My word for this year is FLOURISH. If you’d seen my last seven months, you would not have picked this one out for me. ((Ok to have an honest conversation with some worship women??)) Life came at us pretty hard this year. Parts of it I handled with grace but most of it struck me at the knees and was determined to take me out. I’ve battled with crushing depression for most of the last year and now as I’m beginning to climb out and claim victory over it all, I’m seeing that sometimes things have to be buried deep in order for them to properly grow.
Isaiah 43:19 “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Even when I couldn’t see it, He was preparing those deep places in me to have a time of winter so that now they could fight their way back through the spring soil and burst into life for a new season, for new purposes. To flourish.
I’m claiming all the things for this new year and every day watching God turn ‘nothing beautiful can come from this’ into ‘something beautiful is coming indeed’.
Hey - can I tell you something? You have a really beautiful voice.
I don’t mean your singing voice - although you probably do have a stellar voice - even if it’s only utilized in the shower or top-of-your-lungs car karaoke. You go girl. I mean the voice that God has put in you. The voice to call out “more” in your sister-friend. The voice to pray for your children. The voice to encourage your husband. That voice to speak up against social injustice and tell others about God’s purposes. It’s so beautiful. And here’s the deal - we as the kingdom of God women - we need you to use your voice. I know, maybe you’ve been told things along the way that make you want to keep that beautiful sound all to yourself: that you don’t matter, that your opinions are small, or maybe when you tried to use your voice, it wanted to hide in the corner instead of stand center stage. Girl - sometimes you just have to sing it scared. Sometimes it might look like a quiet determined time of prayer. Sometimes it might be a full on worship throw-down with those in your small group or campus. Either way, you have a beautiful voice and it’s for now and for such a time as this you were created to use it. You have something to say with your life and your perspective is important. The legacy you are leaving is your voice and it’s time to fully show up for your own life and sing.your.life.song. So many other people are desperate for the lyrics of your life and to hear you sing it in only the way you can. Ladies, it’s time to use your big girl voice and stick your neck out for one another. To stand beside your sister and war-worship. To gently, humbly encourage those around you. You are valuable and the world needs your version of awesome. Your voice is so beautiful.
Come on girl. Sing it out with me. Use that big girl voice God put in your lungs. We need you to use your beautiful voice and fully become that song that we all want you to sing.
Calling all you church people....
Hey! I’m talking to you!
All you worship-singing-music-playing wonders - I see you preparing and practicing for weeks and tweaking your sets and memorizing all the music. I see you.
All you production-crafting-lighting-mastering-sound-engineering-lyric-projecting wonders - I see you setting up all the elements so if done just right you won’t be noticed at all. I see you.
All you graphic-crafting-video-producing-written-text-website-creating wonders - I see you slaving over computers and burning the midnight oil to meet the deadlines for all the last minute changes. I see you.
All you facility-preparing-aesthetic-beautifying-wonders - I see you setting out chairs and cleaning and painting and decorating because it matters. I see you.
All you volunteering-ninja-logistic-people-moving-car-parking wonders - I see you giving of your time so many people will have an incredible first experience. I see you.
All you pastoral-speaking-shepherding-guiding wonders - I see you crafting and redrafting your message and in awe of all God has done and what He will do again. I see you.
All you children-wrangling-lesson-planning-kid-influencing wonders - I see you cutting and pasting and making merry for the little ones to have the best experience possible. I see you.
All you home-fires-burning husbands and wives of ministry wonders - I see you keeping all the schedules and keeping dinner hot and shuffling the kids for the sake of the kingdom. I see you.
and all you congregation-coming-Christmas-finest-dressing wonders - I see you keeping traditions and singing with Joy on your lips and taking the pictures and making the effort to get everyone in the car. I see you.
I just wanted to say - thank you. Thank you for all of it. You are seen and abundantly appreciated. From my heart to you church people - big or small - far and near - as you make an eternal impact in the Kingdom in these days…. whether you started services last week or have just one late tomorrow night. Thank you.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
Today it fell off the table and broke into a million pieces.
I could feel it rising in me. SERIOUSLY??? Of all peices to break in this nativity set... the baby JESUS!!!???
It certainly wasn't an expensive trinket but it was one I had grown fond of over the years. I started looking for super glue and ANALYZING all the pieces to see if repair was on the horizon. Attempt one I Glued my fingers together. Attempt two I couldn't make the pieces fit. Attempt three, with glue stained fingerprints, I set the ceramic piece upright with a gaping hole in the back. Maybe?? (crumble...). Nope... that's not going to be strong enough to hold up under it's own weight. Time for hot glue. No that's too thick. I start looking for options to make this thing work. I'm just so wanting to help all the pieces fit back together. I just want it to be the way it was - to look right. Come on Jesus - hold it together!!
Isn't that it? Sometimes are we just desperate for Jesus to hold it all together? The holidays accentuate the fact that sometimes the pieces just don't fit all back together nicely. We take our holiday smiles out of the box once a year, dust them off and hope they polish up nicely on THE shelf for the month so we can quietly stuff it back in paper for the next eleven. We position them purposely so that no one sees the gaping hole in THE back or notices the layers of glue in the cracks.
Sometimes a broken Jesus is just what we need. We need a cracked and broken picture to remind us that we are not alone. Jesus came to a cracked and broken world that was COMPLETELY falling apart at the seams and offered to stretch his arms out and break himself for us so he could hold it all TOGETHER.
Once we've been broken, things don't Go back together quite the same. Sure our lives can heal but there is always a scar - hidden or exposed - that reminds us of the break. Jesus has them too. He sees your name inscribed on his hands every day.
It's ok to let your breaks show. It's ok not to hide the cracks and the glue and the holes. Let him use all of that for the benefit of the kingdom and to remind us of his great love for us.
I MAINTAIN. I'D RATHER BE RANSACKED AND HAVE HIM PUT ME IN SHAMBLES FOR MY GOOD AND TO EXPERIENCE HIS FULLNESS THAN TO BE SPARKLY CLEAN IN THE UNEXCEPTIONAL.
This Christmas, I'm proudly putting my precious broken jesus figure on display. While he remains perfect, this trinket reminds me that even in the Cracks of my world, he is God with us - Emmanuel. Come Lord Jesus, Hold us all together.
FROM A MESSAGE GIVEN AT SEACOAST CHURCH NOVEMBER 18. 2017
I worship because it is my job.
it is my job.......but it is also your job.
I worship because it was what I was created to do ....and what you were created to do.
Long before I was a part of the worship ministry at Seacoast in a staff capacity, I knew worship was going to be a foundational part of my life. I remember in the early 90s attending a worship conference where several people that I did not know began to pray over me and call things out in my life that were only spoken between me and the Lord. As I heard words like “leader” and “Pastor” and “anointing for worship” being prayed over me - It caused a courage to rise up in me to actually live out what I already knew in my heart that I was created to do.
Although I do sense His joy when I am leading worship and singing, I also have learned to sense His presence as I have worshipped in other ways that have nothing to do with songs or lyrics or this platform: things like changing my babies diapers, doing a load of laundry, teaching in a first grade classroom, the day to day whatever is in my hand moments. I’ve been on a little journey learning that it’s all worship - and if I let Him use it - all the normal can express gratitude for a life He’s given me as I give it back to him.
I’m going to take you to the beginning at the creation account to a passage in Genesis that helped me understand worship off the platform and understand why I know We are all created to worship.
Genesis 2:7 “one day the Eternal God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.” Every day since that moment, man has been breathing back to God the breath He breathed in us. Our very living is meant to be an act of worship.
We sing a song at Seacoast where the chorus says, “it’s your breath in our lungs, so - we pour our our praise to you only”. The key word there is that tiny word “So”. It means we have to respond.
God breathed into us - so - our response is spending all the breaths of our lives after the first breathing back to the one who Created it.
Romans 12:1 in the message puts it like this “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” There is no greater way we can glorify the Lord (which is just a fancy way to say make bigger) than to do the very thing he created us to do - worship him with our lives. In doing so - we’re showing a world that needs him desperately what he looks like when we choose to obey him in the way we were created - to worship. To breathe back.
1 Cor 12 Paul talks about how the physical body works and how that compares to us as believers. That just as a physical body needs and eye and a hand an ear and it can’t be a body full of elbows only, the body of Christ also needs all the parts (that’s us) to fulfill God’s kingdom here on earth. v 18 reads “This is where God comes in. God has meticulously put this body together; He places each part to perform the exact function He wanted”.
There are 8 billion people on earth. And He sees your heart 8 billion different ways. Your specific arrangement of gifts+talents+expression of them (not to mention your DNA) is completely unique to you on the planet at this time. No one can worship and make God bigger in the world like YOU can! And no one can worship and make God bigger in the world FOR you! only You can worship God the way You can.
According to V. 18, if you don’t use those gifts that He’s given you to glorify Him, it’s as if there is a “gap” in the kingdom where those gifts should be expressed.
It’s His breath in MY lungs and it’s my job to breathe it back to him, in only the way I can.
Backing up, v7 says “each believer has received a gift that manifests the Spirits power and presence. That gift is given for the good of the whole community.”
It’s actually our responsibility as well as a Kingdom NEED for us to operate and utilize all our gifts for the Kingdom to benefit not me, but the rest of the Kingdom - each other.
So - if that’s the case, we have absolutely no need to compare ourselves to anyone! Isn’t that incredible?! All we have to do is breathe our our lives back as worship in only the way we can and have been created to! It’s the ultimate “you be you” in the best way possible!
So practically what does that look like? In your work - you are created to worship with each creative idea or plan. Students - you are created to worship as you study and learn. Parents - you are created to worship as you guide your children and family. Seacoast - you were created to worship right here when we gather with a holy roar that shows the world we still have breath.
Let’s join those who for thousands of years have breathed back their lives - seen and unseen - in grateful response to their creator - and fulfill our purpose to worship. It’s His breath in our lungs - so how are you going to breathe it back?
DAY IN. DAY OUT. REPETITION.
THE DAILY HABITS OF FAITHFULNESS ARE WHERE THE SURRENDER IS SEALED. IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, THE CHOICE FOR JESUS WAS DIFFICULT, BUT NOT ONE HE HADN'T MADE BEFORE. HE WAS ACCUSTOMED TO REGULARLY BOWING HIS AGENDA TO HIS FATHER. WHEN THE MOMENT CAME TO EITHER HIGH TAIL AND RUN TO THE HILLS OR STEP INTO ALIGNMENT WITH SACRIFICIAL SURRENDER, HIS TRACK RECORD OF OBEDIENCE WAS AS UNBLEMISHED AS HIS HEART. THE CHOICE FOR YOU WAS NOT EASY, BUT IT WAS SIMPLE. JESUS DID THE SAME THING THAT HE HAD DONE EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE. HE SAID YES. YES TO THE HEART OF HIS FATHER. YES TO LOVING HEART, SOUL, MIND AND STRENGTH. A PREMEDITATED, WILLFUL, CONSCIOUS YES THAT STARTED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.
PATTERNS. ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER DILIGENCE. Ordinary compliance.
That's where the obedience actually happens. It rarely is in the massive moments, typically that's just courage dressed up. It's the Daily routine of doing the hard thing. The no quit. The early morning discipline. The late night Fervor. That's where Obedience looks like submission. That's where faith is worked out and the Lord crafts the heart. That where the steel enters your spine and CALLUSES form on your knees. that's Where the deep-rooted decisions are made.
When we are routinely accustomed to abandon our lives to JEsus in the very small - over and over AND over - the relinquish in the substantial is simply muscle memory.
Don't disregard the daily. There are miracles waiting for you in the mundane.
The wilderness doesn't always look the way you think it will.
Sometimes it is completely obvious... you see it over THE horizon and you know, yep. It's coming. you steel yourself and walk right in to the necessary. Other times the wilderness arrives at your doorstep. BAM. And you're in. Most often, however, the Days of Desert come slowly. You're walking along in life minding your own business and one grain of sand at a time, the desert Takes up residence in your heart. One Day you Wake up and you rub your bone dry eyes and realize, you're in the middle of the desert and you don't remember the path that brought you There.
I wonder if the children of israel felt that way? Even in their complaining, do you think as they wandered they asked themselves in private moments 'How did we get here - really? How did we get to the place where we were so excited to be liberated and now we can't stop complaining?' Had they not seen God be faithful? Had they not sensed his rescue? Had they not experienced miracles?
Are they not so different from us?
We are liberated from our own egypts and within ear shot of the oppression, we are complaining in the desert, wandering in the wilderness unaware of how the journey unfolded. We find ourselves trying to be the provider - trying to fix all the things - instead of operating in a sober reliance on the one who Actually brought us there.
Be very clear. He hasn't left us, he's leading us there.
The Wilderness is God's Classroom. There is always discipline in the dust.
The hebrew name for the book of numbers is "in the Wilderness". It's full of specifics of how things should be ordered and life should happen but also a story of how things go awry. ultimately, it's also a tale of you and me. an aptly named story of the history that still encamps in our veins: The discounted details and the slow Drift. Over and OVer.
Don't DESPISE the Desert. He's guiding us in - sometimes quite abruptly for our own good. And although it feels like a whirlwind of wander, there is oasis and a way out at the end. Every time.
Rushing the journey cheats us of being able to carry the Earth with us on our feet as we journey to the high places - Dust we will want to remember as a monument to the Moment he took us in.....
....and When he brought us out.
"Leave this cave, and go stand on the mountainside in My presence. The Eternal passed by him. The mighty Wind Separated the mountains and crumbled every stone before the eternal. This was not a divine wind, for the eternal was not within this wind. After THE wind passed through, an earthquake shook the earth. This was not a dicine quake, for the eternal was not within this earthquake. After the earthquake was over, there was a fire. This was not a divine fire, for the Eternal was not within this fire. After the Fire died out, there was nothing but the sound of a calm breeze. And through this breeze a gentle, Quiet voice entered into Elijah's Ears. He covered his face with his cloak and went to the mouth of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” - 1 KINGS 19:11-13
When All hell is breaking loose...What do you listen for?
You're alone. The Torrent of life is threatening to turn your world to rubble. The roar of life's deafening winds nearly knocks you off your feet. The Chaos starts.
Where are you? Why are you doing this to us?
Your earth is shaking. The steady places are no longer. The heat of all that consumes You is scorching Your soul.
Is this your presence? Are you courting me with wind and quake and fire?
Sometimes all the calamity is indeed attention getting. It jolts us into an awareness of how off track we've gotten and he will do anything he can and use all he creates speaks to us to beckon us back to his presence..
Are you Even listening? Do you care what's happening to me?
And Sometimes All the calamity is simply just noise. We glorify the wind and quiake and fire and somehow show contempt for the simplicity of the peacE - as if that could be all it takes. If we can center ourselves in the adversity and wait just wait it out - When the final echo of the pandemonium ceases - there will be a voice. That whisper will be the one that will give us strength to continue. That quiet voice will gently pull us aside as we cover our faces in desperation listen as it says to our hearts, 'Precious one, why are you here?'
What misfortune are you EMBRACING...Wind, Earthquake aNd Fire?
Or can he trust you with his silence?
IF YOU ARE A WOMAN AND YOU ARE IN WORSHIP LEADERSHIP IN ANY CAPACITY, STAND UP.
I HAVE THE HONOR OF LOOKING AFTER THE WORSHIP MINISTRY AT SEACOAST CHURCH. AS IS PAR FOR MOST CHURCHES IN AMERICA, ITS WORSHIP TEAMS ARE COMPRISED MAINLY OF AMAZING, GODLY, TALENTED MEN. I FEEL THAT PART OF MY ROLE IN THIS SEASON IS TO ENCOURAGE THE WOMEN IN OUR MINISTRY AND IN CHURCHES LIKE OURS TO STAND UP RIGHT WHERE GOD HAS PLACED THEM AND TO PUT THEIR PERSONAL STAMP ON THE WORSHIP CULTURE FOR THEIR CHURCH AND WORSHIP TEAMS.
THERE ARE NOT MANY OF US WOMEN WHO HAVE ACCEPTED THE CALL TO LEAD WORSHIP TEAMS OR GROUPS OF TEAMS. IN A WAY, WE ARE LIKE MODERN DAY PIONEERS! THIS IS ALL THE MORE REASON WE NEED TO STAND UP, TOGETHER. IF YOU ARE IN WORSHIP LEADERSHIP IN ANY CAPACITY, I FIRMLY BELIEVE WE NEED TO LEVERAGE THE DRIVING CHARACTERISTIC THAT GOD PUT INSIDE US WOMEN - THAT IS, TO BE RELATIONAL - SO THAT WE CAN DO THIS THING BETTER TOGETHER. IN MANY WAYS, I’M STILL FINDING MY OWN FEET, BUT I’M FINDING STRENGTH AND ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE SISTERS AROUND ME WHO ALSO ARE STANDING ON THE FRONT LINES OF WORSHIP MINISTRY.
SWEET SISTER, GOD HAS DESIGNED YOU FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS AND HAS PUT A SPECIFIC SET OF GIFTS AND TALENTS IN YOUR FINGERS AND LUNGS AND BRAINS. ONLY YOU CAN DO THE WORK THAT HE HAS SPECIFICALLY CREATED FOR YOU TO DO IN YOUR LITTLE CORNER OF THE KINGDOM…BUT YOU NEED TO STAND UP AND DO IT! IF GOD HAS PLACED YOU IN A WORSHIP MINISTRY, HE NEEDS YOU TO BRING EVERY GIFT THAT HE’S PUT IN YOU TO THE WORSHIP TABLE. BRING IT TO THE MEETING. BRING IT TO THE MICROPHONE. BRING IT TO THE CONVERSATION. BRING IT TO THE TOUGH DECISION. BRING IT TO THE FRONT LINE AS YOU LEAD THE CHARGE AND CONVEY THE VISION AND LOVE THE TEAM. STAND UP.
WORSHIP WOMAN, YOU ARE AMAZING AND THE BEAUTIFUL GIFTS GOD HAS PLACED INSIDE OF YOU ARE FOR PURPOSE AND FOR NOW AND ARE NECESSARY IN YOUR LEADERSHIP ROLE. AS A FELLOW SISTER AND CO-LABORER IN MINISTRY, IT’S MY HONOR TO STAND BESIDE YOU. YOU ARE NOT MY COMPETITION, YOU ARE MY COMMADRE AND I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET YOU. LADIES, WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS IMPORTANT. STAND UP IN WORSHIP MINISTRY AND MAKE YOUR MARK IN THE KINGDOM.
Pausing at 16.
There’s a moment in the delivery room where there’s a pause. It’s the seconds that elapse between the “It’s a boy” and the first big cry. I’m pretty sure that’s when it happens. That’s when, as a mother, you hear the sound of your own heart learn to beat outside of your body.
There’s a moment when you send them to Kindergarten where there’s a pause. It’s the seconds that elapse between their tiny hand ungrasping yours and them walking through the door without you. I’m pretty sure that’s when it happens. That’s when, as a mother, you watch the little feet you made carry them into a whole new world.
There’s a moment when you watch them struggle where there’s a pause. It’s the seconds that elapse between the raised voices and teenage sighs and the “I’m sorry’s” and the “we’re gonna make it kiddo”. I’m pretty sure that’s when it happens. That’s when, as a mother, you see the soul you desperately prayed for wrestle with all.the.things. life is throwing at them.
Today I experienced a new one. There’s a moment when they turn 16 where there’s a pause. It’s the seconds that elapse between ‘Good Morning’ and the giving of a smiling, tear streaked ’Happy Birthday, Big Man’. I’m pretty sure that’s when it happens. That’s when, as a mother, you realize that every awesome, awful, funny, painful, beautiful, broken, precious pause up to now has been leading to this one. Has shaped him. Has shaped you. And for a moment, in that pause, those same eyes that opened for the first time 16 years ago, wake to the morning and in some sleepy, strange man-voice say ‘Love you, Mama’.
And that’s when it hits you that all of life’s best moments have happened in the pause.
He will do incredible things. He will become an incredible man. But for today, I’m living in this pause and celebrating all that has come.
Ethan, I’m so proud of who you are becoming in these pauses of your life. You are loved beyond anything you can imagine. Happy Birthday, Big Man…16 is looking good on you.
Tara is Greg's girl, mom to two sons of thunder, a hunger fighter, big dreamer and worship pastor at seacoast church.