Where Is Joy?

Why is it when Christmas rolls around, life gets out of control?  It is suppose to be a wonderful time of cookie baking, Christmas shopping, tree picking, party going, Christmas light gazing, family gathering, and church going, right?  Yet, in-between all of those things, sometimes we deal with sickness, deadlines, financial difficulties, deaths, bickering, whining, loneliness, needing a vacation from the vacation.  Where in the world are we suppose to find joy in all of the mess?

I’ve found myself asking that very question this year.  Whenever I planned out my week, things changed and threw me into a forced decision; either I take the red pill of frustration and anger or the blue pill of calm and collected responses to life’s curve balls being thrown at me from all directions.

Normally, my default response is anger and frustration, but I don’t want to be that way this season.  So how do I change?  I need to find true joy!

The thing is, I know I can never find it from the world.  It is impossible.  The world only offers temporary gratification, like a box of Sees Chocolates. =) I don’t want to chase down happiness in empty promises anymore. I want the real deal.

Deep down I know it comes from keeping my eyes on Jesus.  That is the only way I have ever felt true joy in the past.  When I stop looking at Jesus, my mind returns back to the chaos and I take the red pill.  So I am making it my goal this Christmas to get my eyes back onto my relationship with Jesus.  He is so loving and such a great companion.  He has never been unfaithful to me.  I know He has all of the solutions to every conflict I face.  He needs to become my number one priority again.  I don’t know if you can relate to the same struggle I am having.  If you are, let’s pray that God will help us get our eyes off of our problems and onto His love.  As my pastor said, we receive joy from the Holy Spirit’s outpouring of joy over our lives.  We don’t create it, it is poured over us.  Plus, there is so much to be grateful for.  Pray that we counter negative thoughts with thankfulness instead.

I am thankful for being able to serve my family.  I am thankful I was able to sit and watch a show with my teenage kids.  I am thankful that I saw God’s faithfulness and grace today.  I am thankful for a loving husband and loving children who love Jesus.  The list goes on…What is your list?

Lara~

This Christmas ~

19905189_10156302840538362_4091401700304529758_n

I drew this on an airplane, flying up to the Northwest last year.  I don’t remember what it was that inspired me to pen this picture, but I just happened upon it today as I perused through my pictures and it was ironic how timely remembering such a beautiful memory was for me this Christmas.  Advent has been about unpacking the concepts of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace and how they came to us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

My life has been jam-packed with four jobs, as a Worship Pastor, voice and piano instructor with 20 students, singer/songwriter, and a care-taker for my in-laws.  Because I have rarely had enough margin to rebound, I had lost the excitement of celebrating Christmas; until today.

Today, I sat down to listen to Christmas music as I planned out my Christmas Eve worship set.  As I listened, my heart softened in remembrance of how much God’s love was for me and my family.  “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You,” “O Holy Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  The lyrics in these songs have been carried from one generation to the next over hundreds of years, reminding us of the true promise of Christmas.   It is not about the Christmas parties, or the gifts that we must buy for everyone on our list, or the acts of service we participate in; it’s about how God reached down to His creation by sending His only son, Jesus as a baby, fully God and fully human, to be the redeeming sacrifice for our sin, and to rescue us from the chains of darkness that constantly entangle us, offering eternal life with Him.  When we think about it, why would we ever want to be separated from our Father?  Wouldn’t we want to be in His loving arms forever?

So, as I looked at this picture, I saw the gifts of the Spirit pouring down to a surrendered heart.  I saw an exchange taking place, a broken heart for Joy, Peace, Grace, Hope, Love, Forgiveness, Mercy, and Faith.  What an exchange!!  Let’s not forget about the real reason for the Christmas season and let all of the frustrations, sadness, uncertainties, sin, busyness be put to the side, so that we can be filled with the love of Jesus.

Lara~

23926667_10156778552188362_2744539037688405979_o

Back To Periscope!

Happy 2017!  Can you believe we are in the year 2017?  I am really having a hard time coming to terms with this.  =)  Well 2016 was a good year, full of learning experiences and rest.  God was faithful and a good, good Father and I know He will continue to be this year!

Through prayer, I am starting back up on Periscope again in a more focused and structured manner.  I really feel led to broadcast about things that I am passionate about.  So I am including my schedule on this post for those of you who would like to join me in the broadcasts that matter to you! periscope-broadcast-sheet

We will begin our study in the Book of Matthew today at 9am p/t.  Then, I will teach a vocal class at 11am p/t.  Lastly, we will have some casual worship time at 6:30pm p/t where I will lead you in worshipping the Lord through song, with prayer time at the end.  It is going to be a good day!

Hope you will be able to join me on Periscope.  Here is the link to my Periscope page: https://www.periscope.tv/LaraMarriott/1yNxadnkyBXJj

Blessings to you as you go into this year.  It is my prayer that God’s Holy Spirit will draw you closer to Him.

Lara~

 

By The Streams Of Grace

Here is another song I wrote years back.  It is based out of Psalm 23, my absolute life verse.

By The Streams Of Grace

©2007 Lara Marriott

By the streams of grace I find You

Down the paths of righteousness

In the stillness of Your mercy

Is where I long to rest

By the streams of grace I find You

You supply what I need

A place where Your abundance flows

You renew me

 

By the streams of grace You restore my soul

By the streams of grace is where Your love is shown

You’re my shepherd, my father

I serve and adore

I long for nothing, but to be

By Your streams of grace

 

Your rod and staff protect me

Through the valley of dark despair

You are walking right beside me

Taking me away from all my fear

Your rod and staff; they guide me

Your blessings are awaiting me

It is only in You I trust for

You are saving me, Oh

 

By the streams of grace You restore my soul

By the streams of grace is where Your love is shown

You’re my shepherd, my father

I serve and adore

I long for nothing, but to be

By Your streams of grace

By Your streams of grace

I will forever rest

By Your streams of grace

By the streams of grace I find You

What Legacy Are You Leaving?

This question really hits home when you attend funerals.  You look around at how many people came to pay tribute.  You listen to the stories of how lives were forever changed.  As a worship leader, do you ever ask yourself what kind of legacy you’re leaving?  How are you investing in the people you serve?  Does your family see one person on stage and another at home?  How’s your integrity; your loyalty; your leadership?

It is so important for us worship leaders to keep this front and center in our minds; not as a prideful thing, but as a God honoring thing.  Too many times we allow the fruit of the spirit to take a backseat to our own agendas as well as compare ourselves to others.

There is something so beautiful to experience when going to a funeral for someone who lived out a life for Jesus.  Their legacy doesn’t stop when they pass away, it outlives them many times forward.  It can even cross the generational divide.  We need to be “legacy- minded” worship leaders.  It keeps us from focusing inward and drives us out-word towards others.

Being a “lime-light” worship leader can only bring superficial satisfaction, but being a “legacy-minded” worship leader will bring long-lasting fulfillment and love.

How do you want your eulogy to read?  Who would you like to see at your memorial service?  What would people say about your character? Do you want everything to point to your achievements and accolades?  Or, would you rather the stories told about you and the memories shared end up pointing other to Jesus?

What legacy are you leaving?

Devotion For Today ~

I wanted to share with you the devotion I read this morning from Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost For His Highest” devotional.  His writings are so good even for today.  This was taken from his May 30th excerpt:

“Suppose God tells you to do something that is an enormous test of your common sense, totally going against it.  What will you do?  Will you hold back?  If you get into the habit of doing something physically, you will do it every time you are tested until the same is true spiritually.  Again and again you will come right up to what Jesus wants, but every time you will turn back at the true point of testing, until you are determined to abandon yourself to God in total surrender. Yet we tend to say, ‘Yes, but – suppose I do obey God in this matter, what about…?’  Or we say, ‘Yes, I will obey God if what He asks of me doesn’t go against my common sense, but don’t ask me to take a step in the dark.’

Jesus Christ demands the same unrestrained, adventurous spirit in those who have placed their trust in Him that the natural man exhibits. If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark.  In the spiritual realm, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold on to or believe through common sense, and leap by faith into what He says.  Once you obey, you will immediately find that what He says is as solidly consistent as common sense.

By the test of common sense, Jesus Christ’s statements may seem mad, but when you test them by the trial of faith, your findings will fill your spirit with the awesome fact that they are the very words of God.  Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it.  We act like pagans in a crisis-only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.”

Click My Utmost for His Highest
to Purchase “My Utmost For His Highest.”

Blessings,

Lara~