Worship Review 4.26.15 – Lord of the Storm

This weekend we sang:

  • “Rejoice” by Dustin Kensure
  • “Behold Our God” by Sovereign Grace Music
  • “Man of Sorrows” by David Potter
  • “Grace Alone” by The Modern Post

Below is a playlist of the four songs we sang this week. Each song is written and produced by independant artists and guys who work for the local church. If these are songs you enjoy please consider purchasing them so that these artist will continue to write great songs for God’s children to sing.


Normally, I’d like to write something about how our songs fit together and how they played with the sermon in a harmonious way. But, not today.

Yesterday was a special service, due to circumstances beyond our control – ah, the life of the renter – we had a lovely outdoor service.

I never seriously considered rain (I’m certain Ryan did, he tends to thinks these things through) because we live in Southern California and we’re currently exeperiencing a severe drought. And when the sun shines constantly you begin to forget it. But, lo and behold, we had Weather this weekend.

In Southern California just the threat of rain feels apocalyptic. All weekend the clouds towered above the earth. As they grew larger and darker they loomed threateningly. They swelled beyond capacity with rain and burst. Some time on Saturday night I texted Ryan: “What’s our Plan B?”

On that day, when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4.35-38 ESV

“Do you not care that we are perishing?” When I’m feeling bruised and tired, when the candle has been thoroughly burned through on both ends, when I feel like giving up it’s beyond tempting to demand of God, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”

It’s not tempting, it’s reality. I assume a defiant posture shaking my fists at the heavens. I begin to believe God is up there without a care in the world and we’re down here stuggling to no end. “Why have you forgotten me?” I cry, joining the Psalmist:

Deep calls to deep
as the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the LORD commands his
steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?”
Psalm 42.7-9a ESV

Is God sleeping below deck and the boat filling with water? Does He not realize? Is He not paying attention? Does God not care?

We’re drowning down here.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4.39-41 ESV

The power and glory of God is a terrible and awful thing to behold and should cause us to tremble. AW Tozer writes in his book The Knowledge of the Holy that “…what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The question that we all must answer: “Who is this man?”

Jesus Christ is the unchanging Lord of the Storm. He always has been, he is currently, and will always be. He is the Lord of the Storm when we the skies grow so dark we can no longer see and we forget. He commands the wind, he commands the rain, at his voice there is calm.

When I fell asleep Saturday night I fully expected to wake to dark skies, I fully believed that I would spend the majority of the morning scrambling to figure out how our church would gather to worship. I assumed that it would be my responsibility to manage the storm.

But I peered out the window when I woke and the sun was beginning to poke his head out over the hills in the east. The sky was painted with reds, yellows, and graciously with bright blues. A beautiful day was chasing me to church.

Before we gathered to remember the gospel and let the message of Christ dwell among us richly by the singing of songs the Holy Spirit was reminding me that it is Jesus, not me, who is Lord of the Storm. That it is Jesus who works all things together for the good of those who love God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42.11 ESV
Worship Review 4.26.15 – Lord of the Storm

Incarne Asada (What Is Art For? Part Three)

The first two parts of this series:

The Purpose Driven Babel
The Good Catastrophe


If I told you I was on Earth would you know exactly where I am?

How about if I said that I was on Earth, in the western hempishpere – would you know? If I told you I was on Earth, in the Western Hemispher, somewhere in North America – does that help you know exactly where I am?

How about this: I am hanging out on Earth, in its Western Hemisphere, located in North America, in The United States of America. Do you know now?

NO?! Are you even listening? Lemme try this:

I am on Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, USA!, in the second best republic in the Republic – California. Now do you know? No?

I’m on Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, USA!, California, in the southern…


Earth, West Hemisphere, North America, USA!, CA, SoCal, San Diego County!

Warm but not quite hot. We’re getting close though.

Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, USA!, CA, SoCal, San Diego, Fallbrook.


Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, USA!, CA, SoCal, San Diego, Fallbrook, The Esspresso Lounge on Main Avenue.

THERE WE GO! Now you know where I’m hiding.

(If you skipped the video you’re a Cold War Era communist.
Go back. Watch it.)

 God has told us exactly where He could be found:

In the dust with us.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1.14

In the dust with us God can be found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Anybody who has seen the Son has seen the Father.

And we hung him up on a tree to die. But Death couldn’t keep him down and the same Spirit who raised him up from the dead now resides in us. He has ascended and is sitting at the right hand of his Father and he will come again to judge the quick and the dead.

017rublev troitsa(Rublev’s “Icon of the Trinity”)

God pre-existed in a community of love and care; the Father loving the Son loving the Spirit loving the… dancing in such a blur that the Three Persons are the One True God. Tim Keller in his book “The Reason for God” writes:

The Trinity means that God is, in essence, relational.

And in an outpouring of that love God the Son joined us on Earth. And he has joined us in death. And the Holy Ghost has joined us to Him in everlasting life. In the end, once and for all, we’ll be joined with God in the New City on the New Earth.

This is sovereign empathy.

God no longer calls us servants in his Kingdom. He calls us friend and beckons us to join the Circle Dance.

There’s a temptation for us to fall into that old lie: Gnosticism.

Gnosticism being the philosophy that the Unknowable God is far too good and pure to have anything to do with this evil, fallen world and that this transcendent Being can only be known through special knowledge. You may be thinking, “Naw, that ain’t me.

funny-quote-soul-body-C-S-Lewis(This is patentedly wrong,wrong, wrong.
And CS Lewis never said it.)

But I’d argue that Gnosticism is more common than we think. You can see the devaluing of the material world accross a broad spectrum.

One end is a fear-fueled asceticism – we must abstain from the things of this world (e.g. sex, food, entertainment) because our bodies are just doughy flesh bags for our glorious souls so don’t smoke, drink, or chew, or go with girls that do!

On the other end there’s a devaluing of the material world as evidenced by our abuses. Try turning on your tv and finding something you’d be comfortable watching with your mom; turn on your music and see if there’s music you’d share with a toddler. And that’s the appropriate stuff.

Weirder yet there’s a bizarre abstinent middle ground where all we do is talk about is how we abstain. Did you hear the joke about the vegan, the guy who doesn’t own a tv, and the one who thinks the world’s about to end?

Yeah, we all did. Three times in ten minutes.

God came and dwelt among us. Jesus had skin and marrow, a complexion, emotions, he was hungry, he wore clothes. In the Incarnation of God – in his life, death, and resurrection – we see God redeeming, restoring, and reaffirming what He saw when through the Word, His only son, God spoke creation into being: “It is good.” It is the ordinary things of this world – water, bread, wine – that God offers and gives for the life of the world.

All things are being made new, not Left Behind.

Art begins in care. The Artist practices incarnation. With their brush the Artist declares, “It is good.” Using ordinary materials they film, sing, sculpt what the world is and could be. And the consumption of art is a practice in empathy. When I consume art I put myself in someone else’s shoes. I practice what the made up, fictional character from the classic book and movie, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch meant when he said,

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.

Eugene Peterson writes:

Like the sacramental use of water and bread and wine, friendship takes what’s common in human experience and turns it into something holy.

Art is a practice in incarnation, community, and empathy. Art takes the ordinary materials of this world and turns them into something holy.

Incarne Asada (What Is Art For? Part Three)

Commentary on “Wanderlust”

The original poem can be found here: Wanderlust.

Departure_of_Ulysses_from_the_Land_of_the_Pheacians(Odysseus departs from the Land of the Phaeacians. Painting by Claude Lorrain)

Three years ago today I was parked on top of a mountain outside of Denver taking a catnap because my buddy Phil and I had driven sixteen hours straight from Illinois to Colorado. We intentionally left late in the afternoon on Sunday so we’d be driving through Nebraska through the middle of the night.

Driving through Nebraska at four in the morning is a surreal experience. I’d not driven such a long hike before and everything was so straight and flat that the world stopped existing. All that there was was the front seat of my Saturn Astra and Phil snoring in the passanger seat. At some point I began following a semi-truck.


The will-o’-the-wisp is a Celtic myth. In America we’d call them “ghost-lights” or “orbs.” They show up in many different cultures and are cousins with “fairies,” “sirens,” and “jack-o’-lanterns.”

The story goes that the will-o’-the-wisp would appear to lost and weary travellers at night and begin guiding them.

The first draft of this poem was written a year before I took my road trip. That draft began when I remembered how my Grandma Pearl once told me that if I was ever lost driving that I should just follow a semi-truck because they knew where they were going. I used to work for Starbucks and because I’m awful at waking up whenever I had an opening shift I’d just stay up the whole night, usually I’d arrive an hour or more before my shift began at two or three in the morning to write and read. The store I worked at was near a highway and the sound of the trucks one night, along my grandma’s advice became the seed of this poem. But that first draft felt stiff and dead – the only line I liked was:

The thundering engine/ and shifting of gears/ fills the empty night/ with a percussive symphony

But America is a myth as fantastic as Arthur’s Camelot. America is a fairy-tale. The American knight-in-shining-armor is found questing on the interstate. Crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa I felt like Odysseus. The adventure of moving accross the country by myself – the drive through Nebraska at night, the sun chasing us over the hills in Colorado, the puckish monsters in Goblin National Park – brought something alive in me that made me return to that draft I had scrapped.

utah_20120511__MG_3195-Edit_lg(Goblin National Park)

Commentary on “Wanderlust”