Sometimes I look around at the faces walking by and am amazed that each of these chosen people has an individual, beautiful story designed by God. We were created to bring unique worship before the Lord and live out the specific calling God has for our lives. Each of us is special gift belonging to the Lord with the task of making God famous right where we are, in the moment we are in.

From birth, my story has been centered on the love of singing to Jesus. I’m sure if you spoke with my mom, she would gladly tell you the stories of me singing into the microwave with a wooden spoon. I was on TV!! Or, my personal favorite, “Singing a song of the Lord” while telling my brother to “Shut it!” God put the love of music in my heart. Singing songs and entering in to praise and worship corporately has been an effortless passion and a gift that brings an immediate calm and joy to my spirit…

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I’ve found that I have an incredible capacity to holding on to things. My husband, Michael, knows this gift well. No matter how much I try to shrug something off, it holds on, making it’s presence felt in relationships and my right upper shoulder – a problem in which the “Thumper” (one of those home back massage doohikies) has proven to be one of my most advantageous purchases. I have a hard time remembering where my phone is or what state we happen to be playing a show in, but yes, I can absolutely remember what sort of glance so and so gave me or what conversation with that friend was two years ago. Relationships are at the core of who I am; they can put me on cloud nine or run me straight into the ground. So often, I wish I were the introverted, aloof-loner that is self-sufficient and most often found hunkered down in a cabin; writing some brilliant post-apocalyptic, sci-fi novel…unconcerned about the glance or missing the last family reunion or birthday party. It seems so cool, a much more weightless life to be unconcerned…but I am.

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Love Moves Slow

Audrey Assad —  February 14, 2012

Have you ever gone for months, or even years, without hearing God’s voice? I have. And I have seen dear, faithful friends and believers, other women who desire intimacy with God, do the same. It can be incredibly frustrating, painful, and discouraging, as I know from experience.

Not even six months ago, I was pouring out my vexation about this to my spiritual director. I am twenty eight, and I have been a fully invested Christian woman for nine years, raised in a Christian home for my whole life, and I still struggle with discipline in prayer on a daily basis. I have trouble desiring to spend time with God, which looks and sounds even more ridiculous than ever as I type it out on my laptop. It feels like I don’t hear from Him as often as I used to. If you asked me to list all the things I believe about God’s goodness and faithfulness, the list would be long, indeed. I have walked through mountains and valleys with Him in the last nine years that have proven His faithfulness to me over and over again. Yet even still, I fight a gruesome, silent battle with spiritual drought…

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Our life aspirations are something we spend a lot of our lives working toward. Diligence, planning and perseverance are necessary; we can’t expect them to just show up because we “trust God will give us the desires of our hearts.” Yes, God gives us the desires of our heart – some say He literally gives them to us, as in, ‘grants us the desires we have;’ some say that He is the one who places the desires in our hearts in the first place. Whichever you believe, or if even you believe both, my opinion is that God also gives us a mind and expects us to use it.

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This isn’t a super hot topic in the Church today and it’s even less talked about in ministry circles. As a church leader, we are expected to “be the example” for the people. I’ve heard pastors preach, “Don’t come in here with your downcast face. That’s not the Christian life we want to present to non-believers!” So we put on the “shiny happy people” mask and do well at faking it.

But reality is that sometimes life just stinks. Things don’t always go as we plan and our Christian life isn’t always a constant spiraling up toward God. If fact, if you are a faithful follower of Jesus, YOU WILL experience times of discouragement. There is no example in the Bible of anyone who never suffered for Christ in some way. I think sometimes our unwillingness to embrace the suffering actually keeps us from precious encounters with the Father…

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Worship Band Rehearsal

Jimi Williams —  June 25, 2011

One of the most asked questions I hear from worship leaders who are just starting to lead is how to organize and facilitate worship band rehearsals. This sounds fairly simple, but it is a pretty pasture filled with land mines!

I’ve been involved in worship, either leading or as a musician, for the last 12 years and I’ve had all different experiences with rehearsals, good and bad. If you want your band to run screaming from the building, vowing to never play their instrument again, here’s my top list of surefire irritations.

1. Don’t prepare anything in advance. Nothing is more frustrating to the band than for the leader to show up with a big stack of song sheets, plop them down on floor, and ask “so what do y’all think we should sing this week?”. Part of the leadership role is to discern in advance which songs should be sung that week, pull appropriate charts (I’ll talk more about this next), and show up at rehearsal with a thought out plan. This doesn’t mean you can’t make changes, but at least everyone has a starting point…

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Clapping in Worship

Jimi Williams —  February 22, 2011

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy”. Psalm 47:1.

With as much clapping as we do in church now days you would think that clapping in worship was mandated by the Lord. Not so. In fact, there are only 2 references in the NASB for clapping during worship celebration and one of them involves rivers and not people! Psalm 47:1 (shown above) and Psalm 98:8 that says “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.”

Compare this to over 70 references for singing just in the Psalms and we begin to see how little clapping has to do with our biblical worship.

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At first glance, if all you knew about Hillsong was from listening to their recordings or attending a concert, you might think that Hillsong is just a successful record label and publisher. It’s true they are hugely successful, launching worldwide church anthems such as Mighty To Save, Salvation Is Here and Forever Reign.

But at the heart, Hillsong is a local church and all their creative endeavors are a product of the ministry that happens at their home in Sydney, Australia. After spending the week “down under” with Hillsong, it’s obvious that everything they do flows out of the ministry. Every conversation about songs leads back to an experience or a particular ministry need at the church. All the worship leaders and musicians are serving weekly in various ways throughout the church.

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This has been an unforgettable few days in Australia. I guess along with the rest of our nation, my family on holidays, watched horrified at the flood scenes on our TV screens, never imagining we would see this kind of devastation in our own country.

It was an amazing thing to see that our own feelings of wanting to do something, anything to help, were echoed in our church and then right across Australia. Everyone is doing what they can.

As we gathered together as a church last Sunday morning, we began to sing a version of the old hymn “It is Well with My Soul”. This song was originally written by a man after his own family had died in a shipwreck. It’s a song that says – “I will trust in God who is greater than any trial or circumstance…

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Breaking Through

Audrey Assad —  September 28, 2010

I’ve read of Beethoven that, when his hearing was lost, he sawed the legs off his piano and laid its body down on the floor; then, with his head pressed against the floorboards, he pounded on the keys in an effort to hear the notes. He continued to write his symphonies even when one of his greatest tools—his hearing—was taken from him. Passion and perseverance are an explosive combination.

I should pray with that kind of unquenchable desire, especially when it sounds like God is silent. Like Beethoven, I ought to press my ear to the floor; I ought to search for the sound of His footfalls. I am “…a deaf man with my ear to the ground, listening for what You say…

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