Hearing the Music!

Think Big, Think Long, Think Biblically

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Picture yourself with one of your hands reaching forward and upward as you pursue Jesus. In that same picture, your other hand is extended behind you as you take someone along on that journey. This is leadership. This is discipleship. Does the picture describe you? Are you pursuing Jesus and calling others to come along? Then perhaps you are a leader.

On Sunday morning Pastor Addison will lead us through Psalm 32. The psalmist praises God for the ways He deals with our sin then after the “therefore” in verse 6, describes how we are to respond to that: with bold prayer, with trust, by yielding to God and through rejoicing in Him. At the PCA Women’s Life-giving Leadership Conference in February, Lynnette Hawkins and I learned that forgiven, life-giving leaders respond like this by:

THINKING BIG – Do I aim to do something that is doomed to failure unless God is in it or do I play it safe? Do I ask God to do “exceedingly abundantly more than I can ask or think?"  

THINKING LONG – Do I lead others in the light of eternity or are my investments short-term and short-sighted?  

THINKING BIBLICALLY – Do I take advantage of opportunities to listen to good teaching, to study God’s Word for myself, to ponder it, apply it, memorize it, talk about it with others, and pray about it? Do I allow it to convict and correct me? Does it inform everything I do?

Here are three other takeaways from the conference:

  1. We serve an amazing God, and He is at work in powerful and life-giving ways.  

  2. We are part of an amazing denomination. From work being done on college campuses, at Covenant Seminary, in the military, overseas, in engaging disability with the Gospel, in pursuing justice and mercy, through publications, in small and large churches, through church plants and a host of other ways, the Word is being declared, lives are being changed and the Gospel is going forth.  

  3. The PCA is full of amazing women (and men, too). We met many leaders that fit the description in the initial picture. They are strong, humble, wise and godly, and they sacrifice much so the Gospel goes out.

Lynnette and I were privileged to be in their company and our prayer is that we will be servant leaders who pursue Christ and continually invite others to join us on the journey. Here are the large group talks and seminars from the conference which can be downloaded and listened to at your convenience! There is a lot of wonderful information packed into these talks.

Photo by Dineslav Roydev on Unsplash

Posted by Cheryl LaFleur

Orientation, Disorientation, Reorientation

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Could it be? Could the hold of the White Witch be loosening here in GR? I am pretty sure I heard birds chirping this morning. Furthermore, I am seeing pavement through the ice-trough that is our street! With the rise in temperature comes an anticipation for spring. We are longing for the day when we can throw open the windows, get out the buckets of Mr. Clean, and chase all the staleness and stuffiness of winter away. 

This season of Lent is similar. It is an opportunity to "open the windows" of our hearts and let the fresh breezes of the gospel blow through, chasing away the staleness and stuffiness that inevitably collects. I love the psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24 where he says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" This is a spring cleaning type prayer, an honest invitation to allow God to "clean house" in our soul. Not in a groveling sort of way that focuses on our effort or sees a need to deny ourselves to earn God’s favor. Rather, proper Lenten “cleaning” is a fresh application of the promises of the gospel joyfully brought to bear on our lives.   

What better place to look Scripturally for guidance in this Lenten season than the psalms! The psalms speak to us of life as we know it. They speak to us of orientation, disorientation, and reorientation; a cycle that seems to capture the story of humanity on a daily basis as we relate to God in the midst of a messy and broken world. During Lent this year we will learn how God uses the Book of Psalms to lead us through this ongoing cycle. Together we will explore how it teaches us to speak and sing to God in a way that expresses the full range of our emotions to God in prayer. Because psalms are prayers composed for singing, we will not only learn about them, but will pray with and from the psalms by singing them together in a variety of different forms. God’s people have been singing this biblical hymnbook to pray to God in worship for 3000 years since the time of King David. Jesus himself learned to pray using the language of psalms, and in his life and prayers we find their greatest fulfillment. As we learn the discipline and delight of following Jesus in the way of the cross during this season of Lent and preparing for the great celebration of Easter, we anticipate the guidance of God’s prayerbook.

 

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Sided by Side

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"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,”

Philippians 1:27

What are you striving for these days? Personally, I have been thinking a lot about this verse and what it means. I have been trying to keep my walk shoveled, (yet again), trying to keep the salt off of my car, and just trying to stay warm. I’ve been trying to keep up with all of my commitments. Winter can put me in survival mode. But what am I truly striving for?

Paul reminds us that our real purpose is to strive side by side for the faith of the gospel. What a noble purpose God has given us in this life! Our great Savior has gone before us and now has given our church community a commission to be His ambassadors to a waiting world. We get to do this right here in Grand Rapids. But God’s heart is for this whole world. We also get to be part of His work by striving side by side with the missionaries that Christ Church supports.

During Lent, (Yes, Ash Wednesday is coming on March 6th!), we have the opportunity to strive with our missionaries in prayer as a church community.

A booklet entitled, Praying With Our Missionaries through the Season of Lent is available for your use. It is comprised of 40 entries highlighting missionaries and their prayer requests. Each entry features a scripture, song, hymn, or thought that is dear to one of our missionaries. It also gives specific prayer requests for the day. Please consider making this part of your daily routine for the next five weeks.

The last week, (April 7th through 14th) will culminate in our Missions Festival, Beyond our Doors: Missions 2019. We are excited to see what will happen. 

It is our hope that our own faith will be strengthened as we pray together with our missionaries. May they know that we are” standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side” with them.

Alice den Hollander for the Missions Committee

 

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