Awake My Soul…Worship!

April 14, 2012

Many of you who know me, know that I like to sing as if nobody was listening, dance as if noone were watching…it is a part of who I am and I naturally love to sing and dance.  One commonality for those of you who have witnessed this know that I may not be particularly the most gifted in these areas, but you also know I am not worried about that, I just want to sing and dance.  Nothing made me want to sing and dance more than our closing worship tune at the Easter services this past weekend.  Take a peek:

Now how many of you can honestly tell me watching and listening to this didn’t make you want to sing and/or dance…or even just clap along?  Many times when we think of singing and dancing, we don’t relate this to worship at our churches.  Oftentimes we spend more time worshipping, or shall I say celebrating, our favorite teams or music stars.  We shout, sing, dance and make fools of ourselves for things of this world, but when it comes to worshipping our Creator, the One, we tend to hide it!  What would it look like if we put the same amount of passion into worshipping our God as we do everything else?

This was no ordinary worship song, but it was what the people of Hope Ankeny needed to experience this past Easter weekend.  I too believe that many others might have needed to see this and ask that you share it with those who might need some inspiration!  Many of us need to be brought to life again, just like Jesus, who was raised from the dead.  We find ourselves amidst challenges that bring us down, that take life out of us and after hearing the story of new life this Easter, the battle we face is coming back to life everyday.  Maybe that needs to begin with some singing and dancing.  Now more than ever I enjoy singing and listening to worship songs, as it brings life into my day.  It is one of the ways I like to connect with God, more importantly Praise God for what He is doing in my life.  I wonder if you started worshipping God the way Psalm 150 explains how it would change your day?  If we believe in God, then we shall make note of what His Word says and live it out.  That is our challenge as believers and followers.  Maybe today is the day you break out of your comfort zone by worshipping God as you watch the video I shared!  Let’s Sing!  Let’s Dance!  Let’s awake our souls!


Awake My Soul…Tree or Chaff?

April 12, 2012

              OR          

When we talk about the awakening of one’s soul, we often have to ask ourselves, what is it that energizes me?  What gives me life? I love the symbolism used by Pastor Bill Hybels in the 1st part of a sermon series titled “Awake My Soul!”  This is awesome that I get to share a part of what God had been speaking to me during the season of Lent with you today.  I believe God has asked me to share with others gifts of meaning and purpose and I plan to continue to do so through my future posts.  I have included the link to the sermon series here where you may select to watch or listen to the message:

http://media.willowcreek.org/weekend/awake-my-soul/

The series itself focuses in on what the Psalms are telling us.  The first message of the series focuses on Psalm 1 where his symbolism is rooted in the Truth, the Word of God.  Will we become like a TREE?  Or like chaff?  We have a choice to make in this life as to where we will go.  If we want the best life, I believe we shall desire to become like a TREE, one who does “not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers” as the Psalm reads.  As Psalm 1 continues, we find that those who choose not to follow the wicked, sinners or mockers, will “delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.  They are like TREES planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.  Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”

The others, the wicked, “they are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.  They will be condemned at the time of judgment.  Sinners will have no place among the godly.”(Psalm 1:4-5).  Would you rather become chaff?  My hope is that all of us in this life would choose to be like TREES!  Where do you stand?

Unfortunately, many of us live a life that leads us to become more like the chaff(see definition), because our lives center around activities that are like chaff.  They are dead, they carry no life, and as a result we become the same!  What I believe it means to live in the light of becoming like a TREE  is that we center our lives around activities that bring life.  In college I spent 5 years partying the college way which centered around activities that were like “worthless chaff“.  I think back to the times where many laughs occurred and spending time with friends was what I thought was the best life!  I believe these components, laughter and time with friends, are very important to our lives, but the way we go about it makes all the difference in the world.  The activities were not life giving, as a matter of fact, I spent many mornings after a college party feeling like death.  So did the activities themselves bring life?

After a weekend of celebrating with friends at a bachelor party in Chicago back in 2009, God spoke to me in a powerful way.  I had enjoyed the party scene a bit too much that weekend, and on my 5 hour drive home on Sunday I was kicking myself because I chose to drink to excess.  It had been a while since I had made this choice and it was tough to face but in this drive, I learned about repentance, about turing away from the old life into the new life.  I knew that the decisions I made that weekend were not a part of who I was deep in my heart, nor who I wanted to become.  At that point I took it to God asking for forgiveness, and for His help with changing the trajectory of my life so that I would never fall into that temptation again.  There was freedom after the pain.  I now live in a whole new light.

This is what I challenge you to think about as you listen to the message or consider what Psalm 1 is saying.  What are you doing that brings you life?  Awakens your soul?  Energizes you?  And what are you doing that deadens the soul?  Takes life out of you?  That is like “worthless chaff”?  Think about how you invest your time and feed your mind!  In doing so you may realize that your life centers around activities that are not helping you become like a TREE.  From the weekend parties, to the tv watching, to the music you listen too.  I constantly feel as though I need reevaluate what I do that helps Awaken My Soul so that I can truly live out what God has called me too, which is to inspire others to live into the life that God has created them to live!  I find that in order to do so, I need to listen to messages like that which Pastor Hybels prepared while driving to work or while on the road bike.  I pray that you will open your mind and heart to take time out to listen to a message that will help you become more like a TREE!  Maybe today is the day you will start to involve activities that bring you life, so you can become like the TREE God as created you to be!


Awake My Soul!

April 10, 2012

How did you celebrate Easter?  How has this year’s Easter changed your life?  Maybe you sacrificed something for the season of Lent.  In that process you may have recognized that what you gave up was not a need of survival in this life.  Perhaps you took on something new and as a result you have developed a new healthy habit.  Maybe you even hoped to find peace amidst the busyness of your life and are now taking time out from the things that distract you or keep you from rest.  What had I hoped for?

I had hoped to be rejuvenated and refreshed!  As our Intern Pastor, Eric Voelker, had shared in his Ash Wednesday Message, the intersection of the ashes and the cross is a place of transformation.  This transformation comes in the form of renewal as we prepare for the Spring season that is upon us!  In this time I was preparing for a transition, from 5.5 years of living with my best friend from high school who I have walked through more than half my life with to living with a brother in Christ who I first met at The Alpha Course at Lutheran Church of Hope in 2009 and have since been through multiple Bible and Book studies.  It is a period of renewal and a new season of life.  I cannot tell you how refreshed I have felt through this Lenten season, but as we celebrated this past weekend I experienced complete renewal, even after a long week of planning and preparation for our Holy Week services and activities.

I would attribute much of this renewal to the time spent in prayer with staff, students and friends during Holy week.  Then as we celebrated Easter at Lutheran Church of Hope Ankeny, it was clear!  I was again reminded that I was created with unique purpose and passion for life.  It was an awakening of my soul, that occurred as I was dancing during our worship service.  I want to share this opportunity with you to begin dancing, to allow God to “Awake Your Soul”, as we step from the Easter celebration into a life where you may continually find renewal each day.  I find my renewal each day through Christ and my prayer is that maybe this is where you can find yourself in the story.

Come back over the next 5 days and see if your soul becomes renewed!  Open your mind, heart and soul to the opportunity that allows the Holy Spirit to go to work.  Will you walk with me through this journey as we continue to live in the light of Jesus who was raised from the dead?