Created to Praise

Just me being me the way He made me

Persecuted August 23, 2009

Filed under: ministry,Prayer,Thoughts on Love — 6kids1me @ 7:57 pm

This morning we visited Christian Challenge. Once again, I loved that the kids worshiped with us. Everyone was so helpful and kind. The kids LOVED their classes. Good stuff all around. I’d go into a big play-by-play about every blessing we found in the church this morning, but I want to get into something very important. The message.

The message this morning was very moving, disturbing and powerful. Rodney and I spent a good part of the morning talking about it and I want to share some of it with you. I won’t even attempt to re-teach what was given to us this morning, but rather to give a very brief overview and share our hearts on the subject.

This morning, we learned of persecuted Christians in the world today. Yeah, yeah, we all know there’s persecution to the body of Christ. But that was back during the Inquisition, or during the Dark Ages right? Or it’s going on in a small scale way in those backwoods, third world countries right? Ummmm, no. The following statistics shocked us into awareness.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…….

1. There are approximately 70 million Christian martyrs?
2. OVER 65% OF THESE ARE FROM THE LAST 100 YEARS?!?!?!!?
3. There are an estimated 160,000 martyrs per year?

I grew up reading about Christian martyrs. Having attended a Christian school, it was required reading. But I always saw it in the context of past events. To think of the horrific ways my fellow Christians are being tortured and killed today, even living in fear, is just heartbreaking. Burned alive in their homes with their families, killed execution style, beaten to death, hung, so much more than I can imagine.

And yet, these faithful refuse to denounce Christ. They stand firm, even when facing certain death…..even when their families’ lives are in the balance. That’s how certain they are in Christ. Though I hope to never become a martyr…oh to have faith like that!

The question was asked, “What can I do?” Well, according to the sermon, we can do four things…..

1. PRAY. Pray from the deepest parts of our hearts. Pray for them. Pray diligently and often. Just pray.

2. Give – there are certain organizations that work to spread the word about the persecuted church and help in any way they can. Try http://www.opendoorsusa.org and http://www.persecution.com . Sorry, my links are working for some reason today, so you’ll have to copy/paste to go to those sites.

3. Get involved ….did you know you can write letters directly to imprisoned Christians worldwide? Try http://www.prisoneralert.com . Also go to http://www.biblesunbound.com to help with Bible distribution for those who are desperate for the Word.

4. Remember – Think of them often. Put a sticky note up on your icebox, write it on your prayer list, talk about them as you have your morning coffee. Keep them always in your mind. Just don’t forget that they need you to remember them and pray for them. At church, we were given a few links of chains to remind us of those in chains. That’s now attatched to our key rings as a constant reminder.

Our family is praying specifically for two families that the pastor mentioned this morning. These families happen to be his friends, so it really made the message hit home hard. You see, the pastor is my friend as well. It could just as easily be ME or my family that was being persecuted or living in fear. So we are praying diligently for Thomas Rai, Babar Ditta and their families. Along with praying for these families, we are also praying for the many Christians living under persecution right now all over the world. And we know that the Lord hears our prayers.

Nathan, I’m sorry. I said I wasn’t going to re-teach your message, but I did use your notes to share. I didn’t think you’d mind. 🙂

Please, my friends, pray for those Christians who are suffering for our shared faith today. It could very easily be you and me tomorrow who needs those prayers. If we won’t pray today for them, who will pray for us when it’s our turn?

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Outsider’s Perspective and Awakening August 9, 2009

I visited a new church this morning. It was quite an experience and I’ve decided to share it with y’all. I’m going to start by stating just the facts and then I’ll move on to what I think.

This is a church in Central Louisiana. It’s a fairly large church for this area. They have more than one service each Sunday. The service I attended appeared to have between 350 to 400 people in attendance. Don’t quote me on that though, since I’m pretty bad at guessing numbers. The facilities were very nice, modern and super clean.

We arrived a bit early so the kids could get to their classes. I was very pleased that everyone in the children’s department was so super nice and they had very good security measures in place. This is important in a church of a large size. Also, help was needed finding our way around the facilities and everyone we approached for help was super nice and helpful. In fact, they walked us aaaalllll the way where we needed to be each time, rather than just telling us where to go and hoping we made it. I was grateful for that. Trust me, that kind of thing matters to a first time visitor.

I had been invited to this church by a friend, but that friend had apparently gone to a different service, since I couldn’t find them at this one (she’d told me where to look for her). So I took my seat alone on the second row from the back. I should mention this is a rather large church, but the building was pretty packed, so there weren’t a lot of seats to choose from. However, I did find one with no problem.

When I arrived, they had already started the worship service. The singers were all on the platform singing a lovely, moving song. It seemed to be “special music” though since the congregation was seated and only listening. After that song, the congregation stood and sang a few songs. There was a “meet and greet” time for visitors, then the offering, then more singing, then special music, then the message.

Okay, that’s the basics. Now I’ll tell you what I experienced during all of that.

After listening to the first music special, we were invited to worship with the people on the platform. There were some traditional hymns mixed with a couple of contemporary songs. I knew all the songs they were singing, so it was easy to join in…which is what I did. Y’all know I love to worship. However, I stayed pretty subdued since that’s what everyone else was doing. But you know how it is…you start singing to the Lord and you just find that your hands are raised to Him. I promise I wasn’t loud y’all (I know that is hard to believe, but it’s true LOL) but you’d have thought I was drowning out the choir. Seriously, I was quiet.

Hang on, I’ll get back to the worship in just a sec….let me address the meet and greet first. In a room with over 300 people in it, I was greeted by FIVE people….two who were seated next to me, one usher handing out welcome packets, one lady passing by and one older gentleman. The older gentleman really touched my heart. He appeared to walk all the way over to me from the other side of the room….like he was there JUST to welcome ME. After shaking my hand, he walked all the way back to his seat. That one act of kindness did a lot for me.

Okay back to the worship. So I was singing quietly, but I did have my hands raised. Toward the end of the song, I heard laughter. Thinking little of it, I continued to worship. After the song, I realized the laughter was directed toward me. When I opened my eyes I found some young people pointing at me and giggling. Becoming a bit self concious, I tried to ignore it, but noticed that others were looking at me too. Weird, but okay. After all, I’m the visitor and maybe I was doing something wrong.

Next song, more giggling, pointing and staring. That was enough for me to gather my things and begin to walk away.

But when I got to the back of the church, a song caught my attention. It was one of those songs that uses the Word of God to worship Him. You know what I mean right? Bible verses being the lyrics? Well those songs are so powerful, I just can’t help myself…I have to worship. Those songs beckon you to worship! So I stood in the very back of the church, forgetting everyone around me (sort of) and worshipped. I did keep my voice very very low though, so as not to draw attention to myself. But I couldn’t help raising my hands. I just couldn’t help it. Song over. Hands down. Eyes open. Giggling, pointing, and the back three rows of the church turned around looking at me. Well, that was enough for me. I left. I won’t be back.

I got to the parking lot and told the kids that we were going to worship without worrying what people thought. So we got in the van, turned on a Kutless CD and worshiped. It was awesome! The Lord stepped right into our van and stayed there with us the whole time. Thank you, Lord. I really needed your presence today.

This visit today was NOT a good experience for me. However, it rekindled something in me that I thought had possibly gone away forever. I wanted sooooo much to shake that whole church…the whole building…to get their attention. I wanted to shout to the rafters “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MISSING??!?!?!? HE LOVES YOU! WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY MATTER? WORSHIP HIM!!!!!”

My desire has always been to worship. But more than that, I want others to worship with me. I don’t really know how to explain it well, but if people would just have that ONE moment where they realize how worthy He is….they just won’t be worried about much else anymore. I love to be there when they have that moment. I love to see the transformation in them. I love to worship with them after that. It’s fantastic! And when you’re in a room full of people who’ve all (or mostly all) had that moment, it’s SHARED worship. Somehow it brings people closer together as they draw closer to the Lord. Ugh. See I told you couldn’t explain it well.

But I want that again. I want to worship with like-minded people. I want to sing to my Lord without ridicule or shame. I want to raise my hands to Him and pour out my love on Him while He pours out His love on me and those around me. I want to, once again, stand in the doorway of the Holy of Holies and say to everyone….”I’m going in to worship and I invite you to come with me.”

Today’s experience was anything but great but something wonderful came out of it. The Lord reminded me who I am. I am a worshiper. All of us are, actually, just some of us haven’t realized it yet. LOL But seriously, He has called me to a purpose and it’s time I got to it. No, I’m not going to start hitting up local churches for a worship leader job. HAHHA To the contrary, I’m hoping He never asks me to do that again. But I AM going to worship. I am going to find a congregation of like-minded people and I am going to stand in the midst of them as together we worship our God. It’s time I got back to being what He made me to be.

On a side note, I should mention….there are most likely some God-fearing, loving & wonderful people in that church. In fact, I have no doubt that I met some today. But it was made perfectly clear to me that I don’t belong there. But now I have hope that there is SOMEWHERE for me and my family where we will belong…and I’m determined to find it. 🙂

 

Allow Me to Respond August 6, 2009

I’ve had enough. You know, I remember being an idealistic young girl, thinking I could help change the world. I remember believing my government was acting on my behalf. And up until just recently, I remember being complacent in my beliefs. Well not anymore. Now I’m angry.

Take a look at this little gem:

And now White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just said that these are “astroturf” protesters (meaning not a real grassroots movement) and that they’ve been incited, organized and paid by healthcare corporation CEOs. Others in the DNC are saying that the GOP is inciting, organizing and paying the protesters.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!??!?!?!?

Let me be very clear about this. I have no grand delusions that they’re listening, but just in case…..I want to be very clear for Mr. Gibbs, Ms. Pelosi, Ms. Douglass, the DNC and POTUS. Listen closely….I AM ANGRY! Me. Personally. My anger is real and it is justified.

I have never been contacted by any GOP member nor has any healthcare official of any kind ever contacted me….and they certainly haven’t paid me anything. ME, I, PERSONALLY am angry. And I’ve been quiet long enough.

You’re right about one thing though. I have been incited. However, I was not incited by the GOP or healthcare CEOs. No, I have been incited by you. How dare you have the audacity to make the assumption that I am too stupid to think for myself. No, I am incited, but by your actions and your statements. There’s a loooooong list of things that have caused this anger to rise in me, but here’s the short list for your convenience.

1. Czars. Yes, I know that other administrations have had czars. But this administration is taking it to the extreme. These czars recieve their funding from the American people, but report directly to the President. They are given the authority and power to circumvent the House and Senate to accomplish their own personal goals. ENOUGH WITH THE CZARS! I want them out….ALLLLLL OF THEM! There should be NO government office that does not answer to the people. Period.

2. Homeland Security now the United States Police Force. WHAT?!?!?!??! Have you people even read the Constitution?!

3. Healthcare. I agree that the system is not perfect. I DO NOT agree that the government should have the authority to step in and take over. When you say that the public option is only an option, that’s an outright lie. According to what I’ve read in the bill (which by the way you should read, it’s quite interesting), I would be allowed to keep my doctor and my insurance as long as I manage to keep my job. The day I lose my job, I will be REQUIRED to take the public option and will NOT be allowed to switch back to a private option upon new employment. That’s just ONE EXAMPLE of the lies about public healthcare that are being salivated out of the mouths in Washington. But I said I would make this a “short” list.

4. READ THE BILLS!!!!!!!!! Tell me Congressmen & Congresswomen & Senators….just who do you think you are? No, really, I want to know. Just who do you think you are? Do you think that you’re so powerful that you can do whatever you like in Washington? Do you really think we won’t take notice? DO NOT PASS ANOTHER BILL WITHOUT READING IT…..ALLLLLLL OF IT!!!! If you have to hire an attorney to understand what you’ve read, then hire them! We have entrusted you with a sacred duty. You are to represent us. I cannot stand on the floor of the House or Senate and cast my vote. I am entrusting you to do that for me. Let me make this perfectly clear….the very next bill you pass without reading will be the end of your political career. The people are watching and we WILL evict you from office if you EVER do that again.

5. ACORN. Investigate. It’s that simple. No really, it is that simple. Stop pouring money into them until you have thoroughly investigated them. I don’t want another dime of my tax dollars fed to them until I know EXACTLY what they’re up to. Period.

6. Cap and Trade. If you pass this, you’re out. According to POTUS “Under my system of cap and trade, utility rates will necessarily skyrocket.” I’m sorry, but all my money is going to be tied up paying for all your other new spending bills you’ve passed. I won’t be able to afford a higher utility bill. I’m already struggling to pay the one of I’ve got. Not only that, but cap and trade wouldn’t even put a dent in the global warming problem (assuming there even IS a global warming problem). So I’ll repeat, pass this and you’re out.

7. SLOW DOWN!!!! You are overwhelming the system and we can’t keep up with all the attacks on the Constitution because they’re coming from every direction. Yes, I know that your whole point of overwhelming the system is to keep us from keeping up. However, what you may not have realized is that we’re onto you. We’ve caught on. We know what you’re doing and we WILL make it stop. You would be wise to stop now before the people force that change on you.

Now the DNC and Press Secretary Gibbs made a mistake when they said that these are organized protests at the town hall meetings. Sadly they are not organized. They are just concerned people speaking out. However, if this keeps up, I think that will soon change. The people are angry and it won’t be long before they do start to organize. Washington, you need to get your act together before that happens. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourselves out of work along with about 14% of the rest of the country.

And to my friends here at home, I know this is not what you’re accustomed to seeing here on my blog. But darn it, I’ve had enough. I’ve never been a fighter, but it’s to the point now where we have to stand up and do something. Look where complacency has gotten us. I have six kids and a lot of bills but you know what? I’m willing to take what few dimes I have and use them to put overpriced gas in my vehicle and head to Washington, insisting that I be heard if that’s what it takes. It is time.

 

Were They Reached? June 17, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I read this over at Los’ blog. And then a few days ago I read this. I’ve been mulling over this in my head for a couple of weeks and thought I’d share some of my thoughts with y’all. I may be dead wrong or I might be right on target. Who knows? These are just my rambling thoughts.

I’m not leading worship anywhere anymore, so this may not even apply to me. But I’m always evaluating myself, making sure I’m not doing things for the wrong reasons or out of emotion, etc. And these posts by Carlos really made me reflect on my time as a worship leader.

Even when I was on the road, singing secular music (totally for the money), I always said “If you can’t sing with passion, don’t bother singing at all. You need to really know what you’re singing about before you open your mouth.” Well if that applied to secular music, then imagine how much more it applies to leading worship.

Every week I prepared for worship by first checking my heart. It could not be about me. Yes, I prepared vocally, but my primary focus was the spiritual preparation.

So when I stepped onto that platform, my heart was all for Him. Every note I sang was filled with passion for Him. But how did that convey to the congregation? I don’t know. How did the first time visitor see it? How did the lost person sitting way in the back see it? Did they see it as something they wanted to join in authentically? To make a real connection with the Father? Or did they see it as “Becky in Concert”?

I’m afraid my passion was often viewed as “Becky’s trying to put on a show.” I hope I’m wrong. I really, really hope I’m wrong. But I’m also realistic. I’m a very loud vocalist who is best at powerhouse songs. So when one of those songs was on the set list, I sang it to the best of my ability (because He deserves no less) and with all my heart. But nobody can see my heart. They only see the girl on the stage singing loud and moving around a lot (I do move around a lot when I worship….I just can’t sit still).

I wanted so much to engage the congregation…to invite them in to worship with me. I would talk to them about this amazing Love, about how awesome He is. But I don’t know if I ever really got through. How can I know? Just like they couldn’t see my heart, I couldn’t see theirs.

Did someone out there see authentic worship and want to experience it too, without knowing how? Did I, in some small way, help them to connect with Him? Or did I just confuse them more? Did someone out there get the impression that I was putting on a show and get turned off completely? What could I have done differently? What could I have done better to help them enter into His presence?

How many people left empty because I didn’t do enough?

I guess if Carlos, who is a fantastic worship leader, asks himself similar questions, then I’m not so bad. But I can’t help but feel like I could have done more, done better, done something.

Lord, if anyone was reached while I was leading worship, it was all You. But I am so grateful for the chance to have been a part of it. Thank You. Thank You so much. And I know You have a plan for me, I just don’t know what that plan is. But however You want to use me, I’m all Yours. I’ll do it with all my heart. But I need You to help me. I’m so weak and so unable to do anything on my own. Please help me. And please show me where to go and what to do. I feel so lost right now. I can’t even take the next step without Your help.

 

Beautiful Interpretation May 22, 2008

Filed under: Church Life,creativity,ministry,Worship Leader — 6kids1me @ 8:26 am

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Here is my entry for Creative Chaos over at Carlos’ blog.

Imagine you are deaf. Now imagine that the first sound you ever hear is the Lord, Creator of all things, saying “Depart from me. I did not know you.”

For Amy Ballard, that thought is what drives her commitment as sign language interpreter. Every week at Heart of Worship, during the 11:00 service, Amy is on the platform at HOW, interpreting the music service. Soon, she will be interpreting the message as well. So if you are hearing impaired and looking for a church in Central Louisiana, we invite you to visit us at HOW!

Amy is also planning to offer a sign language class at HOW, starting very soon. This is an invaluable service that will touch many lives. I will absolutely attend that class! I cannot sign and this limits my opportunities to make new friends. And y’all know how much I love to meet new people! 🙂

One thing that has surprised me is how beautiful sign language is. I was excited about offering this ministry at HOW, but never expected it to be a creative element that would add so much to the music. This week, when we sang “How He Loves,” I was astounded by how beautiful the sign interpretation was. Just beautiful!

I am convinced that this ministry is going to reach people that we couldn’t reach before. For the deaf community in CenLa, they are very limited in their options on where to attend church services. To my knowlege, there are no other churches in Pineville that have this ministry. So if you know anyone who is hearing impaired, please invite them to HOW.

Also, if you sign and want to join us in this ministry, please let me know! My contact information is on the back of every church bulletin (Worship Leader, Becky Adams), or you can leave a comment here and I’ll get in touch with you.

 

Worship Confessional – How He Loves May 18, 2008

Wow!!!!! I just got home from church and WOW!!! Yeah, I know I already said that, but WOW!!!! If you were there this morning, you know what I mean.

It all started before walking into the building. The door facings have been painted black, which really gives them a totally different look. That project actually took all week. Who knew painting door facings was such a big job? I certainly didn’t. Also, the windows have been tinted and they look really great.

And then, when you walked in, you entered a whole new world. The entire foyer was decorated like we were all on vacation. It was so incredibly cool. From the banner to the t-shirts, the purser’s desk to the mural, it was all very tropical. SO cool! Oh, and the “Are You Ready?” bulletin board was something I got to help with. Fun!

For those who don’t know, we’re going to be going on a “Journey of Change” very soon. That’s what all the new decor was for today.

And then church started. 🙂

The music was just plain fun today. I’ll go into that a bit more in a minute. Bro. Keith’s message was about something very close to my heart….reaching the lost. He’s using the fishing theme, which really resonates with our congregation. After all, Louisiana isn’t called “Sportsman’s Paradise” for nothing. The whole message spoke directly to my heart today. He even gave us homework. He encouraged us to write a “thank you” letter to the person who led us to the Lord. Why didn’t I ever think to do that?! I am totally doing that this week.

Okay, now on to the confessional……

Here’s our set list:
Let it Rise
Sing a Song
Come Thou Fount
How He Loves
No One Like You

And here’s who we had this morning:
Bryant on electric guitar & vocals
Zack on bass guitar
Adam (woohoo!) on acoustic guitar
Josh on drums
Jennifer & Shalyian on vocals
Ensemble on vocals

How fantastic was it to see Adam on acoustic guitar this morning?! He is so super talented and of course did a fantastic job. Adam, thank you so much for joining us. You are welcome back any time!

Another creative element added to our service this morning was sign language interpretation. We did that for one song last week, but this week Amy interpreted the entire music service at 11:00. I am convinced that this is something our community is in desperate need of and am so glad that Amy is ministering this way. Thank you, Amy!

In the 9:30 service, there was a horrible popping noise coming from somebody’s cable. I was convinced it was my mic cord, so I grabbed hold the cord to make it stop. I spent the entire service holding that cord and trying to stay still (I normally move around a lot). It wasn’t mine. It was the bass guitar’s chord. We ended up with no bass for the rest of the 9:30 service. Disappointing, but okay. Immediately after the service, our amazing media team fixed the problem and we were good to go for 11:00. Good thing, since we really needed that bass.

The first song was totally rockin’ and the congregation was all smiles. “Sing a Song” was a new one we introduced this week. Our congregation really seemed to like it and got involved with it. One of my favorite parts was when we sang accapella and could hear the congregation singing with us. Loved that!

For “Come Thou Fount,” we did the Gateway version which has the added chorus. Very moving.

And then we did our other new song, “How He Loves.” Ummm….WOW! If you’ve never heard this song before, go to my VodPod in the menu bar over there ——> and click the link for it. Fantastic song! So I wasn’t sure how our congregation would respond to it, because not only is it new, but it’s also very different from anything we’ve ever done before. At first, I thought I had scared them when we first went into the powerful chorus. lol But when I sang “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way….” that’s when I knew for sure that they were worshiping. That one line resonated so deep with the congregation. It was an awesome sight the way they responded.

For my worship leader friends who read this blog, here’s how we did “How He Loves.” We actually did it almost exactly the same as the original version with only two changes. We dropped the “sloppy wet kiss” for “Heaven meets earth like no words can express.” Thank you, Fred McKinnon , for that idea! We also ended the song with the pre-chorus. That made for a smoother transition.

Then we closed with “No One Like You.” This is a happy, exciting song that makes you want to jump out of your seat to praise Him. Our congregation always has big, happy smiles when they sing that song. I love it!

So that’s about it. Overall, we just rocked out and worshiped like crazy this morning!

I realize this was incredibly long post, so thanks for sticking around to read it all. 🙂

 

Worship Confessional May 17, 2008

I just got home from worship team practice. All I can say is….you better get ready! Tomorrow is going to be an incredible time of worship at HOW.

Fun news! We have a guest guitarist who is super talented…and a familiar face that y’all will be thrilled to see again. So y’all be sure to give him some love tomorrow.

All our musicians and vocalists really “brought it” to practice today. We were all looking at each other with big, stupid smiles because it’s sounds so good. And the set list is a ton of fun.

You know, I love being part of the creative process, building a set list that really creates an atmosphere for worship. A lot of prayer, time, effort & love went into the service this week (from all departments) and I am thrilled to begin seeing it all come together. So, as Bro. Keith says, you better “strap on your spiritual seatbelts” ’cause we’re going on a journey tomorrow! I can hardly wait to worship with all of you!