Worship the King: Azmera Cambodia Haven Retreat (Feb. 22)
Psalm 150:6 (NIV) - Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Psalm 95:6 (NIV) - Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 143:6 (NIV) - I spread out my hands to you, I thirst for you like a parched land. Psalm 63:4 (NIV) - I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 71:23 (NIV) - My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you - I whom you have delivered. 2 Samuel 6:14 (NLT) - And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. Inspiration and Challenges:
God calls us to worship Him and blesses us through our worship! Friday night, we opened our retreat with a time of worship. God has truly blessed Debi with a divine spirit of worship and she incorporates scripture reading, poetry, hymns, popular songs and prayer into each worship time. On Saturday morning when Christina asked if anyone had anything they'd like to share about how God was revealing Himself to them, Heather immediately shared how the evening's worship had already impacted her. As a child, lies were spoken over her and she had let them seep into her soul and plant roots that affected her life in ways that kept her from seeing herself as God saw her. But, as she sang on Friday, God reached into her soul, spotlighted those words as lies, and began the process of healing and restoration. She realized that she is a daughter of the King and He has called her beautiful, beloved, and redeemed. Throughout the weekend, it was clear that God was continuing to remodel her self image and give her more confidence to claim her authority as his child.
I grew up in a very conservative church that taught that worship was always quiet and respectful and that only hymns played on the piano were acceptable. I was a teen when the movie Footloose was filmed in my hometown of Payson, Utah and our sister church in Lehi. I identified deeply with this movie. While I was a rule follower and people-pleaser, my soul longed to dance before my King. On an Amazon Outreach trip to Manaus, Brazil, I first saw a worship team dancing before the Lord with candles in their hands. I was completely struck by the divine beauty. At the Azmera Cyprus retreat, one of the leaders had morning dance devotions that truly resonated in my heart. I've become a dancer in my mundane life and will sway to the music at church on any given Sunday, but I've always felt self-conscious about my desire to dance in American churches and only timidly raise my hands before the Lord. And I've always hated to be in front of crowd.
For this retreat, I was asked to be the tech girl, which mainly involved forwarding the slideshow during the worship. The first night, this was an easy task, but then the technical difficulties started. We seemed to have a short in the cable that meant the connection would disappear with the slightest movement and the attendees would be met with a blank screen. I felt trapped into complete stillness. On Sunday, we discovered the short was actually in the projector, which freed me a little bit. On Friday, I'd noticed several girls dancing and swaying in the back and my heart leaped with their freedom and joy to boldly worship. I longed to join them. However, throughout the retreat God turned my role in the front into a true blessing. Few worshippers get the opportunity to look out over an entire crowd and see all the beautiful ways that His children are worshipping. Not only did I have the best seat in the house to watch Debi as she poured out her heart through her guitar and with her voice, but I got to see women kneeling before their King, heads bowed down to the floor in adulation, hands held quietly in a posture of prayer, hands open and lifted high, Liz dancing hula that she learned as a child, Rachel stomping and clapping, Shannon whirling, Sarah Joy beating on the walls, women dancing, women smiling, women weeping, women simply listening to what God wanted them to hear in the lyrics, and women singing and shouting His praises. It was a beautiful glimpse of heaven. It showed me that each of us needs to be completely free to worship the God of all Creation in whatever way spills forth from our souls. We can break any chains that make us feel constrained, we can forget about feeling judged by those around us, we can truly enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise to worship as if we have a private audience with the King. We can know with confidence that He is pleased with us, wants to bask in our adoration of Him, and wants to speak individually to each of our hearts. He wants us to be transformed by our worship. Two songs that Beth shared with us: You Got This by Love and the Outcome https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpd4XiKlaPA
What If by Matthew West https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7X3kuTCz5c
Intro to Khmer: Praise God - sarsaer preah
Debi's Worship List and Poetry: