exploding at the same time??? I'm curious.   

A New Mindset

This week has been so good for me, and yet a struggle. Since December, it seems like life has been go, go, go! It's been such a busy, wonderful season of God opportunities. I enjoy busy because busy allows me to ignore the things spinning around in my head, most of which is filled with thoughts negative in nature. My mind is a war zone, quite often...the fight over which Kingdom I'm going to set my mind on: God's or the enemy's. This week started a couple month season of rest for me. I have the fewest obligations on my plate that I've had in a quite a long time. I had few human conversations and so much time to read. It was great...and hard at the same time because I was left alone with much of me! It's amazing how quickly loneliness can overwhelm and take over when I'm not at the top of my game.

But, God is so good! He is so faithful to meet me and encourage me. What would a day be without His voice? I have been thinking often about promises He has spoken to me. Some of them, one in particular, are so incredible that it feels impossible to wait for it to be seen. I'm a toddler. I want fulfillment now and within my tantrums I will show God how serious I am about that! I believe my Father taught this toddler something this week. He wants me to have a new mindset. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love Me, you will obey My commands." Obedience doesn't come first to gain love. We obey His commands, or His word, out of a heart of love for Him. Intimacy comes first. Obedience is the fruit of intimacy. When God gives us a command, it isn't necessarily like He's giving us our marching orders. His commands are invitations into partnership to fulfill His desires. It dawned on me this week that His promises are the same thing.

When God gives us a promise, there is process between the promise and the fulfillment. The process stinks! It's hard to wait. Process pulls everything impatient and evil out of your system. Process reveals who you really are by how you respond to God in the waiting. I hate process, but I thank Him for it at the same time because process is changing me to be more like Him. Promises &  process are like commands...they are invitations into partnership to fulfill His desires. When God conceives a promise into your life, there's a choice to be made as to whether you accept that conception or abort it. Accepting it means that you are wholeheartedly throwing yourself into the preparation it takes for your life to be able to support the fulfillment. It's an opportunity for obedience. Active preparation while waiting is a bold declaration of faith that you believe God has spoken. I'm thinking of Joseph who decided to marry pregnant Mary, knowing he wasn't the father. He put his entire reputation at stake as a declaration of faith that his wife was truly carrying the Son of God. How ridiculous in the world's eyes for Joseph to do that. Active preparation is risky, crazy, ridiculous. Active preparation is bold and against the cultural norm. Noah built a boat because he believed God spoke a promise. Abraham left his entire family and all things comfortable because he believed God spoke a promise. Moses opposed the greatest governmental leader at the time because he believed God spoke a promise.

My life in comparison has been a weak display of faith in God's promises and I'm so thankful that this week He has raised the bar. He's given me some active things that I can do to prepare for fulfillment...which means that despite how long I've been waiting, the waiting hasn't been in vain. He will do what He has spoken. It's time that my life reflected what I believe in the present so that I am ready for fulfillment in the future.

"No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised." Romans 4:20-21

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Common Thread...

I spent this past week in Green Lake, Wisconsin with many people from Redeemer. We travel there every year for the Holy Spirit conference where our worship team leads worship. It's always a great week. The grounds are stunning, peaceful. We all cram into one house together for all kinds of family time...finding out who snores, who's loud, who doesn't like loud, eating good food, watching Pastor John giggle around midnight, etc. Good times.

This year, Randy Clark and Rachel Hickson were the main speakers. It was good to see Randy again and this was my first time to hear Rachel speak. She's a dynamo. I loved her heart and her obvious passion for intimacy with God. She challenged and encouraged my heart. I felt strengthened after listening to her.

Rachel spoke much about the process of waiting on God for promises fulfilled. She talked about the importance of continuing to persevere, to keep going, to keep your head up as a son/daughter of God. It seems like I've heard this topic on waiting come up at almost every conference I've attended. It's in many books that I read and on many teachings I follow on Podcasts. When Rachel spoke about this, I found myself feeling very encouraged and frustrated at the same time, to be honest! It's encouraging to know that, if so many people recognize this kind of season, I must be on the right track. It seems like a process of waiting on God to answer must be some sort of rite of passage in the Kingdom. He must know that I can survive and succeed at this. However, it was frustrating to hear because I don't want to hear one more person talk about the elements of process. I'm at a place where I feel done hearing and reading about it...I want God to finish this season so badly. Feeling encouraged and frustrated at the same time makes me feel bi-polar in my head. I used to beg God to show me what I had to do to end this season of waiting. I'm starting to figure out that there is nothing I can do...but wait and trust. It seems so simple in words, but this is the hardest thing I've had to do in my relationship with Him. I feel really weak and vulnerable to absolute failure...and yet He is so faithful to hold my head up and keep me moving forward in him. I have a love/hate relationship with process. I hate the pain and the buttons it pushes in my heart, but I wouldn't trade it for anything at the same time. I have learned so much about what true faith is and there is no other way to learn faith, but through unanswered prayer. I have learned that His goodness is not conditional on whether or not He gives me a "yes" for the desires of my heart. His goodness just stands on its own merit. I would not have learned this any other way. I am learning that hope does not disappoint and I am learning that God is true to His Word. These are all concepts I have read about in Scripture. Now I know them by knowing Him.

Tonight I am feeling really frustrated by the process God has me in. But frustration can never keep me from adoration of His goodness. My spirit is echoing the cries of David in Psalm 42:5, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." I don't care what happens or doesn't happen in the days and years ahead of me. God is worthy. If you have an unanswered prayer or an unfulfilled promise and you're wondering why, more than likely you are in a process. God has something to teach you that is bigger than what you're asking for. His teachings are gifts, healings to wounds, and treasures beyond imagination. He's a good Father who knows what we need before we ask Him. If you're feeling the birth pangs of process, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, bless Jesus today. Because, just as a women in labor, there is no turning back in our walk with God. We're in this until something is birthed in our lives...and birth is inevitable.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creativity in Worship

Next week many people from Redeemer and others around the country will head to Green Lake, Wisconsin for the annual Holy Spirit conference. It's such a beautiful place. God always shows up and it's a great time spent with my church family. You really get to know each other well when you share a bathroom for a week!

This week I'll be teaching a workshop on creativity in worship. I love doing this. I teach 3 trimesters in Redeemer Ministry School on worship. I break these trimesters up like this:
#1  Intimacy and Identity: Knowing God and knowing yourself.
#2  Biblical Lifestyle of Worship: How to daily live out intimacy and idenitity.
#3  Creativity: Partnering with the Creator to reveal Him to others.

The first thing God wants us to know about Himself in Scripture is that He is the Creator (Genesis 1:1). Think of the multiple facets and characteristics that could have been the 1st thing revealed about Him: all-powerful, redeemer, father, bridegroom, comforter, sovereign, love, judge, etc. When I go to a bookstore to browse, I often read the first few pages of a book to see if it grabs me. It's the first few pages that give a preview of what that book is about. I do not take it lightly that God reveals Himself first as Creator. Why???

Statistics say that before a child reaches the age of 6, they are using 80% of their creative potential. Think of a young child's's play, play, play. Their imagination runs wild 24/7. They are uninhibited creative creatures, filled with curiosity and new experiences every day. Once a child reaches the age of 6, they are only using 20% of their creative potential. What happens? They enter school where they are taught to conform to rules and coloring in the lines. They begin to learn that what they produce isn't good enough in comparison to other children and standards. We live in a culture of hierarchy where everything we do is measured and critiqued. As a child learns that what he produces on this earth isn't good enough or excepted or out-of-the-box, fears of what people think about them form. Rather than letting who they are be seen, they conform to the status quo and latest trends. These fears and conformity travel into adulthood.

I believe this is a method of the enemy to steal from God's children. The first thing God wants us to know about Himself is that He is Creator. The first thing God wants us to know about ourselves is that we're made in His image (Genesis 1:27). If we are made in the image of the Creator, than it is in our very make-up to be creative. Creativity is not limited to communicative arts (dancing, painting, music, writing, etc.), although it definitely includes those things. Creativity is simply (my definition) taking who I am and partnering with the Creator to reveal who He is to others. No one can produce who you are on this planet, but you. God has gifted you with specific words, talents, abilities, ideas, and breakthroughs that no one else can create.

To me, creativity in worship is Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." So much of what we see in the artistic world is self-serving and self-glorifying. Think of the music playing on the radio right now. It's all about how I can "get mine". Anything that we produce is meant to bring glory and fame to God. There are songs to be sung, books yet unwritten, movies yet filmed, medical breakthroughs yet to be discovered, solutions for problems yet to be found, people yet to be loved. All of these require creativity. All of these are meant to declare the glories and wonders of Him on this earth. Who will produce them, but you? You are a creative being made in the image of your Creator Father. Ask God how you can partner with Him today to make Him famous.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Abiding in Christ

I'm currently reading a book by Andrew Murray called, "Abide in Christ: Your Guide to Unspeakable Joy." I've been reading it for a couple weeks and I'm only about 25 pages in...not because I'm a slow reader, but because this book is packed with powerful one-liners. I feel like I read a sentence and it takes a few hours for my heart and mind to catch up with what God wants to teach me. I have to meditate on his words and give them time to work me. So...I thought I'd share a few sound bites with you. Andrew Murray says:

"Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us - the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is to simply yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform." 

"Abide in me: These words are no law of Moses, demanding from the sinful what they cannot perform. They are the command of love, which is ever only a promise in a different shape. Think of this until all feeling of burden and fear and despair pass away, and the first thought that comes as you hear of abiding in Jesus be one of bright and joyous hope: it is for me, I know I shall enjoy it. You are not under the law, with its inexorable DO, but under grace, with its blessed Believe what Christ will do for you. and if the question be asked, "But surely there is something for us to do?" the answer is, "Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ's work in us." It is when the soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do, that its energies are stirred to their highest activity, and that we work most effectually because we know that He works in us."

And lastly, these are the words I spent the most time on yesterday. Murray quotes Philippians 3:12, which says, "I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus." He then goes on to say:

"This connection between Christ's work and our work is beautifully expressed [in this verse]. It was because he (Paul) knew that the mighty and the faithful One had grasped him with the glorious purpose of making him one with Himself, that he did his utmost to grasp the glorious prize. 
  Paul's expression, and its application to the Christian life, can best be understood if we think of a father helping his child to mount the side of some steep precipice. The father stands above, and has taken the son by the hand to help him on. He points him to the spot on which he will help him to plant his feet, as he leaps upward. The leap would be too high and dangerous for the child alone; but the father's hand is his to trust, and he leaps to get hold of the point for which his father has taken hold of him. It is the father's strength that secures him and lifts him up, and so urges him to use his utmost strength.
  Such is the relationship between Christ and you, O weak and trembling believer! Fix first your eyes on the whereunto for which He has apprehended you. It is nothing less than a life of abiding, unbroken fellowship with Himself to which He is seeking to lift you up." 

Love this.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've been sitting on my front porch tonight all of 5 minutes. I'm reading a book by Andrew Murray called, "Abiding in Christ." It's excellent and making my head hurt. I've just sat down with my iced tea, Bible, journal, G2 pens (as I've been taught by John and Josh are the best pens!) and I'm ready for a relaxing time of reading and learning.

However, like I said, I've been sitting here for about 5-10 minutes and already I've been interrupted 2 times by 2 different people walking down the street. Both of them were lost. Both of them needed directions to find a street that is just one block over from my house. Two different lives. Two different stories. These people were so close to their destination and both said they had been walking around for over an hour trying to find their street, all the while its been within their reach the whole time. As I talked to both of them separately, I don't know why (other than Holy Spirit prodding) but I felt sympathy and compassion for both of these women. I knew God was trying to talk to me.

Today I've been focusing on Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to Me, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; and you will find rest for your soul." How many people on this planet are wandering around so close to stumbling upon God's love for them but keep moving around missing it the whole time? I think the word "evangelism" has been given a bad rap in Christian-ese language, as if its something that is only for a select gifted few or something that is too scary in our culture. In reality, isn't it simply bringing someone along to the right direction? Helping them stay on the right path leading directly to the love that God has for them?

I'm a coward. Out of fear of rejection, I have missed so many opportunities to plant people's feet in the right direction in Him. How fun would it be if my front porch becomes an altar place where people walking by receive healing, love, encouragement, strength and guidance? When I was little, there was a yellow house across the street from my house that all of the kids in the neighborhood dubbed the "witch's house". An older woman lived there who only glared at us from behind her curtain and who only came out once a week to walk to the grocery store. We were all convince that if we put a toe on her lawn we would become cursed. Sometimes we'd sit on my front porch and imagine what kind of curses she would put on us. Maybe my house could be the complete opposite...the neighborhood kids would know that if they put one toe on my lawn they would be welcomed and loved. It would involve sacrifice. I'd have to change the purpose of my porch from being my place of solitude to being my place of mission. Why should I be afraid of that?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Today in my quiet time I have been asking God about the state of my heart. It's been a "search me Oh God" kind of day. These days feel scary and good. I hate the feeling when my weaknesses are revealed, but this is the moment when the Father feels the most gentle with me. He loves me today and yet He loves me too much to leave me the way I am.

I am caught by 1 Corinthians 10:14, which says: "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." words are drastic. There is no room for lingering around idolatry, anything that has a greater throne than God in your life. I have big dreams in my heart. A few of them take up the majority of my thought life and imagination. I anticipate the fulfillment of these desires. I dream about them, think about them. Sometimes I can get so caught up in dreaming, that I waste the time I have in reality right now. It is often that my dreams consume more of my thoughts and dreams than my meditation on Jesus. It gets really muddled because I need God to fulfill my desires...they are too big for me, and so He is involved in them. I talk about them with Him. He is included. But there are more moments than I care to admit where my dreams take center stage in my life over Him. The Fulfiller takes back seat to the fulfillment.

The Holy Spirit brought this to my attention today. I do not like that I do this. I want to be able to say of myself that no matter what I have or don't have, God is all that is wanted. I'm content with Him and Him alone. I am not there, yet. As God searched my heart today, I realized that as much as I want Him to fulfill His promises in my life, I am very afraid of Him doing that at the same time. What if He gives me my dreams, and instead of remaining faithful to Him, I turn my attention and affections to what He's given me? Do I have what it takes within me to remain faithful to Him? Pastor John said this past Sunday that if we think we are strong enough to overcome temptation in our own strength we are deceived. I am not strong enough to remain faithful to Him and because of this I'm fearful of fulfillment, as much as I want Him to answer. And then the Holy Spirit plopped a verse in my mind...

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25

The word "able" is the Greek word "dunamai" which means "to be capable, strong and powerful." God is capable enough, strong enough and powerful enough to keep me faithful to Him. It isn't my's His. AND, Jesus keeps me faithful with "great joy". I don't know if anyone else ever worries whether they can remain faithful to God...I'm assuming there are others or God wouldn't have had those words written for us. Today, be encouraged. It is God's power, strength & ability that keeps you faithful to Him, not your striving and effort. It is not your righteous deeds, but His.

So...what is our job, then? Abide in His love. All other things are up to Him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Have Questions...

"Ding Dong! The witch is dead!" This is basically what I woke up to this morning in light of the death of Osama Bin Laden. The world is dancing, rejoicing and bragging over the absence of one less terrorist in this world. I don't blame the celebration...but it leaves me with questions.

Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Bin Laden was a man created by God for the purpose of loving Him. But rather, his life was spent as a demonized leader bringing much evil to this world and training others to do the same. I say demonized because how else can one person wreak that much hell on this planet if not by evil influence? I do not think it is far fetched at all to say that within his spirit ruled cosmic powers over this present darkness. So, if we as followers of Jesus wrestle not against flesh, but against spiritual forces of evil...what has happened to those physical forces of evil now that the Bin Laden flesh container is destroyed? Where have they gone? Or, were they destroyed when Bin Laden died?

I would equate Bin Laden to be similar to a Pharaoh figure in the time of Moses. They were both evil oppressors of God's people. They both refused to yield their lives to the one true God. They were power hungry at the murderous expense of innocent people. God supernaturally destroyed Pharaoh when the Red Sea closed over him and his army. What happened to the spiritual forces of evil that resided upon him? When God, in the Old Testament, destroyed human enemies that opposed his people, did He destroy the principalities that empowered them at the same time? In Mark 5:1-20 is the story of Jesus bringing freedom to the demonized man who had within him a "legion" of demons. I've read that the word "legion" was a military term that equated to around 10,000 in number! How a physical, earthly body can contain such madness is astounding to think about! The story ends with the demons crying out for mercy and they ask Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs, rather than expel them from the area. Jesus permits this and the pigs go crazy and throw themselves off a cliff. Were the demons destroyed when the pigs died? Or were they allowed to remain bringing torment to their next victim?

I have read and heard much celebration from many people over the past 12 hours...from both Christians and non-Christians. The interesting thing to me is that the response is the same from both parties. of my questions is how can we feel relief of the destruction of one man's flesh if what spiritually resided within him still remains as a stronghold of evil on the region this man's flesh lived?  It seems that our focus would then be on the temporal, the flesh and blood, rather than the spiritual. As intently evil as Bin Laden was, God made him for relationship with Himself. I can't help but wonder if while we celebrate, God grieves the loss of another child. I, myself, am not sure what is the right response. Part of me feels thankful that the enemy took a hit yesterday...but, I'm wondering, too, does the enemy view it that way? Satan exists right now to destroy as many humans as he can before his own final destruction comes. Is the enemy rejoicing right alongside us at the death of one of God's creations?

I'm sure this will not be a popular thought...but my heart feels sad that Bin Laden chose a life outside of the goodness of God and the salvation through Jesus Christ.  Eternity will not be spent with him. God, I think, would have loved for Bin Laden's heart to be turned towards Him and to have all of eternity in relationship to one more son. My heart feels this way towards anyone that dies before understanding God's love for them. How can anyone live a day without hearing the voice of God? without knowing His touch on their lives? without seeing His goodness and favor displayed over them? without the knowledge that He wants you? without the plans that He has laid out for your life, plans with a purpose and hope? without experiencing freedom from sin and darkness? It's no wonder that ALL of heaven rejoices at the salvation of one more human. But as much as they rejoice at the addition of a son or a daughter, how much does heaven grieve at the loss of another?

I want to know what's happened to those powers and principalities that drove Bin Laden...I want to know so that if they were not destroyed when he died, then I can pray and intercede against them. Because, 1 John 4:4 says, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." Greater is the Spiritual Force that lives within me than the one that lived in him. It's my rightful privilege as an heir of Christ to make my Spiritual Force known to wreak HIS havoc on His enemies. God desires that all men be saved...even the ones that we in our small human understanding would deem impossible for salvation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dance on My Feet

For the past several years I have been very focused (God would say obsessed!) on the dreams living in my heart...things that I am waiting on Him to bring about in my life. Often, these dreams have consumed my every waking moment making it difficult to accomplish anything else. This season has been such a faith journey for me. He still hasn't answered, but I'm realizing that there is more to His method of madness than what my human-surface understanding can see. I am realizing that He has so much more to teach me and give to me than what my little heart-dreams are obsessed about. I believe He will give me my heart-dreams, but I'm getting a clue that it will not be until I am transformed to recognize that His plans are bigger than mine and it's time to get on board with His agenda for my life, rather than remaining limited to my own imagination. He's way more extravagant and creative than I have capability for!

Do you ever feel like your life is bigger and more important than what you think? That there are relationships, situations and circumstances just around the corner outside of your design for yourself that will bring such favor, blessing and significance beyond anything you considered God would do in your life? I feel on the edge of my seat and in awe of God. The Father has a unique place for each of us in His heart and a unique role of greatness in His Kingdom.

His place for me is over my head, outside of my capabilities. There is no ability I have that He can't do better and more rightly. So...why bother? Why doesn't He just accomplish His purposes by Himself? Why does He mess with my mess?

I can remember when I was little I loved to help my dad wash the cars. It made me feel like I was big stuff to grab a sponge bigger than my head and attempt to help him do this. I felt really good about my contribution to his job. In reality, what I accomplished doing was to make a bigger mess...dumping buckets, tracking muddy feet inside the car, dragging the towels along the ground while trying to dry the bumper, etc. My dad could have done a WAY more efficient job if I wasn't present and active in his life at that point! But, he always asked me to do this with him rather than exclude me.

It's so this same way with God the Father. He has giant desires, tasks and exploits on His heart that He could accomplish WAY more efficiently without my stumbling and fumbling. I am amazed today that He invites me along with Him to do what He does. He invites me to love the fatherless. He invites me to love His church. He invites me to push back the powers of darkness. He invites me to be holy as He is holy. I don't know how to do these things!  It's the Daddy-daughter dance. My life is to be spent dancing on His feet...which means that He leads, moves, directs and exerts His power and ability. I'm along for the twirling in submission to His movements and creative steps. It's the echo of Jesus' mantra in John 5:19-20 ~ "the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing."

Jesus had to learn the Father's steps, too. Hebrews 5:8 says that Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. If the Son of God had to learn the Father's moves and submit to them, how much more do I have to learn? I must stay in step with the Father before I am to be handed to the Bridegroom. My life is a gift to be spent fulfilling His desires. I get to spend every breathing moment in His dreams, making Him if He needed me to do that! My life is a gift and the gift is far more great than I've ever anticipated. It's going to be worth the time spent learning obedience through suffering and submission. It's going to be worth it. In the meantime, I'll keep dancing on His feet.

Friday, April 22, 2011

there is no one like You in the heavens or on the earth

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, and nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. 
But He was PIERCED for our transgressions, He was CRUSHED for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His WOUNDS we are healed. 
We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. 
By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And who can speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was stricken. 
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. 

Yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 

After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. 
Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. 

For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. ~Isaiah 53

I wonder what Isaiah the prophet understood about the Beauty he was describing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Am Currently Reading...

The Book of Hebrews...and I have lots of questions. My usual response when I have questions about Scripture is to run to commentaries or people I view as smarter than me in the Kingdom and suck all the wisdom out of them as I possibly can hold. This past week, however, I find myself being challenged in a new discipline with how I handle the Word and the ability of the Holy Spirit to teach me Himself. I am finding that even in the area of reading my Bible, I am impatient. If I don't understand something I want to know that answer RIGHT NOW! I don't want to wait. What a difficult skill it is to sit quietly and wait on the Holy Spirit to teach me before running to other sources. It involves trust that I have the ability to hear His voice. Running to commentaries is the easy way out. Trusting the One who leads me into all truth to speak takes more restraint and patience.

I can hardly talk about what God did this past Saturday night at the end of the Furious Love event. I have never experienced a God-moment like that one. I have never left a church gathering immediately changed like I left that night. This kind of change was different. God changed something in me that has spurred me on to action and propelled me forward to "do" out of my love for Him. I can't really explain it very well because it was so precious and inwardly personal for me. Philip Mantofa has caused me to look at the Bible in a new way...and I can never go back. I loved the Word before Saturday night...but now I understand what it means to jealously guard it and to cherish it above all other things. I left the finale of Furious Love starving and desperate, rather than fat and fed. I left that night recognizing a need for God in my life that I've never known and I left standing on the truth that God loves me so much that He wants me to have Him.

This morning I am struck by Hebrews 2:8-9..

In putting everything under Him, God left nothing that is not subject to Him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

How different God's ways are than mine. How seemingly ridiculous to make the Hero of Salvation low and humiliated for the strategy of rescuing us from death. Jesus tasted death for me. He had never known death of any kind until He willingly subjected Himself to it. He is the abundant life who took on death. Do I have any clue or concept the kind of effort it took to save my life? Do I have any clue what it was like for Jesus to leave perfection and become my sin? I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and purpose. How can I live this life without passion for Him when it took such great passion from Him to have me?

I am excited about the days ahead. God is doing a new thing in my heart. I am excited to see what I can get my hands into. I am excited to have this time, this season with Him. I feel filled with anticipation that He has much up His sleeve. I feel joyful over knowing that He is good and that freedom is fully available to me. I can walk in as much of it as I choose. Jesus tasted death for me so that I can taste life. Today will be a good day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Kindness of Conviction

Yesterday morning I led worship at Redeemer. It's one of my favorite things to do while existing on this planet...definitely on my top 5 list. It was a great morning. Our congregation is such a family. It is feeling more and more that our weekly gatherings our cozy times in God's living room.

Today I've been reflecting back on what happened yesterday as I often do on Mondays. I was looking at our time of worship, seeing the faces and different outward expressions of worship that were displayed. Yesterday morning was one of those days I felt completely scattered in thought and focus. It's mornings like that I am aware and thankful that His presence comes out of His love for His people...not based on my perfection or performance.

As a worship leader/musician, there is this inward struggle that takes place of keeping my eyes on Him and what is on His heart vs. looking for instant gratification from the outward expression of worship from people to make me feel good in my role. In other words, because God has more work to do in my heart, I still struggle sometimes with gauging how I am doing as worship leader on how vibrantly people express praise outwardly (raising hands, yelling, dancing, kneeling, etc). If people are yelling and creating a raucous, I MUST be doing a good job! This is so dangerous because then it becomes all about me and my need to feel good. I realize yesterday that my thoughts were centered on looking for personal affirmation more than they were centered on magnifying (making bigger) my Father. Now...because God loves me and loves our people so much He did not withhold Himself yesterday because of my stupid mindset! Thank You, Jesus! It's because His presence isn't founded on my successful or failed performance. He just Is.

I am so thankful and needy of God's kind conviction. He only brought this to my mind to make me more like Him. He only brought this to my mind to make me a better daughter and leader. He only brought this to my mind out of love for His church. What if I served a God who left me in my current condition, with no hope of reform? I feel that I've had a few weeks now of being in a state of God's discipline. The Book of Hebrews says it is proof that He loves me. So, today I'm excited about His discipline...I'm excited about His gentle reminder that leading worship is not a job task for personal gain. And, I'm excited for His mercy that allows me the privilege to live my life to magnify Him. Today I get to start over and do it better.

God is good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Fun Game...

I tend to take Jesus admonition to come to Him like a little child seriously! I love that I follow a God who loves child-likeness. I find that He loves to play more than we serious hard-working humans dare to imagine. God and I like to play games together. He is often the initiator, or instigator!

At Redeemer, we are currently studying as a church body the letter of 1 Corinthians. I am really excited about this. It is challenging my heart and my understanding of the real Jesus. For me, the letters of Paul have always been a fight to fully understand...I think it's because of his crazy long run-on sentences. This week, we're looking at 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 and while studying this afternoon, God was in the mood to play a game. The game was to look for what these verses declare about His character. Read the verses below and then you'll see the treasures that I found. Feel free to add others that you may find.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

*God delights in working outside of human wisdom and boxes.
*Within God's wisdom are 3 components - righteousness, holiness and redemption. His wisdom isn't just knowledge, but salvation for those who believe. 
*God chose me to agree with His values far before I actually agreed with His values.
*He is grace.
*He is patience.
*He knew what I was, yet chose me because He saw what I would become. 
*God has deliberately yielded Himself to partnership with weak, growing people. There is hope for me in Him that I can do great things.
*God is a good Father who separates (makes holy) His children to shame the wise and weaken the strong. 
*God has humbled Himself to partner with someone like me. 
(Is anyone getting thankful yet???!)
*God desires me to boast about other words, He finds my mouthpiece worthy to speak of Him! WOW! He trusts what I would say about Him to others!
*God is a good Father who gives the despised, wounded and rejected ones a home and value. 

What do you see?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Random musings as I survive the Blizzard of 2011!

Sioux cold! :)
I can't sleep. The blizzard winds are blowing and shaking the walls of my house. I consider myself to be pretty big for my britches, but I'll publicly admit I'm feeling slightly anxious in this storm. Isn't that dumb?! So...I've decided to empty my full head of some thoughts in order to keep myself occupied.

Much has happened over the past month...a trip to New York and Sioux Falls, the Randy Clark conference, and my quiet times alone with God have been more filled with His voice than my own lately (this is my favorite!). My mind has much to process and is filled with questions for God to answer...more questions than usual, which may or may not be surprising to those of you who deal with me on a regular basis! My heart feels overwhelmed with an awareness of God's goodness and big-ness. This past weekend in Sioux Falls, in particular, left me feeling like I was set up by Him! John, Linda and I went to serve/teach/lead worship with one of the kindest groups of people I've ever encountered. I didn't know really what to expect. There is always joy in giving away to others what God has given you. I knew, at the very least, I could count on experiencing that. However, I walked away from this weekend being overly blessed, cared for, provided for, favored, and loved by both God and His Sioux Falls kids. I wasn't expecting the magnitude of this. God caught me off guard and I'm so thankful. January has been such a whirlwind of beautiful Kingdom business! Here are just some of the things that took place:

*I was able to teach and equip worship teams in New York City.
*I met a woman leaving for Africa for full-time mission work and have the privilege of praying for her.
*I drank bubble tea...yum!
*I did NOT eat eel. 
*I became a chopstick champion.
*My dad's knees were healed after 20 years of pain. (See previous blog entry for the full story.)
*I feel more equipped and courageous to pray for the sick and to get over my fear of strangers! :)
*I had a word of knowledge in Sioux Falls about someone's knees needing healing. I was able to share my dad's testimony of his knees being healed. A woman came forward with a severe knee injury and, after praying for her, God healed both of her knees. Fun story!
*God confirmed promises and is filling my heart with hope.
*God provided for me financially in a major way.
*I have more strength at the end of this crazy month then when I started...He is sustainer.

My prophetic declaration??? I'm going to survive the Blizzard of 2011! I'm pretty sure that's an accurate word! Psalm 91 says that no harm will come to my "tent". God's good and big.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


This is a true story. This true story happened on Friday night, January 7th 2011 at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, Michigan with over 400 witnesses.

Hal Benner has faithfully served the Lord for at least 32 years (that's how many years I've been alive...yep! He's my dad!). For around 20 years he has had no cartilage in both of his knees. He's had much pain on a daily basis. I very rarely heard him complain about it growing up. He would walk as best as he could to keep up with his 3 girls.

On January 7th, he attended the Global Awakening conference with Randy Clark at our church. Randy, during the last song of the worship set, said that he believed many people were going to be healed while the congregation sang. We sang...God healed. Many people were healed, as Randy said. I was scanning the people in awe of what God was doing when I looked and saw that my dad was waving both his arms, indicating that he, too, had been a recipient of "on earth as it is in heaven"!  My dad has had no pain since in either leg! This is something many of us have been praying for for years!

I love this story!!!

PS...the night before, while someone prayed for him they noticed that one of his legs was shorter than the other. It was off by several inches. He's walked with a good size limp for a long time. As they prayed, his short leg grew to the same length as his long leg. They're equal size now. Now, the only reason he has to walk with a limp is if he's trying to be ghetto daddy! YO YO DAWG! God's fun!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Do you want to encounter more of God's presence? We sing lyrics filled with asking for more of God on most Sundays corporately. I know that my journal pages are filled with this heart cry..."God, I want to know You more. I want to have more of Your presence than I experienced last week."

Psalm 100:4 says, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!" Notice that there aren't any question marks in this verse. It isn't a suggestion, it's a command. It's also a you want to encounter more of God's presence? Practice thankfulness. Thankfulness is a Holy Spirit magnet. It's like the Holy Spirit is ticklish and becomes joyfully squirmy when He finds a thankful heart!

Early this morning I was driving to church with my iPod blaring, singing at the top of my lungs, hoping no one was watching! I have no other way to describe this other than to say Thankfulness entered my car. It felt around me, not in me. It was like the presence of Thankfulness. Immediately my heart became a bounty-quicker-picker-upper and what was first surrounding me became within me. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for the presence of God in my life.

This is no cliche question...where would I be without Him actively present in my life? I do not understand the lives of those who have yet to meet His love and goodness, His Holy Spirit who counsels and comforts, His Son who redeems and intercedes for us. I cannot fathom how different my life would be. A few things I do know is that I would be a crabby, bitter, bossy, arrogant, old adult. If I have any joy, any ability to submit and prefer others, any humility, any amount of child-likeness it is because of His presence. He has changed me. I am not the same person I used to be and I have been given the greatest adventure ever known to know my Creator as intimately as I choose to press in. Where else is this kind of attainable gift offered?

I have much that I am waiting on God to do. I have big, impossible promises that desire fulfillment. Waiting is hard and confusing. Disappointment and unbelief lie at my doorstep on a daily basis. It feels often that my heart and my mind are a war zone over which perspective I will choose to dwell in from moment to moment. It seems, more and more, that thankfulness is my largest weapon to stay with Him and to not quit or grow apathetic, lethargic. Thankfulness is the key to keeping me sharp in discernment. Thankfulness leads me to the place of wisdom. Thankfulness brings trust, peace, joy. Thankfulness leads to contentedness in current circumstances.Thankfulness remembers goodness. And most importantly, thankfulness leads me to the presence of the One.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New York City Day #2

Today was adventurous...

*I was personally responsible for Kelly Reaume getting backhanded by a cute old man while sharing the Gospel.
*I led worship at the Chinese speaking service and Faith Bible Church this evening with John & Linda Piippo, Joy Bergeson, Kelly Reaume and Trevor Robinson.
*I had the honor of teaching a worship workshop after that...I love doing this!
*I ate something that tasted like chicken but had as many bones as fish.
*I had a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks.
*I passed out fliers to people inviting them to the worship night this coming Friday night at Faith Bible Church...meanwhile, standing next to me were two men passing out strip club tickets. Two kingdoms colliding on the corner of Roosevelt and Main street!
*I found a shopping mall and had self-control to not enter...tomorrow may be a different story!
*I watched as Pastor John prayed for people at the end of a prayer meeting tonight...his kindness towards others teaches me so much! I love watching God use him!

It's been a good day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New York City Day #1

Today I flew into New York City with Pastor John and Linda. Our RMS students are here with us, as well. We are spending time with the largest Chinese church in New York. Our hosts, Pastor John and Rosie Hao, are two of the kindest people I have ever met. Their kindness is so vast, it challenges me to treat others as they do. I see Jesus in them.

This week I have the opportunity to teach their worship team leaders and members about the lifestyle of a worshiper and how to grow and develop their team. I'm very excited about this. I love teaching others about worship! I feel energized and charged every time I get to point others towards a more intimate relationship with God. I love leading worship, but I love even more teaching others how to worship.

Tonight we took our students to an authentic Chinese restaurant. This is the first of many authentic Chinese experiences this week! YAY! One of our students ordered still had eyes and a smile when it came to the table. We named it Ferdinand. Food shouldn't smile at you. I did not chew on Ferdinand. He did not want to be chewed on by me. Maybe he was smiling because I didn't chew on him...although some of our students did and I stifled a gag. I sipped on my mocha cappuccino smoothie and then I smiled.