Seeking God First: My Journey in Leading Worship

The best way I can prepare for any role or responsibility in my life is to push into Jesus. And while I have affirmed this truth repeatedly in other areas of my life, only recently did I discover its truth in my journey of leading worship. Giving God control to lead me in my role as a worship leader not only changed my leadership completely, but restructured every aspect of how I prepare each week as well. 

Detours: Unexpected Lessons from Life's Twists & Turns

Before the mighty work of God's deliverance of the Israelites began, God allowed His people to be brought low. And I mean REALLY low. They were crushed, broken, and defeated. 

Why would God work in this way? And when have you felt like this before?  In Scripture we find that this progression is pretty common: Often before God delivers justice and restoration, it is preceded by intense discouragement and trial.

God always works for the good of those who love him, yes, but even more importantly, God works to display His ultimate glory.

What hardship may have been raised up in your life in order that God's name may be proclaimed?

The Testimony of a 28-year-old

Though my daily steps might have seemed unexpected, God’s pull on my heart has remained the same.

As I enter my 28th year, I find myself in a place that is both something I could never have dreamed or imagined for myself, yet also a product of the path God has consistently had me on for so long. I find myself bearing scars I never expected to carry, yet full of a joy that could not have been gained any other way. And though parts of my journey have not looked anything like I may have imagined, I praise God daily for the incredible work He has done throughout my life, and for the grace and goodness He has poured out on me. 

This is my family. These are my friends.

 These are the gladiators, advancing the front lines of the Kingdom of Heaven in Cambodia. These are the children, once with everything stacked against them, now standing renewed and with a second chance - a living, breathing illustration of Christ’s redemptive action in every one of our lives. And we are their friends. Blessed to know them, challenged by their example, and committed to have a bit of fun while we are here, to offer as much encouragement as we can, and to try to convey the amount of love we have for them in our hearts. 

Mary Pt. 5: The Rest of Her Road

A grand calling is only awarded if one is faithful in the small steps leading up to it, but we often forget that living out, and actually fulfilling, a divine calling equates to a lifetime of faithful, daily, and underwhelming obediences. 

We get distracted marveling at the big moments, the angelic appearances, the life changing announcements, and then move on the next thing forgetting that finding out about the birth of Christ for Mary was only the beginning of a lifetime of continuing to say "yes," and of remaining faithful in mothering Jesus.

Mary Pt. 4: The Way in Which He Came

I find that I relate to the mess of Christ’s coming more than I ever have before. If Christ was born into a pristine Kingdom, I would have a lot of work to do to clean up my appearance before I knelt before Him. My life does’t match the Hallmark greeting cards either this year. Rather I find myself in the midst of a circumstance, and carrying a label, that I never could have anticipated.

One of the great graces of the way in which Christ came is that we can approach a personal God who is well-acquainted with living amidst the mess of a sinful world. We can come as we are to kneel before the empathetic King who understands the pangs of sickness and the pains of life. 

The God and Creator of the Universe clothed Himself in flesh that we may have a personal face to gaze upon, a name to call upon, and the security of empathy.

Mary Pt. 3: Provision in the Form of Friendship

God proves in this moment in Mary’s story His ability to provide what we need in order to fulfill what He has called us to. He provided encouragement and confirmation through the only person who could understand, and He advocated on her behalf to Joseph and secured him as her partner in this pursuit. 

I imagine there likely was a lot of pain and misunderstanding in the rest of the relationships that surrounded Mary. Yet we see God point her towards the ones who would remain key participants in moving His plan forward. 

Though the road ahead still held many surprises, she would not be facing them alone.

Song Spotlight: Seasons

Often we wish our seasons away. We rush through them as we anticipate what is coming next, and especially when a season is difficult. We sing of “overcoming it” rather than pushing into it and committing to absorb every lesson God might have to teach us. 

The song “Seasons” explores the concept of being patient in the phase God has you in. God is the King of all seasons, so He knows where He has you, why He has you there, and how long He wants to keep you there. So relax, lean into Him, and don’t miss the journey He has you on. 

Mary Pt. 2: Confidence in a Misunderstood Identity

We have all been there: in those dark, lonely moments of injustice when our reputations feel tarnished by something that was not our fault. Maybe you were sinned against. Maybe you gained a label you thought you would never have to carry. Maybe you were falsely accused. It’s amazing how quickly one can find herself plummeted into the center of shame and humiliation without ever having done anything to deserve it. 

And I’m sure Mary understood this feeling more deeply than most. 

Praying Boldly (As Taught by a Child)

Though it seems silly to compare myself to my 5-year old's prayer life, I have begun to wonder if what I have labeled in her as a naivety resulting from lack of life experience may more accurately be described as a simplicity in her view of who is in control. Her requests flow from a place of peace and are presented before the One she has been taught holds the whole world in His hands.