Who is a noble “Joe” (Essentials Red, Fall 08)

“For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course, with Dan Wilt”




Here we are in this third week of the Essentials Red course. I have yet to come up with something to post in my blog this week. This weeks activities, work and family, have really drawn out all of my energy and little is left to focus on the worship languages of Baptism and The Eucharist. Why is this? Shouldn’t I be excited and ready with many thoughts about this week’s subject?


Baptism and communion are two of the most central acts that define us as Christians and I can’t really think of anything profound to comment on. So I’m not going to attempt to be profound today I will be just a little average. After all Jesus loves the common person just as much as the noble, right. Isn’t most of the world in this common category? Doesn’t the word itself describe the usual, ordinary, everyday, for all?


When I think about it, that’s exactly who these sacraments where meant for. Not just for the noblest of nobles but also for your average Joe. These simple actions are a couple of noble ways for us “Joes” to worship our creator.


The communion essentially draws us into the oneness of god, to partake of his body and his blood. To be a part of everything he is. I imagine his holiness, his goodness, his kindness, his mercy and gracefulness, his sacrifice, his limitless giving. Also I envision other possessions of God that we can share in communion. What about his healing, his word, his life giving, and sharing in his glory. I think about a popular song by David Crowder, Everything Glorious. He refers to God making “everything glorious”, and then he asks what does that make me?


As for baptism, isn’t that the same? Didn’t God provide this way for common man to confess his faith before all the nobles and commoners alike. The act of baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gives us more great insights into the personality of God. I picture Jesus, hands spread out as to welcome us as we are, then us turning against him and nailing those same hands to the cross. Then as we are going under, we are dying to our own sin and being cleansed by the same one we just nailed to the cross. Afterwards we rise back up with Christ in rebirth and renewal, its like we are resurrection clean and ready to face whatever the harsh world we live in has for us.


So this rambling really isn’t about being common at all. I think its more about using something common to promote us to a greater place. Like starting out with a few fishes but ending up with five thousand. God wants to take our common selves and use these common sacraments to make everything glorious.





Building the Kingdom from the ground up. (Essentials Red fall 08)

“For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course, with Dan Wilt”

One of the greatest pleasures for me here on earth is doing my chosen profession. I am a custom home builder and a carpenter by trade. I have been reflecting all week and the previous week about the different languages of worship, mainly time and space and public prayer and scripture reading. During this reflection I am noticing a parallel between my line of work and the building the kingdom of God.


Many of the posts and Dan Wilt’s teaching mention words like structure, foundation, tradition, creating, building, art, architecture, as well as many others. Building homes for 20+ years gives me a “filter” that all of my input runs through. The above mentioned words draw me into the conversation because I can identify with them.


Our dialogue, from Essentials Red, generally has been contemplating how to remember and express our historical worship traditions while moving forward in the kingdom of God. These discussions led to my thinking about this parallel. My forte in the building business is home renovations. Most people want the charm of their old home in their established neighborhood (location, location, location) but they also want the modern conveniences and functionality of a new home. So my job is to blend these together without noticing that something has been added.


My thoughts in building tend to go from the bottom up in a vertical fashion. As I mentioned in a previous post on facebook we start with a foundation. This would be the foundation stones that our church fathers laid many years ago on the bedrock of Christ. Just like the parable about the wise man who built his house on the rock. Mat 7:24. So we know without a doubt our foundation is solid.


Next we start with a framework of floor and wall systems, a roof structure with a covering to keep the elements out. Next are all of the unseen utilities that are run throughout the walls and floors. Then we have exterior and interior wall coverings, flooring, and a myriad of finishes throughout the interior and exterior of the home as well as exterior landscapes, hardscapes, other beautifications.


When I start a job, I look at the existing conditions and consider what is salvageable and how to integrate the old component with the new, and then do this with little or no noticeable difference. The materials and the techniques we now use may be worlds apart from the original but the end result is a beautiful seamless new fully functional addition to the home that suits the lives and times we live in today


We usually have an architectural set of plans to work from, but much of the work is a daily process of decisions that will determine the outcome of the job. This is where the quality of the job is at hand. I think we as worshipers and leaders play a role in all these parts of building the kingdom.


When adding on something new we have to find the existing foundation (depending on how big the change). Sometimes we don’t go all the way to the foundation we just strip back the wall coverings to expose the existing studs. Other times we only add a coat of paint or change the wall paper on the existing walls.


I say all this to bring a little light on the analogy of building the kingdom in the modern world we live in today. We want to be creative and add new things to our worship experience and I think that’s part of our responsibility, to lead the people we have been called to lead. We have to keep things new and fresh and functional in the current culture we live in, otherwise our house becomes run down and outdated for its occupants. As Paul says to “be all things to all men” 1Cor. 9:22, we must keep up with the times if we are going to minister to the people of the times. But at the same time we have to remember who we are as a people.


As long as we find our foundation and secure to it through the public reading of scripture and through public prayer to remind us of who we are anchored to, we can be as creative as we want, following the architects plans of course.


Through daily decisions we prayerfully consider what to do next:


How much of a change we need and what materials does the architect call for.  

How much labor will be involved and how long will the project take to make the change.

Which walls can we keep and which utilities will remain.

How much and what will go into the final finishes of the renovation. The final items/details are what the average visitor will see the most.


For us as leaders we need to find the most efficient way to make changes, follow the plans laid out before us, and daily seek the Lord’s face and favor to know what to cut out and what to leave in. And mainly try to make a seamless job out of it without throwing out the past but embracing it and incorporating it into the beauty of the new structure God has led us to create.


I could go on forever with this analogy but I think by now you get the point.   

The heart of time and space (Essentials Red Fall 08)

“For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University, Essentials Red Online Worship History Course, with Dan Wilt”


As I ponder the “time and space” of my worship experience, I think of how many times I’ve been before God and never thought about this “time or space”. I’ve always just thought about setting up my set or what songs God would want to hear that day, what’s happening in the church at that moment, and what is happening in my heart, the moments, hours, and days before this given point in time. 


Now as read and watch these clips from essentials red I can see that I was only touching the edge of something much deeper. In my heart, as previously mentioned, how have I spent time with my creator? Was it only moments before? Or did I get up early and spend an hour with the one I am about to lead people before his throne? Or did I spend an hour a day for weeks or months before?


It seems that my father is so full of grace, no matter how much time I spend with him; he will always meet me in whatever state I am in. He is there waiting for me, moment by moment, day by day, and week by week. Why does he wait for me? What have I done or what makes me so special?


On the other hand why does he wait for me in this little place, in the middle of my small town in this tired rented space in a shopping center? Yes this is my church, but still it wasn’t built to be a church. It isn’t adorned with a towering steeple; it doesn’t have a single pane of stained glass. It’s not uncommon to see litter strewn across the parking lot. But he is still there, waiting, longing, and softly drawing me in to his presence. Even though this place doesn’t seem fit to welcome the king of kings.


This thought just crossed my mind. Is this place I’m comfortable worshiping in a reflection of my heart?


It reminds me of Isaiah 64:6 NIV

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
       and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
       we all shrivel up like a leaf,
       and like the wind our sins sweep us away


Is the time and space I make for him like a filthy rag? This is something I know I need to keep going back to and let his cleansing blood wash over.


I think what it boils down to is creating a time and space, whether it is physical or in my heart, it has to be a time and space that promotes worship and relationship with him. Everyone’s time and space is different. As long as I’m humble in everything I do and recognize that God is the center of what I’m doing at any given time or in any given space. In other words if I’m abiding in him he will abide in me.  John 15:4 NASB

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