As a leader at the International House of Prayer, Misty Edwards is charged with staffing and encouraging those involved with the 24-7 prayer room. “Keeping it going ... is a lot of work,” she says. “It’s the primary place I pour out my energy.”
But despite the demands, Edwards is able to write songs and lead worship because of the Holy Spirit, whom she calls “my closest friend.”
“Worship-leading and songwriting with Him is exhilarating,” she says. “When we pray and sing the Scripture, He actually teaches us—often through our own lips.”
Moment you knew you were called to be a worship leader:I was a teenager and my dad took a group of us to a Petra concert. Toward the end of their set, they did some songs that were ... more about drawing us into the presence of God. I was touched by God and wanted more!
Hardest thing about music ministry:Doing your best in a way that’s deep, transparent and vulnerable—and it being dismissed.
Best part about your life:Getting a hug from my 11-year-old son, Isaiah [who has Fragile X Syndrome and doesn’t speak]. He knows life is about giving and receiving love!
Why it’s better to live in Canada:Our politics are more peaceful, and we are a bridge culture between Europe and the U.S., so we get the best of both!
Worship is ... Surrender. Sometimes we forget that’s what the word means ... and don’t realize the most profound expression of worship may be the times when we are willing not to play or sing.
Leeland Mooring, frontman for the band Leeland, is only 22, but he’s already preparing for the day when he no longer performs before big crowds and receives the attention that follows. Maybe that’s because his second home was once his family’s Lincoln Town Car. His parents had a band, Majestic Praise, and traveled with two evangelists, conducting revivals around the country.
“We did that for 2-1/2 years. I was 11, my brother was 13, and my sister was 9,” Mooring says. “We weren’t sure whether we’d be able to pay the bills, and it was then as kids that we began to see the sufficiency of God, the power of God.”
Mooring’s parents eventually started a church in Baytown, Texas, with Leeland as the unofficial youth-group worship leader. These days his band has the ability to make a leap into mainstream pop music, but Mooring says of the group: “Ultimately (praise and worship) is what comes out of us.” And as for all the attention? He could live without it. “If all this was taken away, I could go back to Baytown and continue to pursue God’s purpose in my life.”
As a teenager, Chris Quilala asked God for one thing while attending church camp: freedom in worship. “That night, during the worship service, I lifted my hands for the first time. At that moment I felt His presence so strong,” Quilala says. “It was such an intense experience in which I felt the love, peace and fear of God all at the same time. From that moment on I knew that God was such a huge, loving and real God.”
Today, as a worship leader with Jesus Culture, Quilala helps people experience the same freedom. “My prayer over the past few years had simply been, ‘God, more than anything, I just want to know You.’ For me, worship is [an] intimate opportunity to express the love and burning passion that’s in my heart.”
Never the churchgoing type, Lincoln Brewster grew up in Alaska and California surrounded by domestic violence and drug abuse. His stepfather was a gruff fisherman now known to millions as a boat captain on the reality TV series, Deadliest Catch.
“The fact that I’m married with kids and a worship leader at a church? That’s the miracle story,” says Brewster, 39. Even more unbelievable for Brewster—who, at 19, was former Journey frontman Steve Perry’s lead guitarist and had a mainstream record contract—is that one of his songs was recently published in a Baptist hymnal. “If you had my background, you would’ve been voted least likely to be a worship leader. So to have a song in a Baptist hymnal? It’s God having a sense of humor.”
“Leading worship is not what I thought I’d be doing, and it’s not what I wanted to do,” says Brewster, a staple on Christian radio and a worship pastor at a church near Sacramento, Calif. “But when God got a hold of my heart, I realized that this is what I was born to do.”
Kari Jobe doesn’t just have a soft speaking voice and gentle demeanor. The 29-year-old worship leader is also blessed with the singing voice of an angel. And it’s the combination of these qualities that often allows her to help people lower their guard, release their burdens and truly worship God.
“When David played before Saul it caused the tormenting spirits to leave. I’ve always loved that,” Jobe says. “When you ask the Lord to come, He does come and it changes the atmosphere. That’s how it was for me. That’s what worship is for me.”
Not that Jobe is any different from the rest of us. She finds it difficult at times to fully lay down her burdens before the Lord, and sometimes those experiences become songs—as in the case of “You Are For Me,” which she wrote while in an anxious “season of waiting.”
“I felt like I could see some things that God had promised through a chain-link fence, but I couldn’t get to them yet. God was teaching me that His timing is perfect,” Jobe recalls before quoting Psalm 27:14: “‘Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.’”
Imagine a 19-year-old college student looking out the window while driving through Asheville, N.C. She goes home and writes a song about how she felt. Years later the song is on the radio, sung at her college and heard around the world.
If that sounds odd, imagine how Laura Story felt. She wrote “Indescribable” and was more surprised than anyone that the demo she sent to Nashville, Tenn., ended up in the hands of Chris Tomlin, who eventually recorded it. “All of a sudden we started hearing the song everywhere,” says Story, 33. “It wasn’t anything I was looking for ... that’s the story of my life.”
Story lacked so much confidence in her musical ability—namely, her singing—that she’s still surprised to be leading worship at her Atlanta church and at events around the country: “I grew up listening to people who could do all these vocal acrobatics and I knew I couldn’t do that. I have a decent voice, and I sing in tune most of the time. But when I realized this was something maybe God wanted me to do, I wasn’t going to shy away from it.”
Church-planting pioneer Billy Hornsby, who worked for more than 30 years with church leaders nationally and internationally, passed away on March 23 after a battle with cancer.
"On March 23, 2011 at 9:44 p.m., our father and friend Billy Hornsby went to be with the Lord. Billy's passion for God, family, life and leaders around the world will be long remembered," announced Chris Hodges, founding and senior pastor of Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala. Hodges is also Hornsby's son-in-law.
Married for more than 40 years to his wife, Charlene, Hornsby was a published author who directed a nationwide church planting organization, the Association of Related Churches (ARC)—one of the most successful church-planting organizations in the world—and served as the senior European consultant for EQUIP, John Maxwell's global leadership training organization. Since Hornsby formed ARC in 2000 with a handful of pastors, the network's congregations have often been recognized among the fastest growing churches in the nation.
Just weeks before passing away, Billy Hornsby sat down with Charisma Publisher Steve Strang to talk about coping with the process of dying.
Watch Billy Hornsby deliver an inspirational message at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., only months before he went home to be with the Lord.
Honoring a General
Prior to Billy Hornsby's death, friends and leaders from across the nation paid tribute to ARC's inspirational co-founder, president and spiritual father. We've gathered some of those tributes here to honor Billy and give you a sense of what a true spiritual general he was.
What does David Green have in common with Warren Buffet, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg? First, they are all billionaires. Second, they are all giving away half their wealth to charity.
The CEO of Hobby Lobby, Green, a devout Christian, is among a growing list of billionaires who have pledged to give away most of their money. Green and his wife, Barbara, are officially part of The Giving Pledge, an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.
“Coming from a family of preachers, the idea of giving back has been part of my life as long as I can remember,” Green wrote in his pledge letter. “My parents and their parents before them were what some would consider poor, but they gave back whenever they could whether through small contributions of money, or through acts of kindness,” God has blessed me with a wonderful family, a successful business and outstanding employees. I do not take these blessings lightly.”
When Hobby Lobby was created in the early 1970s, Green says he was committed to use his profits to help ministry work. He says knew from an early age that ministry work, at least in the sense of preaching from a pulpit, was not his calling. But, he adds, he also knew that God gifted him with a mind for understanding business, and that gift would allow him to carry out God’s work through contributions to great missions throughout the world.
“We honor the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. From helping orphanages in faraway lands to helping ministries in America, Hobby Lobby has always been a tool for the Lord’s work,” Green wrote, pointing to a verse in 2 Corinthians that says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
What's your take on wealth? Did Green make the right move?
A gospel song is dominating the playlists in nightclubs and bars in east and central Africa.·
MTV Africa host Emukule Ekirapa, also known as VJ Kule, reports that the song “Tobina,” which means “to dance” has been a smash hit in clubs, bars and churches in East and Central Africa. The upbeat praise song by Congo gospel artist Daddy Owen has secular and Christian listeners swaying to its worshipful lyrics. Whether the listener is in church or a club, VJ Kule says the song’s message is clear: “Thank God for the beautiful life that you are living. Thank God for your health. Thank God for your family. Once God has sorted all of that, the only thing left to do is dance and praise Him.”
During much of our life we measure time by its duration: how many years have passed, how many remain before us. We rush through one task in order to hasten on to the next. We use up time, often squandering it like wealthy millionaires.
But as we reach late life, this preoccupation with quantity gives place to an appreciation of quality. The slowing of our lives allows us to meet each person and situation with greater attentiveness. Each moment, each day becomes more precious.
We are finally able to sink into the present moment. In Number Our Days, Barbara Myerhoff describes this capacity to live life fully as one of the secrets of aging well.
She quotes a Jewish friend: "I think this paying such attention to life is what we mean by 'a heart of wisdom'...In the psalm it says, 'So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom."
Learning how to number our days means cultivating a capacity for wonder, for solitude and for prayer. Deepening our understanding of these dimensions of the spiritual life can enrich our aging immeasurably.
Adapted from Winter Grace by Kathleen Fischer, copyright 1998. Published by Upper Room Books, www.upperroom.org/bookstore/. Used by permission.
In the early days of my ministry, 50 years ago, I would go to a place to run meetings and stay for perhaps a week. The people would come, and I would preach, and it was wonderful.
Then I pastored for 20 years in a church south of London. I was so fulfilled in that church. I loved it. This, too, was wonderful.
Then all of a sudden, God said to me, "Go." I said, "No." A second time God said, "Go." But again I said, "No." After my second refusal, God began to deal with me. When He did, I learned something: The God of Jonah still lives!
I realized that, in the whale's belly, Jonah was brought to a place where he would either declare, "Salvation is of the Lord," or bewail, "Salvation is of the Lord," one or the other. And in that place God began to deal with him.
As a result of the Lord's "dealings," I was a dying man at age 51. I persisted in my disobedience for a time, but finally at 2 a.m. one morning, I surrendered to God.
I said, "Lord, I'm going." He said, "Yes, you're going." I said, "But I had decided to stay!" God replied, "No, you're going. You'll either go and do what I've purposed you should do, or you're going home
So I moved out--but not because I wanted to. God has a way of making us give in. How much easier if we just cooperate with Him in the first place!
Times of crisis don't usually evoke cherished memories. However, it is just such a time in my life that calls up my fondest memory.
While I was growing up, my family went to church sporadically and believed in God. I believed that He existed, but other than that I never thought very much about Him.
Then in my late 20s a series of events drove me to a crisis point. My mom died suddenly, and 14 months later, I married and began a new life 900 miles away from family, friends and everything familiar to me.
When I became pregnant with my first child, the thrill was tempered with fear. Problems with the pregnancy confined me to bed for several weeks. As I prayed for the safety of my child, I found myself deeply desiring to know this God to whom I was praying.
Until then, I had avoided reading the Bible because I'd been deceived into believing I could never understand it. A precious Christian friend encouraged me to buy an easy-to-understand translation and dig in.
I devoured the Psalms as ravenously as a starving person would a sumptuous meal. A picture of God began to emerge from them that was very different from the one I'd created myself, and oh, so much better!
When I read through the New Testament, I began to understand my desperate need for Jesus. Right there in my bed, I asked Him to come in and take over my life.
Later I realized that the crisis in my pregnancy was a gift in disguise. Not only was I blessed with a perfect baby boy, but also I was born again to eternal life.
A few years ago a British couple, Sandy and Bernice, accepted a call from their denomination to be missionaries in Israel. A house was provided for them near Jerusalem.
After they moved in, they noticed that a dove had come to live in the eaves of the house. They considered this to be a confirmation that they were in the right place.
However, Sandy noticed that every time they raised their voices, the dove would flutter off, sometimes not returning for some time. "Have you noticed that every time there is a lot of noise, the dove flies away?" he asked.
"Yes, and it makes me feel sad. I am afraid the dove will fly away and never come back," Bernice replied.
"Well," Sandy said, "Either the dove will adjust his behavior to us, or if we really want to make sure we never lose him, we will have to adjust our behavior to the dove."
Likewise, our heavenly Dove, the Holy Spirit has feelings, and we can hurt His feelings when we grieve Him by the things we do (see Eph. 4:30). I have learned that the Dove will not adjust to me; I must adjust to Him.
What is needed is a sensitivity to the Spirit's ways and an immediate awareness of His absence should He withdraw. In fact, how quickly we recognize His absence is a good test as to how well acquainted we are with Him.
One weekend near the end of 1999 I set aside time to be in the presence of the Lord and pray. On Saturday morning I sat up in bed and began to wait on Him.
Suddenly I heard footsteps walking across the kitchen and coming toward the bedroom door. I knew there was no one else in the house. But the next moment, an angel was sitting on the side of my bed.
He had in his hand a teaspoonful of honey. At first I could only smell it, but then my mouth was filled with the flavor of honey.
I looked up a few Scriptures about honey to try to understand the meaning of this visitation, but nothing clicked. So I asked the angel, who was still in the room but no longer visible, "What is this with the honey?"
He replied, "Have you never read about Jonathan? When he ate the honey, his eyes were enlightened."
I found the passage the angel referred to in 1 Samuel 14. Saul had forbidden the people to eat, but Jonathan had not heard his command (see vv. 24,27). So when they came through the wood, Jonathan dipped his rod in a honeycomb and ate some honey (see vv. 26-27). When one of the people rebuked him (see v. 28), he said, "See, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey" (v. 29, KJV).
After I read the passage, the presence of the Lord grew stronger and stronger, and for 2-1/2 hours I saw open visions.
Since I had this experience, I have smelled honey many times when I have been praying for people. The honey represents the enlightenment of the eyes--the revelation of the Spirit.
I share this experience to encourage you to press in for similar revelation. God never does something for one person only; He pours out His Spirit and anointing over the whole body of Christ--to those who will receive. He wants all of us to be able to look into the Spirit realm so that we may see what He sees, including angels.
In October 1995, I was 34 years old and on my third marriage. While I was recovering from a major operation, my husband viciously attacked me. After choking and hitting me, he pushed me into the walls and threw me across the room.
Although I did not want another failed relationship, I was concerned for my son, who was 16, and my 11-year-old daughter. I kept wondering, What am I doing wrong?
We had dated for five years, but we separated after four months of marriage. I decided I couldn't take the arguing, his adulterous relationships and now the physical abuse.
When I was 4 years old, my mother was stricken with meningitis. I can recall the night an ambulance careened around the corner and took her away to a hospital.
My father returned in the morning, looking extremely weary. I heard him on the phone telling someone that her fever was 107, and I wondered what that meant. Fear seemed to have wrapped around him as though it were choking him.
I expected everything to return to the way things were before her illness, but when Mom arrived home from the hospital, things were not the same. Meningitis had left her suffering with terrible migraine headaches, seizures and memory loss.
Ever since I can remember, life has been a struggle for me. Everything in my life was negative, including the image I had of God.
I didn't understand why I felt so unloved and unworthy to be loved. I had received Christ as my Savior when I was 14, but no matter how hard I tried, all my efforts were met with condemnation and ridicule.
It wasn't until I was 28 years old and struggling to find the courage to leave an abusive husband that I stepped into a counselor's office and began my journey into freedom. The memories flooded my mind, and I wept bitterly as I told the counselor of my abusive marriage and the rape and molestation I had endured as a child.
My mother and I had some pretty rough times while I was growing up. Looking just like her didn't help. Everyone constantly compared us, from our clothing to the way we carried ourselves to our personalities. No wonder we clashed so much.
Years later, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. I prayed and prayed during the weeks leading up to the ultrasound that I would have a boy. My husband wanted a girl because, as he put it, there was "way too much testosterone in his family."
My desire for a boy was deeply rooted in pain and anguish. We wagered with each other up to the day of the ultrasound.