Balloon: Aug 23nd - 29th

This week and beyond:

Hey everyone!!  It's been sometime since I communicated via this blog, however, I'm back and intend to keep you updated on the latest goings on in the Music Ministry!  If you have any ideas/thoughts about what you'd like to see in the posts, please let me know.

We are just around the corner of the start of the new church calendar year.  Below are some important dates to take note of:
- Sunday, September 18th: Tony & Lisa's first Sunday back leading worship!! :)  Sorry T&L, couldn't resist!!
- Saturday, Sept 24th:  Our annual kick-off meeting.  Plans are still in the works, but mark your calendars to be there.
- Sunday, Oct 30th:  Our first Team Night of the year.  A night of worship, prayer, connecting, and growing together as week seek the Lord through music.  Please see Planning Center "special events" for dates and times of meetings and team nights coming up.

In my last email I encouraged you all to get back to me about your commitment this coming year and the completion of the survey.  I've had some questions as to where the survey is.  Here is the link should you need it.  Music Ministry Survey

Blessings everyone!!!
Gregory...

Devotional:

The Balloon
by Carlene Archer, Chatsworth, Georgia

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

It was unusually warm for November. There was just the road, my iPod, and me. Music drowned both the slap of my running shoes on pavement and my regular gasping as this 49-year-old body protested yet another trip down my beloved "cow road." But this wasn't just another run.

A few weeks earlier I had been fired from the job I loved, people I loved, in a building I had prayed for, raised money for, and planned for. I had believed God's plan for me was in that building, that job, with those people. That church had, in every sense of the word, become home to me. I received no advance warning. There was nothing negative from church leadership until the meeting where they fired me. Suddenly I was jobless and churchless.

In the midst of this scenario, I struggled to get past the damage my church caused my family, my self-esteem, my confidence... and my heart. Satan's fiery darts started flying. All I could see was my failure. Everything reminded me that I had been fired. When I shopped, I thought of our reduced income. Every Sunday I faced visiting a new church with my family. I watched my two teenage daughters struggle with having their church home torn away on two weeks' notice, when they had done nothing wrong. As I watched them defend me to others, my heart broke.

As these thoughts raced through my mind, I ran harder, drinking in the comfort of routine, trying to convince myself that I could succeed at something and get courage to continue. A distant object caught my attention. It was a bright purple balloon rising slowly above the parking lot of a local church. No one was around; I had no idea where it came from. But as I watched it rise higher, I wished I could rise above everything, too. The balloon was rising above everything that could pop it -- its own set of "fiery darts" -- thistles in the cow pasture, splinters on the wooden fence, sharp rocks on the pavement. I realized if I could stay whole and hang on, God could heal me. Just deflect enough fiery darts of emotional and spiritual pain and I would rise above the situation. But how?

The shield of faith! Suddenly I realized that a bigger, stronger shield of faith was my only hope. It was the weapon God designed to deflect the darts aimed at me.

As the balloon rose out of sight, I knew that God wanted to help me. He wanted to fill me spiritually with everything I need to rise above this pain, to help make me faithful to His calling.

That day, I began listening to the Holy Spirit speaking to me; not to what Satan was trying to make me focus on. When I started to feel I was a failure, I stopped and declared faith in a God who didn't see me as a failure. He saw only a flawed believer trying to serve Him well.

Everyone in music ministry faces fiery darts. Complaints about song selection or music styles or volume, stares when you raise your hands during worship, snide comments from choir members about robes or solos, feelings of inadequacy, mistakes during a service or performance, and more. The best way to extinguish fiery darts is faith that God is in control. Every time you react to a barb with faith, your shield grows stronger and bigger. And you rise higher, like that balloon, free from Satan's fiery darts.   

GOING DEEPER:

1. How have you handled negative comments from others in the past?
2. Scripture asks the rhetorical question, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Do you think that truly believing that would enlarge and strengthen your shield of faith?
3. Consider the flaming arrows that are coming at you right now. What does thee Bible say about those issues?