Category Archives: Worship

Truth To Cling To


O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the lights about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to You;
the nights is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with You.

For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your woks;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was not one.

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake and I am still with You.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
See if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Thus says The Lord who made the earth,
The Lord who formed it to establish it –
The Lord is His Name:
Call to Me and I will answer you,
and tell you great and wondrous things you do not know.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me,
and I will hear You.
You will seek Me and find Me
when you seek Me with all your heart.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, The Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth
does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
and to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
and vigorous men stumble and fall,
Yes those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength;
They will mount up with wings as eagles,
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Surely I will help you.
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
and He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear for I have redeemed you;
I have called you.
You are Mine!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be set ablaze,
nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24
Jeremiah 33:2-3; 29:11-13
Isaiah 40:28-31; 41:10; 43:1-3a

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When Hope Seems Lost

This week overflowed with struggle and heartache.  Friends in pain, a terminal baby boy born and lost, a life-saving transplant seeming just out of reach, a new diagnosis plaguing one who has suffered much already, a beloved teenage boy’s life ending suddenly.  My heart has been heavy for people I love whose anguish I cannot ease.

Then yesterday happened.

Everything in me aches for Newtown, Connecticut.  My mind still can’t grasp the devastation the families of Sandy Hook are experiencing.  20 CHILDREN murdered.  Tears flood my eyes every time I think about it.  While our family celebrated Eliana’s first Christmas musical performance at school and laughed at Evan’s entertaining antics, other families were being recklessly shattered.  I know the pain of loosing a child, seeing their end near over a long period of time.  I cannot begin to fathom the agony of having your child’s life stolen so violently, so senselessly, so brutally!  Final words left unspoken, last goodbyes and I love yous never exchanged.  Why?!  Picking up Eliana from school became a luxury yesterday.  Hearing breath fill Evan’s lungs as he slept on my shoulder – a freshly appreciated gift.  My mind cannot contain the evil in this world, my heart overwhelmed by the pain it causes.

As thoughts raged and fear loomed closer, the words of a cherished song began to play gently in my mind.  Throughout the night and into this morning, Holding Us has grown louder in my ears as the Lord reassured my aching heart.  Written by my friend Josh Via during a season of great trial and uncertainty, its words hit home like never before.  I hope every person in Newtown…in our country…can hear this song.  Written out of suffering and based completely in Truth that never fails, it is a melody of hope for hopeless times.  May its truth still your restless heart today, drawing your gaze from fear to faith in God who holds us.


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Lately, I have been troubled.  Troubled with worries, inadequacies, looming fears and a burdened heart for my precious friend in the fight of her life.  Focused on the awful things I cannot control, the fretting became consuming.

Last night, our worship team at Journey Church rehearsed for this Sunday’s services.  My mind continued to wander as we ran through songs, dwelling on pain Tricia is walking through each day without knowing what the Lord’s intended outcome may be for her life.  I want so badly to take this awful struggle from her, to ease every pain afflicting her weary body, to make all things right.  Unfocused and heavy-hearted, it was honestly difficult to engage in rehearsal.

The Lord’s timing is so perfect.  In the midst of my struggle, we began to practice a simple song that shook me in the best possible way.  You Are Good written by Kari Jobe.  Simple lyrics containing profound truth.

Your kindness leads me to repentance. 
Your goodness draws me to Your side. 
Your mercy calls me to be like You. 
Your favor is my delight.
Every day I’ll awaken my praise and pour out a song from my heart.
You are good, You are good, You are good.  Your mercy is forever.
Your kindness is forever, Your goodness is forever, Your mercy is forever, Lord.

I had been so focused on the broken, changing elements of surrounding circumstances that I had forgotten the constant, steadfast, ever-present goodness of God.  In the midst of failing health and daunting fears, the Lord is good!  In the face of the frightening unknown, the Lord is good!  He is always good!  It is who He is!  As the Psalmist sang over and again in Psalm 136, the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

The facts of any circumstance will never negate the enduring goodness of the Lord nor His love towards us.  Though I am still immensely concerned for my friend and desperately praying for a divine miracle worked on her behalf, my perspective has shifted back to remembering that no matter what, she is loved by Almighty God and treasured in His heart. (Deuteronomy 31.8; Isaiah 43.1-4)  Though the cause of some worries have not changed, I am different facing them by having the proper perspective that God reigns sovereignly above them all. (Isaiah 55.8-9)

Never underestimate the importance of proper perspective.  It can mean the difference between hope and despair.  In Jesus Christ, we ALWAYS have hope.

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Over the weekend, I caught up on my One-Year Bible reading.  Truth be told, I got behind during the less-than-riveting Book of Leviticus.  As I made my way through the beginning of Numbers, a passage in Chapter 8 stood out to me in a way that continues to preoccupy my mind.

Picture this: The tabernacle has finally been completed.  Moses and Aaron are going through the process of anointing and consecrating the tabernacle and the leaders of Israel.  God sets apart the Levites for Himself from among all others in the nation.  He calls them to complete service of Aaron and the tabernacle, to perform priestly duties for the whole congregation of Israel and to care for the tabernacle itself (Numbers 1.50)  In short, the Levites were called to specific service in the place of worshiping God.  The Lord said that they shall be Mine (Numbers 3.12 & 13).

Then comes Chapter 8.  The Lord instructs Moses to cleanse the Levites and have them make offerings before Him that they would be consecrated for their service.  Verse 11 states, “Aaron then shall present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the sons of Israel, that they may qualify to perform the service of the Lord.”  What struck me so powerfully about this passage is this: this tribe had already been called by God to specific duties in the tabernacle.  They had already been called to a priesthood, to serve in unique ways in the sacrifices and worship before God.  YET they still had to cleanse themselves, make offerings (symbolic of confession) and prepare themselves to be qualified to fulfill their role in serving the Lord in the tabernacle.

How tempting would it have been for the Levites to feel a sense of superiority over the nation of Israel?!  How easily could they have felt somewhat entitled to the position given them?  “We’ve been called.  We’ve been given such and such responsibilities in the tabernacle.  We’ve been set apart to serve in this specific way.”  But as verse 11 reminds us – though they had been called, they still had to be qualified to serve the Lord.  This did not reflect on their physical ability to perform the duties assigned to them but on their spiritual condition before God.

As one who serves from the platform with the worship team, this greatly resonated with me.  Countless times in my life, I have heard others say and at times felt within myself, “I know I’ve been called to sing, to lead, to serve on the worship team (or whatever position applies to you)”  This may be valid but it must be taken a step further.  While God does place callings on His people, so often we jump from receiving the call to feeling entitled to that position of service without qualifying ourselves to walk in the path prepared for us.  We focus more on the position we feel obligated to rather than our condition before God.  As I read Numbers 8, I sensed God say to me, “Being called to something and being qualified to walk in that calling are two different things.”  The Levites were called to serve but they still had to act in humility and obedience to cleanse themselves, to confess their sins and to consecrate themselves before the Lord in preparation of that service.  They had to take ownership of their own condition before God rather than proudly assume they were good simply because of their given status.

Thank You, Lord, for this timely reminder!  I pray it be true for Journey’s worship team and for anyone who has a calling of service placed on them (in essence – anyone who calls themselves a Christian.  God has a calling on your life!)  May we walk humbly before the Lord.  May we never disqualify ourselves from the calling He has placed on us because of our own sin, lack of obedience or pride.  Every time we step up on our “platform” (be it a stage, work, your family, any audience, or simply alone before the Creator of all things), may we assess the condition of our heart and bodies to make sure we are qualified to walk in the calling He has placed on our lives.

We have been called.  The question is: are we qualified?


Filed under Faith, God, One-Year-Bible, Worship

Choose Life

This day I call the heavens & the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life & death, blessings & curses. Now choose life, so that you & your children may live & that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, & hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life, & He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  Deuteronomy 30.19-20

This passage never ceases to challenge me.  I’m sure I’ve read it scores of times, but with each time I hear God’s instruction to “choose life”, I’m convicted.  Am I choosing life today?  This world surrounds us all with circumstances and situations – some beyond our control and others completely within our grasp.  We may not always be able to influence what happens to us but we always have the choice of how we handle ourselves through it.  In Deuteronomy, God reminds the nation of Israel that life and death are ever before them.  But it is up to them to choose which one they will walk in!  You can hear God’s loving heart for His people, wanting them to walk in the life set before them and to hold fast to Him in love.  But He will not force it on them.  They must make the choice for themselves.

We all must make the same choice every single day.  Will we walk in the life that God holds out for us?  Will we choose life?  Or will we easily succumb to trials and temptations that so easily abound?  When facing a mountain, will we stand in awe of the God who holds everything together, who is far greater than any obstacle?  Or will we only see a massive barrier between where we are and where we want to go?  Will we see the opportunity for an adventurous climb or crumble beneath the daunting thought of the journey that lies ahead?

Life is an adventure!  God is almighty, great, wondrous and unfathomably loving!  He has set before us life and death, blessing and cursing.  Which one will you choose?  Which will I choose today?  As it says in verse 20, “For the Lord is your life…” I pray that this passage always stays at the forefront of my mind – that I would remember to dwell on His goodness, His salvation, His power in my life rather than the menial trials and tribulations this temporal world may bring.  Today is a new day.  Heed God’s compassionate voice as He invites us all, “Choose Life!”


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You Are Faithful

Another couple of dear friends have been hit by loss.  My heart aches for them, as well as the others we know who have recently been affected by the frailty of this fallen world.  I don’t know that I’ll ever fully understand the why.  In the midst of it all, a simple song continues to play over and again in my mind.  Its an old, Australian song but the Truth contained within remains as powerful as ever.  When all around aches with confusion, His faithfulness remains.

You Are Faithful by Hillsong

Lord of all the earth
how You care for me
You have made me
You will save and carry me always

You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful
Your joy is my strength

Lord, You are my God
I rely on You
I put my hope in things not seen
Your promises all true

Always You’re with me
Your hand will lift me
My trust is in Your hands

You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful
Your joy is my strength

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I Belong

The season of love is upon us.  Valentine’s Day is a mere four days away and everywhere you look, hearts and chocolates and the color red abound.  Personally, I find the holiday quite strange.  If you love someone, do you really need an “official” day to show them?  Do you need the calendar to mandate that you make that affection tangible in some special way for the day?  Just my personal opinion. Though I always enjoy a good chocolate. 🙂

That said, Jordan has been amazing on this day for as long as I’ve known him.  From grand occasions to celebrating in sweet, simple ways, he has a knack for romance.  I am truly blessed and continually grateful for him.  Whether its February 14th or some obscure day anytime year round, he never ceases to show me love and value as his wife.  It is a gift I never knew possible and one I do not take for granted.  I am most fortunate to be Jordan Leino’s soulmate.

Beyond the holiday festivities, the subject of love has been in the forefront of my mind of late.  Wrapping my brain around God’s love, applying it to my life (not just knowing about it), and learning more how to live out His love in my own life.  He has taught me much but heaven knows, I still have a long way to go.  This past Sunday, Pastor Jimmy began a 4-week series on Love at Journey Church.  His sermon focused solely on God’s love for us.  It was saturated with Truth – that God is love, He pursued us before we even knew we needed pursuing, and NOTHING can separate us from His love.  Nothing!  He closed with a passage from Romans that has been a rock for me through the ups and downs of my life: Romans 8.38-39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This passage continues to amaze and challenge me.  Is it even possible to wrap one’s mind around the vast expanse of this love?  Regardless of my circumstances, do I remain convinced His love remains unlimited and unchanging?  Blows my mind.  A simple song by Kathryn Scott captures these verses so beautifully: I Belong.  It has been playing in my mind all week.  I find myself waking to its melody and humming its lyrics as I go about my day.   It reminds me of the truth in Romans 8 – that nothing can take me from God’s great love.  Click the link below to hear I Belong.  This song has blessed my heart; perhaps it will do the same for you today.

I Belong by Kathryn Scott

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Above The Mountains, Beyond The Deep

Yesterday was one of the most humbling, intimate times of corporate church worship that I’ve ever experienced.  From the first down beat to the final lyric, Sunday’s services at Journey Church were saturated with God’s presence as He alone was exalted in word and song. Pastor Jimmy brought a timeless, powerful message on God’s vision for our lives.  Simply put – His vision for us is that we would become like Jesus!

During the time of response in worship, we sang a new song: You Are Good by Gateway Worship.  Its been around for a little while but this was first time our church sang it together as one.  A simple song, it declares God’s goodness above and beyond everything.  In preparing for the song, God directed me to a beautiful passage in Psalms that vividly describes the magnitude of His love and faithfulness.

Psalm 36.5-9:

5Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
6Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
7How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
8They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
9For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

His love exceeds the heavens.  His righteousness is strong as mighty mountains.  His judgments stretch beyond the deep.  How wonderful You are, o God!  No matter my circumstance, Your strength is ever-ready, always prevailing.  You are so good.  Your mercy is forever!


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Boast In This

Last weekend, Journey Church began the New Year with a unique worship service: Set Apart: From All Else To God For His Glory.  The service was stripped down and simple. Pastor Jimmy Carroll gave a Scripture-packed message on what it means to consecrate ourselves as a church and as individuals to the Lord.  He taught through the four elements of prayer: Praise, Repent, Ask and Yield (Surrender wholly to God).  Throughout the morning, the five-member acoustic team of Josh and Tasha Via, Lisa Masteller, Kody Masteller and Chris Gladden, led in worship both sincere and reflective.  What a morning!

Of all the passages Jimmy read that morning, one has stuck fast with me.  It really hit home the moment I first heard it and continues to challenge me every time I’ve read it since.

Jeremiah 9.23-24  “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.”

Boast not in who you are nor what you do nor whatever you have.  Boast in the Lord!  Boast in knowing Him who is kind, just and righteous.  How many times have I so easily slipped in finding confidence and security in my mere earthly situation – all of which is only mine by the grace and generosity of God!  The Lord delights in showing kindness.  He is the embodiment of justice.  He alone is fully righteous. Lord, I’m sorry for all the million times I have rested and bragged in myself.  All I have and anything of merit found within me is only from You and You alone.  May my boast ever and always be in You.

“…let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the LORD…”

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We Still Believe

Jordan and I spent the past two days at Glorious: Seminars 4 Worship (put on by Integrity Music Live) in Durham, NC.  Two days dedicated to equipping and encouraging those who serve in local church worship teams.  Led by Paul Baloche, Kathryn Scott, and Brian Doerksen, the event covered a broad spectrum of elements that contribute to the worship element in weekend services.  Musical techniques, organizational resources, many Q&A sessions all brought a heightened level of understanding and knowledge to those in attendance.  But what made the greatest impact throughout the event was the genuine humility and gentle spirits of those leading.  Paul, Kathryn and Brian all have reason to boast as experts and carry themselves as ones whom all should listen  to.  But they did not!  Far from it!  These three worship leaders directed all attention and admiration back to God.  In all they said and did, they pointed to Him.  Their example emphasized how there is no need for stardom on the platform but rather sons and daughters of God who adore Him and want to simply use the gifting He has given them to open the door for others to worship Him also.  Paul, Kathryn and Brian are by all standards musical giants, but carried themselves with an air of humble grace and sincere love for the Lord and people.

Throughout the two days at Glorious, we sang many beautiful and powerful songs.  But one song in particular left an indelible mark on both Jordan and me – “We Still Believe” by Kathryn Scott.  If you have not heard it, I highly recommend checking her album out on iTunes to get your own copy.  She eloquently puts to song that in vast array of human experience, no matter the circumstance, God’s goodness and faithfulness always abounds.  No matter what believers may be facing, as the song simply puts, we still believe.

From the thankful heart to the battle-scarred
From the comforted to those who grieve
From the mountaintop to the empty cup
From the waiting to those who have received
We cry out as one

We still believe
We still believe
We still surrender in our hearts
Your faithfulness is our reward
We still believe
We still believe
And though the journey has been hard
We will confess Your goodness, God
We still believe

From the reborn hope to the weary soul
From the quest for truth to those who see
From the soaring wings to the shattered dream
From the broken to those who have been healed
We cry out as one


Through the fire, through the pain
We offer You our “yes” again


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