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July 20, 2014


Preparing for the Lord’s Day Worship

We live in a so-called “information age.” Knowledge is power. And if we look at companies like Google, knowledge is also money. No wonder we idolize information! There is a constant stream of it; so much so that our e-mail inboxes (plural!) have become unmanageable, and we spend hours trying to catch up with the latest news, Facebook posts, tweets, blogs, text messages, and maybe even phone calls. Indeed, one of the greatest virtues of the modern world is being “well-informed.”

But we need to be careful. Being “well-informed” is not the same thing as being wise. And, no, the irony that this is a blog post is not lost on me. But I am convinced that one of the surest ways of never growing in wisdom is spending hours of our days staring at our computer/phone screens trying to stay “well-informed”. Do not pursue information. Pursue wisdom.

What, then, is wisdom? John Calvin put it this way:

Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.1.1)

Calvin continues:

…it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. (1.1.2)

According to Calvin, then, true wisdom consists in first knowing God, and then, in light of who God is, to know ourselves.

That is, true wisdom will never be ours if we spend countless hours chasing information. We simply must recognize that so much of what the world considers information worth knowing is better described as trivia. Trivia is exactly that: trivial. We will not grow wise through them.

But there is a better way. It is worship. Indeed, if anyone wonders why you love appearing before God in worship, you may tell them that God makes you wise in worship. For in worship he speaks and reveals to us who he is, what he has done, and what he will yet do. In that worship we learn we are fallen, but loved and rescued, and cherished and kept for eternity. How good it is to worship God who makes us wise! Pursue wisdom.

Call to Worship

Psalm 111 (p. 509)

TH #168 “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

Prayer of Invocation

Reading of the Law and Confession of Sin

Matthew 24:45–51 (p. 830)

Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” (Micah 7:18 ESV)

TH #304 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

Presentation of Tithes and Offering

Pastoral Prayer

The Proclamation of God’s Word

James 4:1–10 (p. 1012)

The Wisdom of Repentance

Rev. Ken Han

The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper

Baptized Christians who are members in good standing in Reformed or evangelical churches are invited to participate. Otherwise, please let the bread and the cup pass you by. During the distribution of the bread we will sing TH #317 “Day of Judgment! Day of Wonders!” stanzas 1–2, and stanzas 3–4 during the distribution of the cup.

TH #441 “Jesus Shall Reign”

Benediction

Growth Resources

Family Devotion for the Week

The Gospel At Work (Kindle Edition) is a new book by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert, which aims to show “How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Maning to Our Jobs.” It is a short, practical book full of good insights. The book first identifies two common errors of the idolatry of work and idleness in work (chapters 1–2), and then in chapters 3 through 10 discusses various topics such as “The King’s Purposes in our Work (ch. 4),” “How Do I Balance Work, Church, and Family? (ch. 6),” and “How do I Handle Difficult Bosses and Coworkers? (ch. 7),” among other topics. This is a helpful book for those just about to enter into the workforce as well as those who have been in the trenches already for a while. One copy of this book will be available on the table this Lord’s Day.

We have some new resources for you at the information table, including several new CCEF mini books, as well as other edifying books. Be sure to check it out!

For children: Long Story Short and Old Story New: chapter 62. First Catechism Qs. 120–121. For adults: Shorter Catechism Q. 84. In this week’s Shorter Catechism lesson we conclude the Tenth Commandments, or, how the study of God’s Law should change us.

Upcoming Events and Notices

Children’s Bible Lessons will be on summer hiatus, and will resume in September.

July 19 (Saturday 7 AM): All men are invited for a time of study, prayer, and fellowship at the Nienhuis home.

Nursery Volunteers

July 20: Liza Beede & Janny Ligtenberg

July 27: Michelle Kay & Amanda Severns


July 13, 2014


Preparing for the Lord’s Day Worship

Some friends of ours lost their father to cancer recently. This week our family attended a Roman Catholic funeral mass for the deceased. The mass was an odd mixture of inclusion and exclusion. At one point during the mass the priest welcomed “all practicing Roman Catholics who regularly attend mass” to receive the eucharist. Others were invited to “have spiritual communion with Jesus instead.” (Somehow, that feels a bit backwards, doesn’t it?) Then he gave out the bread, but not the cup. In the Roman Catholic church the cup is usually reserved only for the priest. So here was exclusion in fully display: first, practicing Roman Catholics were set apart over against the unwashed mass, and then the priest belonged to a special class of Catholics who receive the cup while the rest of the “faithful” were excluded.

Yet, at the same time, there was a sustained note of inclusion in the priest’s homily. The priest repeatedly made the point that “all of you will join the deceased and be resurrected.” That is, all, without exception, regardless of faith and status before God, all were told they will rise in heaven. Apparently, even those who do not qualify to receive the eucharist apparently qualify to go to heaven. (Again, this feels a bit backwards, doesn’t it?)

Sorely missing through the entire mass was the only thing that can truly comfort us in our hour of death: the sin-atoning, the read-raising good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, the mass was deliberately inclusive, but only by excluding Jesus’ work on the cross. But without the gospel, what do we have? No comfort. No hope. Nothing.

John Calvin put it well:

Without the gospel

 everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

 we are not Christians;

without the gospel

 all riches is poverty,
 all wisdom folly before God;
 strength is weakness,
 and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

 children of God,
 brothers of Jesus Christ,
 fellow townsmen with the saints,
 citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
 heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom
      the poor are made rich,
      the weak strong,
      the fools wise,
      the sinner justified,
      the desolate comforted,
      the doubting sure,
      and slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.

For, he was

 sold, to buy us back;
 captive, to deliver us;
 condemned, to absolve us;

he was

 made a curse for our blessing,
 [a] sin offering for our righteousness;
 marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him

 fury is made gentle,
 wrath appeased,
 darkness turned into light,
 fear reassured,
 despisal despised,
 debt canceled,
 labor lightened,
 sadness made merry,
 misfortune made fortunate,
 difficulty easy,
 disorder ordered,
 division united,
 ignominy ennobled,
 rebellion subjected,
 intimidation intimidated,
 ambush uncovered,
 assaults assailed,
 force forced back,
 combat combated,
 war warred against,
 vengeance avenged,
 torment tormented,
 damnation damned,
 the abyss sunk into the abyss,
 hell transfixed,
 death dead,
 mortality made immortal.

In short,

 mercy has swallowed up all misery,
 and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle [p. 18] against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are

 comforted in tribulation,
 joyful in sorrow,
 glorying under vituperation,
 abounding in poverty,
 warmed in our nakedness,
 patient amongst evils,
 living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament (1534). Cited by Michael F. Bird, Evangelical Theology, 16–18

Call to Worship

Exodus 17:1–7 (p. 59)

TH #499 “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”

Prayer of Invocation

Reading of the Law and Confession of Sin

John 8:12 (p. 894)

Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

TH #67 “Not unto us, O Lord of Heaven”

Presentation of Tithes and Offering

Pastoral Prayer

The Proclamation of God’s Word

James 3:13–18 (p. 1012)

Faith Alive? Make Peace

Rev. Ken Han

The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper

Baptized Christians who are members in good standing in Reformed or evangelical churches are invited to participate. Otherwise, please let the bread and the cup pass you by. During the distribution of the bread we will sing TH #647 “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” stanzas 1–3, and stanzas 4–6 during the distribution of the cup.

TH #186 “One There Is, above All Others”

Benediction

Growth Resources

Family Devotion for the Week

We have some new resources for you at the information table, including several new CCEF mini books, as well as other edifying books. Be sure to check it out!

For children: Long Story Short and Old Story New: chapter 61. First Catechism Qs. 118–119. For adults: Shorter Catechism Qs. 82–83. In this week’s Shorter Catechism lesson we conclude the Tenth Commandments, or, how the study of God’s Law should change us.

Upcoming Events and Notices

Children’s Bible Lessons will be on summer hiatus, and will resume in September.

July 13 (Lord’s Day): Please join us at the Live Oak Park for fellowship meal. Hot dogs, and brats will be provided, as well as drinks, buns, & condiments. Paper goods will be provided as well. Please bring a side dish to share, and some lawn or folding chairs in case we cannot get enough table seating for everyone. Park in the first lot, before you reach the main entrance. Walk from the parking lot down the ramp, and keep to the left to go across the first bridge and then head towards the play structure. Remember the parking fee is $3.00, self service at the booth.

Nursery Volunteers

July 13: Yoori Han & Mari Nienhuis

July 20: Liza Beede & Janny Ligtenberg


July 6, 2014


Preparing for the Lord’s Day Worship

This week we are celebrating Independence. It will, therefore, be remarkably clear on this Lord’s Day how countercultural Christians really are. For when we enter into worship, we leave behind our cherished identity as Americans who celebrate independence, and embrace our identity as Christians who celebrate dependence. Indeed, for all the positive things that the spirit of independence can produce in our society, it is not an asset before God, but a liability.

How, then, do we celebrate before God? We joyfully confess “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We rejoice “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). We hope because “God is able to make all grace abound to [us], so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, [we] may abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:8). Finally, we rest confident, because God “is able to keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). How blessed we are when we depend on him!

The hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” contains the line, “Here I raise my Ebenezer; Hither by thy help I’m come; And I hope, by thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.” This is in reference to the prophet Samuel setting up a monument to remember God’s help. “Ebenezer” is Hebrew for “Rock of Help.” Samuel did this as the Ark of the Covenant, which had been captured by the Philistines because of the ungodly ways the people of Israel tried to use it as an amulet, was finally returning to Israel. But while the Ark was in the Philistines’ possession, it devastated the Philistines, demonstrating that Israel’s power was never in her people, but in her Lord. So as the Ark returned to Israel Samuel set up a memorial of Israel’s dependence on God, lest this, too, would be quickly forgotten.

Remember, then, how blessed it is to depend on God. Celebrate your dependence. And raise your Ebenezer in a heartfelt worship.

Call to Worship

Psalms 128

TH #457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Prayer of Invocation

Reading of the Law and Confession of Sin

2 Timothy 3:1–5

Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon

“O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” (Psalms 130:7 ESV)

TH #551 “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”

Presentation of Tithes and Offering

Pastoral Prayer

The Proclamation of God’s Word

James 3:1–12

Faith Alive? Stick Out Your Tongue!

Rev. Ken Han

The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper

Baptized Christians who are members in good standing in Reformed or evangelical churches are invited to participate. Otherwise, please let the bread and the cup pass you by. During the distribution of the bread we will sing TH #56 “When All Your Mercies, O My God” stanzas 1–3, and stanzas 4–6 during the distribution of the cup.

TH #585 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Benediction

Growth Resources

Family Devotion for the Week

For children: Long Story Short and Old Story New: chapter 60. First Catechism Qs. 116–117. For adults: Shorter Catechism Q. 81. In this week’s Shorter Catechism lesson we consider the Tenth Commandment, or, doing all things for Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Events and Notices

Children’s Bible Lessons will be on summer hiatus, and will resume in September.

July 7 (Lord’s Day 9:30 AM): Please join us for prayer meeting.

Nursery Volunteers

July 6: Kelly & Rebecca Rogers

July 13: Yoori Han & Mari Nienhuis


June 29, 2014


Preparing for the Lord’s Day Worship

The Han family has been living through a mild inconvenience of sorts. Due to a water leak under the sink that went undetected, much of our kitchen needed to be demolished and reconstructed, along with areas connected with the kitchen. Now that the work of reconstruction is in full swing, we have been treated to some spiritual lessons. When we moved into this house in 2008, we found Roman Catholic saint medals taped to every single window sill in the house. The previous occupants, apparently, were very superstitious. It seems they placed these medals at every window, perhaps, to ward of evil spirits.

This week the workers have been removing our damaged floor. In the process they have discovered Roman Catholic saint medals placed in the hollow chipped out of the concrete slab beneath the floor. They have also found more taped behind the baseboard at various places around the house. Interestingly, they have also found some coins with Chinese inscribed in them. I can only guess they are amulets of some sort. I guess they weren’t such devout Roman Catholics, after all; they were hedging their bets! Or, maybe they were great Roman Catholics; Roman Catholicism has always had syncretistic bent, adopting, and adapting to, prevalent customs and habits of its surroundings. Indeed, one of the reasons Roman Catholicism has spread so widely is that it never challenged too seriously the native superstitions and faiths, but instead absorbed and incorporated them into its piety and practice.

In contrast, the heirs of the Protestant Reformation have insisted on the utter superiority of Christ over all faiths and religions. In this regard we are utterly inflexible, and therefore hopelessly out of touch with the mores of the present culture. We insist there is no salvation apart from Christ. It also means we do not hedge our bets. While the world runs after the trendiest guru and expert, we know that when we have Christ, we have everything. Yes, the exclusivity of Christ means utter sufficiency of our Savior. If we have him, we have him. He is not a half-savior, but the complete and sufficient Savior.

Call to Worship

Psalms 71:17–21

TH #94 “How Firm a Foundation”

Prayer of Invocation

Reading of the Law and Confession of Sin

Romans 1:16–17

Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7 ESV)

TH #77 “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”

Presentation of Tithes and Offering

Pastoral Prayer

The Proclamation of God’s Word

James 2:20–26

Faith Alive? Don’t Be An Airhead

Rev. Ken Han

The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper

Baptized Christians who are members in good standing in Reformed or evangelical churches are invited to participate. Otherwise, please let the bread and the cup pass you by. During the distribution of the bread we will sing TH #56 “When All Your Mercies, O My God” stanzas 1–3, and stanzas 4–6 during the distribution of the cup.

TH #731 “Doxology”

Benediction

Growth Resources

Family Devotion for the Week

For children: Long Story Short and Old Story New: chapter 60. First Catechism Qs. 116–117. For adults: Shorter Catechism Q. 81. In this week’s Shorter Catechism lesson we consider the Tenth Commandment, or, doing all things for Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Events and Notices

June 27 (Friday 7 PM): The Session will meet at the Summers’ home.

July 7 (Lord’s Day 9:30 AM): Please join us for prayer meeting.

Nursery Volunteers

June 29: Michelle Kay & Amanda Severns

July 6: Kelly & Rebecca Rogers


Marcia Hoel Update (April 15, 2014)


Dear Church,

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." (Psalms 116:15 ESV)

Marcia Hoel entered into glory 12:40AM, April 15.

As I sat beside Marcia and saw Marcia in decline, I often thought about the hymn "A Debtor to Mercy Alone." This hymn ends with the line:

Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv'n;
more happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in heav'n.

How full of the gospel comfort is this song! The "earnest" is the Holy Spirit, who was given to help us in our weakness. When Marcia became too weak to speak or to pray, the Spirit interceded for her with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26ff). And the Spirit in you was praying through you for Marcia as well. As your pastor I am grateful for your prayers, and the Spirit who dwells in us.

The hymn also speaks of the saints in heaven as “more happy, but not more secure.” This is a great encouragement for us as we fight our daily battles. So often it feels as though we are perishing. But the glorious truth is that God holds us faithfully in this life, and we are as safe and secure as the glorified spirits in heaven.

And how sweet for Marcia. For she is now a glorified spirit in heaven. She is now, indeed, “more happy.”

We all loved Marcia and we mourn her suffering and death. Yet we do so with the sure knowledge that Marcia fought the good fight until the very end (I saw with my own eyes), trusted and loved her Savior, and has entered into her reward and rest. Jesus comforted Marcia through her last trial, and may he now comfort all of you who loved her.

I had a chance to visit with Marcia’s family today. Most of Marcia’s children live in Colorado, and need to return. Thus it seems best to the family to hold a memorial service for Marcia in a few weeks’ time. Marcia’s family is deeply grateful for all your prayers and offers of help.

I will forward details concerning the memorial service, and what help we can offer her family, in due time.

In Christ,

Pastor Ken