November 22, 2015

No Evening Broadcast

This evening will be our annual Praise and Thanksgiving service, where the congregation shares how God has been working in the past year. For privacy purposes, this service will not be broadcast.

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Grace FPC New Building

Picnic Photos

We have photos to share of last Saturday's 5K and picnic on our Facebook page. Click here to see them!

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Haiti New Photos

This weekend, our annual Labor Day Weekend Picnic will again be preceded by a 5K walk/run. This year we are giving all proceeds to the Demas 32 Church in Haiti. Check out their website for more information:

We have some recent progress photos to share of the building work there. Photo description: temporary tin roof removed in order to pour concrete roof which will eventually become the floor of the new worship space on the second floor.

Haiti Building Photo

Click here to see our Facebook album for two more photos!

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From The Valley of Vision

O Lord of the Oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals;
Bring me to harbor with flying pennants,
hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.
I ask great things,
expect great things
shall receive great things.
I venture on thee wholly, fully,
my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady,
thy Word secures safe passage,
thy grace wafts me onward,
my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home,
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide,
my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
with skill to convert every care into prayer,
Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper;
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
may I strive to bind up every wound,
and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May the world this day be happier and better because I live.
Let my mast before me be the Savior’s cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in his side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea
until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.
—from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritian Prayers

This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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The Ordinary Christian Life, Part 2

by Michael Horton

If gradual growth in Christ is exchanged for a radical experience, it is not surprising that many begin looking for the Next Big Thing as the latest crisis experience wears off. Even in my own lifetime, I’ve witnessed—and participated in—a parade of radical movements. And now, according to Time magazine, the “new Calvinism” is one of the top trends changing the world. This movement has also been identified as “Young, Restless, Reformed.” But as long as it is defined by youthful restlessness, it may tend to warp what it means to be Reformed.

When they were younger fishermen, my children couldn’t leave their line in the water long enough to catch a living thing. They were always reeling in the line to see if they had caught anything. Then, when they wanted to plant strawberries with my wife, their initial excitement turned quickly to boredom when, after only a few days, they didn’t see any fruit.

To be young is to be restless. We’re lost in impatient wonder and selfish impulses. But we are called repeatedly in the New Testament to grow up, to mature, to put away our childish ways. We are called to submit to our elders, to appreciate the wisdom that spans not only years but generations, and to realize that we do not have all the answers. We are not the stars in our own movie. If the whole apparatus of church life is designed by and for a youth culture, then we never grow up.

So in some ways, at least, our restless impatience with the ordinary is not just the influence of our culture, but the influence of unsound views of Christian discipleship that have shaped that culture over generations.

Renewing Respect for the Ordinary
First and foremost, any renewed appreciation for the ordinary begins with God. Of course, God is hardly ordinary, but He delights in working in ordinary ways. Our triune God could do everything Himself, directly and immediately. After all, He said, “Let there be light”— and light appeared (Gen. 1:3). Yet, He also said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation.” And “the earth brought forth vegetation” (v. 12). God is no less the ultimate source of reality when He is working within creation to “bring forth” His purposes than He is in directly calling things into existence.

In providence, God’s ordinary way of working should surprise us with wonder. What could be more ordinary than the birth of a child? We do not have to call it a miracle to be astonished at God’s handiwork. Even God’s normal way of working is stupendous. Though the prophets and Apostles were called to an extraordinary office, they were ordinary people who communicated God’s Word in ordinary language.

We see this diversity even in the incarnation. God’s assumption of our flesh in the womb of a virgin is nothing short of a direct and miraculous intervention in history. And yet He assumed His humanity from Mary in the ordinary way, through an ordinary nine-month pregnancy. Her delivery of the incarnate God was not miraculous, either. He even grew in ordinary ways, through ordinary means: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

In addition, the extraordinary miracle of new birth comes to us from above, but we are united to Christ through the ordinary preaching of the gospel. Some conversions are radical; others are gradual. In either case, it is God’s miraculous work through the ordinary means of grace.

In all of these ways, God is the actor, even when He acts through creaturely means. We do not rise up to God, but He descends to us and communicates His grace to us through words and actions that we can understand.

Ordinary does not mean mediocre. Athletes, architects, humanitarians, and artists can vouch for the importance of everyday faithfulness to mundane tasks that lead to excellence. But even if we are not headliners in our various callings, it is enough to know that we are called there by God to maintain a faithful presence in His world. We look up in faith toward God and out toward our neighbors in love and good works. You don’t have to transform the world to be a faithful mom or dad, sibling, church member, or neighbor.

And who knows? Maybe if we discover the opportunities of the ordinary, a fondness for the familiar, and a wonder for the mundane, we will end up being radical after all.

This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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The Church’s Special Privilege

by Alistair Begg

Jesus has sent His Church into the world on the same errand upon which He Himself came, and this mission includes intercession. What if I say that the Church is the world’s priest? Creation is dumb, but the Church finds a mouth for it. It is the Church’s high privilege to pray with acceptance. The door of grace is always open for her petitions, and they never return empty-handed. The curtain was torn for her; the blood was sprinkled upon the altar for her; God constantly invites her to bring her requests. Will she refuse the privilege that angels might envy? Is she not the bride of Christ? Can she not approach her King at any hour? Will she allow the precious privilege to be unused?

The Church always needs to pray. There are always some among her who are declining or falling into open sin. There are lambs to be prayed for, that they may be carried in Christ’s bosom; the strong, lest they grow presumptuous; and the weak, lest they become despairing. If we kept up prayer-meetings twenty-four hours a day all the days in the year, we might never be without a special subject for supplication.

Is there ever a time when no one is sick or poor or afflicted or wavering? Is there ever a time when we do not seek the conversion of relatives, the reclaiming of backsliders, or the salvation of the lost? With congregations constantly gathering, with ministers always preaching, with millions of sinners lying dead in trespasses and sins—in a country over which the darkness of religious formalism is certainly descending—in a world full of idols, cruelties, devils—if the Church does not pray, how will she excuse her neglect of the commission of her loving Lord? Let the Church be constant in supplication; let every private believer give himself to the ministry of prayer.

This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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Sermons Uploaded

Today Andrew Farr continued his series on 1 Peter in the morning, and spoke of the hope of the resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15 in the evening. Watch or listen to the sermons on Sermon Audio, here (morning) and here (evening).

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