True worship stands in opposition to the secular trend that repudiates the supernatural. Secularization says all that is, is what is. It argues that there is nothing outside of human existence to give life meaning or value. The secular attitude insists that humans are left to create their own meaning, value, and identity. But in the celebration of the Christ-event, worship affirms the supernatural, sanctions the past, and creates confidence in the future.

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

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Biblical worship is rooted in an event that is to be lived, not proven. . . . In Christian worship we are not merely asked to believe in Jesus Christ, but to live, die, and be resurrected again with him. Life is not an intellectual construct, but a journey of death and rebirth. When our life story is brought up into the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, it then gains meaning and purpose.

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

Prayer in Process…

Every week we walk through doors at ECC we see four words.

Pursue.  Prayer.  Preparation.  Participation.

Recently, we started asking some questions.

“How are we doing with those words?”

We have had a variety of answers, but one of them haunts me and is something our staff is working on.

Prayer.

The last two weekends, we talked with our teams about focusing more on God’s worthiness in our prayer times before service.  Our church staff is also meeting with Daniel Henderson throughout the year to learn and grow in our leadership.  Our first meeting with him was a week ago and helpful for us.  We are also reading Henderson’s book, “Old Paths / New Power” and a few quotes have jumped out at me.  He writes…

“If we have not time we must make time, for if God has given us time for secondary duties, He must have given us time for primary ones, and to draw near to Him is a primary duty…”

“To be effective, these priorities must relentlessly shape your schedule.  Each week the calendar must be organized around these commitments.  Otherwise distractions will tank effectiveness.”

This is true.  Whether we like to admit it or not, we make time for the things that are important to us.  Last week was busy for me, but I made sure to run out of the office in time to see my daughter’s soccer game in the late afternoon.  (They lost.)

How will it change us if we take time out of our schedule?  I don’t know, but we’re going to find out.  We will take a bit more time on the weekends to praise God for who he is.  I am taking a 1/2 day once a month to get away and pray.  Now, I might miss a month here and there and it doesn’t have to be a whole 1/2 a day.  The point is that I am working on my awareness of God’s presence in the normal parts of my day and redeeming time even if it’s just in the car or running outside in the morning.

So like I said, I don’t know how it will change us or myself.  I’m guessing that the process is the point as much as the outcome.

But we’re going to see…

Prayer by Dana Gioia

I discovered this poem and it touched me deeply.  I don’t know the situation or the circumstances that birthed these words, but I resonate with them.  The joining of grief, art, faith, lament, hope…

Echo of the clocktower, footstep
in the alleyway, sweep
of the wind sifting the leaves.

Jeweller of the spiderweb, connoisseur
of autumn’s opulence, blade of lightning
harvesting the sky.

Keeper of the small gate, choreographer
of entrances and exits, midnight
whisper travelling the wires.

Seducer, healer, deity or thief,
I will see you soon enough—
in the shadow of the rainfall,

in the brief violet darkening a sunset—
but until then I pray watch over him
as a mountain guards its covert ore

and the harsh falcon its flightless young.

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

Worship focuses on the victory of Christ over the powers of evil, the sacrifice of Christ, which brings forgiveness of sin, and the example of Christ’s self-giving love, which empowers our life in faith. It is the work of Christ that we celebrate in worship. . . . Worship is the Gospel in motion.

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

New Tech Intern: Sam Delagrange

This Summer, we have our first tech intern serving with Michala Halstead, ECC Tech Director.  His name is Sam Delagrange.  He’s a high-school student and we recently interviewed him…and before you write him off for just being a “high school student”, read some of his questions.  I think he might surprise you.  Who knows, you might even find that he has something to teach you!

Ok Sam, first question…how did God lead you to tech ministry?

God led me to tech ministry starting in 4th or 5th grade. We weren’t attending ECC yet and the children’s ministry at the church we were attending was low on volunteers so I stepped in and did tech on Sundays.  Once I started 6th grade at ECC, I immediately began attending the Sunday and Wednesday night youth meetings. Sometime throughout that year, there was an announcement that they were looking for band and tech members. I signed up for tech on Wednesday nights and from there my interest in technology and the way it is always changing took off, along with my journey as a student leader and love for serving God.

How about role models? Who have been the most influential people in your life?

My mom is a huge role model to me. She has been an example to me that with God, anything is possible. She has taught me to always trust in God’s plan and to never give up. In that same way, my dad has been a huge influence to me. He has helped me become who I am and never let anyone take my love of God away from me. Another influential person in my life was Paul Landhuis (ECC Student Ministry Intern). He showed me that it is possible to serve God using the gifts He has provided. And lastly, my Aunt Angie, who taught me to never complain and always persevere and work harder.

So who would you say is your favorite “Christian” artist or songwriter right now?

My favorite Christian artist right now is Colton Dixon. I really enjoy the variety of music he has written. I also relate to some of his songs, such as “The Other Side” where he sings “It isn’t easy to say goodbye But I know it’s only for a little while.” In 2015 and 2016 I lost two influential people in my life. One to a brain aneurysm (Angie) and the other to a collision with a semi (Paul). This song helps me remember that I will see them again and they are in a better place now.

Just for fun…favorite flashback song from when you were growing up?

When I was younger, my dad had an iPod full of music. I remember one song that he had bought the video version of also. The song was “A New Hallelujah” by Michael W. Smith. I can remember sitting on our backyard on the swing listening to this song over and over again.

Without thinking…favorite book of the Bible or favorite verse?

Do not worry. Learn to pray about everything. Give thanks to God as you ask Him for what you need.  The peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippines 4:6-7

That’s a great one.  Why don’t you describe your devotions with God.

I like to do different YouVersion Bible plans on the YouVersion Bible app.  My current plan is about identifying God’s word (truth) from opinions or incorrect views (trash).

So I’m curious…what are you presently reading?

Right now I’m reading a book about being a student leader and growing in my walk with God as I lead my peers to God. The book is “Help! I’m a Student Leader!: practical ideas and guidance on leadership” by Doug Fields.

What books are you currently reading or watching for fun?

I’m currently reading different research articles about emerging tech innovations. Like I said, I find the way technology is always changing and evolving very intriguing.

Deep stuff.  What’s the best book you’ve read that has helped you grow as a believer?

I haven’t finished the book yet, but I hope it still counts. The book “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman has been an eye opener for me. It has taught me that I need to be a follower of Jesus, and not just a fan. If Jesus came tomorrow and told me to follow Him, without saying goodbye to anyone or grabbing anything, I should be able to do that; be a follower, and not a fan.

And what single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your life?

My mom always tells me to try my best and as long as I try my best, there is nothing more I can do. This has helped me mentally and spiritually. It reminds me that no matter how hard we try, nobody is perfect and therefore we have nothing to offer God.  But still, if we praise God and repent our sins, He forgives our sins and wipes the slate clean!

That’s truth.  What else do you do for fun when you’re not at ECC?

When I’m not at ECC, I enjoy hanging out with my family and playing with my two dogs at home, or hanging out with friends. My family and I also go camping during the summer and fall which has been a really cool experience. Going camping is one of my favorite things we do together during the summer.

Anything else on your mind you want to share?

I’m excited to learn more and serve more this summer at ECC. I hope to learn some new things this summer and possibly teach the rest of the team some new things along the way. Thank you for this opportunity!

We are excited to have you!  Let’s make sure to welcome Sam as he joins us for this summer internship!

Art in worship is a bit like the ring on the left hand. It’s a vehicle through which a volume is spoken. . . . I have found that music, banners, liturgical dance, drama, color, the symbolic use of space, and other artistic objects serve my worship. . . . They communicate the gospel in their own way and, in doing so, inspire within us offerings of praise and thanksgiving.

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

The historic argument for the use of the arts in worship is grounded in the Incarnation. The claim is that God, by becoming a person, sanctified physical and material reality as a vehicle for spiritual presence. He comes to us through flesh and blood. Why, then, shouldn’t we accept appropriate art forms as visible means through which we offer our praise?

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