Hearing the Music!

A Never Ending Supply

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What if you had a never ending supply of money, energy, entertainment, friends, or whatever you might need! What kind of confidence would you have as you engage life? What kind of perseverance would you be able to employ?   

Isaiah 58:11 promises just this sort of never ending supply for God’s people: And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Did you hear those claims? Continually; a spring of water, whose waters do not fail! These bold, audacious claims are promises that our living God makes to his people. What is even more striking is the placement of these promises in the broader context of Isaiah 58. These promises are given in response to the call to "pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted (v.10)”,  which itself is part of the broader call to" loose the bonds of wickedness (v. 6)”. The picture that is painted for us is that of a vessel being upended and poured out, but the waters don’t end, they keep flowing!

I need to sink my roots deep into these promises! Family, work, health, world events, my own sin patterns, etc…  all these conspire to leave me empty. Only by resting in the finished work of Christ do I realize that He has created in me a spring whose waters will never fail. On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37–38)

This week we welcome Karl and Debbie Dortzbach to Christ Church as  part of our Missions focus. Karl and Debbie have a deep love for the Lord and have served faithfully in service of the Kingdom for many years now.   It is a privilege to host them and to glean from the unique perspective that God has afforded them.

 

Photo by Samara Doole on Unsplash

A Whole New World

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What do you think when you think missions? Mark Noll, writing in The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith (IVP Academic, 2009),* comments that, "A few short decades ago, Christian believers were concentrated in the global north and west, but now a rapidly swelling majority lives in the global south and east.” He goes on to posit that if you were a Christian Rip Van Winkle and you were to wipe "a half-century of sleep from your eyes [after awaking this past week] and tried to locate your fellow Christian believers, you would find them in surprising places, expressing their faith in surprising ways, under surprising conditions, with surprising relationships to culture and politics, and raising surprising theological questions that would not have seemed possible when you fell asleep.”

And this my friends is good news! As our hearts sang with Psalm 72 last week and with the prayer that the whole earth would be filled with His glory, we find that the Lord is indeed building his Kingdom. Noll goes on to cite encouraging facts including this one: “More than half of all Christian adherents in the whole history of the church have been alive in the last one hundred years." Imagine that. In the last 100 years the entire, throughout-history, Christian population has doubled!  

I punctuate with an exclamation point because we need to recite this stupendous encouragement in our conversations and shout this loudly in our living rooms. So often it seems that we are morose and downtrodden watching our nation’s news cycle. I sometimes feel like I am presiding over the funeral of Christendom with some of the conversations I have with believers. But, our God is on the MOVE! We just fail to see it because we are not looking in the right places. Again to quote Noll, "This past Sunday it is possible that more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called 'Christian Europe'. Yet in 1970 there were no legally functioning churches in all of China…”

So, this Sunday let us expand our hearts and minds as we come to worship this God of the cosmos. Let us pray and sing and join our voices in longing for our God to be known. May we be encouraged to see ways that God is on the move and may we be freshly energized to join the throng exulting Him before the nations. As part of our missions focus we welcome this Sunday Serge missionaries to London, Chris and Josephine Hatch, who will be joining us in the adult institute hour to talk about world religions. From the pulpit, we will be looking at Psalm 63 and the soul’s longing for God; a longing that invites mission.  

 

Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash

Preparing for the King

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I am sure most of you noticed that the president came to town this week.  
From roadside stands hawking t-shirts and placards, to secret service ensuring security, to crowds gathering from early morning on, Grand Rapids was transformed for his arrival. 

This week we will be digging into Psalm 72.  It is known as a Royal psalm, a celebration of the true King of Israel. It concludes with these words: "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!" (Psalm 72:18-19) In a similar way to the way that GR was prepared for the arrival of a president, the whole earth is being prepared for the arrival of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The earth is being, and will be filled, with his Glory! 

This is the story that we are in. We are invited to think “whole earth" big with our lives, our church, etc. We are preparing for the arrival of the King! More than t-shirts, we point people to robes of righteousness. We invite people to join us in line, to gather with the throngs so that we may greet the One who comes in perfect righteousness, justice and compassion.  

To that end I am grateful that the motion to push forward with mission at Christ Church by making our facilities a place for the “sparrows and swallows" of the world to find a home overwhelmingly passed this past Wednesday (referencing Psalm 84). I am grateful that there was an embrace of a continuing commitment to church planting. Preparing for a King gives us a lot of work to do in the coming months and years, but we take heart that it is the King's work!  

Photo by King's Church International on Unsplash

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