The Family You Choose

Posted by Andrew Stevens on

  As a child, I never worried about living without my family. My parents were always around, I had my sister, and we would visit our extended family every year. I have so many fond memories as a child, playing with my cousins at my grandma’s house, going fishing with my dad, or...

How is Service Worship?

Posted by Janelle Webber on

  Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”. But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship...

Quiet Time 101

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Quiet? What’s that? The kids are fighting, the TV is blaring, the cell phone is pinging and the washer is running. Down the block a fire truck’s siren is blasting and cars are tearing down the street. And now? The cat is tipping over the dog’s water dish! 

Sound familiar? Can your relate?  Quiet Time 101, really?

Any college student will tell you that a 101 class means it’s the easiest, the beginning and the first class you must take to move deeper into a topic. Some days a quiet time doesn’t seem quite so simple. It may challenge us or inspire us or leave us with questions. However it is necessary to move deeper into our relationship with God. 

If you do a search of the words “quiet time” on an electronic Bible, you will come up empty. There are no Cliff notes on the topic. There will be no quizzes and you will not get graded. There isn’t even a syllabus outlining the task. This is the good news and the bad. This is not a class or a normal course of study, it’s a journey. A journey that can only be travelled with God, his son Jesus Christ, and our helper the Holy Spirit.

“I am so busy, my life is chaos, how can I have a quiet time?” is often heard from those who have yet to embark on this journey. Others wonder what they would do during a quiet time. Others find that any soul searching is awkward or even painful. Once it becomes a habit, it will change your life.

As a person who’s energy spikes around 8 or 9 pm, I discovered after the daily tasks were done and the kids where in bed this time was my “sweet spot”.  Finding a comfortable chair and setting aside time was perfect for me and Jesus. Often I would settle in with a cup of tea and my Bible for 30-45 minutes of worship.  Years later life has changed and so has my quiet time.  My Jesus time is spread throughout the day: Bible reading early, prayer in the morning and Bible study at my lunch break. One evening a week includes a Bible discussion and lecture. 

Beginning the journey can be unsettling. What does a quiet time look like? Things to consider include Time, Action and Place or TAP.

Time:

Find a specific time or times of day and put it on your daily to do list. Plan for what is important and be intentional in accomplishing this high priority task.  Like Jesus this may be early in the morning when he was able to be alone. Maybe you too are a night person and the evening works for you. Anytime is good with God. He just wants you and your time.

Action:

There is no exact method as each person is drawn closer to God differently. 

  • Prayer is essential. God wants to hear from you.  This could be through journaling, verbal expression or through your thoughts. 
  • Singing or playing music may prepare your heart or move you to communicate the God. 
  • Reading and studying the Bible allows you to learn about God, his character, the scripture stories and find words of wisdom. The Bible can be thought of as the owners manual for life. If you are new to the Bible start with reading the New Testament book of John.
  • Use a devotional, the Digging Deeper discussion guide, Christian books or a Bible commentary for additional insight and perspective. 
  • Listen for God to speak. What is it God is doing? What does he want me to know? What does he want me to do?

Place:

The place isn’t as important as the focus. It’s essential to find a spot that has minimal distractions, allowing you to openly communicate with God. This may be a coffee shop, or a park bench or room in your home. You may change location each day or change it as time goes on. It doesn’t matter where as much as it matters that you can focus your mind on God.

As you are constantly bombarded with messages throughout the day, remind yourself that it was necessary for Jesus to take time to pray and be with Father. (See Mark 1:35) In your busyness of the day, set aside time and let the words of Bill Hybels book title remind you that you are “Too Busy Not to Pray.”

#Jesus is Not Just a Social Media Status

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Most of us use social media to keep in touch with friends, family members, and passing acquaintances; some of us might even have hundreds of ‘friends’ we don’t even really know. Thinking about your friends’ list on something like Facebook, how many of those people do you honestly, really know? When you scroll through your news feed or status updates, do you get to peer into people’s souls, or are we just looking through a small painted window pane that blocks the view of the true brokenness within?

Just as we do with social media, so often we do with God. We post a status update that we went and saw a really good movie, had a great workout at the gym, or just ate a whole box of girl scout cookies (#noshame). And we do the same with Jesus. We ‘check in’ to church on Sunday, we might have a temporary high, and we share a cool ‘status update’. Then Monday comes, and we forget all about the last post and share an update with how we woke up late and on the way in a jerk in a Mercedes cut us off and made us hit a red light, which ultimately led us to have to park and walk an extra five minutes in to the office. And so, with a passing whim, Jesus comes up here and there, and then he’s gone again when ‘real life’ gets in the way.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We need to move Jesus from a status update or online acquaintance to a real life, side-by-side, close and personal kind of relationship – the kind that isn’t blind to the true brokenness that fills our lives. The way that we move Jesus from something distant and unreal to something close and meaningful is by worshipping him daily through prayer, scripture, and personal time. 

We devote so much of our time to worldly things – things that ultimately will fail us. Why do we worship the things that will fail us, yet ignore the one holding out his hand who’s already given everything, promising us eternal hope, love, and peace?

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. - Isaiah 54:10

Stop being passive. Don’t let the world win, let love win! Unplug from passing on fake news and start living a real-life side by side with the one who loves you more than you know, and who sings of a worth that outshines the brilliance of the sun. The creator of the universe made you perfectly in his eyes, and he wants to have a personal relationship with you. All you have to do is let him…

5 Things That Make Me Nervous About Going On an International Mission Trip

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I’m getting ready to leave for the Dominican Republic on my first international mission trip. And actually my first mission trip in a really long time! 

I’m lucky, because I was asked to go and my trip is paid for generously by the staff budget, but I think if it was up to just me, I might let my fears get the best of me. I hope that by putting some of my fears on digital paper, that I can address them when I get back and maybe encourage you to take a step towards an international mission trip soon. 

A Foreign Language

I took three years of Spanish in high school, but that was over a decade ago. When I cracked open the Duolingo app that I downloaded eons ago to brush up on my “skills” I couldn’t even remember the word for blue. That’s my favorite color, I should know it! As a person who really values communication, it’s pretty terrifying to realize that everyone there is going to be speaking a language I can’t understand! 

Different Food and Water

And now a moment for TMI: my digestive system doesn’t like to travel. Like at all. My first solo mission trip as a high schooler I got elevation sickness and spent most of the trip hiding in the bathroom or my bunk horrified while VBS songs played in the background. A new cuisine and not-safe-for-drinking tap water makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

A Roommate

At our last pre-trip meeting I found out that we won’t learn our roommates until we arrive at our hotel. I think most people are probably like “Eh whatever!” but an introvert me likes to mentally prepare for what’s ahead. And now a mystery roommate is adding to my nerves. Don’t get me wrong, everyone going on the trip is awesome, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know them. I’m just generally awful at social interaction so I have to plan for it a lot. (Can I get an “Amen!” from the introverts hiding in the back?!)

Being Away From My Family

My husband and I have done a lot of long distance in our relationship in the past, so I know eight days away won’t even touch our relationship. But I’m just not sure how to explain to my toddler that I’m going to straight up abandon him for eight days, and daily calls not guaranteed. I find that little monster of guilt trying to slip up into my brain telling me that my son will be damaged forever if I leave.

Construction?!

Our team is serving with a couple of construction projects (cue laughing that I’m included). I’m a measly 5’1” lady with no muscle mass whatsoever, and I definitely don’t have any steel-toed boots in my wardrobe. Oh, and I’m totally out of shape right now! Good news, I do know the names of most tools though…just not in Spanish.

 

So these are the things that are making me nervous about our take-off on Saturday morning. When I get back I will write an update on God’s faithfulness in each of these areas, or maybe what He taught me as I faced them.

Here’s what I do know and what makes me excited to go!

I’m about to get to see God in totally different ways through very different people in different places. Any time I get to exit my worldview for a little while, I get to see a new facet of our very big God. This knowledge outweighs all of my fears, and has me counting down the days joyfully!

 

What are some of the things keeping you from taking your next big faith step? What’s in that step that could be worth more than hiding from your fears? What are you going to do next to walk towards God’s leading in your life?

What the Bible Says about Worship

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Seems as though there would be more to worship than singing on Sunday, saying an occasional prayer, or owning and reading a Bible. What do you think worship is?

Dig deep. Think hard. Be open-minded. Open the Bible.

An understanding of why we worship God isn’t found in the news or in our workplaces. It can’t be found in the media or on our favorite reality show. It’s not found in a self-help book or on twitter.  

It can be found through observing the sunrise or hiking in the mountains. It can be evident in the face of a small child or felt in the evening winds. It can be seen in the lives of others, even in our own lives. Most importantly the answer to understand why we worship is found in God’s Word.

If you look for verses that speak to the act of worship, you will find numerous passages. 

Some scripture simply tells us to worship:  

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” 
 
(Psalm 150:6 NIV) (1)

Other scripture gives instructions on how to worship:

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.”
(Psalm 100: 1-2 NIV)
(2)

There are also examples of others worshiping:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
(Acts 16:25 NIV)
(3)

The Bible even tells us how not to worship:

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
 but their hearts are far from me.  
Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
(Isaiah 29:13 NIV)

And there are many more verses and passages that speak to these areas of worship. Yet why? Why is it so important to give God the glory, offer him our praise, and do so with our hearts close to him? 

We can see what makes God deserving as we walk through who God is and what he has done.  We will find the true intent and purpose of worship.

Imagine a newborn baby and the sweet love of his father. He has anticipated, waited for, and prepared for the baby, falling in love before the child is born. Yet, the father knows he will one day send this child away. 

He will do this not because he doesn’t love the child. He loves this child with his whole being as he and this child are as one. He does so because he loves others too. He loves them so much he has devised a plan such that they can be adopted into his own family. He therefore chooses to send his child to accomplish this goal.

This isn’t any ordinary father, this is Father God. His Son has always been with him and we know why he did this. John 3:16 (NIV) says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

This is who God is, what he has done and why he is to be glorified.

We also find in scripture that we are all sinners. We fall short. We fail. We try. We need a Savior. Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified and raised from the dead. He did this to build a bridge to the Father. Through the action of the Father and the son we could be forgiven of our sins and know, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV). It was, “In love he (God)  predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5 NIV)

And the very next verse in Ephesians sums up like this, “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One (Christ Jesus) he loves.” (Ephesians 1:6 NIV) 

Songwriters Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin give a snapshot of reasons in their praise song “10,000 Reasons”. The words include, “You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger. Your name is great, and Your heart is kind. For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing...10,000 Reasons for my heart to find.” (You can find that video here).

God loves us! He loves YOU!

He choose to give us his son. We have been adopted into God’s family. 10,000 reasons for worship. And more.

What are your “worship reasons”?

Write them down.

Read them again and again.

Express your reasons daily in worship to God. 


Footnotes:

  1. Also see I Chronicles 16:23-24
  2. Also see Psalm 100: 1-2
  3. Also see Daniel 4:37
Posted by Janelle Webber with

How to Make Worship Personal

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You might think that worship time on Sunday is all that God requires for our worship of Him. And most of us can’t imagine ourselves playing music or singing songs to God in our homes or at our job, so we just save worship for for church on Sundays because that’s where we know how to do it.

But worship isn’t just for church. Worship is personal. It is our personal response to God’s involvement in our lives. If God is involved in our lives on other days besides Sundays, shouldn’t we worship Him on other days as well?

If you don’t know how to make worship personal, you can learn how to worship God when you’re not in church by learning from what happens before and during a church worship service. The worship leaders shared what they do to prepare for worship on Sundays. And since that is where we start our week in worship, we can learn from them and then apply the principles to develop our own worship during the week.

We asked the worship leaders, “How do you prepare for worship?”

Every week the worship team leaders meet to listen to what God is laying on Pastor Drew’s heart for the church. There is much prayer involved as they God’s direction. The team then searches for appropriate worship songs that support what God is speaking and they practice and plan for the Sunday service. Another important aspect of their preparation is in developing their own relationships with God through prayer and Bible study. They all know that they would not be able to lead worship if they didn’t have an active relationship with Jesus.

So, how will YOU prepare for worship?

As with the worship team, your preparation for worship comes from an active, daily relationship with Jesus. It comes from spending time in the Word, and in conversation with God in prayer.

  • Seek God’s direction for how you can practice personal worship.
  • Pray, read the Bible, and practice a daily relationship with Jesus.
  • Think about ways you can respond to and support what God is speaking to you.
We asked the worship leaders, “What does worship mean to you?”

Patrice Lyle said, “Worship is to give honor or reverence to something. If you have chosen to give your life to God, you owe God your worship. I can help model worship as a leader, but each person must worship God for themselves. Not as a spectator, but as an active participant. How we express our worship to God may vary, but that we worship is a responsibility we can’t ignore, nor pass off to someone else to do for us. When we respond to God revealing himself to us…we show others the goodness of God. This is worship—pouring out our lives to God in a way that attracts others to Him, and having the freedom to express our love for God in how we live for Him.

Hannah Martin said, “When I read scripture I see over and over again how spiritual victory comes after a time of worship. Paul and Silas were beaten and in prison, and it says in Acts 16 that they began to pray and sing songs of praise to God and suddenly the foundations of the prison were shaken and their chains were loosened and fell off, the prison doors swung open. Paul and Silas weren't asking for a rescue, they were worshipping...and God showed up and shook the foundations. They were freed because of their worship. Worship is my love letter to my Creator. Worship is so much more than playing and singing songs about God. It is our response to all that God has done for us.”

So what does worship mean to YOU?

Worship is a choice; a choice to give honor and reverence to God above all other things. It is something we each have to do for ourselves; we can’t rely on others to worship for us. Our worship can free us from our chains. It is our love letter to the Creator and a response to God’s love for us.

  • What are you choosing to worship? Are you choosing to honor God above all other things?
  • Don’t rely on other’s to worship for you; your worship is your response to God’s love for you.
  • Worship comes in many forms, not just singing in church. It is showing God’s love, it is praising Him in your prison, and it is a response to His love and provision.
  • How will you respond to God’s love for you today? This is the beginning of personal worship.
We asked the worship leaders, “How do you hope people would respond to worship?”

Hannah Martin said, “I hope that people would experience the presence of God, that they would begin to fully comprehend how much they are known and loved by God and that worship would be an expression of that revelation. That they would be able to freely embrace the Father’s love for them and respond to it because no one walked away from experiencing the presence of God and stayed the same. His presence changes people.”

Patrice Lyle said, “My hope is that every person who enters Severn Run for a worship service will experience the manifest presence of God in a way that encourages them to choose to respond with their lives as an offering to God. When we respond to God revealing Himself to us, we become the embodiment of 1 Peter 2:9, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, we are given the charge to show others the goodness of God. This is worship.”

So how do YOU respond to worship?

Do you experience the presence of God? Can you comprehend how much He loves you? Your worship is an expression of that revelation!

  • Freely embrace God’s love for you and respond to it in a way that feels right to you…by singing, or creating, or speaking, or praising…by sharing or by helping others feel His love. This is a response of worship.
  • Experience the presence of God and let that affect you! Are you happy about it? Scared of it? Amazed in it? Experience that, and respond to God in worship.
  • Let God change you! Let His love mean something to you, and let it set you free. Respond to the change God has made in you—that is worship.
  • Respond to God in worship with your life. Get involved, get connected, learn, grow, pray, serve. These are worship responses.

God loves you. He knows who you are and what you are going through. Let that sink in. Let it mean something to you. Then respond to God’s love for you with love back to him. Worship him in word, in deed, in spirit and in truth. Let your life be an offering to Him, a daily worship of His goodness and love.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

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