Night of Worship

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One of my first experiences at a ‘Night of Worship’ was in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, led by the worship leader Dennis Jernigan. I was 16 years old and one of my best friends invited me to attend the Night of Worship with her. I was eager to go, and I had no idea what to expect. But God…

My heart was beating to know God more. I grew up in church and “knew God”, but the desire for more was unquenched. I hungered to know Him more deeply. I sought to understand Him more intimately. As a 16 year old, my thoughts we on homework, friendships, choir practices, a few boys … and God. I attended youth group with my friends, but there was always something missing. My soul was searching to know God personally, beyond what I learned from my parents, my youth group, my youth pastor, and thru friendships.

During the Night of Worship, I weaved between listening to the voices around me singing, observing expressions of worship I had never seen before, and participating in a realm of worship I had never experienced. At one point during the evening, Dennis gently said, “Lift your hands to the Lord” … and I did. I had never lifted my hands in worship before. The moment my hands were surrendered, heat filled my palms. The Holy Spirit touched my hands. I didn’t fully understand what I was experiencing, but after that moment, my life was forever changed.

My friends and I continued attending Nights of Worship with Dennis Jernigan. They were crazy and wild. We would worship for hours, dancing before the Lord. Every single time, we would leave the church drenched in sweat. Those sweet moments with the Lord began to build upon a foundation of worship I would grow in.

Twenty years later, and I am a changed Worshipper.

Worship is a force that changes people. When all our affection, our attention and adoration is focused on the worship of Jesus, everything changes. As we worship, He changes the atmosphere. I am forever changed in worship. I am changed when all my affection, my attention, my adoration is focused on Jesus. Worship is our response to Jesus. When we are surrendered in worship, we are surrendering to Jesus. His great love for us changes us. And our response is more worship of Him. 

Dennis Jernigan’s story is one of redemption and response. After experiencing the love of Jesus, he was redeemed from a homosexual lifestyle, and his response was worship. As his life was changed by Jesus, he began leading worship… leading others into response toward Jesus. His journey as a Worshipper has profoundly impacted mine. His songs spoke profound truths I would sing continuously, carrying the melodies beyond the Nights of Worship and into my daily life. One Night of Worship can change everything – Here is a quote from his testimony.

“Upon my graduation from OBU in 1981, God began to move in supernatural ways that even I couldn’t see! One of these instances was a simple music concert. A group called The Second Chapter of Acts was going to be in concert in Norman, Oklahoma, and I knew that I was supposed to go. By that time in my life I was looking for anybody who was real, someone who had a real walk with the Lord. Among Christian musicians, I was looking for more than entertainers. So, I went to their concert. I knew by the words they said and the music they sang that these people were genuine, and the message was born out of times of desperation in their own lives. I needed hope. As I listened to Annie Herring speak and sing I was overwhelmed by the love she spoke of. This was the love I had dreamed of but still couldn’t believe was available to me! So I listened very intently with great expectation–until she came to the song Mansion Builder. This song caught my deepest attention because of the simple phrase, “Why should I worry? Why should I fret? I’ve got a Mansion Builder Who ain’t through with me yet?”18 All of a sudden she just stopped in the middle of the song and said, “There are those of you here who are dealing with things that you have never told anyone and you are carrying those burdens and that’s wrong–that’s sin and you need to let those hurts go and give them to the Lord. We are going to sing the song again and I want you to lift your hands to the Lord–and all of those burdens that you are carrying, I want you to place them in your hands and lift your hurts to Him.” This was all new to me–worship and praise. I had always thought before that this was just an emotional response that didn’t really mean anything. But you know what it did for me? As I lifted my hands, God became more real to me than I had ever imagined! The lifting of my hands was more than a physical action. My hands were an extension of my heart! I realized that Jesus had lifted His hands for me–upon the cross. I realized that He truly was beside me and that He was willing to walk with me and carry me and just be honest with me. And I could be honest with Him! At that moment, I cried out to God and lifted those burdens to the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, I can’t change me or the mess I’ve gotten myself into–but you can!” And you know what? He did change me!”

Worship changes everything. Jesus’ love for us changes everything. Our response to Jesus changes everything.

Have you been changed in worship? I’d love to hear your story! Feel free to share and comment.

In Him ~ Leslie

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Fifty Shades of Love…

…because nothing says “I love you” more than a film laced with porn and violence… Happy Valentines Day!

A few months ago, we saw three minutes of porn and violence in the form of a romanticized trailer for an upcoming movie. The movie we actually paid to see was an intense WWII film, based on a true story of courage and unbroken determination. Yet, during most of the movie, I was distracted and disturbed by what I had seen in those three minutes. I wanted to scream. But I didn’t think that would go over too well in the middle of the movie. So I asked God to erase everything about it from my memory.

A few weeks ago, I took my children (whose eyes *see* everything) to a bookstore. My eyes glazed over the cover of this book laced with violence and porn, displayed on a table a few feet from the toy section where children play in this bookstore. I promptly turned it over. I wanted to pull a “Jesus in the temple with the money changers” and flip over the tables, but I held back my disgust and turned a few of the books over instead.

A few nights ago, the world celebrated, applauded and awarded a ‘song of the year’ grammy title to a song about a one. night. stand. I only caught a glimpse of the grammy’s the other night. And for the few moments I watched, while changing channels, this award being given. Sam Smith thanked the ‘man who broke his heart’ for the inspiration to write the song and win the grammy. and My heart broke. We rarely sing of true love anymore. We can not sing of what we do not understand.

If we do not know God’s love, we can not understand, receive, express or give Love. God is Love.

Nothing says “Happy Valentines Day” like a film full of porn and violence. Nothing says “I love you” more than a song about a one night stand.

Seriously?? …Is this what we have reduced LOVE to??

Please do not see this movie. ‘Fifty Shades of Shit’ (which was my original title idea, and my husband suggested I go another direction) Please do not waste your time, your energy or your money. Let’s get one thing straight – this movie is about MONEY. This is not art. This is not sex education. This is not sexual enhancement. This movie was made -and the books were written- purely to make money. Sex and money should never be partners.

My concern and disgust for ‘Fifty Shades…’ goes deeper than the movie or the books. We have a culture of choosing to believe and accept LIES. The lie says, ‘it’s okay to watch this movie, read this romance novel, peek at this magazine, listen to this song about a one night stand, scroll thru some porn…’ The lie says, ‘it’s harmless to invite porn into our marriages.’ The lie says, ‘it’s harmless to flirt, have a fling, have an affair.’ The lie keeps us in denial, ‘making it possible for a “john” to take advantage of a young girl and allow others to abuse her, to view her as his property, to make money off of her used body over and over again.’ The lie whispers to the buyer of the young girl held in bondage, ‘this is okay. there is nothing wrong with this abuse.’ When the TRUTH IS – there are SO MANY THINGS WRONG with this!!!

The TRUTH is we have a choice // don’t hire the prostitute // don’t participate in the cycle of human trafficking // don’t see the movie // look away from the magazine // close the book // turn off the t.v. // stop browsing porn sites // remove yourself from negative sexual conversation // flee from the temptation to flirt, have a fling, have an affair //

The TRUTH is there are many women, children and men in forced into slavery, held in bondage and sexual violence, being used against their will. They do NOT have a choice. WE have a choice. And yet we have the audacity to choose to SEE and applaud this movie and read the stupid books???? NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please. no. stop!

We need a ‘Joseph culture‘. We have a choice to flee from sin as Joseph fled from Potiphars wife… even when an opportunity presented itself… even though he probably would not have been ‘caught in the act’. He made a choice to flee. To be faithful to his God. Faithful to God’s Love. Joseph knew the Love of God, so he made the choice to say “No” and flee.

We have a choice to turn away from the images, even when know one else sees. We have a choice to say “No” and stop participating in the abuse. We have a choice to flee from sin and into the Love of Jesus. Wherever you are on the ‘spectrum’ of believing these lies, believing these things are okay… From browsing thru a soft porn magazine to becoming a “buyer” or a “john” caught up in the web of sexual slavery… You have a choice. Wherever you are – His Love is for you. and He is for you. You can choose the Love of Jesus. God is Love and He is for you. He desires to redeem mankind to Himself. To understand who True Love is. Who He is.

Then we will see Freedom Come. We will reject these movies, these books, these porn films, these magazines, the ability to oppress and abuse another human being in bondage. We will reject these lies and know the Truth. He is Jesus.

Please share your thoughts. Please freely share this blog. This is much deeper than a movie or a book series. I am praying for us. For freedom from these lies and for Truth to be known, as our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

sex and money.

 

sex. and money.

i can’t seem to get these two things off my mind.

i’m obsessed with sex and money…

how they are interlocked interconnected intertwined.

their union haunts me. burdens me. motivates me.

distorted destructive detrimental.

sex and money united together destroys lives.

why?
 
money {+} human trafficking. slavery. strip clubs. brothels. sex boxes. prostitution. peep shows. porn. magazines. romance novels. shades of grey… {=} destruction.
 
sex {within these terms} needs money to thrive. 
they keep funding and feeding each other.
it’s a disturbing cycle where one perpetuates the other.
sex and money were never meant to have intercourse with each other.
sex and money were never meant to become ONE.
never never never never…
but sex and money have taken a romp in the sack together and made a bunch of porn babies.

it’s an epidemic. the desire which gives into the money exchanged for the demand of sex.

which came first? 
the chicken or the egg? 
the pole dancer or the person paying for the dance?
the prostitute or the person paying for the sex?
the sex box or the person driving thru?
the magazine, the romance novel, the shades of grey… or the person reading it?
the trafficked person or the people who ‘own them’?

God created sex. Sin entered in. Sex and money were united. An epidemic was born.

sex and money are good separately.
sex within marriage is good.
money within proper boundaries of spending and saving is good.
sex and money together are distorted. they should never. go. together. ever. ever. ever.

seriously.

i pray our eyes will be opened to one of the most damaging unions {sex and money} facing our world today.

this epidemic is not hopeless.

Jesus was born. Jesus rescues. Jesus redeems. Jesus restores. Jesus renews. 

i pray we will do something. change something. say ‘no’. look away. it starts with our choices…

the soft porn also known as magazines… they line every bookstore shelf, welcome you into every grocery store aisle, and cover your door step with every subscription.
the t.v. shows and movies lined with subtle innuendos, coarse words and full on nudity.
the shades of grey in books filling minds with fantasy romance and descriptive sex scenes.
what may seem harmless leads to a disconnection from reality. 
what may seem harmless leads us to lies, believing sex and money can be intertwined.  

what sin has joined together only God can separate. 
no more money in exchange for a magazine.
no more money in exchange for a porn video.
no more money in exchange for a lap dance.
no more money in exchange for a life.

yes. we are suffering from the messy union of sex and money.
what are we going to do about it???
the change needs to happen carefully and with respect. 
what are you doing?
what are you being called to say ‘no’ to?
what are you being led to look away from?
we have a choice to not be controlled by unhealthy sexual desires. 
call out sin for sin. lust for lust. fantasy for fantasy. porn for porn. prostitution for prostitution. 

the union of sex and money is a complicated relationship. the only answer is Jesus redeeming this epidemic. the light will expose the dark.
human trafficking, prostitution, pornography… their deep roots need to be uncovered to be understood.
– we need to start somewhere –
we can all do something to help ourselves and help influence others away from being caught in the intercourse of sex and money.

there is so much more to say on this subject… i’m just getting this conversation started… it is only half written… until then, please share, comment and join this blog community.

In Him, Leslie