Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Finish Strong

Being the wife of a worship leader, I get the chance privilege to be a part of a number of different occasions and methods of worship.  Tonight was no different.  Tonight I found myself; along with my husband, our four children, our two pastors, and our friends...at the bedside of a dear, sweet woman who is approaching the end of her days here on earth.

She is weak.
She is frail.
She is tired.
She is ready.
And still...she longs to worship.

We surrounded her bed and opened up our hymnals.  As we began to sing I made what I thought was my first mistake, and it had nothing to do with the notes I was singing.  I found myself intently watching.  

I watched her face as we began to sing.  She was hearing our words and she meant every one that we sang.  She soon began to cry...and that was all it took for me too.  When she was able she would mouth the words with us.  Worship connects

I remember the last time I saw a weakened, frail woman mouth the words to her favorite hymns.  It was the days after the sudden death of my grandfather.  My grandma sat in her living room as my husband played her piano, eyes closed, mouthing the words.  She was tired.  She was weak...and yet she longed to worship.  Worship soothes.

My favorite part of tonight was a tiny and simple gesture from her submissive heart to her Savior.  Her King.  Her God.  As we sang, she lifted her hand in worship.  It barely left her side...but I saw.  Her heart was clear and if no one else noticed...Heaven was watching.  Her Father was well pleased with her worship tonight.  Worship sacrifices.

Tonight was not about any of us who gathered there.  It was sad and yet so so beautiful.  I can not imagine not being by her side tonight.  As if my comfort would ever be more important than hers.  And in true God-like-fashion...although I went hoping to be just a tiny blessing amidst the sorrow...I left humbled by her unwavering obedience and love for her Creator.  Worship obeys

Tonight was an instruction for ME to raise my standard.  To stop making excuses in waiting for my purpose jump out at me.  I, too, want to finish strong.  I want to worship with every ounce of strength I have.  I want to raise my hands in submission to God until I can't anymore.  I want to walk in immediate obedience.  I want to sacrifice my comfort just to show God how much I adore Him.  I am raising the bar in my life.  I have seen what a gentle warrior looks like, and I am unwilling to stay where I've been.  Not everyone gets the chance to witness such a powerful display of surrender.  I will not waste the moments I spent with her.  I promise...I will let them forever change me.

Dear Sweet LaRue...
You truly are a treasure.  A beautiful example to anyone who has had the chance to see your heart.  A worthy representation of what the love of Christ looks life.  A true worshipper.  A mighty warrior.  A kind and gentle helpmate to your family and friends.  A lover of Truth.  A strong, meek daughter of the King of kings.  A follower of the Word of God.  A patient teacher.  A storyteller.  A lover of bad jokes. (<--Emil)  You have blessed too many people to count.  Your legacy lives on in the hearts of the ones that you have touched.  Finish strong Rue.  You. Are. Loved.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Free At Last

Explain to me why it is that slavery so often appears to be freedom?  How has the enemy continued to successfully convince us (over and over and over) that his path is easier and without consequence?  How is it that we so quickly forget that our sin always costs us more than we intended it to. (Certainly more than he told you it would.)  And why do we allow it to last longer than we ever 'planned' ?

If you haven't figured this out by now...let me just be blunt for a moment.

satan is seeking you out with a sly and crafty scheme in mind.  And that scheme always comes with a hefty consequence.  Not a single person on this earth 'gets away' with doing wrong.  The father of lies is throwing bad idea after bad idea at you and convincing you that they are your own.  he is strategically placing pitfalls in your path to trip you up every time you are close to revelation. grace. hope. freedom.  he is stealing your peace one poor decision at a time. 

You see...he loathes us because he is terrified of the unmatched potential that God has placed within us.  he can't compete with God's character in us.  As followers of Christ...we get what he once had...and he is being an absolute baby about it.  he is well aware of his future. he chose it.  he also knows that his days are numbered...and rapidly coming to an end. 

When Christians fall/walk away from their relationship with God; it doesn't always look the same. It very well may look like we tend to picture it. A hurting heart turned to sex, drugs/alcohol, foul language, visibly corrupt morals seemingly without a conscience. All of that may be true for some. Sometimes though....sometimes I'd bet that for Christians, falling away from our relationship with God isn't quite so obvious. It's gradual. Sometimes I believe it just looks like apathy. Some days it is just being busy without purpose, and not caring enough to change it.  Some days it is just a refusal to admit how far you've slid. 

James 4:17 states it simple and clear for us.  "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."

Ouch!  I know that verse might sting a bit.  Do not let the enemy shame you into the darkness!  Let the Light of Truth shine bright so that darkness must FLEE in Jesus Powerful Name!  The Truth found in God's Word does not change.  It does not move.  It does not cower.  Those are traits of the evil one...not of the Holy One.

If you are lacking spiritual energy, think hard about how often and how consistently you feed your spirit.  If you go from Sunday to Sunday before you are fed again, soon you will become critically unhealthy.  Lethargic. You'll feel as though you can handle anything this world throws at you at noon on Sunday....and by Tuesday (or before) you'll be throwing in the towel. 
We must remember to Feed. Our. Spirit. Daily. (at minimum!!)
Going without nourishment leaves us tired, weak (and most likely irritable).

Luke 15:8-10~The Parable of the Lost Coin
“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

I would love to rejoice at your repentance!  You DO NOT have to tell me the what...but I would love to hear if God woke you up today.  I would love to celebrate your freedom from the grasp of the devil.  I would love to shout praise to the King above all kings!

Right now.  This day.  If there are things that God has been asking you to recognize for what they are...look up.  Look at the darkened and unclear path you are on.  Would God send you where you are?  If He wouldn't, He didn't.  It is going to take a plan to change lanes.  The enemy is not going to make it seem easy...but don't sell yourself short.  Keep your peace as the prize.  It is waiting right there in the Light!  Today, you can be FREE AT LAST!!!!!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Tears of Worship

Emotions.  They are soooo often misunderstood.  There is always something that lies beneath them. Something unsaid. 

There are people who fake them.
There are people who refuse them.
There are people who can't escape them.
And there is every dynamic in between.

If you know me, you most likely know that I am an emotional person.  Surprisingly, I can reign it in when God equips me to do so for a specific purpose. Most of the time though...my compassion for the struggles of others, forms in a single stream down the front of my face.  It often catches people by surprise.  Almost as if they aren't expecting someone to feel with them.

Some may view my emotional response(s) as a weakness...and I am actually okay with that.  You see, I know Who God designed me to reflect.  I know that when I prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His...He did. (Click here if you would like to read about how embarrassingly LONG it took me to realize that He had answered that prayer I prayed back in 2009.)

What I want to try to explain today, is why so often I shed tears during times of both personal and corporate worship.  I am sure...because the enemy is always lurking...that my tears are also misunderstood.  I can not speak for everyone, so I will only speak for myself.  For me, the days that I lose it emotionally in worship, is usually for one of three reasons.

#1- God is revealing and dealing with the deepest wounds within my heart.
When all of the other voices that have been competing for my attention are silenced...God speaks up.  And some days, that is the exact moment that my healing begins.  The Truth is non-negotiable and evident beyond human explanation.  It is those days that it takes all that I have to worship my King through the song He has prepared for me to lead...before I crumble in thankful adoration.

#2- I am warring (as in spiritual warfare warring against the powers of darkness) in prayer for someone I love.
I could have said I am praying for someone I love...but during times of corporate worship, when I am surrounded by angel armies, it is so much more fierce than that.  It is a refusal to bow down to the author of lies.  It is a standing firm on the promises of the Word for those who are being deceived.  It is an intense focus on the one and only God who can speak to this mountain and command it to move.  It is aggressive and it is intense, because I know that freedom came with a price that we did not have to pay.  

#3- I am suddenly flooded with examples of God's never-ending supply of Grace, Provision, Faithfulness, Favor....and I can not help but to be humbly grateful.
I do not deserve God's Grace, because I don't always extend to others what I expect from Him.
I do not deserve God's Provision, because I don't always invite Him into the plans for it.
I do not deserve God's Faithfulness, because I fail.  So. Many. Days...I fail Him.
I do not deserve God's Favor, because I don't always seek out His Truth for my days.
When you get a handle on the reality of what you do and do not deserve...it has a tendency to wreck you. We deserve to pay for our wrongs.  We deserve to suffer as a result of our poor choices.  We deserve death as the cost for our sins.
Grace revealed.  It is a beautiful act of love without condition.

Just about any given Sunday you can find me next to my absolute favorite worship leader.  My husband.  God has given Him an obvious gift and responsibility to lead a congregation in corporate worship.  While he doesn't usually display his emotions in an evident way...it is still visable when God is working on his heart.  He gives a testimony and God's heart is heard.  He prays and God's Words pierce through the walls in people's hearts.  His emotional response is genuine to him just as mine is to me.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  I would not want to stand and war in worship beside any other person in this world.

Psalm 30 says...
"I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever."

Worship is my weapon.
Worship fuels my fight.
Worship clears my heart of the nonsense that the deceiver has cast on me.
Worship is never about the singer and forever about the Savior.
All to Him I owe.
If tears fall when I finally lay my burdens down...it is not an emotion that I am chasing after.  It is the response to what God is doing in me that I can not hide; nor would I want to.  I am well aware that Christ has paid a price that I never could and I can not be silent anymore.