Category Archives: Creeds

The Promise


The Promise

You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. – Joshua 23:14

M: Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” – Luke 18:27
C: We believe that God can do the impossible.

M: Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
C:  I do believe in the promise that God is always with me.

M: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
C: We believe in the promise that God deeply cares for us.

M: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. – John 15:7
C: I believe in the promise of answered prayers.

M: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – Romans 8:1
C: We believe in this promise that there is redemption for us.

M: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. – Romans 8:26
C: I believe in the promise that the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf.

M: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26
C: We believe that God can soften stone cold hearts.

M: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
C: I believe this two fold promise – God will not tempt me beyond beyond my strength and He will provide the means for me to endure it.

M: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
C: We believe in the promise that only God can give is peace.

M: And this is what he promised us—eternal life. – 1 John 2:25
C: I believe in the promise of eternal life. Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed with the song “We Believe”


The Apostles’ Creed Read Responsively with the Song Titled “We Believe” by the Newsboys

Praise Band Sings Verse 1 and Verse 2:

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation
We believe, we believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only one salvation
We believe, we believe

The Band then plays the chorus softly in the background during the following readings

M: I believe in God, the Father almighty,
C: Maker of heaven and earth.
M: I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
C: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

Congregation Joins the Band and Sings the Chorus 1:

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s coming back again, we believe

Praise Band Sings Verse 3:

So, let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations
We believe, we believe!

The Band then plays the chorus softly in the background during the following readings

M: He descended into hell.
C: The third day he rose again from the dead.
M: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father almighty.
C: From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
M: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints
C: The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
All: Amen.

Congregation Joins the Band and Sings the Chorus 2:

We believe in God the Father!
We believe in Jesus Christ!
We believe in the Holy Spirit!
And He’s given us new life!
We believe in the crucifixion!
We believe that He conquered death!
We believe in the resurrection!
And He’s coming back again!

The band sings the Bridge:

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised!
In the here and now, let love invade!
Let the church live loud. Our God will say
We believe, we believe!
And the gates of hell will not prevail!
For the power of God, has torn the veil!
Now we know Your love will never fail!
We believe, we believe!

Congregation Joins the Band and Sings the Chorus 3 and the Tag:

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life!
We believe in the crucifixion!
We believe that He conquered death!
We believe in the resurrection!
And He’s coming back,
He’s coming back again!
He’s coming back again!
We believe!
We believe!

To view the song video:

The Apostles’ Creed Read Responsively with Scripture References


The Apostles’ Creed Read Responsively with Scripture References

M:        I believe in God
C:        Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. (John 14:1, Psalm 9:10)

M:        the Father
C:        This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (Matthew 6:9)

M:        Almighty,
C:        I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty  (Exodus 6:3)

M:        Maker of heaven and earth.
C:        In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

M:        And in Jesus Christ
C:        So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way? (Acts 11:17)

M:        His only Son,
C:        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. (John 3:16)

M:        our Lord.
C:        We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:12)

M:        who, was conceived by the Holy Spirit
C:        So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  (Luke 1:35)

M:        of the Virgin Mary.
C:        The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (Matthew 1:23)

M:        He suffered under Pontius Pilate
C:        So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.  (Matthew 27:2)

M:        was crucified
C:        Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.  (John 19:16)

M:        died
C:        With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)

M:        and was buried.
C:        At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.  (John 19:41)

M:        He descended into hell.
C:        After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits   (1 Peter 3:19)

M:        On the third day he rose again from the dead.
C:        They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. (Mt 17:23)

M:        He ascended into heaven
C:        After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven (Mark 16:19a)

M:        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
C:        and he sat at the right hand of God.(Mark 16:19b)

M:        From thence will come again
C:        For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:27)

M:        to judge the living and the dead.
C:        he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42b)

M:        I believe in the Holy Spirit
C:        Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8)

M:        The holy Christian Church
C:        you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

(1 Peter 2:5,9)

M:        The communion of saints
C:        Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

M:        The forgiveness of sins
C:        Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. (Acts 13:38)

M:        The resurrection of the body
C:        So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; (1 Corinthians 15:42)

M:        And life everlasting.
C:        Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.  (John 3:36)

M:        Amen.
C:        Let all the people say, “Amen!”   (Psalm 106:48)

 

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

Why I go to Church


Why I Go to Church

I have tried to list the following in some reasonable prioritized order but the priorities are difficult as all seem to be important.  Why I go to church:

  1. Church is where I encounter God.  It’s where I hear Him speak in His word and sacrament.  It’s where I know I will find Him because He says in His word that wherever two or more are gathered in His name, there He will be as well.
  2. I go to church to confess my sins and hear the absolution (forgiveness) of my sins spoken back to me by our Pastor.   We do this every Sunday and it’s pretty close to the first thing that we do.
  3. I go to church for the personal reassurance of forgiveness that is offered to me through the Lord’s Supper and the very tasting and seeing of my savior’s body and blood, shed for me, which is present in the elements.
  4. I go to church to give my offerings to God.
  5. I go to church to pray collectively with fellow believers.
  6. I go to church to sing praises to God, to worship Him and to honor Him.
  7. I go to church to state my beliefs through the use of creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene and Athanasian).
  8. I go to church to hear preaching; primarily focused on Christ’s work.
  9. I go to church to learn about God, His character, His acts, His attributes, to hear stories about His people and the earth’s history.
  10. I go to church to be with fellow believers that I share a unity of faith with.  These are my closest friends.

My denomination and local church do an outstanding  job of feeding my faith through the above list.

But what if an unchurched visitor has different expectations?  What if they measured your church based on:

  1. Curb appeal
  2. Cleanliness of the church; including the smell
  3. Friendliness of the people; it is not a good thing if every head in the church turns around and looks at a visitor as they enter – especially if they enter late.
  4. Style of the music and the participation of the congregation as well as applicability and modernity of the preached message.
  5. The worship service can not and should not be boring.  It can be lively or somber, energetic or remorseful, uplifting or introspective, bombastic or reverent – anything but boring  –  because God, His word, and His stories are not boring.  Someone is doing something very wrong if your worship is being classified as boring.  One piece of advice – avoid robotic worship planning where the only thing that changes from week-to-week is the hymn numbers and the only prayers that are used are pre-written by someone far removed from the local church.
  6. No outrageous signs or evidence of hypocrisy
  7. Quality of the coffee
  8. Ease of following the service
  9. Approachability of the Pastor (Pastors – make eye contact while preaching!)
  10. A feeling of being welcome; not ignored and not swarmed upon – either extreme can be bad.
  11. A helpful person in the pew.
  12. A few sincere hand shakes, “good mornings”, “have a nice day”, and “thanks for visiting with us today.”
  13. A children’s message during worship, and a general feeling of welcome to children, teens, young families, single people and the elderly; i.e. everyone.
  14. Avoid feelings or perceptions of exclusivity, including cliques and too many “churchy or old words” that only church-goers recognize.
  15. Visitors need to see an active body of believers and not just a one man show where the Pastor does it all.

I think that the church will die without the first list.  The second list is also important; especially for reaching the unchurched.  Many churches I know are very good at catering to the first list but sometimes lack in the second; as a result our churches are sometimes full of ageing, mature, strong Christians who are all saved but our growth always seem to be an issue.  So our  job is to find the right balance because relying solely at either extreme can limit the church’s efforts.  This is not about dumbing down the service or becoming irreverent; it is about growing God’s kingdom here on earth and spreading that precious life-saving Gospel with those who need it most.  The goal is for everyone to be saved; your seasoned members andvisitors (those new to the faith), so that in the end God’s kingdom grows.  The key here is to do both lists without losing your connection to the Word of Life and also keeping the Word of God in the forefront of all activities.  Stated differently, do not change your message for the sake of growth. 

Some of you are thinking that we don’t need to work towards the second list – all we need to do is plant the seed we say; but to the weak, we must become weak.  We need to plant the seed and to see that the gorund is fertile .  That person in your church who shows up an hour before worship to get the coffee going – they realize that it’s about more than the coffee, they have a proper eternal perspective, they know that people are going to be reached with the life saving gospel message today.  Your job is to win as many people as possible and to do whatever it takes to do so.

The Apostle Paul did.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.  1Cor 9:19-23

Finally, let’s stop picking on those churches that have “coffee and couches”, or those using contemporary music, or those using art in worship, or those who raise their arms in praise; let’s stop using the terms “happy-clappy” or “stand-up and sit-down” or “7/11” as these are all childlike and not becoming of Christians.  Rather, let scripture be your guide.  Let’s be more like Paul.

Doubting Thomas


Doubting Thomas

Children’s Message for May 1, 2011 – Easter 2
Ref: John 20:19-31

Children, can any of you identify our five senses?  Listen for their answers; point to your eyes when they say sight, your ears for hearing, fingers for touch, nose for smell and mouth for taste.  God has given us these five senses to experience life and the world around us.  Each of these senses are a blessing to us and are wonderful in their own way.

But as we grow older, we sometimes get skeptical.  This means that we need more proof of things before we can believe them and that we need to experience things with more of our senses.  You might hear people say that I cannot believe everything that I hear, in fact, I sometimes don’t even believe everything that I see.

One of Jesus’ apostles, named Thomas, was skeptical.  He was not there when Jesus appeared to the other Apostles after his resurrection and so he did not believe that Jesus really came back to life after being dead for three days.  Thomas wanted more proof.  Hearing the story from the other Apostles was not enough for him.  He asked for at least two more forms of proof including sight and touch.  He wanted to see Jesus with his wounds and he wanted to touch him.

About a week later, Jesus appeared again before his disciples and invited Thomas to see and to touch his wounds.  Thomas felt the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side from the Roman soldier’s spear.  Then Jesus said “Stop doubting and believe.”

Immediately, Thomas believed and began to worship Jesus.

But the best part of this story comes next because it involves each one of us.  Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Ask each of the children:

Children – do you believe that Jesus is God’s only Son?
Do you believe that He was born of the virgin Mary?
Do you believe that He suffered under Pontius Pilate?
Do you believe that He was crucified, died and was buried?
Do you believe that He rose from the dead?
Do you believe that He ascended into heaven?
Do you believe that he sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty?

The answer to all these questions, we firmly know to be “yes.”  We believe this through faith and none of us have any proof from sight, taste, smell or touch.  We have only heard about it and read about it.  We are all blessed according to Jesus because we believe without having seen.

Responsive Format for the Apostles’ Creed


StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass Baptism
Image via Wikipedia

Responsive Format for the Apostles’ Creed

P:  I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
C:  We embrace God, the Father Almighty as creator of all

P:  I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
C:  We proclaim Jesus as Lord

P:  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary
C:  We stand and boldly state that to us, a child is given

P:  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
C:  We proclaim that Jesus died for the sins of all

P:  He descended into hell.
C:  We will bow down to Jesus, who marched victoriously over Satan and sin

P:  On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
C:  We rejoice in Jesus’ victory and His return to His loving Father in heaven

P:  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
C:  We believe that Jesus will come again with the power and the authority to judge all

P:  I believe in the Holy Spirit,
C:  We embrace the Holy Spirit as the sanctifier of our lives

P:  the holy Christian Church,
C:  We profess to be the church.  This is God’s house.  Let Him rule over us.  We worship the Triune God in this place.

P:  the communion of saints,
C:  We are all saints.  We are a royal priesthood.

P:  the resurrection of the body,
C:  We boldly proclaim that Jesus is the resurrected one and that He has the power to raise the dead back to life

P:  and the life everlasting.
C:  We believe that eternal life is ours, not by anything that we have done, but by God’s grace and as a result of Jesus’ death on the cross.  Amen.

Written by Steve Brown

He’s worshiped in Iceland and Africa too!


IMGP0718I was cleaning out some old files on my PC recently and came across these photos of the Leif Eriksson Church in Reykjavik Iceland.  I happened to be there a few years ago on business and what’s amazing about Iceland, especially from approaching in the air into the airport, is the moon-like landscape.  As I was shuttled from the airport to the city of Reykjavik, I was amazed at the lack of trees and the steam rising up from hot water pools in and among the moon-like rock formations. 

The Leif Eriksson Church is strikingly beautiful and it looks like two vastly different churches from the front versus from the side.  The inside is pristine; it actually makes me wonder how much it’s used but perhaps it was recently renovated when I was there.

IMGP0730Can you imagine something this beautiful built to worship our Triune God in Iceland?  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own church life that we forget how big this world is and how widespread the effects of Jesus are.

 There’s a fellow in my Office from Cameroon Africa, in fact his Mother is a member of the WELS Mission Church down there.  One day he recited an African Christian Creed to me.  I did some research on the WEB and found it.  Here’s the Creed:

IMGP0723 We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it.  He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world.  God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth.  We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light.  God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

 We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love.  He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died.  He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave.  He ascended to the skies.  He is the Lord. IMGP0726

 We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again.  We are waiting for him.  He is alive.  He lives.  This we believe.  Amen.

 One of the amazing things about God is that he transcends time and culture as we know it.  To us, worship music is accompanied by the organ.  To these Africans, God might be worshiped with the sound of drums.  To us this might be absurd.  To them, the organ might be absurd.  To God, my guess is that both can be glorifying and pleasing to Him.

 —+—

As a side note, BLOG reader and fellow guitarist, John Kehl, has updated his CCM database file once more.  It is available for download in my file download area (grey box at the bottom of the right column – look for the file named “CCMsongs 2 (1).xls”).  This file contains John’s favorite contemporary Christian songs, along with many lyrics and thematic information.