For my final project, I decided to arrange a hymn.  I am not familiar with many hymns as I became part of the church during a time when hymns were not very popular – dare I say it was what the “old people” used in the early service at church.

During this course, I became so much more aware of the richness, beauty, and wisdom that is found in our history, and hymns became a prevalent way that I could connect with it.

I hope to continue to go deeper on this adventure and arrange more hymns for use in our church,and perhaps yours.

Chord Chart (pdf)

Audio (mp3)

1. It is Well With my Soul, Words: Horatio G. Spafford, 1873; Music: Philip P. Bliss, 1876

2. Scripture reading from Psalm 116:5-9, Holy Bible – NIV, (c) 1973, 1978, 1984

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Advertisements

For my creative project, I recorded a song I actually wrote some time ago that kept coming to mind.  This course was very much for me about connecting with God and learning again how to respond to God’s love instead of acting as though I am initiating it.

Without further ado, here’s the mp3 and chord chart:

Chord Chart (pdf)

Audio (mp3)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Green Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about different significant times in my life – specifically as they relate to worship. Yeah – taking a course which assigns such tasks is a motivating factor, but it’s not the end. Rather, I find myself reflecting on time in a whole new way.

But what I am going to blog about tonight is a space, or rather a particular set of spaces. Sanctuaries.

I’ll start with the first one I remember. It’s one of the only times I remember my mom taking me to church as a youngster. I sat in a pew, bored out of my mind, and couldn’t understand why they served such tiny refreshments (Communion). I was glad we didn’t have to go back. I can’t tell you much about that sanctuary, only that I was glad to leave it behind.

Now to the one I lead worship in every Sunday, and most I’ve been in since then. What a magical place. It’s a place filled with memories of powerful encounters, Spirit-filled times of prayer and worship, and also times of bitter disappointment and grieving.

Fill it with 200 people and it becomes a completely different place than when it’s just me. And try leading worship under the stage lights in the middle of summer when the a/c goes out.

Sanctuaries are spaces in which I can recall so many powerful events taking place. Receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, taking communion for the first time, getting baptized, receiving the call to church planting, playing on worship teams, leading worship, seeing people get saved, seeing healings take place, weeping with friends over good things.

They have also been spaces where I have wept with friends over hard things. In early spring 2006 friends of mine lost their seven month old son and we had a memorial service at our church. Late that autumn we were having another service for friends that essentially lost their baby after a few short days.

I have found as I think about spaces, what stands out to me isn’t so much how those spaces looked. Perhaps if I had been to some majestic works of architecture, I might reflect otherwise. But up until this point, what has stood out to me is what has taken place in those spaces. And how I hope and long for even more.

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Red Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Hi All –

I decided to write a song for my creative project. For those of you not familiar with the Essentials Blue course, it is a five-week online course in worship theology and biblical worldview. The final assignment is a creative project that is based on the theological ideas presented and digested during the five-week course.

I got the chorus somewhere between weeks 1 and 2. At that time I was grappling with the idea that we, as temples of the Holy Spirit, are points of intersection between heaven and earth. When heaven breaks in to earth, creation is made new. God actually allows us to be ones through whom it begins to happen here and now [1].

I set out to specifically attempt to tell the story – of our creation, relationship with God, separation from God by sin, forgiveness through the cross, and resurrection. While I was tempted to end the song there for the sake of finishing it, I didn’t feel it was quite finished.

Another idea that I have been filled with as a result of this course is that there is an echo in this world of God’s longing for justice. Often the ways that I think of justice being served, I am not capable of seeing through. But when I begin to realize that God’s longing for justice on this earth is satisfied with creation being made new, I feel empowered to be an instrument of his justice.

I have gone through a few drafts of this song, here’s the latest (and below a link to the first draft with a different feel):

New mp3:
All Things New V2 – mp3

New chord chart:
All Things New V2 Chord Chart

Here’s the mp3:
All Things New – mp3

And the pdf chord chart:
All Things New – Chord Chart

[1] N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006), 126

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

I’ll never forget the first time I attended a worship service that was relevant to me – just days before my 14th birthday. I had spent the night before running and hiding from the law. A girl I had known since kindergarten invited me, so I went. Ah, the power of a long-lasting crush.

I was immediately captivated by what was going on. I felt something that I could not describe – Glory to the King [1] is a great picture of what I experienced. About 6 weeks later, I was saved – literally. I do not know if I’d still be a living free man today had it not happened when it did. No one had explained salvation to me. I raised my hands (for the first time) during worship, and God spoke to me, “You’re saved”. I didn’t even know what that meant, so I asked someone to explain it.

This produces several thoughts:

  1. Worship is a life transforming act that is glorifying to God. Not only is the act of worship itself glorifying to God, but the reality that we become more like God when we worship him further brings glory to God [2]. It is a response to the reality of who he is [3], and carries the task of telling the story of creation and new creation. [4]
     
  2. Worship is relevant. God, as chief creator, gave us the gift of music and creativity to help us in our worship participation, experience, and expression. That which grabbed my attention when coming into the worship service that glorious day was the music. Being a musician, it was something that I could relate to. It immediately captivated me, drawing me nearer. It was then that I began to experience what I now know to be the Presence of God. Worship wasn’t designed to be something that we do begrudgingly or in which we miserably participate knowing that somehow we are pleasing to God. Rather, it is an act that is live-giving, exciting, and something that is ultimately irresistible, regardless the posture of our heart.
     
  3. Worship brings the Kingdom. Never underestimate the power of worship. It is not the singing of songs to a distant God who is pleased with our loyalty, but rather the pouring out of our affection to God and him lavishly and wastefully pouring out his love over us (intimacy), and making us more like him. As we become more like him, his kingdom comes even more. We become points of intersection between the Kingdom of God and the earth [5]. From being these points of intersection – through us – lives are made new, wrongs are made right, creation is restored to the full beauty that God made, relationships are reconciled, and salvation comes. We become part of the story of The Kingdom.
     
  4. As we lead worship, we must remember that worship is about people and God, not only one or the other. We must communicate the eternal truths of who God is in a way that people are empowered to respond to who he is and experience who he is in worship (accessibility). Worship can appear unattractive to people when we forget the truth about the one we are worshipping [6].

    As well, I believe we should always lead expecting that the lost and broken will be in our midst. I nearly weep every time I sing the familiar lines, “Did you feel the people tremble, did you hear the singers roar when the lost began to sing of Jesus Christ the saving one?” and “Do you feel the darkness tremble, when all the saints join in one song, and all the streams flow as one river to wash away our brokenness?” [7] I’m not suggesting that the only way that people will experience life change is through worship, but I am suggesting that there may not be a more powerful way that we encounter God than in worship. It is, in fact, what we were made to do.

We should always treat every opportunity we have as worship leaders as opportunities to see all these things happen. We should always have hearts, bodies, minds, and souls that are ready to participate in the coming of The Kingdom. We should lead with the expectancy that these are not simply great things that we believe, but that they are a reality (integrity).

[1]Chris Lizotte, Glory to the King (Mercy/Vineyard Publishing, 2007)
[2] N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006), 148
[3] Ibid, 143
[4] Ibid, 149
[5] Ibid, 124
[6] Ibid, 149
[7] Martin Smith, Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble (Curious? Music UK, 1995)

* This writing has been largely influenced by several works and articles not specifically footnoted above, which include the following:
N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006)
Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Theology: (St. Stephen: St. Stephen’s University, 2008)
George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Popular Expositions on the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Okay, so I didn’t say which Saturday before dinner to come back on… 🙂

I have just taken part in quite a week!  We have begun building children’s classrooms at our church – two stories with three classrooms on the bottom, two on top, and then a small storage area.  The first phase is to complete the three classrooms on the bottom.  We have one room ready for tomorrow – which is really exciting!

As I have worked on the designing, framing, electrical and other aspects of these classrooms, I have realized what a joy it is to get to be creative in this way.  As a musician, I experience creativity in the typical artistic expressions, but this week getting to build has been awesome – probably something I could see myself doing for a living – if I could make what I do in the software industry, have the flexibility to work from home…  oh wait.  Darn.  I knew I’d find some not so compelling attributes.

Nonetheless, I have enjoyed the opportunity to create, and have imagined those rooms filled with children experiencing God as I have prayed over studs as they are being nailed in place, sheets of drywall being attached to those studs with screws using one of my favorite tools – the cordless impact driver (you must try one sometime – then you’ll probably feel as I – you must have one!).

I am thankful that God has poured out creativity and given us the tools and canvases to use to exercise that creativity.

 

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

Some of you that have perused my blog may have noticed that I have done the Essentials Blue course before.  Alas, it is true.  Maybe the second time around, I’ll be able to grasp a few things :-).  Actually, most of my worship team is going through the course with me, which is quite exciting.  God has great things in store for us – I know it!

Part of the journey I have been on while participating in this course is that of discovering what justice is, what it means to God, what it means to the world, and what it means to me.

One of the things I have become aware of is that I have changed quite a bit this past decade.  Recently, discussions of the Freedom of Choice Act have surfaced, and a number of people have become quite vocal about their thoughts and feelings about this.

Ten years ago, I would have been quite hostile towads those that support this act.  Today, while I don’t at all support the act, I find that I am more concerned with finding ways to personally be a positive influence in the lives of those who might consider or are considering getting an abortion, than I am with being an activist about it.  I think all of these things have their place, but where I feel God challenging me as it comes to issues of justice is this: what is God’s heart concerning the matter, and what am I willing to do about it?

Recently, the answer to that question was completed.  Eight years ago, I found out that my older sister was pregnant, but was going to get an abortion because children simply don’t fit into the plan for her life.  When I discovered this, I did everything I could to communicate to her that it wasn’t the right thing to do, and pleaded with her to reconsider.

Thankfully, she did, and after 8 years, that child has become the newest member of my family.

I’d love to brag about our obedience to God and how we’ve trusted him through this whole thing, but to be quite honest, we were not very open to this latter event happening.  When Peter was three, we had the opportunity to adopt him, but my sister reneged.  We decided at that time that even if she changed her mind, my wife and I were closed to giving it another try.  We just couldn’t bear to take another spin on the emotional roller coaster.

Then something happened: God spoke.  I knew it.  And I told him during the late hours of the night: I can’t tell Lórien.  If you really want this to happen, you’re going to have to tell her.

The very next morning, my wife awoke me with tears streaming down her face.  God told her.

Thank you God for, even knowing that we are weak, frail, and dense, choosing us to be agents of bringing about justice on the earth.  Would you continue to use us for your purposes, for your glory?

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship StudiesSt. Stephen’s UniversityEssentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt