Tag Archives: worship

A Good Friday Prayer

Tonight, I helped lead worship at my church’s Good Friday service, as I’ve done for the past few years. It’s a truly beautiful service, somber, quiet, slow… but not without hope. Our pastors do an incredible job of planning this evening full of dramatic lighting, powerful songs, and the last words of Jesus as he prepared to give his life, and as he hung on the cross. It’s haunting.

When I got home, I was still in the mood the service had left me in. I was lost in thought, as I had been on and off all day. Good Friday has always been a sobering day for me. But as I put my youngest son to bed, I started to sing him one of the songs we had sung in the service. It’s appropriately called “Passion Song”, written by some friends of our worship pastor. (Click that link. It will bless your soul to hear it.) It’s based on John’s view of how Jesus’s last week went down. The pastor who spoke just before the song presented it perfectly, emphasizing how Jesus was John’s very best friend, the only person who had ever known him so completely. Here are the words, so you can see the powerful emotion packed in them…

I was with Him when He rode into town
And the crowds gathered round Him like a King
Their smiling faces joined a sea of branches waving
Though they were masquerading in the end

And my heart rose in my throat
When I heard them sing
Hosanna in the highest
Oooh oooooh oh

We went upstairs broke the bread and drank the wine
From the only living vine that we would taste
And I watch them take Him up the mountainside
Where He was crucified though innocent
And they mocked Him and cursed Him with their mouths
And told Him to come down if He was God

And my heart broke in my chest
When I heard Him say
Forgive them it is finished
Oooh oooooh oh

I remember in the garden
When He sweat like drops of blood
And how He begged the Father
Just to let Him pass the cup
I can still feel the anguish
When they pierced Him in the side
And how the ground beneath us shook
Upon the very moment that He died
Oooh ooh oh oh oh

Three days later we found an empty grave
And the stone was rolled away where He had been

Tears of joy streamed down my face
When the angel said
Oh fear not He is risen
Oh fear not He is risen
Oooh ooh ooh oooh oh oh oooh

You can see how this song would be lingering in my psyche, right? So I’m singing it to my son, as I’m settling him in for bed. And when I finally wipe the (my) tears away, and get to his goodnight prayer, I began to pray like always, and for some reason, I was led to utter the words, “…and thank You for giving Your Son. I could never give my son.”

And I cried some more.

You see, the sacrifice is beyond what any one of us could do. In the Old Testament, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. Whether he would’ve (or could’ve) actually gone through with it we’ll never know. There was a ram in the thicket, and God was preparing, even then, to give His very own son to save the world. Jesus willingly gave his life to pave the way for us to enter into fellowship with his Father. One of our pastors this evening titled it “a beautiful exchange”. His life for ours. What else could possibly be a better exchange for us?

Musings About Prayer

How do you pray? How often? Whose words do you use – yours? The Bible’s? Those of a trusted pastor? These are questions I struggle with every time I try to pray. I think all answers are valid, and ones that I haven’t thought of are, too. I think prayer is something that evolves as your relationship with the Lord evolves, and that’s a good thing.

I find that oftentimes, when I remember to pray is when I am asking for something. I’ve just heard that someone is sick or hurt. I’m having a hard time being patient with my kids. Or, I’m praying to stave off difficulties or issues in an upcoming situation. Either way, I’m asking the Lord to do my will. Or asking Him to help me with something. Or I’m just plain hoping that His will and my will are the same.

Why would I ever put the Lord in a box like that?

I am all about giving the Lord my honesty: all of my feelings, my fears, my hopes. He’s a big God, and he can handle those things. I can pray continually – without ceasing! (1 Thess. 5:16) – and I can pray about anything and everything (Eph. 6:18). But what I want to pray more often is for HIS WILL to be done, not mine (1 John 5:14). I know He has a plan more wonderful than I can imagine, and while it seems trite to only pray for that, that’s what He loves to hear! “I trust You! Your plan is perfect! I want for me and mine what YOU want for me and mine!” There is nothing greater we could tell Him than how awesome He is, and how we trust Him.

In alignment with praying, I think that worship (all kinds of worship!) can be prayer, also. Taking the sacrament is an act of prayer, communicating with God, a covenantal practice. Musical worship can be prayer; the words and melodies sung and played are indeed a prayer, especially when we know we need to connect with God but don’t necessarily have the words we desire to say.  I love James 5:13 – “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” Prayer and praise often go hand in hand. Don’t just pray when you need something (I’m talking to myself, here!) but also pray when you are happy, pray when you are sad, mad, glad, tired, and full of joy. Pray without ceasing, depend fully and always on the Lord.

For me, to pray without ceasing is an act of submitting my will, my words, my actions to Him. This is me saying, “Lord, I can’t do this (anything!) without You.” I know I’m flawed, I’m a sinner, I need and desire His grace and mercy. As in Psalm 40: Come Lord, and pull me out of the muck and the mire; set my feet on solid ground.

Some Thoughts on Evangelism.

Evangelism is something that used to scare me. In my youth, to me it meant that we would go around handing out gospel tracks, or randomly starting conversations with people, so that we could pray with them, hoping to lead them to Jesus. It had less to do with fostering a love of Jesus or a desire to worship him, and more of a way to get another tick on our evangelist’s counter.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work very well for me.

As an adult, the word still scares me a little bit, because I don’t quite know how to put my feelings into words. The scars are still there from my misinterpretations as a youth. But there is so much hope, for me and for you, to be able to overcome the scars of myself and others, and continue on into the love of Jesus in a true sense, and then share it with the world.


Recently, during my quiet time (I’ve been studying through the Psalms, in case you didn’t know) I was convicted as I read Psalm 71. I’ll put the part I’ll focus on here so you don’t have to look it up…

Psalm 71:14-18
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Well, I have to begin by saying that the psalmist surely stirred up some excitement and laid a healthy burden on me to share more of the Gospel. Our mouths should tell of His righteous acts and deeds of salvation! We should proclaim His wondrous deeds and His might! It not only encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only spreads the truth of the Gospel to all ears, but it fosters our believing but sometimes wayward hearts by proclaiming and declaring what we know to be true.

Let’s talk for a moment about “proclaim” and “declare”. As a worship leader, sometimes I am moved during a song to encourage the congregation to proclaim or declare some of the lyrics we’re singing. There’s a slight difference between those words, and so it’s important to do both, sometimes. To proclaim is to announce something openly, publicly, and officially. To declare is to solemnly and emphatically say something. Another definition even says to reveal one’s intentions or identity. To proclaim the righteousness of fearsome and loving God, and the salvation attainable through Christ Jesus are things that should be proclaimed, shouted from the pulpits, platforms, and rooftops. To declare that death has been defeated, and that we are made new in Christ is a truth that can reveal our identity, and alter our intentions.

So as I read those verses of Psalm 71, and then read them again, and then prayed them then and there over my life and my vocation, I was convicted. I was reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to live by his example, which was indeed proclaiming God’s righteousness and mighty acts, proclaiming His wondrous deeds to every generation and all those to come. In one of the books I’m reading (Lioness Arising. Lisa Bevere. Find it. Buy it. Devour it as I have done.) she encourages us to use our circles of influence to share God’s truths and Jesus’s words. While I’m on the platform, every Sunday, worshiping the Lord, and hopefully bringing everyone in that journey alongside me, I have even more opportunity than I allow myself (or at least remember that I have) to actually speak Scripture and truth into the congregation. I have this very site where I share funny quips from my kids and what we ate for dinner last week, but I shouldn’t neglect the possibilities this site provides for the sharing of God’s Word. I have family members, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers that I can come alongside and encourage, pray for/with, and speak truth into. Why should I be scared of being an evangelist? Why should I be nervous to do what Jesus did?

Stir It Up -Finding My Calling as I Go

As I was reading and having some quiet time yesterday afternoon, an image came to me, and I just had to stop and pray about it. I was led to pray for God to “stir up” my calling within me. I haven’t ever had a single moment in my life where I thought, This is it! This is the thing that I’m supposed to do forever! I’ve had many times where I’ve really been enjoying a job or a season or a ministry with which I’ve been involved. But I don’t know that any of those things ever resulted in a clear “Aha!” moment.

However, I do think that I’ve been easing into my calling for years. I love music. I love worship. I love Jesus. I love my husband and my kids. Just recently, I’ve been made aware (through His grace and a little bit of providence) that I love women’s ministry. I’m reading two books right now (Wild and Free by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly, which I’m almost done with, but I just can’t read more than a little bit at a time because I cry a lot, and Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere) that are focused on women, and focused on freedom in Jesus to be who He has called you to be. These books are changing my thoughts about women and ministry, and women’s ministry. I am learning that freedom and wildness is what Jesus wants for us, especially as women, where we can feel so bound by our roles (familial, cultural, etc) and the chains that come with them. The most beautiful thing about us, as women who follow Jesus, is that we are all different. We have things that we’re good at, and not so good at, things we love, and things we don’t like to do as much. We are fierce, whether loudly or quietly. We are called and equipped and FREE to do His will, and that’s an incredible (and overwhelming) feeling. These books, coupled with the Scriptural references within, are truly opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about myself and how Jesus sees me.

So when I felt like He was leading me to pray for a “stirring up” of my calling, I pictured it this way: there are lots of pieces of me – things that I’m good at, things I love, and spheres of influence that I have been welcomed into. There are all these ingredients for Him to work with, as He is crafting me into a woman of His own design and His own purpose. What will it all hold for me? I don’t know yet. But I am praying now more than ever that I will be cognizant of His call, sensitive to His voice, and willing to go wherever it is He would have me go. And isn’t it usually true that it’s going to be uncomfortable along the way? I’ve been praying about that, too.

You see, I have had this idea about what I should be doing with my church job, my blog, my family, my friends. I felt like I had found a good niche with all of these things. But I’m learning that it can grow stale if I don’t listen to what He is telling me. (Disclaimer: I’ve not been unhappy in any of these situations. I’m just learning to grow in them instead of stagnate.) I truly do want Him to stir up a calling. I want Him to take all the ingredients of which I am made, and have Him stir it up into something for His good.

So let it be, Lord. Stir it up within me. Make me into a wild, fierce woman for Your kingdom.

His Gentle, Firm Call

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus


Through most of the year, my Thursdays are hectic. They are involved. They are also worshipful, filled with women I love, and full of inspirational teaching, meaningful connections, encouragement to last me days. I pack my rambunctious preschoolers into the car at what feels like zero dark thirty. I bring breakfast and toys to keep them occupied until their school starts, 30 minutes after my work does. I plan all week, sending emails, choosing songs, communicating with leadership, and practicing my instrument. I am thoughtful and prayerful about Thursdays as often as I can be.
Each week, I lead musical worship and do behind-the-scenes tech work for a women’s ministry at my church. It’s a part of my job I didn’t realize I’d be doing until I jumped in. My scared, insecure, and unwilling self simply said “yes” to my pastors when I started my service to this ministry two years ago. I’ll be honest: when it began, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I didn’t know the people involved very well, and technology often makes me a nervous wreck (read: it doesn’t always work for me). I felt unenthusiastic and under-qualified for the ministry, being one of the youngest women involved, and not having led many services on my own yet. But y’all, the Lord knew what He was doing when He threw me into the fray anyway. His call to do the work, this very specific work, was gentle but firm.

Many mornings, there were (and still sometimes are) problems I couldn’t solve without help, and questions I deterred with a weary, “I don’t know.” But the Lord has been faithful, and grown not only my devotion to and love for the ministry, but also given me new friends and more confidence. He has softened my heart to the new duties. He has blessedly grown the worship team within the ministry. In short, I have seen Him SHOW UP. He is there each week, preparing the room, the team, and the atmosphere to change women’s hearts towards Him. He draws us to Himself through each detail of the morning, and we never leave discouraged.

You may think you’re being called to something that isn’t a good fit. You might be confused, uncertain, or even refusing to go where He’s leading you. But I’m here to tell you, His plan is so much better than yours. He will equip you and help you grow into the role that He’s got for you (Hebrews 13:21). He is FOR YOU, and therefore no one can be against you (Romans 8:31). He would never lead you somewhere you shouldn’t go, even if it’s somewhere that’s hard. Submit to His plan – I promise it will be great.

Hear It Differently

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Have you ever listened to a song you’ve heard a thousand times before (you know the ones: they’re on the radio, friends hum them while they work, and your kids even sing a phrase or two here and there), but one time when you’re listening, you think, “Wow! I’ve never paid attention to those words before! Has that always been the line?”

That happened to me this past Sunday. To be more specific, it happened to me several times. You see, I’m a worship leader. And the set that was planned for my service that morning was one full of trusty favorites. Several of them I’d been singing for years, one is a newer song I’ve sung at one service or another every week since Christmas, and the set also included one song I helped write (I wrote a bit about that here). But all of a sudden, these songs were falling on fresh ears. Thankfully, it wasn’t in a “forgot all the words” sort of way, but a “never thought about it that way before” sort of way.

For example, we sang Paul Baloche’s arrangement of the hymn “How Great Thou Art”. While it’s a hymn that I grew up singing, and I know almost every word by heart, for some reason, I heard the words anew. This verse: And when I think that God His Son not sparing/sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in/ that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing/He bled and died to take away my sin. I mean, that’s crazy! God sent His very Son to take our sins. Jesus gladly bore them for us on the cross, because he knew it would save us. Who wouldn’t sing about that?

Or in Hillsong’s “Oceans”, it was this part in the bridge: Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander/and my faith will be made stronger/in the presence of my Savior. Being in the presence of my Savior will be what strengthens my faith. I could have that reminder again and again, and it would convict me every time. Oh, you of little faith, enter into His presence, and that little faith will grow.

I have this same experience reading the Bible a lot. I’ll flip through pages, and read something I’ve read a hundred times before. But every time, I read it differently. Maybe it’s that my perspective has shifted, due to life circumstances. Maybe it’s that the Lord is showing me something new about a particular passage. Maybe it immediately leads me to think of a friend who needs to hear those exact words. Whatever it is, when I allow myself to be open to hearing something new, the Lord almost always gifts me that very thing: a new light shining through an old passage. Or through the music I think I know like the back of my hand: I notice a word or phrase that will change the entire song and how it speaks to my heart.

So here’s the hard part, the part it’s easy to talk about but not as easy to do. Get rid of those pre-conceived notions. Lose the filter through which you might be tempted to see. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart. Don’t be afraid of what you might hear; it might just be the thing that changes your mind.

A New Song

  
I am a musician. I sing, I play, I improvise, and I worship.

But I’ve never fashioned myself a songwriter. I’m not much into creating “something from nothing” in that respect. If you give me some bones, I can arrange them and add to them and make something. I can take a good hook and a topic, and do a little from there. But as for writing a great riff, or creating a chorus without any building blocks given to me, I just wouldn’t be able to do it. (Which is funny, right? Because I’m a musician, and I’m a writer.)

I got the opportunity recently to collaborate on an original tune with the worship pastor at my church. It was surprisingly fun for me, and I contributed more than I thought I would. I am surprised and pleased to say I helped with some phrasing and several word choices. But still, it was eye-opening for me to even think I could help in the process, much less actually write a song. I have now entered into the world of songwriting, whether I like it or not.

My only problem is this: songwriters have a certain something about them. And on the whole, I don’t really fit into that something very well. I’m just not hipster enough (no hate, I promise!), or introspective enough. Or maybe I’m too loud and crazy – because, let’s be honest, I am. But the Lord is breaking down walls of things I think I cannot do, and opening my eyes to His purpose, and aligning me with it. His way are not my ways; they are higher and better. So here I am, waiting for a riff, a melody, a perfect phrase to build a song around. I’m searching, reading my Bible, praying for revelation of what my song should be. It’s new territory for me. I’m uncomfortable here, feeling pressure to be creative in a different – and challenging – way. I’m hard-pressed to spend time on it, because I am afraid I will fail. But I’m just as afraid I’ll succeed, and someone will cram me into the “songwriter box” that I’ve built, all on my own.

You see, I identify with many different titles. For instance, the list can begin with woman, mother, daughter, wife, and friend. It can continue with Christian, worship leader, musician, writer, feminist, and foodie. But it’s never really included songwriter, composer, or anything of the like. But I’m feeling the push in that direction. Opportunities are arising for me to try my hand at it, to make it my own, and to redefine what “being a songwriter” means to me, now that I’m flirting with the line to becoming one. And that, my friends, scares me. So here I go, branching out into new territory, breaking the mold in which I’ve put myself. I’ll let you know how it goes.