Category Archives: Worship

Truth To Cling To

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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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Perspective

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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Take Your Place

On August 12, Journey released its first fully-original worship album, Take Your Place.  All 11 songs were written by our worship team and birthed out of what the Lord is doing among this local community of Christ-followers.  It is an album of praise ranging from rocked-out anthems to intimate songs of surrender, all based on a singular declaration: may Jesus take His rightful place as Lord on the throne of our lives.

Jordan and I were most fortunate to be part of this project.  We have been tremendously blessed to serve alongside of the Journey worship team for nearly 2.5 years now.  Jordan collaborated in many of the arrangements while playing various instruments on nearly every track.  One of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in worship ministry was the joy of writing Walk The Waves.  The Lord brought these lyrics after studying Matthew 14.24-33.  As I read the passage, the severity of the storm contrasted by the magnitude of Christ’s being struck me.  The waves which threatened the disciples and gave them cause for most despair was the very thing Christ used to draw near to them, to display His glory, to strengthen the faith of Peter, and to invoke the disciples response of worship.  Though it was the darkest part of the night, Jesus came to them in an unfathomable way to respond to their time of need.  In the midst of life’s storms, Jesus calls us to take courage and trust Him.  To step from our boats of common familiarity and walk the waves with Him.  Thus came the lyrics for this song.  Jordan brought the lyrics to life with a fitting melody and musical arrangement.  My prayer is that the song would simply encourage and strengthen the hearts of all who hear it.  No matter what storm they face, that they would declare Christ as Ruler of all amidst the thrashing waves and turn from trepidation to praising the Lord of the storm.

So go get yourself a copy of Take Your Place!  All lyrics and song credits can be found at www.takeyourplace.info  For further backstory on the entire album and a review, visit musbkc.

Now available on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, Spotify, Rhapsody, Zune, eMusic, MediaNet, & iHeartRadio.

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Qualified

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?

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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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