Grace Church Service 12.20.09

Here is this weekends Order of Service for Grace Church.

Pre-Service: Video Announcements Derek and Derek in the Morning
Song of Worship: Song of Hope – Robbie Seay Band
Song of Worship: Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy) – Chris Tomlin
Induction to Membership
Choir Special: A Savior is Born Medley – Brentwood Benson
Tithes and Offering: Video: Advent – Love
Special Music: Mary Did You Know
Family Prayer Time
Song of Worship: Oh Lord You’re Beautiful – Jesus Culture Version
Message: Dr. Bryce Fox

I am very excited about the Jesus Culture Version of Oh Lord You’re Beautiful that we are preforming.  I have to be honest and say that Keith Greens original version was just OK.  Keith is a phenomenal musician and has a great spirit of worship but i just never liked the Bridge/Verse of the song (I am not sure what exactly to call that section).  That was until I heard the version recorded by Jesus Culture.  The awkward section was made beautiful to a new generation.  I am excited to share this song.

Advent – Christ Candle

On the Eve of our Christmas Celebration, the birth of our Savior, we light all of the candles in our Advent wreath. Each week another candle glowed, and our wreath shone more brightly.

First we light the candle for HOPE because Jesus is our hope.
Second, we light the candle for PEACE because Jesus is our hope and peace.
Third, we light the candle for JOY because Jesus brings joy.
Fourth, we light the candle for LOVE because Jesus is love.
Finally we light the center candle. This is the CHRIST candle. Jesus is born. Salvation is here. The time of waiting is over; our Savior is born.
Isaiah spoke of this hope when he wrote: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. And He will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!’ He will bring justice for the poor, and defend the rights of the helpless.
Now we light the Christ candle to remind us that all of God’s gifts – Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love – are to be found in God’s greatest gift, His Son, Jesus Christ.

Advent – Candle of Love

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY. Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us. The bible says that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Jesus shows us God’s perfect love. As God is love, let us also be love. Love is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the love we find in Jesus Christ.

From the Gospel of John we hear: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love never ends.
We light the candle of love to remind us that Jesus brings us God’s love and shows us how to love others.

Advent – Candle of Joy

We have lit the first two candles, one for hope and one for peace. Today we light the third candle, the candle of joy. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth and His future return. 

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angels brought good news of a great joy, which shall be to all people.The good news of Jesus’ birth is still tidings of great joy for us today.

The Christmas season is one of Joy. But in the midst of gifts, lights, and celebration we can easily forget the source of our Joy, the Joy that Isaiah prophesied when he said:

But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.

And because God revealed His salvation through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, we look forward with joy to that day when our faith shall be sight, that time when we will gaze upon His face, the One who saved us by His grace.

We light this candle to remind us of the Joy we have in our Savior.

Advent – Candle of Peace

Last Sunday, we lit the first candle in our Advent wreath, the candle of hope. Let us light it again, remembering that the light of hope shines for us in the darkness.

Peace. It is a word we hear a lot right now. Peace is one of God’s gifts to us. John the Baptist was a prophet calling the people of Israel to repent, to find peace with God. John also declared that it is in our actions of love and justice that God’s peace is shown.

May we by our actions help to prepare the way for the coming of Peace that Isaiah talked about: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

We light the candle of peace to remind us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that through him peace is found.

Advent – Candle of Hope

Advent marks the start of the Christmas season, a season that celebrates the birth of our Savior. The word advent is derived from the Latin word meaning “the coming.” It is in the coming of the child Christ and the returning of our risen King that gives us hope for a brighter tomorrow. The Prophet Isaiah reminds us of this when he writes:

The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, But God rises on you, and His sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness.

We live in a dark time, a tough economic situation where people are losing hope and losing faith. But it is God’s radiant light that shines in these dark places and gives us hope where there once was no hope.

We light this candle as a reminder of the hope we have in the coming King.

Unconventional Dinner Theater

This November the Creative Arts Department at Grace Church is putting on a dinner theater. But here is the catch – the dinner is not for you. You will be fed but it will be more of a coffee house setting in order to put all our efforts into providing dinner for 200 families in out community. So here is how it is going to work. When you purchase a ticket for $5 you will be given a reusable shopping bag and a shopping list of non-perishable items. The night of the performance you bring your ticket and your bag of groceries to gain admission to the event. The whole of the $5 will go to providing the meat of the dinner for these families. There will also be a wonderful visual of hundreds of reusable shopping bags filled with food to feed needy families. We have had generous donations from Publix, Wal-Mart, JJ’s Barbecue and more to come to help make this evening and goal possible. Let’s face it there are needy and hungry people that need to be shown the love of God. I mean a lot of us are blessed and have more than we really need. It seems that during this time of family and thanksgiving we should use our resources to share with those in need (personally I believe it needs to be more than just at a certain time of year or when the end of the taxable season is ending and we need those write-offs – we are called to feed the hungry and give drink to those who thirst – lets pull together and help). Of Course there are many other ways to help if you can’t make the either of the performances – donate money, food from the shopping list, desserts for the events, and many other ways; have your small group also gather a bag or two and donate it or bake desserts to share. We had no idea when we first planned this event that it would end up looking anything like this but we are so excited to see how God can move through a little event like a dinner theater. The biggest thing you can do is to pray for the evening and everything leading up to it – we still are unsure of how some details will work out but God does.

Tickets go on sale November 1 – 15 and are $5 in advance, $15 at the door
Performances are Friday November 20 @ 7:00PM and Saturday November 21 @ 7:00PM

My Story | Hunter

This film was born out of a conversation between Derek Hunter (the main character in the film) and myself. We wanted to start to film personal testimonies of the members of our church in order to archive them for our church’s history and to share them with our congregation and others. What we came up with was a stylized film aimed to convey the story not only through the person telling it but through the filming, framing, and music as well. As a trial we started with his testimony. I had him write it down to help him develop it and to help choose the best way to film it. After reading through it we decided that given the content we would film it in an isolated minimalistic approach. Only being able to see the main character with no background would help isolate the audience’s attention the way the main character was describing his own personal feelings. The harsh lighting was intended to give that same feeling.

As the music was being composed, we felt the same need to space it out and keep it minimal. We went through about 4 different drumbeats till we stuck with the ones we have, minimalistic yet driving toward some point. The keys and guitar were meant to do the same thing. We settled on a key and chord progression that felt melancholic yet hopeful which is what we felt when we watched the testimony. From the first take till the last edit there was this sense that every part of this film should reflect the story as best as it could.

What You See and What You Get

Have you ever ordered something off of one of those home shopping channels only to find that the product didn’t live up to the hype? As a kid I remember saving box tops to send in for “great” and “wonderful” items that always showed up and deflated my excitement like a day old birthday balloon. Since the advent of advertising people have become accustom to the letdown that comes from the product that had so much promise before purchase.

Take a look at the Big Macs above. On the left is the advertised product while beside it is what you actually get. There are special food paints and products manufactured specifically to dress up the advertised product while very little time, care, and effort are put into the product that millions of people actually receive. My guess is that food ads are as doctored as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Think about that. The Big Mac is treated like a rock star at photo shoots with special lights, make-up, dressers, and more. Plus there are people dedicating time to “enhance” the photos (I can just imagine someone making sure the burger didn’t look too thick or thin, enhanced the sesame seeds to sparkle and draw the eyes in). But no where close to half that much effort is put into the substance of what actually matters.
I can’t help but draw a comparison to the church today. We spend so much time doctoring up what we are trying to feed people with that we forget about the actual substance behind it. Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy thoughtfully planned and executed production. I enjoy the lights, the slick designs, the professional music. And lets face it there is nothing we can do to doctor up the message that would outdo the actual message. Please don’t confuse the analogy above, i am not stating that the saving grace of God is in any way inferior to anything. It is just that we put so much time and effort into preparing it in ways to be “seeker sensitive” to not offend people new in our churches that we forget how powerful the Holy Spirit actually is. The problem is we think people expect slick and professional and grand. And why wouldn’t we think at that look at our culture. Look at the two Big Macs above. But didn’t the Jewish people of the Old Testament expect the same thing. They were looking for this grand King to come in and lead with grandeur, gold, glitz, and authority. But what they really got was something way better than they could have ever imagined in a lowly servant.
We can dress church up all we want to make it as appealing as possible to as many people as possible but we need to remember the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. God works in spite of humanity’s attempt to make God work. Amidst the lights and sound systems we need to remember to step aside and think about what we are really sharing not what we are doing to try and make it more appealing.