Thursday, October 22, 2009

The body of Christ -- expressing Jesus to the world.

Recently, I'd been desiring a deeper revelation of the body. I mean, do you truly understand the body of Christ? I know it's way more than a group of people who get together and do church. It's much more than a Christian support group. It's much deeper than a healthy corporate experience.

A couple weeks ago, I was reading Colossians 1:15-22 in the Phillips translation. It starts: Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God......He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation. And now he is the head of the body which is the Church.....It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through him God planned to reconcile in his own person, as it were, everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross. In Colossians 2:9 it says that in Christ God gives a full and complete expression of himself and our own completeness is only realized in him.

So when we gaze at Christ, we gaze on the visible expression of the invisible God. Everything we want to know and experience of God is all there in Christ himself. This same Christ is the head of the body--the Church. Because of this connection, the Church is now the visible expression of Christ to the world. Indeed, when the world encounters the Church, it sees all of Jesus--his suffering, his death, his resurrection, his rule and reign. Wow! This is amazing. In these scriptures, I don't see reference to broken Church or a Church that falls short or a Church that's a hospital. No. The Church of Jesus Christ is the whole, complete expression of him here on earth!

As I read these verses and saw this enormous declaration, my heart asked, "What does it mean to be an expression of Christ?" I was reminded of Jesus words in John 6: The man who eats my body and drinks my blood shares my life and I share his." It dawned on me that we, the body, cannot fully express Christ unless we participate fully in everything that Christ has done and is doing. We must fully commune with him. We must eat him, drink him, participate in everything aspect of his personality, and hide ourselves in him. To commune is to be an expression of Christ to all of creation. When we abide him in, he is revealed to all. To say that I fully understand this would be dishonest, but I know in my deepest knower that it's true. It's a mystery that I embrace for my life and for the fruitfulness that I desire to see at work in me.

On Wednesday, while driving to staff prayer, I was worshipping and meditating on all the above, thinking on it again and simply reveling in the wonder of it. Then I saw something so beautiful. I saw the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together glorifying one another with their praises, their encouragement, and their mutual regard and deep affection for each other. And right there, in the midst of that holy Trinity, was the body of Christ in full communion with the Son, experiencing all the glory the Son was receiving and giving. With this vision, my eyes were opened to the amazing wonder of worship. My first thought was, "Oh dear, my perception of worship has been so very, very small." Then with new eyes, I caught a glimpse of the overwhelming gift of worship. Worship is an act of full participation/communion in the complete expression of Christ as he is being glorified with the Father and the Spirit. When I saw this, I could actually feel his glory filling my body and being expressed inside my car. I could sense the increase of spiritual activity in the atmosphere around me. I knew that "stuff" was happening around me even though I was "just" enjoying the Lord and his presence. It was awesome!

This brief vision in my car opened my mind to understand the great privilege of the Church to worship and glorify the Son. By doing so, we literally join in the fellowship of the Trinity and then begin to express that same glory right here on earth. It's as though we are transfigured! We step into the glory and then begin to mirror his fullness, and the world can't help but be drawn in. Supernatural activity increases and is released, and like a mighty magnetic force, all men are drawn to the Church because they are drawn to Christ! His glorious, charismatic personality is so great and so beautiful no one could possibly resist him.

Expressing Christ. This is an amazing gift given to us, sons and daughters of God. We abide, participate, eat and drink the Lamb, enjoy his life, gaze on his glory and in so doing his name and fame ring out to all the nations. Thank you Lord.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brave New Worship Part 2

Part 2 about brave new worship is here at last! In my last blog, I left us with Abraham and how he "amaned" God. Looking at David's life, we learn more about brave new worship. From the stories of his youth, we know that he was man fully convinced that God was on his side. He fought lions and bears and defeated Goliath with his slingshot. It's evident that David never believed he accomplished these things by his own ability, but by the power and faithfulness of God. Later in his life, when he became king, he wanted to bring the ark in the center of Jerusalem. David knew that God's presence was important and he wanted the ark - the house of God's presence--to be situated right in the middle of the city, right at the heart of the nation.

Where had the ark been up until this time? In 1 Samuel 4, we read that 20 years beforehand, the Philistines won a battle with the Israelites and captured the ark. When they took it home with their spoils, God began wreaking havoc among them. Plagues and infestations broke out in their towns. Eventually, the Philistines returned the ark to Israel on a driverless cart (1 Sam 6) where it parked in Beth Shemesh, a town designated for the Levites. Unfortunately, the Levites were unfamiliar with the law about how to handle the ark and some of men looked into the ark and died. Like the Philistines, the residents of Beth Shemesh sent the ark away and said,"Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?" The ark was sent to Kireath Jearim (nine miles west of Jerusalem) and taken to Abinadab's house where it remained for 20 years.

When David became king he went after the ark. He had a passion for the presence of God that was extraordinary. In Psalm 132 we see that David had a call from his youth - a call to worship. So with his new authority as king, he responded to that call by bringing the ark into the center of Jerusalem. The scriptures tell us that there were two attempts at bringing the ark to Jerusalem. The first time (1 Chron. 13) was a failure. The attempt failed because David and his men handled the ark like the Philistines did--by placing it on a cart. They approached the ark, the presence of God, the focal point of worship, as it seemed reasonable and never thought to consult God about how his presence should be handled. In a way, David took his counsel from the very enemies of God. Also, David's leadership was weak. He approached his leaders and the people of Israel in a wishy-washy manner: "If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God...." David was looking for public approval and his authority was not firmly in place. So with human planning and weak leadership, he and the Israelites set out to transport the ark on the cart. The oxen stumbled, and one of the helpers, Uzzah, reached out touching the ark to steady it. Tragically, God's anger broke out (exploded!) against him and he died.

David was angry. How had this happened? All his planning was utterly ruined. He was afraid because God who had always been on his side, now acted as his enemy. David even named the place Perez Uzzah, meaning "outbreak against Uzzah." Echoing the Levites of Beth Shemesh, David declared, "How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?" David was confused and left the ark at the house of Obed-Edom where it remained for several months.

The second attempt (1 Chron. 15) to bring the ark to Jerusalem was a success. Between 1 Chron. 13 and 1 Chron. 15, something changed in David. In 1 Chron. 14 we get a glimpse into his shift. We see David's leadership strengthened and his authority established as he engaged in two different battles with the Philistines. Verse 17 says, "So David's fame spread throughout every land, and the Lord made all the nations fear him." We also see that David learned to consult God. Prior to each battle, David asked God how to defeat the enemy. In each instance God gave a different strategy; he didn't repeat himself. Each battle was truly led and won by the Lord, not by human planning or familiar strategy. God wants to be the leader. I find it fascinating and sobering what David says after his first battle: "As waters break out, God has broken out against my enemies by my hand." Does this sound familiar? This God explosion/breaking out also happened at the first attempt to move the ark. Since God was not leading that event, he treated Uzzah and David's plans as though they were his enemies and resisted them. This is a sobering truth. If we don't consult God and let him lead, he will resist us. We will actually become his enemy.

Having understood God's sovereignty, David set about to collect the ark the 2nd time. First, he functioned clearly in his own God-given authority. He consulted God's law and learned how the ark was to be moved. Then he gathered the Levites and reminded them of their place, their calling, and their authority to move the ark. In 1 Chron. 15, the first 24 verses are a detailed description of people being set in their right places and established in their spheres of authority. In verse 25, after everyone was properly positioned, it says, "S0..." In the Message, it says, "Now they were ready." Once a right flow of authority was set in place an amazing thing took place: brave new worship happened.

David, a man after God's own heart, stepped out into a new place. Not only did he worship God wholeheartedly, but he actually stepped into a priestly role. 1 Chron. 15:27 tells us he wore a linen ephod which, under the law, was to be worn only by priests. Amazing! He wasn't a Levite! How could he do this without God breaking out against him? Through revelation! I am convinced that somewhere between 1 Chron 13 and 1 Chron 15, as David humbly consulted the Lord, he had a revelation of the cross (see Psalm 22) and through this revelation received strategy and authority and freedom to come out of the religious law and function in a new place - as a priest. Under the law this would have been absolute violation. But because of his revelation of Christ, David risked everything - his very life - and believed ("amaned")God will all his being. As Psalm 132 tells us, he heard the call and he couldn't do anything else but respond.

I am convinced that by revelation, David saw the freshly slain way and that's why after six paces oxen and fatted sheep were sacrificed. God's presence was coming to Jerusalem via a fresh, bloody way. We know this is the way of the cross. Blood must flow.

David worshipped ecstatically. He was not concerned about his reputation or how he appeared to others. He no longer referenced himself, but fixed his heart completely on the Lord. Michal, his wife, who watched from a window (a mere spectator,not a participant) despised his worship. Isn't this just like the religious spirit? Religion hates ecstatic, body and soul worship. But the way of the cross makes religion irrelevant and David would not even consider her judgment.

1 Chronicles 15 also tells us that the nation together worshipped God and joy filled the land. With this brave new worship, religion was relegated to a distant place. While Moses' tent was set up in Gibeon and the Mosiac pattern of worship continued there without the ark of God's presence, David set up a tent in the middle of Jerusalem and placed the ark there for all to behold. For forty years, the presence of God was accessible to all. The law didn't allow for this, but God's way - the way of the cross--made it so.

So what is this brave new worship? It's a worship that happens from and in a place of revelation, a revelation that flows from the power of the cross. It means setting aside what seems reasonable in our minds and following a way that only God can dictate. He has set a boundary for us - the narrow way of the cross. Yet in that limited, narrow way, it's so spacious, so vast and so roomy for God to move into new things. To follow his fresh new way, a way never seen before, requires tremendous courage. The literal French meaning of courage is "full heart." We bravely respond to our encounter with Christ not out of fear, but with full hearts worshipping him body and soul, holding nothing back. In that place, religion is stale, dead and irrelevant. There's no place for it to have a voice and set up camp.

In Acts 15:15-18, after Paul shares with the apostles about the conversion of the Gentiles to the gospel, James quotes Amos 9:11-12 recognizing that God was restoring David's Tent. He saw that the dictates of religion and the law had been set aside and no longer had a voice about who could have access to God's presence. Through the bloody way of our great high priest - the Son of David - all nations were now free to enter in.

Because worship belongs to our God, then he leads it. Our response is to follow bravely into the new thing that he's doing. He's not limited to our reason, our past experiences, or the law, but is constantly releasing a newly created encounter with him. Are we going to believe it? Are we going to plunge in body and soul and embrace all the promises that have been won for us?

I'm personally challenged by this word. My heart and my mind are being expanded and as a daughter of God, I find I can't hold on to anything I've known. I also can't limit myself by my own natural limitations. I have to trust God with my whole being. I'm hearing a call to step into a brave new place and I know I must respond. I'm not sure where I'm going, but I choose to keep my eyes on Jesus and believe him with everything I've got. What else is there to live for?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brave new worship revealed - part 1

Last Thursday, at our worship community gathering, I shared with all the musicians and sound team members some things the Lord has been revealing to me about brave new worship. I started getting this input when I began asking him about his purpose for Kelanie Gloeckler's time with us on March 21. It's now Tuesday, and the Lord continues to speak to me, showing me new things, revealing more and more about his worship. Because that's what this is really all about: his worship. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I think I had a belief that what I was doing on Sunday mornings or at the piano in my home was my worship. But it's not. Worship belongs to God. It's always been his. He will have his worship with or without me. If people don't praise him, the rocks will cry out in their stead. God will never be without his worship. I get to join in - to participate in God's glorious worship, but it will never be mine.

And so the Lord is revealing new things to me about his worship. This recent revelation about brave new worship started one night when I was getting ready for bed and my husband, Dave, read to me from Romans 10 out of The Message. Here it is:
(starting at verse 5) The earlier revelation [the law] was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy--every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story--no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?

The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.

It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God--"Jesus is my Master"--embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this--heart and soul--will ever regret it."

This scripture passage overwhelmed me. God was showing me that to enter into brave new worship is to fully embrace, body and soul, God's work of doing in me what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. I've claimed to believe this, but now he was asking me to plunge into it, dive in with my entire being giving myself over fully to this conviction. Wow!

I was reminded of a teaching on Georgian and Winnie's Blisstronica 2 CD about Aman. When Abraham believed God, his belief was more than an intellectual or emotional assent. Rather, he "amaned" God. God promised him that he would be the father of many nations. Although Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were in their old age and far too old to conceive a child, nevertheless, Abraham believed God heart and soul plunging himself into God's promises with his entire being. Even though his body was as good as dead, nevertheless, he gave himself over to God's supernatural viewpoint and believed that who God said he was, he was, and who God said he would be, he indeed would be. Because of this incredible, brave faith, Abraham was counted as righteous. Because of this faith, Abraham worshipped bravely--willingly offering his only son, Isaac, the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise, on the altar at God's demand. He could do this as one completely given over to God's promises.

Romans 10 tells us that "No one who trusts God like this--heart and soul--will ever regret it."

King David's life also demonstrates to us this dynamic of brave new worship. Watch for my next blog entry to share more about this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Brave New Worship with Kelanie Gloeckler

On March 21, Kelanie Gloeckler is coming our way to lead us in an awesome night of worship. Our history with her is interesting. A couple years ago, I actually purchased a CD by her but just didn't connect with it then. Don't really know why; it just wasn't happening for me. Then this past spring, Ryan and Megan Fluetsch returned from a trip to the Lakeland Revival raving about this fantastic worship leader who's music was all about the cross. They brought me one of her CDs (different than the one I had purchased--which I now enjoy), and I listened to it thoroughly enjoying the songs. Since then MDCC has experienced powerful worship with her music: Hallelujah, I'm am free. Sin and death have no hold on me..... Hallelujah, the lamb of God has overcome. Three days to beat the grave and win me back..... Beautiful Redeemer, I am yours, forever I'll sing to bring you glory.....

In the fall, I received a phone call from Bill Maher who shared with me that he felt we should invite Kelanie to come to us to lead a worship event. As we discussed it, I sensed the Holy Spirit was behind this even though I wasn't sure how it fit with the direction of our body. I discussed it with Pete and Lisa and we were all in unity that this was a go. I don't think any of were sure of the "why" but were convinced that we needed to respond to the Holy Spirit in faith and obedience.

Since that decision, the Lord has been speaking to me! I am so very excited about this event. He's really up to something. Here's what I wrote in a letter to area pastors and worship leaders:

We're inviting you, your worship team, and your congregation to BRAVE NEW WORSHIP--a special regional event with worship leader, Kelanie Gloeckler. We are hosting this worship night in response to a prompting from the Holy Spirit who has been doing an amazing work in our body. Over the past couple years, MDCC has been experiencing an increase in God's powerful presence as we've learned to worship out of a revelation of the cross. As we've corporately declared our thankfulness for freedom from sin's power and our inseparable union with Christ, and as we've exclaimed our praises to the One who did it all, we've found ourselves stepping into a new dimension in worship. Out of this heavenly atmosphere the Father has released supernatural activity resulting in hearts restored, bodies healed, finances increased, relatives saved, freedom from unbelief and demonic oppression, and more.

Recently, we've been hearing a call from the Holy Spirit to go all the way--to courageously give ourselves over, body and soul, to our convictions of the truth of the finished work of the cross, to worship without unbelief, and to embrace our Redeemer with our whole beings. He's calling us into a brave new worship that will have marked impact in the church and region. We've invited Kelanie Gloeckler to lead this night of worship because she is a prophetic worship leader who loves the message of the cross and has written songs to declare its power......

So hang on tight, worship community! The bar has been raised, the stakes are higher, and we are in for a whole new thing requiring supernatural courage and explosive faith. I confess I have no idea what we are in for, but I know that it can only be good since we have a God who's passionate about us and passionate about his worship. I hope to gather us together in the near future, before March 21, to share even more about the Lord is speaking to me regarding this brave new worship. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

At last, the worship ministry of MDCC has a blog! In this blog I hope to share with you some insights the Lord gives me as I read the scriptures, and as he shares his heart with me about his worship. Ever since I became part of the worship community at MDCC (Easter, 1997), I've been on a journey to discover what worship really is, what really happens in worship, and why I've given my life to serve and administer worship for the Lord. It's something that burns in me, and I can't resist the desire to make music to the Lord.

Over the past couple years, the Lord has been teaching me in the scriptures many things about his worship. I've been amazed by the multi-faceted affects of our worship to God and how he responds to our wholehearted praises. There is so much substance in worship! I love it! It's my desire that the posts here truly encourage every reader and prompt many encouraging and insightful comments.