New Devotional – Experiencing God ~

I have started reading from a “new” devotional called, “Experiencing God” by Henry T. Blackaby & Richard Blackaby.  Yesterday’s devotion was soooo good I just had to share it with you.  I’ll make a little plug for them by directing you to amazon if you’d like to get a copy for yourself.  Click here: http://www.amazon.com/Experiencing-God-Day-Devotional/dp/0805444785/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1414855750&sr=8-5&keywords=experiencing+god  NOTE!!–  Those of you who are part of the women at Centerpointe Church, DON’T purchase one!  Just attend our Harvest Gathering November 16th. 😉

Experiencing God – October 31st

A Defeated Enemy

“Christians are not called to defeat Satan.  God has already done that in Christ!  Nor is it our mandate to “bind” Satan.  Jesus has already set limits on the extent and duration of Satan’s freedom.  Satan, “our ancient foe,” was decisively and completely defeated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and in His resurrection.  With regard to Satan, our assignment is to trust in the victory that Christ already achieved and daily resist him with the truth of his defeat, as Jesus did.

Satan is the father of lies and a master deceiver (John 8:44).  If he can convince you that God has not defeated him, then you will not experience Jesus’ victory.  You will find yourself fighting battles that Christ has already won!  You will fear Satan though he has already been utterly and humiliatingly defeated.  Your responsibility is to resist Satan, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).  When you resist him, you are acknowledging that Jesus has defeated him and given you victory over his influence.  God has provided you with spiritual armor that is more than sufficient to withstand any assault by Satan (Eph. 6:10-20).

Christians can become preoccupied with battling Satan.  This deceives them to invest their time and energy attempting to do something that Christ has already done for them.  If Satan can divert you to wage a warfare that has already ended in surrender, he will have eliminated your effectiveness where God wants you.  Fearing Satan is fearing a prisoner of war.  You have no need or calling to defeat Satan; you need only to apply Christ’s victory in every area of your life and to live the victorious Christian life.”

 

I hope that encourages you today as it did for me.  We are more than conquerors in Christ!!

 

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Stars ~

Genesis 1:14

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.”

My kids and I are starting to read the Bible from beginning to end this week. Hannah said that when we finished reading the entire bible we should reward ourselves with an ice cream at Foster’s Freeze. Oh the innocence of children. As an adult I think the reward should be a brand new black camaro with red stripes down the middle and tinted windows. ; )

As I was reading this part about the stars God’s Spirit impressed upon me how those stars that we take for granted so much of the time were actually made just for us; as gifts. The stars were created before us, intentionally made for us to use. Gifts. When that thought hit me it completely changed the way I looked at the stars. There was going to be a meteor shower in the next two days and on that morning I woke up at around 4am. I new I probably had missed the event, but I went outside to look up just in case I could see a few meteors zip by. As I was gazing at the stars I saw order and purpose in their creation. I no longer saw them as horoscope animals and images or random acts in the night sky. I was seeing them with new eyes. You see back when Adam and Eve were alive, there was no light pollution caused by our mere attempt at light creation. They had an incredible light show every single night! They saw the Milky Way, constellations patterned for each of the seasons, and numerous amounts of stars and galaxies peeking their curiosity.

Nowadays we fill our lives with our own prideful light creations (I’m to blame as well), flat screen tvs or now curved ones, IPhones, IPads, Androids, Kindles, Computers, Stereos, cars, street lights, etc, taking away from one of the most incredible gifts in all of creation; the stars!!

Another thought I had was how God has never charged us admission to view His amazing sky! We can see it every single night. Plus, no matter where we are in the world all of us have the privilege of looking up and being awestrucked by God’s beautiful handiwork. I love that!! What an amazing God we have! He proves His love for us through His creation. It’s just will we take the time to actually stop and wonder?

Because of the new revelation I received, I am seeing the world around me in a whole new light. It’s actually an old light that I’ve been awakened to again. I hope by reading this post, you too will be awakened to God’s creation and how much He truly loves you!!

Here is Nasa’s website: http://www.nasa.gov Just for fun = )

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

To Love or Not to Love ~

This week had been a difficult one for me.  I was fighting to get time to myself throughout it.  It was a fight because everytime I did something for me I got push back from something or someone.  The lowest point was when our dog, Molly ate an entire raw hide bone in 20 mins!!!  We had to take her to the vet, have them give her medicine that made her throw up.  Thankfully the bone came out and she was saved.  I was searching for something to satisfy me through tv, food, sugar, caffeine, sleep; nothing was meeting my need.  Finally, I took the time I had been using up doing all of the stuff listed above, to sit quietly in the darkness of my room and talk to God; my friend.  I told Him everything I was going through.  I’m still learning how to hear from Him, but it seemed like He suggested that I stop chasing after things that don’t last; only clutter my mind and body, and spend time being quiet; reading His Word again.

So this morning, I left my phone off, I didn’t turn on the tv, I took my Bible and journal outside, and sat in our backyard.  I asked Him what I should read and was directed to 1 Corinthians 13.  I rolled my eyes because I had read and practically memorized that chapter.  What could I possibly get out of reading it again?  It must have been my thoughts directing the answer to my question. However, I decided to do it anyway.

1 Corinthians 13 “…Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…”

I then wrote out which ones I was struggling with:

* Doesn’t envy others accomplishments (like on Facebook or Twitter)

* Doesn’t brag or boast about my successes (like on Facebook or Twitter)

* Doesn’t think highly of myself

* Doesn’t talk down to others (like my children and husband)

* Is not selfish (especially at home)

* Doesn’t get angry easily  (at home with the kids)

After, I read 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”

“Follow the way of love.”  That is where I was going wrong this week; I wasn’t following the way of love.  I was deferring to my own selfish desires.  Lastly, I read 1 Corinthians 13 again, but replaced the word “love” with the word “Jesus.”

“…Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind.  He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud.  He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs.  Jesus does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Jesus never fails…”

The result to my week of frustration?  I need to follow Jesus!  In order for me to change my behavior and be truly satisfied, I need to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.  That is the only way I will be able to show this kind of love to others.  What a lesson.  Food for the soul.

Thank you Holy Spirit for directing me to this chapter in the bible.  I really needed to read it again.  And thank you for reminding me whose I am and who I need to follow.  I somehow forgot this week.

Here is a clip of a message from my friend, Krissy Nelson.  She talks about whose we are.  It is a wonderful reminder.

Love,

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Blogging My Devotion Today ~

Instead of sitting down and writing down all of my thoughts in my journal, I feel compelled to open up about a few things on my blog.

You see I am full of all sorts of emotions right now. There is this worship conference called “Christian Musician Summit” http://www.christianmusiciansummit.com that my husband Brian and I have been attending since 2005. That was the year a friend of my parents gave me a journal that she had bought in Guatemala. She said every time she walked by that vendor, she would sense God nudging her to buy me that journal and bring it back. She pushed the thought aside over and over again, until she was very annoyed and finally bought the organic journal made of pressed flowers and handmade paper. As she gave it to me during church service, she said I think God is trying to tell you to write. I looked at her as if she was speaking in a different language. I had only written two songs, one for my grandmother’s memorial service and another one called “Embrace Me” to try and set me apart as a Christian artist. But, I really wasn’t a true songwriter I was more of a vocalist who had a passion to sing for Jesus.

I wasn’t going to forget about this gift from God, I needed to act on it somehow. So Brian and I heard about this conference coming up at Overlake Church in Redmond close by. It sounded great. Brian was excited to see Lincoln Brewster and Paul Baloche. I was intrigued to learn more about songwriting. We signed up and away we went.

There were about 2000 people who attended. I was thrilled to be surrounded by other worship leaders and songwriters and just God worshippers! It was amazing to be led in worship by Paul Baloche himself!! We had sung his songs so many times in our own worship services. Brian and I were completely renewed and refreshed and ready to get back to our church and share all that we had experienced and learned. Well, that year when we got back our enthusiasm wasn’t matched. They didn’t understand where we were coming from. It was hard to convince our team to do things differently, plus we didn’t have the resources CMS had during the conference. But we did try to make steps in the right direction and made some great improvements to our worship service and to our musicianship. By the next year we were ready for another renewal conference, and I was excited to share a song I had written for the songwriter’s bootcamp.

It is very embarrassing to admit I did this, but it is part of my journey so I don’t mind. I had been writing a bit now, and Brian and I worked on a song together (I can’t even remember the name)I think it was called, “Surrounded By Your Glory”. We sang it live, and I was excited to send in the live version to prove people connected with it. Because God had commissioned me to write I new this was probably going to be my big break. They would recognize the potential in me and someone in the industry would want to work with my talents. (oh brother). Well, a top worship leader, who was very well known, critiqued my song, inside I was super excited and ready to be mentored by him. lol However, he said the beginning was good, but he was tired of hearing another “praise” song. There were enough “praise” songs out there and my song was typical and not memorable. My balloon popped! What! I thought God had a plan. I thought He wanted me to write. Oh no no no no, this couldn’t have been happening. After that day, as I sifted my way through the crowds who gathered for the conference I saw myself, not as separated and honored, but as just another fish in the sea of worship artists/songwriters. I felt like mush. God couldn’t use me as a songwriter oh no. I guess I am just going to be a mom and wife and my friend was wrong about the journal. (sometimes these things have to happen to us in order to make us stronger or to test us)

The next year Brian and I had moved to Oregon to take a worship pastor job there, and I was writing a lot! I purchased Master Writer, a computer writers database, and I used that thing so much. By the time the next CMS conference rolled around, I had written over 100 songs. I got connected online with other Christian songwriters, God spoke again to me through a friend to continue writing, and another songwriter friend gave me a gift to have two of my songs produced and recorded in a studio. Wow, God really wants me to write? Why? I didn’t know, but that was super cool.

I decided to enter one of those songs in to have critiqued at the songwriter’s bootcamp. This time it was professionally done, people were connecting with it. I wanted to put my best foot forward. Deep down I was thinking maybe this was the time I would be recognized.

Another top, famous, worship leader listened to my song in front of about 15-20 people. After we listened to it. Either he or the other professional said, “Now, this is a great example of a great singer singing a mediocre song.” Ouch! Did I really hear that? They asked whose song that was, I sheepishly raised my hand. And after a pause they asked if that was me who sang it? I nodded my head yes. Then the back peddling began. This artist said the bookends were really good, but the meat of the song was weak. I was the last one before the break. As I was walking to the restroom, he came up and found me and asked if I was doing okay. I said yes, I was fine and thanked him for his great critique. I was still in shock. When I finally had some alone time, I got so hurt and angry with God. I was being hammered as a songwriter. Why was I putting myself in so much pain? Couldn’t I just be a singer and call it a day. Obviously, God was wrong about me. I could never write a great song.

Well, I really felt far from God, but even then, He met me during another breakout session. Something amazing happened, and He spoke through the presenter straight to me in the most personal way. If any of you are interested in hearing that story, write me. I’ll share it with you. I was completely broken and hit rock bottom, but I allowed my heart to pour everything out onto paper. Was I an amazing songwriter? No, but I really was a songwriter because it was in my blood to write. There was healing, deep healing that went on that year at CMS. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Even though I wasn’t noticed by the professionals, God noticed everything and was walking me through it.

The next few years, we moved again to our current church. I met a songwriter bud from an online site at that church. He had no idea we were going to be their worship leaders. I finally gave the reigns up to God. My purpose had changed from striving to get noticed by the industry to learning how to serve and minister in my own sphere of influence. It was wonderful! I felt great fulfillment. I sang some of my songs for our church, and they embraced them. There was purpose for me here. Little by little, God grew me and healed me from the inside out. I started to understand who I was in His eyes. I felt very loved and accepted by him. Again, He spoke directly to me through some other events that took place. I knew God had a plan, but released it to Him because He hadn’t revealed what it was yet. I also had a fasting time with Him that reminded me what was most important finding peace in His Presence in all the seasons of my life and how to be disciplined in that. (I still fail, but try to pick myself up and dust myself off to try again).

This year, God provided the funding to have my first worship album released. What a journey this has been as a songwriter, during motherhood, early marriage, learning how to be a worship leader,etc… The journey hasn’t stopped. But it is not about the end game really. It’s not about being recognized anymore, even though I have had some of those reoccurring emotions bubble up since we’ve registered to go back to CMS, it is about the journey itself and being ready for anything as I follow Jesus. It is about His work and joining in on where He needs me.

I am excited to go to the 10 year anniversary of the Christian Musician Summit. It has been the catalyst of growth, of healing, of inspiration, of renewal, of so many things for me in my life’s journey. I am praying that I will get out of the way, that the fear of what others might think will fade, and I will be surrounded by God’s amazing Presence during that time. I pray I will learn more about songwriting, get inspired more and serve more while I’m there. I hope I can see my friends that I’ve made and last but definitely not least enjoy being with my wonderful husband as we experience this time together like when our journey of worship leading first began.

Here is what my journal “Jesus Calling” says for today “Try to stay conscious of Me as you go step by step through this day. My Presence with you is both a promise and a protection. My final statement just before I ascended into heaven was: Surely I am with you always. That promise was for all of My followers, without exception. The promise of My Presence is a powerful protection. As you journey through your life, there are numerous pitfalls along the way. Many voices clamor for your attention, enticing you to go their way. A few steps away from your true path are pits of self-pity and despair, plateaus of pride and self-will. If you take your eyes off Me and follow another’s way, you are in great danger. Even well-meaning friends can lead you astray if you let them usurp My place in your life. The way to stay on the path of Life is to keep your focus on Me. Awareness of My Presence is your best protection.”

Matthew 28:20 “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the righ thand of the throne of God.”

God bless ~

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Jesus Calling Devotion ~

I haven’t been doing my devotions daily like I should have been. I justified it, telling God I had to get other things finished first before I could finally sit down with Him and give Him my utmost attention. He didn’t buy it. lol. I’ve been managing pretty well in my own strength, yes, still praying for help and direction, but through the nonstop of each day.

I finally woke up this morning at 5am because of back pain, went into the other room to sleep, and frustration started to well up inside of me. I started becoming frustrated with all sorts of things, why this and why that… I felt a nudge to go do my devotions, but I didn’t want to. I wanted sleep. I wanted my way. I cried out to God all that was frustrating me and you know what His Spirit said? “Be patient and wait. Read Jesus Calling.” (He said some other stuff that has to stay between Him and I) = ) I knew my soul needed to be helped, so I read yesterday’s and today’s. I don’t know why this happens sometimes, but there have been specific days when the devotion in this book has spoken directly to my situation. How does He do that!? Here is what I wrote down from today’s devotion:

Jesus Calling, “Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them. Relax and refresh yourself in the Light of My everlasting love. My love-light never dims (great lyric btw!), yet you are often unaware of My radiant Presence. When you project yourself into the future, rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My help. *This is a subtle sin-so common that it usually slips by unnoticed. The alternative is to live fully in the present, depending on Me each moment. Rather than fearing your inadequacy, rejoice in My abundant supply. Train your mind to seek My help continually, even when you feel competent to handle something by yourself….Learn to rely on Me in every situation. This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.”

You see, now that I have an album out, the industry “virtual blue book” says to promote, get out there, book, make contacts, yada yada yada… But God is saying “Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.” Kind of counter-intuitive. Yes, it is important to share this album with the people in my life, but when I start to dwell on the industry “blue book” I get pretty frustrated and anxious. I also start rating myself and my ministry against it. Notice the “ME and MY?”

God is the Great Orchestrator! He told me this morning to be patient and wait; basically trust. He also said (which I forgot to mention) that His ways are different than the world’s ways. God’s standards are different than the world’s standards. There have been many blessings already because of this worship album. God has been able to use it to minister to the needs of others and I have had the honor of hearing about some of them! For me, it isn’t so much about the “album” and about “my career” as it is about where God wants to use it for His glory. Which brings me to the question, “what is my purpose?” Remember that from my last post?

Well, I’ve discovered some key notes on the subject that I am working out. Here they are thus far:

Purpose:
1) To be God’s servant (wherever He needs me and for whatever reason)
2) To disciple others (encourage, build up, nurture, teach)
3) To be under God’s authority with reverential fear and
4) Follow Him (AHHHH the Title to my album!) So cool!

Scripture Verse: Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel, (God’s people), what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul.”

I’m not totally ready to reveal my purpose statement yet, but those are four things I definitely want to include in it. = )

Just some random thoughts for today that I wanted to share. God bless you as you continue to discover more about God in your life.

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

Back To Journaling ~

I got out of the habit of journaling for about a month now.  I still read my Jesus Calling devotional and did my bible study in Jeremiah with my mom friends, but never felt like I had the time to journal.

Today, I started my day very anxious, stressed out and grumpy.  Not a very good combination.  I felt it was time to get back into sitting down with my bible and journal about my thoughts and about my devotions.  Inside there was a battle going on, ‘I can’t sit down for an hour and journal.  I have SO much to do today.  Brian is sick, it is all on my shoulders.  How am I going to get everything done?’  The best thing I did was vent my frustrations to God.  I have come to believe He likes honesty because I had peace afterwards to rest and be with Him.

I thought I would share what I journaled today…

‘I am getting back into journaling again.  My devotions are a life-line and I need God’s Presence to lighten the rest of my day.  Yesterday’s Jesus Calling was really good so I want to write some of it down. Jesus Calling – “This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go : of loved ones, of possessions, of control.  In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete…As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.  You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence.  The One who never leaves you is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand.  Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstances can take from you.”

(Today’s Jesus Calling) – “Let thankfulness temper all your thoughts.  A thankful mindset keeps you in touch with Me.  I hate it when My children grumble, casually despising My Sovereignty.  Thankfulness is a safe guard against this deadly sin.  Furthermore, a grateful attitude becomes a grid through which you perceive life…Cultivate a thankful heart, for this glorifies Me and fills you with Joy.”

1 Corinthians 10:10 “Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did…”  (a good reminder for me)

Hebrews 12:28 “Let us receive a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and care and godly fear and awe.”

I am so glad God never leaves.  That He is walking me through today.

I have a few things going on right now that are scary, uncertain, unanswered.  And I found myself asking, ‘Why am I going through this again? Can You God, please let me know?  It doesn’t make sense.’  And after all of my whining and frustration and fear I came to realize I was following God’s direction.  I was doing what I felt God was asking me to do.  So I continue on not in my own strength, but in God’s strength.  The fear and uncertainty are beginning to fade and I finally feel like I can do this. = )

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes

God’s Call ~

Jesus Calling devotional-“…A life of praise and thankfulness becomes a life filled with miracles…” I loved this line. It sounded musical to me. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” – This verse hit home to me today. This is a season of constant busyness. Emotions and stresses rise in adults especially, because there is pressure to make the Christmas experience a meaningful one. It is hard to see other Christians bicker and stress out about little things. Everything has to be perfect for them to be close to Christ. I have been this way before and it made me feel awful inside. I want to encourage all of us who call Jesus as our Saviour, to remember this verse during Christmas. We are called to peace, not frustration. May we all relax, take a deep breath, and surrender our days to the Lord, giving thanks and praise to Him for everything even if it is different from what we were expecting this season. And let’s be committed to be peaceful in our hearts. God promises “miracles” when we follow His ways. The miracles are joy, peace, love, hope… How wonderful to be filled up with these characteristics during the Christmas season. What a testimony to the love of Christ. And we will be able to defuse anger, stress, resentment, frustration, worry, and hopelessness in others around us. What a beautiful thing. Let us give the gift of peace ~

Lara~

www.laramarriott.com & itunes