The Lord is my Maestro

In my Thursday morning bible study, we are studying the Psalms.  Several weeks ago, while studying Psalm 23, we were challenged to create our own psalm.  It took me several weeks, but I finally did.  I know it’s a little cheesy and I am a rhyme-er, so it mostly all rhymes.  But – here it is nonetheless:

     The LORD is my Maestro, I will sing for Him alone.

     He fills me with joy and excitement as He lets me play my part,
     He rejoices over me with singing, and puts His music in my heart.

     He stirs my soul and pulls out the innermost parts of me,
     So that I can play a part in His majestic symphony!

     Even when life is hard and I’m stuck in a minor key,
     I know He’ll lead me through it with His perfect melody.

     And when no one cares or understands the songs I choose to sing,
     He lovingly reminds me that I’m singing only for my King!

     As God allows, my lifesong will proclaim His Holy Name,
     And then He’ll fly me up to Heaven where I’ll worship with the saints!

How He Loves

The song, How He Loves, by John Mark McMillan has had an enormous impact on me these last few months. We’ve sung it at the Edge a few times and I’ve been told that it has affected many of the students as well. I absolutely love this song. For a million reasons. I love that it is grounded in biblical truth. I love that it is real and raw. I love that it came out of real life experience and real emotion. But mostly I love that the author wasn’t afraid to be real in the lyrics. He wrote exactly what he felt like he needed to say. I love that.
When I write songs, most of them come directly from my journal. Many of them are what I was saying to God, or what God was saying to me. They are usually very personal. This song is so very personal. Not just to John Mark, but to me, and to so many people all over the world.
I think that the Gospel message can really be summed up in the words to the chorus of this song:

He loves us, Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves!!

I also really love the (controversial) lyrics in the 2nd verse:

Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way…(He loves us!)

I honestly hate that there are so many churches that feel that they need to change the lyrics of the song in order to make it more ‘comfortable’ for the congregations. I hate that we feel that we have to make the Gospel more ‘comfortable’ for people. I believe that Christ’s birth, death and resurrection were anything but comfortable. I very much believe that they were very messy and uncomfortable (you might even say kind of like a ‘sloppy wet kiss’). I wish that we spent less time worrying about offending people with the message of Christ and more time worrying about people dying without Him!

In regards to the controversial lyrics, John Mark had this to say:

“The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of
earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think
about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!”

If you haven’t heard the song yet, check it out here.

Hypocritical Worship

“I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies…Away from me with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry.”
Amos 5:21, 23-24

God was talking here to the Israelites who were, according to God, extremely unjust and wicked. They were lying, cheating, oppressing the poor. He called them hypocrites because they talked about worship and sacrifice, but they ignored the injustices happening among them. In these verses it is obvious that these injustices and the lack of righteous living were absolutely essential to worship. They could not worship God on Sunday (or Saturday actually, right?) and act like everyone else the rest of the week.
When our life outside the church walls doesn’t match our life inside the church walls – When we say we love Jesus, but can’t love our co-worker or neighbor – When we promise to follow His ways, but ignore the hurting or needy all around us – our worship becomes hollow. It becomes useless to God. Worship is, after all, more than music – it’s about obedience. I have heard worship defined as “our response to who God is and what God has done.”

I do think it’s interesting that in these verses he specifically talks about music. Have you ever been singing a song on Sunday morning about the amazing grace of Jesus Christ when you realized that you are still angry at your spouse for something that happened earlier that day or even that week?? I have. Have you ever sat in the middle of the worship service and been annoyed or even angry about the odd outbursts of someone who may be new to church and God and who is quite different than the people you normally see come through your church doors? Guilty.

God doesn’t care at all for offerings of worship that aren’t backed up by our lifestyle. He isn’t interested in hollow worship. He isn’t pleased by singing hypocrites – no matter how beautiful we think we sound.

If we seek to worship God, we must also seek His justice. If we seek to worship God, we must also share His grace. If we seek to truly worship God, we must stand up for what is right (no matter what people think of us).

I’m reminded of a song I’ve loved for a long time called Stand by Susan Ashton. Here is my favorite part…

In a moment of truth at the top of the will
I open my arms and let go of my will
And stand with my face to the wind
With the storm beating down
On this sacred ground
If I stand, for the graceI have known
For what I believe
Then I won’t stand alone – no I won’t stand alone.

Not Good Enough…part 2

I’ve been thinking lately. If God’s going to do what God’s going to do regardless of what we do … does it matter what we do at all? Is our effort, planning, hard work, talent, skill, etc important at all in the scheme of God’s plan? It must be – or He wouldn’t give us the skills, abilities, knowledge to do those things.
I know that God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will – BUT He chooses to use us. In light of that…
I believe we should offer our everything. The very best we have to give. I can’t imagine anyone would disagree with that, but how often do we really live that way?
Like the story in John 12 about the anointing at Bethany. When Mary came with her very best perfume, in a very large bottle and poured it all out on Jesus feet – she was giving him everything she had. Holding nothing back. She didn’t bring whatever was closest to the door (most convenient), the one that was easiest to find or carry, she didn’t pick something off the street to bring to Jesus. She picked the very best, most expensive, most treasured thing she had to offer to her King. She wasn’t concerned with convenience, ease or cost.
She knew it would cost her. I wonder what she was giving up in order to bring that offering to Jesus. I’m guessing it was just as much a sacrifice as an offering. I’m guessing that it probably cost her a meal or two or ten – and it meant that she would be questioned, ridiculed, criticized . I wonder if she was afraid what people would think? I wonder if she was wondering how she would take care of her bills/food/family? I am wondering if she thought about anything else at all – other than the incredible privilege of bringing her very best to the One and Only?

I am reminded of a specific time in my life when I abandoned all in worship of that same One and Only. There was a mission trip I was a part of as a teenager – called Houston 2000. I honestly don’t remember what we did there. I don’t remember what the purpose of the trip was (sad, huh?). I only remember that it is there that Jesus met me where I was and taught me how to worship. Not just in song, but in lifestyle. Not just through music, but through thoughts and intentions and obedience. It was in that place that I understood for the first time what it felt like to abandon everything for the sake of getting just a little closer to the Savior. Usually when we pray or worship we bow our heads or get lower to the ground as a picture of reverence and devotion. That’s a wonderful thing. But that time God brought me to a place where I was standing on my tip-toes reaching up as high as I could desperate to be closer to him. My eyes were wide open and I was looking up to that ugly ceiling and sobbing and singing with everything in me that Jesus was my everything. Oh to go back to that place.

I have experienced many similar moments over these last 10 years – but none like that one. It was my first. Firsts are special. The first time I met Jesus was special – I will never meet Him like that again. The first time I held each of my daughters were special – I will never feel like that again with any of them. The first time I held my husband’s hand and looked into his eyes was special. Even though I love him more now than I ever thought possible – it will never feel like it did that first time.

That moment in Houston, TX I met Jesus in a way that I never have since. It was the moment that I understood that He wants my everything. Not just some of me – but all of me. Not just my best – but my VERY best. Not just 1 day a week, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anything less than that is not good enough. My last post was all about how I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of not-good-enough. I hope that won’t always be the case. I struggle EVERY day – EVERY moment – with trying to remember to give God my everything. My thoughts. My works. My family. My job. My relationships. My obedience. My words. My intentions. My feelings. I know He wants it all. I wonder if in our busy schedules, many responsibilities, and all the things we do FOR God we are missing the simple act of sitting at His feet giving Him everything we have heart and soul?

God deserves my best, expects my best and even demands my very best. Anything short of that is not good enough. I pray that today I will make every effort to serve him instead of others, to love him instead of myself, to focus on him instead of all the ‘things’ I need to get done. And I pray that I will learn to rely on His strength and instruction in order to do all of those things. I pray that my life today will be an act of worship of my One and Only. Anything less than that is simply not good enough.

Not Good Enough

I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of not good enough. How about you? It really gets me down a lot of the time. I feel like no matter how hard I work, or how much I prepare, or how badly I want to give my everything – there is always something that holds me back or drags me down. I feel like the more I know God, the more I know about Him – the more ‘not good enough’ I feel.
I don’t think that it’s such a bad thing to always want to give more, do more, be more for Christ. I actually think it’s a good thing for me to feel that way about myself.
BUT…here’s where it becomes a not-so-good thing. My incredibly high standards that I set for myself (and never feel like I come close to achieving) are starting to color my opinions of others around me. I often expect everyone around me to aim for those impossible standards too, and when they don’t I get really frustrated. I KNOW it’s my own issue – and that I should only worry about myself, but have been really struggling with it lately.

In John 21, Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him and Peter keeps saying yes – and Jesus keeps saying, then feed my sheep..then this happened…

20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”


It’s interesting that in the middle of the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach Peter – about how to love Him – he gets distracted by someone else around him and wants to know what Jesus wanted to do with him. Jesus says basically that it’s none of his business – and that all that should matter to Peter is what Peter will do. I have been focusing a lot on this passage lately and have been making huge efforts to focus on my service, my job, my responsibilities as a follower of Christ and not worrying about everyone else’s responsibilities. It’s a battle I struggle with almost daily – and I intend to win.

Jesus says to me today…’as for you, Kim…you must follow me.”

The Heart Factor

I’ve been blogging since May of 2005. Crazy, right? I was reading back through some of the very first blogs I wrote and came across this one…I figured since I have pretty much all new readership (is that a word?) I would re-blog one of my very first blogs…

I have just started reading a book called “The Sacred Romance” by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge and had to share a piece of it with you: “In the end, it doesn’t matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished – a life without heart is not worth living. For out of this wellspring of our soul flowers all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. Our faith, hope, and love issue from this fount, as well. Because it is in our heart that we first hear the voice of God and it is in the heart that we come to know him and learn to live in his love.” It is often interesting to me, although not suprising, that when God is trying to tell me something He will continue to tell it to me in as many ways as possible until I get it. Well, God – message received.
In the beginning of the book I am reading, the author mentions that all of us – no matter our relationship with Christ, are always wanting more. More love, more emotion, more meaning – More Heart. I can definitely relate to the desire for more out of life – as I’m sure you can. I have been overwhelmed with the feeling lately that there is so much more than I am getting. I seek God – but do I seek Him hard enough? I praise God – but do I praise him often enough? I worship God – but do I worship with ALL of my life, or simply with my song? I have to confess that everything I could ever give would never be enough. So, how do I get more? I’m not exactly sure. I suppose that just knowing that there is more will force me to seek harder and praise more often and try to learn how to worship with everything that is me. At least I hope that is the case.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Currently I’m reading the book, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. I’m only in the first chapter so far, but must say that I’m already in love with the book. I actually had to read the preface twice – that must be the mark of a good book. Anyway, last night I read something that I really enjoyed. Here’s a snippit:

“God is holy. A lot of people say that whatever you believe about God is fine, so long as you are sincere. But that is comparable to describing your friend in one instance as a three-hundred pound sumo wrestler and in another a s a five-foot-two, ninety-pound gymnast. No matter how sincere you are in your explanations, both descriptions of your friend simply cannot be true.
The preposterous part about our doing this to God is that He already has a name, an identity. We don’t get to decide who God is. God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’. We don’t change that.
To say that God is holy is to say that He is set apart, distinct from us. And because of His set apart-ness, there is no way we can ever fathom all of who He is. To the Jews, saying something three times demonstrated its perfection, so to call God ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ is to say that He is perfectly set apart, with nothing and no one to compare Him to. That is what it means to be ‘holy’.”

I LOVE the sumo-wrestling friend analogy. We don’t get to decide who God is. He already is. We can learn who He is to a certain degree. And despite my seemingly constant state of confusion about what He’s going to do next, I am grateful that I will never fully understand God. If God were able to be fully understood, what kind of God would that be? I enjoy the big-ness of God – the fact that His ways are not my ways. But that He is bigger than I know, more powerful than I could dream of, He is beyond my wildest imaginations – that’s the God I love!
I’m reminded of an old children’s song at this moment. I know it’s a little silly – but there is so much truth in the words of the song. Come on, sing it with me now:
“My God is so BIG!, so strong and so mighty – there’s nothing my God cannot do! ”

I’m believing God’s BIG-ness today!