Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"Here I Am" by downhere
Sometimes your calling, comes in dream
Sometimes it comes in the Spirit's breeze,
You reach for the deepest hope in me,
And call out for the things of eternity.
But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say,
Here I am, Lord send me,
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me,
Somehow my story, Is part of your plan,
Here I am
When setbacks and failures, and upset plans,
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands,
Are you not the closest when it's hardest to stand?
I know that you will finish what you began.
These broken parts you redeem,
Become the song, that I can sing
Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness,
And the fear that I'll fail you in the end,
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but you can.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Well, I recently joined my local YMCA in order to start swimming regularly. I love swimming, and don't know why I didn't join earlier. But I didn't.
Anyway, I didn't have a long time last night because I had to go to play rehearsal, but I decided that swimming even for a short time would be better than not at all. I got in the pool, swam hard for 15 minutes, and then headed back into the locker room.
I jumped in the shower to take a real quick one. The water was so nice and warm--it felt great--especially since I think I'm fighting off a cold (big surprise). Just as I got my hair all soaped up, the water went freezing. And I mean freezing. I turned it all the way to hot, and it was still cold. However, everyone else's showers were still warm. How do I know? I could hear mom's remarking to their kids how nice it felt and that sort of thing, and I would think that I would have heard something if someone else had a cold shower too. Anyway, I stood there for a bit, hoping it was momentary and that the water would warm back up. It didn't. So I prayed that it would warm back up. And it did! For about 15 seconds. Then it went cold again. I kept standing there, praying for it to warm up again. And it didn't.
So, as I was trying to decide what to do (do I run to another shower? do I stick my head in the cold water?) I realized that there is a lesson in everything, both good and bad. So I asked God what it was He was trying to tell me. And you know what He said? "Do you trust me even when the water gets cold?" I responded that I did, and then quickly realized that trusting Him meant getting INTO the water even when it was cold. So, with gritted teeth I stepped under the spray of the cold water. And in a matter of seconds, it warmed up again. It still wasn't anywhere near as warm as I wanted it to be. But it was warm enough that I wasn't chattering (or turning blue) trying to rinse the soap out of my hair.
I walked out of that shower stall with a renewed sense of calling. Realizing that everything is not always going to be ducky. The right answer is not always going to be the easy one. The right answer is not going to be the comfortable one. However, if I step out in faith-knowing it is the right thing to do. God will honor that decision and at least make it bearable.
I know a lot of people (family in particular) aren't thrilled with me moving to Austin. I understand that, and I appreciate the emotions that go along with it. Trust me, I'm feeling them too. And if it were someone else moving, I'd probably be making a stink about it too.
This move isn't just about wanting to be someplace different, and experience something different-although that is a part of it of course. This move is about doing what I believe God is calling me to do. Going where God is calling me to go. And in that, He will honor my decision to move there. Is it going to be rosy and easy all the time? Nope, in fact I have a feeling some of my posts after moving there might even question the decision to do so. I have a feeling my mother will get more than one teary phone call from me saying how much I miss home and miss my family. It's going to happen, that is a fact. Cameron and my other friends in Texas will probably have an emotional basket case on their hands more often than any of us might expect. I hope not, but it could easily be a reality.
But if I don't do this, I'm afraid I might be missing out on God's best for me. I'm afraid I would miss the blessings that He intends to give to me. And at this point in my life, if I stay in Maine-that is like staying in the hot comfortable water. It would be easy. It would be familiar. And that doesn't necessarily make it wrong, but it also doesn't mean it is the best option. I just want to make sure I'm following God's plan for my life. We as Americans have become accustomed to such comfortable lifestyles that anything apart from comfort is considered wrong, or odd. Why would anyone want to live outside of utmost comfort? Well, as Christians, aren't we called to live extraordinary lives? Aren't we called to be different than everyone else? I'm not saying I want to live in a cardboard box, and I certainly hope and pray that my life is somewhat comfortable, for me, for my family when I have one. But I also pray that I don't become complacent. Complacency in this world is a bad thing, for I am only visiting here. My purpose on this earth is to make a mark for God, to make Him famous, and then to go home to live with Him in heaven. I don't want to waste my time here--because it will go by quickly.
The other piece of this, is that I need to know that you, as my family and friends, support me in this decision. And so far, I have had great support from you all. But as the time draws nearer to my move date, I'm going to probably need to hear more and more encouragement. So, unless you think I'm making a mistake--an irreversible one that is going to mess up my life forever--please just give me words of encouragement. Even if those words include the phrases "I'm going to miss you" or "I wish you weren't moving away" Those are okay, but need to be coupled with phrases like "I understand why you have to go" or "I believe this is where you are supposed to go for now" or "Go Katie, go!" or whatever you feel led to say.
Remember, that I can always move back home again if it really isn't working out. I can return at any time.
So anyway, I just wanted to share this experience with you all, and I hope it serves as an encouragement to you too. Not only in your own lives, but also in understanding why I'm making the decisions that I'm making.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I realize I might be opening up to some controversy by posting this, but I'd be interested to hear any one's thoughts on this article.
I'm tired of weird Christians.
I am tired of hearing people I work with say that God is talking to them like He talked to Moses at the burning bush or like He talked to Abraham. I'm weary of people saying God speaks directly to them about mundane matters of reasonable human choice, so that their choices of toothpaste and wallpaper are actually God's choices, and therefore I need to just shut up and keep all my opinions to myself until I can appreciate spiritual things. I'm tired of people acting as if the normal Christian life is hearing a voice in your head telling you things other people can't possible know, thus allowing you a decided advantage.
I mean, if all this were really happening, wouldn't these people be picking better stocks?
I'm weary of immature college students and high school kids going on and on about what God is saying to them as if they were up there with the authors of scripture. I've had it with Christian musicians acting as if every lyric they write is a message directly from God and free from the possibility of mediocrity or poor taste. I now hear preachers who preface their sermons with an appropriate selection from CCM, rather than with scripture. I mean, is there really that much of a difference?
I'm burned out on Christians telling me about the next big thing God is going to do, as if they really know. I'm tired of Christians predicting the future and being consistently, continually wrong, but acting like they weren't wrong. If you said that on New Year's Eve the east coast was going to fall into the ocean because of divine judgment and it didn't happen, you were wrong. Really, badly, embarrassingly wrong. So why can't you act like you are wrong? Why am I so sure you will have more absurd predictions next Sunday?
I'm worn out on people doing weird things that aren't in the Bible and saying it's the "leading of the Spirit." Falling over. Acting drunk. Jumping around like a wasp went down your dress. I'm tired of turning on the TV or the radio and hearing Christians making more noise than a riot at a mental hospital. I'm out of patience with Christian spirituality equaling some form of clown college graduation.
I'm seriously fatigued from constantly hearing reality explained as spiritual warfare between angels, Christians, demons, and various conspiracies. The drama of blaming everything from illness to bad credit to all your bad choices on the devil is getting old. I'm tired of people being delivered from demons when their problem is their own rebellion, stupidity, meanness, and determination to get their own way.
I'm tired of God being the bag man for everything ever done by some guy who didn't want to answer questions about right and wrong. I'm tired of God directing people to do things that, uh...actually are not all that ethical or are just plain evil. I'm tired of having to tell my kids that "Yes, so and so said God told them to do it, but that's not what Jesus should do or you should do." I'm annoyed at the attention weirdo Christians get, and the obligation I supposedly have to love them anyway.
Let me use some bad language: "Normal." Dare I bring up that word? Isn't the Christian life a constantly supernatural life? A frequently miracle-filled life? A life of divine direction, healing, and signs? A life where you (the Christian) know all kinds of things that ORDINARY people don't know?. A life where you (the Christian) are in on the future, in on the prophecies, under the ministry of anointed prophets who are plugged into the big plan? A life that is a battleground of constant demonic assault? Aren't Christians supposed to have supernatural knowledge of Kung Fu, and be able to hang in the air and.......well, maybe not.
Isn't the Christian life the "Victorious" life? The "Purpose Driven" life? The "Spirit Filled" life? The life with Christ living in you and through you? It's not a normal life, and it's not ordinary. Right? Do I get an "amen?"
Or maybe you are like me. You are an ordinary Christian living an ordinary life. You don't hear voices, see visions, or believe you are under constant attack by demonic forces. You may have some experiences that you call supernatural or miraculous, but they are the exception, not the rule. When you pray for people, things usually don't change; you change. You have no authoritative insight into what is going to happen in the future. You suspect that if you were filled with the Spirit, you would love God and people more, and do the right thing more often. You'd be more like Jesus. You wouldn't be running around in circles pointing out angels on the roof. The fruit of the Spirit would make you a person others would want to be around, not someone who would frighten animals and small children.
A Disclaimer, A Principle, and An Observation
Before the tomatoes start hitting the screen, I should open a window and let some air in.
I believe there are some really strange things that happened in the Bible. I don't doubt any of them. I believe in Satan, demons, and angels. I believe God speaks to people in any way He chooses. I have experienced God's direction in my life in a way that can only be explained as "God spoke to me." I don't hesitate to say it. But this happened once in my life. Miracles are real, and prayer in scripture is an invitation to ask God to do what only God can do in any way He chooses.
I accept without question that some very Spirit-filled people come off as weird in the Bible, in history, and today. I have no argument with anyone over the reality of spiritual gifts or spiritual experience. The Christian does have victory, power, purpose and revelation, all as gifts from God. I do not automatically write off any claim of spiritual experience that is different from my own.
My point is not to trash anyone who believes in any of these things. Not at all. My point is that "normal" Christian experience is increasingly seen as "bad" or "abnormal," while weirdness is increasingly seen as "normal" and proof that a person is really "spiritual." This shift has enormous implications for Christianity in its essence, its witness, and its experience in the lives of believers.
The principle that I would like to put forward is this: The supernatural character of Christian truth and experience does not remove the basic, normal, human experience of Christians. If "normal" humanity is eclipsed, Christianity ceases to be Biblical, truthful or helpful.
In some ways, I think we are being presented with a spiritual dichotomy similar to the Roman Catholic division between those in "holy orders" and your regular Christian in the pew. Protestantism refuted this view, and strongly reasserted the Biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. But now Pentecostal/Charismatic spirituality has brought evangelicalism to a similar situation--a division between the spiritual elite with their "supernaturalism" and the ordinary Christian who doesn't hear voices and see visions.
Now, that we are all calmed down, let me be very matter-of-fact. In my experience, Christians who go very far down this road of a "hyper-spiritual" experience rapidly become less useful in the service of Christ. Some become quite useless, even a hindrance and a detriment. Let me entertain you with three stories to illustrate--not prove--my point. All three are about individuals who were highly involved in hearing God's voice, experiencing personal spiritual warfare, seeking miraculous experiences in daily life, and getting words of prophetic insight about personal and world events. I won't overdo that description of each person. We'll assume it for the moment.
John, Matt and the Band
"John" came to work for us as a teacher and coach. He was a remarkably gifted guy, particularly in anything that involved people. He was a natural conversationalist, and had real skill in motivation and relationship-building. Before long, we had placed John in an administrative position where he could tell possible donors about our ministry. I had high hopes for John.
John was, however, one of the people I am discussing. Before long, it became apparent that John was pretty uncomfortable with the fact that our ministry wasn't casting out demons from students. His frustration grew. One day, over lunch, he told me that he was going to leave and find a ministry that would really "pray for" the students. John's comment struck me as stupid and arrogant, because our ministry depends on and practices prayer. It's just not the sort of prayer that John was advocating, prayer that really amounted to diagnosing problems as demon possession and ordering the appropriate demon around. I've never had much appreciation for people who identified straightforward problems as being evil spirits. It's not a matter of doubt on my part. It's a matter of being helpful to the person. John could have been helpful, but he wanted something else.
He left, which was his pattern. He's been from church to church, ministry to ministry, always pushing for more and more supernaturalism. And if you don't want to go his way, you're not going with God. In the meantime, a really talented guy is not putting his gifts to work.
"Matt" and I worked closely together during a good period of spiritual renewal in our ministry. We worked well together because Matt had a maturity and an appreciation for other Christians that I admire to this day. During the time we worked together, our ministry saw a lot of "harvest time:" good numbers, lots of professions of faith, many public testimonies of Christian experience. It was a good time. It could have been better, but I was pleased with what God was doing with our students. Matt was as well, but he wanted more.
In fact, it turned out that Matt and several other Charismatics wanted to see a LOT more than we were seeing. They wanted tongues. They wanted people falling on the floor. They wanted exorcisms. They wanted--according to Matt--"vomiting" of evil spirits. They wanted things to get "out of control"--in the Spirit, of course. Matt and company got more excited the more "Pentecostal" any meeting became. Of course, there is a considerable difference between enjoying the evidence of the Spirit's work and determining what kind of supernatural demonstrations we have to see next. Matt rejoiced in the present with hopes it would lead to a real "breakthrough." I thought we already had one.
Before long, Matt moved on, unhappy that our ministry was not as "open to the Spirit" as we should be. I couldn't help but wonder: Were we not open, or was Matt simply unable to accept the freedom of the Lord to stop short of the whole menu of spiritual gymnastics that he determined we had to see? Today Matt isn't in ministry at all, but hanging out with other people on the same supernatural fast track. Is this really what Christian service is all about? It seemed more like some kind of Pentecostal peer pressure.
One more story. A few months ago I brought in a very talented Christian band for a concert. They played great music with good lyrics. Then the leader of the group decided he needed to preach. For 45 minutes he went on and on about how anyone here could do miracles if he had enough faith. He talked about God telling him what to do in every decision. (All he had to do was go to church and lay on the floor till God spoke.) He said he'd seen lots of instant healings at their concerts. Then the big one. His goal was to raise the dead. Everyone could raise the dead if they just had enough faith. (Of course we had some kind of an invitation to verify these good intentions.)
Here was a guy who seemed normal, and in half an hour convinced most everyone in the room that he was nuts. And non-Christians in the room were justified in deciding this fellow was a loon. Giving glory and credit to God didn't matter nearly as much as impressing all of us with how "out there" he could be, and with the fact that we all ought to be "out there" as well.
I could tell these stories all day. The co-worker who had a real gift for evangelizing students, but eventually began making personal prophecies over all of them, including saying the world would end before they all turned twenty. The African student who told the whole school that because I didn't speak in tongues or get slain in the Spirit, I wasn't a true minister of God. The woman who wandered my neighborhood praying "against" the various demons that God had revealed to her were influencing our neighborhood. The intelligent young man paralyzed with fear of making any decision without a sign from God.
What is going on here?
Lord, Give Us A Sign
In a previous article about religious fanaticism, I told about the theory that Islamist fanatics were overcompensating for what they saw as the "absence" of Allah on the stage of history. I said that religious fanatics may tend to think this way. Thinking about this later, I remember a story I've heard many times about John Wimber. Seems that when the founder of the Vineyard movement became a Christian, he expected to see the miracles of the Gospels happening today. He asked a pastor, "When do you do the stuff?" "The stuff? What do you mean?" "The miracles. The healings. You know, the stuff Jesus did." It's a good story, and I think it gets at something vital in this discussion.
If you read the Bible you are, of course, struck by the presence of supernatural events. Many of these events, like the Exodus and the Resurrection, are central events in the drama of redemption. The Gospels record many miracles by Jesus, and tell us there were many more. Yet what place do miracles really play in the Bible? There are large portions of the Bible without much more than an occasional message from God to a prophet. Miracles are, actually, the exception and not the rule. I frequently point this out to skeptics who ask why the miracles in the Bible aren't happening today. If the Bible is read honestly, there were actually very few miracles over the course of history, and most of those were completely unknown to anyone except a handful of people.
When you look at the characters of the Bible there are many supernatural experiences, but have we properly put these in context? For instance, how often did God speak to Abraham? My friends tend to think it was common. In fact, it was rare. Very rare. Abraham's encounters with God were often years apart. While Moses is described as a person to whom God spoke face to face, we ought to remember THAT WAS MOSES. His burning bush experience isn't there to say that every person is going to have a similar experience.
Jesus performed many miracles, but he clearly taught that these miracles were "signs of the Kingdom" and were authenticating signs pointing to who he was. When skeptics demanded of him "signs" that would prove who he was, he bluntly said they'd had all the signs they were going to get, and to look at the resurrection if they wanted a real sign. Yet Jesus actually lived a remarkably normal life. He didn't heal everyone he met. He wasn't weird. He didn't run a three ring circus of miracles. His miracles and exorcisms stood out as unusual, and therefore as authentic.
The disciples also did some authenticating miracles, but even a beginning Bible student can see that the number and size of supernatural goings-on decreases enormously after the ministry of Jesus. By the time of the epistles, the kind of miracles and supernaturalism we find in Exodus or Luke is long gone. Certainly there are gifts, answered prayers, and a sense of God's power in the church. But Christians lead normal lives. There doesn't seem to be any idea in the New Testament that every day is a burning bush, a face-to-face conversation with God, or a series of demonic assaults repelled by special prophecies and prayers.
If I am right, then the tide of weirdness that has rolled over me amounts to insisting that God provide a "sign" to true believers. It's exactly as John Wimber said--it's the "stuff" they did in the New Testament, pushed through the grid of Christian history and theology, and finally interpreted by modern believers determined to show that the God of the Bible is still in business. It's a way of saying, "This is true, and we are going to prove it by living out all those miracles again today."
We've been Fleeced!
I think my first encounter with this weirdness was the whole business of "putting out a fleece." For those of you who didn't grow up so immersed in fundamentalism that you know what I am talking about, it basically amounts to getting God to give you a sign of your own choosing. A common version of the "Fleece" method might involve, let's say, whether to marry a particular guy who has proposed. The fleece might be, "If God wants me to marry Bill, he (Bill) will call me on Saturday morning and ask if I would like to go on a picnic." This sort of little test was considered harmless when I was a young Christian, but take a moment to look at what's really going on.
It's demanding a sign. It's being able to say "God told me!" At its root, is the desire to know that the God of the Bible is still speaking and acting now, and doing in my life what he did for Moses and Abraham.
So what is Benny Hinn doing when he tells the crowd that the people on the floor are being healed? What are some of my co-workers saying when they repeatedly say God is directing their lives with audible messages? What is happening when a Christian claims that a dream, vision, or prophecy has told him the future? In all these cases, God has proven Himself. He's given a sign that he is around and is still doing business.
I won't hesitate to say that I believe the vast majority of this exaggerated emphasis on supernatural experience is self-delusion. I don't believe God is talking to these people. I don't believe the prophecies are real. I don't believe the miracle stories are true. While I am willing to accept that God can do as He chooses without my permission, I think we don't accomplish anything by taking the route of accepting everything without critical judgment. We have to say what is really going on.
I think the appeal of this kind of experience is far more intense than we might imagine. It is promising a personal experience that proves God is real. My late friend Pat had two heart transplants. During the first, he had a vision of the cross that was immensely real. The experience banished all his doubts and made him a bold--and sometimes annoyingly intense--Christian. I didn't have the experience. Pat did, and it made him run on a higher level than I did. The supernaturalists want that experience on a daily basis. While I don't believe Pat was self-deluded, I can't say the same about most of these people.
"Normal" Christians are living without these "signs." They are living by faith in what the Bible says, and not looking to their experience to be a daily demonstration of God's still being around and in the miracle business. In comparison to those who live with daily miracles and prophecies, these normal Christians may have experiences that seem dull or even absent. It is no wonder that many "normal" Christians struggle with feelings of resentment, envy, or anger toward those Christians who claim constant miracles and manifestations of God's power. Part of my own weariness is from years of feeling second-class and left out of "real" Christian experience. Then I was angry at myself for faking it in an attempt to fit in. Now I'm tired of playing this game, and disturbed by what I see as the misrepresentation of the Gospel, and an insensitivity to the effects of weirdness on those in and out of the church.
How Long Will This Go On?
So before we all grow wearier of the topic than I am of the weirdness itself, what can we say?
I'll start by saying that the Bible's emphasis on walking by faith rather than by a constant diet of supernatural experiences needs to be understood clearly. I am constantly reminded that the weirdness has registered with many people as Biblical Christianity. We have to say that the Bible is a supernatural book, and God works in our world as He chooses, but faith is nurtured on the Word of God, and on what God has already done in Jesus. The weirdness looks at the events in the Bible as the first inning, and we are now playing out the game. In actuality, the Bible records the entire game and Christ wins! We are living out that victory now. The point is not the next big thing, but what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Always, being centered on the Gospel and on Christ himself is what we must strive to offer in response to the chaos currently gripping the church.
Further, I think we have to reclaim the fact that God wants us to use our minds to think and make reasonable choices. The Christian life is not a throwing out of the mind, but this is a primary tenet of weirdness. I don't just mean anti-intellectualism. I mean a rejection of a reasonable, human use of the mind. This glorifies God. Our prayer for guidance and truth from God should be fervent, but we should fervently say that God's Word of Truth usually comes to our minds through the normal methods. Nothing distresses me more about this entire business than the message to young people that their minds should be ignored and some esoteric, gnostic method of "hearing from God" should lead us in making life's important decisions.
How should we view our weird Christian friends? That is a complicated question. Given that I have said they are seeking signs contrary to scripture and are deluding themselves and others, you might be surprised when I say I think we should be generous in forgiving and tolerating much of this behavior. Many of our hyper-spiritual friends are sincerely hungry for God. They are following what they believe is a path that will remove their doubts and bring the power of the Spirit into their lives. All of us ought to desire genuine Holy Spirit power, and a true experience of God. I don't criticize my weird friends for wanting to have a life full of God!
I have to stop, however, when we reach the point of asking what is the source of true experience, what is the nature of that experience, and what are the results of a genuine experience? Jonathan Edwards, who I criticized in a previous piece for leaving the door open for fanaticism, wrote a book that can't be improved on: The Religious Affections. Charismatics often quote it. Few have read it. We need to hand out a lot of copies. With a generous--perhaps overly generous at times--heart, Edwards puts his head into the scriptures and shows what makes up true religious experience. His words are plain and true:
It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ all along hitherto. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of religion that ever have been since the first founding of the Christian church.
Discernment is what we most owe to our weirder brothers and sisters. Not condemnation or rejection, but discernment and simple truth. We need to know our Bibles, and be able to point out the truth of the Gospel. Our lives need to be shaped by Christ, and display evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification and renewing our minds and characters. Even those who have given themselves over fully to every kind of weirdness are usually well aware of their own need of what is real. Many solid Reformed Christians spent a sojourn in this camp, and starved to death while everyone pretended there was a feast.
Bishop Ryle put it plainly: "Feelings in religion are worse than worthless, unless they are accompanied by practice." Many of our sincerely deluded brothers and sisters know this, and are afraid of what this must mean. It will do them good to see in us genuine experience and a true, substantial working out of what Christ has done for and in us.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I'm not going to share anything specific, because I can't yet. But I would appreciate prayer for open doors, for me to know which ones to walk through (discernment), and connections of God to be made!!!
It's exciting. :)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Many, many things are going on all over the world which I believe is proof of His movement. The "Florida Revival's" and the "Passion World Tour", just to name 2. Amazing.
And up here in Maine, I believe God is doing something too! At least, I feel it happening in my life.
As I mentioned 2 posts down, I was asked to lead worship at my grandparents church this past weekend. I have to be honest, and say that even though I was glad to do it. I wasn't necessarily looking forward to the experience. I wasn't dreading it either, I was just looking forward to it being done with. Mostly because the past 2 weeks have been crazy busy for me, and I really just needed a break. Just an hour to myself was all I needed, but hadn't had it in a long time.
So, I prepared an hour worth of material. 9 songs, plus a children's sermon that my co-worker who is a Priest, taught me.
I showed up at the church, to find out that the children had more planned than I had been told, and that I only needed to do about 20 minutes worth of music. This was a bit of a relief if I'm being honest. I mean, it is too bad that I prepared an hour worth of stuff, only to do 20 minutes. But it was just fine. I would rather be over prepared, than under prepared. It was nice to be able to prove to myself that I am capable of providing an hour worth of worship music--since I have never done this all by myself before!
So, I picked out 5 songs, plus a song to do during the offering. The church was so humid that I had to re-tune my guitar in between every song. Plus, the guitar had new strings on it, which didn't really help. But it wouldn't have mattered either way.
I got up there to my stool, and just felt so incredibly at home. Sitting there, with my guitar, microphone over my ear. I have never been so at ease before. And I haven't been nervous in a long time singing in front of a crowd, but this was new, with my guitar. I still felt completely at ease. I just started talking to congregation while I tuned my guitar. I decided to start off the service with Chris Tomlin's version of Amazing Grace. Since this church is not all that familiar with modern worship music, I figured this would be a good way to ease them in--something they know, but a modern version of it. I explained the story of how the song came about. How when Chris researched it, he found that the last verse we currently sing "When we've been there 10 thousand years" was actually added to the song 100 years after it was written, and from that moment on he knew he could add a little something to the song too. And the congregation laughed, they obviously enjoyed the fact that I knew the story behind that song, and wasn't just pushing a new song on them.
Anyway, I did the other 4 songs I chose, talked in between each one, just trying to connect with the congregation as best as I could. And they actually sang along! (I had brought words for the projector)
Afterwards, a lot of people thanked me for taking the time to be there. A few told me that they believed that God has given me a gift for leading music (which I was not expecting to hear), someone told my grandmother than I was 'charming' and 'personable' on stage (also not what I was expecting to hear, but what a compliment!), and I recieved an email from a congregant thanking me again for coming and told me that God has certainly blessed me with an ability to lead music. I just have been blown away by these people. I even sold 2 CD's (which I did not even have with me) She happened to ask me if I had any CD's, and I thought for a moment and went "Actually I do". So that paid for my gas money up and back (with the price of gas, any little bit is helpful)
So anyway, this experience has brought up a few thoughts in my mind. Where exactly is God placing me in ministry? I still don't know the answer, and just have more ideas now than ever.
My grandmother has told me before, that she believed I was missing a calling in leading worship, maybe she was right?? This weekend certainly showed me that I love doing it, much to my surprise. I mean, I have a lot to learn about how to lead worship, but I would think that a willing heart, and sensitive spirit is all you need to begin.
I love the idea of helping churches, who need the help to move into more modern worship. Churches who need younger people to get involved, and therefore need to update at least some of their music. Don't get me wrong, I love hymns, and I love churches that have a balance between hymns and modern music. But so many churches are afraid of modern worship music. I could see myself going from church to church, spending a few weeks in each one. Teaching them music, and getting them comfortable with the idea of guitars and such. Paving the way for a worship team to take over. Even training a worship team. What a job that would be!
I also love the idea of traveling. Just let me travel. I would make a fantastic Road Manager (the person who books hotels, flights, buses, venues, etc) for a group or company of some sort. In fact, my brother wants to hire me for a venture he is currently working on in exaclty that role. However it is a ways off still--so in the meantime I need to continue to follow my own path.
I also feel very strongly about ministering specifically to young women (and even some older women) I have talked about that topic a lot on this blog. Specifically about femininity, and the importance of that. You can see those posts here.
So, I know God has placed these desires and visions on my heart for a purpose. And I'm sure that somehow, they'll all get blended together. I just can't see how yet. And that is okay. I will see it when He wants me to see it. In the meantime, I am just trying to walk through doors faithfully as He opens them for me.
Austin is only 3 weeks away, and I'm praying for doors to open there if they are meant to. Like the last time I went down there, I just believe that I will be placed in the exact places I am supposed to be. I can't wait to go! Yes, it is hot I am told...I keep having customers call, who happen to live in Austin. But, everything indoors is air conditioned. And I figure, visiting Texas in July, is probably like visiting Maine in February. It isn't a bad idea for me to see it at its worst!!! :)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I will be leading worship at my Grandparents church in Fairfield, ALL BY MYSELF! This is a new thing for me, and I'm pretty excited about it!
Not only that, but it is Children's Sunday, which is even better since I directed the Children's Choir at my church in Massachusetts for 2 years, and led the Children's Worship. So my head is full of kids worship songs, and kid-friendly songs.
Plus, this church doesn't really know ANY of the popular worship songs. Most of them don't even know who Chris Tomlin is I'm sure. So I plan to teach them some songs too.
Then, I got an email from my Aunt the other day who also attends that church, and she informed me that not only am I leading worship when I go, but I AM the service that day. Yup, the entire service is mine...and she said I can do whatever I want. I can do kids songs, worship songs, perform some songs, preach, anything I want. And she's totaly serious. So...this should be interesting.
I plan to do some kids songs, and some worship songs. I really want to teach them all songs they can enjoy--that is my goal. To get them comfortable with modern worship songs.
I thought I would share this too. Some of my friends on Worship Frequency discovered this website which we can share our own music on! So far I only have one song up, but I'm working on more. (It'll probably take me some time to get them up though)
(if there is no 'play' button, then click on "01 Kate Libby - I Love You Lord" and the song will play)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
If you don't know, I spent 5 summers in a row with this organization, and I would love to go back. It changed my life.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Last night we outlined our "Ground Rules" and I think they're pretty great.
- Begin and end on time
- Call when you can't come
- Bring up issues or dissatisfaction right away
- No interrupting, or carrying on separate conversations
- Do any confrontations individually, not in front of the group
- No gossiping in prayer
- No grudges, come with a pure heart, and clean spirit towards everyone else
- start and end with prayer
- get prayer requests and foster an environment where people feel comfortable sharing
I am in charge of communications. I wasn't appointed there, but naturally fell into that position. It's a good place for me.
There are a lot of things on my heart right now regarding 'ministry' and my place in it. I'm not sure how to verbalize it all right now. But I know that God is working it out, and is placing me right where He wants me. I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be at this moment.
I am still feeling called to move to another place, Austin is still at the top of the list. The timing is uncertain, nothing is set in stone, but that desire has not gone away. But it is nice to know, that for now, right where I am in Maine, I am still being used.
I feel like this is all in preparation of the top being blown off. Do you know what I mean? Like this is a glimpse into a much larger picture which I am to be a part of. Obviously I'm not sure exactly what that is, but that is how I view this. Like, this is my training in a way.
Monday, March 31, 2008
I sure do. I pray for it all the time. Discernment in speaking the right words, making the right decisions, particularly when I am conversing with other people.
There is nothing that upsets me more than to be misunderstood. And I don't mean upset as in angry, I mean upset as in saddened and hurt. Because, although I don't always succeed, I strive to put a lot of thought into every communication that I have with others, and to be intentional in what I say. Particularly in writing, and it can be very hurtful to have it all thrown aside for a mere misunderstanding.
I believe that, since we are emotional beings (particularly us female kind of humans), that we are prone to making snap decisions based on how we feel in the moment. I am certainly guilty of that. And because of this fact (I do not like to be, or admit that I am an emotional person) I pray for discernment instead. That instead of making a decision based on how I feel, that I would make the decision based on the leading of the Spirit and of Jesus--which more often than I would like to admit, goes against what I am feeling at that moment. But always ends up being the right thing in the end, and I always feel good about what I've said when I've filtered out my feelings. And when I don't, I find I'm regretful of what I wrote or said.
I feel like people (in general) are too quick to respond, particularly under an emotional charged situation. Yes it is life, and just how human beings are, but I would encourage you to train yourself to pray, swallow and take a deep breath before responding emotionally to anything...that's all I'm saying here.
What does this have to do with ministry? LOTS!! 95% (or perhaps more) of your ministry is going to be perceived through your communication with others, and your ability to do so well. It doesn't matter if your ministry IS communication based or not...that is still how people will take in information about you. So therefore, when you are in ministry, or even when you just want your day to day life to be a ministry, it is vital to be praying for discernment in communication with others.
Friday, March 21, 2008
And through that--I realized that there are quite a few consistencies which I had never realized before. Especially regarding music. It's just kind of fun to see it all written out. So I thought I would share it here too...
Okay--so I don't keep repeating myself...I ALWAYS wanted to be a mom (and to this day)...so I won't write it every time--but you can insert it yourself in every single line.
- When I was in Kindergarten, I wanted to be 2 things 1. A mom 2. A car washer (remember the days when all gas stations were full serve, and they'd squeegee your windshield? That's who I wanted to be) lol!
- In 2nd grade, I wanted to be Young Cosette in Les Miserables. I knew her entire part by heart.
- In 4th grade, I wanted to be on that show "Star Search" Oh gosh I loved that show...
- In 8th grade, I wanted to be an OBGYN Nurse (because it would mean I'd get to be with the babies in the hospital!) but soon after I realized that you actually had to like science in order to become a nurse. And I have since realized that I did not miss my calling in the medical profession (since I get queasy with disfigurement and that sort of thing...) yuk. I actually fainted once when a friend of mine broke her nose (and when I broke my nose, my friend who took me to the hospital wouldn't let me look in the mirror...she was afraid I'd faint on her. LOL!)
- In 9th grade, I wanted to be a professional singer. (and changed my mind to wanting to be Eponine in Les Mis instead--since I'm an alto..lol)
- In 11th grade, I realized that there wasn't anything I wanted to do that school could help me with (I just wanted to be a stay at home mom!) So I wasn't really sure what to do with myself...but kept on going (and had every intention of going to college anyway) and when people would ask me what I wanted to be, I'd make stuff up...because I didn't want people to know that I only wanted to be a stay at home mom (at the time, women all had careers for the most part...so it wasn't cool to want to stay home)
- In college, I wanted to go on Staff at Teen Missions International. I almost dropped out of college to do so...but then thought better of it.
- And in college...I still struggled with a 'profession' I just didn't feel called to any profession. It was really hard. My major finally 'clicked' for me the second semester of my senior year. Talk about cutting it close right?
- And then post college--I discovered Mary Kay, and realized that was the sort of 'profession' that I wanted, and have loved it ever since.
- And now? Well, Mary Kay of course. Still want to be a stay at home mom someday. And a desire to be a musician's wife. Not necessarily a professional musicians wife...but that would be okay too.
- Oh--and I still would love to be Eponine...but the show isn't running anymore Sadly...
So, to add a little more about Teen Missions.
- I went twice as a team member (when I was 16 and 17), and it really opened my eyes to missions work and the importance of that. And it honestly captured my heart.
- Even more so when I became a leader. I led 3 peanut teams (who are 7-9 year olds) and one teen team. I just loved connecting with the kids, and taking care of them.
- I really thought I was supposed to go on staff at Teen Missions, but no.
- But to this day, there is a huge place in my heart for organizations like this, which ushers teenagers (and younger) into spreading the Gospel. My children will absolutely be doing something like this at least once in their lives. It changed my entire world. It made my faith real to me, and personal to me. Having grown up in a christian home (which I am forever thankful for) I never had a 'before' and 'after'. So I needed something to make my faith personal, and this did it.
- So, while I don't think I'm currently called to go on staff on Teen Missions, or to be a full time missionary, I certainly will always feel connected to organizations like this, and hope to volunteer with them again someday.
- This is why, when I attended Passion::Boston, it immediately re-lit the fire in my heart that Teen Missions had started, for serving students and teaching them to go out into the world. I believe that is where my calling is in missions. To enable others, and encourage others.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
One of the things that I realized I am being told by God (in the past few months) is that I have to be willing to let go of the things I desire in order to keep them. Which is not always easy. This pertains actually to something pretty specific that I am not ready to share about, and so at times the reality of this fact is hard to swallow. However, on the other hand, I have an overwhelming peace that The Lord will take care of this, that I don't need to worry or be anxious. All I have to do is follow.
And if I truly let go of this desire, and lay it at His feet, I will be blessed beyond understanding. Which in my head and heart I know. Just sometimes in life, it isn't so easy to do. But I'm doing it. And even though it isn't always fun or easy or makes me feel good, I also know that it is the right thing to do.
So, I encourage anyone reading this--what in your life are you holding on to so tightly that even God can't get involved? I would challenge you to let it go, release it to Him, and see what happens. You'll be blessed beyond your expectations. And if you release it, and it flies away, then something better will land later on. It's better to let it go and wait for God's best, then to settle and have to deal with the consequences of that later on.
Yes, I will likely end up being in a 'leadership' position of some sort (I've already taken on the emailing and coordinating position...lol) but I think just about everyone else who was there will be leaders too. Which is great. There were 12 of us there--and it's a good group of people, I really like them a lot. And I think we're going to have a great time together, and as I said, will likely end up being the leadership team.
There is a video series that we are watching called "ReGroup" which is put out by Willow Creek Association. It's interesting to be putting together a group based on a video...and at first I was skeptical. But once we got going, I saw the purpose of it. The video simply prompts different discussions, and the discussion time that we had was very good. I really feel like I got to know a few of these people pretty well. It was great.
So, next week we are meeting again to do session #2 of the video, the purpose of which is to help us define what we want our group to 'be' or 'do'. I'm looking forward to that, and to start to define our focus. The following week, Kim and I are hosting a dinner with this group so that they can see what we were doing with our 'social gatherings', and it will give us more opportunity to get to know each other better.
I'm really looking forward to seeing where we all fall into place as time goes on.