Church Blog

Additional Resources on Fasting

September 28 2012 at 10:53 am 0 Comments

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After his sermon this past Sunday, “Fasting: Awakening Hunger for God”, Josh mentioned that he would provide appropriate resources on the topic of fasting.  We pray the following three books, all available in the church bookstore, will be of value as you seek to understand and apply fasting in your Christian walk.

A Hunger for God by John Piper:

• “As an act of faith, Christian fasting is an expression of dissatisfied contentment in the all-sufficiency of Christ.  It is an expression of secure and happy longing for the all-satisfying fullness of Christ … Christian fasting is not self-wrought discipline that tries to deserve more from God.  It is a hunger for God awakened by the taste of God freely given in the gospel.” (pg. 44)
• “The burden of Isaiah 58 pervades the ministry of Jesus—and more and more it should pervade our ministry as well.” (pg. 131)

God’s Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis:

• “Fasting is a God-appointed means for the flowing of His grace and power that we can afford to neglect no longer … The fast of this age is not merely an act of mourning for Christ’s absence, but an act of preparation for His return.” (pg. 32)

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life; Chapter 9: “Fasting…for the Purpose of Godliness” by Donald Whitney:

• “We cannot use fasting as a way to impress God and earn His acceptance.  We are made acceptable to God through the work of Christ Jesus, not our work.  Fasting has no eternal benefit for us until we have come to God through repentance and faith.” (pg. 165)
•“God will bless a biblical fast by any of His children.  And whether or not you receive the blessing you hope for, one thing is sure: if you knew what God knew, you would give yourself the identical blessing that He does.  And none of His rewards is worthless.” (pg. 178)


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Review and Apply: Matthew, Part 18

September 25 2012 at 1:23 pm 0 Comments

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This Sunday Joshua Harris preached part 18 of our series, The Life and Words of Jesus: The Gospel According to Matthew. Using Matthew 6:16-18 as his text, he explained what fasting is, what it isn’t and why disciples of Christ should fast.

Options for reviewing the message:

Watch the sermon online.
Listen to a downloadable MP3 of the sermon.
Read and review the PDF version of the study guide.

Questions for reflection and application:

1.  Take time as a Care Group to read Matthew 6:16-18

2.  Have you ever fasted? Do you believe your fast accomplished a spiritual purpose? 

3.  Have you had any misconceptions about fasting? What were/are they? Did Josh’s message help clear up these misconceptions?  Have you ever fasted for one of the five wrong reasons Josh gave?

4.  Have you ever ask the Lord to give you the right motivation for fasting? Have you ever studied examples of fasting in Scripture and asked the Lord to increase your faith for it? 

5.  In his message Josh said, “We go without food because we want more of God … We want a greater hunger, a greater desire in our hearts for his presence and his work.” Do you feel like you currently want a greater hunger, a greater desire in your heart for his presence and his work?  If not, why? What do you think God would call you to do?

6.  Is there a specific area you can identify that would give you a focus for your fast?  How do you think fasting could benefit this area of your life?


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Discontinuing Our Harvest Party

September 23 2012 at 10:44 am 3 Comments

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For a number of years now, we have been talking with church families to discern if Covenant Life’s annual Harvest Party is an effective tool for outreach to our community. It is a massive event that takes many volunteer and staff hours to accomplish. This last spring we sent out a survey to Covenant Life families with young kids and asked how they were using the Harvest Party as a mechanism for outreach. It was encouraging to see that some families were inviting unbelievers out to the Harvest Party! Thanks for doing that! However, in considering the feedback from the hundreds of families who responded, and the many factors at work in pulling off an event of this magnitude, we have decided to stop hosting a Harvest Party at Covenant Life in the month of October.

I know there are many different views and convictions on what a Christian should do on the night of October 31, and discontinuing the Harvest Party may force Covenant Life families to look around for ideas. There are many good options, but we did want to let you know that The Church of the Redeemer has a big Harvest Party every year from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Maryland Soccer Plex. They have communicated to us that they would welcome Covenant Life families at their event. Visit their website for more information.

—Dave Brewer
Youth Pastor


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Review and Apply: Matthew, Part 17

September 17 2012 at 10:53 pm 0 Comments

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In part 17 of our series, The Life and Words of Jesus: The Gospel According to Matthew, Joshua Harris preached from Matthew 6:7-15, where we learn that prayer is about: relationship, God, real life and forgiveness.

Options for reviewing the message:

Watch the sermon online.
Listen to a downloadable MP3 of the sermon.
Read and review the PDF version of the study guide.

Questions for reflection and application:

1. Take time as a Care Group to read Matthew 6:7-15

2. Do you view prayer as a duty or as a privilege? Does the thought of prayer provoke guilt or incite hope?

3. “What a distance between us in our helplessness and God in his glory, but ‘Father’ reaches all the way!” Believer, when you go to prayer, are you aware of God’s goodness toward you in Christ?

4. Prayer is about God. Do your prayers reflect the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer? Are they centered on God and his agenda? Or are they primarily centered on you and your agenda?

5. Prayer is about real life. Are you aware that God cares about even the mundane needs and details of your life? Do you bring your daily concerns to your Father?

6. Do you pray for God’s help to walk in righteousness? Are you depending on your Father’s strength to deliver you from evil?

7. Prayer is about forgiveness. When you pray, are you aware of God’s costly forgiveness of you in Christ? Do you forgive those who wrong you?

 


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Review and Apply: Matthew, Part 16

September 11 2012 at 9:02 pm 0 Comments

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This past Sunday, Joshua Harris preached part 16 of our series, The Life and Words of Jesus: The Gospel According to Matthew. His text was Matthew 6:1-6;16-18, where Jesus encourages disciples of the kingdom of heaven to answer two important questions in relation to spiritual practices and worship of God: What is our motive? What is our reward?

Options for reviewing the message:

Watch the sermon online.
Listen to a downloadable MP3 of the sermon.
Read and review the PDF version of the study guide.

Questions for reflection and application:

1. Take time to read Matthew 6:1-6;16-18.

2. In what areas of your life (spiritual disciplines, parenting, giving, serving, job, etc.) do you subtly, or even overtly, let others know of your good deeds and acts of righteousness?

3. In what ways do you live for and crave the applause, adoration and approval of others?

4. When you sacrifice time, energy or financial resources for others and they fail to express gratefulness, how is your heart tempted?  What does that reveal about your motive?

5. How can the least impressive life (by the world’s standards) have eternal significance?  How does living for the audience of One change the motives and posture of your heart?

6. Why is the Father’s promise to reward us for our secret acts of devotion and worship so incredible?


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Report on Zambia Trip

September 4 2012 at 10:38 am 1 Comments

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Below is an approximate transcript of Ben Wikner’s brief report to the church this past Sunday. Note: You are invited to hear more about the Zambia trip and the potential for further gospel ministry there at a meeting on Sunday, September 16, at 7 p.m. in the Edwards Room.

Towards the end of July, fourteen of us set off for the nation of Zambia, which sits landlocked in the southern portion of Africa. We spent 12 days away and came back with a love for Africa and the people of Zambia. Zambians are a remarkably polite and gentle people. Their history includes being the place where the famous missionary, David Livingstone, died, being colonized by the British, and in 1996, becoming the only constitutionally Christian nation in the world.

But Zambia is also a nation with many challenges, including a monumental orphan crisis. A full tenth of the population in Zambia are orphaned children. When I first heard this, I did a double take and had to confirm that number. It’s true. HIV/AIDS and social and family breakdown have decimated a generation of Zambians and left over a million parentless children in need of care.

It was this that drew us to Zambia, along with a connection between [church member] Claude Allen and an orphan care ministry in Zambia called Villages of Hope. Claude, on behalf of the foundation that he works for, had identified this ministry as one that exemplifies key values of biblical stewardship, discipleship, mission, and orphan care.

So we set out to learn how this ministry operates, about the orphan crisis and what is being done, and to serve the children and housemothers of the orphan village. What’s cool is that we got to do this with some of our children. The Allens, Mitchells, and the Wikners, along with Dean and Denise Adamek of Rancho 3M all traveled together along with member Mulenga Katyoka, who is a Zambian national.

We had to raise money for the kids. We begged, borrowed and had two huge yard sales. Thank you to all who contributed to this; they were a huge success!

We were deeply enriched by our experience, not only in serving the children (a privilege!), but through learning and experiencing the grace of God in our interactions.

I came back full of gratefulness and eagerness to see the grace of God advance in the people and the church in Zambia. The need for sound doctrine and the equipping of the church was deeply impressed upon my heart.

I agree with David Platt, who writes in his book “Radical Together” that the key to short term mission is a commitment to long term discipleship. We saw a commitment to discipleship in the various ministries we visited. But we also saw great need and opportunity to further this work.

I am praying that we can have an on-going partnership with the gospel mission in Zambia. We don’t know what that will look like, and no concrete plans have been made, but please pray with us that God will direct us and provide for this work.

To find out more about our trip and about Zambia, we want to invite you to a special Zambia missions report meeting to be held on Sunday, September 16, at 7 p.m. in the Edwards Room. Hope you can make it.

Thank you Covenant Life Church for your heart for missions, for orphans, and for the nations. May the Lord help us to be faithful in the call to advance the gospel. May the Lord call and equip some of you to go and to serve in this work.


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