Sunday, November 25, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship Sunday Recap - November 25, 2012

Welcome to our Sunday recap of what took place at Living Hope Fellowship this Sunday morning. The aim of this blog is to give you a snapshot of what our service was like. Here you'll find the songs that we sang as well as the Scriptures that we included as part of our morning liturgy. You'll also find a brief overview of our mornings message.

But of course a blog post can never capture what actually took place, the only way for you to experience that is to actually come to one of our services! Living Hope Fellowship meets at Greenwood Mennonite School, which is located in Greenwood, Delaware on Mennonite School Road. Our Sunday morning begins with coffee and fellowship at 9:30. Sunday School begins at 10 am with our corporate worship service starting at 10:45. We'd love to have you join us!

We always begin our services with a call to worship, reminding us that our worship doesn't begin with us but begins with God. This morning our call to worship came from Psalm 145

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
There is no end to His greatness.
One generation will praise your works to another and will declare Your power.
All Your works praise You, Lord and Your faithful servants bless You.
They make known the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord;
Let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. There is no end to His greatness.
- Psalm 145:3-4, 10-11, 21

Our Songs:

It is You
As we lift up our hands
Will You meet us here
As we call on Your name
Will You meet us here

Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)
Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried, my sins far away
Rising He justified, freely forever
One day He's coming, Oh glorious day

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb seated on the throne.
We crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious! 
High and lifted up Jesus, Son of God.
The darling of Heaven, crucified... 
Worthy is the Lamb.

How Great Thou Art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, How great Thou art

Our sermon this week came from 1 John 4:13-21
and focused on how we can have assurance of our relationship with God as His children.

Here's the sermon outline:

Assurance of our Abiding in God (1 John 4:13-16)

How can we know and believe the love that he has for us? 

Because the Spirit of God 
has applied the Word of God to our hearts 
causing us to see Christ as our Savior and confess Him as the Son of God.

Effects of Our Abiding in God (17-21)
1. Before God
2. Love For One Another


“May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
2 Peter 3:18

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship - Sunday Recap November 11, 2012

It's been awhile since I've posted a recap of our morning service at Living Hope Fellowship. It's mostly due to sheer laziness. My aim is to present a snapshot of what takes place on a Sunday morning at Living Hope Fellowship. Here you'll find our song list, our liturgy and a brief sermon recap. Hopefully soon we'll be able to post audio via our website that we are currently working on. Here's the recap:

In light of the political week we came out of I thought it would be a good thing to remind us of two things as we started. The first is that while our nation seems to more divided politically then ever, we as a church body are not. So we reminded ourselves of just who we were:

Who we are:
We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.
Our Purpose:
that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Our Story:
Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.
-1 Peter 2:9-10

Call to Worship
The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
He is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name!
Holy is He!
The King in His might loves justice.
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob
Exalt the LORD our God;
worship at His footstool!
Holy is He!
-Psalm 99:1-5

How Great is Your Faithfulness
Everything changes, but You stay the same;
Your Word and kingdom endure. 
We lean on the promise of all that You are, 
And trust forevermore

His Name is Jesus

All hail the power of Jesus’ name let angels prostrate fall 
Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all 
Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all 

His Name is Jesus risen Lamb for sinners slain
His Name is Jesus all creation sings the praise
of Jesus Name

Behold Our God
Behold our God seated on His throne come let us adore Him
Behold our God nothing can compare come let us adore Him

Crown Him With Many Crowns

Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne, 
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. 
Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee, 
and hail him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

As a church we've been walking through the book of 1 John in a series called Walking in the Light. This week our text was 1 John 4:1-6 with a message entitled Spiritual Discernment, Through our study of 1st John, John has been giving us tests to tell whether or not we are children of God. This morning he turns the spotlight off of us and onto the prophets, or preachers and teachers. Those who claim to speak from God. And John warns us not to simply accept everything that claims to be from the Lord, but to test the spirits. Here's the outline of the sermon.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits…”

  1. The Need for Discernment
  2. The Way of Discernment - 4 Questions to Ask
    1. Do They Point to Christ?
    2. Do They Point to Others?
    3. Do They Submit to Scriptures?
    4. Do They Make Sense to The World?

I ended the message with looking at an article by A.W. Tozer that gave us 7 questions to ask of any teaching that claims to be from the Lord. 

“How to Try the Spirits” 
Adapted from Moody Monthly [12/79], pp.51-55 

1. How does the teaching affect my relationship with God? Is He magnified and glorified, or diminished?
2. How does the teaching affect my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Does it magnify Him and give       Him first place? Or, does it subtly shift my focus onto myself or some experience?
3. How does the teaching effect my attitude towards Scripture? Did the teaching come from and agree with the Word? Does it increase my love for the Word?
4. How does the teaching affect my self-life? Does it feed self or crucify it? Does it feed pride or humility?
5. How does the teaching affect relationships to other Christians? Does it cause me to withdraw, find fault, and exalt myself in superiority? Or, does it lead me to genuine love for all that truly know Christ?
6. How does the teaching affect my relationship to the world system? Does it lead me to pursue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life? Does it lead me to pursue worldly riches, reputation, and pleasures? Or, does it crucify the world to me?
7. How does the teaching affect my attitude towards sin? Does it cause me to tolerate sin in my life or to turn from it and grow in holiness? Any teaching that makes holiness more acceptable and sin more intolerable is genuine.

Living Hope Fellowship meets at Greenwood Mennonite School on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood Delaware. Come for Coffee and fellowship starting at 9:30 with our Sunday School classes starting at 10. Our corporate worship services begins at 10:45. We'd love to have you join us some Sunday morning!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Morning Devotions

This morning I started a new routine. Along with my normal Scripture reading I mixed in the New City Catechism that Tim Keller and Sam Shammas have just put out. You can find it online here. I found it very encouraging. My plan is to spend a week on each question, since there are 52, and attempt to memorize each answer and the accompanying Scripture. I also added in a reading of an old hymn, which I am using Our Own Hymn Book which was compiled by Charles Spurgeon. I copied both the catechism and the hymn for today below in the hopes that you will find it encouraging as well. Perhaps in a later post I will write why I find the catechisms so encouraging and why I try to use them in my own personal devotional time and in leading my family devotions.

Q: What is our only hope in life and death?
A: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Romans 14:7-8
"For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

If we, then, are not our own but the Lord’s, it is clear what error we must flee, and whither we must direct all the acts of our life. We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us…. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal. O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God! For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.
John Calvin (1509–1564).

Lord, here am I; do with me what thou pleasest, write upon me as thou pleasest: I give up myself to be at thy dispose…. The ambitious man giveth himself up to his honours, but I give up myself unto thee;…man gives himself up to his pleasures, but I give up myself to thee;…man gives himself up…to his idols, but I give myself to thee…. Lord! lay what burden thou wilt upon me, only let thy everlasting arms be under me…. I am lain down in thy will, I have learned to say amen to thy amen; thou hast a greater interest in me than I have in myself, and therefore I give up myself unto thee, and am willing to be at thy dispose, and am ready to receive what impression thou shalt stamp upon me. O blessed Lord! hast thou not again and again said unto me…‘I am thine, O soul! to save thee; my mercy is thine to pardon thee; my blood is thine to cleanse thee; my merits are thine to justify thee; my righteousness is thine to clothe thee; my Spirit is thine to lead thee; my grace is thine to enrich thee; and my glory is thine to reward thee’; and therefore…I cannot but make a resignation of myself unto thee. Lord! here I am, do with me as seemeth good in thine own eyes. I know the best way…is to resign up myself to thy will, and to say amen to thy amen.

Thomas Brooks (1608–1680).

Psalm 1 - Isaac Watts 1719.

Blest is the man who shuns the place
Where sinners love to meet;
Who fears to tread their wicked ways,
And hates the scoffer's seat:

But in the statutes of the Lord
Has placed his chief delight;
By day he reads or hears the word,
And meditates by night.

[He, like a plant of gen'rous kind,
By living waters set,
Safe from the storms and blasting wind,
Enjoys a peaceful state.]

Green as the leaf, and ever fair,
Shall his profession shine
While fruits of holiness appear
Like clusters on the vine.

Not so the impious and unjust;
What vain designs they form!
Their hopes are blown away like dust,
Or chaff before the storm.

Sinners in judgment shall not stand
Amongst the sons of grace,
When Christ, the Judge, at his right hand
Appoints his saints a place.

His eye beholds the path they tread,
His heart approves it well
But crooked ways of sinners lead
Down to the gates of hell.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fix Your Mind on Things Above - Resources

A few weeks ago I posted about a sermon I had given at Living Hope Fellowship from 1 John about fixing our minds on things above. In 1 John 2:15,16 the apostle warns the churches:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world."

John says that you can't have a love for the things of this world and a love for God. They cannot coexist, one pushes out the other. Either you are feeding your love for the things of this world or are you feeding your love for God. And as I looked at my own life I realized that unless we are actively feeding ourselves with things that fix our minds on God, then our natural inclination is to become obsessed with the things of this world. So what John is giving us here is a call to action, a call to war to fix our minds on things above. To fight against the norm.

In the weeks since I gave that sermon its amazing the resources that have came across my desk that are aids in doing just that. And its been amazing the difference they've made. Rather then spending all day listening to ESPN radio, I listen for an hour or two to get caught up and then I switch to some of the sources I'll highlight below. I don't know that they've drastically changed me. But I have found it easier to overcome bad attitudes, I've found myself stronger in my battle against temptations, I've not slept in as often and have been much more diligent about getting up for my devotions before work. As I've fed myself on a more continuous basis, rather than finding myself feeling satisfied I've found that it has increased my hunger for more. More time in prayer, more time in the Word, more time listening to sermons and Christ exalting music.

I wanted to pass along these resources in the hopes that they will do the same to you. I know that my interests are different than many of you reading this. I know that not all of you have a job in which you can listen to radio programs all day. I'm not encouraging you to copy me. But to find something that works for you. Something that helps you to "fix your mind on things above." And then to fight to use those tools.

Reformation Network  - This is the source I've used the most these past few weeks. I usually turn it on about 9 am and leave it on until mid afternoon. Its an online radio station (or an app for your iphone) put out by Ligonier Ministries. It runs a constant stream of sermons, music and scripture reading. Some of the programs it includes are Truth for Life with Allistair Begg, Just Thinking with Ravi Zacharias, John Piper Sermons, R.C Sproul sermons, and conference audio from Ligonier conferences. Mixed in they have music - usually instrumental hymns - and Scripture readings.

New City Catechism - This is a new site I just found this week. From The Gospel Coalition's introduction to this resource:
Historically catechisms were written with at least three purposes. The first was to set forth a comprehensive exposition of the gospel---not only in order to explain clearly what the gospel is, but also to lay out the building blocks on which the gospel is based, such as the biblical doctrine of God, of human nature, of sin, and so forth. The second purpose was to do this exposition in such a way that the heresies, errors, and false beliefs of the time and culture were addressed and counteracted. The third and more pastoral purpose was to form a distinct people, a counter-culture that reflected the likeness of Christ not only in individual character but also in the church's communal life.
When looked at together, these three purposes explain why new catechisms must be written. While our exposition of gospel doctrine must be in line with older catechisms that are true to the Word, culture changes, and so do the errors, temptations, and challenges that we must be equipped to face and answer. 
You don't hear much about catechisms in our day, but I think that they are a great resource not only for your individual spiritual growth, but for fathers to use in leading their family. I haven't done a very good job of it thus far, but we've tried to use a childrens version to teach our kids some basic doctrines, and its been really neat to see how my kids have caught on to it. I would recommend incorporating this new catechism in your daily walk. Each day has the question and a scripture attached to it, then it also provides a commentary, a brief devotional video and a prayer.

Memverse One thing I've really wanted to get better at is memorizing Scripture. It's something we teach our kids in their Bible classes at school (if your children go to a Christian School) or in Sunday School and kids church, but it's not something that we place a very high value on as adults. Sure, we can sorta recite a few that we use frequently, but rarely do we intentionally memorize large portions of Scripture. Memverse seems like a great tool in helping us along that journey. I haven't started using this yet, I just found it this morning. But I plan on at least trying it out. It looks like its set up well to help with selecting verses to memorize and in keeping you accountable and on track.

Streetlights - This is along a little different lines, and may not suit everyones taste but I love this audio version of the Bible. Its not simply a reading, but it adds music and different voices to add emphasis. I think that it takes some liberties in translation, but it sticks pretty close to the text. Right now it only has a few books of the Bible. Another option is the app which is a dramatized reading of the ESV text.

I'm sure that there others I've used recently but these are a few that I wanted to pass along. Hope its helpful!

Friday, October 12, 2012

George Curtis Yoder

My daughter has suddenly developed the need for one of us to be in her room as she's falling asleep at night. She claims she's scared, but I think she's just stubborn. We've given up fighting - she can fight longer and harder then we can - and usually one of us goes in and sits on one of their beds as they fall asleep. Tonight I sat there, on the end of my sons bed, and heard George singing quietly "J-E-S-U-S Yes! He is the king of me."(More then likely he didn't spell it right, but you get the point) And I looked over and thought what this little boys life could have been like.

You see, my son George, is adopted. Three years ago today my parents received a call from the foster care agency that there was a little boy who needed a home, and into our lives came George. It's more than likely, given his situation at the time, that George would never have had a father in his life. He never would have had a stable home. I don't say this to say that he's so lucky to have me, don't hear that. But as I looked at George I thought how drastically his life changed three years ago, and how privileged I felt to be able to be his Daddy. So I put my book down and crawled up beside him and gave him such extra snuggles and smooches. We giggled and whispered secrets to each other. We enjoyed being father and son. I love my son. I love being his daddy. We laugh and play together. He brings me great joy and I am so proud to be his dad.

As I returned to my spot at the end of his bed I thought about how glad I was that, just as we opened up our home to George and made him a part of our family, God did that for me. I was in a worse situation then George would ever be. I was headed on a path that I could never have gotten off on my own. And God opened up His arms and made me His son. And just as I am pleased and get joy out of my son, God gets joy and delight out of calling me his own. Just as George has received our name, George Curtis Yoder, forever marked as my son, God has given me His Spirit placing a seal on me and marking me as His own.

There are many more children out there like George. Boys and Girls that will never have a stable home. Children that will never have the opportunity to thrive, and most importantly hear the Gospel. I know that adoptions not for everyone, I would hate for people to adopt out of guilt and then end up in a terrible position. But for Christians in particular, for those who understand that they have been adopted by God and are part of His family. As we see the great love in which He has loved us, prayerfully consider if the way He's asking you to live out of that love is through adoption and care for the fatherless and the orphans.

Is it hard, sure. But is there anything worth doing that isn't? And I can tell you its worth it. Its worth it when I hear George sing "Hallelujah, Pwaise the Lward!" It's worth it when we're on the ground tussling and giggling. It's worth it when he grabs my face and gives me a big smooch and says "Daddy I love you." It's worth it. And there's many more kids for whom it is worth it. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Book Study: God's Big Picture

Tonight, at Living Hope Fellowship, we're starting an overview study of the Bible using a book by Vaughan Roberts called God's Big Picture: Tracing the Story-line of the Bible

A few weeks ago we were looking at 1 John 2:18-27 and Johns warning against the false teachers that were rising up within the church trying to diminish the importance of the deity of Christ. In studying that passage we saw that one of the ways that John gives us to fight against those teachings is to abide in the Word of God. In my comments on that I mentioned that all of Scripture points to Christ and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Him. As I processed that thought over the next week I realized that, though I say that and believe that to be true, I don't know if I see that as clearly as I liked and that more than likely there are those in my congregation who are the same way. And in God's sovereignty He brought this book along my desk that very week via a "Truth For Life" program with Alistair Begg. Beings as we are at point in the life of our church where we don't have much going on other than our Sunday morning service I thought that this would an excellent study to do as sort of a foundation piece to our church.

We will be meeting for the next 2-3 months on Wednesday nights at 7 pm in the GMS cafeteria (located at Greenwood Mennonite School on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood, De) to walk through this book chapter by chapter. Even if you don't call Living Hope Fellowship your home church if this study would be beneficial to you and you have Wednesday nights free come out and join us, we'd love to have you!

Here is the publishers description of the book:

Sixty-six books written by forty people over nearly 2,000 years, in two languages and several different genres. A worldwide bestseller published in countless sizes and bindings, translations and languages. Sworn by in court, fought over by religious people, quoted in arguments. The Bible is clearly no ordinary book. How can you begin to read and understand it as a whole? In this excellent overview, Vaughan Roberts gives you the big picture--showing how the different parts of the Bible fit together under the theme of the kingdom of God. He provides both the encouragement and the tools to help you read the Bible with confidence and understanding. And he points you to the Bible's supreme subject, Jesus Christ, and the salvation God offers through him.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship Sunday Recap: October 7, 2012

Welcome to the weekly recap of our service at Living Hope Fellowship.
Each week we try to give you snapshot of what our morning service felt like. From the songs we sang, to the liturgy we used to passage we studied, you can find it all here each week.

This week we began with a call to worship that reminded us of why we meet each week. The psalmist describes what we're going to do - sing, worship, come before Him with thanksgiving - but it also gives us the why: 

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
-Psalm 95:1-7

Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, holy, holy early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10

The Power of the Cross
Oh to see my name, written in His hands
for through Your suffering I am free
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live
Won through Your selfless love

This the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame, bore the wrath
we stand forgiven at the cross

All I Have is Christ
Oh Father use my ransomed life in any way you choose
And let my song forever be, my only boast is you

This week Floyd Mast brought the message. His sermon title was "Smelly People and Wrinkly Wives." And now that everyones appetites are peaked I have to say once again that we don't have the capabilities of posting sermon audio yet. It was an excellent word on the love of the Father for us and yet how often we withhold that love from others. 

We left with a benediction from 1 Thessalonians

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct your way, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Living Hope Fellowship meets at Greenwood Mennonite School on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood, Delaware. Sunday school begins at 10 with our corporate worship service starting at 10:45. We'd love to see you there some Sunday!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship Sunday Recap - September 30, 2012

Welcome to the weekly recap of our service at Living Hope Fellowship.
Here at our weekly recap we try to give you snapshot of what our morning service felt like. From the songs we sang, to the liturgy we used to passage we studied. You can find it here each week.

Living Hope Fellowship meets at Greenwood Mennonite School on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood, Delaware. Sunday school begins at 10 with our corporate worship service starting at 10:45. We'd love to see you there some Sunday!

We began with a call to worship to allow the Scripture to shape our thinking from the outset:

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known 
and revealed his righteousness to the nations. 
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
- Psalm 98:1-4

Days of Elijah
Before the Throne of God Above
Mighty to Save
How Firm a Foundation

Offertory: How Deep the Fathers Love

We are in the middle of a series from 1 John called Walking in the Light.
This weeks passage was 1 John 2:28-3:10 and we looked at why we should be people who live lives in pursuit of holiness. I used an outline from Ligon Duncan that was helpful in walking through this passage:

Why Living a Life in Pursuit of Holiness is a Mark of a Christian.
1. Christ is holy, and those who are born of Him pursue holiness.
2. God has made us His children
3. We are God’s children now.
4. Those who live in hope  of being completely like Christ pursue holiness now.
5. Not pursuing holiness is a rejection of God’s Word
6. Not pursuing holiness reveals that we do not know Christ
7. Our actions reveal our heart
8. Our pursuit of holiness, or lack thereof, reveals who our father is.

It was a good reminder to us that we are called to live differently than the world does.

We were sent out with a benediction from Hebrews 13:

"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen”
Hebrews 13:20,21

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship Sunday Recap - September 23, 2012

This is a recap of our songs and liturgy of this weeks Sunday morning service at Living Hope Fellowship. Living Hope Fellowship meets at Greenwood Mennonite School on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood Delaware. Come for Coffee and fellowship starting at 9:30 with our Sunday School classes starting at 10. Our corporate worship services begins at 10:45.

Call to Worship

I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You and praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.
—Psalm 145:1-9

Greater Than We Can Imagine 
Everyday we'll bless You and praise Your Name
And on Your glorious splendor we will dwell

The Stand
So what can I say, and what can I do
But offer this heart oh God, completely to You

Oh For A Thousand Tongues to Sing
My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim
To spread through all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name

Offertory: Sing to the King

Our text this week was 1 John 2:17-28. Still don't have the ability to upload audio (and this week I don't think my recording actually worked anyways). The main points were:

We're all about Jesus
The way to avoid the deceit of the antichrist is:
  1. Have the Word of God abiding in you
  2. Abide in Him (the Holy Spirit)
We closed with All to Us 
Let the glory of Your Name be the passion of the Church
Let the righteousness of God be a holy flame that burns
Let the saving love of Christ be the measure of our lives
We believe You're all to us

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
-Jude 24,25

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Set Your Mind on Things Above


"Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" Colossians 3:2

This past Sunday I preached from 1 John 2:15-17. The main idea of the sermon was Johns opening line in that passage: "Do not love the world or the things of this world." The rest of the passage was a defense of that opening statement. I'm discovering, as a new pastor, that one of the privileges that come with the turf is that you get to think on - and sometimes get beat up by - the scripture a lot longer then the rest of the congregation does. Leading up to Sunday you've already spent the previous week with the verses running through your mind and after spending hours studying the verses it's much harder for you to remove them from your brain, even after a Sunday afternoon full of football.

So this week I've been giving this a lot of thought. In studying this passage last week, I went to a couple different prominent preachers to see what it was that they got from theses verses. And in doing that, something that John Piper said in his sermon stuck with me. In verse 15 John says "If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them." (NIV) John Piper said this in response to that statement:

 "In other words the reason you shouldn't love the world is that you can't love the world and God at the same time. Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world." John Piper (Do Not Love the World)

So my question for myself was this, which love am I fueling? In my day to day life am I doing things that are fueling a love for God or a love for this world and the things of this world. Am I, as Colossians 3 says "setting my mind on the things above" or the things of this world. I would invite you to ask yourself the same question, what is your day spent focused on? In examining the week leading up to that sermon I discovered something, I had spent nearly all my time filling my mind with the mindless things of this world. On things that didn't matter. On things that kept my focus on things that John says "are passing away." I didn't mean to do it, it just kind of happened.

In Colossians 3:5 Paul tells us how we "set our minds on things above": "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you." Put to death. How many of our letting the earthly things about us survive? Maybe they're not the most dominant thing about us, but they're still there. And not only are we letting them survive, but we're feeding them with what we fix our minds on. What we listen to, what we watch, what we spend our time thinking on. It may not even be bad stuff, just useless things. Paul says put it to death! Why? Because as John says "if anyone who loves the world, the love for the Father is not in them." We sometimes wonder why our affection for God isn't what it used to be. Where did our fire go? Or perhaps God feels distant. Take a moment and examine your life. What are you filling it with. I think we have gotten to lax in what we are spending our time on. I know that I have. Paul and John encourage us to fight for our affection for God, put to death whatever it is that is pushing our love for him away.

This week has been much different. I've been more intentional about what I've spent my time on. I've been careful about what I'm listening to throughout the day at work. I still listen to my ESPN radio in the morning, but I don't listen to it all day, then come home and watch baseball or football all night. I've made an effort to listen to music that isn't simply Christian (because there's definitely Christian music thats as mindless as secular music is) but music that fixates my thoughts upwards. And its made a huge difference, I've found it easier to display the fruits of the Spirit in my life (not that I've done it perfectly), I've found it easier to be more diligent with my devotions, I've found it easier to pray throughout the day.

So I'd encourage you to ask yourself the same questions. What love are you fueling, a love for this world, or a love for God? And what steps can you take to "set your eyes on things above."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books I've Been Reading

Photo source:
One of the things I've always enjoyed doing is reading. Even as a kid I would rarely go anywhere without a book. I have memories of sitting in the back seat of our van, holding a book up attempting to use the headlights of the car behind us to read in the dark. So I was ecstatic when I read John Pipers book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals and find he had a whole chapter devoted the necessity of pastors to fight to set aside time for reading. Maybe now my wife won't get so upset when my nose is buried in a book while the house is in mass chaos around me, I mean if John Piper said it...

Finding time to read has been more of a fight as of late. With a wife and two (soon to be three) little kids, a full time job and all our ministry involvements when there is spare time my mind is so fried I struggle to make myself sit down to read. But God has been gracious and not only supplied me with more time and more focus then normal these past couple months but also quality, time appropriate, books to read. I'm not going to provide an extensive review of each one but I wanted to at least pass them along so that they may be helpful to others.

 There were a few books on church leadership that were great for me to read as we begin to take the first steps of starting Living Hope Fellowship:

The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything by Colin Marshal and Tony Payne
The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander.
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
Church Planting is For Wimps: How God Uses Messed up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things by Mike McKinley

All of these books were extremely helpful. I would highly recommend The Trellis and the Vine if you have not read it. Its a great look at how, too often, churches get caught up with programs that really aren't serving any other purpose then keeping us all busy. Marshal and Payne refocus us on what really matters, being disciple-making disciples. The Deliberate Church and Nine Marks are both excellent resources as well in looking at what makes up a healthy church, what are the things that are essential. And Church Planting is for Wimps was an encouragement to me that you don't have to fit a particular mold in order to be a church planter. And it showed some of the struggles that come with the journey of planting a church.

Some pastoral books I read and found helpful were:

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper
The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry by John Piper and D.A. Carson
Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon

Brothers, We are Not Professionals is a must read for any pastor. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of the pastors life and are challenges to not allow ministry to fall into the mundane professionalism that it so easily can become. I'm still technically reading Spurgeon but it does much of the same thing as Pipers book does in addressing different aspects of the pastors life. Carson and Pipers book was probably the most enjoyable read on this list.

In studying for my sermon series from 1 John I also read (though not entirely yet) the following commentaries:

The Letters of John by John Stott which is part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary
The Letters of John by Colin G. Kruse which is part of the Pillar New Testament Commentary

Both were good. I'd recommend Stotts if I was only choosing one.

Well thats whats actually made it off my shelf and into my mind the last few months.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship Sunday Recap - September 16, 2012

It was a great morning at Living Hope Fellowship. We outgrew our first "sanctuary" (the cafeteria) and moved into the gym. Here you'll find a snapshot of what took place in our morning service.

We meet at Greenwood Mennonite School on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood, Delaware. Our Sunday School classes begin at 10:00 with our corporate worship service beginning at 10:45.

Because of Your Love by Paul Baloche
A great song to open with, reminding us that its only through the love of God shown to us in Christ that we can come before Him in worship.

Lifting gratitude and praises for compassion so amazing
Lord, we've come to give You thanks for all You've done.

Isaiah 6:1-5 

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Behold Our God by Sovereign Grace Music
Behold our God, seated on His throne come let us adore Him
Behold our King, nothing can compare, come let us adore Him

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

Offertory Lord I am Fondly, Earnestly Longing

We continued in our series "Walking in the Light" from 1 John and looked at 1 John 2:15-17. We still don't have the ability to put audio up but are working on it. In summary here's what we came away with:

Do not love the world or the things of this world 
Because if you love the world, you cannot love God
And If you love the world, you will perish with the world 
But If you love God, you will live forever

We closed the service with the song My Jesus I Love Thee.
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Living Hope Fellowship's Sunday Recap - September 9, 2012

Welcome to our weekly recap of what took place at Living Hope Fellowship! We meet at Greenwood Mennonite School in Greenwood, Delaware and would love to see you there! Sunday school begins at 10 and our corporate worship service begins at 10:45. What follows is the songs and readings from this past Sunday at Living Hope to give a snapshot of what takes place on a Sunday morning.

Call to Worship
One of the reasons that we gather is to, with one voice, declare the praises of our Creator and bring Him honor:

Our help is from God alone who made heaven and earth.
Sing to Him with thanksgiving. Make music upon the harp.
How good it is to celebrate God’s presence and sing praise throughout each day!
How good it is to sing praise and give honor to our God!

Our God reclaims his people. The wandering ones are gathered together,
the brokenhearted are healed, the hungry are fed,
the prisoners are freed, the blind are given sight, the lonely are befriended.
How good it is to sing praise and give honor to our God!

All of nature sings aloud the goodness of God
—clouds, rain, grass, creatures great and small.
Our God creates and sustains our world with his ever-growing, never-ending love.
How good it is to sing praise and give honor to our God!
—based on Psalm 147; 2 Peter 1:2, Adapted from The Worship Sourcebook and taken from

Song: I Sing the Mighty Power of God
"There's not a plant or flower below, but makes    Thy glories known. And clouds arise and tempests blow by order from Thy throne."

Song: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
"You're rich in love and You're slow to anger. You're Name is great, and Your heart is kind. For all Your goodness I will keep on singing. Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find."

Song: Blessed Be Your Name
"You give and take away. You give and take away.
my heart will choose to say. Lord blessed be Your Name."

At times its easy to sing words, but when it comes down to living them out it becomes more difficult. Hear these words from the psalmist from Psalm 43:

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
But notice what the psalmist says to himself at the end of this psalm:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
The psalmist talks to himself, and reminds himself of the faithfulness of the Lord. His circumstance hasn't changed, but he doesn't allow that to dictate whether God is worthy of praise. As we sing these words to It Is Well be reminded of why it is we can say, in the midst of any circumstance of life that it is well with my soul.

Song: It Is Well
"Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say
 It is well, it is well with my soul."

Offertory: How Firm a Foundation

This Sunday was a little different then the norm in that it was an installation service for myself as pastor, and 3 men to serve on the leadership team of the church. John Mishler lead the installation service and spoke from Ephesians 4 on the roles of the pastor, leadership team and congregation. It was an exciting day as we took another big step on the path that we believe that God has asked us to walk. The three men that were installed were Gary Rhodes, John Mills, and Allan Warfel.

Sending Out:

We always want to leave our times together knowing that this isn't where the majority of the work is done, but we are being sent out to be a light in the darkness. Read this with me as a reminder not only of the love that has been shown to us, but why it was shown to us:

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy. – Based on 1 Peter 2:9-10

Friday, September 7, 2012

Looking Forward to Sunday: September 7th at Living Hope Fellowship

This week at Living Hope Fellowship we will be having an installation service for myself as Pastor and the Leadership team lead by John Mishler. This is an exciting day in the life of our church!

Songs we will be singing include:

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) - You can hear it here
Blessed Be Your Name - which you can find here
It is Well

We will also being singing an old hymn that may be new to many:
How Firm a Foundation - You can hear the version we'll do here

We meet at Greenwood Mennonite School which is located on Mennonite School Rd in Greenwood Delaware. Come for coffee and fellowship starting at 9:30 with Sunday school classes starting at 10:00. Our worship service begins at 10:45. 

See you Sunday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Sunday at Living Hope Fellowship

This Sunday was the first Sunday morning service we had as Living Hope Fellowship. It was a morning filled with excitement, anticipation and expectation as we took the next step in the journey that we feel God has called us on. 

The morning started with Sunday School classes for all ages.


 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;

he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him

is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to his children,

tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 
The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.

But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him.

-Psalm 103:8-17

Everlasting God by Brenton Brown
A great reminder that while our life is full of changes our God is unchanging and unwavering:
You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God
You do not faint, You won't grow weary

Behold Our God  by Jonathan Baird, Meghan Baird, Ryan Baird and Stephen Altrogge

How Deep The Fathers Love 
Why should I gain from His reward, I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart, his wounds have paid my ransom

O, Church Arise by Keith & Kristyn Getty
A great anthem for us to sing as we begin this journey

Our call to war, to love the captive soul, but to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole we will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on ev'ry side, we know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will have the prize for which He died— An inheritance of nations.

The sermon this week was from 1 John 2:12-14. (Still working on getting my sermons uploaded online, that will come hopefully in the near future) 
How can we be a church where people grow in their spiritual maturity?  Two things: 
1) by being a church centered on His Word and 
2) by being a community of relationships where those of different spiritual maturity levels are connected and pouring into each other

And then we ended our morning celebration by gathering around some good food and eating together. It was a good day!

Friday, August 31, 2012

This Sunday at Living Hope Fellowship...

What to Expect at Living Hope Fellowship - 9/2/2012

This week we will be having our first Sunday morning service at Living Hope Fellowship.

Here's a few things to come expecting: 

This week we'll be continuing in our series from 1 John and looking at 1 John 2:12-14. We'll look at what it has to say about us as a body of believers who are called the church. Why is it important that we're connected to each other? As a church body, who are we at the core? What is it that makes the church the Church?

Songs we'll be singing include:

Come early for coffee and fellowship which starts at 9:30, then find your way to one of our Sunday School classes starting at 10. Our corporate worship service begins at 10:45 am. We meet at the Greenwood Mennonite School which is located on Mennonite School Road in Greenwood, Delaware.

We will also be having a carry in fellowship meal following the service. If you call Living Hope your home church bring a meal to share, if your a visitor simply bring yourself and be our guest. 

See you Sunday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Get Into God's Word

It's always interesting to me how many mornings I'll get on google reader and start to skim through the mornings blogs and a recurring theme will start to emerge. This morning it came from a song, a blog post and a short video clip on the Word of God.

On Desiring God's blog David Mathis gave a word of encouragement to seminary students about staying in the Word not only for their studies but also for daily nourishment. While most of us reading this aren't seminary students, and neither am I, it still applies to us. I really appreciated this analogy based off a Jerry Seinfeld sketch:

When his wildly successful sitcom ended, Seinfeld went on a nationwide stand-up comedy tour called “I’m Telling You for the Last Time.” The routine was recorded for compact disc (remember those?) at New York’s Broadhurst Theater in August of 1998. At the end is a question-and-answer segment, where a zealous fan shouts, “Do you have favorite Seinfeldepisode?”

Seinfeld answers,

I get this question quite often. I don’t really have a favorite; they’re all kind of my babies. I did the best I could with each one. [Audience applauds.]

You know, comedy is kind of a survival industry. Comedians are very much into just surviving. It’s like if I were to ask you, “What is your favorite breath of air that you’ve ever taken?” You would say, “Whichever one I’m taking that gets me to the next one.” That’s kind of the mindset.

And that kind of mindset, alongside others, is a wise one for the seminary student (indeed, every Christian) to embrace. That you took a deep breath an hour ago won’t be much appreciated unless you’re still breathing. A great meal a month ago won’t do you much good if you haven’t eaten since. And delighting in God through taking in his word isn’t an annual, monthly, or even weekly event for the healthy Christian, but a daily rhythm.

Next was a song, which I don't normally take time to listen to things like that that are posted on blogs but this morning I turned it on as a read through some blogs and it was amazing how it connected with what I was reading. The message is simple, but something I often forget: Your Word is a light unto my path. Its by a group I haven't heard of called Seeds Family Worship. You can give it a listen here:

And lastly Randy Alcorn posted on his blog a short clip from Revive Our Hearts ministry on the importance of getting into God's Word.

Randy then added this:

The fact is, you and I will become the product of what we choose to delight in and meditate upon. Psalm 1 says: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”We all meditate, and we’re all shaped by the object of our meditation. We take our attitudinal and behavioral cues from it. This week, will I be shaped by situation comedies, soap operas, and newspapers, or will I be shaped by Isaiah, Luke, A. W. Tozer, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon? It depends on how I choose to spend my time.

Psalm 1 says the one who continually meditates on God’s Word “is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Trees don’t choose where to place themselves, but we do. We determine what our sources of nourishment will be, which in turn determine whether we bear fruit or wither.

Just some things that came across my blogger this morning.