Know the Enemy

Some of you may be thinking, “Well this is probably going to be depressing… Know the enemy? Shouldn’t she be saying know the Father or something?”

You know that phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? Although I don’t want to be “close” to Satan by any means, I think it’s just as important to know what he has to say about us just as much as what God says.

The enemy is constantly spinning more and more lies into my brain. Just today, I sang for my church for the second time in about a year or so. And I messed up. I didn’t come in at the right part. I missed half a verse. I squeaked. A LOT. I could go on and on and on about how terrible of a job I did today. People must have thought, “Wow, this girl shouldn’t be singing. She messes up more than your average worship leader. She’s no good.” And here’s where knowing the enemy comes in. He plants those seeds of doubt into my mind until I believe that I can’t do it. I’m just no good.

He constantly wants to scream that we suck and we aren’t good enough for anything. And yes, he is right. There’s nothing we can do to be good enough. But Christ gently whispers something totally different; He rejoices in our love for Him. He wants me to sing and proclaim who He is through worship, even if I mess up. Who cares what people think? Yes, I want to freely worship Him and I want to allow others to access the throne room of Christ, but I’m not singing for other people. I’m singing for my King. And He’s the only one who deserves it.

This is the hardest truth when leading worship in front of the church. You can get a big ego real fast. You can get into the mindset that you are singing to sound good and release an emotion through music. The moment we take God out of our worship, we let the pride in us win. Pride is truly the root of all evil. In fact, Jesus claims that the MEEK will inherit the kingdom. But lack of confidence is just as prideful as thinking too highly of ourselves. Thinking that God can’t use us is still prideful in that we don’t trust His ways are better than our own.

For me, today is hard because I want to believe those lies the enemy so easily plants in my mind. I want to retreat back into my little hole and stay wrapped up in my unbelief that God can’t possibly use someone so messed up like myself. Know the enemy. He so desperately wants to attack every weakness we have. He wants to yell loudly in the most convincing ways that we don’t need God. He always slips a little truth in. Yes, I did mess up today. That did happen. But the lie he wants to tell me is that I should never sing again. I’m not worthy to sing in front of others and especially God.

We are always asking ourselves, “how do I hear God’s voice?” but I truly believe it starts with knowing what the enemy says about us. Every person has heard the enemy’s voice. But whatever he says, God is surely to say just the opposite. Satan says, “You can’t sing”. God says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” Satan says, “No one thinks you should be leading, since you CLEARLY don’t know when to come in. Oh, and you forgot the words.” God says, “You are singing for an audience of One.” Know the enemy so that you can slam him with these words of TRUTH. All he has ever done in our lives is destroy us. Whatever your situation, know the enemy’s lies so that you can face that with the truth that our Father so deeply wants us to believe.

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Slave to the List

To do list. Schedule. Routine. I have one, you have one. The President even has one. We are owned by the things we have to do. I find myself in this constant tension of, “I have to finish everything on my list for the day” and “I need to just be”. I have the absolute hardest time straying from my to do list. Each week, I plan out all the homework I need to do for each day of the week until the next week. It feels so good to cross things off my list, but I also find this list bossing me around. Sometimes it seems that I’ve literally created a monster.

I live to complete that list. And then what’s next? Another list.

A few weeks ago, I lost my agenda with all of my assignments and a list of activities that I have to do before the end of the semester. For those of you with agendas, you can imagine my angst in looking for that dang thing. It was missing for nearly 5 days and I thought I was going to lose my mind. My entire life is in that. I asked several people, yet I could not find it. After searching for days, it turned out that I had left it at my school placement. The thing I realized in that time is that I depend WAY too much on my lists. I feel WAY to comfortable in my routines.

When I am in my “school mode”, I am not to be bothered. I don’t want to be distracted or interrupted while doing my homework. I won’t ask people how their day was or participate in small talk of any kind. I am determined to finish my work. If I do have conversations with people, I am thinking about that list of assignments I have to finish. I know it’s not terrible to have a list or create structure for myself, but life eventually gets boring and tiring with the list.

I don’t leave any room for the Lord to speak, for random fun events to take place, for a conversation to happen, etc. I live by the rules of my list. I have realized how emotionless and robotic that feels, yet it is so ingrained in who I am that I don’t know how to do it differently. I want so desperately to not be controlled by my list, but in this field of work I find myself in, it’s the only thing that is keeping me sane. It definitely allows my thoughts to stay organized, which is good. But it doesn’t give life.

I find myself feeling numb and cold, almost cut off from the world. It truly makes me feel robotic. I. Must. Finish. This. But I’m at a point now where this list really isn’t giving me any satisfaction. Yes, crossing things off feels amazing. But then I have to move on to the next thing. It never ends. Assignments never stop. There is no break. I just feel burnt out on my list.

I am then reminded that life isn’t easy. But how can I be used in this season of mundane? How can God use my wimpy list to give Him glory?

He wants so desperately for me to throw that stupid thing away and find life in Him. I have experienced it SO many times, yet I always tell Him that He’s not enough by my actions whenever I give that list power over my life. The enemy wants to deceive me by saying things like, “It’s late and you have had so much to do today, you don’t need to spend time with God. I mean, it’s not on your list to spend time with Him, so don’t worry about it. Sleep is more important.”

My sole purpose in this life is to have a relationship with my God, to give Him glory, and bring that goodness to others. Everything else will perish right in front of my eyes. Lord, forgive me and my selfish ways. I want to have life in You and in nothing else. Psalm 16:11 says this, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Lord, your right hand freely gives pleasures. Let that be enough for me.

Don’t be a slave to the list. God offers such a FULL life that satisfies. We’re just too stubborn to really see that He is enough, but He is.

Where the Heart is

Last weekend, I went to Pray. Reach. Challenge. at Southeast Christian Church. My mom had been prompting me to partake in the conference and constantly reminded me about how she felt like it was going to be a milestone in my faith. I didn’t really think much about it until I showed up for worship last Friday night. I didn’t really pray expecting the Father to do his thing. I really just didn’t come with any expectations at all.

On Friday, I went to the worship night, sang a few songs, listened to Kyle’s message, then went to a breakout session on prayer. This whole time I had nothing. I had nothing to give, no thought of the Spirit, just nothing. It wasn’t like I was mad, annoyed, or burnt out, I just had nothing (if you know me, you know that this rarely EVER happens). Lots of truth was proclaimed that night and I believed it, but it didn’t have a whole lot of relevance to me for whatever reason. But I knew after that night that I needed the posture of my heart to change if the Father was going to do anything in this unwilling spirit.

When I went back to my parents’ house, I went in my room and started listening to music. First it was just stupid junky music that has no substance. But then I felt like I should start listening to worship music. I began listening to Bethel’s Loft Session album (which is probably one of BEST worship CDs out there). My favorite song, “You Know Me” came on. That’s when the Lord spoke. I need to sing again. I need to lead worship again. It’s a part of who I am and I can’t NOT do it. It’s in my DNA. God gave me this gift and I can’t give him 100% of the glory He deserves if I don’t use it. I haven’t lead worship (in front of the church) in a year and it is time for me to give the Lord ALL the glory He deserves. I needed that time to reflect and hear the Lord in other ways, learn new ways of worshipping him. Now it’s time for me to do the very thing I was made for.

When I shared this news with my mom the next day, she said, “That’s funny, these last few weeks I’ve been sensing that you need to sing again. I really felt the Lord say that to me.”

The next day at church, I was getting everything set up in the morning while the band was practicing. Out of nowhere Brad (our worship leader) stops in the middle of the set and asks, “You wanna sing next weekend?”  This was the very first time he had asked me to sing since he started at The Avenue just one year ago.

Boom. The Spirit alive and well. If that’s not proof that the Lord speaks, I don’t know what is. He is SO faithful. My heart had been at peace about not singing this whole year because I knew I needed to grow in other areas before it came back again. I’ve always known that this was going to be a part of my life. I didn’t know when He was going to bring it back up again, but I’m glad I have grown in other areas of my life before He did. I’m grateful that He gave me passions for other things, such as being a teacher or interning with the kids ministry at my church. But now the Lord has laid out opportunities for me to get back to the one thing my heart was made for: singing to bring Him glory.