Monday, August 27, 2007

Thankful for My Local Church

I have just finished a heavy preaching schedule this summer.  I have preached for the last 12 Sunday mornings in a row, along with some other services here and there (Sunday evenings, Wednesdays, Bible camp).  I am grateful for these opportunities to share God's Word that I have had, but I am quite ready and eager to be back in the assembly of my local church.  My family has continued to attend our only other service of the week and other occasional functions as able, but what a highlight - rather, what a blessing it is to be with the local body of which we are members and worship together!
I wanted to write a few things (this is by no means a complete list!) about what a blessing it is to be a part of Cornerstone Chapel.  I am thankful for my local church for several reasons.
1. The Word of God is central.  Our morning services usually have 4 Scripture readings:  a Psalm, an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage (often a parallel Gospel account, as our pastor, Randy McReynolds, is presently preaching through Luke), and the sermon text.  We are given these readings in advance so we can use them in our family worship (and/or our personal quiet times).
The sermon is based squarely on the text, with the pastor exposing what God's Word teaches and requires of us. In addition, the service is intentionally shaped around this scripture, hymns being deliberately chosen to complement the message.  Our Wednesday evening gatherings, after a shared meal, culminate in the reading and discussion of the Word and then a time of prayer (presently we read 1 chapter as we are going through Paul's epistles, now in 1 Timothy). 
Sunday school classes have alternated between verse-by-verse exposition from a Biblical book and books that approach certain topics in light of Scripture; the Word of God is always the final authority. 
We have regular meetings for the men to discuss areas of theology so that we can better learn and practice what God's Word teaches.
God's Word is central because we want to make sure we see God as central.
2. The Gospel is clear.  The good news of God's grace in Christ is not watered down.  The Gospel is presented in the context of God's supreme authority and the heinousness of our sin.  Christ's person and work in His perfect life, substitutionary death, and resurrection is presented as the only ground for the hope of sinners, who must repent of their sin and trust in Christ.  The urgency of this matter is pressed upon hearers as well.
3. Men lead their families.  The men of the church, including our two elders, demonstrate godly examples of leadership in the home.
4. Brothers and sisters in the Lord show the love of Christ.  This has been demonstrated to us personally in a number of ways and we see it in the kindness shown to others in the body as well.  We enjoy getting to know one another, praying for one another, and being involved in the lives of one another to help us glorify God and enjoy Him.  We have wept together and rejoiced together, particularly in this past year.
I am looking forward with eagerness to being present with my brothers and sisters in Christ in my local church and being fed from the Word this coming Lord's Day.

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