Hiking to Glory

As I got out of the van, I saw the sign at the trailhead.  “Warning!  Bears frequent this area.  If you come across a bear, this is how you should handle yourself:  Don’t run.  Make loud noises…”

“Shouldn’t be a problem”, I thought.

I was in Virginia on a family vacation.  The out-and-back trail was a little over 2 miles and ran along the ridge of the mountain.  Snow had fallen the night before so my feet crunched in the snow and there was a holy hush over the woods.  Rocks stuck out from the snow and the trees wore the newly fallen snow like brand new clothes.  As I shouldered my back pack with my water bottle, snacks and camera I hiked along as snow flakes continued to fall from the grey clouds hanging low overhead.

As you hike, there is a rhythm that comes over you.  One step leads to the next step.  My breathe matches that rhythm and comes out of my lungs in regular bursts that I can see in the crisp, cold air.  The rhythm is only broken by the large boulders that periodically rise out of the ground forcing me to climb over and around them.  As I climb over one large grouping of rock, I look down to see a small cave that is dry and protected from the falling snow.  I looked down and thought, “If I was a bear and was hungry for some “hiker-jerky” after a long winter’s nap, this is were I would hide…”  Thankfully, no real bears had a similar thought so I kept climbing.

Arriving at the summit, a sense of awe came over me.  I remembered that God created everything stretching below me and everything hidden by clouds above me.  I could almost hear Him ask me like he asked Job,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

…Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
    or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve for times of trouble,
    for days of war and battle?

…Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
    and spread its wings toward the south?
Does the eagle soar at your command
    and build its nest on high?
It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
    a rocky crag is its stronghold.

And like Job, I realized that too many times I set myself up as God.  I try to set boundaries in places that I know nothing about.  I try to control my world.  I think I know about the world, while in reality, I know so little.

As I stood there on that mountain peak, the snow cleared and I could see down into the valley.  The snow still covering everything.  And I thought, maybe even as a prayer, “God, I have tried to set boundaries that only you can set.  I have tried to control my world.  I have believed in you.  But now, I have seen your glory in a new way.  You are God.  I am not.  Forgive me.  Help me.”

I turned around and hiked back to the van.  I didn’t see any bears, but I did see God’s glory in a new way.

And for both of those things, I am thankful.


Worship Scattered

“What is ‘worship scattered?’  That seems like a strange term!”  I’m glad you asked…when Jesus came, he set up a new way to worship.  He told us that we would worship in both spirit and truth.  Part of what that meant was that worship is scattered throughout the life of all christians in the world.  And the CRAZY thing is, this is way worship was supposed to be back in THE BEGINNING!

When Adam and Eve were created, they lived in the Garden of Eden and God would hang out with them.  Adam would name some animals and work in the garden with Eve and then they would take a walk with God in the cool of the day.  But that all fell apart once sin entered the world…because of sin, worship was restricted to a certain mountain top with certain prayers and certain sacrifices.

Jesus lived, died, rose again and now tells us to boldly enter God’s presence (Hebrews 4).  He tells us that we are united with God through his work on cross.  Now our whole lives are lived as priests out in the world.

So for you today, it means that everything you do can be an act of worship.  Are you serving the poor in another country?  Are you teaching kids at church or in school?  Are you frying donuts at a diner or helping with a car-pool?  It can all be offered up to God as a way to serve him and others.

This shows me the extravagance of God’s grace!  ALL of our messy lives are now transformed into worship.  As we sing, “Beauty for ashes / Your name is matchless”!  Worship is no longer restricted to a certain mountain top or certain prayers or certain sacrifices.  Worship is about a God-man.  His name is Jesus.

That is “worship scattered”.


Thanks to Mike Cosper for the term “worship scattered” and Chapter 5 of his book, Rhythms of Grace.  It’s an excellent read.  I highly recommend it!

One of the greatest discoveries of my Christian pilgrimage has come with the realization that the primary importance in worship is not what I do but what God is doing. In worship, God is present, speaking to me, and acting upon me. It is in worship that God feeds, nourishes, and cares for me. And it is in worship that he gives me his grace, surrounds me with his love, lifts me up into his arms, affirms me as a member of his community, and sends me forth into the world with a fresh vision of his work and a new concern to live for him.

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

Biblical history is rich with signs pointing to God’s purposes. But today, I believe, it is in worship that God gives us signs of his grace. In worship God speaks and acts.

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

Down & Dirty Theology: Giving Death the Finger

Some of you might remember that I wrote about Troy back in December.  At the time, he was facing terminal cancer.  At the time I wrote,

This past weekend, I led singing for a baptism service.  It was for a man named Troy.  Troy wanted to make a profession of faith about his love for Jesus, above all else.  He also wanted to tell his kids that God is a better Father than he will ever be.  “So when I’m gone,” Troy said, “remember this day.”

I also wrote,

I’m following the example of Troy.  I want to serve God now.  I want to worship God now, instead of idols, in the wilderness of our world.

Troy died this week and went to be with Jesus in eternity.  As I reflected on Troy’s life and how to worship in this wilderness, I was reminded of something else I wrote, after my son died.  I want to share it with you as we remember the testimony of Troy Mann and follow his example in walking with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death…


Life moves on.  I get up in the morning and put my pants on, one leg at a time.  I eat my cereal and drive to work just like everyone else.  As I watch the faces of the other drivers, I wonder, “What they are thinking about?”.

The death of a loved one changes us in too many ways to count.  And now as I look again at the faces of the people driving past me on the way work, I realize at least one thing my son’s death has enabled me to do…

It enables me to give death “the finger”.

You might be shocked that I would say that.  But stay with me…at my son’s funeral, we sang Matt Mahr’s song, “Christ is Risen”.  The bridge is taken directly from Paul in 1 Corinthians where he paraphrases Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14.  He writes about the resurrection…



As we sang, Sara and I raised our hands to worship the Lord of Life, but as we did that, I instinctively turned my open hand into a fist.  I wasn’t just praising God, I was insulting sin and death that had taken our son.

I was giving death the finger.

Death might think that it took my son forever.  Death might think that it took Troy forever, but we know that because of Jesus this is temporary.  And as we live now, we are following Paul’s lead in defiantly living in the face of death with tears in our eyes.  Think about it…

Where is death’s power to hurt us?  We believers are dead and then we come back to live again forever.  We are out of death’s reach.  What kind of heat is it packing now?  We can trash-talk it’s power and give the finger to it’s wrath.  And the grave?!?!?! Where is it’s victory?  We used to be it’s prisoners, but now the doors are blown open.  The locks and dead-bolts have been broken.  Our chains are thrown off.  Death has died and captivity is now captive.

I still get up in the morning and put my pants on, one leg at a time, just like the other drivers on their way to work every day.  But for me, for us, we can now give death the finger.

New Song: One Day (When We All Get to Heaven)

Have you suffered a major illness?  Have you lost someone you love?  I have.  And the older I get, the more I look forward to the glory of Heaven with Jesus.

This weekend we are learning a new/old song about heaven.  It’s based on the old hymn, “When We All Get to Heaven”.  The original song was written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt.  This amazing woman was a school teacher in Philadelphia and a christian volunteer who was deeply devoted to teaching the Bible to kids.  Eliza’s goal in writing her songs was to reach children and teach them the basic truths of the gospel.  She also enjoyed a long personal friendship with Fanny Crosby, another famous worship song writer.  The new song we are learning was recorded by Matt Redman with new verses.

But before we jump in, a few opening thoughts about heaven…

First, Heaven is the place where God dwells and the Jesus is preparing for us.  However, it’s also good to remember that the point of heaven is not that we “get out of here”, but that God brings his rule and reign (heaven) down to us in the new heavens and the new earth.

Secondly, there are two major views about what happens in heaven.  1. We know that we will have eternity to worship/contemplate/learn more and more about our infinite God.  2. We will be reunited with all believers throughout history without any sin or death.  These are both true, but I’d like to add a third thing we know about heaven.  3. Heaven will be all of that and more…we will be face to face with God!

Lastly, I think it’s important to remember that this song is sung by believers and to believers.  We still hold that heaven is a place for believers and that salvation is through the work of Christ alone and his grace and mercy to us as sinners.

Alright, enough talking…let’s jump in…We start at the end of time.  That’s right, the first verse comes from Revelation.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” -21:4

[Verse 1]
One day You’ll make everything new, Jesus
One day You will bind every wound
The former things shall all pass away
No more tears

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. -1 Corinthians 13:12b

[Verse 2]
One day You’ll make sense of it all, Jesus
One day every question resolved
Every anxious thought left behind
No more fear

And then we come to heaven and the chorus that most of us have heard before.  It comes from 1 Corinthians and Revelation.  I love the added heading in the ESV version before Revelation 19.  It reminds us that all believers will be “Rejoicing in Heaven” because of the salvation victory of Jesus over sin and death.

[Rejoicing in Heaven] After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God… -19:1

Then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. -1 Corinthians 15:54-56a

When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory

Onto the next two verses.  Verse 3 refers to the book of 1 Corinthians…

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. -1 Corinthians 13:12a

 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  -1 Corinthians 15:52-53a

[Verse 3]
One day we will see face to face, Jesus
Is there a greater vision of grace
And in a moment, we shall be changed
On that day

Finally, we are encouraged by Paul not to lose heart, but to finish the race…

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  -2 Corinthians 4:17

[Verse 4]
And one day we’ll be free, free indeed, Jesus
One day all this struggle will cease
And we will see Your glory revealed
On that day


Scripture, history, and theology teach that the common rhythm of the story of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ is fundamental to all Christian worship. It is the framework for free church worship as much as it is the framework for the liturgical churches. There is only one story to be told and acted out.

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

DAVID Preview Video!

I have had numerous questions about available video for the DAVID show.  

So, we are going to release a short 11 min teaser from the weekend so you can get a taste of it and invite others to the show in.  (CLICK HERE FOR TICKET INFO)

Until then, I hope you enjoy this preview video from DAVID!

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!


The other morning, the Christmas tree was twinkling as the darkness slowly lifted.  I had gotten ready for the day and was making a sandwich in the kitchen.  Sara was reading her Bible in the living room while our son played on the floor.  And then I heard it…

“Zion, don’t mess with the Christmas tree…”

Now we knew that the “little man” would want to mess with the tree.  So this year, we purchased a 4′ tree and put it on a full size table.  We also put the ornaments a little higher up the tree so he couldn’t reach them.  However, this doesn’t stop him from trying to grab the lowest branches and lights to put them in his mouth.  I know.  Why would you put pine tree branches and Christmas lights in your mouth?  I don’t know.  The kid is 11 months so…whatever.

“Zion!  NO!”

I put down the Mayo and started walking towards the living room because I knew this wasn’t going to end well.  I arrived in the living room to discover that the “little man” was in a heap of trouble.  He had managed to distract his mom by messing with the Christmas tree, crawl to the other side of the room, where she had left her Bible, and rip a page out of the gospel of John.

This kind of thing happens all the time on a cosmic scale as we mess up God’s world.  Why doesn’t he just destroy us all and start over?  It’s the same reason that my wife cares for her son more than any book she owns.  Love.

Love makes people do crazy things.  The stories we tell in literature and film are full of examples of the crazy things people will do for love…It’s the motive behind a thousand songs and poems.  It’s woven into the fabric of our universe because it’s reflective of the very heart of God.  Love is what sends Jesus into the humble estate of Mary’s womb.  It leads him through his quiet life, his rambunctious public ministry and his agony at Golgotha.*

This Christmas, let’s enter into the love song of Jesus.  It’s a song of suffering as he hung on the cross, but also one of praise.  He invites us to sing this Christmas carol of praise to the God who saves through his sacrificial love.  As we sing in the carol, “What Child Is This?”

Vs2: Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.**


*Quote from “Rhythms of Grace” by Mike Cosper.

**Lyrics by Will­iam C. DixThe Man­ger Throne, 1865.