Genuine Worship

In the past couple of years, I’ve seen a trend of blog posts about how Sunday morning worship has become more of a performance and show than a moment when a church congregation worships one God together. This saddens me, because I have such a deep-rooted love for music that every fiber of who I am knows that I only sing because God lets me sing so that I can sing to Him. Now, I can’t speak for other churches, and I honestly can’t speak for the hearts of the worship team from my church, but I can say what I see. Every Sunday morning, at Compass Church in Helotes, Texas, I see a worship team that is truly on fire for God. During the service, I hear talented voices gifted to be pleasing to the hears of those in the church seats, not so that can put on a show, though they’re certainly talented enough that they could if they wanted to, but so that these worshippers can truly worship God to the best of their abilities while leading the rest of the congregation to do the same. I see skilled hands stroking the piano keys, strumming guitars, and patting the drum box (if that’s actually what it’s called, idk). I see eyes closed or lifted to the sky in total surrender to the God who allows these talented people to stand (or sit) on stage at least once every few weeks to share their gifts with fellow believers. Sometimes, I see hands lifted in worship and thanks from those worship team members who don’t have instrument in their hands (seriously, our worship is legitimately talented). With eyes opened, sometimes I even see hearts breaking in love, surrender, thanks, and more to the God they worship.

Many times, I have shown up early enough to church to see the worship team still practicing the week’s set so that they won’t mess up during the service. Even while they practice, I see and hear true and genuine worship flowing from the voices and hearts of those on the team. It seems to me, no matter how many times they have to repeat the songs, their hearts are still filled with worship every single time they sing. It’s incredible to me, because even though it’s not a show, they do need to practice the set several times, so it would make human sense that they may not put their full heart into once they’ve done it so many times, but even when I stay for the 11am service after attending the first service, I hear just as much, if not more, intensely powerful worship in the voices and instruments of these churchgoers as I do the first time around.

I have the privilege of calling our worship leader, Shelby, my best friend, so I know that she really does have a heart full of worship. Obviously she’s still human, so I’m sure she has her moments when she’s not feeling “a heart of worship,” but when I see her and talk to her, her love and worship of God seems to flow out of her with no effort at all. I can’t help but think that, whether the rest of the worship team members have this same “worship flow” or not, I’m sure Shelby’s “worship flow” really helps influence the rest of the team to be as full of worship as they always appear to be. Each member of the team is on some level or another also my friend, but I don’t really see or speak to most of them more than few minutes once a week in passing, but when I am with them, they do also seem to have their own “worship flow,” that is only added to by having a worship leader who cares as much about the people on the team as she does about worshipping the Lord herself.

I don’t know if showy worship is a thing at other churches, but unless I’m blind and missing the mark myself, I can say it’s not a problem at my church, and I wanted to take the time to applaud and encourage the members of our worship team to continue doing whatever it is they’re doing, because I never leave a worship service without feeling the spirit flow in me through the voices and instruments and words of our worship members. Thank you, Shelby, Sarah P., Sarah M., Paul, Lilly, Adrianna, Daniel, Dan, and anyone else I’m missing, because I know I’m missing a few, for all that you do to make our worship services as genuine and real as they can possibly be. Though we do it all for God, you do still deserve the recognition for all that you do!

Revival Review (Finally)

When I listen to music, watch TV shows and movies, and read books, I look for clean stories and inspirational people. I’m definitely not looking for perfection, because nobody is perfect, but I am looking for someone that I would be more than happy to encourage my younger siblings to look up to rather than encourage them not to look up to. In the case of Selena Gomez, I’m comfortable enough with how she publicly presents herself that I’m not against my siblings following her. However, I do hope that they are cautious of their admiration for her, because she has a tendency to go from being one of the most inspirational stars in Hollywood to being a more sexual star in Hollywood. All in all, I do enjoy her music, her acting, and who she presents herself to be in public. I feel much the same way about her new album, “Revival.” It’s upbeat and exciting and many of the songs have an inspirational vibe to them.

Revival – You know those moments in life when you’ve gone through the motions for so long that you’re no longer living, but simply surviving, until one day you realize that you need to wake up and do something? That’s what this song is about.

Kill ‘Em with Kindness – Ordinarily, a song as repetitive as this one tends to be annoying, but this song is different. In a world typically bent on revenge, these lyrics are inspiring enough that the repetitiveness is not annoying. Arguably, the best line in this song is, “No war in anger was ever won… kill ‘em with kindness.”

Hands to Myself – As stated in the intro, when I listen to music, I listen for clean lyrics that I would be comfortable listening to with my younger siblings, therefore, I’m not a big fan of this song. I do, however, like the line, “Can’t keep my hands to myself. I mean I could, but when would I want to?” I like this line because it’s one of the most honest lines I’ve ever heard in a song like this. It just makes me laugh to hear how transparent this line is. She’s literally saying, “I could control myself, but I don’t want to.”

Same Old Love – it’s your classic sassy break up story. Mr. Not-So-Perfect said or did something stupid, so they broke up, and Miss Independent is now singing about how much better off she is without him. It’s catchy and relatable in every way!

Sober – it’s the classic tale of a tragic love story. It’s a perfect example of a line from one of Gomez’s best friends, Taylor Swift’s song, “This Love.” The singer is basically saying, “This love is good. This love is bad.” She knows this love is not healthy for her well-being, but she still keeps going back to this guy who only loves her best when he isn’t sober.

Good for You – There are only three people for whom any girl should ever dress to impress—a potential employer, herself, and her significant other. In this song, the singer loves her significant other so much that she just really wants to look good for him. It’s cute and sweet and there’s kind of just an overall sexy feel to the song.

Camouflage – Give or take a few lines, this song is the epitome of what it’s like to drift apart not only from your significant other, but also from anyone in general. Once upon a time you were so close, but it’s been a while since you were. Now that you’re catching up it feels cold, but it’s still nice to talk again.

Me & the Rhythm – Selena Gomez is known for the dance feel of her songs. This song is one of those songs that is perfect for dancing. There’s not a lot going on with the lyrics other than a dance pop theme and that’s what makes it perfect for dancing.

Survivors – This is an inspirational love song about the beauty of how love can take all the pieces of a broken heart and turn them into something strong and beautiful. These lyrics speak of how love makes it possible to survive almost anything.

Body Heat – Words need not to be used to say I’m not the biggest fan of this song. Why would I be? It’s not a love song and it’s not inspirational. It’s just words on a page. Credits needs to be given where credit is due though. One of the lines is pretty clever—If you’re the flame, I’m the kerosene.

Rise – This is the kind of song I look for when listening to an album for the first time. It’s inspiring and empowering—the kind of song you listen to when you are feeling down and out and unable to move on. It just might be my favorite song on the album.

Me & My Girls – While the lyrics are empty, the sound is full enough to be a fun song to dance to. It’s a great song for a girl’s night out or even for girl’s night in with junk food, girl talk, and make overs.

Nobody – I don’t know who or what this song is about, but the lyrics are written in such a way that they could be applied to any love fueled relationship. On a personal level, I could use this song as a worship song if I wanted to do so. The lyrics are strong and they imply the kind of love that in the Hebrew language is Agape, which loosely translates to mean “unconditional love.”

Perfect – While we may not all know how it feels to be in relationship with someone who obviously has somebody else on their mind, I think it’s safe to say we do all know how it feels to be in love with, or at least have feelings for, someone who has feelings for someone else, and it sucks! This song fully explores the feelings behind wanting someone so badly that you are envious of the person who has captured his/her heart.

Bonus Target Edition:

Outta My Hands (Loco) – We all know someone, or have been the someone, so wrapped up in the one or two redeemable qualities of a lover that they keep going back for more even though his/her bad qualities far out way the good. This song is for the person who knows it makes no sense to keep going back but you do anyway.

Cologne – At least once in your lifetime, you’re going to meet someone who consumes your every moment. You’re going to fall for someone who is everywhere in every sound you hear, everything you see, and every scent you smell. If you’ve already been there, you can relate to this song, if you haven’t then when you do, you’ll know this song is true.

To the Insecure Girl

I have a friend, Stephanie, whose outer beauty is always on point and whose inner beauty is even more on point. She’s the kind of girl whom you can tell all the guys love. Why wouldn’t they? She’s beautiful, kind, smart, and funny! If you pay attention, you’ll find that most girls like this are surprisingly insecure just like us “normal” girls. (there’s no such thing as normal. We’re all beautiful and we all face our own insecurities.) Stephanie is one of those girls who builds up a wall, but does a really good job of pretending it doesn’t exist. in fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve been that girl,i probably wouldn’t know she’s built that wall. Because I’ve made it a point to look for “the wall” after finally breaking down my own, I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that she was hiding behind a wall since I met her. You know those girls in teen movies with tattoos and piercings who have tough exteriors, but end up being the most loving and deepest characters in the whole story? That’s who Stephanie is. She’s got tattoos and had piercings with long dark hair and dark clothes with a wall around her. Behind the wall though, a wall she’ll slowly start to take down if you show her that you care, is a broken girl whose seen so much negativity in this world that she finds it hard to hold onto the one thing we all need–hope!

The biggest obstacle keeping her from hoping is herself and her insecurities. From the little things she has done and said during the conversations we’ve had I’ve assumed her walls were built more from insecurities than anything else, much like the walls I had built up around myself, but I was surprised nonetheless when she unexpectedly send me a long (for her) text message about it. I was even more surprised when she asked me what I thought she should do about it. At the time, I did answer her question, but because I was caught off guard and also distracted (waiting for a dentist’s appointment) I didn’t really answer the way I would have liked to answer. Now that I have time to think and because it goes well with what I write for this blog, I’d like to answer now.

Part of her question was, “Do you think I should fix myself?” No, I don’t think you should fix yourself! There’s nothing to fix! However, I do think you should redirect your focus. Insecurities are the result of negatively focusing on weaknesses and things you can’t change. If you want to “fix” yourself, make it a practice to say something positive about yourself and try focusing on the things about yourself that you do like. Also, think of the positive counterpart of your negative thoughts. when I was at the depths of my worst insecurities, I focused on my hair and the color of my eyes, because they were the only things I never hated. I started to wear a lot of pink (which is why I wear so much now–I’ve just gotten used to it), because people had always complimented me the rare times I had worn pink before. On a deeper level, I realized that one of my biggest strengths was being a loyal and caring friend and it was because I knew how it felt to feel alone and broken, so I decided to focus on other people. I started to watch people’s body language, I listened to their voices, and read their eyes–eyes really are the window to the soul.

I could tell you what I think your strengths are, and I will if I ask, but in order to overcome your insecurities, you need find what you think your strengths are for yourself and focus on them. When looking for your strengths, you will likely need to give some things up and it will be painful, but after a while, it’ll also be worth it. I’m a hopeless romantic, but my biggest insecurity was being single when it seemed none of my friends were, so there was a stretch of time when I just had to stop thinking of romantic movies, and reading romantic books. I even had to force myself not to want a boyfriend for a while. Now I’m still single, but I’m okay with it. I listen to love songs, watch movies, and read books. I can even laugh and make jokes about being “forever alone,” because I don’t think it’s true, but even if it were, I’d be okay with it. I didn’t fix myself, I found myself. You don’t need to fix yourself, you need to find yourself.

I wanted this to be a blog post because every girl needs to know she doesn’t to be fixed, she just needs to be found. She needs someone who sees her for who she really is and not for who she pretends to be. She also needs to love herself for who she is and can be instead of hating herself for who she might have used to be and who she’s not. And here’s the thing, there isn’t ever really an “old me/you,” there’s only me and you and life brings out the sides of us we haven’t really known before. Who we are no is’t “new;” who we are now is renewed.

P.S. Nobody’s perfect!