The Sunday Sample – 13th August 2017

Reflections on Corporate Worship

A snippet from Ben’s sermon

 

 

Date:  Sunday 13th August 2017

 

Location: Watford & Lower Earley

Special Occasion: none

Speakers

I spoke in Watford. Ben Dannatt preached in Lower Earley. Both lessons are available via the Watford and Thames Valley YouTube channels and their respective podcasts.

In Watford, we sat in a circle – lots of people on their holidays. My lesson was on Luke 21.5-19 with discussion and interaction. The situation was a challenge. Lots of interruptions for seeing to the needs of babies, and latecomers. I wonder if we’d have been better off taking the chairs outdoors and sitting in the sun. The weather was good. Next time.

The discussion part of the lesson was helpful, but my questions were not quite on the mark. Next time I need to think through whether the questions are driving to the heart of the issue.

Ben spoke well in Lower Earley. His personal vulnerability was endearing, and his questions to our faith were probing.

I’d be interested in your feedback. Please leave a comment below.

Note to self: think through the questions more carefully

Music Worship

Watford: The depleted numbers gave their best, and Charl was rock-like. He showed a good connection with the congregation when acknowledging that one of the songs was not one we’d taught thoroughly. He led the song with stronger direction as a result which the church appreciated. The song was sung better than usual.

Lower Earley: the new projector is brighter. It lifted the mood of the whole church including those leading worship. Knowing all images and lyrics will be seen clearly was a boost.

We sang the “bread and wine” song seated, with no one up front leading it. A more meditative rendering of the hymn was the result. We’ll do that again.

Feedback was positive about the variety of songs, and the spiritually uplifting way they were led.

Note to self: vary the methods for songs to be led

Other Thoughts

Last week I said I would:

  1. Lower Earley: Double-confirm who is leading which song by Friday at the latest – done
  2. Watford: Add personal vulnerability to my sermon in Watford – not done

The focus for next Sunday:

  1. Bracknell: keep the song service simple. The PA experts are away.
  2. Watford: Add personal vulnerability to my sermon in Watford

Please comment on what you’re doing locally with your services. What are you trying that’s working? What is God teaching you?

Share reflections with us so we can grow and please God.

You can leave a comment below.

God bless,

Malcolm

 

When is it appropriate to apologise in a lesson? We think about servanthood, humility and our motives for public apologies.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“Tuesday Teaching Tips: SHOULD I APOLOGISE?”
by Malcolm Cox

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15 August 2017

When is it appropriate to apologise in a lesson? We think about servanthood, humility and our motives for public apologies.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

What’s the best way to end a talk? We take some inspiration from Jesus and Paul. What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment.

https://youtu.be/A6kSelMPxwQ

“Tuesday Teaching Tips: “How To Finish a Lesson””
by Malcolm Cox

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What are the benefits of spiritual disciplines? What do they cost? We look at the example of Jesus, and discuss the value of these disciplines.

 

“Spiritual Disciplines Class 2, Thames Valley churches of Christ”
by Malcolm Cox

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11 August 2017

““How to ‘Stand’ Despite Your Sin”, Psalm 130”
by Malcolm Cox

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“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130.3.

Who gets to stand before God confidently? Anyone? I’m not confident standing before my friends, let alone the Almighty! But confidence before God is available.

We can, “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” Heb 4.16. We can have, “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” Heb 10.19. Sounds good, but is it your experience? Not always, if you’re like me.

What gets in the way of confidence and what can we do about it?

How to ‘Stand’ Despite Your Sin

Reflections inspired by Psalm 130

“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130.3.
 
Who gets to stand before God confidently? Anyone? I’m not confident standing before my friends, let alone the Almighty! But confidence before God is available.
 
We can, “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” Heb 4.16. We can have, “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” Heb 10.19. Sounds good, but is it your experience? Not always, if you’re like me.
 
What gets in the way of confidence and what can we do about it?
 
 

Silencing the Laughter

I was thirteen. My conscience was troubled. On a hot summer’s night, I stared at the ceiling. Was the Devil’s face above me, laughing? What was going on? I’d been shoplifting for a while now. Sweets, toys, magasines, books and other things. I was a ‘good’ boy. A church chorister and youth group member. My father was a Methodist lay preacher and headmaster. What would he think if he knew?
 
Summoning all my courage I put on my dressing gown and headed downstairs. My parents were watching television and mighty surprised to see me. They knew something was wrong. I remember it so clearly. I confessed all. They were appalled. We agreed a suitable punishment. I went to bed and slept in peace. The Devil’s laughter was silenced. The smile wiped off his face.
 

Relational

The Psalmist is right when he asks the rhetorical question, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130.3. But this is not God’s final word. He wants a relationship with us. What to do? Two challenges must be faced.
 
  1. Confidence is compromised by hidden sin.
  2. Confidence is weakened by pretence.
The Psalmist knows he and his people need forgiveness, “with you there is forgiveness,” v4, and “He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” v8.
 
No hiding. No pretence.
 
What shall we do with sin? Confess it. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
 
What do we do with weakness? Admit it. If we do, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (Romans 8:26). We’ll find a sympathetic ear in Jesus, “He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)
 
The goal of confession is not providing evidence you are a sinner. God already knows that. The goal of confession is a better relationship.

Movement

Confession moves us back into close relationship with the God we have offended. When Peter confessed his sinfulness, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8 NIV11), he expected Jesus to move away. The opposite happened.
“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10–11 NIV11)
Would you like to move closer to God? Confession is a crucial part of what makes intimacy possible. We’re kidding ourselves if we think deep friendship will happen without confession.
 

Good News

Confession is good news. It’s good for our spirit. If it’s good for our spirit, we can be sure it’s also good for our mind, emotions and body. Scientific evidence is building up that confession is healthy.
 
God did not send Jesus to the cross to punish us because of our sin, but to liberate us. Since we are free from the effects of sin, we are free from the guilt and shame of our sin. How sad that we might hide the sin that Jesus came to forgive. Instead, set yourself free to enjoy the good news of forgiveness by bringing your sin into the light.

Conclusion

Pray for greater sensitivity towards sin. Take time each morning to ask God for spiritual soberness, and to have the humility of heart to accept your sin of the previous day.
 
Pray for people who sin against you. Holding them in compassionate prayer may help you to confess your own sins. See Matt 5.44; Col 3.12-14.
 
Beware compulsive confession. If you find yourself compulsively confessing with no sense of relief, contact a friend to talk it over. You may find articles on the Mind and Soul website helpful.
 

Question

What helps you to confess sin and weakness? What advice would you give to people struggling with confession? Please leave a comment below.
 
God bless,
 
Malcolm
 
“Confession is good for the soul, but bad for the reputation….”