Wednesday’s Worship – Better Word

Today’s song was a difficult choice, because there were a few different songs that I could have shared. But Sunday, an old song popped into my head, “Nothing But the Blood” by Matt Redman. The verse that stuck out was, “Your blood speaks a better word…” and I began to think about different aspects of the Word.

In Genesis, God spoke a word and the world, and everything within was formed. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Then John 1:14 described Jesus as the Word made flesh. In John 19, Jesus said that “it is finished” and then in Revelation 12 we read that Satan, the accuser, is conquered by the blood of the lamb and the word of the testimony of the believers.

And so, the song we’re looking at today is “Better Word” by Elevation Worship. Beside the chorus singing, “Nothing but the blood/A better word was spoken” the bridge goes on to state “I left my shame where the nails were,” and I can’t help but get excited about this song, and the fact that it reminds us of what Christ did for us on the cross. There aren’t a lot of current songs that talk about our sin and need for Christ–it’s actually something that I personally feel has prevented revival in this generation; a lack of brokenness and repentance, but that’s a conversation for another date.

Check out the lyrics below and listen for yourself to this simple, but beautiful song describing an individual who finally realizes there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. It’s only by the blood shed on the cross that we’re saved, and it’s to that, we cling.

What can wash away the guilty stain
After all the wrong I’ve done?
I’ve already tried a thousand ways
But it’s never been enough
What could be enough?

Chorus: Nothing but the blood
A better word was spoken
Oh, I know it was
Nothing but the blood
Every curse was broken
Oh, I know it was
Nothing but the blood
Nothing but the blood

And when I’m reminded of my shame
To the fountain I will run
Every failure covered now in grace
For the Lamb has overcome
What can overcome?

Bridge: On that cross, hallelujah
I left my shame where the nails were
Jesus Christ, O Lamb of God
Be lifted higher forever
On that cross, hallelujah
I left my shame where the nails were
Jesus Christ, O Lamb of God
Be lifted higher forever

Advertisements

Wednesday’s Worship – Even Louder

I woke up Sunday in a mood; one of those moods where I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep through church. The hubby went in to church early, because he was playing percussion for the worship team, so I forced myself to get up and get ready before Cookie Girl woke up. I was trying not to let my downcast mood get to me and started listening to worship as I got breakfast ready for the both of us, and “Even Louder” performed by ISAAC began playing. And my mood began to change as I sung…even when my eyes can’t see it/I’ll sing ’til I believe it/Even Louder/Even Louder.

Sometimes we have a hard time facing the day, because of the things that are going on in our lives, or the enemy is playing games with our emotions, or whatever reason, and we have to remember that we praise God because of who He is; and the only thing to do is praise Him right on through the storms and struggles. I love the lyrics of this song because they talk about God’s faithfulness, holiness, & love; how He’s worthy of praise; and how even when it’s difficult we’ll choose to worship Him.

Faithful in the sanctuary/Faithful in the storm/Worthy in the empty spaces/Worthy in my song

Pre-Chorus: A thousand years of endless praise/Will never be enough/Through it all my heart will cling/To Your unfailing love

Chorus: Even if the drums stop beating/My soul will keep on singing/Even louder/Even louder/Even when my eyes can’t see it/I’ll sing ’til I believe it/Even louder/Even louder

You are holy in the highest places/Holy in the flood/Even in a world that’s changing/I will lift You up

Bridge: I will sing Your promise in the dark of the valley/’Til I see your goodness in the land of the living

This is a pretty simple song for a congregation to sing, has an upbeat tempo, and would be a great addition to a worship set list.

Music & Lyrics

I’ve been debating the best way to use this page. Lately, I’ve been listening to a ton of worship music and finding some great songs, that really aren’t all that popular. I think it’s because we just get in a rut, and stick with artists that we’re familiar with.

So, that’s what we’re going to do here!

Each week I’ll share with you a new worship song that I’m enjoying. I’ll tell you why, I’ll share some lyrics, and the YouTube video (if there is one). And you get to hear something new (hopefully), or perhaps uncover something you heard a long time ago and have simply forgotten. So check back next Wednesday, for a new installment of Wednesday’s Worship.

The Wisdom of Proverbs

Wisdom is something I find myself praying for quite often, if not, every day. Wisdom as a wife, as a mother, as a believer. However, God has already given us His Word, and the book of Proverbs is chock full of wisdom! In fact, Proverbs 1:1-6 says that the book was written so that people might know skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction and discernment; and the discipline of wise thoughtfulness, righteousness, justice, and integrity.

Why?

Why should we desire godly Wisdom? Because Wisdom comes from God, was with God before time began, and it’s priceless (Proverbs 3:19-22, 8:22-31)! Proverbs 3:14-15 says that the gaining of it is better than gaining silver, the profit better than gold; it’s more precious than rubies; and nothing can be compared to it. Also, those who love wisdom will inherit true riches (Proverbs 8:20-21); and Wisdom brings life, honor, glory, and blessings (Proverbs 3:14-18, 4:8, 13:14, 15:31, 19:23). Who wouldn’t want godly Wisdom?!

How?

So, what is the first step to gaining such wisdom? Fear the Lord, says Proverbs 1:7. “But how does that help me learn wisdom?” you may ask. Well, reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord means that we have utmost respect for Him, above all else. It means that we walk in obedience, we honor and worship Him, we are attentive to and accept His words, we seek understanding, and treasure His Word. Basically, it’s wise to fear the Lord; that’s why it’s the first step!

Additionally, Proverbs says, “the wise in heart will accept and obey commandments” (10:8, AMP); and “the mind of the prudent is ever getting knowledge, and the ear of the wise is ever seeking knowledge” (18:15, AMP). Like David said, the law of the Lord is perfect and sweet to those who love Him (Psalm 19:7-11). Therefore, because we love and respect Him we study His Word!

Spending time in the Word of God is how we’re going to learn more about the character of God and, in turn, the Wisdom of God. We can’t expect to gain the Wisdom of God, if we refuse to open up the Bible and examine it closely (for ourselves). It won’t just “come” to us, and we won’t find it in the world. Proverbs says “every word of God is tried and purified” (30:5, AMP); and that there’s no human wisdom or understanding that can prevail against the Lord (21:30, AMP). Therefore, every word contained within the Bible is useful to us; but only if we act on it.

“But I don’t understand the Bible,” you might be thinking. The thing is, the more we study and obey His Word, the clearer it actually becomes to us. Proverbs says, “if you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you” (1:23, AMP); and if we ask for understanding and insight, He will give it to us (2:1-12). But the Word also states, “the [reverent] fear and woshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil, pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverted mouth” (Proverbs 8:13, AMP). To repeat, we must apply the Word to our lives and have a teachable spirit.

In the book of Proverbs, Wisdom is given human characteristics so that we can better understand it. It says that we should treat Wisdom like a sister or close friend (Proverbs 7:4) and goes on to describe Wisdom as a woman crying out in the streets saying, “all the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing contrary to truth or crooked in them. They are all plain to him who understands [and opens his heart], and right to those who find knowledge and live by it” (Proverbs 8:8-9, AMP).

Conversely, the Word also describes foolishness/ignorance/thoughtlessness–the opposite of Wisdom–as the loose woman. The loose woman–or harlot–is tempting, pleasing to the eye, sly, cunning, turbulent, willful, and deceptive (Proverbs 5:3-11, 7:4-12), just like sin. We are to stay far away from her.FontCandy (10)

The Wisdom found in Proverbs covers practically everything, from marriage, to parenting, finances, friendships, and our spiritual relationship with God. As Proverbs states, “give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wise; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning. The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding” (9:9-10, AMP). If we desire Wisdom, we must first fear the Lord, then by the power of His Holy Spirit we will obey the Lord, and continue learning and changing, from the inside out. As we learn and change, we draw closer to the Lord and get to know Him better, and we learn and change even further; this is called the process of sanctification. And now we’ve come full circle!

Lastly, godly Wisdom isn’t something we’ll ever fully attain. There will never be a time on this earth that we’ll know all or understand all, but that shouldn’t prevent us from seeking out Wisdom, discernment, or understanding. Especially, because godly Wisdom isn’t just for us to hoard, but it’s for us to share with our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors, that we might draw men to Christ through our words and actions.

Be sure to come back next week as we continue our series on the book of Proverbs. I love y’all and God bless!

Top Priority

Last week, in bible study, we were discussing the days leading up to the day of Pentecost, in the first chapter of Acts. We talked about how God took a group of ordinary people and brought them to a new level with Him, based on their obedience, unity, and prayer.

Somewhere during the discussion, we began sharing about how sometimes it’s so difficult to set aside time to build our personal relationship with God. For many of us there were periods in our lives where we had all the time in the world to study the Word, pray, or worship. It may have been a time when we were without a job, or as we sat beside a sick or dying loved one, or when we were simply at the end of our rope and had hit rock bottom, and the only way up was to cling to the hope found in Christ. But then there are periods in our life when we are overwhelmingly busy with family, jobs, community service & outreach opportunities, church–the list seems to never end–and our relationship with the Lord takes the back burner.

However, we must remember that we need God’s presence in every season of our life, not just the most difficult. Ironically enough, just like Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, when we feel at our weakest and turn to Christ for strength, is when we are truly strong, and when we feel strongest and try to make it without Him, we’re actually at our weakest! The Israelites were notorious for forgetting the blessings and promises of God during the good times in their lives and neglecting their worship and obedience to Him; thus causing them to eventually lose those very blessings and promised land.

As is often pointed out during these types of discussions, someone brought up the fact that we can approach God in prayer during any moment of the day. This is aligning with Scripture; I mean, the Bible actually tell us to pray without ceasing, to pray continually in the Spirit, and to pray persistently and on every occasion (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18). But I also like to point out that Jesus Himself, often stole away from the busy-ness of His ministry to spend alone time with His Father (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12).

The truth is, when we desire to strengthen a relationship with someone we spend quality time with them. We participate in activities together, we communicate, we make time for one another; we try to learn as much as we can about one another. Sure, we can do that surrounded by others, but is our undivided attention upon the other individual? Or are we distracted by the television, the other cars on the road, the next activity or responsibility on our to-do list? As a newly married individual, I know that with two jobs, community service & outreach activities, and church, I may see and talk with my husband every day, but I know it’s not the same thing as spending quality time with him. Because I love him and want to continually develop and strengthen our marriage we still schedule “date nights.” We schedule that time because it’s important to us and important to our marriage.

wp-image-862409418jpg.jpgLikewise, when our time and attention are pulled in multiple directions and we’re not spending the quality time we need with our heavenly Father, no matter how many things we try to do or accomplish, we’re never going to get to the place where God can really use us the way He desires to use us. It’s just like we discussed before in Blemished Sacrifices about giving God our best, our first-fruits, instead of offering Him the leftovers. If we can schedule date nights, doctor’s appointments, coffee dates with our friends, mommy-and-me play dates, time to workout in the gym, or any other activity we deem important, then we can most certainly schedule quality personal time in the Word, prayer, and worship. If we call ourselves believers and we profess that Jesus is Lord of our life and that He comes first and foremost in our lives, then this is most certainly something we can, should, and desire to do.

HOW…

Now let’s get practical and discuss how we can do this. Some people are morning people. They have no trouble getting up early in the mornings to set aside time for prayer and the Word. I’m a morning person, but I still have trouble getting up earlier than I need to; in a perfect world I would study the Word between the hours of 9-11. But obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world, and I’m at work during these hours. Since I recently took on a second job, I now keep a written schedule that helps keep me on track and helps me manage my time better so that I can accomplish all my goals, rather than having time manage me.

Let me tell you, this has been one of the best decisions ever! Try it! Spend 30 minutes of your morning planning out your day. How long does it take you to get ready? When do you eat lunch? How long do you spend commuting? When do you eat lunch? Cook dinner? Go grocery shopping? Planning out your day is a lot like creating a financial budget; you only have so many hours in a day and you want to spend each of them wisely. Ever since I’ve started this I feel like I get so much more accomplished. You never realize how much time is wasted surfing the internet, watching TV or YouTube, or playing games until you give an account for each moment of your day.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I don’t have fun or time to relax. Even with a schedule, sometimes I still find a few free moments to scroll through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And there are still days when I keep part of my schedule clear so that I don’t always feel so hurried. Lastly, I think even when we have a schedule, we still have to maintain some level of flexibility. Sometimes something just comes up. Plans have to be rearranged, or changed, altogether; but this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Some days I choose to use my 30 minute lunch break as my time to search the Word, while other days I get to spend 45 minutes of delicious time in His presence. But it’s only because I make it a priority. If we want to spend time in His presence, we must prioritize our time; because if we don’t, all the other activities of the day will consume us, and we will have nothing left to offer Him, but our leftovers.

Worship Series: Song Selection

If you’ve been following for some time, you’d know that I help out with children’s worship once a month. Well, once a month we also hold a children’s worship practice, where we introduce new songs and motions to our children’s worship team. And every month I struggle with tying to figure out what new songs I’d like to add to our slowly growing list.

Now, it’s not that I don’t have songs that I love, however, everybody has their own style of worship and artists they prefer, and I’m no different. I love upbeat and energetic praise songs and I love worship, but I’m also very lyrically driven. Obviously, I’m a writer, so I tend to be drawn to songs with powerful, biblically sound lyrics. I mean, the Bible says that true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth, and the Word is Truth (John 4:23-24).

However, when it comes to children’s worship, I can’t always choose to share or lead the same songs that I enjoy during my personal worship time, because the lyrics are sometimes too complex for children between the ages of 5-12. That’s not to say that I choose watered down songs, because that would mean I’d be underestimating the understanding of the children; and children understand much more than we often give them credit for. (That’s why Jesus said that we should be more like little children in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18.) However, sometimes I really struggle with finding age-appropriate songs, especially because our group varies so vastly in age.

I think this is a challenge that someone leading any type of worship–adults, children, teens, etc.–faces: choosing the right songs for the particular group you’re leading. Leading adult worship, for instance, means you have to choose songs that reach a multitude of generations (unless your church has only one primary age group).

Here are three things that I started taking into consideration when choosing songs for Children’s Worship:

Tempo

Because I’m working with kids this is an important one. If we want the children to be excited about worship, we need some up-tempo songs to begin with and we have to be careful when we slow down our praise and enter into worship. Usually, I like to have a transition song, something mid-tempo, before going into worship, but sometimes it’s not always possible. Their attention span is pretty short and I’ve found that if we sing any more than one worship song, we usually lose them.

Lyrics

This is the most challenging for me. Some of my favorite worship songs are very lyric heavy. They either have a lot of lyrics or the lyrics are complex. In the days leading up to our most recent practice, for example, I went back and forth on a song that I really loved, but eventually decided against because I felt that the kids couldn’t handle it. The best songs for them tend to be those with simpler lyrics and repeating choruses, although I have found some exceptions. Songs that they are familiar with, because they hear them repeatedly on the radio, tend to do extremely well with this group! So much so, that we’ve begun to use more of such songs during worship.

Song Length

Unfortunately, we don’t have a live band for our children’s worship, so we use tracks (usually, including the lyrics). Sometimes the track we have is too long or there’s too much ad-lib going on in the track. I’ve been making notes of which songs these are, so that I don’t continue to use them or I request that a new/different version of the song be purchased. Again, I can’t lead an 8 minute worship song with this age group, since they just don’t have the attention span, and they don’t know what to do when someone is ad-libbing.

Still, even after taking these things into consideration, we just have to lead the song a few times and see how the children respond to it. Sometimes they pick it up easily and other times we end up disappointed and end up removing the song from our list.

Now I have questions for you…How do you choose which songs to use in your worship services? And how many times do you try/lead a new song before ultimately giving up on it? I’d love to hear your responses below!

Responsibilities of Parenthood

This post has been a while in the making. I’ve been slow to post it because A) I’m not a mother (yet) and B) I don’t want anybody to think I’m telling them how they should raise their children. However, this is something that’s been on my heart lately; especially, since if you’ve read my last post, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the future.

Recently, a TON of my friends (and my sister–I’m going to be an aunt again!) have announced pregnancies. While I may not currently be in the same boat, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought about the responsibilities we have as parents (from here on out, just accept that I’m going to speak in the future tense in regards to myself, lol).

As parents, there are a lot of things that we’re in charge of when it comes to our children, the most obvious being food, shelter, clothing, protection, love and encouragement. And as they age, we encourage them to walk, teach them how to use the restroom on their own, how to share, the difference between right and wrong, and how to ride a bike, just to name a few. We are deliberate in these lessons and experiences because we want our children to grow up to be capable adults one day. The same should be said in regards to sharing the gospel with our children.

My sisters and nephews at the Botanical Garden in SC.

My sisters and nephews at the Botanical Garden in SC.

I heard a pastor a few weeks ago, on the radio, talking about how when interacting with his son, he and his son practiced what he called “Say, Play, and Pray.” They would read Biblical stories together, act them out, and then pray. When I heard this, I thought, “Wow! What an amazing way to be intentional about sharing the gospel and studying the Word with your child.” I decided right then that that was something I would love to do with my future children. Just as it’s our responsibility to provide, care, and teach our children other life lessons, we ought to be responsible for teaching our children the Word and how to apply the Word in their lives.

This couldn’t have been made more clear to me as I’ve read Deuteronomy chapters 6 & 11 these past few weeks, in which, Moses tells the Israelites to remember that their children didn’t get to see all the great and wonderful miracles God did while extracting them from Egypt. Therefore, as men and women chosen by God, they’re to not only obey the Lord, but to teach their children about Him and His commands, as well. As parents, we’ve seen and experienced many great and wonderful things ourselves, and God calls us to be intentional about teaching our children. Just like Moses told the Isralites:

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NLT; repeated again in 11:18-21)

So what does that mean? To be intentional? I think sometimes we think that our children will just “get it” or understand things without us explaining to them. However, just like we have to teach them how to share, or play fair, or how to treat people with respect, we should be teaching them the how’s and why’s of studying the Word, teaching them to seek the Lord in prayer, teaching them to be worshipers, and how to walk and be lead by the Spirit, in word and in deed. We are their parents, the people our children look up to and observe every day. Who’s in a better position to do so than us!? It’s a responsibility given to us by God, and is not to be taken lightly.

I may not currently have children of my own—I’m not even married yet—but I know I plan to be intentional, what about you? How are you being (or how do you plan to be) intentional about sharing the Word with your children? Do you read a children’s Bible with your children before bed? Do you share how God has blessed you and your family over dinner? Does your family have devotional time? Or a quiet time, where everybody reads on their own and then shares what they’ve been studying? Let me know in the comments below! I’m sure all of us could use some inspiration. Take care and God bless!