18 September 2014

It's A Secret Weapon...

...and it was what I tried to avoid when I was in the middle of the drift.

What is worship?
Is it clapping or singing?
Giving thanks?
Or declaring your love for God...
Could it have anything to do with speaking audible words of how wonderful God is?
Maybe it's as expressive & simple as everything mentioned above?
Or is it your obedience & submission to what the bible says our character should be?

There are two forms of worship.
One that deals with your obedience, attitude, submission and character.
But in this post I want to focus on the definition I found on Wikipedia.
"WORSHIP - as an act of devotion, usually directed towards a deity.  Worship asserts the reality of its object and defines its meaning to something.  An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader."

I especially like the second statement, "worship asserts the reality of its object and defines its meaning to something."  This means we must have an understanding of who or what we are worshiping.  And once we become aware of the "WHO", we can establish its reality in our lives.

If  we really don't know who God is, how can we worship Him?
If worship is an act of devotion, which displays how we submit to biblical instruction, then we must first get an understanding of WHO GOD is.
Because once we discover His Glory.  His undying love for us.
His restoring power and His amazing grace.
It is at this point, that we can then internally (with our hearts and minds), place value to the One we worship.

The more you know God.
The more you read how He formed the universe and mankind.
How He, time and again, forgave His disobedient, evil and sinful chosen people, restored and delivered them from enemies' hands.
How His wisdom, power and divinity surpasses any other "god" you might have encountered.
Then the more you fall in love with Him.
Make time in your busy day to talk to Him.
Sing to Him.  Study His character.
And tap into a realm of true worship.
Where your heart and mind and spirit develop a relationship with God.

It is in this spiritual realm, where our fleshly desires begin to fade away.
Because our flesh would rather be texting our friends til 2am.
It has us wearing extra skimpy outfits with the intention of being noticed by our crush.
We curse our parents as we disagree with their wisdom.
We hit up the beach, bright and early on a beautiful sunny day, while everyone else is at church Sunday morning.
Or spend hours watching tv/movies on our day off; because we "earned" it.
There's so many ways we give priority to the works of the flesh that are not necessarily considered sinful.
I'm pretty sure David's flesh would much rather have been sitting on his throne, admiring the grandiose palace his subjects worked hard to build.
But the bible says that he worshiped God.
He danced for God.
All the time.

To the point where he got so involved in admiring God, that he stripped all his clothes.
He was able to defeat and flee from enemies, establish a successful & rich kingdom and be restored after sinning against God.
All because his heart was rooted in God.
David knew how to worship.
How to tap into the presence of God and receive strength, knowledge and peace.
And God delighted in David's worship.

2 years ago I was in a mental and emotional condition that kept me away from wanting to be in God's presence.
I've always had a heart of worship.
I would sing all day If I could.
I'm not the very best singer.
Or even a little good.
I can hold a note.

But what I learned in my adolescence was that God was pleased with my worship.
Because I did it wholeheartedly.
Because I wasn't there to showcase myself.
I didn't grab the mic to impress my pastor or to please my parents.
I had a love in me for God that needed to be expressed through song.
It was the only way I knew (at the time) how to build up my spirit and die to my flesh.
It was the only way I received healing and peace.
I sang because I knew whatever was in me, was also touching the lives of others in some way.

[maybe one day I'll share the vision I had when I was a teen, concerning worship...]
For now I really need you to understand what happens when you worship.

There is freedom & liberty.
The fears & anxieties of this world don't seem to matter anymore.
That part of your hurting heart, that no one knows about, receives healing.
There's so much power in your physical worship towards God.
I'm talking about when you verbally sing and give Him praise.
When you clap and dance.
When you close your eyes and focus on God, in heaven, receiving your praise.
It is in that secret place where things begin to change.
Your love for people is heightened.
Those things that frustrated you last month or last week don't bother you anymore.
There is a refreshing and a renewal that surpasses all natural understanding.

And I knew this 2 years ago during my drift.
I knew if I got to church on time, I'd be forced to sing along.
Because even though I didn't know the song, there were lyrics on the screen to help me out.
And I knew that in those moments of worship, the Holy Spirit would begin touching areas in my heart that I wasn't ready to release.
I knew I had to change and I knew I wanted God and I knew I missed God, but I wasn't willing to open up and receive it.
I wanted to stay offended.   Because that meant I was safe from any other offenses.
I wanted to keep away from worship, because I wanted to keep away from people.
Worship leads to the breaking of strongholds.  Of mindsets.  Of character.
And I didn't want to be wrong.
So I purposely made us late.
Because I knew the Holy Spirit would completely transform me.

This secret weapon is powerful and regenerates you.
Leaves you surrendered, completely, to a loving God.
When we don't know how to express our hurt or our troubles, we just stand in worship, because the God who searches all hearts knows what's in yours.  And knows what oppression you need to be freed from.

So this Sunday.
And every Sunday after that.
I encourage you to make it your PRIORITY to get to church on time.
Whatever church you go to and whatever time they start, be there early.
Because the answer to your problem, stress and anxiety is on your lips.
And if there is nothing troubling you, then that's enough to make you WANT to be there early.
To thank Him for the wonderful life He has given you.

Psalms 28:7 - "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

Psalms 100:4 - "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!"

Psalms 59:16 - "But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.  For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress."
The song that started my healing breakthrough is gentle, sweet and ate through the walls around my afflicted heart.

(for those that missed the first part of this testimony, click here)
x0, d

12 September 2014

The Drift.

It was a year ago this month when we decided, (my husband and I), to "sacrifice" one Friday night for the sake of attending our church's Youth Conference.  "Metamorphosis".

What sacrifice were we making really?  I honestly can't remember.
It probably consisted of going out to dinner, watching some shows on Netflix or renting a Redbox movie.

Whatever it was that we did on the weekends, we felt (at the time) was a REAL sacrifice giving it up to attend church that evening.

But in the state of laziness, mediocrity and distance from the church, that I, (we), was in, there was still a 5-word prayer I whispered at night before falling asleep.

We had become very lazy.  Getting up early on a Sunday, what used to be second nature for us, became a chore.  It all began with days that my husband had to work, so instead of going to church with my son while he worked, I tagged along for a "family fun day".  We'd go to Port St. Lucie, he'd work on machines, as Gio and I enjoyed the hour playing video games, winning tickets and exchanging them for prizes.  Because it was free and fun, and it seemed harmless, but later became a ritual once we got over the guilt of being there instead of church.

As laziness set in, we'd wake up with enough time to get ready, but would drag our feet.  Barely making it to service on time.  Then it evolved into waking up late, and missing worship service.  "Well at least we got here!" we'd think.  Til eventually we were way past getting there at a time that any decent ex-pastor and ex-church-secretary should arrive.  (We had stepped down from our responsibilities to concentrate on work and home life).

So what did we do when we missed church and didn't have anything to do?  We became very "productive".  We used the time to clean the house, do laundry, shop for groceries, go to the park, visit family, ie, "fun" time.  Not realizing that we were in the middle of a huge drift.

The devil uses these "fun" tactics, wrapped around "good reasons" to cause people to so delicately float away from God's plan.  From the very reason you were created.  He plants these moments and thoughts (if we're not careful and don't see them coming), which take root in us and begin to develop an "it's okay, it's just this one time" attitude.

Let me take a moment to give weight and meaning to this word, "DRIFT".

As a verb, this word means "To Be Carried Away Slowly By A Current Of Air Or Water".
As a noun, it means "A Continuous Slow Movement From One Place To Another".
So we can safely define that drifting is the process of being slowly and continually moved from one place to another, as if by a current of air or water.
It happens gradually,
slowly & quietly.
The current of air isn't harsh wind.
The current of water isn't a fierce rainstorm.
It's gentle and easy.
Flowing in another direction.
And it always seems to bring excitement and entertainment.

So after many months of drifting, and slowly slipping away from church services, we found ourselves offended.  Because after the enemy takes us away from the element that feeds us spiritually, he then begins to feed us lies.  "They haven't called you in weeks".  "Why don't they care anymore?"  "They don't bother to see why you haven't gone to church in 4 months."  "What kinda love is that?"  "They don't really love you.  They were just using you for your talent."  (These are real and natural thoughts people encounter.)  We believed these lies and now an offense began to take root.

Though we were not sinning while we drifted, we were not connected.
Not being fed.
Not seeking God.
Not reading our bibles.
Not praying.
We really drifted.
And now found ourselves with an offense created by the enemy himself.
What a sly/slick master deceiver he is!

But those 5 little words...
My only prayer in that time of solitude.

Yes, because what started out as "family fun time", (once offense was added to the mix), became a fortress of hurt & loneliness.
No one loved us, but us.
And God.
Because we knew better.
God FOR SURE loved us.
But He was the only one.

And since I knew God still loved me,
or hoped He did,
I would say my 5 word prayer.
Sometimes during the week.
And always on Saturday nights.
Because I thought a miracle would happen on Sunday morning.
Where we'd wake up early and make it to church on time.

"God, Don't Forget About Us."

I would say it with all sincerity.
I knew we weren't living right.
We weren't really sinning, but we weren't where we needed to be.
We didn't go out drinking, but we weren't worshiping.
We didn't smoke anything, but we weren't studying the bible.
We were deceived.  And we allowed ourselves to get there and stay there.

I would close my eyes and unexpectedly shed a few tears as I whispered "God, don't forget about us."
What a nice surprise to see I still had some emotion!
At that point I gave up on caring about what people thought of me.
I wasn't interested in knowing about them.
They shunned me, I felt.
I didn't feel welcome and I certainly wasn't going to waste anymore tears on them.
So this wall around my heart,
the part of me that showed any kind of sentiment,
was only seen by God, as I asked him to help us.

After a while, those 5 prayer words became full sentences, with paragraphs and bible verses.
"Lord, I don't know how to get myself up.
I got myself in this ditch.
I don't think you're hearing me.
Because I've left you and now I'm considered unrighteous.
But just in case you're listening, please help us.
Don't forget about us.
We're stuck in mud, and know we gotta get out, but just don't know how to.
Do something!"

It wasn't long before we began to see announcements on Facebook about the "Metamorphosis" Youth Conference, and even received a private invite from one of the pastors of our church via inbox.

So, on that faithful Friday afternoon.  We made it our priority to get ready early and get there.
I don't remember if we were there in time for worship, but we were there.
God spoke and I had a few tears appear, to which I quickly wiped away.
Because I was in the right, and they were in the wrong, and I didn't want them to see my "weakness".

That following weekend we were asked to come visit another church, where one of our favorite preachers would be ministering, and we joyfully accepted.

That weekend we received, I believe, a real mental breakthrough.  The kind that gets your mind made up to serve God.  And decided we would return, but we would not get attached to anyone.  We would not let them in.  We would only go to serve God.  Give our offering & tithes.  And be out!

Not working in ministry meant no room to get hurt again.
Not having relationships with church folk meant no room to get hurt again.
We weren't looking to get back what we left behind.
We simply wanted forgiveness.

But God had other plans.

And I thank God that He didn't allow me (us) to stay in that "it's all about us" state of mind.
Because I wouldn't be here, right now, to share a partial testimony with you.
Partial, because there's more to this story that I want to share in my next blog, but let me leave you with this bible verse...

Psalm 37:23 - "A man's steps are established by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way."

You may hide.
Or run away.
Drift off to "fun" time.
But the plan God had/has for you, that was established before creation, WILL come to pass.

You can either go the easy route,
and follow His lead.
Doing as He wills you to do.

Or stray,
corrupting your mind and heart with lies and deceit,
making it a difficult moment in time for yourself.
One He never intended for you to experience.

Whatever the scenario you choose,
in the end,
He always gets His way.

He is God.

Romans 8:38-39 - "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
x0, d