Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wooddale Church
Contemporary Worship Service 6/16/2012

The first time I went to the Wooddale Church located off of highway 212 of Eden Prairie, MN was in 2005.  I took a client of mine to services on the Saturdays I worked. I have since visited 2 more times on my own. Many years have passed but in recent times as I regain focus in serving God, I have been prompted in my spirit to go and visit again. Low and behold, I understood why God lead me back to this space. When God starts to process you, you need to be obedient to Him when he tells you go! GO! It was not an evening wasted rather it was one of learning about team playing, leadership via the music team as well as understanding the imperfections of life as it is, preached in the sermon.  However, the focus of this "blog" is not the preacher or preaching like my previous "blogs", rather the essence of being a devoted member of a music team or leader shown at this place of worship.

I arrived in the parking lot of the Wooddale church at about 4:30pm 6/16/2012.  I sat at the wheels and prayed silently, Lord I am here. There were but a few cars in the parking lot. As I approached the entrance of the church, I heard the faint sound of the music as it permeated the walls of the building. Entering into the space I sucked in the sweet energy of the music as it resounded behind the closed doors of the sanctuary. My heart smiled as I thanked God silently for making me come to this place of worship instead of going to an event that a friend had invited me to. There was a lady standing outside in close proximity of the closed door. I looked her way, greeted her and asked her permission to enter the sanctuary. What I experienced beyond those doors was truly a teaching that God wanted me to witness, a peek into what goes on behind the scenes before the service actually happened. I was fortunate to witness that!

I walked into to the room and quietly sat in the 3rd to the last pew. I watched as 10 professional and what seemed a talented group of adults and musicians rehearse on stage in the empty atmosphere of the space. From the sound engineer giving instructions to the lead singer who was reciting a prayer, and the director up front, they all looked poised and composed. There was minimal talking, as members took constructive criticism from their leader whom I came to know later as Miss Denise. She was quick on her feet giving instructions and making changes where needed effectively. Her motions as she honed in on the details and timing in the songs where phenomenal! She would use minimal gestures of a raised hand or a steady voice, as she would briefly sing a tune that needed to be fixed. All that and more I observed as she played the vital role she has been assigned as a leader. Each team member delivered on what was expected of him or her. Everyone appeared to be musically inclined as they read from their music folders and showed a level of professionalism that was very motivating to watch. Per Denise in a later conversation, not all the team member had musical backgrounds as I was thinking.  The percentage of members that did not have knowledge of reading music, she would make notes that would assist them and show them how to read certain general notes as they learned by “ear”. Yet, another good example of a good leader!

 At least 6mins or so before the service, I would engage in a dialogue with Denise to ask permission to blog about the service. She was very polite and kind enough to stop in her busy tracks to answer questions. She said with sincerity, “sure”.  “ I don’t see why you can’t blog about the service, however, if you need more details as to why the service was created and more you may contact my boss about that”. She give me that information and I accepted it. I went on to tell her I am mostly interested in the musical component of the service and how it all comes together so beautifully.  She stated that most of the engineering and the putting things into perspective happens at the Tuesday rehearsals that take place from 6:15pm to 9pm and before the Saturday services starting at 4:15pm. To be a member of such an intimate group, she continued you are asked to be a member of the Wooddale Church and have a relationship with Christ! I arranged with her to visit one of the Tuesday practices in my quest to gain an understanding of how other music teams are working behind the scene to make it matter for their church and God’s work. Perhaps I may also find more answers as to why God wanted me to come back to Wooddale after all of these years.

As my brief encounter with Miss Denise progressed, a part of me wished I was part of their team, a part of me wanted to come and learned new ideas and ways of approaching music with a team that appeared focused and determined to create a change in worship not within the confines of what  traditional ways of worship are, finally a team that seemed to be in tune with the contemporary musical lingo of our times. That was just a selfish wish. I am already a devoted member of a team of praise and worshippers at The Judahfire Ministries International, City of Praise located in Brooklyn Park of MN. In our quest to combine West African beats and "contemporary worship" music as we raise a multicultural church, my curiosity and the spirit of God lead me back to Wooddale. It was definitely a refresher to come and experience western contemporary music and worship at its peek shown here at Wooddale. If anything I am motivated to learn how and what brings them to this level of excellence in “contemporary worship”. There is no other place I have found in the Twin Cites of MN that can teach you more than this place of worship on this particular topic!

Six minutes later Denise would postpone our conversation to the end of service as the doors opened at 5:03 to allow the public into the house of worship. Folks where already standing outside ready to come in. As they filled the pew, the song “ Your Love…” played silently in the background. A greeting comes on the projector that said, “Welcome to the Wooddale Contemporary Service".  The service would start on time at 515. Everyone participating in the service needed not to be told or made aware of the next thing happing on the program. The prayers, preaching and music where concise and to the point! Excellence pure excellence!

I felt like I was at a concert when the praise and worship sections where on. It was as if the heavens had opened and a host of angelic angels had descended to join the team. Where there was glitches in the rehearsal or the song seemed like it wouldn’t work because there was not enough time to perfect it, the songs and their leaders all fell into place.  One of the team members said after the service“ I pray a lot before I go up there and than I allow God to do the rest”. Indeed was my thought! Indeed! I resonated with this because it is part of my personal practice as a praise and worshipper.  Sometimes no matter how you have trained to get through a process of preparation, it takes a special grace from God to help you get to that place of fully trusting that God would do the rest.  

This brings me to talk about a brief caption of the sermon, “ We are not perfect but made righteous through the birth of Christ...” delivered by Pastor Wayne Pederson. Some scriptures that the preacher drew his sermon from were: Phil. 3:12-14, 1John 1:8 and so on. Since the purpose of this "blog’s" goal is not to focus on the preaching, I would just like to note my relationship of this quote to the concept of which I “blog”. The process of making musicians or team members that executed their work effectively at this meeting took some accepting that “we are not perfect” but God can make us perfect! God can allow us to shine in whatever we do if we put Him first and allow His will not ours be done. God can show up right on time when He sees that we are faithful enough to “focus” on the a task as praise and worshipers and be determined to make the best of every opportunity He grants us to usher His people into His presence.

I personally do not know Miss Denise but I do sense that God has bigger plans for her as she is serving diligently in this capacity. From what she acknowledged, she is finishing a degree in music. In this light equipping herself with the knowledge needed by God’s grace to do the work that God has in store for her.  Her sensitivity to details and respect for her peers will take her far in this line of Ministry work. She would go to each team members following the service, the engineers, members of the team and the band silently talking to them as they nodded their heads as I observed from a distance. I may not have a lot more encounters with Miss Denise or maybe because who knows what the future holds. But I will certainly take away from this meeting a leader who appeared to be focused in ensuring that the output of the music group would be as near to perfect as God wants and allows it to be! Perhaps she can come and teach our team a thing or two on structure and presentation in how we should approach music as praise and worshippers. We could all feed off of each other’s strengths as we move forward in lifting God’s name in the varied ways that we do because of our different cultural backgrounds and ways of worship. 

To you Miss Denise, thank you for being approachable and professional at what you do. I will definitely come and visit again!

Catherine K.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Apostle,"War of Worship"

Okay I have been attending the Judahfire Ministries International, City of Praise located in Brooklyn Park MN for the past 2years. Currently located at 6278 Boone Ave, I have had the opportunity to witness the power of God as well as experience the power of God via the ministration and the words brought forth by the dynamic preachers of this ministry. However, none can deliver more than the energetic, eloquent,  “Jesus filled” and “ Holy Ghost filled” preacher, the Apostle Judah Praise Martin! Who is he? Who is this man of God! What possesses him to deliver the message of God in such a way that time stands still during his ministration! He is the kind of preacher who when given an hour to minister may take an additional 30 minutes truth be told, but boy you will not feel the time passing.

The Apostle Judah Praise Martin is the founder and overseer general of “City of Praise”.  If you have not heard of or been to this Ministry, it is the place to be in Christ. It is “a place called home and people called family”! ‘City of Praise is a family of believers who are lead by their charismatic preacher to understand the truths in all of our pursuit to know Jesus for ourselves. “ City of Praise” is a place where the music combines western and traditional African genres of music to all create new confections of tunes that celebrate and honor God in His entire splendor.  Finally “City of Praise” is a global, international establishment that embraces all whom will serve the Lord our Savior Jesus Christ!

Over these two years I have been a part of  “City of Praise, the Apostle Judah Praise Martin has stayed consistent in bringing forth messages of truth, the saving power of Christ, Living Righteously, How to worship God and above all else Love your fellow brethrens as Christ first loved us all. The energy he possesses is none other than the gifts of God deposited in him gushing forth like waters to fertilize grounds that have been left broken or uncared for; grounds that have been hidden due to the rubbish overshadowing them. These grounds are humans you and I who without hearing the ministration of such men or women of God we would be left to the wolves of this world and the devices that Satan has in place to keep us from fulfilling our destiny in Christ. The Apostle is a man of God who outside the pulpit he’s like “butter that can’t melt” but on the pulpit he is a soldier of the cross ready for  “ war…” He speaks with such vigoration that chills, cries for mercy, prostration, miracles accompany his ministration. Even a demon-possessed person cannot leave the same because this man of God has been given authority by God to  cast them out! He has been granted this authority because he has fully immersed himself, dedicated his time to developing our younger generation to be on fire proclaiming the word of God as is that God has blessed him to create the change required to save the souls of people as they encounter the truths of God via his lips.

The Apostle Judah Praise Martin
and his lovely wife
Pastor Edith Kota-Martin
6/3/12, the Apostle Judah Praise Martin, came to church dressed in white with a pink dotted tie alongside his wife who wore a flower dress with colors that seemed to match her husband’s attire. If planned or not they looked spanking, banking nice! Both looking dynamic and filled with love one for the other and the Love of God, their faces beamed as they stood in the space of worship. After the protocols of prayer, praise/worship and offertory…the Apostle was called to the podium to deliver the message.  He mounted the podium ready as a soldier would. He stood tall against the backdrop of the stage. In one hand was an I-pad enclosed in a red jacket. Around his left ear a beige wireless microphone laced around the contours of his outer ear reaching around  the back of his head as it touched the tip of his white collars.  This would enable him to navigate the space effortlessly as the message progressed and he engaged with the word of God, the audience and the space.  Throughout the time he preached his wife supported him in prayers as she murmured silently. I could read her lips from where I sat soaking in the spirit of the moment.

His message titled “ The War of Worship” began when he said “ After this message your entire life will not be the same” He continued to describe worship as a “warfare” “ There are people who are cursed from their generations and no matter how they worship no matter how they pray, fast or do the work of God”, their break thorough is no where nigh… It seems like they are in bondage. It may seem like they find themselves in a static place. Per the Apostle, sometimes it is not even the person you or me…perhaps it is something that our forefathers did or someone who for their own selfish gain may have sort the hand of a fetish person hence causing a trickle effect that affected their offspring’s, again you or me, for generations to come.

An example of this is Saul in the bible that was cursed for going to see the “witch of Ednor”… The story is told Saul was once the righteous king who upheld the laws of God by his sword; having fallen from God's favor due to a lack of obedience, he chose to participate in forbidden rituals. Hence he sort counsel from the witch. You see any communication with the dead is a form of magic, divination, sorcery, necromancy, and spiritualism, are all, condemned in scriptures. Since scriptures teach that the dead know not anything, Saul was not communicating with the prophet Samuel, but with Satan. The action of Saul would affect his generations to come.

The apostle would go on to state that “the demons of every believer or worshiper” is “they lack deliverance”. “ No matter how one is saved, salvation does not mean deliverance”
Obadiah 1:17
New International Version (NIV)
17 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance.

Therefore, the audience was encouraged to put on the armor of worship and wrestle with God, seek God’s deliverance that He is offering to us on Mount Zion. To conclude, we must like Jacob, wrestle until we are also  blessed. We must wrestle until we break all generational curses that pursue us. We must wrestle! That we may as “ chosen ones” fulfill his promises here on this earth as He assigns us with our given tasks. 
New International Version
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Wrestling_with_the_Angel

How can all believers be an “ecclesiast “ “ a chosen one “ and have to be faced with so many adversities due to ancestral or generational curses? Curses that would hinder them from the many Blessings that God has in His infinite storehouse for them waiting for them if they are following his commands…  Because of Jacobs persistency his “life was spared”. Are you that person, am I that person.  This message was an eye opener  for me. I pondered this and knew that God was telling me that this was something I needed to pray about concerning my own generation. What a message! Other supporting scriptures on the Apostle’s message were: Genesis 12: 1, Joshua 24:22,  Exodus 20:3, Ephesians 6:4 and Luke 4:7.

 The above analogy was my personal take on the message. Some who have not heard this man of God and are residing in the Minneapolis area should find this place of worship. God is working mightily in this “place called a home” for all believer from all walks of life. Most importantly, we have a genuine  man of God who is creating change for the children of God via his ministration, conduct and  services rendered in the community. God Bless you Apostle Judah Praise Martin! God Bless all his children who read this to the end.

Catherine K.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Lovely Ladies"

Pastor Sheryleteita McClendon in the
brown dress  & the "Lovely Ladies" of 
Judahfire Ministries International, City of Praise. 
She is sharing in the experience of being honored 
as a Mother with flowers. 

“Lovely Ladies”

A walk  in  the neighborhood Sam’s Club of  Bloomington MN,  give me the opportunity to meet  Pastor Sheryleita McClendon.  It was one of them Fridays that my clients, staff and I go to Sam’s to participate in tasting samples provided for the public.

Engulfed in the sweet aroma of tasteful items spread out in the store’s corridors,  I passed by  Pastor Sheryleita  at her stand and greeted her with a smile. She looked my way and returned my smile saying  “ you have a sweet spirit” I in turn said it’s by the grace of God.  The other staff I was walking with said you know, that she’s a preacher… I responded, Oh yeah?... as we  continued to walk around the store. I was suddenly urged to return and speak with the preacher woman. Back at her stand at least 10mins  later, I started a conversation with her before I knew  she was shamelessly holding my hand and praying thanking God for connecting us as we stood there. 

Baffled at her boldness and somewhat afraid that she or I might be violating the company’s policy of not  bringing religion into the workspace etc,  I half closed my eyes and opened them occasionally to see if we were in trouble. Trouble was far from this preacher lady’s vocabulary, fear was neither a foot away. Trouble was replaced by such boldness and enthusiasm that she said to the already passerby’s and onlookers at her stand…“ May they that watch us come neigh and ask us what we do and we will tell them of the glory of Jesus”… She continued to pray and would end her prayer. What a prayer!  What a women who was not afraid to take the gospel of Christ wherever she went...even at her work site. What a woman that would take a hand of a stranger such as I and want to pray for them.

That did it for me… I asked her if I could introduce her to my Pastor, the Apostle Judah Praise Martin, founder and overseer general of the Judahfire Ministries International, City of Praise located in Brooklyn Park MN.   Introduction made, in the preceding days after our encounter, she would soon attend some of  our prayer series and revivals to come.  Now 2-3months later she is asked to speak at our Mother’s  Day program  on the 27th of May, 2012.

 May 27th, she entered into the sanctuary, which she would later describe as a place that had “the presence of God” and she was standing, on “Holy Grounds”. she was wearing a robe that  was black with cream looking details done on the edges of the sleeves and the necklines. Her hair  was curled up and pulled back from her face. As she stood  behind the pulpit or podium,  she took several short breath saying “Ooh my God’  Oooh!  A few times she repeated that as she wiped her brows or shook her head. The spirit of God is strong in this place she would say. She introduced the title of her sermon  as “Lovely Ladies” and knelt to her knees and prayed , as she prayed , she asked  God to  take the glory as she ministered to His people, sweat began to trickle down her face by the end of her  prayer. She intelligently  introduced  her husband when the prayer ended  as he humbly came to help her off her feet. She would stand there for  a moment and shower  him with some love. “this is the man of my life “  Christ is the man in my life but  he is my earthly man”…

She went on to say  “as I walked into this room today starting at the door midway into the sanctuary,  I saw a open heaven over this space, my God”…” I don’t even stand in a place of worship with shoes but I can in this place because these grounds are holy” etc .  The audience cheered Amen! She began to  sing the song  “Falling in love with Jesus”.  She was so soft spoken in the beginning that it was difficult to quite get what she was saying, or where she was going with the sermon. So soft spoken that for a moment the audience who are usually accustomed to energetic and charismatic preachers who minister in this space looked on in what seemed like a “enh are you kidding”…  Hold up a minute… she was just warming up. Although soft spoken she would soon build up to  a medium mild  energy and get the audience captivated by her testimony about her path to finding Christ. It  was a tale that only someone possessed with the full knowledge of the saving power of Christ would be bold enough to openly  talk about!

Her words. “ this is a woman who would once go to a bar and pick out  which man she wanted to sleep with for the night.  “This is a women who will use the money given to her  to buy more drugs”… “drugs feed her addiction .  “ this is a woman who was left for dead twice she said “ I would later learn that those words spoken , those testimonies  shared were ones she’d experienced 20 years ago. She’d suffered an abusive relationship with an ex-husband who would assault her physically and left for dead by him twice. 20years later  She‘d come to recon with her past and she is fully aware  of the full redemption of her life through the blood of  Christ . She is a woman who beyond all doubts truly understands  the source of her existence. She is a woman who understands

Isaiah 55:7
King James Version (KJV)
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

She said she would talk about the dark side of Christianity, of hell and  demons but that is not what she chooses to.  She choose instead to talk about the love of Christ,  “how he could save a filthy rag as I”…The love of Christ that He died to save sinners like her. This love  she wouldn’t trade it now for the world. It is the love she wanted to share  with the women of “City of Praise”. She ended on the her sermon telling  the “Lovely Ladies” of “City of Praise’ to come to the Alter as she quietly read 1 Corinthians  13. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13&version=NIV

This moment she said she will not ever forget moving forward. As bold as she was, unashamed as she is marks the role that if we truly come to Christ, we all should embrace, and practice as we spread the Good news of Christ. Our dirty rags could also be a testimony that would change another believer’s destiny. It is the kind of boldness that will challenge all believers to have a reason to serve God because of his saving power.

Catherine K.

Sheryleita McClendon was born in Springfield, Ill. 1963. She was raised in the Lutheran faith. She is married to Apostle Eric McClendon and has two children.
In 1984 she was led by the Holy Spirit to give her Life to the Lord. This was her first encounter through the television ministry of PTL Club with Jim and Tammy Fae Baker. She later moved from Springfield to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where  she attended church under the direction of Vernon D. Ross Sr.

By July 4th,1993, she moved to Minnesota where she later got married to her loving husband, Apostle Eric McClendon who was anointed for ministry under Highest Praise Ministry, by Harold and Lucile Echoles. Pastor Sheryleita was water baptized and  experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the Open Door House Of Prayer under the direction of Bishop Keith T. Jenkins with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Pastor Sheryleita was ordained in 2008 in Springfield Ill under the ministry of New Life Christian Center under Bishop Howard Collier. August 2008, her husband, Apostle Eric L. McClendon received the vision for Faith Foundation Apostolic Outreach Ministry in Bloomington, MN where she serves as a co/pastor to her husband.