Worship: An expression of the heart!

I decided to look up the definition of worship. The word worship means to: bow low, pay homage, show devotion, express feelings of adoration. Every definition I looked up included ACTION. So from what I can see, worship takes action, no matter how you look at it. Worship therefore is an expression of ones feelings and thoughts towards the one they are worshiping. It is an expression of ones heart and therefore reflects the condition of ones heart. The fact is, if we just sit there and keep all our thoughts and feelings inside, they simply remain thoughts and feelings. It isn’t until we take action and express them verbally or physically that they become worship!

Throughout the Bible we are instructed over and over to worship the Lord. Never once have I come across any exceptions or exemptions that excuse any Christian from the responsibility of worship. I believe the only one excused from these instructions is the one who has not yet been redeemed. I know for some, expressing feelings isn’t easy, because they are shy and have more reserved personalities. But we, even the most reserved are instructed to express our worship. At first this presented quite a challenge for me because I am naturally an introvert. In fact, when I first became a follower of Jesus Christ, this was way out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I sit back and just laugh at God’s sense of humor, because He has taken me the (blending into the crowd, slip in out of church services without being seen, introvert) and placed me on the platform as a worship leader and public speaker. Sometimes I just shake my head and say, “Lord, I trust You know what is best”.

Over the last six years the Lord has moved me out of my comfortable place & challenged me to grow and trust Him. My goal as His worshipper, is to always be moving forward and growing in my relationship with the Lord. Believe me there is room for me to step it up a bit! So, if you happen to hear me singing a little louder or see me doing a little dancing, don’t be surprised. Oh how I want my life to be an expression of worship to God. I desire to lavish Him with my worship as an expression of my love and gratitude, holding nothing back. I often remind myself that worship is more than a song, it’s a lifestyle. I have so much to be thankful for, after all He is the reason I am alive. My life and my worship belong to Him.

Psalm 40:2-3 “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”

Are you hiding behind a “Sunday smile, I’m okay mask”?

masksAbout 4 1/2 years ago I was ready to give up and I didn’t want to go on living. On the outside I appeared to be okay, but secretly underneath my “Sunday smile” I was in the biggest spiritual battle of my life.

Even though I was a Christian, a pastors’ wife, a Bible teacher and a worship leader, I was not okay. I was haunted by memories, struggling with a disease and overcome with depression. The secret struggles had finally consumed my life and I had reached a point of near hopelessness. My faith was next to none and I was contemplating taking my own life. But God intervened and sent a messenger of hope, a woman who looked behind “the mask” and dug deeper than my “I’m okay” responses.

The Lord miraculously rescued me; He lifted me out of the pit of despair and set me completely free. My life has been forever changed by His amazing grace and I am now walking in His resurrection power. I will never be the same again! “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God….” Psalm 40:2-3

I have such a burden for God’s people, for those who are secretly struggling just like I was. I want to ask you a question, “are you hiding behind a Sunday smile, everything’s okay mask”? Chances are, if you aren’t somebody you know is. I believe that many Christians today are being held captive by shame, addiction, depression, fear, anxiety and so much more. Outwardly, they appear to be okay, but on the inside they are secretly struggling. The “Good News” is He desires to set His people free.

The message that is stirring in my heart is this; there is hope, healing and victory in Jesus Christ! In John 10:10 Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”. The enemy is ruthless. It is his goal to keep us from being who God created us to be and render us ineffective as the body of Christ. But God is bigger than the enemy and his tactics.  Psalm 60:12 says, “With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies”.  

Know this, the Lord has a plan for you and every individual. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “for I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.” God never intended for us to be overwhelmed, depressed, stressed out or burdened down by life. In fact He provided for our every need through Calvary and made it possible for us to walk in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ!

Maybe your secretly struggling and this message is for you. If you are, I want you to know there is HOPE and you are not alone. Please seek out help, such as a pastor, Christian counselor, trustworthy friend or family member, exc… There are also ministries like Teen Challenge that may be able to help you if you are dealing with a secret addiction. You don’t have to face and go through this on your own. There are people trained and willing to help you.

I am so thankful the Lord intervened in my situation. If He hadn’t, I am convinced I wouldn’t be alive today. I have gone from feeling hopeless 4 1/2 years ago, to being hope filled today. That is our WONDERFULAMAZING GOD! He rescued me and I know He desires to the same for everyone that stands in need of Him.

I want to leave you with this thought/challenge: If you are secretly struggling, REACH OUT for help. If you know or sense someone else is struggling, REACH IN to help!

 

 

 

Thankful For Friends!

For years I was haunted by the mistakes and memories of the past. I was in bondage to shame, addiction and depression. I had reached a point of great desperation and hopelessness. The fact is, it didn’t matter that I had been serving in the ministry over 20 years, that I was a Pastor’s wife and worship leader. I was in the battle of my life and I was struggling everyday just to survive. For years I had been hiding behind the “Sunday smile, everything is okay mask”. The pressures of life and ministry had finally taken a toll on my emotions, body and relationships.
At times I felt like I was all alone and holding on by a thread. I was overwhelmed with sickness and depression. I was weak in body and depleted of faith, just trying to continue on. I had reached a point of such depression that I was ready to be done with life. As I laid there on my bed contemplating, my phone rang and it was a fellow coworker and spiritual mentor who knew I had been struggling. She had a burden on her heart and felt something was wrong. That day the Lord used her in an amazing way. Thank the Lord she listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
I truly believe that the Lord places certain people in our path that will be a strength, encouragement and help to us in times of struggle and need. People we can just be ourselves around, that we can be real and open with. I am so thankful for those friends of faith that God has placed in my life. Now my prayer is that I too will be that “friend of faith” who is a help in the time of need.
I will never be the same again, and have been forever changed by HIS GRACE and the faith of a few close friends!

But You Will Receive Power!

Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I was reading in Acts chapter one this morning and the writer tells us that before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded the Disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Fathers gives them the Gift He had promised. He goes onto say John baptized in water but He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.
Then in Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit Comes. Acts 2:1-4 says, “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”
These Scriptures really have me thinking about the precious gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I truly believe He gave us this gift to be used for His glory. I was reminded through His Word, praying/speaking in tongues is not the purpose of the baptism; it is the evidence that we have been filled. The purpose and the reason He fills us, is that we might be edified, empowered and equipped to be witnesses. It is very clear in the Scripture that we are to be faith filled ministers speaking the Truth, being led by His Holy Spirit, ministering to and loving people like Jesus did.
Often when I study the word of God, I end up doing a personal inventory. Sure enough, this morning is no different! I see things in my reflection that I need to change. All of a sudden a bunch of questions started running through my mind: Am I making the most of the gift He has given? Do I treasure it? Am I using it as He intended me to? Am I a light in darkness? Am I a witness for Him? Do I minister in power and boldness as He intended for me to do? Do I walk in faith and authority believing signs & wonders will follow me if I believe?
So much to think about, and my honest answer to every one of these question is….sometimes, but not nearly enough! I know I really need to step it up a few notches and focus on becoming a wholehearted, empowered and effective follower of Jesus Christ. Today I was reminded, my purpose for living is to serve/worship the Lord and be a witness. I know in these last days, I need to stand up for Christ and live like I truly believe in Him. It’s time to make an impact on the world around me and take some (soul-ground) for the kingdom! Hmmmm …..I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we as Spirit filled believers all stepped it up a notch or two? Could there be, would there be a shift in the atmosphere? I believe that revival starts in the heart of the individual believer, long before it hits the Sunday morning worship service.
Oh Lord I pray, “Revive my heart, and stir within me. Help me to be STRONG, BOLD and COURAGEOUS for the cause of Christ and the furtherance of the KINGDOM. Help me to be a faithful and true follower of Jesus Christ!”

Hmmm…. where did I put those earings???

I don’t know how many times I have misplaced my keys, an important document, a jacket, and I can’t forget the “earings”. No doubt, my most common search is for a pair of earings. I have a jewelry box, it’s just that most of the time the earings never make it to their designated home. It seems like it takes forever to find them and yes of course they are always in the last place I look. It is so frustrating, I have been doing these searches for years and they bring on such unnecessary stress. The funny thing is, as soon as I find the item it comes to my remembrance how and why that Item was placed there. In most cases I was in a hurry, my hands were full or a needed to clear a space on the counter. The truth be told sometimes I’m just a slacker, and feeling tired and lazy. I know I need to change and I know I should change. In fact I know the solution to the problem and yet I never find myself implementing change. Crazy right!

I starting thinking about my earings this morning after teaching my bible class. As I was teaching, I was reflecting on the precious gift of salvation, and what a treasure Jesus is. As I was pondering, these words came out of my mouth. “When you are given a gift, if you keep your eye on that gift and never let it out of your sight, you won’t lose it. If you treasure it and hold it close to your heart, you won’t risk becoming separated from it. We must keep Jesus at the center, as the focal point of our lives. If we treasure Him as the precious gift He is, we will never risk losing Him or being separated from His presence.” I had to pause for a moment, and I repeated what I said, not for the students, but for me. The Lord began to minister to me and reminded me of the scripture verse “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21

Today the Lord ministered to me, that sometimes I treat Him similar to my earings. I don’t care for them like I should and I am not alway mindful of where a lay them down. Ouch! did that ever hurt. I began to recognize that I don’t always care for my relationship with Jesus like I should. There are times I have neglected it, simply because I’m tired. I also thought about the times I have been distracted by other things and as a result, I found myself not sensing His presence and asking myself the question “where is God, is He there?”. Oh my, that sure sounds a lot like the title of this post. I know he promised He would never leave or forsake me, but the fact is we can distance ourselves from Him by allowing things to distract us, which may eventually lead to His displacement.

There is something to be said for organization. I think there is a natural peace that comes when everything is in its proper place. I know I need more peace in my life and obviously we need more peace in this world. I admit organization is not one of the qualities I possess. Today the Lord challenged me to “organize my spiritual house” and make sure I keep Him in his proper place. Lot’s of lessons learned today, some spiritual and some practical. Time for me to grow! Maybe just maybe, next sunday morning I wont be searching high and low and asking myself “hmmm….where did I put those earings?”.

God bless!
Christy

The faith of a few close friends

Mark 2:1-5 (NLT)

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

As I read this scripture this morning, my heart was filled with gratitude for all the Lord has done. Over the years I have faced many challenges physically, emotionally & spiritually. But God has shown himself to be faithful and brought me through to victory. Back in July of 2011 I was in desperate need of a touch from the Lord. I was overcome by sickness, my strength was nearly gone, my faith….well, it was next to none. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to continue on, BUT GOD!
Reflecting back I can clearly see the hand of God and His Divine intervention. Because of the faith of a few close friends (the family of God) who were willing to press through in prayer and carry me to Jesus, I received a Miracle. I am a living testimony of God’s grace & mercy. I am so blessed, so thankful for all that He has done.
As I sit here reflecting back on all He has done for me, I can’t help but be stirred by the Spirit of God. My heart’s desire is to show the same compassion and love to others, as Jesus and others have shown to me. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes we feel overwhelmed and alone. I pray that the Lord will increase my sensitivity to His Holy Spirit and I would become more aware of the people and the needs around me. The last few years I have been teaching the book of John and one of the things that really stands out to me about the life Christ is how much he loved people. He was caring, compassionate, merciful and loving. What an example, He was motivated by love, and out of love he went to the cross and gave His life. His love is so Amazing, I am overwhelmed!
Thank God for the faith of a few close friends, for the family of God that responds to His leading and together become the body of Christ. May His Love be our motivation and may the Holy Spirit always guide our lives, so that we His people are a true reflection of Jesus!

Hope, what a beautiful word!

Hope – Confident trust with expectation of fulfillment.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord…”     Jeremiah 29:11-14

What a comforting Scripture, it is one of my favorites!  Life is a journey and this Christian walk isn’t always easy. Over the years I have faced many difficulties, such as: trials, temptations, hardships, decisions, fears, and the unknown future. I am so thankful I have the Lord, because He is truly my Hope! I can rest in the knowledge of His Word and the fact that He is a Sovereign God. He is in control and watching over us, even in those times when we can’t see clearly and we are lacking understanding.

I have found that as a Christian, the best thing we can do is surrender and trust Him. Though it isn’t always easy, it is always best! If we are willing to seek Him in prayer and trust Him in faith, He will take care of us and lead us on this journey. At times our vision is so limited and clouded by life’s circumstances, but always remember He sees the BIG picture and He has a plan. Life is a Journey and our final destination is Heaven, we are only passing through. One day He will return to gather His bride and we will be united with our Groom. Oh what a glorious day that will be, when our Jesus we shall see! My heart is filled with expectation and I look forward to the return of our Blessed Hope, Jesus!

May we never give up and always remember, HE IS OUR HOPE!

Created to Worship!

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered.”      Psalm 71:23

I can’t help but praise Him!

The Lord is Awesome, He never ceases to amaze me! Over 21 years ago I gave my heart to Jesus. Reflecting back, I can’t help but testify of his goodness towards me. I am so thankful that He is a God who: Rescues the sinner, delivers from bondage, sets the captive free, gives hope to the hopeless, heals the sick, gives strength to the weak and sight to the blind!
He daily touches my life and continues to show me His grace, mercy and love. What a loving Father we have, He cares about His children and never stops! 21 yrs. ago I needed the Savior and I still need my Savior today!