We have been so fortunate to be able to sing at some pretty cool places, with some pretty amazing people. At our last church, Jordan was able to write and record on a project called SONGS OF THE PEOPLE. Go get it on itunes if you haven’t heard it…so good. This was one of the tunes from that record. Jordan sang it this morning in a slightly different manner than we had done it before! ha.
I was struck by the pure nature of the song done this way. It occurred to me that some may feel that there is a song that they love, but they don’t have the resources to accomplish it; the orchestrations, the production equipment, or what have you. This piece was done (and beautifully done) with full band, choir, orchestra, and praise team behind it. Here it is done with one servant strumming a guitar, singing a reminder of God’s grace.
I am one that can put man-made restrictions on my praise sometimes. Praise God! He does not put such restrictions on how we praise Him.
How many times have we all heard the term “Christlike”? A million right? If you have been a believer trying to pursue spiritual growth, it is likely you have as well, but what does this term actually mean? What does being “like Christ” look like practically speaking? Is this characteristic even possible? Are we to pursue something that is actually not attainable to mere humans? After all, the attributes of Christ are powerful, sinless, humble, righteous, perfect, loving, and holy. I don’t know a single person who, even if they tried relentlessly could achieve this. So why would the Bible tell us to strive for something that can never actually be realized? Does it? This has been a question that the Lord has been dealing with me heavily on.
My pastor touched on this message tonight, and I loved it. Although, he would be the first to admit that this subject is far too exhaustive for one message. How can we discuss the idea of Christlikeness in one night? You can’t, but in all of my years of sitting under pretty amazing pastors, I’ve learned that the best messages are not those that pretend to give you all the answers. The best messages are those that leave you with a lot of questions; questions that you HAVE to go and wrestle with God to have answered.
I recently had someone I love very deeply warn me about the tendency I have to make my life revolve around the cerebral, particularly in my faith. He said it led to his “not really feeling anything, but doing things because he knew he should, not because he wanted to”. I tend to see things very black and white. I lead with my head and don’t understand those that feel things very deeply. In my immaturity, I looked down on the spiritual health of people who experience God differently than I do. God has wrecked me of that. I make decisions with pros and cons lists, with logic, and with a tendency toward arrogance. What killed me about this friend was that I understood this warning. I appreciated it because I know that in my flesh my faith can become all about right and wrong. It can become all about what I should DO instead of who I should BECOME. This loved one said that his life was so much better now that he is not bound by the “rigidity that comes with our faith”. The problem is, this is part of our faith. Absolutely it is.
God gave us the law in Exodus, and Jesus upheld it in His life. More than that he said,
So what is the first step to being Christlike? I believe, Scripture supports that it is obedience…and not just lawful doing what God says to do and not doing what He says not to do, but a submission to God’s authority. That means even if we disagree or don’t understand. Even if it makes absolutely no sense….like leaving the comfort of friends, family, an amazing church and going to someplace hard… obey…submit.
I recently did a post on David and what it means to be a man after God’s own heart. David understood this concept of obedience better than most. This is why he was given such an austere title that we all try to emulate thousands of years later.
But what about those times when we obey and we don’t get what we wanted or what we think we should? We all know the right answer….it’s all in God’s hands. But it sucks when it actually happens and often that answer is just painful when we’re in the middle of it. How do we deal with the disappointment? The best example of this is Jesus.
Remember the prayer in the Garden? Jesus prayed that God would take this cup from Him… and God didn’t. Jesus prayed for an outcome that didn’t come to pass, and that had to be disappointing, but the end of His prayer is paramount…” not my will, but thine be done”…OBEDIENCE- a submission to God’s authority; even if it’s painful…even if it costs us something. Something like comfort, position, entitlement, sex, authority, ministry, or a relationship.“ A submission to God’s authority” is the beginning to a life of Christ-likeness.
What happens when we show that kind of obedience? Go back to John 14:21
So when we obey God, He manifests Himself to us. What do we get when we obey through disappointment or pain or denial of self? We get intimacy with God. We cannot know God without understanding the HUMILITY of obedience.
But, there is something else we must strive for before we can say we are living lives striving for Christlikeness. “The greatest of these is love”. Christians have such a hard time with this. While straddling the line of grace and righteousness, some believers take a foot off of one or the other and lose their stability altogether. We MUST remain with feet planted firmly on BOTH. You do not have to relinquish your stance on righteousness to be full of grace, and you do not have to be full of judgment to be holy.
(Somewhat of a side note, but I feel it’s an important note: Obedience leads us to encounter God, and scripture teaches us that we CANNOT ENCOUNTER THE LIVING GOD AND REMAIN UNCHANGED (James 1:23). Anytime, someone has a genuine encounter with God, there is life change. If there is no change, there was no encounter. But this is a
charge FOR BELIEVERS.)
Christians often use this as a club with which to bludgeon non-believers into moral and biblical obedience. It’s not going to work. Grace upon grace upon grace for those that have not yet encountered God. My mom used to say it this way, “you’ve got to expect lost people to act like lost people”, and we’ve got to stop being surprised when people who don’t believe in Jesus don’t act like Jesus… THAT’S WHAT WE’RE FOR. And crucifying them for their perceived immorality ain’t gonna do anything to advance the Kingdom. God is not surprised by the degradation. Jesus, after all, raised holy hell on those in the temple and showed mercy to the tax collectors and prostitutes. Judgement here on Earth is for believers to keep each other accountable in love. Grace, church, grace.
That’s the love piece, but we are to never forget the “righteous” piece…that’s the head part.
The law is still in effect. It is still important and still applicable. The law was the physical embodiment of God’s call to righteousness and humility for His people. He wanted them to strive for morality and to recognize that they could never attain perfection. It is because of this that we have Christ- the embodiment of the complete gospel; righteousness and love.
We cannot have just one or the other, or we do not have the faith. We can struggle with one or the other but show me a judgmental pharisee and I will show you an idolatrous pagan who worships the tool of the Bible more than the God of the Bible.
Show me a spineless, compromising heretic and I will show you someone who worships the creation of God more than the being of God. You must understand the need for both- righteousness and grace. This, sadly, is what my friend didn’t quite understand. If you miss one, you miss God.
So what is it? What is the special formula to becoming Christlike? I believe that scripture supports the idea that to be like Christ, you must have a practicing life of obedience that leads to encountering God. This encounter compels us to a life of loving His children. “For those who love Christ, keep His commands”…and “the greatest of these is love”.
Would love your thoughts. Leave a comment.
I have always loved this adage. I cannot count the number of times someone has encouraged me from a pulpit to strive to be one “after God’s own heart”. It was very often from my dad, but since he was also the preacher I always envision him saying it from behind the large, elaborately carved, wooden pulpit he used to stand behind when he was a preacher in Mississippi. To be someone after God’s heart meant to love Him before all others. To align your desires with the desires of the Father. Of course, it didn’t mean to be perfect but to understand the importance of daily strife toward Christlikeness. I wanted to live daily so that everyone could tell that I lived for the Lord. I wanted to look different than those that lived for themselves and didn’t know the love of God that impacted my whole life. I wanted to be able to discern His voice above all of the other voices of the world that called me away from things that God would desire for me…like a sheep knows the voice of his shepherd, I wanted to know my God. This was the picture of someone who was a “man after God’s own heart.” Except that’s not what the Scripture says. Now, of course, all of these things are good things and can be found in one way or another in other scriptures… but it is not the definition given in scripture for how to be one after God’s heart.
This passage is very often quoted by those aspiring to bring motivation to their audience listening, but it is very rarely completed. An incomplete passage of scripture is very often a dangerous miscommunication. The completed passage says David “was a man after God’s own heart, for he will do ALL of my will.” Ouch. The Lord gave us the instruction manual on how to be a believer like David. He wasn’t perfect! Far from it! He basically hung out on a rooftop with binoculars so he could lurk at a naked neighbor… the guy was downright creepy. He was an adulterous, arrogant, murdering, lying, compromising, lazy, fearful, entitled aristocrat. But God could use him… because He was willing to be used. The only qualification to be a man/woman after God’s own heart was to do ALL of God’s will. Samuel was directed to David after God removed His blessing of Saul. Why did God do that?
Command. Just one command. He is not talking about the 10 commandments or the law. It would be impossible to keep all of the commandments for anyone….even the chosen King of Israel. There is one command that was given that was disobeyed. God commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites, but Saul kept some of the spoils of the victory for himself and his people even telling Samuel of his intention to sacrifice these pagan spoils to God. But Samuel said,
You see? Saul obeyed the Lord MOSTLY… until he saw what would be beneficial to him. “This makes sense God, so I will do this and I’m sure you will bless it.” Even though he was given clear instructions from God. He did what God told him to…MOSTLY.
David did ALL of God’s will. Now, there’s the hard part. What’s God’s will? The big picture is the same for everyone. God told us in his word “Go and make disciples”. That’s it. That’s what we as believers are called to do. Go and find an unreached people group in your own backyard or across the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We were created for God, but we are called to his people.
We hear the word “called” very often.
“I was called to serve as a missionary to Africa.”
“I was 3 years old when I was called to full-time ministry.”
“I’ve been called to leave this church and go do that ministry.”
We’ve heard it so often in the church that we’ve probably become very numb to this word…I know I have. It’s a weighted word that means that God has commanded an action of some sort usually for a ministry or evangelistic purpose. And often used in scripture to note those of us that are “set apart” or “called out” as believers. But often it’s used to justify a move in vocation or location. (this is not what the bible says, this is just Kayla talking..) I feel that Christians sometimes feel the need to spiritually justify everything. I was talking to a girlfriend of mine, whose husband is in ministry. Her husband had a ministerial position at a church, a very demanding one that dominated a lot of his time. He was offered a position at a different church. The pay was roughly the same, but he got more vacation time and it gave him more time with his wife and kids. When asked why they decided to move, my girlfriend would say, “it was just a great job opportunity.” Now, I’ve always loved this girl, but I seriously loved her more. It is important to note that there is nothing super spiritual about sacrificing your family for your ministry. Your family comes second to God himself, of course, but not to your church…and there is a difference. There was no need for the “churchy answer” of “ well, we just feel the Lord calling us to this church”…even though that may be true! It was a great job opportunity to allow this man to do ministry to which he was “called” in a place that allowed him to provide for his family both financially and emotionally. That word holds significant weight and if we use it sparingly, it will hold its value much better and maintain our reputations as wise prophets of the Word.
So what’s the little voice that answers the prayers of His people? That’s God’s direction to enable His calling. I am in no way saying that someone who says “I have been called” is mishearing the Lord. Just encouraging caution when using words with a heavenly weight by giving them an earthly measure. “Now that’s just semantics, Kayla! Calm down!” Yes, it is!! Words mean something and when we say them, we are teaching theology as believers to those younger in the faith than we are. And in this age of social media where catchphrases can “catch fire”… be wise.
David was by no means perfect, but he was obedient. He was obedient to do ALL of God’s will. Is that even possible? Can we do ALL of God’s will ALL the time? Yes… if not then scripture would be less than true..so how? Well, it obviously does not require a sinless life or David most certainly would not be a candidate for such a title. From what I can surmise from reading the scriptures the difference between a leader like David and a leader like Saul is that Saul may have obeyed but for his own gain (like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal). He followed God for the victories in battle that gave His kingdom security and His pride applause from his people. When God removed His favor, his people applauded another and his heart was led to envy revealing that his obedience was never to God for love of God but for love of self. David’s heart beat for what God’s heart beat for. He desired to do what God wanted him to do for the love of God and the glory of His name. He was obedient to follow the Lord’s instruction and repent when he failed Him. He recognized his humanity and submitted to God’s deity. He obeyed when spoken to and bowed to the real King of Israel. He failed, but fell on his face before a holy and worthy God. He was a man after God’s own heart that did ALL of God’s will.
It is so strange to spend a whole day without Jozzy, but I know she is absolutely loving her time of playing and learning with a bunch of kids! I always love hearing her talk about her day when I go pick her up, BUT I swear it feels like I am just meeting my youngest daughter. Kenny tends to come alive. She is goofy, and silly, and energetic and she loves to make believe. She loves to put on my heels and grab a purse and proclaim “Bye Mom! I go to work!” I’ll tell her bye and then she’ll return and say, “I’m back!”
Today, we went to Central Park, which we’ve done a lot but not just with her. We had a blast and she wanted to do a little photo shoot. Jozzy always loves taking pictures, but this time, Kenny was the center of attention and she loved it.
Last week, I wrote about taking Jozzy to the theater in an Anastasia costume. Since Halloween is coming, here is a quick DIY if you want to make your own princess dress for your little princess.
I scoured the internet for a toddler sized costume for the Russian princess and found NOTHING! I decided I was going to have to jimmy rig something. But when I did research I found that the Broadway costume is totally different than the finale film dress. I knew Jozlyn would request the film dress, but would be so ecstatic to see the dress she was wearing on stage. So I showed her pictures of Anya’s Broadway dress and she agreed that it would be better to go with her red dress…whew.
So, for any other Broadway lovers out there…. here are the steps to making this dress…
Here is the original Broadway dress…..
This is the dress I purchased for about $20…
The first thing I did is CUT THAT FLOWER OFF!
Get some gold trimming and red jewels from your
local fabric/craft store or online…
This ran me another $20
The dress ended up being a bit big on top (she’s tiny), so I just tried it on her and tightened the side seam and straps.
Lay out a pattern for your appliques, and decide what you like. Play with things to get the right scale. Luckily, this Russian-inspired gown called for opulence… the more the better!
I was not excited that the dress has rhinestones on it when I first got the dress, but it ended up adding a bit I think. I layered on one applique at the bust and a simple small one to lengthen the center to her waist.
I then went to town pinning all of my appliques in place..making tweaks as I went. Once I was happy with the placement, I thought I would glue them down… but, I decided to bite the bullet and hand sew them (you can just sew them down). I know some of you are thinking “Why didn’t she just use her machine!?” Well, I tried and broke 2 needs on the embedded sequence… ouch. I had the time, so I just took out my needle and thread and did it myself. It actually took a lot less time than I expected.
Once the appliques were secure, I could get to the fun part…. JEWELS! I bought way too many jewels, but they were pretty and I knew I wanted to make it obnoxiously gawdy! ha. I simply Gorilla Glued the gems in place and tried my best to edit my desires to bedazzle the entire gown. I think it turned out just right.
At this point, my plan was complete… but it never is with me.
One of my favorite aspects of the gown is its silhouette. It is very similar to an Audrey Hepburn gown… a classic 50’s line where there are two skirts: a slim fitting column skirt seen through the front slit of a voluminous top skirt. It is one of my favorite designs in all of fashion and I hated that it wasn’t a part of this mini copy.
I had to at least reference it, so I slit the top layer of the dress right down the middle and tacked it back to reveal the silk under skirt. In the original dress the bottom skirt is almost a baroque pattern. I was not going to spend any more money as I was already at my budget, so I took some leftover trim and cut out some pieces to form a pattern down the center of the underskirt I had revealed. It was not exact but at least it was a nod to the beauty of the Broadway design.
After adding a few more gems to the new pattern and the tiara, I stepped back and felt pretty good about what had been done. Jozzy was going to love it.
If you tackle this (or others), leave a picture in the comments! Good luck!
It is no secret that one of the best parts about living in New York, in my humble opinion, is the access to the most incredible theater in the world! I have always loved theater. My grandmother sat me down in front of the tv to watch musicals since I was born. My babysitter from that time said I had SOUND OF MUSIC memorized at 6… in its entirety… including choreo…:) That started a love affair for musicals that grew to a love of theater. I loved the music, the dance, and the clothes!! Vera Ellen’s dresses that swirled around her as she turned across the floor, Julie Andrews turning curtains into day clothes for a litter of children, Marilyn Monroes beautifully ornate gowns. Period pieces, contemporary works of art… I just love the clothes that litter the stages and screens of the theater. I’ve been obsessed my whole life.
One of my favorite pictures I own is one of Jozlyn before she turned 1. She had a bad ear infection and would scream everytime I laid her flat. The only thing that would help quiet her for a few minutes at a time was when I put on SINGIN IN THE RAIN on my laptop. She would crook her little neck to watch Gene Kelly dance gracefully across the screen. I knew I had my theater buddy! I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.
I now have two little girls… two girly girls… and I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I get to take my baby girls to their first Broadway show. The day finally arrived for my oldest. We took Jozlyn to see ANASTASIA. She already knew most of the music since we had been watching it on repeat since we decided to go. And since I tend to the dramatic, I decided my little princess should go decked out as a princess.
She was so excited! When Anastasia came out on stage in this dress, Jozlyn freaked out! I love making my baby girl happy!
Here are some of our favorite shots of the day.
She was wide awake when we were headed home… at nearly midnight! haha
Thanks for checkin in!
This is not happening. I feel like this cannot be happening, but it is! I am sending my daughter off to school. Not mother’s day out. Not a two day a week day care….SCHOOL! What is happening!?
We found a great, Christian school in Queens and were blessed enough to find a way to get her in at the last minute! She was so excited that “going to school” became the go-to bribe for the whole week before she went. I would say, “Now Joz, you need to obey Mommy like a big girl. Big girls get to go to school, but babies stay home with Mommy all day.” Like I was actually going to consider not taking her to school! lol.
She picked out her outfit and I bought her a new jacket. Kenny was even unwittingly excited…not realizing she was going to be without her best friend during the day now. My big girl smiled the whole morning even though we had to wake her up earlier than practically she’d ever been woken. New York is amazing, but since we moved here during the summer, it’s been hard to for her to find friends. And Jozzy is a social girl, so no kids around is a bit of a problem for her. I knew school would solve a lot of her loneliness and have been so excited to see her little eyes light up like this!
I am so going to miss having her infectious energy with me all day, but am so excited to see how she blossoms in this new environment! I just hope the teacher can contain her! lol
So I’m way late on this post, but one of the first places we went when we got here was the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. We had heard so many great things about this place and I couldn’t wait to get the kids there. It’s located in the Upper West, so it took me a while to get the kids dressed, on the train and carted up there, but I just knew once we got there, it would all be worth it. My resolve was strengthened when I got out of the train station and saw Mandy Patinkin walking toward me!!! Day made!
Once we got in, I checked in at the front desk and paid the entrance fee… it’s $14 a person to get in which is normally pretty steep, but I didn’t mind since I had heard that no kids New York experience was complete without a trip here. After we checked the stroller and bags, we walked into the main room full of anticipation. It is a room filled with memorabilia and interactive displays about Islam and some countries where Islam is prevalent. Jozlyn was enamored with the room where there is a massive screen that you can control with a touch screen. You pick a spot on the globe and it will show you an interactive view of the Mosque built there.
There is also a space that shows how people shop in those areas: the spices, the tapestries and other things found in the markets. Then you can go and jump on the large ship and imagine you are navigating the waters of the Meditteranean. It was very interesting, but after about half an hour, my girls were pretty much done.
I walked around trying to find the way to another room, but couldn’t find any. I finally asked someone if there was another space and was directed downstairs to a basically empty room filled with “block stations”. I was pretty perturbed that this was all there was for $14 a person! Kendall was pretty much done, but we were going to suck every penny out of this place that we could! And so I forced Kendall to find something to play with down here.
After about another 30 minutes and a total meltdown by Kenny, we decided to take off. We found the elevator to get back to the main floor. Once, in the elevator, I saw signage…. for 4 OTHER FLOORS OF EXHIBITS! haha I felt so ridiculous! We quickly ran through the other floors, but Kendall was not going to last long, so I made a mental note to come back and explore fully.
We made the second trip recently, so here are the pictures from both of our fun times at the CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN. If you are bringing young kids to the city, it’s a great place to let them loose! I know a lot of families feel like they have to keep a very close eye everywhere they go here, but this place is safe and so fun for them!
Thanks for checking in guys!
I was originally going to title this post What your worship pastor really wants you to know, but I am not a worship pastor, don’t speak for all worship pastors. I am married to a worship pastor, but I don’t even pretend to speak for him. So this is just the passions of a woman who loves to worship God and is heartbroken when people misunderstand what worship is for what we can more easily understand.
If you ever engage Jordan or me in conversation for more than about 10 minutes, our faith is probably going to come up. It’s just something that drives us and has become entwined with our DNA. We see this as nothing but a positive thing. It helps us have compassion, generosity, love, humility, grace, and patience… all of these attributes are not ones that come completely naturally to me, for sure. And don’t get me wrong…. we are far from perfecting these actions, but we are working on it.
One thing that has helped me is to stay intellectually motivated by a good library of books. I am proud (and shocked) to say that I have recently (very recently) become a lover of books! Why this love did not develop in high school I will never know! It would have been very helpful in getting through Oscar Wilde. I love authors like Francine Rivers, Gail McWilliams, Tim Keller, and, of course, Josh McDowell. Recently, we’ve been absolutely obsessed with a book by Zachary Neese out of Gateway called HOW TO WORSHIP A KING
We took our last team through this book, and the kind of discussion that was brought out due to its content was humbling. It’s provocative and unafraid. It dares to ask questions of our thought processes and traditions. It challenges you on what you think of when you hear the word “worship”. What worship is and isn’t. Is there danger in defining it? Is there danger in NOT defining it? Why do people care so deeply about it in our churches?
“Worship” is a very controversial concept. Whenever change is considered to the “worship”, people get very upset. Why? Why is it that the worship seems to cause so much conflict within the walls of the church? But what is meant by “changes to the worship”? Most of the time, it’s referencing changes to the music style or atmosphere. We have all heard “worship is a lifestyle”, but is that true? And what does it even mean? If it means, it’s anything we do with pure hearts in motives… is that biblical worship? Or something else?
Though, I know well intentioned, I hate this catchphrase. It does nothing to further our understanding of worship. It was intended to encourage believers to live a life focused on God, but what it’s become is to believe that everything you do FOR God is worship. And that is just not true…biblically. We can do a lot of great things for God. We can praise, we can serve, we can teach, we can pray, but there is an actual definition of “worship” and, I would say, that actual “worship” is something that makes a lot of believers incredibly uncomfortable and so not done often.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… leave a comment.
Here are a couple things that have really stood out to me when speaking with worship pastors:
Worship in scripture was a physical posturing before a Holy God. It actually meant “to bow”. (To learn all the usages and meaning, please read the book…can not recommend it enough) Now, before someone says that that does not mean that you cannot worship in music, let me say…of course you can. But it is by no means synonymous with the word. When you can understand that your worship is not affected by the music because you can reflect on God’s character and nature no matter if there is a rock band or an organ playing, then we can stop the battle happening on both sides of the proverbial aisle. Everybody has a preference of music. My husband is trained in opera and sang in a metal band. He would sooner put on some band I refuse to name because I don’t like it enough to remember the name than my Broadway stuff. That’s just a preference of style. There can be no music at all and we can reflect on how holy God is. If you CANNOT WORSHIP due to the style played…that is a reflection of your heart, not the “worship”. No leader can affect your response to God…it is solely your choice to worship Him or not.
My husband was encouraged to write a philosophy of worship in college. We’ve spent many times in the car (when we had one) talking about it. I’m sure it will be ever changing but here’s what God has brought me to today:
I think when we are in a space to understand the awesomeness of God, we will have no choice but to fall on our face in worship.
If you are someone who has ever been frustrated at the music or the leader or been that leader, I seriously encourage you to read the book.