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Worship - July 2021

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As I am sure you are aware, we just wrapped up our week of VBS, and it was an absolutely wonderful time of gospel seed sowing. I was incredibly blessed to see the body of Christ come together and work side by side leading up to and all through the week of VBS. It was a powerful reminder of how we are called to labor together in the fellowship of the gospel.

I would like to share with you some excerpts from an article by Bob Kauflin, in which he reminds us of the wonderful blessing of coming together as the church, especially when it comes to corporate worship. It is entitled, God made us to Gather: the Fresh Wonder of Corporate Worship, and here is just a portion of that article:

When we sing God’s praise together, he is exalted more highly than if we do it alone. His inherent glory doesn’t change, but the manifestation of it does. It’s the difference between playing a basketball championship in an empty arena (not such a strange thought these days), and playing the same game in front of twenty thousand screaming fans. The final score is no different. But it’s safe to say that the glory of the winning team in the second scenario will far surpass that of the first.

I might be no less sincere and passionate singing to the Lord alone as when I’m singing in the midst of a congregation. But hearing the voices of those around me makes me realize that God is much bigger than whatever he happens to be doing in my life. And others are experiencing the same change of perspective. That’s one reason why King David’s impulse was to say things like, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:3) and, “I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you” (Psalm 35:18).

Worshiping God in song together affirms that his worthiness stretches far beyond what I can offer by myself. My personal times of Bible reading, prayer, meditation, and worship in song are often rich and rewarding. I experience the Spirit’s sweet conviction, assurance that my sins are forgiven, and fresh comfort and security in God’s promises. But those times don’t replace what I do every Sunday with the church. That’s because we’re living stones, not random bricks, being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (1 Peter 2:4Ephesians 2:22).

On Sunday mornings, my weary spirit is buoyed by the joyful early-morning service of the setup team. The loud praises of those around me remind me that I’m not alone in my struggles and that God is supremely worthy of my trust. I’m strengthened by the counsel and prayers of friends. I benefit from spiritual gifts like administration, mercy, leadership, and teaching. At the same time, God uses the unique gifts he’s given me to build up those around me. I can’t do this on my own. You can’t either. If we are “eager for manifestations of the Spirit,” as Paul says, then we should “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12). 

Why not forgo the Sunday service and use that time to invade our neighborhoods, fix what’s broken, feed the poor, and share the gospel? Because corporate worship is meant to fuel and direct the way we serve others for the glory of God. God intends our times together to be a means of stirring up “one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:25).

It’s worth noting that Paul immediately follows his exhortation to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” with the command to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:16–17). The “word of Christ” dwelling in us richly through song naturally leads us to want to do “everything” in the name of the Lord Jesus. That's because each time we gather, we have the opportunity to realign our priorities, refocus on what is ultimately true, and remember Whose love has changed our lives.

In the early church, God delighted to work through individuals like Peter, Stephen, Paul, Barnabas, and others. But the gathered church also played a significant role in the advance of the gospel (Acts 2:46–4711:261 Corinthians 14:24–25). Even when churches are forced to meet in secret, their very existence testifies to the power, beauty, and glory of the Savior “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).

…Every week brings us one Sunday closer to the day when God will gather his people from every tribe, language, people, and nation to worship the Lamb who was slain (Revelation 5:10–12). Without question, that will be congregational worship like we’ve never experienced before.

Until then, let's gladly take full advantage of every opportunity God gives us to get ready.” 


Posted by Derek Niffenegger with

Worship - June 2021

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As I sit down at my computer to write this letter, Kenzie is 28 and a half hours old. There are two things going through my head right now. The first is how thankful I am that yesterday afternoon my wife and my daughter made it through a very successful c-section. They are both very healthy and recovering well. The other thing I am thinking about is the incredibly daunting task of raising children.  But even as I think of the long road ahead, I am reminded that Laura and I are not walking this path alone.

Philippians 1:27 says, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ..." Talk about a daunting task right there, but Paul goes on, "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..."  Paul is calling the Philippian believers to the highest of standards, but he makes it clear that they are not pursuing this lofty goal as individuals, but they are to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side.

So, as I think about the monumental task of raising Liam and Kenzie in a manner that is worthy of the gospel, let me share with you a few more things that I am thankful for.  I am thankful for Bryan and Kristi Gotcher, who week in and week out will teach Liam and Kenzie about the gospel, and for the scores of faithful volunteers in the children's ministry whom they shepherd.  I am thankful for Brian and Kayla Van Doren, who will disciple Liam and Kenzie through their teenage years. I am thankful for Pastor Alan and Paula Scott, who have raised children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and for the gospel centered preaching which my children will sit under.

Laura and I are to be the primary spiritual caregivers to our children. It is our responsibility to worship the Lord together as a family, to pray with and for them, and to teach them to read, study, memorize, and meditate on God's Word.  But I am so thankful that we are a part of a community of faith that will partner with us every step of the way, standing firm in one spirit with us, and with one mind striving side by side with us, building a gospel centered community in which our children will be discipled in the faith of the gospel.

Posted by Derek Niffenegger with

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