It is still early in the New Year and a lot of us are still caught up in the newness and encouragement of new beginnings – which is great! However, there are many who may be dealing with old or new challenging circumstances. Those challenges may be lost, lack, instability, or fear just to name a few. I know I have had my share of problems and although I am excited and encouraged for 2013, I still have some challenging situations staring me in the face. Just recently, as I was faced with some not so good news I had to take a step back and make a conscious decision to trust God, I literally had to open my mouth and say “I TRUST YOU LORD! I was battling my flesh as it was trying to pull me into worry and anxiety and I heard in the depths of my heart -turn on some music. Now music is a very powerful and influential medium. It has the ability to touch us in a deep way and speak to our hearts – at least it does for me. I noticed that when I am feeling weary, sad, worried, anxious, or scared if I begin to praise & worship God it will feed my spirit in such a big way. When I fill my atmosphere with music that speaks to God’s love, power, mercy, or grace; it shifts my mood and inspires me to remember God’s promises. It helps me focus on the reality of God’s truth instead of the instability of my circumstances. God reminded me of Paul in Acts 16:23-26 (NLT) – Paul & Silas were severely beaten, chained, & thrown in Prison. We could safely say he was faced with a challenging situation but his response was not self pity, worry, or fear; his response was praise! Wow, as much as I would love to say I would have responded in the same way if faced with those circumstances, I am not too sure – ok probably not! But the amazing thing about Paul’s situation is his praise changed it. As he was praising God, the chains were loosed and the doors were open! His praise shifted the atmosphere but not just for him, he was able to lead the jailer and his whole family to Christ as a result. We may not have physical chains or be in a physical prison but life and its problems can imprison us if we let it. What I propose is we follow Paul’s example and we praise God in the hard times, in the mist of our troubles. We need to praise him even when everything around us is telling us not to, not just for ourselves but for those around us. Who knows how many people we can lead to Christ when they see our praise shift our atmosphere! Trust me friends, your decision to praise God in a difficult situation is powerful! Not only does it shift our atmosphere but it also ushers us into the presence of God! So as we face whatever challenges that lie ahead in 2013, let us become praise warriors and worship God through it all! I am sure if we praise God in the storms, we will find ourselves not only victorious but closer to God when it is all said and done. So remember, the next time you find yourself in troubled waters, in a storm-----remember Paul’s example and get your praise on!