Friday, February 24, 2012


I need you like a hurricane
Thunder crashing wind and rain
Tear my walls down, I'm only yours now
I need you like a burning flame
A wild fire untamed
Burn these walls down, I'm only yours now
I'm only yours now
- chorus from Hurricane, by Jimmy Needham

There are a lot of tough things about the season of Lent.  Number one maybe the purpose of renewal.  The period of Lent was initially formed around the 40 day period of preparation for baptism; a time of intense study and reflection.  In many denominations baptism is center to the celebration of Easter, often happening in the early morning hours as the sun rises.  So Lent is also a time for preparation; maybe preparation for renewal?

This journey toward renewal begins for Methodists (and those denominations that follow the Revised Common Lectionary) begins on Ash Wednesday with our Confessional Psalm, Psalm 51.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10

This Sunday at our church, we'll be introducing Hurricane by Jimmy Needham in worship. 

For three years I lived and did ministry in Slidell, LA (just across the lake from New Orleans).  It was three years Post-Katrina when I moved there from Texas, but with my over-sensitive self, I tried to avoid any disaster related language in the music I chose for worship.

Then I heard our youth band offer this song in worship.  Changed my life a little.

In this song, Jimmy Needham calls on God to break him down, tear him all the way down, and make him new and totally belonging to God.  This idea of being torn down and made new is central to Christian teaching and the calling of our whole life by Christ.  But we lose sight of it time and time again. 

This is where the Christian Year comes to our aid so many times ... Lent and it's time of reflection always comes back around.  But while it's an intentional time for that purpose, what good does it do if it doesn't encourage self-reflection and penitence year round?

Also, what if we don't realize that we need to be made new?

We are told at our baptism that we rise as new creations, but do we stop being made new there?

Christ invites us to pray intentionally for newness every single day.  We are called to look out into the world, and find our hearts broken, and then pray for God to put it back together right.  Then we can do the ministry that is required.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From Ashes to Discipline

Ash Wednesday, as it does every year, has rolled up on us again!  Thus begins the phenomena of Lenten dieting fasting.  I mean we're supposed to give something up, right?  I mean, it's Lent!  So let's take to our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds and announce that we're giving up caffeine, and chocolate, and potato chips, and, and, and ...

There's nothing wrong with a Lenten fast.  I don't know that there's also anything wrong with taking the 40 days of Lent and using them to kick a habit.

Our time period of 40 days is intended to mirror Christ's own 40 days in the desert; where he fasted and prayed.  He was also confronted by the devil, who of course tried his best to distract Christ from that holy time.

Bibilically, the purpose of the fast is not to kick a habit; the purpose is to take things out of your life in order to make room for God.  If I'm taking a 24 hour fast from food, for instance, my job during that time, when I'm hungry, is to be praying to God for illumination.  Prayer and fasting go hand in hand.

I, myself, have decided to take a different tack with my Lenten discipline.  I'm choosing to write.  To take the time I would spend watching TV or checking out Facebook, and get some thoughts out of my own head.  I've decided to realize a dream, that I feel called to.  As Jon Acuff tells us in his book Quitter, what good is a dream that's only in your head?  So I'm going to write during Lent, with the hopes that I can continue it after the fact.

If you are taking the time to give something up during Lent as a discipline, I would ask two questions:

1)  Am I giving this up to make more room for Christ in my life?
2)  Am I going to go back to it after Lent?  Or is this not just going to be a Lenten discipline or a Life discipline?

When we think of dieting, we more often think of what we're cutting out of our diet.  But what we eat overall is in fact our personal diet.  A diet is also what you take in.  If you're going to give something up for Lent, make sure as you're doing that, that you're taking in more of Christ.

Monday, February 20, 2012


It's about time!  I've been thinking about starting this thing up for a couple of years now, and nearly have a few times.  But, it's now 2012, and it's time for some follow through!

So .... what's this whole mess going to be about?

Hmmm ...

Well, titles say it all.  I'm calling this place, "The Liturgy Nerd".  My focus will be on what I deal with everyday, and that is getting people together to do the good work of worship.

Let's start, in true nerd fashion, with some definitions!

The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms defines liturgy as:
liturgy (from Gr. leitourgia, "work of the people") The service of God offered by the people of God in divine worship.
I serve as a Worship Pastor at a wonderful, medium-sized, United Methodist church, in the DFW Metroplex.  Leading worship is a huge passion of mine, from contemporary to traditional, emergent to contemplative, Medieval to 21st century.  As a seminary educated musician, I find all forms of worship to be fascinating, but my main concern in the worship I'm called to lead is that the congregation and worship leadership are always working together to create a space where we experience Emmanuel, God with us.

This is where the term liturgy comes into play.  The path of worship that we follow in any given service is what we often call the "liturgy", with a bulletin or without one.  As a worship service designer, these liturgies are put together to create collaboration in the worship space between leaders and followers, to create something that is alive with the Spirit.

Here in this place I'm going to put forth questions; things that I'm pondering.  Sometimes this "work of the people" blossoms and grows, and other times ... well ... it's not so good.  So I'll post questions, and I invite feedback.  I'll forever be a student, and there's so much to learn.

One of the ways that Webster's Dictionary defines "nerd" is this:
nerd one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits
I'm a nerd for liturgy.  Let's work.