Month: May 2014

Ellie Holcomb — “The Broken Beautiful”

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imgres-2As we continue in our study of themes in the prophets on Sunday morning, I like to be reminded of that overall idea in each message…that God can things that we have broken in our lives and restore them.  He takes the ashes and makes beauty from them.

Here is a hope-giving message in an upbeat song by Ellie Holcomb, “The Broken Beautiful.”

Verse 1
I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There’s days I wonder if you’ll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart
Would you remind me now of who you are?

That your love will never change, that there’s healing in your name
And that you can take broken things and make them beautiful
You took my shame and you walked out of the grave
So your love can take broken things and make them
Beautiful and make them beautiful

Verse 2
I’m better off when I begin to remember
How you have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how you have covered
All of my heartache, oh, with all your grace
Remind me now that you can make a way

That your love will never change, that there’s healing in your name
And that you can take broken things and make them beautiful
You took my shame and you walked out of the grave
So your love can take broken things and make them
Beautiful and make them beautiful

You say that you’ll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness and cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That you can make the broken beautiful

‘Cause your love will never change, and there’s healing in your name
And you will take broken things and make them beautiful
You took my shame and you walked out of the grave
So your love can take broken things and make them
Beautiful and make them beautiful
and make them beautiful you make us beautiful you make us beautiful

Video Directed and Produced by Eric Staples
Song Produced by Brown Bannister + Ben Shive
Chords available at

beauty from ashes

No Other Gods

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Is idolatry a sin of the past?  After all, in the sophisticated, rational world of today, who would actually be guilty of worshiping little statues and carved deities?  But what if idolatry is more than that?  What if it is in fact the entertainment of thoughts and beliefs that push God aside and replace Him with ideas and perspectives that we cherish more than Him?

On Sunday morning, we will be examining the declarations of the Old Testament prophets against the idolatry so rampant in their day.  What we have to understand is that there is just as much a problem with this sin in our day as at any other time in history.  In the seventeenth century, David Clarkson was considered one of the foremost leaders of the non-conformist moveme220px-David_Clarkson_Whitent among churches in England.  His sermons and writings have been held in high esteem over the centuries and have again recently been rediscovered by many.

As you prepare to come worship and hear the Word of God this Sunday, prepare for that day by allowing Clarkson to pose a series of sixteen questions for your consideration.  For those who think themselves incapable of falling prey to idol worship, let these questions penetrate your heart and mind as you ask the Lord to show you what might be hidden secretly in your heart?

Ask the Lord what things have prominence in your affections, priority in your investments, and are more formative than your longings after God.

(1.) Do ye not value these things more than the light of God’s countenance?
(2.) Do ye not love them more than holiness, than spiritual riches, the riches of Christ?
(3.) Do ye not desire the increase of them more than growth in grace?
(4.) Do ye not delight in them more than in communion with God, fellowship with Christ?
(5.) Do ye not grieve more for disappointments herein than God’s withdrawings?
(6.) Are ye not more affected with worldly crosses than soul distempers?
(7.) Are ye not more afflicted with wants of these things than spiritual wants?
(8.) Are ye not more eager in seeking these than following after God?
(9.) Think ye not earthly enjoyments to be greater security than the great and precious promises?
(10.) Are not the thoughts of them more pleasing, welcome, than the thoughts of heaven and of Christ?
(11.) Do ye not esteem others more for these than for their interest in God?
(12.) Are not these your hope and confidence of security against an evil day?
(13.) Do not these employments make you omit holy duties, or cut them short, or perform them in a careless, heartless manner, hereby serving God as though ye served him not, as though ye cared not to enjoy him?
(14.) Do not your hearts stick so fast in this thick clay (as the prophet calls it), as you can scarce raise them towards God in prayer or heavenly thoughts?
(15.) Do ye prize these more, out of any other respect, than because hereby you may be most serviceable to God?
(16.) Are ye not more careful to increase or preserve them than to employ them to the utmost for God?
 –Works of David Clarkson, Volume II, “Soul Idolatry Excludes Men Out of Heaven”

If we are honest with ourselves before the Lord, there are many things in our lives that have become just as much idols as carved figures are.    Our hearts have shifted our trust from God to lesser things.  May our prayer be as the chorus by Charlie Hall expresses it, “Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts, let us not lift our souls to another.”  Once rid of our idols, we can then worship the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength–and in purest form, with nothing diverted elsewhere, we will adore Him who alone is worthy of all praise!


Shepherd’s Staff — What do you see?

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ShepStaffPeople see things differently.  I have always found it interesting that the same set of facts can be seen in entirely different ways.  A man who had been without water for days would see a muddy puddle quite differently than one who had just finished a large glass of iced tea.  His perspective would be greatly influenced by his need!  A simple soda cracker would seem to be a feast to someone who had been days without any food at all!

When the body of believers assembles as a local church, there are lots of ways to see things.  According to one’s needs or that to which one was images-1accustomed, the way the people see the same facts is affected.  When a visitor comes to Providence from a congregation in a small town, they often see a church family largHillsong-Church-pictureer than their entire community.  But if they come to visit after attending a mega-church, they might be inclined to wonder why we are so much smaller than their previous church!  Therefore, when we look at the church, we must see it through eyes that are not so much conditioned by our previous experiences but by standards that are unchangeable.  Therefore, we must get our perspective from the same source – through the lens of the Head of the body, Jesus Christ!  He alone must set our gaze and focus our vision on what matters to Him.

If a church has not seen the glorious possibilities presented by God’s Word, it will be satisfied with far less than it should.  A great example of this is seen in the book of Ezra.  As the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from exile, the temple was rebuilt.  “But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy”” (Ezra 3:12).  The glories of the temple under construction were no match to one God’s people had once known.  Those who remembered the former beauty and grandeur of the old temple wept as they grieved the diminished glory.  Yet, the same circumstance was a matter of great joy for those who had never seen another temple.  This temple was to them one of magnificence because they had never seen anything better, nor did they have great expectations beyond what they saw.

The same can be true in the church today if we do not increase our expectations for what the body of Christ is supposed to be.  Every member should look to Christ and His Word to see the picture of the bride of Christ unveiled in all her redeemed, purified glory!  The standard He sets should always excite us as we look to become what Christ desires us to be as we live in the power of His Holy Spirit.

Some will see a little glimpse of that glory and shout for joy at what has been achieved.  They are like those who had never seen the former temple.  We must be careful not to become satisfied with approximations of God’s best.  Complacency sets in too easily when we think we have “arrived” as the church we are supposed to be.  Longing for what we have never seen requires eyes of faith, but that is how we are supposed to envision the days ahead for the church until Jesus comes again!

The body of Christ must respond by pressing on to reach the biblical, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled goal set before us.  As the scriptures speak to issues about the church, we must hear, obey and pursue the portrait they paint so that our perspective is not conditioned by our most recent experience, but by what God’s Word says.  Our vision must be determined not by the present progress, not by the foundation being laid, not even by the former temple, glorious as it was.  Our vision, our goal, our consuming zeal must be to grow up and mature as the church Christ has desired us to be in the way He has prescribed in His Word.

How do you see the church?  Let’s see it with one heart, one mind and one spirit as “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).  Then, together with Christ we will shout for joy as He accomplishes His purposes in us!

Our Great God – Isaiah 40:21-31

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May 25, 2014

“God is greater than all we could ever need, greater than we can ever grasp and greater than every power and authority in heaven or earth.” – Pastor David Horner





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Beauty from Ashes Series — “Beautiful Things” by Gungor

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Tomorrow morning we begin a nine week series of sermons drawn from the Prophets.  Each week we hope to point out how the mercy and greatness of God takes broken and chaotic lives and makes them beautiful by His grace.

There are so many great songs that communicate that message.  Here is the first one for your enjoyment.  It is “Beautiful Things” by Gungor.

Launchpad Church: Mission Focus – Proverbs 4:3-9, 23-27

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May 18, 2014

“A biblical mission objective matched with a principled mission strategy will give us a clear mission focus on how to walk in the wisdom and ways of Jesus Christ.” – Pastor David Horner





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Launchpad: Mission Strategy – Matthew 28:18-20

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May 11, 2014

“The biblical mission strategy for the church calls us to connect, to grow, to serve and to go, that we might labor together to present everyone complete in Christ.” – Pastor David Horner



Mission Strategy-1

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Launchpad: Mission Objective – Colossians 1:24-29

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May 7, 2014

“No one is complete in Christ until we belong completely to Christ…and that is our mission objective!” – Pastor David Horner



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Mother’s Day Idea: Go See “Mom’s Night Out”

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With Mother’s Day coming next week, lots of people are scrambling for new and creative ways to express their love for Mom!  If you have plans to take her out to lunch on Sunday, you may already be a little late!  Reservations are hard to come by in Raleigh (as I have discovered in previous years–and yes, I already have made reservations this year!).

But this year, besides a special lunch, I would like to suggest you make arrangements to do something very different.  On Friday night, May 9, a new movie is supposed to open in theaters across the area.  “Mom’s Night Out” will be a film you do not want to miss.  I seldom recommend movies because so many people have differing tastes.  But when I saw a preview of this movie back in February, I have to confess that I could not stop laughing.  Frankly, on the night the preview was scheduled to be shown at a meeting I was attending, I was planning to let the movie get started and slip out.  But from the opening scenes until the finish, I was thoroughly entertained.

The movie is very pro-family and Christian-friendly.  So guys, maybe you can do something different this Mother’s Day weekend and catch a Friday night movie.  She will be encouraged, you will laugh and both of you will enjoy a message that affirms moms and values the importance of what they do.  Here is a link to the preview.

And if your taste in movies varies greatly from mine and you hate this movie, sorry!  But I think there is enough here for everyone to have a nice light-hearted evening of wholesome fun!