Cancer and the glory of God

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Endoscopy Wing, July 14th, 2104 – “Nate, we found a large tumor and it’s cancer, but she’s young and we’ll fight it aggressively.  I’d start the prayer chain.”  Words I never thought I’d hear and certainly didn’t see coming that day.  My wife Dana was having trouble swallowing.  We took her to the ER and they ran some tests.  We thought it might be an ulcer or something.  As she lay on the operating table still waking up from anesthesia, those were the words we heard from the surgeon – It brought us to our knees. Did this just happen? God…seriously?  How can this be?  We’ve always felt so young and invincible.  These things don’t happen to us.  But the reality of God asking us to walk through this valley hit us pretty quickly. 

Dana began sobbing and all I could do was try to comfort her.  It’s amazing how we all deal with grief and news like this differently.  The weight of it hit her instantly but I just felt this numbness take over as I tried to process what was happening.  About 2 days later as I woke up at 6am to my wife, with tubes hanging out of her and the nurses sticking her with needles, it just hit me like a crashing wave.  I ran out to a bathroom in the hall of the hospital, dropped to my knees and began to cry uncontrollably.  I was trying so hard to be strong for my wife, but there was nothing I could do.  This wave was coming and I had to get somewhere and be alone with God where she couldn’t see me. 

So much was happening so fast.  We had just bought an eighty year old house, we were rehabbing the kitchen down to the studs, staining all the floors, unpacking enough to sustain a family of four, I was driving to Nashville to write songs and keeping up with my normal workload, I had 3 weeks of rehearsals and tour dates coming up, Dana’s business was constantly growing and she was traveling, the kids were about to start school – it was already so insane!  And then….cancer.  We later found out she has stage 4 esophageal cancer. It has spread to her stomach, liver and 4 lymph nodes.  We need a miracle. 

Everything we know as our “life” changed in that instant in the endoscopy room.  So many questions arose in our hearts.  How could God be in this? How could He allow this? Where is He? Do we even trust Him anymore? We pray for the health and protection of our family, together, every night - and this is what we get?

As the shock wore off, God began to poor out His love on us through His church.  By the grace of God we were able to put all the questions aside and rest in His goodness.  This is where our theology gets the ultimate test.  Do I trust in His sovereignty or is that just something I say when things don’t make sense? God gave our good friend and mentor Mike Shepard a word for us that has sustained us to this day – “Rest in His sovereignty, but Reach for His promises.”  Oh the peace of knowing GOD IS SOVEREIGN.  He knows all, sees all, is all, and He is not surprised by cancer. Romans 11:36 says; 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.  ALL things means ALL things.  If All things are from Him and through Him and to Him, then that includes this cancer.  So, we stopped asking “why” and began to ask God to be glorified in our suffering. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

I can’t explain what happens in our hearts as we suffer.  I can’t even begin to fathom how God can be glorified in cancer, throwing up blood, tears and sleepless nights, radiation and chemotherapy – but somehow, He is.  In a million ways we may never know, He is.  So many lives are being affected by our suffering.  The church is rallying around us like we’ve never seen.  Families are so burdened by our struggle that it’s bringing them to their knees – some for the first time in a long time.   And there’s a beauty in that I can’t explain - the beauty of suffering for Christ and taking part in His suffering.  “Blessing” has been redefined. 

God’s way of showing us love has been redefined.  John Piper said it best, "Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of His Son, He enables you to enjoy making much of Him forever? Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to your worth forever? Is God’s glory in Christ the foundation of your gladness?"

God making much of me shouldn’t be the way I know that He loves me.  Having a nice American lifestyle, big house, nice car, does not mean I am “blessed”. It certainly can be God’s blessing, but so can Him asking us to suffer for His glory. In fact, the love you feel in suffering carries so much more weight.  James 1:2-4.  2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Joy in trials and suffering? Yes!  The joy of The Lord and my comfort have nothing to do with each other.  My joy is found in His glory and Him being made much of.  Not Him making much of me with comfort and success.  He made much of us on the cross.  My life is now a living sacrifice, paid for in blood.  1 peter 4:12-13 12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Oh God let Your glory be revealed.  Yes, even in this suffering.  It’s the cry of our hearts in the dark hours.  It’s the strength we have and the joy before us, that we can make much of Him while suffering.  I don’t understand it and certainly plead with the Lord to remove it quickly.  No one likes to suffer or watch someone they love suffer.  But if we must, then let Him be glorified. 

As we rest in His sovereignty, we also reach for His promises.  We know that God is our healer.  We know that He still heals today and we make our requests known to God according to Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.We plead with the Lord just as Jesus did in Mark 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

I don’t pretend to understand it all.  Nor do I wish to minimize our situation or sugar coat our struggle.  There is a very real battle being waged in our life right now.  But, I know God is God and I trust Him.  I know He is faithful and His will is being performed.  We’ve always wanted our lives to bring Him glory and for reasons only He knows, this is our lot.  It’s like when the disciples asked Jesus why a man was blind in John 9:1-3 1As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.  The hope of our story is that the works of God would be displayed in us.  Certainly God would be glorified in a miracle healing and Dana walking away without so much suffering.  But If He requires us to walk through the valley, He will be glorified as well.  And one way or another, she will be healed and whole. 

The cancer Dana has is a particularly violent one.  It’s hard to keep her strong physically because she is unable to eat due to the tumor, so she has a feeding tube in her small intestine.  The nausea, pain and fatigue are relentless.  So, in the natural, times of joy are hard to come by.  But the goodness of God has sustained us.  He has showered us with love and support. The joy we experience can only come from the Lord.   The peace He has given us truly passes all understanding.  We are in a place of trust like we’ve never experienced and we know that God is with us – He proves it every day. 

We are Resting in His sovereignty and reaching for His promises.  We covet your prayers and we trust God for healing and the strength to endure.  January 1, 2014 God gave me the mission statement for our family, for His glory, by His graceI had no idea how much we would need that in the coming months.  We live, breath and suffer for His glory. Amen. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)

17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

For His glory, by His grace….

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

Thanks For Entertaining Us?

As our churches are flooded with new believers and non-believers desperately seeking answers for their life; I get some interesting responses to our worship.  A few months ago I was at a church and after worship someone came up to me and very sincerely said… “Thanks so much for entertaining us today”.  I thought…. Is that what we were doing…. entertaining?

It seems no matter how sincerely and passionately we worship – some people just haven’t been taught what worship is about yet - especially in this age of high production church.  It looks and sounds like a concert, so it must be – but what a sad thing when you really think about it.  It’s sad that someone is mistaking the glory being given to God in those moments as entertainment and instead giving glory to man.  The depth and richness of what’s really happening are going completely unnoticed by some.  The lights and sound aren’t for show…. They are an expression of worship for the glory of God. 

So, why do we worship and sing praise to our God? What is really happening in that part of our services? 

God Is Worthy Of All Praise

It is our natural tendency to praise the things we love - our kids, our friends, and our favorite team.  Louie Giglio does an awesome illustration where he shows a bunch of images that look like a very charismatic youth worship service from the right angle.  But as the camera pulls out, it’s a sports game, rock concert or political rally.  You’d swear they were raising their hands and voices in worship.  But their passion is directed elsewhere.  It’s our natural tendency.  We’re passionate creatures.  We desire to give praise.  So how could we not direct that praise and adoration to the ONE truly worthy of it all?  How could we not give praise to the creator of all things - the God of heaven and earth?  A God who sent His son to die on a cross as payment for our sins so that we might be free, deserves all our praise. 

 Psalm 96:1-6 (ESV) 1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless HIS name;
tell of HIS salvation from day to day.
3 Declare HIS glory among the nations,
HIS marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
HE is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before HIM;
strength and beauty are in HIS sanctuary.

Psalm 29:1 (ESV) Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

God desires our worship

Exodus 20:2-6 (ESV) I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods beforeme.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousandsof those who love me and keep my commandments.

God wants to be first in our lives.  There are so many other things we devote our time, energy and praise to.  But when we worship we should be giving God all our adoration.  Singing from the depths of our souls for His glory.  And the beauty of it is…. Our worship doesn’t stop when we leave church on Sunday.  Our entire life is worship.  We should do all things as unto the Lord.  Serving Him with gladness, even in the day-to-day and seemingly mundane.  Our lives are a gift from God to be used for His glory.  And we can worship Him in all we do. 

Surrender

In Louie Giglio’s illustration he also emphasizes the raising of hands in worship.  Raising our hands is the universal sign for surrender.  When we are captured and are ready to completely give in, we raise our hands in surrender.  That’s what we are doing in worship.  We are completely captured and caught up in the will of God and we are showing that surrender by the raising of our hands.  We are saying - here I am God.  I’m completely Yours.  I surrender.  Have Your way in me.”   It’s a beautiful thing to surrender to God. 

We also raise our hands when we are broken and just don’t know what else to do.  If you’ve come to the end of your rope and are in need of rescue, raise your hands and sing to the Lord.  He is near to the broken hearted. 

 Community and Celebration

Psalm 47:1 (ESV) 1 Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalm 100:1,2(ESV)Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!  Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing!

Hebrews 10:24,25 (ESV) 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Just as our personal time of worship with God is important, so is our corporate time of worship.  It’s crucial to be in community with others and come together in song and praise to God.  God’s children coming together in worship, service and song is an amazing thing that I believe blesses the heart of God.  When we gather together, He promises to be there as well.

Matthew 18:20 (ESV) 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

And where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty and freedom! There is freedom from the weight of sin and stress of our week.  There’s freedom from striving and trying to make our way through life.  And there’s freedom from addiction, sickness and disease. 

Response

My favorite aspect of worship is simply that it’s our response.  It’s our response to the gospel of Jesus Christ – the good news.  We are saved by grace, through Christ.  We, who were once dead men in our sin and enemies of God, are now alive in Chris, children of God, co-heirs with Him.  (Rom 8:17)  We are sealed for all eternity by the blood of Christ and thus chosen by God to live with Him for all eternity.  How can we not long to worship and respond to that news? 

I encourage you to remember these things this weekend as you worship both corporately and in your personal time.  Remember why we sing.  Don’t get caught up in the formality or production of it all.  Give God all you have in worship and humble yourself before Him.  Respond to the gospel.  He is worthy! 

Click the player below to watch the Louie Giglio video with the illustration I referenced.

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

So This Is Christmas?

If you have any friends on a church staff you’ve probably noticed you don’t see them much in December. That’s because they are all scrambling around in overdrive; building sets, recruiting volunteers, rehearsing songs and preparing for the Ultimate Christmas Extravaganza for one of the 4 weeks in December. It’s extremely stressful, but really impressive. It’s amazing what we can come up with to “wow” our city.

God has graced modern churches with some really talented people and it’s all hands on deck for Christmas and Easter. We give everything we’ve got for the group we lovingly call the “Chreasters”. You know them right? It’s your friends and family who never step foot in the house of God unless it’s Christmas or Easter. We love on them and show them a high tech presentation of the gospel that could hold it’s own with the best shows on Broadway. But this year, I’m sitting back and wondering…. what’s it all for?

Let me first say that I’m not dogging great Christmas programs or criticizing churches that put them on. I’ve just come into a new family of believers that do things a bit differently and I feel like God has really challenged me to re-think so much of what we do as the church. Sometimes it just seems like we put so much focus on keeping up with the world and trying to coax people into a relationship with Christ with our great programs. I can’t help but be curious as to how many true conversions we see after these big productions. Not to mention; I’m curious what it does to the families of our brothers and sisters who are on church staffs or the hundreds of volunteers it takes to pull these productions off.

I know the Father uses literally everything to draw people to Christ and He can certainly use our church productions. But I’m just wondering, at the end of the day, do we really have to try so hard? I’m simply asking if we really need to push our churches to the limits on these holidays to try and blow the minds of our communities with our Hollywood productions. In the past few years I’ve come to know a new appreciation for the Gospel. I’m starting to realize that it was designed by Almighty God to be “the good news”. I’m starting to question if some of what we do has become completely faithless - if we have come to rely more on our huge productions than the power of the Holy Spirit. I have to ask if we really think that we can somehow coax people into a meaningful relationship with Christ by moving them emotionally with elaborate productions twice a year.

Again, I don’t want to criticize, I just want to stir our heart’s – to snap us out of the consumer driven mentality of these holidays that are supposed to draw us to Christ and each other.

What if we spent all the energy and financial recourses that would have went into our productions and focused it on the poor and needy in our community? What if we just had a simple candle lit ceremony at church, gave all we have in worship and adoration to Jesus and leave the “wow factor” to Hollywood. What if all our church staff and volunteers focused their time and energy in December on their families and communities? I don’t know…. it just seems like what Jesus would do. It feels like the church has been suckered into a faithless belief that we have to dress to impress. That somehow - if we try hard enough, and really out do what we did last year, we can do the work ourselves that the Gospel is intended to do.

What if…. we strip it all away, honor God by loving our family and community, and let our example speak? In the words of Lennon… “So this is Christmas and what have you done?”

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

Forever You Reign - Live

BEHIND THE SONG WITH NATE EDMONDS AND TYLER VAUGHN

I had a lot of fun writing this song with my friend Tyler Vaughn. And then I got in the studio with Tedd T and this song just kept getting more and more fun. I love that this song is so energetic and celebrates a pillar of our faith. We should always celebrate the work of the cross and all that the blood of Christ has done for us. In fact…our very lives are a testament to the work of Christ.

Where would we be without the blood of Christ? It paid for our salvation, ransomed us from sin and lifted us from the burden of the law. That is more reason to celebrate than anything I can think of. Ephesians 1:7-9 says this - “7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” Heaven has come in the shape of a man… Jesus!

I asked Tyler Vaughn to jump in on this blog and share what God put on his heart since we wrote the song together. I love what he had to say.

 Tyler: I tend to be abstract in my thinking process.  You have to know that before you’re able to put the pieces together for what I am about to say.  When I think about the song Forever You Reign, I think about what is described in the book of Revelation where it talks about the worship going on in heaven.  In the fourth and fifth chapter of Revelation the pictured laid out shows that all of heaven is giving glory to Jesus because of the price He paid.  Heaven has had the “best seat in the house” for a long time now.  The angels and elders have seen the forming of the earth.  They witnessed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  They see how Jesus loves His people with a reckless abandon and they give glory, honor, blessing, and power as a testament to what they have seen and continue to see.  The only difference between us and the heavenlies is that we have not physically seen all that they have seen but when we catch just a glimpse it causes our hearts to leap within our chest.  That’s what causes us to worship.  

        Forever You Reign is meant to be a song to provoke the joy of worship within the people of God.  I believe that “church people” are not joyful enough because they may not have taken enough time to look upon the things that Jesus has done, is doing, and will do in our lifetime and throughout eternity.  In Revelation 4:8 it says that the angels and elders cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.  Who was, who is, and who is to come.”  In Hebrews 12:2 it says “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  This song not only speaks about the work and history of the cross but testifies of a hope and a future because our Jesus is not finished writing His elaborate love story for His people.  

God created the earth (was), Jesus gave His life and conquered the grave, making a way for us to gain access to the Father (is), and we can take joy that Jesus still “is to come”!  This song is a testimony of all of these things.  We can worship, not only out of a loving response, but out of a joyful response because of who Jesus has always been, who He is now, and who He will forever be!  Just thinking about that gives me so much happiness and zeal for Jesus.  Jesus truly is amazing!

Nate: Let’s remember all that Christ has done for us and celebrate it! I hope this song brings you joy and the revelation of all we have through His blood!

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | FUZED Worship

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Tyler Vaughn | Song Writer and Worship Leader 

God as a father and Bambi…

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So…. I’m in complete darkness at 5 am, standing at the entrance to woods I’ve never been in, and I’m way out of my comfort zone. I’m asking God if I’m insane and even have it in me to kill and gut a real deer. “It’s freezing out here, I can’t see more than a few feet in front of me, why am I even doing this” I say to God. And He so gently reminds me of all the time I spent in the woods as a little boy. Heard Him clear as day say…”where is that little guy Nate? Bring him back! Where is that sense of adventure?“ I literally started bawling.

It’s my first year hunting and I really want to learn everything about it. I have 2 little kids of my own and I so desperately want to give them opportunities I never had. I want to expose them to things and see what makes them come alive – help them discover their heart and how God speaks to them there. Problem is, I have very little experience myself in stuff outside of ministry and church. It’s all I grew up doing and went straight into full time ministry at 18. But a man needs adventure. In our modern Christianity we’ve forgotten that God is wild and untamed. Look at His creation. He created lions, alligators, rattlesnakes, tigers, vast oceans and white water rapids – why would He do that? He loves adventure and romance. He has created this epic story that we are all caught up in. When you follow Jesus, there’s no telling where He’ll lead you. You just pick up your cross and follow.

But sometimes, because of un-fathered places in our hearts, we aren’t willing to take a leap of faith - to step out in an adventure with God. Fear and the unknown cloud our vision. And a good father will push us out of our comfort zone. He will call us out into the wild where we can discover all His goodness and the adventure He has for us.

God has taken me on an amazing journey of discovery. He has fathered me through so many areas, and continues to push me. That’s what the dark woods at 5 am are all about. Just when I think I’ve really made some progress, He will dig a little deeper and expose more of me than I care to see. It’s a beautiful process; I believe it’s part of sanctification, and God longs to be a father to us all. He is the father to the fatherless and no matter how great our earthly dads can be; they are human, they will fail us, and there are always un-fathered, fatherless areas in us. God made it that way. He wants to be our father in all those places.

Romans 8:15 says, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” We are adopted, children of God! He is our Father and He knows all we are lacking and all we need. Trust Him today. Ask Him to father you in all the places of your heart that are wounded and scared. Ask Him to show you the places where you are acting in fear and don’t even realize why. You will be amazed at what He will reveal to you.

Let’s not settle for a mundane, status quo Christianity. Let God father you through the adventure. We are only on this earth for a short time and the couch or just a pew on Sunday is not where God has destined us to spend it. Go into all the earth and make disciples… now that’s an adventure! Trust that God is a good Father. Step into the unknown with Him today! 

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

UNITE > WORSHIP > SERVE

As our online presence grows and God begins to create more awareness about Fuzed Worship, I thought I’d take some time this week to share with you who Fuzed Worship is and what we’re all about.

The very short version of our start is…. God brought two friends together to write a song one Sunday afternoon. One was Daniel Meyer who had never written a song before but was really inspired by a mission trip to Ethiopia. And one was me, Nate Edmonds, a worship leader who had been fasting music for a year. We were a very unlikely pair for song writing, but God had a plan. (See the full story @ - http://fuzedworship.tumblr.com/about)

You may have noticed on our website the words UNITE, WORSHIP, SERVE – these were the words we felt God gave us as the pillars of Fuzed Worship when we started it. Our focus was unity. Fuzed meaning – To become united, blended together, creating a strong union. We felt like God had really birthed Fuzed Worship out of friendship and unity and we needed that to be at the core of all we did.

We recently sat down and hashed out what that really means for us on a particle level. What does Unite, Worship, Serve really look like on a day-to-day level. So here is what we believe God gave us for the core values of Fuzed Worship.

UNITE:

FUZED - To become united, blended together; creating a strong union. We will walk in unity. If we have an issue with our brother or sister we follow biblical principals to resolve it according to Matthew 18. Strife and gossip will not be a part of this family. We trust God for the strength to be as Christ prayed we would be when He ascended into heaven…ONE, as He and the Father are ONE. We pray that God allows us to carry that unity into everything we do – every event and church we minister to.

WORSHIP:

We believe that the spirit of God will unite people in worship everywhere we go. We are worshipers, not performers. As God increases our reach in the world we pray for the strength to fight the pressure to have a “hit” or compromise who we are. Our goal is uniting people in worship and leading them to the cross. Everything we do is for the glory of God. We put our ambitions and motives aside and come together to worship.

Serve:

We are not rock stars; we are servants. No matter where we are, we fall under that leadership. If God brought us there, then He brought us there to serve them. This plays out in our actions and our words. This also means we can’t hold on too tightly to our positions or our place in Fuzed Worship. God is in control and this isn’t our thing, it’s His. We are honored to be a part of this move of God and He will sustain us in it or move us out if He wills. We are here to serve.

So, this is who we are and what we stand for. I hope it gives you a sense of what God has done and what He’s called us to. We couldn’t have dreamed Fuzed Worship up if we tried. We weren’t trying to start something. God had a plan and He moved all the pieces into place. Looking ahead we are excited to see the journey God has for us. He has brought us an amazing team and continues to inspire new songs. We anticipate 2014 to be full of great worship experiences all over the country. Hopefully we will get to worship with you soon!

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

I’m Waiting For God To Save Me

I once heard a story of a man who was stranded at sea due to a shipwreck and he was the only survivor. This man prayed and asked God to save his life. Soon after, a boat came by and offered the man some help. “No thanks,” he said. “I’m waiting for God to save me.” The men on the boat shrugged their shoulders and continued. As the man became more deeply concerned, another boat came by. Again, the people aboard offered this man some help, and again he politely declined proclaiming, “I’m waiting for God to save me”. After some time, the man began to lose his faith, and soon after that he died. Upon reaching Heaven, he had a chance to speak with God briefly. “Why did you let me die? Why didn’t you answer my prayers?” he asked, and God’s response was, “I did. I sent you two boats!”

I have often almost missed answers from God because He didn’t answer my prayers in a “certain” way that I was expecting. I’m learning that just because something is different or unexpected, I shouldn’t be so quick to reject it, because I may very well be rejecting the answer that I have been seeking. God has a history of answering and doing the unordinary and unexpected. Consider Sarah receiving the promise of a child in her nineties, God speaking through a donkey, putting Jonah in a whale; or how about bringing down the walls of Jericho by marching around and then shouting or Jesus using his spit to heal a blind man. The biggest unexpected to me would have to be Jesus being born to a virgin and birthed in a manger; A little different for a King to say the least. All of these things make logical sense right? Not so much. If you’re like me, we seek him to give us direction, help, provision and instead of letting Him do it His way, we have a tendency to put Him in a box. God shows up with a whale or a King in a manger and we reject it because we are so prone to being closed minded and thinking that in order for something to be to be God it has to be done a “Certain” way. We end up just like the man stranded in the water saying “God will save me” when God is saying “I’ve already sent you help”.

In Isaiah 55 God let’s us know that He doesn’t think as we do and He may not do things in our expected “certain” way.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine, for just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

I don’t really think there is a whole lot about God that is “logical”, “natural” or even expected. He is an infinite, eternal, supernatural God and creator. Why on earth do we try to fit Him into our logical, carnal, tiny human ways of thinking? God’s very own people did this. The people who sought Him, who knew the promise of a Savior would come. Yet when that promise arrived and Jesus, the answer to all of their prayers stood before them, they rejected Him. They even put Him on a cross. They didn’t recognize their Savior because He didn’t arrive, live, walk and talk in that “certain” way that they thought He would. I’m learning to not be like the man on the boat saying “God will save me” and potentially rejecting God’s response to my earnest prayers. I’m not saying we should accept everything different and unexpected as God, but at least open our hearts and minds to seeing God in a way that is different from our expectations because He may just be giving us our answer in that.

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Rachel Wilson | Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

Created For His Glory

We had an amazing opportunity to go to the Grand Canyon last week while we were playing an event in Arizona. Wow! We were so thankful we got to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was beautiful - so many different layers and colors to see. It was as if no matter how much we looked at it, we couldn’t take it all in. Our cameras just wouldn’t do it justice. The iris just couldn’t capture it. Beauty as far as the eye could see. And this is just one small facet of the amazing universe that God created. I couldn’t help but think of the glory and majesty of God and how you and I are caught up in it.

Scientists think it was created by some kind of water and wind erosion; but no matter how God chose to create it…He deserves all the glory. Everything was created for His glory – all of the earth, every star and galaxy, every living creature, and you and I. We were created for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). At the crescendo of creation, after all the beauty of earth and space were made, God made man in His image. (Gen. 1:27) He made us in His image, to bare His likeness. Out of all the amazing things that God created, He made us in His image. He chose to be in relationship with you and I. He chose to bring us into His family and take us on this amazing, epic journey for all eternity. Knowing we’d be sinful, knowing about our darkest hours, He chose us to bring Him glory.

God is sovereign over all things. He is the originator of all things. So He did not need us. But for some reason He chose us. He chose to be glorified through us and to allow Jesus to be glorified by rescuing us from sin and death. Jesus was the plan from the beginning of time. Sending Jesus to earth wasn’t an after thought – some kind of knee jerk reaction to the fall of man. Jesus was the thought! And all of creation, including our life, is caught up in the story of His glory.

This section of scripture says it all….

Ephesians 1: 3-12 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined usfor adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making knownto us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

WOW! He chose us, in Him, before the foundation of the earth, to glorify Him “according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace”.

So what now? What do we do with this life that He predestined for His glory? Do we have to be perfect and never have a weak moment so that we glorify God? No…. He is glorified even in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Even in our weakness God is glorified! It’s actually our weakness that brings Him the most glory. We are hopeless without Christ. Our works of the flesh are like filthy rags (Isaiah. 64:6). Our desperate dependence on Christ is what brings Him glory. So we can rest in Him, knowing that our sanctification is a process and that every good thing we do is only by His grace.

We have to live our lives in constant fellowship with Him. Relying fully on His grace and strength. When we fail, we allow Him to pick us back up and restore us. We don’t have to be ashamed of our failures. We live them out publically and show the world how the love and strength of God has seen us through and lifted us up. And in that life of dependence on Christ, we live for His glory! We live out what we were created for. Just as the beauty of the Grand Canyon is vast and inspiring - let our lives and dependence on Christ be beautiful and inspiring. We were created for His glory!

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

Wax On….Wax Off….

One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was The Karate Kid. I wanted to be him – humble and unassuming; yet with the courage and ability to come through in the end. And I always assumed that if I were him, I would have realized that all of that busy work from Mr. Miyagi was in fact Martial Arts training. But when God put me through some spiritual training that didn’t look like what I thought my training should look like – I definitely didn’t recognize it.

What’s the point? Why do I have to do this? When do I get some real training? All things we all feel like saying to God during our own wax on, wax off…paint the fence moments. But what was Mr. Miyagi after? What is God after in these moments? The condition of our hearts! While we look for some kind of spiritual Ninjutsu boot camp that will prepare us for God to unleash us on some “important” ministry mission - God is after our hearts. What we think is His purpose or His plan for our life is so much smaller than what He’s after. We can’t possibly imagine all that He has planned for us. It won’t be easy. It won’t be all sunshine and no rain. But it will be beautiful. It won’t be pain free – He never promised that. But it will be amazing.

Think on these words from scripture….

1 Corinthians 2:9ESV / 22

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

Proverbs 3:5-6ESV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Romans 8:28ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

His ways are higher than ours. We only know in part. I couldn’t have possibly imagined how God would give me Fuzed Worship. All the pain and longing I had for so many years, wondering where God was in it all. All the different ministry jobs I did that seemed to have nothing to do with my “calling”. Wax on…wax off, wax on…wax off. God was teaching me diligence, integrity, patience, humility. He was building a servants heart in me because at the end of the day that’s all a real worship leader is…. a servant.

Look at the life of David. All those years tending to those “few sheep” as his brothers said. Being ridiculed and doubted when he fought Goliath, serving King Saul when he was going crazy and trying to kill him. Or how about Joseph with his colorful coat? Do you think he saw what was coming into his life after that simple dream? He was thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, beaten, put in jail, all so he could fulfill his calling in the end. How about Paul? Look at all he endured in Acts. He was beaten and thrown in jail over and over again, had the “thorn in his side”, and eventually died for the gospel. All these stories about men living out their calling in ways they never imagined. They had a vision and a plan for their life, but God took them on a journey. He had to teach them and prepare them in ways they could never have imagined and I’m sure they would have rather avoided.

Sometimes we run from pain and discomfort in our lives when it is the very thing we should be embracing. It’s the thing we’ve been asking God for but we just don’t realize it. To whom much is given, much is required, right? Wax on…wax off. Wax on…wax off. Paint the fence…. it seems maddening! But all along, God is using it to crucify our flesh, to burn out our impurities with His refiners fire.

So my question for us today isn’t where have these moments occurred in your life because hindsight is 20/20. We can pretty easily look back and see what God has done. But the question is…what teachable moments are we missing right now? What situation does God have us in that we are running from that we should be embracing? Truth is, He’s always up to something. He never stops pursuing us even after we are tightly placed in His mighty hand. The beauty of sanctification is it never stops. The spirit of God is always at work within us. Philippians 2:12 - Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Wax on…. Wax off! 

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

My Brother’s Keeper

Love will hold us together. Make us a shelter to weather the storm. And I’ll be my brother’s keeper, so the whole world would know that we’re not alone…great lyrics from Matt Maher. I’ve been listening to him a lot lately. All The People Said Amen is an amazing record that God has been using to speak to me.

God has so many ways of speaking to us in certain phases of our lives that are so simple and beautiful - and so timely there’s no doubt that it’s Him. I guess I’m in one of those seasons right now. It seems like God is speaking so directly and profoundly - I love it. And this song couldn’t have come to my playlist at a better time.

God recently called my family and I to worship with a new body of believers. He brought us to a pretty amazing group of people that love God and pray for the strength to truly walk in humility and care for one another as we make much of Jesus. It’s been so refreshing to be with people who really live out this thing we call “church”. Realizing, it doesn’t mater which building we meet in on Sunday. We are all still the church and we desperately need each other to fulfill what God has called us to. I want to be my brother’s keeper. I want to have men and women in my life to “do life” with. Men that I know are just as messed up as me, but by the grace of God we can hold each other up and let iron sharpen iron.

Looking at the story of Cain and Able in Genesis 4, I think Caine really exposes the state of his heart in this one statement….”Am I my brother’s keeper?” Selfishness and pride were at the root of it all. He obviously didn’t care about his brother’s well being, he just killed him. A little pride, a little jealousy and anger got in the way of his relationship with God and his brother. But how many of us have done the same thing? Instead of truly loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, we compare ourselves to them; become jealous of their gifts and talents, gossip about them, and in doing so feed division and selfishness in our lives and in the church.

This sad behavior is certainly not what Christ wished for us as He ascended into heaven. In John 17 Jesus asks the Father that we would be “One” as He and the Father are “One”. How beautiful would it be for us to truly be one - for us to put our minor theological and denominational differences aside and unite as the body of Christ? God has brought some amazing people into my life that truly care about me and my family. I get all kinds of encouraging text messages and emails – real brothers and sisters in Christ that challenge me to grow in this area. We need to be there for each other, checking in on each other and praying for each other. Let’s not follow the sins of Caine; let’s be our brother’s keeper. Let’s pray what Christ prayed in John 17 and be united by the grace of God

This has always been at the core of Fuzed Worship. It’s why we named the organization Fuzed Worship…FUZED – TO BECOME UNITED; BLENDED TOGETHER; CREATING A STRONG UNION. This season in my life has been a great reminder of that commitment.

I think this scripture says it all….John 15:13 (NIV) Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

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Nate Edmonds | Co-Founder and Worship Leader | Fuzed Worship

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