Saturday, February 2, 2013


What is worship? I've heard so many sermons and explanations of worship that can be summarized in one sentence: Worship is a lifestyle. Ok, true, but only in the past few years have I realized that it's not that simple.

Webster defines worship as  "extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem". If you've been in church for more than a few weeks, you've heard people warn against "worship of idols" such as money, career, family, get the idea.  Right, so we put God ahead of everything else, whatever that means!

But what does worship mean in 2012? I've struggled with the thought for a few months now. Does it mean dressing up and giving our best every time the church opens? Does it mean getting emotional at a certain point in the services? Or does it mean keeping the appearance as minimal as possible, using only piano and singing out of a psalter? Does it mean keeping up with modern times, using an electric guitar and wearing jeans? In all of my moves around the state of Georgia, across and between denominations, I've learned one thing: in every church, worship looks very different. Deep, I know. :) Only recently has this frustrated my young-adult, carnal self.  In my previously-mentioned black-and-white mind (see story about the "male" cat in a previous, there must be a right and wrong way to worship.

As you may know by now, I have a few favorites that I enjoy listening to and reading. Matt Chandler, Elisabeth Elliot, Tullian Tchvidjan, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, and David Platt are just a few. (Yeah, PCA/Baptist/ "buffet-style" Christian background & my resulting theology today might be a bit unique to many faithful southern Baptists! You can see why I'm so confused about what "worship" looks like, haha!) Lately,  reading Francis Chan's "Forgotten God" has been my fuel for studying worship.

1 Kings 18 gives an interesting look at worship.The prophets of Baal had a loud, passionate, long worship gathering, yet "no one answered, no one paid attention." Elijah simply prayed a short and meaningful prayer. "Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice."  It's so easy to make and complete a list of "worship tasks" to make ourselves feel "spiritually good", yet worship can be as simple as a genuine prayer.  So according to this passage, worship is a prayer.

Yet in 2 Samuel 6, worship looked very different! David danced around the streets "half-naked"! People were appalled by this act. Yet, he continued worshipping. Maybe the act of worship was the fact that he kept dancing even when others were staring; he was so focused and obsessed with his God that he didn't even care what those around him thought.  So, worship is focusing all your energies and attention on God.

These are two very different examples! You can probably only imagine how my simple mind is spinning after reading these two stories. Then, Francis Chan gave his interpretation. We can sing and dance and attract a large crowd, but what are the people talking about when they leave? Are they talking about how great the people are or are they talking about what God did? In 2 Samuel, no one was praising David for rescuing the ark of the covenant. In fact, they were shocked by his behavior. In 1 Kings, no one said "Look at what Elijah did! He's such a great man of God." They were in awe of God.

What has God taught me through this? Sad as it may be for my goal-oriented self, worship cannot be defined by a set of actions and appearances.  It is "simply" (there's nothing simple about this Christian life on Earth!) living a life that brings glory to God. Each person on Earth is unique, and has special callings while still here. In the same way, each of us has a unique way to show worship to God. Even each day & each moment is a unique opportunity to show worship to God! What I have learned through this personal study is to look for those opportunities; let the Holy Spirit show me ways "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever" instead of worrying about "how to worship" on Sunday mornings. Just worship!  What a relief! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012


What if you went outside and saw a catterpillar working to become a butterfly? Except, instead of spinning a cocoon it was trying to literlaly make wings. That's silly!

Yet that is what we do, when we as Christians try to "look" like Christ. We try to make good deeds, try to obey the law. Really, the law serves as a reminder that we cannot do it. The only way anything good comes from us is from Christ being in us. The more time we spend with Christ, the more we look like Him. When we try to do good deeds, we are only deceiving ourselves and those around us.  When we focus on Christ, however, we suddenly find ourselves doing these good deeds, though it is Christ working them through us.

So clearly we aren't just sitting there "letting Christ work". Just like the caterpillar is working to make a cocoon, we work to spend time with Jesus. Doesn't it sound so silly now to even mention our "wings" we have made? "I had this many people at Bible study." "I gave this much money."  We (and by "we" I mean "ME") have missed the point! Christ did those good things, we were just blessed enough to have been chosen to be used.

So, basically being a Christian means spending time with Christ, with the purpose of becoming more like Him. Sounds like a sweet deal to me!

David Platt had a incredible sermon on discipleship over the summer ago entitled "Commisioned by the King".   In it he says "Scripture knows nothing of a disciple of Christ who isn't making disciples." Those are some strong words for some of!  Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus command people to go to church twice or even three times  week. The only command remotely close is Hebrews 10:5-

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  It would be so easy to say that being a good Christian means I go to church every time the doors are open. Or even to say tht I go to church twice on Sundays. Yet nowhere in Scripture to you see this. Dawson Trotman was the founder of the Navigators. If you haven't read his biography "Daws", you should!!  In his book "Born to Reproduce" he says "The curse of today is that we are too busy… I am talking about being busy doing Christian things.  We have spiritual activity with little productivity."  So what does "productivity" look like?

Discipleship. Matthew 28 is the classic example: "Go, make disciples...."  What good is "worship" on Sunday morning (and Sunday night) when your life is not a life of worship? A life of worship is constantly looking for ways to make God famous; ways to draw near to God. A life of worship isn't concerned with how many good deeds I've done this week. A life of worship isn't concerned with how many sermons I've listened to this week. A life of worship is looking for needs around you. How can you encourage the person next to you in their walk (or lack thereof) with God? How can you yourself worship God while at work?

Being a Christian means spending time with Christ, with the purpose of becoming more like Him, and encourging those around you to do the same! Live life with each other! Be honest with each other. Challege one another in their walks with God.

Discipleship may look like going to church on Sunday nights, or it may not. It may look like going on Wednesday, or it may not. Each one of us has a unique ministry that God has given us. Thats does not mean, however, that we ship fellowshipping with other believers entirely. Again, Hebrews 10:5. But why do you go to church on Sunday mornings, or Saturday night (whenever your body of belivers meets)? To disciple one another, and encourage one another.

This week I have decided that I am going to live more intentionally. I am going to look for ways to disciple others, and to be a disciple myself. My husband rightfully said "Disciplship isn't a program." It's a lifestyle.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This is war.

"When life and death go to battle, ain't no tellin' what'll happen." Trip Lee

I realized how true this is from a recent trip to Haiti... a life changing week, like no other.

I knew this trip was going to be hard from the moment I began packing. I've always enjoyed traveling, and have never really been scared of a place. Sure, I had the typical response when people heard we were going to Haiti: "Why would you go to Haiti?" "You do know it's the poorest country in the western hemisphere, right?" I've still got some callousing to do, but after two years of ministry, these comments didn't phase me. However, while packing I felt an odd sense of dread. I suddenly did not want to go. This feeling was foreign to me! When have I ever hesitate at a chance to travel?! God has blessed me with so many mission opportunities, beginning with a trip to Spain in 8th grade with my dad, continuing with several trips to Guatemala, and a trip to Whistler. You get the point: missions & traveling was nothing new. I pushed this dread inside, and subcosiously knew this week was going to be intersteing, one way or the other.  Little did I know the effect it would have on my life.

We began our journey at midnight Friday June 29, 2012. After hours of driving, flying, waiting, flying, and driving some more we arrived at the Georgia House in Leogane, Haiti. The drive itself was like nothing I have ever seen. The poverty was impossible to ignore. Sewage and garbage is running in the streets, right past the food vendors and children playing. People are living under tarps, if they even have that. This was a level of poverty I had never seen before. Confirmation #2: this was going to be an interesting week.

Our trip was focused on leading VBS at a local church, and again at a local orphanage. I'm not going to lie: I was disappointed. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a kid person. Confirmation #3: this was going to be an interesting week.

We began with VBS at the church; I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went...and how comfortable I was. The Lord gave me strength and in my weakness He worked through me. That was proven through out the week. In the afternoon, we went to the orphanage. And that is where my life was changed....

The kids were eating lunch when we arrived that first day. "This is awkward!" I thought. Kids covered in mud, food, and water literally begging for attention, pulling from all angles, asking for everything you had. Right there, I just wanted to go home. I remeber praying, "God give me strength. This is going to be a long week." I walked a few steps away to catch my breath, and that's when it happened. I looked down and saw a little boy teeter over to me slowly. When he was at my feet, he looked up and reached. My heart broke right there. This little 18 month boy just wanted someone to hold him. Nevermind the fact that he was clearly malnurished with a swollen belly, he just wanted love. For the rest of the week, we were attached. I'd try to put him down, only to have him scream and roll himself on the dirt until I picked him up again. And honestly, I didn't want to put him down anyways. Monday I was able to put him to sleep before we left. Wednesday is when the heartbreak began. He woke up before we left, and I held him and help him with his snack. The time came for us to leave for the day; he screamed like nothing I've ever heard or felt. He didn't understand. I cried on the way home, dreading the longer goodbye that was to come.

Thursday was our last day at the orphanage. My little boy came waddling over to me. He moves slowly because of his vitamen deficiency. I immediately cleaned him up; he was covered in dirt and food. I held him, and played with him. And I tried so hard to put him to sleep. I dreaded the goodbye that was to come. But he never feel asleep that day. The time came to leave, and he screamed. I walked away, and he got up to follow me. It was all I could do to keep walking to the car; he wasn't fast enough to catch me. I watched him stop and reach for the car while he screamed. I was leaving him to continue this life of poverty, this life without the love and care of a family, to return to my life of comfort and gluttony. It was the hardest moment of my life.

Why would God allow this to happen? Even now, I can't relive the moment without crying. My heart has been broken by a little 18 month Haitian boy. No, my heart has been broken by God.
God has shown me a glimpse at the compassion He has for these orphans, for this poverty striken-nation, and for the world. And it is so overwhelming. I still don't know how God will use this broken heart, but I know He will.

We are currently investigating the possibilty of adopting him. Please pray for us, pray for the boy, and pray for the 300,000 other orphans in Haiti. And remember God's cammand in James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Joy of Salvation

"The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile." ~Plato

How empowering! If you don't like something, change it! But wait...
You don't like your hair? Dye it. You don't like your shape? Loose weight. You don't like your attitude? Change it. You don't like your anger probelm. Work on it. You fight anxiety. Trust God more. And on and on.... Yet how frustrating and neverending this changing, fighting,  and changing some more can be. It can actually be maddening!  If you have lived for any amount of time, you know that once you "conquer" one problem (if you ever do!), another one arises.  Suddenly you are trapped in a cyle of perfecting yourself! Sure, you may have a picutre of what "perfect" looks like, and a self-help plan to get there.  But let's be real: will you ever be "perfect"? Have you ever heard someone say, "Finally, I have attained perfection. I never sin; I am beautiful; I have enough money. I am living in a way that pleases God. I have gained control."  No, we never reach that point because we can't. And since we're on the subject, what does it mean to please God?
Romans 2
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
Yikes. "Those who obey the law will be dedlared righteous."  Well, we know every one of us has disobeyed the law.
That's right; even if I read for Bible for one hour a day, pray for three hours a day,love your neighbor, and do all of this before breakfast,  I still have not done enough to please God. Why?? Because I cannot be perfect. So, if you're not depressed about this situation, let me summarize. I am a sinner by nature. Therefore, by nature I cannot please God. Even if I go to church every Sunday morning and Sunday night, I am destined to hell, because I cannot please God.   
But there is hope.
Galatians 1
"3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father"
I have been rescued! Jesus has rescued us. Did I do something to deserve this? No!
Ephesians 2
"1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful naturea and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast."
I was dead. Dead people can't  do better; dead people can't respond. Therefore, I have no reason to boast. Did God save us so we can make Him proud? Absolutely not. He saved us to show His power, His grace, and His kindness. So, were in that do you see yourself working, or showing off? Umm, yeah.
Tullian Tchvidjan is one of my favorite pastors. His series "Free at Last" has been life changing for me. I honestly believe I have never know the "joy of my salvation" until very recently. 
Galatians 1 explains why I (and maybe some of you) struggle to find that joy. Why I struggled even wanting to go to church. Yeah, that's right. That is the last place I wanted to go.
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Read the whole chapter (actually the whole book!). Grace is incredible!!  

It is not possible to please God any more! I was not saved because of my good works, therefore, any good works I do now cannot please God any more! It's all about Jesus, nothing about me. And what a relief! It doesn't matter if I don't pray before breakfast; God is still pleased because He is pleased with Christ's work in me. It doesn't matter if I skip church Sunday morning; God is still pleased because He is pleased with Christ's work in me. Do you feel that joy?? That relief????

Why don't we talk about grace more? Why do we hear so many mesages about what we need to do? Because grace is embarrassing. Grace is messy. Grace means: you are worthless without Christ. Grace means there is nothing you can do; you are helpless. People would rather be told a list of things to do no matter how long and hard that list is than the fact that they can't do it.

Paul explains his previous manner of life. He really thought he was pleasing God while persecuting these Christians. What are the "good deeds" I think are pleasing God? Doing my quiet time every day, praying every day, going to church, tithing.... Isaiah 64:6 tells us how "good" those things are: like menstrual rags. Yuck. Kind of embarassing to think we are giving this to God to please Him.   

So, why do I have a quiet time? Why do I tithe? And the biggest question for me: why do I go to church? Because I get to! I get to spend time with God everyday; I get to worship Him on Sunday mornings; I get to talk to Him whenever I want to. It is a privilege that I enjoy. And it doesn't make God mad when I don't. Now that is true joy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping Up With the Jones'

As you well know by now, I absolutely love quotes (especially the Bible). Here are a few I found that address a topic close to my heart right now. To be honest, it is something that has been revealed as a personal struggle and it's danger is unavoidable.

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy "stuff" we don't need."    -Brad Pitt in Fight Club

"They has their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket."
-George Orwell, Animal Farm

That demon of comparison: it is attacks from every angle. You cancel your cable subscription to avoid the commercials advertising the fast new cars you need to succeed, only to drive past billboard  promoting the newest phone, the  prettiest hair, and the best food. Subliminally (or often, not so much) we sent messages about things we need in order be truly successful. I mean, after all, everyone knows you don't have a real phone until you get the new iphone; that is, until they come out with the next smart phone. And only houses decorated with Pottery Barn are truly a cozy home. Truly successful people shop at Barney's and Dash. Life is purely seen in black white until you get that new red Shelby; only then can you see in color. And of course, the more education you get the more esteemed you will be. You get my point. And let me be honest once more; each of these examples are lies with which I personally struggle. 

How destructive these lies are!!  I mean, if I acted on every one of these lies (and more....) I'd be most assuredly deeply depressed from the constant dissatisfaction (and probably in a poor house somewhere).

What is true success then? I believe it is the exact opposite. The people who have truly  succeeded are the ones who have been able to counter these constant attacks. While iphones and Mustangs are not bad (that would be the easy answer!) they should not symbolize success. My black-and-white, purely logical personality would love to say Banana Republic and Pottery Barn are evil and should be avoided. Instead they need to be included with balance. 

1 Timothy 6
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

I hope you are thinking," Wow..'some have wandered from the faith'!? That's serious." Yes, it really is. God has used a week in south Florida to reveal the intense danger of this. To see people so consumed with things, living the life I have always dreamed of, yet so completely empty and discouraged. It has been humbling and quite frankly is has been terrifying. It is so easy to get into the "keeping up with the Jones" mentality; the traps are set everywhere. How do we avoid them?

The answer is found in the following verses.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

It's not about turning off your TV or not looking at magazines. It's about pursuing godliness, fighting the good fight of faith. It is about doing whatever it is you need to do to stay focused on the goal: make God famous. For you that may mean avoiding the mall; I know for me there are going to be some changes in made in my daily life. And instead of being bitter about being two hours from Starbucks and forty minutes from my favorite gym, I am learning to thankful that God has given me a break from those "traps", and has highlighted others.  

So next time you see Starbucks as a necessity, or even a necessary evil, view it in the Biblical light. Will this help or hinder my ultimate goal of glorifying God?

Verse 18 says, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Warning of the Danger Ahead

With my previously mentioned extensive experience with traffic cops, one of my favorite services to the community has become the "warning lights." "Warning lights" is that courteous blinking of your car head lights to cars headed in the other direction when there is an accident or more importantly a cop hiding up ahead. Every time I successfully pass a cop, I feel it is my duty to warn passing cars of the danger ahead. Maybe it's revenge, but it gives me such a rush of pride and  that "haha, you won't be giving any speeding tickets as long as I have anything to say about it" feeling.  Don't lie; you know the feeling.

Now don't take this analogy too far. I do know that cops are GENERALLY my friend. I will always be indebted to that cop who came to check out the strange man knocking on doors at my apartment in Statesboro, and the one who picked up the drugged up lady banging on our door last month at 2 am. However, it may take me years of counseling and reconciliation to appreciate the role of traffic cops; just give me time. 

Last Friday I had the opportunity to perform my civic duty with pride. Suddenly it hit me: I was warning them of the danger to come, much like we should warn our friends of the Judgement to come. Yes I know, for all of you perfect drivers out there it is a stretch to compare passing a cop to eternity in hell, but I have faith that there is at least one of you out there who shares my terror of blue lights. Work with me here. 

This thought brought more thinking. Why do I get so much pride and joy from my "warning lights" yet have to work up my energy to even mention church or Bible study to my coworkers, friends, and neighbors? My job is to warn them of the "Danger" ahead; it is part of the Great Commission. Not only am I called to warn them of hell, but I am also supposed to "make disciples." That means warning (and preparing) young believers of the trouble ahead in the Christian life. Why is there so little pride and joy from that??

More thinking brought the following conviction (it was a long drive): my measurement of worth has been off. As an average American girl, I subconsciously expect immediate results. I want a job now or I feel like a failure; I want to shop now or I feel behind in the styles; I want to watch someone drive by the cop safely now or I feel that their evil scheme to provide everyone in the world with a speeding ticket has succeeded....
My point: making disciples is not something that produces immediate results. But it is what produces true and lasting results. The generation of immediate results has resulted in churches that base their growth and success on how many people attend church Sunday morning rather than how many are involved in active discipleship.  Numbers is an immediate result, but that should not be what gives us pride and excitement. 

So next time sometime kindly warns you of the "danger" ahead on the roads, take that as a reminder to warn those around you of the dangers in this Christian life. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Funny Face

I firmly believe that you can learned life lessons from anyone and anything if you look for it. I mean, even the famous New York Yankee (woot woot!) Yogi Berra was full of wise words: "If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be."  

For those of you classic movie fans (ahem.... Rebecca!) you know this next quote to be from none other than Audrey Hepburn. She is without a doubt my favorite actress of all time. And no, I have no deep spiritual explanation for this admiration. I just love her work! 

“I was asked to act when I couldn't act. I was asked to sing 'Funny Face' when I couldn't sing, and dance with Fred Astaire when I couldn't dance - and do all kinds of things I wasn't prepared for. Then I tried like mad to cope with it.” 

So, what can we learn from this luminary who "had it all together"?  Even our classic heros and Hollywood stars who seem to be living the life they'd always dreamed of have to deal with the cards dealt to them. Audrey Hepburn didn't feel prepared for her role in "Funny Face"; but did she give up? Thank goodness no! As a result, we can now watch her stunning performance with Fred Astaire in this exemplar film.   

In my own life, things have not been panning out like I planned. Nothing horrific or awful, just my own personal "Funny Face" kind of year. Am I going to let the fear of the unknown paralyze me or will I "try like mad to cope with it"? 

What are your "Funny Face" situations? Will you rise up to the challenge and let God use you?