ONE VOICE WORSHIP
Artistry. Discipleship. Worship.
by One Voice Worship on July 8th, 2016


“What is wrong with people?”  “Where is God in this chaos and why is he allowing this to happen?”  “God doesn’t care, so why even pray?”
 
I’ve seen these questions asked repeatedly over the past few months in light of recent tragedies. They rob me of sleep at night and fill my waking hours with desperate and often discouraged conversation with God.
 
What’s wrong with people is the condition of their soul.  Mine included.  Even as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I wrestle daily against the propensities of my fleshly nature because although my spirit is desperately willing to do the right things, my flesh is overwhelming weak to do so.  That being said, how much greater is the struggle against the flesh for those who live outside of a relationship with Jesus?  The war raging in the world today is a spiritual battle evidenced in the tangible, and it makes me shudder to think about what is raging in the unseen spiritual realm.  There is a supernatural agenda in play right now that we must acknowledge, and it is beyond our human capabilities to withstand or overcome it.  This world is the devil’s domain, and he knows he is living on borrowed time, so he is working overtime to turn as many hearts away from God as possible by appealing to our human proclivity to anger, hate, doubt, fear, self-sufficiency (pride) and separation from God.  One soul, family, community, state, and country at a time, our enemy is roaming around like a lion seeking to devour every good thing.  He is capitalizing on our weaknesses and emotions as a human race and distracting us with his schemes, for he knows that if we are focused on ourselves, which is ultimately focusing on him, we will be less inclined to turn to God.  And yet in spite of our humanness, our souls are deeply troubled and pained because we also innately know that evil is wrong.  We know there is an oppressive darkness surrounding us.  And it can only be exposed and overcome with light.  God has set eternity in the hearts of mankind, which is why we long for justice, peace, and forgiveness.  This world is imperfect and fallen and riddled with sin.  Tragedy will befall us personally and collectively because heaven left earth in the Garden of Eden.  This world is not our forever home.  We weren’t destined to dwell with the devil and spend eternity separated from God.  We were created to abide in a relationship with Jesus Christ and spend our eternity in His presence.
 
God is still in control even when everything seems to be spinning out of control.  He is in the midst of the chaos.  God weeps too, for every life - every soul - matters to Him.  He is a loving parent - our Heavenly Father - who wants nothing more than for us to come home.  And like a stubborn child, we resist His heart because we’re more concerned about His hand.  We want our Father’s blessing and protection and provision without laying down our rights or surrendering our hearts to Him.  Apart from God, we become unbridled in our behavior and consumed with emotions, unaware of His presence, which is constant.  He never moves, but like a good Father, will allow His children to distance themselves or even run away in effort to cultivate a longing in the child’s heart to come running home to Him as the prodigal they are.  It’s a reconciliation of God’s sovereignty and His permissive will, both of which are rooted in love.  Often, we confuse our human emotional responses and behaviors as the presence of an unloving God who causes and allows tragedy or the absence of a loving God who could have prevented it.  God loves us enough to give us the gift of free will, which includes blessing and accountability.  With free will comes the blessing of freedom that is found in choosing, rather than being forced into, a relationship with God.  Free will also  produces accountability for our actions and decisions by a righteous and just AND loving Father.  And as a child at any age painfully learns, it is often the lessons of consequence that reveal just how deep the Father’s love is for us when He takes us back in spite of our mistakes or our willing separation from Him.  God loves us deeply, grieves with us intimately, and is desperately calling for us to come home to Him.
 
God absolutely cares about the turmoil and tragedy in our world.  He is watching the devaluing of human life created in His image.  The destruction of His beautiful creation.  The self-sufficiency that enslaves us.  The pride that entices us.  The fear that paralyzes us.  The hate that consumes us.  The differences that divide us.  God sees it all.  He is the ‘God who sees us’.  He stores each and every tear that is shed by every one of us.  He grieves.  He becomes angry.  He brings justice.  Yet He is empathetic and compassionate.  He forgives and redeems.  He loves beyond our human comprehension.  We mistake God’s inaction according to our preferences as His lack of concern or care, or as hateful or unloving, yet He loves us beyond our human comprehension.  He cares.  And His greatest concern is the condition of our individual souls, as that alone is the real chasm of division facing humanity.
 
And we pray not because it changes God, but because it transforms us.  It breaks our conformity to the patterns of this world by transforming us from the inside out.  In prayer, we assume the posture of a servant, taking on the character of Christ which mirrors the nature of God, and is evidenced by the Holy Spirit at work in and through our thoughts and words and actions.  When we pray, heaven thunders and hell trembles because we have hearkened the ear of God, the Alpha and Omega.  We tap into the same power that created everything from nothing, that parted seas, that heals the sick, and that resurrects the dead.  A person cannot help but be transformed when in the presence of God!  So while prayer may or may not change circumstantial outcomes or yield miracles or answer the most perplexing questions, it will unquestionably develop a perseverant faith and change the one who is praying by being in the presence of God.  We know not what the sovereign and permissive will of God holds for every moment of every day, but we can confidently rest in the One who holds every moment in His hands and in the God who does have the power to change circumstances, work miracles and provide answers.  We pray because it faithfully positions us both for expectation and consolation as God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
 
God, You are close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).  This truth I claim over my life, over the lives of my loved ones both family and friend, and over everyone within my sphere of influence and throughout this beautiful country called America.  I pray it for every heart that is beating throughout the world and for every soul everywhere who has chosen to abide in a relationship with God through Jesus and for those who have not yet chosen Him.  I implore the Light of Christ in every dark place so that evil is exposed, extinguished and overcome in His name.  I declare hope and peace and comfort for the brokenhearted.  And I plead the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ for every spirit that is crushed – separated – from Him.  Oh God, thank you for being our Father who sees us, understands us, is ever-present with us, who hears us, and who transforms us to be more like you.  We cannot do this on our own.  It’s only You in and though us, one soul change at a time.  One light shined at a time.  One expression of Your love to us shared with another at a time.  Destroy the rules and laws by which we have bound ourselves and reign down your freedom in our lives and in our country.  Replace our cunning thoughts and man-made wisdom with Your truths alone.  Burn away the hate and pride and entitlement and replace it with love and servitude and compassion.  Break our hearts for what breaks Yours.  May we be the faithful, selfless generation that stops at nothing to bring people Jesus. 
 
Send us out in Your power.  Hem us in with Your protection.  Bind us to Your truth.  Embolden us with Your confidence and strength.  And transform every life You bring into our spheres of influence through Your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen!



Have questions about your faith?  About Jesus?  Let's talk.  Leave a comment, or contact us.  We would be honored to share more with you about what Jesus Christ has done in our lives and disciple you in your own relationship with Him.


by One Voice Worship on December 23rd, 2015

This picture.  When I saw it, I was completely undone.  I sat in silence and quietly wept. 
 
Mary, utterly exhausted and disheveled from the strenuous task of child birth. 
 
Joseph, overwhelmed and in disbelief as he stares into the face of the seemingly impossible task of raising Heaven's child as his very own.
 
And Jesus, fully divine with resurrection power coursing through His veins, yet absolutely helpless and reliant on his earthly parents for His every need.
 
Oh, how I've neatly arranged the story of Jesus’ birth for charming display on the mantle in our home, forgetful that the first nativity scene was likely anything but neat and attractive…
 
Painful screams of labor piercing the stillness of the night.  The pungent stench of dirt and animals filling the air.  Inescapable feelings of loneliness and inadequacy for fulfilling God’s purpose.  And the newborn cry of the Child King, Emmanuel, God with us, Who forever changed history.
 
The holy family was miraculously complete.  Yet there was no fanfare, no celebration, no one to tend to the new mother or reassure the new father or care for the Christ child.  Even those whom God had given a personal invitation to be a part of this extraordinary night turned the family away.  Their journey had been long and their burden weighty, and after literally giving birth to God’s will for their lives and to hope for all mankind, they were all alone, overcome by both wonder and uncertainty.
 
As I looked at this picture, my heart was wrought with many emotions, yet encouraged and wrapped in hope and peace.
 
First, God’s will is often difficult, messy, intimidating, and overwhelming.  It isn’t often wrapped in neat packaging and tied with a brilliant bow.  It isn’t without challenges, set-backs, impossibilities or intense seasons of battle.  There will be painful screaming in the middle of the night as His plan unfolds.  The air may be nauseating and surroundings ill-fitted for a mighty work of God.  There will be moments, and even seasons, of loneliness and inadequacy that dramatically overshadow the clarity of His purpose for my life.  For as is visible at this first Christmas, darkness ambitiously chases light.  Yet in the midst of it all, His hope still shines as brightly today as it did that night in Bethlehem.  Believe in the God of impossibility to accomplish everything for which you’ve been created and set apart.
 
Next, there are divine opportunities for obedient response all around us.  Oh, how my heart aches for those who chose to forfeit their personal invitation from God to witness His coming to earth through the birth of His Son!  Perhaps they had a legitimate excuse for not getting involved that night.  Or maybe they were afraid of stepping outside of their comfort zone and into the drama of someone else’s life.  Or they thought that their resources for meeting the family’s needs were lacking, or, they just flat out chose to be selfish and unwilling to share them.  It’s possible they simply didn’t want to be bothered with the responsibility and inconvenience of serving someone else.  Whatever the reason, an opportunity to not only witness but be an active participant in a miraculous movement of God was missed, and I have to believe that their lives were tragically never the same.  When we say “no”, “not yet” or “not me” to a divine opportunity, I am neglecting my responsibility to play my appointed role in God’s grand production – His will manifest on earth.  No one can play my part for me, and to turn Him away not only leaves a void in the life of someone else, but it prevents my own spiritual growth and receipt of God’s blessings.  When a personal invitation is extended to me by the God of the universe, I must accept it. 
 
Finally, I have permission to be human.  When I see Mary and Joseph, I see two people living out pure, raw obedience with a visceral, human response.  It’s a beautiful portrait of real life lived in the presence of a real God.  I have to wonder if gazing into the face of heaven laid in a dirty trough was glimpse enough of heaven to convince them to persevere; that their God was not only the almighty Great I AM of the past but also their personal Great I Am of the present and the future to come.  And that amidst the questions and doubts and confusion, there was inexpressible joy and peace and comfort and hope and freedom found in simply being in the intimate presence of their God, tiny and helpless as He was.  There was no pretense after having just delivered the Son of God; rather, Mary and Joseph allowed themselves to simply be - weary and worn out, abiding in His presence.  What a gift I have been given to know God personally and to be known and accepted just as I am by a Savior Who was born through the merging of holiness and humanity.  Instead of a palace abundant with amenities, God chose His Son to be born into humility and need.  Like any gift, I have the choice of whether or not to receive it.  This Christmas, I choose to receive the greatest gift – Jesus Christ.
 
As I once again reflect on the richness of this picture, my spirit is moved by a fresh revelation – that God Who needs nothing and Who could accomplish His will apart from Mary and Joseph, invited them in their imperfection to be a part of His plan of redemption.  When God could have chosen royalty to bear and raise the Child King, He instead chose an ordinary man and woman to change the world through their willing obedience.  Their burden became their blessing.  Their pain their greatest purpose.  Their fear the source of freedom.   And their struggle the means to their salvation.
 
So this Christmas, I'm choosing to, like Mary and Joseph, be undone.  And I encourage and challenge you as my own heart as been to see Christmas differently.  To see not a picturesque nativity disconnected from your reality, but instead to see yourself in the stable in the presence of your Savior.   Draw near to Him.   Peek into the trough and look upon His face.  Grasp the tiny hands that would one day raise the dead, heal the blind, and be stretched out on a cross.  Recognize that while He is God, He is also human, just like you.  Offer the Christ child your burdens and your pain, your fears and insecurities.  And be encouraged that just like Mary and Joseph, God is calling you to respond to Him in obedience.  To receive His personal invitation to be a part of a miraculous movement of God.  To take a risk.  To get involved.  To sacrifice.  To answer the call and go.

REFLECTION:
 
Perhaps your next step is to receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ this Christmas.  Every gift pales in comparison to receiving Him, the greatest gift.  If that’s you, pray this simple prayer:
 
"Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that all of my human efforts have fallen short of everything You are.  I recognize that I am a sinner, and You are my Savior.   I believe that You were born to die for me, and that You rose from the grave to forgive my sins and transform me into a new person from the inside out.  In You, I am now a new creation whom You have purposed to do great things.  Jesus, come into my life, forgive my sins and save me, because I cannot save myself.  I place my trust in You alone for my salvation, and I accept your gift of eternal life."
 
If you prayed this prayer, I want to know!  There is no greater honor I could have than to celebrate your decision and walk this new life journey with you.  And, I want to help connect you with other people who have made this decision and provide you with resources to help you grow in your new-found faith in Jesus Christ.  Leave a comment with your email address, email me personally at heather@ovworship.com or send a Facebook message.  I cannot wait to hear from you!

WORSHIP:

Enjoy these songs to help you celebrate the reason for Christmas - Jesus - and draw near to Him.  Have a merry (and undone) Christmas!

"Noel" by Lauren Daigle:  ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Vwu-t7QRaE

"I Celebrate The Day" by Reliant K:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh99QLRCxK4

"He Has Come For Us/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Meredith Andrews:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTACntEL7ls

"I Heard The Bells" by 7EVENTHTIMEDOWN:  ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6MxNsfKUS8

by One Voice Worship on October 7th, 2015

Sometimes in life we’re made an offer that we can’t refuse, one that seems too good to be true.  I like to call these opportunities a ‘great exchange’.  Sometimes they require the sacrifice of something I’m not quite ready to loosen my grip on in exchange for something that’s unseen.  Other times, I practically catapult that which I’ve been clinging to in desperate release without a concern about that which I might receive in return.  Sometimes what I have to give seems so trivial and insignificant that I’m humbled or embarrassed to let it go and be given something of such tremendous value.  And still, there are times when I’m stubborn and reluctant to release my ‘treasures’ whether big or small for a known reciprocation of blessing and abundance and peace. 

In Philippians 4, we’re given the illustration of a great exchange – our anxieties, burdens, fears, obstacles, trials, and worries in exchange for God’s peace that is beyond human comprehension.  And more than mind-blowing peace, God’s peace guards our hearts and minds.  It has the power to keep us from returning to that life of burdensome struggle by placing our faith and hope and trust in Him rather than in our human capabilities and limitations.  Yet I find myself clutching tightly to everything that binds my heart to earth over that which frees it for living in God’s freedom and spiritual abundance.  By holding tightly to these things, I’m choosing to exchange abundance for anxiety, faith for fear, peace for problems, and trust for trials.  I’m picking up the dirty, heavy, rancid leftovers of the enemy over the life-giving treasures from God’s heavenly storehouses.  It’s simply illogical to trust God with my eternity but refuse to trust Him with the details of my daily life.  I mean seriously - the God who created everything out of nothing and who resurrects the dead is more than capable of providing for my needs, enabling me to accomplish that which has determined for me to do each day, and order the details of my life according to His plan for my life!  This doesn’t mean my life will be easy, simple or without pain or strife, but it does mean that I have a choice to simply be obedient with what I’ve been given to do and how I’ve been called to live according to the Bible and just leave the results and outcomes up to God.  It’s really much less complicated than I make it.

But it all starts with a great exchange.  My baggage for His peace.  That offer seems way too good to be true, and yet I know that God’s promises are sure and He is faithful.  Will I loosen my grip and choose to enjoy the mystery and adventure of watching God show up, show off, and move in miraculous ways in and through my life, or will I dig my heels in, refusing obedience, and forge my own way in life all the while pleading with God to bless my efforts as I impose my will upon Him? 

It is a daily, moment by moment decision to exchange all that I have for all that He is.  And I don’t know about you, but I sure could use more peace in this life.  Peace that lets me sleep at night.  Peace that infuses my bones with life and joy.  Peace that makes people wonder how in the world I can still laugh in the midst of physical affliction, financial struggles and unresolved impossibilities.  Peace that gives me the permission to just do my obedient best each day so that God can work all things for good and accomplish His will over mine.  Peace that releases me from the burden to figure everything out and orchestrate getting it all done and, well, toil in vain, because God already has a solution being worked out for my good as He fights the enemy on my behalf.  Peace that allows me to live this life to the fullest with an eternal impact within my sphere of influence. 

Peace lives and breathes the Gospel message by giving life and drawing others to it.  Stress suffocates peace, quenching the Gospel with the flesh and repelling others from it.  (Click to Tweet quote.)

What will YOU choose?  Are you ready to make the great exchange?

Embrace today, and start living the transformed life!

#thegreatexchange  #thetransformedlife

by Heather Hitchcock, One Voice Worship on August 15th, 2015





Wanna know a secret? All my life I’ve struggled with fear. I’ve spent much of my life entangled in a web of “how’s” and “what if’s”, always expecting the worst and living as if it’s become a reality. Countless hours have been invested into trying to prevent, intervene, and prepare for any and every possible scenario that this earthly life could throw my way. And exhaustive energy has been spent rehearsing scenarios and every possible outcome my mind can entertain. For as long as I can remember I’ve been insecure, which is just a “prettier” name for fear. Circumstances and experiences set the perfect stage for this stronghold…Tragedy. Bullying. Health crisis. Loss. Hardship. Grief. Disappointment. Unrealistic expectations. Control. Disapproval. Failure. Rejection. The list could go on and on.

And while God has used this life-long struggle for good by cultivating in me a heart of compassion, encouragement and faith, I can no longer deny that even now as an adult, fear is still blatantly starting me in the face.

Fear of not fitting in and never being enough. Fear of disappointing others’ expectations. Fear of wounding others’ hearts. Fear being rejected by friends. Fear of imperfection. Fear of being made a spectacle and being made fun of. Fear of losing my husband and loved ones. Fear of illness. Fear of brain surgery. Fear of making my husband a widower twice over. Fear of being in another car accident, fire, or tornado. Fear of being the victim of a crime. Fear of being persecuted for my faith. Fear of losing material possessions and provision. Fear of losing my job. Fear of losing my voice and never being able to sing again. Fear that others don’t really view me as a Mom and that my daughters will one day stop loving me because I’m not their biological Mom. Fear that my grandangels won’t know me because they live far away. Fear of being alone. Fear of being in community. Fear of change. Fear of staying the same. Fear of failed dreams. Fear of trying to make my God-sized dreams a reality. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of stepping out in faith. Fear of losing control. Just, fear.

All day, every day. Fear, fear, and more fear. It’s become the soundtrack for my life, an unwelcome white noise playing in the background serving as the filter for every thought, feeling, word, and action.

And it’s time to deal with it.

Time to embrace the reality that by adopting the identity of fear, I’ve assumed the position of sitting on the throne of my heart and have crowded God out. And while Jesus has been Savior, He hasn’t always been Lord of my life. How could He be when fear has become my idol, and I have shouldered the responsibilities of God? No wonder my heart feels heavy and my life burdensome. It makes complete sense that I’m riddled with the fear of things falling apart!

You see, I wasn’t created to carry the weight of this world or the responsibilities of this life; Jesus was. All of my fears are legitimate when I am acting as my own god, but they are utterly irrational when Jesus is Lord of my life. And as His child, I am safe. Protected. Sheltered. Assured. Confident. Fortified. Indemnified. Accepted. Forgiven. Loved. SECURE.

I can accept my imperfection and humanity and receive them as blessings because they force me to my knees in pursuit of His truth and grace, strength and sufficiency, peace and provision, wisdom and wonder. It’s where I receive forgiveness, rediscover joy, bask in freedom, and willingly surrender to God’s sovereignty instead of resisting and fighting against Him. It’s where the weight of this world is exchanged for the simple yoke of Heaven.

It’s where God can be God, and I can just be me, short-comings and quirks and all. Just, me.

Beloved friend, I encourage and challenge your heart just as mine has been to radically embrace your position of obedience. Yes, obedience. Not results, not outcomes, just obedience. Embrace your present and momentary troubles as divine opportunities for Heaven to touch earth. Embrace your dreams as the catalyst for God to accomplish the impossible and mature your faith. Embrace your failures and mistakes as grace moments for growing in the likeness of Christ and learning lessons of eternal value. Embrace your blessings, big and small, as abundant provision from God’s generous storehouse. Embrace pain and disappointment as possibilities for experiencing and extending the forgiveness and healing and love of Jesus like never before. Embrace loved ones as prized possessions and treasure them as you honor God through relational stewardship. Embrace strangers as if you were serving Jesus in disguise. Embrace your shortcomings and imperfections as symbols of unique, irreplaceable you, where God’s sufficiency completes your inadequacy and His glory emanates through you. Embrace being brave and courageous because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is coursing through your veins and the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit has equipped you to accomplish and overcome in Jesus’ name! (Click to Tweet quote)

And embrace God as both Savior and Lord, so that you can embrace just being you.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m finally ready to just be the me I was created to be. I may not be enough for anyone else, but God in me is enough for, well, me.


Study & Application


PROMISES:

Psalm 34:4; AMP
"I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." 

Psalm 4:8; HCSB
"In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.​" 

Psalm 138:8, NKJV
"The Lord will perfect that which concerns me​..." 

Isaiah 41:10, AMP
"Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice." 

Philippians 4:6-8, AMP​
"Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]." 

Ephesians 1:17-21; AMP
"[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones).  And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come."


REFLECTION:
1.  What fears are dominant in your life right now?  Resist the urge to justify or rationalize them; you have already validated their realness through their presence in your life, and God wants nothing more than to work through them with you.  Big or small, identify and write them down.
 
2.  Let's revisit part of our devotional reading:
"Beloved friend, I encourage and challenge your heart just as mine has been to radically embrace your position of obedience. Yes, obedience. Not results, not outcomes, just obedience."
 
Obedience can be defined as submission to God's authority - His sovereignty - over your life, characterized by faith, leaving results and outcomes to Him.  Have you been assuming your position of obedience, or His position of Lord over your life?  Give examples or support for your answer.
 
3.  Select one of your responses from question #1 for answering the following questions.
 
4.  Fear is often exhibited in our behavior, thoughts, words, internal dialogue, habits, relationships, and even how we spend our time and money.  What impact does this fear have on your day to day life?  How much effort is invested into preventing, managing or rehearsing outcomes of this fear?
 
5.  How much control do you really have over this fear and your effort to prevent it from becoming a reality?  
(Heather's example:  "I am fearful of a terminal cancer diagnosis like both of my parents experienced.  I eat a healthy diet, try to exercise regularly, minimize stress, rest, and manage chronic health issues to reduce my risk of disease. While these habits promote God-honoring stewardship of the body He has given me and enable me to live an enjoyable and productive life, I ultimately cannot control whether or not I am diagnosed with cancer because God is sovereign and only He can control the future.")   
 
6.  The habits and consequences of fear can often be debilitating or damaging.  What habits and consequences of this fear have you experienced in your life?
(Heather's example:  "I am fearful of disappointing my husband and losing his love for me.  In effort to "prevent" this from happening, I've developed the habit of over-apologizing and assuming responsibility for his frustrations that are unrelated to me or our relationship.  As a consequence, habitually apologizing for everything that occurs in our home has caused me to develop the self-perception that all I do is disappoint my husband.  And, it has caused me to become defensive, reactive and critical towards him since I've adopted the perception that I'm always doing something wrong in our relationship.  As a result, I end up manifesting the very fear I'm trying to prevent - disappointment and frustration - and robbing our marriage of the joy, freedom, acceptance, and love that God has richly blessed us with.")
 
7.  Let's once again refer to our reading:
"I can accept my imperfection and humanity and receive them as blessings because they force me to my knees in pursuit of His truth and grace, strength and sufficiency, peace and provision, wisdom and wonder. It’s where I receive forgiveness, rediscover joy, bask in freedom, and willingly surrender to God’s sovereignty instead of resisting and fighting against Him. It’s where the weight of this world is exchanged for the simple yoke of Heaven...Embrace your present and momentary troubles as divine opportunities for Heaven to touch earth. Embrace your dreams as the catalyst for God to accomplish the impossible and mature your faith. Embrace your failures and mistakes as grace moments for growing in the likeness of Christ and learning lessons of eternal value. Embrace your blessings, big and small, as abundant provision from God’s generous storehouse. Embrace pain and disappointment as possibilities for experiencing and extending the forgiveness and healing and love of Jesus like never before. Embrace loved ones as prized possessions and treasure them as you honor God through relational stewardship. Embrace strangers as if you were serving Jesus in disguise. Embrace your shortcomings and imperfections as symbols of unique, irreplaceable you, where God’s sufficiency completes your inadequacy and His glory emanates through you. Embrace being brave and courageous because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is coursing through your veins and the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit has equipped you to accomplish and overcome in Jesus’ name!"
 
In light of what you just read, answer this question:  What potential blessings and positive outcomes could occur if you gave yourself the freedom to be imperfectly human and embraced the fear that's entangling you?
 
8.  Are you ready to embrace God as both Savior and Lord, so that you can embrace just being you?  Are you finally ready to just be who you were created to be?  Why or why not?
 
9.  Identify 3 practical action steps to take this week towards overcoming your fear, and write down the name of someone with whom you can share them with and ask for prayer.
 
10.  Select at least one of Bible passages from the "Promises" section to read daily and use as your prayer to God as you seek Him in overcoming your fears and becoming the amazing you that He created you to be!​


WORSHIP:
Here are two songs to encourage you on your journey towards freedom and fearlessness!

"I Can Just Be Me" by Laura Story:  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VRUU8UBXCk&list=RD0VRUU8UBXCk


"The Same Power" by Jeremy Camp:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InsifiZxVXU


by Greg Hitchcock on May 1st, 2015









 











Are you living safe? Or are you living what you were created for?

Safe usually allows us to trust in our own abilities, strength, and sufficiency - to dream and set goals that may stretch us a little, but not so much that we get uncomfortable and feel like “we can't possibly accomplish this or achieve that". I think Pink Floyd called it “Comfortably Numb” back in 1979:

“When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.”


Two years ago, we started to ask ourselves these questions: “Are we living safe? Are we living comfortably numb?” Then, we started to pray and ask God: “What are we built for? What were we created for? Help us to see with Your eyes; and with Your abilities, strength, and sufficiency. Help us to leave the shore of safety, and sail into a life of God-sized trust and living.
This is what I have found about God sized dreams:
 
1.  God is waiting for you to ask Him to be part of the equation.
How?  You just pray, right? No… you PRAY BIG!
 
Human equation looks like this: Me + my sufficiency = Comfortably Numb-small dreams living 
God’s equation looks like this: Me + Gods sufficiency = God sized dreams and abundant living
 
John 10:10 (HCSB) says, “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
 
2.  If you ask Him to enter the equation… He will.
Why?  God longs to be active in our lives; we must, however, be patient for Him to reveal His plan. Satan screams for attention and wants you NOW. But God whispers and guides you in direct proportion to your faith and trust that He WILL speak into your life.
 
Always remember that in order to hear someone whisper, you must be very close to them. To really hear God whisper we must get close to God, and to do this we must spend time in prayer and in the Bible.  It is also seeking out prayer and wisdom from others who are close to God, listening for His whisper.

James 4:7-10 (NLT) – “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

3.  God sized dreams don’t usually make sense.
Why?  Because they are bigger than “me” or “you” sized dreams… but do it anyway or things could get “fishy” (keep reading…).  People might think you are crazy (including yourself), but God-sized dreams will always have an eternal impact and meet specific needs that are not your own.  They burden your thoughts to the point that you can’t let it go, and then continue to show up through the Bible, prayer, people, or even something crazy like a bumper sticker on a car…not as the sign, but God absolutely uses crazy stuff to get the attention of humanity and reaffirm His will through repetition.  God be like, “Don’t make me put you in a fish to get your attention like I did Jonah!’

Jonah 1:17 (HCSB) says, “Now the Lord had appointed a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights.”   (You see, Jonah heard God but chose to run from him… not a good plan.)

Yup, things can get “fishy” when we don’t get on God’s program.  If God is calling you and you are letting Him go to voicemail, just read Jonah chapters 1-3 and get in the game, man!

4.  Big, God-sized dreams always have a cost.
Why?  Because you are faced with the decision of whether or not you will give whatever it takes to get it done… Sell your home, move, make less money (or no money), give up a position or lifestyle you have worked your entire life to achieve, leave comfortable relationships, and the list goes on. Yes, we are back to the “doesn’t make sense” stuff that only makes sense when you realize that this life on earth is very short… and, that it is far better to live with God-sized dreams than it is to live comfortably numb.  And, after all, it is sin to know what you are supposed to do… but choose not to do it.  Check out this passage from the book of James:
 
James 4:14-17 (NLT) “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.”

We tend to focus more on the sins of commission and easily forget sins of omission – you could call it a state of  living comfortably numb.

5.  God puts people in your life with the same vision.
Why? He has to do this because God-sized dreams are never accomplished with one person, but instead they are accomplished with a team.  Yes, God always rises up a leader with a vision, but the vision can only be materialized if the team God is speaking to steps up to use their gifts, experience, resources, and commitment to be all in.

Romans 12:3-6a (NKJV) says, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”

God dreams are too big for an individual to accomplish alone because He longs to rise up a team or community to serve together in His name.

6.  Following God-sized dreams invites spiritual warfare.
Why?  There is a force of evil trying to keep you in a state of living safe and comfortably numb - away from invading the enemy’s camp.  Following God-sized dreams means that you are enlisting in the war of spiritual conflict to fight for the eternal souls of humanity.  If life is going great and you are not struggling with anything or anyone, the evil force has no reason to give you his attention because you are no threat to his kingdom of darkness.  However, if you feel like you are being slammed from all directions, then you just might be dreaming big for God and threatening the one who will lose ground in his effort to deceive the hearts of humanity.

Ephesians 6:10-14a (NIV) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm…”

7.  When you decide to do 1-6 of the above, you must keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
Why? Because Looking at your own abilities, strength, and sufficiency in a God-sized situation gives the enemy an open door to speak into your life about your past failures, your lack of qualifications or abilities, the impossibility of the vision, and stir within you a longing to return to the state of living “safe”, in control…yes, a state of living comfortably numb.

But, here’s the good news… He also promised that He would be with us in those storms and that if we have faith bold enough to believe in His power and sufficiency, we can look to Him and walk on water in the midst of the storms.

Matthew 14:24-29 (NLT) says, “Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’ But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid, he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’ Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’ ‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.”

This is what I have learned over that last two years as we have prayed for God’s direction.  I hope it inspires you to start dreaming big for God, to find a community of believers where other people are dreaming big for God, and where you can use your gifts and passion to fuel their God-sized vision because God is worthy of such a response from His people.

We are thankful for those people who have supported and prayed for our worship ministry over the last 13 years, as well as those who have prayerfully walked alongside of us as we’ve sought God’s direction for our next steps in ministry over the past two years.

And now, with much excitement, we invite your prayer support and partnership over the vision God has given us to start a new church - Transformation Church - in Carroll, Ohio this year! 

We are especially grateful to our family and close friends for praying and walking with us to dream big for God. We are also grateful for our Pastor Rick Williams, as well as the entire Pastoral staff at Violet Baptist Church, for their prayer support, encouragement and leadership as we have sought God’s will for our ministry the past two years. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to dream beyond our own capabilities so that God is always in the equation for His glory!

Transformation Church
The vision: Love God. Love people. (Mark 10:30-31; Luke 10:27; Romans 12; Acts 2)
 
The mission: Seek the lost. (Matt. 28:16-20; Romans 12; Ephesians 2:10)
 
The outcome: Life-changing transformation within individuals, families, and communities through Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:2)    
 
If you are interested in being a member of our Prayer Team, please let us know by email to either greg@ovworship.com or heather@ovworship.com or by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/transformationchurchcarrollohio.  As a member of Team Transformation, you will be invited to join a private Facebook group for our Prayer Team, giving you a front-row seat to watch God at work as an active, prayerful participant in His miraculous movement of transformation in Carroll, Ohio and surrounding communities!  And you can share your prayer requests and praises with us also, so that we can be interceding for and celebrating with you.
 
We look forward to continuing our ministry partnership with you and we are excited to share about God’s transforming power as it unfolds in the life of our church!





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