Created to Praise

Just me being me the way He made me

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. 🙂

 

Provision in Abundance June 14, 2009

Filed under: frugal,worship — 6kids1me @ 1:31 pm
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I’ve often heard people say “God helps those who help themselves.” I’ve been thinking hard on that lately. While I’ve never seen that exact phrase in the Bible, I’ve certainly seen the evidence of it. For instance, the Lord will provide you with food, but He does expect you to put some effort into the growing of that food (or the job that gives the money that buys the food). He will provide you with clothing, but it’s not going to magically fall from the sky (ok….He could do that if He wanted, but how often have you heard of it happening?).

So my point here is this…..

The Lord WILL provide. In fact, He already has. He’s given me all the tools I need to take in His abundance. He’s given me fertile soil in the back yard for planting and the miracle of seeds that grow fruit and reproduce themselves. He’s freely given me plenty of sunshine and rain to feed & grow those seeds. He’s given me a thinking mind, able to learn and retain new skills. He’s given me an able body AND a family unit to share the labor. Oh there’s that word….labor.

Yep, He has given me everything I need…..and then told me to USE those things to harvest the provision He has provided. I don’t have to worry about going without. The only thing that can keep me hungry…is me.

Okay let’s assume for a moment that there is no grocery store. Unthinkable, I know right? But for the sake of argument, let’s do it anyway. Now, there’s no grocery store anywhere. I still need to eat. If I’ve planted my vegetable garden, then I’ve got veggies for my family! Yay food! But if I didn’t, woe is me. LOL Okay but now I’ve got a new problem. I might have all the veggies I need, but I have no wheat to make bread. Small yard, no room for wheat. Uh oh.

Well the Lord made provision for this too! I may not have wheat growing in my back yard, but I’ve got neighbors! I’ve got the gift of community! If one of my dear neighbors has used their skills to plant wheat, I can trade some of my veggie abundance with them for wheat. Yay bartering!

Yes I realize that this is how towns, cities and economies have been built throughout the ages. But that’s not the point here. The point is that I don’t HAVE to worry about the Lord’s provision. I will be cared for….all I have to do is use what He’s already given to reap the harvest. And I know that if I were sick or infirmed, that He would still continue to provide for me using the gift of family and community.

And the big grand point of all this……

Just when I think I really do know just how awesome He is, I see a whole new example of why He’s so worthy to be praised. I worship Him because of Who He is, what He’s done and what He continues to do every single day. He has provided for us in abundance. Now it’s time for me to get out there and reap the harvest.

 

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.

 

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!

 

Worship Confessional & Oh WOW! May 11, 2008

So we’re y’all totally shocked when you walked into the church this morning?!  How cool was that?!  For those who don’t go to Heart of Worship, I should probably explain.

Last week, our main auditorium was very formal.  It was filled with soft colors and beautiful architecture. 

 The chair & boxes are props that Bro. Keith used in his message.  The man loves his props.  lol

 Very pretty.  That’s what everybody saw last Sunday. 

Today they walked into a completely different room.  It has been completely remodeled and is amazing.  Y’all be sure to check back later this week, because I’m going to share some pics of the new auditorium.

So first thing this morning, everybody got their socks knocked off by the sudden remodel.  And then church started.  lol

We opened with a Mother’s Day video.  It was our first video that we made ourselves at HOW and I was so glad to have a part in it.  So fun!  And for those who don’t already know, the kid marked “mischevious”…..that was my Jack.  🙂

Here’s our set list for this week…..

Come Now is the Time to Worship

Blessed Be Your Name

Nothing But the Blood (updated hymn)

Nothing But the Blood (modern version)

Sing to the King

In the 9:30 service, all the songs seemed to me like they were dragging.  I don’t know if we weren’t completely awake yet or not, but that’s what it sounded like to me.  But we fixed that for the 11:00 service and the songs really went well.  Raymond was out of town this week, so we didn’t have a keyboard player.  Bryant did a fantastic job of leading on guitar.  Thanks, Bryant!

One major new issue we faced this morning was a change of acoustics in the building.  The new remodel completely changed the sound.  It seems that the new backdrop is absorbing all the sound from the stage, so we’re having a hard time hearing up there.  It’s impossible to sing when you can’t hear anything, so that’s something we’re working very hard to fix this week.

Okay, y’all be sure and check back later this week since I’ll be posting pics of the new remodel.  Very cool!

 

Mother’s Day at HOW May 10, 2008

Filed under: Church Life,creativity,ministry,Personal Life,worship,Worship Leader — 6kids1me @ 6:38 pm

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day!  As a mom of six, this is a big day for me.  My kids have already started giving me their handmade gifts and I am loving it!  Tomorrow will be spent with them and with my own amazing mother.  Yay!

But first, I’m going to church.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Big news……

Every mother at Heart of Worship will receive a free portrait!  So be sure to dress nice, dress the kiddies nice & convince hubby to put on a tie.  It’s Mother’s Day at HOW and we’re going to do it up right!  I can hardly wait.  All the kids have nice clothes picked out and we’re all ready for our portrait.  The music is good, the sermon is always good and the time with our family is going to be awesome!  See you there!