Spring, Summer, Fall: A Vulnerable Look into the Process of Learning from Then for Now

Back in the spring, – an appropriate time to start something different, in the season of birth – the 1Body team as you would see it now was formed; a group of friends who all share the vision in which 1Bodyof Christ joined forces, strengths and talents, and got to work on planning the summer installment of the 1Body Worship Night. We decided on a theme, organized a band, worked on developing artistic elements in which to promote the night, as well as to incorporate into the service. Big ideas were being born. A theme verse chosen; a band agreed upon; talks of a video, an elaborate art installation, etc., all to be executed outside on the church lawn to help promote the theme, “being rooted and established in love”.  The creative juices flowed freely. There was just one thing we forgot to do: seek God. Do not misunderstand me, everything we did, we did with in the service of and with love for God, however, we did not take time as a team to worship and pray together, and to commit our collective efforts and work to God; this important element of the preparation process was overlooked. With the rain forcing us to quickly relocate indoors causing us to lose a lot of our planned atmospheric additions and our collective picture of what the night would look and sound like, it was hard for us to understand why the day didn’t go off quite the way we had hoped and what God was saying. We didn’t know what He was saying because we hadn’t stopped to ask the weeks and months prior. Realizing where we had dropped the ball was a hard reality to face, to be sure. Before I go on I should add that the July worship night went well, better than what we could have accomplished without the grace of God, who sees our hearts that are devoted to Him and His service; we and those who attended were encouraged and met with a brighter illumination of our great God. That said, we set to debrief and discussed honestly what we did well and what we did not, and only when that was complete we went to work on planning the fall installment.

Knowing what we had missed the months previous was where we began; we started with a meeting entirely devoted to worshiping God, praying together and posturing ourselves to hear what God would say. What ended up coming out of this time was the theme for the October night; one verse that came out of reading Scripture together that resonated with each of us at the time, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. The vision for the upcoming night is one of stillness, of meditating on who God is, of placing our faith in His faithfulness. An easy concept it seems, but the execution is something to spend our lives becoming better at. This upcoming 1Body is about sitting, breathing deep, opening our eyes to what is around us and, no matter what we see, we place our faith in God and believe that He is who He said He is – the great I Am.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Old Things Made New

I’ve always enjoyed the process of going to a used bookstore, a flea market, a thrift store, or an antique shop. Its like a treasure trove for me. The possibility of finding something, discovering something, and searching out something great that has been forgotten or passed off excites me. Call me strange(or cheap), but its engrained in me (deeply). As I was reflecting on this activity and then coupling that with the recent news of the possible the rapture occuring the other day, I was thinking about the process that God is renewing his creation. He promises a new earth. Its not something that He will toss aside and teleport us all up into heaven, forgetting all that He initially made good down here. I think a huge support of this thought is exemplified in us. We accept Christ in our life but that is just the beginning. It is this beautiful process of sanctification, of becoming more and more like that which we worship and adore, that fills the rest of the life of a believer. His process of making us new again.

Finding something amid the garbage reminds me of this. Something that may look a bit rough on the outside but still seeing the potential of what it could be. Giving, breathing new life.

And really isn’t there so much more satisfaction in that process? It amazes me that God chooses to work with us.

There is a song called ‘Beautiful Things’ that really touches on this.

“All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us”

Cracks and Divisions

On prompt from someone I’ve been reading through Fall to Grace by Jay Bakker. I had my reservations and hesitations about what he had to say from the beginning but through the process tried to see what he was saying objectively. My point here is not to talk about what I thought or even whether I liked the book but rather to highlight how easy it is to slam, belittle and splinter ourselves within what we call the church. I see it in my own life as well as in what Jay says in his book.

A quick google search provided me with this “According to the World Christian Encyclopedia (year 2000 version), global Christianity had 33,820 denominations with 3,445,000 congregations/churches composed of 1,888 million affiliated Christians.” (courtesy of wiki answers, so take that how you will)

Now, those denominations for the most part fall under a larger umbrella, but the point still stands. At some point each of those groups felt the need to separate, going as far to call themselves by a different name to differentiate themselves from a certain group. ‘We believe we are practicing a Christianity that is more true to the Bible than you’.

At the end of the day, that is what we are saying, is it not? That is alot of different people that think they are right.

Now I feel I would be misrepresenting what I’m trying to say if I didn’t state that I do believe standing for Biblical truth is incredibly important. But at what point do we say enough is enough and stand up for unity? How do you justify sacrificing one for the other?

Jay had some great thoughts on this subject that I really appreciated. He highlights this passage-

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave [7]nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

We are all one in Christ Jesus. The point of the Gospel message was that it was for everyone. Grace doesn’t differentiate between race, gender or societal role. His point was to address the extreme, explaining that when he was growing up the common belief was that people in some other denominations were going to hell. I think it can just as well be related to simply believing we are right and you are wrong. Its easy to get up on our spiritual high horse and look down on people for their beliefs. Being affiliated with a specific group of people does little for you at the end of the day. This is the example he uses in the book. Humourous but I think definitely gets the point across.

“There’s a great episode of the TV show South Park that parodies this way of thinking. A group of the recently damned arrive in Hades where they are greeted by the peppy hell director for an orientation:

“For those of you who are a little confused, you are dead and this is hell,” says the hell diretor, cheerfully brandishing his clipboard.

“Hey, wait a minute. I shouldn’t be here,” says one of the damned. ” I was a totally strict and devout Protestant. I thought we went to heaven.”

“Yes, well, I’m afraid you were wrong,” says the hell director.

“I was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness,” protests another.

“You picked the wrong religion as well,” he says.

“Well, who was right? Who gets into heaven?” they ask.

“I’m afraid it was the Mormons,” says the hell director, checking his clipboard for confirmation. “Yes, ‘the Mormons’ was the correct answer.”

In the chapter this is what he concludes with: “Yes, we can debate our faith-even argue. But in the end, we need to recognize that we’re all members of the same big family. Faith in Christ can be the tie that brings and binds us together, even when everything else threatens to pull us apart.”

Response to: ‘Revival: Ways and Means’ (updated)

First off, I believe this would technically be a response to a response. In the blog post,  Keller is writing in response to a a man named Charles Finney who wrote about the event of revival and attempted to turn it into a ‘science’ as a way of it being initiated. Implying that any group of people could, if they applied the right methods, have revival.

“Preaching became less oriented to long-term teaching and more directed to stirring up the affections of the heart toward decision. Not surprisingly, these emphases demoted the importance of the church in general and of careful, sound doctrine and put all the weight on an individual’s personal, subjective experience. And this is one of the reasons (though not the only reason) that we have the highly individualistic, consumerist evangelicalism of today.”

Keller’s full response is an interesting read but it was what he wrote in conclusion that really stuck out to me and sparked this response. Referencing another man named William B. Sprague he goes through five factors that seem to be a general means for promoting revivals. Here is the last factor he outlines:

“Finally I would add a fifth factor. Sprague rightly points out that revivals occur mainly through the ordinary, “instituted means of grace” – preaching, pastoring, worship, prayer. It is a mistake to identify some specific programmatic method (e.g. Billy Graham-like mass evangelism) too closely with revivals. Lloyd-Jones points to some sad cases where people who came through the Welsh revival of 1904-05 became wedded to particular ways of holding meetings and hymn-singing as the way God brings revival. Nevertheless, Sprague grants that sometimes God will temporarily use some new method to propagate the gospel and spark revival. For example, under Wesley and Whitefield, outdoor preaching was a new, galvanizing method. Mid-day public prayer meetings were important to the Fulton Street revival in downtown NYC in 1857-58. I’m ready to say that creativity might be one of the marks of revival, because so often some new way of communicating the gospel has been part of the mix that God used to bring a mighty revival.”

That’s an exciting thought to me. In our day, age and culture there is an immense amount of tools available. From the rapidly growing digital world to the ever increasing ease of transportation. Community and communication can take place in ways that it couldn’t years ago. These methods lend to a world of possibilities in delivery of the Gospel. But those aspects in of themselves are not enough. Ultimately it comes back to God and the gospel message. Without that any plan or creative idea will fail. This isn’t something we can predict or bring about ourselves but it is something we can desire. And that is my conclusive guess for where it begins. Are we actively seeking and praying for God to move mightily today? With that behind our actions, I believe God will bless and use our efforts. For a great revival? I don’t know, but we can be faithful in what we do and what we pray.

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

When I consider how my light is spent
. Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
. And that one talent which is death to hide
. Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
. My true account, lest he returning chide;
. “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
. I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies:”God doth not need
. Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
. Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
. And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
. They also serve who only stand and wait.”

John Milton

-1673

Feedback

“We thought classical music has had a real role in the church, much more so than a lot of this modern, contemporary music has, and even the more abstract elements of it — some of it composed without lyric, some of it composed with lyric, but lyric that’s seldom used when it’s being performed and the church has used this art a lot over the years. We thought we should approach it like that. We should transcend the moment in history we’re in and try to go back and figure out has been more useful to the church, and I feel like more linear, abstract, composed music has been pretty useful. So we decided to go way back, but then make it electronic. You know, it needed to be incarnated into this moment. ?”

Art House interview

I’m disappointed that it has taken me this long to come across this project by Derek Webb. He has created an instrumental worship record that follows the movement of the Lord’s prayer. This interview on Art House America has some great all around thoughts from him on his music, the new record and approaches to ‘worship’. I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to the record yet but the concept behind everything is fantastic and inspiring. On his site you’ll find three the categories: the music, the paintings, and the photos all reflecting what is found in the Lord’s prayer and worship.

Worthwhile read (and from what I’ve heard probably listen). There might need to be a follow up post once I get my hands on all of the music.