Interactive Sermon

"Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured" ~Old Russian Proverb

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts - Rewind

Okay, this time for real! If you prepared your heart last weekend by reading Matthew 5:21-48 and then were surprised when we didn't look at the text - I apologize. But my plan once again is for us to consider that passage, paying particular attention to the six 'You've heard it said... but I say unto you...' statements.

Shari is putting together an acoustic worship music set for us to enjoy.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Kathy and the music team are prepared to lead us in a great set of songs including a couple of great old hymns arranged by Aaron Shust and Chris Tomlin, as well as the favorite You're So Good and more.

If you would like an advance read of the texts we will consider on Sunday morning, give a look through Matthew 5:21-48 and pay particular attention to the many statements that read, "You have heard that it was said... but I say to you..." We will consider these texts in our pursuit of more clearly understanding Kingdom living.

What of your heart this week? Have you come down from the mountaintop of celebrating Jesus' resurrection last weekend to find that life has returned to normal? Come prepared to lend your heart, hands and voices to a great worship service this weekend. He will not fail to show up and fill your cup to overflowing.

I look forward to worshipping our Lord together Sunday morning at both 9 and 11AM! See you then.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Sunday Revisited

I spent the better part of Monday with a shop-vac. As I was de-confetti-ing the sanctuary, I had plenty of time to reflect on our Easter Sunday worship and celebration, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts in answer to inevitable questions.

Why such a celebration? It is true that we worship a risen Savior every Sunday as a church family. Easter Sunday, however, has come to be associated with celebrating Jesus’ resurrection in particular. It struck me a few years ago that much of the church ‘goes through the religious motions’ on Easter, the same as on any other weekend. However, I firmly believe that if someone you loved died, and you buried them, and then a few days later they showed up at your door saying, ‘Yep, I was dead… but now I’m alive… do you have anything to eat?’ your response would likely be more demonstrative than saying, ‘gee, it’s good to see you again’. So, I have asked the worship team leaders and those who plan our services at Christ’s Church to be as creative as they can be to foster a real environment of celebration for us on Easter Sunday.

Why a confetti cannon? A few years ago I got the idea of adding a moment of surprise into our Easter celebration. I was thinking about that moment when Mary and the other women recognized a risen Jesus along the road, or when Peter recognized Jesus on the shore – that had to be a moment that caught them off-guard. So, in 2005 we rented a confetti cannon and fired it on the closing song and suffice to say people were caught off guard! For 2006, one of our engineering types built us a cannon of our very own (thanks again Jim!). I think it’s safe to assume we’re the only church in town with our own confetti cannon. The point has been simply that – surprise and celebration.

Why the music selection that was played this year? Each song was selected for a reason. The 70’s musical Godspell offered up ‘Prepare Ye’. It was chosen for a prelude of sorts to set the tone for the morning. Did you notice the progression? There was the horn fanfare followed by the solo proclamation, followed by the entire music team’s joining in. That’s a picture worth consideration. ‘Make A Joyful Noise/I Will Not Be Silent’ gives us a chance to say with our hands, hearts and voices what our souls would cry out in response to Jesus’ resurrection – and it functioned as a great kick-off song for the service, a favorite here at CCA. The two hymns ‘Christ The Lord Is Risen Today’ and ‘Crown Him With Many Crowns’ were chosen because it wouldn’t be an Easter celebration without the rich truth of those songs and the great heritage of their being a part of Easter worship celebrations. ‘You Are Holy/Prince Of Peace’ was selected for the proclamation of who Jesus is, and how we live in response to Him – and the manner of singing, splitting into parts and encouraging greater participation of the congregation. ‘My Redeemer Lives’ has become a standard Easter song at CCA. Just as it wouldn’t be Easter without the Easter hymns above, it wouldn’t feel like Easter at Christ’s Church without this anthem. As a postlude song, we selected ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ from the band U2. We realize that for many U2 represents ‘secular’ music, but that’s a conversation for another set of blog posts. We wanted a song that would take the text of Acts 1:10-11 to the next step – from our ‘looking to the skies’ to Jesus return. This song does that – it calls us to look forward. In all honesty, it was also added because it is a song that would catch a few of our visitors off guard and be familiar. Again, the philosophy behind that decision can be discussed some other time.

More thoughts on the music… Shari arranged horn parts for most of the songs, and we added in the trumpet and sax hoping to lend an added blessing – not only for our ears, but for the Lord’s ears. Thank you Shari, Patrick and Richard for your talents. It worked! What a blessing! God has blessed us with so many talented musical people – the talent to arrange music, play with skill, sing harmonies, and so on. Many thanks to Shari, Lisa, Caroline, Heather, Peter, Jimmy, Mike, Jesse and Dan. You rock! And, Kevin and Daniel in the booth – thank you!

Why the message from Acts 1? Each year I desire to look at the record of the resurrection from a slightly different angle. I spend time reading the account in the different gospels and mentions of the resurrection in different texts as a part of my own devotions leading up to Easter. This year we have been considering the Kingdom of God, and the mention of Jesus continuing to teach on that theme after His resurrection and those last couple of verses I mentioned earlier – looking skyward, etc – led me to go with this text this year. It seemed to fit our overall study series pretty well.

Beyond the obvious desire to worship the Lord and celebrate His resurrection, what are my hopes for the aftermath of this kind of a service? After the service I spoke with many people. One grandfather told me about a conversation he had with his grandson about the celebration. A first-time visitor told me with tears in her eyes, ‘I really needed that!’ A family visiting from Mt. Vernon said to me, ‘We were told that we had to visit Christ’s Church on Easter by some friends of ours’. (So, we have a reputation, eh?) And I’m willing to bet that several others drove out of the parking lot asking, ‘What was that?’ and if that’s the case, I say AMEN! To all of it, I say AMEN! I am under no illusion – what I say for the most part on Sunday mornings will go in one ear and out the other, and that’s probably a very good thing! But, where people are given an opportunity to talk about Jesus or to think further about Jesus, or in some cases challenged to simply rethink Jesus, that is what I hope for. And I believe this can be a great service for you to utilize in conversation. You can seize the opportunity to dialogue with people about all the things I’ve written above, and your thoughts on those items. Conversation that leads to life – ‘generative conversation’ as I call it – is communicating Christ along the way.

I welcome your thoughts and reflections – and particularly your stories if you had any interesting experiences or conversations related to our Easter service. Click comments and post away!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Nothing special planned. A normal worship service. And if you believe that...

Shari and the music team have a great set of music ready to go to rightly celebrate Jesus' resurrection. There are some standards, some new standards, and some surprises all worked in. I hope that you'll come ready to loudly sing along!

If you want an advance look at the text we will consider, give Acts 1:1-11 a read - and really you can visit the end of each of the gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - to be on the same page with me in the morning.

Remember: Tomorrow morning we will only have one worship service at 11am. The Board of Elders will be serving a full-course breakfast between 9 and 10am. I hope that you will consider coming over for breakfast before the service. Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

You know that I look forward to gethering with you to worship tomorrow morning!


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

As you prepare to gather as the church and to worship the Lord tomorrow morning, give some thought to Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem as recorded in Luke 19:28-44. You may also want to give a quick read to Matthew 23:37-38.

Kathy and the music team have a number of favorites ready to lead us in the morning, including God of Wonders, Enough and Worship You Forever on the list. Come prepared to join in the singing of praises and adoration.

We will also worship the Lord in observing the Lord's Supper. Come with your heart prepared to commune with Him.

I look forward to our gathering to share in worship tomorrow!

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Greetings, and a Happy St. Patrick's Day to you. I hope that you're enjoying a great meal of corned beef and cabbage.

As we prepare our hearts to gather and worship the Lord tomorrow morning, you may be blessed to give Matthew 5:1-12 and advance read. We will be talking about the Sermon on the Mount as we continue our study of the Kingdom of God in the morning. Mike has a worship music set ready to go for us tomorrow that will have a bit of a different feel to it. It should be a blessing.

Immediately after the 11AM service tomorrow we will be having a very brief meeting to talk about a summer mission trip opportunity to Florida, to partner with our friends at Covenant Community Church. If you might be interested, plan on spending about 15 minutes after the second service tomorrow to hear about this opportunity.

I look forward to joining together with you in the morning to worship the Lord.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Mike and the music team have a great set of songs ready for us to sing Sunday including favorites from Matt Redmon, Chris Tomlin and a new tune from Lincoln Brewster. There's also a great new arrangement of a classic hymn that the team has worked out. Come prepared to sing tomorrow morning!

As we look to the word, we will be reading through Matthew 21:28 thru 22:14. In that passage we will consider parts of three different parables Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of His day.

I look forward to our gathering to worship each week - and tomorrow even one hour sooner!

Yep, that's your reminder: Don't forget to set your clock ahead an hour before you go to sleep tonight! A public service announcement brought to you by the owner of this blog.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

The Kingdom of God - Two Months In

We’ve been studying the Kingdom of God for two months worth of Sundays now. I thought it would be appropriate to offer a little review. Just so that it might be fun – and because I am such a fun-loving guy – I thought I’d couch the review in a little matching game. See if you can recall these lessons we’ve learned of the Kingdom of God and match them with the text that we considered that brought them to light.

1) Gen. 1:26-31 & Ex. 19:1-6
2) Deut. 17:14-20
3) Psalm 2
4) Psalm 22
5) 2 Kings 22 & 23
6) The Parable of the Sower – Matt. 13:1-23
7) The Parable of the Banquet – Luke 14:15-24
8) The Parable of the Wheat & Weeds – Matt. 13:24-30, 36-47
9) The Parable of the Mustard Seed – Matt. 13:31-32
10) The Parable of the Yeast – Matt. 13:33-35

a) Being part of God’s Kingdom doesn’t mean that you will always be spared suffering, in fact, you should expect it.
b) The relationship God has with the King (in our case, Jesus) has direct bearing on how He deals with us.
c) It starts small and insignificant, and grows to great ends.
d) God’s plan for a Theocratic reign over His people, individually and collectively, was evident from the very beginning.
e) The Gospel of the Kingdom permeates a soul, a life, society and the world.
f) The Kingdom of God will face rebellion from other kings and kingdoms.
g) One of the stumbling blocks of defining Kingdom is our tendency to look horizontally for our definitions.
h) God’s Kingdom message is spread liberally, but people respond in different ways.
i) For a time, God’s Kingdom will exist with the kingdoms of this world – and that is by His design.
j) Many of the people called to be a part of the Kingdom of God will surprise ‘religious people’.

So, how do you think you did?

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

This weekend we will worship the Lord in observing the Lord’s Supper. Where the Lord’s Supper is concerned, you might give 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 a read. Come with your heart prepared to commune with the Lord.

Peter and the band have a number of great tunes ready for us to sing. A trio of favorites from Chris Tomlin, ‘Your Grace Is Enough’, ‘Enough’ and ‘Famous One’ are on the list, as is a favorite of our Namibia team in 2005, ‘You’re So Good’, plus a couple more. Come with your voice ready to sing praises!

If you’d like an advance look at the texts we will consider together on Sunday morning, give the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Yeast a read in Matthew 13:31-35 (note that you can also find them both in Luke 13). To take it deeper you might glance through Ezekiel chapters 17 and 23.

I look forward to worshipping the Lord with you this weekend!

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Upon Further Review

Well, what was it that turned your theological knobs yesterday as we studied the Parable of the Weeds together?

Was it my assertion that while wheat and weeds do not change in their nature, human beings do, that sent up a red flag? How about the C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity that proclaimed there are Christians who are slowly ceasing to be Christians and there are unbelievers who are slowly becoming believers? Or the part where Lewis implied that there are even people in other world religions under the 'secret influence of God', who are perhaps brothers in Christ?

Give my notes a look here or give the audio file of the message a listen here. Let me know what the Lord is impressing upon you where our study of the Kingdom of God is concerned.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Preparing Our Hearts

Jesse and the music team - the musicians who made up the band By Faith as a part of last summer's trip to Namibia - have prepared a great set of music for us including Chris Tomlin and Watermark arrangements of favorite old hymns as well as some newer favorites from other great worship artists.

As we look into the Lord's word, we will consider two parables from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, together - the Parable of the Weeds & the Parable of the Net. If you like an advance read, consider Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 & 47-52. You might also look at any cross references that your bible notes.

What a privilege it is for us to gather in freedom to worship the Lord together. I look forward to gathering together with you in the morning!

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Prepare Your Heart

As Sunday approaches, join me in preparing to worship our Lord! Tomorrow has been titled 'Amazing Grace Sunday' by many churches around the world in celebrating the end of slavery, and in anticipation of the theatrical release of the movie 'Amazing Grace' which opens next week.

Jesse and the music team have a great set of songs ready for us to sing. Our study in the word will include a parable in Luke 14:15-24 and a text in Matthew 13:44-46, all having to do with the manner in which we respond to the gospel of the Kingdom.

I look forward to worshipping the Lord together with you!

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Prepare Our Hearts

As you prepare your heart to gather tomorrow as the church and to worship our Lord, give Matthew 13 a read. We will consider together the passage we call 'The Parable of the Sower' in desiring to understand how the message of the Kingdom is received. You might also be blessed to give a quick look to some of the passages in the New Testament where Jesus mentions either 'the Kingdom of God' or 'the Kingdom of heaven' - a concordance can help you locate them. What did Jesus have to say about this Kingdom?

Jesse and the music team are preparing a great acoustic set for the morning complete with a couple of Chris Tomlin tunes, Tomlin's new arrangement of 'Amazing Grace', a Lincoln Brewster tune and a couple more favorites of the congregation. Come with your heart and voice ready to sing praises!

Our friend Brenda Johnston from Hopes Promise Orphan Ministries in Namibia is also here with us this weekend. She will be at both services in the morning, and available between the services and after the second service, for people to meet and greet her and to hear the latest news from HPOM.

As always, I look forward to sharing in worship with you!

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ramping Up To Sunday

Great praise and worship opportunities await us as we prepare to gather tomorrow as the Body of Christ. We will be celebrating the Lord's Supper at both services, so come with your heart prepared.

Jesse and the music team have a great set of music ready for us to sing including a couple of great hymns, and favorites by Tim Hughes and Lincoln Bruster.

If you would like an advance look at the text we will study together, give a look at 2 Kings 22 & 23 and 2 Chronicles 34 & 35. We won't be reading all four chapters, obviously, but we will be considering the reign of King Josiah, and looking to learn more about the nature of God's Kingdom and how it relates to us.

I look forward to worshipping the Lord together with you tomorrow morning!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Back In The Blogging

Apologies for the blog interruption the last few days. It seems that Blogger wanted me to convert my blog to their new format before they would let me blog on - and that was no small matter considering that my blog is hosted not with Blogger, but on Christ's Church's server. Thanks Germaine for sorting out the sordid details. Ah, but the news is good... I'm back! Look out world!

Now, for those interested in the sermon series, please find my notes here and the audio file here for this past weekend's study. Of course, you can find both in the right hand menu panel.

Let me hear from you. How is our study through the emerging picture of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament striking you? How about this past week's consideration that sometimes life in the Kingdom doesn't feel so 'milk & honey'? What is the Lord stirring in your thoughts?

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