Friday, October 25, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 4:28 PM | 1 comment

To The God-worshipers

Dear Worship Leader,

Thank you for clearing a path through the clutter of the days, through the veil of flesh to the throne of God. Leading is never easy, but the task you have before you...we have before us, is of eternal importance, and is equally difficult. To clear away the foliage of another's heart so that they can see where they are going...it is an impossible task. But, only in so much as we attempt to do it in our own power. The sweet truth is that the very King whose throne we are journeying to in our worship, steps off His throne to clear the foliage for us. He journeys with us, drawing hearts to Himself.

Last night, I had the joy of worshipping under the leadership of All Sons and Daughters and Tim Timmons. If you have not heard of them, go now. Download, stream, get thee to the store...however you take your music, do it. The songs they write are nothing short of Spirit-inspired. But, the true beauty of their leadership is their pastoral heart. Yesterday, Leslie of All Sons and Daughters said, "A prophet is someone who believes God has something to say to the people. A worship leader is someone who believes the people have something to say to God." David shared a quote as well, "To worship is to give God His breath back."

Let's lead our people from where they are to God's feet. Let's write songs to help people say what they need to say to God. And what is that? Well, it is different for your people than for mine. They have lived different lives, have different heartaches, different joys. So write and sing from there, but always take it the goodness and holiness of God. Don't leave them in the "Why" but lead them to the "Who".  Let's use the breath in our lungs to declare our need and our love for our great God!

Leslie also shared Psalm 22 from the Message, last night and I want to pass it on to you...


22-24 Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
    and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
    give glory, you sons of Jacob;
    adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
    he has been right there, listening.
25-26 Here in this great gathering for worship
    I have discovered this praise-life.
And I’ll do what I promised right here
    in front of the God-worshipers.
Down-and-outers sit at God’s table
    and eat their fill.
Everyone on the hunt for God
    is here, praising him.
“Live it up, from head to toe.
    Don’t ever quit!”
27-28 From the four corners of the earth
    people are coming to their senses,
    are running back to God.
Long-lost families
    are falling on their faces before him.
God has taken charge;
    from now on he has the last word.
29 All the power-mongers are before him
    —worshiping!
All the poor and powerless, too
    —worshiping!
Along with those who never got it together
    —worshiping!
30-31 Our children and their children
    will get in on this
As the word is passed along
    from parent to child.
Babies not yet conceived
    will hear the good news—
    that God does what he says.

As one who will never get it together,
Erin

Monday, October 14, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:00 PM | No comments

Like it's 1999

Dear Nineteen-Nineties,

I miss you. You were tight, crunk, dank. I mean, your music was totally dope. You kept me singing along to everyone from Backstreet Boys and The Spice Girls to KC and JoJo to Cake to Presidents of the United States (she's lump she lump she's in my head...) to U2. And your country hits have yet to be rivaled. This pop-country fusion is a mess. People don't know if they are listening to No Doubt or Reba...they all sound the same these days. I weep for the passing of the country golden days.

And let me not be negligent in mentioning your quality sitcoms. Never have I seen such stellar 30 minute entertainment. Obviously, one of the most cherished is The Fresh Prince of Bellaire. Jazz, Hillary, Carlton...the whole crew. That one episode where Ashley is discovered and almost becomes a pop star and Judge Banks doesn't like it. Ashley sure told him with that rendition of RESPECT. And people are still trying to recreate the "carlton" dance move. It is unusual. And Full House. I loved that family. Oh man, remember when Stephanie drove the car through the kitchen?! Good times....good times, indeed.

MTV and CMT actually played music videos. High School Chick Flicks were aplenty. Lisa Frank was the star of the classroom. Roller Blades ruled the streets. Saturday morning cartoons were at their height of awesomeness. I mean, Adventures of the Gummi Bears(gummi bears bouncing here and there and everywhere)...duh. And like, totally awesome Tale Spin and Dark Wing Duck. Chip and Dale:Rescue Rangers. For sure.  

But of course, there are some things you can leave out if you decided to come around again. For instance, your jeans. We don't need to do that again. And Furbies. You tried to bring those back recently, and let me just say, no. Keep that to yourself. Same for Tamogachi pets. We just don't need that.

So, 90's, come visit anytime. Bring Reba and Martina. Bring The Fresh Prince and Dark Wing Duck. Bring Sugar Ray if you want. You were truly dope.

Wish you were here,
Erin

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:21 AM | No comments

The Soul's "Amen"

Dear Audrey Assad,

Thank you. You have stepped into your calling as an artist beautifully. And because you have, The Kingdom of God has been strengthened. How do I know that? Well, because my spirit has been encouraged by your songs.

A few years ago, I was in a dark place...walled in by doubt and insecurity. It was in the midst of that season that I stumbled upon your music. I don't remember which song I heard first, but I remember listening to "Show Me" on repeat for days. It was all that my soul was crying out. That beautifully mangled picture of desperation. My soul knew that time was necessary. I needed to die. My faith needed to die, in order to find life. But oh, I wanted that ache to be over. Such glorious tension: "Mercy bend and breathe me back to life, but not before you show me how to die." I needed those words. They were tangled up in me but I couldn't untangle them on my own. You wrote them and my soul eked out a weary "Amen."

And then, that season passed. The walls of doubt little by little (and sometimes in mile long sections) tumbled down. My soul found words to praise and rejoice. And my heart learned that The Lord is good to me, even in the painful seasons. I began to claim that banner over my life. "God is good...in everything!" As I claimed it, you wrote it, recorded it, shared it. I took that song for my own. Again, your voice was on repeat day in and day out and I sang out with you. "The foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy because You are good to me, good to me....Your goodness and mercy will follow me all my life. I trust in your promise." Those lyrics, they washed over me like a tidal wave. You wrote them and my soul, in emphatic agreement, proclaimed, "Amen!"

This last weekend, I attended The National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego. You lead us all in "Good to Me". It was a beautiful sound, a room full of strangers, some weary, some starting out in their calling...all singing of the goodness of God. Perhaps to some it was a prayer of desperation...clinging to a bit of truth in the midst of a storm. For other, it may have been a declaration of the Spring of their souls, rejoicing in the darkness passed and new light dawning. But, all sang of the promise of a God who is good in all things.

Thank you for writing "Show Me" and "Good to Me". My spirit needed those words, those melodies. And thank you for all the countless songs you have written, the ones shared and the ones kept between you and The Lord. Thank you for stepping with grace and dignity into your calling as an artist. The Kingdom has been strengthened because of your obedience.

With lifted eyes,

Erin

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:24 AM | 1 comment

Not Mint to Be

Hello, Hello Toothpaste.

We met the other day at CVS. You were so cute in your pink and white get up. It is very flattering on you. You made a lot of promises about yourself that day: You are 99% natural, fight cavities, strengthen tooth enamel, and whiten my coffee-addict teeth. It all sounded so delightful. There was one bit of information you shared that I was not so sure about. It was that little bit that caused me to hesitate and wonder if I'd miss my longstanding relationship with Crest. But you caught me in the morning hours when my brain has not quite awoken to the world. Therefore, my risk assessing filters were not working properly. So, I threw caution to the wind and you and I left together.

Now, I will say, my teeth feel better after spending time with you. Maybe it's the natural ingredients or your peppy persona. Either way, my pearly whites love the way you make them feel. My taste buds however...They are not so impressed. In fact, they have scolded me greatly for making such a silly mistake. Here is what they have asked me to pass onto you:

"Hello, what were you thinking?! Mint is a delicate flavor not to be tossed willy-nilly into just any ol' batch of whatever flavors you may have leftover in the factory. Mint goes deliciously with vanilla and chocolate.  Mint with cucumber is even palatable. But, pink grapefruit? No. No. No. Grapefruit and mint should be kept far from one another. They are a volatile combination. The resulting flavor is something akin to NyQuil. That is right...nasty taste bud assaulting NyQuil. This oversight is extremely serious. In the future, please make wiser choices about the arranging of flavor marriages. You are responsible for creating beautiful relationships that will bless teeth and taste buds everywhere. From henceforht, I must insist that you refrain from sending such contradictory couples out into the dental universe."

I have done my duty and passed on the message. I know it seems harsh, but my taste buds do have a point. Pink Grapefruit Mint toothpaste should not exist. But, don't let this one thing get you down. It's just a bit of constructive criticism. Remember, you are super cute and my teeth love you.

Don't shoot the messenger,

Erin
Posted by Erin Posted on 2:08 AM | No comments

Do Not Steal

Dear Christian,

When was the last time you told your story? Now, when I say story, I don't just mean, "Jesus saved me." No, no. I mean your STORY.

Colossians 1:13 says, "He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves."

Stop. Go back and read that about 10 times. I'll wait...

...
...
...

Good stuff, right? That is your story! A daring rescue from the grip of the enemy. A sweet welcome into the Kingdom of Light. 

I've heard you spin the story to center around yourself. You are significant. You matter. But, you are not the star of this epic adventure. Do not steal His glory. Please. 

I've heard you downplay your story. As though there were such a thing as an insignificant rescue mission. Have you ever seen a story of a hero stepping out of their way in order to save a helpless one and not had your heart swell? Even the simplest version of the story stops us in our tracks and makes us wonder. Stop comparing your story to the next person's. You were rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son. When you downplay what He has done for you, you are saying that the rescue is unimpressive. Do not steal His glory. Please.





Christian, the world needs to hear your story. Your friends need to hear your story. They need it because they need Him. They may be trapped in the fortress of sin, having been duped like every other person who has ever breathed in this spoiled air. They may not have heard that the fairy tales are a shadow of something true. Tell them. Remind them, there is a Royal One who left His throne to rescue the broken ones and make them whole. 

Tell your story and celebrate His heroics.

Waiting to hear from you,
Erin

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 12:01 AM | 1 comment

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Dear Future Erin,

I am writing to you so that you remember.

A month ago you started a new job. It is the job you have prayed for since you were a teenager. It is the job that you looked for when you graduated college. It is the job God said no to for years. And now, you have been doing this job for 32 days. You are tired. The long drives are hard and students are busy and you are not 22 anymore. But the fatigue does nothing to steal from the joy. You spend your days loving the Church. You spend your days on behalf of students. You spend your days living out your calling. And it is magnificent.

There are hard conversations and insecurities. Theirs and yours. There are misunderstandings and flesh-directed decisions. Theirs and yours. But there are also celebrations, hugs, prayers. There are dreams. Theirs and yours. There is laughter and life. Cherish these. All of these. The heavy as well as the light moments. Love them. Remember them.

Tonight you taught on Romans 10:13-21. Asking, why did Israel miss Jesus? And it was a heavy text, but a sweet one as well. There were moments of intensity sprinkled together with moments of silliness. You were nervous. High schoolers who have been raised in church are a much different audience than 3rd graders who have not. It has been years since you have taught this crowd. But The Holy Spirit is faithful. He spoke through you. He communicated clearly the message -- Don't miss Christ because you want Him to look a certain way. Don't cut Him off because He won't bless your striving. He is holding out His hands to you, saying, "Come. I have life for you. Come to me. Stop seeking wholeness in all those other 'and's'. It is not Jesus AND ______ that brings life. It is Jesus. Only. Come find Him."

There is something so weighty and so sweet about opening the Word with a room full of hearts. It is a sweet taste when The Spirit uses the gifts and personality He designed in you to communicate Truth to a room full of souls. Don't forget. Don't forget that He used you. That you called out for wisdom and direction and He came through. Don't forget the words spoken to you. "Your lesson reassured me." "I needed that." "Thank you."

The hard days of this job will come, just like they do in any job. The days will come when you feel safe in auto-pilot and are tempted to stop relying on the power of Christ that dwells in you. Don't let the hard days steal your joy. Remember this day. This month. Don't let the lie of self-sufficiency rob you of the joy that comes in relying on the all-sufficient God to do the work He has given you to do. Remember this day. This month.

Here I raise my Ebenezer. Hither by they help I've come.

Sealed in Christ,
Erin

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 1:33 AM | No comments

Dear October

Dear October,

It has been awhile, 11 months to be exact. I've been wondering lately how you are feeling about the expectations placed on you. I mean, everyone builds you up to be so...Fall. Warmer colors and cooler temperatures. Sweaters and boots. Pumpkin Spice Lattes and football. But, you never seem to live up to those expectations. Oh sure, football happens and the PSL drowns the disappointment of the sweater-clad co-eds who were hoping for a legitimate excuse to wear their uggs in Houston, but in all honesty, I've rarely seen you live up to the Fall-bar everyone has set for you. How do you handle that?

Do you remember that song I wrote about you when I was in college? You know, the one about how I'd be ok if we could just get rid of you and maybe skip to December? Yeah. I'm sorry about that. I was in a funk that year when you visited and I blamed it on you. It wasn't your fault. I have actually learned to love you since then. My brief trip with you and the girls to Red River in 2010 was great! I finally got to see your true colors! They were beautiful. You should let them show more often. And then the next year, I started a new job working with kids and was excited to go to work since the first time since graduating college. And now, here I am, a month into another new job. My dream job. And I get to spend the weekend with you and my co-workers in San Diego. You are so good to me, October.

We have really come a long way, you and I. I used to dread your visits. Now, I look forward to your arrival.  I would like for you to bring cooler weather and warmer colors when you come, but I know there are somethings that you just can't help, like Houston climate. But it's ok. I'll wear my sweaters, drink my PSL, pretend to know what is going on in the world of football when surrounded by fans, and enjoy your company for 31 days. Maybe one day we can make it back to some place where you really shine...like St Louis; but until then I will always hold out hope that you will learn to be, even in Houston, who God intended you to be when He spoke you into the calendar.

Yours Truly.
Erin
Posted by Erin Posted on 12:38 AM | 1 comment

31 Letters

So there is this little blog-world challenge going on around these parts...The 31 days writing challenge from Nesting Place. Many of my very talented friends are participating and I've come across the mention of it multiple times today, so I thought I'd join in. Everyone is blogging about their own topic. Some I've seen: 31 days of letters to my younger self, 31 one days of taking time for myself, 31 days of searching for the real me, 31 days of meals...Love all these ideas, but it took me all day to decide on my topic. I knew I'd never be able to write a Chosen post each day for 31 days, so I had to pick something else. So, I decided I'd post a letter each day. These letters will be to different people. Individuals, groups. Fictional characters, strangers, loved ones. Somedays may be ridiculous while others may be gut-wrenching. I don't really know what to expect. I don't know yet, who I will be writing to each day, but I will be writing.  And if you want to follow along with the other bloggers, you can find their blogs linked up here

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 1:54 PM | No comments

Chosen Series: Part 12

Mary and Martha. Both known by Jesus. Both loved by Him. But both oh so different in their ability to receive that security of relationship.

Mary, always at the feet of Jesus. Never concerned about social expectations. She knew what Jesus thought of her and that was all that mattered. She was loved by the only one whose love brought life to dead bones. She had seen His love do just that for her brother. She had felt the beat of her own heart change when she met Jesus. There was no need to measure her life against anyone else's. No one else's standard mattered now. She was with Jesus.

Martha, always measuring, against culture, against her sister, against reason. Jerrell Altic, a passionate man of God who is on staff at Houston's First Baptist has this to say about her, "Martha thought she had value because she was productive. Jesus wanted her to see that she had value because she was with Him." Martha turned herself in to victim. No one recognized her hard work. No one applauded her ability to host such a wonderful dinner party, keep her house in such pristine order, have such firm knowledge of God's Word. Jesus was laughing and sharing stories with Mary and Martha was hard at work. But, no one gave her a gold star. She missed it.

We miss it. We play the victim. "I have been gifted to do XYZ, but no one will acknowledge it." "I have done nothing but serve serve serve, and no one takes a moment to thank me." "Everyone wants me to listen to their problems but no one stops to think I have my own." We speak these circumstances as though they are the truest reality. And being our truest reality, we attach meaning to them. That meaning? "No one thinks I'm valuable." And that in turns becomes our foundation for proving our value, or instead, for accepting our fate as worthless.

No, friend. Do not receive that. You have been gifted and called. But, you must stop looking for your value in how often or well you walk in that calling. You must stop measuring your productivity against that of others. You must stop spending your best energy on finding approval through your deeds. Spend your best energy on enjoying Christ.



President Theodore Roosevelt  said "Comparison is the thief of joy."  1 Timothy 6:6 says it like this, "Godliness with contentment is great gain.(ESV)". And I particularly love how The Message states it. "A devout life does bring wealth, but it is the rich simplicity of being yourself before God." And that is it! Our joy, our value is in being ourselves before a God who asks us, as we are, to sit with Him, to be a part of what He is doing, to rest in Him while we work alongside Him and under His authority. If we compare to what others are accomplishing or have, our joy and our security will be stolen. Ripped from beneath us like a rug. We will never measure up to everyone else and everyone else will never measure up to us. (Funny how we do that. "Why can I not be more like...""...don't they see they should do things the way I do"...double-edge lying sword.)

Your value is not in your list of accomplishments, even in those done in the name of Christ. Your value, my value, is in being known by Him, being in relationship with the Creator, being loved by the one who had every reason to turn away from you. He is the one who brings the dead to life. Watch Him work. Get your hands dirty along with Him, yes. Unwrap grave clothes from the once-dead. Open your home to the masses and get the kitchen dirty with flour and diced veggies and chocolate chip cookie dough for the hungry. But all the while, rest. Rest in knowing you are with Jesus. No one else's standard matters...not even your own. It only matters that you are with Jesus...the one who has loved you from the start, before you could lift a finger to earn His affection.


__________________________________________________________
Questions for today:
1. Have you been stuck in a cycle of measuring?
2. Have you allowed comparison to steal joy? What areas specifically do you normally find joy in that you have begun to dread as you measure against wrong standards?
3. When was the last time you just sat at Jesus feet? What will it take to get you back to that place?
Happy Journey!
Erin