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        Sunday, November 29, 2009 
  Please Join Me Here
        I've Changed Addresses and would greatly appreciate your
posted by John David Walt  |  at 11/29/2009 01:17:00 PM
        Thursday, November 26, 2009 
  4 Guidelines for Designing Imagery for Worship
        Chad Brooks, one of our worship designers at the seminary,
does excellent work developing theologically thoughtful slides for
worship. Here is some of his Advent work for this year. Feel free to
download and use. How carefully are you thinking about the imagery
being put on the screen in your worship services? What I like about
Chad's work is that so much is imbedded in the layering. A few
guidelines to consider as you think about the visual aspects of
designing worship.1. Do the images (stills or moving) help us to
better listen to the Word of God? It's interesting to consider how
hearing words helps us see images. The big question for worship design
is do our images help us hear words better? Once in a conversation
with Marva Dawn she remarked, "Remember, Hebrew religion is aural.
Baalism is primarily visual." It's something to consider. 2.  How are
we using images? Are they being used literalistically (new word?)
(i.e. we use slides of creation and cosmos as we sing God of Wonders)
Are images being used to do the work of imagination?  Are images being
used  as a source of stimulation? Are they being used to cultivate
attention or contemplation? With every image you use ask yourself,
Why. Think about it.3.  Is there blank space our pauses in our use of 
imagery? In a conversation with Jeremy Begbie last week on campus he
noted the importance of what he called "the blank screen." 4.  Do our
images uncritically adopt the media practices of our culture or do
they provide an alternative approach? While our worship needs to have
connection with culture, it should also provide a thoughtful, implicit
and most often subtle critique. 5.  How are you thinking about this
aspect of worship design? What guidelines would you add to the
list?Who's doing some good thinking on this aspect of worship?Labels:
worship and media, worship design
posted by John David Walt  |  at 11/26/2009 11:50:00 PM
        Wednesday, November 11, 2009 
  Ministry to the Lord (Part 2)
        See it on WorshipCentral.org here.
posted by John David Walt  |  at 11/11/2009 08:08:00 PM
        Saturday, November 07, 2009 
  Quote of the Week on Prayer
        I've been thinking of this quote ever since I read it a few
years back. It grips me and challenges my paradigm of prayer in a
really refreshing way. It brings prayer into a visionary futuristic
orientation. Why  not? "Prayer and meditation have an important part
to play in opening up new ways and new horizons.  If our prayer is the
expression of a deep and grace-inspired desire for newness of
life--and not the mere blind attachment to what has always been
familiar and “safe”--God will act in us and through us to renew
the Church by preparing, in prayer, what we cannot yet imagine or
understand.  In this way our payer and faith today will be oriented
toward the future which we ourselves may never see fully realized on
earth."Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a world of Action.Thoughts?
posted by John David Walt  |  at 11/07/2009 10:35:00 PM
        Friday, October 30, 2009 
  Core Practice:  Ministry to the Lord
        I'm going to be a guest blogger for Tim Hughes and Al Gordon
at Worship Central during November. I'll be writing mostly about this
practice outlined in the article below-- Ministry to the Lord.  The
article is really too long for a blog post, so print it off and read
it at your leisure. it's worth your time.   jdMinistry to the Lordby
Watchman NeeLet us note at the outset that there is little apparent
difference between ministry to the House of the Lord and ministry to
the Lord Himself. Many of you are doing your utmost to help your
brethren, and you are laboring to save sinners and administer the
affairs of the church. But let me ask you: Have you been seeking to
meet the need around you, or have you been seeking to serve the Lord?
Is it your fellow men you have in view, or is it Him?Let us be quite
frank. Work for the Lord undoubtedly has its attractions for the
flesh. You may be thrilled when crowds gather to hear you preach, and
when numbers of souls are saved. If you have to stay at home, occupied
from morning to night with mundane matters, then you think: How
meaningless life as! How grand it would be if I could go out and serve
the Lord! If only I were free to go around ministering! But that is
not spirituality. That is merely a matter of natural preference. Oh,
if only we could see that much of the work done for God is not really
ministry at all! He, Himself, has told us chat there was a class of
Levites who busily served in the Temple, and yet they were not serving
Him; they were merely serving the House. However, service to the Lord
and service to the House appear so much alike that it is often
difficult to differentiate between the two.If an Israelite came along
to the Temple and wanted to worship God, those Levites would come to
his aid and help him offer his peace offering and his burnt offering.
They would help him drag the sacrifice to the altar, and they would
slay it. Surely, that was a grand work to be engaged in, reclaiming
sinners and leading believers closer to the Lord! And God took account
of the service of those Levites who helped men bring their peace
offerings and their burnt offerings to the altar. Yet He said it was
not ministry to Himself.Brothers and sisters, there is a heavy burden
on my heart that you might realize what God is after. He wants
ministers who will minister to Him. "They shall come near to me to
minister unto me; and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the
fat and the blood. They shall minister unto me" (Ezekiel 44:15).The
thing I fear most is that many of you will go out, win sinners to the
Lord, and build up believers, without ministering to the Lord Himself.
Much so-called service for Him is simply following our natural
inclinations. We have such active dispositions that we cannot bear to
stay at home, so we run around for our own relief. We may appear to be
serving sinners, or serving believers, but all the while we are
serving our own flesh.I have a dear friend who is now with the Lord.
One day, after we had a time of prayer together, we read this passage
in Ezekiel (44:9-26, 28, 31). She was very much older than I, and she
addressed me like this: "My young brother, it was twenty years ago
that I first studied this passage of Scripture.""How did you react to
it?" I asked.She replied: "As soon as I had finished reading it, I
closed my Bible, and kneeling down before the Lord, I prayed: `Lord,
make me to be one who shall minister to You, not to the Temple."' Can
we also pray that prayer?But what do we really mean when we talk of
serving God or serving the Temple? Here is what the Word says:But the
priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my
sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall
come near to me to minister unto me; and they shall stand before me to
offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the LORD God (Ezekiel
44:15).The conditions basic to all ministries that can truly be called
ministry to the Lord are drawing near to Him and standing before Him.
But how hard we often find it to drag ourselves into His presence! We
shrink from the solitude, and even when we do detach ourselves
physically, our thoughts still keep wandering outside. Many of us can
enjoy working among people, but how many of us can draw near to (God
in the Holy of Holies? Yet it is only as we draw near to Him that we
can minister to Him.To come into the presence of God and kneel before
Him for an hour demands all the strength we possess. We have to be
violent to hold that ground. But everyone who serves the Lord knows
the preciousness of such times, the sweetness of waking at midnight
and spending an hour in prayer, or waking very early in the morning
and getting up for an hour of prayer before the final sleep of the
night.Unless we really know what it is to draw near to God, we cannot
know what it is to serve Him. It is impossible to stand afar off and
still minister to Him. We cannot serve Him from a distance. There is
only one place where ministry to Him is possible and that is in the
Holy Place. In the outer court, you approach the people; in the Holy
Place you approach the Lord.The passage we ' have quoted emphasizes
not only our need to draw near to God; it also speaks of standing
before Him to minister. Today we always want to be moving on; we
cannot stand still. There are, so many things claiming our attention
that we are perpetually on the go. We cannot stop for a moment.But a
spiritual person knows how to stand still. He can stand before God
till God makes His will known. He can stand and await orders. You who
are leaders need to particularly consider this. Can you be persuaded
to call a halt and not move for a little while? That is what is
referred to here: "stand and minister unto me." Don't you think that a
servant should await his master's orders before seeking to serve
him?The Sin of presumptionThere are only two types of sin before God.
One is the sin of refusing to obey when He issues orders. The other is
the sin of going ahead when the Lord has not issued orders. The one is
rebellion; the other is presumption. The one is not doing what the
Lord has required; the other is doing what the Lord has not required.
Learning to stand before the Lord deals with the sin of doing what the
Lord has not commanded. Brothers and sisters, how much of the work you
have done has been based on the clear command of the Lord? How much
have you done because of His direct instructions? And how much have
you done simply on the ground that the thing you did was a good thing
to do? Let me tell you that nothing so damages the Lord's interests as
a "good thing." "Good things" are the greatest hindrance to the
accomplishment of His will. The moment we are faced with anything
wicked or unclean, we immediately recognize it as something a
Christian ought to avoid, and for that reason, things, which are
positively evil, are nearly not such a menace to the Lord's purpose as
good things.You think: This thing would not be wrong, or that thing is
the very best that could be done so you go ahead and take action
without stopping to inquire if it is the will of God. We who are His
children all know that we ought not to do anything evil, but we think
that if only our conscience does not forbid a thing, or if a thing
commends itself to us as positively good, that is reason enough to go
ahead and do it.'That thing you contemplate doing may be very good,
but are you standing before the Lord awaiting His command regarding
it? "They shall stand before me" involves halting in His presence and
refusing to move till He issues His orders. That is what ministry to
the Lord means.In the outer court, it is human need that governs. Just
let someone come along to sacrifice an ox or a sheep, and there is
work for you to do. But in the Holiest Place, there is utter solitude.
Not a soul comes in. No brother or sister governs us here, nor does
any committee determine our affairs. In the Holiest Place there is one
authority only - the authority of the Lord. If He appoints me a task
I, do it; if He appoints me no task, I do none.But something is
required of us as we stand before the Lord and minister to Him. We are
required to offer Him "the fat and the blood." The blood answers the
demands of His holiness and righteousness; the fat meets the
requirements of His glory. The blood deals with the question of our
sin; the fat deals with the question of His satisfaction. The blood
removes all that belongs to the old creation; the fat brings in the
new.But such ministry is confined to a certain place: "They shall
enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table to
minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge" (Ezekiel 44:16).
Ministry that is "unto me" is in the inner sanctuary, in the hidden
place, not in the outer court, exposed to public view. People may
think we are doing nothing, but service to God in the Holy Place far
transcends service to the people in the outer court.Ministry Without
SweatThe same passage tells us how they must be clothed who would
minister to the Lord:They shall be clothed with linen garments; and no
wool shall come upon them, while they minister in the gates of the
inner court, and within. They shall have linen bonnets upon their
heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins (Ezekiel
44:18).Those who minister to the Lord may not wear wool. Why not? The
reason is given:"They shall not clothe themselves with anything that
causes sweat" (verse 18 NKJV). No work chat produces sweat is
acceptable to the Lord. But what does "sweat" signify?We all know that
the first occasion when sweat is mentioned was when Adam was driven
from the Garden of Eden. After Adam sinned, God pronounced this
sentence upon him: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt
thou eat of it all the days of thy life...in the sweat of thy face
shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19-19). It is clear that sweat is a
condition of the curse. Because the curse rested on the ground, it
ceased to yield its fruit without man's effort, and such effort
produced sweat.When the blessing of God is withheld, fleshly effort
becomes necessary, and that causes sweat. All work that produces sweat
is positively prohibited to those who minister to the Lord. Yet today
what an expenditure of energy there is in work for Him! Few Christians
can do any work today without sweating over it. Their work involves
planning and scheming, exhorting and urging, and very much running
around. It cannot be done without a great deal of fleshly
zeal.Nowadays, if there is no sweat there is no work. Before work for
God can be undertaken, there is a great deal of rushing to and fro,
making numerous contacts, having consultations and discussions, and
finally getting the approval of various people before going ahead. As
for waiting quietly in the presence of God and seeking His
instructions, that is out of the question.Yet, in spiritual work, the
one factor to be taken into account is God. He is the one Person to
make contact with. That is the preciousness of spiritual work that is
truly spiritual-it is related to the Lord Himself In relation to Him
there is work to do, but it is work that produces no sweat.If we have
to advertise our ministry and use great effort to promote it, then it
is obvious that it does not spring from prayer in the presence of God.
If you really work in God's presence, men will respond when you come
into their presence. You will not have to use endless means in order
to help them. Spiritual work is God's work, and when God works, man
does not need to expend so much effort that he sweats over it.Let us
in utter honesty examine ourselves before God today. Let us ask Him:
"Am I serving You, or am I merely serving the work? Is my ministry
truly unto you Lord, or is it only ministry to your House?" If you are
pouring with sweat all the time, it is safe to conclude that it is the
House you are serving, not the Lord. If all your busyness is related
to human need, you may know that you are serving men, not God. I am
not despising the work of slaying sacrifices at the altar. It is work
for God and someone has to do it-but God wants something beyond that.
The Sons of Zadok God cannot secure everyone for service to Himself,
for many of His own are reluctant to leave the thrill and excitement
of the outer court. They are bent on serving the people. But what
about us? Oh that today we might say to the Lord: "I am willing to
forsake things, I am willing to forsake the work, I am willing to
forsake the outer court and serve You in the inner sanctuary."When God
could find no way to bring all the Levites to the place of ministry to
Himself, He chose the sons of Zadok from among them for this special
service. Why did He select the sons of Zadok? Because when the
children of Israel went astray, they recognized that the outer court
had been irreparably corrupted, so they did not seek to preserve it.
Instead, they made it their business to preserve the sanctity of the
Holy Place.Brothers and sisters, can you bear to let the external
structure go, or must you persist in putting up a scaffolding to
preserve it? It is the Holy Place that God is out to preserve-a place
utterly set apart for Him. I beseech you before God to hear His call
to for sake the outer court and devote yourself to His service in the
Holy Place.I love to read about the prophets and teachers in the
church at Antioch: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the
Holy Ghost said: Separate me Barnabas and Sau1 for the work whereunto
I have called them" (Acts 13:2). We see there that the Holy Spirit
commissions men to the work as they are ministering to the Lord.
Unless ministry to the Lord is the thing that governs us, the work
will be in confusion.God does not want volunteers for His work; He
wants conscripts. He will not have you preaching the gospel just
because you want to. The work of the Lord is suffering serious damage
today at the hand of volunteers; it lacks those who can say as He did:
"He that sent me..."Brothers and sisters, the work of God is God's own
work, and not work that you can take up ac your pleasure. Neither
churches, nor missionary societies, nor evangelistic bands can send
men to work for God. The authority to commission men is not in the
hands of men, but solely, in the hands of the Spirit of God.Serving
the Lord does not mean chat we do not serve people, but it does mean
that all service to people has service to the Lord as its basis. It is
service Godward that urges us out manward. Luke 17:7-10 tells us
clearly what the Lord is after. These are two kinds of work referred
to here: plowing the field and tending the flock. Both are very
important occupations, yet the Lord says that when a servant returns
from such work, he is expected to provide for his master's
satisfaction before sitting down to enjoy his own food.When we have
returned from our toil in the field, we are apt to muse complacently
on the much work we have accomplished. But the Lord will say, "Gird
yourself and give me to eat." He requires ministry to Himself. We may
have labored in a wide field and cared for many sheep, but all our
toil in the field and among the flock does not exempt us from ministry
to the Lord's own personal satisfaction. That is our supreme task.What
are you really after? Is it only work in the field, preaching the
gospel to the unsaved? Is it just tending the flock, caring for the
needs of the saved? Or are we seeing to it that the Lord can eat to
His full satisfaction and drink till His thirst is quenched? True, it
is necessary for us also to eat and drink, but that cannot be till
after the Lord is satisfied. We, too, must have our enjoyment, but
that can never be until His joy is first made full.Let us ask
ourselves: Does our work minister to our satisfaction or to the
Lord's? I fear that when we have worked for the Lord, we are often
thoroughly satisfied before He is satisfied. We are often quite happy
with our work when He has found no joy in it. Blessed are they who can
differentiate between ministry to sinners or saints, and ministry to
Him. Such discernment is not easily acquired. Often it is only by much
drastic dealing that we learn the difference between ministry to the
Lord Himself and ministry to the House.Let us seek the grace of God
that He may reveal to us what it really means to minister to Him!Born
in 1903 in Swatow, China, Watchman Nee had many years of fruitful
ministry before being imprisoned by the Chinese communists after their
take-over of the country. He has long been recognized as one of the
most influential Christian authors of our time. His writings are noted
for being deeply spiritual and highly devotional, and their purpose is
to exalt Christ and build up His body of believers. Watchman Nee's
writings include The Normal Christian Life, The Spiritual Man, and The
Release of the Spirit.
posted by John David Walt  |  at 10/30/2009 08:35:00 PM
        Wednesday, October 28, 2009 
  How our Worship Leaders used to pray. . . .
        Anyone want to give this one a try in worship this week? Come
fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling
of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil -
only let me get to Jesus Christ! Not the wide bounds of earth nor the
kingdoms of this world will avail me anything. I would rather die and
get to Jesus Christ, than reign over the ends of the earth, That is
whom I am looking for - the One who died for us. That is whom I want -
the One who rose for us...What I want is God’s bread, which is the
flesh of Christ, who came from David’s line; and for drink I want
his blood: an immortal love feast indeed! St. Ignatius of Antioch,
Epistle to the Romans 5:3-6:2; 7:3Labels: quotes
posted by John David Walt  |  at 10/28/2009 10:44:00 AM
        Monday, October 26, 2009 
  What happens in worship
        I've been thinking a lot in recent months about what happens
in Christian worship. As I said in my last post, these days it mostly
comes down to singing and speaking. Now, that's not necessarily a bad
thing. The key is what happens within that singing and speaking. I
think there are four essential elements-- maybe five that need to be
part of every worship service.1.  Assembling of  God's people as the
physical Body of Christ into the mystical union of Father-Son and Holy
Spirit.2.  Attention to the Word of God + Infusion of the Spirit of
God3.  Intentioning of the Will (heart + mind)4.  Releasing of God's
people into the World with Blessing and Commission.It's not so
important what you call these movements or how they happen as long as
you design and lead worship with them in view. Make sense? Looking at
your worship from this past Sunday or series of gatherings, how would
you describe the ordering principle or governing dynamics?Labels:
order of worship, worship design
posted by John David Walt  |  at 10/26/2009 05:27:00 AM


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