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Archive for the ‘church’ Category

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Two weddings down, two to go. We have an unusually busy two month period – we’ve been invited to three weddings and I have the honor of officiating at another.

Being present and celebrating the union of a man and a woman is a beautiful thing. But for those who are married, weddings are an opportunity, in a sense, to renew our own vows. You’ll hear the vows you made to each other (or, hopefully, something close to them) and be reminded of the obligation you have to keep them. It’s aways good to be reminded what and who you said “I do” to.

Weddings, however, aren’t the only place vows are renewed. As Christians, we renew vows at various times. If you made vows at your baptism, you can renew them whenever someone else is baptized. If you made vows when you joined your church, you’re reminded of them every time you accept new members. If you make vows when you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, even if silently, you renew them every time you partake.

Making vows and renewing them is a beautiful thing – for our good and God’s glory!

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congregation

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25 ESV).

We should go to church because we need it, but also because our brothers and sisters in Christ need it, too. Yes, we gather together to worship the Triune God. No, it isn’t a solitary endeavor, however. We “stir up one another to love and good works,” and encourage each other by our attendance and involvement. They need us and we need them.

When you go to church, greet people warmly and with a smile. You may be the only person who’s greeted them that way all week.

When you sing (even if it’s a song you don’t like), sing it anyway. You may encourage someone who wonders if it’s possible to praise God in their circumstances.

When you sing a song you like, sing it fervently. You may motivate someone near you to sing with all of their heart.

When you pray along with someone else, say “amen” so it can be heard. You may strengthen the faith of someone who isn’t sure if God answers prayer.

When you listen to a sermon, pay careful attention with an open Bible on your lap. You may encourage someone who read and study  God’s Word every chance they got but has slacked off lately.

When you talk to people, show genuine interest in them and ask them how they’re doing.  You may encourage them to do the same.

You never know the impact and influence of simple acts simple acts during a worship service. You need the church and the church needs you.

(This post was inspired by a series of tweets written by Garrett Kell.)

 

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earlychurch

It’s always exciting to find artifacts and documents relating to the First and Second Century Christian church. We get a better understanding of what it was like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the first three or four generations.

But there is something I hope we never find – a very specific liturgy. By that I mean a detailed order of worship (in other words, a record of what they did as they were gathered together to worship, including how long everything took).

Yes, it would be interesting to find such a document. It might even be informative. But, most likely, I think it would be dangerous. We would be strongly tempted to copy it and make it the iron-clad pattern for all of our worship services from that point forward. We might even assume we had found a Divinely-inspired order of worship.

But there is no Divinely-inspired order of worship available to us. The Bible (God’s inspired and authoritative Word) doesn’t provide one. Yes, there are elements of every worship service that are mentioned in Scripture – singing, prayer, giving, and the preaching of the Word, but there isn’t too much beyond that. If a liturgy was found, we wouldn’t have any way of knowing whether or not it was even their normal order. It could have been a special service. We simply don’t know, which is the point.

The absence of an established order of worship gives us flexibility. Worship services may vary from time to time and place to place, but the essential elements as well as the obligation to gather with other believers (Heb. 10:24-25) to worship God remains constant.  In this case, diversity can be a good thing.

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Psalm 33-1 Sing To The Lord-brown

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Isaac Pauley preach on Psalm 33 as part of a series on what we value as a church. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: We desire that all aspects of our corporate worship services to be God-focused, not self-focused.

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastors Rick Elzinga and Joel Lundy preach a sermon called “What We Value: Generosity.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: We strive to be faithful stewards with the material resources God provides, being both generous and prudent, as well as serving Christians beyond our church membership.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastors Rick Elzinga and Mitch Lamotte preach on “What We Value: Evangelism.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: We support preaching the gospel to all people, obeying the Creation Mandate and Great Commission, helping the hurting and struggling among us, and desire to partner with like-minded ministries and churches to further these ends.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Darren Carlson, founder of President of Teaching Leaders International, preach on 3 John 1-8. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: A faithful church receives and sends missionaries for the glory of God.

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