Music for Sunday 4/28/13

There’s a progression I wanted to follow in our first three hymns this week: our source, our responsibility, and our response.

We’ll open the service by singing of our Redeemer, the source of our faith and the reason for our obedience.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (I Peter 1:18-19).

Sing, O sing of my Redeemer, with His blood He purchased me.
On the cross He sealed my pardon, paid the debt and made me free.
–I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Our debt is paid and we are free!  So what follows?  What’s our responsibility?  We owe Him our very lives.  Our almighty, all-wise God loved us even in our sin and paid our debt through His Son.  We must surrender ourselves, forsake the world, and follow Him.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (I Peter 1:14-16).

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows and the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
–Trust and Obey

And we’ll follow that with our response as we make this responsibility our own.   I love for us to sing this song together as a church body:

Let it be said of us that the Lord was our passion,
That with gladness we bore every cross we were given;
That we fought the good fight, that we finished the course
Knowing within us the power of the risen Lord.

Let it be said of us: we were marked by forgiveness,
We were known by our love and delighted in meekness;
We were ruled by His peace heeding unity’s call,
Joined as one body that Christ would be seen by all.

Let the cross be our glory and the Lord be our song;
By mercy made holy, by the Spirit made strong.
Let the cross be our glory and the Lord be our song
Till the likeness of Jesus be through us made known.
Let the cross be our glory and the Lord be our song.
–Let It Be Said of Us

“Till the likeness of Jesus be through us made known.”  Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”   This is echoed again in our last song, with a phrase that strikes me every time we sing it: “Test our thoughts and our attitudes in the radiance of Your purity.”

Teach us, Lord, full obedience, holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes in the radiance of Your purity.

And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.

Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built and the earth is filled with Your glory.
–Speak, O Lord

Our song in the middle of the service will be Never Once.  The band will be accompanying this one and we’ve had it planned for several weeks, but it’s taken on even more significance lately in the light of situations that members of our congregation are facing and following last week’s service of prayer and faith in the one who makes all things possible.

Standing on this mountaintop, looking just how far we’ve come,
Knowing that for every step You were with us.

Kneeling on this battleground, seeing just how much You’ve done,
Knowing every victory was Your power in us.

Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say,
Yes, our hearts can say:

Never once did we ever walk alone.
Never once did You leave us on our own.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.

Never once did we ever walk alone.  Whatever you’re facing right now, whatever scars you bear, whatever struggles you’ve come through, you’re not alone.  Our God is faithful!

The choir sang this song several weeks ago, and I’ve been looking forward to sharing it as a congregation.  If you want to re-familiarize yourself with the song, here it is sung by Matt Redman:

And as we seek to serve our faithful God in true obedience and submission, the choir will be singing Lead Me to the Cross.

Savior, I come, quiet my soul;
Remember redemption’s hill where Your blood was spilled for my ransom.

Everything I once held dear
I count it all as loss.

Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out.
Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down.
Rid me of myself, I belong to You.
Oh, lead me, lead me to the cross.

Let It Be Said of Us: words and music by Steve Fry.  Copyright 1996 Maranatha! Music/Word Music, LLC.  Speak, O Lord: words and music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.  Copyright 2006 Thankyou Music (PRS).  Never Once: words and music by Matt Redman, Jason Ingram and Tim Wanstall.  Copyright 2011 Thankyou Music (PRS)/worshiptogether.com Songs/sixsteps Music/Said And Done Music/Chrysalis Music/Sony ATV Timber Pub/West Main Music/Windsor Hill Music.  Lead Me to the Cross: words and music by Brooke Fraser.  Copyright 2006 Hillsong Publishing.

Learning to live by faith…

As we continue to consider what it looks like to live with great faith, this week we will look at a passage of scripture that encourages us to live in obedience and helps us to understand what that looks like. Something interesting takes place when we place our faith in Jesus, we begin to change. This change comes more quickly in some but generally occurs in all who would call on the name of the Lord. The change really is a reorganization of priorities. We begin to see that life isn’t all about us, there is some greater force at work (God). We will begin to understand that He has called to be on mission with Him, and that mission is not about us but all about Him. We begin to grow closer to Him and understand more of His desires for us. As this change takes place our old self dies and a new self rises up to take its place.

In our scripture this week, 1 Peter 1.13-25, we will see what that looks like. We will try to understand how we can prepare ourselves to be on mission with God. Join us this week for worship as we look at what it means to live in obedience, by faith.

Pastor Mike

Music for Sunday 4/21/13

I’ve talked to several people recently who are facing much stress from many different areas of their lives.  Sometimes it’s giant, truly impossible (to us) situations; sometimes it’s a multitude of little things that add up to become overwhelming.

We know we serve a great God who loves us and cares for us.  We know He’s almighty, all-powerful, awesome, amazing.  After all, isn’t that what we sing about in our songs of praise every Sunday?  Wasn’t that the point of all the songs you learned in Sunday School and VBS as a little kid?

And yet, in times of trouble, it’s all too easy to respond as the father in this week’s scripture did: “If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”

Do you ever find yourself praying or thinking that way?  “God, if there’s anything You can do…”

Wait.  What?

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go,
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow?
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night?
–Indescribable

That’s the God we serve.

He sees and knows all the way you have trod.
Never alone are the least of His children.
He cannot fail though all kingdoms shall perish;
He rules, He reigns upon His throne.
–Have Faith in God

That’s the God who cares for us.

But no, death could not hold Him,
The stone is rolled away!
For He’s the Master and the Maker,
He’s the man who calmed the sea.
–The Man Who Calmed the Sea

That’s the God who holds all power: over the earth, over the universe, over every situation.  He’s the one who gives us His victory:

I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing,
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see.
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.

O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him.
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.
–Victory in Jesus

This is the one who has authority to promise: All things are possible to him who believes.

Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches o’er His own.
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God.
–Have Faith in God

Cry out to Him, and He will answer.  If you find that your faith is lacking, He’ll help with that too!  Pray as the same father in the scripture did: I do believe; help my unbelief.

We have a number of people in our congregation facing major concerns right now, whether they’re health issues, finances, family problems, or something else.  Let’s join this week for a time of renewing our faith and trust in the one who controls these situations.  The choir will sing On Eagle’s Wings, which contains the healing words of Psalm 91:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

And we’ll close the service by singing this as our response:

No fear shall overwhelm me, for Lord, I do believe
You’re the Master and the Maker, You’re the man who calms the sea.
I’ll trust You for tomorrow and seek You for today,
For You’re the Master and the Maker, You’re the man who calms the sea.
–The Man Who Calmed the Sea

Victory in Jesus: words and music by Eugene M. Bartlett.  Copyright 1939 E. M. Bartlett; renewed 1966 Mrs. E. M. Bartlett.  Assigned to Albert E. Brumley & Sons.  Have Faith in God: words and music by B. B. McKinney.  Copyright 1934, renewed 1962 Broadman Press.  Indescribable: words by Laura Story and Jesse Reeves.  Copyright 2004 worshiptogether.com Songs/Sixsteps Music/Gleaning Publishing.  The Man Who Calmed the Sea: words and music by Gary Sadler and Stuart Townend.  Copyright 2011 Thankyou Music (PRS)/Paintbrush Music.  On Eagle’s Wings: words and music by Michael Joncas, arranged Douglas E. Wagner.  Copyright 1979 & 1995 New Dawn Music.

Believing the impossible to be possible…

Many times in life when we are confronted with obstacles, illnesses or financial pressures we feel like the likelihood of overcoming them is impossible. I can think back on my own life and it is easy to remember those things that seemed impossible. There were times when the money wasn’t there and the bills needed to be paid and I knew it was not possible…but it happened. I have seen in others when a diagnosis came that was unexpected and the treatment unknown…an impossible situation at best and yet it became possible and healing came. As we continue our series on having great faith I hope that we can see with God all things are possible.

What is it in your own life that seems impossible right now? With God all things are possible…we have to learn to believe that He can do all things. Even in His doing all things and working in all situations it does not necessarily mean they turn out the way we want them to. But it does mean He is still God and He can still do all things. Our primary scripture passage this week comes from Mark 9.14-29. We will look at some other passages as well but in this one we see that Jesus has the power to do what we cannot.

Join us this Sunday as we worship the Lord together.

Pastor Mike

Music for Sunday 4/14/13

To start out our series on faith, we’re going to be singing By Faith, a great song from Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend.  (You may have noticed by now that I love their music.)  This is truly a “meaty” text–one you can sink your teeth into!

As I’ve said before, I love wordy hymns.  That’s evidenced by the fact that when I’m preparing the PowerPoints for Sunday morning, my favorite songs tend to be the ones that take up the greatest number of slides.  And while they may take a little longer to type, I truly enjoy typing the words because it gives me a chance to reflect more on the texts.

The choir has sung this song in worship several times so after numerous rehearsals with them I now pretty much know all the verses forwards and backwards, but I always find something new to think about in them.  By Faith is based as a whole on Hebrews 11, the “by faith” chapter, but it doesn’t stop there; it ties together many other great scriptures on faith.  Here’s the text:

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design,
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness,
Who walk by faith and not by sight.

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand,
A place where peace and justice reign.

We will stand as children of the promise;
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward,

‘Til the race is finished and the work is done.
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear

With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave.

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost,

To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth.

We will stand as children of the promise;
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward,

‘Til the race is finished and the work is done.
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.

By faith this mountain shall be moved,
And the power of the gospel shall prevail,

For we know in Christ all things are possible,
To all who call upon His name.

We will stand as children of the promise;
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward,

‘Til the race is finished and the work is done.
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.

Take a look at the many scripture references here.  The song starts as Hebrews 11 starts, with creation:

By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design.

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3).

and continues with the theme of the chapter:

In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness,
Who walk by faith and not by sight.

This is the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1): Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, and all the other men and women whose stories of faith are preserved for us.

The next stanza brings out a recurring theme in the chapter: the promise of the holy city of God.

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand,
A place where peace and justice reign.

Here are the references in Hebrews 11 to this promised city:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (vs. 8-10).

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.  And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them (vs. 13-16).

Next comes the chorus:

We will stand as children of the promise;

I love the phrase “children of the promise.”  What is this promise?  The phrase comes from Galatians 4:28, where it’s the promise of our freedom in Christ instead of slavery to sin, and again refers to the holy city, the new Jerusalem.  That’s also the promise throughout Hebrews 11.

The next two lines refer to Hebrews 12:1-2:

We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward,
‘Til the race is finished and the work is done.

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And the last line, of course, is from II Corinthians 5:7:

We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.

The third stanza tells of the “prophets who…obtained promises” (vs. 32-33), who were God’s messengers hundreds of years before the Messiah arrived.  Through all Israel’s sufferings and through their own suffering, they remained faithful to the promise.

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear

With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave.

The fourth stanza is our response to this great promise.

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost,

To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth.

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

And the last stanza is beautiful: the hope and power we have as children of the promise.  First, from Matthew 17:20:

By faith this mountain shall be moved,
And the power of the gospel shall prevail,

Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

And then from Matthew 19:26 (among other verses):

For we know in Christ all things are possible,
To all who call upon His name.

And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Then, after we’ve seen the great cloud of witnesses, the promise of the holy city, the words of the prophets, and the power of this great faith, we finish by singing the chorus again…singing together as children of the promise!  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (I Peter 1:3-4).

______________________________________________________________

The children’s choir will bring our special music this week, with a story that shows that with God all things are possible.  Miracle on the Sea tells the story of John 21:1-14.

It was an unbelievable, inconceivable, supernatural mystery
When Jesus did a miracle, a miracle on the sea!

We’ve had a great time with this song this year.  Be sure to join us to hear this story and worship our God who makes all things possible!

By Faith: words and music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend.  Copyright 2009 Thankyou Music (PRS)/Gettymusic (PRS).

The Masters, The Master and mastering our faith!!

This is one of my favorite golf weekends…The Masters is on! This is a golf tournament that has a storied past, a wonderful tradition and (normally) an exciting weekend of golf. Many people will be at the tournament and many more will watch at least some coverage on television or their computers. But sometimes we allow these events of life to become larger than they should. We spend too much time watching sports and participating in activities that draw us away from The Master…our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We need to focus on the Master and seek to grow in our relationship with Him. All of the other stuff of life is just stuff…some of it good, some of it bad, and some of it neutral but it is still stuff nonetheless.

What if we could master our faith like golf pros master their swings or their putting stroke? Wouldn’t our relationship with the Lord flourish and wouldn’t we be in the “sweet spot” of life and ministry and grace?! Over the course of the next few weeks we will be looking at our faith and how we can experience more out of it. In order for us to experience more out of our faith we have to be on a journey with God. We have to be working to understand what our faith is all about and how we grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. This week we will be looking at “Experiencing the Blessing of Believing”. When we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we receive a great blessing. How does that blessing work itself out in our life and in our faith? That is the question we will seek to answer from our scripture passage, 1 Peter 1.1-13. Join us this Sunday as we worship God in spirit and in truth.

Pastor Mike

Good Friday and Easter Services

The Good Friday service and highlights from our Easter service are available on the Sermons page.  Thank you to all who took part in these services!

April Newsletter

The April newsletter is available here.

Resurrection Sunday

He is Risen!!

Music for Sunday 3/31/13

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Peter 1:3).

New birth and a living hope–those are the themes of our Easter hymns:

Lives again our glorious King, alleluia!
Where, O death is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save, alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave?  Alleluia!
–Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph over His foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
–Christ Arose

There in the ground His body lay; Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ!
–In Christ Alone

Here are two more themes we’ll look at in our music this Resurrection Sunday morning: first, our foundation, and second, our response.

Christ’s resurrection is the very foundation of our faith.  If Jesus was just a man, just a teacher, just someone with some good ideas, who died and is now dead, then as Paul says, “we are of all men the most pitiable.”  But we come together on Resurrection Sunday to proclaim: Death cannot keep his prey.  He tore the bars away!   We serve a risen Savior!  Here are Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15.  First, his eyewitness account of the risen Lord:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

And then, the implications the resurrection holds for us:

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 

And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

That’s the foundation of our faith.  That’s why we can sing these words in one of the choir’s anthems:

Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the Head and Cornerstone;
Chosen of the Lord and precious, binding all the Church in one.
Holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone;
Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the Head and Cornerstone.
–The Sure Foundation

That’s why we can join at our sunrise service to sing:

In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
–In Christ Alone

and follow with the chorus of The Solid Rock:

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

And finally, we’ll look at our response.  In my April newsletter article, I ask the question: Now what?  We’ve just been through Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter; we’ve covered the whole story of Jesus’ earthly life and His work of redemption.  Now we have to ask ourselves: how do we respond?

The last verses of three of our songs in the Easter service give clear answers to that question.  The choir will sing:

The Church who on Jesus have founded their faith
Must now rise with the dawning and face a new day;
Forsaking the evil of earth’s sinking sand.
Let us build upon Jesus and on that Rock we stand.
–The Sure Foundation

In The Man Who Calmed the Sea, we’ll sing:

Now I hear the call that echoes down through history:
“Come, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.
Through every joy and sorrow My grace is all you’ll need.
Trust Me in the storm, for I’m the man who calms the sea.”

No fear shall overwhelm me, for Lord, I do believe
You’re the Master and the Maker, You’re the man who calms the sea.

I’ll trust You for tomorrow and seek You for today,
For You’re the Master and the Maker, You’re the man who calms the sea.

And after we observe the Lord’s Supper, we’ll respond together:

And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.

As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven
Around the table of the King.
–The Communion Hymn

The more I look at our Easter music, the more excited I am to sing it!  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Please join us to celebrate and rejoice and worship our risen Redeemer.

In Christ Alone: words and music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.  Copyright 2002 Thankyou Music (PRS).  The Man Who Calmed the Sea: words and music by Gary Sadler and Stuart Townend.  Copyright 2011 Thankyou Music (PRS)/Paintbrush Music.  The Communion Hymn: words and music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend.  Copyright 2006 Thankyou Music (PRS)/Mail Train Music.