Christ is Alive...So Lift Your Voice!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Here is a taste of our recent Easter worship celebration. I arranged a version of the traditional spiritual "Were You There", then we invited everyone to join in on an original gospel-driven song I wrote for Wally to lead. Truly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is something that believers can get passionate about celebrating. It's the Gospel, the good news! I believe our body was engaged together in an authentic, passionate, and diverse time of worship this Easter Sunday. I truly believe God is doing a unique work through our church to reach people from all backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. I'm glad to be a part of it.

Were You There
Public Domain

Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb

Christ is Alive

Joe Haverlock

The stone could not keep him there He is alive
The stone could not keep him there He is alive
The stone could not keep him there He is alive
Hallelujah Christ is alive

Lift your voice Christ is risen
Lift your voice Christ is risen
Lift your voice Christ is risen
Hallelujah Christ is alive

He conquered death and sin He is alive
He conquered death and sin He is alive
He conquered death and sin He is alive
Hallelujah Christ is alive

Our Hope is found in Him He is alive
Our Hope is found in Him He is alive
Our Hope is found in Him He is alive
Hallelujah Christ is alive

He is coming back again He is alive
He is coming back again He is alive
He is coming back again He is alive
Hallelujah Christ is alive


Friday Afternoon Humor: John Daker

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ok, time for a little Friday afternoon humor. This is one of our favorite YouTube videos, an all-time classic:

This sing-along cartoon parody is even more hilarious after you've watched the original a couple times:

As I think about John Daker, I'm actually impressed by his perseverance all the way to the bitter, awkward end. The "joke" is actually on his teacher. Mrs. Unsicker seems quite confident in her teaching abilies, but her poor student is woefully unprepared for his part in the recital. Yet she plunks right along on the piano, cruelly leaving John to sink or swim on his own. Let that be a lesson for all of us teachers/mentors! :-)

And's ok to laugh at others on occasion, as long as you're prepared to laugh at yourself as well. (I wish you could see me as a 6 year old walking across a church stage to receive an AWANA award and tripping over my shoelaces. My proudest moment turned horrifyingly embarrassing! Unfortunately, no video evidence exists.)


The Great Commission and the American Dream

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

J.D. Greear offers some thought-provoking words on why it is difficult and rare for American believers to radically and sacrificially commit to the Great Commission. Here's his conclusion:

When Jesus has become your beauty (when knowing Him and pleasing Him has become your greatest delight) and when He has become your security (you know that He will take care of your future and all you need to do is obey Him today), then you will be free to follow Him wherever He tells you. You will no longer require nice things and creature comforts to enjoy life; you will no longer require huge sums of money in saving to feel secure. And as your heart is overwhelmed with the grace that God has shown you in the Gospel, you’ll find that there’s nothing you’d rather do with your money than help people find Jesus. That is what will give you the greatest pleasure, and that’s what you’ll consider to be the wisest and most secure investment.

Most people can’t follow Jesus because they are held captive by the American dream, and can’t free themselves of it until they disabuse themselves of the lies and idolatry it is built upon. When Jesus, not money, becomes your God, you will follow Jesus with abandon.
Read the whole article here.

HT: Justin Taylor


"Judge Not" - What does that really mean?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Matthew 7:1 is perhaps the most oft-quoted verse in this postmodern era: "Judge not, that you be not judged." But does that verse mean that we can't call sin ... sin? Or that we can't confront false teachers? Or even that we can't try to discern what is best from what is merely ok?

Check out this 2-minute explanation from John MacArthur: "Judging Others: The Verse Pagans Love to Quote."

What do you think about MacArthur's explanation? Agree or disagree?

*P.S. You may also be interested in MacArthur's answer to the question: "Why Did Jesus Forbid People from Making Him Known?" His answer is well worth 2 minutes of your time.


Churches Helping Churches (follow-up)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's hard to forget the disturbing images of ruin following the earthquake in Haiti back in January. As many of you know, Harvest had an opportunity to partner with an effort called Churches Helping Churches. This effort, led by Pastors James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, was intended to aid Haitian believers and churches devastated by the quake. The report of how the Lord has used your generosity, along with the generosity of many other churches across America, is remarkable. These numbers are from the Churches Helping Churches website.

4 : months to the day since the 7.0 earthquake struck Port-au-Prince

$2 million : donations received thus far for church rebuilding mission in Haiti

$1.7 million : value of medical supplies secured by CHC for local Haitian clinics

200 : Haitian pastors who will attend a retreat at the end of May so they can be ministered to and heal personally before they go out and minister in their own communities

5, 15 : number of Biblical counseling experts and pastors from the Haitian diaspora, respectively, who will minister to local Haitian pastors at the retreat

We thank God and all of you for what has been provided so far, and feel blessed to be a part of this mission. But there’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done. There are still pastors who need support, churches that still need rebuilding, and communities that still need the Gospel.
If you'd like to help, here's how you can pray and here's where you can give.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)



Sunday, May 16, 2010

I want to share just a few quick thoughts running through my mind regarding our services over the last two weeks.

1. God is clearly up to something among us at Harvest. I don't know if you can sense it or not, but I certainly can. His Spirit has been powerfully among us, and I've sensed Him working, moving, shaping, convicting, encouraging, and cultivating us into a community of worshipping believers - BIG TIME.

2. On a personal level, I have sensed a greater freedom and joy while preaching the last couple of weeks than I've experienced in a while. I've been examining the reasons for this and I've come to some conclusions. I won't share all of them at this time, but I will mention just this one: Through my study of Ephesians 5, I have been reminded of the simple prayer - "Lord, fill me with your Spirit afresh and anew once again today." And I've been breathing this prayer to the Lord every day for the last two weeks. I would encourage you to do the same.

3. I'm thrilled we are growing continually in the area of expressiveness, joy, enthusiasm, transparency, and community in the area of singing in worship to our great God! Keep it up, Harvest. Keep giving more of yourself to Him in worship and He will continue to give you a clearer vision of eternity and the times of worship that await us there. Now, that's something to look forward to, isn't it?

4. It is good for us to laugh together, isn't it? Life is hard as I'm sure I don't have to remind you. The people of God ought to be known as a people filled with laughter and joy - a people who don't take themselves too seriously. Let's keep laughing together, praying together, singing together, and following Jesus together - with JOY!

5. Right now, I have a deep down feeling of anticipation regarding our church. His Spirit is moving me in this way - to anticipate. You may wonder, "What are you anticipating?" I'm not even sure at this point, but I believe it will be good because what ever God gives is good because God is good all the time!


The Eyes Jesus Opened First

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jon Bloom of Desiring God has an insightful meditation on the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus who met Jesus after his resurrection. Here's his conclusion:

Their outward inability to recognize Jesus mirrored their inward unbelief of what the Scriptures revealed about him.

Now, Jesus fully intended to help them see. But notice the priority of Jesus’ revelation: before he opened their physical eyes, he purposed to open their heart-eyes.

Why? Because it was of utmost importance that they “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

Jesus knew that between his resurrection and the full establishment of his kingdom would be the church age. His ascension was nearing. That meant these two men, all the other witnesses of the resurrection, and every generation of believers to come would not have his bodily presence for proof or guidance. They would have to rely on his “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) Word to “light [their] path” (Psalm 119:105). Post-ascension, Jesus would be seen through the inerrant testimony recorded in the Scriptures and the imperfect testimony of followers whose heart-eyes were opened.

One last observation. When God ordains things to happen contrary to our expectations (like Cleopas not expecting Jesus to die), those are times when we are tempted to doubt his word—lose faith—and as a result lose sight of him. But not being able to see him doesn’t mean that he isn’t there walking with us. We may not recognize him. Those are not the times to neglect the Word. Rather, those are the times to spend hours looking. That is where you will begin to recover your sight.
Read the whole article here.


Our Great Salvation

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A few weeks ago our Sunday morning Bible Doctrines class studied the doctrine of salvation. Here is a summary - read it and rejoice!

Election: Before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4-5; 2 Thess 2:13; Rev 13:8), God freely chose (1 Thess 1:4; 1 Pet 1:1) certain individuals (Rom 11:7) to be saved (Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28-30).
• This choosing was unconditional, not based on any foreseen merit in those individuals, but only because of God’s loving will (Rom 9:11, 15; 11:5-6; 2 Tim 1:9; Eph 1:5).
• The truth of election is intended to be a comfort (Rom 8:28-30), a reason to praise God (Eph 1:4-6; 2 Thess 2:13), and a motivation for evangelism (2 Tim 2:10; Acts 18:10-11).
• The truth of election is in no way intended to negate man’s responsibility (Mt 11:28; Jn 3:18; 5:40; Rev 22:17; Rom 10:14) or to deny God’s love for all (Ezek 33:11; Mt 23:37; 1 Tim 2:4).

The Atonement: Christ lived a perfect life (Rom 5:19; Mt 3:15), earning righteousness for men (Phil 3:9). Christ died as a substitute for sinners (Is 53:6; 2 Cor 5:21), bearing their sins (Is 53:12; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 2:24) and completely satisfying God’s wrath (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2) as a perfect sacrifice (Heb 9:26). Christ rose bodily from the grave after three days (1 Cor 15:5-8).

Calling: The proclamation of the gospel of Christ (2 Thess 2:14; Rom 10:14; Acts 3:19; 16:14).
General calling: God invites all men without distinction to salvation (Mt 22:14; Acts 17:30; Rev 3:20; 22:17).
Effectual calling: God summons the elect to salvation (Jn 6:37; Rom 8:30; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Cor 1:9; 1 Thess 2:12).

Regeneration is an instantaneous act of God (Jn 1:13; Jms 1:18) whereby he imparts spiritual life to spiritually dead individuals (Jn 3:3-8; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13).
• Regeneration affects one’s entire being (2 Cor 5:17). It results in immediate saving faith (Acts 16:14; 1 Jn 5:1; Jn 3:5) and a changed life (1 Jn 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4).

Conversion is a simultaneous turning from sin in repentance and turning to Christ in faith (Acts 20:21; 26:18; Heb 6:1; 1 Thess 1:9).
• Saving repentance includes a genuine sorrow for sin and a sincere renouncing of it (2 Cor 7:9-10; Lk 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19).
• Saving faith includes knowledge of Christ and his gospel (Rom 10:14) and a willing trust in the person of Christ for forgiveness and eternal life (Jn 1:12; 3:16; 6:37; Eph 2:8; Rom 3:22).
A regenerated individual will continue in an attitude of repentance (Mt 6:12; Rev 3:19) and faith (Gal 2:20; Col 1:23) throughout his life.

Justification is God legally declaring (Rom 8:1, 33-34) undeserving sinners (Rom 3:23-24) as righteous, solely on the basis of Christ’s life and death (Rom 5:19; 1 Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9).
• Justification is by grace alone, not by works (Rom 3:24; 4:4-6, 16; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9).

Adoption is an act of God whereby he makes believers members of his family.
• Believers are God’s children (Rom 8:14; Gal 4:5; 1 Jn 3:1-2), with all the corresponding benefits (Rom 8:15-17; Gal 4:6-7; Mt 6:9, 32; 7:11; Heb 12:6, 10) and responsibilities (Eph 5:1; 1 Pet 1:14-16; Mt 5:16; Phil 2:15; 1 Jn 3:10).
• Believers are members of God’s family, the church (1 Tim 5:1-2).

Sanctification is the process by which believers become more like Christ throughout life.
• It is a progressive (2 Cor 3:18; Phil 3:12-14) work of both God (Phil 2:13; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20-21) & the believer (Rom 6:11-13; 8:13; Phil 2:12; 3:12-14; Heb 12:1, 14; 2 Cor 7:1).
• Helps in sanctification: Scripture (Jn 17:17), prayer (Eph 6:18), worship (Eph 5:18-20), fellowship with believers (10:24-25), self control (Titus 2:12), and hope (Col 1:4-5; 1 Pet 1:13).
• Believers are positionally sanctified at the moment of regeneration (1 Cor 1:30; 6:11; Rom 6:14, 18), but the process of sanctification is not fully completed until death (1 Jn 1:8; Prov 20:9; Mt 6:12; Jms 3:2; Heb 12:23).

Perseverance: All those who are truly regenerated will be kept by God (Jn 3:36; 6:39-40; 10:27-29; Rom 8:30; Eph 1:13-14; Phil 1:6) and will persevere in faith (1 Pet 1:5; Col 1:23) and growth (Jms 2:14-26; 1 Jn 4:6; 2 Pet 1:5-10; Eph 2:10) until the end of life (Mt 10:22; Heb 3:14).
• Professing believers who show external signs of conversion but finally fall away demonstrate that they were never truly regenerated (1 Jn 2:19; Mt 7:21-23; Jn 15:2, 6; 17:12; Heb 6:4-6).

Glorification: God fully and finally eliminates the power and presence of sin from the believer, completing his transformation into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29-30; Phil 3:20-21).

Union with Christ overarches every aspect of salvation (Eph 1:3). We were elected in Christ (Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9). We are called into fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9; 1 Jn 1:3; Phil 3:8, 10). We are regenerated in Christ (1 Jn 5:11; Eph 2:10). We believe in Christ (Jn 3:16). We are justified through our union with Christ (Rom 8:1; 2 Cor 5:21) in his life (Rom 5:19), death (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6:5a), burial (Col 2:12), resurrection (Eph 2:5; Rom 6:5b), and ascension (Eph 2:6). In Christ we are redeemed (Rom 3:24; 1 Cor 1:30; Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7) and we have peace with God (Rom 5:1, 10-11; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Col 1:21-22). We are united with other believers as one body in Christ (1 Cor 12:13; Rom 12:5; Jn 17:21; Gal 3:28). We are sanctified in the reality of our union with Christ (Rom 6:4, 11; Gal 2:20), becoming more like Christ (Rom 8:29; Eph 4:13). Our actions should be in Christ (Phil 4:13; 1 Cor 15:58; Jn 15:5) and in imitation of Christ (1 Jn 2:6; 1 Pet 2:21), even to the point of suffering (Phil 3:10; Heb 13:13). Christ never leaves us (Mt 28:20). We will die in Christ (Rev 14:13), our bodies will be raised in Christ (1 Cor 15:22), and we will be glorified in Christ (Rom 8:17).


Worship With Your iPhone? There's An App For That!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Here's something creative and worshipful too. Enjoy!


Pre-Modernity, Modernity, Post-Modernity

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dr. Kevin Bauder of Central Seminary is currently writing a series of short articles titled "The Importance of Imagination." Allow me to strongly commend to you the first five articles, in which he compares the pre-modern, modern, and post-modern worldviews. In my opinion, Bauder has a tremendous understanding of this subject. I heard him lecture on worldviews back in '06 at a campus ministry conference, and the 'big picture' he presented has shaped my thinking in the years since. I hope these articles help your understanding as well.

Part 1: Enter the Imagination

Part 2: Premodernity and the Moral Imagination

Part 3: Modernity and the Idyllic Imagination

Part 4: Postmodernity and the Demonic Imagination

Part 5: Imagining the Transcendent


Its Time To Pray!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I can't think of anything our church does that's more important than the times we gather to pray as a church family. Seriously, there isn't a thing that should be more important to us than gathering together to seek God's face and to beseech Him on behalf of our family, church, community, and nation. I want to urge you to prioritize these gatherings of prayer and fight hard to keep the priority high on your list of all the things you have to do. Trust me, you and I won't have to look very hard at all to find a reason not to join with the church family to pray...

You could say:
  • my kids have school the next day and I don't want to keep them out late... OK, its only one hour. We're talking 7-8pm.
  • my son didn't finish his homework... OK, but is it life and death if its not done? How about him seeing in you the priority of prayer?
  • I'm tired after work and want to relax with my family and watch TV... OK, the family thing is great. Why not spend time with your family (and church family) praying instead of vegging on the couch like a zombie?
The truth is this - we ALWAYS figure out a way to do the things we want to do and we ALWAYS find the time to do them. Maybe we just need to ask Jesus to give us wisdom in sorting out our priorities? Seriously, its not like the leadership of the church is asking you to be out of your home every night of the week. We respect the fact many of you have families and young children. But we schedule four of these corporate prayer gatherings every year (once a quarter), and some of you have never come to pray with us even once... Sorry to be so straightforward, but its time for you to think about this reality.

If we are about being like Jesus then we must be committed to prayer because He was committed to prayer. And for goodness sakes, if there was anyone who we would think DIDN'T need to pray, it would be Jesus, wouldn't it? After all, He was God, wasn't He? So, why would He need to pray?

Well, He prayed because in His humanness He needed to have communion with His Father for encouragement, grace and strength to accomplish the Father's will. Anyone in favor of more encouragement, grace and strength? He also prayed to set an example for us. I believe He wanted you and I to see the value of prayer and to walk away from His example saying to ourselves, "If Jesus did it, I'm going to do it."

I could go on and on about this subject, but here's one last thought for you to consider... The early church was a place of amazing, life-altering, manifestations of God's work among His people. Why was this the case? For many reasons, but chief among them is the fact that the early church was committed to fervent prayer. Read the book of Acts for yourself and see how many times the people of God gathered together CORPORATELY with their brothers and sisters in Christ to seek God's face in prayer. Its remarkable, really...

So, to sum it all up, let's pray together. THIS THURSDAY, MAY 6 @ 7PM AT THE HARVEST MINISTRY CENTER. I need it. You need it. Don't make excuses. Let's give ourselves to this matter of prayer and then watch what God does among us. Its going to be awesome!


Imperatives - Indicatives = Impossibilities

A good reminder from Justin Taylor (and Tullian Tchividjian):

The problem with the typical evangelical motivation toward radical or sacrificial living is that "imperatives divorced from indicatives become impossibilities."
Read the whole post here: Imperatives – Indicatives = Impossibilities

Kevin DeYoung writes along the same lines:
The secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us.
Read the whole post here: On Mission, Changing the World, and Not Being Able to Do It All


T4G Gems: C.J. Mahaney

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ordinary Pastors (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

"You must preach the Word with a clear commitment to unoriginality."

"Your church may not have the ambience of a Starbucks. It may not have a cutting-edge website. But if you are faithfully preaching the gospel, there is power. And the church will be edified and the lost will be evangelized."

"Don't think you can craft faithful sermons while isolated from your people. You will not be able to helpfully apply the truth of the Word to their lives."

"So often I expect people to comprehend and apply certain truths quickly, although those same truths took me years to comprehend and apply. That is why your preaching ministry must be 'with complete patience.'"

"Most of the Biblical metaphors for ministry are borrowed from the world of agriculture. That is because God normally works in people very gradually. He is comfortable working by seasons and generations. Unfortunately, my flesh prefers seconds and minutes."

Mark Dever - R. C. Sproul - Al Mohler - Thabiti Anyabwile - John MacArthur - David Platt - John Piper - Ligon Duncan - Matt Chandler - C.J Mahaney


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