Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

This weekend, our lead pastor, Joe Hishmeh, shared the the fourth message in our series, “Positive Identity,” where he taught how we are secure in Christ. He reminded us that we have nothing to fear any longer in Christ, because in place of condemnation, desperation, and separation, Jesus gives us faith, hope, and love. It was a moving reminder of Christ’s love for us and of where we now stand because of Him! You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.

Here’s our service plan from this weekend:

“The Solid Rock” (E) [Edward Mote, William B. Bradbury, Charlie Hall, Trent Austin, Kendall Combs]
“I Stand Amazed” (E) [Charles Hutchison Gabriel]
Greeting Time/Announcements
Message – “Positive Identity: Secure” [Joe Hishmeh]
“Jesus Messiah” (A) [Daniel Carson, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves, Chris Tomlin]
“Forever Reign” (A) [Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan]
“This Is Amazing Grace” (A) [Phil Wickham, Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, recorded by Phil Wickham and Bethel Live]

Dismissal

Thoughts: It was great to be back with our church this weekend after being gone last weekend.

For our singing this weekend, we tried to focus on the finished work and all-sufficiency of Christ for us. “The Solid Rock” celebrates our firm foundation in Jesus. “I Stand Amazed,” “Jesus Messiah,” and “This Is Amazing Grace” all remember and praise Jesus’ incredible, unfailing, and live-giving love for us, demonstrated at the cross. And “Forever Reign” worship Jesus for His perfect love and goodness in spite our own shortcomings. All of these songs bring us to one conclusion – Jesus is our only hope!

– Bill

What were your thoughts or experiences from your worship gathering this weekend?

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I thought I would share a few thoughts about Good Friday today, as we reflect on the cross of Jesus, where our rescue was accomplished and our ransom was paid. John Donne is one of my favorite poets, and these particular poems are favorites of mine.

Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward
John Donne

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motions, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey:
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirled by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west
This day, when my soul’s form bends toward the east.
There I should see a sun, by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget;
But that Christ on this Cross, did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I’ almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees God’s face, that is self life, must die;
What a death were it then to see God die?
It made his own lieutenant Nature shrink,
It made his footstool, crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands which span the pose,
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?
Could I behold that endless height which is
Zenith to us, and to’our antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our souls, if not of his,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn,
By God, for his apparel, ragged, and torn?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnished thus
Half of that sacrifice, which ransomed us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;
I turn my back to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O think me worth thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.

Here is another that is fitting for today, as we reflect on the death of death:

Holy Sonnet #6
John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me;
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.


1 Corinthians 15:54-57: “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

May we never forget the point of Good Friday. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We had no hope–no claim or right to eternal life–because we were dead in our sins. We had chosen to run our own lives. We had chosen our own way. We were Captives. Slaves. Prisoners. Dead. Enemies. We could not save ourselves. We would not save ourselves, because we liked our way of doing things, regardless of how it destroyed us. The only way for us to have eternal life was through Jesus’ perfect sacrificial death in our place, for our sins. The righteous wrath of God against sin had to be dealt with, and God chose to take care of it Himself. He sent His one and only Son to the cross because of His great love for us. He did it while we were His enemies! The very hands that shaped the universe were nailed to the cross so that we could be rescued from sin and death, once and for all. May we never lose sight of the amazing love and grace of God, which kept Him on the cross to finish His defeat of sin and death. There was no other way for us to be saved. There is no other way for us to be saved. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and rescuing us!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This verse has always been one that has guided Diane and me through our marriage and ministry together. We have sought to trust God, even when it’s difficult, and to follow Him wherever He leads, because He knows what we do not know, and He sees what we cannot see. His will is what we would have chosen if we knew everything about any given situation.

In February of 2006, after the craziest 6 months we had ever experienced, God called Diane and I here to First Baptist Church at the Mall. He confirmed this in many ways and made it absolutely clear that He wanted us here. When He said, “Go,” we went. Before Lakeland He called us to New Orleans for seminary, and before that it was Gainesville, FL, to serve as campus missionaries. He has been faithful to guide us and direct our steps, leading us where He wants us and providing for us, and that has only furthered our trust in Him.

In mid-July, God again made it abundantly clear to Diane and me that we are to go. God is calling us to serve in what we believe to be a smaller church or church plant as the worship pastor, but we are not certain of where yet. At this time, we have talked with several pastors about different opportunities, but nothing certain has developed. Throughout this process, we have sought to be wide-open before God, saying to Him, “Lord, whatever You want is what we want.” We shared this with Pastor Jay and the executive staff team when we knew, and they have been extremely supportive and helpful through all of it. Words cannot tell you how grateful I am for these men and for the church taking good care of us during this time of transition.

This has been one of the hardest and most uncertain times in our lives, as we have never had to walk this road with so much at stake, but we are trusting God to lead us and to take care of us as He has so many times in the past. It may seem foolish to step out like this with no sure thing on the other end, but I would have failed you as a leader and a pastor if we ignored God’s calling on us and disobeyed His direction.

Please know that it has been our privilege to serve such an amazing church family. We have some amazing relationships here. We have witnessed God move in amazing ways, and we are so grateful to have been a part. We have been able to share the joy of the birth of both of our children here. You have encouraged us, nurtured us, and loved us as we have learned and grown over these past 4 ½ years. We have never felt as loved as we do here. Many times, however, following God means letting go of something that you treasure. For us, that is you. We love you like crazy, and we will miss you terribly. So much of our hearts will be left here. We consider this home, and saw ourselves staying here indefinitely, but God had other plans.

We ask that you would please pray for us as we take this step. Pray for God’s clear direction. Pray that we will be able to sell our home. Pray for our kids as they deal with change. Also, pray for the church leadership as they seek out God’s man to take up where I leave off. We are trusting that the greatest days for Church at the Mall are still ahead, and that God will bring just the right man to continue on in leading you and caring for you. I know for certain that you are in great hands with this worship team, as they are some of the most talented musicians and leaders I have ever served with.

I will be leading for the next few weeks, as long as I am needed, and we look forward to sharing time with you and worshiping together as we all continue to pursue the heart of our great God. He is the only one worthy of our praise, and the only one worthy of our lives. Let us lay our lives down for the sake of His name and His Kingdom, because He laid down His life for us at the cross.