Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Friday - Secret Church

On Friday, April 22, we will have SECRET CHURCH!

I have been looking forward to this for weeks.  This will be a life-changing, God-honoring event.

So, you are thinking, "What in the world is SECRET CHURCH?"  Good question.

Several years ago, a large church in Birmingham, Alabama began to have marathon Bible study nights that they called "SECRET CHURCH".  The name came from the secret church in China that often meets late at night and often all night long.  As the people in this Birmingham church (The Church at Brook Hills) would meet and study the Bible, they would also pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in the underground church in China and other places around the world where Christians have to meet in secret.

This SECRET CHURCH event has taken on a life of its own over the years, largely because of the incredible preacher/teacher, David Platt.  Dr. Platt is probably one of the top two or three Bible teachers today.  He has a way of taking very complicated truths and making them clear and easily understood.

I have eagerly waited for and listened to audios of most of the past SECRET CHURCH sessions and I have done this for years.  I grow so much from this concentrated Bible study.

So what makes this different from any other Bible study?  Another good question.

One thing is simply the gifted teaching from such an effective communicator as David Platt, but there is another reason this teaching is so valuable.  In each SECRET CHURCH event, David teaches everything the Bible says about the topic of the night.  This is a complete study.  How does he do that?  How can he be so thorough?  Well, are you sitting down?  Then, I'll tell you:  He teaches for six hours straight!  Well maybe not straight, there are a few breaks, but SECRET CHURCH immerses you into the Bible as you study the chosen topic with an exhaustive and in-depth study.  This is exhaustive but not exhausting.  In fact, to attend one of the actual SECRET CHURCH events which they host at a very large venue, you have to get tickets months in advance.  This is an incredible experience.

So on Good Friday, the day that commemorates the crucifixion of Christ, we are going to broadcast a live simulcast of this year's SECRET CHURCH event from the Church at Brook Hills.

David will take about six hours and teach everything you ever wanted to know about the crucifixion of Christ.  Here is the official description of the topic:

Crucifixion, Salvation, and the Glory of God - From cover to cover in Scripture, God’s grand design is to display His glory in the salvation of sinners. The climax of this redemptive plan is the cross of Christ, where God pours out His wrath due sin upon His Son so that we might receive His mercy. But how is Christ’s work on the cross applied to our lives? In the words of the Philippian jailer, “What must we do to be saved?” During this Secret Church, we will explore how the Bible answers this question as we consider God’s love, Christ’s atonement, and the Christian’s conversion, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and eventual glorification. In the end, we will find ourselves boasting only in the cross of Christ, through which we have received the grace of God and by which we now live for the glory of God. 

 This will be a great night.

Here is how the logistics will work:

The event begins at 7:00 p.m.  Adults and youth will be in the worship center.  We will have study guides for everyone so you can follow along and take notes.  The teaching will go until around 1:00 a.m.. There will be breaks through-out the night at which time we will have snacks and refreshments.  There is no cost for the event.  The books cost us $7, so we will collect an offering at some point in the night to help defray some of that cost.  If we collect more than is needed, we will send the rest to be used to support the underground church in China.

Childcare will be provided for children from kindergarten to fifth grade.  There will be no cost for the child care.  We ask that parents secure there own arrangements for children younger than that.

Much more information coming soon.  Mark this date, though, on your calendar.  Let this Easter season be one with a very strong focus on Christ.  Let this event be the cornerstone of that!

Pastor Noel 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Do You Take Advice Well?

How are you at taking advice?  In preparation for a Bible Study, I looked for all of the verses in Proverbs that say something about taking advice from people.  Take a poke through these... (I included both the New King James and the New Living Translation.  For me, I love reading Proverbs out of these two side by side.)

He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray.

People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.

Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.

He who despises the word will be destroyed, But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.

The law of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.

The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.

Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, But he who regards a rebuke will be honored.

If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.

Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.

Whoever abandons the right path will be severely disciplined; whoever hates correction will die.

A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise.

Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.

Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.

He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.

Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you will turn your back on knowledge.

Plans are established by counsel; By wise counsel wage war.

Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.

5 A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; 6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

5 The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. 6 So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.

11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. 12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

11 Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. 12 To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

 Pastor Noel

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who Needs You?

One of the best pictures of intercessory prayer is found in the historical account of a battle between the nation of Israel and the Amalekites in Exodus 17.  In this battle, the victory hinged on God working through the steadfastness of Moses' prayers.

Read this...

     While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them.Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”  
     So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill.As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage.Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset.As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.  (Exodus 17:8–13 NLT)

So here are the questions I believe the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart this morning as I studied this passage:
  • Who is counting on me to pray?
  • Are there people in the battle of life that are struggling at least in part because I have not been faithful to pray for them as I should? (Or maybe a gentler way to ask the question would be:  Are there people in whose life God would be doing a greater work if I were more faithful to pray?)
  • How faithful am I in praying for others?
  • Who should I be praying for that I have not been praying for?
Everyone is a Moses to someone.  Who is counting on you?

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New PM Series -- The Lord's Supper

I am looking forward to this Sunday night's worship.  We will begin a new study series focused on the Lord's Supper.  The plan is to spend three weeks studying everything the Bible teaches about this very important type of worship.  A study like this maybe doesn't sound as exciting as some others like, "Spiritual Warfare" or "End Times Prophecy", but the truths we will uncover in this study are just as valuable to our walk and our worship.

So here is a rough outline of what is coming...

Week 1 (3.13)  -- The First Lord's Supper
  • The Setting
  • The Elements
  • The Meaning of the Supper
  • The Instructions To Repeat
  • The Controversies
    • Transubstantiation
    • Consubstantiation
    • Memorialism

Week 2 (3.20) --  How The Lord's Supper Was Practiced
  • The First Church
  • The Corinthian Church
  • The Love Feast
  • The Error
  • How to Properly Prepare For and Partake In the Lord's Supper

Week 3 (3.27) -- Celebration
  • Questions & Answers
  • A Unique Celebration of the Lord's Supper

There is a 50-50 chance we won't get this done in three weeks, but that is the goal.  If you want to read ahead, review these passages...
  • Mark 14:22-25
  • Matthew 26:26-29
  • Luke 22:17-20
  • 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Memorizing Scripture

While studying this morning, I read a sermon preached by John Piper on January 5, 1997 where he talked about memorizing verses of Scripture.  I thought this paragraph was especially helpful:

You Can Do It -- You may doubt that you can do this, especially if you are older. But ask yourself this question, If I offered you $1,000 for every verse you memorized in the next week, how many do you think you could memorize? Yet God says of his word in Psalm 19:10–11, “They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” The real value of the word is far greater than $1,000 a verse. The question is, Do you believe this? Believing this will be the crucial motivation you need.  [Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1990-1999). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.]

Something to think about!

Pastor Noel