Sunday, September 7, 2014

prodigalson

Psalm 149
Exodus 12:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20
Romans 13:8-14

Community life can be a wonderful experience. At its best, each member benefits all others and all others benefit each member. Fellowship among believers is only possible when we see and treat one another as Christ has seen and treats us. This week’s gospel passage addresses the difficult reality that community life is not always peaceful. Directly after Jesus gives these instructions he tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. Jesus tells us how to handle such a servant in verses 15-20. The presence of witnesses is for the purpose of “establishing a word.” When multiple members of a community hear one party say on thing, that party is accountable to those witnesses. Otherwise, arguments can go on forever. The community of Christ should be characterized by the same love that reconciled us to God. The morning’s selections are all focused on this love and peace. Let us prayerfully join with one another in humility as we celebrate this love and seek love and forgiveness from one another.

Robbie Seay Band and the Psalms

At Christ Community Church, we’ve been experimenting with singing the Psalms over the past year or so. We’ve run the gamut from gospel to chant (within the same Psalm). We’ve drawn from a number of resources and traditions and we continue to explore the rich tradition of singing the psalter.

Recently I learned that worship leader/recording artist Robbie Seay had embarked on a Psalms project that I think may be worth checking out. It is a very contemporary approach to singing the Psalms. While he doesn’t include the entirety of a Psalm, the compositions are rooted in a particular Psalm. When we read and memorize portions of Scripture, this is often how we do it. We find a verse or short passage that we find meaningful. These selections are great ways to let God’s word seep into our hearts and breathe from our lungs.

The project consists of three EPs, the second of which has just been released. They are raising support through Kickstarter to fund the third collection. Volumes one and two can be purchased on iTunes. Below is their Kickstarter video.

 

Sunday, May 25, 2014 | Eastertide

Psalm 66:8–20
Acts 17:22–31
John 14:15–21
1 Peter 3:13–22

As we near the end of the easter season we approach the great celebration of Pentecost. The gospel does not end with the resurrection but continues to see Christ ascend into heaven that he might send the Holy Spirit to be his presence and comfort for his children. Jesus makes this promise in this week’s gospel passage. As a response, we will sing the Getty’s hymn, Holy Spirit. This prayer illustrates the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all Christians. We will then sing Humble by Audrey Assad. This will remind us of the great cost ofChrist’s incarnation and even alludes to the Acts passage as it references the “Unknown God” who “holds our world in his hands.” We will close the service out with the song we learned last week, “All to Us.” The end of our service is a sort of “sending out.” This song is a prayer sung by the Church and is asking that as we go about the world we would be known for our love of Jesus, the glory of his name, and the righteousness we possess in him. The service will begin with “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” as our call to worship.

Sunday, May 18, 2014 | Eastertide

Easter-Sunday

Psalm 31:1–5, 15–16
Acts 7:55–60
John 14:1–14
1 Peter 2:2–10

This morning’s Psalm puts us in mind of Christ as he is on the cross. We can imagine ourselves where he is. Because of him we are righteous and our enemy the Devil stands about to accuse us. We are like children who stumble in the night to get in bed with mom and dad to seek shelter and safety. Our heavenly Father is our safety, our stronghold, our fortress. We begin our service with “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” We are then reminded of the words of comfort Jesus speaks to his disciples: I go to prepare a place for you. Fittingly we will sing “That Where I Am, There You May Also Be” by Rich Mullins. The next hymn, “In Christ Alone,” covers the breadth of the gospel. Philip asks if he can see the Father and Jesus tells him that if he can see him, he has seen the Father. Understanding that Christ and the Father are one is important to understanding the breadth of the gospel. He is sufficient because he and the Father are one! This language is echoed in John 17 when Jesus prays for the unity of the church. We will learn a new song called “All to Us” by Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Jesse Reeves. This song is about our unity and how it glorious the Bride of Christ really is.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 | Lent 4

Psalm 23
1 Samuel 16:1-13
John 9:1-41
Ephesians 5:8-14

When tuning an instrument, two strings are sounded and one is matched to the other. The more in-tine the stings, the less dissonance one hears. The less in-tune, the dissonance increases. In John 8, Jesus calls the Pharisees sons of Satan because they do Satan’s will. They are dissonant with God’s perfect will. Jesus, on the other hand, is perfectly in-tune with the Father. The blind man’s confession in 9:31-33 is an acknowledgement of 1) God’s power, and 2) his healer’s consistency with that power. Before Jesus heals him, he says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus’ ministry is a constant display of the will of the Father. It is only by him that we can know the tone by which all notes are tuned.

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Sunday, March 31, 2014 | Lent 4

Psalm 23
1 Samuel 16:1-13
John 9:1-41
Ephesians 5:8-14

When tuning an instrument, two strings are sounded and one is matched to the other. The more in-tine the stings, the less dissonance one hears. The less in-tune, the dissonance increases. In John 8, Jesus calls the Pharisees sons of Satan because they do Satan’s will. They are dissonant with God’s perfect will. Jesus, on the other hand, is perfectly in-tune with the Father. The blind man’s confession in 9:31-33 is an acknowledgement of 1) God’s power, and 2) his healer’s consistency with that power. Before Jesus heals him, he says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus’ ministry is a constant display of the will of the Father. It is only by him that we can know the tone by which all notes are tuned.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014 | Lent 3

Lent-3

Psalm 95
Exodus 17:1-7
John 4:5-42
Romans 5:1-11

This week’s text is the passage about Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman. On the heals of last week’s passage in John 3, this week we continue to consider water. Jesus first asks for water and then offers water. In the first instance, he lacks water, in the second, he abounds in it. The woman has access to physical water but not to the living water Jesus speaks of. Just as Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, could not appreciate or see the need for living water, neither could the half-gentile sinner. Yet, Jesus offers this living water to her.

The New Testament reading will be followed by “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” “…behold I freely give…” the hymn says, “…the living water, thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.” This will be followed by “Come, All Ye Pining.” It is appropriate during Lent to consider the poverty Christ subjected himself to and understand that despite this poverty He had an abundance to give. May we continue to rely on Him for our continued sustenance in this life. We will open with “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” and will be sent out with the Crown and Covenant Psalter’s Psalm 121D, “I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills.”

All the Saints | CentricWorship

It seems like there have been a lot of EPs released lately. Here is one I ran across recently that I am loving. It’s called “All the Saints” and was released by CentricWorship. The production on this release is live and simple. Recorded at a retreat with a congregation of worship leaders (which explains the beautiful congregational harmonies), there is an honesty that is rare among recent live worship albums. The instrumentation is acoustic and so right up my alley. Many of the tracks are based on familiar hymns. Unlike many similar approaches, I think these guys do it tastefully and well. Take a listen.

Resources for Lent

I know that Lent is upon us and that I am really late to the punch here but I wanted to start compiling resources for folks who may not be experienced with the season. Below are some devotional resources that have helped me over the years navigate through Lent. A few of them are new items that I have not read yet. Anyway, if any of it is helpful, great.

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
http://www.churchyear.net/lentfatherscomplete.pdf
I have not used this reading plan but every year I am tempted to. I cannot remember who sent me the link but it is a Lenten reading plan that draws from the early church Fathers.

CCC Devotional Guide
A few years ago, several folks at Christ Community Church compiled a devotional guide for Lent. The PDF is designed to be printed on 2 sides and folded. If you don’t print it, it may be a little tricky to navigate through it. Several folks have used this over the years and I wanted to make it available.

24d8bf4f11e90ad8986ceb.L._V343152939_SX200_Lent For Everyone
YouVersion is probably the most used smartphone/tablet Bible app. Every year their reading plans get better and better. I’ve been using N.T. Wright’s Lent for Everyone plan, which I highly recommend.

 

Lent-To-Maundy-Thursday-CoverPage CXVI: Lent to Maudy Thursday
This year I’ve been enjoying Page CXVI’s newest release, Lent to Maundy Thursday. This group is known for tasteful reinterpretations of hymns (popular and obscure selections).

 

Lenten Simplicity
A year or two ago I taught a 4-week study on the disciplines and how to utilize them for the Lenten season. Below are links to these sessions.

Week 1: https://app.box.com/s/3ge33z5t89ux49bdsf5y
Week 2: https://app.box.com/s/hftg8j5i9utyjjv7xn1o
Week 3: https://app.box.com/s/anex4yudtigvozk1qbz2
Week 4: https://app.box.com/s/7f071b895042e803d132

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Living the Christian Year
Bobby Gross

I have not read this title yet. It was given to me by a friend. I read through the chapter on Ash Wednesday in preparation for our service and it looks to be very helpful and insightful. Several friends and acquaintances of mine have either read it or are currently reading it.

410Rraa1pPLCelebration of Discipline
Richard J. Foster
This book is the quintessential manual for practicing the spiritual disciplines. Foster gives practical guidance as well as historical and biblical contexts for disciplines such as fasting, solitude, prayer, meditation, and worship. I would recommend everyone read the chapter on fasting before giving anything up for Lent.

51UKXhUA-xL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Meditation and Communion with God: Contemplating Scripture In An Age of Distraction
John Jefferson Davis

This author is becoming one of my favorites. This title explores the practice of meditation and why it is so essential for us today. The bulk of the book is a theological and philosophical foundation for the act of meditation and is rounded off with practical steps toward pulling it off.

81HLF8f45+L._SL1500_Ancient-Future Time
Robbert Webber
Robbert Webber is one of the most influential figures, I think, in what will become Evangelicalism in the next several decades. Many of his titles draw on the worship practices of the Church throughout history and calls his readers to consider how we might recapture these practices in the years to come. Ancient-Future Time is a primer to the Church Calendar. He offers both historical information and guidance for celebrating each season.

On the Season of Lent
Ross Guthrie
My fellow pastor Ross Guthrie wrote a pastoral introduction to the season of Lent posted on the CCC web site.

Church_CalendarOverview of the Church Calendar
For an abbreviated overview of the seasons throughout the calendar as well as a handy graphic to keep it all straight, visit the Church Calendar page on CCC’s web site.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Lent 2

Lent-2

Psalm 121
Genesis 12:1-4a
John 3:1-17
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

Jesus is instructing Nicodemus and chides him for not understanding the New Birth. “…unless you are born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Evangelicals are often distinguished as “born again Christians.” This implies that there are other kinds of Christians. However, according to Jesus, the New Birth and being a Christian cannot be distinguished from one another. This week, we’ll be focusing on the New Birth and the Holy Spirit’s work in us to bring it about. “Breathe new life into my willing soul,” will be our plea. We will also repeat the song, “From Jesus’ Side” from last week. This focuses our attention on 1) our need for salvation, 2) Christ’s atonement for our sin, and 3) the Church which is a result of his atonement. We end the set with the chorus, “Hallelujah, I am born again, He’s alive now! I’m alive in Him!” As a Lenten song, our call to worship will be the hymn, “Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days,” set to the tune of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” The service will end with the introduction of a metrical version of Psalm 121 from the Crown and Covenant Psalter.