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  • All Of Life's A Stage

    All Of Life's A Stage

    All of life is for worship.

    Creation itself is a theater of praise.

    Worship is what we were made for.

    It is the center of all activity.

    Every tribe and tongue, every creature, all of heaven and earth are called to worship the one true God.

    A worship service? We can schedule these as often as we like yet worship is the space of our lives. We have been given the capacity to receive God for who He is and by Him we have the ability to respond, reflecting His very image back to Him in worship. Sing. Dance. Celebrate. Clap hands. Lift up our eyes to the King of Glory. Worship is a fitting response because He deserves praise, honor, and glory for what He has done.

    The first song recorded in Revelation 5 tells us what Jesus the Lamb of God has done for us as the voices in heaven sing out, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; You have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

    By the actions of Jesus Christ, we have been freed from bondage. Through his blood we have been given authority to stop being spectators and start being actors. Our physical life at work is our spiritual act of worship. Paul says in Romans 12:1, “. . . offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.

    The shift from being spectators to actors is about taking up our God-given vocation, truly being God’s kingdom and royal priesthood in the earth. While the Old Covenant priesthood was for mediating God’s presence to His people. Now, in the New Covenant, this royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) involves all believers representing God to all creation.

    What does a life of worship look like? It means life without compartments, everything for the glory of the Lord. That means everything we do. File under worship all your choices, decisions, habits and priorities. What we worship is revealed in what we do.

    What we worship is revealed in...

    ...our presentation of ourselves and our local church

    ...the things we say in casual conversation

    ...our parenting

    ...our leisure

    ...the way we eat

    ...the way we rest our bodies in sleep

    ...our being at work and how we do our jobs

    ...the way we celebrate our calendar year

    ...our obedience to His commandments

    ...our writing

    ...our online history

    ...our Netflix queue

    ...how we entertain ourselves

    ...our response to the poor

    ...how and what we wear

    ...our bank statements

    ...what we laugh at

    ...the way we mourn

    ...our attitudes when we drive

    ...our response to media

    ...our Facebook wall

    ...our dependence on ______.

    Often we categorize worship as ...our singing ...our celebrations ...the arts ...and while these are ways of expressing worship to the Lord, worship is attached to all of our activity. The allegiance of our heart, mind, and strength is made visible not just during adoration times, but in our bored times. Worship is what we lean into in the low times as well as the times when we feel devout.

    This gets personal and why wouldn’t it? Either life is in Christ or we have available another power source worthy of our attention, our energy, our love, our money, our time, etc. The lie swallowed by Adam and Eve was that they thought life was just as much in the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil as it was in the Tree of Life (actually they banked on more life being in the choice of forbidden fruit than in the wholesome kind that was recommended by God). In their case, they made idols out of their choices by serving something less than their Creator. Their sin problem was an idolatry problem which was a worship problem. All of life is worship.

    Life without compartments means we acknowledge that all choices bear fruit. What kind of fruit do you want? Because of Jesus breaking the power of sin, we get to choose life in every scenario. By his blood, we are free to choose to do the right thing, to have our footsteps directed by the Lord. This is the reality Paul speaks of in Romans 8 when he declares that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    A life of worship is total surrender. For the believer, this means that our whole lives are ordered under the authority and reign of Jesus the King. Being me means being as Jesus is in the world. That’s the reality of expressing we are in Christ, living under the rule of the King. Nothing less than being found entirely in Him is our authentic expression of who we are.

    1 John 1:6-9 there is a series of statements that define the authentic worshiper as:

    • 1:6 // One who does not walk in darkness but in the light
    • 1:6 // Who lives in the truth
    • 1:7 // Who has fellowship with the community
    • 1:8 // Who does not lie but recognizes sin
    • 1:9 // Who confesses it and is cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus, and is forgiven

    Another way of understanding life this way is holiness. To be holy is to be a pleasing fragrance to God (see 2 Corinthians 2:15). John tells us in the passage above that because of Jesus we share his intimacy, his close relationship, with Father God. He’s made us holy by his own blood. He’s brought all of our lives into his light revealing the truth that all of life was intended for communion (community-union). Because of Jesus we can face our past. By his blood we have a clear conscience. By his blood there is no condemnation for any intentional or unintentional misfires where we fell short of receiving all of his love. By his blood we press forward as holy people walking with God in every area of life.

    “All the world’s a stage, ” wrote Shakespeare. In Genesis 1-2 we see God set the stage when He blessed everything that He created. This meant that He made all creation the sign and the means of His presence, and wisdom, love, and revelation. What was lost in the Fall was redeemed in Christ. Ephesians 1:22 says, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

    It’s time to worship. The location is wherever we go. We not only remember what he has done but when we lift our eyes to worship him in the space of our lives we see him holding all things together, reconciling all things to himself, “whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:20).

    Behold the King!

    Your life is a stage made for revealing His glory.

    // Seeking info on the band pic at the top? They're called OK Mayday

  • My Book Roundup of 2016

    My Book Roundup of 2016

    This year I finished reading sixty books from cover to cover. The goal of all this reading is to learn, to listen, to grow and eventually to share through conversation, preaching, songwriting and writing. But more to the point, I read because I enjoy it. I love learning and the input of sages, prophets and witty seminarians is my treasure.

    One of my goals for 2017 is to write more. Brenda Ueland said, “Writing is the action of thinking, just as drawing is the action of seeing and composing music is the action of hearing.” So with all this reading, I will take more time to write, thinking and composing.

    Below are listed five great books I recommend and a list of books I read in 2016

    Here are five great books I recommend from my reading.

    1. Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious by David Dark (buy)

    There wasn’t a single book released in 2016 that better connected my thoughts. Circles, highlights, markings fill my hardback copy. I found myself returning to it throughout the year and even had a sermon series riffing on this thought (I called it "The Undivided Life" part 1, part 2). If the word ‘religion’ is an ugly thing for you consider that we all, in some way, are religious. It need not bother you. Dark says, “We can’t get past religion any more than we can live without communal ties, societies, stories or symbols. It’s what we’re up to. It is, in so many ways, the human subject.” Or, for any reading that with an idea that you are free from being religious, Dark shows us that “The space of your worship is the space of your life. 

    I loved this book so much I ordered several copies, having them unsuspiciously delivered to friends. It was a sensitive mission. I had to be sure the recipients would be curious enough to open the striking, meme-like cover. In July, I invited David Dark to share with us at DreamHouse, our local church. You can listen to that HERE. As a last witness of sorts for how much I liked David’s thoughtfulness and enjoyed his writing on this strange topic of life being too short to reject a thing most people say they hate (religion, remember?), I offer this promo video to woo you into reading.

    2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (buy)

    I read this book immediately after reading David Dark’s “Life’s Too Short...” because he emotionally connected me to the profound story while telling his own tale. Gilead is a 2005 Pulitzer Prize Winner and for good reason. Marilynne Robinson is a living force of a writer. Her book is a work of fiction written in the voice of an old preacher who is penning thoughts to be shared with his young son one day well after he is gone. The son is the fruit of a second marriage. The fear is he won't be there for him and so he writes.

    This book is a gift to me from above. In ways, it feels like the memoir my own grandfather who I didn't grow up knowing well. The truth of this fiction struck me as I read the anecdotes, apprehension, honest talk, fears and profound moments being passed from one generation to another. This is the kind of book you read and shut, closing your eyes to image yourself becoming a better man. Pick this up and enjoy.

    3. For the Life of the Word by Alexander Schmemann (buy)

    This is a classic in theology. It has changed the way I see Church and church. It has changed the way I see the world and worship and vocation. It has changed the way I see word, water, wine and bread. I plan on reading this every year for the foreseeable future. Lots to chew on.

    4. Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe by Erin Lane (buy)

    I grabbed this book for 99 cents looking for a new book to read before boarding a long flight. By the second chapter, I could've shouted 'Eureka!' as the appropriateness of reading this chance of a book in that moment of my life took me by surprise. Funny. Deep. Introspective. Challenging. Well written. The author says that she was raised Catholic, then Charismatic and now attends a Presbyterian church while her husband is a youth pastor at a Methodist Church. She shares how all that is complicated and life-giving at the same time. Much of this story is written while Lane is a seminarian at Duke University (at the time this was written). Her honesty and questions are the sort I hope many more people will read. I think what is in here is in a lot of people’s heads these days.

    5. Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry (buy)

    I found this at my local library. Wendell Berry wrote fictional stories, essays and poems about a fictional community for 35 years. I find his writing healing balm for my soul. If all the world would read Berry’s books we might all calm down a little and love a little deeper. Run, do not walk, to your library (or Amazon) and buy this beautiful book. His chapter "Prayer Without Ceasing" is a powerful opener.


    Finally, here’s my complete list of what I read last year (in alphabetical order by category). If you have any questions or comments about anything, make a comment or write to me at  scottcrowdermusic <at> gmail

     /// BIBLICAL STUDIES / THEOLOGY

    1. The Master's Men by William Barclay

    2. Letters from a Skeptic by Greg Boyd

    3. The Parables of the Kingdom by Robert Farar Capon

    4. Matthew: The Gospel of Identity by Michael Card

    5. Mark: The Gospel of Passion by Michael Card

    6. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement by Michael Card

    7. John: The Gospel of Wisdom by Michael Card

    8. His Fulness Received by Paul Graves

    9. Glorious Covenant by Stan Newton

    10. The Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre

    11. The Orthodox Pastor: A Guide to Pastoral Theology by Archbishop John Shahovskoy

    12. The Last Trial by Shalom Spiegel

    13. Matthew for Everyone (Part One and Two) by N.T. Wright (2 Volumes)

    14. Mark for Everyone by N.T. Wright

    15. Luke for Everyone by N.T. Wright

    16. John for Everyone (Part One and Two) by N.T. Wright (2 Volumes)

    17. Acts for Everyone (Part One and Two) by N.T. Wright (2 Volumes)

    18. Paul for Everyone (Romans - Part One and Two) by N.T. Wright (2 Volumes)

    19. Paul for Everyone (Galatians & Thessalonians) by N.T. Wright

    20. Simply Christian by N.T. Wright

    21. Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright

    /// DEVOTIONAL

    1. The Way by Josemaria Escriva

    2. Lent For Everyone - Matthew (Year A) by N.T. Wright

    /// FICTION

    1. Fidelity: Five Stories by Wendell Berry

    2. BFG by Roald Dahl

    3. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

    /// LIFE

    1. The Culture of Empowerment by Steve Backlund

    2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

    3. The Gospel According To America by David Dark

    4. Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious by David Dark

    5. The Invitation by Shawna Diehl

    6. Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe by Erin S. Lane

    7. 50 for Your Future by Tavis Smiley

    8. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

    9. Dare To Dream by Mattheus van der Steen

    /// PARENTING

    1. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior

    2. Hints on Child-Training by H. Clay Trumbull

    /// WORLD VIEW

    1. Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen

    2. Work: The Meaning Of Your Life by Lester DeKoster

    3. Work Matters by Tom Nelson

    4. On Christians & Prosperity by James Schall

    5. Flourishing Churches by Dr. Charles Self

    6. The Salt Covenant by H. Clay Trumbull

    /// WORSHIP STUDIES

    1. The Tabernacle of Moses by Kevin Conner

    2. Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina by Tim Gray

    3. The Worship of the Early Church by Ferdinand Hahn

    4. The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn

    5. Letter & Spirit by Scott Hahn

    6. Rediscovering Kingdom Worship by Myles Munroe

    7. Glorious Communion by Stan Newton

    8. The Great Giver by Matt Pastor

    9. For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann (I read this last year too)

    10. A Moveable Feast by Terry Timm

    11. Unlocking the Heavens by Shane Warren

    12. Preaching and Leading Worship by William H. Willimon

    13. Word, Water, Wine and Bread by William H. Willimon

    Other books I began in 2016 that I am still reading include: The Oxford History of Christian Worship (Oxford University Press); The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament within Its Cultural Context (Zondervan); Kinship by Covenant by Scott Hahn; Worship in the New Testament by Gerald Borchert; The Four Witnesses by Robin Griffith-Jones and How to Speak, How to Listen by Mortimer J. Adler.

    - Blessings // SC

     

  • Ten Great Albums of 2016

    Ten Great Albums of 2016

    I love albums. I like sitting down to listen to the recording project of an artist. Every year I like to look back and remember what albums I enjoyed the most. Here is my top ten list of the albums I enjoyed most in 2016.

    This list includes only music that (a) I own, (b) was released in 2016.

    Albums #1-5

    (From Left to Right)

    Bazan - "Blanco"

    "I wish I made this album. The sounds. The lyrics. The mood. Everytime I hear these songs I get drawn into deep thought and reflection. It's the gem of 2016 IMHO." // BUY IT 

    Michael Kiwanuke - "Love & Hate"

    "This album sounds as good as any that precede it. Kiwanuke is Ugandan born and resides in London. He sounds like a cross between Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye in 2016. Impossible. True." // BUY IT

    Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Skeleton Tree"

    "Nick Cave's teenage son (one brother of a twin) died the year before recording this. I have every Nick Cave album but this one is different than all that precede it. I have only listened to it twice. My head goes to deep places when listening. Poetic. Powerful. Precious." // BUY IT

    Charles Bradley - "Changes"

    "Classify this as classic soul but recorded in 2016. Charles Bradley is the real deal. The band sounds amazing. My kids loved this album. We often drove around blasting this and singing along. . . and in the right places screaming." // BUY IT

    Radiohead - "A Moon Shaped Pool"

    "The band that keeps sounding cooler than yours. As long as Radiohead exists they will make great albums. It's a proven fact. This is another proof text in sound." // BUY IT

    Albums #6-10

    (From Left to Right)

    Moby - "Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep."

    "Moby quietly released this album for free this past year online. It is my go-to record when needing to read / write with a background soundtrack that moves me forward without being too distracting. If I need to concentrate - this is my secret audio weapon." // BUY IT

    Johnnie Freirson - "Have You Been Good To Yourself" (Reissue)

    "As described by the label Light In The Attic, 'these ultra-rare home recordings draw from Johnnie’s religious upbringing and his history in the music business, which was interrupted in 1970 when he was sent to fight in Vietnam.' I found these intoxicating in their simplicity and frankness.  This is the good news for the ears." // BUY IT

    Kings of Leon - "Walls"

    "Put this in the car. Crank it up. Everyone sings along. Those with air guitars and invisible drum sticks move their hands." // BUY IT

    Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - "Stranger Things, Vol. 1" soundtrack

    "The popular Netflix show is nostalgia served piping hot. We all remember the movies that fed our 80's childhood. These modern soft-synths and drum machines make us pine for more. Who knew we missed Vangelis so much??This soundtrack is a favorite of my preteen.// BUY IT

    Dylan LeBlanc - "Cautionary Tale"

    "The state of Alabama has a rich history releasing great music. This young singer / songwriter was new to me but my friends from the Shoals say he's legit. I believe." // BUY IT



    What was your favorite album? What did you play over and over? Comment below.

  • Show Mercy, Share Songs

    Show Mercy, Share Songs

    In April I have a really exciting chance to share the world with my daughter. As her dad I want to give her more than a good life. I want her to know the meaning of life. I desire to help instill in her a heart for people and to see the importance of her own self. I can think of few things that do all of that like going with me on a missions trip to Africa.

    A couple years ago I went on a team to Uganda and was introduced to Show Mercy International. It was an incredible trip. SMI’s work in Uganda provides support for orphaned and abandoned children. They also provide practical assistance to the extreme poor through village outreaches, providing fresh water wells, medical care and training classes. With a succinct mission to mobilize, inspire and empower individuals to live life on purpose while reaching out in love, SMI is an organization that captured my attention. The work they do there is worthy of my time, effort and assistance.

    I’m going back to Uganda to help serve Show Mercy. I’m leading an international team of Welton Academy students with a focus on teaching the staff, as well as Ugandan leaders and pastors, the depths of the New Covenant. The trip will be about ten days long. The fruit of our work there will be long-term. I return to fan the flames of love in the hearts of those who work in Uganda in the day-to-day.

    So, I get to take my daughter with me. We are thrilled for this opportunity together. She sees my wife and I go on trips throughout the year and, by blood or by her own formation, she’s got the travel bug herself. She wants to see the world. She wants to go off the beaten path. The opportunity to fly with dad around the world and go into a foreign culture is just what she’s up for - and I can’t wait to share it with her.

    Lastly, I am offering a way to support our trip while sharing something back with you. At the very end of 2015 I released my solo album, Upon Shoulders. It’s an album that came out of my life message - putting my kids on my shoulders to live out of generational momentum. I’m releasing a digital download of an acoustic version of the album. You can download ten tracks (five songs, five spoken word intros about each song) and give me a ‘tip’. ‘Tips’ go towards our trip as we are still tying up loose ends for paying for this adventure.

    Blessings to you and yours,

    Scott