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Archive for June, 2013

Tonight our Frontlines Team, those that serve in sound, stage, video, lighting, vocals, drama, halau, and as musicians, came together for some family time.  The video team had a fun game to play, the Halau (or dance team) had a great drama about the internal monologue that happens sometimes contrary to our outward appearance, and our team leaders shared from their hearts words of admonishment and encouragement.  There was a strong theme to the evening; we need to let go of offenses and do a better job of loving people.  We watched Pastor Wayne’s teaching on Character Auditions and what it means to serve on the Frontlines.  We ended the evening in prayer and with the anointing of oil.  As team members left they each, including pastors and leaders, signed character contracts renewing their hearts to follow the code of conduct required by active members of the Frontlines.

Here is the link to watch the Character Auditions teaching by Pastor Wayne:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/34998530″>Character Audition – Pastor Wayne Cordeiro</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/newhope”>New Hope Oahu</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Today’s reading in Joel really has me thinking, especially with his use of the word REND.

Rend

Rend Your Heart

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

Further down in the passage there is a call to the priests “who minister before the LORD” to gather EVERYONE, and it didn’t matter what the age or status, for a solemn assembly and to fast.   These leaders were to “weep between the temple porch and the altar.”  Through the mouth of Joel God is calling His people out; first and foremost His leaders.  What does this mean for me?

Rending my heart is not a passive act.  It is purposeful.  When I agree to rend myself before God I have to sacrifice.  I have to die to my own will and submit to change.  I am allowing my heart to be torn to shreds and be built back up again by God.

I will have to love  people who I don’t want to love.  I will have to forgive people who I see impossible to forgive.  I will have to say “no” to things that I want to engage in.  I must draw nearer to God’s word and His voice.

How does this rendering affect my relationships?  Will I seem different to people?  Will my family and friends respond differently to me?  What about those who don’t understand my faith?  Will my decision to go deeper with God alienate even more those whom I love?  What about those relationships that have fallen by the wayside due to life’s circumstances?

As I think on this, for me it comes down to two things: I am called to love people, (1 John 3:10) and to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  If these things are not woven into the fabric of me then I need to render my heart.  By rending my heart I will grow to care deeply for those people I am called to love, and I will see prayer as I do breathing.  I cannot live without it.

Looks like I need to spend some serious time between the porch and the altar.

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In reading various commentaries on Joel 2, I came across a really good writing about prayer by evangelist Leonard Ravenhill.  He heart was all about prayer, especially in calling God’s people to pray.  He said,”…when the church of Jesus Christ is prosperous, she never has revival. It’s when she’s poor. Prayer is the language of the poor. “Bow down Thine ear and hear me, for I am poor and needy.”
The self-satisfied don’t need to pray.
The self-sufficient don’t want to pray.
The self-righteous cannot pray.

But the man who realizes,
“I need something outside of anything that’s human at all,”
he wants to bathe his soul in prayer.”He goes on to say, “Read the Acts of the Apostles and all you read about is prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer. When they had prayed the place was shaken.”  What does this mean for our current circumstances?  As a church we must be all about prayer.

To read the entire writing by Leonard Ravenhill check out this link.  I found it quite challenging.  http://www.ravenhill.org/weeping2.htm

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I’m still searching for the familiar, those places where I know that I’ll find what I’m looking for.  I just wanted cummin.  I use it a lot in my cooking, and had finished off the last of what came over on the boat.  I had checked five different stores.

I gave up looking for it until one day, when I happened upon a Whole Foods.  I’d never been inside one before.  Wow.  Nice store.  I decided to check the spice aisle.  Yes!  I found cummin, and it was on sale.  I let out a huge sigh of relief.  Finally, something familiar.

I’ve taken for granted the value of the familiar.  Finding a spot for the silverware is pretty simple.  Discovering the best place to buy milk is cake.  Uncovering the mystery of how I fit into the fabric of this island is a little more difficult.

A year ago I thought I knew who I was: a homeschooling mom and pastor’s wife heading across the ocean on a great adventure.  I thought that the worship leader, dreamer, artist parts of me were on the verge of finally being set free.  All those palm trees drawn in the margins of my college class notes were finally becoming a reality.  I was going to live on the set of the TV show Lost.

Then you move 2,532.64 miles away from your previous life, and you start to question everything.  Even though there is a Starbucks on almost every corner, this is definitely not the Pac-NW.  Things that you come to count on being there are no longer at your finger tips.  People you used to call in a pinch to help with kiddos or go for a walk with are across the ocean.  Places to release your creatively energy are few and far between.

I need to trust when I hear the LORD quiet my spirit by saying , “Hush my child, you need to become known.”  It is all about becoming known.  I need to get to know my island, and my island needs to get to know me.  Building relationships take time, effort, and patience.

This past weekend Pastor Wayne spoke of caring deeply for people.  He shared a story similar to this one.

An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians
were such giving people. The teacher said, “Jesus taught us that giving gifts is an expression
of our love and friendship for Him and each other. Jesus said, ‘It is more
blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

A couple of days later the boy brought the teacher a
seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a
beautiful shell?” the teacher asked. The youth told her that
there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could
be found.

When he named the place, a certain bay several miles
away, the teacher was speechless. She knew that it would have
taken the young man hours to walk to the bay. Also, he would
have faced many dangers from the jungle and rocky cliffs of the
seacoast along the way. “Why, it’s gorgeous and wonderful,
but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get the gift for me,”
the teacher joyfully explained.

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of the gift.”

If we care deeply then the walk is part of the gift.  If I care deeply about my family, my friends, my church, this island, then the time it takes to become known is part of the gift.

Dear Lord, please help me use my time wisely, so that I care for what it most important.  Amen

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I used to love Captain and Tennille.  As an elementary aged girl I would play this RECORD over and over.  I think that by this time I was the only kiddo home so my older siblings may have missed that phase of music.  This song touted the power of love to make all things work.  I would hold my air microphone and sing along with hand motions,

“Love, love will keep us together<br />Think of me babe whenever<br />Some sweet talking girl comes along singing her song<br />Don’t mess around,<br />You gotta be strong<br />Just Stop [stop], ’cause I really love You<br />Stop [stop], I’ll be thinking of you<br />Look in my heart and let love keep us together”<br /><br />

I had no clue until much later what she was singing about.  It just fed my childhood ideas that if you just love somebody then everything will be okay.  I still believe there is truth to that statement.  Everybody does want to be loved.  They want to be accepted for who they are.  It’s just that it takes more than us just loving a person to have that person be whole.  The recipient of that love needs to accept it.

I was reading the other day in 1 Corinthians about love, but it wasn’t in chapter 13 like usual.  It is found earlier in chapter 8.  It says this,  “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But he who loves God is known by God.”

This is something that stands out to me because of how much the circles I run in value knowledge, and in so many ways education is the key to a better life.  I pray for my children to have wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  It helps us accept the grace and love that God gave us in Jesus, and it is really important in helping us make good choices.  However, I truly believe that people can educate themselves out of faith.  And in doing so they miss out on a deep and abiding relationship with God.

Pastor Ben brought this up as he was sharing about his message for this coming Sunday.  He is preaching from Paul’s comments to the Romans about <a href=”http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206;&version=31;”target=_blank>sin and grace.</a> It will piggy back on his message last week about how some people struggle with the simplicity of the Gospel.  The concept of grace is too easy for people.  People feel like they need to suffer more for their actions instead of just accepting the free grace given to us in Jesus’ death on the cross.

That is difficult for me to do: release the guilt of my actions so that I can experience what God has intended for me to the fullest.  I’ve learned over the past few years that my holding on to feelings of guilt doesn’t make me any more sorry for what I’ve done.  I feel as though by holding on to my mistakes I’m actually allowing the enemy to continue to try and destroy me.  By letting go of my mistakes, by turning my back on my mistakes, by repenting and turning from them I have completely destroyed the enemy’s attempt to derail me.  I have truly accepted the love God has for me.

I am learning through experience and through the wisdom, knowledge and understanding given to me by the Holy Spirit that I am loved by God no matter what.  This enables me to come out from my mistakes without holding on to the guilt.  I’m not perfect.  I still make mistakes, and still need to be reminded that it is through God’s grace that I am saved.  Nothing else will save me.

Knowledge without love is a dangerous thing.   There is no grace in it.  There is no ability to forgive.  There is no ability to build people up.  This is where legalism makes it’s bed.  We as believers must, must, must put aside legalism so that LOVE MAY ABOUND.

My heart hurts for those who cannot come to Jesus because they “know” too much.  My heart hurts for people who cannot come to Jesus in a personal way because they cannot accept the simplicity of God’s grace.  My heart hurts for those who’ve been abused by Christians who adhere to a legalistic form of Christianity.

I am so sorry that Jesus’ message of grace and redemption was tossed aside for the sake of someones need to control how God’s love is shared.  I am sorry that some people feel it is okay to abuse the name of Jesus to mask their fear, their hate, their stupidity.  I am sorry that man gets in the way of people personally knowing God.

I know you’ve read this from me before, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face.   I believe that if we truly love people the way God wants us to then our world would be transformed.  But then that sounds too easy, huh?

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This past Saturday a team of us went into a local prison to serve in worship services.  We had to wait a while to get it, but that gave us an opportunity to talk story and get to know each other better.  We didn’t have any issues getting people or instruments into the facility.  (Phew…that was one of my biggest prayer requests.) As we headed down the long cement walk way to the gym we looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow hanging over us and an overwhelming feeling of peace came over me.  (Another answered prayer.)

Our sound check happened while the groups of inmates were led into the gym.  While the sound team, also inmates, were making sure our sound levels were okay, the Halau discussed where they would perform their dance for the services.  We knew we may have the entire time allotted for the services or maybe not.  Our sound check was the prelude, which is a good thing because then the men were that much more familiar with the songs for the service.

Our set list:

  1. Our God
  2. The Glorious Cross
  3. Revelation Song
  4. Halau: Forgiveness
  5. All Who Are Thirsty/chorus of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Notes on the nuts and bolts of the set:

  1. They seemed to respond well, and picked up The Glorious Cross pretty quickly.  They seemed to know Our God, and especially The Revelation Song.  Overall the sets went pretty well.  I had trouble hearing Joe’s guitar especially with the reprise of Glorious Cross.  Next time I’ll make sure to ask the guys to boost it a bit.  We also need to make sure that we have extra music for the play out, and/or at least that we talk it through before we sing it.  We tried The Everlasting and did well for the chorus, but I’ve never really sang the melody alone.  When Joe switched to the harmony I was a little lost.  We made it work.
  2. The Halau was fabulous.  They dressed very conservatively and Gayle kept the movements discreet.  They danced to Mathew West’s “Forgiveness.”  One of the really cool things about this is that a few months ago I heard the song on the radio, and I had a picture of Gayle dancing hula to it.  WOW!  I saw that same picture on Saturday in real life.  Thank you Jesus.

I’ve missed leading worship; not just the singing part, but also putting together a set list and helping to craft a service.  It was such a blessing to hear the response of the inmates to the music and to the message.  Pastor Louie is the person for this time.  On so many levels he understands what these men have been through.  Hopefully I will be able to be a part of something like this again.

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Our trek to the most remote island chain in the world started almost 12 years ago.  Even though we never really felt compelled to travel here, we jumped at a chance to buy a voucher for two tickets at a garage sale.  We chose a hotel that was being remodeled.  We traveled one month after 9/11.  There was plenty of room to spread out on the beach, and we found really good deals at the market place.  The total trip cost around $1,000, with the tickets included.  We found ourselves pleasantly surprised by how much we were enjoying our surroundings.  About two days into the trip we prayed for God to show us how we would minister in this place.

A couple of years later my husband won a trip to a neighbor island through a sales promotion.  It was beautiful.  The island moved at an even slower pace.  The hotel upgraded our room to an ocean view.  We found the perfect breakfast place, and loved learning the local history.  Sitting on the beach during sunset with our feet in the surf while listening to a band play James Taylor covers was pretty magical.  Again, we prayed how God would have us minister in this place.

Not long after that my husband was invited to teach and train the sound team of a local church here on the island.  They graciously offered me a ticket to join him.  I spent the week reading books, swimming, and taking in the local sites, sounds, and cuisine.  It was a pretty sweet adventure.  We left wondering how God would end up using us on this Island.

Our home state is beautiful.  Our hometown is an hour from the beach and an hour from the mountains.  It didn’t take long to get to Mom and Dad’s, and an even shorter time to get to my in-laws.  Siblings and nieces live close by.  Why would we want to move away from it all?

Our family spent a month here the year before we moved.  By the end of that month we were invited to come join the church for a season.  We loved the people.  We really believed in the church’s core values, and  were encouraged by the emphasis they put on creatively sharing the Gospel.  It still wasn’t an easy decision.  We thought it through.  We knew we had to say yes, or we would regret for the rest of our lives.

It’s been almost a year.  We continue to pray how God wants us to use our gifts here in our new church.  We are still figuring out the balance of ministry life and family life.  It’s a bit more challenging, honestly a lot more challenging, without a support system like we had at home.

There have been moments of greatness, and that keeps us pushing forward.  In a future post I’ll share a timeline of events of this past year.  It’s been a doozie, but one that is full of the evidence of God’s handy work in getting us from there to here.

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This is a funny scene from the movie, “Bowfinger.”  Sometimes God calls us to work outside of our comfort zone, or we just have to do things we aren’t comfortable with because no one else is available.  Oh, the relief we feel when we get back to doing what we are good at, right?

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