SERMONS & TEACHING

 
 
AUDIO SERMONS
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9.24.17 – POSSIBLE (week 2 or 4)
Possible to be Hope Filled
 
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 9.17.17 – POSSIBLE (week 1 of 4)
 Possible to Live Free
VIDEO SERMONS
 
 
 
 

Prayer and Worship

Prayer is essential in a Christian’s life. Without prayer, it becomes empty with no connection to God. Prayer and worship are closely knit. They are inseparable. Worship is a prayer. Prayer is an act worship. It is possible to have one without the other, but they both quickly become lacking in depth when on their own. Worship quickly becomes about things it truly isn’t meant to be, and prayer turns into an empty routine.

Although we often don’t want to admit this, we have a tendency to view prayer as the currency for God’s vending machine. If we put the right amount of money in, press the right buttons then we can get whatever we want. Maybe we’ll even get some change back too. This isn’t the Biblical understanding of prayer, and it certainly is not the model Jesus showed us. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He gave them the Our Father prayer which is found in Matthew 6:9-13 (NRSV)
 
9 “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread
12 And forgvie us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial 
but rescue us from the evil one.

 

The whole prayer is about centering ourselves with God’s will. It is about relying on God. What did Jesus teach us about prayer? Prayer is aligning our hearts with God’s own heart. God’s heart is constant, and through prayer, we are reminded our way is not God’s way.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to pray without ceasing. Prayer is a journey we take, and it connects us with God. This is why we are never done praying.

Speaking to His approaching death, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. (Matthew 26:42, NRSV).” Jesus, being fully God and fully man, realized the importance of aligning with God’s heart. Once again, ultimately seeking for our hearts to be aligned with God is what prayer is all about. The end result of prayer and worship ought to bring out less of us and more of God. As we align our hearts with God’s, we are reminded of the other, and we learn to say, “Your will be done not mine.”


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The Perfect Worship Service

When it comes to music, everyone has an opinion. Worship has the power to draw people closer together. It can build a bridge between differences in race, gender, age, etc. It also can cause division. It can drive a wedge between whole churches. It can create an “us vs. them” divide. In light of this fact, this month I want to share a fun excerpt from Tom Kraeuter’s book, Guiding Your Church Through a Worship Transition.
 
 

The Perfect Worship Service

            After listening carefully over the past several years, we believe we have finally determined what those who attend our church really want in music. Following are the items that come up most frequently whenever this topic is discussed:

  • More fast songs in the opening praise time and more slow songs in the opening praise time
  • More of those wonderful, lovely old hymns and less of those stupid, dead old hymns
  • A longer and shorter time of praise at the beginning of the service, and a shorter and longer time at the end
  • Songs to flow quickly into each other and long periods of time between songs for reflection
  • More repetition of songs so they can be learned and meditated upon while singing, and less repetition of songs because it gets boring singing the same thing over and over
  • More of those lovely arrangements with extra instruments and less of those showy arrangements with all those instruments
  • To sing the good old songs more often and to stop always singing those same old songs
  • Songs to be sung in higher and lower keys
  • The band to play in the middle of the platform where they can be seen, back behind the plants where they won’t be a distraction, louder, softer, faster, slower, more often, and not all

 

Grace and peace,
Daniel Hazel
 
Source:
Guiding Your Church Through a Worship Transition by Tom Kraeuter

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What Is Worship

Psalm 66:4 says, “the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Nature sings praises to the Creator, Yahweh. Creation worships God. And similarly, so do we as people. Humans and creation both praise the Creator. It reminds me of a professor I had that would consistently describe worshiping as “experiencing God.” To put it another way, worship is our response to experiencing God. This is powerful. This is meaningful.
 
This
 
Is
 
Important.
 
So what are we talking about when we talk about worship? Realizing that worship is our response to God should change how we talk about worship. It means worship is not confined to our humanness. Worship is rooted in scripture. In the Old Testament, the writers often speak of singing to and exalting the name of God (1 Chronicles 16:23-31 and Psalm 99). Worship is something we do because it is a part of us. And because it is part of us, worship is intertwined with our lives. Worship is not confined to certain moments, it is found in our dark and light days. This means worship can be found in lament and praise.
 
Worship is about aligning our hearts with the Creator of all things. This requires less of us and more of God. In the song, Heart of Worship, Matt Redman articulates this perfectly. He writes,
 
“I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart”
 
God is continually searching and looking deeper than the surface (1 Samuel 16:7). God is not only looking for songs. God is looking for hearts that are fully abandoned and ready to be used to further the kingdom of heaven. God wants a life that is striving to be aligned with God’s will. God wants lives of worship. Worship is thoroughly entangled in our spirit. Worship that permeates the aperture of our mundanity. That is what worship is. Doesn’t that make you excited? It should, and I hope it does. The best part is that this is only the beginning, the surface, level 1, of what worship is.
 
Grace and peace,
Daniel Hazel

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Pastors’s Corner

Christian A Schwarz, a globally recognized expert on church health, states “…many people confuse the (constantly changeable) structures of the church with its (unchangeable) essence. Therefore, they are not able to view structures as means to an end. Rather, they strive to maintain the structures as they have always been.”

How true. In the U.S. this year, well over 4,000 churches will close their doors. An even staggering figure, over 50 percent of the churches in the U.S. will not add any members by conversion (Barna Group). What does this mean? We are “doing church” the wrong way. The ‘structures’ that were relevant 40, 30 or even 15 years ago, are not relevant today. Younger generations are not following in the footsteps of their elders. Days of going to church because it’s what we’ve always done are over.

Speaking at the 2017 North American Christian Convention, consultant and generational expert Hayden Shaw stated, ‘for the first time, we are experiencing 4 generations in the church and we are trying to be all things to all generations…and failing miserably’. If we look at the beginnings of the church, we can see their strategy was to reach the lost and strengthen the saint. But if you read deep into the context of the Pauline epistles and Acts, you will see their methodology was to do whatever it took to minister the gospel to all who were willing to listen. Many churches today have lost the essence of the church. They have committed to inward growth but largely neglect the unchurched around them. Hence, the decline of the neighborhood church.

Growth will only come one way, through change and constant evaluation. We should be relatable to the younger generations, while still serving and growing the older generations. Our look must be relevant, our programming/music/structures should be attractive and our community outreach efforts should be direct and pointed (changeable structures). However, our message and reason for existing (unchangeable essence of the church) will always remain the same.

Jesus never said the church will establish and be comfortable. What he did say was cast the net on the other side of the boat, and I’ll take care of the fish (John 21). So let’s join together in casting our net on the opposite side of the boat. Let’s unite in one common purpose of reaching the unchurched and the lost. And I can guarantee, Jesus will do the rest.


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