Friday, February 29, 2008

February's Highlights

Today is the 29th of February, the special last day that only comes once every four years. I thought I’d highlight a few exceptional events from the last month: Valentine’s Day, the birth of our nephew, and chaperoning a school dance. (Yes, that’s special – it gave us an excuse to get dressed up!)

Valentine’s Day was spent at home, but it was a great night anyway. It’s my fault that we didn’t go out: I can’t stand all the people who are trying to get a table and dinner on February 14th!

Doesn't the meal I made look wonderful? Actually, I can't take all the credit. Robby barbequed the steak for me.

On February 6th, baby Nathan was born to Jeff and Deb, our brother- and sister-in-law. We are so excited to finally get to meet him in three weeks! Here he is looking adorable
in his little bear robe. So sweet!

John and Kelly, Robby and I chaperoned Winter Formal for our high school. It doesn't seem like that long ago, we were actually attending formals. It was really a pleasant night: the students were well-behaved, the food was great, and it was fun having a reason to get all dressed up. Here, the four of us enjoyed a great dinner, and the dessert was my favorite: creme brulee!

Kelly and I pose for a picture in our borrowed black dresses.

I borrowed Carly's prom dress and shoes, so I know I was in style. And isn't my husband handsome? This was the first time he's worn a tux since our wedding!

February was definetely a month of love: we love our new baby nephew, we love our wonderful friends the deGrassie's, and we love being married!

Hope March is just as great!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Worship of God

This past weekend, Robby and I, along with the bass player at our church and another friend, attended the WorshipCentral conference at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa. It was a "brilliant" and "fantastic" weekend - to borrow the great adjectives Tim Hughes continually used throughout the two days. Tim Hughes is a well-known song-writer ("Here I am to Worship") and worship leader from the UK, and he, along with his team and the Rock Harbor team, put together an amazing and encouraging weekend for worship leaders, worship band members, and worshipers.

To help me remember and continue to process much of what we learned, I thought that this week, I would write about the different aspects that impacted from the conference. The first night was taught by Tim Hughes and Al Gordon, and to set the stage for the weekend, they simply addressed the question of "What is Worship?" Here is a somewhat choppy outline of their main points.

Tim Hughes and Al Gordon: "What is Worship?"

1. C: Centered on Christ
I think we have all heard (and probably even said) a more self-centered response to a time of worship at church, something like "I really enjoyed the worship" or "I just love that song." Using the beautiful scene described in Revelation 4, Tim reminded us of the worship described in Heaven, where the center of it all is the throne. This was brought up again later by another speaker who pointed out the concentric circles described in Revelation, all of them directed toward and worshiping He who is at the center.

2. H: Holy Spirit Led
There are two ways to lead worship, one by initiation and one by response. The best way to lead worship is as a response. So, what does it mean to be led by the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see Jesus. This ability to see, know, and love Jesus is kindled within us by the Holy Spirit.

I wish I could effectively put into words how much this was central to all that the speakers and worship leaders taught us this weekend. This, more than anything, caused me to really search my own heart and look at how I worship and how we lead worship. Christ pointed out the truth of this to the Samaritan woman in John 4: "True worshipers worship in spirit and truth." We cannot worship God without the Spirit, for He enables us to do so. I'll have to think more and write more of this later this week.

3. R: Revealing the Father
The incredible thing about God is long before we sing to God, he sings over us. Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. I love how Al put this: the "scandal of all history" is that before we ever loved God, he loved us. We are loved by God, and worship should reveal the Father.

4. I: Intimate
John the Baptist really was the greatest example of having a worship that is intimate, revealed by what he said about Christ and himself and their relationship (Jn 3:28-30). He said that Christ is the bridegroom, and he is the friend of the bridegroom who is filled with joy at the bridegroom's voice. John knew Christ needed to be glorified - "become greater" - and he himself needed to become less. In John stating that he needed to become less, he acknowledged the necessity and greatness of Christ. Intimacy is not merely saying we love Christ, but realizing that we depend on him. Al and Tim pointed out that the role of the worship leader is to be a groomsman for Christ, allowing that intimacy between Christ and his church.

5. S: Sensitive
Worship and the worship leader must be sensitive to the places at which people are. Many people are struggling, and therefore the worship leader needs to be sensitive to their needs. Jesus, after all, was very comfortable with people's "mess" - and we must be, too. In fact, bringing our sorrows before God is a sign of trust. Lament, then, is a necessary and appropriate aspect of worship, and the worship leader must allow time for that.

6. T: Transforming
Worship has the power to transform people's lives, and this is the real remarkable thing: It has the power not only to transform our lives but transform the lives of people outside. The primary role of worship is of course to worship and glorify God; but a secondary role is service, understanding that our worship of God affects and serves other people. Worship of God -- by its very nature -- is transforming.

They told the story of a pastor who was ministering to people in a hospital and was led to a room that had 37 severely mentally ill people. He did not know how he was going to even talk to them, let alone witness and minister to them. The first visit was rocky: he tried to talk to them, but there was no response. In fact, the entire scene was grotesque, as many of them had no control over their body. At his wits end, the pastor went into the middle of the room, got on his knees, and began singing "Jesus Loves Me." Nothing happened, and he went home wondering what he was going to do with this. The next week, he did the same week, and the third week he just skipped the attempted introductions and went straight to his knees to sing. That particular week, as he was singing, a woman slowly made her way to him, got on her knees, and joined him in worship. Week after week he did this, and slowly, others began to join him. After a year, nearly every person in there had joined him in the worship of God, and soon many of them became Christians, were able to exit the hospital, and many began to serve in his church.

The point of the story is that worship of God should -- and does -- affect and transform people.

Perhaps much of what Al and Tim said that first night was not brand new to me, but it was a reminder and an affirmation of the importance of worship, true, Holy Spirit led, correct worship. God is an awesome God, worthy of all praise and worship! May you and I be true worshipers of God today.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Uncle Robby and Auntie Candace

Robby and I have officially become an uncle and an aunt. On Wednesday, February 6, Jeff and Deb's baby boy entered the outside world - about two weeks early. The call came as quite a surprise, but what an exciting surprise. Unfortunately, because Jeff and Deb live in Arizona, we can't go see them yet, but as soon as we are able, we will venture to AZ and meet our little nephew Nathan Alan.

Both Rob and I were thinking how surreal something like this is. In a neighboring state exists a brand new boy whose life we will be very part of in a very special way. Even though we believe this to be true, it's difficult to fully comprehend this until we see and know him. Could this somehow be true of spiritual things, as well?

As soon as we receive pictures, we will post them.