Worship Review 9.20.15 – Their Own Private Cages

This week we sang, TWICE!, the following songs. I’ve attached a Spotify playlist but if you enjoyed any of the songs consider purchasing them, preferrable directly from the artist:

  • Only King Forever by Elevation Worship
  • Holy by Matt Redman
  • The Glories of Calvary by Sovereign Grace Music, arranged by Norton Hall Band
  • Revelation Song by Jennie Lee Riddle

Jesus Saves” by Gerry Dincher. Copyrighted. Some Rights Reserved.

I did an image search of “Jesus” to find a header image for this post because, hey, why not? And while I was searching I thought to myself, “Well this is revealing.”

I found images of Buddy Jesus, lots of iconography, some stained glass. I found an image of a bobble-head Jesus sipping a pint of beer (though I assume Jesus prefers a dark red cab), a beautifully composed shot of a homeless man (bringing to mind, Matthew 25), Lego Jesus (appalling), and a whole lot of Lily-White Jesus kitsch (even more appalling).

Jesus is an interesting figure in history. Christ, unlike maybe any other person in history, demands consideration. He’s problematic. What do we do with this guy? CS Lewis says we can declare he is either a lunatic, a liar, or Lord. I like it though it may be simplistic. We could just as well say he never existed. But arguing such reveals certain prejudices and denies plenty of historical proofs to the contrary. Argue either of these points or any other of the countless points demonstrates my point well. Jesus looms large in our historical and cultural imagination asking us the same question he asked his disciples in Ceasera Phillipi:

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked, “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16.13-16

Jesus tells Peter that he’s going to build his church and the gates of Hell won’t prevail against it and, in a completely frustrating and baffling moment, says “Don’t tell anybody.” Christ then predicts his own death and ressurection. The Gospel of Mark says that, “he spoke plainly about this.” That didn’t stop Peter from being confused though. Peter had some misconceptions about what it means to be the Son of the living God (don’t we all?) so he rebuked Jesus. Right? Kind of presumptious of Peter, don’t you think? Anyways Peter tells Jesus that Jesus is wrong and that death will never come to Christ. Peter assumed only glory, and a decidedly human glory.

Jesus replied, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Maybe Jesus is suggesting that mere glory is a chiefly human concern. The concerns of God being hard, difficult, and undesirable?

I paraphrased the opening sentence to AW Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy at the start of our time singing:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

It is curious the sort of images I found searching for Jesus. There he was trapped in stained glass and the rigid form of the icons, mocked and marginalized as a bobble head and Lego minifig, turned into a baby kissing cliché, painted to look like a ruggedly good looking white guy, infantilized into Family Friendly propaganda.

No one is immune to projecting their preffered image on to Christ. In my life, I’ve turned Jesus into a social justice humanist, an avid supporter of my political agenda, a doctrine to be defended, an object of my emotional affections, a genie, and plenty of other things that he is definitely not.

In this Monday, Aug. 1, 2011 photo, a person views two paintings attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn at the “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” exhibit. AP Photo/Matt Rourke Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/8863/rembrandt-and-the-face-of-jesus-in-philadelphia#ixzz3mP0dLzBl
In this Monday, Aug. 1, 2011 photo, a person views two paintings attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn at the “Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus” exhibit. AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/8863/rembrandt-and-the-face-of-jesus-in-philadelphia#ixzz3mP0dLzBl

After putting Peter in his place Jesus takes him and two others up a mountain. At the top of this mountain Jesus was changed, his face shone like the sun, his clothes becoming like light. Something akin to the description in Revelation 19 when he comes in glory to judge the living and the dead. And then Moses and Elijah appear, plucked out of history

“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.'” (Matthew 17.4) Peter, always with foot squarely in his mouth, offers Jesus, Elijah, and Moses the pleasure of building each of them their own private cage.

When we encounter the glory of God we realize that he is too great for us to behold. So we try and put him in a box, etch him in glass, systemize him into a proper orthodoxy, put his face on a poster endorsing our candidate, ignore him and say he enver existed, spring-load his head so that it bobbles on a rough roads, doodle him in the corners of our sermon notes. But he is better than every doodle we could ever imagine of him and he demands an answer of us:

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

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Worship Review 9.20.15 – Their Own Private Cages

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.


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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