June 27, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: when you talk to ME, I listen. When you invite ME in, I come. When you ask ME to help, I do. When you give ME permission to do all I have planned, I answer. You cannot talk with ME and something NOT happen. Without fail, I respond to your heart cries. Faithfully, I meet you where you’re at. Ask ME to open the eyes of your heart so you can see ME in action.

1John 5:14-15 (NIV) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.
Jeremiah 33:3 (Msg) Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.

Hippies, Hipsters and Hypocrites

Yesterday, my husband Bill shared our friend Mike Coleman’s Facebook post. Oh my word. I wanted to stand up and cheer. Here’s what he had to say:

“I fondly recall that during the Jesus People Movement, my favorite venue of worship was Melodyland in Southern California. It was edgy and revolutionary. A gathering of the long-haired counter-culture. The music was loud and worship was “different.” Over time, the former long-hairs have become “no hairs” and are echoing to the hipsters the kind of condemnation that they themselves received as hippies. Today’s young spiritual leaders are simply doing what the leaders of every previous generation have done… inviting their “tribe” and culture to a personal relationship and meaningful worship experience. “Dear Hipsters – please take your place in the Body of Christ”.!”Mikey’s Brain Dribble (Mike Coleman)

I was excited to hear someone from that generation say this. To admit that once-upon-a-time they too had been ridiculed for their exuberant, loud, unusual worship. To reflect on how it felt to be opposed for enjoying music they connected with as they simultaneously worshiped Jesus. To remember that they were criticized for doing something different than the establishment. And to confess that this same generation now opposes exuberant, loud, unusual worship. Admitting they ridicule the music the current generation enjoys and connects with as they simultaneously worshiped Jesus.

Kudos Mikey. Kudos.

But – even better – he ended his dribblings with the invitation for Hipsters to take their place in the Body of Christ. That’s where the cheering started. I’m no Hipster, but I could not agree with him more.

And here’s why. I believe it’s crucial – NECESSARY – for new music to be written and sung.

I believe this because I believe it’s Abba’s plan. I believe that when He formed us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), He hardwired every human with specific gifts and talents. He placed a specific calling – a way to use the gifts and talents – on each person in order to glorify Him. The perfect example of this is the prophet Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 1:5, we see that God hardwired him in his mother’s womb to be a prophet and appointed Him to prophesy to the nations for His glory – before God formed him, God had a plan for him. And Jeremiah was not special or unique. God does this for every human. Acts 10:34 and Roman 2:11 tells us that God does not show favoritism or partiality. So, if Jeremiah got gifts and a plan, then we all got gifts and a plan.

So, Abba intentionally creates specific people to write music. People whose calling is to pen melodies and lyrics that point to Him. He hardwires people to melodically tell stories of the beauty of His unfailing love. His plan is for them to sing of His holiness and grace so the nations will know of His splendor and majesty. In every generation God gives musical creativity so that these people will connect that generation to Him. So that in that generation, they would have a peer who understand who they are, where they are coming from – someone who “gets” them. Someone in that generation that God will use as His voice to sing over them. Yes, other generations may connect with their music and lyrics as well. But God uses them as a voice for and to their generation.

The message never changes. It always points to God, exalts Jesus and welcomes Holy Spirit. It always extols His worth and adores Him. It’s always about Him. (I question “worship” music that is more about “me” than “Him”…..oh, but I digress….maybe another time in another blog) And it’s always written through His Spirit under His anointing. But the style varies from generation to generation. And, it can also vary from person to person within the same generation based upon their individual hardwiring – the way Abba specifically designed them to create music. The sound He gave them, the personal preferences He gave them and the influences He surrounded them with.

The sound every generation makes will be different and unique because Abba is creative. He is not into cookie-cutter molds. We are not produced on an assembly line. While we may have many similarities, we are not cut from a mold. We are individually hand-made by God with unique hardwiring and a specific plan for us.

And if we as the Body of Christ don’t give the composers of each generation an outlet for their God given ability – a place to do what they were created to do, how they were created to do it – and celebrate their giftedness by using the tools for worship that Abba is providing through them, they will use their talents outside the church. If they experience rejection through our ridicule and criticism, they will remain silent in our presence. If they are told their creations must sound like generations before, then they will stop creating for us, because they cannot create differently than how they were hardwired. If they are not welcomed in the church to explore and express their creativity, they will take their gift and use it where they are welcome. And I can assure you, the enemy WILL welcome them with arms wide open. The enemy WILL celebrate their gifts and affirm their talents. he will gladly allow them to use their gifts in his venues as he works to influence them. (and he won’t complain about their skinny jeans and lumberjack beards)

And that is true for any gifting from God.

But, interestingly enough, we don’t seem to say this about authors. It’s unusual to hear someone say they don’t want to read new books that testifies of God’s greatness because they’re committed to older books on the same subject; that these new writings don’t inspire like the old writings do. While we do compare the differences between writing styles and the changes of language usage from one generation to the next – we never reject the new and cling to the old. We find a place for both.

We seldom say this about artists either. It’s not common for someone to say they can’t admire new paintings or pieces of art that display His glory because the old masterpieces are the only ones worth viewing. We somehow manage to see the beauty in both.

When building new churches, we don’t continue to use the same blueprints over and over again. You can easily look at any church and determine what decade it was built in. Every time a new one is built – which is always for the purpose of glorifying and exalting God – we build it in the current style being designed by the current generation of architects. And we admire the architecture of every era.

As I think through the things that the church does – all of which is supposed to be all about God – the only thing we desperately cling to and violently resist is the style of worship. (and pews vs chairs…but again, I digress…)

Reading the Bible regarding worship, I find nothing about the requirements of the swing of 3/4 time with a country twang. Or the demands of orchestration for “high church” hymns. Or a squelching guitar with a driving beat. It just said praise Him with song. With singing and with instruments. The style is left up to us. He gave us the freedom to express our heart in worship to Him, the way He hardwired us to.

So, why are we trying to place limits, restrictions and requirements on musical worship?

Who are we to think we get to define this?

Why can’t we make room for every style? Every sound? Every voice?

Why are we so critical, ridiculing the simplicity of their music as we compare it to past composers?

Why can’t we move forward and support how the current generation is worshipping and the music they are writing as we also appreciate the melodies of the past?

And dare I say it…….. if we can’t do this, maybe it’s because we have a serious heart issue. Maybe it’s because we don’t know the God we are attempting to worship. Maybe it’s because we don’t really understand the God we profess to know.

If God hardwired them to make music, let’s welcome them to make music. Let’s support their efforts as they attempt to find their voice. Let’s celebrate them as God uses them to provide us with tools to worship Him. Let’s sing the songs He’s writing through them. Let’s allow them to do it the way they hear it and join them in admiring the magnificence of God.

And let’s not get stuck where we are, because a new sound is coming. Always. While God never changes – He’s always doing something new in us. (Isaiah 43:19)

So I’m with Mike: Hipsters, Millennials, Xers, Boomers, Gen Z, and every other generation and sub-culture Jesus-loving group – I welcome to you to take your place in the Body of Christ. I ask you to worship with us and teach us how to sing the song you are singing now.

Hallelujah!
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
    praise Him under the open skies;
Praise Him for his acts of power,
    praise Him for His magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
    praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise Him with castanets and dance,
    praise Him with banjo and flute;
Praise Him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
    praise Him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
    Hallelujah!

Psalm 150 (Msg)

 

Note: Thanks Mike Coleman for sharing your authentic thought.  I loved your transparency and honesty.

Another Note: When I write, I always use lower case letters for the enemy’s name and the pronouns that refer to him.  I can’t bring myself to dignify his existence with a capital letter.

June 20, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: You may not have much control over your circumstances, but you can choose how you’ll walk through them. You can choose to be hopeful, knowing that I AM taking care of you. You can choose to be joyful, knowing that I AM able and willing to do the impossible for you. You can choose to be peaceful, knowing that I AM good to you. The key to making these choices is looking at who I AM. As you focus on MY flawless character, it is easier to choose hope, joy and peace. And these companions make the journey so much better.

Romans 15:13 (NLT)  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!

June 13, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: your ability to hear MY voice with clarity is directly connected to time spent with ME. Time spent in MY Presence. Time spent reading MY Word. Time spent listening. Time spent being with ME. Discernment comes from being familiar with MY character and MY tone. Knowing MY heart. You’ll never discover that in random, fly-by meetings. It comes from being intentional. Living this way enables you to recognize MY voice  quickly and act upon what you hear with confidence.

Psalm 62:5 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.
Psalm 37:7 (Amp) Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him;
John 10:27 (Amp) The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.

It’s messy….but beautiful.

I’ve decided that conflict resolution is a lot like having a baby.

I remember when I went into labor with Gabrielle. She was my first baby, and I had no idea what to expect. Other than being a bit early, it was a “normal” delivery. In the end, my mind was totally blown over the wonder and miracle of life.

Danielle’s delivery was nothing like Gabrielle’s. It was unexpected, unusual and traumatic. This time, the phrase “miracle of life” really had meaning. (I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.) Nothing about it matched my experience with Gabrielle. But still, my mind was blown. Not only by the wonder of life, but also by the goodness of God.

Stefan’s delivery, though early, was “normal” like Gabrielle’s. I remember going to the hospital and getting settled in a room. And as the reality of the next few hours settled on me, I looked at Bill in complete seriousness and said, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I’ve changed my mind. Is there another way?” I considered the thought of staying pregnant forever.

In shock, Bill responded, “What? It’s too late now. There’s no other choice. You’re having a baby. Today.”

Fear gripped my heart as I remembered the excruciating pain from my previous deliveries. I started to cry as I remembered how relentless the contractions were. The nausea. The inability to get relief. To be comfortable. The extreme exhaustion that followed that caused uncontrollable shaking. I panicked.

I told Bill I wanted the baby. I wanted to hold the baby. I’m ready for the baby. But I don’t want to do delivery. I can’t go through this again.

His gentle words reminded me of what I already knew to be true but could not see in the face of fear: in order to hold the baby I wanted so badly, I would have to go through the process (that word!) of delivery. There was no way around it.

Since I couldn’t figure out an alternate plan, I proceeded with delivery. It was painful. It was messy. Uncomfortable. Exhausting. As Bill held my hand and encouraged, supported and comforted me, I journeyed through the process to birth. In the end, I held my sweet baby boy. And there were no words. Mind blown again.

Relationships. I want this person in my life. I want to journey with them. I want to share experiences with them. I want to love them and be loved by them. But unfortunately, in every relationship journey there is conflict. Regardless of who – parent, sibling, spouse, child, friend, co-worker, neighbor –  it’s nearly impossible to have authentic relationship without an issue of some sort.

And I panic at the idea of conflict. I want the relationship, but I’m terrified of conflict.

To be honest, my first response is to abort. I don’t want the excruciating pain that comes from words that hurt (words of affirmation is my #1 love language). I don’t want the exhaustion of drama as I try to understand what they meant by that look or that comment. I hate the knots in my stomach that come from the tension between us. I don’t know how to get relief or how to be comfortable with them again. I don’t think my heart can bear to go through this another time. So it’s easier to just let that relationship go – to pretend there is no problem as I build a wall between us – instead of going through the process of resolution.

But like Bill, Jesus gently reminds me that in order to have the relationship, I must go through the process of working it out. There is no way around it.

Each set of circumstances will be different, but I know in every instance I’ll have to open up and communicate. I’ll have to be transparent and vulnerable to share what’s in my heart. How I feel. What I perceive. What I need. I’ll have to listen to more than their words, but hear what’s in their heart. To understand their perspective. To see what they need. I’ll have to be ok if we don’t see the situation the same way. I’ll have to know that resolution is not them agreeing with me. It’s not me changing their mind.

It may get messy. It may be painful. It may take time. Forgiveness and understanding will be required. Grace will be needed. But Jesus will faithfully stay by your side to comfort your heart as He helps you navigate through pain. He’ll support and encourage you to maintain connection.

And in the end, it’s worth it because your mind will be blown.  At the wonder of seeing their heart. At the miracle of really knowing them. Of authentic connection. Relationships are a lot of work, but there’s beauty in a relationship that’s weathered a storm. The connection is deeper. The love is greater. The bond is stronger. The journey is sweeter.

I’ve aborted a lot of relationships in my life. I couldn’t endure the pain. I wasn’t willing to be uncomfortable. I was terrified of rejection. Transparency was paralyzing. Authenticity not an option. I didn’t think I could endure the heartache. But I don’t want do that anymore.

Romans 12:9 (NLT) tells us to Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Do all you can to maintain a healthy connection to people. Every person. He tells us this because we need people in our life. Because He works through people in our life. Because we can’t keep discarding people and continue to make a difference for the Kingdom. Because when you are a promoter of peace, you’ll be blessed and identified as His child. Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

I regret every aborted relationship. So, as messy as it can be, I want to work through conflict in order to have the beauty of relationship. I want to live in peace with every person in (and outside of) my life so I don’t miss an opportunity to experience an aspect of the journey.

 

Note: I delivered all my babies drug/epidural free. So, don’t panic. And don’t decide not to have children based upon my description. You can always opt for a pain free option. Which is what I was wishing I had done as I delivered Stefan.

Here are all my sweet babies as newborns – Gabrielle, Danielle and Stefan. I can say, the mess has been worth the beauty they bring to my life.

 

June 6, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: stop wishing things were different. Stop longing for a different set of circumstances. Easier circumstances. Stop dreaming about another scenario. Instead, talk to ME about it. Ask ME what should change. Ask ME what MY plans are. I may have orchestrated your situation to perfectly accomplish MY will in your life. I may have placed those people in those positions – those places – in your life to serve MY purpose. I may have put you exactly where you are. And if you spend your time dreaming for something else, then you’ll miss everything I have for you. Ask ME if something needs to change. And if so, then I will lead you to change, adjusting people and shifting circumstances. If it’s the enemy, then I’ll empower you to live in the victory I’ve given you. And if no changes are needed, then I will give you the grace to persevere.

James 1:2-3 (NLT)  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
2Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT) Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.