Tag Archives: essentials

My favorite places…. (Essentials Red Vineyard 09 Week 1 Post)

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

One of my favorite pictures of me as a boy is of me walking alone on a northern Michigan trail around the small lake that my grandparents lived on.  I am standing alone, comfortable in my surroundings, with a beautiful fern frond in my hand.   If I don’t specifically remember that scene, I remember many like it.   In one I am walking or running alone on a Lake Michigan beach, separated from my family by a few hundred yards, and alone in swirl of creative thoughts, songs, and amusement.   In another, we are hiking at a State park and I am running – running with pure joy on my face as I dodge maples, jump over fallen birches, and crash through crackling leaves with no other purpose then to really feel alive.

I realize now that I was worshiping.  Sometimes I actually was thinking about God.  At other times just the fact that I felt more alive, more HUMAN, was reflecting glory to God.  Here I am reminded of that quote from Iraneous that the glory of God is man fully alive.

Often, as my mom used to say, I just needed to be alone.

Soon, I realized that I was an extrovert, and I often succombed to the silent pressure for all to become extroverts.   I would never have expressed that I enjoyed being alone, but as I reflect back on it, I always found a way to get there.  Although I think I would have survived high school a lot more easily if I had taken even more time to be alone.

Nature is a space I have often sought for experiencing God.  I live in the suburbs, so I have to drive to get somewhere really pretty, but I am learning to heed the call to find God spaces that are near me.  There is a drainage ditch that runs through the middle of my subdivision.  It is about 30 yards wide.  Well, because it hardly even rains here in Texas, it is almost always dry.  There, I go sometimes with a camp chair and just sit under the trees, watch and listen to the crackling leaves, and allow the embers of humanity to ignite into a heart blazing with love and wonder for my Love, my Creator, my Savior.Huntsville, TX

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The effect of soaking in theology for worship leaders (essentials blue 09 – week 4)

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

Long have I appreciated the Worship leaders and pastors who not only get up in front of folks and emote, but have the ability to construct foundation theological experiences that lead people into accurate understandings of the saving work of Christ, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and the love of the Father.

For this reason, I am loving the mental and theological crunches that Dan and the Institute is asking us, (a group gifted in emotional expression) to go through.   In his Week 4 Video summation Dan described his hope that our soaking in these truths about God and the outworking of his kingdom would flow over into our writing, our songs, our literature our preaching, our relationships, and our approach to Christianity.  I can already see it happening in me and the others in my church that are walking with me through this course.

In my sermons, I have a renewed focus on inviting the heavenly and earthly spheres to interlock and creating “thin” places where our citizenship in the heavenly kingdom can be more fully tasted.  In my prayers, I feel more authority and confidence as I freely embrace the members of the Trinity as a collective and as separate entities.  I have been given language to more creatively and vividly express the activity of the kingdom and the purpose of God throughout the ages.

Indeed, becuase of this course, I already feel a renewed hope that I am playing an important role in God’s kingdom.  I am a reconciliar, a SalvificStoryTeller, an ImageBearer, and a SubCreator.  I am not divine, but I there is something of a pilot light of divinity that lights my furnace and keeps me hot for God and the kingdom.  Oh God that you would turn up the thermostat in my personal life, in my pastoring, and in my worship leading!

A Christian Worldview (Essentials Blue 09)

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

God is the original personality and the ever-extant community. God is infinite creativity expressed in Trinitarian divinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a whirling dervish of expressed adoration, mutual satisfaction and creative action. Their fingers have fondled the stars and forged the deep valleys of the seas. Their divine dance has spoken into existence all that exists; the breath of his words gives it all life and holds it all together.

God’s very essence is love. For this reason he spoke into existence all that is known, all that is mystery and all that is man. As the crown of his creation, he created humans to join in, and expand the worship circle pulsating out from the divine community. The chief purpose of man is as a conduit for reflecting the glory of God throughout the earth and for presenting before God a display of how his divinity is expressed and acknowledged in all the created order.

It was his boundless love that led him, in spite of his foreknowledge of their pending rejection, to place vestiges of his very image in man. The result was that his most cherished creation could choose to remain forever in his circle of love or allow the seeds of self-infatuation to sprout a life of separation. It was the pleasure of God to love and receive love from image-bearers who were aware they could do otherwise. In one succulent swallow, men choose the latter and destined all of human history to a fruitless search for self-actualization.

God, however, did not abandon his creation connection. Faced with the reality of man’s chosen isolation, he began working within a new paradigm of God-man interaction based on the echoes (1) of his presence that no human can fully suppress. Moving back and forth between heaven and earth God made himself known to the heart of man through the beauty of creation, the longing for relationship, the desire for spirituality, and the hunger for justice. His interaction in history crescendoed in his revelation to Abraham and his decedents and climaxed in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.

His wandering flock found a way back into the circle of the eternal heavenly community by embracing Jesus’ death and resurrection as their own.

In Jesus, God jumpstarted the kingdom he had established to share with humans so long ago. Those who re-establish relationship with God through Jesus begin to share in the resources of the concurrent heavenly realm. The effect of this ever-increasing intersection of the now (the decaying kingdom of man) and the not-yet (the everlasting kingdom of God) is a world indelibly and progressively marked by beauty, relationships, spirituality and justice.

At the end of this age, God will put an end to the painful products of man’s posture of independence. With Jesus established as King, every knee will bow and all of creation will rejoice. He will complete his “re-creation” of the world and place his reborn man, as his creation caretakers and image bearers (2) for all time.

(1) N.T. Wright, Simply Christian
(San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), 1-40.

(2) Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Theology: The Nature of Humans
(New Brunswick, Canada: St. Stephen’s University, 2008)

The language of the interlocking ages (e*b Fall 09 week 3)

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

For the past several months I have been preaching through Philippians on Sunday mornings.  It seems that in each section I delve into, Paul is calling people to look heavenward, set their sights on the future, and be motivated by the breaking through of the coming eschaton into our current experience.

So the language N.T. Wright (1) has been employing to refer to heaven, or the co-existing kingdom of God has been helpful in explaining what it is that Paul is so fired up about.   It is not some distant death dependent dwelling place of God for which Paul is pursuing his “prize.”  No, he is seeking the “power of the resurrection” right there in his time and space.  He is vividly aware that he and his Philippian cohorts have already been made “citizens” of heaven and that the benefits of that citizenship should follow them around wherever they go.

At the same time he is extremely motivated by the knowledge that at the end of the age, all the glimpses he gets of the new creation will replaced with scenic overlooks.

His other focus is that of living a cruciform lifestyle that includes an embracing of suffering and focus on Chirst in his life and death.   But right now what is more intriguing to me is how the language of Wright’s book gives us a kind of scaffolding of images with which to understand the reality of the “already” kingdom – or the creation that is “already” being made new.

(1) N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), 55-140

Week 2: A lot to cover in a little time (essentials blue)

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

Wow.  This week was lot of info to process.  I was laughing when Dan Wilt was mentioning how very cursory our treatment of these themes was.  I am sure he is right, but I still find it to be hard to separate out all the pieces to process.

I really like Wright’s second section (1)  What sticks out to me most is that he is presenting new language for kingdom concepts that have been hard to explain.  It feels like he is helping me to have a solid foundation so that other problematic areas now don’t seem as difficult to navigate.

What I need to navigate now is bed, though!  More to come.

(1) N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

(San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), 55-140

Leitmotif (essentials blue fall 09)

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

The word that is sticking out the most to me as I work through Wright’s (1) material this week, is leitmotif. Merriam-Webster (2) defines the term as such:

1 : an associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation especially in a Wagnerian music drama 2 : a dominant recurring theme

It is this idea that God has incorporated, in not only the story of his people Israel throughout history, but also in each and every one of us – a repetition of exhile and homecoming, of jumping off the ship and getting pulled back into the lifeboat, and of his people contaminating his creation and him putting it back together.

As Christians, we cling fiercely to this leitmotif of hope.  God will come again and rescue us out of despair.  It is the backdrop of the great psalmists and poets, and the inspiration behind much of the worship that captures our hearts.  Yes!  God will come again and make right the wrong.  He will tend to his garden again.  He will (and can) cause the withering stalk of our lives to produce flowers.  From the ugliness of our relationships and our decisions, he will create beauty.

I must start including this term in my vocabulary, and certainly in my thoughts.  I am on the lookout for leitmotif, for the reocurrance of the great restorative themes of God.

(1) Wright, N. T. Simply Christian: Why Christian Makes Sense. San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006

(2) “Leitmotif.” Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. 12th ed. 2008.

Essentials Blue Blogosphere: Meet Benjamin

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

Welcome friends, readers, worship leaders and the internet invited masses.  This blog is for my waxing on the world of worship and discovering my roots and place in the long line of Jesuslovers.  In the end, I desire for depth – both in my worship leading and my friendship with our King.  But my longing for the latter far outweighs the former.