Archive for August, 2011

A Prayer of Repentance

Monday, August 29th, 2011

In yesterday’s service, we recited a prayer of repentance from the Valley of Vision. I thought it might help to see it again:

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,

You have brought us to the valley of vision,

where we live in the depths but see you in the heights;

hemmed in by mountains of sin we behold your glory.

Let us learn by paradox

that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive,

that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,

and the deeper the wells the brighter your stars shine;

Let us find your light in our darkness,

your life in our death,

your joy in our sorrow,

your grace in our sin,

your riches in our poverty,

your glory in our valley.

Matthew 21:1-11 “The Triumphal Entry of the King”

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

8/28/2011

God’s Selflessness in Displaying His Glory

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

If you believe that God created the world to display his own glory, and you share that idea with others, it won’t be long before someone suggests that this purpose makes God seem selfish or self-centered. After all, they say, if a human being did anything for the purpose of displaying his own glory, we would see him as arrogant, not as noble. John Piper has given an answer to this objection in Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.

Because God is unique as an all-glorious, totally self-sufficient Being, he must be for himself if he is to be for us. The rules of humility that belong to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. If God should turn away from himself as the Source of infinite joy, he would cease to be God. He would deny the infinite worth of his own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside himself. He would commit idolatry (pp 47-48).

That’s a great answer: we commit idolatry if we value ourselves above God; God commits idolatry when he values us over himself.

But is it always true that a human being will be selfish if he acts in a way that will bring himself glory? Consider an artist—a great artist—who paints the greatest work of art in the history of mankind. As he contemplates his work all alone in his studio, he realizes that if he presents his masterpiece to the world, he’ll be honored as a great master, he’ll become famous for his great work, he’ll receive glory for his achievement. This thought frightens him because he is a humble man. He says to himself, “I don’t want to be self-focused or petty—I don’t want to seek my own glory—so I’m going to keep my painting to myself.”

Is this really a selfless act? Throughout his lifetime he keeps his painting in his home and no one ever sees it.  No one ever enjoys his great painting; no one is ever moved by his great work of art; no one is ever affected by the beauty of his masterpiece. Do we really look at this artist and marvel at how unselfish he is?  Of course not!  He would be far more others-focused if he showed his painting to the world and accepted the fame and glory and praise that came with it.

God created to display his own glory, but this isn’t an act of selfish arrogance; it’s a phenomenal act of selfless love, generous grace, and boundless mercy on God’s part. Rather than enjoying his own glory alone as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God created an entire universe, along with creatures made in his own image, who could look on and marvel at and enjoy the greatness of his glory forever and ever.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 5:11).

 

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 This Ministry and the Revelation of God

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

8/21/2011

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 “This Ministry and the Glory of God”

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

8/14/2011

Christ Community Church has Launched!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14).

Two years ago, Clifton Baptist Church graciously sent 21 of its members to a church less than two miles away, Clifton Heights Baptist Church, to revitalize its ministry to its body and its mission to its neighbors. During those two years, our great God has led us in Christ in triumphal procession and has transformed the ministry of this church to its body. We’ve grown stronger in many areas where we were very weak and we’ve improved in areas where we were strong. And we thank God for leading us this way.

But over those two years, the words “triumphal procession” didn’t really fit our efforts of revitalizing our mission to our neighbors. And we came to find out that sixty years of mission-drift and message-drift had made Clifton Heights Baptist Church irrelevant in the lives of the hurting people who lived around our church. We were feeling frustrated by our lack of outreach and by our inability to even engage people with the gospel.

And so, we decided to shut down the old church and launch a new church in its place. This wasn’t a mere marketing strategy: we really were a new church on the inside! We just needed a way to communicate that to our neighborhood. And we’ve been taking steps toward creating this new church for the last seven months.

This past Sunday, August 21, 2011, we had our first service as Christ Community Church. We started our service outside, in front of our new sign (which was veiled), and sang “In Christ Alone” together to our neighborhood. We chose that song because we want our church to reflect the reality that the only hope of the world is in Christ alone. And then we prayed. We prayed for the new church, for the power of the gospel, and for our mission to our neighborhood.

Then we went back inside and continued to worship our God together in song, in prayer, and in the Word. I preached from 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, where Paul, after defining new covenant ministry (2:14-3:6) and arguing that new covenant ministry greatly surpasses old covenant ministry in glory and that this glory is transforming us (3:7-18), applies these truths to the life of the church. And there are four applications: 1. do not lose heart; 2. stand firm on the gospel; 3. rejection is not personal, it’s spiritual; and 4. expect God to work to break down every obstacle to faith.

But our day wasn’t over yet. After our service we went down into our fellowship hall and shared a meal together as a family. Good food, uplifting conversation, and real fellowship. During the meal we also shared the Lord’s Supper together “first century-style,” something we had never done before. The setting was different than in our normal services, less formal, more intimate, and that gave us a different perspective on what we were doing. We had a great day.

Over the last two years it didn’t always look like God was leading us in a triumphal procession in Christ. Sometimes it looked like our church wouldn’t survive. But now that we’ve launched Christ Community Church, we can see that God has actually been leading us this whole time. Relaunching this church is the next stage of our triumphal procession and our prayer is that the triumphal procession will just keep going, as God exalts his Son through our ministry and we’re given the privilege of spreading the fragrance of Jesus into every house, condo, townhouse, and apartment in the Clifton Heights Neighborhood.

2 Corinthians 2:13-3:6 “This Ministry, by the Mercy of God”

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

8/7/2011