Guest Post w/ Adam Rosenfeld - Worship is the Reward: Why It's OK to Lose Yourself

Our next guest blogger in the "Defining Worship" series is Adam Rosenfeld. Adam is a friend and fellow blogger as well as amazing musician and worship leader. He is very transparent in his writing and never fails to speak such truth and encouragement. We interviewed his wife Bethany a while back so we are happy to feature the other half of this power-couple from Jerusalem! Check out more thought-provoking posts like this one on his website. You can also keep up with him on Facebook and on Twitter (@AdamLRosenfeld). 
Enjoy!
T+B

Worship is the Reward: Why It’s OK to Lose Yourself

I have this memory of once receiving a birthday gift from my brother circa when I was 8 years old. By the time I was born, he was all grown up and out of the house. He would come to visit every once in a while, and one day he came by to give me a present for my birthday. He handed me a rectangular, heavy object. I took it from him and tore away the wrapping paper. What could it be? A box of Transformers? A new video game? To my utter dismay, I found that I was holding a dictionary. A dictionary… for my birthday. I was so disappointed that I actually cried, right there, in front of my brother. I made no attempt to look happy or say thank you to him. It was awful. My brother just left the house and was gone. I’ve felt bad about that moment ever since.

And as bad as I feel about that moment, we tend to do the same thing to God all the time.

Doing it Wrong

I have been blessed with a gift from God. He gave me the ability to worship Him through music. In my early teenage years, I learned to play guitar, sing, and write songs. Later on in life, He gave me opportunities to play on worship teams, lead worship, and to be on staff with a worship ministry. But I didn’t always appreciate those opportunities as I should have. At times, I saw them as a means to an end. I thought that if I chose to use my gifts in worship, God would “be nice to me” and one day let me do the other stuff I wanted to do in life. This shows that I didn’t understand the gift I’ve been given.

The truth is that God isn’t just “nice” to me, He loves me. He loves me so much He gave me all these opportunities to worship Him. And yeah, maybe my brother gave me a dictionary to express his love. But God knows me on a deeper level, and gave me gifts accordingly. But in my heart, I treated both my brother and God the same.

Lose Yourself…

King David understood this concept of God’s gift of worship. He was “a man after God’s own heart,” as the Bible says (1 Sam. 13:14). When the ark was being brought into Jerusalem, his response was to remove his royal garments and dance before God with all of his might (2 Sam. 6:14). The source text for this historical account implies “whirling and twirling.” Can you imagine some of today’s world leaders taking off their suit jackets, and whirling and twirling in public? That’s not the kind of PR these guys are usually looking for.

But here’s the point - we all need something to whirl and twirl about. A long time ago,  the Israelites in the desert tragically decided it was in their best interest to worship a golden calf. It says that after they made sacrifices, and after they sat down to eat, they “got up and played” (Exodus 32:6). The source text here implies “laughing in a playful manner.” Although this is not exactly the same thing as “whirling and twirling,” I believe that both have something in common. They both allude to the desire to cast off inhibition.

The account of David dancing before the Lord also hints that he took off his clothes to do so (2 Sam. 6:20). My understanding of this is that David removed the garments that identified him with royalty in order to worship God. He cast off his royal status before Him - he lost himself.

We all need something like this in life. We need something that warrants a total casting off of our social order - of our inhibitions. We need to somehow get to that place where we totally lose ourselves. This is a big theme in our culture. “Lose yourself to the music.” “Go wild to the beat.” Sure, I get it. I’ve been there, many of us have. Be it the beat, the music, the pop star, the rock band, the hippie bonfire festival - whatever. Those things don’t have the ability to properly receive our deepest adorations. They are not worthy of the casting off of all our inhibitions. All we do is lose ourselves, and we end up, well, lost. And then we have to go find ourselves again. This just sucks the energy out of us. Often it keeps us in an endless cycle of working to find ourselves just so we can lose ourselves again. And in the end, we never accomplish what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives.

…To Find Yourself

But when we lose ourselves in worship to God, we indeed find ourselves. He is the only one worthy to receive our loss of inhibition. And that’s how we’re supposed to worship Him. Not as a means to an end. Not as something that will make us more righteous. Not as something that will open more doors for work/ministry/recognition in life - no. Worship itself is the reward.

So, when God gives you the gift to worship Him, don’t think that it’s going to lead you anywhere in life other than closer to Him. And if you can’t appreciate that, you’re like an 8-year-old boy crying on his birthday. You’ve just been given a gift, and you don’t even realize it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adam Lee Rosenfeld is a dad, who grew up in the suburbs, lives in Jerusalem, bangs on guitars, skateboards, writes about life, and has to lead the way from here (just like you). Check out his blog and say hi:
www.adamleerosenfeld.com


Guest Post w/ Jennifer Caracelo - Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Time

It has been a while since our last post about Defining WorshipThis series is about all the different ways that we worship God whether it is in prayer, in work, in parenting, or whatever. It's a diverse array of things and everyone has a unique and important perspective on this. To speak on this topic, we have had the honor of getting some guest posts lined up! Today's post was written by Jennifer Caracelo, the Rebbetzin of Keren Ohr Messianic Synagogue in Savannah, Georgia.

We had her and Jude, her husband, on the show a while ago and if you didn't get to hear it, check it out here!  Jennifer is a very dear friend who I look up to so much and her heart for the Lord is so beautiful and real. I know you will enjoy what God has laid on her heart!

- T + B

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I’d like to talk about the concept of “Daily Bible Reading and Prayer Time.”  I title it that because it is an ingrained institution in our spiritual lives, as it should be.  But many of us, moms especially, have struggled with the spiritual paradigm of a morning quiet time.  Our conventional religious wisdom tells us that we should be spending time with God every morning – first thing to get the day started right.  In theory, I totally agree with this! 

I’m not a morning person.  My kids are up before me every morning.  When my feet hit the ground at 7am, I’m immediately in ‘mom mode’ making lunches and brushing hair and herding young children to the bus stop.  Then it’s home to work with older kids on their school and tackle the to-do list of synagogue and work items.  I do Bible reading when I can and talk to God here and there throughout the day.  I may not spend hours in reading and prayerful meditation, but I have a strong relationship with God and I hear from Him on a regular basis. I’m sure many other women out there are in the same boat.  How many of you struggle with feelings of guilt because your relationship with God doesn’t include the “mandatory” early morning Bible reading and prayer time?  You’re not doing it the way you’ve been told you’re supposed to. There is a subtle message in the body of Messiah that if you don’t have that first thing in the morning time then your time with God is inadequate –lacking – less than.

An amazing miracle happened today; I woke up two minutes before my 6:30 alarm!  (I need 30 minutes to come out of my deep sleep to the land of the living.)  I had a 30 second argument with myself and decided to choose some Bible reading over the warmth of the bed.  The dog had hopped up on the bed to curl up against me for warmth, and I shoved her over to let my feet hit the floor.  The only light was what trickled up stairs from the kitchen as I made my way over to the bookshelf for my Bible.  Suddenly I felt warm wetness through my sock.  I quickly flipped on my cell phone flashlight and shined it on the carpet to reveal two spots of dog vomit and a hairball that she must’ve coughed up in the middle of the night.  Great! I trudged downstairs to grab paper towels, a bag, and cleaner to take care of the mess.  Fifteen minutes later, not bothering to put away the stuff – I’d do it after I got at least fifteen minutes for Bible reading – I continued my journey to the bookshelf.  Guided by the trusty cell light, I was not a foot from my destination when I stepped in another wet spot.  The bright glare of the flashlight shone on a puddle of dog pee on the rug.  By the time I had taken care of that mess I was summoned to put my daughter’s “only pair of jeans” in the dryer so she could wear them today.  I looked at the clock on my cell – 7:00am. My time had disappeared.

But as I went through the morning routine of peanut butter sandwiches and hair bows, a song wound its way through my mind – words directly from God to me. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord! Great is thy faithfulness!”  

When I finally got a chance to sit down this morning I did a search on my Bible app, knowing those words were not just a song, but scripture.  Sure enough I was directed to Lamentations 3:22-23.  The song is pretty much word for word from the ESV translation. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Despite my best intentions and plans to spend 30 minutes in prayer and Bible reading this morning, life got in the way – and that’s okay.  God says it’s okay! His love for me is new every morning.  His grace and mercy and compassion for me are limitless and greater than I can imagine.  He knows that the start to each day is not spent in a blissful, spiritual encounter with Him.  He knew what I would literally step in this morning.  He knew that clean up job would thwart my plans for Bible reading.  He allowed that to show me that He doesn’t need to meet me at 6:30am.  He understands that I have sandwiches to make and pony tails to do.  That’s the job that He has given me right now.  And He knows that I don’t neglect my relationship with Him.

In Judaism, women are not obligated to follow the positive time-bound mitzvot (commandments) such as praying at certain times during the day.  God specifically exempts them to allow them to be totally devoted to their family’s care.  For those women who are single or have kids that are grown, they have the privilege of taking that extra time to spend with God.  But for those of us whose time is not our own, remember this: God does not hold you to an impossible standard.   God desires time with you, but He makes no demands on when and how.  If you ask Him, He will show you ways that you may already be spending that precious time with Him.  Throw off the guilt and condemnation that crushes your spirit and be mindful of His still small voice throughout the day.  Listen for the melody of a praise song He brings to mind, or the words of scripture that He speaks to you as you drive in the car or do the dishes. Treasure all those moments that you talk to him throughout the day, for that is truly “pray(ing) without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:10) 

 

defining worship - motherhood

Hello everyone!

We have been so excited and busy with getting Day & Night Worship radio show going, that we have forgotten about our own little blog on here! So, I decided to start a little series about defining worship. It's easy to feel like being a "worshiper" is just singing and/or playing an instrument to the Lord. However, I think we all know it's much more than that. It's how we live our everyday lives. I have always known that in my head, but I'm starting to understand it deeper in my heart through becoming a mother.

 

We started this site long before I was pregnant and we were worship leaders even longer before that. I knew the Lord called me to be a worship leader when I was 15. It made me come alive and I felt whole when I did it. I took an unfortunate detour for a few years, but I came back around and haven't stopped since, thank God. When Toby and I got married, it was like both of our gifts took flight and just went even higher because of one another. There was a new unity and confidence and it was amazing. In addition to this budding ministry, I was in school finishing my degree in English (which I loved), working part time and co-leading worship and youth with my husband. It was a lot and at times too much, but my point is, I was perpetually busy!

When I got pregnant, I was still active: I finished school and then started substitute teaching and helping out at the book club that Toby cosponsors at the school he works at. Then, we had our little Yosi. What a sweet boy! He makes me immeasurably happy and I can't imagine not being the one to take care of him each day...and yet I also missed the way my life was before him. I missed staying up late watching movies (sans baby monitor) and sleeping in on weekends and just doing my own thing. 

What? You don't love being a stay at home mom???

Not all the time, no! I think if many stay at home parents are honest with themselves, there are times when you are like, "ok that was fun...I'll go back to work now!" For me, there were overwhelming moments of dissatisfaction for what I was doing and the feeling of a huge loss of self...like every talent and interest I had pre-baby would never come to pass. It sounds dramatic, but it was very real, and if we can't be real about life then what are we even doing? So yes, I was pretty depressed and wondering if i would have to wait a long time to find myself again. Simply put: I lost my mojo.

Thankfully, I have an amazingly supportive and loving husband who always tries to encourage me and let me have time to myself by going off to our local coffee shop for hours. It was much needed and I was so thankful, but it wasn't curing my ills. I was still down and still felt useless. I truly do know that being a parent is one of the greatest callings and responsibilities in the world, but I just couldn't see it at the moment. Even playing the piano was depressing because I couldn't lose myself in worship like I once did....because there was a baby that needed tending. 

Then, of course, God came in.

I was scheduled to do an interview with Bethany Rosenfeld who has 8 kiddos herself. I was super excited to hear about the goings-on in Israel and how they were doing as a family. I expected to hear all of that and was thrilled. What I didn't expect was to be completely uplifted and encouraged in my own calling. She talked about feeling the same shadow after becoming a mom for the first time and and she had to pray for God to change her heart. He did, and 7 more kids later, she is more active in ministry and her own calling than ever (you can read the fully post about her here.) I needed to hear that life not only continued as it was, but that it would blossom into MORE opportunity and more chances to use the gifts God has blessed me with. Life and life abundantly! It was the answer to the sad question I had been asking myself. One conversation, and God yanked me out of the pit I kept digging and placed me back on the road He has been leading me on. 

What I'm trying to say is, I realized that motherhood isn't the act of replacing my callings with another, it's adding to them. Yes, things get shifted around and put in different places so to speak, but anyone who has ever played Tetris knows that one shape creates a space for another. Motherhood is the new shape and it fits perfectly, the way it should. My son loves worship music (especially music in Hebrew). He giggles and wiggles when I sing or when music is on. Yes, he's 4 1/2 months old, but his little heart is already creating a space for worship...and praise God, I get to help facilitate that. Now, my calling is not only to lead worship and help people come into the atmosphere of praise, but it is to teach my son that as well. In every way! Guys, this parent thing isn't easy but it is GOOD and it is beautiful. Not every day is a win, but God is faithful and he renews all things. Being a mother is just one way that I am able to worship God. I strive to be the mother I am meant to be and pray that my example and nurturing is what will help my son become the man of God he is meant to be, and that, friends, is no bad thing.  

Love,

B

whosoever means whosoever

(Originally written April 6th, 2014)

Toby here.  I heard this recently and I can't remember where: "whosoever means whosoever...".  It may have been a song or a guy on the radio.  I'm just not sure.  Either way, it struck me as so powerful and a simple but big revelation of the heart of our Heavenly Father.  He doesn't play favorites.

We live in a day and age where everything is about being #1.  It's all about performing.  There's Most Valuable Players, there's All Star teams.  Those who don't measure up get cut from the team.  Even parents struggle with having favorite children.  As a new father, I pray that however many children God so graciously gives me, I'll be able to let each of them know that I don't have favorites, but that each one of them will have a piece of my heart.  We even see in Scripture parents that had favorites and the jealously it created.  Jacob had Joseph as his favorite, and while Joseph's brothers obviously had issues that culminated into selling Joseph into slavery, Jacob's exclusive doting on Joseph didn't help matters.

One of the things we as God's children struggle with, MYSELF INCLUDED, is boxing God and His great love up into a package that will fit into our small mortal minds.  We all want to be God's favorite, do we not?  I do!  So do you.  We all want to be God's favorite and some times I think that leads us into thinking that our walk, our ministry, our destiny, our children, our way of doing things, our family, our congregation, or what have you, is the apple of God's eye, and it may well be.  However, the truth is guys, God's eye is very big, and His heart is very big.  I'm not trying to be funny, but what I am saying on a more serious note is that God's love is very perfect.  We are all His favorite.  Hard to imagine right?  It's not very natural.  It's sounds more SUPERnatural.  Well isn't that God though?  

Just today I heard my son's heartbeat and my first thought was that I was just so proud of him, and all he was doing was laying there in his mother's womb.  One of the things that fatherhood, even in its earliest stages, has helped me do, is have peace in God's constant and incessant love and favor over me.  I want to serve God and do things in His Name because I love Him, but at the same time, while we are serving, we have to be able to rest in the completed work of Yeshua.  Our Father's love for me and for my son, for my wife, for YOU, for ALL HIS PEOPLE, is so great, so big, and so limitless, and has already been proven.  My love has limits, as does yours.  Most people on this earth, I don't know from a hole in the ground, but God's love has no boundaries, and it's found everywhere.

Whosoever means whosoever.  God wants the world (John 3:16).  He wants us all to put faith in His Son, be covered by His righteousness, and enter into His great family.  Think of a raging river.  It has no prejudice.  Whoever dives in, man or woman, adult or child, young or old, black or white, Jew or Non-Jew, is going to get soaking wet and get swept away.  God's love is the same.  Whosoever lets go, surrenders, and dives in, will get soaked with it and get swept away, NOT turned away.  SWEPT away.

Grace and shalom...

 

 

Yosef David Manolis

(Originally written March 6th, 2014)

Toby here.  Brooke has been doing the blog responsibilities thus far, so I thought I'd give her a little break and it's really neat because my first blog entry on our worship site is a special one.

It's a boy!  We're so thankful and happy to introduce our son, Yosef David Manolis, to you all!  Of course we would have been equally happy had it been a girl but the Father had definitely confirmed several times over that our baby was a boy so we were kind of expecting it.  Wow.  The more we find out about little Yosi, the more exciting and real it all becomes.  This little guy doesn't realize how much happiness and healing he has already brought us.  I can't wait to see him for the first time face to face.  It's just crazy to think about! 

Well that's all we got for now!  Thanks for stopping by and looking in on us.  We so hope that what we share with you about God's unending love and faithfulness to us blesses and confirms that very same unending love and faithfulness He has for you.

 

Grace and shalom,

Toby & Brooke

P. S. Here's a link to our baby website for Yosi!

http://brookeandtobybaby.ourbabychannel.com

adding a person...

(Originally written January 21st, 2014)

 

No, we didn't forget about this little blog here! So sorry for our absence. This is Brooke again, and I wanted to share some really exciting news with you all...

 

We're going to have a baby!

This picture is of my 12 week sonogram! We are absolutely over the moon excited about God blessing us with this new little life. We've both always dreamed of having kids, and now it's here! I am 17 weeks along now, so it won't be long until we find out whether it's a boy or a girl (cue happy dance). 

 

Just wanted to share our happy, happy news! Hope you all are doing wonderfully!

 

Many blessings,

Toby & Brooke

sukkot 2013

(Originally written September 28th, 2013)

Hello everyone, 

Brooke here! Just wanted to share some of our Sukkot experience with you guys! Every year the high holy days are just the most exciting times to us. We get all jittery and jumpy because...it's the highest times of holiness God gives us to celebrate! We get so excited because God Himself has extended ALL of His kids an invitation to join Him in these appointed times. All? ALL.

If you read Leviticus 23, the Lord says:
"Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD'S  appointed  times  which you shall proclaim as holy  convocations - My appointed  times are these...'"

The feasts are the Lord's. So, if you belong to God and have accepted the salvation of Yeshua, the feasts are yours! Jew and Gentile alike, we are equally invited and commanded to keep them (Numbers 15:16). So, it's not that we celebrate "Jewish" feasts, it's that we celebrate God's feasts! And He is in the business of uniting us...because there is so much power in that (Ephesians 4: 4-6). Isn't it fantastic that we have a God that wants us all to be in communion with Him? Hallelujah! 

At our congregation, we had a week long camping event at a place called Dames Ferry Park which was absolutely fabulous. We started doing it last year and now it's a tradition. It feels so much like how it might have been in the times of the BIble. For us, Sukkot is always a tad bittersweet because we can't really camp because we have work and then we come straight from there to the campgrounds to continuing ministering in worship. We love it to death, but it can be very exhausting. When God uses you to pour out on others, it's hard to receive that for yourself. However, at the same time, there isn't a sacrifice more worthy than to bring His people into worship. And after all, God says to bring a sacrifice before Him at Sukkot...and this is ours. He always pours out on us during this time and He did this year. I think it was the best Sukkot we've had yet. Despite feeling spread thin, God allowed us to experience His joy so powerfully. It was fantastic! We were sad to see Sukkot go! I hope you all had a blessed time during this season, too. Here are some snapshots of this year's festivities (click the picture to view more)!

Blessings to you all, 

Toby Brooke