Preparing for Worship – Aug 23

from Mark Hoffman

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

God’s clear desire for us is that we would be a praying people. In response to this, we will be devoting our gathered worship this week to prayer in what we call a Prayer Sunday. Our Prayer Sunday will involve prayer in several “directions,” beginning with the opportunity to “Look Up” to the Lord in praise, singing Today is the Day and Rejoice the Lord Is King.

Pastor Andrew and our elders will then lead us to pray in other directions as well. We will “Look Back” at the One Anothers of Scripture we learned this summer, confess where we’ve fallen short, and ask for God’s help to live them out. By Our Love will be our sung response.

Next, we will “Look Around” with an update from our Elders about where we are right now as a church and allow time to lift up in prayer the realities and challenges that we face. Praying together in song, we will sing Build My Life.

Lastly, we will “Look Forward” with excitement and hope for what’s ahead at MCF. Specifically we want to lift up our fall ministries and groups, praying that the Lord would work through us to help people take next steps in knowing, loving, and becoming like Jesus Christ. Our final song, As You Go, sends us out to glorify the Lord with our lives. We also have the joy of ending our service with a child dedication.

Please note that instead of our regular Giving time during the service, offering plates will be available at the end of the service as we leave the sanctuary… and don’t forget to stay for our Fellowship Lunch!

Will you take just a few minutes of your time this weekend to pray for our time together on Sunday? Reflect on the Scriptures and songs above and pray for God to draw you in to worship of him. Pray for all those who will be leading our Prayer Sunday. Pray that our worship and our fellowship would build us up as a church. And let’s prayerfully prepare to gather as a praying people to Look Up, Look Back, Look Around, and Look Forward in prayer together.

See you on Sunday…

Mark

PS – For some really great thoughts on the connection between prayer and the singing we do in our worship services, check out this short post by worship pastor Matthew Westerholm:

Your Prayer Life Is Better Than You Think



Preparing for Worship – Aug 16

from Mark Hoffman

“For freedom Christ has set us free…”  Galatians 5:1

We have been set free! By faith in Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection, we have been set free from the bondage of sin and death. We begin our worship this week proclaiming our freedom in Christ as we sing Death Was Arrested. Scripture and song continue our declaration of freedom with Romans 8:1-2 and Revelation 1:5-6, Who You Say I Am and Christ is Enough.

As we will hear further from Scripture, we have been set free for a purpose: We are to use our freedom in order to love God and love others. In light of this truth, it is our desire to express the love of God to one another during our Fellowship Greeting.

After announcements and time of Giving, Lucas Hagen will wrap up our One Another summer sermon series with a message from Galatians 5:13-14 entitled “Serve One Another.”

Responding to God’s call to use our freedom to serve one another in love, we lift up the song The Wonder of Your Love.

Here is one of my favorite “one another” passages:

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  (Hebrews 10:22-25)

This is a beautiful picture of what God wants gathered worship to look like. Will you set aside just a few minutes this weekend to prepare for worship? Using the Scripture and song links above, pray that we will enter into the kind of worship described here in Hebrews 10. This is God’s desire for our gathered worship! Let’s pursue this together, and all the more as we see the Day drawing near.

See you on Sunday…

Mark



Preparing for Worship – Aug 9

from Mark Hoffman

Come rejoice now O my soul
For His love is my reward
Fear is gone and hope is sure
Christ is mine forevermore

These words call us into worship of the Lord as we sing together a new song, Christ is Mine Forevermore. It’s a song that reminds us that life on this side of heaven is far from perfect, but we have all that we need in Christ.

God’s Word to us in James 5:13-16 also acknowledges the struggles and imperfections that we face. Yet in all of the circumstances of life – whether it’s sickness, sin, joy, or struggle – we are invited to come before the Lord to be built up together through prayer and praise. We praise the Lord for his love and care for us in all of life’s circumstances as we sing You Never Let Go and Blessed Be Your Name.

Following announcements and a time of Giving, Pastor Andrew will continue our One Another sermon series with a message from James 5:16 entitled “Confess To and Pray For One Another.” Our response together is to come before the Lord and say, “Lord I Need You.”

This week, spend time prayerfully reflecting on the songs and Scripture above.  Pray for all those leading and serving on Sunday morning. Pray that the Lord would prepare your heart and mind to worship Him. Pray that He would empower you to live out the “one anothers” for the good of the church and for his glory!

Mark


Preparing for Worship – Aug 2

from Mark Hoffman

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

 

We come to be reminded of the truth of the gospel and to respond in worship. The good news of Jesus never gets old! Instead, the message of the gospel sustains us, encourages us, and builds us up. The hymn And Can It Be points us to the amazing love of God shown to us in Christ and focuses our hearts and minds on gospel truth.

At the heart of the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Colossians 3 reminds us that our participation by faith in Christ’s death and resurrection changes everything for us. The song My Victory helps reinforce this truth and leads us to the Communion table. At MCF, we invite all believers in Christ to participate. Please hold the bread and the cup when they are passed so that we may take them together as an expression of the fellowship that we share in Him. After Communion, we shift our attention from the cross to the empty tomb as we sing Christ Is Risen.

Announcements will be followed by a time of Giving All children will stay in the service today while Pastor Andrew continues our One Another sermon series with a message from Colossians 3:16 entitled “Admonish One Another.” In response to God’s Word, we join in singing What a Beautiful Name.

At MCF we love children and recognize that our kids are all a blessing from the Lord. Closing our time of worship this week, we are pleased to join together with some of our families for a Child Dedication.

I look forward to joining you in worship this Sunday. Let’s come with hearts and minds prepared to live out what God’s Word call us to in Colossians 3:16-17…

“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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

See you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – July 26

from Mark Hoffman

I hope that you are planning to be at MCF this week because it’s shaping up to be an exciting Sunday of worship and fellowship! Read on to find out more…

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable!” (Psalm 145:3) One gets the sense that perhaps as he is writing this Psalm, David realizes that he can’t even come close to expressing the greatness of God in words. And just as we begin to recognize God’s immeasurable and incomprehensible greatness, we also begin to understand that there is an infinite amount of God for us to explore and enjoy in our worship of him! So we dive in to the endless sea of God’s greatness together as we join to worship him, singing Great Are You Lord.

David expresses even more of God’s greatness in Psalm 40:16-17. When we see God’s greatness, we recognize how frail and needy we are by comparison. He is holy and perfect; we are sinful and broken. But we worship a God of salvation! He took thought of us and sent Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins. He is our help and deliverer! We continue in worship as we proclaim this truth of the gospel, singing Man of Sorrows.

Presenting a beautifully rich picture of this salvation in Christ is the act of baptism, and we are pleased to be able to celebrate the baptism this week of Chase Koons. The song Because He Lives (Amen) allows us to declare together the truth pictured in baptism – that in Christ we have died to sin and have been raised to new life. We are alive because he lives!

After announcements and our weekly time of Giving, Pastor Andrew will have a special Kids’ Time for our children in the service. We are also very excited to welcome church planters Josh and Rachel Young. We are partnering with Josh and Rachel as part of our Catch the Wave vision and we are pleased to have them join us this week. Josh will be preaching in our service with a message from Genesis 22 with a message entitled “Blessed To Be A Blessing.”

Our closing response is the song Who You Say I Am. Then, plan to stay for our church picnic immediately following the service!

It will be a great Sunday of worship and fellowship… Will you come prepared? First, take time to prayerfully reflect on the Scripture and songs above. Soak your heart and mind in the message of the gospel. Pray for all those who will be leading and speaking on Sunday, and pray that the Lord would build up his church and bring glory to himself through our worship and our fellowship.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday…

Mark



Preparing for Worship – July 19

from Mark Hoffman

O, for a thousand tongues to sing

My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King,

The triumphs of his grace!

 

The opening verse of this well-known hymn expresses a sense of worship and praise that is so strong it bursts forth with uncontainable energy. “One tongue isn’t enough! I need a thousand tongues to sing your praises!” It’s our desire to enter into worship this week with that same sense of uncontainable praise that overflows from the heart. Giving voice to our worship as we pour out this praise to the Lord is Psalm 145:1-7 and the songs O For A Thousand Tongues and Here for You.

 

As we look further in Psalm 145, we see that it paints us a picture of our God who is so deserving of praise: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” All these character qualities of God come together on display in what we call his “forbearance.” In his patient grace and mercy, God doesn’t make us pay the penalty for our sin. Instead, he places our penalty on Jesus Christ to be paid in full by his death on the cross. Through his patient forbearance, God opens the way to forgiveness for us by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-26.) Jesus Messiah and Glorious Day is our sung response in worship.

 

Following our Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4 years through 4th grade are invited) and our regular time of Giving, Pastor Andrew will continue our One Another sermon series with a message entitled “Bearing with One Another.” His text will be from Ephesians 4:2.

 

In this passage, Paul calls us to bear with one another in love, being “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We close with a prayer in song, Holy Spirit, asking that we would have such unity as a church and so reflect Christ to the world.

Please take a few moments this weekend to prepare your heart and mind for worship as you reflect on the Scripture and songs above.

 

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – July 12

from Mark Hoffman

Another week brings us another opportunity to come together in the presence of God as the people of God to lift praises to God! As we encounter the living God together in worship, we begin with singing. Our songs are words of worship set to music which provide us with a shared expression of prayer and praise. We begin that shared expression of worship this week by singing How Great Is Our God and Come Thou Fount Come Thou King.

We come worshiping the Lord because He has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) This truth is the heart of the gospel message, leading us to respond in song with Hallelujah to My King and Grace Alone.

Following our Fellowship Greeting, Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4 years through 4th grade are invited) and our regular time of Giving, Pastor Andrew will continue our One Another sermon series with a message entitled “Forgive One Another.” His text will be from Colossians 3:12-13.

Singing in humility before the Lord, we close with Jesus Paid It All. This song sends us out with the reminder that the Lord has forgiven us much. He paid it all. And though we may be weak or hard-hearted, still his call to us is that we “find in him our all in all” and forgive one another in the same way that he forgives us.

“Christians aren’t perfect… just forgiven.” That may strike us as trite, bumper sticker material, but it’s the truth! We’ve done nothing to deserve the forgiveness of God, but in his infinite mercy he shows us love and grace anyway. Please take time this weekend to prepare for worship by reminding yourself of the truth of the gospel. Be ready and willing to extend the same sort of grace and forgiveness to others that the Lord has shown to you. Be willing to humbly seek forgiveness from those whom you have wronged or offended. Reflect on the Scriptures and songs above, and let’s enter the Lord’s presence together with humble hearts ready to worship and glorify him in all that we do.

See you on Sunday…

Mark



Preparing for Worship – July 5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which
we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)

 

This week we turn our attention to the command in Scripture to “comfort one another.”  First, we must recognize that this comfort doesn’t begin with us; it begins with God. So this week we gather and come before the Lord in worship because he has shown us the ultimate “comfort in affliction” by forgiving us and saving us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our God Saves declares this truth.

Our forgiveness and salvation through faith in Christ brings us into an eternal relationship with the living “God of all comfort.”  As we journey through life with the hope of heaven in view, his comfort sustains us through the suffering and difficulties we encounter along the way. This week we will reflect on David’s prayer of faith in Psalm 86 as he sought help and comfort from his saving God, and we will share our own stories of God’s faithfulness during an open time of testimonies.  Our songs of response are Great Is Thy Faithfulness and Cornerstone.

Following our regular time of Giving and our Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4 years through 4th grade are invited) we are pleased to have Drew Barnes with us to continue our One Another sermon series with a message entitled “Comfort One Another.” His text will be from 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

We close with a song of faith, It Is Well with My Soul, as we leave comforted and encouraged by the Lord to go out to comfort and encourage others.

This week, you can prepare for worship by reflecting on the songs and Scriptures above. Also, call to mind how God has been faithful to draw near to you in times of need, suffering, sorrow, or struggle. Will you share your story during our testimony time?

I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday…

Mark



Preparing for Worship – June 28

from Mark Hoffman

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,by the new and living way that he opened for us… Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 
not neglecting to meet together,
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
–from
Hebrews 10:19-25

 

These words from Hebrews invite us to draw near to God in worship, coming together as people of faith to glorify him in all that we do, recognizing that all of this is made possible for us because of Jesus Christ. Our gathered worship this week centers on this truth from Scripture as we are reminded that our lives are intended to be a continual, confident response to the salvation that Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross. We begin by lifting our voices in praise of him, singing The Lion and the Lamb and Jesus.  

The song O Come to the Altar leads us to the communion table to remember the death of Jesus which makes our life of faith possible. At MCF, we invite all believers in Christ to participate. Please hold the bread and the cup when they are passed so that we may take them together as an expression of the fellowship that we share in Him. Our shared response after communion is Who You Say I Am.

After our regular time of Giving, we will pray for and dismiss all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade to Children’s Church. We are once again pleased to have Lucas Hagen continue our One Another sermon series with a message from Hebrews 10:24-25 entitled “Stir One Another Up.”

Since living out the “one anothers” is a response of faith and confidence in Christ, our closing response is a song of faith, Once and for All.

Please take some time this weekend, even if only for a few quiet moments, to reflect on the Scripture and songs above. Remember that the blood of Jesus saves us and gives us confidence to live for him, and his desire is for us to live in fellowship with him and with one another. So let’s not “neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” Let’s instead gather together on Sunday ready to draw near to the Lord in worship and to receive and respond to all that he has for us.

See you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – June 21

from Mark Hoffman

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus.

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying,

“This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:1-2

What caused the Pharisees to grumble causes us to rejoice! Jesus receives sinners. In fact… broken, lost, and flawed people just like us are not only received, but we are sought out and saved by a loving and gracious God. This incredible truth is at the heart of the gospel and is central to the parables that Jesus goes on to tell in Luke 15. These salvation stories of Jesus lead us to respond in song together with Reckless Love and How Deep the Father’s Love.

The song No Longer I reminds us that the good news of salvation in Christ extends beyond the moment of forgiveness to eternally affect the lives that we live on this side of the cross and the empty tomb. As Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

This week is a Family Fellowship Sunday when all ages intentionally worship together. (Older children remain in the service, with Nursery and Toddler ministry still available for little ones.) After our weekly time of Giving, we will celebrate the week of Inspiration Studio, where dozens of kids heard the message of what it means to be “Rooted” in Christ. We are also pleased to welcome missionaries Jeff and Carolyn Anderson for a visit to tell us about what God is doing through their ministry in Spain.

While Pastor Andrew and family are on vacation, we are very excited to have our own Lucas Hagen preach a message in our One Another series from Galatians 6:2 entitled “Bear One Another’s Burdens.”

As we hear the Lord’s command to bear one another’s burdens, our closing song, Build My Life, is a renewed commitment to build our lives on God’s love, and a plea that He would fill us with His heart and lead us in that love to those with burdens around us.

Let’s come prepared in heart, mind, and soul to encounter God and his gospel in worship this Sunday.  See you then…

Mark