April 04, 2013

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The Presence of God in Our Worship We often speak of God's presence like it's a commodity, something we can have more of or less of. But the truth is, God's presence cannot be separated from God's person. Here's the best news of all: In Jesus, we have seen the face of God, we have beheld the glory of God. So, why do we beg and plead for God to "show us His glory", when that prayer of Moses came to a brilliant fulfillment in Christ? It is true that through the Spirit, we can experience the power of this reality, and sense the manifest presence of God with us when we gather because of His abiding presence with us. But this experience-- whatever you think it is: warmth, chills, goosebumps-- is not the same as the presence of God Himself. For all who are in Christ, we are not desperately praying for God to "show Himself"....He has! Jesus has come! Instead, we pray that our eyes would be opened, that our ears would hear. We pray that like the disciples on the road to Emmaus we would have eyes to see and hearts that burn because Jesus has revealed Himself through Scripture and Sacrament (this is what happened in Luke 24). When we pray, "Turn your face to me", it's a way of saying that we will turn to Him, that we won't look away from the One who has turned toward us, ever and always, in Christ. For more, watch this 2-minute video on the personal, presence of God: [Note: These videos are part of "The Mystery of Faith Project" and are available as part of the iTunes LP. GET the ALBUM HERE. There's a book that accompanies this project, explaining my journey and many of these concepts. It's only $3 for a limited time....
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C. S. Lewis on Art With a "Message" For all who love the Narnia books, we cannot help but see Lewis's rich theology coming to life in the characters and conversations of these books. One might be tempted to think that Lewis scripted the "message" he wanted to communicate in each book-- or even in the series as a whole-- before he was writing. But this was not the case: "Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected the information about child-psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way at all." As a songwriter deeply interested in seeing our art reflect a rich view of God-- after all: worship shapes believing-- I have fallen into the trap many times of beginning first with a concept and trying to shoe-horn it into a melody. Sometimes it works; but most of the time, it's clunky. Lewis, surprisingly, says it's best not to begin by asking what "moral children need" (or in our case, what the Church needs?)...It would be better, he says, to ask what moral (or message) we need. But, there is something even better: "But it is better not to ask the question at all. Let the pictures tell you their own moral. For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life." What Lewis is proposing is more actually more serious-- and more difficult-- than simply trying to write songs or stories or create art that conveys a certain message. He is...

Glenn Packiam

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

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