The Unofficial Israel Tour :: Caesarea Philippi

Why did Jesus take his disciples so far north to ask them a couple simple questions? Caesarea Philippi was in pagan territory after all! Let’s take an unofficial tour and see this famous bible story with new eyes…

I sensed this was the week that above all weeks was to be set aside for the journey into death. I knew the worship of the church would take me by the hand and lead me step-by-step into the experience of death and rebirth, if I would allow it to do so. I resolved then and there to walk in the way of the cross. I purposed to make this the week God intended it to be for me, a week of intense spiritual struggle—and reward!

-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year

A Prayer Experience from Psalm 142

I wrote an arrangement of Psalm 142 for my one man musical, DAVID.  The line, “When my spirit grows faint within me / It is you who knows my way” grabbed me. As we continue this season of Lent, I thought this was a good psalm to share.  I recorded it in the desert room of the Botanical Gardens because David wrote it while hiding in a desert cave on the run from Saul.

Worship is a meeting between God and his people. Like all other meetings between two people, a certain amount of form is necessary. . . . God has already established the structural ingredients needed in a meeting with him, and we cannot improve on these forms. We simply need to understand what they are and practice them in faith, believing that we really are meeting God in…Preparation [Gathering], Word, Table [Communion], and Dismissal [Sending].

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

New Song: Resurrecting

As Lent begins and we head towards Easter, we are going to learn a new song called, “Resurrecting”.  I was drawn to this song because of the interesting use of tense in the song’s Bridge.  It presents the idea that not only did Christ rise from the dead, but he is continuing to give us life or, as the song says, continuing to resurrect us.  But, it all starts with Jesus…

Vs1:
The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at His feet we bow
You can see that this verse comes directly from Hebrews 2:9 and Philippians 2:10

…see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…

Vs2:

The One who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see
What I love about digging into songs is that you get so much more than a lyric writer can fit in the actual song.  Check this out…

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. -Hebrews 1:3

So Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory…like light that radiates from a source and yet isn’t the same as the source…and yet is one with the Father!  AND he is holding everything together while taking away our sin and ascending to the right hand of the Father…crazy deep!  But it doesn’t stop there.  We have victory through the work of Jesus.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Ch:
Your name, Your name
Is victory
All praise, will rise
To Christ, our king 2x
The 2rd verse elaborates on the same theme, but makes it personal.
Vs3:
The fear that held us now gives way
To Him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me
So what is “the fear”?  We find that in the book of Hebrews.  Jesus came to…

free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. -Hebrews 2:15

Br:
By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me

 The theme of “ashes” in scripture is one of defeat and grief.  We see it in the book of Job when he says,

I am reduced to dust and ashes. -Job 30:19

BUT, in Jesus we have resurrection and life.  Jesus said this himself…

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.-John 11:25

As I said before, notice the change in tense in the word, “resurrection”!  Jesus gave us life and continues to give us life!  He was resurrected from the dead and now he has and will continue to resurrect us…and our response is one of praise…

…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 15:57

The last verse takes us to the point of resurrection which made everything possible.  What makes this verse so interesting is the use of the word, “robbed”.  You could say that our God has defeated or swallowed death, but he also took back what Adam had given to Satan, the power of sin and death, so in a sense God has robbed the grave.  God also robbed the power of death in calling us to follow Jesus into his death so that we can find life.  As Paul writes it,

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.-2 Corinthians 4:10

Vs4:
The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave and he is resurrecting me.

Joy in the Morning

My friend, Dan, gave me a book to read this year.  I’ve added it to my daily morning readings.  It’s called, “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, who is a messianic Jew.  It’s set up like a story.  A man goes out to learn from a teacher in a small school in the desert.  Each day is another lesson from the teacher.  One of them connects with our theme of joy…let’s check out the “Night and Day Paradigm”.  If you’re been listening to Pastor Denny’s teaching for very long, it will sound familiar…

Since God is speaking and acting in worship, response to God who speaks and acts is of great importance.

In my response, I am once again saying yes to God. As with the initial response when I first heard the word of God’s love and grace, I again respond to him in faith and love. . . . I respond to God in worship because he makes a difference in my life. . . . My response to God . . . determines my priorities in life. It puts me at peace with God, my neighbor, and my own life.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

Response, from the very beginning of worship to the end, must be a powerful inner experience of actually being in the presence of God. When we sing a hymn or say a confession or prayer, we are not singing or saying words, but expressing a feeling, bringing our souls, truly responding and communicating to the loving and active presence of a loving and merciful God.

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

Worship Stories: Abraham&Sarah

Once upon a time, there was a “man of the road” and a “man of faith”.  His name was Abraham.  We see that he came to worship by faith alone and was given blessings from God.  However, these blessings weren’t for him alone.  He was blessed so that he could be a blessing to others…