Church Blog

Cover One Another

“Love covers a multitude of sins.”

Having prayerfully repented of being unnecessarily offended, having prayerfully asked God to mature you to the place of “overlooking offense,” now ask God to give you the supernatural strength to cover your brother or sister’s sin, even the sins committed against you.

How does that feel? Does it feel that you are making light of what was done to you? Then pray about that. Does it still feel that it is about you? Then pray about that. The aim of God in the Peter passage we are exploring is that we would be so other centered in the church that the first thing I think of when you step on my toes is the divine enabling that God has given me to cover your sin before it ever becomes known.

Remember, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love,” Proverbs 17:9.

Pray today that God would make you the kind of person in church who is not only never offended but that covers the sins of others for glory of God. And pray that God will grow your fellow church members in the same way, chances are that you will need it more than they do.


Cover One Another

“Love covers a multitude of sins.”

Now, again, we are submitting ourselves to God for the sake of growing our Christian faith and our Christian church. By personally repenting more deeply we will return on the next Lord’s Day ready for a deeper fellowship.

Today, prayerfully repent of being offended by what is not actually sin. It is time for us to recognize that this is a version of spiritual adolescence and we can grow out of it. Your job and mine is to cover sin (which we will pray about tomorrow), not to raise small things to the level of offense. 

Pray. And may God raise us up to be thick skinned spiritual adults who help others grow in Christ.


Love One Another

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

This week we are submitting ourselves to God for the sake of growing our Christian faith and our Christian church.

Today, in your prayers for one another, give up your right to be offended, even if – especially if – you think you are justified. Here’s why:

  1. It is wisdom to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
  2. It is hatred to spread the matter. Proverbs 10:12
  3. It is glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Today, so that God is seen to be glorious in His Church, give up your self-justified right to be offended and remember that answer to the question. “What’s wrong with the church?” I am. I am the offender and Jesus has covered all of my sin.


Pray for One Another

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”

This week we are submitting ourselves to God for the sake of growing our Christian faith and our Christian church. We start by acknowledging a version of the old G.K. Chesterton question. “What’s wrong with the church?” The answer is, “I am.” We are more deeply repenting of those things in our hearts that we allow to keep us from one another in the church.

Today, pray for one another. Pray for everyone in the church that you think of today. Pray that they would experience the covering of their sins through the grace of Christ and the grace of the church. Pray, especially, for anyone in the church that you were mad at today, anyone who has offended you. Pray what you honestly feel and then repent of that anger and ask that God would make you want what he wants for them. Then pray for what God wants for them.

Today, pray for one another. Each one us need prayer and need to pray. Each one of us needs God to act in our lives today.


Read the Bible in 40 Days

New Testament in 40 DaysAs the new year begins, take up the good and simple task of reading the Bible and talk about it with everyone who will join you.

Read the New Testament in 40 days and then read it again.


Children who worship become adults who worship

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What is happening on Sunday morning in the Lord’s Day worship service? Last Sunday we said three things:

  1. We remember that we are created to worship. Genesis 2:1-3.
  2. We participate in the re-creation of all things in the resurrection. Acts 20:7; Luke 24:1-6.
  3. We anticipate the new creation in the new Heaven and new Earth. Rev. 1:9-11.

Sunday worship sets the pattern for our lives. Sunday shapes Monday through Saturday.

Admittedly, this is seeing things only from a human perspective. From a divine perspective, on the Lord’s Day, God receives the worship He both deserves and demands. We will discuss this is much greater detail at The Table, starting on October 4.

Children Who Worship

This Sunday, September 10, we will return to our long-time patterns of keeping more of our children in worship with us. Specifically, children will worship with us from 3rd grade and above. This brings a change for those children 3rd grade to 5th grade and it brings a change for all of the adults in worship as well.

Before we speak further as to the function of younger children in the service, return just a few lines above and remember two things.

  1. God deserves and demands worship. This includes the worship of believing children.
  2. Worship shapes our lives in the created world, by resurrection and towards heaven. This is exactly what we want for our children.

These reasons alone are enough for us to lean in to the responsibility of training our children to worship so that they become adults who worship.

Adults Who Train Children to Worship

We began this process of transition one year ago. Since then, we have trained parents in their responsibility to raise their children to be believing adults. This responsibility is given by God to parents (see Ephesians 6:1-2) and is not usurped by the church. The church serves to train and equip parents for their God given task.

Parents have taken part in two sessions:

Shepherding the Child’s Heart, by Ted Tripp. This focused on the parental responsibility to not just discipline, but to shepherd towards adult faithfulness, from the inside out. Regarding Sunday, that means that teaching our children to worship is a job that take place all week long. Children learn to obey, to sit and to listen in 100 different situations at home before they ever arrive at church.

Family Worship, by Donald Whitney. This discussion taught us that training in worship is also a parental task and it gave us a helpful and basic form to use around our tables at home: read, pray and sing.

This is our culture, this is who we are. By bringing children back into worship, we are declaring to God and to everyone, that we are taking seriously this responsibility both on Sunday and all week long.

What does this look like on Sunday?

First, adults in the service who do not have children in this age group may find themselves a little distracted as we learn to do this together. Let me remind you of something important as your Pastor (and as the Pastor of these children). These are our kids, not “their kids” and never “those kids.” What they think of Jesus and of His church for the rest of their lives will be shaped by us. Be patient. Love them and their parents. Offer to help as soon as you sit down – don’t wait until there is an issue. And pray, pray, pray. Pray for the heart and soul of the children. Pray for the ability and patience of the parents.

Parents, you are welcome in the service and so is your child. We are here to worship God together. Seek diligently to apply what we have sought to teach you between Sundays so that your children are ready for worship. Take advantage of wisdom of other adults and the suggestions given by those who have been there before, like these practical suggestions from Noël Piper. At any time during the service, you have permission to take your kids out for a moment and then bring them back in when ready. It is yours to discern between fidgeting and running, between noises and screaming.

Let us all remember, that is a long-term project, not just one Sunday. God deserves worship and we are preparing the next generation to worship Him. This is about God, not about us or even about our children. And we know, that the greatest good we can give our children is to train them in the joys of corporate worship. Our children will be shaped into worshipers as they worship along with us and as they see us worshiping wholeheartedly over time.


A Prayer for the People

Sunday’s prayer for the people, based upon the call to worship from Psalm 144:1. Our call to worship, as well as our benediction, ends with an Amen and Amen. The congregation joins in on the second with all their hearts.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,

who trains my hands for war,

and my fingers for battle.

Eternal Lord of Hosts. You who regard man. You who touch the mountains and they smoke, yet you take regard for man. You are our stronghold. You train our hands for war. You rescue our children from palace of the devil. To you we sing a new song today. Give us eyes to see the battle raging against the knowledge of God in the world where we live and give us courage to stand and fight against it. We are in need of workers for the harvest, athletes for the race, soldiers for the battle. God, please raise them up among us. Take us – we sideline sitting, Monday morning quarterbacks – and send us out into the game, send us into the battle…and may the gates of hell not prevail against us. God, there are people we love, a community we love, a nation we love, that are all in great danger because they are captive to the devil to do his will. Free them by the Word of your Gospel. We ask this so that you would be seen as a great savior. In the name of Jesus, who already stands in victory, ruling heaven and earth, Amen and Amen.


SMCC Order of Worship

Every church and every tradition has an order of worship, a liturgy, to use the old formal word. The word liturgy simply means the “service of worship.” It is a good word because it uniquely belongs in the sacred setting.

The service of worship that we follow is doing something to us, whether we know it or not. It is forming our hearts, shaping what we love. It is leading us from being a loosely connected people who, by heroic efforts have made it to church this Sunday, to being the people of God, together, with hearts, minds and hands dedicated to His glory between Sundays.

Preparation

The worship service begins with preparation of our hearts for the act of worship.

Song of praise. The worship service opens with a corporate song of praise that engages us in the theme of the service, which is set by the passage to be preached.

Call to worship. The call to worship is the divine invitation to leave the cares of the world and join the angels of heaven in the worship of the one true God. It involves five parts for us.

  • The invitation. “This hour is not like every other hour. In this hour, we gather as the people of God, according to the command of God in order to worship God.”
  • The exhortation or charge. The exhortation of the passage at hand is directly introduced so as to engage the hearts of the congregation.
  • (The confession). On those days that the exhortation finds us in present sin, we take time for personal and corporate confession. A biblical assurance of pardon may be offered.
  • The Scriptural call. A passage of Scripture with a corresponding theme, often a psalm, issues the formal call to engage our hearts in worship. We often use the lectionary Psalm of the day.
  • The pastoral prayer. The pastoral prayer addresses the God spoken to in a Psalm, confesses sin, asks for God to work the aim of the Word in our hearts this day. This is asked in the name of Jesus.

Adoration

Prepared hearts turn to direct acts of worship of the Triune God. We take advantage of wisely designed forms, both ancient and modern, which will support God’s aims in our hearts as a congregation.

Songs of adoration. Songs of corporate worship, both old and new, which are biblically accurate, historically valuable and corporately singable, allow us to worship God in congregational unity.

(Testimony). Testimonies are sometimes engaged to give praise to God for the good that He is doing in our congregation and to celebrate what we want to see more of in maturing believers.

(Reading). Corporate readings from the Heidelberg Catechism, Apostle’s Creed, book of Common Prayer or Book of Common Worship, serve to focus our minds and hearts and to unite them with the church across history.

Prayer. A prayer is offered in praise of this God, on behalf of the needs of our congregation and in preparation for the offering that follows.

Offering. We receive an offering from the congregation as an act of gratitude for what God has provided to our families and so that more good can be accomplished with our pooled monies that otherwise might. Offerings are free will for attenders and expected for church members.

Exhortation

Having prepared our hearts and offered praise to our God, we are ready to hear the Word of God preached to us and to receive it as the Word of God.

Scripture Reading. The day’s Scripture passage is read by a congregant with the following introduction. “Today’s Scripture reading comes from the book of ___, chapter ___, beginning in verse ___.”

Sermon. A expositional sermon, prepared to bring the Word of God to bear on the lives of this local congregation is preached.

(Communion). Communion, or The Lord’s Supper, follows the hearing of the Word on two Sunday’s per month. Our traditional, Free Church, form is to pass plates to one another signifying our belief in the priesthood of all believers. We use words of institution taken from the book of Common Prayer, “The gifts of God for the people of God.” We, then, connect the passage preached with the celebration of the finished work of Christ, believing that every passage leads to the cross of Christ.

Dedication

The service closes and sends us into our daily lives with a dedication to believe what we have heard from the Word of God and obey it at home, at work and in our neighborhoods.

Songs of dedication. These songs pick up the tone of the sermon. If the sermon passage leaves us contemplative or enthusiastic or hopeful, these songs correspond. This leads us to sing our commitment back to God.

Charge. The closing charge serves as a summary reminder of the truth about God we have heard, what that makes us as the people of God in this place and obligation we are now under in having worshipped.
Benediction. The pastor then offers a benediction or traditional blessing from the Word of God. His hands are raised and the congregation reaches theirs out in a receptive posture. The benediction ends with “amen and amen,” the second is joined by the congregation in full voice.


A prayer for love on the 4th Sunday of Advent

O Lord God of Hosts, you sent your only Son, the man of your right hand, to us as an act of love at Christmas time. On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we pray that you would cause your face to shine upon us. Cause your face to shine upon our church. Cause your face to shine upon our children. Cause your face to shine upon our neighbors. Cause your face to shine upon our nation. Cause your face to shine upon our enemies. We confess that we have failed to act on the Advent love that you placed in our hearts. We have held your salvation close and testified instead to our opinions, ideologies, and private agendas. Forgive us of this sin and restore us again. Restore our minds with the primary knowledge that you have saved us and that we are your witnesses. Restore our hearts with a love for you and a love for our neighbors that cannot help but share. We ask this so that those we love and those you love would be restored to you as well, would be saved as well. We ask this so that you would be glorified in this church, our homes and our community as the only savior of sinners. And we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you gave for the world that you so loved. Amen


All God Children

img_1517A new sermon series beginning in January!

All God’s Children will explore key passages of the Scripture that speak of God as Father and ourselves as His children. The conversation will lead us to a deeper understanding of God, our relation to Him and our relations to each other. It will shape our thinking of what it means to be men in the church, women in the church and children in the church. It will enhance our responsibility to all God’s children everywhere. It will raise up this church and a raised up church will raise up the village with it.

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