Music to move our spirits

Music to move our spirits

When I’m spiritually dry and worn out, I turn to worship music. Even though I am all about Bible study and journaling, sometimes I just can’t get unstuck. In these times I find that a little humility (I can’t manufacture the desire to praise you God, you have to do this for me!) plus a little variety is the key to get back on track again.

I wanted to share six of my favorite worship songs with you this week. Each one is incredibly special and has moved me to praise and prayer (and tears) at different points of my journey with Jesus. I pray that these songs might inspire you to praise and prayer too, as the Spirit leads.

5 Undeniable Reasons To Start Bible Journaling

5 Undeniable Reasons To Start Bible Journaling
Reading the Bible shouldn’t be a fad diet we quit in 2 weeks. Nor should it be another box on my to-do list. It’s about relationship and personal growth. No time table or deadlines; one day at a time, moment by moment I’m learning to walk God’s joy-lined path.
Through journaling I can take my tangled-up thoughts, feelings, and realities and realign them on the page according to God’s truth. Journaling is the ability to take scripture and make it meaningful and relevant in your life. It’s great if I hear people say that the Word is living and active, but without application I’ll never personally know that for myself. In my journal I can literally write TO God. Ask Him questions, argue with him, argue with myself, be silly, stupid, cranky, spoiled and selfish. No matter how it goes, He’s still God and I’m on my knees.
Everyone learns and responds to scripture differently. I prefer to write down my thoughts in the large plain Moleskine notebooks for my journaling. The plain pages give me the freedom to doodle and write however I want. Bible decorating is another thing that is getting tons of attention lately. In the same way that adult coloring books have been all the rage for relaxation, you can ponder the scriptures while decorating it to your heart’s content. Go ahead, give yourself an excuse to go shopping for some new art supplies. 😃 Just look what people are creating.
Have you ever tried journaling through the Bible? I think everyone ought to give it a try at least once. But if you’re still not convinced, here are 5 undeniable reasons to start journaling:
  1. Journaling helps information stick. Ever notice how a new idea tends to “pop up” everywhere? When you engage with scripture, your mind will naturally recognize what you are learning in everyday situations. Better decisions come from an informed conscience.  Be a doer of the Word not just a hearer(James 1:22)
  2. Journaling allows us to discover for ourselves. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. As well meaning as pastors and bloggers are, we are human! Don’t be a victim of bad theology – make sure you know what you believe. Journaling will help you to look closely at the source and know what you believe. (Acts 11:17)
  3. Journaling helps us apply God’s word. The word is living and active and meant to change us from the inside out.Of what use will the Bible be if you read but immediately forget what it says? (James 1:23) Make the connection by writing it down and owning it.
  4. Journaling is better than cramming. Studies show that we learn best in little spurts. A little bit of journaling (studying) will go a long way. Remember, there’s no heavenly scantron to look forward to. This is real life and the fruit of our discoveries is relevant right now. Inaccurate recall of the scriptures can cause us to operate under false wisdom and may even lead others astray. (Galatians 5:7-12) Not good.
  5. Journaling can be whatever you need it to be. Maybe you want to study a specific verse or even a whole book of the bible. Write your thoughts and prayers as your go verse-by-verse. Had a hard day and need to vent? Write about it and listen for God’s response in the scripture. Need to forgive someone but it’s too hard? Look up verses related to “forgiveness” and ponder them in writing. There is no wrong way to journal. It’s a perfectly wonderful way to invite God into your “here and now”.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have I sufficiently inspired you to try  journaling for yourself?

Want to see more? Let me know on the Tea & Testimony Facebook page and share what you have created!

Thanks for reading, Molly

 

My Adovah

My Adovah

Friends,

<This article> has brought much needed breath and water into the parched desert of my calling. You may or may not have noticed my absence since May, which was unplanned and honestly, painful. Don’t worry, I’m alright. The kind of pain I mean is the kind of artistic pain that comes with being unable to produce.

Any artist  knows that when the block appears or inspiration runs dry we live in a constant world of – I need to be busy, but can’t. We are listless, unquenched, dry, like a dark night of the writer’s soul.

That I don’t write when this darkness overcomes, is my fault. This concept of Adovah has turned the table on my perspective. “Your adovah, your work, your art, and you are liberated from the bondage of praise power people-pleasing… Striving makes us slaves”

Indeed, I confess, that it was exactly striving that caused me to become exhuasted and frustrated. I began PD as an upside down blogger, as a gift to God first and encouragement second to anyone who needed it. I lost my way amongst comparisons, impractical great ideas and schedules that were too aggressive.

When I fell, I fell hard because my heart was no longer pure. Blog ratings, traffic had seeped into the mix, making it difficult to tell apart service and striving.

And yet, as always out God is merciful and faithful to continue his call on me to keep writing, even as days, weeks, months have gone by without so much as a journal entry, he knew what I needed because I’m beginning to suspect that it’s not actually writing I’ve been needing to do, but the sanctifying work of Adovah – my service, my art, my worship.

Seeking a church family

Seeking a church family

I’ve been struggling with this concept in my personal life lately. My husband and I recently moved to a new town with new churches and an entire new community. We have not yet settled on a place to attend. We are church-homeless.

Not that we expect the church we decide to call home to be perfect. We aren’t that naive. Instead, we search for the particular features that make us feel at home. Style of preaching. Good music. Professional sound team. Enough people our age.

But when I read Jen’s heartfelt exhortation to us this morning, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m searching for things that make me feel outwardly comfortable and proud to attend a certain place. I never thought about choosing the right kind of people.

They love each other, they love the staff, they love the city, and they love God.

That’s who I should be searching for. After all, the church is only a group of people. People aren’t attractive fliers, preachers, music, or donuts. And I want to make my church home a place where those people love Jesus more than anything else.

We are still on our search. (Please pray for us!)

I, like all of you, am going to an imperfect church this morning. I have failed it in innumerable ways, and I’ve felt the sting of disappointment there too. Church is hard.

But every single Sunday, every one, I find Jesus there. I am renewed in tiny or even enormous ways. But largely, when I look around the room, I see the faces of people that are so good, so courageous, so committed and loving, I cannot imagine doing life without them. They are, quite simply, the best people I know. The struggles and addictions and losses they have overcome would flatten you – it’s just a little middle school cafeteria but it is full of bravery. And they love well. They love each other, they love the staff, they love the city, and they love God.

That’s enough.

Folks, my prayer for you this morning is that you find your simple church where Jesus is lifted high and people are loved, and plant there with all your might. Your church will be so imperfect. SO. The staff and leaders will not magically make life fulfilling. People will let you down (and you them). Stuff will go sideways and have to be righted. There will be hard conversations and honest confessions and apologies and lots of forgiveness, but the presence of these things doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. It means you are building a church with human people and you love them too much to let it all slip through your fingers without fighting for unity.

May you find grace for your church today. May you find your people and put up a parking lot. And I hope that today, or maybe someday, you’ll look around the room like I do and marvel at what beautiful, wonderful people you are surrounded with, grateful that you get to love God and love each other and love people together, imperfectly.

-Jen Hatmaker, originally posted on Facebook

Seeking God: My full attention

Seeking God: My full attention

Reading: Psalm 33:1-12

Christ: Spend some time with me today. Just for a moment put all your worries and cares in a jar on the shelf and focus on Me. I merely spoke and the heavens were created. I breathed and the stars were born. Do you realize then, that if I can do these things, I could surely love you better thank your tiny mind can imagine? Be still with me today and get to know me. For time is what all relationships need.

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love..jpg

Think: What kind of time do I spend with Jesus? Distracted time, worried time, clock-watching time. How can I make the most of the small quiet time I have cut out for myself, instead of whiling it away by distractions of daily life? Perhaps this is a warning that I’m trusting in the busyness of life to make me feel accomplished. But my busyness doesn’t save me, Jesus does.

Pray: Dear Jesus, Thank you for loving to spend time with us. Thank you for your tender care for all our daily hurdles. Sometimes I put more trust in the things that I do for you, than in you yourself. Help me to recognize this as it’s happening and give me the strength and reserve to flip that trust over to you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I rest in you. Let me sing a new song to you with my life today and seek to find your unfailing love. Amen.

Seeking God: Keep a soft heart

Seeking God: Keep a soft heart

Reading: Psalm 95:1-7, Isaiah 40:11

Christ: Remember that I am your place of rest and your shelter of comfort. The cares of the world are stressful and not at all aligned with the original purpose for which you were made. The symptom of a hardened heart appears when you try to make a shelter of safety for yourself. I cannot do my work or you if your heart is hardened against me.

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Think: “The seed sown on the rock never brought any fruit to perfection” – Matthew Henry. When I lie, cheat, steal, I am hardening my heart against God’s heart for me. I may justify my choice, or ignore it altogether but it is still sin.

Pray: Dear Lord, let us keep the ground of our hearts as fertile soil which grows the seed of faith to perfection in the dew of your grace. Help me to notice the moment my heart refuses to receive your wisdom. Holy Spirit, make clear to me the state of my heart so that I may never miss out on the gentle leading of Jesus.


 

Seeking God: Running the race

Seeking God: Running the race

Read: Psalm 18:1-19, Hebrews 12:1-2

Christ: Please never doubt that I hear your prayers. Every time you incline your heart to Me in prayer and praise, do it with a sure belief that I will answer you. Do not be discouraged by my timing. Recall how limited your reach of mind is, and how unlimited is Mine. Do not fear or be downhearted when something appears to go downhill, for I have already won.

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Think: God does not leave us alone with our faith. It is like an engine which is only powered by His grace and He never stops filling it up for us. Not only that, we are not alone to run the road of endurance all by ourselves; by fixing our eyes on Jesus, we ever strive as a family together toward His will. Who are the people that run alongside me in our journeys of faith? How can I cheer them on today?

Pray: Jesus, thank you for hearing us and being so intimately connected with our struggles at every moment. We want to strip off every unnecessary burden and turn away from every sin in order to follow along the road you have set out for us. For you are my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Amen.


 

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send us feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you!

~The PD Team

Being, Doing, Proving: An #IF:Gathering Reflection

Being, Doing, Proving: An #IF:Gathering Reflection

I’ve been watching the IF:Gathering sessions all day. Speakers, worship, laughs, and a whole lot of TRUTH being spoken through these ladies. If you’re not familiar with Jennie Allen’s ministry, it’s a generation of women coming together to glorify God by equipping and sending disciples into the world to make more. It’s an awesome ministry and I so wish that I was there this weekend.

Actually… Okay, this is embarrassing. But we’re friends so I can tell you, right?

I wish I was there this weekend. To speak.

I look at these sisters in Christ. These beautiful, incredibly humble and purpose-driven God-fearing women. They are full of passion and intense desire for Jesus. They work hard, they always have something witty and remarkable to say on Instagram, and they all have really nice hair (I mean…). And all the cute shoes we saw today? *Sigh*

Now here come the whispers. The lies come so softly and subtly that if I’m not careful I might actually mistake them for God’s voice. Because that’s what Satan does. He’s a clever manipulator in the worst way. He says:

Look at these women. You could be like that if only you tried a little harder. Got up a little earlier. Took a little more pride in your appearance. You might actually have a real career, a meaningful life. 

 

These last few weeks little else has been on my mind but this blog and my writing projects. I have many grand ideas because I have set my sight on what I want. Yes, the book contracts, the site ratings, the respect and attention. I think, if I can do all that, God will surely be praised because of what he did for me. Plus if I was in with this crowd, I might even get my own pair of cute ankle booties.

Then Jennie Allen said something that made me do a double-take. She said, “We need to pledge to quit doing things FOR God instead of WITH God. Basically, we need to quit being so awesome.”

It was at that exact moment that my eyes were opened. I realized that all these dreams I have for myself, while not bad in and of themselves, were for my glory mostly and a little for god. Probably like 60/40. Or maybe 70/30 if I wasn’t lying.

See, it’s all the Being and Doing and Proving that gets us tangled up in our own fears and failures. It’s all the trying to be so awesome that ironically shuts God out of those same plans. We forget to sit still and be captivated and in awe of the Author and Owner of the universe.

Do you do this too? Run in circles trying to catch up with, or even surpass Him in his greatness? I do for sure. But I’m trying to quit. Clearly, I’m just not cut out to be that awesome.

Let us remember tonight that we are called to rest in his unfailing love. That’s why He’s God and we are not.

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Watch the IF:Gathering here

#IF:Gathering2016 #IF:Local


 

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave a comment below or give feedback at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love to hear from you 🙂

~The PD team

 

 

Is it a sin not to go to church?

Is it a sin not to go to church?

The convenience of a streaming church service is a double-edged sword. Indispensable to those who cannot leave their bed, but a tool of temptation for the devil.

I heard that whisper this morning: Why get up so early? It’s cold and you deserve a break, and who will notice you anyway? Whether you go or stay won’t make a difference. You’re still going to watch the sermon online, it’s not a sin to miss one week…

It got me thinking about why it’s important to go to church. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that it’s an outright sin not to go, nor does the Bible specifically say which day we are to worship.

So why should I go?

Tradition?

To see my friends?

Because Starbucks is on the way and I can get a treat?

Well, what does the Bible say about going to church? There are several reasons from scripture:

To encourage one another:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

To meet with God together:

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

Friendship with other believers:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

To mature in faith:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

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As for whether it’s a sin or not, “sin” is a deliberate rebellion against God. That’s between Creature and Creator. Far be it for me to say yes or no on behalf of someone else, I’ll humbly say that in my case, I believe it would have been considered a sin. The reason being that I understand and agree with the importance of church attendance. As mere laziness, I’d be a hearer only and not a doer of the word. (James 1:22).

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I went anyway. And instead of losing comfort, energy, and time, I unexpectedly gained something even better: peace that my obedience meant something to God. I think he is proud of my response. And I can’t wait to obey again next week.

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How would you answer that question?  Bring the question of church attendance before the throne in prayer and ask God for his wisdom in the matter.

Sunday worship: Are you a dancer or a statue?


raised-hand-during-worshipThere are two kinds of people in the Church – those who dance all around with arms raised to Heaven, and those who stand still awkwardly.

And let’s just get one thing straight — I’m totally awkward!

Although I’d like to defend myself somehow by saying, “I just don’t feel like worshiping that way”, or ” I truly worship in my heart”, I actually learned today that God wants us to worship him both in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). AKA. Internally AND externally.

We are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength. Add to that our whole body.

One of my favorite stories about King David is this one from 2 Samuel chapter 6. After having been stolen for a time, the Ark of the Covenant was finally on its way back to its home in Jerusalem. [The Ark was an ornate chest, designed by God Himself, in which to keep the sacred tablets which contained the 10 commandments. People died on the spot by just touching the Ark with an unclean heart — serious stuff!)

As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window [David’s first wife, daughter of Saul, not a believer]. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

To anyone looking in from the outside of the faith, David was making a complete fool of himself. Michal thought he was being undignified and she hated him for his enthusiasm. When he got him, she scolded him for his display:

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

But David didn’t care – he was so concentrated on God’s mightiness and love, he couldn’t care less about how the world was seeing him. He replied:

“It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

When I’m worshiping, I often don’t “go all out” in my worship style, simply because I’m only thinking of what others are going to say behind my back. It’s time to decide who we are worshiping here: God or man.

God LOVES it when we worship him in our hearts and minds, as well as externally with shouts of joy and loud clanging cymbals. He loves when we clap, dance, bow, kneel, shout, raise our hands. It honors him but it also is good for us. 

Look at Psalm 150, a virtual instruction manual of who, what, why, when, and how to praise and worship God.

1 Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary;

   praise him in his mighty heaven!

2 Praise him for his mighty works;

   praise his unequaled greatness!

3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;

   praise him with the lyre and harp!

4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;

   praise him with strings and flutes!

5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals;

   praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Too many times, our relationship with him is about what he does for me only – God help me, save me, please work a miracle for me. We forget that it’s a love relationship and it has to go 2 ways. Psalm 57 says “My heart O God is steadfast. I will sing, awake my soul…” We are danger when our souls go to sleep.

Worship is what wakes us up! He sees us asleep and grabs our hands to lead us to his wonderful plans and future for us. God tells us not to look back – take the step of faith and I’ll protect you, I’ll give you grace, come with me. How can we not worship a God so great?

In worship and awe,

Molly

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