February 19, 2013

Lent is About Space Many of you are fasting during this Lenten season, so it's worth exploring why we fast. Is fasting a way to get God to speak or "move" or do something? Scot McKnight wrote a challenging post based on his book on Biblical fasting suggesting that we fast because of rather than in order to. Fasting in the Scriptures, he argues, is more often in response to a grievous situation or a holy encounter, rather than a way to manipulating God. And yet. It seems that fasting does produce something in us. So, how can we think about fasting without slipping into piety or pleading, an attempt to impress God or to get something from Him? The answer is space. Fasting is about creating space, space to truly see. It's hard to hide Pikes Peak in our city. Its jagged edges jut out from buildings, its snow-capped head rises above every rooftop. But there are many places in town where, because of the lower elevation or the density of buildings, it's just hard to fully see Pikes Peak. On my drive home, there is one particular corner where I turn and am all of a sudden on top of a small hill with two valleys on either side. The horizon in view is dominated by the mighty mountain range, with old Pikes as the centerpiece. I've lived here for almost 13 years and it still takes my breath away. The Peak has always been there; I just needed a bit of space to see it. So... 1. Fasting Creates Space to See Ourselves. When Jacob was left alone, Genesis tells us, he wrestled with a man until daybreak. But only when he was left alone, after his family and servants and animals had all crossed over to the other side. And...
Why Do We Rejoice? Much is often said about how modern worship is too peppy or "happy," that we haven't given enough attention to the other realities of human existence-- sadness, tragedy, fear and doubt. The Psalms, we are reminded, are comprised of roughly two-thirds lament. And there's the famous article written by Walter Brueggemann, that giant of an Old Testament scholar, called "The Costly Loss of Lament" and what it means for our worship and our view of our relationship with God when we do not ever "protest." All this is true enough. But there is also a "costly loss of praise" (There is a journal article by this title by Rolf Jacobson). So, I wonder: What if part of our discomfort with modern worship's upbeat "praise songs" is because we have lost the art of rejoicing even in the midst of sorrow? What if the problem is not just thinly crafted praise songs but an unchallenged faith? It's all too easy to make a carricature of praise songs so we can dismiss them as "bubble-gum pop" and then not have to wrestle with the difficult truth that God calls us to praise Him, to rejoice, to celebrate and declare a victory, even while all we see if brokenness and pain. This 2-minute video, part of my upcoming Mystery of Faith Project (LP and book), is on why Christians celebrate, why we rejoice as part of our worship: NOTE: This video is one of 6 teaching videos created by Cory Reynolds for Integrity Music as part of The Mystery of Faith iTunes LP, which releases on March 5, 2013. Buy the album to get ALL the videos. ------------------------- Order on Amazon HERE. Order on iBooks HERE. iPad users, get a free sampler that includes 3 full songs, 3 teaching videos, and 3 excerpts...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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