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“Women In Worship” part 2 (Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom)

Welcome back to “Women In Worship”

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.33.35 AMToday I want to share with you another amazing woman of God. This post is going to be different from my others and soon you will see what I mean. Meet Kari who along with Whitney from yesterday’s post is on worship team at my church. She got her bachelor’s degree from Chapman University in Orange, CA, majoring in Music Therapy, with a minor in psychology and she has been married to her husband for 7 years. She says that her husband is, and I quote, “One of God’s very obvious demonstrations of extravagant love for me in this life”

Since returning to her walk with Christ 7 years ago, Kari has had the chance to serve in the worship ministry at Living Faith in La Mirada, CA. and she found time to serve at an outreach ministry to battered, abused, and homeless women and children at the Women’s Transitional Living Center in Orange County.  Now Kari serves on the worship team at City Life Church in Spokane, WA along with her husband Mark.

For now, her most important ministry is her children and you can really tell that her heart for worship is pouring into the lives of her kids. Just recently when Kari was leading worship my mom got my attention to look across the church. There in his aunt’s arms was Kari’s oldest who is almost going to turn 3 singing all the words to “Forever Reign” and he was not just singing the words you could tell he understood what he was singing. Kari by putting her family first she is serving God in the most powerful way and I think there may be a future ministry leader in her little boy. Kari shared with me that some day when her children are older and in God’s perfect timing she hopes to start an outreach for abused/homeless/mentally ill women and children, much like the one she served in during her time in CA.

This past Christmas our church had its first children’s program thanks to Kari. It is just one more way God has her serving his kingdom.Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 12.03.29 PM

As I wrote at the beginning of this, I am writing about Kari differently than normal. That is because Kari gave me such powerful words about the importance of worship that I don’t want to change a thing. She has a wonderful teaching that everyone can learn from so without further ado I am turning this over to Kari, my first guest writer within in a post I am writing. May her words write a new song upon your heart and give you a new perspective on the importance of worship.

Why is worship important to me by Kari Villarreal.

“We all know there are many ways to worship God. We worship Him with our lives, our work, our finances, our devotion, our time, our relationships…we can commit anything we do unto Him as worship! The value and importance of worship through music has several facets. My pastor in California always reminded us as we would begin corporate worship that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3, KJV). What an amazing thing!

The definition of ‘inhabit’ is, “to occupy as a place of settled residence or habitat; to be present in or occupy in any manner or form”. So when we praise Him, His very Presence actually takes up residence in those praises! Worship through music is one way we welcome His Presence into our places of worship…and there is nothing greater in this life than being in the very Presence of Almighty God! I love to imagine, as I look out over a body of believers united in praising God as they sing worship unto Him, seeing His Presence dwelling there in the room as the words and music are lifted up to Him. Jesus actually “hangin’ out” in the words that leave His people’s mouths and float just above them…maybe it sounds kind of strange to some, but that’s just a way that I visualize this very cool truth.

The other important aspect of worship through music that I want to address here is related to the first. So, God inhabits the praises of His people…and where His light is, darkness is driven out. I was in a season for several years of battling depression and anxiety. Part of this is biological/hormonal, but it is certainly spiritual as well; ‘darkness’ is how I have described it (and I’m sure anyone else who has walked through it could say something similar). During this season, God has shown me in many times and in many ways how worship to Him is a weapon against the darkness that fights to consume me. Most days, in order to keep my heart focused on Him as I go about taking care of my husband, my 3 ½ year old, my 1-year-old, and my home, I keep worship music playing and am singing along with it. I have found it keeps my mouth and mind busy at the same time I offer praise and indeed, my God inhabits that praise, driving away the darkness that pales in comparison to His glorious light.

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Photo credit to Tricia Marker, City Life women’s retreat

It is difficult to give any kind of abbreviated writing about worship for me. Worship through music (one of the many ways, of course, to worship God) has been such a hugely important element in my walk with Christ and is so multi-faceted. In my short life I feel like I could already write a book on worship—not of all that I know, but of all that He has done through it and in me. One of my pastors used to say, “Worship is a response.” A response to Jesus who He is, what He has done, His love for us…(the list goes on and on). When our lives are personally touched by the Creator and Savior of mankind, there is a response that comes genuinely; that response, in whatever form it takes, is worship. The challenge for some Christians (myself absolutely included) is to always be in that state of awe over who Christ is, so that our lives become a response—worship. He has done for us, we respond in worship. We love because He first loved us!

The bible talks so much about praising the Lord with song and instruments, singing and shouting, crying and bowing, dancing and kneeling. I think this ties right in to worship being a response. As God has created us each so uniquely, He has opened the door for our worshipful responses to be unique, genuine, and true to how He has created us to worship Him.

There’s a trap we as believers can fall into, that says worship should look a certain way. That certain way varies from church to church and denomination to denomination. We’ve all been in different types of worship services. Maybe it was a little too conservative for your taste. Maybe to the contrary, you thought people were too “free” in their expressions. Maybe it was a simple acoustic service with only a guitar, a singer, and a djembe. Maybe it was a full on 15-piece rock band. I’ve been there too. You’re out of your comfort zone or preference for worship music. The amazing thing is that when His people are gathered in spirit and truth to lift up and exalt the same God that dwells in each of them, His very Presence is there! When He is present, not much else matters. Not that when we worship Him, it is at all about us, but in His fullness, as we pour out and offer sacrifices of praise and adoration, we can fully expect to receive because that is the heart of God. Our hearts have to remain humble, open, and in awe of our God in order to genuinely worship and to receive.

This is a lesson that I am continually learning—letting go of my comfortable worship and seeking to exalt Him above ALL, regardless of the song, the surroundings, the volume, or the instrumentation. From the little progress I have made, I encourage you to step out on a limb and offer your life as a response—the response that He is desiring from you!

I came across a quote the other day that said, “When we worship the Lord, we release the emotional or mental burden that weighs us down. It is swallowed up in the awesomeness of God.” Yes! I thought. This is exactly one of the many reasons that worship is important. When I go before the Lord God Almighty to exalt Him to His rightful place, my burdens become so small in the view of His glory and majesty! –Kari.

I hope you take these powerful words of Kari’s to heart and worship God without holding back. “Step out on a limb” as Kari said.

Until next time on “The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom”, may you be blessed by the Love of Christ.

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Women In Worship – “The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom” series

Welcome back to the real housewives of God’s Kingdom Today I want to introduce you to a couple of women who have a talent that I have do not possess, Whitney and Kari. Just ask anyone who has sat by me in worship, they will tell you I cannot sing but these two ladies can.

 “Women In Worship” is the theme of this 2-part episode.

Meet Whitney. This newly married young women went to Southwestern Assemblies of God University where she got a Bachelor of Arts degree in Church Ministries, an Associate of Arts degree in Bible, and an emphasis in World Missions. She is a blog writer and has blessed my page with a guest post and I have to say for someone so young she is full of some great wisdom.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 8.44.47 AMWhitney has been blessed with the gift of singing and she makes a beautiful noise to the Lord unlike myself. I think I sound more like an animal in pain when I open my mouth but that has not stopped me from worshiping as Whitney and the rest of my church’s worship team leads us.   I asked Whitney to share with me something God has shown her during her time on the worship team and I love what she shared with me,

“Something God has shown me during a worship time and continues to show me, something that I am learning to make a habit to be joyful. God shows me that joy is dependent on what happens inside of our heart, not our lives. This is huge. Everyone faces tough times, sometimes-tough days, sometimes-tough weeks, and sometimes-tough years… God asks us to leave all of those burdens and hardships at the altar and, depend on Him, and trust Him fully to take care of those burdens. He asks us to not worship with our mouths, but with our hearts. Everyone can read lyrics up on a screen, anyone can stand in front of a congregation and sing words but it takes a true follower of Christ to worship the King of Kings with all of our heart, and to lead others to do the same. The joy of the Lord really is my (our) strength and he daily reminds me (us) of this, but only when I (we) TRUST Him and LET Him!”

This is so true. We are all going to face some hard times but when we can worship God with our whole heart not just following along with the words on the screen God comes rushing into fill us with His joy. In the middle of our pain a tear cried in worship, a raised hand to the Lord when that is all the strength we can muster up is the most beautiful gift of surrender to Him. He is not listening to the notes we are singing he can only hear the cry of our heart in our worship to him.

When Whitney is not leading us in worship or at home with her new husband of less than a year she can be found serving as a Nurse’s Aide for Horizon Hospice where she helps with the terminally ill. Whitney says that for some clients she is just a hand to hold in a very difficult time, both for the patient, and for their family. For others, she helps them with all of their activities for daily living. Something she said has really got my attention and I am going to back the bus up for a moment. She said for some I am “just” a hand to hold.  “JUST” a hand to hold?  Whitney’s hand is not just a hand to hold. It is in those moments that I believe God is using her to be a reflection of the love, peace, comfort and strength to someone who may not know the love of Christ. Have you heard the expression, “Christ with skin on”? That to me is exactly what she is. In her flesh, her skin, she is the extending the hand of Christ Himself.

Whitney also helps with the Youth in the church and when you look at all her ways of serving The Lord they line up perfectly with her favorite verse. Colossians 3:23 ” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”

She says, – I’m not doing “this” for me, whatever “this” may be, whether it’s leading worship, or anything for Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 9.06.20 AMthat matter, this verse always brings me back, it always points me to God, and is a wonderful reminder that everything I do is unto Him, is to glorify His name, is to make Him known, it has nothing to do with me!”

It was that verse that also carried her though the most physically intense time of her life, riding 450 miles in 5 days on a bicycle to raise money and awareness for the organization Blood Water Mission and people in Africa who are in desperate need of clean drinking water wells. She apparently is not overly fond of bike riding but did this anyways to raise awareness and her story about this can be found on her blog post “Bike for Life”

This amazing “Real housewife of God’s Kingdom” plans on continuing her education and would like to be an Elementary teacher someday which will be yet one more way for her to shine the light of Christ. Until it is time for her to head back to school she will continue to bless many with her gift of worship. Those hands that she raises to Christ as she sings will also continue to be the same hands that she extends to those who are terminally ill.

Thank you Whitney for your amazing service in the kingdom and the worship you lead others in. You are truly one amazing “Real Housewife of God’s Kingdom”.

Just click here to read Whitney’s guest post about being “Picture Perfect” and I’ll see you back tomorrow where we will get to know Kari, another woman in worship.

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