An Open Letter to my Girls

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Blog, Christian Living, Women

An Open Letter to my Girls

Hey Ladies! Our LAMBS group is coming back from our Summer break on Wednesday, September 3rd, and we’re starting a study that I’m SUPER excited about.  Press play below to find out why. WHEN: Wednesdays at 9:00 beginning September 3rd. WHERE: Valley Christian Church Rm 1:11 CHILDCARE IS AVAILABLE!!!    😉 Hope to see you there! Love and Hugs, Jess [youtube id=”DwzF0E-kj4M”]

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Serving in San Vicente

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Blog, Serve, Service, Youth

Our Team has been serving at Iglesia Nazareno in San Vicente, Baja all week, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, you can be sure that God is on the move in Mexico.  Take a look at some of these photos from our team.  (Pictures courtesy Sarah...

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Worship Defined: Part 2 (Heaven on Earth)

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Blog, Worship

Worship Defined: Part 2 (Heaven on Earth)

Ok, so last time, we took a rather scholastic look at worship. This time, I’d like to focus on what all that Greek and Hebrew stuff means for us. Clearly, based on what we saw last time, praise and worship has nothing to do with music and everything to do with us. A lot of people, myself included, were raised in churches that were not demonstrative in how we worshiped in church. We never raised our hands in my church and it took me a long time to get comfortable with that concept. Once I did, though, I found that I was able to express my own feelings and responses in a much deeper way. The simple act of raising open hands makes surrender easier. Now I’m not saying that if you don’t raise your hands during corporate worship that you can’t worship. I am saying that worshiping with abandon deepens our experience and desire for the renewal that worship provides. And clearly, worship must occur outside the walls of the church. When applied to your life properly, worship invades every single aspect of your life, from how you act at home and the office, to what you do on a Saturday night. Worship is a response to all God has done and all of who He is. Worship is the continual act of choosing to replace our humanity with holiness. Worship is service to others. Worship is giving of both our time and our treasures. Worship is putting the needs of others before ourself. Worship is absolutely life-changing. I’m going to steal the practical application of these definitions from Ray Stedman (although it might have originated elsewhere…) “Prayer is our occupation with our human needs and problems. We come to God with our needs and ask for His supply. Praise is the occupation of our minds with His blessings. We are thinking of all that God has done for us and give thanks for how He has blessed us. Worship is our occupation with God Himself, with the greatness of His being.” Here’s the thing: Our souls were not created for life on earth. We are meant for heaven. This time on earth can suck the life out of us because we weren’t designed for this. Worship is God’s way of allowing us a bit of heaven on earth. When we come together on Sunday morning and join with the Family of God in praise and adoration, we are re-creating an angelic choir. When we serve others, we are serving God. When we give money to God, we are acknowledging that nothing we have is truly ours; everything is a gift from God. Choosing to surrender all that we are to God is a daunting task, but it is crucial if we are to thrive on this foreign soil. After all, Jesus came to bring us abundant life. We are not meant simply to survive. We were...

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Worship Defined: Part 1 (A dry, boring look at the lexicon)

Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Blog, Worship

Worship Defined: Part 1 (A dry, boring look at the lexicon)

“Everything we do springs from our concept of what is important and valuable to us.” -Ray Stedman I often find that the concept of worship is really misunderstood. Because the Church has instituted this form of shorthand in referring to our music time as “Worship” and our meeting times as a “Worship Service,” we have this idea in our heads that Worship is relegated to Sundays and the half hour of singing we do as a congregation. The problem with that definition is that it really fails miserably to encompass all that worship is. Just take a look at some of the words that are translated “worship” in the Bible: Greek Latreia: 1. Service rendered for hire. a. Any service or ministration (the service of God) 2. The service and worship of God according to the requirements of Levitical Law 3. To perform sacred services Therapeuo: 1. To serve, do service 2. To heal, cure, restore to health Doxa: 1. Opinion, judgement, view 2. A most glorious condition, most exalted state Hebrew ‘atsab: 1. To shape, fashion, make, form into ‘abad: 1. To work, serve sachah: 1. To bow down. I don’t see a definition that says, “To sit or stand for 30 minutes while singing songs and occasionally clapping your hands.” “To fulfill an obligation” or “To sit in a pew.” What I do see in the definitions of worship is that it takes effort and isn’t necessarily easy. What becomes clear after a moment is that worship is a decision and an action. It’s not a feeling, it’s not an emotion, it’s not even music of any kind. Worship is a way of life. Praise is a different animal entirely. The word “Praise” is translated from the Hebrew word halalwhich means “to shine, to act madly.” Another word used often is yadah (Seinfeld fans know how to say this one) which means, “to throw, shoot, cast; to give thanks, laud, praise; to confess the name of God; to confess sin.” The Greeks used a few words, most interestingly the word aretewhich is “A virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity.” That last definition tells me that a morally excellent life is an act of praise, which by its definition means that it cannot take place only on Sunday morning. Living a life of praise and worship is a decision we make as Christ followers. It’s a garment we put on each and every day. C.S. Lewis said, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists of shoving it all back, in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” I’m trying not to make this too long and boring, but I admit, this one is pretty dry....

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Peeling Back the Layers on Worship

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Blog, Worship

Peeling Back the Layers on Worship

God has a funny way of changing our direction and passions, midstride.  At the end of my second year of college (where I was majoring in indecision while dabbling in music), I felt God asking me why I was still fighting Him.  Clearly He had gifted me with musical tendencies, so why on earth was I fighting Him?  He was asking me to surrender to His will.  So, faced with such a clear-cut challenge, I did the only sensible thing.  I surrendered.  I finally declared myself a Worship Arts major and began a more direct path to ministry.  Nearly 13 years later, I find that I am still discovering what the concept of Worship is all about.  Here’s what I’ve discovered: Praise and worship is about honoring God with our voices and hearts, but we’re the ones who come away changed. Here’s why:  When we enter into times of praise and worship (and I’m specifically talking about worship in a musical sense here), the focus is taken off of our lives and the daily grind, and it’s placed on God.  Worship is about understanding that there is One greater than ourselves to whom we owe gratitude and honor.  Worship changes us from the inside out.  We often come to our times of worship beaten and bruised, but we leave restored. Life is not easy.  Worship is not easy.  It goes against our human nature to take the focus off of ourselves, but that’s what is so restorative about Worship.  In those moments where we focus on God and consciously choose to spend time with Him, He comes to our rescue and brings healing.  Just like our vocabulary is shaped by those around us, so our character is shaped when we spend quality time with the creator of the universe.  It’s about God, but it’s for us.  God craves our worship because that means time spent with us, and that’s what God has been about since Day 1.  He wants a meaningful relationship with each of us. The beauty of worship in musical sense is that it underscores the fact that God meets us where we are.  Music has the power to convey what words alone sometimes cannot.  Music and lyric combined touch our emotions and stir our soul and give us the freedom and ability to express the inexpressible.  So when we come to our corporate worship, standing shoulder to shoulder with brothers and sisters in Christ, we have the unique opportunity to build community, restore our own hearts, and, most importantly, give glory to the only One who is worthy to receive it. It’s not about style, it’s not about the songs, it’s not about the ability of the musicians.  It’s about God.  It’s not about us or what we want.  It is about what God wants, which just happens to be what we need. Bobby Sanderson, minister of...

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