Love Problems Are God Problems

love_is_all_you_need_

Given my role as a pastor, I see a lot of these. Love problems. They crop up all over the place, especially in marriages.

Recently I scoured the web for potential resources to use in a marital support group to help some couples deal with their recurring issues. Finally I landed on a book and accompanying study guide that looked very promising. Winston Smith’s Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change through Ordinary Moments (New Growth Press, 2010, 285 pages) stood out among the myriad of offerings. This Christian Counseling and Education product doesn’t seek so much to contribute to the numerous biblical theologies of marriage on the market, many of them good as they are. This tool helps couples work through how the gospel can bring lasting change to troubled relationships in the ordinary, often challenging, moments of everyday life.

Smith’s premise goes like this: marriages change when we recognize God’s agenda for so-called ordinary moments. He launches his argument from a familiar passage of Scripture and then unpacks the core idea.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8, italics mine).

Marriage_Matters“God is love.” We all want more love in our marriages. Who doesn’t love love? For the most part, we marry because of love–or at least because we hope for love. But in the most difficult moments we don’t feel loved, and we find it hard to love. God may not seem to make much difference in these moments; however, his involvement is crucial because God is love. When we find it hard to love, we need him all the more. A lack of love should prompt us to not just look more closely at our marriage but at our relationship with God.

The bad news: your love problems are bigger than you think because love problems are God problems. The good news: the solution is bigger than you think because God cares and is involved. Having more love in your marriage means having more of God in your marriage. Having trouble loving is evidence either that you don’t know God or that something is interfering in your relationship with God (p. 9).

Duh. Why didn’t I think of that? When that revolutionary concept sunk into my think head and prone-to-be-hard heart, I decided I needed to take the love problems in my marriage more seriously. Yes, tough as it is to believe, Nancy and I have these too, from time to time. Most, by the way,  are due to my idols doing their destructive thing in our relationship.

I knew without a doubt the first step I needed to take – memorize and mediate regularly on 1 Corinthians 13, sometimes referred to as the love chapter in the Bible.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Part of mediation involves inserting my own name into v. 4-6 and praying the content back to God. Curt is patient and kind; Curt does not envy or boast. Lord, make these things true of me. You get the idea.

Do you have love problems? We all do. Bad news: the problem is bigger than you think. Good news: the solution is bigger than you think. Why not ask the Lord to help you bring your love problems with your spouse or whomever to the Lord so as to tap into His unlimited reservoirs of love? He alone can enable us to love better our neighbor as ourselves. And to ensure that the nature of your love matches His own, take up my challenge to memorize the love chapter and prayerfully meditate upon it. It will surprise you just how much that spiritual discipline shapes the ordinary moments you share with those whom you love.

From now on I think I will make memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 mandatory in my premarital counseling ministry. Better late than never.

Fearful or Faithful?

faith fear

If I can help it, I rarely miss corporate worship on Sunday mornings. And not just because I pastor for a living. I’ve experienced more times than I can recount the reality of Psalm 63:2 – So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. God shows up stunningly more than not in the gatherings of His people for praise and community in ways He does not show up in private.

We experienced that this past Sunday at OGC. I preached a message called “The Tale of Two Trials” from John 18:12-27. You can listen to the audio here. John shows the flawless faithfulness of Jesus in the face of malice and betrayal. He remains faithful where the high priest proves malicious and Peter proves faithless. Rightly understood, the contrast in the text can take the breath away.

I led off with an illustration of a young Marine injured in the base bombing in October of 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon. It included reciting the corps’ motto – semper fi – always faithful.

bombing

Following the message, our lead worshipper, one of them more faithful men I’ve had the privilege of knowing, shared spontaneously prior to taking us into the final song. One of his sons is a Marine. Before long our country will deploy that young man to Afghanistan for a second time. Steve shared how he often gets asked how he deals with the anxiety related to his son’s service in harm’s way. He always says the same thing. “I believe God is sovereign. I could choose to be fearful. But because God is faithful, I choose to be faithful as well.”

You could feel the weight of the Spirit fall on our people. We beheld Him in His power and glory.

What’s the difference between living fearfully or faithfully? Steve got it right. It comes down to confidence in the sovereignty of God over all things and that He is never anything less than faithful. One of the best biblical examples I can cite for this comes from Acts 18:1-11.

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by do-not-be-afraidtrade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

I love v. 9. “Do not be afraid,” the Lord tells Paul. I rarely think of the apostle Paul as experiencing fear issues, but apparently the circumstances in Corinth unnerved him. The Lord needed to administer a booster shot of courage. How did He do that? He assured Paul that in His sovereign plan He had yet many more elect who would come to Christ and nothing would prevent that from happening. That confidence put eighteen more months of fuel for service in Paul’s missionary tank.

What challenges do you face on the family front, the ministry front, the vocational front, on whatever front? You can choose to live fearful in the face of those things or you can choose to live faithful. It comes down to whom you think controls all things and whether or not you can trust the Lord’s great faithfulness. You bet your life you can. He is always faithful.

What Kind of Assistant Pastor We Should Want

I finished my Father’s Day message for this year today. I selected Psalm 112 for my text. The writer commands us to praise God for the extraordinary blessing of a man who fears the Lord. I call that kind of man an awestruck man. The man who fears the Lord lives moment-by-moment in a reverent awe of God that shapes everything he does.

As we prepare to interview on Saturday four men from our body for the assistant pastor of administration post opening this summer at OGC, we should concern ourselves with numerous issues related to character and skill, but none more than this one. Paul Tripp, in his book Dangerous Calling, explains:

Awe of God must dominate my ministry, because one of the central missional gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to give people back their awe of God. A human being who is not living in a functional awe of God is a profoundly disadvantaged human being. He is off the rails, trying to propel the train of his life in a meadow, and he may not even know it. The spiritual danger here is that when awe of God is absent, it is quickly replaced by our awe of ourselves. If you are not living for God, the only alternative is to live for yourself. So a central ministry of the church must be to do anything it can to be used of God to turn people back to the one thing for which they were created: to live in a sturdy, joyful, faithful awe of God.

Would you pray for the interviewer team that we ask the right questions and probe the right issues in our time with these men? Pray especially that we get to the bottom of all-important issues like their degree of awestruckness (yes, I made up a word) before the God of the universe. While you are at it, pray this pastor knows something more of the same virtue for the glory of God and the joy of our people.

By the way, how’s your awestruckness quotient these days? Praying it gets bigger and bigger for us all.

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Several years ago we had Gary Witherall of Operation Mobilization come to OGC and share his testimony of loss in the martyrdom of his wife in Beirut, Lebanon back in 2002. I received this from him earlier last week as a testimony of how the Lord may grace us to be sorrowful yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10). I offer it as an encouragement to those whose Thanksgiving weekend knows that paradoxical blend of gratitude and grief.

I am sitting at a Starbucks on Hamra Street in West Beirut. A famous little road full of little shops, honking cars, and people making business, sitting, watching, sipping coffee and checking cell phones. It’s a little unknown area of the world. It’s a wonderful place, yet only the bad stuff makes the news, bombing, killing, rocket attacks, or some militant group showing force. It was on this piece of land that I first came in January 2001, and my life would never be the same again. On November 21st 2002 in Sidon, Bonnie’s life was brutally taken by an unknown gunman.

A few weeks ago I went with Bonnie’s parents to the grave. The first time I have returned to a place that has caused me torment. I stood there with her mother and father, quietly, in the cold looking at the ground where her body was laid. I thought for the first time, ‘ok Lord, I’m ok with this.’

When I think about you now reading this, in the deepest place of my soul, I can say, ‘Thou art worthy.’

Is it safe to follow Jesus. The answer is no. Denying self, carrying a cross, laying down your life. No, it’s not safe, that is the daily reality for many who carry the name of Christian. But we have been called to go, to declare the hope of salvation in Jesus. And I stand confident in this. So I ask believers everywhere to join me in prayer, to give and perhaps even go to these nations that are grieving from conflict, suffering and hatred. And may His Kingdom come.

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Thank you for investing in us, and for His Kingdom, Gary Witherall

Beirut, Lebanon
November 19th 2012

What Can Miserable Christians Sing?

Got your attention with that one, didn’t I?

I first heard this provocative question while listening to Mark Dever’s latest audio offering entitled, False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church on the 9Marks website . Good stuff as always from him. You can listen to the audio here.

Honestly, I don’t remember the context in which he brought up the question, the title of an article by Carl Trueman. But it caught my attention because some voices have chirped in my ear lately (more than usual and all well meant) about some aspects of our worship music at OGC. Now we certainly want to be open to feedback about our choices in corporate worship so as do the best we can in coming before the Lord in singing and praise, but I find this an excellent occasion to toot my colleague’s horn in one very important respect.

I appreciate A LOT of things about our chief musician. Among them is the range of emotional identification in the songs he selects that includes lament. I suspect he takes his cue from a number of things in that regard (if you know the man, you know exactly what I mean), but especially the fact that the psalms in Scripture, the Bible’s own hymnbook, consist much of lament, longing, grief, even downright agony. Life is like that. For many, loss and the pain that accompanies it, make up a good bit of their life experience at any given time. What do suffering saints sing then when they come to church? Not that there isn’t room for them to hope in the triumph of the resurrection and the truth of the gospel. But shouldn’t they/we be able to embrace and engage the minor key songs of worship life along with the major, especially when trials assault and afflict?

Trueman argues we should, we must, make room for such as these, especially given psalmody and the nature of its content as well as the consequences of limiting our selections to only the upbeat and happy kind of tunes. He writes:

A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party — a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals. Has an unconscious belief that Christianity is — or at least should be — all about health, wealth, and happiness silently corrupted the content of our worship? Few Christians in areas where the church has been strongest over recent decades — China, Africa, Eastern Europe – would regard uninterrupted emotional highs as normal Christian experience.

You can read the rest of his article here.

Believers mired in misery must grow to be sorrowful yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10) to be sure. Jesus promises us His brand of joy independent of circumstances as we abide in Him (John 15:11).

But the Man of Sorrows who wept in the face of great grief (John 11:35) must have sung from the Psalter and entered into lament when the seasons of life warranted it.

And so must we.

Whatever You Get, Get Wisdom

Last Friday night it was my privilege to give the charge to this year’s graduates of Veritas Academy. This post is the text of my address. I entitled the talk Whatever You Get, Get Wisdom.

Let me add my congratulations to you on your graduation. Job well done! I count it an enormous privilege to address you, your family, and friends, in these commencement exercises. I too once sat where you now sit. May, 1970, I graduated from Conestoga High School, in PA. I decided to pursue, as I suspect most if not all of you have done, higher education. I went on to acquire three earned degrees. But it all started with finishing high school.

I will never forget a conversation I had with the principal of my high school upon graduation. He had only one charge for me. Get straight A’s. Believe it or not, I did that. I finished my undergrad with a 4.0 GPA. When I thought about how I would use my time in this charge to you this evening, I wanted to say something equally succinct, but not the same message. I wish my principal had told me this, quite frankly, though I have nothing against academic excellence. But nobody and I mean nobody, in my profession as a pastor, has ever asked me about my GPA at any institution. But they care a great deal about how much wisdom I have.

As well they should. The book of Proverbs in the bible puts it this way in 4:7-8 – The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. Prov. 8:11 goes so far to call wisdom far better than jewels – all you may desire cannot compare with her. That statement should focus you intently in terms of where you go from here. And so that’s my charge to you in this commencement address, graduates – whatever you get, get wisdom.

I want to give you blazing fast in bullet point fashion, six two-word principles for getting wisdom all from the book of Proverbs, the treasure chest of wisdom. I made this easy to remember by making an acrostic from the word wisdom. If you embrace these things and act on them, I believe you stand to gain the prize among prizes, no matter what your career endeavor. Nobody can do without the priceless commodity of wisdom – put simply, the ability to apply knowledge in any situation to the best of all possible ends.

W – Worship God.

I – Imbibe Scripture

S – Seek counsel.

D – Doubt self.

O – Overlook sin.

M – Make disciples.

Okay, let’s go. First, W for Worship God. Prov. 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. If you get this wrong, you get everything wrong. You have no hope for wisdom in your life if you don’t start here. The five of you, listen to me, if you haven’t already settled this, then settle it tonight. Whom will you worship? The world will assault your soul with a million and one competitors to the living God. It will bid you worship money, power, sex, possessions, status, leisure, and on the list goes. Determine that nothing matters more to you than pleasing God and you will set yourself well on the road to getting wisdom, the jewel-in-the-crown prize.

W for worship God. Second, I for Imbibe Scripture. I’m sorry. Nobody uses the word imbibe anymore. But it fits. It means literally to drink something as to imbibe a beverage like a Coke. Prov. 2:1-6 –

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Make a decision now as to what disciplines you will master. Whatever your vocational calling, your calling as a follower of Jesus requires you to make the word of God your daily bread. You shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). Jesus words, not mine. No Scripture, no wisdom.

Worship God. Imbibe Scripture. Third, S for Seek Counsel. Prov. 13:10 – with those who take advice is wisdom. Prov. 19:20 – Listen to advice and accept counsel, that you may gain wisdom in the future. When I graduated seminary, I originally wanted to seek a position under a seasoned pastor to learn for five years or so before I struck out on my own. I let somebody talk me out of that because of my supposed giftedness and the waste that would be. One of the worst decisions I have ever made. No amount of giftedness will ever compensate for a lack of wisdom. Get yourself a mentor, maybe multiple mentors and badger them for input, critique, counsel and insight. You will be wiser for it, I guarantee it.

Worship God. Imbibe Scripture. Seek Counsel. Fourth, D for Doubt Self. Not in the sense of lacking self-confidence. That is not what I mean. Doubt self in terms of not trusting your sinful heart. Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Listen to me. Your and my worst enemy is ourselves – our desperately wicked, deceitful-above-all-else, who-can-know-it Jer. 17:9 heart. In your relating to others, learn to be suspicious first and foremost of your own sinful heart. That’s wisdom.

Worship God. Imbibe Scripture. Seek Counsel. Doubt Self. Fifth, O for Overlook Sin. Not in yourself. That wouldn’t square with D for doubt self. No, overlook sin in others. I love this verse. Prov. 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Hear this. It is GLORY to overlook the sins of others. Deal harshly with your own sin by repenting as the Lord convicts you through the grace that Jesus in the gospel gives you but deal with others with amazing grace, patience, forbearance and love. I have a saying. I think it’s a good one. You will have to work a whole lot harder to offend me than that. Do not be easily offended. That’s wisdom.

Worship God. Imbibe Scripture. Seek Counsel. Doubt Self. Overlook Sin. Sixth, M is for Make Disciples. Do you want to fast track toward wisdom? Determine to give yourself away to others. Proverbs 4:11 – I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. Here is my challenge to you, graduates. Don’t just seek a mentor; be a mentor. I know no better way to acquire wisdom than to need it desperately because someone else depends on you to show them the way. Someone out there needs you to take them under your wing and show them the way. Do you want to learn wisdom? Then take somebody, probably younger than you, maybe in your church, and pour your life into them.

That’s my charge. Whatever you get, get wisdom. Get from God the ability to apply what you know whatever the circumstances to the best of all possible ends. To do that, commit yourself to these six things. Worship God. Imbibe Scripture. Seek Counsel. Doubt Self. Overlook Sin. And Make Disciples.

As I searched for a way to close this address, I turned, in wisdom, I think, to a mentor of mine, John Piper, of Desiring God and Bethlehem Baptist Church. Turns out he spoke at a graduation like this one and finished this way:

Finally, there is one last, absolutely essential thing to do if you would “get wisdom”: you must come to Jesus. He said to the people of his day, “The queen of the south will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42). What an understatement. Greater than Solomon indeed! Solomon spoke God’s wisdom. Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:2430). Others had spoken truth; he is the truth. Others had pointed the way to life; he is the way and the life (John 14:6). Others had given promises, but “all the promises of God find their yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Others had offered God’s forgiveness; Jesus bought it by his death. Therefore, in him are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). To know and love and follow this Jesus is to own the treasure of ultimate and eternal happiness. Therefore, the command, “Get wisdom,” means first and foremost “Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus!” in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom.

Dear ones that is wisdom. If you get anything from this point on, in all your getting get wisdom. Amen.

Making the Most of Advent

Last Sunday, November 27, marked the beginning of Advent, traditionally the beginning of the church calendar year. The word advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning coming. Advent focuses our worship for the four weeks which precede Christmas on the significance of Christ’s incarnation. Christians began to organize worship around various seasons of the year as early as the second century. In more liturgical churches the entire calendar often revolves around these seasons of the year.

At OGC we celebrate a tradition in Advent worship involving the lighting of an Advent wreath. Each Sunday before Advent, as well as on Christmas Eve, different individuals/families lead us in the lighting ceremony with appropriate readings from Scripture. An Advent wreath communicates many powerful things. Its circular form stands for the eternity of God. The burning candles represent Christ, the light of the world, (John 8:12). The evergreens in the wreath speak to eternal life. The use of colored candles originated in Eastern Germany prior to the Reformation. Traditionally, the three purple candles symbolize the penitence due from sinners at the prospect of Christ’s coming. The single pink or rose candle calls for joy at the idea of the Son of God incarnate. And the white candle in the center, of course, points to Jesus Christ in all His purity and power.

May I encourage you this year, as in previous years, to form an intentional strategy for making the most of this coming Advent season? Without a plan we can easily fall prey to a worldly tis-the-season-to-be-frantic kind of December that leaves us at best exhausted and at worst resentful.

Here are some suggestions to that end:

  1. Refuse to abandon time for reflection, worship, and contemplative disciplines. Mary, the mother of our Lord, excelled as one who kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). Determine to hold a tenacious line against the tyranny of the urgent and give yourself to the priority of seeing the unseen and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).
  2. Beware temptations to covetousness and greed which surround the cultural trappings of Christmas. Jesus warns in Luke 12:15 Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Madison Avenue bombards us daily with just the opposite message. Ask God to help you not let the world squeeze you into such a treacherous mold (Rom. 12:2).
  3. Zealously call to mind the words of Jesus as quoted by Paul in Acts 20:35It is more blessed to give than to receive. Consider creative ways to practice giving that go beyond the material. Bless someone with the gift of words of encouragement, time spent in fellowship, ministering to a need. Alter your Christmas budget this year in terms of what you normally spend on yourself, family, and friends and give toward a worthy global missionary enterprise or some charitable cause.
  4. Make corporate worship a non-negotiable priority, even if you travel. David spoke of the sanctuary as the place where He saw God uniquely in His power and glory (Psalm 63:2). Ask the Lord to reveal hidden sins in you that grieve His Spirit and hinder your fellowship. Every time you see a purple Advent candle pray for a spirit of insight into the depths of your depravity and give yourself to confession and repentance. But don’t stop there! Ask God to fill you with a spirit of rejoicing and celebration. Every time you see a rose candle offer up praise and thanksgiving for some treasured aspect of Christ in His incarnation and all He has won for you in regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification, etc.
  5. Determine to bring Advent worship into the fabric of your home. Heads of households – let us function as believer priests on behalf of our families and lead in Advent devotions that serve to focus our spouses and our children upon things that truly matter this Christmas. Let us watch less in the way of endless Christmas specials devoted to the inane and trivial and read more of the Word that extols the Christ of God and listen more to the music that declares His praises and fellowship more with the people that embrace His Lordship and witness more to the lost who languish without His hope.
  6. Say No more and Yes less so that the obligations of the season do not run away with you. Stay in control of your calendar. Prioritize ruthlessly as best you understand given God’s priorities for you. If you struggle to do that on your own, ask someone else to hold you accountable and give you counsel about what you should and should not commit to during this last month of the year.
  7. Arm yourself with Paul’s promise in Phil. 4:13 that in Christ you can do all things – including making the most of Advent. This may prove especially true for you if you have experienced some significant loss this year or if you are battling some form of depression for whatever reason. Navigating the demands of the holiday season cannot be accomplished in one’s own strength. It takes the power and all-sufficient grace of Christ (2 Cor. 12:9).

May He grant us ever-increasing amounts of grace to sing these words of the hymn writer and mean it:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.



Yes, It's a Holiday Weekend but . . .

Yes, it’s Labor Day weekend with the rest, relaxation, and refreshment it can bring, but . . . Sunday will come tomorrow and we will gather for worship and community as always.

In some ways it is a more important Sunday than others.

First, we have a congregational meeting during the 9:30 hour for members and attenders alike. We will address a financial update on our 2011 operating budget as well as the capital campaign for our building program. We will hear about the growth group and 9:30 hour for children and adult emphases this fall as well. We have some interesting research about churches who recently opened new facilities and will share what we have learned from that and how we are seeking to profit by the conclusions. Finally, as we almost always do, time permitting, we will have an open mic Ask Anything of the Leadership Team session at the conclusion of the meeting. Child care will be available for ages 0-4.

Another reason tomorrow takes on greater importance than some other Sundays is that we will have the Lord’s Supper at the conclusion of the service. The Scripture reading for the day actually includes Paul’s treatment of the Supper in 1 Cor. 11:17-34. The sermon text comes from vs. 33-34 where we hear Paul exhort about the grace of waiting for one another at the Table. Why not take a moment to read and reflect upon the passage now?

For some excellent insight on how to prepare for the Supper tomorrow, especially if you have struggled with your indwelling flesh this week, check out this by Pastor John Piper: Can I take the Lord’s Supper if I’ve had a bad week spiritually?

OGC Goes Graffiti

Yes. That’s right. Tomorrow night in a special service on the property we will encourage sanctified graffiti as the main event. This is a one-time only offer, folks. After we open the building, any graffiti writers will suffer the full consequence of the law. So make good on the chance while you can.

After we sing a couple of tunes and hear a brief devotional from 1 Timothy 3:13-16, we will hit the steel girders all over the building with Sharpie pens to scribble away ’till our hearts’ content. All you need to know to get in on the act are some Bible verses that you want to record that express your hopes and dreams for OGC for years into the future. Eventually the steel will disappear behind finish walls, but we will forever remember that we took an evening for a pre-dedication of our facility with the word of God in mind.

After we get done, we will gather together again and have a time of sharing about the verses we wrote and why we chose them. Children are encouraged to participate too!

Please bring a folding chair. Sharpies will be provided for those who need them.

Following the service, members of the building committee will conduct tours of the various sections of the building so we may further visualize what God will give to us come 2012.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow evening at 6 PM!