Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Word on Worship

This is a message to all worship leaders. This includes the music director, choir members, praise band members and yes, even the lay person who has chosen to join the musicians in leading worship from your seat.  The key word here is “leader”.  If you are leading another in worship, you must keep in mind that your authentic worship is going to be contagious. However, since you are “leading” others, even your lack of authentic worship will also be contagious.

I have been called out in the past because at times, my worship can seem to be a little much to some and I understand how they might think my freedom of worship is to draw attention to myself.  There could be nothing further from the truth.  I am convicted about my worship.  If I want to raise my hands and I hold back then I am worshiping horizontally.  What I mean by this is that I am worshiping the opinions of others.  If I worship to gain the attention of others I am also worshiping horizontally. This is called idol worship.  It is either worship of self or worship of others but it is not worshiping God.

Whether I raise my hands or move or bow my head, or do nothing particularly noticeable at all - it must be done to bring glory, worship and attention to Almighty God.

False humility is another thing to consider.  It is difficult to get up and use your talents and gifts to honor God and not desire to receive praise or attention.  However, to stand expressionless at the end of a song in order to not draw attention to you is just as noticeable (and perhaps even more noticeable) than taking a bow.  It still draws attention to you instead of God.  When I see worship leaders go from deep worship to blank stares or even sometimes looking bored or angry after a song, my heart sinks a bit.  I wonder how a person can in just a moment; go from singing praises of the wonder of God’s majesty to standing there with no sign of joy on their face or in their countenance. Were they just performing or where they actually worshiping? Sometimes, they sing with an apparent lack of joy as well.  They look as if they are there by force, or perhaps just wish they were someplace else (perhaps they are in their minds).

It’s a tough job being a worship leader because like it or not, you are being watched.  The attention is on you even if the focus is on God.  You will be seen.  You will be an influence.  You will influence the mood in some way.  You will influence the level of worship that others will experience.  That is why you are a worship leader.  You have a gift from God to lead others (through the power of His Spirit) into a place of worship.  So, don’t let a fear of drawing praise to yourself keep you from expressing the joy that comes when you praise God in your heart!  God knows your heart and His approval is what you want to gain, and His glory that you want to project. It’s okay to smile!  It’s okay to even clap or shout when you finish (or even while you are still singing) as long as you are doing it for the glory of God.  It’s okay to smile and share the joy you are experiencing as a worship leader.  If you say you are not wired that way, then perhaps you should seek to serve in another capacity.  If you are called to be a worship leader…you will be wired to lead others in worship with your voice, your body, your mind, your face, your expressions, and your mannerisms.  You will lead worship with all of you.  How your worship comes forth paints a picture to others of what is in your heart and/or Who is Lord over your heart.  If God is in His rightful place, you will know that false humility has no place.  When the people clap and shout, you know that God has moved so it’s okay to clap and shout with them…For HIM! Others ARE watching and YOU can make that joy of worship contagious! You can clap and smile and still give all the glory to God at the same time.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Beginnings

Soon I will be reading The Bible for Life. I will be journaling here as I go because it is only by being firmly grounded in His Word...that I can experience life to the fullest.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Identify the Enemy and Win Part II

In part one of this blog I shared how God spoke to me through creation and how I prayed for Him to show me the truth about my life and bring any lies into the light. He did and still is….

Later that night, He showed me who the real enemy was and how I had been deceived for years. The battle was not between me and others. The "others" were on my side and the enemy was disguised as my advocate. I saw those who loved me as though they were out to destroy me and the one who sought to destroy me as my friend. I had been going through a time of heavy oppression and I didn't even know it! I was deceived into rebellion, isolation, loneliness, and heartbreak. What should have been a place I could run to for rest had become a polluted waste. It was a slow fade that happened without my detection over a long period of time.

This was the great awakening that brought me to the other side of a long and difficult battle for freedom. It brought me to my knees in repentance and I let it all go. I handed it over to the only One who could carry my load…finally. God shined His light in the darkness, helping me to discern the truth from the lies. Now, with His help, I am cleaning up the mess and rebuilding from the ruins. Since that night of revelation, I have learned so much more and I am continuing to learn. That night, the scales fell from my eyes. I was able to identify the true enemy and it brought victory to a long and seemingly hopeless battle.

Since then, there has been a well spring of joy flooding up and out of me! I am able to love those I once saw as my enemies..and see how much they have been loving me. Even better, I have put my dependence on God because I have realized that it is humanly impossible for people to fill me with joy. Circumstances cannot bring me joy. These things can bring moments of happiness but not lasting joy rooted deep within. My joy can only come from the Holy Spirit of God.

Often we blame others and circumstances for the darkness we experience when really, we only need to take a closer look at the pollution we have allowed to seep within our own heart. God opened my eyes and brought His light into the darkness. He has exposed the pollution and cleaned the mess I made. What is even more amazing is that even when my heart was filthy...He did not leave. He sat in the midst of it all and waited for me to meet Him there...just like I left the peninsula at first, but was drawn to go back and seek Him in the midst of it all…and that is where I found Him. He is still changing me, growing me, and purifying me with His righteousness more and more every day. He is creating in me a clean heart and renewing a steadfast spirit within me daily (Psalm 51:10 NIV).

This isn't much different than when God's people in Ezra turned from God and intermarried with those who would pollute their lives and turn them from God. It isn't much different than when Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden. The same enemy who lived then still roams the earth seeking whom He will devour (I Peter 5:8). But when God's people humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, He will hear from Heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14). He is a God of new beginnings, of forgiveness and of love. He alone is the source of pure joy everlasting. I once again have placed my hope in God and God alone. He has made me clean. Now I can grow.

Identify the Enemy and Win Part I

Ezra 9:10-11
"But now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have disregarded the commands you gave through your servants and prophets when you said: 'The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. by their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other.'"

Who would ever think that I might actually receive revelation from the book of Ezra? This just goes to show that God's Word is truly alive and we have fellowship with Him when we study His Truth and are obedient to what we learn.

A good friend and colleague said something to me recently that changed my life. It was in regards to the spiritual battle I have been fighting. He told me, "The battle is fought in prayer". Jesus didn't win the battle on the cross, the battle was already won by then. He won the battle in the garden when He prayed. This was a defining moment for me. I went home that night and surrendered to pray fervently until I reached the promised land of peace.

My prayers began turning up the heat and the battle was becoming almost unbearable. Finally, one day, I took a day trip with Sue to go back to Pickwick, a place where we once found peace and joy in God's presence. My heart was broken and I felt like I was about to go under. God seemed so far away. Looking back, I do believe God brought us there that day.

I fought the idea of going on this trip. I was too depressed. But, she talked me into it. In previous visits to this place, I had experienced so much joy and growth. But, this time, unknown to me, it was not going to be what I expected. My heart was heavy on this particular day. I felt as if life had beaten me to a pulp and I was running out of strength to go on. I needed strength that only God could give.

We arrived at our favorite place on the peninsula to great disappointment. We began to make our way to the very end where many years ago, we would relax and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. As we made our way there, we began no notice a stench in the air. As we continued to walk, we found the source of the stench. First we observed a few feathers, then more and more as we continued on further (hoping things would improve). Sue commented that it looked like there was some kind of bird fight. It wasn't long before we had to turn around and go back. The area had been saturated with carcasses of dead animals, fish, and pollution. Our favorite spot had been severely neglected.

From a distance it still looked beautiful. But as we took a deeper look, we began to see the filth and it was truly disgusting. We moved to a different area where it was nicer but I was drawn to go back and see if God was trying to tell me something in all of it.

I walked along the shore to avoid the worst, made my way to the very end of the peninsula, sat on a rock and watched the waves roll in. I spent a very long time contemplating and praying about the things I was struggling with. My surroundings began to paint a picture of my life. I had no idea how God was about to move. He always speaks to me through His creation and I knew He had a message for me. So, I began to pray and ask Him what He wanted me to learn from this experience.

He began with calling my attention again to the fact that once this place was once a beautiful place to find rest and peace. But neglect and carelessness transformed it into a polluted mess. Beneath all of that waste, however, there was still a beautiful place. It only needed some tender, loving care and attention to restore it to what it was before. It was then that I began to take a deeper look at a polluted mess within...the place in my heart where once I would run to and meet with God. I had let so many things in life pollute that place. I unknowingly carried baggage that was so old and it "smelled" as bad as the peninsula. I had let co-dependency, pride, selfishness, envy, and insecurity, create a mess not much unlike that which I was observing around me. This was the reason for my darkness...not people or circumstances. I had let circumstances determine my peace. I had been looking to people for joy, thinking that because God wasn't flesh, that He could not fill that need. When in reality, it's because he is not flesh that he can! I spent hours with God and very little time with Sue that day at the river. I prayed. I cried. I cried hard. I asked for wisdom. Eventually, I asked Him to show me the truth and bring darkness to light, no matter how painful it might be. This was the beginning of victory and the path that would lead me to joy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Firmly Grounded Changes

The normal type of discussion found here at Firmly Grounded will be changing for an indefinite period as my faith is being challenged in new ways. My son, Justin, has just entered Navy Basic and I will be focusing my journaling in that direction for now.

So, to begin, this is Day 2 since he left. Yesterday was very difficult for me. I am currently in shock. To think that 2 days ago, my son was my dependant and now I can't even send him a letter. I won't hear from him at all for the next 2-3 weeks. I have no idea how he is doing and I miss him so much.

My faith will have to be firmly grounded in the Word of Truth to get us through this. So many changes are taking place at home. We are now a military family. That changes a lot more than I realized...and it's a much bigger sacrifice than I ever understood before now.

I have to adjust to him not being there when I say goodnight...and his empty room. I have to adjust to having only one child at home to look after and I have to learn how to help her cope with being an only child. She misses her brother too.

I must stand firm on the promises of God.

So, now, I need to be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet 1 Thessalonians 5:8


We are in this together. We fight the greatest battle within. We are both warriors.


Friday, September 26, 2008


This is just a quick note to apologize to my "many" readers for not posting anything recently. I am just swamped these days with many life changes while trying to graduate from college and work full-time. I hope to have something new soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

We Are Living in the Meantime

I have been reading "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey. This was a required reading from my New Testament class. We were only required to read a portion of the book but it's so good that I have continued to read it. I highly recommend it!

Recently, in reading about the Ascension, my eyes were opened to yet another paradox of the Bible. According to Yancey, we are living in the meantime. This is the centuries long time that we currently live in…the time when God appears to be absent. (How's that for a play on words?) To the contrary, God is not absent at all. He is ever present in the unlikely disguise of the sick, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the prisoners. He is the single mom, the elderly in the nursing homes, the grieving daughter, the man dying with cancer, and so many more.

The one thing I found powerfully intriguing is when Yancey writes, "Since we cannot express our love by doing anything to profit God directly, God wants us to do something profitable for the poor, who have been delegated the task of receiving Christian love." ….Amazing Grace.

I found it curious that he used the word "task" when referring to the receiving of Christian love. A task is defined as a definite piece of work assigned to, falling to, or expected of a person; duty. It is also defined as a matter of considerable labor or difficulty. So, according to Yancey, receiving Christian love is a duty of which involves considerable labor or difficulty.

Here's the paradox. In the world we live it makes sense that giving would be the task and receiving would be the blessing, right? But, in the Christian realm, the blessing is the giving and the receiving is the difficult part.

Blessed are the meek, and the poor. I see this in a different light.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. I understand!

To give sacrificially to the poor and needy is to encounter God's presence during the "meantime" while we wait for Christ's triumphant return. To receive is a blessing because the one who is receiving has been delegated that difficult task in order that God's presence might be known. It is an opportunity to allow others to receive the blessing of service to Christ. This sure sheds a new light to the question, "How can a loving God allow suffering?" It is our suffering that draws us to depend on Him. It is through reaching out through the hurting of others that Christians can have a personal encounter with God. Is this the good spoken of in Romans 8:28?

"God has designated the poor to be His receivers." – Philip Yancey

Today's Shot of flavor:

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me" - Jesus