Tag Archives: praise

Weathering the Winter Season– A Guest Post by Jessica Patch

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I’m a visual kind of girl. I need to see things to understand them. I love that Jesus used parables in the Bible to help people understand what it was He was teaching. He still does that today, if we’ll listen and let him.

This past month we had some crazy weather for winter. It was rainy but in the high 60’s and low 70’s. I know I live in the south, but our winters are cold, even without snow.

One Saturday morning, I decided I needed a walk. Fresh air. It didn’t matter that the clouds were pitch and pregnant, ready to pour down. It was warm.

As I walked through our subdivision, I noticed the barren trees. Almost all of them totally void of leaves. The winter season had hit. And yet every single tree still had branches raised to the heavens. As if declaring, “We will honor God, though we’ve been stripped bare. The rains, winds, and cold will not silence our praise and surrender to the King of all Kings. The Lord of all Lords.”

I cried during that walk as I reflected on my winter seasons. Did I keep my arms lifted in praise and surrender when I felt stripped bare? Or did I choose to weep and drop my arms along with my trust and faith, like the Willow?

Some winter seasons, I did not. But as I’ve grown more mature in the Lord, I’ve discovered that I can weather the winter, if I remember that God is in charge of the seasons and nothing separates me from His love.

“He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:21

He’s in control of kings and world events and I know He’s in control of my seasons as well.

Share with me: How do you fair in winter seasons of your life?

Jessica R Patch

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance with plenty of mystery and suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with heaping cups of caffeine in the form of coffee. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer’s class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, beating her son at board games and contemplating how to get rid of her irksome dog (she hasn’t attempted any of them…yet). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency. Connect with Jessica R. Patch at her website.

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Winning The War of Worship

My pastor recently preached a sermon on worship.  He said that the scriptures state that we are all to open our mouths and sing to the Lord.

As he spoke the words, I could feel the tension in the sanctuary beginning to thicken.  Suddenly, attention had been called once again to the battle that our church, and many churches throughout the world, have been fighting for years now.

How to worship.

There are two camps: those who believe that the traditional way is best, and those who believe that a more contemporary way is best.  And a lot of times the battle boils down to a will of generations– those who prefer the tried and true way, and those who want change.

The arguments of both sides are valid.  The traditional camp believes that the hymns and songs of the faith that have been sung for years (in the cases of some hymns, literally hundreds of years) present the most reverent offer of worship to the Lord and connect the founders of the faith with the followers of today.

The contemporary camp believes that in order to draw in the lost and entertain worshipers, the songs should be new, raw, and most of the time accompanied with a band that consists of at least a guitar, keyboard, and drums.

But the real issue here is not traditional v. contemporary.  The real issue is about the intentions in the hearts of the worshipers. 

Worship isn’t about the how, but about the who.

Who is being glorified by the worship?  Is it the organist?  Is it the band?  Is it the singers in the choir loft, on the stage, or in the pews?  The correct answer is that only One should be glorified in our worship.

Reading carefully through the Psalms, it’s easy to see how David and the other authors glorified God with their voices and their instruments, not concerned about the comfort level of their fellow man; only concerned that God’s ears would be pleased with the sounds of his devoted faithful.

The scriptures say that if we do not praise Him, the rocks will.  Verse 12 of Psalm 96 says that the trees will praise his name.  We can be certain that the rocks, seas, mountains, hills and trees don’t care about what instruments are being used or whether the tempo of the song is too fast or too slow.

When we begin to fuss and argue over style of worship we are forgetting the true meaning of the word.    

When we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, worship is a time for us to pour our hearts out to God in gratitude for his mercies and grace through the sacrifice of His son.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

When we think about just how amazing God’s mercy is and how it has changed our lives and adjust the attitude of our hearts, the worship will pour out.  No matter the format, arms raised or folded, tempo fast or slow, words in a hymnal or on a screen, God will be glorified.

And that’s all that matters.

Personally, I find amazing worship in all types of music within the church tradition.  There is no song more beautiful to my mind than How Great Thou Art.  And when I imagine what it will be like to sit at the throne of God and sing of His wondrous love, no song is more powerful to me than You Are Holy (Isaiah 6).

Share with me: What’s your favorite worship song or hymn and why?

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Prayer, Praise, & Dirty Little Secrets

It’s prayer request time in your Sunday school class or Bible study group.  People take turns sharing while you listen quietly, trying not to zone out and think about the movie you saw last night or the growing to-do list that you’d really rather be working on than sitting and listening to people whine about their problems.

Aunt Edna has cancer. She needs healing.

Billy Bob was in a car accident. Praise that he survived with only a scratch.
Sheila and her husband are leaving for a two week cruise in the Mediterranean.  They need traveling mercies.
Dave lost his job and needs a new one.
Priscilla’s friend at work has a daughter whose step-son knows a boy who knocked out a tooth at a baseball game.  Pray for him.
And Jessica has an unspoken.

I’m not making light of these prayer requests because I am a very firm believer in the power of prayer, and that no prayer request, when made with a genuine heart that seeks after God’s will, could ever be unworthy.  However, let’s be honest.  All of us have listened to others share prayer requests that are a little…questionable.  Does Sheila actually expect you to pray for traveling mercies, or was she looking for a reason to boast about her upcoming vacation?  Does Priscilla actually expect you to pray for a person she doesn’t even know, or was she just looking for a reason so share something with the group?

And what is up with an “unspoken”?  How many of us hear that word in prayer circles and immediately begin imagining the worst?  Since Jessica requested prayer for an unspoken, that probably means that she just found out she’s pregnant, she lost her job, and her husband left her- all yesterday- and she doesn’t want to talk about it.  But you will.

In the spirit of “praying” for one another, we often feel the need to discuss the problems of others with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in the effort to make sure we’re all “praying” for them, of course.  “Did you hear about Wanda and Geraldo?  Let me tell you all the details I have about their outrageous behavior.  Wait- you’re gonna pray for them, right??”

There is a very thin line between discussing the problems of others with our brothers and sisters in Christ in an effort to make sure everyone is “praying” and just flat out gossping. Recently I was speaking with a young woman at church and she made the comment, “I just wish everyone would stop talking about it and start praying.”  I suddenly felt like my friends and I were stuck in a production of The Music Man and we were the hens from Pick-a-Little/Talk-a-Little.  It was a very convicting moment. 

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  James 5:16

When someone shares a prayer request within the comfort of a group, whether it is your Sunday school class, your Bible study group, or maybe just over coffee with you, there is an unspoken, yet expected air of confidentiality.  Sure, maybe they are announcing it to others, but unless they are specifically asking for it to be shared, it’s probably best that we don’t. 

How many of us have said, “I’ll pray for you!” and then don’t do it?  I know that in the South, where I live, “I’ll pray for you!” is one of those phrases thrown around commonly with, “bless her heart,” and “God love ‘im.”  “I’ll pray for you” are powerful words–they come with an automatic assumption of expectations.  Those words bring hope to others, and help them to believe that they are not alone.

Prayer is powerful.  It works.  Scripture tells us how to pray and just how powerful it is.  What a comfort it is to go to someone and say, “Will you pray?” and know with 100% certainty that they will do so.  What a comfort it is to know that you are not alone in your struggle or event, and that others are lifting you up to the Lord. You don’t have to be a prayer warrior or a master at intercessory prayer to lift someone up.  So if you say you’re going to pray for someone- Do It.

On more than one occasion I’ve prayed, “Lord, I know I told someone I’d pray for them today but I can’t remember for the life of me what they needed prayer for.  Thank goodness you know, Lord, so I lift that prayer request up to you now.”  And I am thankful that He knows all of our prayers, praises, and dirty little secrets.

Want a good laugh? Funnyman Tim Hawkins has some good stuff on what we pray and how we do it.

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