Hearing the Music

Change of Seasons

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One of the good things about living in Michigan is the change of seasons. We have the privilege of enjoying winter’s wonderland of snow, spring’s appearance of new life, summer’s warmth of lazy days, and fall’s display of color. Year after year the seasons come and the seasons go, and I find myself enjoying all of them because I see God’s handiwork in each. 
 
Of course there are seasons in our lives as well - seasons of schooling, career, perhaps marriage, maybe raising children, being grandparents, retirement - and in each of these God’s hand is at work. My prayer is that God would help me learn to enjoy each season in life He brings as well.
 
One of those seasons is happening in my life and in the life of our church. After much discussion and prayer, I have decided to step down as the Director of Youth Ministry. Over the past couple of years Leah and I have had discussions about whether we should continue on in ministry or pursue something else. In those discussions and times of prayer we did not sense God leading us, or calling us, to something else, either in ministry or to some other work. However, in the last month or so we have come to realize that, though God is not calling us to something, He is leading us away from ministry. 

We (and I use "we" because Leah is just as much a part of this ministry as me) are weary. We have been in full time ministry for 24 of our 25 years of marriage, with 20 of those years at Christ Church. They have been good years filled with wonderful relationships, rich expressions of God's grace, challenges that have grown us, and fabulous memories. We step down with full hearts.

As we have walked with Christ Church, and particularly with the youth of this church through the most recent season of growth and change, we acknowledge that someone with fresh energy and new ideas will be a blessing to the growing youth ministry. May these dear young people continue to flourish and be blessed under the youth ministry of Christ Church; may it be that they would know God, understand His love, and enjoy fellowship in community.
 
In this next season of life in terms of a job, I trust the Lord will guide me. Your prayers are appreciated as I take this next step. There are no plans to move or even to leave Christ Church. Leah and I, along with our children, are richly blessed to be part of this great community. We have seen how God has cared for this church in many of its seasons, and we are confident that He will continue to do so for He lavishly loves His people, and His purposes are for our good. 

Posted by Scott Gritter

Worship

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Over the last few weeks we have been thinking through ways that we articulate/share the vision God has given us for life in this world. So far we have said, Enlivened by the Gospel, we will Engage God’s world with winsomeness and Embrace God’s family with welcome. This week we come to the fourth and final “E”, namely, Enjoy God with Worship. Let’s break this down a bit.

What does the word worship conjure up for you? Sunday mornings? Images of hymnals and organs, guitars or drums, people seated in rows? Is it the music, the preaching, prayer? Is it solemn or joyful? How about all of the above, and more! Worship is the totality of how we live our lives before God as those enlivened by the Gospel. Worship shouts to the Lord in praise and adoration. Worship quietly and soberly reflects on the meaning of our days. Worship engages the marketplace through our occupations. Worship raises kids at home. Worship shares the good news with our neighbors. Worship tosses a ball in the yard or takes a walk in the woods. Worship wakes us up daily to be followers of Jesus in every aspect of life!

And it is important that it is God whom we worship. It is often said that you worship what you love. For some, that may be money or cars, academic achievement or music, a spouse, our kids, popularity, power, you name it. Many of these are good things, but when they become ultimate things the worship becomes idolatry. God alone is worthy of our worship. Our fervent desire is that he is at the center of all that we do, both formally and informally as Christ Church.

What is the result of a life filled with the worship of God? Joy! Joy does not mean an unmitigated happiness that never suffers, but rather it is a quality of spirit that is characterized by gratitude, contentment, and hope. Some of you are familiar with the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. and A. #1, which asks after the chief end of humanity. The answer is that the chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Worship of our God with joy, delight, and pleasure is why we were made, and it is through the enlivening work of the Gospel that we experience the true joy that never fades. The psalmist captures it well in Psalm 73 when he says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26).

Enlivened by the Gospel, We will engage God’s World with Winsomeness, Embrace God’s family with Welcome, and Enjoy God with Worship. What a story we are in! What a God we serve! He gives us the dignity of service, a family to embrace, and a relationship to enjoy! It is good news worth sharing and gives shape for a life worth living.

Each Sunday we start the week with a heaping portion of focused worship! This Sunday is no different as we commemorate Reformation Day with the next portion of our Philippians study (Philippians 3:1-11), which also happens to be a great text celebrating the truths of the Reformation, namely salvation by grace alone, through Christ alone, by faith alone!

 

 

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Family Affair

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"For whoever does the will of God,
he is my brother and sister and mother.

(Mark 3:35 ESV)

This week we continue our review of animating principles of Christ Church. So grateful for the "mind of Christ" that gives us the strength to live this out.


Enlivened by the Gospel, we will engage God’s world with winsomeness ...

This is where we ended last week, in our articulation of vision, engaging our Father’s world. But what happens when we do? As God, through the Gospel, works in the hearts of people, some (many) are drawn into a relationship with the Lord and drawn away from lives lived solely for themselves. In the words of Colossians, they come out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his marvelous light (Col. 1:13,14). Or as Jesus says in the verse above, they become members of his family. Which leads us to the next phrase of vision articulation:

We will embrace God’s family with welcome ...

One of the richest metaphors that we find throughout the Scriptures for God’s people is that of a family. God is our Father and we are his children (Col. 1:12 and countless other places). Jesus is our older brother (Heb. 2:11). Fellow Christians are called sisters and brothers. In other places we are called the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:6-8). Family is everywhere. And it is not just a metaphor; it is a way of life for God’s people that is given expression in the local church. To be sure being part of God’s family extends beyond the walls of the local church. I am sure that you, like me, have been amazed when miles from home, you find a camaraderie with the people of God in other locales. But it is in the local church that we are embraced most fully as family. Where, like in a family, we are known and know, and still love.

A couple of thoughts to take this deeper. There is an old saying, “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”. How true that is in the church. As mentioned above, God is at work through the Gospel to bring people out of darkness into the Kingdom of Light, his family, where we share his inheritance. And the people that he is gathering are from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 7:9-10). They are short and they are tall. They are rich and they are poor. Extroverts and introverts. Democrats and Republicans. Married, single, old and young. Some get along marvelously with others, while others are more prickly. God takes all these people, throws them together in a local church and says, “Family”. Talking about embracing this family with welcome means gladly receiving this broad diversity because God has done it, and collectively this family gives us the clearest picture of the God we serve.

But loving this kind of diversity is not easy. Therefore, we are encouraged through the Gospel to embrace the family that God has given us. Embracing is an act wherein we encircle someone with our arms to draw them close and hold them tight. Obviously we cannot physically do this with all in the church. So what does this look like? The answer is surprisingly broad, and surprisingly simple. It looks like showing up: for church, graduations, birthdays, hospital visits, and the like. Our presence is an embrace. It looks like staying steady: rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn, bearing the burdens of those weighed down, standing in the gap for those whose lives are headed off the rails. It looks like listening, a lot! Sharing what we have. Perhaps most significantly, embracing one another looks like saying sorry and learning to forgive (as God in Christ forgave us - Eph. 4:32). If there is one thing you can count on in the church it is that we will both be offended and offend, be wounded and wound. Embracing our family means leaning into the resources the Gospel affords and learning to live at peace with one another.

How wonderful it is to belong, through no merit of our own, to the family of God. As we do embrace our family with welcome, we give testimony to the world of the reality of the Gospel, and more importably we bring glory to God. Next week we will look more at the joy it is to bring Glory to Him!

 

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