Monthly Archives: August 2016

Ravi Zacharias on Worship…

Ravi Zacharias… When we look at the five components of worship — the Lord’s Supper, teaching, prayer, praise, and giving — we notice very quickly why teaching became the backbone of the entire worship liturgy. Without the teaching, the rest of the components become prone to heretical expressions.

It is the teaching that guides and guards the integrity of worship. It is the teaching that gives understanding of how to be a worshiping community and calls us to remember how God has led in the past. It is the teaching that makes it possible to prepare the children of the community to understand their faith and to pass it on to the next generation.

Is it possible for us to be so swept up by the music and the art of worship that we lose the message and the guidelines on how to worship? Teaching must become the center of worship again, and the ideas that shape our expressions must be biblically induced and shaped.

I am not for a moment suggesting that right teaching will guarantee a throbbing, lively church. It may not. But I am suggesting that displaced and misplaced teaching will guarantee a heretical church.

Loving God with or without Children

Loving God with or without Children

This is a guest post by Christopher Ash, author of Married for God: Making Your Marriage the Best It Can Be.


Marriage and Children

If you are married, either you do or you don’t have children. And that’s a big deal. A very big deal. Some wit has said that, in the media, marriage is all about sex and hardly at all about children; but in real life it’s the other way around!

The Pain of Childlessness

Well, it may or may not be. One of the strangest and slowest pains in marriage is the longing for children who never come. Someone has called it “that strange grief that has no focus for its tears and no object for its love.” When someone dies, there is a sad day to remember, a sad place to visit, sad possessions to prompt memories, sad photos to trigger tears. But when a child has not been conceived, there is precisely nothing and nobody. And it just goes on and on in that strange interplay of hope and disappointment, month by month.

The Task of Nurturing Children

One of the really big purposes of marriage in the Bible is children. God blesses humankind with the words, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). To have children and nurture them, to bring them up in the love and fear of the Lord Jesus (Eph. 6:4), to love them unconditionally, to provide them with a secure home, to discipline them (Heb. 12:7–9), to pray for them—all that is a wonderful privilege. In their most exhausted moments, a young parent can say, “I wouldn’t be without them!” It can be a desperately sad privilege, when they turn away from the God who made and loved them. But even in the sadness, it is a privilege. When asked about our family, my wife Carolyn and I usually say that, “God has entrusted us with three sons and a daughter.” I love that word “entrusted”. Children are not given to us; God entrusts them to us for a time. We have the weighty God-given responsibility to be to them a father and a mother who love them with something approximating the love of God. It’s one of the big ways in which parents serve God.

Deliberate Childlessness

To want and “try for” children is an integral part of godly marriage, except in exceptional circumstances like marrying in older age. Deliberately not to have children when we could have children is like telling God that what he says is a blessing is in fact a curse, something to be shunned and avoided.

Serving God When Children Don’t Come

But what if we try for children and they just don’t come, whether naturally or by adoption? We are no less married. And we are no less able to love and serve God. Just as unmarried people can serve God wholeheartedly, so married couples without children can love God passionately and serve him with zeal and sacrifice. And just as there will be different ways in which unmarried men and women serve God, so there may be different outlets for childless couples to love God. Their home can still be an image of the love of Christ the Bridegroom for his church, his bride, and the loving submission of his bride to her Bridegroom. And it should still be an outward-looking relationship, seeking opportunities to pour out the love of Christ to men and women all around.

Whether married or unmarried, whether parents or childless, each of us is called to love the God and Father of Jesus, who made us and in Jesus poured out his love on us with every spiritual blessing.


Christopher Ash is a writer in residence at Tyndale House in Cambridge and a full-time preacher, speaker, and writer. He previously served as the director of the Proclamation Trust’s Cornhill Training Course and as a minister and church planter. He and his wife, Carolyn, are members of St. Andrew the Great Church in Cambridge and have four children and three grandchildren.

OUTWARD… Seeing What Jesus Saw!

Hello Brothers and Sisters!

As far as I know Jesus never needed an eye exam! At 64 years of age my eyes are losing some of their sharpness. Jesus, on the other hand, never had a problem with His vision. Many times the Bible mentions things that Jesus saw. In Matthew 9:36 for example, it says that “He saw the multitudes.” Jesus saw the multitudes as His Father saw them. What Jesus saw affected how He lived His life. It is clear from Matthew 9 that Jesus wanted His followers to see what He saw! Let’s stop here for a moment and think about this. When Jesus saw people in their true condition before God in heaven “He was moved with compassion.” Daily we see people! But what do we see? Do we see what Jesus saw? Jesus saw people in need… in need of forgiveness before a holy God! Let’s all determine to look a little deeper than we normally look. Let’s see what Jesus saw and go and do something about it! Jesus went and gave His life. What about you and me? What do we see, and what are we going to do about it?

Looking ahead into October, our Third Annual ENGAGE Missions Conference is set for Friday, October 21 through Sunday, October 23. The conference schedule is the same as it was last year. It will begin on Friday evening with a huge dinner and time of fellowship. Saturday will be packed with special time for preaching and teaching regarding our role in spreading the Gospel. There will also be a “Kid’s Track” with a missions emphasis presented to our children. A number of nations will be represented… don’t miss it!!! Mark your calendars, and begin praying with your families about this special time in the life of our church! Mark 16:15 says, And HE said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.

If these last days of August and the early days of September are any indication, we are in for a fruitful fall! The Lord continues to direct people our way. Last Sunday we graduated 12 new people from our Discovery Class. This is the first time we have had such a large group attend during the summer. Last Sunday we also had a tremendous number of guests. I love meeting new people, don’t you? Let’s thank the Lord for His gracious and merciful work in our church. Keep your eyes open for our new friends, especially students! Let the Lord use you. He wants to use us to bless those around us! Show people the kindness of Christ… they will know you care! Jude 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference.

Enjoy your day! Live every moment of it for Jesus… He is LORD!

Mike and Cheryl <>< 

 

OUTWARD-8-25-2016

Thank you Lord for blessing us all! The hymn writer encourages us to “Count our blessings… name them one by one.” So here goes! Thank You Lord for Your grace and mercy. Without Your grace and mercy we would be on our own burdened with our great sin debt! Thank you Lord for what Jesus means to us on a daily basis. Jesus gives us hope because He lives, and because He lives we can be steadfast and faithful until He returns. Thank you Lord for Your Spirit, our Comforter and Guide. He teaches us Your Word! Thank You Lord for Your Word and the light it provides to us in the dark world in which we find ourselves. Thank You Lord for our brothers and sisters at Grace Church! We are indebted to You; we never have to walk alone.  We have You, and we have each other! Thank You Lord for the Great Commandment that we have written on our hearts to love You and to love one another. And lastly Lord, thank You for the Great Commission You have entrusted into our care. We will do our very best to fulfill it with Your glory in our minds and in our hearts! Thank you Lord for blessing us all!  1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

This past Tuesday evening Cheryl and I hosted our DivorceCare friends from our summer session. What a great group! Yes, we shared in their pain, but we also shared in their victories. Walking through this deep valley with new friends is never easy. Some of you prayed.   You told me so, and I thank you! Separation and divorce is not a time to be alone. These thirteen lessons went by so quickly, but the Lord used each one of them to build new relationships and friendships! Thank you Lord for the heart Grace Church has for our family members, friends and neighbors who find themselves in a separation or a divorce. Let us love them like You love them!

I never cease to be amazed at how the Lord uses you and me. As I reflect on how He is using us, I marvel at the fact that He has chosen us for His work. Just think, we serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… what a great honor and privilege we have! So take a minute and thank the Lord for everything He has done in your life and in your church! You will be amazed at what He has done and at what He is doing!  

Be grateful to our Great God in heaven!

Psalm 150:6 Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Mike and Cheryl <><

 

OUTWARD-8-17-2016

I love watching Olympic athletes compete. They are so disciplined and skilled in their individual sports. Just imagine how much time and effort goes into practicing for the Games! The same is true in the Christian life. Living for Jesus requires this exact focus we see in the lives of Olympic athletes. This focus is the same for every child of God. No one gets a pass when it comes to giving their best for Christ. Living for Jesus does happen by accident; just as winning a Gold Medal does not happen by accident! Living for Jesus requires our all-out best for His honor and glory! I realize living the Christian life is a daily grind and a struggle. But at the same time, what Jesus did on the cross was not an accident nor was it easy! His cross work took His life! Brothers and sisters, Jesus gave His all for us, let’s give Him no less! 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

This summer at Grace Church has been truly amazing! The Lord has sent us some wonderful new friends. Last Sunday’s Discovery Class had 14 people. Usually we do not have a Discovery Class in the summer because we do not have enough new people. On top of that, you have been so welcoming that virtually all of our guests continue to worship with us weekly! It blesses me to have them mention your welcoming spirit in our class discussions. Last Sunday’s service blessed us all in many wonderful ways! THANK YOU!

Wednesday’s Prayer Meetings have marked my personal life in some special ways. Last week I prayed with Andy Sugg. Over the past weeks I have prayed with many of our men and women. One recent Wednesday night Grace Puerto held her infant baby as our group of four prayed together. It was amazing to watch. I won’t forget that anytime soon! A heartfelt thank you is also in order for our deacons who have faithfully lead these prayer sessions. Praying together is special!!! One primary goal of our summer Prayer Focus was to pray; not to do Bible study or sing or fellowship, but to pray. And that we have done!!! Our numbers have ranged from 30 to 50. Honestly, I did not know how many people would join us for these prayer times. But I am so glad that we have prayed together this summer. My prayer life has been strengthened; I truth yours has as well!

Serving Jesus is what we have been called to do. Our world is perishing! Men and women and boys and girls need Jesus. You might be the only Jesus some people ever see or know. Let Jesus be seen in you! Let your light so shine that He is glorified through your life! Jesus is worthy of our very best. Let’s be known as the church that exalts Jesus Christ in all that we do! We won’t regret it and people won’t forget it… JESUS IS LORD OF ALL!!!

See you Wednesday for prayer or Friday for fellowship!

Mike and Cheryl <><