HBC Service Redux: 21 November 2010

Here’s our weekly recap of the Sunday service at my home church. This time, I led the worship service while Peter preached from 1 Timothy 2:3-6, carefully explaining through some quite tough gospel dilemmas. We concluded the service by taking communion together in remembrance of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Order of service

Call to worship: In light of the Pike River coal miner incident, I tried to acknowledge the fact that we don’t worship in a vacuum but in real life, where there’s troubles, difficulties and events that sometimes just make it difficult to focus on God on a Sunday. This is what I said:

I’m sure many of you have been listening to the news to try and find out the latest about the 29 miners trapped in the Pike River coal mine. I don’t know what you were thinking this morning as you walked in, whether you’ve been wondering where God is in all this. And you may have your own trials, you might even be finding it hard to think of reasons praise God right now. It’s a difficult truth to grasp at the best of times, but we worship a God who is sovereign, who is in control.

Let’s remind ourselves then, as people reconciled to God through Christ, we have so many reasons to praise God!

In Psalm 147 it says: “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praise to our God… he heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!”

Well we’ve got more than a lyre this morning, we’ve got the voices of Howick Baptist here — let’s stand together and sing to our amazing God.

The funny thing is, I had prepared a completely different call to worship beforehand. but once the mining events that transpired became apparent, it didn’t feel as appropriate. I guess it always pays to be keeping up with current events. In any case these miners are still very much on my mind even today…

1. Indescribable by Laura Story. Much of the beautiful imagery in the lyrics about God’s authorship over creation comes from the book of Job, where God responds him in a declaration of His sovereignty. He asks Job: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:4) “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (Job 38:31-32). So it’s actually quite fitting therefore to sing in response:

“All-powerful, untameable, awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim You are amazing God!”

2. Salvation Belongs to our God by Adrian Howard and Pat Turner. This is a firm HBC favourite, from the 1980’s. The words are taken straight from Revelation 5, in the scene where multitudes worship the Lamb who was slain (i.e. Jesus Christ), saying: “Praise and glory wisdom and thanks, honour and power and strength be to our God forever and ever, amen!”

3. Come Thou Fount by Robert Robinson. An older hymn that speaks so strongly of God’s sovereign grace for His people. To help the younger congregants, we used a modified version which used another line in place of “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” (which is   an obscure, not well-understood reference to 1 Samuel 7); and changed a few words like “hitherto” and “fetter”, which people don’t really use today.

4. Grace Unmeasured by Bob Kauflin. A newer song by Sovereign Grace Music that do a really good job of presenting the gospel from the perspective of God’s amazing, undeserved grace.

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-24. Francelle read out one of the passages that speaks of God’s sovereign grace and mercy to believers, redeemed in Christ.

5. Oh the Mercy of God by Geoff Bullock. The words from this song are pretty much drawn from Ephesians 1, and also Colossians 1 in speaking of the divinity of Christ. It’s got a rousing chorus where in response to the gospel, we get to sing:

“To the praise of His glorious grace! To the praise of His glory and power. To him be all glory, honour and praise, forever and ever, and ever, Amen!”

How can you get more God-centred than that!

Sermon: 1 Timothy 2:3-6. This is definitely a sermon to rewatch and go over again. Peter revisited the text from last week and tried to work through a number of gospel dilemmas, apparent contradictions in scripture regarding salvation and Jesus’s work on the cross. As Peter holds a moderate Reformed position (he explains it in the message), many of our songs this morning were deliberately chosen to emphasise and support the sovereignty of God in His work of salvation.

6. Salvation’s Song by Stuart Townend. We played this for the church as they contemplated the cross and took part in communion. They’re beautiful words that work well in helping to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made to pay for the sins of the world.

7. All I Have Is Christ by Devon Kauflin. A profoundly moving way to finish, by singing through the gospel:

“And as I ran my hellbound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
As I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace…”

Once again it was a great morning of worship. I didn’t feel too confident about some aspects earlier on in the week, and my voice deserted me for a bit on Saturday – so it’s in times like these you really learn to trust and rely on God’s strength, not your own.

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-William Chong

HBC Service Redux: 14 November 2010 (summary)

Simon Newbould led the worship service, while Peter preached from 1 Timothy 2:4.

1. Come Now Is the Time to Worship – Brian Doerkson.

2. Resurrection Hymn – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

3. All Is Well – Robin Mark.

4. Rejoice – Simon Newbould. Simon wrote this one about a month ago and the church have quickly picked it up. It’s easy to sing and the words pretty much proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

5. How Deep The Father’s Love For Us – Stuart Townend.

Sermon – The Mission Heart of God – Peter Somervell. In this evangelistic sermon, Pastor Peter preaches the good news of Christianity, explaining and proclaiming the truth that God desires all people to come to the knowledge of.

6. Jesus Thank You – Pat Sczebel.

What dreams may come – marriage in heaven

So a question piqued my interest recently. It came to me one Sunday, when sitting under Jono’s message. Midway through he was citing the example of a movie called “What Dreams May Come”, starring Robin Williams. The story goes like this:

“Chris Neilson dies to find himself in a heaven more amazing than he could have ever dreamed of. There is one thing missing: his wife. After he dies, his wife, Annie killed herself and went to hell. Chris decides to risk eternity in hades for the small chance that he will be able to bring her back to heaven…”

OK, admittedly it’s a particularly well-rated film. But it does portray a human concept of heaven. The worldview in this particular motion picture basically states: unless your spouse is with you, heaven is not heaven.

So here is my question: “Is there marriage in heaven?”

You’d think no, right?  I mean, Jesus said this: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt 22:30) And if you thought no, you’d be correct, in one sense.

But look how the concept of marriage is further expounded in the Apostle Paul’s writings in the book of Ephesians. Towards the end of the book, Paul gives some practical advice for husbands and wives. He quotes back to Genesis to outline the biblical framework of all marriage, and then he states this: For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. And I tell you, this is refers to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32).

Profound.

So actually, the answer is yes. There *is* marriage in heaven. With this passage in view, marriage becomes a picture of Christ and His bride, the church for whom he died for, and loved sacrificially. So what if our earthly marriage is an imperfect picture? Thankfully, in heaven all things will be made new (Rev 21:5), and our imperfect pictures are no longer necessary.

If we turn from our sins and trust Christ for salvation, once all is said and done we’ll be in the midst of the perfect marriage between Him and His bride, for whom He paid such a massive price for.

So… I guess there won’t be any bachelors in heaven then!

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-William Chong

A weekend in Wanganui

We’ve just come back from an enjoyable weekend away in the beautiful river town of Wanganui. The drive down from Auckland took 5 1/2 hours, and we thoroughly enjoyed the rolling hills and lush landscapes (though the North Island still have nothing on the vistas of the South!)

We were fortunate to be able to stay with Jonker family. Calvyn was formerly a pastor at HBC, one of our close friends, and officiated our wedding in February. We stayed at their beautiful farm house (complete with veggie garden, chickens and two cheerful farm dogs).

Admittedly it’s true that many of us at HBC still miss the Jonker family terribly. In just 18 months, they made such a huge impact on the lives of many people. Yet one thing we picked up from being their guests this weekend is that for them, Wanganui is home. As Calvyn took us for a quick tour around the town, folks were constantly stopping to say hello to him. He talked of people he’s known since they were schoolchildren, and pointed out the various ways in which the town had changed and developed over 12 years. It almost felt like he was the mayor of the town!

It was also good to see Alice, Clare, Jenny and her Wellington-beau Dave. These two ex-students are now jobhunting, nervous yet eagerly anticipating the next phase in life. Clare is standing very straight after her recent surgery, and loves to sing to us her favourite Andre Rieu songs. She picks up the various classical melodies with ease on the piano.

Alice looks the part as the quintessential country gal, feeding the chooks and clambering up and down the grassy banks of their lifestyle block. On a clear day from their deck, you can see Mt Ruapehu one side, and Mt Taranaki in the opposite direction. A sliver of water on the horizon has Alice excitedly thinking of ways to build a homestay cottage and trumpet it as accommodation with “sea views”.

We also visited Wanganui East Baptist Church on the Sunday morning. The people are friendly, and they sing God’s praises with a gusto that fills the room. Calvyn’s currently preaching from the book of 1st Peter, and they’re already up to chapter 3. His preaching style has changed since we last heard him; it’s less lecture-like and more pastoral. It’s preaching that’s down-to-earth and thoroughly biblical – and we appreciated the thought and care he evidently put into making the verse-by-verse approach as practical as possible for the congregation.

Most of all, CJ and Alice don’t just preach the gospel – they live it out. Here’s a couple that seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and continually encourage us to trust in God’s transforming power to mould us to love each other better. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, they’re another picture of Christ and the church (Eph 5:25) that we can, and do, look up to.

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Cheryl and William Chong

HBC Service Redux: 7 November 2010

Since taking on the worship director role at HBC, one recurring feedback that comes through is that a list of songs we did each Sunday would be useful, for people to look them up at a later stage and get to know them better. So I think I will at least try to put up the order of service for each Sunday.

This morning, Craig Starrenburg led the worship service, and Jono Macfarlane preached from Psalm 73.

Order of Service

(If you click each title, you’ll get a link to a video of each song or item in the service.)

1. From Everlasting – Brian Doerkson. A favourite call to worship at HBC. We picked it up off Denys when he introduced it at Impact 2009, and we’ve kept singing it ever since. It’s particularly useful as its lyrics help us to declare God’s sovereignty over “culture’s shifting sands”, and to affirm that He is “unchanged by all the vanities of man”.  This is one example of a good song, intentionally taught, that quickly became part of HBC’s worship music furniture!

2. You Are My All In All – Dennis Jernigan. This was new for the church. Craig tried to lead the church into a round where one half of the church sang the chorus, while the other sang the verse. It worked to some extent, though we had a bit of a mismatch with the lyric projection, where only verse 2 was put up for most of the round. Overall, nice lyrics that fit well with the theme – though from memory, the chorus was easier to pick up than the verse.

3. Wonderful Merciful Saviour – Dawn Rodgers, Eric Wyse. In a lost and broken world, I find singing these words give me incredible hope:

“You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for!”

4. By Faith – Keith & Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend. I’m always surprised at how the Lord ties together the song and the theme of the service. With the sermon and readings revolving around trusting in the Lord despite difficulties and perceived injustices, it helped me to sing this song about “walking by faith and not by sight” afresh. The instrumentation was a bit on the light side, as without drums or the rhythmic drive of a bass, the pace of the song threatened to drag. In any case, this is one the church knows well now, so it was sung with plenty of gusto!

5. Grace Unmeasured – Bob Kauflin. The chorus of this song says it all, really:

“Grace paid for my sins
And brought me to life
Grace clothes me with power
To do what is right
Grace will lead me to heaven
Where I’ll see Your face
And never cease
To thank You for Your grace!”

Sermon – It is Good to be Near God – Jono Macfarlane. Awesome Wookie power, we were blessed with a sensitive and encouraging exposition of the latter verses of Psalm 73. Check out the full sermon here.

6. Be Thou My Vision – Eleanor Hull, Mary Elizabeth Byrne. We closed the service with this fantastic hymn. Being encouraged that God is all we need to endure and strive on the straight and narrow path helped me to sing this hymn afresh, as I considered:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance now and always;

Thou and thou only first in my heart

High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art!

All in all, it was a great morning of worship. I left being really encouraged of God’s amazing grace and kindness towards me!

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William Chong