About Me

Christ follower, husband, father, minister, musician.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

#PrayingForSam Please Pray

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - Jesus Christ (John 14:27) Please pray this for Sam. His mom has asked us to pray for peace for Sam. These are the last prayers we'll be able to say for him. Let our prayers carry him across......... the finish line. Amen.


Saturday, July 24, 2010


For anyone who reads my posts, please read below and share this post.  Sam Bish is a 9 year old boy in our church who for the last year has been battling with aggressive cancer.  His parents, Mike & Cindy, are amazing people and have held strong to their faith throughout this amazingly stressful and confusing (to say the least) season of their life.  Sam also has two younger sisters, Caitlin and Aubrey.  The whole family just got back from Disney World thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation.  It has been an honor and privilage to be on this journey with them.  However, yesterday they received devistating news.  Cancer has returned to Sam's body and is too aggressive to treat.Below are two posts from their Caring Bridge site.  The first tells you a bit about Sam and the second is the post from Friday, July 23rd. 

Background Story

Our son Sam is a wonderful young man who is 8 years old. He will be 9 in January. He is going into the 3rd grade at French Run Elementary School. Sam had been having some pain in his right knee most of this summer (2009). As the pain increased we realized that something might be wrong and we made an appointment for him to see an Orthopedist on 8/10/09. At this doctors appointment an X-ray was done of Sam's leg/knee and it showed that there was a mass that the doctor believed to be cancerous. Samuel went into the hospital just a few days later for a series of tests. He received a cat scan, MRI, and also a full body scan. Our family met with the pediatric oncologist the following day and Samuel was diagnosed with a type of cancer called Osteosarcoma. Sam's cancer has metastasized to other areas in his body. The cancer is in his right femur and he also has multiple  nodules in both of his lungs. Sam also has 1 additional spot on his left fibula and also 1 spot on his lower back/spine. The spot on his spine is in an inoperable area and he will have to receive radiation on this at some point.  This is an aggressive type of cancer and it will be treated with aggressive forms of chemo followed up by surgery. We are asking everyone to please lift up our litle boy Samuel Gordon Bish in prayer. We pray for healing!! We serve a mighty God and we know that HE can heal Sam if that is his will for Sam's life. Please be prayer warriors along with our family as Sam starts this very difficult journey in his young life.
Update as of October 30th, 2009- Samuel's right leg was amputated above the knee on October 30th to take out the cancerous tumor. Samuel also had surgery on his left leg and some of his fibula bone was taken out as well. Sam is now home recovering and will continue with chemo in the coming weeks along with having upcoming surgeries on his lungs . Thank you for the continued support. Our church (Westerville Christian Church) website is below where you can find out other ways you can help our family through Sam's web page Smiles for Sam! church. Expecting a miralce in Sam's life and praying always!

Friday, July 23, 2010 9:07 PM, EDT
God granted our family a miracle last week. Sam felt wonderful the entire week we were on his Make A Wish trip. He had no pain or discomfort and our family was truly able to make some wonderful memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.

We found out today after meeting with Sam's team of doctors that his cancer has spread. Not only is it in his lungs but it is throughout his body including his left leg, hip, spine and pelvis area. The extent of Sam's cancer is not curable. We were given the options of some different treatments that could possibly prolong his life and give him more time but they would not be a cure. Mike and I have chosen after consulting with our doctors that Sam should be with his family in the comfort of his home. We will be bringing in hospice care to help take care of Sam and make him as comfortable as possible. We plan on making every minute count and continuing to make memories as long as God allows. If you are friends with Sam and our family and would like to come and visit we will welcome visitors if Sam is feeling well...please call or e-mail first.

My mother's heart is breaking and I want my son's remaining time here on this earth to be as peaceful as possible. I will never understand why God needs Sam in heaven more so than leaving him here with his family. Mike and I have been blessed to have such a spunky, fun loving, spirited child as a son. We would appreciate your continued prayers as our family adjusts to the news. Sam knows his cancer has spread and that God will be calling him home...he just does not understand the time frame involved. Please continue to keep our precious boy and family in your prayers. Our lives are forever changed.

If you would like to visit Sam's Caring Bridge site, click here.  Please pray, fast, and help support the Bish family during these next few months.  If you'd like to send support or gifts, contact Westerville Christian Church. For those of you that are on Facebook or Twitter, include the hash tag: #prayingforsam in your posts.  Let's let the world know "Our God Is Greater!"
Thanks, friends. Peace.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Patriotic Songs in Worship - and religious rabbit trails

Let me say at the outset that I'll make some statements that en vogue to debate right now.  Religious heritage, identity, etc. are all such a challenging issue for folks.  Feel free to comment and agree or disagree with what I have to say.  Just don't shoot down my entire post because I get one side illustration out of whack with your thoughts.  Thanks!!!

I normally shy away from using patriotic songs in our worship services because frankly, there are better songs that we more easily connect with God through.  But seeing that this year the 4th of July lands on Sunday, it's a good opportunity to reconnect the Truth with the tradition.  Honestly, there are a lot of phrases of Faith in the verses of these songs that we don't usually sing.  Those are the words that remind us of the true faith within our foundation that was a bulwark of the Colonies & early settlers.  It is undeniably a major part of the original culture of the US.

The issue, I think, lies in the reality that people on both sides have fought so hard for a line between patriotism (nationalism, Americanism) and Christianity that we're uncomfortable connecting the two.  Why, I'm not sure.  I do think they're exclusive, but not mutually exclusive.  Obviously you can be committed to Christ and not to Country, and vice versa.  But in our country, I think to remove God is to remove part of what & who our country was originally committed to.

I'm not going channel Glenn Beck or anything here.  Don't worry.  Am I saying that all Americans must be Christian in order to be patriotic?  No, not really.  (However, they may not fully grasp the full picture, but another post for another day.)  But should Christians understand how their faith and the American culture are intertwined?  I think so.  If we lose our connection with Christianity and the American Culture, we lose our culture.  If Christianity is removed from America, then what does America become?  Will it be the same country we know now?  Will it be the same country that was founded?  That debate will continue for a long time.  I think the bigger issue for Christians is, if we lose our connection with the foundation of America, then we lose understanding of the community and culture in which we live.  We don't lose our faith.  We don't lose our Truth.  Christianity obviously exists above any culture, government, or society.  But in order live as shining lights, don't we have to understand how our faith interacts with our culture?  And isn't it important to remember that "way back when" Christianity was the primary description of our identity? 

That is one aspect of Islam that Christianity has lost.  Muslims are, above anything else, Muslim.  That is their identity.  It is not part of who they are, or just the religion they practice.  It is woven throughout their being.  In America, "Americanism" is woven throughout our being.  But what does that mean?  It's a little bit of God, a little bit of hard-work, a little bit of self-reliance, a little bit of superiority, a little bit of ingenuity (you may argue on the "little bit" but you get the idea).  Our identity is not our faith first, for the most part.  No wonder the Muslim world looks at America as a weak Christian Nation.  We're constantly arguing if we're a Christian Nation or not.  We have no fundamental identity.  And for those that truly believe we are a Christian nation, what does that mean?

There's a false sense of security and spirituality in "American Christianity."  I'm not saying that American Christians (Is it American Christians, or Christian Americans - again, a different discussion for a different day) don't have security and a strong faith.  Many do.  It's just that for any culture the challenge of remembering the foundational faith of your heritage is only as valuable as the culture that stands upon it.  Why do you think many Jews & Catholics (just to name a few) "remember" all the time, but still don't take their "faith" seriously.  It is because they value the heritage, but not the spiritual foundation.  They lift up the tradition without lifting up the truth upon which it was built.  You get the statistics like 92% of Americans believe in God, but 72% believe that there's more than one religion that can lead to eternity and only 43% go to church.  So the heritage is there, but the Faith is not.

There are opportunities churches have to do a great service to the culture and community.  We need to re-connect the dots.  We need to be bold and communicate the Word of God and not just wave a big American Flag.  We're not celebrating the fact that we're Americans.  We're celebrating the fact that we're Christians in America.  We're celebrating the fact that our founders had a faith and a purpose founded on Christ.  Songs help us celebrate.  They are unifying, culturally significant, and emotionally powerful.  They help remind us of our foundation, and therefore ground us in a bigger context.  The American Dream wasn't a white picket fence, 2 kids, a garage, dog, and pension plan.  The American Dream was Freedom - life, liberty, and pursuit - and the foundation of that Freedom is in Christ.

So on Sunday, we're going to sing patriotic songs.  We're going to sing songs that help us remember that in the founding of our country, God was glorified - by the faithful who fought in word, deed, and blood for these United States.  We'll remember that their foundation is the same foundation we stand on today - Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of us all.  Glory, Glory Hallelujah, His Truth is Marching On!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Pivotal Worship Songs

A friend of mine had were having a conversation a few weeks ago about the most influential worship songs.  Which songs were globally influential in the past 40 years or so since the "contemporary" worship songwriting came on the scene in the 70s.   This is not to exclude many great songs and song writers, but I'm wondering what the top ones would be.  Sort of a Top 10 of all time list, or an "All Century" list or something like that.

I obviously have not been around forever, and there are many who would know which early songs may be missing.  So help me out!  There are definately songs that are sort of benchmark expressions of where we have been as a worship community.  I'm wondering if we can pinpoint what the songs are, would they be representative of how we've grown and augmented our music, theologically, lyrically & musically?  Hmm....

Here's what I came up with in chronological order.  What do you think? Do any not deserve to be on there?  Are there others that are missing? 

Seek Ye First (1972)
I Exalt Thee (1977)
More Precious than Silver (1982)
As the Deer (1984)
Lord I Lift Your Name on High (1989)
Shout to the Lord (1995)
He Knows My Name (1996)
Open the Eyes of my Heart (1997)
Come, Now is the Time to Worship (1998)
The Heart of Worship (1999)
God of Wonders (2000)
Here I Am to Worship (2000)
How Great Is Our God (2004)
Mighty To Save (2006)
Hosanna (2006)

In later posts, I hope to refine this list and then do some exploring.  If you're reading this, I'd love to get some help and thoughts!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

When has this happened before?

When has this happened before?

I'm sitting in my living room.  Reese is asleep.  Nicole and her girlfriends have just headed out garage-saling for the morning.  I'm alone with my coffee and an unfortunate access of Tastefully Simple cinnamon mini melts.  There was a great storm last night, and has lingered into this gray morning.  The dampness is seeping in through the open windows with the fresh new air.  Birds and critters are adding their songs to the atmosphere.  I wonder if they're rebuilding nests, scavenging for food, or just excited about the new day. Anyway, it's nice to be sitting in a quiet place (sans distant traffic and jet sounds) for a change.

I'm sure my Mentor Gathering friends can agree - as can any of you who have gone to a great retreat, conference, or even vacation - I've not had much time to put into practice what I was so hoping to adopt from my time away from "life."  When I returned from Ocean Grove it was back in the groove, back in the swing of things, back on the horse, back to life back to reality.  So today, 3 weeks later, this unexpected margin is a very welcomed change of pace.

To not lose any more precious time, I'm gonna log off quickly and I'll expand on the idea of Silence & Solitude later.  A few thoughts for now:

Brennan Manning stated over and over again that the most important spiritual discipline in his mind was silence and solitude.  It was spending time in quiet reflection and meditation on God, His Word, and His character.  I know we've all heard that before.  However, I think (hope & pray) it really sunk in this time.  Even in the hustle and bustle of married life, full-time ministry, and parenting a 2-year-old, I am compelled to do this.  It may not be for an hour a day.  But even 10 minutes of quiet will do me good.

My hope is (if I get a full night's sleep) to get up at 6:30 and find some time then.  I was able on the retreat to get up at 5:30 and catch the sunrise.  So 6:30 shouldn't be to difficult, as long as Reese sleeps like she is right now!

OK, more later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Abba, I belong to You

I got the great privilege of spending a few days with some amazing people last week at Ocean Grove, NJ.  About 30 worship pastors, artists, and leaders got together to encourage, retreat, study, and worship.  That alone was a blessing.  Being with folks who have served faithfully for decades, who have blazed trails, who have scars and chevrons.  I was truly humbled to sit and learn of how God has used them and continues to do so.

We were blessed immeasurably to spend a few mornings with Brennan Manning, who was honestly the reason we all signed up to go on this retreat in the first place.  Knowing his books and a small part of his story, we all anticipated God to speak through Brennan in an amazingly profound way.  Our time together was profound, indeed.  To describe it is to describe the Grand Canyon.  Words will fail.  Pictures revive memories for those of us who were there.  And though a picture is worth a thousand words, it still does not do justice to the SMILE that fell over our time in Thornley Chapel, the Great Auditorium, and the streets and porches of OG.

"Abba, I Belong to You" was from Brennan.  It is the prayer he prays "100 times a day."  In his words,
It gives me a core sense of identity, a core sense of belonging, I belong to the Abba of Jesus...When you pray, you are to say ABBA. What an extraordinary intimacy we are called to with the living God. 

As I try to figure out where I'm to go with all of this, I plan on starting with this prayer.  There is so much to "unpack" from mountaintop experiences like these.  We all want to find the application, to find the "take-home," to see that we've grown a few inches taller than the notch on the door frame.

If I learned one thing this weekend, it was slow down, listen, ponder, wait, and be loved.  We were allowed the opportunity to do that with Brennan and each other.   He graciously loved us.  We together, broken & bruised, our pride removed, worshiped.  And it was all possible because of the Grace & Love of Christ. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Two is better than one

So in my last brief post I admitted that I'm a bad blogger. Actually, I think it's more fair to say I'm an inconsistent blogger. That's the challenge with self-proclaimed deadlines and goals. If they're not the main goal, then they continually get pushed to the side. As most of the non-blogging world states - I've got lots more to do than sit down and write about something that not many people will read. Still, I feel that I do have something to say if I have time to say it. So we'll see how well I can keep up. If you have randomly found me and are following OotO then thanks! If you've purposely begun following me, let me know. And keep me accountable for new posts, at least weekly.

With that said, I'm going to take today and focus on another blog. This one isn't exclusively for me. And there's a deadline, so it's going to be a bit higher on my "to-do" lists. In the near future, watch for links to a Worship Mentor Blog. I'm a part of the Worship Mentor Network, an aspect of Worship Foundations International.  It's goal is to create a platform and a structure that can help connect experienced worship leaders and artists with up-and-coming worship leaders and artists. 

I'm looking forward to serving WFI & the WMN in this small aspect.  Check back soon for details, encouragement, resources, and other info.

Bad Blogger

So this is just to admit that I've been slacking. Had a great breakfast today with Leadership Westerville discussing Social Media. Need to get back on it. So more to come soon! I promise!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What did you think He was going to do?

Sunday was Palm Sunday - the Triumphant Entry.

Matthew 21:6-11
 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
   "Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!"
   "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"[c]
   "Hosanna[d] in the highest!"
 10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
 11The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Such a jubulant celebration.  Over the top, almost.  It was enough to get the attention of the whole town.  But only few knew how Jesus was going to save them.  Most had their own presumptions.  There was such angst and vitriol against the Romans.  There was corruption within the Temple Leadership.  Society needed a re-boot and Jesus had been gaining a reputation.  Many were willing to follow him, to fight for him, maybe even to die for him.  But they didn't realize that Jesus was willing to die for them.  In fact, he meant to.

Who do we presume Jesus to be?  Who do we want him to be?

The Great Provider (Genesis 22:13-14)
The limitless & free Vending Machine
The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24)
One who makes everything easy and stress-free
The Strong One who Sees (Genesis 16:13)
One who Tells Us All He Sees, except what might make us uncomfortable or sad.
Savior (Genesis 2:4)
The Eliminator of the Difficult, Painful, and Inconvenient
Consuming Fire (Heb. 12:29)
Wrath Bringer, only to really bad and evil people.
Creator (1 Peter 4:19)
The Divine Being who may or may not have started the chemical processes that produced Earth, the universe, and all living things.
Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
See Savior, but with more urgency.
Faithful & True (Revelation 19:11)
One who is who We want Him to Be and Tells us What We Want to Hear.
Judge (Acts 10:42)
Judge of everyone Else.

OK, a bit over the top, but really, not too far fetched sometimes.

It amazes me how much we are alike the people of Jerusalem - praising Jesus on Sunday for who we think He is.  And then as the week goes on we're more and more shaken (and stirred) on who He really is, how He really wants us to live, and by Friday we've all but denounced and disowned him.

I'm so grateful Sunday comes around again each week.

And then there's Monday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mountain Music Part 2: Wander & Wonder

So it's been a few weeks.  I meant to get to this within a week of the first post.  But life is crazy!  I know we're all waiting for the next thing to be done so we can get a break.  But then that new next thing comes up, right?!?  Anyway, let's get on with it.

So in watching the PBS Series on National Parks it occured to me that we don't take time to wander and wonder any more.  At least not outside (more on this below).  The fact that there are camping campaigns like goRVing.com tells you that it's not in the forefront of the American Mind to "rough it" for a few days.  And for those that do "tent-camp" you can have ceiling fans, AC power, and fully inflatable furniture to make you feel "at home."  Even at summer camps there are air-conditioned, carpeted rooms with bathrooms & showers in the "cabins" (which are more like hotel suites in some cases).  But this is not about venturing into the wilderness with a knife and burlap sack.  It's more about venturing at all.

In the days when there was still "back country" in the US, people loved going out and exploring.  The National Parks were designed to allow people to experience nature - the landscape, the scenery, the vegetation, the wildlife - as closely untouched as possible.  And people did it!  They hiked trails, crawled through crevasses, rode horses down riverbanks and up mountains.  At first, due to the expense of the travel, the wealthy and aristocracy were the only ones to experience the unforgettable.  But the vision of the NPS was to be accessible to the entire public, and eventually they all came.

Through most of the 1900s, it was a family tradition, a right of passage, to load up the family car and drive 1000s of miles to visit national parks.  (Note the picture at the top when they drove a car on the fallen Redwood!) The first interstate roadways in the west were created to facilitate the traveling tourists.  Even into the latter part of the 1900s it was tradition for the family to take 2-4 weeks and hit the open road, stopping at scenic pull-off spots on the road to gaze across the horizon at rolling hills, snow-capped peaks, and rainbow colored canyons.  The agenda was getting there, and eventually getting home.  Not much more.  The trip and the experience was worth it.

Think of vacations today.  The itinerary is set online, probably prescribed for us.  We go from garage to parking garage to shuttle to airport to shuttle to hotel to shuttle to amusement, flustered if any leg of the journey isn't smooth and uneventful.  At our destination we walk only to strap into new seats, watch bigger screens, experience simulated "adventure" and escape into fantasy for 3-5 minutes, preceded by a 3-5 hour zig-zag line of waiting.  (Of course you can always pay more for those speed-passes which get you in.) Sometimes we actually get bored and leave early!

But if we slow down enough and choose to head to one of these parks - or to a local nature preserve, state park, or even city park - the unpredictable awaits every time.  Why wait in line for 3-5 hours when you can hop in the car and watch as the landscape goes from trees to fields to hills to mountains to shoreline?  I've found that when you slow down enough to look to the left and the right, the world becomes infinitely larger.  Most times our pace is so brisk that we don't dare look to the side for fear of falling flat on our face!  But hiking through unfamiliar terrain causes us to watch our step, examine our surroundings, and observe in greater detail the greatness that has been created for us to enjoy.  We find ourselves not thinking about the inbox, not worrying about the DOW average, not pondering politics.  It is the one time we use technology to express our wonder at what we cannot create, or recreate with technology.  We can only do what people have done for decades - take a photograph and reluctantly share it with others knowing that the 2-D depiction, no matter what resolution, cannot truly express the grandeur of it all.

We find time to stop.
We find time to breathe.
We find time to smell.
We find time to listen.

This whole phenomenon got me thinking: Do we think of God's majesty (from the enormous to the intricate) anymore?  Do we really take time to reflect and take in all that God is?  Do we ever slow down and experience him with all the senses?

One thing about national parks is that you can't just go for an hour.  Even if that's all the time you plan for, you'll stay for a day, or a week.  Do we ever really experience God this way?

Is our agenda so packed that God only fits within a 15minute commute?  Do we multitask God-time? Do we take time to wander and wonder with God? To God?

Part 3 will come soon.  Thanks for taking the time to read!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mountain Music Part 1

Purple Mountain Majesty

For the past few weeks my wife and I have enjoyed watching “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS.  It’s been a fascinating story about the initial inception of the park network in the mid 1860s all the way until today.  There were personal accounts from naturalists, zoologists, scientists, park rangers, and visitors – all sharing their perspective on the parks, what they meant to them personally, and what they meant to the country as a whole. 

If you’ve ever been to one, especially one out west (where most originally were) you understand the majesty and wonder that is a National Park.  From the snow-capped mountains, to the mile-deep canyons, to the millennia old sequoias, to the lush expanse of the Smokies & the Everglades – there is so much to behold in the natural panorama of America.

I’ve only had the chance to go to two national parks and a few national forests.  But they are amazing.  It is one thing to see the great photography of Ansel Adams, or to watch Ken Burns’ films, or even to catch an IMAX experience.  But to be there in person, to hike up and down and around and through for miles, to be in the center of a National Park’s magnificence is a bit mind-blowing.  To experience the animals and plants and landscape with all your senses overwhelms you.  You are small, and yet while not insignificant, your consequence is put in its place.

I think of Psalm 144:
 3 O LORD, what is man that you care for him,
       the son of man that you think of him?
 4 Man is like a breath;
       his days are like a fleeting shadow.

Even the trees live for hundreds of years, the rocks thousands.  How long will the rivers continue to run into the see after I’ve gone? 

Still, Psalm 8 reminds us.  Truly majestic is the One who created the wonders.  And we, although finite in this seemingly infinite world, are but a little lower than He, and tasked with the stewardship of all that is seen. As Howard Zahniser, primary author of the 1964 Wilderness Act said, "We are guardians not gardeners."  What a humbling, yet empowering task.

I love nature, but am not a complete naturalist, per se.  This post is not intended to be a soapbox for the Sierra Club or Green Peace or even the National Park System.  It is the first of 3 blogs that I’ll share as I have begun to reflect on the National Parks and how they ultimately can help us in our understanding and response to who God, and our perspective on worship.   Come back soon for part 2!

Friday, February 19, 2010

LENT - from "The Complete Library of Christian Worship" Robert E. Webber, ED.

The Christian observance of Lent may have originated as a period of fasting for candidates for baptism at Easter; the period varied in length and could be as short as one of two days.  Mention of a general forty-day period of fasting occurs in the fourth-century Canons of Nicaea, but the Western church did not settle on the present scheme until the seventh century, when the beginnings of Lent was moved back to Ash Wednesday so that Sundays (which could not be fast days) would not be counted in the forty days.  (The Eastern church still spreads the season over eight or nine weeks.)  The association of Lent with Jesus’ forty days of testing in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2; Luke 4:2) is acknowledged by liturgical historians to be an afterthought that did not affect the development of the season.  The name “Lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spring,” the “lengthening” of days with the approach of the vernal equinox.
            Lent offers the opportunity for the observance of certain biblical disciplines.  In Israelite religion, fasting or “humbling the soul” was directed for the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27, 29).  It was an act of mourning (Josh 7:6; 1 Sam. 31:13; 2 Sam. 1:12) or penitence (1 Kings 21:27; Joel 1:14) and was also practiced by prophets seeking direction from the Lord in Crisis situations (Moses, Deut. 9:18 and Elijah, 1 Kings 19:8; both forty days). Jesus assumed his followers would occasionally fast (Matt. 6:16-18), though he did not command it, and his disciples did not fast, as did the Pharisees, while he was with them (Luke 5:33-35).  In recent years the liturgical churches have moderated the strict fasting formerly associated with Lent, and evangelical Christians have never consistently observed it.  Fasting as a means of seeking direction from the Lord is often practiced in charismatic churches but not in association with any liturgical season.  Most Protestant communions that observe Lent have done so with emphasis on additional times of worship or special disciples of devotion and on self-denial in order to redirect funs toward worthwhile causes.  While the Christian life-style of self-denial should characterize the walk of the believer throughout the year and not just during one season, the discipline practiced during Lent has particular value in leading the church to a deeper experience of Christ’s passion in preparation for the more joyous experience of Easter.

- From Webber, Robert E. "Lent." The Complete Library of Christian Worship. Vol 1: The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worhsip. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1993. p 200

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meaningful Traditions?

So it's the national "Blog about LENT" day, apparently.  So I must fulfill my role as a blogger.   My wife and I were talking about Lent last night.  Actually, she was talking and I was listening.  Lots of folks are sharing, tweeting, posting, and updating their status on what they're giving up for Lent.  This brought up a lot of questions.  Rather than give a direct opinion, let me share some questions I was thinking about.  I'm sure if you follow my train of thought, a perspective will come out eventually...

  • Why do we share what we're giving up for Lent?
  • Why do we give anything up for Lent?
  • When we end - or break the fast - do we celebrate that we made it through Lent by indulging in what we gave up?  Is it like the end of a marathon?
  • Is Lent for Us or for God?
  • What is Fat Tuesday all about?  Is it the indulgence before the abstinence?  Is that the point?  Isn't that the opposite of what Lent is really about?
  • Have we reduced something intended for spiritual focus to a religious, or even non-religious practice?
  • Aren't there many events and practices of Spiritual nature that we've reduced to religiousity, or even a secular replacement?
  • Christmas?  Easter?  
  • Why are Christian traditions the only ones that continue to be retained as secular versions, and be stripped of their Spiritual intentions and meaning?
  • Do Christians add to this watering down of tradition?
  • Have churches thrown away liturgy and tradition because it has no meaning, or because those that still practice [Lent] do it for strict religious purposes, and not to grow in their Faith.
Hmmm....OK, you've followed me down this rabbit trail.  I know there are movements and intentional steps by some to brush the dirt and dust off of Ancient practices.  Back when they were designed, they had specific and profound spiritual purposes.  But what have they become?  What have we become because of them?

I read today in Matthew about how the Pharisees ridiculed Jesus and the disciples for not ceremonially washing their hands.
Matt 15:1-2
 1Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2"Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!" 

It brings us to the same question.  Why do we do what we do?  I think that is the question of the day.  Not what is Lent, or what are you giving up for Lent, but Why do you practice Lent?

I'll probably have to visit this again soon.   For now, I'll let it linger and settle.

Friday, February 12, 2010

All systems go?

Social Mediums (would the plural be Social Media?)
Connecting them and making posting easier.  Is it working?

I'm trying to get twitter, facebook and blogger.com all working together.  We'll see if this post hits all three sites!


Hi Friends,
If you're reading this, then some how you've found out that I'm jumping on the blogwagon again.   Blogging's a good thing if you can keep it up.  It makes me slow down and thing about what's going on with me.  It forces me to verbalize my thoughts and get them out there.  Hopefully what I write will relate to someone else.  Maybe even someone that stumbles onto this blog.

About the Title:
For the past few years now, an old phrase has begun echoing around me.  "Out of the Overflow"  It stems from two different, yet related scripture themes:
Luke 6:45 says The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  (It's also in Matthew 12:34).

My hope is that this blog will be an honest representation of what is overflowing from my heart, and that it is pleasing and glorifying to God. 

The other theme is similar, yet a bit different. 
Psalm 119:171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18b, 19 be filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 

I'm reminded of the old VBS song "Oh fill my cup (Fill my cup let it overflow)."

As a worship leader, I grabbed hold of a similar phrase "Worship out of the Overflow."  It comes from the idea that we are to be constantly and continuously filled by the Holy Spirit.  (In the Ephesians passage, the verb "be filled" should really be translated "be being filled." It's a perpetual act.)  Specifically for worship artists, worshiping out of the overflow means that we hopefully have been filled by the Spirit and our overflow is what others are seeing and hearing.  Our expressive worship, our light shined, our fruit produced is that overflow.  We don't have to perform or create enthusiasm and energy.  It is truly not us, but the Holy Spirit oveflowing out of us.

So, taking this thought out of the worship leader context, I really pray that this is how I can live - out of the Overflow.  The reality is, something will always be flowing out, and that will be the reflection of what is filling my heart. 

So this blog is me, overflowing onto your screen, out into the ether that is the internet and blogosphere.