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

A Child of God

 

He sees me and instantly his eyes light up and a smile covers his whole face.  When I nuzzle his neck and pretend like I’m eating him he laughs with pure joy.  I sing and he stops what he is doing to gaze at me with eyes full of wonder.  Later, when he is getting tired, he grabs ahold of my shirt and pulls his head into my chest to find comfort and then sleep.

Yes. These last few months have been ones of sleepless nights and poopy diapers, but even more so, they have been filled with wonder and joy.  I don’t have any long profound message for you except to say that I’m realizing again what it means to be a child of God.  This is exactly what Jesus meant when he said,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Do I look for God and does my heart light up when I catch glimpses of his glory?

Do I laugh with pure joy at his gifts and love?

Do I stop what I’m doing to listen with wide-eyed wonder at his creation?

Do I go to him and find rest in his arms?

It is in these simple life moments that I am filled with such love for my new, little son.  And as I lay him down to sleep in his crib and he rolls over onto his side, (Don’t do that, kid!  Haven’t you heard of SIDS??!?!?) I remember that I too am a child of God.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Our worship each week is meant to be a time of grand celebration—celebration of the living, dying, and rising again of Jesus for our salvation and for the salvation of the world. . . . It brings the past into the present by telling and acting out 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.

 

…God has given us vehicles of time, space, sound and movement as ways of experiencing our encounter with God. In this way all creation not only serves as a vehicle for worship, but actually joins in the praises of God.

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

Spoken-word Psalm 6

I was in the hospital again this week with a friend.  He’s home now and is going to be ok.  I met with another friend over lunch who is struggling with what is happening in his life right now.  Both were struggling so I thought there might be others out there too.

Here is a psalm that I re-wrote for you when you’re tired, hurting, sick or just emotionally worn out.  It was originally written by David because he struggled with the same kinds of things…and he wrote this to God…for himself…for you…

Lord,

don’t hammer me in your anger
    or whoop me in your wrath.
Please have some mercy, Lord, for

I.

am.

tired.

    Heal me, Lord, for my stomach’s on fire.
My soul is delving deep in darkness
    And my heart is a liar.

Turn, Lord, so I can see you;
    save me because of your animating love.
The numb no longer know your name.
    Who praises you while staring at the TV screen?

(Remote control:  click, click, click…)

And here I am worn out from…everything

All night, I sit like a vegetable with arms
    and mumble many mono-syllables.
My eyes grow heavy and hurt;
    and then my nose

starts

to

run.  (snort)

Get behind me, sarcasm,
    (And yeah!, the Lord has seen my selfishness and…that sarcasm too.)
The Lord has heard me “hello?” for help;
    the Lord accepts my pathetic prayer.

All my insecurity will be overwhelmed with holy dreams and sleep;
    as my will repents and prays,

“…the Lord my soul to keep”.

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.