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God-with-Us

Henri J.M. Nouwen

God is a compassionate God. This means, first of all, that he is a God who has chosen to be God-with-us. To be able to know and feel better this divine solidarity, let us explore the experience of someone being truly with us.

When do we receive real comfort and consolation? Is it when someone teaches us how to think or act? Is it when we receive advice about where to go or what to do? Is it when we hear words of reassurance and hope? Sometimes, perhaps. But what really counts is that in moments of pain and suffering someone stays with us. More important than any particular action or word of advice is the simple presence of someone who cares. When someone says to us in the midst of a crisis, “I do not know what to say or what to do, but I want you to realize that I am with you, that I will not leave you alone,” we have a friend through whom we can find consolation and comfort. In a time so filled with methods and techniques designed to change people, to influence their behavior, and to make them do new things and think new thoughts, we have lost the simple but difficult gift of being present to each other. We have lost this gift because we have been led to believe that presence must be useful. We say, “Why should I visit this person? I can’t do anything anyway. I don’t even have anything to say. Of what use can I be?” Meanwhile, we have forgotten that it is often in “useless,” unpretentious, humble presence to each other that we feel consolation and comfort. Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination. And still, whenever this happens, new strength and new hope is being born. Those who offer us comfort and consolation by being and staying with us in moments of illness, mental anguish, or spiritual darkness often grow as close to us as those with whom we have biological ties. They show their solidarity with us by willingly entering the dark, uncharted spaces of our lives. For this reason, they are the ones who bring new hope and help us discover new directions.

These reflections offer only a glimpse of what we mean when we say that God is a God-with-us, a God who came to share our lives in solidarity. It does not mean that God solves our problems, shows us the way out of our confusion, or offers answers for our many questions. He might do all of that, but his solidarity consists in the fact that he is willing to enter with us into our problems, confusions, and questions.

That is the good news of God’s taking on human flesh. The Evangelist Matthew, after describing the birth of Jesus, writes: “Now all this took place to fulfill the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘The Virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel,’ a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’” (Mt 1:22-23).

As soon as we call God, “God-with-us,” we enter into a new relationship of intimacy with him. By calling him Immanuel, we recognize that he has committed himself to live in solidarity with us, to share our joys and pains, to defend and protect us, and to suffer all of life with us. The God-with-us is a close God, a God whom we call our refuge, our stronghold, our wisdom and even, more intimately, our helper, our shepherd, our love.

This was an excerpt from Compassion by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison.

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Starving, Excruciating, and Fair

Pastor James Martin

On October 28, 2014, Deputy Jeremy Martin, brother of our Pastor James Martin, was shot multiple times and murdered by his partner in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Since then, the Martin family has been enduring a criminal trial with a jury unsure of how to prosecute and charge his killer. Pastor James wrote this blog and graciously allowed us to share it with you, our church family. If you'd like to learn about the case, you may read more here.

Please commit to praying for the Martin family in this difficult time.
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Tracy and I have banned a few words from use by our three kids (12, 9, & 7) when describing their personal situation or present difficulty. In our household starving, excruciating, and the phrase “it is not fair” are not permitted.

Here is our thinking.

Starving — I’ve been around the world, and I have slept on a dirt floor of an orphanage with a group of beautiful children — looking into their eyes, I’ve seen starving. And while my little ones might find themselves hungry and we may eat a little later than usual sometimes, these fair skinned American kids do not know starving. And for that I’m grateful. But let us not forget those who are starving for real and reserve that word for them. And furthermore, let us give to a well-managed charity on behalf of children who are in need both in this country and abroad. They are precious, and it is our responsibility as a community to make sure they too are not starving.

Excruciating — A word literally created to describe the agony of crucifixion on the cross. Again, I know my kids have never suffered such pain. And while I understand falling into a cactus hurts and it is most certainly painful when you go down hard on a bicycle, I contend that in measure to the cross, it is nothing. For one, they will never find themselves in agony alone having been rejected by their father — I wouldn’t dream of it (although they usually just ask for their mother). And second, the pain — it just doesn’t come close.

And “it is not fair…” — Ah, this little phrase — it has plagued kids and narcissistic business associates alike. Most of the time when we say this we are starting with the presupposition that we are the center of the universe and anything that happens to us against our will or standard is therefore out of balance, and thus not fair. But in reality, we are not at the center and life is not fair. And I’ll tell you what else is not fair — a guy named Jesus, who is the center of the universe, literally starving himself in the desert as he began his ministry headed straight for a truly excruciating experience on the cross for something he didn’t do. That’s not fair. 

Look, I get it. I know what you might be thinking… and I’ll give you a quick tip I’ve learned before I go any further… Don’t start here with the kids (or anyone for that matter). Show a little empathy first and let them be heard — but with loving parenting and a gentle well-timed reminder, these simple truths can actually help bring about healing and perspective. The message here starts and ends with love and grace.

Life is not fair. Period. In fact, it is anything but fair. M. Scott Peck said it best in the opening chapter of his book The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978 when he said: “Life is difficult.” Dr. Peck goes on to explain “This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult once we truly understand and accept it then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

So true. And being more clearly realized as my hair turns distinctively grayer.

The fact is we are not at the center of the universe. And bad things happen to really good people. And it is not fair. Or right. But it is what it is.

A rich life is well worth the cost of living. 

In my personal journey, I know I did not fully appreciate a warm and vivid sunrise until I experienced extremely dark cold nights. And I only began to obtain and enjoy true love and togetherness after suffering real loneliness and detachment. And I only received God’s grace and mercy after having been crushed by His law and my inability to keep it.

For truly we only experience the richness of love and the sweetness of life when we have also moaned the agony of death. That is life and actually living — and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Life is hard. Life is good.

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The State of The Resolved

Sermon Discussion

Click here to view the sermon.

This week we departed from the regular sermon series in Luke to discuss the current state of The Resolved Church, particularly the critical financial situation we find ourselves in now.

Take some time to discuss people’s reactions to the news we received this week regarding the church’s financial crisis. How did you respond when you first received the news about our church’s financial situation?

What are your thoughts/feelings/frustrations about our financial state?

I. Our Church Story

The Resolved Church began as a response to a vision Duane had to reach the people of San Diego for Jesus Christ. Have you ever felt a particular calling from God for ministry? Do you feel like you share the vision of The Resolved? Why or why not?

Do you think it’s important for the people of a church to share a common vision? Why would this be important?

This is the first financial crisis our church has ever been in (which is actually great news)! It is a normal part of church life (and family life) to go through seasons of financial hardship. What are some things we can learn together as a church family in the midst of a financial crisis? Is there anything of value we can take away from this season?

James 1:2-4 teaches us the joy and value we can find in trials. Read through the passage and re-ask the previous question.

II. Our Generous God

Read through Acts 4:34-35 and Philippians 4:15-20. What do you notice in these passages about the church’s attitude toward giving financially? Do you see this mirrored in the modern church? Why or why not?

What are some obstacles we face both personally and corporately to financial giving in today’s society? What is our culture's view of financial giving?

Duane expressed great hope for this season, believing that God is being good to us in this crisis. How can God be both good and allow us to be in crisis at the same time?

God’s Word makes it very clear that God is both rich and generous to all (He owns everything! See 1 Chronicles 29:11-13). How has God been generous to you?

We tend to overlook the generosity of God because His blessings are so prevalent and common. We take things for granted far too often. How can we reorient our hearts to view the everyday blessings of God (like life, health, family, and above all Jesus Christ) as things to be truly grateful for? How can this lead us to be generous people in turn?

III. Our Opportunity

Our church has many exciting things on the horizon, and we want to continue to faithfully pursue what God has put on our hearts to do.

In Philippians, Paul views the giving of the local church as a partnership in ministry. Money is simply a vehicle that makes the mission happen. Money helps us move the mission forward.

How do you view giving financially? Is it like participating in ministry or is it more like paying taxes?

Duane laid out the leadership’s plan to address this financial crisis:

- Publicly address the situation.

- Call members directly to discuss.

- Call our church to pray for the leadership to have wisdom in what to do.

- Ask members to evaluate their own finances to see how they give or give more.

- 90-Day Challenge of generous giving.

What are your thoughts about the way forward for our church?

What part can we play as a group and as individuals in helping to support our church?

Pray For One Another

Pray for wisdom for the leadership with financial decisions

Pray for the hearts of people to see God’s generosity, and for the desire to be generous in response.

Pray for unity, growth, and maturity through this very difficult season.

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Generous Justice 

Tim Keller

As we consider what it means to give as a church, we must look to Jesus as an example of what true godly giving looks like. Here is an excerpt from Tim Keller's book Generous Justice where he uses a quote from 19th-century pastor Robert M’Cheyne to paint a picture of the type of giving to which Jesus calls us: 
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“Dear Christians…we must be like Jesus in giving. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor”… Objection 1. “My money is my own.” Answer: Christ might have said, “my blood is my own, my life is my own”… then where should we have been? Objection 2: “The poor are undeserving.” Answer: Christ might have said, “They are wicked rebels… shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels.” But no, He left the ninety-nine and came for the lost. He gave His blood for the undeserving. Objection 3. “The poor may abuse it.”Answer: Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater truth. Christ knew that thousands would trample His blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet He gave His own blood. Oh, my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and the poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy and so will you be. It is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember His own word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Excerpt from Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

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Dear Resolved Church family,

As many of you already know, in our desire to love and care for our pastors well, we have started to implement regular sabbaticals for our leadership team. We started with Pastor Duane, and this year Pastor Dan and his family are receiving this gift. They are currently beginning their four-month sabbatical as of this month. We want to encourage you all to give them the space they need for their souls to be able to fully engage in the sabbatical process; to rest, recalibrate, and re-enter back into ministry healthier and with a desire to serve you all for many more years to come.

The ways that we are asking you to love and serve them well are to give them space by disengaging from communicating with them via email, phone, or social media. Doing this will enable them to be able to be fully present in their sabbatical, and to allow the Lord to minister to the deep places of their soul without distraction, which is a powerful act of love toward them. As a church, we care deeply for this wonderful family and are eager to see how Jesus will minister to them during this time. We believe that this sabbatical process is not only a God-given blessing to His ministers but also necessary for the continued well-being and care for His people. Thus, we want to give Pastor Dan and his family all the support and love we can in this
process.

It goes without saying that Pastor Dan has some big shoes to fill during his sabbatical, and we wanted to give you a couple of people to contact when you have questions or concerns that normally Dan would be involved with.

1. For most general questions Dan's assistant, Molly, will be the person to go to. Her email address is

2. If you have questions regarding building care, LampPost Warehouse events, or ministry questions, please contact Dave Christman,

3. If you have any other pastoral concerns or questions please contact me,


If you would like to give them a special financial love gift during this time of healing, please use the designation "Staff Calvert". We would love to bless them with special meals, or vacations, or gift cards as another tangible expression of our love and support for them.

We are so glad to be able to give the Calverts this sabbatical, and are very excited for what God is doing, and will continue to do, during this time. Thank you, Resolved Church, for your love and support for Pastor Dan and his family.


On behalf of the elders of the Resolved Church,

Pastor Ryan Buss

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Trusting God Even When Life Hurts

Jerry Bridges

You may purchase his book here!

After Pastor Dave's powerful sermon on God's purpose for trials in our lives, you might be looking for some more material on what it looks like to lean on God in tumultuous times. Jerry Bridges explores this in-depth in his book Trusting God. Here is an excerpt:

The letter did not bring good news. A close relative, very dear to me, had just learned she had bone cancer. Malignant cells from a previous bout with cancer had lain dormant for eight years before invading the skeletal parts of her body. One hip was already almost destroyed; the doctor was amazed she was still able to walk. Such incidents are all too common these days. In fact, during the writing of this chapter I had seven friends, all with cancer, listed on my “urgent” prayer page.

But cancer or other physical ailments are obviously not the only sources of anxiety. Over lunch a few weeks ago a businessman friend confided that his company is perilously close to bankruptcy; another experiences heartache over a spiritually rebellious teenager. The truth is, all of us face adversity in various forms and at different times. A recent best-selling book by a secular psychiatrist put it very well with this simple opening statement: “Life is difficult.”

Adversity and its accompanying emotional pain come in many forms. There may be the heartache of an unhappy marriage, or the disappointment of a miscarried pregnancy, or grief over a spiritually indifferent or rebellious child. There is the anxiety of the family breadwinner who has just lost his job and the despair of the young mother who has learned she has a terminal illness.

Others experience the frustration of dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams; a business that turned sour, or a career that never developed. Still, others experience the sting of injustice, the dull ache of loneliness, and the stabbing pain of unexpected grief. There is the humiliation of rejection by others, of demotion at work and, worst of all, of failure that is one’s own fault. Finally, there is the despair of realizing that some difficult circumstances-- a physical infirmity of your own or perhaps a severely handicapped child—will never change.

All of these circumstances and scores more contribute to the anxiety and emotional pain we all experience at various times and in varying degrees. Some pain is sudden, traumatic, and devastating. Other adversities are chronic, persistent, and seemingly designed to wear down our spirits over time.

God’s people are not immune from such pain. In fact, it often seems as if theirs is more severe, more frequent, more unexplainable, and more deeply felt than that of the unbeliever. The problem of pain is as old as the history of man and just as universal. Even creation itself, Paul tells us, has been subjected to frustration and groans as in the pain of childbirth. (Romans 8:20-22)

So the question naturally arises “Where is God in all of this?” Can you really trust God, i.e, is He dependable in times of adversity? But the second meaning is also critical, can you, trust God? DO you have such a relationship with God and such a confidence in Him that you believe He is with you in your adversity even though you do not see any evidence of His presence and His power?

It is not easy to trust God in times of adversity. NO one enjoys pain, and when it comes, we want it relieved as quickly as possible. Even the Apostle Paul pleaded with God three times to take away the thorn in his flesh before he finally found God’s grace to be sufficient. Joseph pleaded with Pharoh’s cupbearer to “get me out of this prison” (Genesis 40:14). And the writer of Hebrews very honestly states, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.”

In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense. And just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing the message of the gospel (Romans 10:17), so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone. It is only in the Scriptures that we find an adequate view of God’s relationship to and involvement in our painful circumstances. It is only from the Scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the grace to trust God in adversity.

In the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God—truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:

  • God is completely sovereign.
  • God is infinite in wisdom.
  • God is perfect in love.

Someone has expressed these three truths as they relate to us in this way: “God in his love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty, He has the power to bring it about.”

In order to trust God, we must know Him in an intimate, personal way. David said in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” To know God’s name is to know him in an intimate personal way. It is more than just knowing facts about God. It is coming into a deeper personal relationship with Him as a result of seeking Him in the midst of our personal pain and discovering Him to be trustworthy. It is only as we know God in this personal way that we come to trust Him.

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How Good People Should Respond When Bad Things Happen

Sermon Discussion
James 1

I. Look In

Trial Definition: "Depravation or absence of a God intended blessing."

Do you agree with this definition? Why or why not?

How might you be experiencing this kind of trial in your life now?

What does James say is the purpose for our trials?

What are some temptations for us in how we respond to trials? How does God address these in our life?

How do trials expose what we really believe?

II. Look Up

God is the Master of all circumstances in our lives. He either sends it, or He allows it, to touch us. God is doing it for a reason!

Why ought we to look up to God in the midst of trials?

Why does God send or allow trials? Because it is the best for us and our faith at that time. Do you believe this? Why or why not? How might this view change how we respond to trials?

III. Look Out

When we experience trials in our life, often we can be tempted to focus on ourselves. What happens when we turn our eyes to look at others and seek and serve others in the midst of our trials?

How do we cultivate this kind of looking out while we are under trials?

IV. Pray for One Another!
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God Likes New Things

Pastor Duane Smets

There is something exciting and fun about getting something new. This last year I saved up some money and purchased a new surfboard, which has turned out to be one of my most favorite boards I’ve ever ridden!

Whether it’s something you purchase like new clothes or a new house or whether it’s a new friendship or relationship, there is something about something that is new. There is a longing and an excitement to new things.

I think God created and designed for newness because He’s a God who likes new things.

God promises new things.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth!” – Isaiah 43:19 

God tells us to sing new songs.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!” – Psalm 98:1 

God’s love is new to us every day.

 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.” – Lamentations 3:22-23

God give us new life.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 

God will make all things new.

“Behold, I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5 

I think one of the many benefits of knowing God is there will always something new in a life with Him.

God is eternal and therefore there is an unending amount of new things to know and experience in Him. I think part of the joy and promise of heaven for those who follow Christ is that there will always be something new for God to show us and delight us with.

The great preacher and pastor Jonathan Edwards said this in his book about heaven titled, “The End For Which God Created The World”,

“Happiness will be increasing to eternity. If God has respect to something in the creature, which He views as of everlasting duration, and as rising higher and higher through that infinite duration, then there never will be any particular time when it can be said already to have come to such a height.

God’s respect to the creature’s good, and His respect toHimself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at is happiness in Himself.”

What he’s saying is that in eternity God will always have new things to be introducing to His people to delight them. There will always be more because God is an infinite and eternal God and it makes Him really happy to see His creatures be happy and increasingly surprised by new joys.

God likes introducing His creatures to new things and because of that God will never become old and boring to us. We will never arrive at a point where we know everything about God and His goodness. There will always be more to experience.

God is the newness we long for who gives us ultimate and enduring satisfaction and joy. Enjoy Him and the life He gives to the fullest!

– Pastor Duane

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A Jesus for People Today
Gabe Hagstrom

Click here to view the sermon.

We’re hopping back into Luke after the last couple weeks celebrating Easter. Duane took us to a conversation where Jesus is approached by some religious leaders who have concerns about Jesus’s wild party lifestyle.

As we approach the scene here in Luke, think through your own life.

What was your favorite party you attended? What made it great?

Let’s take a closer look at this conversation and read the passage:

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” – Luke 5:33-39 33 

Jesus answer to the religious leaders is rich with insight into how different Jesus is, and who He is. Duane pointed out that What we see is how Jesus is always new, always good and can’t be compared or combined with anything else.

There were three points we looked at:

Good Parties
Good Style
Good Wine

I.  Good Parties

The religious leaders start off by comparing Jesus’s seemingly liberal lifestyle to His cousin John’s very serious and ascetic life. They were in the habit of fasting a couple times a week to show haw dissatisfied they were with the world and how holy they were. And here’s Jesus eating, drinking, every day like it’s a wedding party.

When you think of church, do you think of it more as a party, or as a practice? How do your neighbors, friends, and coworkers think of church? Why? What can change that view?

Parties are usually as great as the reason for the party. Jesus gives the leaders a reason in his response, that He’s here! Duane pointed out that “God coming in Jesus is a sign that God has heard the prayers of the people and now it’s time to thank Him, celebrate that and enjoy His presence.” They had been waiting centuries, millennia for this to happen and here it was!

Does your life reflect the joy of Jesus coming to us? Do you feel the freedom to express that joy? How can you express that joy to the people of San Diego?

II.  Good Style

After announcing that He is the reason for the party, and there’s never been a better reason, Jesus moves on to a story to reveal what the heart was behind the religious leaders' question. They wanted to mix their religion with Jesus, to make it more palatable to themselves.

Why do you think they wanted to mix the two?

What do people now often try to mix with Jesus? What do you try and mix with Jesus? Why?

Duane explained that this mixing of beliefs is called Syncretism. Jesus is new and He’s given us new clothes to wear. In spite of those new wonderful clothes, we often will try and sneak back into our worn smelly, yet comfy clothes. The new and the old can’t work together.

Are there some old clothes (practices and habits) you need to let go of? Why are you holding on to them? Who in your life can come alongside and point out when you need to let go of those clothes? 

III.  Good Wine

Jesus tries again with another story to enlighten his disciples and these religious leaders. He compares himself to new wine that needs an appropriately new wine skin to hold it. If you put new wine is the same old wine skin time after time, that skin would burst, unable to hold the life happening in the wine.

Duane pointed out that inside the skin it’s always wine, always the same gospel, in order to be effective, the skin that holds the wine must be flexible. So we as a church must be flexible as we deliver to the Gospel to different cultures, peoples, and groups.

What are some examples of things we do at our church because of San Diego culture that would hinder our delivery of the gospel in other places?

What are some other things we can do to help communicate the gospel to this time and people?

As we go about connecting our friends to the gospel and Jesus we must also begin connecting with them personally as a church.

What was it like for you when you started coming to the Resolved? Easy to make relationships? Hard? What can you do to make that connection for new people happen? 

Pray Together

Pray with your group that we’d realize the joy of Jesus coming in our lives every day. Accept His new clothes and be flexible wineskins, wise about our delivery of the gospel.

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Sunday Preview
Sunday, May 21, 2017
9am + 11am

Worship in Fellowship
Coffee and tea are available in our outdoor courtyard. We will also be having a food truck after each of the services! We encourage you to come early and stay late to hang out with God's people.  
 
Worship in Music
This week Things Unseen will be leading us in worship. 

You can look forward to singing these songs! 

Psalm 145
Be Thou My Vision
The Edge of Your Robe
The Story of Redemption
Death In His Grave
Before The Throne of God Above

 

Worship in the Word
This week's sermon is titled A Jesus For The Lords & Lowly from Luke 7:1-35 by Pastor Duane Smets. We encourage you to read the passage ahead of time and to begin preparing your heart to receive from God's Word.

Worship in Sacrament
Each week believers respond to God's Word by coming forward to The Lord's Table to receive Holy Communion. During this time there is always prayer available at the front of the sanctuary for those in need.  We encourage you to bring your needs to Jesus during this time and have Him meet you with His grace.