Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grace and Grooming.

Grace and Grooming 

Col 3:12

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Guess what....I'm a sinner. 
Guess what else. I'm forgiven. 

I remember when I joined the military; I was a complete sloppy mess. I made my bed, sometimes…I lounged around my parent’s house, and my idea of “helping out around the house” was making sure I put my dishes beside the sink. I didn’t like the way I was living, I felt lazy, and unproductive, so I knew it was time for a change. Late 2003 I packed up and joined the Army while my parents were in Vegas. When I came home from basic, my mom told my Aunt that there had been a complete transformation, not only was it visible because of the uniform, but I was now disciplined(ish), neat(ish), and considerate(ish). While that was a good change.  When we submit our lives to Christ, God transforms us in an even better way. A common misconception is that once our lives are given to Christ, there is an automatic enlightenment, and we are automatically better, spiritual people, life becomes easier and its all butterflies and rainbows.  It is not an instant transformation however, but an ongoing one. I believe that when we begin to let Christ dwell in us, God will break us down, and train us, so that we may be built back up, renewed and strengthened. The Basic training is like that. Drill Sergeants constantly  yell at you, they make you push for any little thing; they deprive you of sleep, of good food, of caffeine….you are pushed to your limits, mentally and physically, all for the sole purpose of breaking you down so that they can build you back up, better, stronger, and more disciplined, 9 weeks later, we leave out as soldiers, fully prepared for battle.  I believe that God does the same thing. No God doesn’t yell at us, or punish us for no reason, or even deprive us of coffee, but he definitely grooms us.    
It says in Col 3:12 that since God chose us to be the holy people he loves we must clothe ourselves with clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is not a switch we just turn on. To make us more merciful, God sends us people that we need to be merciful too. To be kind, God is going to send people in our lives that we need to be kind to, even if we don’t want to. He will humble us, teach us to be gentle, and of course constantly teach us to be patient by giving us situations where we HAVE to be patient. As the old saying goes “never pray for patience.”
One of the most difficult things I think we find as Christians, especially as we are trying to better ourselves is addressed in the next verse:

13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We are forgiven by the grace of God, so why do we find it so hard to forgive people? It’s simple: we are human. The human in me has a tendency to just assume everyone is like me. It took me a lot of years and “grooming” to learn to let other people be other people, and I can’t control the behavior of other people. We tend to focus on the mistakes people make instead of maybe why they made them. It’s easy to be quick to judge…

So what is the remedy for this? How do we work on forgiving others and letting them be them? The answer is stated in verse 14

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 

Love is the answer. We have to clothe ourselves in love. When we love people, for who they are, not who we think they should be, we build relationship with them. We let love rule our hearts, and we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. When you can’t forgive somebody, don’t sit on it, confront it, make your amends, let it go and move on. Let God work in you, because you never know what kind of work God is going to do in you through it, and it may be the Jesus people need to see. Sometimes isn’t easy to do, but we need to be honest with God about it. When you can’t do it, let it God and let God do it for you.

This is something I struggle with every day guys. Its something I'm having to deal with in a minute by minute basis at the moment as a matter of fact. But I know that where I am weak, God becomes my strength, and God is nothing but good and like it says in Romans 8:28

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

We are constantly changing. As God brings us closer to Him he will tear us down, build us up and give us situations, people and experiences that are going to be difficult. When these seasons come into play, take heart, give it to God and let his  peace and mercy will rule in your heart. You won't be sorry.   

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who am I?

God has been calling me to pursue music ministry for as long as I can remember, somehow I seem to always find an excuse to just kind of give up and be in the background. I tell myself I'm not good enough and i'm surely not qualified...

When Moses encountered God on the mountain in Exodus chapter 4 He had the same kind of experience, which i'm sure we can all relate to:

 10 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
 11 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

God told me the same thing, "I made your voice, I'm giving you those songs, now go and do". And I said...OK. 

If there is one sin I am really good at, it would be the sin of comparison. I don't know if comparison would be the right word....but I'm definitely one to question God. A lot. When it comes to what God has planned for me, I've always known....the problem was, the older I got, the more conscious I got, not about what God can do with me, or through me, but I became aware of what was wrong with whatever it was I was about to do. God would give me an amazing song to write, however I wouldn't preform it because my voice wasn't as good as someone else's. At first this was a minor setback, but eventually, I quit doing things that God was asking me too because I was afraid, and I compared myself to people constantly. Recently I have been struggling with the direction God is taking me. I have been praying and feeling for a long time that God wants to take me out to music ministry again. This is great news, theoretically, however anytime I've tried on my own, i've felt like a failure because nothing has ever worked out. It was in that moment, in that sentence that I wrote down not too long ago that God said "Go out and proclaim my message" and then he said "and this time don't rely on yourself". 

This was a hard pill for me to swallow. I'm 31, I'm a single mom, and life is just..... well apparently too busy for God. Thats how I'm acting anyway, but thats not the real reason. The real reason I haven't been doing much with my ministry, is that I'm afraid, and being afraid is the best thing that has happened to me, because I have found that when I'm afraid, I have no choice but to rely solely on the power of God. 

As God was dealing with me this past week on the issue, something crazy happened. Wednesday night was rolling around, and praise and worship for that week just wasn't falling together. I had no clue what we were going to play, practice hadn't fallen through and I just wasn't feeling like doing anything. God had something in store however, because when my dad who is the youth minister told me that there was no game for the night and he needed me to be sure and do some music I knew God was going somewhere with it. I said a short silent prayer before youth, and as I was driving the 3 or 4 blocks to the Church from my house, God told me, I want you to let the kids rest, and I want you to play your own music for the kids....

WHAT? If there is anything that intimidates me, it is a group of 40 high school kids. But I decided this time, I would be obedient, I sat the kids down, plugged in no instruments, and just played 3 songs, me, my guitar and the Holy Spirit. One song I played fit in with the lesson, and I got some nice compliments, but the most amazing thing, is that God overwhelmed me with emotion, because I had done something afraid, and relied on Him. I didn't worry about how good my voice sounded, or if I hit a wrong chord on my guitar, I just basked in His glory and let Him do the work. 

God further confirmed what He had been telling me on Sunday when our pastor gave us new perspective on the story of Jonah. What stuck with me was that God called Jonah a 2nd time,....He won't ever give up on us. 

I'm officially going back into music ministry after a hiatus of many years. I may not play anymore than I normally do, but I'm doing it with a new perspective. I may travel, I may not, I may record, I may not, but if I know one thing....I'm terrified, I won't lie, but at the same time, I'm excited because I'd doing it with a new attitude and hopefully the right attitude, and the right motive. Instead of creating opportunity, I'm relying on God to send me where He needs me, not to where I want to go. I may not have the best voice, or the fastest fingers, but one thing I do have is the power of the Holy Spirit, and I can't wait to see what He does through me and the words He gives me. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

God simply is....

I love tuesday. Tuesday could easily be my favorite day of the week. There are a lot of reasons that Tuesday is awesome...for one thing it's not Monday. More importantly, Tuesday is the night I get to attend and be a part of Celebrate Recovery. I am blessed to get to be a part of this awesome ministry. Being on stage was quite emotional for me tonight. I'm just a rhythm guitar player, but when I'm up ther sometimes the spirit of God just overwhelms me. Each song tonight declared the greatness of God....and I stepped back from the mic tonight and just watched, I watched people pour their hearts out to our God, our great God...Who was and is.... And is to come. God simply is.... And the more I learn that, the more I've found that i'm enjoying life. My worries seem less brutal, and learning to enjoy the little things. So tonight, as I enter sweet slumber and get ready for my Wednesday, I'll remember His greatness...His grace....His mercy. He is my strength, He is my joy, He is my father...my the most important "is" of all, God is Unconditional love. 1:Cor 13:4

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Soundtrack of our Lives

Oh the days.... isn't it amazing how music can take you back? Not only does a song maybe spark a moment, or a memory, but for me it brings back smells, scenery, specific details like a fly on a wall. Exact dates, exact feelings, some good, some bad, but just for a split 2 minutes and 14 seconds, a song can take you back to that night where you were driving around with your bestie, singing at the top of your lungs to a mindless pop song. It can be that one in a million moment recreated when the 4 of you pulled out guitars and made musical magic....it can be that time where you poured your heart out and the presence of God flooded you as tears streamed down your face. It can be that song the first time you kissed the person you were to spend the rest of your life with...we each have our own soundtrack.....and as I was sitting here, with my newest discovery...Spotify....I found myself going back...finding songs I hadn't heard in years, going back to places I had forgotten I had been....and I decided to create my own personal soundtrack, and I figured i'd share a few and why:

1. Wham! Wake me up before you Go Go - This song is first for two reasons. It is the first song I remember knowing. It came out in 1984 and I remember loving that crazy song, and it stayed with me for the majority of my life. As I became and adult, by Bestie and I shared a mutual affection for the dynamic duo and it became one of our many, yet main theme songs. Wham! Wake me Up before You Go Go

2. Pearl Jam. Yellow Leadbetter - If you know me you know that this song is on every random cd that I have ever made. What is so special about this song, is that it not only is another favorite song shared by my bestie and me, there was this magical moment in time where there was an apartment in Austin, 3 guitars and a perfect rendition of this song sang beautifully. I still play it every chance I get, but it will never be the same as that one Austin night in 2004. Yellow Ledbetter

3. Maroon 5. She Will Be Loved - Inside joke. Only Adriana gets to know. She Will Be Loved

4. Madonna- Music. This song came around during some very good times in college. It will always bring a goofy fun smile to my face. Madonna-Music

5. Quad City DJ's - The Train Song. Every Chi Omega at Eastern New Mexico University knows this song, this dance, and why its awesome. Quad City DJs the Train song

6. Usher - Yeah! I got serenaded by some dudebro to this song in San Angelo. It was a joke the rest of the time I was stationed there. We spent a good part of our time at San Angelo singing Karaoke at Grahams, and this song usually played....constantly Usher. Yeah!

7. Sublime - Santeria. Another song that has just been with me for a good part of my life. Hearing it in California at coffeeshop shows and playing it whenever I gather with good friends, its a good song by one of the best bands of all time.Sublime Santeria

8. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds -  Live at Luther College. The entire CD makes me feel 21 again.

9.  Spice Girls-  Wannabe. This song was a favorite song of ours in high school. After we lost a friend to suicide, it took on a different kind of meaning and memory, because she was a huge fan...but  there isn't a time when I'm not taken back to 1997 every time I hear that song. Spice Girls Wannabe

10. Live - Selling the Drama. During our Dirty Thirty Road Trip last year, this song kept coming on the Radio. We drove 2000 miles in 5 days, and this song probably played 100 times haha. I love it because it brings me back to the car and the cities we hit while we were there. Live- Selling the Drama

11. Jackson - Johnny Cash and June Carter. Shane and I like to sing this together. With his illustrious banjo and my guitar pickin, it makes for an awesome duet. He's the Johnny to my June.  Jackson

12.  Forever in my Dreams - Pulp. This is the newest song to my soundtrack. Shane and I were listening and sharing music together last Saturday night, and he sang this song to me and it was amazing. I fell in love with him a little more that night....

This is just a dent in a list of 100's of songs I could probably write about on here, and i'm sure I left some off that I'll remember as soon as I leave my computer...but they are good songs, with good memories attached. They involve my best friend, tragedy, love and even a little anger....but its our music...our moments....our life.

What are some of the songs on the soundtrack to your life????

Friday, September 9, 2011

Joy Comes in the Morning

I love the morning time. I'm not very good at waking up in the morning, especially if there is no reason to, however once i'm out of bed, and especially outside, I'm definitely a morning person. It seems to me that God always has a "picture" painted for me, whether its a beautiful sunrise, or watching the sun burst through the clouds, it never gets to the point where I don't notice. It takes my breath away that creation is so unique, so beautiful, and never the same. We serve a good God, a creative God, and if you take the time to look around, there is a little creative piece of art waiting from God every moment of every day. Take the time before the hustle and bustle to appreciate it :)