Tag: God’s Word

The Importance of Congregational Singing

Throughout church history, one of the primary elements of the gathered church has been to worship through music. Whether led by an organ, a piano, a band, or a cantor, to go to a Sunday gathering of the church and not participate in music in some form would be quite strange. Some point to handwritten collections of songs from the Middle Ages as the earliest types of hymnals, but these people forget an even earlier source: the book of Psalms! In fact, certain editions of the Bible make it clear that it’s actually a collection of five sets of songs (1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150). So why have these included in the Bible? What’s the big deal about singing?

We are commanded to sing.

Psalm 96:1-2 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!  Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.

The word sing appears in the scriptures over 400 times and at least 50 are commands. Singing is a uniquely human activity, and it connects our breath and body to the outside world in a way nothing else can. It does not matter how good we believe our voice is. Much like faith, it is the object of our singing, not the quality of the voice, that matters. Singing and music allows us to express something beyond just words. And imagine this scene from after the last supper:

Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The disciples are not professionally trained musicians. But under the leadership of Jesus, they sang together as an act of worship. So if we are to follow Christ’s example, then this practice of singing with His disciples is further proof of obedience to a command. We also know that singing will be part of our eternal lives, as shown in Revelation 5:11-13.

When we sing, we connect our hearts to deep theological truths.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

It is no accident that singing is found in this list that begins with “let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.” Singing brings an aspect of memory that can help us align our hearts if those lyrics come out of the Bible (or at least Biblical truths). As we jump into the Romans 8 series, we are intentionally singing some songs that are Scripture passages set to music. How powerful to have these tunes playing in our heads and hearts as we go through the week!

When we sing, we connect to those we are singing with.

Ephesians 5:15-21 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Both this passage and the one from Colossians 3 have an important phrase- they both have an element of “one another.” Singing in a group is powerful, because it reminds us that we are not alone, and helps to draw our attention to God as the aim of our praises or pleas. There is value in music used for personal worship time, but the encouragement from the church raising voices together gives gusto to the soul and gladdens the heart. The passage here contrasts the goodness of music to the deceitful “pleasures” or the world. A heart brimming with joy for the Lord cannot help but express itself.

When we sing, we outwardly proclaim the truth of God’s Word.

Acts 16:25  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Singing hymns and spiritual songs are a witness not only to the church but also to the outside world.  When our lives are filled with music that points us to Jesus, then when others enter into our lives, they cannot help but see how different and unselfish the music liturgy of the church is to most other music available. That doesn’t mean that we must go around and sing aloud in all of our daily tasks. But if we allow the music of God’s people to permeate our consciousness, then it will not be a surprise when you find yourself humming or singing quietly a song that orients your heart towards Jesus.

This is why we make singing a priority in our Sunday morning gatherings. We don’t pretend to be the best, but we bring our best in pointing to THE best, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And when we consider His sacrifice for us, His love, His patience, His grace and mercy, how can we help ourselves but to sing? No matter how bad you may think your voice is, it is more encouraging to hear an authentic cry of praise than the most beautiful singing without knowing Jesus. Remember that our singing is not ultimately about us, but about God and how we can connect to Him and His people. So, sing! Sing to God! Sing to one another!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Ben

Redeeming the Sunday Morning Car Ride to Church

For close to seven years, my family drove in separate vehicles to our Sunday gatherings at Grace Life. I left early for setup and Julie came a little later with the kids. The roughly 20 minute drive was an opportunity for me to “preach” my sermon to the empty car and spend time in prayer. But that all changed when we moved into our new space. For the first time, my family rode together to church.

It took some time for everyone to get adjusted to our new routine. What I mean is, it took me a while to get adjusted to making sure the kids were ready to get out the door. It also changed the car rides for me. I was no longer a pastor headed to preach, I was now a dad taking his family to church. I had to repurpose our time in the car on Sunday mornings.

In Deuteronomy 6, the LORD tells his people the importance of keeping the truth of God’s words front and center and teaching them to your children.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4–9

There’s a line here that’s relevant to this conversation: “When you walk by the way”.

In the Old Testament, people mostly walked when they needed to go somewhere. Today, we go places in our cars. No one, no matter how much they want to, can escape the moving car. The doors are locked and seatbelts are in place. It’s the perfect time to spend time in prayer and help your children love and value the local church gathering. You have an opportunity to prepare their hearts for church. Here’s what this can look like, but first, a few encouraging notes on “Ride to Church Discipleship”.

Anyone can do it. No matter how far along you are in your Christian faith, no matter how old your children are, and no matter if it is just you or just you and your spouse, anyone can participate in “Ride to Church Discipleship”.

Get your children involved. It’s easy to take charge of reading or praying, but reading isn’t advised while you’re driving. Getting your kids involved is easy and safe!

You only need a few minutes. Is your ride to church five minutes? That’s fine! You can accomplish “Ride to Church Discipleship” in just a few moments. Is it 20 minutes? That’s okay too! Find a landmark and begin “Ride to Church Discipleship” when you pass the landmark each week. This will also help establish a routine for your kids.

Here is what “Ride to Church Discipleship” looks like:

Have someone read the Scripture for the sermon.

Every week, we’ll share the text of Scripture for the next sermon so you can read ahead. (This coming Sunday’s sermon text is from Hebrews 11:23-30.) As a church, we gather together to hear God’s Word preached so we can know Jesus more and the power of His resurrection in our lives. Reading the Sunday morning text helps prepare our hearts for the gathering.

If you have a child who can read, have them read the text. The Bible is written in such a way that even new readers (with a little bit of help) can read. If the driver is the only reader, you can use the Bible Audio from The Bible App, read the text in the driveway before you leave, or when you are stopped at a red light. Even if your child is preschool or younger, reading Scripture to them is a great practice and the routine will be normal when it comes time for them to read.

 

Ask, “What are you most excited about gathering with the church this morning”?

It’s very easy to speak negatively about the church. It’s a tool the enemy uses and what he’s doing is using negativity about the church to bring disinterest to children. Many kids grow up to be non church attending adults because parents either spoke negatively about church or they didn’t make church a priority. Don’t let this be the case for your family. 

Talk to them about singing and praying and preaching and friendship. Explain the importance of the church as the people of God. Jesus did not establish the church for people to check off and check out. No, he wanted people to grow together in friendship and in their faith. Going all in in the life and mission of your local church is essential to the discipleship of your children.

 

Pray Together

Once again, have one of the kids pray and then follow it with a prayer of your own. Of course, praying with your eyes open is certainly acceptable! Be sure to pray for the preacher. (This week, pray for Lawrence Wilson as he preaches). Pray for our band as they lead us to sing to Jesus. Pray for their KidLife teacher. Pray for Grace Life Church. Pray for the Elders. Pray for people who the Holy Spirit places on your heart. Pray for missionaries around the world. The prayer doesn’t have to be perfect, but as we go by the way, we are showing our kids the importance of talking to God.

The car ride to church can be spent listening to the radio, sitting in quiet, playing with toys, watching videos on a device, or we can redeem those few minutes by spending time in prayer or disciplining our kids to love the church, the people whom Christ died for.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Why We Have a Preaching Team at Grace Life

I can remember my first sermon clearly. I was taking a speech class my senior year of high school and since I already knew I would be going to seminary once I graduated, I decided to turn my speech into a sermon. The sermon was a short gospel presentation from Matthew 7:13-14.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I remember being extremely nervous and wanting to back out at the last minute. I remember seeing my mom and my youth pastor watching from the pews. I remember my blue shirt and red tie that was poorly tied. I remember this nervous tick my foot would do and wondering during the sermon why my foot was doing that and how I could possibly be thinking about that while I was preaching! Funny thing is, my foot still does it every once in a while.

I can’t remember the sermon points and no great revival was launched from that chapel sermon, but I do remember clearly thinking that this was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing: preaching the gospel to people who needed to hear it. 

This is what I’ve committed my life to doing as the Pastor of Grace Life. God has called me to deliver His Word to His people and to disciple and develop leaders for God’s glory. Part of doing this is training, equipping, and providing opportunities for other men to preach God’s Word to God’s people. This is why developing Biblical preachers within a local church is important to the doctrinal health of a local church. 

Over the summer, you will hear God’s Word preached from men within our church as they share with you the eternal truths found in Hebrews 11. These men are faithful men who love our church and support the gospel work within our church. They have studied diligently in preparation for their sermon, and I know they will be a blessing to you. They are to me. 

Here is why we have a preaching team at Grace Life Church. 

A preaching team serves as a reminder of the church’s need for God’s Word, not one communicator.

The pulpit I stand behind each Sunday to preach God’s Word is not my pulpit; it belongs to Jesus Christ, the Perfect One who died for His bride, the church. The Book I preach from is not my book; it’s the Holy Spirit Inspired Word of God that makes us wise to salvation and equipped to do every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And it is my belief that the most important component within a church is the preaching of God’s Word. Having more men capable of preaching God’s Word is a benefit to the health of the church.

Pastor Steve Lawson wrote this in the forward to his book on John Calvin.

“As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. In this hour, pastors must see their pulpits again marked by sequential exposition, doctrinal clarity, and a sense of gravity regarding eternal matters. This, in my estimation, is the need of the hour.”

The church doesn’t need a dynamic communicator, it needs the preaching of God’s Word. Charles Spurgeon says this:

​​“My brethren, if we are to see the church of God really restored to her pristine glory, we must have back this plain, simple, gospel-preaching. I do believe that the hiding of the cross beneath the veil of fine language and learned dissertation is half the cause of the spiritual destitution of our country. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. I would sooner say these few words and then cease my testimony, than utter the most splendid oration that ever streamed from the lips of Demosthenes or of Cicero, but not have declared the gospel of Christ. We must keep to this. This must be the hammer that we bring down upon the anvil of the human heart again, and again, and again. God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord! God forbid that we should know anything among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified!”

A preaching team provides an opportunity to develop Gospel-centered, Biblically-driven preachers.

The development of Gospel-centered, Biblically driven preachers keeps the focus on God’s Word and not man. But there must be a space for these men to learn, grow, and actually preach to the church. It is difficult to become a gospel preacher within the church if you have no opportunities to preach to the church.

Preaching is not easy. Writing a sermon and preparing to preach it is very similar to writing a term paper. Several hours of research, writing, reading, and studying goes into the final manuscript that will be delivered to the saints on Sunday. This is after years of working to study better and after having several years of seminary training. 

For the men who will be preaching over the summer, they have had several months to work on their text of Scripture. They are doing their prep work in their free time while learning the ins and outs of deep study of the Bible and then putting the pieces together to form a sermon. They’re thinking about illustrations, applications, and transitions, and they’re wrestling with the final outline that will be heard on Sunday, all without the years of training that most preachers have. 

This process takes practice and patience. It takes encouragement and critique. It takes grace and prayer. It takes Holy Spirit strength to stand before the church and deliver the Word of God to the church under the weight of knowing their words will be judged one day. And when they preach God’s Word to us, we respond with joy for the preaching of God’s Word and encourage them and thank them for preaching to us.

A preaching team provides necessary rest for the main preacher

I think about the sermon text from Sunday night until I deliver it the next Sunday. It is not uncommon for me to spend 10-20 hours working on a sermon every week while also keeping up with pastoral responsibilities. Early on as a preacher, I didn’t realize the mental strain writing a sermon would bring, and there are seasons I find myself needing to be preached to instead of being the one preaching.

Having a preaching team helps me rest physically, mentally, and spiritually. I hate not preaching, but I’m a better preacher when I have weeks off on the sermon calendar. The Sundays I don’t preach allow me to take a vacation with my family and be fully present with them (instead of trying to outline the sermon in my head or on my phone.) The Sundays I don’t preach allow me to prepare for future sermon series and handle other pastoral responsibilities. The Sundays I don’t preach frees me to sit and listen to the preaching of God’s Word.

Having faithful men step in now to preach to our church allows me to rest and prepare. It makes me a stronger preacher. It makes me stop and breathe. It makes me look at God’s Word not for sermon prep, but for the much needed spiritual nourishment for my soul.

A preaching team aides in the planting, replanting, and revitalization of more gospel focused churches in our community

We want to plant more churches in our community and serve churches who are on the verge of closing their doors and one of the necessary components to these causes is having faithful men who can teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). I believe that the Lord will raise up men within our churches to one day pastor church plants or serve as a guest preacher in a church with no pastor. Preaching has a Kingdom impact not just within our church, but in other churches as well. Having a preaching team opens up opportunities for us to make more disciples who make disciples. 

I am thankful for the men who will be preaching over the summer. When they preach, encourage them. Tell them how the Lord used their sermon to speak to you. Show up and listen to them, because they are heralds of God’s message. The text they will preach from is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Making Jesus-Centered Disciples For God's Glory


Sunday 10am | 3180 County Rd 220 Suite 1 Middleburg, FL 32068

© The Grace Life Church

Site By: OneEighty