Take a deep dive with me into a beautiful parable

I am excited to announce a new, 6 week study launching Wednesday, April 24th, 7pm at the church, which will be an in depth examination and reflection on Luke 15:11-32, which is perhaps Jesus’ most famous parable, the story of the Prodigal Son.   That word “prodigal” can be used to describe the act of spending money or resources in a wastefully extravagant way. Certainly that describes the younger brother, who squandered his inheritance on sinful living.  But often neglected in this story is his moralistic elder brother. A right interpretation of the parable must include a consideration of this character too. But there is another character in the story as well, and he can also be described as prodigal in his actions.

Another way to define prodigal is giving something on a lavish and generous scale. And that is exactly how we can describe the father, who lavishly loves both of his wayward sons.

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I’ll be guiding a small group through a 6 week study on this parable using the Bible, and Tim Keller’s helpful book, Prodigal God, and I hope you’ll be a part of it. We will continue to have BibleKids downstairs in the fellowship hall for our younger children, but people of all ages are welcome to join us in the sanctuary as we explore Jesus’ incredible parable.

To get the most out of this study, purchase a copy of the book here.

John Piper writes that,

“The Prodigal God is…biblically faithful with fresh angularity.  That is, Keller seizes on a great truth and comes at it from an angle and with language that help us see it in new ways.

And D.A. Carson says that,

“There is more than one way to run from God and defy him.  But there is only one way back: God is so prodigal in his grace that he reaches out to humble and restore and receive both.  Few books unpack this theme with greater force than this slim volume from Tim Keller.”

View the trailer here:

If you would like to participate in this study, please sign up at the table at the back of the sanctuary or email me at demerwebb@gmail.com If you anticipate bringing your children to participate in BibleKids please let us know how many of your kids are coming. It is helpful for me and also our kids’ teachers to know whom to expect.

Again, we’ll be launching this new study Wednesday, April 24th, at 7pm.

I’m very much looking forward to taking a deep dive into this great parable with you!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

An Opportunity For Gospel-Partnership In Brazil!

The Apostle Paul joyfully wrote to the Philippian church,

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3–5)

How did this church partner with Paul in his gospel ministry?  Paul makes it clear that it was through their financial support (Phil 4:15).  The Bible doesn’t elevate people who go on mission over people who give to the mission.  Both are absolutely essential ingredients in God’s plan to advance the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth.  This means that whenever, through Paul, an unbeliever heard the gospel, a believer was strengthened in the gospel, or a lost person was converted in response to the gospel, the Philippian congregation was a part of that!  Surely it was encouraging to that church, full of members who could not go everywhere Paul could go, that they were nevertheless participating in God’s exciting work through the apostle’s ministry.

My vision for Harbins Church is to be a congregation that is ever increasing in our partnership in the gospel around the world through our generous financial gifts.  I’m thrilled that our members recently approved a budget that expanded our missions/outreach spending.  In addition to budgeted missions expenses, the Lord will occasionally bring before us new, unplanned opportunities to invest in through one-time gifts.

imagesOzioma Obele is a close friend of one of our members at Harbins who is working with Campus Outreach in Belo Horizonte, Brazil who will be joining us for worship on Sunday, Jan. 20th.  Ozi and her co-laborers are taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a generation of Brazilian college students living in a jaded and complicated spiritual context.  One of the ways this is happening is through a ministry called Cafe Com Prosa which means literally “Coffee with Prose.”   The concept is pretty simple.  Ozi and others regularly visit the campus of the local university, inviting students to join them for a time of conversation in a relaxed environment with music, food, and of course….lots of coffee!

Cafe Com Prosa is hosted by Ozi’s church, Comunidade Horizonte, a Reformed imagesChurch whose Pastor is a graduate from Bethlehem Seminary (John Piper, Chancellor). At any given Cafe Com Prosa event you’ll find university students and young professionals interacting with believers like Ozi over the most important topics of life.  Past topics have included secularism, skepticism, love, the meaning of life, and man’s quest for satisfaction and purpose.  And the exciting thing about this is that people are come to saving faith in Jesus Christ through these gospel driven conversations!

Ozi recalls the story of a young student named Vitor…

imagesTwo staff members met him at the Freshman Reception and invited him to the coffee house.  He…considered himself an atheist because of the hypocrisy within the Catholic Church and the Evangelical church in Brazil.  Over the years, as he became more involved, he began to do investigative studies on the person of Christ.  Last year, he went on our summer project and for the first time read the parable of the Prodigal Son.  He identified himself with the older brother and it was the first time he questioned his identity and what he believed.  This past summer, he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and realized that his search for identity and purpose can only be found in Him.  He was baptized in the Fall and now is a member of our local church body!

Take a peek inside Cafe Com Prosa:

When Ozi joins us for the Sunday School hour on the 20th, she will share more details about this exciting ministry and testimonies of what God is doing in Brazil.   In addition, I am asking you to prayerfully consider partnering with Ozi in the gospel ministry in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, through a one-time financial gift to help meet some immediate needs.

imagesWe’ll also have a time of corporate prayer for Ozi and Cafe Com Prosa during the main service, and we’ll take up a special missionary offering for her. Please make sure your checks are separate from your regular offering and write “Brazil” on the memo.  After the service we’ll have a fellowship meal so you can spend additional time with her.  (Yes, we’re changing the date of the January fellowship meal to the 20th!)

Please make a point to join us for the Sunday School hour on Sunday the 20th, from 9:30-10:30am to learn more about the Lord’s work in a spiritually needy place with tremendous opportunities for gospel impact!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

 

 

 

2019 Winter Studies At HCBC!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone!  As trees get taken down and decor gets put back into storage for another 11 months, all of us are now looking ahead to a new year, and at Harbins, a new year means new Bible studies and opportunities for growth and discipleship.  Below is a list of upcoming studies that will be launching in January that you can participate in.

The Attributes of God/Pre-Service Prayer – Launching Sunday, January 6th, at 9:30am in the Sanctuary 

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Who Does God Say That He Is?

Misconceptions about God abound. But they don’t have to. God has revealed His character in Scripture, illuminating the attributes that define Him. While we, being finite creatures, can never truly comprehend everything that God is, we should study what He Himself has said.

In this 16-part teaching series, The Attributes of God, Dr. Steven Lawson articulates a biblical understanding of divine attributes and explores how a right understanding of God can affect every aspect of our lives.

In addition, I am excited to continue pre-service prayer.  This past fall was the first time Harbins ever had a prayer time like this and from feedback I’ve received it has been very encouraging, impactful, and unity building.  In our prayer time, we will be praying for the main service, the preaching, the worship, the church, visitors, and our own hearts as we prepare for corporate worship.

Desiring God- Launching Wednesday, January 16th, 7pm, in the Sanctuary.(Parents, bring your children as BibleKids will continue downstairs!)  

(Note: our 1 Samuel study will resume at a later date either as a midweek study or Sunday morning sermon series.)

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Outside of my conversion, there have been a handful of massive, life-changing, paradigm shifting moments in my spiritual life.  One of them was in seminary when my professor introduced me to a man I’d barely heard of named John Piper.  My world was rocked as I learned through Piper that I was called, even commanded, to glorify God through the enjoyment of and satisfaction in God.  I learned that God’s highest pursuit and blazing passion was His own glory, and how that was a good thing.  After all these years I am still thinking through the implications of Piper’s “Christian Hedonism” for my own life and ministry, and I’m sure I’ll ponder these things for the rest of my life.  I look forward to pondering them with you as we explore these things together for the next couple of months.

Through open Bibles, short video clips, group discussions, and utilizing our own study guide, we will learn why pursuing maximum joy is essential to glorifying God and, in what may be surprising to some, how God is ready to pursue with all His might our pleasure in Him! The implications of this truth are discussed in regard to conversion, worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions, and suffering.   I’m looking forward to some great conversation with you all as we pursue the enjoyment of God together!

To get the most out of this study, purchase a study guide here or here.

Sermon on the Mount, a  9 Week Bible Study for Ladies, starting Tuesday February 5th at 10am in the fellowship hall at Harbins (childcare provided) and Thursday February 7th at 7pm at the home of Barbara Coleman (1830 Jessica Way Winder)

What does it mean to be a citizen of the kingdom of Heaven? The Sermon on the Mount images articulates what the life of a Christ follower should look like, asking us the same questions it posed to its original hearers: How should a disciple relate to sin? To others? To the Law? How does a disciple think, speak, and act? In this 9-session study, examine the words of Jesus in-depth as He challenges us to think differently about repentance, salvation, and sanctification.  This DVD study has excellent teaching from Jen Wilkin and we will also have a great time discussing what we learn together each week as we get to know each other and God’s Word better!

Purchase the Study Guide Here!

Theology Reading Group – Systematic Theology (Date and Time will be determined based on the availability of those who sign up.  Sign up deadline is Jan. 13th)

One of the things I have a burden for is raising up leaders in the congregation and helping people develop a robust theology, as well as learning how to apply theology to everyday life.  One means I would like to do this is through the launching of Theology Reading Groups.  The idea is that I will take a group of interested members through a particular theological book, learning from it, and discussing its implications for life, church, our world, etc.  While I envision Theology Reading Groups (TRGs) as one means to develop leaders in our church, you don’t have to aspire to church leadership to be in a TRG.  This is for anyone who wants to grow deeper in discipleship through a greater understanding of God’s Word.

In the future, I’d love to see multiple TRGs at Harbins, but for now, we’ll start with one.  I’d like to take a group through all 57 chapters of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.  This is a big task, and will take over a year to go through.  I am envisioning reading one chapter a week, and meeting every other week to discuss what we’ve read.  Together we will explore a whole host of doctrines including:

  • imagesThe Inerrancy of Scripture: Are there any errors in the Bible?
  • The Existence of God: How can we know God exists?
  • The Trinity
  • Angels, Satan, and Demons
  • The Person of Christ and the Work of the Spirit
  • Election/Predestination
  • Church Government and Worship
  • The Millennium and the Final Judgment
  • And Much More!

I’m looking for people willing to make a significant commitment, and outside of emergencies, (or holidays/family vacations) can commit to no more than 2 or 3 absences as we explore the book.  Before I announce a particular day and time that we would meet, I would first like to determine who would like to join this group.  There will be open signups through Sunday, January 13th.  At that time, depending on who would like to join me in this study, we will work out dates and times based on the availability of those interested.  Once this group starts, it will be a closed group and you’ll be unable to join it and you’ll have to wait for another group to start in the future.  If you are interested in this, let me know your best days and times in regards to availability.  You can email me this at demerwebb@gmail.com or take advantage of the sign up sheet that will be on hand Sunday.

You can purchase the Systematic Theology book here

I am really excited about this TRG and look forward to launching soon!

I am hopeful that you can take advantage of one (or more) of these terrific opportunities for discipleship and fellowship.  I look forward to learning and growing with you in 2019!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

Help us find our next deacons!

Friends,

Jesus said, ” The greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)

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If that’s true, then surely the deacons of our church are among the greatest in our midst.The very name, “deacon”, carries the idea of selfless service.  While I’ve always been extremely grateful for our deacons, now that I am without a team of fellow elders to serve with me, I am all the more appreciative of having these other leaders provide me with their wisdom and support as they assist me in leading the church.

With that said, I believe the time has come to add to our deacon ranks. This year Alix, while serving so well, has had to rotate off the deacon team for a season due to health concerns. In December, Todd, who has served us with excellence, will be rotating off. (We ask our deacons to take a break for at least a year after three years of service for refreshment and rest.) Therefore, I and our deacons are seeking your help as we pray about expanding the team. In addition to Todd, your current deacons are Mark, Jason, Cary, and Jonathan. Be sure to thank them for their service.

Our deacons play a crucial role in strengthening and furthering the ministry of our church. As you are involved in the day-to-day life in the church, you are in a great position to help us know who you’ve noticed as someone who may particularly be effective in such a service role.

Nomination slips are available in the back of the sanctuary, or for your convenience, you can also email your nominations to me at demerwebb@gmail.com I’d like your nominations by November 11th.

In addition, can you please pray for our deacon search?  Pray that God would guide us to find the right people to serve in this important role.  We can do nothing without His help.

Knowing what a deacon is and does, and what the qualifications for such a role are, will be very helpful to you as you prayerfully consider whom you might nominate. Therefore, please refresh yourself on the basics of deacon ministry by reading Acts 6:1-7 which I believe details the origins of deacon ministry in the early church. Read also 1 Tim 3:8-13, which describes the characteristics and qualifications of a deacon.

Next,  read this brief article from 9marks ministries: The Biblical Qualifications and Responsibilities of Deacons.

Lastly, here is an excerpt from another great article from 9marks I’ve found to be helpful….

Deacons: Shock-Absorbers and Servants

WHAT IS A DEACON?

According to the New Testament, a deacon is two things: a shock-absorber and a servant.

Deacons are shock-absorbers: the seven men chosen by the church in Jerusalem to care for widows, who seem to be precursors to deacons, were chosen to preserve unity at a time when botched administration was creating fissures in the church (see Acts 6:1-7).

And deacons are servants: their very name means servant, and their precursors in Acts 6 were chosen to handle the practical needs of the church. That way, the apostles could devote themselves to leading the church through prayer and the ministry of the Word.

DEACONS AS SHOCK-ABSORBERS

God has always intended to display his glory to the nations, in part, through the unity of Jews and Gentiles within the church (Eph 3:10), and yet it was exactly at this juncture that disunity was erupting in the early Jerusalem church.

The Greek-speaking Jews began to complain “against” the Hebrew-speaking Jews concerning the distribution of food. The church therefore chose seven men to distribute food equitably, yes, but, more than that, to restore unity where there was division. Unity-building was their primary goal; good administration was the means.

It’s notable that, when laying out qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3, Paul focuses on issues of character rather than administrative skills. Accordingly, our churches should select deacons primarily for their track record of peacemaking, and only secondarily for administrative expertise. 

DEACONS AS SERVANTS

The elders are called to “direct the affairs of the church” (1 Timothy 5:17), and deacons are called to support that direction. In our churches, then, elders should make directional decisions while deacons facilitate congregational involvement to make that vision a reality.

Elders lead ministry, deacons facilitate ministry, the congregation does ministry. That, I believe, is the New Testament model, and that biblical clarity in deacons’ role and function is invaluable for promoting peace and unity in our congregations.

I hope the above information can help you as you consider what individuals would be a great fit for the role of Deacon at HCBC.  Thank you in advance for your involvement in this process.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

 

Fall studies at HCBC!

Folks returning from vacation, shorter days, school getting back into full gear, it can only mean one thing: summer is winding down and fall is on the horizon!  And with fall means more discipleship opportunities for the entire family at Harbins Church.  Here’s our fall lineup:

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Women’s study: The Joy of Discovery: How To Study the Bible (Saturdays Sept 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th) 9am-12pm.  Free Childcare!

This study is for all ladies 13 and up!

These workshops are designed to encourage ladies to learn how to study the Bible for themselves. This time together will motivate you to be even more diligent to present yourselves “approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

Workshops taught by: Barbara Enter and Gina Weinmann.  Barbara has a M.A. in Biblical Counseling from The Master’s University, is a certified counselor with The Association of Biblical Counselors, and is a trained Precept Bible teacher.  Gina is a certified counselor with The Association of Biblical Counselors and trained Precept Bible teacher.

For more information contact Dana at danacwebb@gmail.com

Let us know you’re coming!  Sign Up Here!

Sunday School for Kids: Treasuring Christ.  Pre k- 12 years old.  (Classes downstairs, starting Sept 9th, 9:30-10:30am)

The Treasuring Christ Curriculum is a comprehensive, unified curriculum where all of imagesthe children will be learning the same Scriptures at an age appropriate level.  The curriculum’s vision is to spread the fame of God by equipping godly generations to treasure Christ through a Gospel-centered curriculum for the church, the home, and the nations, as children and students learn the narrative of the gospel as it unfolds from Genesis to Revelation.

Last semester we left off studying the temptation of Jesus.  This fall we’ll continue our journey through the Gospel of Matthew.  In addition, we will once again provide for parents via email the “Connecting Church and Home” resource.   This is a great tool to help parents bridge the gap between what their children will learn the coming Sunday at church and how they can instruct their children to begin learning & living out those truths at home right now. CCH will provide discussion ideas, prayer points, and more.

Thanks in advance to our teachers:

Ages 2-4  Marsha Siso assisted by Rebecca Little

Ages 5-7 Marietta Pritchett.

imagesAges 8-12 Teacher TBD

Teen Study: Your Word is Truth.  A Study for Youth on Seeing All of Life Through the Truth of Scripture (Starting Sunday, Sept 9th, in the Fellowship Hall downstairs, 9:30-10:30am)

The goal of this study is that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the authoritative Truth of the Bible might be understood and embraced so students may see and interpret all of life through the Truth of Scripture.

Our hope is that students would not be conformed to the thinking of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of their minds, that by testing they might discern what is good and acceptable (Romans 12:2).  As the students grow in their own love and delight of the truth, we want to encourage and equip them to stand firm in an increasingly hostile culture, boldly and humbly proclaiming the triumphant Truth of the gospel.

Thank you so much to Cary Rosbury and Matt Pritchett taking the lead in this class!

Adult Study: The Lord’s Prayer Study/Pre Service Prayer (Starting Sunday, Sept 9th, 9:30-10:30am)

When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, little did they know that they would be givenimages a model for prayer that would be used for generations.  Prayer is central to our fellowship with God, and our prayer life is directly affected by what we believe about God.  In this series, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. shows that the pattern of prayer Jesus provides is few in words, yet massive in meaning.  His prayer reflects true theology and proper doxology-a perfect guide for our own lives.

After we spend some time learning about prayer, we will put what we learn into practice by spending time in corporate prayer, worshipping and adoring our great God, confessing our sins, giving thanks, and lifting up our upcoming worship service, our church, our mission, and our world.

I am extremely excited about this time that will help our church to really focus on the priority and urgency of prayer, and I look forward to seeing what God will do through this time together!  As usual, kids of all ages are welcome to our adult Sunday studies.

Note: Technically the study will start on the 16th, but our class will gather on the 9th as Matt and Emily Tyler, our missionaries in China, will be joining us.  Matt will be sharing in detail about their ministry in Shanghai and we will also have a time of corporate prayer for their ministry and mission.  

Let us know you’re coming!  Sign Up Here!

Kingdom Come: A Study In 1 Samuel (Starting Wednesday, Sept 12th, 7-8:30pm at the church)

It was a time of darkness, despair, and moral chaos.  A time where everyone did what imageswas right in their own eyes.  A time where the enemies of God’s people sensed weakness and were ready to strike.  What was needed was a King to come.  One who would unify the peoples, protect them from evil, and shepherd them into peace and safety.

But who was that King?  And what kind of ruler did the people really need?

Join me in an exploration of one of my favorite books of the Bible, 1 Samuel.  We’ll talk about prophets and kings, valiant warriors and vicious villains, high drama and epic battles.  On top of that, we’ll discover how the times, challenges, and issues of life haven’t really changed much from then to now.  What you and I need in the dark times of our day is exactly what they needed, a mighty Shepherd-King who will walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death, and deliver us from evil.  Bring your Bibles and be prepared for a great conversation through this incredible section of God’s Word.  (Kids are welcome!)

Let us know you’re coming!  Sign Up Here!

Better: A Study Of Hebrews (Ladies Only!) Launching Tuesday, October 2nd,             10 -11:30am at the church.  Free Childcare!

Jesus is better than the angels, Moses, and all the high priests and sacrifices that came imagesbefore.  In Jesus are bound up better promises, a better covenant, and a better tabernacle.  As you study the book of Hebrews you will be immersed in the superiority of Jesus and how such realities will bring powerful change to your life.

“The Bible study you are about to begin may be different than studies you have done in the past.  It will not cover a specific topic from all angles.  It will not have poetry or stories that leave you laughing, crying, or inspired.  It will not focus on answering the question “What does the Bible say about me?”  It will not aid you in self-discovery, at least not as its primary intent.  What it will do is teach you an important passage of the Bible in a way that will stay with you for years to come.  It will challenge you to move beyond loving God with just your heart to loving Him with your mind.

Women are good at loving God with their hearts.  We are good at engaging our emotions in our pursuit of God.  But the God who commands us to love with the totality of our heart, soul, and strength also commands us to love Him with all of our minds…I know you will bring your emotions to your study of God’s word, and that is good and right.  But it is your mind that I want to engage.  God intends for you to be a good student, renewing your mind and thus transforming your heart.” – Jen Wilkin

Let us know you’re coming!  Sign Up Here!

It is my prayer that these upcoming opportunities will provide you and your family great avenues for spiritual growth, learning, fellowship, mutual encouragement, and prayer.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

Harbins, Help Gospel Growth in China This Sunday!

Brothers and Sisters,

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The year 1792 marked the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society.  One of the men in this society was William Carey.  Carey felt called by God to leave everything behind to spread the gospel in India.  He compared the venture into India to a few men who were to penetrate a deep, unexplored mine, without a guide.  It was in that moment where Carey turned to his brothers in Christ and said to them, “Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.” One of the men present at this meeting, John Ryland, said, “But before he [Carey] went down…he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us, at the mouth of the pit, to this effect-that ‘while we lived, we should never let go of the rope.’”
Carey knew that not all were meant to be full time missionaries in India.  He also knew, however, that there were those who would stay behind and “hold the rope” for him. They would support Carey from afar through their prayers and their financial support, enabling him to devote himself 100% to the work of ministry in India.  Indeed, because of faithful “rope holders”, Carey persevered in ministry in India for 40 years, translating the Bible into 6 languages and portions of it into 29 additional languages.
At Harbins our vision is to be a church where the generations converge to enjoy God and change the world through making, maturing, and mobilizing disciples of Jesus Christ. We do this through our own personal ministry of evangelism and disciple-making, and we also do it by “holding the rope” for others engaged in gospel ministry in places we may never set foot.
imagesMatt and Emily Tyler are Harbins Church supported missionaries spreading the gospel in one of the largest cities in the world, Shanghai, China. Matt is an associate pastor at an international church involved in campus evangelism ministry, church planting and the sending out of missionaries.  It is teeming with folks from all over the globe who have NEVER heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and God is doing some exciting things through Matt’s ministry there.  For example, one young Chinese man named Guan Hua came to their church service and asked if there was someone who could read the Bible with him.  Guan Hua is not a Christian.  Matt and Emily have also had lunch with and befriended a lady named Eve who isn’t a Christian but now seems close to believing.  In addition, Matt has been reading the Bible with a Hungarian man named Janos.  This man has recently professed faith in Christ!
More information about the Tylers’ ministry will be shared Sunday, and I am hoping in September they will be able to make a personal visit to Harbins and share some more, but these are just a few examples of the wonderful things the Lord is doing through Matt and Emily’s missionary efforts.  But here’s the important thing to realize: They cannot engage in this ministry unless others “hold the rope.”  Presently there are only 5 churches (including Harbins) supporting the Tylers on a regular basis.  And with that support they have never been at 100% of their monthly needs.  With a growing family and cost of living increases in Shanghai, the Tylers really need additional support.  Later this year our Finance Team will begin to put together our budget for the coming year.  I have asked them to prayerfully consider if we can increase our quarterly support.  That will largely depend on the strength of the regular giving of our membership.
But regardless of whether or not we’ll be able to increase our regular support, I am imagesasking you this weekend to prayerfully consider putting extra in the offering this Sunday for Matt and Emily’s ministry.  Basically I’m asking you to “hold that rope” a little tighter through participating in a love offering for the spread of the gospel in China.
If you are interested in helping, then, in addition to your regular offering, you can write a separate check, make it out to Harbins, and put “Missions”  down in the note section to ensure the funds get to them.  Cash should be put in an offering envelope with the giver’s name and marked for Matt and Emily on the outside.
Whether we can all give financially or not, another way to “hold the rope” is through our prayers.  Please be praying for Matt and Emily and their ministry this weekend, and prepare for a time of corporate prayer this Sunday where we will lift them and the Church in China up before the Lord!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Demer

Worship is Warfare! (So this Sunday come to our Pre-Service Prayer Meeting)

Friends,

The apostle Paul wrote that we battle not against against flesh and blood but against imagesdark, wicked, invisible forces in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12) Indeed, Peter tells us that Satan, the great Enemy of our souls, is wandering like a lion, seeking those to devour. (1 Pe 5:8)

But the Devil is not just targeting you personally. Peter and Paul wrote those warnings not for disconnected individuals, but for the Church. Satan is not merely targeting you personally, he is targeting us collectively. He doesn’t just hate you. He hates Harbins. And he especially hates anything that will facilitate the church’s growth in love, unity, holiness, and community witness.

Ever since I returned to Harbins Church a few years ago, I’ve been interested in holding a pre-service prayer time. Worship is warfare. It is the battle cry of the people of God. And because worship glorifies God, builds up the Church, and serves as a witness to the lost, it is the last thing that the Satanic powers want us to do.

Being struggling sinners, it’s not just Satan and his demons that seek to undermine our worship, but our own flesh pulls us in another direction. As the old hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Our self-centered sinfulness wants to make Sunday (and every day) all about us.

With such things arrayed against us, how in the world can we have a time of successful, God-centered, edifying corporate worship? On critical but oft-neglected means is prayer.

imagesIn Ephesians 6, after describing the spiritual weapons and armor we are to use in our battle, Paul ends with a weapon many of us ignore. He urges us to be praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication  for all the saints… (Ephesians 6:1)

Charles Spurgeon was pastor of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle and the hand of imagesGod was upon him and his church mightily and through his ministry the Lord ignited revival.  Thousands came to Christ through his preaching.  There were times where worship services drew as many as 10,000 people. Spurgeon was known to take visitors to his church to a basement prayer-room where people were seen on their knees interceding. Here, Spurgeon declared, is the powerhouse of the church.

imagesSteam was the major power source in Spurgeon’s Day, and he compared the prayer room to a boiler room and said, “If the engine room is out of action, then the whole mill will grind to a halt.  We cannot expect blessing if we do not ask.”

Spurgeon recognized that the prayers of God’s people were essential in fueling his preaching and his church.

During the summer months, with no Sunday School or other programs before the main service, this is a great time to gather to seek God’s help and blessing for our service. We’ll meet in the counseling room in the basement. It will be a time to get our hearts right before the Lord, to pray that God will help us to worship Him in spirit and truth, to pray for every element of the service (singing, preaching, fellowship, etc.)  We will also pray for our congregation. We will pray that we will abound in love, unity, charity, and kindness for one another.  We will pray that believers will be blessed, encouraged, and impacted by the service, and that our passion for Jesus will be further ignited and will spill over and impact our families, our relationships, and our community.  We will pray for our own wayward hearts, and we will pray for people who will come to our service that do not know the Lord.  We will pray for these things and more.

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So join us this Sunday this summer at 10am in the counseling room downstairs. If we’ve already started when you get here that’s fine.  If you have to step out before we wrap it up, no problem.  If you want to pray out loud, great.  If you want to pray silently, fantastic. Men, women, and children of all ages are welcome to come.  If you’ve got a noisy baby or jittery toddler, come anyway!

I’ve wanted to do something like this for awhile and I want to thank my brother Chike for his encouragement for us to move forward. I’m not sure what will happen in the fall once Sunday School relaunches, but for now, let’s meet together in this way and see what God does.

imagesJesus reminds us that He is the vine, we are the branches, and apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) We need Jesus’ help for our corporate worship to be everything He wants it to be.  We need God’s help for our church to be powerful, effective, and a vehicle that God will use to impact lives in our fellowship and in our community.  If we want to see further growth and powerful spiritual revival in our midst, why not simply ask?

Spurgeon himself said,

“Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.”

More importantly, Jesus said,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to imagesyou. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  (Matthew 7:7-11)

See you Sunday.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer