Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Monday Blues: Adrenaline Dump

Do you get the Monday blues? Not just the “oh, no, I have to go back to work on Monday morning,” blues, I’m talking about serious depression, exhaustion, and general bad mood that comes on anywhere from after church on Sunday to as late as sometime on Tuesday. It’s the ministry low that comes on after the ministry high of doing church on a Sunday morning.

weknowmemes.com
You might be pastor, worship leader, or even volunteer.
You’ve given it your all for the weekend services, serving God and serving people, and suddenly, you crash. Maybe you felt great in those special moments of ministry, when you felt completely connected to God and His Word and His people. But when the church lights are turned off and the door is locked, the soaring mood plummets. I’ve always called it the Monday blues. After a great high from preaching or leading worship over the weekend, I often wake up Monday morning, tired, soar, and feeling absolutely miserable. Is it a coincidence that I wake up on the wrong side of the bed Every. Single. Monday?  I’ve heard it called the pastor’s hangover. The Monday slump. A case of the Mondays. Only recently did I learn from my friend, Pastor Rachel, that this is known as adrenaline dump.

When an athlete takes the field, or a pastors turns on the microphone, his or her body sends a surge of adrenaline hormones to prepare them for fight or flight. These hormones help you think more clearly in the moment, give you extra strength, energy, and awareness so you can either stand up to the task or run away as fast as you possibly can. This gives you that extra boost you need to interact with the congregation as you sing or gives you that extra edge when you preach. You feel excited and alive! Your body may buzz with energy. But your body can’t sustain this level of intensity or adrenaline for long. And as all of the hormones leave your body, you crash. You may experience fatigue, depression, sadness, bitterness, irritation, stomach upset, and even soreness. These same hormones suppress memory, so all of yesterday might just seem like one big blur. You might wonder, if I did so well, why do I feel so poorly? If I loved ministry yesterday, why do I want to quit today? Your bruised and battered feelings aren’t a reflection of your ministry abilities. It’s a reflection of your body’s use of adrenaline and how easily it recovers. It varies from person to person and from week to week.
I’m still learning to recognize the emotional ramifications of my Monday morning slump. But it helps to have an honest friend like Rachel who can objectively remind me that my grumpy feelings are related to the previous day’s adrenaline surge and not to my family, friends, or ministry.

Do you experience the Monday morning blues? What do you do to cope? How do you work through it so you can begin another week of ministry and mission? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Prayer for the Weekend

Father in Heaven,

Your Word is truth. You always keep Your promises, every single one.

You are a shelter in the storm, a help in time of trouble, comfort in sorrow, and strength when we are weak. You heal our broken bodies and mend our broken hearts. You hear our cries of pain and our cries of praise. You listen to our voices when we call. You love us. You have made us Your own.

As Sunday comes close, we ask for You to give us a sense of Your Holy Presence, an expectation of Your nearness, a desire to know You more. Provide us peace in anxious preparation. Give us the words to say and sing.  Help us praise and preach with eloquence and excellence. Give us love for those who hear us. Grant us time to rest.

We ask that you will move in our hearts, our homes, our sanctuaries. Move in mighty and mysterious ways that can only come from You. Protect us in times of spiritual warfare; defend our families and guard our hearts.

Please pour out your Holy Spirit upon us all. Anoint us for this weekend’s worship. Let us praise You with our whole hearts so You can fill us up again.

In the powerful name of Jesus,
Amen



A thought for a Thursday...



"For God wishes to be seen, and He wishes to be sought, and He wishes to be expected, and He wishes to be trusted." -Julian of Norwich

Thanks to Renovare for sharing this quote!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are you bored at church?

Have you ever felt like you just didn't connect with God during a worship service? You showed up, ready to praise the Lord, but the service felt empty, dry, or just boring. Or maybe your mind was just everywhere but on God, with so many things running through your head - your to do list, your grocery list, stress at work, your children's sports schedules… oh wait, were we supposed to be praying just now?

Yes, I’ve had Sundays that felt just like that.  And I’m the worship leader.

There’s a couple of things to consider when worship feels dull…

First, our feelings don’t always tell the whole story. Jesus said, “For where 2 or 3 gather in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). So whether we feel God’s presence among us or not, He is right there with us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He meets us where we are. So when we are scattered, bored, annoyed, sad, or lonely, God meets us there. It isn’t the worship leader’s job to lead us into the presence of God… simply coming together in the name of Jesus means we are in the presence of the Almighty God. It is our responsibility as worshippers – whether in leadership or not- to cultivate our awareness of His nearness. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. How would our outlook of a church service change if we came, expecting to find God in our midst? How would we change if we made an active choice to believe that God would be there with us no matter how we felt?

Secondly, we cannot worship well a God that we do not know. When I was in college studying music, I remember being rather bored when I had to listen to recitals given by students that I didn’t know. Since I knew nothing of their ability, their style, their education, their performance meant little to me. I felt like I was hearing the same old pieces of music over and over again. But when I listened to the senior recital given by my future husband, I was enraptured. I was invested in him personally, as his fiancĂ©, and musically, in his performance – I had listened to him practice for hours on end, worked through difficult passages with him, discussed the composers of his pieces, and worked hard to accompany him for part of the recital. My investment in him as a person and in his work made his recital exciting and important to me.

The same is true with Jesus. If I am not very invested in Him, then spending time in a worship service probably won’t be that meaningful to me. But when I spend time with Him, daily wrestling with His Word, working hard to know Him better, sharing my life journey through prayer, seeking to accompany His work, then I am far more excited to spend time worshiping Him alongside of my church family.   

My question is this: how can I adjust my time so that I have a little more time to dig deeper spiritually? How can I spend my time more wisely so that I can invest it in Jesus? What would change if I closed my browser and opened my Bible? Would I be different if I spent some time on my smartphone studying a Bible app instead of Facebook? What will you do?


Need ideas to help your congregation worship? Here's 7.  



Monday, January 12, 2015

81 chances to get more out of life.

Do you want more out of this life? 


According to GeekWire, we spend 162 minutes per day staring at our cell phones.  32% of that is gaming, and 17% of that is spent on Facebook (http://www.geekwire.com/2014/flurry-report-mobile-phones-162-minutes/).  CNET reporsts it as 90 minutes per day, which equates to over 22 days per year, almost 4 years out of a person's life (http://www.cnet.com/news/you-spend-23-days-a-year-on-your-phone-say-new-figures/).  This doesn't account for any additional time spent on tablets, laptops, and personal computers. It's no wonder we ask ourselves if this is all there is to life. I don't know about you, but I want more. 

It's so easy to whip out the cell phone when we are bored, tired, standing in line, need a diversion, or don't want to talk to the person next to us. But all that time spent on social media connecting to people in the digital realm makes me think that we all crave connection. We want to reach out to others, and we want others to reach out to us, acknowledging us, accepting us, looking up to us. Social media is a great way to connect, but it is no substitute for personal interaction. 

I wonder how many times I have tried to shut out the world, to keep people from bothering me, by staring at my phone. A study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers shows that the average person looks at their phones 162 times per day. I never would have imagined that I did that! 162 moments spent on a piece of technology. 

How can we get more out of living? For the sake of argument, what if we just imagine that half of those times were necessities - ordering prescriptions, checking in with the kids, sending an email to the boss... and the other 81 times were us trying to shut out the world, or entertain ourselves, or just playing around? What could we do with those 81 other moments? 

  • 81 prayers.
  • 81 times to review and memorize a favorite Bible verse.
  • 81 chances to hug your children.
  • 81 kind words to give to someone else. 
  • 81 opportunities to repent. 
  • 81 tries at servant evangelism.
  • 81 kisses for your loved ones.
  • 81 times to stop and smell the roses. 
  • 81 laughs at a silly joke.
  • 81 thoughts about God.
  • 81 praises of God.
  • 81 chances to connect with a real person.
  • 81 ways to show God's love.
  • 81 opportunities to make the most of the moment.
  • 81 times to engage in life.


I'm really a big fan of social media and cell phones. But I need to learn that these things are tools that we can use to enhance life. We need to be masters of our tools, and not let the tools run our lives. 

I don't really make New Year's resolutions. I never keep them, they fade away, and I forget all about them. But I do use New Year's as a time to reflect on the past year and try to incorporate some new, healthy habits. So this year's new healthy habit is to work towards taking some of those lost moments on the cell phone, and turning them into opportunities to engage in real life. Oh, I'll still enjoy my Facebook time, and I'll still need a few moments here and there to tune out the world and do something mindless for a few. But every baby step towards engaging with real people in the real world is a step towards getting more out of this short life we have to live. Let's make the most of it while we have the chance. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why do we go to worship?

Where do you worship? 
Worship. It's on my mind a lot. Living a life of worship, Who we worship, how we worship, and going to worship. I love worship and I love to help other people worship, too. I hear a lot of people commenting on the worship service they attend (or avoid attending).  They use language that refers to 'being fed' - as in, "I'm just not being fed by this pastor's sermons" or "I need to go somewhere where I'm being fed." Or maybe they say, "That message really fed my soul!" Pastors like to hear that. Sometimes, we choose our worship service based on the musical style - some love to sing from a hymnbook accompanied by an organ. To others, that is a totally foreign atmosphere and they feel more at home with a few guitars, some drums, and a lead singer. Still others look for things like pastoral prayers, Scripture reading, location.  A lot of people choose a worship service based on what's available to their children. Sometimes, people attend a church because they grew up there and it is their home. 

These aren't bad things. There is nothing wrong with attending a worship service that teaches you God's Word in a way that you can understand it. And there is nothing wrong with singing praises to God in a style that is comfortable for you. And let's be honest - we want our children to know Jesus, right? So why wouldn't we look for programs that meet their needs in order to help them get to know our Savior?

But there is another component that we need to examine when we go to worship - the state of our hearts.  Is it just me, or has anyone else ever mentally 'checked out' on a given Sunday because we've sung that song too many times, or we don't really like that song, or that soloist isn't our favorite person in the world? What if the guitar was out of tune, or the pianist kept playing wrong notes... would we still be focused on worshiping the Lord, or would we be distracted by the details? 

I am often reminded of how the Israelites worshiped in the Old Testament. They went to the tabernacle to praise the Lord where His presence was.  In Psalm 84, the Psalmist writes about worship:

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
 (Psalm 84:1-2, NIV). 

The Bible does talk about what instruments were used in worship, what the tabernacle looked like, and how it was set up. But what does it really focus on? The presence of God. The Psalmist doesn't talk about which worship service he liked best, or which instrument helped him sing, or what flavor of incense he preferred in worship. He wanted to go to the tabernacle because he yearned to be in the presence of the Lord. Later in the Psalm, he says, 

"Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;"
 (Psalm 84:10, NIV). 

The Psalmist would rather be basking in the presence of God than anywhere else. So while it's ok to have preferences on style and type of worship, I think we can do better by making sure we are going to worship to be in the presence of the Lord. Before I step foot across the threshold of the sanctuary door, I need to do a heart check and remind myself that I am there to worship God with my church family. If I want my soul to be fed, if I want my heart to sing with praise, then I need to focus on the One whose presence is worthy of all my worship. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Look 10 Years Younger

10. Stand up straight - Just like your mother always said! You will look thinner, younger, and much more in shape.

9. Lighten up your makeup! First, lipstick: Forget those dark browns and burgundy shades. Instead, switch to a lighter pink or a soft nude. Lessen your eye shadow: Skip those dark, deep colors, and go for neutral shadows with just a hint of shimmer (NO GLITTER unless you are under the age of twelve). Keep your eyeliner very thin and close to the eye. Use a light hand when applying foundation. Caked on powder or liquid makes those wrinkles stick out! Yuck. Especially in the eye area.

8. Whiten your teeth. There is nothing like yellow teeth to age you. Give up coffee and tea for a few days while you use an over the counter teeth whitener to lighten you teeth a few shades. Or try a whitening toothpaste or rinse. Or consider veneers from your dentist if the discoloration is permanent.
 
7. Use a concealer..You can hide those dark circles under your eyes by lightly patting on a little concealer under your foundation. You'll look more alive, refreshed, and youthful. Also use it to hide blemishes, blotchiness, and age spots.

6. Drink enough water. Dehydration makes you feel - as well as look - tired and 'fuzzy'. Drinking your eight glasses a day will help your body get rid of water retention, which also makes you look old and tired (especially around the eyes).

5. Moisturize! Dry skin makes wrinkles more noticeable, but soft dewey skin looks young. Even oily skin can get dry in the winter. Use an oil free moisturizer.

4. Avoid trying too hard - you just age yourself when you try to wear clothes and styles that aren't right for your lifestyle and your body shape. Choose clothes that skim the body without creating lumps and bumps, but especially choose clothes that make you feel confidant.

3. Wear a peachy blush high on your cheekbones - you want your face to pull "UP" not "DOWN". Blend well!

2. Revel in who you are and enjoy this stage of life the best that you can. Happiness and joy are the bet anti-aging products ever invented. And they're FREE!

1. SMILE!!!! You are most beautiful and youthful when you are happy and smiling! The more you smile, the better you will feel and the better you will look!

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