Getting Crazy for God

By Cortney Donelson

Psalm 68:4-5 (NLT)
“Sing praises to God and His name! Sing loud praises to Him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD- rejoice in His presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”

A good friend of mine once made the comment, “I am trying to understand it. People will stand up and shout, raise their hands, scream in excitement, and ooh and ahh during their favorite sports team’s big play, but they stand in church during worship like statues… barely singing. This is God!”

I was convicted. I was one of those people who stood in front of my chair during worship and sang, barely moving the muscles of my lips, let alone my body. Her comment struck a chord with me (no pun intended)!

I am a member of a church whose mission is to reach the unchurched…to seek out those individuals who are seekers themselves and bring them to the Lord. Most of the people in our (huge) congregation look like those statues my friend described. That included me, a long-time Christian. I understand for some people and for various reasons, moving and dancing are not in their comfort zones. They have every right to be still and sing (or not sing at all). I am not judging.  Here is the thing…It wasn’t okay for me. How did I know?  The reason I was standing still was because no one else was moving or lifting a hand, and I was feeling very self-consious of what other people might think of me…(Hello, pride!)

Not long after her comment, I attended a medical conference where the speaker showed a video of what can happen if just one person steps outside the social norm. It was a video of a college campus where a few hundred students were sitting in a grassy area listening to live music.  Suddenly, one brave man stood up and started doing a ridiculous dance in the middle of the sea of people.  After a few minutes of some seriously silly dancing, another student jumped up and started doing her own version of the crazy.  A few moments later… a third student stood up and started dancing. Then, another… and another… until after only nine minutes of video, half of the students were dancing. The message the medical speaker was driving home was that it takes just one brave person to recreate the current reality.

That’s precisely when I decided I would get crazy…crazy for worshiping my Holy Creator! The definition of praise is to give an expression of admiration. God does not ask us to quietly praise Him. He wants us to be loud! Psalm 68:4 says, “Sing praises to God and His name! Sing loud praises to Him who rides the clouds…”  He wants us to be abandoned (free).  He wants us to worship Him in church with music and dance…

Psalm 150 in the Message Bible says, “Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies; Praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his magnificent greatness; Praise with a blast on the trumpet, praise by strumming soft strings; Praise him with castanets and dance…” (italics added)

So, the next weekend at church, I started to let go. I raised my hands in front of me with open palms. The next week, I raised my right hand a little higher to my shoulder. The following week, my right hand was lifted to the heavens, and I was shouting to God in praise. I had done it! My heart and soul were abandoned. I had let go of pride and stopped worrying about what other people thought of me. I focused on Him. I finally broke through and praised my Lord for all that He had done and was going to do! It was so freeing, and I felt alive!

“So I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all.”
(The Stand by Kristian Stanfill)

Is God asking you to let go of pride today? Or, is there something else God is whispering in your ear to let go? Fear? Worry? I want to encourage you to let it go! YES! Let’s get crazy for God!

Prayer – Dear Lord, I will praise you forever! You are so mighty. I realize this is all about You and not about me. I will do my best not to worry about what others will think. I will give you all the Glory. You are my Father, my Creator, my Rock. In Jesus’ Name I pray…AMEN!

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El Shaddai

By Michelle Meeks

Genesis 17:1-2
“…I am God Almighty…I will confirm my covenant with you.”

I love music.  It moves my heart.  Even when it was hardened and covered by anger, God could use a song to pierce through it.  So when He called me to sing on our praise team about ten years ago, I was all for it!  What I hadn’t thought about was how nervous I get in front of people. The first time I had a solo, I was sick on my stomach for a week. Every time we sang, a voice would whisper, “You can’t sing.  You aren’t as good as…You sound horrible.”  I wondered if I had heard God right. I asked Him if this wasn’t His plan for me to take away the desire to help lead worship.  The desire didn’t go away.  Some of the nervousness went away, but when it came time for a solo, you could always find me in the bathroom on Sunday morning.    

Just a few years ago, we moved to a different church.  To be on the praise team, you have to audition.  I knew this was going to be a big turning point for me.  That voice kept saying they are going to tell you no.  Don’t do it,   you really can’t sing.  God’s voice was louder!  He said, “I called you to this”.  Luckily, before we moved to this church, the Bible study I was doing asked us to look at God’s names and what they revealed about Him.  What characteristic did I know Him most for and what did He want to teach me next about Himself.  I knew Him mostly as faithful, Yahweh.  He wanted me to know Him as “El Shaddai”, God Almighty, The All Sufficient One, the One whom all our blessings come from. 

I knew God had placed the desire to lead worship on my heart.  He wanted me to learn He was the God who would make it happen.  I had to trust He is who He says He is. I made the praise team, but I still struggle.  I’ve sung “Friend of God” many times.  Last night, though, God showed me something I had never noticed.  Right before I was to sing a solo, I prayed for God’s help (I know I can’t sing ever without His help). As I’m singing the first line “who am I that You are mindful of me, that You hear me when I call” and then “God Almighty, Lord of Glory, You have called me friend,” God says, “see, I know your heart. I know your desires. I placed them there.   Remember I am El Shaddai, God Amighty, the God who loves you enough to call you friend and to bring your dreams to fruition.” 

He loves me, and He loves you.  He knows what you love to do and what He’s called you to do.  What dreams and desires has God placed on your heart?  Do you believe He is El Shaddai, God Almighty, The All Sufficient One, the One whom all our blessings come from?

Prayer – Father, I thank You for letting me know you as El Shaddai.  I thank You for reminding me when I am weak and struggle, You are my strength, You are working things out according to what You have called me to be.  I trust in You.   

Genesis 17:1-2: “I am God Almighty…I will confirm my covenant with you.”

Genesis 48:3: “God Almighty appeared to me and blessed me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9: “The All Sufficient One:…”My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”

A Song of Ascents

By Missy Strayer

Psalm 121:1-2
A song of ascents.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
 the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Several years ago, I was invited to go on my church’s leadership retreat. I had just been appointed to the outreach program for women.  When I learned there was a retreat, I was excited for the opportunity to go. I was not going to be left out from hearing and seeing God at work. It was in the fall, in the sweet mountain community of Black Mountain, North Carolina. I knew it would be a great time bonding with the women of my church!

On Saturday after the morning session, we were told we had some free time, time to go off and be alone with God.  It was recommended that if we go into the woods, we should go in groups due to the bears. Yes, they said bears!  Despite this, I still went out to climb the mountain.

We had been given beautiful notebooks to journal our thoughts, prayers, and God’s voice. There were about five in our group, and we walked up the mountain talking and laughing.  The climb was steeper than any of us imagined, but we trekked onward and upward. After awhile, we decided to be silent and just listen as we walked. However, soon after that, one woman started humming. Then, one by one and before we knew it, all of us were singing the chorus of one of my favorite songs.  “Where does our help come from, our help comes from the Lord.”

It was a special time, but the best was yet to come. As we cleared the crest and walked up the steps to the look-out, there, on a very large sign, was painted Psalm 121! I was blown away!  We had no idea!  Yet for most of our climb, we were singing this exact scripture.  It was just as God had planned.

That made me stop and think that everything I had done and will do is just as God has planned.  Oh, I have free will and can deviate from the path, but the more I ask God to come into my heart and make Himself known to me, the closer He walks beside me. When life gets hard, and we all have had times and troubles that seem impossible to navigate… maybe you are in one now… God is there walking it with you. No matter how bad it gets, if you have faith and know that God is in control… that He has “it”, and He is bigger than everything… then the stronger you will become.  The stronger your relationship with God, the easier the steps on the path will be.

Dear Lord, I thank you Lord and praise you, you are the alpha and omega the beginning and the end, you are the creator of all and I pray that you continue to show me the path you have put before me. As I go through the trials and tribulations I pray that I never lose sight of you and the purpose you have placed in my life to serve you and praise you. Thank you Lord for your patience in me, I ask for your continued guidance, wisdom and discernment. In Jesus name I pray Amen.