A Moment of Silence for a Dear Friend–RIP


“A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” — Proverbs 17:17

One of our dearest friends and her dearest love are both being laid to rest this week, and we want to be present during their transition from this life into eternity.

So we are taking a few days away–a moment of silence in our blogosphere and Twitterverse, if you will–to just be present here.

Thank you so much for your understanding, kind thoughts, and prayers.

To eternal love…

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Sunday Set List Recap – Week #165

We’re here once again to share with you and the Worship Community what God is doing in our church, Way of Grace Ministries in Orlando, FL.

This was an unusual Sunday (September 18, 2011) in that there was a sense of freedom and liberty that is not common in churches these days. It is unfortunate when we say that freedom and liberty is a rarity in our churches, because the Bible says that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Here’s what happened:

The set list was:

1. Here I Am to Worship (chorus and bridge only)

2. Celebrate by Freddy Rodriguez

3. Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble by Hillsong United

Let’s break right here, because this is the song that took the worship in a wonderful, new, and wide open direction. Pastor Grant ran up on stage during the chorus of this song and invoked such a high level of praise as he yelled to the deacons, exhorting them to open wide our church doors and let the praises go out. This was right in line with the lyrics of the song that say, “Open up the doors and let the music play / Let the streets resound with singing / Songs that bring Your hope / Songs that bring Your joy / Dancers who dance upon injustice.” The deacons ran to action and as the power of God increase and began to leak out of our doors and onto the streets, Will left the stage and started marching around the auditorium.

What? Who does that? Who leaves the stage during a worship set? But the action became infectious as the next worship team member followed, and the next, and the next, until there was a parade of worshipers dancing around the whole congregation, singing to the Lord. It was a beautiful move in the Spirit that “opened the door” to the next song–all hearts were ready to receive as the worshipers returned to the stage.

4. Open Up the Sky by Deluge

5. Pour My Love on You

God is doing something so great at Way of Grace. He is shaking off the boundaries of religion and opening up to us the limitlessness of true intimacy and relationship with Him. He is teaching us like He taught the children of Israel: “no matter how strange My ways seem to you, trust Me, follow My lead, and be sensitive to my movement, and you will be delivered into your Promise Land.” (See Isaiah 55:8-11 and Proverbs 3:5-8.)

Don’t you just love Him?

Do You Want a King or Will God Do?

You ever catch yourself praying or wishing for a mentor or for a woman or man of God to teach you or tell you something? Remember when the children of Israel begged God for a king? What did He say to them? (See 1 Samuel 8.)

A few months ago, I found myself really praying consistently for an earthly mentor. When I was quiet enough to hear, God quickly and clearly answered my prayer with a question: “Am I not good enough? Am I not leading you and guiding you in the way you should go?”

Hmm…

I started thinking of how He first introduced Himself to Moses: “I AM who I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

You AM? Amazing. So I guess I could just fill that in with whatever it is I think I need? You AM my mentor?

“I am Your mentor. Do I satisfy your need?”

Why, yes, God, especially when You put it that way. Yes, You do. You are more than enough. I would hope to never knowingly reject You from being the leader of even this portion of my life. Wow. I will be careful to listen for Your voice and obey Your instruction. I would rather have You lead and guide me than any man or woman. END OF DISCUSSION.

Several things are occurring simultaneously to prove to me that He is mentoring me:

  1. He is speaking clearly to me about specific actions I should take (clear directives that say “no,” “hold on to that idea for just a second,” “proceed,” “get that in NOW”).
  2. He has led people to me to speak His words of wisdom, encouragement, motivation, and warning.
  3. He has graciously allowed me to be faced with situations that challenged my knowledge in certain areas or preparedness to deal with things that are next-level sort of things. Nothing embarrassing. Just very delicate reactions or responses from select interactions with people that tell me I need to sharpen up and do my due diligence. No need to place blame on someone else for not telling me whatever it was I missed. He tells me what I missed and the way to guarantee it won’t be missed again. (Grateful for that, ’cause if I don’t get it the first few times around, I’m sure it could eventually become embarrassing–so that I get it.)

These things happen in timely phases to teach me that true and sustainable increase does not come from man but from Him. He says that He has given me every resource to perform every good work (Hebrews 13:21), and wisdom is there for me without limit (James 1:5).

“So, yes, My child, sharpen up. You’re doing well. Just do a bit more. You are capable and able because I am able. You have My blessing and guidance. I am leading you through an open door to the knowledge and wisdom that will carry you to the next level.”

Yes, God.

Do you find yourself looking laterally for an answer for something in your life that seems rather earthly or something that seems to have a quick practical fix, like career or finances? I challenge you to quiet yourself long enough to hear if your answer is already present but vertical. Look up. Sometimes we get caught up in the stuff of earth, especially in this information age. There is a blog out there that can answer all the questions in my head about what steps to take, but does it know the desires of my heart? Can it know the naive prayers I prayed as a child? Did its writer know me before I was formed in my mother’s womb?

I’ve known God most of my life and still sometimes forget that I have direct access to His throne and can hear Him directly and that He is not just concerned about my salvation, but He is concerned with it all because I am His. I, along with billions of others, represent Him and His majesty here on earth. So yeah, He wants to help us do well.

God’s customize package for my life takes into account every prayer, every hope, every wish, every tear, and so much more, from here to eternity, because He knows me. And I trust that.

What is your Mentor saying to you these days?

Sunday Setlist Recap – Week #164

This week we thought it’d be cool to use videos to show how our worship set went this past Sunday. We asked Jevon’s brother to record a few of the songs on our iPod Touch.

The setlist for Sunday, September 11, 2011 was

  1. O Beautiful (commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11/01 Twin Tower attacks)
  2. Say So by Ricardo Sanchez and Jentezen Franklin
  3. The Dessert Song by Hillsong United
  4. The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe
  5. How He Loves Us by David Crowder Band/Jesus Culture featuring Kim Walker
The worship was very high. The youth band joined us this week, which was great. The Spirit of God was thick even in rehearsal. Some of us couldn’t stand by the end of the set.
Here are a couple videos. Enjoy and be blessed!
Singing “Say So”

“The More I Seek You” and the first verse of “How He Loves Us”

Thank you to the Worship Community for inviting us to share our contribution to the kingdom of God.

Where Were You on This Day–10 Years Ago?

Ten years ago today, we were three years into our marriage, no children, living in Huntsville, Alabama. Music was just “his thing,” and Jevon was eight months away from finishing college. It was a cool Fall morning, around 8:00 a.m. We had just arrived at our places of work: Will as a delivery driver for Coca-Cola and Jevon as a teller at AmSouth Bank. And that’s when we heard the hushed panic in our coworkers’ voices. The bank customers who entered the lobby in a rush were stopped in their tracks. Half-finished coke cans began to warm on the counter. The news was on, replaying a horrific scene that couldn’t have been conceived for any box office hit. It was as if what was being watched needed to be seen one more time to believe that it was really happening. Then the second plane…

America’s heart dropped low into its bowels. What has happened to our national security? We were exposed. Naked. Those people. Their families. Our people. Our families. This wasn’t happen to “them.” This was happening to us.

Never had so many turned to prayer. To God. To church. In search of comfort amid the ashes. What we thought we wouldn’t make it through, we look back on ten years later. Some of us are stronger, more full of hope, and holding on to the saving grace of God. Others are understandably still sifting through the debris. But here we are. Here we stand.

In memory of those lives that were lost on September 11, 2001, and their families, we light a candle of hope in their honor. We remember their heroism and their bravery.

O beautiful,

For spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain.

America!

America!

God shed His grace on thee

And crown thy good

With brotherhood

From sea to shining sea.

10 Things to Know About a Worship Leader’s Wife

Hi! It’s me, Jevon. I wanted to write something personal today. I wanted to write this because I remember being on worship teams and looking at the worship leader’s wife and wondering, “What in the world is she thinking? What is she about? What does she do all day? Is she connected with us? Now where did she get THAT outfit? She was fly last week too!” It may honestly just be me who goes around thinking so deeply about the people I serve under, but I doubt it. We all are pretty nosey about people’s lives, else reality TV wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Now that I am a worship leader’s wife, I feel that I may have some insight into the innerworkings of the BETTER half. So in case you’re curious like me…

Here are 10 things to know about a worship leader’s wife.

1. Yes, she has an opinion about where the worship is going. She has many opinions about where the worship is going–the skill and heart of the team, how the church responds, how the pastor responds, and her husband’s leadership style. She works hard to keep it to herself, but will release it directly to whom it may concern, if appropriate, and in God’s time.

2. She is equally gifted (if not more so–oops, did I say that out loud?) as her husband. He just doesn’t have to take care of the kids as much or make dinner every night. LOL!

3. She is sold out and in support of her husband’s gift and may cut somebody if they try to quench his fire. Just saying. Watch out!

4. She is crazy in love with God.

5. She loves her family more than the trouble of ministry, but loves ministry too. An artful balance indeed.

6. She is very busy during the day–very busy working a full-time job or managing her domestic empire and fielding the concerns, comments, suggestions, requests, complaints, thoughts, or praises that may come across the wire. She barely sits down–physically or mentally.

7. She cares very much about the worship team and the church she serves and prays for them all regularly.

8. She knows when people are talking about her. Oh, but no, she doesn’t care. Sorry. She just can’t take it personally because she is fully aware that the glorification of God is bigger than she and the talking heads. She still loves them and wants to see God’s best for them. (Word of advice: They should probably go to her if they have issues rather than resorting to gossip. It’s a divisive sin, and God hates disunity in His body. How can true worship flow in that environment? Same team, people!)

9. She is level-headed and smart. Many times, she is the problem solver, communication expert, administrative assistant, and PR professional that helps her husband appear as neat and tucked in as he presents himself at rehearsals or on stage Sunday morning. Oh, what? He doesn’t look all that good? Trust me. It could be worse. 🙂

10. She is a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a leader, a teacher, a student, a musician, a singer, a voice of wisdom, carries a makeup case full of resources, and is specially anointed to be right where she is.

How did I do, ladies? Does this sum you up? What did I miss? I’d love to hear any funny stories or comments.

Sunday Setlist Recap – Week #163

Each week we are excited to send out a report on what God is doing in our neck of the woods. The Worship Community has provided a great platform for all of us to see how the body of Christ is going about the plans and orders God has given us.

It’s so cool that it’s not about one church having better worship than another or a more fire-and-brimstone message than another, but it’s all about each church following faithfully the vision that God has given them. The church is not the pastor’s. The church isn’t even the members’. We’d all like to claim ownership, but we gave up all ownership to anything, including our buildings and inititives, when we gave our lives to God. All that we have is His, especially His church. His church body is there for  us to find other faith-filled believers to connect with. It is also there as a community center of sorts for people who are hurting and just need some hope. Hope can come in many forms. And it’s interesting to philosophy over the certain ways each church has been commissioned to share hope.

Some churches share hope through a strong homeless outreach. Others have a gift for redeeming prostitutes and drug addicts. Still others are charged with bringing supernatural healing and freedom to people overwhelmed with negative emotions and depressed pasts. Isn’t God diverse and just so good?

There really is no time or room for competition. It’s about staying busy with our Father’s business.

These past few weeks, our focus at Way of Grace has been about discovering why our particular church is here. This week we grasped a new understanding about our call to support missions and missionaries. Pastor Grant pointed out that one of our favorite and commonly quoted scriptures–“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19)–was Paul specifically speaking to the only church that gave to him, the Philippians. He was their missionary, and like they were rewarded for supporting him, our church and those others who obey their call to support missions will also be rewarded.

Understanding the church’s vision in this way helps every ministry understand the purpose for why we present excellent worship and service to the Lord and to His people. If each of us add the piece we are called to do with passion and God-confidence, then the whole is in place to fulfill the collective call.

This week, worship was excellent. The team is continuing to grow and gel together in our mission to bring authentic and Spirit-filled worship to the people. It was amazing that even with a really good worship set, it just wasn’t about us this week. It was about missions and going out to find lost sheep. But for the record, our set for this week was:

  1. Beautiful One by Jeremy Camp
  2. Come Alive by Deluge
  3. Worthy by Paul Wilbur
  4. Jesus Blood Never Fails Me by Hillsong

What was your church service like this past weekend? What special message did God speak to your heart?