Sunday 03.06.16 (why do we sing?)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Isaiah 12 and answer the question, “Why do we sing?” Then Sunday evening at 6pm we kickoff our first night in our Revive! series with JP Williams from FBC Archie bringing a message on God’s Word. You can click here for more information. Hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@230 Nursing Home service at Adrian Manor
@6pm Revive! night 1 with JP Williams

Sermon Notes
Why Do We Sing? ~ Isaiah 12

  • We sing because Jesus is King, now and forever (12:1)
  • We sing because God is our Salvation and he has turned away his wrath (12:1-2)
  • We sing because God is our strength and the end of all our fear (12:2)
  • We sing because drinking deep from the well of salvation produces greater joy (12:3)
  • We sing because God is glorious and the world needs to know his deeds (12:4-5)
  • We sing because God is great in our midst (12:6)

Good Reads 02.17.16 (on: play, singing, marriage, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On singing together as a church: What’s So Special about Singing? by Bob Kauflin

People sing. Everywhere. In their cars. In the shower. In choirs. At football games. At birthdays. At weddings and funerals. At rock concerts. In musicals and operas. When there’s sunshine. When it rains. When it’s stormy. In the morning, afternoon, and night.

But when the church gathers on Sunday morning (or Saturday night, etc.), our earthly voices join the choirs of heaven and the singing is like no other. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been moved as I added my voice to the beautiful, engaging, powerful, awe-inspiring, robust singing of a congregation.

But sometimes our sound is halting and weak. Out of tune and out of time. And not so beautiful. What should we do then? (click here to read more)

On accountability as Christians: Over-Complicating Accountability by Barnabas Piper

Accountability only works if it is rooted in relational investment. It works if it is not merely a Q&A but rather life lived alongside life, through conversation, meals, fun, crisis, ups, and downs. This is relationship, the kind out of which real accountability grows. The kind where it’s safe to be humble and honest. (click here to read more)

On our need for recreation and play: Play Hard by Jared C. Wilson

Why is playing hard so important? Because in our play we create and imagine and therefore tap into the very creative heart of God. We echo his story with our narratives of play. This is why on the playground little boys are playing cops and robbers or doing battle and little girls are playing house. They are vanquishing evil, subduing the earth, building civilization. And because all of this effort reflects the heart of the great Author of everything, their hearts never grow weary of it, even if their bodies do. (click here to read more)

On marriage: Dear Wives: This Is the One Thing You Can’t Afford Not to Do for Your Husband by Jarred Lopes

We can all change our behavior temporarily. We can fool others, and even ourselves that we are doing better, simply by changing our behavior. But Jesus never set out to change behavior, he set out to change hearts.

This is what is so profound about what Leila did. By waking up every night and begging God to change my heart, she was humbly admitting that she was completely out of control. She recognized that she does not posses the power to change hearts, so she went before the One who can. (click here to read more)

On living life in the midst of hardships and trials: Love the Life You Never Wanted by Marshall Segal

The reality is that all of us can imagine something better for ourselves than our circumstances today. The greater reality is that, if you love and follow Jesus, God always writes a better story for you than you would write for yourself. The “better” is based on this: God himself is the best, most satisfying thing you could ever have or experience, and, therefore, fullness of life is ultimately found not in any earthly success or relationship or accomplishment, but in your proximity to God through faith. (click here to read more)

What Child Is This? (an advent meditation)

Christmas in our culture seems a mix of the sacred and the secular. As much as some people lament the idea of a “holiday tree” being sold in stores they frequent, let’s not forget that Santa Claus, songs that have nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, and Christmas movies about family get togethers and little else have been around for decades if not centuries.

No Christian should get uptight when the world fails to see the meaning of Christmas. Instead, our love and our grace, and our return of the greeting Happy Holidays with a Thank you should help others see the greater reality. Quite simply, we as followers of Jesus are to be the heralds of Christ, not the store greeters or the items they sale.

Part of our task is to help people understand that our answer to one particular question is eternally important. In the 1800s, William Dix penned the words to a song with this question in the title: What Child Is This? How we answer this question, frankly, determines: do we belong to God and stand as recipients of salvation, or do we belong to our sin and stand as recipients of condemnation?

Jesus asked the question at hand to his early followers in his own way: “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?” His followers replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:13-14). And so the world says about Jesus today: He is a good example, or a prophet, or a myth, or a story to control people so they behave a certain way.

But then Jesus turned the question around on his followers: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, in a moment of spiritual brilliance granted him by God, replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:15-16). Jesus, they realized, was the long expected Savior-King who would judge the enemies of God and set the world right. Jesus went on to say that with this truth he would build his church, his people (16:18).

And then he charged his followers to be the ones to take this message to the nations that others might follow him and become his disciple as well (28:18-20).

Dix’s song asks the same question, gives the same answer, and provides the same charge.

What Child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

So it is in these words: Who is Jesus?—he is the Savior, the King, and the One worthy of all praise. He is the one whom heavenly choirs praise and exalt. And he is the one that we who have enthroned him within our hearts are to call out to others, “Haste, haste to bring him laud,” or “Hurry, hurry, come and join to worship him!”

What child is this? He is Christ our Savior-King.

(advent) What Child is This

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (an Advent meditation)

Imagine that you were among the shepherds in Luke 2. There you sat in the field at night, possibly chilled by the air and maybe tired from either ending a long day or beginning a long night. You probably gathered around a fire with the other shepherds, the flames to keep you warm and the conversations to keep you awake.

Then suddenly in the darkness, bright light burst forth. That would be frightening enough, especially in an age without electric lights; but then to see a man standing in the midst of the light. No wonder why they quaked.

But this man, an angel of God (perhaps Gabriel as he had appeared to Mary and Zechariah), wasn’t there to frighten but to give hope. “I bring you good news of great joy,” he says, “that will be for all the people.” This good news of great joy is news that Christ the Lord had been born.

Then with this one angel appeared a vast army of angels who spoke (likely even sung) in praise of God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”

The message and the praise that came from the angels is indeed a cause for great joy. The song Hark! The Herald Angels Sing picks up this message beautifully:

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild;
God and sinners reconciled.”

Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.”

A message of peace and joy is something the world has sorely needed since Genesis 3. Again and again for person after person in generation after generation, sin has robbed the world of peace and joy. We lack peace with God and we lack peace with each other.

But because of the King, God the Son, who came newborn to earth 2000 years ago, we have good news of great joy. First, through the perfect life of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross for our sin, God has reconciled us to himself (for by grace you are saved through faith—Ephesians 2). This gives us peace with God and joy eternal. Second, having been reconciled to God, we are to take his message of peace and joy to the ends of the earth, calling people to be reconciled with him as we seek to reconcile with one another (so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all people—Romans 12).

This message is for all who will hear it, so let the nations be glad and sing for joy as people from every tribe hear the good news of great joy, turn from sin, and follow Jesus as King.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (a meditation on advent)

A lot of Christians have been celebrating Advent throughout December leading up to that time of Christmas. Now while we don’t know the exact day of Jesus’ birth (or really, actual time of year), for centuries many Christians have set aside December 25th as a day to commemorate his birth. While not an event that scripture commands us to celebrate with a holiday as such, it is an event worth remembering this time of year and all throughout.

After all, Jesus’ birth and life (as well as death, resurrection, and ascension) are God’s focal point for all history. Every moment in the world before his birth was designed by God to lead to Jesus. Considered the first gospel prophecy in Genesis 3, Eve was told a son would be born to strike the serpent’s head. And every moment since has moved forward based on Jesus’ life and work, and anticipating yet another advent—his return.

The song O Come, O Come, Emmanuel beautifully captures the great reality that Jesus came to his people to rescue us from sin and reverse the curse. In Isaiah 7, God gave promise that a child would be born named Immanuel (sometimes spelt with an E), and Matthew confirmed that this promise ultimately applied to Jesus—he is Immanuel (Matthew 1:23). Though not his actual name, Jesus’ very presence on earth embodied Immanuel, a term that means God with us.

The birth of Jesus displayed God with us in a physical sense, as the child born to Mary is God the Son. And it displayed God with us in a spiritual sense, in that this was God’s plan to bestow his grace upon his people that we might be delivered from the domain of darkness from our sin and brought into the Kingdom of light (1 Peter 2:9).

And so the second verse of the song explains:

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall come to thee, o Israel

What awesome cause for rejoicing; what great hope we have!—that Jesus came and broke into the world as light shining in the darkness. By his birth and life, he lived in obedience where we failed. By his death and resurrection, he freed us from the fear and curse of death and pushed away its dark shadows. By his return, our joy shall forever be made complete as all spiritual darkness finally and forever gives way to the eternal joy of light.

Good Reads 11.18.15 (on being cultural weirdos, singing, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On living as a faithful follower of Jesus, no matter what our culture says: Winsome Weirdos by John Piper

The apostle Peter is calling for a special breed. Not the kind of conservative who gives all his energy to embracing and defending his weirdo status. And not the kind of liberal who will embrace any compromise necessary to avoid being a weirdo. But rather a breed that is courageous enough to be joyfully weird, and compassionate enough to be “zealous for good deeds.” (click here to read more)

On the beauty and wonder of singing together as a church: The Beauty of Congregational Singing by Matt Capps

I have the privilege of pastoring a singing church. Week after week, when we gather for worship the sounds of God’s precious saints wash over me as I stand on the front row and prepare to preach. There have been several occasions when I have stopped singing in order to listen. On almost all of those occasions, the sound of our church family singing brought me to tears. Not because they are great polished individual singers, but because we sing corporately to a great God. (click here to read more)

On the importance of singing in our Christian faith: 7 Reasons Why Singing Matters by Colin Smith

Often times, we think only of singing when we’re happy and times are good, but singing bringing strength for trial comes out in Acts 16. Paul and Silas are unjustly imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel, and what do they do while they’re in prison? Sing! (Acts 16:25) (click here to read more)

On the need for transparency and accountability among men: Why Men Need to be Transparent with Each Other by Jared C. Wilson

One of the best ways men can encourage each other with the gospel is simply with honesty and transparency. Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about meeting each other as bringers of the gospel—I need the gospel in my brother, my brother needs the gospel in me. In some ways—this might sound odd but it’s true—the gospel in me is stronger than the one in my brother, and the gospel in my brother is stronger than the one in me. (click here to read more)

On why we fight and quarrel and how to stop: What Stops Our Fighting? by Tony Reinke

Our fights are spurned by our coveting desires to be satisfied in the world. But what stops our fights is our proximity to God. What stops our fights is our wanting who he is. What stops our fights is finding our souls satisfied by what we believe is our ultimate good. (click here to read more)