Church Blog

Roadside Missions

October 6 2015 at 11:32 am 2 Comments

A couple weeks ago we recieved this encouraging story about how God can use simple acts of kindness to provide opportunities to advance the gospel. We want to thank Donna Banks for providing an encouraging example of being faithful in caring for others in our community and for sharing how God is at work.

This morning as I was driving in a steady rain on the way  to Shady Grove Hospital, I came across a group of teens (possibly Indian or Pakistani) standing on the sidewalk in front of a disabled car along Snouffer School Road.  The car had flashers on, so I pulled in front of it and asked if they needed to use a cell phone or some other assistance. They said that their Dad was in the car and all they wanted to do was push the car backward about 50 feet to get it off the main road. I told them I would block the traffic with my car so they could do that (people could still drive around us). Anyway, I did and it all worked out. They were able to push the car into a free parking spot (God plans everything). 

Because of the rain and the crisis I was not able to meet the Dad but I said, "God bless you" to the young people.

This afternoon, amazingly, a man came up to me and asked if I was the lady who had helped them. I confirmed that I was. He said, "It may seem like a little thing to you, but it was a big thing to me. People were passing by all the time and did not stop. Why did you stop?"  I told him that I am a Christian and as God has shown me so much love I want to show others His love too. I gave him one of my cards with my contact information and told him to contact me if he had any needs (and I wrote down the name of our church on the back).

Totally cool!


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Sam Storms’ Message: “The Singing God”

September 29 2015 at 4:07 pm 0 Comments

"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."

(Zephaniah 3:17)

Last Sunday we had the privilege of hearing from Sam Storms who blessed us with a very encouraging reminder of just how much God takes delight in His children. Drawing from Zephaniah 3:17, Sam taught that God's love for his children is so strong that he literally sings over us.

For those looking to dig deeper into the theme, Sam has authored a book-length version of his message entitled, The Singing God: Feel the Passion God Has for You ... Just the Way You AreYou can pick up a copy at the bookstore on Sunday, or on Amazon.

Book Description

God loves us. With all our faults and failures, with all the secret sins no one else knows about. In fact, He rejoices over us so much that He breaks out in inexpressible joy and song as He thinks about us.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” —Zephaniah 3:17

That’s how God feels about you! He looks at you, He thinks of you ... and He sings for joy!

In "The Singing God" Sam Storms explores God's immeasurable love for His children. You don’t need to be different; you don’t need to be better. You just need to know that God loves you just the way you are now ... today. When you truly believe this, you will find the strength and incentive to fight sin, experience freedom from shame, and walk in the fullness of all that God desires for you.

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Lead Pastor Search Update: P.J. Smyth

September 28 2015 at 2:38 pm 0 Comments

Below is the text of Mark Mitchell's update from Sunday morning, September 27. Church members: For the meeting schedule over the next two weeks and to submit comments or questions, see

Good morning, everyone.

This past Thursday through Saturday the elders met together on our fall retreat to consider the Search Team's recommendations and written report on the Lead Pastor search process and to discuss next steps.

Many of you were praying for us. Many of you were even fasting on our behalf. And there's just no way that we can thank you enough. We believe God heard and answered your prayers. Our conversations, our times of seeking the Lord, were marked by faith, unity, a fruitful discussion together, and a wonderful sense of God's peace—and we know that is in no small part due to your prayers. So on behalf of all the elders we want to say, thank you.

Here's the update: the 11 person Search Team made up of eight members and three elders met from April through September, and after many, many hours given to prayer, gathering input from the congregation, viewing resumes, conducting interviews and listening to sermons, the search team has recommended P.J. Smyth to the Board of Elders for the role of Lead Pastor.

[Applause] Very appropriate. P.J. would be blessed by your enthusiastic reponse.

After much discussion and prayerful consideration, the Board of Elders enthuiastically believes that P.J. should be our next Lead Pastor. We believe that God has been directing our path over these last few months and has provided this man as a gift to our church. As we've gotten to know P.J., we believe his godly character, his pronounced humility, his leadership gifting, and proven fruitfulness in ministry make him an excellent choice as Lead Pastor to serve our congregation, Covenant Life Church, for the foreseeable future.

He's aligned with our doctrine and values, committed to team and accountability, he is eager to grow and learn from us, and he passionately loves Jesus, His church and His mission—and as the Board of Elders we heartily commend him to you, the congregation.

So where do we go from here?

The process is not over. There are additional steps that need to take place involving the Smyths, congregational affirmation, and further opportunities for your participation as members.

First, the Smyths: The Elders had a brief conversation with P.J. and Ashley yesterday, via FaceTime, where we formally invited P.J. to consider being our Lead Pastor. And it was moving to see how P.J. and Ashley received that invitation. They were humbled and excited and really filled with anticipation for the next step. They plan to formally repond to us by next Sunday, so please be in prayer for the Smyth family in what will no doubt be a very emotional week for them as they process this with their elders and with their congregation.

Second, if the Smyths accept our invitation, a congregational vote of affirmation is necessary in order for this decision to be finalized. Due to issues relating to immigration, the earliest that this can take place is still months away. And the earliest the Smyths could arrive would be somewhere between January and April of next year.

Finally, we recognize that you will need time as a congregation to hear more from the Search Team and the elders and to engage more with P.J. as our Lead Pastor candidate. We're excited about walking through these next steps with you. So we've got a few meetings planned, and I want to fill you in on those at this time:

  • Next Sunday, October 4 [during the morning service], you'll hear from Pat Ennis, the Chairman of the Search Team, and he will explain more about the process the Search Team followed leading up to their recommendation. And I'll follow that with a brief report on the elders' perspective on P.J. and his candidacy, including his role in the Advance network of churches.
  • Then on Sunday, October 11, in the evening [6 p.m.], we'll have a Members Meeting where Search Team members and elders will share more detailed information and address your questions. We'll provide a mechanism for you to submit questions prior to that meeting. [The page with the meeting schedule and form for submitting comments and questions is found at]
  • Finally, P.J. informed us on our retreat that he is available to come and be with us Tuesday evening, October 13 [7:30 p.m.]; so we've extended an invitation for him to come. We thought this would be a great opportunity for you to get to know him better and hear more directly from him regarding many issues I'm sure you have on your mind. We've got this information here on the screen; we'll also get it out to you via the Quick Read this upcoming week. I'll probably communicate it again in the Friday Update, so if you don't have a moment to jot these things down, that's ok; you'll hear more later on.

This has been just a brief update, so I understand if many of you still have questions. We want to invite you to seek out the elders. We are eager to have conversation with you if that would serve you to any degree. But we especially hope that you'll participate in these upcoming meetings that have been planned, because there's much more information to be shared there, that we think you'll find it to be very helpful.

Here's my final thought: some of you, as we've just experienced, are very, very excited about this news. But we also understand that there are some who still have many questions, perhaps about the process, about a variety of different things, and so you're maybe a bit more cautious and guarded. We're a local church made up of diverse people, so a variety of perspectives is understandable and to be expected.

I want to exort all of us, no matter where we are, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfector of our faith, and the Sovereign Head of His church. And let's look to Him with eyes of faith and continue to pray as He taught us to pray: "Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done." We want to maintain that heart, that posture over next several weeks and months as we move towards finalizing this decision.

I want to leave you with these encouraging words from Psalm 33:

"The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you." (Psalm 33:11-22 ESV)


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Lead Pastor Search Update

September 22 2015 at 2:50 pm 0 Comments

Here's Kevin Rogers' update from Sunday on the Lead Pastor Search. Note that he invites us to pray along with the elders this Thursday evening as they are on retreat. Thursday evening is the start of the retreat and a particular time when the elders will be seeking the Lord together for wisdom and direction. 


Before Greg comes to preach I want to take just a moment this morning to update you on where we are on the Lead Pastor Search.

Hopefully you've seen Mark's recent emails the last couple of weeks where he's been able to share more information about this, but after months of surveys and listening to the congregation, interviews, and prayer and debate among themselves, the Lead Pastor Search Team submitted, last week, their report to the Elders.

I'm sure it goes without saying that this is an incredibly significant time for us as a church. We are so grateful as elders for how seriously you've taken this. We've received many good questions and input from you—we're very, very grateful for that.

Well, just as the catechism question reminded us earlier, I'm so grateful that we're not alone at this significant time in our church history. It's so good to know that God is with us. I don't know about you, church, but there have been times throughout this process, for me, I've been tempted to be anxious about this. It's kept me up at night a couple times just thinking through, ok, what are the different parameters? What are the things that could happen? Who might we get? What will it be like on the other side of all this? Taking this process very seriously is extremely important, and we want to do that, absolutely.

But we would be terribly misguided if we walked through this process without involving the God of the Universe and the Head of our Church deeply in it. Amen?

The Search Team has prayed throughout this process, and this coming week, the Elders, in God's providence, have a retreat coming up. We're grateful that this report has come just before our retreat, and we're going to be taking several days to process the report for ourselves and really seek to entrust this to the Lord.

And so church, I want to ask you if you would consider praying with us Thursday evening, in particular, if you want to note that. That's a particular time when we're going to be seeking the Lord together for this next step. Please be praying with us Thursday night as we seek the Lord for God to appoint the man that He has for this role.

On October 4, we're planning to share more detail with you about the Search Team's process and what we believe the Lord is saying the next steps are, so you can anticipate that.

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Dennis Casteneda’s Testimony

September 15 2015 at 10:04 am 0 Comments

Listen as Dennis Casteneda shares his testimony of God's transformative work in his life, and his call to start and lead the Every Day is Christmas ministry.


Learn more about Dennis' ministry Every Day is Christmas.

Email Dennis to get involved.

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Everyday Truth |  What is Most Important in Preaching?

August 31 2015 at 4:47 pm 1 Comments

This post is shared courtesy of Keith Welton’s blog “Everyday Truth.” He shares his reflections on Scripture and other helpful topics there regularly.

It's debatable what is most important when teaching God's word. Is it having three solid and clear main points, is it a compelling delivery, is it enthusiasm, ending on time? Everyone has something they want from a speaker, and if these are not met we might be unwilling to hear what that person is saying. Martin Lloyd Jones had this to say about preaching, and it shows what he considers most important to a sermon, and it just might adjust what we look for, and what we are willing to forgive of a speaker. He says,

"As I have said already, during this last year I have been ill, and so have had the opportunity and the privilege of listening to others instead of preaching myself. As I have listened in physical weakness this is the thing I have looked for and longed for and desired. I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him."

May all preachers aim to give their listeners a sense of the presence of God. May all listeners come intending to experience the presence of God.

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