Monday, February 9, 2015

Fight. Pray. Love. Like a Girl

Fight like a girl.

This is a popular saying on social media right now. This idea of fighting like a girl, the fact that girls fight hard and well, is not new. Once, a man said to me after I threw a ball, "You throw like a girl!" I smiled broadly and gave him a big thank you.

Always is trying to make sure everyone thinks fighting like a girl is a positive, good, strong thing. They created this fabulous video to show how they feel that doing anything like a girl means doing it well and being strong. They are on the right track, but this is not new. Jesus Christ was the first Champion of women. He, throughout the generations, has put women in places of high honor and leadership, working for His kingdom.

As Christian women, we are called to be  stedfast (I Peter 5:8 & 9) and unmovable (I Corinthians 15:58). We are told we have power to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8) and to fight the good fight (I Timothy 6:12).  We are told to go and make disciples, teaching all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20). We have God-given strength and power, unmatched and breathtaking in its scope. All we have to do is look within the Scriptures, themselves, and see how Almighty God raised women up time and time again to accomplish His purposes.

*Eve was given dominion over the earth by the Triune God, Himself. (Genesis 1:28)
*Esther had power and fearlessness. (Esther 5:3, 6 and 7:2)
*Deborah was given powers of judgment as she served as the judge over Israel. (Judges 4:40
*King Lemuel's mother had power to instruct him as king without hesitation. (Proverbs 31:1)
*Abigail was not only beautiful, but brilliant as well, and saved King David from committing much bloodshed. (I Samuel 25)
*Abraham was instructed by God to obey Sarah and submit to her wishes. (Genesis 21:12)
*Huldah was sought after as a prophet and she instructed men in the Word of the Lord without hesitation. (II Kings 22:14-20)
*The Great I Am submitted Himself to a woman, His mother, Mary, not only for a human birth, but as one under subjection. He later took responsibility for her as an obedient Son. (John 19:27)
*When the Apostle Paul went to Philippi to plant a church, he went first to the women. (Acts 16)
*Priscilla was a teacher of men, with at least one man she taught showing great success as a result. (Acts 18)
*Anna was a prophet and teacher of all who were in the Temple. (Luke 2:36)
*We are one in Christ...there is neither male nor female. (Galatians 3:28)

There are many more women whose action, wisdom and service in leadership is recorded in Scripture. Yet, given all this evidence of our God seeing women as strong and capable, and putting them in active leadership roles, there are still men who would have you believe otherwise. These prominent men would have you believe that even God, Himself, wants women relegated to a back seat when it comes to any type of leadership at all. They would have you believe that women belong only in the home and that any and all women being used in service to God were exceptions, never the normal expectation. Among these teachers is John McArthur and John Piper. They openly believe and teach that women are not to lead because they are easily deceived and possess a "certain deceive-ability" that men do not and that they ought to stay home and have babies and hope for salvation through their childbearing and obedience to their husbands.

The problem is, this idea is not at all supported in Scripture. These men have taken their own ideas and promoted them as God's. Read for yourself, girls; it's not in there. That women possess a certain deceive-ability is a pure concoction of men; God has never said this. Our God does not feel this way about us.

What God does say is that we are Daughters of Abraham in our own right, meaning without the approval or possession of a husband. (Luke 13:16) We are Daughters of Judah and can rejoice at the Lord's judgment. (Psalm 97:8)

To teach that women are more deceive-able and spiritually weaker than men is to undermine, negate and minimize Christ's work on the cross. His death covered all sin, "far as the curse is found," and therefore, women do not have to carry the stigma of the forbidden fruit any longer. Anyone who minimizes Christ's work on the cross is of the devil.

Instead of believing what these men, and even some women, say about you and your Bible and you and your God, read His Word for yourself. Set aside the "Bible study books" and the commentaries and sit down with the pure, unadulterated Word of God and just see for yourself what He has in store for  you. It will absolutely change your life.

Fight like a girl.
Pray like a girl.
Love like a girl.

Monday, February 2, 2015

3 Things Worship Leaders Can Learn from Taylor Swift

My husband and I enjoy watching The Voice. Because of our tight schedule, we record it on our dvr and watch it later, fast-forwarding through a lot of the talk, all the commercials, and focus just on the performances. We watched it that way until last season when Taylor Swift joined the scene and became an adviser to all the contestants. We didn't fast forward through Taylor's sessions, but listened to what she had to tell the contestants.

We paused the show often to take note of and discuss some of Taylor's points to the performers. Her advice is spot-on and, because we are currently planting a church, we discussed it in light of worship and song leaders in church.

Here are 3 things we think worship and song leaders can learn from Taylor Swift.

1. "Open your eyes; people can't see what you're feeling if your eyes are closed." This is the statement that made us pause the most. We've seen it many times, worship and song leaders standing up on the platform singing with their eyes closed as though they are all alone. While they might really be "feeling" the song, it does not translate that way. It translates as a disconnect. It translates as half-done because perhaps the mom who is trying to keep her kids in tow, or the dad whose child needs to go to the bathroom, or the elderly woman who is trying to balance so she won't have to sit down, or the elderly man whose hearing aid is too loud, can't concentrate. They look up and see a worship leader singing with his or her eyes closed and think maybe they missed something, or that they're supposed to be praying, or that maybe it's a solo. Worship and song leaders, keep your eyes open! You are leading, not performing.

2. "Look at faces, not the wall or floor. Pick a few people and sing directly to them." This one makes a huge difference as well, and it could also apply to preachers. People know when you're not looking at them. They know when you are disconnected from them, and it will show in their response to formal worship. Leading people in worship of the Living God is no small task. Worship and song leaders need to remember that it's people they're leading, not songs. Look at the people. Connect with their eyes. Only then will they see your worship and be compelled to follow. The goal of leading worship is to direct people to God. We can't do that if we're looking at the walls or ceiling.

3. "Get rid of restrictions and distractions." Taylor advised one young man to leave his guitar behind and a young woman to abandon her high heels. She told the young man that his guitar was a security blanket and he'd perform better without it. She told the young woman that her high heels were making her feel like she couldn't keep her balance so she should wear flats or lower heels. Both of those young people took her advice and they both won their competitions.  Worship leaders, if you're distracted by holding a microphone or guitar, put the mic on a stand and stop wearing a guitar. Your ability to lead the people in worship will be greatly improved.

These are just observations, but they come from our own personal experience with worship services over the years. I have served on worship teams and I know the temptation to close my eyes and "feel" the song I'm singing. I have to remember that being on a worship team to lead worship is not about me, it's about Jesus and helping every single person in the congregation see Him. It's about enunciating each word in a song while connecting with the people visually so they will see my intent in my eyes.

Being a worship leader is about leading people, not songs.