Monday, November 30, 2009

Emmanuel "Has" Come O Israel!

As you may know, this past Sunday officially kicked off the Advent Season and therefore the singing of hymns about Jesus' birth. Though I've always wondered why we don't sing these great songs more frequently throughout the year. I was responsible for putting together the worship service (i.e. bulletin) this Sunday and so I chose for us to sing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." And while we were singing it I was really hit hard by the fact that God has come to dwell with us. The God-man Jesus came into the world He created and lived among sinners like me. And then if that weren't enough, He suffered and died, even though He'd done nothing wrong, so I could have life.

I watched a series of talks from a men's conference with a couple other guys last week and One of the points that the speaker made that really stuck with me was his comparison of the Lord Jesus dwelling with sinners like us to a person climbing into a bacteria filled septic tank to clean it out. That's probably the best analogy I've ever heard of explaining Emmanuel, "God with us." But even as gross as this comparison is, it doesn't even come close to the Creator dwelling with and dying for His sinful creation.

Now I usually wait until after Thanksgiving to put the Christmas lights up (out of principle) but due to suffering through poor weather in late November last year, I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather we've had this year to get the lights up early. And I even remember to hammer in the stakes for the candy-cane pathway lights before the ground froze. I missing one stake because last year I didn't consider what would happen if you tried to hammer plastic into frozen ground. Suiffice it to say I had to find a stick to use as a makshift stake. We also upgraded ladders from an old, rickety wooden one to a new telescoping variety. But even though the light have been up for a week, I refused to turn them on until after Thanksgiving (out of principle).

I'm excited that high school basketball season is starting up. This year I will be coaching the JV team (assuming we have enough guys play). I'm looking forward to reconnecting with the eighth graders (now freshman) that I coached last year as part of the Junior High team. Even though we'll probably have at best a dozen guys for two teams, I believe there's some good talent there and all but two of the guys are older than Sophmores so there's some hope for the future as well. I'll keep you updated as to how things go as the season progresses. Pray for me to be intentional about building relationships with the guys and mindful of my words and actions around them.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Life Begins to Make Sense when we Begin to Fear God

This past Sunday I preached on Psalm 34 as part of our current sermon series through the first 41 Psalms. The main point of the sermon was that "life begins to make sense we we begin to fear God." If you would like to listen to the sermon, click here.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Joy of Repentance

This past Sunday I preached on Psalm 32 as part of our series through the first book in the OT Book of Psalms. The main point of the sermon was that repentance is a joy. If you would like to listen to the sermon, click here.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Refreshing Contemporary Worship

This Sunday my friend Tim played on the guitar and sang "Better is One Day" during offertory. Believe it or not, it was the first time that we've had guitar accompanied worship since we've been here. Now, I have grown to appreciate hymns (and praise choruses) accompanied by either piano or organ but having grown up (spiritually speaking) in more contemporary churches, it was a breath of fresh air to here strumming along with a more recent worship song. And I am excited about Tim taking on a large role with the worship team and incorporating not only the guitar and some newer songs but also his gifting in the area of leading worship singing.

However, it also reminded me that the way I feel about contemporary worship songs and music is the same way that the older members of our congregation feel about hymns and the organ. I need to make sure that in my efforts to introduce the congregation to some newer music and sound that I don't neglect the spiritual benefit that many of the older songs and hymns provide. It is unfortunate that so much of the Evangelical world is divided over style of worship music. We have elevated a matter of preference to a hill that's worth dying on (or at least spitting over). Instead we need to realize that their are both older songs/music and newer ones that are worth incorporating into the church just as their are older and newer books that are worthwhile reading. Let's not demand that we have our way but be willing to adapt and grow as a result.

By God's Grace, Jeff

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trust in the Lord in Life & Death

This past Sunday's sermon was from Psalm 31 and the main point was that we can and should trust the Lord in both life and in death. If you would like to listen to it, click here.

By God's Grace, Jeff

A Rip Roarin Carnival

Thanks to everyone who prayed for the success of our church's Community Carnival on Halloween. Based on the turnout, God answered those prayers! We had over 150 people from the community join us at City Hall for carnival games, cake walks, bounce house, food, prizes and photo booth. kids not only had a great time but parents appreciated that our church put this together. I am so proud of the members of our church and particularly our Community Group who planned and hosted the event. We are in the process of sending out thank-yous along with the picture of kids that we took so pray that lasting spiritual fruit would come out of this rip roarin event.

By God's Grace, Jeff