Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection

Easter is a time to celebrate the empty grave!

It’s a time to proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” from the Mystery of Faith. And I love what Charlie Hall does with this proclamation in his song, Mystery: “Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming. Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, lift your eyes.” And the death & rising truly is a mystery, but it’s a mystery worth celebrating.

It doesn’t end with Jesus’ death & resurrection! In fact, the Bible says that we too have been resurrected with Christ! Romans 6:1-14 is titled “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ”. We were buried with Christ through baptism into death so that we could be raised with Him to live a new life for His glory.

Easter is easily a time where we can contemplate the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, and His death & resurrection. We may have even heard/read/recited John 3:16 more than we can count. But don’t let the power of the resurrection in your own life continue to be buried. We have been raised with Christ!

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Brothers & sisters, prepare for that very resurrection as we draw even nearer to Easter. We are alive with Christ and if sin & death are no more through the power of Christ, continue to be steadfast in your Lenten journey and in your lives. Glory to God!

Reflection Song: Unending Praise

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Lent, Week 5: Prepare The Cross

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, stores were marking all the red & pink chocolates on clearance and slowly stocking the shelves with purple & blue chocolates… eggs, bunnies, and for a second I got thrown off by chocolate crosses.

“What’s that doing there–oh wait, that’s right…” Last I checked, Easter is still an important holiday in Christianity. Often times we associate the cross as means to Jesus’ resurrection, which overshadows the actual purpose of a cross: death.

Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

What does it mean to prepare your cross? When Jesus says to take up your cross daily, it means to be ready to die in order to follow Jesus. That’s pretty heavy! But it’s part of surrendering ourselves to the Lord. And that’s what we should be doing in this time: intentionally living each moment, preparing that cross.

Billy Graham once said, “It is possible for us to stand on the wrong side of Easter and look at the cross all our lives and never be redeemed or saved.” Don’t let the cross be overshadowed by all the things going on as we approach Easter. Remember the cross, its meaning and its significance for us.

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Lent, Week 4: Prepare Your Heart

We’re about halfway into Lent (today is Day 17, for those of you who keep count). You might find yourself to be in autopilot mode by now, possibly numbed to the reason why you started fasting. But hopefully not!

I’ve discovered that halfway into Lent is the easiest to get stuck in a routine, continuing just because you already started. Even those around you may have picked up on it by now: “Oh, he can’t have soda.” But I believe right now, in the in-between, is a crucial point for our fasting and our Lenten journey as a whole.

You may remember in Luke 10:38-42, Mary & Martha opened their home to Jesus. Notice the difference in their attitudes? Both want to honor the Lord but for some reason, the busyness takes over Martha. Some of us have an urge to stay busy, especially if it’s to distract us from thinking about what was given up during Lent! (Right?)

We think because we gave it up, that’s good enough for the Lord… but our hearts need to be in the right place. Don’t let the actions of what you do overshadow the heart of the actions. In your fasting (or supplementing), take time to think about what God has done for you so that you can appropriately reflect and celebrate with the time you have. Give Him your heart, your life, and attention over your gestures and actions.

It’s easy to bury Lent within Lent. But dig deep and keep the purpose strong. Bless the Lord who continues to bless you and strive to make the rest of this time a time to make it count. The things we consider precious are so dull in comparison to Him!

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Preparation

Winter Storm Jonas – aka Snowpocalypse 2016, Snowmageddon 2016, Snowzilla 2016… A lot of records were broken with some cities on the east coast reporting over 24 inches of snow, wind gusts over 85 mph, and unfortunately even deaths.

So you tell people there’ll be a major winter storm and what do they do? They stock up on food, water, supplies, flashlights, a full tank of gas in their cars… What do you do? You prepare!

And when it comes to what we do at church, it’s no different. The preacher prepares the sermon, the worship team prepares the songs, the fellowship committee prepares the refreshments, etc. But what about the rest of us? We come to church to worship God and how do we prepare? By waking up 30 minutes before worship, scarfing down whatever breakfast we can find, and barely making it to the first song?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were prepared to do what they needed to do when they chose to worship God instead of King Nebuchadnezzar. And Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman at the well and emphasizes that how we worship is very important, which means the way we do the how is also important. That means it’s very possible to come to church and still completely miss the whole purpose of worship!

Everything we do from the moment we step outside of Sunday worship to the very moment we step back in the following Sunday is still worship. These gatherings of “corporate worship” on Sunday are an opportunity to turn our cries of private worship into a public one… the culmination of a whole week of worshiping turned into a response when we gather together.

All that we do leading up to Sunday worship is critical – from what we watch & read before going to sleep, to the music we listen to on the car ride to church, even our attitude & spirit as we walk into the sanctuary. As the church, we have a duty to prepare for worship just as much as the preacher and worship team. Let’s not simply go through the motions and “get away” with it. Let’s constantly be in the mindset of worship so that we can be ready when we meet together again.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Top 10 Posts Of 2015

It was a great year for movies, music, and of course our blog! We’d just like to take a moment to extend our gratitude as we head towards the new year. It may have come and gone all too quickly for you, but we hope you can continue along this journey with us as we share posts with you in 2016. Here are our most visited entries of 2015:

  1. It Is Finished
  2. Smiling Galaxy Cluster
  3. In The Light
  4. Temple Of Legos
  5. Perfect Love (A Valentine’s Day Blog)
  6. Love God, Love Others
  7. Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit of The Spirit)
  8. Christ Alone, Cornerstone
  9. Epic
  10. God Our King

And here are our top posts from previous years. Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

2014
2013

Love God, Love Others

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

We’re so honored to lead worship wherever we go and yesterday was no different at the leadership seminar across the bridge (George Washington, that is). It was such a blessing to see church leaders, new and old, encouraging & showing love to one another.

This was the core of the seminar: love. And all throughout the day, I witnessed small encounters of love between others. Whether it was during the games, at the appreciation dinner, or in worship, love was evident and displayed. If we can’t love ourselves and one another, how are we to go out into the world and show that same love?

I believe that when we focus on loving God and our relationship with Him, everything else will fall into place. Loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s difficult loving others on your own but when the love of God is working through you and you’re reflecting that love, the rest will come naturally.

It’s a game changer for sure, but where do we start? Well, we’d like to challenge you this week as Thanksgiving approaches (fast) to really consider what you’re thankful for. God’s blessed us all with so much and we take these things for granted more often than not. Why not simply start by loving God and loving others with a gratitude that is a response from God’s blessings? For many of us, today may be Thanksgiving Sunday at your church. Let’s be thankful and let’s show the love of God in all things!

Reflection Song: God Our King

Epic

The word “epic” can be defined as: a long poem or narration telling of heroic deeds, figures, or adventures. But more commonly, we probably use it as an adjective defined as: monumental, great, grand, etc.

Either way, we got to be a part of Saga Church’s pre-launch service last Sunday for their new ministry: EPIC.

It all goes back to where we come from with our band name, Shameless Plug. Everyone has a story to tell and at the center of ours is Jesus. We want to make Jesus our shameless plug in this world so that He would be that epic heroic figure.

In John 3:16-17 it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

We experience so many moments and events in our lives but nothing is as epic as the way that we were saved by the grace of Jesus Christ! If we had one reason to boast in His name and proclaim the good news, this would be it!

So today you may be considering things to be amazing and awesome, but what’s receiving the glory? Do you see God as epic as He really is in your life? Let’s shift our perspective to the great story that God is writing in our lives and be bold & boast in Him!

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:31

Reflection Song: God Our King

Fourth of July Giveaway!

With July 4th just around the corner, what better way to celebrate freedom than with some freebies?

Since our EP God Our King recently released, we want to give some copies away next week to celebrate. Entering is super easy and we’ll have 3 winners!

Friends, all you have to do is simply subscribe to our monthly mailing list… That’s it! If you’re already subscribed, then you’re in it to win it. You have until July 4th, 11:59pm EST to sign up. Winners will be contacted by e-mail on Monday, July 6th and will be mailed a physical copy of the CD.

God Our King

Day in and day out we depend on so many things: technology, schedules, our own strength… But when the storms of life hit us, who do we turn to? God, our King, is awesome in all the earth – the same God that breathes into our lives and our lungs, the same God that deserves the worship from our hearts and tongues. We should trust in Him and glorify Him above all.

The Bible says that even the kings of the earth belong to God (Psalm 47)! When we think of this King of kings who is all powerful, yet sends His Son to make us new, it’s just so humbling and amazing!

If you take a look at our album art for the EP of the same name, you’ll see the irony of the crown. Jesus, who should be crowned with honor and glory (Hebrews 2:9), suffered the mockery of the crown of thorns. We trust in God our King who cancels the record of our sins and makes us new through the grace of His redeeming Son.

God Our King
Words & Music by Andy Lee

Lord of heaven and of earth, You’re the last and You’re the first
You stand firm when all else falls apart
You’re my anchor in the storm, You’re my shield and You’re my sword
I will trust in all You say You’ll do

Majestic in power
The King of kings

From my life to my lungs
You’re breathing Your breath in me
From our hearts to our tongues
We give glory to God our King

Spirit of the living God, You give life that goes beyond
Any sin and every kind of grave
Make us one, it’s by Your love; Make us new, it’s by Your blood
By the grace of Your redeeming Son

You are, You are
Maker of all the earth
You are, You are
King of the universe

Because Of Your Love

We owe it all to God – our hearts, our words, our lives… every moment. 1 John 3 says that if we are children of God then we will do right because of His love for us. “What great love the Father has lavished on us!” (1 John 3:1)

And it’s because of this great love offered to us that we are able to offer everything to Him. Our song “Because Of Your Love” is a list of results of God’s incredible love for us as a response of worship.

Just as it says in Ephesians 2:4-9, we have been made alive with Christ because of God’s grace and love. So with these new & transformed lives, we now make Him our purpose and our focus. After all He’s done and all He does, how could we do anything less?

Because Of Your Love
Words & Music by Andy Lee

My heart is bursting with the massive love that You have for me
My heart is chasing after You, oh God, You’re the lover of my soul

It is Yours
After all You’ve done

Because of Your love I’m saved by grace
Because of Your love I’m unashamed
Because of Your love I say Your Name
Because of Your love, because of Your love I’m changed

My life is bought by the blood of Christ that was bled for me
My life is naught unless it’s lived for You, You captivate my heart

Every word and every thought
It is Yours after all is done
Every moment that I’ve got
It is Yours after all You’ve done