PAULA BURESH

How does your praise participate in the adoption of virtue, moral excellence and praiseworthiness?

Just like when you spend a lot of time with your loved ones or best friend, you begin to dress like them and pick up mannerisms and sometimes start to look like them. It’s the same for time spent with Jesus. It says in Psalm 22:3 that "the Lord inhabits the praises of his people,”so because the Lord is good, just by hanging out with Him, praising, and acknowledging His goodness we take on the virtues of Jesus.

How do you know when you are striving for moral excellence?

New York City is so fast-paced that sometimes it's just plain difficult to want to do good. Sometimes I find myself so worn out that I want to curl up in a ball. But Hebrews 4:11 says, "Let us therefore strive to enter the rest of the Lord so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." I know that when I want to hide it means I have not strived for the rest that God wants for me. He desires for us to set aside time to rest in Him, so that He can fill us up again – so that we can truly operate in moral excellence.

How does His praise spur us on toward being faithful to live morally excellent lives?

The Lord gives us spiritual blessings as well as natural blessings. When we steward the presence of God well, He will give us more of His presence, just like in the parable of the talents. It says in Matthew 25:21, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will now put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!"  God will give us blessings in the natural to see how we invest them – same with His presence. He wants to entrust you with people’s lives, and as you steward these lives well, you are entrusted with more and will share in the happiness God. 

How does beholding His glory evoke praise in you?

When I behold God's glory, I can feel Him releasing me from anxiety, guilt, shame — anything that is not in line with the virtues of His character. When I feel that release, that freedom, I know that He is present; I know that He is moving. And I have no other desire but to praise Him, to thank Him.

It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new." What does this statement mean for you personally?

When I think of myself before I knew Christ and allowed Him into my heart, I find it hard to even recognize that person. What I desired then and what I desire now are completely opposite. Then, I desired to hide in partying and boys and reacted from a very angry heart. This scripture is very dear to my heart because I find it so true to my life now. When I gave my life to Christ, not only did my heart change but my hair and skin became healthy, and my wants and desires changed. I no longer wanted to hide, but wanted instead to hide in the Lord. I no longer chose anger, but forgiveness. God not only changed me, He gave me a new life.

As the worship leader, how do you praise when you don't feel like it?

I find it most difficult to praise God when there is something in my life that needs breakthrough or I am believing a lie. First of all, the devil knows that if we shift from a mindset of lack to a mindset of thankfulness, breakthrough is just around the corner. God is good all the time and worthy to be praised.

Romans 8:38 says, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today or worries for tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love."

So when I don't feel like praising God, I know that I am believing a lie about His character. This is when I need to go and read about His promises, spend time in prayer and surround myself with people who remind me of what is true, and even just listen to someone else sing a worship song.

Luke 10:19 says, "Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy.… Nothing will harm you." The authority which has been given to all of us in Christ helps me to worship when I don't feel like it. Breaking through mindsets that are hindering my relationship with God and people is a discipline that I am growing in. I’m striving to be a worshiper who breaks through spiritual atmospheres and finds freedom, not only for myself but for others as well.