The Unofficial Israel Tour: Bet She’an

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Bet She’an was a huge city in Jesus’ day. It was one of the pagan cities of the Decapolis that was later destroyed in an earthquake. Since the 70’s it’s been discovered and excavated. It’s interesting to us because it MIGHT have been the site of the first missionary (the man possessed by a legion of demons and then freed by Jesus) to the gentiles.

The purpose of the meeting between God and the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai was clearly to establish relationship with them (see Exod. 24:1-8). . . . Christian worship is like Hebrew worship. In worship, God renews his covenant with us. In worship, our relationship to God is deepened and strengthened when the order itself represents God’s speaking to us and God’s saving us through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son.

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

A Prayer Experience from Psalm 130

I recorded this prayer experience in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.  I know it’s a Catholic church and we have some theological differences, but it is a beautiful space and one that has engaging pictures and sculptures.  For example, the sheaf of wheat carved into the alter table that points to Jesus being our “first fruits”.

So as the season of Lent is a time to confess our sins and become more aware of our own mortality, here is a prayer experience based on Psalm 130. For more on this prayer model, click here.

PHILIPPIANS 2 SPOKEN WORD

I wrote this for a specific worship service, but it’s didn’t fit.  However, it seemed to fit our NIGHT TO SHINE event that is happening tonight.  So, I wanted to share it.  We are also continuing our study looking at Jesus’ Divinity, Humiliation and Exaltation.  That makes it doubly relevant.  Here we go…

Living Out Joy

I’ve been thinking about the ways that we live out JOY in our lives.  One of the ways we do that as believer is through praising God.  That could be through singing, but it doesn’t have to be.  But when we PRAISE GOD, we are living our his role for us in creation AND finding a better quality of life.  Let’s talk and drive…

 

Spoken Word: If He Didn’t / But He Did

This past weekend, we finished our year-long study of 1 Corinthians.  Because we studied Ch 15 ever Easter, we skipped it now.  However, I wrote a spoken word piece paraphrasing the chapter.  We had three actors read it at the top of our service to provide continuity in our study and to lead us into Holy Communion.

Here is my attempt to give a new voice to 1 Corinthians 15:12-28.

IF HE DIDN’T/BUT HE DID

If some say Christ rose, how can you say, “no”?

If he didn’t rise, then Christ is still brought low.

If he didn’t rise, it doesn’t matter what we believe or say.

Even more, we are liars, for we preach, “Jesus, The Way”.

If he didn’t rise, the dead will stay dead.

If he didn’t rise, Christ lies on his tomb’s bed.

And if he didn’t rise, your faith is empty, you’re full of sin,

And those who have already been…

…are lost.

If only for now we hope in Christ, we’re pathetic…

…and we too are lost.

But

Christ has risen, he is the first who, in death, sleep.

For since a man damned us, a man will also raise us.

For since Adam killed us, so our Christ must

give us life, but him first then you and me.

And in the end, with all power and authority,

defeating all dominions with his final breath,

He hands the Father a kingdom, defeating even death.

Then the Father, who put everything under the Son,

will have His will done.

And the Son, will put everything under the Father

so we will see God is our history’s author.

Praise our God, three-in-one.

All glory to Christ, the Risen one.

Worship Stories: Adam&Eve

Adam & Eve worshiped from the instant they were created. But what do we mean when we say the word “worship”? Let’s tell an epic story and figure it out…

Scriptures read and preached forms my entire life in the world—personal, family, vocation, ethical. In this way worship sets the world in order, educates me about my place in it, and inspires me to understand God’s ways of dealing with me and with his people.

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

New Song: Jesus

This is a classic Chris Tomlin song…he pulls metaphors from all over the Bible and arranges them in one song.  This song is no different, but the singular focus of the song is Jesus.  Only Jesus.  It starts by framing the cosmic struggle we are caught up in.  It is “older than the ages”, but we look forward to the promises that are “yet to come” while living in the reality of Jesus who was born of a virgin, as a descendent of mother Eve.

There are multiple scriptures I will reference throughout the song, but I think it’s best to start at the Fall when the whole story starts.  Satan tempts the woman and the man who disobey God and fall from the perfect design for their lives.  And God makes a promise that is fulfilled in Jesus who came, died on a cross and who is still yet to come…God says,

And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.” -Genesis 3:15

V1: There is a truth older than the ages 
There is a promise of things yet to come 
There is one born for our salvation 

Jesus

We move onto the promises that we see in the book of Isaiah that look forward to the coming of Jesus…but, it uses present tense to remind us that these things are still true for us today.

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. -Isaiah 60:20

He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. –Isaiah 9:7

The Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…-Isaiah 61:1

V2: There is a light that overwhelms the darkness 
There is a kingdom that forever reigns
There is freedom from the chains that bind us

Jesus, Jesus

Speaking of Jesus, the chorus moves onto specific stories of Jesus from scripture…

…He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake…They cried out…Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” -Mark 6:48b-50

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. -Mark 4:39

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” -Daniel 3:25

Ch: Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me

That last line is fascinating because it happened back in the OT before Jesus was born!  We understand this to be a “theophany” or a time that Jesus appeared as Jesus before he was born and before we knew him as Jesus.  He appeared in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, protecting them from the flames, and looking like “a son of the gods”.

But hold on!  We aren’t done with the chorus yet!  The second half shifts to speak about Jesus in metaphors…

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. -Rev 5:5

…you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors…with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. -1 Peter 1:18b-19

For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. -Job 5:18

He roars like a lion
He bled as the Lamb
He carries my healing in His hands

Jesus 

The third verse takes all of that scripture and applies it to our lives.  This is the beauty of the song and one of the goals of the believer.  We are to understand that this book, the Bible, isn’t just a history book.  It isn’t just a manual for living.  It is a story that we are invited to claim as our own.  These characters from the Bible are part of your family…my family…and Jesus calls you to help write the story of His expanding Kingdom NOW, even in trouble, storms and the night.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. -Psalm 42:8

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”  He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. -Luke 8:24

V3: There is a name I call in times of trouble
There is a song that comforts in the night
There is a voice that calms the storm that rages

He is Jesus, Jesus

…These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. -John 20:31

…to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! -Jude 25

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:14

Br: Messiah
My Savior
There is power in Your name
You’re my rock and my Redeemer
There is power in Your name
In Your name

This bridge takes the song and condenses it down to a simple declaration of faith.  He is the Messiah, Savior, Redeemer…who, you ask?  Jesus.