New Song: What a Beautiful Name

I recently heard a definition of prayer that applies to worship as well.  “Prayer is intimacy with God that brings about His Kingdom purposes in our lives.”*

As I look at the lyrics of this new song from Hillsong, I think it helps take us from an intimacy with God to a greater sense of of His Kingdom.  It uses three adjectives for the name of Jesus: Beauty, Wonder and Power.  And it also starts with the Genesis story as told in John.  So, let’s jump in and see the scriptures the song-writers used…they start with Creation…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. John 1:-2

From there we jump to Colosians where we read about the hidden glory of God in the Old Testament which is now revealed in Jesus, the hope of glory.  Paul writes,

“…God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” -Colossians 1:27

V1: You were the Word at the beginning -John 1
One With God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

From there, we hit the first description of Jesus’ name.  The song-writers used the word “Beauty”.  Why?  Fortunately, someone asked them!  They said they used the word because it “evokes the tenderness of His love and the sweetness of His presence.”**

Ch1: What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Verse 2 uses poetic language to describe Jesus coming from heaven to earth.  I think they are referring to this passage in Phillipians:

Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (2:6-7)

The next two lines come from John and Paul who talk about the greater love of God that will never allow us to be seperated again…

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. -1 John 4:10

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39

V2: You didn’t want Heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

The second chorus is identical to the first EXCEPT for the adjective.  And again, we have to ask the question, “Why?”  Why do the writers use the word “wonder”?  They said that it “speaks to our gratitude for salvation and awe at the lengths of His sacrifice.”**

Ch2: What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King…
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Up until this point, we’ve been talking about the impact of the gospel on our own lives.  But the bridge helps make the shift towards God’s Kingdom purposes.  In case you haven’t read the end of the story, GOD WINS!

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it…The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” -Matthew 27:50-51, 28:2, 5

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”-1 Corinthians 15:54-55

“…to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” – Revelation 1:6b

…far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked”…-Ephesians 1:21

Br: Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, God You reign
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names

The last adjective used is “Power”.  This word “affirms His supremacy and Sovereignty—an exhortation to remember our access to the power of God in every situation, as we seek first the kingdom and declare the Name of Jesus.”**  And by the way, “…the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” -Matthew 16:18

Vs3: What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

_________________________

*This isn’t a direct quote, but a paraphrase of Daniel Henderson.  He is the author of Old Paths/New Power and other books on prayer.

**Quotes from the Hillsong blog.

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Faith and Date Candy

On Tuesday, I was making date candy.

To be exact, I was helping my daughter make date candy, but that’s besides the point.  On Tuesday, I tasted date candy and it was an amazing experience…the sweet, gooey flavor mixed with a sprinkling of nuts and cinnamon.  Wowsers.  It changed my life.

Ok, maybe that’s a slight overstatement, but I am hoping that there was some small life change.  But before I tell you what I mean, let’s back up.

This year, our family has decided to homeschool.  I’m not sure if we will do it long term.  There are lots of good educational options, but for this year, we are hoping that it will help us gel as a family with two adults, an 11-year old girl and an 8-month old baby boy.  So on Tuesday, my day off, my daughter and I were learning about Ancient Egypt and one of the projects was to make a date candy that the Egyptians might have eaten.  She did most of the work chopping the dates and nuts, mixing in the water and spices and rolling them into balls.  I crushed the cardamom spices and did an amazing job, if I do say so myself.

While she was doing most of the work, I got to thinking about places in the Bible that talk about dates.  I found one in 1 Chronicles 16:1-3.  David brings the Ark up to Jerusalem and we read…

They brought the Ark of God and placed it inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.  When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord.  Then he gave to every man and woman in all Israel a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins.

When the date candy was done, we read these verses and talked about how the Israelites ate dates too.  In fact, this date candy might be similar to what David gave to the people on this exciting day when God’s ark was brought back to Jerusalem.  And then we bit into the date candy…the sweet, gooey flavor mixed with a sprinkling of nuts and cinnamon.  Wowsers.  It changed my life.

Or at least it hope it will change my life…and my daughter’s too.  What I realized again, is that faith is more “caught than taught”.  I can talk about God’s word and faith until I’m blue in the face.  We can talk about pursuing God and prayer until we are red in the face, BUT none of that will make any difference in anyone’s life if we don’t also live it.  We need to be people who pray.  We need to be people who live faith.  We need to be people who make faith just as real as eating a sweet, gooey date candy.

Wowsers.  It just might change your life.

Behind-the-Scenes Scripture for DAVID

Do you like behind the scenes info?  If you want to know where the basis for DAVID came from, here is a basic outline of the cuts I made with the references.  This is all in the NIV.  What I’ve done is create a paraphrase based on a public-domain version of the Bible, but this will give you an idea of the story I am following and the connections I’m trying to make!

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake…
-Psalm 23:1-3

…The Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.  But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him. –1 Samuel 16:13b-14

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
-Psalm 23:4

The Philistine [Goliath], with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. -1 Samuel 16:41-48

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell
[a] in the house of the Lord
Forever.
-Psalm 23:5-6

49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.-1 Samuel 16:49-50

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil[a] spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.-1 Samuel 18:1-11

Psalm 7:1-2, 10, 17

Of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning…a Benjamite.

Lord my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

…My shield[d] is God Most High,
who saves the upright in heart.

…I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

But an evil[a] spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.

14 When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”

15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair.

17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?”

Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Let me get away. Why should I kill you?’”

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him.-1 Samuel 19:9-18 

Psalm 59:1-4

Of David. When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!

That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”-1 Samuel 21:10-15

 Psalm 56

Of David. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

The king [Saul] ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the Lord.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family.23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”--I Samuel 22:17-23

 Psalm 52

Of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
[c]
You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!

…But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.

David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.

Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

12 So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.

13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army…  Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?”

David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have driven me today from my share in the Lord’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”

22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”

So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.-1 Samuel 26:7-13, 17-25

 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul….”-Samuel 27:1a

Now Samuel [the prophet] was dead-1 Samuel 28:3

Psalm 142:1-3

Of David.  A prayer.

I cry aloud to the Lord;
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.

________________________________________

Performance February 16-18 and 23-25 with all-for-One Productions at the PPG ArtsLab Black Box Theater
300 E Main Street, Fort Wayne, IN.  Ticket info Here!

DAVID Is Coming to ECC

It’s been a full week of final adjustments, rehearsals and meetings as we get ready for the next step for DAVID: the one-man-musical.

All that to say that we are getting closer to being ready for the services this weekend.  As I continue through this creative process, some decisions are calculated, some are prompted by feedback and some are based purely on instinct.  However, each time I dig into this story I learn more about David and his God.  Here are three thoughts…

 

  •  The spirit of God is powerful.  It empowered David for most of his life.  When it left Saul, he was consumed by fear, hate and dark moods that took control of him.  The spirit of God, or the absence of him, is powerful.
  • The psalms have incredible emotional depth.  David cries out for help.  He cries out in pain and suffering.  He cries out for God to right wrongs.  He also sings and dances to the point that some people think he is in danger of losing his reputation.  Too many times, we are uncomfortable with dark or intense emotions.  David, however, was not one of those people.
  • David was a man of faith and trust.  You might say that David was a man after God’s own heart!  No matter the situation or emotion, David always comes back to a faith in this God he loves.

It all goes down this weekend at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, IN.  July 8th at 6:30PM and July 9th at 9:30 and 11:00AM.  Come see this man of God who sang,

When my spirit grows faint within me,

It is you who know my way…

 

God who spoke will speak through the Word. God who acted will act in our worship. [We need] a restoration of the supernatural, an expectancy that God will be present to us in our worship to touch us, to heal us, and to make us whole.

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

DAVID: musical update

online-wide-graphic-001

The last three Wednesday nights have been filled with workshops for DAVID with the amazing actors of the Emmanuel Theatre Co. here at the church.  I’ve presented the first 30 minutes of the piece and gotten amazing feedback that is still shaping this one-man-musical.  I’ve also been in the studio with a couple musicians laying down tracks to develop the sound of the various songs in the show.

All that to say that we are getting closer to being ready for the first preview performance a week from today on March 10th at the Philmore-on-Broadway for the all-for-One Productions fundraiser.  As I go through this creative process, some decisions are calculated, some are prompted by feedback and some are based purely on instinct.  However, each time I dig into this story I learn more about David and his God.  Here are three thoughts…

  1.  The spirit of God is powerful.  It empowered David for most of his life.  When it left Saul, he was consumed by fear, hate and dark moods that took control of him.  The spirit of God, or the absence of him, is powerful.
  2. The psalms have incredible emotional depth.  David cries out for help.  He cries out in pain and suffering.  He cries out for God to right wrongs.  He also sings and dances to the point that some people think he is in danger of losing his reputation.  Too many times, we are uncomfortable with dark or intense emotions.  David, however, was not one of those people.
  3. David was a man of faith and trust.  You might say that David was a man after God’s own heart!  No matter the situation or emotion, David always comes back to a faith in this God he loves.

Lastly, here is the third song of the show…each one has a different musical flavor so this is just a taste.  I create the individual loops using my voice and a Looping Station.  Enjoy!

Announcing DAVID: a one-man-musical

david-001

Yes, you read it right.  I’m working on a one-man musical based on the life of King David, the giant killing, song writing and chosen king.  As I work on it, I’m realizing that creating a one-man-musical is a lot of work.

I know. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

But, let me share a couple observations…

  1.  David was a tough guy.  He killed bears and lions with his bare hands.  The man not only killed Goliath, but killed hundreds of Philistines.  So much so, that God called him a “man of blood”.
  2. David was an amazing singer/songwriter.  David was the top artist of his day.  If there had been a Billboard Top Ten list, David’s songs would fill most of the list week after week.  While it’s been a challenge at times, putting original music to his lyrics has given me an appreciation for the depth of emotion, the engaging story-telling and gripping use of metaphor.
  3. Saul was a nut-job.  I might be exaggerating a little bit.  BUT, he is so consumed by jealousy, hatred and dark moods, that he swings from murderous blood-lust to blubbering regret.  He is seen multiple times “with his spear in hand” which seems a little ominous to me, right?

Right now, I’m memorizing the script and music while developing movement and characterization.  This is the hard work behind the craft of theatre.  However, I’m keenly aware that this is God’s word.  I want to do my best to make it engaging and real for the audience.

You will be hearing more about the project as a piece will be performed at Emmanuel in June and then the full show with all-for-One Productions on February 16-18, 23-25 of 2018!  For now, here is an unfinished demo of  Psalm 59 David wrote after Saul sent soldiers to his house to kill him!

Are You Excited?

“Are You Excited?”

I don’t know how to answer that question.

…And I wonder if the people I talk to are more excited about our adoption than I am.  Or at least, that’s what you might think based on my reaction to this question.  It’s been such a long wait for us (2 years since we started the paperwork!) so lots of people are excited about the possibility of the Wards having a baby any day now.

Sidenote:  we are matched with a birthmom and she is due any day now…thus the excitement!

But for our family, we’ve been through a year of 3 failed adoptions.  We’ve been in the room for the C-section, blood on the floor, and walked away with nothing.  We’ve taken care of two babies in the hospital, changed diapers and rocked them to sleep, and walked away with nothing.  We’ve changed car tires in the rain, for one our birth-moms, and walked away with nothing.

Or you would think we had nothing if you didn’t step back and see God’s hand at work in our lives.

This past year has been incredibly hard, but we’ve learned the wisdom of waiting on the Lord.

This week, my daughter brought home a bible verse to memorize.  It comes from Isaiah 40.  She only has to memorize the last verse, but reading the larger passage myself I found it to be a message from the Lord…

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding. [How soon I forget…]

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might, He increases power.

Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly, [And I’m not as young as I used to be!]

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up, closer to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired. -Isaiah 40:27-31 AMP

It would be easy to look at our family and assume that we’ve survived a year of “nothing”, but the opposite is true.  We have been tired and weary.  We have been searching for understanding.  But through expecting, looking and hoping we are seeing the LORD work…we are rising on wings like eagles…closer to our God.

And who knows…maybe we’ll have a baby soon!

Adoption Psalm 126

It was about this time last year that we were meeting with a birth mom and hoping we would have a baby in our home for Christmas.  As I think you know, that didn’t happen.

And here we are a year later.

It’s easy to wonder what God has planned for us, but instead I’m trying to actively thank God for this time of waiting.  One way I can do that is in prayer.

“Thank you Lord, for making us wait for this baby.  We want the right baby for us.  And we will wait on You, Lord…”

But until that happens, I can also rewrite psalms to help insert myself into God’s story.  In the same way the psalmists waited for the Lord, I will wait.  In the same way Christians have waited for millennia, I will wait.  So here is my Adoption Psalm 126…until our baby comes home…

When the Lord first brought us a baby,
    it was like living in a dream.
Our mouths bubbled with laughter,
    and we couldn’t stop singing.
All of the email (pre-Facebook) notes said,
    “God has done great things for you.”
The Lord had done great things for us,
    and we were filled with joy.

Bring us another baby now, Lord,
    like you did over a decade ago.
We who have cried tears
    will sing with songs of joy.
We who have been weeping,
    carrying nothing but memories in our arms,
will return with lullabies of love,
    carrying newborns in them.