Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Fuel is in the "Yes"

Last year I heard my Pastor Jill Sweetman speak this over someone:  "The fuel is in the YES." It has stuck with me ever since. After hearing a great message from my friend Caitlin Henry, I was inspired to write this...

When my husband Kevin and I first moved to Georgia from FL my capacity was that of a 5 year old.  We started attending C3 and instantly had a close knit group of people welcome us in to their family.  We had 5 invitations a week for lunch after church and dinner invitations 3 out of 5 week nights.  For a home body who was used to the slow and easy this was quite an adjustment to make.

My first several years here were challenging.  There was always an opportunity for me to serve or socialize, but I didn't see it as opportunity.  I saw it as something that would take me away from my home time, aka, my agenda.  After a while I realized I was missing out some amazing things because of my decision to say no.  I started seeing that the "yes" people were moving forward and I was not.

I slowly began to work the word yes into my vocabulary and after a couple of years doors started opening...flash forward...

In the spring of 2009 we helped plant the Asheville, NC church.  Our Sunday mornings would start at 6AM.  We'd do a sound check and 2 services in Lawrenceville, pack up our gear and our 3 year old, grab lunch and embark on a 3 hour tour, sorry, drive ;).  We would arrive in just enough time to help set up the PA, do a sound check and start the meeting.  Later, we'd tear down, grab dinner with the locals and drive home, arriving around 1AM.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

I truly believe one of the biggest reasons I'm doing what I am today is because of my choice to say yes.

Is it always easy? NO.

Is it comfortable? 33.3% of the time.   

Do I feel I'm in the center of God's will?  Absolutely!

Now, a word to those of you who tend to say yes to everything...

There are very few things I say no to now.  When in doubt I consult my husband, my pastor, or closest friend (depending on the situation) who will all give me true insight, not just tell me what I want to hear.  Not too long ago I was asked to speak at a conference in another state, which I was very excited about.  I asked my pastor how he felt about it and he gently suggested that I needed to choose my "extras" wisely.  I heard him loud and clear.  After thinking it through I realized this wouldn't be the family weekend getaway I was hoping for.  It would have been a work weekend with little or no down time.  We would have returned exhausted-just in time for the next work week!

Let your default be yes. But if you tend to over-commit, seek wise council in managing those commitments. God loves movement.  He loves it when we step out into something we're not quite sure we can handle.   It gives Him the opportunity to show us what He can do through us.

Friday, January 21, 2011


John 4:23 MSG
...“the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship."

I love it!  God wants you, the real you.  He wants you, in all your strengths and weaknesses. He wants your imperfections, your quirkiness, your whole heart!  

Some of my most memorable times of leading worship have been when I've forgotten the words to the song or I've said something semi-funny to get people to laugh (usually at me).  They're memorable not because I was embarrassed, but because it reminded me I don't have to be perfect - hey, it's not about me anyway!!!  

Don't get me wrong, I want our worship services to be the best thing going every week, but I'll take genuine worship (albiet full of technical errors) over 'well-rehearsed' (but that's about it) any day.  We should always bring our best before God...mix that with a genuine desire to touch heaven and you've got the makings of a great worship experience-even if it's full of mistakes!

Don't hold back in your worship because you don't feel adequate.  God knows we don't have it all together; we wouldn't need Him if we did.  Take the focus off of your insecurities, mistakes and short-comings and focus on His merciful, unfailing love.  Determine to give Him your best effort in worship and watch Him move like never before!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Obedience Vs. Sacrifice

Genesis 22:2  “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.

Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt? How many alternatives must have flashed before his eyes? This was his promised son that he waited so many years for.  It's natural to struggle with this story and I can safely say, very few of us (if any) will ever be asked to do what Abraham was asked to do.  But let's bring it into leadership context... What about when our leader asks us to do something we don't agree with, or when we think we can come up with a better idea?  This is when sacrifice can begin to look more appealing than obedience.  What do I mean by sacrifice?  It's not uncommon for us to feel challenged when we're expected to comply (especially when we don't understand the reasons).  The temptation of doing something we feel is more valuable, more convenient, or will give us more credit can become very strong.  We justify our lack of obedience by sacrificing something that suites us better.  At this point, we've put our interests above our leader's.

Abraham could have come up with a dozen alternatives.  He could have asked Sarah her opinion on the situation and I assure you, this would have only made things more difficult.  Abraham could have reasoned his way out of this difficult ask but he chose to honor God by obeying.   The story goes on...

16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendantst beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
"All because you have obeyed"...God elevates Abraham, because he obeyed.  Remember this story the next time you feel challenged or want to justify going a different direction than you've been asked.  God is looking for people who would honor those he's put in authority over us.  I'll leave you with one last verse...
I Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied,  “What is more pleasing to the Lord:  your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Power of Words

Here we are - the first week of the year!  There's something so exciting and motivating about standing on the precipice of the unknown.  Our Pastor, Dean Sweetman, spoke this past Sunday about God's individual Word for our life this year, using John 1:1-5 as the basis for his message.  Let me save you the time to look it up...(NLT)

1  In the beginning the Word already existed
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

2  He existed in the beginning with God.

3  God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.

4  The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.

5  The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

I'll be going back to that passage frequently!  The challenge in his message was to find the word(s) God is speaking over your life this year.  The word you'll go back to when the going gets tough. The word you'll use to take you further than you've ever gone before.

I was kind of hoping my word would be something really epic like..."Pioneer" or "Prosperity".  But, while I'm sure someone else very deserving got those words, I got one that was a little less exciting.  And that's just what I needed.

I've had words in the past that have absolutely changed me.  A few years ago "Vision vs Complaint" ruled my world.  Ps Jill Sweetman had preached an incredible message about choosing vision in all situations rather than complaining about them.  Having a natural bent towards negativity, this was extremely challenging.  But, as I continued to choose vision my mindsets began shifting, things that would normally have taken me out became catalysts for successes in my life.

A year or two later my words were "Discipline IS Happiness".  When I began my fitness journey almost 4 years ago this phrase kept me going on those frigid mornings I was meant to be getting out of bed for a run, or the 6AM swims.  I found that when I chose to follow the schedule I had set for myself I was much happier.  I still come back to this phrase now and then when I find myself in a slump (fitness or non-fitness).

This year, my word means a lot to me (and maybe, just me).  It's exactly what I needed for the challenging areas of my life.  God knows.  My word has been there waiting for me to find it, waiting for me to acknowledge and trust it.  My word has creative power.  My word will be there for me when I run into mental road blocks or when I face doubt.

I encourage you to find God's word over your life this year.  By doing so, you are creating an opportunity for God to do something extraordinary!