Monthly Archives: March 2014

Preparing for Worship – March 30, 2014

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Why should you prepare to worship together? Perhaps the first question we should ask is “why should we worship together?” There are 168 hours in your week. Technically speaking, you can (and should) worship God during every single one of those. In Romans 12:1, Paul says:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

That should be our ultimate aim. To glorify God and worship him in everything that we do.

If that’s the case, then what’s unique about gathering with the church to worship? If you can worship God in the mountains, then why should you come down out of the mountains to gather with the body on Sunday?

Because it’s the only time in the week when we all get to worship together.

That is huge. The Christian life is a communal thing. It’s not a solo thing. In fact, the writer of Ecclesiastes says in chapter 4, verses 9-10:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

So back to my original question: Why should you prepare to worship together? It has been said that we should not come to the church in order to worship. Instead, we should come to the gathering of the church already worshipping. And if it is a wonderful thing that we get to gather together to do it, then why would you not come prepared and ready to worship?

What does that look like? A few ideas:

  • Spend some time praying and thanking God for the opportunity to gather with the church when you first wake up Sunday morning. That means you’ll have to wake up in plenty of time to do that!
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s more difficult to be alert and engaged in worshipping together if you’re tired. It’s more difficult to see God’s glory and goodness in the songs that we sing and the scripture that we study if you’re just trying to keep your eyelids open. It’s more difficult to love one another (a command, by the way) if you are drifting off in thought mid-sentence when talking to someone from the church.
  • Come early, stay late. Engage the the whole experience. Fellowship richly before the service. Get yourself into the sanctuary for the whole service to experience all that God is doing in our gathering. Fellowship richly after the service. If you only get to do this once a week, make it count.
  • Be all in. When you’re with the church, savor every moment. Eagerly anticipate how your understanding of God will be deepened as we study the word. Expect that God is going to be working powerfully among us. Mean the words that you sing. Truly believe the gospel when it is proclaimed.
  • Learn the songs before you come. That’s why we write this weekly blog post – so that you’re not learning the songs on Sunday morning. Instead, learn them in advance so that you can worship with your whole heart, mind and body.

Here are handy links to serve you in that aim:

Praise To The Lord (Listen | Purchase)

The Truth (Listen | Purchase)

Grace Alone (Listen | Purchase)

God is Good (Listen | Purchase)

How Deep The Father’s Love (Listen | Purchase)

In Tenderness (Listen | Purchase)

 

Do you agree with David when he said in Psalm 122, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!'”? Let that be our aim this week!

Preparing For Worship – March 23, 2014

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Why must our world be full of injustice, oppression, wickedness? Does it serve a purpose? How should we respond to it? What does it say about God?  This Sunday we continue our series called Enjoy the Sovereign with Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:6.

One thing that we know – in the midst of this life, God has promised to be with us in the midst of the difficulties of life. In fact, Paul reminds us in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lyrically, this week we will be singing several songs that show how God is with us. How God is our firm foundation in the midst of the difficulties of life. How God is our strength and shield. To prepare to sing that song (and others) together, listen in advance by clicking on the links below:

My Hope Is Built (The Solid Rock)

“On Christ the solid rock I stand”

Poison Tree (Listen | Purchase)

Psalm 18 (Listen | Purchase)

“Mighty God, you are my rock and shield”

Rock of Ages (Listen | Purchase)

“Rock of ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee”

Oh God (Listen | Purchase)

“Height nor depth nor anything else could pull us apart”

My One Comfort (Listen | Purchase)

“I was bought with blood and I confess, I belong to You alone”

 

Come early. Talk to a friend. Prepare now to worship together. See you on Sunday.

Preparing for Worship – March 16, 2014

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Why were you born where you were? Why do you live where you do? Why do you live now (as opposed to say, 1000 years ago)?

This Sunday we continue our series called Enjoy the Sovereign with Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. We will be looking at the idea that our sovereign God has placed us exactly where we are and in this time for a purpose. We are not here by accident. We are sovereignly appointed to the places and times in which we live (see Acts 17:24-27). Because we are under the GOOD and SOVEREIGN hand of God, we should enjoy all that He has for us in this time and place. That includes blessings and trials. Indeed, the opening portion of this passage is a familiar one that speaks of this very thing:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Then a bit later in the passage, Ecclesiastes 3:12 says “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live”. That means that whether mourning or dancing, we should rejoice in God and enjoy all that He has put in our lives.

Lyrically, this week we will be singing several songs that show how God is good. ALL OF THE TIME. In fact, we’ll be learning a new song called “God is Good” that specifically addresses the idea that God is good in the midst of blessing AND trial.

To prepare to sing that song (and others) together, listen in advance by clicking on the links below:

How Great Thou Art (Listen | Purchase)

10,000 Reasons (Listen | Purchase)

Jesus! (Listen | Purchase)

God is Good (Listen | Purchase)

Before The Throne of God Above (Listen | Purchase)

It is Finished (Listen | Purchase)

 

See you on Sunday.

Horizontal & Vertical Parenting

Last week I was asked to preach at True Life Church in Denver. True Life is a church who is a part of our church-planting network (Acts 29). They asked me to preach about the parent-child relationship. The basis for the sermon was that as parents we are called to work on the horizontal relationship and the vertical relationship.

HORIZONTAL
As parents we need to work at building relationships with our children. We are not called to be their best friends, but we are called to have relationships with them. Paul says in Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We are not to provoke our children to anger by only being domineering and commanding of their good behavior. We must also work at building God-honoring relationships with them – relationships that are instructing them in the things of Jesus. Having right relationships with our children takes time and intentionality.

VERTICAL
We also need to work at pointing our children to Jesus. We are unable to save our children. Only God, through the work of His Son and the conviction of the Spirit, is able to save our children. While this is true, we still have a responsibility to point our children to a right relationship with God. They need to know their need for a Savior. They need to know that they are like their parents – sinful and in need of a loving and gracious God to save them. Pointing our children to a right relationship with God takes time and intentionality.

Some parents see this as a daunting task because they did not have good examples in their own homes as children. Others see this as a difficult chore because they believe that discipling their children takes a graduate level education. Still others believe they are too busy to have any meaningful time to disciple their children.  These reasons excuses lead us to neglecting the responsibility altogether. This cannot be.

In Deuteronomy 6 the law of God is given to the people. The command is given to love God with all your heart, soul and might. Immediately after this command, parents are commanded to instruct their children. Deuteronomy 6:7 says “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  

What do we learn from this verse? I believe we learn that the discipleship of our children is a daily responsibility that does not always have to be a structured 45 minute bible study in one of the original languages. The author says you can point your children to right relationship with God when you sit in your house. You can point your children to right relationship with God when you walk down the sidewalk. You can point your children to right relationship with God from morning to night and every time in between using the practical, every day settings of your family life. But guess what? This means you have to have time together. This may mean not being involved in ballet, basketball, soccer and symphony. This means you have to have times where you are actually sitting in your house together and times when you actually have time to walk down the sidewalk together.

The pointing of our children to right relationship with God (vertical) means that we need to build right relationships with our children (horizontal). We need to sit in our homes and talk about the every day things of home-life. We need to walk down the sidewalk or hike up a mountain and talk about the every day things of outdoor life. Night and day we need to be growing in our relationships with our children with the intent of pointing them to The Father who loves us because of The Son. This takes time and intentionality, but it is worth it eternally.

*In an effort to assist you as a parent in your discipleship of your children, we have stocked the library with books that will help you point your children to Jesus. This Sunday, check out the NEW titles available to you at low, low prices.