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Monthly Archives: June 2012

2. When you were reading about the nature of the God we worship, which aspect of his character most draws you to worship? Which aspect of God’s character have you always found the most fascinating? Which aspect of God’s character do you believe their needs to be a fresh “retelling” of in our generation?

The aspect of God’s character that most draws me to worship is God as King. I have been captured by the concept & real-life implications of “the Kingdom of God” for some years now & it hasn’t gotten old. I think I feel this way for a couple reasons.

It makes sense of my world. I was having a conversation with my dad, who is not a Christian, 2 months ago about God. He always says that “God must have a sick sense of humor, because of how f*cked the world is”. After years of hearing this & quietly thinking “you don’t know the God that I know”, I said to him 2 months ago “Dad, you’re hearing a funny version of The Story… what if God isn’t in control of the world we live in.. what if it’s infected by a cancer that infects all aspects (think physical cancer to addiction to corporate greed to the fire in the belly of a young man that might lead him down a broken path, etc).. that the world is inherently good, but it’s f*cked up?” “& what if God himself has let this occur because it’s the unfortunate, yet obvious, result of giving your kids free will”.. “& what if God is in the business now of restoring all of humanity back to the way things were meant to be, where there is no pain, addiction, cancer, greed.. and if we let Him, he’s using you & I to do this bit by bit”.

Now my dad is someone who I constantly see ‘do the right thing’ these days (this wasn’t always the case.. he admittedly was pretty self-absorbed through his 20s & 30s). I think he was able to see a glimpse of a more Biblical story that day.. that Christians don’t mindlessly believe in some story that doesn’t make sense. I bring this up, because this story I told him is the story of the Kingdom of God. It’s actually the “gospel”, at least according to John the Baptist & Jesus.

The other big piece of why this draws me to worship is because it’s more than a concept to me. The whole idea of God putting things to rights, including reconciliation between two people or two races, physical healing, slowly changing a person’s life all comes from God being the King. That where He reigns, life blooms. I see it happening all around me and even in me (even though it sometimes takes looking at spans of years to see it clearly). There’s hope to me in that. And worship, to me, is my expression of surrender  to the King and the call of His Kingdom.

In terms of character aspects of God that I’ve always found interesting… definitely the Trinity. I find the theology of the Trinity to make so much sense of human relationships & community, yet the theological concepts are so dissident that it almost feels made up. I really appreciated Dan quoting some early theologians & leaders on how we got to the theology of the Trinity. It truly is an analog, dissident concept of 3-in-1, yet I think every human being knows it’s true in their bones.

In terms of which aspect I think needs to be retold in our time & culture, I’d say all of them.. equally. They each challenge cultural stereotypes of who God is and as a whole present a full, complex (in a deep way) person.

 

3. The suffering and resurrection of Jesus are the most powerful hinge points for worship we have in the Scriptures. How does what you read make you think differently about why Christ came, what his resurrection is all about, or what our eternal destiny is? These big theological ideas, the cross, resurrection, heaven, earth, the Kingdom and the New Creation have been important themes for Christians related to worship for millennia. What areas “caught you by surprise” as you read? Was there anything you found yourself joyfully agreeing with, or strongly disagreeing with? Why?

I love how Dan talked about the cross being a ‘vicarious act’. For whatever reason, it bugs me when I hear people talk the drama of the cross framing it as Jesus really did something great for you (in terms of physical pain), so that’s why we should be grateful to him. Don’t hear me wrong… I get that Jesus suffered physically.. but I think the real significance of the cross is deeper than all that. The idea that Jesus as the ‘New Adam’ demonstrates the better way of life (suffering for his enemies) by dying a horrible death by the hands of the very creations that he created is so much more true to the point of the cross (at least in my mind).

I find the concept of ‘New Creation’ challenging the popular views of heaven & the afterlife to be incredibly fascinating and life giving. When I first started reading about that years ago it just felt revolutionary and so different from what the popular Christian culture (heck, even the popular non-Christian culture) believes. But, it makes sense of the story of God and it makes sense of the personal story I’m living. It means that everything I do here on earth in the mundane has significant value because life goes on in the future, with actual time and relationships and work. So what we do now really does matter.

Over & out.

Worship artisan – schooled in the worship arts.. thinking about what it is in it’s expansive sense as well as within a faith community

They know what it is to do this at a funeral, hospital. They know what it is to lead people to a place where they can interact with God.

Wired to express the faith creatively. Read More

Questions: 2. In what ways have you seen God be the “subject of the sentence” or the “object of the sentence” in your own worshiping life? In other words, when have you seen in your own life that worship became more about you and your pursuit than about God and His?

3. In what ways have you seen “embedded theology” at work in your own life? In what ways have you chosen to do “deliberative” theology, and what experience(s) triggered that choice? Can you think of a moment you moved from an “embedded theology” to a “deliberative theology” about God?

There are a few very specific moments where I have been challenged past ‘worship being about me & my pursuit rather than God & His’. These interventions also illustrate ways that I’ve experienced ’embedded theology’ as well as chosen ‘deliberative theology’.

One of the first that comes to mind came after about 5 years of the church I was part of experiencing a great outpouring of God’s Spirit and I was about 17 years old.

I experienced the love of God as ‘father’ in a tangible, yet supernatural way that I really needed… especially as a kid who was product of a broken home & divorced family. I personally felt loved and ‘secured’ in a way that, I’m sure, significantly changed the course of my life in the subsequent years.

From the outside, these times probably looked crazy: people falling down during meetings, unpredictable things could happen from meeting to meeting, people might laugh uncontrollably while they prayed, or yell, cry, shake, etc. But for me, at least,  GREAT healing happening internally, even as strange phenomena may have been happening externally. Much of this healing came while in the ‘place’ of worship, as Dan speaks about.

The moment of truth, if you will, was at the tail end of this when a speaker challenged a bunch of us young people that “worship is not about you.” I can remember my 17 year old self feeling perturbed by that statement. On the one hand, of course.. it sounds so self-centered to even think that worship would be about anyone but God, but on the other, my experience (a valid, life-changing experience) was that worship was mostly about what God was doing to & for me. I connected best to God through prayers & songs that were about both his love & fathering me and my deep need for Him. I didn’t really ‘get’ those that were more external from me and more about simply praising God for who He is and what He’s done and is doing, regardless of how it affects me.

Prior to that intervention, I don’t think I had the capacity to live out true “giving of oneself, emptying oneself, epitomized in Jesus’ self-offering in the garden of Gethsemane (as the only true way to peace, healing and restoration in any given universe” as Dan said on page 6). My embedded theology and story had been so tweaked, that I needed a full course correction. I think that intervention was one of the milestones in the maturing of my faith and personhood, perhaps even more so than the very necessary healing that had been taking place within me.

Over the next period of time, that statement (“worship is not about you”) haunted me. I had to wrestle with that concept and started to experience what I think Ellis was referring to with “our new celestial friends will understand that giving oneself, emptying oneself, epitomized in Jesus’ self-offering in the garden of Gethsemane, is the only true way to peace, healing and restoration in any given universe.”

Another pitstop on that journey occurred a few years later while I was the Saturday night worship leader for our church.  I was confronted by my pastor because I wasn’t tithing (or giving any money to the church). He was kind, but straight-up about it and even offered to do a study through the scriptures with me, if I wanted. I honestly, didn’t even know that people ACTUALLY tithed (I knew the Bible talked about it, but didn’t think people actually took it seriously).

So here I was… a prototype of a young worship leader, who for a few years prior was wrestling with this concept that “worship is not about you”, and I would stand in front of a congregation every week leading them in words of devotion, honor and praise, yet in the most basic way possible, I was not living that out. I wrestled with this too (not that I didn’t want to, but actually working out my finances so that I actually did tithe).

Each of these situations required obedience & trust (both to God & other people) beyond what I had personally experienced up till that point e.g. producing a deliberate theology vs what just came natural to me. kp

she will be thankful for the poetry, but will long – deep down – for a better answer.

First of all, every person you will ever meet, including yourself, has a theology. In other words, they have ideas about who God is (or who God is not), and they will live out those beliefs whether they want to or not. Theology shows itself over time, in the way we live, the way we relate, the way we communicate and in the way we worship. Some theology we might see as “good.” Other theology we might see as “bad.” Our theology shows up, often when we least expect it, in the way that we do things, and sometimes, in the way things end up because of our theology. Let’s look at some examples for moment. Read More