Say “no” to the Sugar Cookie & “yes” to Jesus!

(THIS IS NOT A DIET MESSAGE, I PROMISE!)

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Today, as I watched people hustling about at the outdoor mall, I had the sense that many were scurrying around Christmas shopping just to hide pain and pressure.  Somehow just walking into stores and browsing seems to dull the ache and memories.  I am writing, today, to all those who are having trouble with the holidays because every Christmas reminds you of a wound you have experienced or a pain you remember from childhood or you are on stress overload.  You look at all the pictures posted on facebook, instagram and all forms of media and conclude that life is good for everyone but you. You dream of a life depicted by social media but decide that for you, it is going to be another season of battling through loneliness and heartbreak.  You may have lost your job, your family has been broken and/or you are all alone. Quite possibly you took a run through the drive through coffee shop or ate a sugar cookie just to try and numb the pain.  However, after several cups of caffeine and a sugar cookie high, you feel more distraught than ever.

If you fit any of these categories,
I have a word for you today.

Christmas is NOT about the things you see, touch or feel.  Christmas is not about trees, lights and peppermint.  It is not about shopping, friends or even family.

The Christmas season is highlighted to announce and remind us of a Savior who came to bring hope and salvation to all nations.  Jesus Christ, the Savior of the lonely and brokenhearted.  Jesus is the Savior of the downtrodden and hopeless. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world who came and continually comes to bring JOY to all mankind.  I am not talking about the joy that we experience in a moment of family fun, or laughter or even the joy of a new born, but rather a joy that comes from deep within at the knowledge of the ONE who gave everything for us.

It says in John 1:26-26, “I baptize in this river, but the One who will take my place is to be more honored than I, but even when he stands among you, you will not recognize or embrace him! I am not worthy enough to stoop down in front of him and untie his sandals!”   This all took place at Bethany, where John was baptizing at the place of the crossing of the Jordan River. (Passion)

John baptized at the Jordan announcing a new era for Israel. This place of crossing is likely where the children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land when the Jordan River parted and they passed through on dry land. (Joshua 3) This place became a powerful reminder of crossing over into a new day, a new era for Israel.  This was the place chosen by God for John to baptize.  As the Lamb of God, Jesus was publicly washed and proven to be without flaw or blemish, ready to become the sacrifice for all the world.  Although he would become the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in resurrection power, John points to him as the meek Lamb, a willing sacrifice for our sins. (Passion)  Today, right now, grab unto the fact that this can be a new crossing over season for you, a crossing over into the internal joy of knowing Christ in an intimate way. 

Christmas points to the One, the Lamb of God, and the only one who can bring true joy.  Happiness in this world is fleeting but joy always comes from within at the knowledge of what He did for us and continues to do everyday as we look to Him to take the sorrow, the pain, and to bring the prodigals home.  It is the joy that knowing that one day, all sorrow will pass and you will enter into eternity truly hearing the angelic song of the Lord, “Worthy is the Lamb!”

Today, as you look away from yourself and to Him, you will sense the real joy of Christmas begin to fill your heart and soul.  As you focus on His goodness, the presence of the Father will fill your heart.  Most importantly, as you learn to trust Him in all things, true joy will manifest in your heart.  After all, He is the best dad in all of heaven and earth and we are certainly His kids.  Daddy, thank you for Jesus. You really do love us!

Put away the sugar cookie, the wasted time trying to run from pain, grab a cup of hot chocolate and sit with the One who will bring peace to your heart.  The Prince of Peace has come to the earth and sits right there with you today. Offer Him your heart, your stress and your hurt.  The comforter has come!

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GOD IS REBRANDING THE CHURCH!

    A NEW DAY IN THE MAKING

Early this spring in one of my favorite coffee shops, I sat across the table from a young woman whom I highly value. I looked her right in the eye and I said, “Michelle, I am in a transition and trying to find who I am in this new day.“

Michelle immediately answered by saying, “I know who you are and it is time for you to leave a legacy.” With confidence and boldness, she stated, “Please leave this generation something you have. We need you.” I was stunned by her conviction because it was with such passion. I will never forget that moment. She then responded with the words I needed to hear: “I will help you.” Let’s rebrand YOU for the generations to come. Let’s leave a legacy.” I believe this really is a word for every person reading these words today. I want to challenge you to leave something to your children and your children’s children that will leave a mark on many generations to come for the Kingdom of God. Let’s all do it together!

It has been nearly 6 months since we began this journey. You can visit my new website in order to see some of the progress. Michelle, a young woman with her own dreams, has been a gift from God to me in this season.

During prayer this morning, I heard the Lord capitalize on the word REBRAND!

I believe that we are entering into a new day of transforming how we think, what we confess and what we declare. It is a rebranding of who we are not only individually but as the church. First of all, we have bought into the world’s way of thinking in so many ways that even the Word of God has gotten twisted and diluted with the voices surrounding media, movies and TV. The more we have listened and agreed with the world’s thinking, the more we have gotten away from the rich truth of God’s word and this mixture has polluted much of our thought process. God wants this new day to be filled with mature discernment and wisdom.  In other words, we must think and speak as the scriptures teach us. “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phil 4:8 (KJB) Also, it is important to meditate on the freshness of the word from Matthew 4:4, “But He replied, it has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”(AMP)

We are not what the world says we are! We are what God says we are! His Word beautifully unfolds our purpose, destiny and of course, the reality of who we are in Christ. Tolerating any reasoning apart from scripture has to change. The Scriptures are our final authority not the voices that scream day after day in our culture. If what is being declared in the open does not line up with God’s word, we do NOT have to receive it or embrace it in our own lives. We are being rebranded by God into something the world cannot stop no matter how hard it tries to change us because we have the fire of God living within us. We have the word of God in our mouth confessing and declaring truth. Only the truth of the scriptures boldly declared, obeyed and lived out can change the culture of our land.

God has been teaching me the importance of speaking and calling those things that are not as though they were. (Romans 4:17) In other words, I am careful how I speak as there is life and death in the power of the tongue. ( Prov. 18:21) I am rethinking my verbal declarations and decrees when I speak. I am rebranding myself with the power of God’s Word. The NEW ME speaks, declares and confesses His Word boldly knowing that what He has said, He will do.   God has promised us so much but if we don’t quit declaring the bad, we curse ourselves. I finally began to learn this lesson when my husband was going through dialysis two years ago this December. I just kept declaring that God was good and that He had the answer ….I trusted Him for the outcome. I would never allow myself to speak anything but God’s word and His truth. I praised and glorified His name as our 39 year-old donor stepped forward and gave his kidney to my husband. That alone was a miracle from God. I trusted that God had the answer no matter what it looked like. But the WORD gave me strength to stand.

God is rebranding the church in how she sees and in what she hears. We will not be shaken. We will not cower and we will not fall back. We are now stepping up into what God has already put in place. We are declaring the seed of Abraham passed on to generations through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The blessings of Abraham through Christ belong to us. We are prosperous in all things because of Christ.

God is calling us to move forward declaring His word in our mouth like a trumpet. WE are moving into fast forward and not in reverse anymore. We are not stagnant as a church but moving forward quickly. There is movement now in the Spirit but we cannot see it or feel it. But we don’t move by feelings. We move by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. It is a new level of understanding of His word and the depth and revelation of it. It is a higher level of declaration where faith is actually attached to it. Whenever we hear declaration, there is a new level of faith connected to it. They will go hand in hand not one without the other – not just words but words with fiery faith attached.

It is time to once again stir up the gifts by the laying on of hands. Stir them up until there are no lumps but only the smooth, creamy flow of the Holy Spirit. It is time to dream again but attached to the dreams are the Words of faith and fire.

We must lock our mind to His Word and the Spirit.  BRAND US IN YOUR IMAGE! Blessings and may our hearts be branded afresh with His glorious word.  Julaine

 

What is Worship Anyway? Part III

We ended my last blog with Psalm 29:2 which says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

The second point I want to bring to your attention is that God’s word tells us we are to have no other gods and we are to worship only him (Ex. 20:3). WIth an attitude and acknowledgment of His supremacy and Lordship, we worship from a heart expression of love, adoration, and praise to the one and only God.  Our life becomes a conversation with God and then a lifestyle.  God the Father becomes the One we turn to and the One we can trust for all our needs.  He becomes Father and He and His Son Jesus become the object of our worship.  To truly worship, we must be born again.

Jesus Christ must be our Lord and Savior.  Without the Holy Spirit of God imparted at our confession of faith, we will be unable to respond to God because we cannot know or understand Him apart from the Holy Spirit.  The woman in Luke 7:36-38, described as an especially wicked sinner, was so overwhelmed with Jesus and His forgiveness of sin that she began to wet His feet with her tears and as she wiped His feet with her hair, she kissed His feet affectionately and anointed them with her perfume. This account describes worship at its fullest.  Nothing could keep her from entering a home in which she was unwelcome.  She had to get to the feet of Jesus.  We all need this kind of desperation for Him!

I went to church all my young life but never fully grasped the salvation experience.  The Bible stories were moving and fun and impacted my life greatly.  I learned God’s word while in my junior high years in youth group but still there remained a void in my heart that I just could not fill.  Something was missing.  That void lasted until I was twenty-six years old when I realized that I could not live with it any longer.  God heard the cry of my heart and soon the Holy Spirit began His work in me.

I was finally ready.  The Bible says that if you search for Him with all your heart, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).  The search was on and God was directing it all the while. He had actually been there all the time but when my heart began to seek for the answer, something opened up inside my heart and I saw what I could not see before.  It was as though I had been blind but now I could truly see.

Baptism in the Jordan River after I had been saved many years.  Although the Jordan River was extremely cold that day, as you can see by my face, it was a moment to remember.

Next time, we will unpack the third reason we worship which is by far the primary one  and that is “Worship is of great importance to God and HE loves it.”  John 14:23 says, 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. (NLV)

In His Love,
Julaine

 

What is Worship Anyway? Part II

To understand what worship is, I would like to divide the subject of worship into three areas that may help you have a clearer picture of true worship for the Christian – The Head, the Heart and the Hands.

THE HEAD

We must first begin our discussion by defining worship since it can mean different things to many different individuals. Consequently, I will be developing this model from a biblical perspective. The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated as “worship” (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is an expression of honor, adoration, reverence, and regard toward someone. It is to give glory to something of worth and to idolize (Webster). Extravagant love and extreme obedience define true worship as it is close communion with God and it can only be experienced as the understanding of Who God is unfolds.

Consequently, it would be impossible to truly worship from the heart something we don’t understand. For instance, because I did not grow up in a Monarchy, it would be difficult for me to give my worship to a King or Queen. Even thou I would honor the office, my heart would not be in it. Movies and TV depict people bowing and weeping before their King or Queen; however, I would only be able to watch from a distance since I have no appreciation for their emotional connection. It is the same way with understanding Who God is and why we need to grasp what He has done for us in order to truly consider what worship is and the reason behind why we worship.

Sometimes it is helpful to describe what things aren’t in order to give understanding to what they are. Worship isn’t a ritualistic, emotional, formalism that we can schedule. It isn’t a “good warm-up” before a church service and it most certainly isn’t a genre or a style of music. Most importantly, it is not about us – how we felt during a service or what we received. Worship is not measured by our feelings but by the fact that He is worthy of it all.

It is important to note that although the Hebrew and Greek definitions of the word “worship” express the idea of prostrating oneself before God in reverence, whether bowing, kneeling down or kissing the hand, the old English transliteration of the word speed “weorthscipe” means to express homage to God, because He is “worthy” of it. This, then, is the modern word “worship” or “worth-ship.”

Psalm 29:2 says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

Love you all,
Julaine

Part III….COMING SOON!

 

 

 

An Introduction to Intimate Worship

 

For the first few weeks, I want to cover the subject of worship and I promise to keep the teachings short and to the point. As a worship leader for the past 36 years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to walk through many seasons of worship as it has evolved in the church. What an amazing ride the Lord has given me. The first time I actually experienced someone leading worship from the piano was in Tampa, FL, at Tampa Christian Academy during my first year of teaching.

When I heard Linda play that piano and lead the children in singing, I knew then, right at that moment, that this would be my purpose in life. God spoke to me and I cried out in my heart saying, “This is what I am going to do.” I bought a used piano, continued to play my guitar and thus, began my 36-year journey in worship. I am grateful every day that our Lord has allowed me to lead so many into the throne room over the years. What an honor and opportunity to glorify His Name through worship. Today, I stand in awe of the great music and musicians God has raised up in the church and I know there are still songs to be sung and a room full of new melodies to be written. Lord, unlock heaven for us.

AN INTRODUCTION TO INTIMATE WORSHIP

The crowd was uncontrollable, stomping their feet and yelling so that even if it were possible, the stars would have shook. What a night! It was tense but the enthusiasm and excitement even exceeded the cold frost in the air. Nothing could keep this crowd in their seats. As the final minutes approached, everyone stood in awe, screaming in adoration as his or her team ran the winning touchdown.

There is a desire deep within each of us to attach worship to someone or something. Our world is demonstrating this need by our actions and lifestyle. This object of worship could be our favorite American Idol, an actor or actress, a friend or family member, an athlete or a team, government official and/or our profession. The list is endless.

I believe this intense, unexplainable longing to worship comes from another source. It is God the Father, the Creator and Source of all things who put this longing inside man. God is the One thing we should aspire to set our love upon because of His great love for humanity. He gave His only Son Jesus Christ so that one-day we would spend eternity in heaven with the Father.

Ephesians 2:3-5 describes God’s great love for us this way:

But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved, delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). (AMP)

In other words, God loves us so much that He chose for His only Son to die for our sins. It is the greatest exchange in all of history. Jesus came – took sin on His back – went to the cross – died – rose again and now offers to us by faith, eternal life. Jesus paid for it and this gift of God’s grace is free but cost Jesus His life. The resurrection of Christ bought life to all who will receive it.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (NKJ)

That is why worshiping Him brings us into close communion with His heart and opens a window to see Him in all His glory.

Matthew 4:10 states: “…You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you sere.'”

To give an example, years ago while in my middle twenties, my life seemed empty and without purpose. Frantically trying to satisfy the emptiness with material things and hard work, I crashed, and the pain caught up with me. I realized that if this was what life was all about, I didn’t want it anymore. In that moment of desperation, I began to cry out to God and it was then that a friend shared with me the love of Christ and the power of salvation. I received Christ as my personal Savior and the emptiness and void that had been there were filled with His love. From that time on, my desire to worship Him became the passion of my life. Today, I want to give back to Him by sharing the immense joy I have found in worshiping Him.

Join me for Part I next week on the subject of worship. How is it biblically defined?

What does it look like? How can I enter into a deeper place in worship? All these and other questions will be answered in the days ahead as we come together to learn about the beautiful subject of “Intimate Worship.”