Category Archives: Transformation

Worship ~ What Matters Most?

HeartofWorship_peopleThis summer we are exploring what authentic worship looks like. The sermon from 6/26/16 asks, “What Matters Most?”  We look at 4 less than best answers and 2 that I believe we are clearly called to. You can listen here. 

Central to this question is Jesus response to the Samaritan woman in John 4.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  What does Jesus mean?

We meditated on a wonderful description of worship that deeply challenges modern contemporary models . I share it in more detail here – along with some additional definitions that have been meaningful to me:

Soren Kierkegaard: The liturgical leaders (musicians, readers of the scriptures, preachers and celebrants) were to be the prompters in worship. All of us, the congregation as well as the liturgical leaders are the actors in the drama of worship and God alone is the audience for the drama.

William Temple: To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.

Louie Giglio: Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God for who He is, and what He has done; expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.

D. A. Carson: To worship God ‘in spirit and in truth’ is first and foremost a way of saying that we must worship God by means of Christ. In him the reality has dawned and the shadows are being swept away (Hebrews 8:13). Christian worship is new covenant worship; it is gospel-inspired worship; it is Christ-centered worship; it is cross-focused worship.

Warren Weirsbe: Worship is the our response with all we are – mind, emotions, will, body – to all that God is and says and does.

The Goal is Transformation and Participation!

Question: How will you better prepare to enter a worship gathering in the coming weeks?  

Learn to read the Bible S l o w l y

15-07-26 PRAXIS- LEXIO.007In our Praxis series, last week we studied biblical meditation (or “Rumination.”) This Sunday we learned and practiced an old/new way to listen to God through the Scriptures. Also called Lectio Divina – or – Sacred Reading, our community found it to be a deeply worshipful and personal encounter with the Lord. The outline is below and you can listen to the sermon here. (the text was Mark 4:35-41) I hope you will learn to practice the way of Sacred Reading, personally as well as in smaller groups.

Sacred Reading (Lectio Divina)
Encountering God in the Bible

Listen prayerfully to the text for the word or phrase that ‘speaks’ to you. What is the Holy Spirit drawing your attention to?

Read the text again. Repeat and ponder these words in your heart. Where do you find yourself in this story? What is God saying  to YOU through this word or phrase?

Read the text once more. What is your response to God? And how could this affect your week ahead? Make it a prayer: giving thanks; asking for help; asking forgiveness. resting in God’s love…

Move from the activity of prayer to a place of stillness. Simply rest in God’s presence. Like Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant; let it be to me according to Your word.” Go with the delight and confidence that God is with you to live out what you have read.

Though often described as a practice within Roman Catholicism, it’s roots are ancient and modern Evangelical works on spiritual disciplines most always include some variation of Sacred Reading.

One article I recommend is “Step by Step Through Lectio Divina.

The Why (and How) of Solitude + Silence

Neil's "frenzied heart" - now  settled!
Neil’s ‘frenzied heart’ – now settled!

Our Executive Pastor, Neil Botts, just preached on “Loving Others Better Through Solitude and Silence.” Inspiring and intensely practical! You can listen here. Be sure to download his great resource, Practical Steps into Solitude and Silence.  Here is a summary from Neil…

We are bombarded daily with the demands and expectations to be “productive” whether at work or at school or at church. As a result, our sense of worth and identity are often entangled with a frenzied pursuit to “produce.” Add to that our skepticism that we can be truly known and still loved apart from what we “produce,” we then fill our lives with busyness and activity which hinders our ability to be present with people and to hear God speak into our loneliness. The spiritual practice of solitude and silence is a gift from God that opens the door to a new way of being productive and fruitful in relationships and in life. We are better in community (and for our community) when we are regularly in solitude.


freshairThe person of the Holy Spirit has been called the “neglected” member of the Trinity! (God doesn’t suffer from neglect – we suffer from neglecting!)

The Spirit is described in many wonderful and vivid images, using all the senses – things we know best by experience rather than explanation: *the force of wind, *the intimacy of breathing; *the instincts of a Dove; *the energy of Fire; *the Comfort of a friend close by; *the fragrant healing balm of Oil; *the power of a river; *the ‘good intoxication’ of being filled and moved, continually being under the Lord’s influence! (Ephesians 5:18)

Fresh Air is the title for our current sermon series at Christ Church. (The title is borrowed from a book I’d recommend by Jack Levison.) 

The first sermon, Breathe! picks up on the image of the Spirit as breath and air, embedded in the very definition of spirit. (Pneuma in Greek; Ruach in Hebrew) Learn what this beautifyl image of breathing has to teach us about the “Holy and Life-giving Spirit.” 

On hearing the sermon theme, someone in our community reminded me of a book chapter titledBreaththat I adapted for the spoken word. I’ll share it here. Listen for the biblical allusions.

“The Spirit is like breath, as close as the lungs, the chest, the lips, the fogged canvas where little fingers draw hearts, the tide (in our lungs) that rises and falls twenty-three thousand times a day in a rhythm so intimate we forget to notice until(we’re out of breath or until a Friend or Guide) says “pay attention to your breath!” and its fragile power awes us again. Inhale. Exhale. Expand. Release.

In the beginning, God breathed. And the dust breathed back enough oxygen, water, and CO2 to make an atmosphere; to make a man. Job knew life – as “the breath of God in my nostrils,” given and taken away. With breath, the Creator kindled the stars, parted a sea, woke a valley of dry bones, inspired a sacred text.

So, too, the Spirit — inhaled and exhaled in a million (everyday) ways, animates, revives, nourishes, sustains, speaks! The Spirit is as near as the nose and as everywhere as the air, so pay attention! 


(adapted from Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, chapter 23. Read the original excerpt here.)

Here’s the rest of the sermon themes for the Fresh Air series

May 17 – A Community of Oneness
May 24 – The Helper has Arrived!
May 31 – Anointed to Flourish
June 7 – The Gift Giver
June 14 – Temples 

Let yourself be moved!

Advent Lessons and Carols @ Community of Jesus
Advent Lessons and Carols @ Community of Jesus

Advent ushers us into a feast for the senses that CAN lead to “spiritual ecstasy,”  (instead of  just sensory overload!)

I’ve been working through a wonderful book of poems by Luci Shaw called Scape. I came back today to this one called Ec-stasis. It’s from a Greek word from which we get the word “ecstasy” or literally being “beside oneself.”

Read the poem over more than once and let it sink in. I’m struck with how all our senses are conduits that God built in: to “move” us; to displace us from our ruts; to transform us. In Shaw’s words, we are “engineered for transformation!

from Ec-stasis

The music…
is described by the announcer as
moving, touching, powerful. As if
even as we listen, we’ll get shoved
around, displaced, our senses
turning us to another orientation.

So, maybe this is what is meant for us –
to be ready to be unsteady, unhinged,
beside ourselves, constrained by magic
to know the world new, to be
transposed, dislodged, ready for
realignment, reintegration.

Bring whatever it takes – for sight,
for hearing, touch, taste, sense
of smell, spirited imagination, any of
the ways we’re engineered
for transformation.

I hope that if you are local, you will join with us at Christ Church this Advent and Christmas. We are exploring the tensions of living where God has brought – and brings – A Light in the Darkness.

Here are the details for All Things Christmas.

Transformation and Hope – learning from an icon

Theophanes, 15th cent. Tretykaov Gallery, Moscow

The transfiguration of the Christ, described in Mark 9, Luke 9 and Matthew 17, is depicted in this icon from the 16th cent. There is so much of the biblical story and so much powerful theology packed into it. An iconographic picture truly “worth a thousand words!”

Many have asked about the meaning and use of icons. I want to point you to this article by Patrick Comerford, that compares icons of the Transfiguration from several places and time periods. He explains each detail and the meaning behind the forms and colors. This will be helpful if you listen to the sermon which used the icon: More Than Meets The Eye.

The ancient hymn that goes along with the Transfiguration is also instructive:

You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples beheld Your glory,
as far as they could comprehend it.
Thus, when they would behold You crucified,
they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
and would proclaim to the world
that You are truly the radiance of the Father.

Are we cooperating with the Holy Spirit so that Christ can “paint us” – transform us – into his glorious image! (2 Cor. 3:18)