Culture, the face of a people and worship.

March 17, 2009

I remember when ‘Vineyard-type’ music hit the scene, and it changed how people worshiped it seemed. It became more personal, direct, and simple. I loved it, it changed how I worship. I could relate to it, being guitar based and all.

But then I was hearing how missionaries would go abroad and hear the same worship songs done the same way in churches of very different cultures. What they saw was a sacrifice of culture to conform to what was new in worship.

That taught me a lesson. Worship should never stifle culture, but draw it the cultural aspects out. Although recordings seem to immortalize songs, and inherently set a certain standard in production, worship songs should be pliable, to suit the culture it is to be used in, not to change the culture.

It such a small world these days, that is, we are far more in touch with other cultures than any other generation ever could imagine being. Therefore, we need to draw from other cultures and learn from their worship. We will be able to share certain insights as we learn from others.

With congregations that are so culturally diverse these days, especially in large cities, as worship leaders, we need to open one eye in worship and examine who the worshipers are, where they are from, and how they worship. We also need to include them in our worship expression. This can also mean crossing age gaps both ways-including hymns, rap, country and any other form of worship people may use in our congregations. We also need to include expressions other than music-dance, banners, tapestry, paintings, etc.

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

I see culture as the soul expression of a people. And God loves that when it is given to Him. Who are we to stifle that! Although we are one under God, we are many nations as God had designed.

Tradition, the timeless courier of the eternal message we now hold dear.

February 27, 2009

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

You know, I haven’t been one to fully understand, nor appreciate the cost paid to bring me to my faith in Christ, from the time of Christ until now. I admit it. I have taken the ancient faithful for granted. I have not fully appreciated the sacrifice, martyrdom, struggles, traditions, preservation, and persecution that occured far before my short appearance and existence on earth. I see now that tradition has played a great role in me becoming a believer in our saving Lord. After being a believer for most of my life, it is just now that I look back into time to see the struggles and faithfulness of those that brought the only true message of hope for this world into the future, right to me.

I now imagine those faithful before me in time, like sacrifical, tireless marathon runners, ready to pass the baton to the next runner who will run along side them for a time, to synchronize in pace, to grasp and to receive the baton, and to deliver it those in desperate need of it now and in the future. And in that baton is the message of hope for humanity and creation now, and in the future generations. I see now that it is with each selfless step, guided by tried and true traditions, that these runners that have preserved the journey and message for the generations that follow.

The message is simple yet profound, priceless yet free to all. It is eternal and never becomes stale. It is the cure for the worst disease, death. It is the cure to the infection of sin and the eternal destruction it causes. The sacrifice that obtained this eternal cure was the death of the sinless Christ, that is the Son of God our Saviour. And this cure is to be given away freely, at no cost, to all who will receive it. Amazing! What a cure! What a message!

The call of the church is to carry and deliver this cure, in the form of a message of redemption, to the nations of the earth and to the future. Sadly, this journey throughout time has too often been met with persecution, torture and death. Do I really appreciate this? Do I honour the traditions that have been designed to protect and preserve this inscrutable message? Not nearly enough I admit.

I am now understanding that traditions carry and preserve the message of hope as if in a time capsule from the past, or in a bottle drifting over the seas of time to reach the sands of future generations. We find it, open it and now benefit from it. But will we carry it and trust the traditions that have delivered it to us?

I think of a Keven Costner movie, “The Postman”, that fittingly describes the value of the traditions of these valiant travellers that have gone before me. This story is about a lost man that unintentionally takes on the role of a postman and overcomes all odds to deliver messages in a post war-torn America, to communities lost without hope, gripped with fear, and without contact with the rest of America. This postman is then seen as a hero as he learns to follow the tradition of the postman’s motto, “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will keep me from my appointed rounds.” He adopts this tradition as a virtue. I believe that those who have gone before me in Christ had followed a similar motto in much the same way, but with the message of redemption, and at times to their own sacrificial demise.

Traditions such as lent, advent, the Christian year, prayer lecterns, liturgy, and others are still fairly new to me. Though, my mind set toward these has changed. They were simply foreign to me and not part of my Christian experience. I once perceived these as mere religious and non-spiritual acts. How naive I was. I now see the value and richness these traditions bring to the church. Who am I to frown on the tools that I so owe my ultimate salvation to? That is not to say that they saved me. But I owe a debt of gratitude for my salvation to the role of preservation of the message of redemtion through the design of tradition.

I have resolved that one day, my body will most likely be buried in the earth and my role in this world will cease. But the roles of Christian traditions will live on and shout hope to the future generations as they guide humanity to God’s saving grace!

Prayer & Scripture

February 26, 2009

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

Matthew 21:42 (NIV) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures?….”.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Romans 10:17(NIV) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Galatians 3:2(NIV) “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”

We, as worship leaders, need to freshly apply the worship languages of public prayer and scripture reading to our contemporary worship expression by intentionally, communally and creatively preparing worship times to include these ancient and God-designed worship languages. This would also mean changing the typical perception and mind-set of worship expression away from the idea that worship expression needs to be primarily achieved through music and song.

First of all, the church needs to grasp that public prayer and scripture reading are not just religious and pious acts we do to look or feel spiritual or to appease God. These are ways of meeting with God in faith in His very presence, and allowing the scriptures to come alive and change us by His very Word. It is the place where Heaven and earth can meet, a ‘liminal place’, as described by Dan wilt.

Intentionally, we need to rethink the standard ‘three-praise-and-two-worship-songs’ method of worship services that may have the spontaneous leader-led hap-hazard prayer and the occasional scripture reading that lead into the sermon. We need to seek a new healthy balance. That is, by also proportionally including the worship languages of prayer and scripture reading during worship times. This could include drawing from time-proven prayer and scripture readings or lectern resources that have stood the test of time. However, this could also include developing new culturally-concerned and contemporary prayer lecterns that focus on current prayer issues of today, and public scripture reading in modern-day language of the Bible. We may also want to purposely define times when and how these wonderful worship languages are ‘spoken’ during the worship times.

Communally, lay believers should be able to participate in the role of communicating in the worship languages of prayer and scripture reading. We are all ministers, and public prayer and scripture reading should not be left to the elite clergy or pastoral leaders, but should be inclusive to all that can pray and read scripture including all believing woman, men and children. This will help to bring purpose to each individual as well as develop the church as a whole in knowing and understanding scripture and in praying to God publically.

Creatively, we may want to use art, drama, dance and today’s modern multi-media tools to communicate the worship languages of prayer and public scripture reading, similar as to what is being used today for worship or praise music. Who’s to say that the church should not use these modern day technological tools and creative ideas also with scripture reading and public prayer? Therefore, being ancient and future minded worship leaders, we must shift our focus from just the contemporary typical worship pattern we are so used to, and to share the stage, ‘time’ and ‘space’ of the worship time with the creative expression of the worship languages of prayer ans scripture reading. We may even want to write songs that expound on the wonders of prayer and scripture reading in a community setting, encouraging the use of these languages and changing the perception as a whole of these languages.

Conversely, by not including these invaluable worship languages of public prayer and scripture reading to the level that the church could, the church has unintentionally established a pattern of non-prayer and non-scripture reading. And by doing so, the church is being limited in the richness these languages can bring to the church in connecting with God, in growing in scripture, in involving all believers, and in the power of communal prayer. Ultimately, this in turn diminishes the effect the church can have on the world and communities it is in, as they are not as knowledgeable of the living word, nor confident in praying. We don’t hear the heart beat of God if our heart is not beating regularily in prayer and scripture.

In a time and age when it seems that private and public patterns of both prayer or scripture reading are quite lax in this modern age, it would serve the church well if worship leaders re-established healthy repetitive patterns of public prayer and scripture reading during worship times. And through song, worship leaders could encourage the growth of private patterns of the same, along with worship:

Psalm 92 (NIV) A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.
1 It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

Space and Time

February 17, 2009

For the Institute of Contemporary And Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Red Online

I believe that emotion is the first language we learn to use to communicate with as infants. And emotions so bond our memories to our hearts, good and bad. (Smell is next I am understand.) So when I recall the spaces and times that I hold dear, these are the times:

Summer Evenings:
When I was a child in the early 70’s, my church then was Rexdale Alliance, in the north west part of Toronto. It would hold outdoor summer Sunday evening services in the back parking lot. We’d bring lawn chairs, picnic blankets, snacks, dress casually, fellowship with each other, worship and hear a sermon while under the setting sun. I could still feel the warm breeze during these dear open air services. It was like, no church ceiling could hinder our worship up to God in the heavens above us. It was always a favourite time and place (space) of mine each summer. We’d sing what I now call, hand-clapping songs like, “He Has Made Me Glad”, “King of Kings and Lord or Lords”,and other simple choruses probably from Maranatha. Seek Ye First I remember was always popular. Always wonderful times.

Then when we moved away, to Midland, Ontario, our church, Midland Alliance, would have their summer Sunday evenings services in a Zeller’s mall parking lot not unlike a drive-in theatre. My mother would pull up our beat up green Dart and we’d watch a Christian movie like, “Pilgrim’s Progress” in segments over several weeks, as it was projected on the outside mall wall. Someone would speak before and after the segment. If I recall, other churches participated too which I found really nice. We’d bring our visiting cousins to these services and have a good time.

Christmas Carols;
At Christmas time, as a kid in Toronto, I always enjoyed singing carols in apartment buildings, neighbourhoods and senior homes. The songs would be spontaneity, and we would really worship with them. They were always Christ focused and worshipful. These were great times of fellowship and blessings to those who received the singing. We’d all pile into vans, kids and adults alike, and have a great time. Then later return to the church for hot chocolate and home made sandwiches and baked goods.

As a child and when I got older and participated in youth and young adult groups, I’d always look forward to retreats to places like Muskoka Woods ( The Muskokas is known commonly in Ontario as ‘cottage country’, several hours north of Toronto. It is surrounded by lakes, forests, wildlife, rolling hills and set on the Canadian shield jutting out. Sometimes we’d camp in a tent. Other times we’d stay in cabins. (Man, thinking about it now makes my heart ache! I loved it so much! I can smell the pine and camp fires, hear the water gently lick the beach, hear the crackle and gentle singing by the communal camp fire, hear and see the bugs in the camp bathrooms, remember the pranks (lol!), taste the camp food in the metal warming trays in the big meeting rooms with the antlers and muskies mounted on the wooden walls. Sigh. Such good times). Whether it was as a child during a church family retreat, or with youth or ‘twenty-somethings’, these times were such great times to bond with eachother, nature, and ultimately with God.

Sorry, I have to describe one event: One early Sunday morning as a worship leader, I remember, with a hoarse voice from our worship marathon the night before by the fire, we’d have service in a 2nd level of a boathouse that had windows right around. There were about forty of us. The rising sun was glistening off the breezy lake and hilly treed islands that surrounded us. The boathouse gently rocked, and we’d sing, “Over the mountains and the seas, Your river runs with love for me…I could sing of Your love forever…..”, and it was like we were in heaven in nature, fellowshipping with God. I can’t truly describe how I felt, and still feel. It was like we were touching God’s face.

These spaces and times I always held dear was not in buildings, but ‘outside the box’. The times were when chairs or pews didn’t hinder fellowship. (You didn’t just see the backs of heads). They were times of play, spontaneity, fun with God and His creation and body. We’d go for a hike, worship, canoe, worship, play sports, worship, eat, worship, etc. It was moments of Heaven on earth. And our hearts were moved and changed forever. We were edified and encouraged. We’d retreat, to advance His kingdom when we got back to the city. And I still feel how I felt, for those times, and for God.

Song-Let Your Kingdom Come

February 14, 2009

Let Your Kingdom Come CLet Your Kingdom Come

The Institute of Contemporary And Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt
I wanted to write a song that worships and praises Jesus, yet propels us to respond, and tells us how to respond. Specifically, this song is a personal and direct declaration to Jesus and about who Jesus is to the worshiper, what he did for them on the cross (intentionally mentioned in the song),and the worshipers role now as they respond to what He has done for them/us/me in His ever-present advancing Kingdom for today and the future.

Lord -”Name above all Names”, “You reign on high”, “So just and holy”.
Creator-”Creator of all things”
Community-”You dwell with the broken”, “You restored the place of man with God”.
Redeemer/Restorer of all things-the cross theme, “You said, “It is finished””, “You came for the lowly”, “You restored the place of man with God”.

How we respond to what Christ had done, as well as celebrate and show our reverence towards God-”And we respond with praise and love as we bow”, “And we will be Your servants and kingdom in and to this world”, “We’ll tell Your story to all mankind, every man, woman, child.”,

How God’s voice of love and mercy echo throughout the world-“Your echoes of mercy fills the earth, in all the nations of this world.”

Kingdom Theology or inter-connected spheres of God and Man-”Your kingdom’s here today and forever”, meaning that it is not lost in the past, nor far away in the lofty future by and by, but for today.

The final tag is a simple prayer and a surrender allowing God to lead and do His will. This included the additional phrasing,”through me Lord, and, “Through the church Lord”, making it imminent or today-affecting, personal and communal.

I also wanted to point out the individual (small i’s)and broader humanity (small we’s) effect God’s love has:-”to all mankind, fill the earth, in all the nations of this world, every man, woman child”.

Then in the production of the song, I wanted to be creative with multiple sounds to demonstrate the creativity of God through music, and the delay and reverb to hint on to the “Echoes of God” as mentioned in the book “Simply Christianity” by Bishop N T Wright.

I hope it blesses you all. Believe it or not, the whole song ws done in my bedroom with just me. We live in a great day and age with technology and instruments that can be used for God! I love this day and age for that!

Let Your Kingdom Come
Capo 4 or 5 Play in G ( transposed from B or C)
Intro & tag: |:G Gsus|G D/F#😐

G Gsus-G D G Gsus-G D
Jesus, Name above all Names
G Gsus-G D G Gsus-G D
Jesus, Creator of all things
Jesus, our God You reign
G Gsus-G D G Gsus-G D
You reign on high, on high

Jesus, You dwell with the broken
Jesus, Your cross has spoken
Jesus, You cried,”It is finished”
You were raised on high
From the cross to the sky

Em C2 G D
You restored the place of man with God
Em C2 G D
And we respond with praise, and love, as we bow
Em C2 G D
Your Kingdom’s here today and forever
Am C2 Gsus-G D
And we will be Your servants to this world

Yes we will be Your Kingdom in this world

Jesus, creation is longing
Jesus, salvation is ringing
Jesus, Your echoes of mercy
Fill the earth
In all the nations of this world

Jesus, so just and holy
Jesus, You came for the lowly
Jesus, we’ll tell Your story
To all mankind,
Every man, woman, child

Let Your Kingdom come
(Through me Lord, through Your church Lord)
Let Your will be done (In all the earth)

What Is Worship?

February 13, 2009

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

1. What is worship?

Worship is giving ultimate worth or honour to someone or something deserving of it.(1) In the context of Christianity, it is believers giving God His due ‘worth-ship’, honour and devotion. We worship by choosing to live daily sacrificially(2) for Him in faith, obeying His will as communicated to us through His Word. This includes reverently and humbly surrendering to His Sovereignty as well as, joyous singing, praise and dancing in celebration and honour of His goodness. (3) (4)

(1)Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 39.
(2) Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)
(3)Williams, Don.Who is the God We Worship:Approaching God. What Is Worship DVD. Houston: Vineyard Music USA, 2006.
(4)Psalm 95: 1-3

2. What does music and creativity have to do with it?

God, our Creator, has designed us to be creative in His image.(1) It blesses Him as we move in our creativity, especially in our worship of Him as we turn His notes into song. Biblical worship for the Israelites always was creative with music, singing, dancing, and joyous celebration(2). It echoes what is happening in Heaven.(3) Worship in the church has always involved music, and is often the primary expression of worship in corporate settings. this has included artwork, beautifully crafted symbols, paintings, dramas, hymns and choruses.(4) With the power of contemporary lyrics blended with contemporary music, we are creating a place where God can meet with people, and people can meet with God. (5)

(1)Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 43.
(2)2 Samuel 6:5
(3)Revelation 4 & 5.
(4)Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 44.
(5)Ibid. p42.

3. How does worship further the Kingdom Story in the world?

When worshipers lead or write songs as narratives of God’s love redemption and restoration for humanity and creation, they become Salvific StoryTellers(1). As rescued ones, we have a vital responsibility to become “saved storytellers”, We become those that re-tell the stories of God’s new creation, resurrection work through art, testimony, image and narrative. Also, Dan Wilt writes, “ Snapshots of worship history give us insight into how the Church has utilized art to further the worship story of each generation.”(3)

(1) Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 43.
(2) Ibid. P 33. Augustine
(3) Ibid. p 40.

4.How should all of the above affect how we lead worship as worship leaders?

Being worship leaders, or lead worshipers we have many pastoral responsibilities. (1) 1. To be theologically correct in our creative presentation of the God’s story of love, redemption and restoration.(2)(3) 2. To genuinely worship God ourselves so we are not presenting a counterfeit experience to others.(4) 3. To reflect God’s to others and point others towards God, and not ourselves.(5) 4. To draw from the past and present (6) to propel worshipers into the future in aiding other ‘humans to take their role as ‘lead worshipers” in the created order. (7)5. To encourage become ‘saved storytellers’ and peacemakers with the poor, in their home, at work, with one another, and with creation. (8) 5. To teach that worship is not just done in song but is a life lived and sacrificed to Him, and not just an emotional expression through the arts in times of worship.(9)(10) 7. To create a place through songs where God can meet with people, and people can meet with God.(11) 8. To call forward other creative leaders who can re-tell the Story of God’s great love for humanity via their own creativity. (12)

(1)Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 43
(2)Brown, Brown. Theology and the Worship Leader. Itunes Resource. St. Stephen’s University.
(3)Williams, Don. Why Theology. Itunes Resource. St. Stephen’s University.
(4)Elridge, John. Celebration Part 2, pg 131 Inside Worship, Vineyard
(5)Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 65.
(6)Ibid. p 63.
(7)Ibid. p 64.
(8)Ibid. p 64.
(9)Romans 12: 1-2
(10)Wilt, Dan. Essentials In Worship Theology. The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 41
(11)Ibid. p 42.
(12)Ibid. p 65

Christian Music That Grew Up

February 6, 2009

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

I like and play all kinds of music. In my early days, I listened to almost exclusively, secular rock, especially coming from a small town in Ontario, Canada.  Now I mostly listen to what some call Christian music.  I always had an affinity to music, and I respected all styles.  I used to DJ  for events parties, bars, and had my own radio show in university.

I heard someone say recently, that there isn’t such a thing as Christian music, just music with Christan lyrics. This is important to me to mention. Recently, I shared my music with a non/not-yet believer friend from work. They were amazed at the quality of it, and would like a copy of it to listen to.  To them it was just great music with Christian or inspirational lyrics that they can put up with, if not enjoy. It stunned me that they wanted some if it. (By the way, I believe it was music by Third Day or so that I shared with them.)

Maybe it was just in my small world, but when I was young,  I remember, there was music you worshiped with, and music you were entertained with, secular or Christian. They were almost completely mutually exclusive, save a few songs by artists like Amy Grant, Keith Green and Rich Mullins. Sure, there would be special songs done during services. Other than that, in terms of worship, there were hymns or hand-clapping choruses-all that I personally deemed, ‘churchy’ music.  Most of the Christian music of that day seemed ‘cheesy’ to me.

Yet I’m amazed at the changes in ‘Christian music’ in the past two decades, which really seemed to run parallel with my spiritual growth at the time. (God’s great timing, like He did it all for me!)

First was the obvious increase in quality of musicianship, production and infrastructure. The bar was definitely being raised. I remember as a teen how Christian music at the time wasn’t very appealing to me, Nor was the worship music of the day either. Certain musicians ministered to me, like Michael Card, Scott Roley, the Talbots,and I even admit Steve Green. They were so God directed, and their message was not buried, if not lost, in metaphors.  Then came the likes of Steven Curtis Chapman and Vineyard music.  For me, I could see good changes happening compared to artists at that time.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some amazingly talented musicians and writers. They were just not my style. Some just seemed primitive compared to the secular musical groups of the time. There really was no comparison to me. Secular music was far better hands down in quality. It just seemed like Christian music was like a little immature brother to the success and appeal of secular music. At the time it just could not measure up no matter how it tried.

Mind you, now looking back, those early Christian musicians and producers were instrumental in the development of Christian music today, absolutely. I have a newly developed respect for those early 80’s musicians that I once was not very fond of. Of course, there were incredible pioneers even prior to then. Such were the likes of Keith Green, Larry Norman, Stryper, Petra, Michael Card, Dallas Holm, Chuck Girard, Phil Keaggy, the Talbot brothers, Glen Kaiser just to name a few. They have to be mentioned, as to me, their music is timeless in message and quality, and the foundation of Christian music today.

If I recall correctly, at the time,  the secular music industry also saw important changes. One was a move away from the sound of spandex make-up based, big hair bands, with their lightning-fast licks. the music seems to become more real, and unpretentious with the influx of Seattle based grunge music in the ‘generation x’ climate. I believe this change was influenced the developing Christina music scene in a positive way as well.

From the mid 90’s, right when I was getting more serious about my walk with the Lord, ‘Christian music’ was growing up in quality and became far more appealing to me. It seemed simpler, more real, less cheesy, ‘poppy’ or ‘churchy’. As well, there were a couple important cross-overs. First was the crossover into the secular market. Groups like Jars of clay were an example of a group that was receiving much airplay on regular radio stations. The second crossover was into worship music. I remember as a fairly new musician and worship leader, experimenting with songs that were on Christian radio in worship sets. And they were well received by worshippers. I still remember hearing the Petra Praise tape, and I was stunned at what they did with worship songs. Music by Rich Mullins also touched my soul . Finally, Christian music that feeds me! And I was sold on it! The growth in Vineyard music I believe was also important at the time. It became hard to tell what was worship music, and what was for entertainment. And I loved it! This was such a good time for a new musician and worship leader-songs that were playable, real in terms of their message and contemporary.

Christian music was growing up. It was interesting to see it become more God-directed (vs audience directed), better produced, and more acceptable even by my non/pre-Christians. My understanding is that Christian music had become the fastest growing music industry as big conglomerates bought these companies up with hope of huge profit. With today’s Christian music, I am not left wanting as I previously a couple decades ago. And I find it vital for my own spiritual growth and encouragement. I know that it also has to do with how these songs speak to people’s hearts as they inspire hope and joy and are focused on God..

Now we have incredible fountains of praise from groups like Starfield, Third Day, Matt Redman, Delirious,Darell Evans, United, Chris Tomlin and countless other musical groups and artists that unintentionally feed the church with wonderful worship music (as I believe it stems from their own worship).

So I no longer go to find new worship songs at a sample station in a Christian music store. I just turn on the radio. And sometimes even a secular radio station! What an amazing age for the restoration of music and worship!

I believe this is all part of God’s plan to restore the purpose of music, to be a blessing to us, and a tool to draw closer to Him. I am just glad to be part of this generation in terms of the changes in music we are enjoying!

What I believe…

February 6, 2009

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

God is the Supreme eternal person of the universe. He lives, feels, creates and rules. He is the Ruler and King over all, and the Creator of all(1). He is holy, loving and worthy of all praise. He is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent and exists before the creation of time. He is a triune God that dwells in community(2). We know Him as: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God spoke all things created into being out of nothing and is still involved with every aspect of creation. God also said. “Let’s make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,(3)” and took the dust of the earth and breathed life into it and created us in His image. He made us fully conscious, with the gift and power of choice and with the plan to dwell in community and harmony with Him, eachother and His creation. As He is Creator, and made us in His image, we are then sub-creators (4) with the purpose to multiply and rule, subcreate on earth. presenting back to Him the good things we do with His creation. We are stewards over all that He has created on earth including each other.(5)

  1. Wilt, Dan. Essential Worship Theology: God as Creator, King, Trinity and Saviour. Itunes video resource.

  2. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies.p 15, p 17

  3. Genesis 1:26 NASB

  4. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies.p 28

  5. Ibid. p 25.

In our ability to choose, from Adam and Eve, the first humans, to our own individual lives, we make choices that separate us from God. This is known as sin, which causes us to miss the mark of true fellowship, eternal harmony and community with God, as well as with humanity and creation. We became unclean and unholy before God. However, God in his compassion did not let His image bearers, nor creation remain in this eternally lost state. As recorded in the Bible, from the moment of the first sin, God, in His compassion, enacted a divine plan of redemption and restoration for mankind and creation. It is demonstrated from his leading of Adam, Noah, Abraham, His covenants with His chosen nation of Israel(1). It was completed through the God-person of Saviour, whom we know as Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. He became a sinless man on earth, the new Adam, to offer Himself as the supreme sacrifice(2) for mankind to restore man’s place of eternal fellowship and communal harmony with God, humanity and restored creation in the future. He was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life as an Israelite, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified on a cross(3), died was buried and was raised to life, and lives again today. Because of His resurrection, and as we consciously choose to worship Him(4) to receive this wonderful gift of eternal restoration Jesus obtained for us, we now can freely receive salvation, the restoration of eternal community and harmony with God again in this life and in the life after “life after death” to come.(5)

  1. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. P 19.

  2. Ephesians 4:32-5:2

  3. Ibid. p 17.

  4. Ibid. p 19.

  5. Wright, NT. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p 219

The Kingdom of God first starts with the Lordship of God. It was revealed to through the world through Jesus(1). It transcends time, space, culture and even church culture.(2) As we choose to receive this gift of eternal restoration with God obtained by the supreme sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, we come under God’s Kingship (3), we become His royal priesthood (4)with the purpose to fulfill His plan of restoration for humanity and creation. This includes restoring justice(5), and putting the worlds to rights (6). We become His Image bearers, or ambassadors to creation and humanity. In His acceptance, and revelation of His love, we seek to be community builders in humanity, especially community builders with God. We do this by being Salvific Storytellers, telling the story of salvation as it resonate in the hearts of man by the Spirit of God, and draw man back to God as they hear the echoes of God’s voice of love calling man back to the covenant relationship with Him. We are called to worship God, work for His kingdom in the world and encourage one another through faith, prayer and fellowship.( 8 )

  1. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 19.

  2. Ibid. p 35.

  3. Ibid, p 29.

  4. 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

  5. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 55.

  6. Wright, NT. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p 219

  7. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 32.

  8. Wright, NT. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p 211.

It is about new creation as it began with Jesus. (1)The intended history of mankind is restoration of community with God, with the rest of mankind, and the restoration of His complete cosmic creation(2). It is to put the world to “right. (3) It is life after ‘life after death’ as written by N T Wright.(4) It begins in our lifetime in the here and now, as we choose to receive His free spiritual restoration and extension of love.(5) It is something that can not be earned but received freely by faith and His grace. (6) It has no ending, as it continues in the “already and the not yet”(7) for all eternity. It is the start of the unimaginable, as it is not fully revealed, and thus is beyond our finite human comprehension. Yet we know it is good(8), and that there is a restoration of the earth and heavens. We also know that the church becomes again stewards and rulers (9)of this newly restored creation and community. Although it unending, we do come full circle(10) to what God had originally planned for mankind and creation, community with Him in His good creation, enjoying the beauty of His creation, and returning to Him the good we do with His creation.

  1. Wright, NT. The Road To New Creation. 2006

  2. Wright, NT. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p 225.

  3. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 23.

  4. Wright, NT. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p 219

  5. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 19.

  6. Romans 3:24, Romans 5:1 NIV

  7. Ladd, George Eldon, The Gospel of the Kingdom Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958.

  8. Wright, NT. Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p 47.

  9. Wilt, Dan, Essentials In Worship Theology: The Nature Of Human Beings, The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies. p 23.

  10. Ibid p 28

If God had a fridge….

January 30, 2009

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

(This also was a response of mine to a  post to a fellow student’s assignment.  Hope you enjoy it!)

My daughter never needed much to entertain herself, maybe just a pen and a piece of paper(sometimes the wall or furniture unfortunately).  And this imaginary world comes alive to her, as rudimentary as her drawings were.  No one commanded her to imagine, nor taught her how to imagine.  It just happened naturally.  Now she draws amazingly.  And as parents, no matter how rudimentary these drawings are, we always hold them, (and our child), in high esteem, often on the fridges of our homes, or in simple frames posted for all to see.  And to me, they are my daughter’s drawings.  No Monet or Van Gogh art piece could out do them. If God has a fridge, I am sure it would be full of our creative expressions as well!

(Fathers of young children will understand this next paragraph.)  Even shaping my own hands into cat and duck puppets  for my daughter (originally just to entertain her while waiting in the car), became “Kitty” & “Ducky”, very real characters and entertaining friends to her.  She then would do the same with her hands and make her own “Little Kitty’ and “Little Ducky” hand puppets, in the manner of my hands, her daddy’s hands to talk to and hug my hand puppets. (You really would have to see this to understand).  Very tender moments indeed. It was in that point of creativity that we had these  personal and cherished connections that would have been mundane without them.

Sound familiar?  It so attests to God’s design for us to be sub-creators in His image, communing with Him and honouring Him in His creation.

Trinity as Community

January 29, 2009

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

(This was an unintentional slightly edited post to a fellow student’s assignment.  I thought it might be interesting to others.)

We are a counting society, right down to the decimals when it comes to purchasing gas, interest rates or exchanging money. We count all we have. Numbering or counting is certainly important in this day and age, especially in the fields of engineering or construction. We even see the angel measuring the temple or the New Jerusalem in the various biblical prophets’ visions (Ezekiel 41, Rev. 21). I believe some was to represent specific measurements. But applying this way thinking to a Triune God can be difficult. And then when we try to add the dimension of the Holy Spirit being ‘seven-fold”, it even gets more confusing (Isaiah 11, Revelation 1, 3)

However, I believe we count because we believe we have strength in numbers. We see David counting his soldiers as an example (2 Samuel 24). However, I don’t think counting has always been the norm. Sometimes the perception of a large numbers was enough to communicate the idea of having strength. In the old testament when numbers was so specific like “10,000 soldiers” (Judges 20), it just meant, ‘a heck of a lot’ of soldiers.

Early thinking didn’t always define groups of items with numbers. Being specific wasn’t always important. What was important was to show strength.

I watched an amazing show on one of the science/learning channels I believed called, “The History of the Number One”.(If someone knows the exact show, please let me know.) It went through the history of how we learned to count altogether, how the ancient Chinese and Egyptian cultures had their hand in this skill we take for granted. Prior to defined counting, cultures used terms like, ‘few’ or ‘many’ as descriptors in language. We can sometimes here this language in First Nation stories here in North America. I know I have.

According to this surprisingly interesting show on the history of numbers, there are still tribe people in northern Australia that have no use for numbers. They still use these general terms to describe an indefinite number of items as, ‘many family members in his clan’, or “some girls and some boys live in the village’ or ‘they have few days of rain in a year’. These people simply don’t need to count thinks like our modern or ‘post-modern’ society.

I believe it is this way of thinking that we should employ in our attempt to grasp God as Trinity. It is like ‘staring in the sun’, as NT Wright describes in his book, “Simply Christian”. We should just simply describe our multi-faced, omnipotent God as having many dimensions or sides to Him that we can not truly define with the mere human number 3, nor with the human mind. It’s almost rudimentary and insulting to God I imagine, similar to how David counted his soldiers to define His strength. We need to simply open our minds and magnify Him in our hearts and see God as much more than the Trinity. There are just so many wonderful sides of God to discover, in the “already, now, and the not yet”.