All are invited to join us Sunday, October 26 at 10 a.m. to hear guest speaker Léonce Crump, lead pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Ga., speak on the role and importance of diversity in the kingdom of God.
Originally from Louisiana and raised Catholic, Léonce began following Jesus at age 16. Always an athlete and a talker, Léonce outran his first mall security guard (and pregnant mother) at age 3, and spent most of his grade school years talking with his principals on the subject of public speaking during class. He has been in ordained ministry for nine years, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and holds Masters degrees in Criminal Justice, with a focus on Case Law, Missional Leadership, and is currently finishing his Masters of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary.
At Oklahoma he was an All-American wrestler and played defensive end on the Sooner football team. After college he competed to make the world team in wrestling, played professional football for the New Orleans Saints and coached collegiate wrestling. He experienced an extended time of rebellion and running from God during college, but after 22 months of living as though he were not a Christian he surrendered to Jesus and ultimately to God’s calling into ministry.
Léonce pastored in three other churches prior to coming to Renovation Church, and started and led three college and young adult ministries. In 2006 he felt called to plant a church and through prayerful seeking of direction settled on the under-served area of downtown Atlanta. In early 2008 he and his wife moved to Atlanta from Tennessee to begin the process of planting Renovation Church. In 2009 Léonce was assessed and approved as a member of the Acts 29 church planting network and began a partnership with Perimeter Church in Atlanta in their commitment to local church planting.
Léonce and his wife Breanna have two daughters and have lived in the Grant Park community of Atlanta for over four years.
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September 29 2014 at 6:20 pm 0 Comments
Video above, and text below of Mark Mitchell’s prayer yesterday morning in church:
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” [Psalm 115:3]
Lord we acknowledge your universal sovereignty and your inexhaustible wisdom as God. You do according to your will among the host of heaven and among all the inhabitants of earth. No one can keep you from accomplishing your purposes and no one can question your wisdom or timing in when you choose to act. The counsel, purposes and plans of your heart stand forever and cannot be thwarted by any human or spiritual activity.
Lord, your Word makes clear that the heart of the king, and by implication every human authority, is under your sovereign direction, and like streams of water in your hand, you turn it wherever you wish.
Father, in all things, good and bad, pleasant and difficult, in blessing and in trial, you act according to your good and holy purposes and for the glory of your name.
So we worship you and honor you and declare that you are worthy of our complete and unwavering trust.
Father, thank you for bringing the civil lawsuit to an end. Thank you for showing us mercy in the outcome. Thank you for sustaining us as a congregation throughout the last two years and for helping us to trust in you as we’ve waited for this moment.
We acknowledge that this result doesn’t end the difficulty of those who have been affected by the civil lawsuit or the pain of those who have suffered because of sinful and criminal actions against them.
• We pray for those who have suffered physical or sexual abuse. We are grieved by these horrific sins and pray for a deep and powerful working of your Spirit in the lives of these victims and their families. We ask you to bring comfort and peace into their lives. Father, we pray that you would please do for them what no doctor, health professional, counselor or pastor can do. Bring a deep and abiding healing to their souls and fill them with hope for a life of peace through relationship with Christ. Please do this for these dear men, women and children who are precious in your sight.
• We pray for any and all who have been falsely accused in this lawsuit. We ask you to strengthen their faith, act on their behalf, and restore their reputation. We pray that you would keep them from the evil one who may tempt them to anger or bitterness and we pray instead that you would fill them with mercy, compassion, and forgiveness toward those who have sinned against them. We pray that you would enable us to love and support them as a church family.
• We pray for the plaintiffs and their families. We don’t know the totality of what they’ve experienced. We simply ask you to have mercy on them. We pray that you would bless them and do good to them. We pray that in every way they would know and embrace the loving kindness of Jesus Christ. You tell us in your Word that as far as it depends on us, live in peace with all men. We pray that to the extent that peace and reconciliation is possible, that you would bring that about according to your wisdom and power.
• Finally, I pray for this dear congregation. I thank you for each and every one. They are your people, your saints, your loved ones. I bless them and thank you for them. Thank you for their patience and forbearance. Thank you for the support, encouragement, and prayers they’ve extended to us as pastors. These last 2-3 years have burdened and tested us as a congregation. Strengthen us by your Spirit and may Jesus Christ dwell in our hearts through faith and fill our gaze as we behold him in your Word.
Father, you have loved us and called us to be your own from before the foundation of the world. Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd, the Friend of Sinners, and the Head of the Church. We thank you for redeeming us from our sins through your death and resurrection. Holy Spirit, you are our ever-present Helper. You are with us, you strengthen us, and you will never leave us.
Triune God, we bless you, and it is through the strong and compassionate name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
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September 17 2014 at 11:52 am 0 Comments
We built one another up as a community.
We greeted one another, welcomed guests, gave offerings to further the kingdom. We heard announcements about our life together, including upcoming classes and events.
We were sent into the world.
Mark Mitchell shared a few words to help us personally apply the sermon, and we closed with a doxology from Ephesians 3:20-21.
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August 19 2014 at 8:59 am 0 Comments
Jesus had a busy, difficult life.
From the moment he was baptized and stepped into the public eye, the Messiah rarely had any time alone. If he wasn’t teaching huge crowds or performing amazing miracles, he was spending time with his disciples or dealing with constant attacks from Israel’s hateful, faithless religious leaders.
But Jesus always made time for children. Consider the accounts of Matthew 19 and Mark 10. In the latter stages of his earthly ministry, Jesus left his home area of Galilee, traveled south into Judea and crossed the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him, wanting to hear his powerful words and see his remarkable healings.
Then the Pharisees showed up. These hypocritical leaders and Old Testament law experts were always trying to trap Jesus in his words. On this day, they tested him with a random question about the lawfulness of divorce.
After a lengthy, contentious conversation—and then a follow-up discussion with his slow-to-understand disciples—it would’ve been perfectly understandable for Jesus to want some time alone. But then people began bringing little children and infants to Jesus so he could bless them. Jesus’ disciples tried to shoo the children away. They considered the kids a nuisance.
But Jesus rebuked his disciples and then spoke some of the most beautiful words in Scripture: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). Then he gently laid his hands on them and blessed them.
Jesus clearly loves children and places a high value on them. His heart toward children reflects the intimate care God the Father shows for each individual life (Ps. 139:13-16). He used children as an example of the simple faith and humility that Christians are to emulate. And he issued a stern warning to anyone who would harm a child (Matt. 18:6).
Jesus’ joy around little ones is instructive. If the eternal, all-powerful Son of God has a tender heart for children, we should, too. As a member of Covenant Life, one of the greatest ways you can mirror the Savior’s love for children is by serving in Discovery Land. Jesus didn’t let busyness and other responsibilities keep him from loving the next generation, and neither should we!
No matter what your spiritual gifts are, there’s likely a place for you in Discovery Land. Visit the website for a list of available positions. We still have a great need for volunteers in most of our departments.
There is great joy in caring for little ones and teaching them about the Savior! But don’t just take our word for it. Here are a few testimonials from some current volunteers:
“I appreciate serving on the Safety-Security team for the joy it brings, to know you are serving the children, the church and the Lord in a practical way. It seems to be comforting to the parents to know we are there to help protect the children, to give directions or be helpful in other ways as needed.” —Scott Bates, Safety-Security
“Serving in Discovery Land worship is awesome! When the kids first come in at age 2, it’s just blank stares (and some crying), but by the end of the year, many of the kids sing along and with enthusiasm. It’s been a blessing to watch these kids grow and develop a joy for praising God!” —Paul Kim, Traveling Worshipper in Discover (ages 2-3)
“Serving in Discovery Land has strengthened my faith to overcome my weaknesses. I have learned how to humble myself (e.g. listen more than speak), be patient and show compassion towards the little ones in different situations. Serving with kids is a wonderful experience!” —Kartika Dougherty, Adventure (1st-5th grade)
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August 11 2014 at 1:23 pm 1 Comments
At 7:30 every Sunday morning — as plenty of folks are hitting the snooze button and the low-lying sun is still casting long shadows across dewy fields — the ceiling lights flicker on in the Events Center at Covenant Life Church. The first Discovery Land volunteer has arrived.
With the service still 2½ hours away, one of four monthly band leaders starts preparing for the day. Soon, the other band members join him, and the group begins preparing their equipment to lead 150 bouncy 1st-5th graders in live, loud worship music in the Adventure class later that morning. After they get in tune, lyrics, drumbeats and guitar rhythms begin to fill the air.
Discovery Land is the largest ministry, by far, at Covenant Life. Each week, 300-350 children ages 0 through 5th grade enter its classrooms. It takes 600-plus volunteers — roughly 150 per week — to staff the 16 childcare rooms on two floors and the many other departments within children’s ministry. In military terms, a battalion of Christian soldiers is needed to effectively care for the precious little ones of Covenant Life!
And it all starts early each week — much earlier than Sunday, in fact. Midweek, there are volunteers who launder nursery smocks, purchase supplies at Sam’s Club, plan lessons, select worship songs that fit the weekly teaching theme, create small group activities, write Tree House Gang scripts, direct Saturday evening Tree House Gang rehearsals, send out informative e-mails, and much more.
Back to Sundays … As the band sets up onstage in the Events Center, a small group of singers warms up their vocal cords in the Discovery Land office. Before long, they’ll join the Adventure band to rehearse that day’s four-song set.
By 8 a.m., as rehearsal music echoes throughout the building, the supply team buzzes through the hallways. This amazing team of truly behind-the-scenes servants makes sure each Discovery Land classroom is stocked with all the necessary supplies — everything from diapers to saltine crackers to coloring sheets to double-A batteries for bubble-blowing machines.
By 9 a.m., the building is really humming. The church’s IT team is powering up all the automated child nametag printing stations and check-in machines. Welcome center volunteers have arrived in advance of the day’s first families. And the Events Center is in full swing, with the worship team making way for a final Tree House Gang rehearsal and tech volunteers diligently keeping track of microphones, sound levels, and other audio/visual needs, etc.
Shortly after 9:30, most volunteers have arrived. Adventure’s doors are already open to accommodate the large influx of children it receives. Elsewhere, toys are being set out, baby gates are being locked in place, coordinators are meeting with their staff, last-minute preparations are being made and prayers are being lifted up all over the building for God to protect the children and let his Word be proclaimed in clear, powerful ways.
Before the very first child steps foot in class, scores of faithful servants have already been a shining example of 1 Peter 4:10-11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Our new serving year starts Sept. 7, and we’d love for you to experience the joy that comes with serving the kids in Discovery Land.
Photo credit: Pam Wilbur
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August 4 2014 at 4:32 pm 2 Comments
Kenneth Maresco offered this pastoral prayer during our Sunday service yesterday. Be encouraged in the Lord as you take time to read through it and agree in prayer as you go:
Heavenly Father, thank you and praise you that we can call you Father this morning. We are able to cry out to you because you are a God whose steadfast love never ceases, and your mercies are new every morning. Thank you that we are your children because of what Jesus Christ has done our behalf.
We pray this morning as an expression of our dependence on you for everything. We are dependent upon your grace, your mercy, your action—and we pray because we need you, we love you, and we want more of you in our church, in our lives, in our hearts and in our world.
Lord God, we pray that you would deepen the unity of the Spirit in Covenant Life Church. Help us to love one another.
Dear God, we pray for our church family, that we will be marked by the fruit of the Spirit and genuine love ... that we would love one another, just as you have loved us. Help us to live together in community as brothers and sisters in Christ. May our lives be different than they were before your Holy Spirit made us alive in Jesus Christ. Help us to live with one another in such a way that people will know Jesus is alive!
And today as we study the arrest and betrayal of Jesus, we are reminded of how all of our sins are a betrayal of your goodness and an affront to your holiness. We confess we have fallen short of the perfection your law requires; we have fallen short today and this week.
Thank you that, “For our sake you made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Thank you for the assurance this morning that our sins are forgiven because Jesus bore them on the cross. What a costly sacrifice—thank you!
For the parents here, Lord, we pray you would encourage them as they seek to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Give them strength, faith and courage. For the children, teenagers and young people, Lord, we pray you would protect them from the onslaughts of the enemy, guarding their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and help them to live for the glory of Jesus Christ as children of God in the midst of a twisted and crooked generation.
We pray you would help our young people to bear witness to Jesus Christ among our neighborhoods, schools, and friends, and that we would see many saved. We pray that you will bring fruit from the many outreaches this summer, and from the relationships you give us with those in our community.
Lord we pray for single parents in our community. Lord, for the men and the women seeking to raise their children without the benefit of a spouse, whether by death, divorce or any other reason, strengthen them, and fill them with joy today with the knowledge of your help. And may we be a redemptive community surrounding them with the love and care of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We pray for the two mission teams that have been sent out from among us, to Uganda and Japan … Lord, bless the men and women serving on these teams, and allow them to bear fruit in their ministries.
Lord, we pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, and in particular for those who are suffering persecution and threats. We specifically lift up the believers in Iraq this morning, and in particular those in the ancient city of Mosul. Give them courage and wisdom to resist the threats and violence being inflicted upon them. Help them to stand firm in their faith, and give them courage to resist the demand made by radical Muslims that they renounce the name of Jesus Christ. We pray you would be with them, and protect them both in life and in death.
Lord, fulfill your promise to Abraham that in his offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed. We ask you to raise up men and women who will be willing to go to the uttermost parts of the earth, to proclaim your name where it is not known.
And finally, Lord, help us as we listen to your Word preached today … help us to hear, understand and to be changed by the gracious work of your Word and the Spirit … so that we will grow in our worship of you, our love for one another and our commitment to making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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