Team Night – #TMNGHT – Hillsong NJ

Hey guys,

Sorry for the wait. I’ve been sick and I’ve been preparing to share a message with my home church Hillsong NYC tonight. There were some last minute changes and I believe I will be sharing this message next week or TBD, but I figured, why not give you the spoiler and share my sermon notes in case you are interested!

Hope it blesses you to think about leadership in your own home church and daily lives.

Much love,

Jess from Jesscbnyc

TMNGHT – Message 8.13.15

Story: I actually was sold on going to Hillsong based on Team Night. On 7/11/2013 I went to my first mid-week event by myself. I specifically remember Ashley Jones telling us in one of her points that night from panel that there was room for all of us here. Not just at church but in a creative capacity. That was something that resonated with me. I spent my entire life in church and it can be hard as a young person attending a church with either no one your age, or attending a church with lots of young people but finding out there isn’t room for you. The words we speak at team nights are important and the words that we speak and the culture that we foster in church are also important. Church is for an hour on a Sunday, what we do mid-week or as leaders or simply members of this church can either be life giving, or reserved only for our team or social group. I have a heart for this house and in the moments I have with you guys I want to share my thoughts about what we should be striving for as creative leaders.


Opening prayer. (Thank God for the opportunity to speak at team night which was something I had a vision for early on in the church. God is faithful.)

Leaders should be:

  1. The dictionary says authentic means. “of undisputed origin”. We are made in the image of God himself. Our leadership and value is from him. We have our own stories and our own giftings.

Galatians 5 (MSG)

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

It’s easy to get lost in creative. Even to this day you can be inspired by what everyone is doing and everyone’s talents. I don’t want anyone feeling that their giftings are not valueable. Not everyone needs to take beautiful photos, or learn an instrument to be creative. We are all parts of one body—of Christ and a body has many moving parts.


  1. In being Authentic we should be open and honestly ourselves

In being a part of Team Night every Thursday for years you meet a lot of people who are coming into the night with their problems and their victories. It’s important as a leader to meet people where they are at and be open and honest with our lives.

John 4:23-24 (MSG)

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Leaders should be:

  1. Undaunted: Joyfully expectant, not discouraged by difficulty, picking out the outsiders, ready to rain on the people of our church.


2 Corinthians 1:24 (MSG)

24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.

As leaders we are encouraging people on our team and outside of our team to be partners. We’re not looking over each other’s shoulders we are joyfully expectant of the fruits of our labor and everyone else’s labor. We are not leaders for the sake of getting followers but for the sake of being partners.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (MSG)

26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

In short, we are not tooting our own horns. We need to be grabbing people that feel like nobodies and assuring them that none of us are somebodies. We need to awaken all parts of the body.

Ephesians 4:7-13 MSG

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

We should be in sync with each other, have a rhythm, be efficient, and full of grace. In tune with our groups and our church.

Isaiah 55:8-11 (MSG)

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

My paraphrase: “Until it is done being dry until what needs to grow has grown “ – 5.9.15

We are all in somewhat of a dry spell. I know a lot of teams feel like they don’t have enough volunteers, people can be feeling burned out, etc. But we need to remember that we need to pour out until what’s currently dry has been watered doing our work of making things grow and blossom. And in a lot of ways that’s watering our creative culture, looking for new growth, remembering why we are doing this in the first place. Not getting discouraged.

Recap: 1st point is Authentic, 2nd point is…Undaunted.


Leaders should be:

  1. Generous: We do not claim ownership of our possessions, we are Ruth minded, and we are gap fillers

Acts 4:32-35 (MSG)

32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.




Then you have the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi is burned out. She has lost everything. This is a dark season for her. Orpah leaves and Ruth stays even while the situation is difficult and she could be comfortable and go home. This is what I love about Ruth. First, she recognized the true needs of Naomi, and then she acted on it – even when it was hard and very inconvenient.


Story: I remember when I first started volunteering nearly 4 years ago, one of the most impressive parts of our church was that if one team was done setting up or breaking down, everyone made a point to check on other teams to see if they could lend a hand. This is something I think we need to remember. You might be called to be on one team, but as a collective body we should be sensitive to other parts of the body to make sure that we’re all in sync.

2 Corinthians 1 (MSG)

The Rescue

3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

Story: I found in uncanny that during one season where I was very lonely and defeated in my job, I had a GPS for people going through the same thing. This is why it’s important to be authentic in your journey and what you are going through so you can be open to other people, and undaunted to pursue them. Instead of assuming someone doesn’t want to talk to you or thinking everyone looks like they are doing well, give them the benefit of the doubt and be transparent. Another point from a TMNGHT was that when I had a hard season, there were moments where I didn’t have the heart or the energy to raise my hands. And I remember Chris Davenport praying for us collectively as a group and saying that all of us in the room are raising our hands even if you don’t have the energy to or the faith to. This is something powerful and I never want to forget that this is where our hearts should be as leaders.


Closing:  Recap of three points: Leaders should be Authentic, Undaunted, Generous

Excerpt from Heaven is in this House . Written by Bobbie Houston

“Imagine a place so irresistible that people can’t wait to get there. Imagine a place so functional that no one ever wants to leave. Imagine a place where the atmosphere causes humanity to flourish. Imagine a place designed for no other reason than to connect you with a world beyond your wildest dreams. Such a place exists and has existed within the heart of God since before all time. It’s the church.”

I want this to be a manifesto as we close out this year. Something we strive for as a group. I want us to be leaders in this church who treat people better than they are treated at home and in the world. Sometimes we take for granted how powerful “welcome home” is. For me, church is more a home than the actual home I come from. And I think a lot of people feel that way. They don’t have a tight knit family or they are mistreated at home or in the world. And we have the opportunity to see the potential in people and be home to people. You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to see in others. At the end of the day we need to show love.

1 John 4:19-21  (MSG)

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

Closing Prayer.


Found in the shadow | United in the light

“We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”


Someone shared this video on Facebook today and it blew me away. Two women, each with a skill, each with a weakness, working together to finish a product. I was already captured by the video and then out of nowhere, this beautiful quote: “We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”.

I’m in awe.

For me this feels like the Christian journey, my Christian journey, and yours. Sometimes you find yourself in shadows. You find out who you are in the darkness. You find out who Christ is in the darkness. You can identify others who are lost in the darkness. And it is God’s hope that we as His people are united in the light, and that us personally one-on-one God are united with Him in the light.

I’m writing to you as I normally would. No preparation, just inspired in the moment, no drafts, no edits, no filters. I want to write a tangent now, just to see what God might want to reveal to me and you. Free form. So here it goes:

God you are good. You are faithful. There are times where we become lost in our own darkness or there are times where the darkness around us becomes too heavy. We become deceived in the darkness because we forget that we have access to your light. You are the light of the world and you have illuminated us all with your Holy Spirit. God I am grateful that you found me in the shadow. We have found each other in the shadow. I am covered in the shadow of your wings. I need never fear the darkness or the shadow because you are always with me. You never leave me or forsake me. You are my God. Though there are seasons where we fall victim to the darkness help us to remember that we have been united in the light of your love and grace. One day when we come into glory with the Father you will banish darkness. Jesus endured the pain of the Father turning His face away. Jesus became covered by the darkness so that darkness would never be known to us. You gave us Your light. We are united with the Father because of Jesus who found us in the shadow so that forever we will be united in the light.  


Innerancy vs Infallibility

Hey guys,
Last week I started my first night class through my church, Hillsong NYC: “Theology: Faith Foundations”. I’m pretty excited to learn more about the Bible, my faith, and basically how to be a better more well-informed Christian. After we were done with our class we were given some homework. The assignment was to define the terms Innerancy and Infallibility and decide which one we agree with. I thought I would challenge you guys to look these terms up too, and see what you think. I’m going to share my thoughts on the assignment below:
The word inerrant means to be incapable of being wrong and the word infallible takes the same idea a step further to me by adding a relationship aspect to it. By using synonyms to define it like trustworthy, accurate, etc. it seems to me that infallible is much more relational than the cut and dry right/wrong of inerrancy. In a lot of ways they seem like two sides of of the same coin. 
I believe the Bible is infallible meaning it is trustworthy. It runs the scope of many different well-respected authors and the accounts of historical events and miracles are similar. It’s not like the Bible argues and conflicts with itself and authors had vastly different accounts of how an event happened. I am comfortable with the relationship of a person to their Bible because it is still speaking to us and teaching us through the Holy Spirit. We aren’t solely relying on our own knowledge or view of what we are reading, we have help from God himself and in that sense it is trustworthy. We aren’t relying on what people said years ago to teach us but we are allowing the Helper/the Holy Spirit to minister to us and reveal knowledge to us through the Bible. I think it is possible that there could be errors in details like, perhaps, geography, but these are not crucial facts to the Christ’s teachings. I recall hearing years ago in Church that there is primary and secondary doctrine. I think this is somewhat the same thing. Meaning, there are things that are fundamental to Christ in the Bible i.e. virgin birth, salvation through Christ alone, the Trinity, Christ’s death and resurrection, etc. These things are incapable of being wrong because it would rip apart our whole belief system if any of these things aren’t true. And then there are other things like what version of the Bible you read or if you believe in being dunked in Baptism or sprinkled. 
The Bible even says in Matt 23 that there is a sort of distinction between matters in levels of importance:
“23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
I still find the comparison a little confusing but based on the definition alone I think I lean more towards infallibility. 

In response to “This Is How We Date Now”

Photo credit:

I read this article this morning and it blew me away. The subject matter for one and the beautiful writing for another. It really articulated to me how I feel about dating today. Even more so Christian dating. Perhaps the biggest takeaways were the following:

  1. “We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless.”
  2. “We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved.”
  3. Say we find that person we love who loves us. Commitment. Intimacy. “I love you.” We do it. We find it. Then, quickly, we live it for others. We tell people we’re in a relationship on Facebook. We throw our pictures up on Instagram. We become a “we.” We make it seem shiny and perfect because what we choose to share is the highlight reel. We don’t share the 3am fights, the reddened eyes, the tear-stained bedsheets. We don’t write status updates about how their love for us shines a light on where we don’t love ourselves. We don’t tweet 140 characters of sadness when we’re having the kinds of conversations that can make or break the future of our love. This is not what we share. Shiny picture. Happy couple. Love is perfect.
  4. Never before have we had such an incredible cornucopia of markers for what it looks like to live the Best Life Possible.

Wow. Just wow to all of this. So true. So well written. Right?

I find romance in the Christian sphere..somewhat lacking. Okay–REALLY lacking. No one is dating. No one is talking about dating. No one is being clear if they are interested in each other. If people are dating no one calls it dating. If people are on a date no one gives more than a side hug. Now don’t get me wrong here I think there’s a time to be self-controlled but I also think people are watering down relationships. I think you can have boundaries like I’m not willing to be alone with my date, I’m not willing to have sex with my date, etc but that doesn’t mean you can’t be deliberate with your date. Call me crazy but if my future husband is supposed to be the leader but a man cannot take the initiative to ask me out for coffee or to explicitly tell me he is interested in me–I feel like that man is not only not for me–but perhaps not ready to date, period. This goes for ladies too. We’re supposed to guard our hearts, not have them available for take-out.

My next take-away is that in my own personal experience people are unwilling to make a move with a man or woman they are interested in dating because they are sure there is someone better that they could miss out on. I think that’s one of the saddest things to acknowledge. I know plenty of women who feel this way. It’s a valid concern when you are in a church and a lot of young people are already married. The dating pool is smaller and most single women end up liking the same single guys and vice versa. So within that pool people get picky. It’s like “Okay there are 5 single men that I find attractive who I know like me as well but I can afford to choose who has the best job” or for a man “Okay there are three single woman who like me and I find them all interesting, but I saw so-and-so’s new girlfriend who just started coming to church and she’s a model so I’m not going to settle for just what I see now.” Ouch. Granted that might not be the case, but I do think there are so many choices now that people are not making a decision. What’s wrong with taking out that woman that you already have a connection with? After a few dates you might know one of two things: wow I don’t care who else is out there I like her even more or something’s missing, we have some core value differences and I don’t want this to go any further. It’s like going to a restaurant and liking everything on the menu and refusing to order. Ultimately you don’t know if what you order is going to be any good but you are willing to try.

Just speaking personally..I’m willing to try. In church I’ve been willing to try and either the men you are interested in never make a move or make their intentions known, or a guy makes his intentions known and you just want to be friends and then you wonder if this makes all of the single guys scared to try again. I can vouch for myself…I am asking to be loved. I want to be dating. I want to find out if there is anything there with any of the guys over the course of my life in church that I’ve been intrigued by and wanted to know better. I’m sure there are guys who might have felt the same way about me, or felt that way about another woman but never did anything. I think it’s time to stop looking at all the potential choices and just make ONE CHOICE. And go from there. It becomes very indecisive and no one ends up getting anywhere or learning anything.

I also think it’s crucial to discuss social media. Nothing is sacred anymore. You get into a relationship and it’s Facebook official. You have to validate how good your relationship is going by posting occasional updates via selfie on Instagram. If you’re happy great, but I think there’s a fine line between this is your life and it’s private for you and this is your life and you’re opening it up to other people’s consumption as well as approval. I think social media is both great and equally horrible. Great because there’s so many outlets to be creative and horrible because there’s at least one time in your life where you fell into a grief spiral because your life/vacation/selfie/job/outfit/family/whatever was not as mind-blowing as someone else’s. But the reality is that a lot of people are not their true, unattractive, insecure, imperfect selves on social media. So you’re either curating a charmed life or your envying something that isn’t 100% authentic.

One commenter said “1st Thessalonians Ch. 4 speaks of living a simple life, one that doesn’t require the approval and observation of others for us to feel worthy of existence. Your being born IS the validation of your existence. We are here for a long life, and it’s quite alright to be quiet about the way you carry it. I am fighting the daily temptation to seek attention for no good reason, and I am confident it will bring great fruits of joy and peace to my life, even though no one may ‘like’ my accomplishments or ‘comment’ on them”.

Amen. I think we need to all learn to live simpler lives. If a person makes you feel attractive, worthy, light-hearted, and reminds you how good God is—I think you can ask them on a date. I don’t think it needs to be complicated. Sure are there other options out there? Of course. But to never experience a quality person because you’re certain there is better out there is pretty prideful. Don’t think of yourself higher than you ought. Give someone grace enough to go out with for coffee or to have a real face to face conversation instead of leading them on with flirtatious texts and emojis. Don’t feel like a person is take-out. Like I always liked ordering a pizza delivery but I’m holding out for dinner a 5-star restaurant. That’s not cool. Remember that we’re all imperfect, but that we are all worth getting to know. If it doesn’t work out–who cares but we need to stop striving for perfection when the simple things in life are valuable too.

The Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 4 (MSG)

You’re God-Taught

1-3 One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life.

Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity.

4-5 Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.

6-7 Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God’s concerns, and he will take care of them. We’ve warned you about this before. God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.

If you disregard this advice, you’re not offending your neighbors; you’re rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit.

9-10 Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’re God-taught in these matters. Just love one another! You’re already good at it; your friends all over the province of Macedonia are the evidence. Keep it up; get better and better at it.

11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.

I think we get used to hearing “The best is yet to come”. But we should be careful that we don’t abuse it or overlook people because we think there is better out there.

What is to come

Following Vision Sunday at Hillsong on February 8th I found myself challenged. Our Senior Pastor Brian Houston in Sydney has his own declaration for the global Hillsong family but I want my own declaration and my own personal vision as well. It’s Biblical to have a vision:

Habakkuk 2:2-3 MSG

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

I want to challenge myself to write my own vision which hopefully I will have to post soon. Things that I see lacking, things that I want changed, things I want to improve for myself, etc.

In one of my iPhone devotionals it also challenged me to identify my purpose and what I love to do. This is something that I am still trying to figure out but I think is a good challenge for creating a vision.

From Day 5 of 21 Days to a Victorious Life:

Day 5–Create His vision for your life 
If you want to achieve victory over your life, you have to create a vision. Not only in one area, but create a vision in your careers, relationships, health and in your spiritual walk with God. In the Bible, God says you have the ability to overcome everything according to Romans 8:37. Yes, everything. Most importantly, you have to understand that your life needs balance if you are to reach your true God given potential as well as fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.
There are countless scriptures that encourage creating a vision. They remind us to write our vision down and it shall come to pass and to declare and decree a thing and it will be established.
So, do you need to create a vision for your life? If so, use this method to create a powerful and purposeful vision.
What Do You Love to Do?
After you have an understanding of what you love to do, commit to do more of it. There was a time over the course of the last few years that I found myself moving at my own speed and not at God’s. Because of this my schedule was always busy and while I was making progress, I wasn’t doing what God had purposed for my life.
Take Inventory
Check in with God. Ask Him what His plan and purpose are for your life. God has put wants in your heart to guide you as you carry out your purpose and His plan. Next, take inventory.
As I began to take inventory, I wrote every single task I performed daily on “Post It” notes. I included serving on several accounting and business boards, running a small business, writing and teaching, spending time with family and friends, and other tasks. Then, I separated these daily tasks into two distinct groups:
I made a firm commitment to only do what I love to do and move away from tasks that I did not enjoy. And today, my life is finally in a place where I enjoy everything I do!
Don’t Waste Your Time
After identifying my purpose, which I finally realized was educating and writing, I decided that from that point forward I would only work in my purpose. Now, let me warn you, this choice was met with opposition and a cut in pay; but I wholeheartedly trusted in God’s will. However, from that moment, I received several blessings and earned many recognitions and God has restored my pay. Therefore, I know that I am working in His plan.

Please keep me in prayer as I attempt to complete this challenge and identify goals and dreams for the future.

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Thursday Inspiration 1.8.15

From Zephaniah 3 MSG:

So sing, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the rafters, Israel!
Daughter Jerusalem,
    be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
    and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

It’s always good to remember we are allowed to be joyful. This doesn’t mean everything has to go right or our lives have to always be on the up-and-up. Simply remembering that God “has reversed his judgments against you” is enough. Salvation has saved us from evil. It has no hold on us. While we may stumble, God still has the last word over us and that word is grace. His grace is sufficient.

Here are a few things we learn about God in this passage:

1. Yet God remains righteous in her midst,
    untouched by the evil.
He stays at it, day after day, meting out justice.
    At evening he’s still at it, strong as ever.
But evil men and women, without conscience
    and without shame, persist in evil.

2. He will always turn things around:

“In the end I will turn things around for the people.
    I’ll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted,
Words to address God in worship…..All my scattered, exiled people
    will come home with offerings for worship.
You’ll no longer have to be ashamed
    of all those acts of rebellion.”

3. God is the only one in charge:

God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

4. God is present with you, strong, happy to have you, sings over you

Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.

5. God will take away your sorrow:

“The accumulated sorrows of your exile
    will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
    You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
    who’ve made your life miserable.

Is this not a reason to rejoice?

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