Meaning Behind: Light of the World

Light of the World

Light: the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.

Picture yourself in a dark room. Everywhere you look, there is black. You don’t know what is around you. You can’t take a step without the fear of bumping into something. You are lost, feeling your way around blindly, desperately searching for some small ounce of light. How do you feel in that moment? What is going through your mind? Are you scared like I would be… uneasy and uncertain?

Light is very important. Light is needed if we are to see clearly. Light is the what points us to understanding and certainty. If you can see, you can act. If you can see, you know what to expect.

In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus is the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. He is the agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. And not just the ordinary things around us, but the supernatural and spiritual truths that are needed in our lives. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and we are to follow Him. It is promised in scripture that if we do that, we will never walk in darkness. We will never have to be afraid because He is shinning the light of life, and true salvation is found in Jesus.

Let us always pursue a life in the light of Jesus Christ. May we search out and find Him in the place where His glory dwells. I hope that this song encourages you to do just that.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done, I turn to face the rising sun
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
A brand new day, A bright new start, A second chance, A change of heart
To find You in the place Your glory dwells

Light of the world come down
Shine till the path is found
Light of the world come down, come down

I’ll run to You when you call me out, follow You through fear and doubt
To find You in the place Your glory dwells
I’ll trust in You when my faith is weak, die to self and humbly seek
To find You in the place Your glory dwells

Light of the world come down
Shine till the path is found
Light of the world come down, come down
Break through the dark of night
Heaven and earth collide
Light of the world come down, come down

You are the way the truth and the life
Shine on, Shine on

To purchase the song, CLICK HERE.

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Flying Through Open Air

When I was in Jr. High, my school had an amazing ropes course. It was really high in the air and was very challenging. Coming from a person who is terrified of heights, I was not too excited to do this in P.E. class. But unfortunately, I am also very competitive and love a good challenge so despite my fears, I did it anyways. I started with some of the easier things like the wall climb and the zip line. Check. But when I got to the harder ones, especially the trapeze jump, I second guessed my yearning to do it. 

In order to tackle the trapeze, you climb up a 40 foot wooden pole like a ladder, but instead of steps, you are placing your foot on small metal U’s coming out of the pole. Not the most stable of ladders. Of course you are strapped into a safety harness that will catch you if you fall, but you are not thinking about that as you get higher and higher… further and further away from the safety of the solid ground. The higher I climbed, the louder my breath became. The higher I climbed, the further I was from comfortable. But being in Jr. High where peer pressure is a part of every day life, I forced myself to take one more step… and one more step. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I reached the top. I was relieved until I realized that what I had to do next was even scarier than the climb. 

Trapeze

I had to pull myself up onto the top of the pole and balance without holding onto anything! What?! For someone who was deathly afraid of heights, this was the most frightening thing yet. So, very carefully and with all the confidence I could muster, I climbed up onto the top of the pole. 

I was frozen.

Ahead of me was an even more daunting task than before (I didn’t think that was possible after what I had just gone through). Ahead of me was a handle that I had to jump to… and remember this is 40 feet above the ground!! They wanted me to leap from a tiny pole to a handle. It looked so far away. 

Now what I want to talk about next is the jump. And not the grab of the handle (which I did successfully!), but the time in between the jump and the grab. The time where you are flying through space with nothing to hold onto. The time when you are virtually leaving one platform and looking towards the next. It is scary. It is uncomfortable. But it is necessary. In order to get to the next step, you must take the leap and endure the place of no foothold. 

rr_trapeze4

To be honest and transparent, my worship department is in such a place right now. My boss resigned and his last day was Christmas Eve. It was not a bad exit. God is calling him to other things and I wish him the very best! However, my department is in transition. We have taken the leap off of the log and are now flying through the air waiting to reach the handle. We don’t know what is next or what God has in store for our department. 

To be more transparent, I have faced several challenges during this transition time. My first challenge is trying not to look back to the platform I just jumped from. I am tempted to go back to the familiar, but God doesn’t want that for me. His plan is best and he knows the exact color and shape of the next handle. My prayer in this season has been to not only be content in the open air, but also to look forward to the handle. God knows the exact color and shape that we need in the next season… the color is going to be stunning and the shape is going to be exactly the shape needed to grab onto. 

My second challenge has been the temptation to freak out! When you are flying through the air of transition with nothing to hold onto, it is easy to get scared and uneasy. So my most recent prayer has been that of trust. Trusting in God despite the circumstances and surroundings. Trusting in God can be hard, but it is the best thing to do in a season of transition. I have found security in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” God knows the plans He has for me, and all I need to do is trust in his plans. No need to freak out! 🙂 

Prayers are appreciated while myself and my department fly through space, trusting in God and his plans for the next season of ministry. In the meantime, I enjoy the open air! It is a rather nice breeze. 

Breathe… Just Breathe

Last week, my husband and I took some time away on vacation. Thank God for vacations! I was in need of time away because my life lately has been a series of challenges, and I have been feeling worn out. I have since come back refreshed and renewed, and I also came back with a physical reminder of that refreshment. Let me explain…While we were doing a bit of shopping in the gas lamp district of San Diego, I came across a necklace that I have been wearing quite often ever since. This necklace was an old worn-out key strung on a gold chain. There were many different keys and words to choose from, but on this particular key had been stamped the word “BREATHE”. This necklace had a very special meaning. The company that makes them is called, The Giving Keys, and this is what is said on the card with the key:

The Giving KeyWhen you get this one of a kind key, you must give it away at some point to a person you feel needs the word on there… We employ those who are looking to transition out of homelessness, to get them off the streets and give them a chance at a better life. 

Such an awesome idea! Not only is this key necklace going to help people who are homeless, but it is also helping me for a period of time. And then I get to pass it on to someone who I think needs the same reminder as I do… BREATHE. It might be a while before I pay this key forward, but I can’t wait until I do. In the meantime, I am personally reminded to breathe in several different ways:

  1. BREATHE… IN LIFE: I am blessed to have a new breath to breathe every day, so I will thank God for the blessing of life.
  2. BREATHE… IN DEEP: I have been challenged to improve vocally, so I will focus on supporting my vocals through the breath in my lungs, breathing in deep and from my diaphragm.
  3. BREATHE… IN CONFIDENCE: I have been faced with the challenge to grow in my confidence (since I tend to be insecure most times). So every time I walk on the stage to lead worship, I will take a deep breath and do exactly what God has called me to do.
  4. BREATHE… IN PEACE: I have been faced with criticism and feedback more than ever lately and I am learning how to deal with the good and the bad, so I will breathe in peace of mind despite what comes my way.

I am excited to grow in these areas and be reminded everyday to breathe… just breathe. Refreshment for the soul in the form of a key!

-Ashley

Where’s The Uncomfortable?

Uncomfortable Cat

Last year was such an uncomfortable year for me. I traveled to Africa for 3 weeks, and I also made my first solo worship album. That is a lot of uncomfortable. So now what? I have been praying for God to provide my next uncomfortable moment. I know that probably sounds weird for some of you, but it’s true. I want to be stretched and taken beyond what I know I can do. Do you feel the same? Do you pray for uncomfortable moments?

  • We must CRAVE uncomfortable growth… 1 Peter 2:2-3 “You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”
  •  We must STEP OUT in faith… Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
  •  We must TRUST God, and not try to do it on our own… Proverbs 3:5-6 “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.”

If we do these 3 things, we will have FELLOWSHIP with God… 2 John 9 “If you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will not have fellowship with God. But if you continue in the teaching of Christ, you will have fellowship with both the Father and the Son.”

Take some time to Pray/Journal through these questions:

1. Do you crave growth in your life?
2. When was the last time you stepped out in faith and became uncomfortable for God? If you can’t remember the last time, ask God to reveal the next steps for you.
3. Are you trusting God in your situation, or are you trying to do it on your own?

Time For Silence

Noise

Life can be chaotic. Life can be noisy. But my question for you today is… are you making enough time for silence? I know for me, the answer is no. I feel so bombarded by life sometimes… husband… work… family… friends… parties… TV… radio… music… rehearsals… I could go on. I don’t even have kids yet, but I feel swamped.

This week has been a bit crazier than normal as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter services. Easter has been called the superbowl of church services, and it definitely feels like that. There is a lot of hype and excitement and prayer and planning going into this weekend. But with a Super Bowl comes much to do and prepare for. This “Holy Week”, as they call it, is starting to get bombarded with the tasks instead of the reflection. It is moving towards noisiness and not enough silence. So….

TIME FOR SILENCE.

T. S. Eliot wrote, “Where shall the world be found? Where will the word resound? Not here. There is not enough silence.” If the Word of God and the true story of Easter is going to resound in your heart this week, you are not going to find it in all the noise. So my encouragement for you (and me) is to be intentional with your time. During this Holy Week, find at least 5 minutes every day to spend in silence with the Lord. Let the silence speak to you and renew your soul.

I would say now is a good time to start… ready… go!

Mark Aragon- A Life Well Lived

Mark Aragon

About a week and a half ago, one of my fellow staff members and a very dear friend of mine, Mark Aragon, went to be with the Lord. My heart was so heavy when I got the news and still is today as I write this blog.

Mark was a sweet and funny guy. He watched me grow up since I was in Jr. High, and he used to make fun of me and comment on all of the crushes that I had. Our families have also known each other for a very long time and done ministry together throughout the years. Mark taught me how to run lyrics at our old church and he even allowed me to rehearse with the worship band when I completely sucked at playing guitar. More recently, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Mark at Christ’s Church of the Valley. He was the Technical Director, and so supported my efforts to lead worship every week. My favorite moments were when he would pray for our team in our in-ear monitors before we started every service. He knew just how to focus our hearts to Jesus. Every once in a while, he would even throw in one of his awesome puns, which would give me a huge smile on my face right before I welcomed people to CCV! His jokes and puns were never-ending, and you couldn’t help but leave with a smile on your face after talking to Mark.

Mark’s memorial service was this past Monday, and it was such a beautiful display of his life and the legacy that he left. The entire service was filled with God. And everything about Mark’s life pointed to God. Everyone who got up to share spoke of how his life exemplified that of a fully devoted follower of Christ. He loved Jesus with all of his heart, and did his best to point people to heaven. Furthermore, Mark was an amazing drummer and musician. So at his memorial service, there was not only one band… but TWO! I got the amazing honor to start off the service with a few worship songs, and his family and friends from APU led out on some very meaningful and heartfelt specials. It was a wonderful celebration of his life. But gosh, what a hard day and a hard week. I have been SO challenged by Mark’s life and the legacy that he has left behind. I hope that I can honor his legacy by creating a similar legacy of my own. Well done good and faithful servent.

I have also been challenged and encouraged by Mark’s beautiful wife Ann. She is one of the strongest people I know, yet now a young widow. And the picture that I can’t get out of my head is the moment when she learned about Mark’s death… she threw her hands up in the air and said, “Lord you give and take away, but blessed be your name.” Can you imagine that moment, and the deep sorrow that she must have felt… but she decided to BLESS the name of the Lord through her overwhelming circumstance. I know for me, I have been forced to ask the question… is that what I would have done if I was in the same situation? I really don’t know. But what I do know is that I can choose to bless the Lord today in whatever circumstance I am facing. And I challenge you to do the same. May we bless the name of the Lord and worship him through whatever we may be facing.

May the beautiful life of Mark Aragon inspire you to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and point people to heaven. And may the strong example of his wife, Ann, encourage you to bless the name of the Lord through your circumstances. 

-Ashley

Love Week

LoveLOVE fills the air this week. It’s Valentine’s week… a time to share your heart with the ones you love. It could be romantic… it could be brotherly or sisterly… it could even be with your pet. Love is everywhere.

I am grateful because I have many people around me who love me and I love them. My husband is such a blessing from God. He is kind, humble, hilarious, and my best friend. My family is so supportive in everything I do. My dog greets me with so much love when I come home, and cuddles with me on the couch. My church family gives me strength when I need it and points me in the right direction always. I could go on. I am so blessed and feel so LOVED on this Valentine’s week.

But more than the love of my husband, family, friends, and dog… I am so blessed to serve a God who loves me despite all of my failures and downfalls. He loves me so much that He sent his only son to die on the cross for my sins. That was the greatest display of LOVE in all of history. And I am so blessed to serve a God who accepts and forgives and loves unconditionally.

Happy LOVE week everyone. May love fill your minds and your hearts, as we reflect on the love of others and the immense love of our God.

-Ashley

 

Why Worry?

Why Worry?

Worry. I do that a lot.

I have my new worship album coming out in 8 days… yes 8 days. It was a year process, and it is coming out in 8 days! (Did I say that already?) I can’t believe it. But unfortunately, in the last few days, I have found myself in a constant state of worry. There is a lot to finish up before the album release… worry. And I just found out that my album is not going to be done until the morning of the event… more worry. I have to prepare for my rehearsal with my band still… worry. The final videos and technical strategies need to be finalized… more worry. I don’t know how many people are even going to come to the album release… worry. And worst of all: what if they don’t even like the songs… WORRY! The more I think about it, the more I worry… and then God slaps me in the face.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 

28 And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6)

When God called me to do this album project at the end of 2011, I was worried. But looking back at the year process, God has taken care of me this entire time and used these songs and this project for His glory. I am praying that I will have faith in God this week. And trust that he will complete the work that he has started in me and through this project. To God be the glory. 

I release my worry to Him, and I pray that today, you can do the same. 🙂

-Ashley

Give Me Faith

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Why is it so hard to have faith during the difficult times? Every time persecution or brokenness comes, immediately we say… Why God? Why is this happening to me? We are introducing a new song by Elevation Worship this weekend that has been challenging me in my trust and faith in God, especially during the difficult times. The lyrics read…

CHORUS
“Give me faith to trust what you say
That your good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life”

BRIDGE
“I may be weak, but your spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail, but my God you never will”

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 it reads, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When we are weak, God’s spirit is strong in us. When we face persecution or difficulties or brokenness, the power of Christ is dwelling in us because he increases when we decrease. We are going to fail because we are not perfect people, but God is our constant perfection. He is our constant strength. He is the one we need to put our faith and trust in… in every circumstance life throws at us.

Atmosphere – What’s The Big Deal?

Christmas at my house

Christmas at my house

Atmosphere. I am big on atmosphere, especially when working. I cannot work effectively until my house or office is clean. I work even better when I have a candle on or some light instrumental music playing in the background. In this particular season of Christmas, I work EVEN BETTER when my Christmas tree is lit and my fireplace is providing a slight crackling noise in the background. In fact, that is what I am hearing as I write this post.

So why is it that atmosphere has such an impact on our hearts and souls? Why do we feel a sense of calm when our house has just been cleaned? Why do we instantly become happy at the smell of cookies in the oven or the sound of a fireplace crackling? Why do we feel suddenly comfortable when our toes hit the carpet in our family rooms? ATMOSPHERE. The definition of “atmosphere” (in the way that I am using the word) is: a special mood or character associated with a place.

So how does atmosphere relate to corporate worship? Well, I believe that just as atmosphere effects our moods at home and work, the atmosphere in which we worship together at our church can either draw us closer or further away from encountering God. For example, when it is cold in the worship center, all I can think about is wanting a jacket. When there is a crying baby next to me, all I can think about is how much I want to tell the dad to take his little girl out of the room. Alternatively, when the lighting is dim, it creates a mood of reverence. And when the room is full of singing voices, there is a sense of awe from the people worshipping with all they have.

Christmas at CCV

Christmas at CCV

Our church in particular always decorates the campus for Christmas. I love this about our church because it always feels so festive! This year, we have large paintings up on the wall that were created to show different ministries that are happening at the church, like Celebrate Recovery and our local outreaches. We also have testimonies and stories from real people in our church posted up on the walls. This last week, people were drawn to God because of authenticity and transparency within the vibe of the room. The pictures and stories created a mood that reminded everyone of the real meaning of Christmas. Amazing! I believe that no matter what season it may be, the atmospheres in our churches should always point to God and God alone. So that when we come together to worship, we are immediately aware of His presence.

May you be inspired this Christmas season to create an atmosphere full of love and peace and joy within your homes, workplaces, and places of worship… because ATMOSPHERE matters! Merry Christmas!