I have come to understand that worship is a celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ . . . I now love to be at worship and to experience again and again the reality of Christ. Worship is a celebration that puts me in touch with the truth that shapes my whole life, and I have found it to be a necessary element for my own spiritual formation.

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

Worship challenges secularism because it establishes a relationship with God and sets the world in order. In worship, the good news is happening again. It reaffirms the reality of God, the significance of life, and the worth of the human person.

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

Worship lifts the worshiper out of drudgery and brings meaning to life. Worship links the worshiper with that common set of memories which belong to the Christian family. The memory of Christ and the connection with Christian people throughout history and around the world is made though the celebration of those sacred events of the church year. This happens in every weekly celebration.

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

New Song: I Will Follow

Jesus put it very simply.  First, “who do you say that I am?”.  And secondly, “Follow me”.

That’s it.

This weekend, we are singing a song of commitment stating that we believe Jesus is who he said he was and that we will follow him.  That’s it.  The song itself takes us on a journey of faith.  First, faith is fairly easy…because life is easy.

When the sea is calm and all is right
When I feel Your favor flood my life
Even in the good, I’ll follow You
Even in the good, I’ll follow You

I think this comes from the passage in Mark where a storm threatened to overwhelm the boat the disciples and Jesus were riding in.  Then…

He [Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. -Mark 4:37-39

See.  Life is easy.  But then…

When the boat is tossed upon the waves
When I wonder if You’ll keep me safe
Even in the storms, I’ll follow You
Even in the storms, I’ll follow You

The interesting thing to note, is that this already happened to the disciples in the same story from Mark.  Before he calmed the story, they were wondering if Jesus would keep them safe or not…

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

I believe everything that You say You are
I believe that I have seen Your unchanging heart
In the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow You
I believe and I will follow You

Have you noticed that we keep singing, “I believe every thing that you say you are”?  That makes me ask, “What does Jesus say about himself?”  There are lots of things, but here are just a few…

Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. -John 10:7

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” -John 10:11

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.-John 8:12

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. -John 6:35

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

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:16

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. -Matthew 11:29

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” -John 8:58

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said…-Matthew 4:19

Jesus is all these things and he calls us to follow.  His character, his heart and his love have never changed.  As it says in Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever…

When I see the wicked prospering
When I feel I have no voice to sing
Even in the want, I’ll follow You
Even in the want, I’ll follow You

The people of God have struggled with this for centuries.  If God is good, how can the wicked do so well and the righteous suffer so much?  Asaph writes in the Psalms…

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. -Psalm 73:2-3

Not only that, we all die…

When I find myself so far from home
And You lead me somewhere that I don’t wanna go
Even in my death, I’ll follow You
Even in my death, I’ll follow You

But even in death, we can trust God.  This verse could be referring not only to our deaths, but also to Peter’s.  Jesus prophesied that Peter would be led where he didn’t want to go…that he would be led away, like Jesus, to be crucified.  Peter was also in Rome, far away from his home, in Israel.  But even in his death he followed Jesus.  And we are called to do the same

“…when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!” -John 21:18b-19

But that is not the whole story.  Asaph says that when he saw the glory of God in worship, he remembered that the wicked might prosper now, but they have a very different end than the righteous.  Paul tells us to run the race God has marked out for us because…

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. -1 Corinthians 9:24-25

When I come to end this race I’ve run
And I receive the prize that Christ has won
I will be with You in Paradise
I will be with You in Paradise

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said.

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

DAVID Preview Video!

I have had numerous questions about available video from last weekend’s DAVID show.  Unfortunately, we aren’t going to release the whole thing.  I have committed to perform it for all-for-One Productions in February and we want to save the “rest of the story” until then.  

HOWEVER…

I am going to release a short 11 min teaser from the weekend so you can relive it OR use it as a way to share and invite others to the show in February.  (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!

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…

 

Our culture makes it difficult to experience worship as a means of putting us into contact with the supernatural. . . . There was a time when the idea of mystery was more a part of our thinking. . . . In the prescientific world truth in worship was conveyed in a performative rather than in an intellectual way. Images were important forms of communication. Metaphor, symbol, festivity, drama, and gesture were accepted ways of handing down the work of Christ.

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

God and the Grand Canyon

We were sitting in the shade on the switchback one mile from the top of the Grand Canyon.  Looking out over the canyon, the red rock was bright and you could see the lighter bands of rock in between marking the passage of time.  The Colorado River was so far away that it looked like a ribbon winding it’s way down the bottom of the canyon while high over head the ravens soared with wings wide.  It was a glorious…and then a guy passed us RUNNING UP the trail!

Here I was sweating with a 20 lbs baby on my back and this guy is RUNNING!  Did I mention that I was carrying a 20 lbs human?!?!?

Regardless of my feelings of masculine insecurity in that moment, the Grand Canyon is definitely grand.  Actually, a better way to say it is that it’s so big that your brain can’t comprehend how big it is.  You look down at the path below you and think, “That looks like it’s far away.”  And then, you see hikers on that same trail, and these adult humans look like ants.  And they aren’t even at the bottom of the canyon…that is even farther down.  And then you realize how amazingly big it really is and how small you are.  You realize how awesome the Creator God is and how much we are like a speck of dust.

Later in the week, our family was reading Psalm 104 and I was struck by how many of the images in the psalm fit our Grand Canyon experience…

  • The light in the Canyon at sunrise and sunset is amazing as the light turns to a red/orange and the same colors and shadows in the canyon slowly glow and then fade into blues and greys.
  • As we watched a storm move across the canyon, we could see the band of clouds rolling in and hear the wind whistling around the rim.
  • Going on a Geology Walk, we were amazed at the different layers of rock and how the hard basement rock is so different from the different rock layers above it.
  • Did you know that there are fossils of sea creatures on the rim of the canyon?  There are!  scientists believe that at one point there was a sea/body of water there that later vanished and then the movement of teutonic plates made that part of the earth’s crust heave upwards creating the elevation needed to create the canyon.
  • At a rest stop, we met a Boy Scout troupe who described water gushing out of the rocks at the bottom of the canyon.
  • We also saw the mule train going down into the canyon with riders and supplies.  These sure footed animals are made for the mountains!
  • Driving out of the park, we saw one of the many controlled burns to keep the dead wood and brush under control.  The smoke rolled up from the ground creating a haze the billowed in the rays of sunlight.

So now that I’ve given you a few verbal pictures, here are selections from Psalm 104:

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent
   and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
    and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
    flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches…

All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.