Daily Archives: January 26, 2012

Week 46: The Art of Losing Myself

Worship.

I live for it.

I breathe it in.

Not just for anything.

For one thing.

My Savior.

Jesus.

The deeper I get into worship, the more respect I have for the worshipers that went before me and paved the way for what we call call worship today.  The longer I spend in worship and talking to others about it, the more I realize that this is indeed art at its most primal level. Even when we’re going through the hardships that life has a tendency to toss our way.

A friend of mine reminded me of the lyrics of one of my favorite songs (From the Inside Out). Each time I listen to this song, the same lyrics continue to jump out at me:

Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

excerpt from “From The Inside Out” – Joel Houston, Hillsong

I’ve heard this song many times before, and each time, those lyrics touch a deeper portion of my soul.  They so clearly articulate what I believe, but never been able to put to words myself.  I’ve had people ask me why I worship, and what I do when I worship, even how to worship.  I’ve never once had anyone ask me about the art of worship. 

As a worship artist, it’s important for me to remember that worship is never about me, my style or the notes or song that comes next. Sure the talent is art, but the true art is allowing myself to be lost in God; not focusing on that moment. The art of losing yourself in worship, as the song alludes to, is a matter of getting your priorities straight first, then simply being creative in His presence:

  1. Put your focus on God
  2. Remember that you are there so others may worship
  3. Be creative and continually put their focus on God

Sounds simple enough, but it’s the creatively part where most people trip up.  Where do you draw the line in expressing yourself creatively so that it doesn’t feel like a performance?  I believe it all comes down to focus.  Performance in church has its place so long as the focus is placed on God, then it becomes an expression of the gifts you were given by God.  When people notice you more than than they notice God, then you need to seriously examine if you crossed that line.

The art of worship requires you to balance the natural tension of performance (“look at me”) and presentation (“look at Him”).  The art of losing yourself in worship requires to you to keep one eye and ear on the physical world around you while getting as deep into God as possible through worship.  The aim here is to connect the two together.  Connections require constant attention, otherwise they fall apart.  What is worship for some people, is a distraction and a struggle for others.  You need to be able to respond to the needs of the physical environment around you while responding to the spiritual promptings of the Holy Spirit so as many barriers to worship are removed as possible.

Even the best worship leaders need to practice this continually or risk losing perspective on the environment around them.  This is living art at it’s God-given best.  God rewards the faithful who use their gifts wisely and sacrificially.

A Resolution to Make My Home a Welcoming Place to Be

Note to reader: The following is the result of further study, research and reflection after reading a portion of The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, a book written upon the influence of the movie Courageous, which hit theaters nation-wide in September/October of 2011.

 

I resolve to live with grace, to use the word “OK,” to not lead my life as if I were directing a Broadway production, and to set aside time to rest in an effort to make my home a welcoming place to be. I don’t want to live my life, turning people away at every opportunity; the hospitable woman within me will not let that happen.

Priscilla Shirer briefly touches each of these statements in her next section about living with grace.

I resolve to live with grace…

We must live with grace. We must see our homes as holy ground (or everything we touch, as it all is, first and foremost, God’s) and ourselves as the holy attendants, bestowed with the responsibility and privilege of creating an atmosphere in which the essence of God’s grace, freely extended to you, can be felt and sensed through the grace you freely extend to others. Our homes are the place where we cultivate peace to be enjoyed by those who live there and by all who enter through the doors.

Women hold the primary controls to the mood, spirit, and equality of life within each of their homes. It’s about recognizing our power to change the spiritual climate of our home based on the Holy Spirit-enabled resolve to be a woman who exudes the simple yet wonderfully poignant attribute…grace.

We must remember (and strive towards) what happened when we realized the detriment of our sinful disgrace and what God did for us. When we chose to follow Him, His grace becomes ours. When we fully realized how many of our own blunders He lovingly forgives and forgets every day, we suddenly find the motivation for extending that same undeserved favor to those around us. His patience, His acceptance, His understanding, His kindness. By His grace, these become ours – not just to receive but to release.

See every downfall as an opportunity to extend forgiveness and grace; to bestow compassion on another human being.

I resolve to use give a gentle answer…

I also rediscovered during my journey through this section that it’s okay to just say OK. I don’t always have to be right and burn myself into the ground to prove myself right (even when I’m wrong).  Proverbs 15:1 reads A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. Try it. It may save a relationship.

I resolve to not be the director of my own personal Broadway production…

Doing so would leave way too many big shoes unfilled. When we do this, the “actors” in our productions do not know what’s expected of them and when they fail, we give them boot. That shouldn’t be the way we lead our lives…tossing relationships to the side because so-and-so didn’t say what I wanted them to at that precise moment.

I was a drama queen once…during my teens…but those years have long since gone. Being a writer doesn’t help much either. I can direct the drama  that fills the pages of my latest novel, but I can’t direct that which fills my day-to-day life. A woman of grace recognizes and admits that, yes, she has a predetermined plot line for her life and surrounds, a compilation of past experiences and make-believe notions. We’ve all done it. There are days when I’m still guilty of it.

But the woman of grace looks at her reality first and then shapes her expectations accordingly. She seeks to discern the true needs of her loved ones and then adapts her own view of things so that she can do what is best for them, nurturing an atmosphere in which they can genuinely flourish.

Grace releases, frees, relaxes, and unbridles. It allows room, loosens nerves, gives permission, and expresses acceptance.

After all, God’s the director. Not me.

I resolve to set aside some “Sabbath” time…

I resolve to rest. God did. He even commands us to do the same. Why? Because we need it. We need the rest. We need the opportunity to regain our prospective on life. If we kept going, our minds become clouded by the hum of a busy life and our decisions are made rashly. We end creating more chaos for ourselves.

We need to purposefully carve out time to stop.

Even if that day doesn’t land on a Sunday.

Or a Saturday.

We need time to simply enjoy God. To celebrate a time of rest, rejuvenation and spiritual focus that would perpetuate their experience of freedom, not just in theory, but practically.

Priscilla argues that it’s not good to just set aside one day of the week, but rather a segment of time each day that we give to God. I would tend to agree. This, for me, occurs during the earliest hours of my morning, on my walk to work, a reprieve from work in the afternoon, yoga in the evenings and then again, right before I turn in for the day. Doing so actually frees me from the bondage of my day-to-day life.

How about you? Will you resolve to be a person of grace today?

I will.

Again, I say…I resolve to live with grace, to use the word “OK,” to not lead my life as if I were directing a Broadway production, and to set aside time to rest in an effort to make my home a welcoming place to be.

Little to Fear

Have you ever had a time–maybe even now–where things seem to be closing in on you and you don’t know what to do? You question why you of all people should have to deal with such a thing? After everything you’ve been through, you ask, “When will it all end?”

As difficult as it is going to sound, I’d ask you to just step back and believe that you are going to get through it. Whether it is a threat of something due to not having enough money or losing a job while you have debt or struggling with temptations…whatever it is, just pause and give it all to the Lord. Tell him that you’re believing this isn’t for you and that you will rise above it by trusting that God has bigger and better plans for you and that he intends to prosper you rather than harm you just like it is revealed in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Don’t let the deceit of Satan the liar get the best of you. All sorts of calamity may appear to be raining down upon your head or your house, but do not fear. Stuff is always going to happen around you, but you have been given faith in order to have hope and know that there is always a positive outcome in the works of the Lord.

Reflect today on the words of Proverbs 26:2 this time from The Message translation:

You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse
as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.

Believe the curse is undeserved because God would not cause you harm! Treat it as if you were being descended upon by a tiny little sparrow. Obviously, the much-smaller sparrow would not intend you to be its target so you would not be concerned. In Christ, you are bigger than anything any devil would throw at you. It’s time to take a stand and profess in the name of Christ that you are not going to give in to the lies and fear and the stress of this world. Trust in God and he will see you through anything. Even though the sky is dark and the clouds look ominous, you may see the light of day before you see any rain.

Courtesy of http://www.daveingland.com