Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Song Expo: What Is The Natural

Before 2008, before we were Gateway House of Prayer (GHOP), before two churches merged in order to give our HOP a home, we were meeting and having our 2 hour prayer sets in a church sanctuary.

It was at that time in the church sanctuary, near the end of our Tuesday 6-8pm set that What Is The Natural was born.

If Jacob was the slow, laborious way to write a song, What Is The Natural is the direct opposite. Jacob was weeks of Bible study with a Strong's Concordance followed by weeks of trying out varieties of chord progressions on the piano. What Is the Natural was born in 5 minutes.

It was the last 10 minutes of a set when a faithful intercessor named Moses came up and prayed from the Hall of Faith section of Hebrews. The chord progression we played behind him was left over from the previous song.

In KC antiphonal fashion, when he was done, it was the singers job to sing short phases that supported the theme he prayed. I was particularly inspired and gripped by the passage he read and the prayer he prayed that I just took over the singing myself.

"What is the natural when God is supernatural? I lift my eyes to the hills where my God comes from."

The singers picked it up and we repeated it a while. Then it felt like there was more to be sung or more that the Spirit wanted to say about this.

"Hallelujah, hallelujah, He will have His way."

And the more we meditated on this the more boldness grew in my heart which lead to the proclamation:

"And when the Lord comes out the seas will part before Him. And when the Lord comes out the mountains will move from His way."

After that, it was time to wrap up the set, so we hopped off the stage and I didn't leave the room before writing down everything that was sung and the chords behind it.

Its been a few years now, but I'm still encouraged by that song.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Coming down after a crazy night...

Just a quick stream of thoughts, here on the end of a sweet night of raucous worship.

My favorite worship is the place where a whole room of people are dancing in abandon, shouting themselves hoarse and taken away in the Spirit. I would choose it more often if I could, but I haven't found a way to assure these results! (nor is it always the time, I get that)

And I'm not looking for reckless worship for the sake of recklessness. That's called youth or hype or even immaturity. But to have a room full of people forget about life outside of the room for a while and be so engaged and so full of an expression of God that they have to pour it back out...that's dynamite!

I like a good roar. I like coming away from the night hoarse because my internal pressure got to be too great and it was completely ok to shout it out. I like singing loudly until my voice takes on a Janis Joplin feel. I know, I know, its very bad practice and any voice people out there will give me solid and correct reasons to avoid that degree of vocal chord damage....but its exciting! And while I won't practice such behavior, I'd certainly like to reserve the right to rock my voice out a few times a year.

I like the point where I feel that breaking out some gestures will go totally unnoticed. I'm sitting at the piano bench right now, due to my 6 months pregnant body, but tonight, I let my arms just go for it. I think I all but flapped my arms like a bird. Ah, its helpful for me. I'm already an expressive person anyway. It didn't matter that my sweaty state could only mean trouble for anyone who could see my underarms...in retrospect, yikes.

I even did a little 'Kim Walker' style emoting during singing. She's a big 'Ha ha!'-er. Tonight was a little of that and some 'Yeah!' and some tribal singing in tongues. It was a blast.

So why all the attention on the fool I made of myself?

It was my "ark returning to Jerusalem" type moment - where "undignified" becomes "abandoned worship". A moment when being overcome by the Spirit happens to look like clapping, shouting, spinning and roaring and yet only as a result of being overcome by the Spirit.

Thank you, Holy Spirit. I was hoping you'd make the evening your own and I think you did. I like co-operating with you and would like to keep collaborating in the future.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Love and Stolen Cars

I've realized something about myself. I've turned into an intercessor.

Can you believe that through all my involvement in our House of Prayer (a location which exists only to stand as an altar of worship like Jacob found in Bethel in Genesis and join that with prayer that echoes the heart of God in order to speedily enact His loving ways on the earth)...the image that still comes to mind when I envisage an intercessor is an older woman with a lot of time on her hands who can pray for a long time? Wow.

The point being, I still only associate intercession with the singular trait of prayer. When, as I well know, the fuller definition is found in Ezekiel 22:30 when God shares His heart and says:

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."

I've known this. Or at least, I've been aware of this for years. My father had this scripture on his wall since I was young. Its a memorable passage because its a provoking passage. Its heartbreaking. In just a few words, we hear God's very own hope for redemption being crushed by the neglect of men.

And it seems easy enough, too, right? Just "build a wall" and "stand" in between God and the fallenness in the land that is separating Him from us, the ones He wants to be near.

So we proceed to try and fulfill this scripture and then find we're missing a critical element. There's the matter of receiving the burdens of God's heart. Without it, we won't stay in the gap on behalf of fallen people with their rotten choices, and as a result, their cursed land. We realize that in order to fulfill God's simple desire to restore and not punish, we have to feel in our very breath and bones WHY He doesn't want to destroy them. The 'why' is what makes us stay in the uncomfortable inbetween place - one foot in the best of heaven and one foot in the worst of earth.

To me, that sounds like the life of Jesus. He volunteered to walk on the earth in the frail frame of men. He built up a wall that gave clear distinction between False Life and True Life; walked 33 years in the uncomfortable gap between heaven and earth; then gave the ultimate worship to his Father by dying on the cross so the entire future of mankind could be spared. And now, he is in heaven at the right hand of the Father and is called the Great Intercessor where he continues to make intercession for us now having purchased through his life on earth the proper footing to stand in our defense.

SO WHY DID MY VAN GET STOLEN?!?!

....is at least what I want to ask.

Part 2:

I'm walking out the door, in a rush, on my way to meet John at the House of Prayer. I have my bags and children in tow as well as an additional bag of their activities. Our special service for the evening doesn't offer childcare, but we're all bringing our children anyway because these sessions are so compelling.

The chaos of one mommy getting children out the door is in full swing and as I turn from locking the front door to the street (where we park our car)....I don't see it. I don't see the van.

*heart drops* no no no no.

I called John to confirm which van he drove in as if it mattered since neither of our two cars are parked on our street. The call is just...*sigh*...me avoiding the truth that our van has been stolen.

Our nice van. Our just-paid-our-tax-money-to-buy van. Our every-time-we-get-in-we-thank-God-for-such-a-nice-van van. Our only-car-with-air-conditioning van. I mean, I was just unloading our sleeping children from that van last night.

Well, back to earth, the children need to be managed. They were planning on getting in a car, too. So the activity bag is put to use with a short "never mind, guys, we're gonna be here for a bit" from mommy. As they play on the porch, I move to the more pressing matters that need my attention.

I struggled, and I mean knock-down-drag-out brawled, against screaming emotions that would feel soothing yet accomplish nothing. I was alone with this problem and the only one who could respond to it properly. Sure, there were several phone calls to John to tell me what to do but I was on the scene and had to be a big girl. I went back and forth. It was a lot like having the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other!

Big, cleansing breaths.

I stepped inside the house for a minute of solitude and cried. I knew the choices I made in these first moments were the most critical to my spirit and soul. I turned my face to God and told Him (and myself) that He is good. There is no meanness or spite found in Him. That He is king of everything created and I am His child. That I know He didn't take my van nor did He want the van to be taken. When we bought the van we gave it to Him and thanked Him for the chance to steward such a nice van.

"And now, King of Creation, don't let Your enemies prevail against You and Your property. Release the desires of Your heart to restore what has been stolen from You."

It hit me then that I was hurt. My feelings were hurt. I was giving my time, my life, my energy....my everything to be in the House of Prayer for this city - the same could be said for my whole family. I had asked for God to show me His own heart and feelings for this city so I could pray effectively and stand with Him. And as I opened up my heart to feel and understand a little more of what He loves about this place and these people, I found myself falling in love with Her. And now this is how She repays me.

I could feel more acutely the pain of Hosea (read that book in one go - its beautiful redemption!). Or how personal it must have felt to Jesus who never rejected anyone he ever encountered - who held the secrets to the freedom of the universe - and yet no one seemed to see him for who he really was and he was met with rejection over and over.

They invested themselves in lives of intercession, not just the act of intercession, but because of love. Real love. Not conceptual love or the idea of love, but felt love.

That's when it hit me. One foot in the best of heaven and one foot in the worst of earth.

Congratulations, you've started living a life of intercession.

Ouch. But I'm still in.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

what goes through my head.....

When I sit down at the piano to lead worship on a Sunday morning, a similar line of thought goes through my head each time. Its like this:

"God, we need you. Whether or not everyone in the room is acutely aware of how desperately we need you, we do. Awaken hearts this morning to your greatness. Bring in an experience that reminds us of how great you are and let the world and its desires fall into the shadows. Come and touch each person with Your touch that dispels darkness, lies, sickness, misunderstanding and hard heartedness. Heal people this morning. Give them an encounter with Your glory that changes them. Let truth arise in each one and make wrong things right."

Since I'm so comfortable in my little church, sometimes I just pray all that (and more) out loud over the beginning of the song. I have a patient team because that prayer time can get a little long. I don't mind, though, and I haven't been corrected yet. Sometimes I feel like the lingering in prayer may just help people transition out of the tasks of Sunday morning (get kids to Sunday School, catch up with so-n-so, get seats, etc.) to the relationship portion of the morning.

To me, Sunday morning worship is the embrace of the morning and its a waste to blow such a beautiful and healing moment on distraction. Its corporate adoration and there's just nothing else in my life that is like that. In fact, for me, Sunday morning church is like having a coffee date with God as well as all my favorite people.

Now, I still can stress out about a set list and getting a team on the same page and whether or not the congregation responded to the song last time, etc. I feel these are the practical details that must be considered. But through it all, I feel that all we really need to do is encounter Him in each of our hearts where He'll deliver just what we need.

He's so good and I really love what I do.