Giving praise where it’s truly due

Giving praise where it’s truly due

I’m sorry, I can’t hold it in any longer. The last 5 months of my life have been unbelievably amazing. Despite the fact that the events were catalyzed by the end of my marriage, I’ve seen God do amazing things this summer and I wanted to take the time to share them.
Back in April my entire life changed. Most significantly my heart was supernaturally transformed from a person who was consumed with self, greed and stuff into a person who is totally consumed with Jesus Christ. I had nothing to do with this transformation, let me be clear. I had been praying over the last couple years the same prayer, over and over, “God, please change my heart”. There were many areas of my life that, despite my faith in Jesus, weren’t surrendered to him. Allow me to give painful detail:

All of these things changed within a 1 month period of time, so much so that it was overwhelmingly obvious that the Hand of God had truly reached down and took the time to clean up this wicked sinner. Praise His Name!

Not long after this I had a heart for worship that I had never known. I had also been praying over the last year for God to show me what true worship was. I didn’t believe in “emotion-filled” worship, and I also didn’t feel like I was experiencing anything I would have considered worship most of the time. For the first time in nearly a year I picked up my guitar and prayed that God would allow me to praise Him through music. Music began pouring out of me, I couldn’t contain it. I would stay up until 2 or 3:00 in the morning and I just couldn’t put it down, it was amazingly beautiful. I started to see that when my hearts desire was to truly glorify God He would do amazing things through me. For the first time ever I surrendered my talents totally to Him, I knew they weren’t meant for my glory.

Once I had found a love for worship music I started digging through iTunes to see what worship music was on there.  In the past I listened to a few Christian artists, but they had to pass a strict list of technical requirements and talent-level tests before I thought they were worthy. I was missing the point. I had always liked “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe so the first thing I did was buy her album, which had just been released I believe. That night I laid in my bed listening to that album, eyes closed and weeping. I realized at that moment that God, despite my circumstances and the pain I was feeling, was worthy of praise. He was more than enough for me. His love was far more than I would ever need. My heart was filled and overflowing with Praise for my Amazing God.

Eventually, through Kari’s music, I discovered Gateway Worship and started listening to them. One night I was watching a Gateway Worship DVD and I heard God tell me “I will take you there”. At first I didn’t think too much about it, but a few moments later, as I realized those words didn’t come from my own thoughts, I got on the floor and began praying. “God, if this word is from you, I want it. Take me there. I will go anywhere you want me to go, use me.” I didn’t even know where Gateway Church was located at the time I don’t think. All I knew is that I now had a sense of purpose, a clear direction that I was going to follow.

My cousin Anton is my best friend and a brother in Christ that is wise beyond his years, the Spirit of God speaks loudly through him. I told him about what had happened and that’s when I received my first confirmation. As it turns out he had a friend who had been worship leader at a church in Florida he attended. This person had accepted a position at Gateway Church, so they were now one of the leaders of Gateway Worship. So, literally the day after I receive this calling I found out that my cousin here in Indiana knows someone who’s not only on staff at Gateway Church, they’re one of the leaders of Gateway Worship. And this wasn’t the only confirmation I got, I had another friend who also “happened” to have connections with people in Gateway’s audio/video departments. I began to give praise to God each time He would give me these sorts of confirmations. It made it very easy to take steps of faith.

I started connecting with people from Gateway, and specifically people in Gateway Worship on Facebook. Instantly I had a couple of people who took an active interest in my journey and were awesome encouragers. Eventually I decided that it was time to go and visit Texas and see what the church was all about. As I started thinking about it I was growing a little anxious. I could easily have driven to Texas, attended a church service and never spoken to a single person, the trip could prove to be fairly uneventful and that would have been extremely confusing. I prayed one night for God to show me what I should do in preparation for the trip. I had always been a big self-promoter, trying to do things the right way to get the desired outcome, etc. I didn’t want to do this that way. I wanted God to show me what to do and provide a way if this was what He was calling me to.

The next morning I received a message on Facebook from someone who sings with Gateway Worship. Heidi had been incredibly supportive from the beginning and her message was an unmistakable answer to my prayers the night before. She had suggested someone to get in contact with to make my visit to Gateway more fruitful and get my questions answered. She also invited me to sit in on pre-service run throughs with Gateway Worship. Yep, I cried.

Never before had I seen God’s answers to my prayers so quickly and obviously.
These sorts of prayer answers came frequently and eventually I had enough faith in the calling that I put my house up for rent… and found a Christian family, who were wanting to move to the area to start a church, to rent it the same day. I was invited by my dad to come and stay with them until I had the money saved to move to Texas, so I took him up on it. After all, I still hadn’t been to Texas and I, at the very least, needed to go down there to look for a place to live before making the move. As it turns out, God had a plan for taking me to my dad’s house too. A couple of weeks after I moved in I went to see Kari Jobe lead worship in Ohio and my 17-year-old brother Austin came with me. He decided, on the 4 hour car ride home, that he wanted Jesus in his life too. Again I was humbled, and brought to tears, by this overwhelming display of God’s sovereignty.

A couple of weeks later I drove, with Austin, to Dallas Texas.

The weeks leading up to the trip were extremely challenging. I recognize them now as spiritual attacks that were attempting to lead me away from the path God had convinced me to walk on. In hindsight it’s scary how close I came to explaining away the calling to Texas. Through the distraction I knew that once I got to Texas and visited the church I would know, for sure, wether or not God was calling me there. It’s hard to explain how conflicted I felt about things at that time. (In writing this now I’m sorry that I questioned the calling in the first place)

I had the entire weekend filled with meetings that had been arranged with Heidi as well as Jason, one of the associate pastors of worship at the church. Saturday I was invited to sit in on a pre-service run through of all of the music for that evenings service. I drove up to the church (an impressive building) and parked in the otherwise empty parking lot. It was quite odd walking into this huge building that’s obviously design to accommodate thousands of people and yet seeing no one else. As I opened the doors I was instantly met with the beautiful sounds of a cappella vocal harmony. They were singing “Here in Your Presence” by New Life Worship. I got chills, I’m not gonna lie. I followed the voices around the hallway until I saw a door that lead into the auditorium.

There I sat for an hour or so and experienced worship in-person with this group that only weeks ago I had been worshipping with through a DVD. I was overwhelmed, many times, by how far, and to where, God had brought me. And I knew this was home.

Afterwords I got to meet Heidi and had a few questions answered. It’s a bit of a blur now, but I do remember expressing to her what an answer to prayer she had been on that night when I prayed for God to show me what to do on my visit. She said God had told her to encourage and help me. Praise God.
The next day I had arranged to meet with Jason, one of the associate pastors of worship at the church. He answered even more questions and was an unbelievably loving brother in Christ. He took me back to meet everyone who was leading worship that weekend, which was great. I also Got to finally meet Kari Jobe, but I didn’t say much. Hopefully in the coming years I’ll be able to explain to her the amazing ways God used her to communicate His love and more-than-enough-ness to me.

After all of that I ran into someone else that I had been communicating with on Facebook. April and her husband Marco. We sat for a while and I was instantly amazed at the similarities between us. They’re both graphic designers and musicians with amazing love for the Lord. I instantly felt a connection with them that has grown by leaps and bounds since I got back to Indiana, I’m most excited to see what God has in store for that relationship.

So, my visit to Texas was the most amazing confirmation I could have ever wanted. I found an apartment and I got a peek at what God has in store for me at Gateway as well as the friends He has connected me with already. I’ll be moving the first week of October and I couldn’t be more excited. I already have plans for pursuing my calling to leading worship and writing music the moment I arrive there. God is good and faithful. The anticipation and excitement I have about the coming years pours out of me. I’ve seen mere glimpses of what He has in store for me and I’m humbled and overwhelmed.

I write all of this not to tell you how awesome my calling is, or how excited I am about going to a church where Kari Jobe is one of the worship leaders. I write all of this to give praise to our Amazing God for His faithfulness. For His ability to truly rise us out of the ashes of life. For His unfathomable sovereignty. For His Amazing Love. Even if you can’t write, play or sing music, your life-song can sing out God’s praises. Praise Him!

Some imagery provided by Unsplash.

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