50. Let Us Draw Near – A Conversation with Ron Man

September 7, 2023 - Roger W. Lowther

Welcome to the Art Life Faith Podcast. I'm your host, Roger Lowther. This is our 50th podcast episode. Woo hoo! Happy birthday, Art Life Faith Podcast!

I can't believe we've done this 50 times now. I'm so grateful for all of you who've come along with us on this journey and who've supported this podcast in so many ways, by continuing to listen, by giving it five-star ratings, and leaving your reviews. We've had 5,000 downloads so far since we first started three years ago in the height of the pandemic, and we continue to grow each and every episode. Thank you for spreading the word. I've really been encouraged by some of the reviews that we've got, and I'd like to share some of them with you.

“Beautiful! Unlike anything I've ever heard before.”

Another said,

“Perfect bite-sized treasures of the gospel for weary souls.”

Another wrote,

“Beautiful gems of inspiration. I love how Roger identifies beauty in the midst of brokenness.”

The last one I'll share is this,

“Roger's easy storytelling technique draws you in, tugs at your heartstrings, and refreshes your soul.”

These reviews don't just encourage me, but help other listeners as well. The more ratings and reviews we get, the easier it is for others to find it. If you're willing, please, wherever you listen to podcasts, would you consider leaving your rating and review as well? And ff this podcast is an encouragement to you, please pass it on to others.

Well, as I've shared this before, this podcast was something born out of COVID. I'd actually been wanting to do it for many years and … little-known fact, I briefly had a podcast just out of college back in the 90s before podcasts were really a thing. But it wasn't until COVID stopped our ability to gather and hold events, and then later in the summer only with small groups, that this became not just a desire, but really a necessity to find ways to get these stories out there to show how God is working in our midst.

For years now, we've had to hold online Zoom meetings, and it just made sense to start trying to report on those events in English as well so that more of you could participate in the conversations from a distance, and give you a chance to see and hear just a little of what God is doing here in Japan. Actually, we're still pretty far from the numbers we had at events before COVID, so this is an ongoing necessity, to find ways to get that message and stories out there in as many different media as possible.

Anyway, God is working. Many great things are happening. I hope you'll continue to follow along with our stories in the months and years to come because there are many great things to follow. In fact, I'm excited about our next episode. I'm going to try to do something different, interviewing a lot of people at a conference I'm about to attend. This is the GCAMM conference from September 11-14 in Fort Worth, Texas. GCAMM is the largest gathering of missionary artists in the world. It's an amazing group of people who I’ve learned so much from, and I'm blessed to be able to call many of them friends.

Now, if you're listening to this podcast, you really need to know a little bit about this conference and this group. It's not too late to come. It's going to be the 20th anniversary of GCAMM, the Global Consultation on Arts and Music in Missions. These conferences only happen every few years. The first one I attended was in Chiang Mai, Thailand. After that, I was able to go to one in Nairobi, Kenya. And then during COVID, the event had to be moved online, but it was still an amazing time. The people at these events gather from all over the planet. Many countries, many languages, many organizations, many churches.

When I first came into missions as an artist, I really had a very narrow view of what missions through the arts looks like. The best example is probably in this area of contextualization. I saw my job as contextualizing the gospel in ways that Japanese people could hear and understand. The arts were a way to listen to and get insights into elements of Japanese culture and then learn how to talk about the gospel through them. I thought of myself as a translator of sorts, translating the gospel. But what I didn't see was what the Japanese people would teach me.

You see, missions in Japan will never be over. It isn't over even when the Japanese can no longer be called an unreached people group. Missions is eternal. Our glimpses into heaven through Revelation and all other books of the Bible show us that we will always be worshiping God not just alongside the Japanese people, but through their art and culture. The best of every culture will be represented in heaven for the eternal glory of God. Every good and perfect gift is from God. Every work of art belongs to God. God is speaking through Japanese art and culture to share himself with the Japanese people, and also with you and with me. I've tried to capture some of these examples in my books, The Broken Leaf, Aroma of Beauty, Pippy the Piano, and I have even more stories to share in my next two books, A Taste of Grace and Hidden Beauty.

The work of missionaries in the arts is to listen and point out how God is already working in that culture. To show that God is not far from any person or culture, for in him, all the nations live and move and have their being. In other words, missions is not temporary. It's not a dead-end street. It's not about me bringing the gospel to the Japanese people or the Japanese people bringing the gospel to me. It's about God bringing the gospel to all people through Japanese culture and through every other culture on the planet. This is just a little of what the community at GCAMM has taught me, so I hope you can be part of it as well.

I'll include the website for this conference and a link to registration in the show notes for this episode.

Today, I'll be sharing a conversation with Dr. Ron Man, one of the organizers for this conference. He himself is a missionary artist, having served in Europe for many years, and now travels the globe teaching about the biblical foundations of worship. It's an understatement to say that he's been a huge influence on my life, including introducing me to this concept of ethnodoxology, worship through the cultures of the world, and the GCAMM community. He has a book coming out this fall called Let Us Draw Near, which many of us have been eagerly waiting for. It's only because of COVID that he finally had a chance to take a break from his busy travel schedule and write down the things he's been teaching all these years.

Anyway, without further ado, here is our conversation.

Roger

Ron Man, we're so happy to have you on this episode today.

Ron

Thanks for having me.

Roger

Yeah, this is awesome. I am really intrigued by your travel schedule. I mean, you travel all over the place. Where have you been recently?

Ron

Well, let's see… Last November I was in Bangladesh, and then I go to Spain every February to a little Bible school, and then I was at a conference in Pakistan in the spring and then went on from there to Ethiopia to teach in a theological college. I’ve covered some ground.

Roger

Oh, my goodness. How much time do you have between all these trips?

Ron

Well, I usually would limit them to maybe four or five trips a year of two or maximum three weeks at a time.

Roger

Well, it doesn't sound as bad when you put it that way, but when I get your newsletter, I think, I can't believe he's going on another trip. Sometimes it seems like you're only home for a week or two before you're off to some other place.

Ron

It's not quite that bad, but I've had a lot of neat opportunities. I guess not that many people do what I do, teaching on worship, biblical worship in that way.

Roger

Yeah. Tell us more. What are you doing? What are you traveling to do?

Ron

Well, my disclaimer, when I go into these places to teach, usually in schools, Bible schools, seminaries, Bible colleges, and whatnot, for a week or two, I usually start out by saying, “I've not come to tell you how to do worship in your culture because I'm not from your culture. What I can share with you are biblical principles of worship, which, because they are biblical, by definition, they transcend culture.” That's what I can share with them.

I have colleagues in some of the organizations we'll be talking about later, who have been on the mission field for years, decades maybe, in particular spots. After that, after being immersed in the culture for that long, they have a right to speak into some of the actual practices of worship in those cultures. I don't have that right since I’m just in and out one or two weeks at a time. I don't try to speak very much about practices. We'll talk a little bit about practical aspects, but the main thing is just laying these biblical foundations.

It's really exciting how everywhere I've gone in the world, I've found real hearts for worship in these students that I teach. That's something you can't teach, a heart for worship. But what I've found in so many places that with this commitment, this heart for this love for worship already, that when you add some real solid biblical content to it, they just soak it up and come alive. It'd be a lot harder to teach them a heart for worship than to teach them biblical material to undergo this.

Roger

I'm trying to imagine what this looks like. You're walking into places where everyone speaks a different language, wearing different clothes, perhaps eating different foods. I mean, completely different cultures. But there's been times when I've been in places in the world… I'm thinking of a particular mini-seminar I attended in India where a pastor stood up and said, “We want to transcend culture. We want to think about the culture of heaven. That is the real culture that we're trying to strive for.” And he went on to denounce Indian culture.

How is what you're talking about different than that? What does it mean to transcend culture?

Ron

Well, I use an illustration in my teaching of a bridge, which I can't give you the graphic in this context, of course, but a suspension bridge where the two towers in the illustration represent a biblical framework, which needs to guide us and control us and give that content, that framework to our worship practices.

But then in the illustration of a suspension bridge, I explain that a lot of the weight of the bridge is borne by this cable or suspension span between the two towers, which, unlike the sturdy firm towers sunk deeply into the ground, this cable has to have built into it a lot of flexibility because of changes of temperature and winds and so forth. And that serves in the illustration for the biblical framework being the towers and the span, the flexible span, representing the flexibility or latitude we have in worship practices, which the New Testament seems to allow because it frankly just does not give us a lot of detail about how our worship services should exactly look like.

I think, as it's been explained, that perhaps that's God's way of allowing the gospel as it goes into different cultures and as the church is planted among the nations, that there's room to breathe the air of that culture and give expression using the music, the arts, the different cultural expressions that are already built into people's hearts.

I like to give the people that freedom to give expression to that in their own way, in their own context, of their own arts and their own expressions and whatnot. And yet there's always this biblical framework. And that's what I try to explain, what I try to teach. In some ways, my job is easy because I teach them for one or two weeks on the biblical foundations and framework, and then I leave. And then they have the hard job of actually putting that into practice in their own context and making it fit into their own expression.

Roger

That's beautiful. So you're giving us this picture of this suspension bridge, which can move and flex with the situation. You're coming into a group of people who are very passionate about worship and giving a context for how to think creatively about what can that look like. How does that affect, I don't know … obviously the worship songs will be in different languages, but more than that? What does that mean in terms of what instruments we use? What does that mean in terms of what themes we're singing about? What does that mean in terms of how dance would be part of the liturgy? Or visual arts? Or other things as well?

Ron

I encourage them to think about things maybe they haven't thought of, but pulling from their own culture, from their own context, what they could pull in and effectively use.

Roger

You know, it always bothers me when I travel around the world and attend various worship services, and I feel like I could be anywhere in the world at any time in history, because I feel like, wow, we've really lost the richness of what this could be. I feel like something's wrong if I'm attending a worship service and it's exactly the same, whether I'm in India or Malaysia or America or France. There should be differences besides the language that's spoken, right? Is that what you're saying?

Ron

Yeah, I really believe that. But there's another complication in this world of ethnodoxology — we'll throw that term out right now. You find ethnomusicology in secular universities, which is a study of the different musics of the people of the world. Ethnodoxology is a new field in the world of missions, a newly coined term that speaks to the worship, “ethno” meaning people, and “doxology” meaning praise or glory. It's how the different peoples of the world praise our great God in their different cultural contexts and whatnot.

This is a growing, burgeoning field in missions that's grabbed a lot of people's attention just in recent decades of really valuing and validating the local expressions. Missionaries not coming in as used to be done all too often bringing the gospel dressed in their own cultural clothing. They brought not only the gospel, but too often they brought English and they brought their own dress or their own instruments or own styles and music and whatnot. But there's been a wonderful development of missionaries being trained and developed to go in and be listeners and learners and take the long route of really immersing themselves in the culture, and then and only then, perhaps, being able to be part of the discussion about what can effectively be used from the culture in the local expressions of worship as the gospel reaches them.

So it's a wonderful development in the field of missions and has been so effective. They get the Bible translated into their own language and say, “Well, God speaks my language, not just the white man's language or something coming from the outside.” But the same thing happens with the arts when they say, “Well, God loves my music or my art or my whatnot, and not just what's brought in from the outside.” That's been a wonderful and freeing development and so effective in letting people be who they are, what they are, what's already built into their DNA from childhood up, and that can be a way to give expression to their worship.

In this conference we had that you were part of, Roger, in Africa, the Maasai people came from Tanzania. They're very distinctive in their dress. They're very tall and wear these red plaid costumes, and they have very distinctive forms of dance and dress and music and whatnot. It was explained to us at the conference that for a long time, the gospel was not making inroads into their culture until somebody, missionaries were able to make clear to them that they could become Christians and still be Maasai, that they could bring their own expressions to bear in expression of Christian faith.

And then the gospel took hold, and many, many of them came to Christ. So just that valuing and validating of who people are and their culture and the air they breathe has been such a powerful force in missions in the last decade.

Now, the complication I started to make reference to with this is that whether we like it or not, part of the reality is that young people all over the world, especially in urban areas, because of modern communication and the internet and globalization and whatnot, whether we like it or not, Western popular styles of music are part of what we call the heart music of young people all over the world. We want to value local expressions and local instruments, but it can't be an either/or thing. We don't want to stomp out the old traditional ways, but we don't want to say, “Well, the new ways come from the West and they're not allowed” when it's what the young people want, what's being built into them in their own cultural context. So there has to be a both/and, and that makes it complicated and tricky, but we need to give place to both.

And we find that in my country, in the United States as well. You have issues like that between generations here. You have cultural differences, not just between countries or nations. You find cultural differences within individual churches, especially between the generations, young and old, who see things and like things and prefer things in much different ways from one another. And so, again, it needs to be both a teaching aspect and a discipling aspect for the young people to honor the old and the older people to honor the young, and that they both have valid expressions to bring.

If I could tell a quick story that I heard once at a conference. Joe Stowe, who was president of Moody Bible Institute at the time, told this beautiful story. They have a radio station and decided to change their music format. For many, many years they had traditional old-fashioned church hymn, gospel hymn-type music, and they decided to change to a more contemporary music format. They received a letter from an elderly woman who wrote, “I've been listening to your station and supporting it financially for years. And I just love the old hymns and the things you broadcast. And now you've gone and decided to change the format to this more contemporary style. But,” she wrote, “if you think that's what's needed to reach the youth of today, I want you to know I'm 100 % behind it. Here's my check.” And I thought, “What a beautiful, mature Christian who understands that it's not just about her, or what I want or what I like.” I often tell that story because I think it's such a tremendous expression of true Christian love and maturity that we need more of.

Roger

I think it's interesting about that story of the dancers. I remember them coming in. The rings around their necks and legs and wrists would make this sound that was rhythmic. We were all just amazed at the dress that they had on. But then I remember a number of us Westerners afterwards saw that after the worship service, they changed and changed into Western clothing.

Ron

Oh, did they? I didn't even notice that.

Roger

We're like, “Oh!” I think that's one aspect of what you're talking about too. It's not just either or. They are children of Western culture as well that's prevalent worldwide, but they can also worship through their traditional art forms and feel like, “Yeah, this is special. This is part of our heritage, part of our ancestral family.” But at the same time, they can also join in worship services that have a Western style as well at other times and be able to engage in that.

Ron

I come home after church and change clothes too. Perhaps that's a similar thing.

Roger

Yeah, a mutual friend of ours, Nancy Nethercott, just sent out her newsletter. I don't think she’d mind me sharing the story of her at a singing, songwriting workshop somewhere in the world. It wasn't just about writing new songs in their language, but they ended up adopting themes that are not often talked about in what we may find in Western hymnody or something. Because of where people are coming from in their cultural context, their history, different things they've had to go through, they end up wanting to sing about different themes, different perspectives of God's traits and characteristics than what we may often see.

Ron

Very interesting, yeah. They'd be topics that wouldn't be normally dealt with in their own culture.

Roger

Right. For example, let me give one that I have experience with. A topic we often see in American songs is rejoicing in God as the resurrected savior, the one who was crucified, but he has come again and he has victory over the grave. And that seems to be something that a lot of contemporary songs today embrace. Whereas in Japan, when we're writing contemporary songs, it's usually about the suffering of Christ on the cross. So American songs in general may tend to focus on Easter. Japanese contemporary songs may tend to focus on Good Friday. They're both true, and you need elements of both, but it's just because of...Japanese are especially... I don't know, sensitive, I could say, to the beauty in suffering, the beauty that comes through brokenness. And seeing that in the gospel is something that's so attractive to the Japanese. And they love singing about it. A lot of the songs I'm thinking about that we've written in our church, that Japanese people have been writing, end up having those themes of the suffering servant or the God who knows our pain.

Ron

Yeah, I have a friend who wrote a dissertation on looking at some American songs and hymns and whatnot, and there is that tendency, like you're saying, of this everything's great, everything's fine, looking ahead at what's what, and not always dealing with some of the hard realities of life. In any culture, I think there needs to be some balance and not neglect one and just focus on the other.

Roger

Yeah, I really believe God speaks through our cultures in different ways, showing his glory, but in ways that help us see him that really fit where we are at as a culture. Some cultures have been really beaten down over the years. And so you end up seeing that in their prayers. You end up seeing that in their worship songs.

Ron

Again, it's both/and. You have to transcend the culture in a certain sense because you can't just stay wallowing in the sadness and whatnot because there is victory in Christ and whatnot, but you need to bring the reality of life into our expressions and lament and things like that and have an appropriate place as well.

Roger

Yeah, I want to ask. This conference you're referencing is GCAMM, Global Consultation on Arts and Music in Missions. There is a conference coming up this September, which is really exciting. You're on the board of this organization. I'd like to hear from you more about what this is and how it got started.

Ron

Well, this is our 20th anniversary celebration. We started 20 years ago, and we're going to be at the same location we started at 20 years ago at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, who has welcomed us with open arms and are really helping us get this thing going. Since then, we met in Minnesota, then we moved overseas. We met in Singapore, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Nairobi, Kenya. And the last one was during COVID. We had to do an online version of it, as so many other organizations did. We're back in person, and we're excited about this 20th anniversary.

Right before COVID, we decided to change the name. Originally, it was GCoMM, Global Consultation on Music and Missions. We realized that we needed to broaden it, that there's a place for all of the arts, so visual arts, spoken arts, dance, and all the others. And so, we decided to change the name. We were already reflecting that in what we did, but we wanted to make it more explicit and honor the other arts and not just be primarily about music. So it is now the Global Consultation on Arts and Music in Missions.

Roger

Why did it start? What was the purpose of these?

Ron

Well, it was to gather people from many different nations and basically celebrate the diversity we're talking about, and expressions in worship and music, the arts and music in worship in the church, and also in outreach and missions and ministry and discipleship and whatnot. These gatherings have usually been about 200-250 people from about 35 different nations. We have had and will have this fall, plenary speakers giving some biblical foundations again, but there are also a lot of breakout groups talking about specific arts, areas of the arts, specific issues that we face. We'll gather in breakouts in regional, global regions of the world and break up that way. Lots of time for fellowship and interaction. That networking is just a huge aspect of that.

20 years ago, when the first GCoMM was held, another group was born at the same time called the International Council of Ethnodoxologists. The name has since been changed because ICE sounds too much like border control in the United States. And so they changed the name to the Global Ethnodoxology Network.

GCAMM is an event and GEN is a global organization, not really an organization so much as an umbrella network of people all over the world that are involved in using the arts in different ways in missions, work, outreach, worship, teaching, discipleship, and whatnot. It's just a way to connect people and resource people and help people see how they can cooperate together. It's been wonderful how both the organization GEN and the event GCAMM have grown over the years and have been particularly valuable. I think you, Roger, yourself have given testimony to what it's meant in your life. Maybe you want to comment on that.

Roger

Yeah, definitely! But as you were speaking, I was thinking about the discussion you led at the gathering in Kenya. It was interesting to me how they were talking about which instruments are okay to use in worship. There was a traditional instrument that, I forget the name of it, but that the people were like, “Oh, no, you can't use that instrument in worship because it has religious significance that isn't Christian. That's very distracting, so we can't use that.” But in the discussion, we found out that if they had just moved … what was it? … a piece of red cloth, one little change to the instrument, and suddenly it was okay. Because then it wasn't used for idol worship anymore, it could be used for Christian worship. We all around the room were like, “Oh, interesting!” To be able to share stories like that and to hear about the debates that people are having around the world and to share that together was fascinating to me.

Ron

Because it's part of that whole discussion is that as we say, we want to value and validate local expressions. It does not mean that anything goes. We don’t just pull anything from the culture. One of the most common questions I get when I travel is the question, “Is such and such music appropriate for use in Christian worship?” It can be in all different kinds of categories. It's a difficult question. Sometimes, like I said, even in my country, the generations will have different ideas about what's acceptable and what isn't. But the fact of the matter is that it's tricky, and it doesn't mean you just pull anything in from the culture, but you have to use some discernment and biblical wisdom. A lot has to do with associations, as you were saying, if a particular instrument or a particular music or art form was used in ancestor worship or demon worship even, that maybe you better leave it alone or at least remove the “red cloth,” to make it acceptable. Actually missionaries, ethnodoxologists or arts consultants as they're sometimes called, are receiving pretty advanced training now to be able to go into these fields and use discernment and help the people consider together some of these things and what can be fruitfully brought in and what best be left alone.

It's a tricky thing. The Bible doesn't address all these different instruments and art forms and whatnot, so we need to bring biblical wisdom to bear. Paul says, “All things are lawful, not all things are profitable.” What's going to be profitable? That will differ from culture to culture. What can be brought in and what should we best leave alone and not bring in? It takes care. It needs wisdom. It takes some specialized training, but also listening to the locals, as you're saying, to hear their stories and what their real intentions are and meanings and associations are, so we can make those decisions in a biblical and wise way.

Roger

Yeah, definitely. The first GCAMM I went to was in Chiang Mai, Thailand. First of all, the thing that impressed me the most was the love that everyone was showing for each other. These are people from all over the world wrestling with these questions. What does worship look like in our context?

We met at a school there, a Christian art school, and dance is really big at that school. So we were led in worship through traditional Thai dance. I guess before that point in my mind, I thought of the arts as something like contextualization, only a tool that you try to use to reach people. But when it comes from the native people themselves, like the Thai saying, “This is our native dance. We want to use this to worship God. What does that look like?” And to figure it out within that community was just such a beautiful thing. It didn't seem contrived. There was a beauty about it that just made my own heart sing, “Oh, there's so many ways that we can praise God.”

And I felt like I was getting a picture of heaven itself, where I'm not just praising God in different languages, but through every culture, every dance, all the traditional clothing of the world. To see just a little glimpse of that was such a beautiful thing that led me in worship. I think as missionaries, sometimes we have this concept that we come in and think, “Okay, how can I contextualize this so that those people know the gospel?” and fail to see the reverse happening. Like, “Oh, I am led in worship of God because of what I am seeing the people here doing.”

Ron

Right. The beauty of that diversity is what you're talking about, I think. Like you say, there can never be too many ways to praise our Almighty God. God is a creator God. He's created a world of incredible diversity. I think that diversity honors him and glorifies him when we can bring all that to bear from all the nations of the world and give our own expressions to it and not a one-size-fits-all approach to it.

Roger

Yeah, I think what you just said there, that explains why people should come to GCAMM in September, right? Is to see all these different ways that God is being praised and be drawn in themselves. Is there anything you'd add to that? Why do you think they should go?

Ron

As I said before, a lot of it is just networking and connecting with people and learning from what others are doing. But how can we cooperate together?

We'd love to see regional conferences like this spun off, or people from East Asia, like you, and there's a group in Europe that's talking about having one there. There's a group in the Caribbean that would like to pull one together. South America. We'd love to see that happen as well. You're informing, enriching one another, instilling cooperation and mutual aid and cooperative efforts and things we can do together. There's a lot of opportunity for that. There's a rich learning environment.

Networking is the name of the game, I think, in many ways when it comes to this, that's just mutually enriching. It's a great place to network, like you said, on a level that comes from a common love and commitment not only for the Lord, but for worship and for artistic expressions of worship. Just to bask in the glory of all that diversity is something that is really rich. I've come away really impressed and loving the Lord more and his people more just from seeing that glory.

Roger

Well, I can't wait. Hey, let's do it now. No, I guess we're going to have to wait.

Ron

Till September. September 11-14 in Fort Worth, Texas at Southwestern Baptist University. You can find out all the information at https://gcommhome.org/. All the information is there about all the things happening and how you can register and whatnot. The GEN, the Global Ethnodoxology Network, this umbrella organization has a website too that's called https://www.worldofworship.org/.

But the event in September, we're really excited about it. People are signing up or gathering that diversity from the nations to come and celebrate together. We're very excited that Roger Lowther is going to be one of our plenary speakers, and he's going to speak to us from his context of his fruitful artistic ministry in Japan. But he's also, as he was telling me today, is going to share about just what GCAMM has meant to him and how it's enriched him and widened his horizons. He's just a great poster boy for the event and what it can mean among an arts worker.

Roger

Yeah, I'm really honored to have the chance to share how it really has changed the way I think about ministry as we do it in Japan.

Ron

That's wonderful. That'll be really encouraging to hear at this 20th anniversary celebration as well. Very cool.

Roger

Well, we need to stop soon. But before we do, I'd love to let people know about your book that's coming out. It's pretty exciting. Can you tell us something about that?

Ron

Well, I've got a basic course that I teach on the biblical foundations of worship that just walks people through and deals with some fundamental introductory issues about worship, the revelation and response paradigm of worship, and walks the students through the Old Testament, the New Testament, talk about the centrality of worship throughout the Bible and how that's a major theme, if not the integrating theme of the whole scriptures and the biblical story. I've been teaching this course, and I'll be teaching this fall in Turkey, which will be the 40th country that I've had the opportunity to teach on worship. I've had tremendous opportunities.

One benefit along with all the downsides of COVID was that it gave me an opportunity, because of not being able to travel so much or at all, to actually put that course into book form. That's what I've done. As I grow older and maybe will travel a little less if I'm not able to come. I've got a book now to say this is the course. This is basically everything I've been talking about, everything I've been teaching for the last 20 years I've now got into a book. I'm really excited about that.

I have a publisher. It's in process. It's going slowly. Hopefully, it will be out this fall, I think. But anyway, it's called, Let Us Draw Near: Biblical Foundations of Worship. That phrase, of course, comes from Hebrews 10:19-22, where it says,

“Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,” the writer says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”

Christ has opened the way, done everything necessary to have free access into the presence of God, a uniquely New Testament understanding of worship. And that open access we have in and through and even with Christ into the presence of God. That's the title, Let Us Draw Near. It's laying biblical foundations of Worship. It's going to be a big book. It's a textbook. But I've just poured everything into it, everything I know virtually and everything I've been teaching about for 20 years. I'm excited that it's down and I'm excited too that it's going to come out. I hope this textbook will be useful in schools and to lay people, anybody who wants to know these biblical foundations in our worship.

Roger

Yeah, it's very exciting. I'm so glad it's finally getting into print form because I've been able to hear you speak in a number of places in the world now, including Japan. I remember when you were teaching in my home, we had a large group of people, and that ended up sparking conversations that lasted for months afterwards, people just trying to wrestle with the content that you're bringing up. So it's going to be used mightily, I know. So, Ron, thank you so much for sitting down tonight. It was awesome to be able to talk with you about these things.

Ron

Well, it's a pleasure. Thank you. I always love talking about it. And looking forward to maybe seeing many of you at GCAMM in September.

Roger

Yeah, I'll see you there!

So GCAMM is pretty cool, and I really do hope to see many of you there. This is Roger Lowther, and you've been listening to the Art Life Faith Podcast. As we say in Japan, “Ja, mata ne! See you next time.”

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