Archive for September, 2011

What about verse 14?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Yesterday during the sermon I read Matthew 22:14—twice—but never talked about it at all. I skipped it because the sermon focused on the amazing privilege the Father gives us by extending an invitation to his celebration of his Son; verse 14 focuses on just how widely that invitation has been sent and the surprising consequences of the call of the kingdom going out all over the world. We might be tempted to think that if God himself calls people to his kingdom, that all those who are called would joyfully come and join him. But Jesus’s cryptic proverb tells us that this isn’t true. Many will be called, but more will be called than will be chosen.

There are two applications to this proverb for the church. The first is that we need to preach the gospel to everyone because those who are chosen are first called by the gospel. God has ordained that people be saved by his people in his church sharing the gospel with the lost around us. God uses the means of the gospel to bring people into his kingdom. Our job isn’t to try to identify the elect and then share the gospel with them. Our job is to preach the gospel to everyone so we can identify the elect. The only way we can know who God has chosen is by calling everyone and see who responds.

The second application—the surprising application—is that people will reject the call of the kingdom. The promise of sins forgiven; the promise of reconciliation with God; the promise of being more like Jesus; the promise of eternal life will be spurned and despised by people all over the world. People will cling to false hope while turning away from their only hope. Our job isn’t to make the message more pleasing to our audience so they’ll be inclined to accept what we say; our job is to be faithful to the message of Jesus Christ through the gospel and rely on the power of God to shine the light into their blindness and sin.

Many are called—that is, we preach the gospel to everyone every where. Few are chosen–that is, God saves his people from their sins through the preaching of the gospel.

Matthew 22:1-14 “The Call of the Kingdom”

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

9/25/2011

Matthew 21:28-46 “Israel in the Kingdom”

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

9/18/2011

 

A Prayer of Repentance

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Here is the prayer 0f repentance that we prayed in our service yesterday:

Leader:

Our Father, we confess that life in this world sometimes overwhelms us. We confess that sometimes we feel so busy that we miss out on your greatest blessing—knowing you and walking with you. Our deadlines scream at us—but you wait quietly and patiently for us.  We rush to take care of urgent tasks in front of us—but ignore your presence inside of us. We are involved in many things—but let you in on so little of it. Forgive us for presuming on your kindness, forbearance, and patience and remind us that your kindness toward us is meant to lead us to repentance.

Congregation:

And so, we repent that we regularly read our favorite blogs but frequently miss reading your sacred Word.

We repent that we never miss our favorite shows but often neglect secret prayer.

We repent that we year to hang out with others but neglect to gather with our church.

And we repent—most of all—that by squandering these great blessings—we are missing out on knowing you!

Fill us, we pray, with a desire for you.  Not for your gifts or your blessings or your rewards, but for you. To walk with you and know you and love you. Forever and ever. Amen.

A Prayer on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Our Father in heaven, you have given us every blessing—on earth and in heaven—in your Son Jesus Christ. We know that these blessings could never have been earned by us.  We know that your gifts are gifts of amazing grace.  We know that we love you because you first loved us.

And we know these blessings, these gifts, and this love have come to us because of the perfect life lived by your Son on this earth—and because he gave his life as a substitute for our lives and as a sacrifice for our sins—and because you raised him from the dead in the power of your Spirit

And we rejoice in the message of your Son—the message of the gospel—that was shared with us by a faithful Christian—which you then used to bring us to the cross.  And we rejoice that the message of the gospel has travelled all around the world—proclaimed by faithful witnesses and believed by people of different nations, languages, customs, and beliefs—people whose minds were blinded by the god of this world, but who believed because you said “Let light shine out of darkness” and revealed to them the light of the gospel of the glory of Jesus.

But we are also sad today, Father. We are sad because ten years ago today people who hold fervently to false ideas about a false god showed the world the consequences of blindness to the light of the gospel—their hatred for those who have different beliefs—their intolerance toward those who live different kinds of lives—their willingness to attack and kill those against whom they have taken offense.

And we are not merely sad that such unbelief exists—but we are sad that the greatest light and power on this earth—the gospel of Jesus—has seemed so weak and has shed so little light throughout the Muslim world.  Your witnesses have been beaten and imprisoned and killed—­sometimes for proclaiming the gospel but sometimes for just believing the gospel.  Your message has been distorted and twisted and misunderstood within that culture.  And your name has been blasphemed and your Son has been ridiculed among them for centuries.

And we pray for them today, Father.  Not that coalition armies would kill them—not that Western culture would swallow them—not that humanism would defeat them.  We pray that the gospel would conquer their hearts, that Jesus would enlighten their minds, that the Holy Spirit would transform their souls.  We pray that they would be saved and redeemed by the blood of Jesus through the preaching of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We pray that you would glorify your name­—by calling those who’ve killed your saints—by justifying those who’ve exalted their own righteousness—and by glorifying those who’ve rejected you most fervently.

Our hearts desire and prayer to you for the entire Muslim world is that they would be saved—that you would shine the light of the knowledge of your own glory in the face of Jesus Christ into every mosque in this world—that a revival would sweep this false belief out of existence—and that you would receive all the glory as your kingdom advances and your people exalt you. Amen.

Matthew 21:14-27 “The Temple in the Kingdom” (Part 2)

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

9/11/2011

Our Letter to our Neighbors

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I mentioned the letter we sent out in the last post and thought it might be good to reproduce it here.

Greetings, Neighbor!

A new church has just started meeting in the Clifton Heights neighborhood, and we would like to introduce ourselves to you. Although this church is new, it meets in the same building as an old church. Clifton Heights Baptist Church no longer exists and our new church, Christ Community Church of Louisville, now meets where they used to be. If you’ve driven by our building on Cleveland Boulevard, you may have noticed that things look different. We’ve painted the brick and blocks of our building, changed the landscaping, and put up a new sign. Those are the changes you can see. The changes you cannot see are all inside the building. We’ve remodeled and updated much of the building’s interior with a new, safer nursery; a new children’s area; a more open fellowship hall in our basement, among other things.

But even these renovations do not tell you what is really new about our church. Christ Community Church is committed to a single mission: helping our neighbors have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. And Christ Community Church is committed to a single message: the gospel of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is our mission and our message because we have come to know Jesus Christ  ourselves and through him have been forgiven of our sins, have been set free from many troubling habits, and have had our lives transformed by this relationship. We have experienced all this and want to share Jesus with you. We know that your life can be transformed by him, too.

When you visit our church, you will not find a bunch of programs; you will not find a weekly schedule that keeps you running around the church every night of the week; you will not find skits and videos popping up in our service; and you will not find a group of self-righteous people who look down their noses at you. But you will find people who know Jesus and want to introduce him to you; you will hear a message from God’s Word, the Bible, that will show you Jesus and teach you to walk with him; and you will find friends who want to help you overcome habits, addictions, and behaviors that are hurting you.

You’ll find in this envelope an invitation to a neighborhood open house at Christ Community Church. On September 10th, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., you are welcome to come and visit us, see our building, and meet some of our members. If you are interested in our mission and message, people will be there who can tell you more about it. If you are just curious about the changes we have made to the building, then we will be happy to show you around.

Finally, we are your neighbors and we want to be a helpful part of this neighborhood. We have two events coming up that we hope will be of interest to you. First is something we call Total Tutoring. Starting on October 5th, we will open up our building on Wednesday afternoons at 4:30 p.m. for elementary through high school students to get help with their homework. We call it Total Tutoring because we will serve your children’s minds through tutoring, their bodies with a meal, and their spirits through our Wednesday evening children’s service (called Kingdom Kids) and our youth group. If you would like your child to participate, please email me at pastorsteve@ccclouisville.org and I will send you a registration and permission form that your child will need to join us.

Our second event is a class I will be teaching on Friday evenings in October on personal financial management. Before becoming a pastor, I practiced law for 15 years, specializing in estate planning, taxes, and other financial issues. I would like to share with you some helpful and practical things I have learned through my own experiences to help you better handle your own money in these difficult times. If you are interested in attending these sessions, call the church or email me and I will give you more information about dates and times.

Thank you for reading this letter. We are praying for you and hope to meet you soon.

Steve Matteucci

Pastor

Reflections on the Open House

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

I was greatly encouraged and wonderfully blessed by the open house this afternoon. I know we weren’t exactly overrun with visitors, but there was a lot to be encouraged about. First, we had more good, substantial conversations with our neighbors in two hours this afternoon than we’ve been able to have over the last two years. Second, some who came were Christians who attend other churches, and had no idea what was going on in our church. They were excited and promised to let their neighbors know about us. Third, we talked to four or five people who are ready to start coming to a church or who are looking for a church home. Fourth, every visitor was impressed by our building, by our people, and our ministry. We definitely presented ourselves to them as a serious, gospel church. And fifth, everyone mentioned the letter they had received, and I have to assume that others out there in the neighborhood read it, too. Just because they didn’t come today doesn’t mean they won’t visit us sometime.

I was encouraged by one other thing today, but it isn’t directly related to our outreach. It was that so many of our members participated in this event: praying, stuffing envelopes, bringing food, giving tours, and just being friendly and having good conversations with our neighbors. I thank God for all of you.

Keep praying. Pray for the Christians we met, that their ministry to their neighbors would be fruitful and that we can be partners with them in ministry. Pray for the seekers we met, that they would have a strong desire to come to our gathered worship. Pray for the people who read the letter but didn’t come, that the Spirit would draw them to Christ and to our community.

CCC Open House Prayer

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Today is the day we open our church up and invite our neighbors to come in and visit with us. We’ve sent invitations to over 2,100 addresses in Clifton Heights introducing our church and inviting them to our event. Our prayer is that CCC will be known among our neighbors as a serious church with a serious message; that we will get to know many of our neighbors; that we will become more aware of the needs of our neighborhood; that the Holy Spirit would use this event to pull people to the cross of Jesus; that our members and friends would be greatly encouraged by the work of God and the power of the gospel; and that God would be glorified by all that he does through us.

Matthew 21:12-13 “The Temple in the Kingdom” (Part 1)

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

9/4/2011