Thursday, January 28, 2010

fully human (part 2) *eb week 3

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

"We are caught on a small island near the point where these tectonic plates - heaven and earth, future and present - are scrunching themselves together. Be ready for earthquakes!" [1]

I don't mean to make light of the situation in Haiti by referring to earthquakes, although I think there is an analogy here to be explored another day, but this quote from N.T. Wright grabs me because I feel the turmoil of tectonic plates in my life as I've committed myself to the pursuit of being fully human.

Last year while doing Essentials Blue for the first time, I was blown away by the notion that heaven and earth overlap within me and that I am a place where people can encounter God. This possibility of God-encounters only increases as I become more fully human, more Heather.

I always thought I had to be less Heather to be more like God, but come to find out I need to be more Heather in order to most accurately portray the image of the One I bear. To say this has caused upheaval would be an understatement.

But in the earthquake that has rocked my miniscule part of the planet, old structures (faulty, embedded beliefs) have fallen, treasures of the deep have been uncovered, natural resources have begun to grow again, and I am finding a pace and a peace that draws me nearer to God and releases me to glorify Him more completely.

As we become more fully human in our recognition, acknowledgement, and full acceptance of who we are uniquely created to be, may our lives make this declaration:

“God rules in this place. God’s goodness, love, mercy, kindness and grace are your shield and protection – offer your allegiance to this benevolent Sovereign who will rule us with mutual joy!” [2]

1 N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 161.
2 Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Theology, 29.

fully human - *eb week 3

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

creative. relational. just. spiritual.
not compartments or boxes
rather uncommon threads woven in and out
a tapestry of grace
bearing the image of the Master

recognition brings understanding
the creation
wholly reflecting
the creative
One who made me to be
like Him

in form and fashion
healing the sick
raising the dead
opening blind eyes
setting captives free
freedom for the oppressed

through music
and dancing
and art

through action
and service
and work

through parties
and gatherings
and meals

through prayer
and silence
and being

who He created

fully me
fully human

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is God in control?

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

I've been wrestling for some time now with embedded (things I've just believed without really thinking them through) theology regarding God, His power and authority, and whether or not He is really in control.

We sing about it. We talk about it. We end conversations with "Well, God is in control," as if that somehow is the answer to the struggle of why some things happen the way they do.

But I don't really think God is automatically in control of anyone or anything other than Himself. He gave up that option when He designed free will into creation. Often times when we say that, it is (watch out, I may step on toes here) a cop out when what we really need to be doing is seeking the Lord to see where we need to bring His authority and to repent of where we might have dropped the ball.

Now, before you start throwing things at me, I don't have this all thought out perfectly. I wouldn't mind some good discussion on the topic. I don't want to really argue about it, however. So if you read my blog and you disagree with me, feel free to present your thoughts to me in a kind fashion. I'm really not a bad person.

That being said, allow me to think out loud a bit.

I do believe God is all-powerful. I believe He could step in at any moment and take control. I also believe He has all authority and that He has placed in our hands a large portion (more than we realize, it would seem) of that authority with which we are to rule the earth as He would. I also believe He is all-knowing, loving, just, kind, true. I believe that everything the Bible says about God is true.

I think, though, that Scripture indicates He limits Himself first through giving us free will and then through choosing to work through His creation, through His people, through me. I and others like me are what He plans to use in His renewing-the-earth plan. In a sense, He's placed control in my hands.


N.T Wright says it this way: "...he acts from within the creation itself, with all the ambiguities and paradoxes which that involves, in order to deal with the multiple problems that have resulted from human rebellion, and so to restore creation itself. And he acts from within the covenant people themselves, to complete the rescue operation and fulfill its original purpose." [1]

He acts from within "the covenant people themselves." That's me. And that is some of you. I don't understand how it works, but somehow God is at peace with letting a lot ride on what I do or don't do. And with all that responsibility, He lets me know that He works all things together for my good and that my mistakes (and there are many) are not beyond His redemptive power.

So with these thoughts is this dawning of understanding of the utter importance of believing that I am who God says I am. I need to fully know who I am in Christ so that I can be all He has called me to be in this time and place and not be double minded.

He created me and fashioned me and purposed me to bring His authority into every situation, to reestablish His rule and reign on the earth, to recognize that I have the Spirit of the Most High residing in me. That makes me a place where Heaven and earth overlap, a vessel through which God desires to execute His rescue operation to bring things back under His control and authority.

And for this rescue operation of God's to really work, His covenant people can't just sit back and say "Well, God is in control" and just expect it to all work out. I mean, it does work out in the end, but I want to be a part of it working it out because He's asked me to. He designed specific parts of the mission just for me to do!

I want God to so control me (and it only happens if I choose to give Him the reins, wouldn't you agree?), I want to be so completely and willingly possessed by the Holy Spirit that everywhere I go His Kingdom shows up and puts that which is wrong to right...puts God back in control, in authority on earth as it is in Heaven...

I hear God enjoys a good wrestling match. You'll know me by my limp ;-)

Grace and peace.

1 N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (New York: Harper Collins, 2006) 75.

Essentials Blue...Here we go again!

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

I couldn't resist another round of worship theology with my friends Dan and Will over at So when Essentials Blue came around again this January, I had to jump in and swim again in the "ungrippable waters" (thanks, Dan!) with the learning community made up of worship leaders from all over the world.

Although I have read and written about the material before, there is so much to delve into, I could take this course every year for 10 years and still find new gems to hold up to the light, turning them this way and that, watching the light catch the different facets and gaining new insights and an even deeper understanding of what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.

I can't recommend it enough.

May my awareness of who God is and who I am in Him continue to grow and deepen with each moment. May I be diligent to hone my craft and to be all that He has called me to be in the sphere He has called me to lead in.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Can't wait until...

Ever said that? Usually it comes out of my mouth when I am either anticipating something really exciting or presently going through less-than-pleasant circumstances.

I've determined not to say it anymore.

I'm purposing to be more fully engaged in the here and now so that I don't end up in nowhere, waiting for some future event to occur, hoping something will change.

I am going to find joy in this moment, right now.

At the very least, I can rejoice that my name is written in Heaven (Luke 10:20). And that's no small cause for celebration.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Feeling desolate?

I love, love, love Ignatius of Loyola. Of course, the very fact that he is a Spanish writer gives him extra points right of the start. I love everything Spanish. Well, almost. I don't care much for that dish "Bacalao con Tomate," but other than that, Spain is my "other country." And Ignatius' writings, although penned almost 500 years ago, resonate deeply within me, giving me one more thing to love about Spain.

The Devotional Classics selection by Ignatius is taken from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius the bulk of which he wrote after having decided to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, selling all of his worldly goods, only to find his ship stuck in Manresa (Spain) for a year.

Apparently, instead of moaning and groaning about plans thwarted, asking God why, or throwing in the towel, Ignatius presses into God and draws every bit out of that unexpected year in Manresa, not seeming to waste many moments, if any, having "several profound mystical experiences that led him to begin sharing his faith with others." (1)

And he wrote notes on what to do in hard times, how to prepare oneself for times of desolation, discerning what spirit is at work, standing firm with great determination. He explained that there is an evil spirit causing "anxiety and sadness" creating "obstacles based on false reasoning" and a good spirit who gives "courage and strength, consolation, tears, inspiration, and peace..." (2)

Reading those words this past week reminded me that there are indeed two very distinct spirits seeking to influence my thoughts, my day. I have a choice which voice I listen to. Listening to the voice that speaks anxiety and sadness, regret and guilt, causes me to build my day on false reasoning. But focusing on the Voice who speaks courage and strength allows me to move in freedom throughout my day, unhampered by the obstacles caused by unbelief.

He doesn't say, however, that there won't be hard times or moments of desolation. Rather, in the moments when we are pressing in to the Voice of the Holy Spirit and turning away from the evil one, we have a season of "consolation," moments of "increase of faith, hope, and charity and...interior joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things...inspiring it [one's soul] with peace and quiet in Christ our Lord."(3) These times of consolation serve to strengthen us, help us formulate a plan for how we will behave during any future time of desolation, and so store up strength for that time.

Desolation by contrast is that "darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclination to low and earthly things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which leads to loss of faith, loss of hope, loss of love."(4) It encompasses those moments when we are tempted with the thoughts that God has abandoned us or turned His back on His promises to us.

Ignatius advises us: "In times of desolation one should never make a change, but stand firm and constant in the resolution and decision which guided him the day before the desolation, or to the decision which he observed in the preceding consolation."(5) Excellent advice.

My time as an exchange student in Spain was actually fraught with times of desolation. It really is a miracle that I got hooked at all by the Spanish bug. But I guess working through those deep times of distress, crying out to the Lord because where else could I turn?, connected me with the country in a deeply spiritual way that continues to today.

I was 17. I was alone. I knew no one. I had 3 years of high school Spanish that seemed to leak right out of my brain the moment I stepped foot off the airplane. I had a challenging host family situation that left me mentally and emotionally exhausted most of the time.

But I had the Lord. And best of all, He had me. He brought me through that time and inspired my soul with peace in more ways than I remember. He faithfully walked with me and taught me things about Him and about myself I don't think I could have learned any other way.

Spain is the ground where the rubber met the proverbial road in my spiritual life. And in perhaps the darkest times of my life, God kept my soul alive through moments of consolations where He strengthened me and poured in the courage I would need for the next stretch. He proved Himself faithful time and time again.

Those lessons learned in that season have served me well. And Ignatius' writings remind me today to walk in God's grace daily and to make the most of every opportunity to fuel up on God's courage, strength, and peace so that on that day desolation tries to lay hold of my soul, I am ready to stand determined on the truth of His Word to me.

So, do you find yourself feeling desolate? Call out to the Lord. Remind Yourself of the Truth. Stay the course. 1 Peter 5:6-11 sums it up:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, Devotional Classics (New York: Harper Collins, Revised 2005), 193
2 Ibid, 193-194
3 Ibid
4 Ibid
5 Ibid

Friday, January 1, 2010

Jesus Satisfied the Punishment

Jesus satisfied the punishment
He paid in full
Quenched the anger
Now compasion and kindness
Released to us
Love unbound flows over us
Peace like a river washes us
We become the heirs
once cut off
now bound by blood
His forever.

We are found in Christ
No more sin
No more shame
Terror destroyed
Life and love and joy and happiness
Kingdom power and majesty
Honor and glory and strength
Are His
and become ours
as He bestows
changing our clothes
placing on our heads
A crown of righteousness

Now His ambassadors on the earth
Set free to be
Image-bearers restored
Givers of light
Lovers of men
Honoring all
Showing compassion and kindness and mercy and forgiveness
Releasing captives
Setting prisoners free
Opening blind eyes and deaf ears
Healing the broken hearted
Lifting the crushed in spirit

It's what we do
It's who we are
Christ in us
the Hope of glory
Shines through
Changes the world
bringing peace
restoring hope
lighting fires


Is 54 ff