Monday, 29 February 2016

Just Another Melodic Monday - Jesus paid it all

"Jesus paid it all" is a great hymn, written about 150 years ago, which has grown in popularity more recently (it's currently in the CCLI top 100) and has had a bridge added.  Here is an acoustic version by Chelsea Moon with Uncle Daddy, from the album "Hymn Project Volume 1".

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Some Words for Wednesday - He-Man, Haggai, and how to understand the Old Testament

(These are some notes from the message shared last Sunday when we gathered as a church.)

We're beginning a series in the book of Haggai.  This book comes towards the end of the Old Testament, and towards the end of the period of history that the Old Testament covers.  So how is the book of Haggai relevant to us today?

In order to do that, we're going to go old school and take an approach that the Puritans liked back in the 17th Century: asking questions and then explaining the answer.

Question: What approach should I take to the Old Testament?
Answer: If Jesus is my Lord, I must submit to his understanding of the Old Testament, and follow his approach.

In other words, if Jesus is my guide to life, he must therefore be my guide to the Old Testament.  So what approach did he take to the Old Testament?

There are some very helpful passages in Luke 24.  The resurrected Jesus appears to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus.  They are unable to recognise Jesus, and instead speak of their despair after the death of the one they thought would be the Messiah.  Jesus responds like this:

"Wasn't it necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24v26-27)

Remember, at this time "all the Scriptures" meant "all the Old Testament".  So Jesus uses the Old Testament to explain the gospel.  Later, the two followers describe their experience:

"Didn't our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24v32)

As Jesus explained the gospel through the Old Testament, he ignited their hearts and "opened...the Scriptures".  He does this again a little later to a larger group of followers, and again we read of their experience:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures... (Luke 24v44)

Jesus is teaching us that it is only when we recognise the gospel in the Old Testament that our minds and Bibles are truly open.  

Question: What does that mean in practice?
Answer:  Firstly, it means the Old Testament is not about me.

The accounts in the Old Testament are not fundamentally tales to teach me about morality.  I'm reminded of the cartoon "He-Man" that I watched when I was a child (ok, and maybe when I was an adult, too!)  I'd watch the episode, thinking it was all about action and fighting, but then, at the end, there was a short scene where He-Man would talk to the viewer.  He would explain how the story was really a lesson about morality, e.g. If Orko had been honest with his friends from the start, he would never have been kidnapped by Skeletor!

In other words, the moral was "If I'm a good person, I end up being the hero".

This is not the message of the Old Testament.  It is not an adventure story that teaches me how to become the hero by being good.

As an example, consider the well-known story of David and Goliath.  It's tempting to see this story as a call-to-action.  If I'm brave and strong - if I have enough faith - I'll defeat my enemies and win my battles.

But consider what's really happening.  God's people face an enemy they are unable to defeat.  God provides a shepherd, not a soldier, as a rescuer.  This shepherd enters the battle claiming he is not alone, but God is with him.  He defeats the enemy, not with a sword, but with something far humbler - a sling.

Already, we begin to see how this points to Jesus.  He is the rescuer that God provides to save us from an enemy we cannot defeat (Satan).  He is the Man-With-God, a good shepherd who gains victory, not with a sword, but with something far humbler - a cross.

I can learn helpful lessons about life from the Old Testament, but it is not fundamentally a book about me.

Question: So what is the Old Testament about?
Answer: The way God rescues His people from temporary situations in the Old Testament reveals something about how He saves His people eternally through Jesus Christ.

As examples, we can see this in the way He saves His people from condemnation through Noah; from famine through Joseph; from slavery through Moses; from sovereign instability through David; from exile through Cyrus (prophecied by Isaiah).

But here we have Haggai!  What has Haggai got to do with the gospel?

Question:  What's going on at the time of Haggai?
Answer:  God wants His people to rebuild the temple.

There had been a time of sovereign instability - unreliable kings ruling over Judah.  This ends with Judah being overthrown by the Babylonians.  They destroy the temple, all the important buildings, and the walls around Jerusalem, and the people are taken into exile (2 Kings 25v8-12).

But some years later, the Babylonians are overthrown by Persia, and the Persian King, Cyrus, instructs the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1v1-2).  They begin; then are stopped for several years; then are allowed to begin again, but are reluctant to do so.  It is at this point that the prophet Haggai appears!  He is used by God to spur the people on to rebuild the temple.

Question: What has the temple got to do with the gospel?
Answer: Jesus came to replace the temple as the place where we meet with God

Jesus is now our high priest in heaven.  We do not go to a temple to come close to God.  Instead, in Christ we are always in the presence of God.

So what is our temple?  It is one where the foundation is the gospel, and the walls are the people who believe the gospel - who see the gospel as the foundation to their lives.  We are given this picture by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2v19-22:

"So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."

A church is the people, a spiritual home made of bricks that are breathing, where lives are the stones.  The foundation of this home is the gospel - Christ is the cornerstone, and the gospel teaching of the apostles and prophets fills the rest of the foundation.

(Turn this concept upside-down, and we find another biblical image of the church as a human body, where the people are the parts of the body, and Christ is the head.)

So when Haggai talks to the Jews about the temple, he is not talking to us about the church building.  We are not to think of bricks and mortar, of mortgages and timetables.  These can be helpful, but they are not the church.  We can use these things as a church, but they do not make us a church.

For us, the temple is God's people built on the foundation of God's Son.  Haggai's encouragement to invest time and energy into the temple for God's glory is an encouragement for us to invest our time and energy into our church communities for God's glory.  This work is to be done upon the solid foundation of the gospel.  Christ's completed work motivates and enables our ongoing work.

In the next post, we'll look at chapter one and Haggai's first challenge - the danger of being safe.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Just Another Melodic Tuesday(!) - Redemption

A day late with the music post, so something a bit different.  Here is a song performed by Johnny Cash called "Redemption".  I wouldn't use this when we sing together on a Sunday, but I consider it an influence on my own attempts at writing songs for the gathered church.  Both the song and the singer have a poetic gravity that I remember inspiring me the first time I heard them on the Jools Holland Show.  

Friday, 19 February 2016

Friday to the Father - 19/2/16

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

We continue to be thankful for the support and encouragement we receive as the work in Welshpool continues.  Praise God for our unity in Christ, and for the love we have for each other as a spiritual family.  Please pray that this love will grow within our church, and be a witness to the world that we know Jesus Christ.

Please pray for the children and young people who attend the church services.  We have a small creche for the youngest children, but we don't have a Sunday school.  Currently, we don't have a room we could use, nor do we have enough people to oversee a Sunday school.  Please pray that God will provide resources and wisdom if we are to have a Sunday school.

In light of this, we have a children's talk as part of the Sunday afternoon service, and I try to limit my sermon to 20-25 minutes.  Please pray for me regarding both of these teaching challenges!  

Finally, please pray for the unbelieving family members of the church - particularly spouses.  Pray that God will help us to build friendships and share the gospel, and that He will act in saving mercy.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Some Words for Wednesday - What's So Important About Church Meals?

(Here are some notes from the message shared last Sunday when we gathered as a church.)

Last week, we briefly considered the purpose of the Lord's Supper.  By faith, we see the glory of Jesus through the bread and wine, symbols of his death that takes away our sins and promises the undying love of God.

At Welshpool Community Church, we have the Lord's supper as part of a simple, informal meal at the end of our formal  Sunday service.  This is a little different to the way many churches practice the Lord's supper, and so this week we will consider how to answer this question: What's so important about church meals?

1. Meals are a part of our corporate worship (Romans 12).  A few weeks ago, we considered the apostle Paul's description of worship in Romans 12.  He calls the whole church to corporately present their bodies as a single living sacrifice (12v1).  Corporate worship is the whole-of-life response of a church community to the mercy of God revealed in the gospel.

So Paul's description in Romans 12 of a worshipping community includes serving, loving and honouring others; spending time together; showing hospitality and caring for the weak and disadvantaged. Corporate worship is not meant to be building-centric - it does not begin and end at the church building's doors.

So, for example, Paul writes that God is glorified by us simply living in harmony with one another (Rom. 15v5).  The way we behave towards each other as a church is one element of our corporate worship.

When we have meals together as believers, we see corporate worship taking place.  We serve one another (Rom.12v7); we give to others and contribute to their needs (12v8, 13); we behave like a family (12v10); we practice hospitality (12v13); we challenge prejudices and demonstrate harmony (12v16); and we enjoy peace with each other (12v18).

If we accept this view of corporate worship, then meals really make sense, and we can understand why they were part of New Testament church culture (e.g. Acts 2v42, 46).  Meals are informal opportunities for us to serve and love one another, and to learn about serving and loving.  They are part of our corporate worship.

2. Meals give us a taste of sitting at the table with Jesus (Matthew 9v9-13).  In this passage in Matthew's gospel, we find one of several accounts of Jesus eating a meal with tax collectors.  This was unusual - tax collectors were unpopular because most of them were unscrupulous.  They often collected more money than they should have, and so, when they wanted a meal, they either ate with other tax collectors, or they ate on their own!

But here, they sit at the table with Jesus.  What would you have paid to be a tax collector at that moment?  To have sat at the table with Jesus?

But there's a sense in which we can sit at the table with him.  In the Bible, we're told that when someone becomes a believer, Jesus comes to live in them.  For example, Paul describes Christ as living in him (Gal. 2v20) and prays that Christ would make his home in the hearts of the Christians at Ephesus (Eph. 3v17).

I should be excited about seeing Jesus in other believers in my church.  Although it takes time to see the influence of Christ in the character and lifestyle of another person, it's time well spent.  It's rewarding to see people developing their gifts and learning to serve others.  

When you start to notice the character of Christ developing within a person, then you get a taste of being a tax collector sat at that table with Jesus.  You get a small taste of what it was like to be in the physical presence of Jesus.

Probably the most profound examples of these experiences are discovered when time is spent with godly, mature Christians.  I'm sure we can all think of older saints who are a privilege to be around, because they demonstrate such a holy, Christlike character.  

Meals are an opportunity to enjoy being in the presence of the people Christ lives within.

3.  Meals can prompt us to remember the Lord (Matthew 26v17-29).  Using meals as an aid to remember God's saving acts is nothing new.  At Christ's last supper, our attention is first drawn to the Passover feast.  This was a meal that reminded Jews of how God had freed them from slavery in Egypt.

The angel of death was to travel across Egypt, and kill every first born son.  The son would only be spared if a lamb was killed in his place, and the blood painted onto the doorpost - then the angel would pass over the house without taking the life of the son.  So the Passover meal reminded Jews of the freedom God provided through the sacrifice of an innocent lamb.

Now Jesus is our Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5v7).  He is the Lamb that gives us freedom from sin by sacrificing his own life, and by sharing bread and grape juice as part of a meal, we're helped to remember that.  But during his final supper, he also directs our attention to a meal that is yet to come, and a cup he will drink with his people in the kingdom of God (Matt. 26v29).  

In Revelation, we are told that "blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!".  As the bride of Christ, the church will enjoy a great banquet when Jesus returns.  But this meal will be the marriage supper of "the lamb" - in other words, it will be a meal that reminds us of the death of Christ for his people.

So, when we have a meal that begins with shared bread, and ends with a shared drink, we are using a meal to remember and celebrate all that we have received through the death of Christ.  It's not a new idea - we see examples of remembrance meals in the Old Testament, and Jesus institutes the Lord's supper during a meal.  It's not a practice that Jesus will stop - instead, he'll lead his people to a marriage banquet that will remind them that he is the Lamb that was slain.

However, about once a month we will also share bread and grape juice (without a meal) as part of our Sunday afternoon service.  The reason for this is found in Romans 14v13-15, where Paul talks about food and conflicts of conscience.

Paul makes it clear that food does not make us unclean (14v14).  So having a meal as part of the Lord's supper does not make the recipients or the supper unclean.  

But we recognise that some Christians will struggle to see an informal meal as an appropriate opportunity for the sacrament of the Lord's supper.  Paul writes that we should not grieve our brethren (14v15) and so, once a month, we will have communion during the formal part of our Sunday service, and have a meal afterwards without sharing bread and wine.

So what's so important about church meals?

1.  Meals are a part of our corporate worship.
2.  Meals give us a taste of sitting at the table with Jesus.
3.  Meals can prompt us to remember the Lord.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Just Another Melodic Monday - Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour

Red Mountain Church have produced several albums of classic hymns with a contemporary, acoustic sound.  One beautiful example of this is "Pass me not, O gentle Saviour" by Frances Crosby.  

If you're interested in learning more about Red Mountain Church, take a look at their website,

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Some Words for Wednesday - How do you remember someone you've never met?

(Some notes from the message shared when we gathered as a church last Sunday.)

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said "This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me."  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11v24-25

Today, we're taking a brief look at the Lord's supper.  We'll be considering it in more depth next week.

1. At this supper, we remember the Lord.  Jesus tells his disciples to share the bread and wine "in remembrance of me".  But how do we do that today?  How do we remember someone we've never met?

Note first what Jesus doesn't say - he doesn't say anything about his physical appearance.  If I wanted someone to remember me, I might tell them to look closely at my face, or at my overall appearance, or take a photograph.  In the case of a very famous person, we might consider making a statue.  But Jesus doesn't tell them to remember how he looks, nor to use pictures or images as an aid to remembering him.

What is his reason?  I believe it's because he wants to be remembered in his glory (John 17v24), and glory cannot be captured in a copy.  Where do we see his glory?  By faith, we see it at the cross.

This revelation of glory at the cross is intimated by Jesus in John 12.  As he approaches the hour of his death, he says: "Now is my soul troubled.  And what shall I say? "Father, save me from this hour"?  But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name." (v27-28)

Jesus' intention was to reveal the glory of God through his death.  His Father's answer confirms this: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." (v28)

What does Jesus receive for this obedience?  In heaven, the angels cry "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!"  Jesus receives glory because he is the slain Lamb.  So the author of Hebrews writes that "we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death" (Heb2v9).

The glory of Jesus is most visible in his death on the cross.  This is how we remember a person we've never met.  We remember Jesus time after time as, by faith, we see the glory of Jesus in the simple symbols of his sacrifice for us.

2. The bread reminds us of the death that takes away our sins.  Peter writes: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." (1 Pet.2v24).  Christ dies to take away our sin and guilt - to remove the barrier between us and God.  By his death, we are restored to a right relationship with God - by his wounds, we are healed (1 Pet.2v25).

3. The wine reminds us of the death that promises the undying love of God.  Jesus speaks of a "new covenant" - a new relationship with God based on promises.  By his death, we can come into the presence of God.  We can be His people, and He can be our God.

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the role of Jesus in heaven as our high priest.  In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, the place where God dwelt among His people.  So in Hebrews we read that "the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people." (9v6-7).

But Jesus came to be our high priest! "He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (9v12).  Jesus secures a redemption that lasts forever through his death.  

With this eternal redemption comes eternal life and eternal sonship.  The death of Jesus promises the undying love of God.

Finally, how are we to practice the Lord's supper?  We'll consider this in more depth next week, but here are some brief points:

a. It is for those who believe.  The Lord's supper is for those who are able to remember the Lord - for those who, by faith, see the glory of Jesus in his death for their sins.

b. We are to acknowledge each other.  The issue Paul deals with in his letter to Corinth is that people weren't waiting for each other!  Clearly, a group was arriving later than others, but the others weren't willing to wait.  Instead, they ate and drank, and left little or nothing for the rest!

What is Paul's response?  "It is not the Lord's supper" (1 Cor 11v20) and those who do not wait "despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing" (v22).  What should they expect?  Judgment (v29)!  So Paul's answer to this issue is simple - "wait for one another" (v33).

We are to recognise the church community at the Lord's supper.  We are to acknowledge those who sit with us at the Lord's table.  We are to "discern the body" (v29) or it is no longer the Lord's supper, but a profanity (v27).

One simple way of encouraging that acknowledgment is by sitting around a table and looking at each other, similar to what the disciples did at that first supper.  Another way is for people to all move to the front rows and sit together. (That is what we did last Sunday - we also had the rows in a semi-circle, so that we could see each other more easily.)

c.  We are all equal at the Lord's supper.  No one takes the place of Jesus at the table.  I do not take the place of Jesus as I break the bread.  I am not the mediator between you and God - I am not the high priest.  Jesus is our high priest, and he is not absent from the table.  He is present by his Spirit.  Only 2 or 3 of us have to gather under his authority and he promises to be present (Matt 18v20).

As believers, we are all equal at the Lord's supper, because we share equally in the blessings that come from his death for us.

Next week, we'll return to this topic, and consider the answer to the following question:  What could be so special about a meal?

Monday, 8 February 2016

Just Another Melodic Monday - Rock of Ages

"Rock of Ages" is a hymn that expresses the security we can only find in Jesus Christ.  This is a beautiful version by Chris Rice, from his album "Peace Like a River".

Friday, 5 February 2016

Friday to the Father - 5/2/16

Jesus said: "This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven...' "
Matthew 6v9

We're grateful that God continues to encourage us.  We had several visitors last Sunday, including Moses and Mari.  Pray for Moses - he works with churches in the local area, encouraging them to reach out to the local community with the gospel.  Pray also for him and Mari, his fiance, as they prepare for their wedding later this year.

We were also encouraged by friends visiting from Newtown Evangelical Church, and from Welshpool Baptist Church.  Please pray that we'll be able to maintain helpful, loving relationships with Christians who are committed to other local churches.

This Sunday, we'll be having communion as part of the main service.  While this is typical for most churches, for us it's a new venture, as we normally have communion as part of our meal together.  However, because some people are unable to stay for the meal regularly, probably about once a month we're going to have the Lord's supper as part of the main service instead.  Please pray that this will be an encouragement to the church.  Pray also for Brandon, as he will be leading the service.

We've now started thinking about opportunities for later in the year.  I've started to think about our Easter service, and we've begun to plan for the Welshpool Summer Fair.  Please pray that God will give us wisdom, and provide the resources we need.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  Praise God from whom all blessing flow!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Some Words for Wednesday - Corporate worship has left the building

(These are some notes from the message shared last Sunday when we gathered as a church.)

"I appeal to you, brothers, in light of the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12v1)

Last week, we recognised that Jesus is now alive in heaven, acting as our high priest.  In the presence of God, he is always presenting the sacrifice for our sins, and praying for his people's salvation.  If you have trusted him as your lord and saviour, you are alive in him.  In him, therefore, you are always in the presence of God.

In light of this, I asked a question: If, in Christ, I am always in the presence of God, when should worship stop?  The answer is obvious: never!  Paul makes this point in a different way at the start of Romans 12.  He writes that "in light of God's mercies" we should present ourselves as "a living sacrifice".

In other words, I am to place and keep my life on the altar as an offering to God.  Worship, Paul tells us, is a whole-of-life response to the mercy of God revealed in the gospel.

So, for example, I am not to think that I have a church life, a work life, a home life, and so on, and worship takes place in my church life, but nowhere else.  Nor am I to think that even within my church life, worship only really happens when I'm singing or praying, or using certain gifts, and it doesn't happen when I'm listening, reading or encouraging.

Worship is a response to God that only makes sense if it involves the whole life of a person.  But here, Paul doesn't present his view of worship as the unconnected responses of a group of individuals.  Instead he presents it as the corporate response of a body of believers.  We present "our bodies" together as a single "living sacrifice".  Corporate worship, therefore, does not begin and end at the door to a church's building.  It is a community's whole-of-life response to God's mercy revealed in the gospel.

So what does a worshipping community look like?  Paul goes on to describe elements of this community as he gives guidance and instruction in the rest of the letter.  We'll look only at chapter 12 in this post.

1. In a worshipping community, everyone is important, but nobody acts like it (12v3-8).  The church is like a human body, where individuals are like different parts of the body.  We therefore do not all have the same role or function (v4).  As the Lord builds the church, the Holy Spirit distributes gifts and abilities according to his will (1 Cor 12v11).  

What is his will?  His will is that everyone joins in!  The church is like a boat, on which everyone is a member of the crew.  That means there will be participation - each person should seek to use their gifts (v6).  And if the Holy Spirit is the one who distributes gifts, we must be careful not to pigeonhole people into particular areas of ministry because of their age, appearance, where they live etc.  Instead, we should enjoy being surprised as God uses people in ministries we would never have anticipated.

This type of participation encourages humility.  No individual can do everything (v4-5): no single person keeps the boat afloat.  Just as the parts of a body must work together to be most effective, so we must work together within a church.  I must learn that I am not always the answer.  God has designed the church so that we must always rely on the gifts of others if we are to function most effectively.

So Paul says I am not to think of myself more highly than I ought (v3).  I can always learn from others, because they are gifted in ways I'm not.  I can always anticipate that you will have something to teach me - and vice versa.  

This approach towards each other will encourage humility and gratitude.  Everyone will be important, but no one will act like it.

2. In a worshipping community, we are committed to loving each other (v9-13).  There are some ways in which we will all be different because of our gifts.  But there are other ways in which we will all be the same.  A body of believers will have a certain character, and at the core of that character will be love - a compassion that circulates throughout the body.

What will that love look like?  Paul offers some examples in this passage.

There will be genuine affection between believers (v9).  Within this context of loving relationships, there will be a rejection of what is sinful, and instead we will seek to embrace and encourage that which is good and pure (v9).  There will be a feeling of family, and in humility we will think of others more than ourselves (v10).

We will aim to be excited about Jesus.  That excitement will be particularly visible in the use of our gifts as we serve the Lord (v11).  We'll be joyful that we have a home in heaven.  We'll need patience, because there'll be hard times now, but we won't forget that our Father in heaven is able to help us all the time.  So we'll seek His help all the time in prayer (v12).

We will support Christian brothers and sisters when they're in need, and our homes and timetables will make room for each other (v13).

We won't look for excuses to not love each other, but instead, as a community, we will express sincere, widespread compassion. Love is not a gift, but a fruit of the Spirit.  If the Spirit lives within a community, then love must also live there.

3. In a worshipping community, we treat all kinds of people with kindness (v14-21).  Paul writes that we must show kindness even to those who persecute us (v14, 17-20).  That doesn't mean we shouldn't report crime - God provides such authorities as a way of revealing His anger against wrongdoing (13v4).  However, we are to strive to be kind to all, and not to "repay evil for evil".  We should seek peace, and do what is honourable.

As an example, do you think about that when you post on social media?  Do you think about how your comments on Facebook are part of your worship?  When someone writes a post that offends you, do you remember your online life is part of your whole-of-life response to God's mercy?  Do you still strive to seek peace and do what is honourable as you write your response to that post?

Paul also repeats his call for humility and compassion.  We are to share in each other's joys and sorrows - God has designed the church body in such a way that when a limb breaks, the heart breaks (v15).  We are to seek harmony, and not be deliberately disruptive (v16).  I mustn't think that I am "too good" for certain kinds of people (v16).

In summary, then, Paul writes that a worshipping community has these characteristics:

Everyone is important, but nobody acts like it.
We are committed to loving each other.
We treat all kinds of people with kindness.

The noticeable thing is that, while all of this will feel wonderful, it will probably look unspectacular.  This type of community will rarely hit the headlines.  If we want the world to notice this kind of corporate worship, we mustn't hide it within a building.  It has to leave the building, and be visible as part of a church's whole-of-life response to the gospel.

In fact, that is the only kind of corporate worship that makes sense.  If, in Christ, we as a church are always in the presence of God, our corporate worship should never stop.  It has to leave the building and become the lifestyle of an uncontained community of believers as we use our gifts to serve; as we demonstrate love to our church family; and as we show kindness to all kinds of people.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Just Another Melodic Monday - Behold Our God

It can be difficult for churches to embrace modern songs as part of their corporate worship.  One reason may be a preconception that the lyric content will be dissatisfying; that the words will not allow our deepest expressions to come forth.

As a church, we've found Sovereign Grace Music to be a good resource for modern songs that are suitable for corporate worship, with lyrical content that is biblical, thoughtful and God-glorifying.  

"Behold Our God" is an example of that, and there are plenty more to listen to on Sovereign Grace's Youtube channel.  Visit their website at and you'll find free music sheets and lyric sheets.