18 Worship Experiences spread out over 7 different times, 3 different days, 4 different locations and over 13,000 people. AMAZING.
My boys and I did the welcome. Elijah joined me for 6 of them, the 7th time he said he did not want to do it anymore. His line, customized himself, "Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad." Graham was napping for 2 of the worship experiences. His line was, "Welcome to Elevation," in the cutest hoarse 3 year old voice you have ever heard. At the end of it all, I was quite happy to retire my ruby slippers high heels (I wish they had been slippers).
Our creative team pulled off an amazing experience. Graham's favorite part was "the bubble drum that Mr. Wade played." Elijah's favorite part was the fire. I loved it all but the message was my favorite part. I heard it 6 times and enjoyed it every time.
My husband delivered a powerful Christmas message and over 1000 people turned in a card indicating they gave their life to Christ that night. Wow. The message was challenging for everyone in the room. You can hear his message at the Elevation Experience every hour on the hour this week.
I hope you have had a wonderful holiday. We have taken it easy these past few days. In fact, we have not left our house since we came home Friday night. We have been relaxing and enjoying our boys. Look for one or two more blogs this week and then I will be back in full swing next week!
This weekend we wrapped up our series, the Highest. My husband’s message was an incredibly practical, powerful and convicting word on gratitude.
He started off by saying that there are few things that are more important to God than gratitude. That God inhabits the heart of a grateful person and gratitude is the highest order in my relationship with God.
He gave us 5 thoughts on gratitude…
Gratitude is never invisible or silent. Gratitude always shows up or speaks up.
Gratitude sustains joy and blessing. Grateful people are blessed by God on a continual basis.
Gratefulness begins my sense of entitlement ends. We can never begin to feel entitled to the blessings of God.
Grateful people can find a blessing, enlarge a blessing or create a blessing in almost any situation. My situation should not have to improve for my gratitude to increase.
Gratitude increases favor and creates opportunity.
Here are a few of my favorite lines from the message.
My gratitude is not based on how good my situation is but on how good it seems to me.
You cannot be grateful for something you feel entitled to.
Gratitude is like a super power that can transport me to a different place.
When you come before God you should never say please before you say thanks.
I think my whole paradigm about gratefulness has changed. I no longer feel like thanking God is something I do, it’s someone I am. It’s a complete way of living, of seeing the world.
You can listen to the message at the Elevation Experience this week or in the archive after that. You really should take the time to listen to this message this week.
Yesterday Elijah and I finished reading the Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I love reading books with my kids, especially novels. If you are not familiar with this children's book, you really should get a copy and read it.
It's about a small town church doing the same old Christmas pageant that they do every year. Only this year, a group of unruly, un-churched kids, called the Herdmans, come to church in search of Sunday School refreshments end up being a part of the pageant. The book retells the Christmas story through the eyes of the Herdmans and the church members who aren't so sure about them being there.
It's funny how God often speaks to us in unexpected ways. He can use a group of misfit kids to restore the meaning of Christmas to a bunch of stuffy church goers.
Be certain that God can and will speak to you this Christmas season, but it might not be the way you would expect. It may be in a busy Walmart parking lot or through your in-laws. There are only a few days left. Ask God to open your eyes to Him working all around you and to give you a fresh perspective this Christmas season.
About 7 months ago, I thought I was going to be able to be a part of a trip to Haiti taking place after Christmas. Then I got pregnant. I still get to be a part, I just don’t get to go.
George Collins,the founder and leader of Bless Back Worldwide, as well as a hardcore Elevator, is leading his 2nd group of people to Haiti in the next few weeks. They will work in an orphanage and a hospital.
A few days ago, I was privileged to stand before the team and encourage them to strive for unity and humility on their trip. I also got to pray over the group.
I am so excited to hear what God is going to do in and through each of the people going. I would ask you to join with me in praying for this trip as well as Blessed Back Worldwide.
Here’s more from Tonia Bendickson about Bless Back and their upcoming trip.
Not long after you find out the sex of your baby do people start asking, what are you going to name him or her?
Parents take so many approaches to this.
Some don't know. I remember sitting in the hospital with my sister after she had given birth to her 3rd child and she was no closer to naming him than she had been two months prior to his arrival.
Some don't tell. My friend always says this is a pretty clear indicator that the parents are going with a non-conventional name, like Apple or Coco, and they don't want to hear every-body's opinion on it.
Some know right away. We decided on Graham's name (pending he was a boy) around week 10 of my pregnancy with him. There was never a doubt in our minds. I really liked naming Graham so early. I think it helped with my bonding process.
This time we don't fall into any of those categories. After prayer, thought, and deliberation, we have finally decided on a name.
Our baby, due to arrive sometime mid-March, will be named Abigail Faith Furtick. Faith after my godly mother-in-law. We plan to call her Abbey or Abbey Faith. Spelled like the famous Abbey Road as well as the place where nuns and monks reside.
Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
I'm not sure what your plans are today. Maybe you have to go to work like you do every day. Maybe you are frantically running around town trying to keep up with all the things that need to get done this Christmas season. Maybe you are going to squeeze both in.
As you go throughout your day today, know that Jesus, Immanuel, is with you.
He is with you as you accomplish everyday tasks.
He is with you in your struggle to forgive someone.
He is with you as you work your job with integrity.
We are continuing our Christmas series The Highest and I gotta say, this weekend my husband killed it. I heard the message 4 times and was truly inspired, challenged and encouraged each time.
Based out of John 13:1-5 (Jesus washes the disciples feet), my husband talked about how to handle those situations we encounter over the holidays where we have unmet expectations. During the holidays, we all go to family gatherings and office parties where we are faced with people who let us down.
My husband talked about how Jesus knew who he was and where he was going (John 13:3) therefore he could serve the people that he knew would soon let him down in the greatest way. He said, "When I have the highest power, I can take the lowest place." Because when you have a clear sense of your identity in Christ, you do not need to be affirmed by other people.
He told us when faced with a situation where our expectations are not met we have two choices. We can: 1. Take offense or 2. Play offense
He also pointed out how Jesus never defended himself when he was personally attacked (like Jesus before Pilot) but when God's glory was attacked, Jesus rose to the defense (when He turned over the tables in the temple). There are times when it is ok to defend ourselves: When we need to establish protective parameters and when we need to engage in Christ-like conflict.
In any other situation, when faced with an offense, if we get down low (find an opportunity to serve as Jesus did) we cannot be knocked down. I love how my husband said that if we are looking for a reason to be offended we will find one every time. But if we look for an opportunity to serve or to bless others, God will provide one every time.
I hope that you will take the time to listen to the message. It was so good. You can listen to it every hour on the hour this week at the Elevation Experience. After that you can catch it in our archives.
For the past several weeks we have heard from many of my pastors’ wives friends from all over the country. If you missed them you can click on the category, Refreshing Conversations, on the right side bar.
Today we are going to hear from Pastor Wendy Perez. Wendy and her husband Pastor Benny lead The Church at South Las Vegas. We heard from Wendy several weeks ago when she talked about being raised in a pastor’s home (see here). Today hear Wendy talk about her vision for reaching and restoring prostitutes in their city.
I’m really excited to tell you that Annie Lobert, a former prostitute (mentioned by Wendy in her interview), and her ministry reaching prostitutes is currently being featured in a documentary series on Investigation Discovery. The series is called Hookers: Saved on the Strip. It premiered this past Wednesday. You can watch the clips from the episode here online.
Here is a clip I swiped from YouTube…
I am not sure how many cable networks carry this channel but it is channel 251 if you have Time Warner Cable in Charlotte. I have my DVR set to record it every Wednesday night at 10 pm.
What an amazing ministry. I am so thankful that Wendy followed through with her vision to reach prostitutes in Las Vegas. I hope that this will inspire you to look at your city and the unique vision that God has given you and that you would follow through with it no matter what difficulties or dangers you encounter.
There is a story told of a man named Henry Varley who challenged D.L. Moody with this thought, “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly unto Him.” When Mr. Henry Varley said that Mr. Moody said to himself: “Well I will be that man.”
I hope you will rise to what ever challenge God is calling you to do today.
Over the past years, I have enjoyed blogging Holiday recipes and activities our family or church does. Today I thought I would post links to some of our Christmas traditions and some popular recipes. Also, hidden in one of these links is a picture of my husband with no hair and a goatee and one of him with blonde hair :).