Wednesday, October 31, 2012

At Home in God by Jenna Vick Silliman

We can enjoy the presence of God continually in our hearts and in our homes. Jesus says, “Abide in Me.” Abide means to stay with, or to live or dwell with. He wants to make His home in our lives. He promises to never leave us—it is we who stray. As a child of God, I want to be with my Papa.

Noah walked habitually with God. (See Genesis 6:9 Amplified.) This is how God wants us to dwell/live with Him. This was His original purpose and His purpose today, right now for each one of us—to dwell in His awesome presence, to make our home with Him moment by moment.

God wants to dwell with us wherever we go—including our homes, our dwellings. God is a dwelling God. He desires to dwell with His people on earth.

When John saw his vision he “heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (See Revelation 21:3.)

Like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house…pleasing to God. (See 1Peter 2:5.)

The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing—to walk with God and talk with God as we go through our day. In the Old Covenant they built altars to burn a sacrifice to earn the right or to become worthy enough to enter God’s presence. In the new covenant we no longer offer a burnt sacrifices, for Jesus is the lamb that was slain that takes away the sins of us all. We now offer ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to God (See Romans 12:1). Each day we consecrate or devote ourselves and our family to live for God, which is our “reasonable service” to Him.

Jesus said, “Dwell in Me and I will dwell in you.” (See John 15:4.)

King David prayed, “O God, my soul finds shelter in You, yes, in the shadow of Your wings.” (See Psalm 57:1.)

When we live in unbroken fellowship with God, and enjoy His presence 24/7 everywhere we go, we are inseparable with Him and our whole lives are changed. He causes a thankfulness to rise up within us. He compels us to love, to give Him praise, and to worship Him. He gives us eyes to see things the way He does. Our values become like His and more and more we honor and appreciate eternal things more than temporal. The fruit of His Holy Spirit, the love, joy, peace etc., permeate our lives.

Jesus said, “Lo I am with you always.” He is with us in the grocery store, the bank, our laundry rooms, our yards, our cars--how can we NOT have Him in our homes?

I pray, “My dear Lord and King, wherever You are is my home and Your home is with me—how glorious to be together all the time. In You I live and move and have my being. I offer myself to be a place for You to dwell.”

“I am restless till I rest in You, O God.”  Song: Restless by Audrey Assad.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Take it up a notch and then don't be Tony C

From time to time, I do a little teenager bashing on my personal blog at Tony C Today. Much of it can be easily justified by something stup...excuse me...ridiculous my own teenager has said or done (I can no longer use the stupid word by decree of Mrs. Tony C). Having a teenage girl, a soon to be five year old and an approaching terrible two's toddler gives me greater understanding of the plight of Job. As a matter of fact, there are days I'd rather sit around and scrape scabs to open wounds than listen to one more lame excuse trying to justify the funky smell emitting from a certain person's room or the lack of appropriate attire that coincides with current weather patterns. UGGGHHHH!

But that's not my direction a matter of fact, I'm going a completely different way...hopefully for good. While on vacation a few years back, I managed to get in some long overdue casual reading. Oh, I read a lot daily, but keeping up with the world today requires reading or watching or listening to a plethora of daily casual/leisure reading often takes a back seat...or would toilet seat be more accurate. I digress...

One of the books I was able to work through was Do Hard Things by Alex and Brent Harris. I had heard and read good reviews about the book and the premise that teenagers are tired of the low expectation placed on them as a group from society. Interesting....but I needed more information.

Wow! Starting with the Forward by none other than Chuck Norris, this book grabbed and convicted me. The book is not complex, yet it challenges the core belief in most adults today that teenagers are a lazy bunch looking for the path of least resistance in life. You find yourself quickly on the battlefields of WW II where the fate of the world often was in the hands of 17 or 18 years old on both sides of the fight. There are examples from Biblical times up to present day of teenagers making major impact in the world.

Also, Do Hard Things is a book on faith. The authors proudly testify about the impact Christ has made in their own lives. The book won't keep your teenagers out of trouble. Instead, it challenges both them and you to put God at the center and strive to achieve your fullest potential by...well...doing hard things.

Previous ESPN the Magazine article titled Do Hard Things

I've got to admit, the book has had a profound impact on the way I view and deal with my own teenager. Even though I held her to high expectations (or so I thought), I still placed limits on her ability to make a major impact for God and for herself in the world....and it's not just her. Working with youth at church can often be frustrating and painful, but now I see that I create a lot of the negative feelings I have because my own actions and words project low expectations from the get-go.

Read this book. If you have children, work with youth or if you've ever been a this book! I'm very glad it was suggested to me and I did. Be warned that your toes might get stepped on like mine did...but in the's well worth the self-reflection and renewed faith that everything will be okay when the kids of today get their chance to run things. We should expect that from them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

You Can Tell a Lot about a Woman by What She Carries in Her Purse by Linda Maynard

On Kingdom Bloggers, we are picking a favorite blog from our personal blogs.

Having only recently starting my blog, I am sharing one which was in draft form.

 I have been thinking of my parents a lot lately. I wish they were still here, to enjoy their great grandchildren. I wish they were here, as I understand they were fallible, as I am fallible. I would accept that more... I wish they were here, as I would put up with my dad’s cigar smoking… I wish they were here, as my mom tried to feed us, even when we said we weren’t hungry… I would go freely with her to bingo games… I wish they were here, so that, as they lived on earth, I could tell them that God is merciful and not angry.

I just wish they were here.

This is an excerpt of the eulogy; I gave at my mother’s funeral

My Mother, Sophie.

The contents of her purse changed over the years. It contained not only what she had, but what she didn’t have.

She had no money. Many of you know, she epitomized a selfless heart. When she could, she gave away all her money and possessions.

That was her way.

At any given time, she would have straws and napkins. Sometimes, she had ketchup packets and coffee creamers. Even once in a while, a dinner roll appeared, that was carefully wrapped in a napkin. It was leftover from a restaurant meal. Considering that she was a child of the depression, those acts revealed a life of lack, that few of us grasp.

Oh yes, then there were the cards and letters that you sent her. She held onto the Love that was expressed through them. Even though many were stained with coffee and old for wear, your love in sending them, was all that mattered.

There were photos of smiling loved ones and a photo of her precious son Kenneth, who died of an overdose.

Her church bulletins accumulated each week. Though she was unable to attend her church services, her son Richard, made sure that she got them. They were a reminder of her life and faith and the church she found so much comfort in.

Sister Zena, the Recreation Director of the Nursing Home my mom was in, enjoyed my mother so much. She told me, “Your mother attends not only the Catholic Service, but the Protestant and Jewish services as well.”

Then there was an old tube of lipstick that she carefully applied to the lips that once kissed our boo-boos and tears away.

Her driver’s license was missing. That fact served as a sad reminder of her loss of mobility and freedom, after her stroke. She tried so hard to accept she couldn’t drive anymore, but I knew it broke her heart.

Her eyeglasses and many combs sat there till needed. The Handicapped sticker for her car was another occupant. It was another reminder of her loss.

Bunches of recipes were indicative of her love for cooking. Sometimes her experiments, not only looked strange, but tasted like something you couldn’t describe. She died pre “the Cooking Channel”. She would have loved the shows.

She had a cigarette lighter, for what I don’t know, as she had stopped smoking years ago.

She placed her Guideposts and Reader’s Digest Magazines in the side pockets, ready to share articles It was not unusual to see notations on the cover. Page 34, Kathryn…Page 23, Linda…Page 2, Philip…Page 49, Raymond…Page 14, Richard When she read, there were certain articles that she felt would interest each one.

Her purses were always big with many compartments. She purchased them from Church Rummage Sales or Salvation Army. She picked them with care, as she knew she had Treasures to keep in them.

I wish I had her purse with me right now. I would look at each thing, one by one, and remember the essence of who she was.

I swear, I see her with the cloud of witnesses, just waiting for me.

I know that may very well happen. As I was with her during her last week, she suddenly startled and looked with a faraway look and said, “Mama…mamma!” I said “mom what do you see?” She said “It is my mama and she is dressed in white.”

What was noteworthy was that my grandmother ( Babci) always wore very dark clothes.

The God of all compassion and mercy reunited my mom with her mother. Years of pain, just melted away!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Abundant Life by Jenna Vick Silliman

Jenna Vick Silliman, 2012
Do you want to focus your life on what is really important to you? Write your own obituary!

Jenna Vick Silliman lived the abundant life of Jesus Christ!

Jenna danced for the last time as she twirled off the planet! Jennifer Elizabeth Vick Silliman (Jenna) was born on February 18, 1958 and died at age 107 on March 1, 2065. Born in San Francisco, California she was the daughter of James Allan Vick and Jacqueline Frances Pearson. She was married to Clifford Arthur Silliman (Cliff) who preceded her in death. Together they had eight children, Daniel James (Married Elizabeth Jarvis), Valerie Joy, David Arthur (Married Charisa Nelson), Michael Aaron, Joshua Andrew, Stephen Matthew, Luke Thomas, and Peter Stanford and ___ grandchildren… and ___great-granchildren…[It will be glorious to have a LONG list of all the grandbabies here!]

Jenna was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, married Cliff at age 22, and homemaking was her chosen career. She resided in Sequim, Washington for 65 years, but delighted in traveling, dancing and flagging in worship, speaking, and encouraging disciples for Jesus all over the world.

Jenna was a prayer warrior and made a lifestyle of living in unbroken fellowship with God. Her favorite verse in the Bible was Psalm 16:11/Acts 2:28 “In the Lord's presence is the fullness of joy!”

She was a writer and author of many published books, the most well-known is “Shall We Dance?” about dancing in the Holy Spirit.

She was known for loving King Jesus with all her heart, for her inspirational speaking, her colorful clothing and twirly skirts, and enthusiasm for the abundant life of the Lord. She will be missed by many.

Her life was not a journey to the grave…rather she danced till she dropped, body thoroughly used up and worn out so that she arrived at those gorgeous pearly gates screaming, “Whoohooo! What a ride!”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pushing Through

This week on Kingdom Bloggers, we are posting from our personal blogs. I confess I am not very consistent on posting at The book I mention in this piece, The Gift of Fear, is an important one. I highly recommend the chapter on handling potential problem people/situations in the workplace before things escalate, given that violence where we work (whether from an outside party, such as in the recent shooting in Wisconsin, or from an employee within) is on the rise.

A recent race proved to be a character building opportunity for my daughter. A rower, she knows what it feels like to be in pain. Rowing (also known as “Crew”) requires nearly every large muscle group, and a good coach requires tough daily practices in anticipation of victory at a regatta (the rowing event at which several schools or clubs compete).

On the very day she had two races, my daughter was unwell and in pain. The racecourse was cold, the waves choppy, and she was scheduled to be in the top novice boat. She worried that she would get sicker out on the water, and then let her teammates down. “Push through the pain,” her coach and I told her. “We know you can do it--it may actually make you feel better.” 

Sound callous? Not really: her coach and I both know what she is capable of, and we were speaking truth (the demands of rowing would supersede the pain of the ailment). Many times our worrying about a negative result is simply that: a worry, not a result. Pushing through, despite our worry or anxiety, will reap the data that enables us to overcome the next seemingly insurmountable hurdle: “Hey, that wasn’t so bad!” “That did not turn out the way I expected at all!” “I accomplished much more than I thought possible.”

Gavin de Becker, in his excellent (and a bit unnerving) book, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence, makes a distinction between situations that cause real fear and the worry that stems from imagination. True fear, which is connected to our intuition, causes action; worry, on the other hand, “stems from a root [word] that means ‘to choke,’ and that is just what it does to us.”

“Our imaginations can be the fertile soil in which worry and anxiety grow from seeds to weeds, but when we assume the imagined outcome is a sure thing, we are in conflict with what Proust called an inexorable law: ‘Only that which is absent can be imagined.’ In other words, what you not happening’” (de Becker, p. 292).

Worrying is the enemy of action and “pushing through.” It consumes our imagination--and we make that imagined outcome the reality instead of pushing through to the real outcome! We sink our own boat, if you will, before even leaving the dock.

My daughter pushed through and realized the reality that her body did not fail her, and she actually felt better after the two races! How about you? What anxiety about your imagined lack of ability or courage is stopping you from taking action? Pray for strength and push through (as Joyce Meyer famously said, “Do it afraid!”). You can do much more in reality than you can even imagine.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A small taste of Tony C Today

Just for a change of pace, your Kingdom Bloggers are going to post a "Best Of' from each of our personal blogs this week. By doing so, you will get a little better appreciation of how diverse our group actually is... and see the unifying effect of a mutual love for God.

From Tony C Today, I went back to a post February 2009 titled For What It's Worth-Buffalo Springfield 1967. That particular month I was using song titles to preface my post, so as you can already see, my personal blog is not only a tad eclectic but also very reflective of my personality. I hope you enjoy...

"You're carrying high, so your baby will be born on a Tuesday and have freckles..."

Mamaw C to pregnant Mrs. Tony C in 2007

I love my grandmother. She will be 95 glorious years old this June...'Lord willin.' Being from the South, she is affectionately referred to as Mamaw. Now that's a funny name to people not from here, but no more peculiar than 'Meme' or 'Nene' is to most Southerners. She's part of the greatest generation in modern history. Lived through wars, a global depression and a standard of living people today would declare third world.
Many of the things I've learned in my life can be directly attributed to my grandmother, however, she has also been the source of much...shall we say... misinformation. Allow me to explain.
From an early age, I listened to her counsel and took it in without contentions.

'Don't eat those watermelon seeds, you'll grow one in your stomach.'

'Don't cross your eyes! They'll get stuck like that.'

'You get back inside with that wet hair! You'll catch your death!'
How could anyone argue with such sound advise. Better could anyone argue with her... about anything. My grandmother, even to this day, has the innate aptitude for hearing what she wants, when she wants...and only when it agrees with her opinion on the matter.
I love my grandmother. I have many fond memories of growing up in the house right next to her. As a matter of fact, here's one:

While working in the little garden behind our house one teen-aged summer day, my focus was interrupted by the sound of my grandmother shouting scripture...or pieces and blurbs of scripture, in a rather angered fashion. Naturally, I was perplexed and investigated. What I witnessed was a scene torn directly from the comic strip BC, as my grandmother repeatedly whacked a helpless, misguided black snake with a baseball bat we had left in her yard from a Sunday's game.

'Get thee'...whack...'behind me'...whack... 'Satan! I will'...whack...'bruise'...whack...'thy head'...whack
Rushing down to her, I somehow managed to get the bat away and avoid the receiving end of her wrathful swing. What I saw next was a sight that will never leave me...ever. That poor black snake of about 4 feet had been beaten so maliciously that the upper third of its body, including the head, look like a custom designed dinner plate you would find at the home of someone like Ozzie Osbourne or Marilyn Manson.

Tony C: 'You okay?'

Mamaw C:' Take that snake and hang it on the fence over yonder...'

Tony C: 'Why would I do that?'

Mamaw C: ' Just do it! It will keep the other snakes away!'

Tony C: 'Mamaw...where'd you hear that?'

Mamaw C: 'It's in the Bible! Now do it!'
I bent over to pick up the poor flattened snake...'Don't touch that snake!'
Tony C: 'But you just told me...'
Mamaw C: 'That snake can still bite you until after sunrise tomorrow...'
Tony C: 'Mamaw, that snake ain't ever biting anything...'
Mamaw C: 'Don't tell's in the Bible.'
Now, we all know there isn't a passage in the Bible about makeshift snake wards or afterlife snake biting, and through the years, I've mentally filed those along with her other Bible misquotes like 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' and 'To thine ownself be true' (which I believe actually comes from an episode of Gilligan's Island). I would never call my beloved grandmother out on any of would serve no useful purpose.
I believe (or hope) God overlooks such trivially random matters too. In fact, we really don't give Him enough of the credit He deserves...and He deserves it all. Penicillin isn't mentioned in the Bible, yet God gave Alexander Fleming the talent to develop the wonder drug. Now, I'm by no means advocating or even suggesting that matters of a vial, vulgar origin should be attributed to God Almighty, but proverbs or axioms that promote stronger moral value do have purpose. We just have to be cautious and never cross an authoritative line that conflicts with God's actual word.
Okay, snake related issues don't really fall in the 'stronger moral values' or 'changing mankind for the better' categories...but I do love my grandmother.

For the record, she was right about the freckles.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Worship or Worse-ship? by Linda Maynard

Worship refocuses our attention on what is worthy away from what is worthless When we worship God, we are not only affirming His worth, we are also reminding each other He is more worthy and more precious than anything else… Tim Chester

A life in which we go sailing along, not giving the Lord the attention and honor due to Him, is one in which we are on a vessel called the Worse-Ship. It sails aimlessly and is often in dangerous and tumultuous storms… Linda Maynard.

As a new Christian, belonging to a Worldwide Ministry, I was introduced to Worship. Well, actually I was introduced to Praise and Worship.

The Teaching Manual was comprehensive and thoroughly backed by Scripture. The teaching was actually wonderful in explaining a lot  of the Hebrew language and Jewish customs of the day. In it, the authors differentiated Praise from Worship.

From that time in my walk, I remember that Praise Songs were the songs that began the set that a Worship Team played. They were lively and toe tapping kind of tunes. Then they gradually eased into Worship Songs. Those brought about a sense of intimacy, with the Lord, for me.
I told a friend, “I wish they would only do Worship songs” because I felt so close to the Lord when they were played. She said,” I wish I would like Worship Songs as much as I like Praise Songs.” She said she found it uncomfortable to get that close to the Lord.

I say, all of this, to let you know that my conception of Worship has come a long way baby! (Like many of you)

I know that there are also a lot of opinions and different tastes about “church” music. I was never and still am not a diehard current Contemporary (Bethel, JoAnMacFatter, the Rivera’s, Jesus Culture etc) or ever only listened to Vineyard…Hosanna type of music. There are beautiful Contemporary Catholic songs that I like, to this day including are very old ones that I sang growing up. Singing from a hymnal was a whole new experience for me. I was and still am astounded by the depth and the beauty of some of the hymns. I have had my eyes opened to really paying attention to the words of many Christmas Carols.

The closest I have felt to heaven is when I have been in a corporate setting and everyone is singing in their heavenly language (tongues). If you have never experienced that…it truly is otherworldly. It sounds like angels singing.

Eventually, I started hearing people talking about Worship being a lifestyle. I thought “Wow, that sounds so deep…I want that!” But what did that really mean? I still thought Worship was a song with a slower tempo. Now, its’ a lifestyle? I had to know. What did that mean?

I’ve come to understand that my very life is Worship. It is my connection to God. Thinking about Him throughout the day…meditating on His word…having Him be a constant part of my Life…being filled with His Love returning to Him…my conversing with Him.

It was a process, but I came to realize that Worship, as I had first known it, was an expression of REAL Worship. It wasn’t using a song to get revved up to feel close to God…once in a while. That “feeling” would wax and wane. I thought it can only come back if I listen to music.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love to put on a CD and feel the presence of the Lord through music. I believe anointed music bypasses the soul and pierces the heart.

For me, music enhances what is already there.

 It is a focus on the Lord. It is a lifestyle of honoring Him.

Worship, to me now, is about relationship. It is how I commune with the Lord, each day. When that communication is broken, I am pretty miserable.

Oh, I still falter and go in and out of my comfortable zone. Now the comfortable zone is not exactly like a comfort zone because a comfort zone could be a place I go to avoid something. No, the comfortable zone is where…all is well with my soul. I know I am one with Him.

I will never reach the perfect connection with Him here on earth. I am closer to Him than I have even been and want to keep going deeper in my relationship with Him.

I know Lord is happy when we desire to be closer to Him.

He will gladly accommodate me or anyone else who has the desire to more closely commune with Him.

And the reason being?

He put that desire in my heart, in the first place…so my desire is His very desire as well!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Worship is a Lifestyle by Jenna Vick Silliman

Worship is turning our hearts to our Creator, like flowers turning their faces toward the sun. God shines His light to make our lives bloom and grow. Worship is a lifestyle. It is focusing on the Lord our God and King in adoration, love, praise, and awe—and we can worship Him any time and anywhere. We ARE the temple of His Spirit, so we do not need to go to a church building to worship Him.
This is me flagging in worship. Sequim,WA Aug.2012
About two years ago I started flagging in worship of the Lord because the colorful flags make my worship bigger, more colorful, and more expressive. I love to worship Him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength and just pour myself out and lose myself in His presence. Sometimes I dance, sometimes I sing or flag, or sometimes I just sit and soak in His loving presence. As C.S. Lewis said, “It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.”
God wants us to be hot, not cold or lukewarm.  He tells us to delight in Him and seek to know Him and to praise and worship Him and love Him and set our minds on Him. As Graham Cooke says, "We never exit worship. It is a melody that is either in the foreground or the background of our hearts. When it comes to the fore, we must give ourselves to it generously." I like the way Isaiah says it, “I set my face like a flint.” (See Is. 50:7.)
More than worship by myself, however, I enjoy worshiping Him in unity with other people that love Him too. An assembly of people worshiping with all their hearts is totally awesome. God inhabits the praises of His people! We are an “ark” of His presence, living stones, a temple of His Holy Spirit. Our relationships with Him and each other are of paramount importance, NOT our religious practices or Sunday services where people are just going through the motions. It makes my heart ache and feel such sadness when I think of Christians gathering and just watching, like they are an audience, instead of entering into worship. Even worse is when people chit chat or focus on their i-phones, instead of worshiping Him in the assembly.
I asked my Pastor, John Himmelberger, one time, “Should there be some teaching on how to enter into a time of worship together?” He said something I will never forget, “Some things are better caught than taught.” With that in mind, here is a little girl singing to God with all her heart. Watch this YouTube!  When I watched it I started laughing and crying with joy and worshipping right along with her! Hahaha!

I also said something to John about how flaggers are worship leaders. He replied, “I like to call them worshiping leaders.” Exactly! When we gather for a time of worship I try to just focus on the Lord and worship my heart out and block out thoughts about what other people are doing. A friend said to me one time, “Wow Jenna! I was watching you for a while when you were worship dancing and you were just GONE.” Hahaha! Yep! I worship with singing, flagging and dancing with “ekstatic worship” just like King David. Watch me if you choose, but don’t talk to me because I’m busy worshipping Jesus! You may think it is a performance for you, but it is not. My worship is a performance for my beloved King! HE LOVES IT.

As Graham Cooke said, "True worship leaders are not choirmasters. They do not lead by singing [or playing an instrument or dancing or flagging]. They are caught up in their own movement. The Lord plays their heart like an instrument. In that place of intimacy He uses their heart to attract, inspire, and compel people to respond."

Dear Lord, make me an instrument of worship in praise and adoration of You, my beloved King. Thank You for giving me companions that love You first and foremost to worship You together in the assembly. I want more of Your presence in my life and I live to delight Your heart with my praises and my worship. No matter what, no matter when, no matter where--I will worship You. Thank You for Your goodness, kindness, and tender loving ways toward me. Tune my heart to Yours, O God, to enjoy the dance of LIFE with You forevermore!
Lord, Your praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Heart Lifted

"I will never forget how different prayer became for me," Cheryl explained to our Bible study group, "When I lifted my eyes from folded hands, scared of God." She demonstrated, lifting her head skyward, eyes open. She could look at God, freely, and talk to him directly. 

Worship is like that. Worshipping God involves us lifting our eyes and our hearts away from ourselves and toward Him who is alone worthy of worship. Our worship is not to be confined to a single space, like a church, or a single method. But every act of worship begins with humility: humbling ourselves, offering the sacrifice of praise, whether in our hearts, in our music, in our prayers, in our writing. The Hebrew and Greek words for worship are translated as prostrating oneself, to kiss (as in kissing the feet of a king), to reverence, to adore.

Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Psalm 99:5.

There is so much disagreement today on how a worship service should proceed, so much judgment. Hymns are thrown out in some churches because they "quench the spirit." Contemporary music is what "connects us to God." If hands are not raised, God's spirit is not present. If there is liturgy, there is no freedom in the worship. If there is no liturgy, worship is not true worship. And so on.

Balderdash. Our worship begins in the heart. A heart directed toward God in any place at any time in any circumstance is at worship. But in that worship, must also be truth: "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." Jesus told this to the Samaritan woman at the well. Jews believed Samaritans were less than because their understanding of scripture was flawed. Women, especially poor Samaritan women, were not to be addressed. But Jesus speaks to her, and she pursues the truth: "I know the Messiah is coming, and when he does, he will explain everything to us." Jesus answered, "...I am he." (John 4:23-26). 

She discovered the truth and she worshipped. As did her friends: “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42). 

To Jesus, our King and Savior and Friend, who reaches out to all and saves flawed believers and accepts our flawed worship and praises: Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise! (Psalm 96:4).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Worship should never be don't make it that way. Tony C

Several years back, the Focus on the Family organization did a DVD series called The Truth Project. If you've never seen the study, I encourage you to check it out.  We are currently going through the series again on Wednesday nights where I attend church, and it is presented by the very gentleman I spoke of in my post last week. In a nutshell, the aim of the series is to realign the Christian worldview of the Truth that has been watered down and derogated over time with a true biblical worldview of what is the actual ultimate Truth.

This week the Kingdom Bloggers are describing what worship means to each of us or maybe even how we spend time in worship.

Realizing who God is sometimes gets lost on most, if not all, of us from time to time...current writer included.

In those moments when I'm able to blot out the numerous distraction that whirl around me daily and just focus on my Creator, true worship occurs in my heart. Now for me, this may (or may not I embarrassingly admit) occur on Sunday mornings at church. The first thing I do each and every Sunday morning is stop and pray for God's help in putting all of the numerous task for the day aside. My goal is undeterred focus on Him and Him alone.

I'm not sure I can adequately put into words why that is a daunting task at times...considering that I truly accept God for whom He is. My initial thought on the matter is drawn most assuredly on some  unimportant aspect of self. Our egos will get us each and every time.

Nonetheless, I have days when I struggle with worship, and that invokes a great deal of shame on my part. Shame and regret that I have lost that time of worship for the One most worthy.

But Tony C, won't we have eternity to worship God in Heaven?

Of course we will, but even eternity doesn't seem adequately long enough. To God, we owe it the old hymn goes. When I worship God, I come into his warmth and compassion. Describing  times in worship in physical terms may seem like a stretch to many, but I know there is a change that occurs when I focus just on my Lord. That change to me feels like warmth, may lead to emotions (yes, I often shed tears), or maybe the words I'm searching for are pure jubilation comes over me. Whatever the case, it is real, and if I'm committed to seeking God's is always available. He is always available!

After learning to love God (worship), learning to love others is the second purpose of your life. Rick Warren

As I've grown in my personal understanding of who God is, my worship for Him has left the containment of the ceremonial place we call a sanctuary. Now, I can warm up in my car (and often do), fill my office with His joy at work, and find those moments at home when although my house is noisy with the sounds of young family...His music is all I manage to hear.

So see my lovely wife, it's not that I need a hearing aid...just yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Straight Laced Lady and a Wild Character on the Same Team? by Linda Maynard

We have all been warned about hanging out with certain people and admonished, that he/she is a bad influence.

During my teen years, I did just the opposite. I was looking in all the wrong places and ended up with some destructive relationships 

It was around that time, as a freshman in High School, that I had my first drink.  It was a good feeling…it was an exhilarating feeling. I would continue to chase that original glow, in futility, as I became addicted.

In the early years of my marriage, I finally surrendered, realizing I could not stop on my own; I entered a treatment center and started to attend AA meetings. I was a young mother with two very young children. More than the physical addiction, it was the shame and guilt that consumed me. I felt like I was the worst wife and the worst mother.

The are two special people that came into my life and helped me on a road of recovery. 

One woman was Gene, the other was Louise. 
They were my AA Sponsors.

A sponsor in AA is someone who has had experience in AA, years of sobriety and would come alongside you for support.

They have passed away and yet when I look back at my life, they each played such significant roles.

However, they could not be more different from the other.

Gene could have been my mother. She was a lady in every sense of the word. She had a calmness about her that was palatable. Even though she was often serious, she also had a wry sense of humor. I'll give you an example. I called her one day, quite upset that my son was not toilet trained yet. I overreacted because it was just feeding into my guilt.She said,  “Linda, I really doubt that he is going to go on his first job interview and still not being toilet trained. ”

That put it into immediate perspective and I could even laugh at myself.

Often, when I was beating myself up emotionally, she'd say“What would you say to your best friend in this situation?” Again, she brought things into reality as I realized that I would be much kinder to a friend, than I was being to myself.

Louise, on the other hand, was around my age and a whole different character. When I say character, I mean no disrespect but she definitely was an "out of the box" person.

Let’s see… if you could imagine Janis Joplin, not on drugs…that would be Louise.

She suffered from lupus and was often quite ill and weak, yet she had such a positive attitude towards life. She was a no nonsense person about sobriety though.

She had a hard life, lost custody of her children, due to her alcoholism, but was rebuilding her relationship with them. There was a lot of healing and forgiveness that happened between her, her children, and her ex husband. She never hid the fact that she really messed up, nor did she excuse it one bit, but she was determined to do what she could to repair the breach.

One day, I was looking at the Steps of AA. This one read, “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”

I had already turned away from the God of my youth. As a matter of fact, I was quite angry with Him. I never could deny there was a God; I just did not want to have anything to do with Him.

So here was a dilemma. To “work the steps” and get well, I was to get to a place that I believed there was a power greater than me. On one hand, alcoholics can mess up BIG time and yet do not want to relinquish control. It’s crazy thinking, I know.

I am not sure if this will make sense to anyone, but when I spoke to Louise about having such a difficult time with this faith thing, she said “Can you believe that I believe?” It was not a trick question, it was as if she was asking…” Can you see that I trust and I am staying sober. That can be your reality too.” 

I thought, yes I could do that. I leaned on that, until I was able to believe for myself.

I thought, as I was writing this, how these 2 unlikely women were “sent” to me. I believe it was God knowing who I needed, at that particular time.

I have regrets though, as I realize now, that if I did not know these women as I do, I may have judged them wrongly. Rejecting them on some level and calling them "nominal "Christians.

Now I think, how could I discard these people, who showed forth the Love of Christ to me without fanfare or position?

So,  I ask the Lord to keep my vision clear and my heart humble to accept everyone He sends in my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kingdom of Joy

The Bible says, “The kingdom of God is JOY in the Holy Spirit.” (See Romans 14:17.) Therefore, when God’s people gather together there should be an abundance of exceeding joy! Joy is motivating. We know it motivated the Lord because Jesus endured the cross with joy set before Him. (See Hebrews 12:2.)

A person who has made a major impact on my life in the past few years is Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church, Redding, California. Here’s something he wrote on the subject of joy that spoke to my heart.
Kris Vallotton says:

It’s time to become childlike (not childish) so we can enter the kingdom. Children laugh 300-400 times a day. The average adult laughs 15 times a day. Solomon wrote; A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22). 

The Message Bible says; Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

If laughter is good medicine, then I want to be a pharmacist! 

Some of people's seriousness exhausts me just reading their post; I can't imagine that they aren't bone tired. I grieve for the people who live and work with them. 

Kris continues:  I wrote an entire chapter in my book Spirit Wars on laughter. It's a scientific fact that laughter can make your body well. Maybe that's what was happening in Toronto during the outpouring. Maybe the Lord was trying to get His body well. Of course the church was full of serious people (who wear out the world around them) wondering why this waste.

Jesus was anointed with joy above His companions (Hebrews 1:9). He was happier than the people He hung out with. Go and BE likewise!

One of the reasons I like dancing so much is because it is SO joyful. My favorite Bible verse is about joy. (See Psalm 16:11 and Acts 2:28.) “In Your presence O God is the fullness of joy and in Your right hand there are pleasures evermore.”

I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh. Part of my mission in life is to spread joy around. When I have even made a person smile, I consider myself successful. Every Wednesday during the school year, my friend Charli and I visit the elderly in several nursing homes of Sequim. (We’ve gotten kicked out of two nursing homes for Alzheimer’s folks for being two rowdy because they want to keep them very calm and quiet and we got them all riled up.)

Charli, Mady & Jenna, Mardi Gras at nursing home. 3-3-11
We have begun our fourth year with our nursing home ministry. We have a theme each week and dress up in costumes. For example, we might dress up in 20’s style as “Flappers”, 50’s style with “poodle skirts”, 60’s style with hippie costumes, Hawaiian, Mexican, or Western wear, and for each holiday we have costumes. We have collected all kinds of crazy costumes and accessories from Good Will, thrift stores, and garage sales. People give us stuff all the time too. If you want to see some of our outlandish and hilarious get-ups, take a look at my Facebook under my name, “Jenna Vick Silliman.” Let me know you heard about me on Kingdom Bloggers and request we become “Facebook friends.” Yesterday, for a couple bucks I found an ornate and bejeweled crown fitting for a royal costume. I already have a cloak to match it too. Hahaha! When I go in the fitting room and try something on and look in the mirror, if it makes me crack up laughing, I know it is a “find.” 
Frank&Charli Anderson & Jenna 4-25-12
Ladybug and Bumblebee, 10-3-12
Hippies at nursing home. 4-18-12
Charli & I dressed as girls. 3-28-12
St. Patty's Day, 3-14-12
The Bible says to delight ourselves in the Lord. It does NOT say “Get all serious and somber in the Lord.” If a church gathering is super serious and people are down in the mouth and not ever laughing and enjoying themselves—I would play hooky and go read the funny paper or go dancing or go tell knock knock jokes at your nearest nursing home. Like Kris Vallotton says, “Jesus was anointed with joy above his companions.” May we follow his advice AND the example of our Lord and live our lives FULL OF JOY AND LAUGHTER!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Imperfect Influencer

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.”  George Eliot.

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5.

In these uncertain economic times, we may not leave a healthy financial legacy to our children. But something we can leave to our children or to others within our sphere of influence is...influence.

I think about this a lot, especially since my children are young adults. When they were toddlers, elementary students and pre-teens, the hope of parental influence was forming, vibrating. But, there came a dayquite recentlywhen I realized that the future is NOW.  Scary thought. I realize there is so much more I could have done better, could have prayed for, could have worked toward.

I hope I will have influenced them—as imperfect as I am—to live lives that honor God and that offer hope and encouragement to others. Imperfect influence can work a good work. It has to. My dad was my imperfect influencer.  He was a man who was honest about who he was—a man who loved God, books and working in prison ministry, and who was also a recovered alcoholic introvert who fought depression and heart disease.

Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, I can hear my father, whose heart condition greatly affected his quality of life, quoting his favorite life-giving scripture: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

My father had a corny sense of humor and kept us laughing, but he was not the life of the party. Working a crowd or attention-getting was not his style or preference. He also wanted to understand the workings of the world and he read about science, history, religion and current events. Both the Bible and the Wall Street Journal were in his hands every day. He was not a smooth talker when it came to politics: he had strong opinions and tempers could flare. But where he excelled was in telling others how God had changed his life, healed him and set him freethat was his greatest joy. He told me that God was real, and I believed him because I saw real, evident change, and then I believed in God.

Despite the many obstacles life—and people—threw at him, my father persevered and pressed on, very much emulating the words of Paul: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

My father entered heaven in 2005, but his influence thankfully remains earth-bound. Very often, I can hear his encouragement, his honesty in his struggles, his expressed faith, his bad jokes. And I smile. My imperfect influencer.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Don't tell me what I want to hear, tell me what I need to Tony C

Through several years of blogging, I've written about a number of  people who have had an impact on my spiritual life in a big way. From learning an example of humility from my pastor as a teenager to seeing the light of God's love through my long-distance friend David Johndrow, I've been blessed with a number of people in my life that have helped me be a better man for the Lord.

This week, each one of the Kingdom Bloggers will share a person from our lives that has played a significant role in our spiritual walk.

Actually, I'm going to share with you someone that plays a significant role for me today. A huge mistake we often make as Christians is holding to the fallacy that our spiritual maturation actually has a ceiling. Ridiculous sounding, but too often a common sentiment that leads to our church elders bowing from an active role in ministry at some point.

Let me clarify the reality of this situation. We never reach a stopping point of growing as disciples for matter how old we are or how much Bible we know. There is no maxed-out for Jesus this side of Glory, so get over yourself if you think you are actually there now.

I say that in the kindest, most gentle way possible...

I'm fortunate to have a someone currently in my life that keeps me both grounded from any delusions of grandeur while pushing me to continue to grow and learn while serving the Kingdom. We talk or text on a daily basis about any number of issues or subject matters. We often dialogue through email on doctrinal or theological muses that I would akin to something like thinking out loud.

One of the best attributes of our friendship is being able to agree to disagree on some of those non-essentials subject matters of our faith that are fun to discuss and debate but may be beyond a definitive definition in our current finite and limited state of being. I absolutely love those discussions because I'm always lead to a deeper study of God's word in search of defending my given (and mostly undefendable) positions.

He is a deacon where I attend church, and he takes the role with utmost urgency. Many people would look at him and try to characterize him in the light of his professional position. That would be easy to do because he is a Vice-President at a Fortune 500 company. However, I have never heard him try to define who he is in that light. He genuinely conveys an air of appreciation for how God has blessed him.

I'm very confident in stating if you met my friend Keith and didn't know any of the things I've told you to this point, you would quickly recognize he is a man of impeccable character and strong convictions. Both intelligent and confident with the greatest quality of humility. A godly husband to an equally godly wife.

He is a man that not only truly believes what he professes to believe...he can also eloquently explain to you why. the best of the many reasons I've given on how blessed I am to call him my friend and brother in Christ.