Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Word for the Worship Leaders: the power in praise.

[Word for the Worship Leaders is a new type of post that has come out of creating devotional moments to feed and encourage the worship leaders and teams of our ministry.]

 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  Psalm 8

This coming week, we're focusing on children in our "All in the Family" worship series.  God has created us to praise Him -- even as children and infants we are filled with breath and song to give our God glory.  And why?  Verse 2 says that praise silences the foes.

Nothing delights me like singing Bible songs to my godchildren and nephew as they fall asleep in peacefulness.  I have this powerful memory of my two week old nephew on the night of his baptism.  He was almost humming along with his baby noises as I rocked him and sang "I am Jesus' Little Lamb" over him.  Even so small, he was singing the praise of Jesus.

Much like the lullabies for children, singing praise calms us and puts our hearts to rest.  God is once again sitting on the throne of our hearts in our worship.  When I am afraid or worried or just spinning with thoughts, I often sing worship songs or hymns 
outloud to proclaim the truth of God's power in and among me and that situation.  It's a deep breath that reminds my heart of what is true.  Praise lets the enemy know that I'm not believing his lies or afraid of his work, but claiming the power of Christ crucified and risen.  The power grows as we proclaim praise collectively, as we speak God's promises to each other and go forth collectively in the power and purpose of God.

To my fellow worship leaders, we must remember that we are blessed with that opportunity every week -- to proclaim the praise of Jesus and speak the truth that silences the foes.  We get to lead the song of victory and proclamation for our gathered family of faith.  Whatever lie the foe is whispering or tactic he is trying to turn, when we praise with our heart, the lie loses ground.  The tactic weakens.  Our worship is so much more than a cool song with a sweet melody.  It's proclaiming the praise of Christ that silences every foe.  May this be our goal as worship leaders and people of faith -- to proclaim foe-silencing praise in our lives and for all those gathered.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

perfect isn't real (PART 2): protecting an honest house.

So I received a lot of feedback from last’s week’s post “perfect isn't real: the foolish art of hiding your crazy.”

I must say that I am proud and a bit relieved to know that so many people I’m connected to are resonating and considering the same things of being authentic.  My friend, Lindsey, who has been a wonderful and lovely mutual sharer of crazy for a long time, asked a great question that I’ve been chewing on.

How do we go about being as honest as we can with strangers or others who aren't yet "safe”?

She went on to profoundly capture the struggle we find ourselves in:

Some of our crazy is only safe with those who won't turn that knowledge into a weapon...but if we never get to a place of feeling fully or at least mostly seen by others, then the devil's lies of "they don't really know you..." gain strength. 

Knowing my friend speaks great wisdom, I’ve continued to wrestle.  Not everyone has earned the right to know all of our stories.  The truth is our crazy is not safe with everyone we meet.  People who over share their life stories and wounds too quickly may not be guarding their heart as they should be. Scripture encourages us to guard our hearts, but also to not be a dish only clean on the outside.  So how are we honest, but not completely compromised?

I’ve spent a lot of time on the "closed off" side of this spectrum, to the point where it kept people from getting to know me.  The summer I worked at camp, a fellow counselor said to me in frustration, “you’re like Fort Knox..everybody knows there’s gold inside but nobody can get in.”  I don’t think I was being dishonest in that season, but just very guarded.

In effort to better connect with others and build relationships, I’ve dabbled on the “too open” side.  I’ve been so excited about building relationships, being affirming and pursuant, and letting people get to know me, while making them completely overwhelmed. 

There are people who didn’t protect my heart, my feelings, or my crazy and I got really hurt because of it.  There are others I was so distant from that they gave up trying to know me.

I admit that I’m still trying to figure this stuff out, especially as experiences continue to shape how much I swing back and forth on this social pendulum.  Awhile back, though, I was given an image that has helped me immensely to figure out how I’m honest and also protecting myself.

Picture yourself as a house.  Imagine away: the yard, the paint color.  How many rooms?  Is there a porch or a fence around the outside?  My house is a cozy small home with a grayish paint and white trim.  It has a big front window and a porch with white furniture.  A small white fence runs around the yard with grass and flowers.  What’s yours look like?  Can you picture it?  

Now, someone new is coming over.  Will you go out to meet them at the gate and chat with them across the fence?  Will you invite them to sit on the porch with a glass of iced tea?  Are they welcome to step inside to the foyer right away or even have a seat in the living room?

Some people are completely comfortable having new faces come right in and sit on their couch.  Some might want to meet on the porch a few times first.  You may decide to only chat over the fence with some.  Others may get to skip ahead to the foyer.  There may be months before anyone gets to see your kitchen and years before someone is invited into your room or your back closet full of the craziest crazy.  You know...the closet with the random junk you don’t know what do with.  It exists in our real homes and in our persons.  So here’s the deal.  This piece that gave me freedom and encouragement in all of this.

You get to decide.

You’re the one who gets to decide who is allowed in the yard, but not in the kitchen.  You get to decide how quickly someone gets to progress or not progress into your home.  You get to decide if someone is never allowed within the fence again.  You choose who stays in the yard and who is always welcome to sit on the couch.  You get to decide.’s the twist.  No matter the level you allow another into, let it be honest.  Don’t try to convince someone that the big mansion down the street is you.  Don't spend your life savings paying a gardener for a perfectly manicured front lawn and leaving your home inside in shambles.  When you invite people into your home, leave your Rock and Roll posters on the walls of your office.  Leave the encouragement you wrote to yourself on the bathroom mirrors.  If you're blaring N'Sync in the house, listen to it on the porch, too.  If someone is allowed all the way to the kitchen, offer them a Capri-Sun from your stash in the fridge.  Ask them to take off their shoes before entering an area that requires extra gentleness or leave their shoes on where there's broken glass or lost Legos in the carpet.  People who make it to your kitchen and don't like what they see, will either make themselves at home in the mess, roll up their sleeves and help you do the dishes, or find themselves uninvited.  That's how it works.  You need people in your kitchen, but not everyone in your kitchen.  People mocking, destroying, or stealing from your house get asked to leave.  People who take the time to love the process of being welcomed will cherish your house and join you in its protection and care.

Permit me to be so bold here for a moment with some real talk for my single friends.  Until that future spouse of yours has bought the keys to the whole house, the bedroom should stay locked.  It’s really tough to catch up on the bonding of the porch stage and regain the boundary of the living room, if someone has been given free reign of every part of the house.  Single or married, set that room aside for the most intimate relationship you will ever have—a place where no other relationship will go. Guard that room from any other relationship.  Be selective.  This is where your biggest crazy is shared and protected by someone else and you share and protect theirs.  This is not a room for just anyone.

So choose your safe and healthy pace for building depth in any relationship, but be authentic at every level that you invite someone to see.  And remember to be patient and gracious as the other person is doing the same with you.

Relationships of all kinds aren't about who hides their crazy the best, but who is managing it, protecting it, bettering it, and sharing it with trusted someones.  Because we all need that friend or two who will help us open the door to that scary back closet.