Friday, September 25, 2015

Worship Coffeehouse Recap

We had so many people attend the coffeehouse this week! Thank you for all of your support, participation, and especially if you helped set up or clean up you are amazing!


After the first coffeehouse we did a couple of months ago I began brainstorming improvements to the coffeehouse and what the future of such an event could look like. The first theme we put music to was Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration-- the storyline of scripture (for a recap of the first event click here). This time we did the theme of The Atonement-- Christ's sacrifice on the cross, the various aspects, and what it means for us. The theology of the Atonement is what truly sparked my interest in studying theology and has become a passion of mine. By digging in deeper to what Christ accomplished in his death on the cross, we get a bigger and fuller picture of our salvation, and also we can have full assurance and peace of knowing that our sin is truly taken care of and we have been fully reconciled to Him. Below you will see the themes, songs, and verses we used to discuss the atonement.


Note: Unfortunately we cannot stream all of the songs we played that night due to copyright issues. The songs posted above are all in the public domain.

Blood Sacrifice: Jesus himself was our sacrifice---Hebrews 9:11-22

Nothing But the Blood/ There is a Fountain
by Robert Lowry | William Cowper
Listen to our version above.

Reconciliation: Man was estranged from God to the point of being enemies. Through Jesus we have been reconciled to God--- Romans 5:9-11

Jesus Thank You
by Pat Sczebel
Listen on YouTube

Propitiation: Jesus bore the wrath of God--- 1 John 4:10 (Not all translations use "propitiation". The ESV is one that does)

In Christ Alone
by Keith Getty | Stuart Townend
Listen on YouTube

Sweetly Broken
by Jeremy Riddle
Listen on YouTube

Justification/ Imputed Righteousness: Through Jesus' death we are pardoned from our sins and transgressions. We are then counted as righteous because of all that Christ has done right. This is all possible because Christ is our great mediator---Hebrews 4:14-16

Before the Throne of God Above
by Charitie Lees Bancroft
Listen on YouTube

Redemption/ Ransom: Jesus "buys us back" or reclaims us from bondage to Satan, sin, and death. This is holistic in body, mind, soul as well as all of creation to himself.--- Ephesians 1:7-10

My Savior's Precious Blood
by Cathie Fay

And Can it Be
Arrangement by Austin Hilmer

Jesus Paid It All
by Alex Nifong, Elvina M. Hall, John Thomas Grape

Christus Victor: Jesus conquered our enemies--- Ephesians 2:1-5

Sing My Soul
by Brooks Ritter, Rebecca Elliott & TJ Hester
Listen and purchase here

Penal Substitution: Jesus paid the penalty and died in our place--- 2 Corinthians 5:21

Man of Sorrows
by Philip P. Bliss; Arranged by Ex Nihilo

New Heavens and New Earth: We sing the bitter-sweet reminder of the age that is to come in anticipation of Christ's return.

Never Grow Old
by James Cleveland Moore
Listen on YouTube

On Jordan's Stormy Banks
by Christopher Miner | Samuel Stennett
Listen on YouTube

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hitting the Mark

When Jesus was on Earth he never sinned. This is of course very important to us as Christians because he needed to live a perfect life for his death on the cross to atone for our sins. He lived out the life that actually hit the target when it comes to God’s requirements for salvation.

We, on the other hand will not hit the mark. The Greek word for sin, hamartia, actually means to miss the mark. There is a standard that we need to live up to, and every time we sin we fall short of that mark. God knows this and that is why it was his plan from the beginning to provide us with a savior.

However, before Jesus came, the Jews did have a word for hitting the mark, Kavanah. This wasn’t a way to obtain salvation, they recognized their sin and their need for the coming messiah, but it did describe the way in which they should strive to live. There are four things that they came up with that would help them Kavanah, that is, hit the mark. We need to Study, Pray, Love, and Live.

This idea of Kavanah is something that we should continue to understand today and keep as a litmus test for our Christian walk. We should be striving to become more Christ-like through Study of the Bible, an active prayer life, showing love to all of those around us, and living a life that emulates Christ. This is pleasing to the Lord and it will also help us live out the Great Commission.

Take a moment to think of these four areas in your life. Do we struggle with our study of the Bible, or is our prayer life lacking? Could we do a better job of showing love to people, or are we failing to live out the call of Christ?

We can’t obtain salvation for ourselves, but we do have the privilege of being a representative of Christ and we should strive to hit the mark as much as possible. We do this because our love of God and his love for us compels us.  He is deserving of all glory and he deserves obedience.  We should always remember that it is only by his gift of grace through Jesus that we can have eternal life, and it is exactly for this reason that our desire should be to hit the mark. 

Josh Earhart

About the Author:
Josh serves on staff at Westchester as Associate Pastor of Student Ministries

Monday, September 21, 2015

Worship Round-Up (September 20, 2015)

a weekly review of Sunday worship to provide resource and further reflection from our Sunday service.


2 Timothy 4:9-18
Pastor Chuck Mullikin
Listen to the sermon here.

Pastor Chuck delivered an excellent sermon this week discussing something common to all of us-- Loneliness. The gospel brings people together and pulls us apart in order to fulfill the great commission. Our relationships here are only a taste of the fulness and completion of relationships in the age to come. For the times we experience loneliness in this life we are to cling to Jesus. We emphasized this in the songs we sang by telling God that our hearts are open to him in "Almighty God". We sing of His love and the eternal praise that is due to Him in "Here is Love". We cling to Jesus by singing "Jesus I Come" and "Oh God" (you never leave my side!). Listen or re-listen to the sermon and review the songs we sang this week, and we pray that it would be encouraging to you this week.


Oh Our Lord
by David Leonard | Leslie Jordan | Paul Baloche
Listen on YouTube

Almighty God
by David Leonard | Leslie Jordan | Sandra McCracken
Listen on YouTube

Purchase on Bandcamp

Here is Love
William Rees | 3rd verse by Steve and Vikki Cook
Listen on YouTube

Jesus I Come
David Ward | William True Sleeper
Listen on YouTube

Oh God
by Zach Bolen
Listen on YouTube

Austin Hilmer

About the Author:
Austin serves on staff at Westchester as Associate Pastor of Corporate Worship

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Let the Lion Out!

In my sermon preparation for preaching 2 Timothy 4, I have come across two thoughts/illustrations that I have not been able to use in my sermons on this passage.  So I will share them here.

The first one comes from Charles Spurgeon.  Speaking to his fellow preachers he exhorted them to stop trying to just defend the Bible and, “Open the door and let the lion out!”  What a great image for the Bible.  It is the Word of God.  It must be what we preach.  It is powerful.  It has authority.  It always accomplishes its purposes.  Spurgeon went on to say, “The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.”  So our sermons must be filled with the Bible.  Not our thoughts or even concepts in defense of the Bible, but the actual truth and teaching of the Bible.  Paul put it this way, “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

Second, I read concerning the Puritans of the 18th and 19th centuries, that whenever they would greet each other and ask how each other were doing, they would always answer concerning the state of their souls.   Not concerning the weather, their physical condition, nor concerning the condition of their churches, instead concerning the state of their souls.  In other words, their replies to each other would be concerning their walk in Jesus, their trust and faith in Jesus, their obedience or disobedience to the Lord of their lives, their recent battles and struggles in the Christian walk, their communion/abiding with Jesus.  I think we have much to learn from this.  This could help us move toward true fellowship within our churches.  This would most certainly deepen the conversations we have with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Let alone that it would force us to know the condition of our souls.

Dave MacKinnon

About the Author:
Dave serves on staff at Westchester as Senior Pastor

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bible Reading Plan

Oh No! It’s September!

Last January many of us here at Westchester started one of two ‘read through the Bible’ plans; and since this is the internet I can’t ask for a show of hands for who has kept up.  So, what happens if you are way behind in your Bible reading plan? You could use all of your paid vacation days to catch up, and then work over Thanksgiving.  Instead of missing time with your family, pumpkin pie, and overdosing on tryptophan, let me offer up three simple suggestions.

First, and let this be an theme for all three, have grace on yourself.  Do not get so down on yourself that you stop all together. Instead of getting down on yourself for not reading, make a simple plan to start again, and keep working on it.

Second, do not feel the need to make it all up at once.  If you convince yourself that you need to catch up and finish on time, this reading can easily become so overwhelming that you are not able to process, be changed, or worship God through His word.  There are two ways to go about this.  You can simply pick up where you left off, and do your best to stay on track from here on out, or you can pick up where the reading plan is now.  Either way, start reading again, and enjoy the benefits of reading God’s word. September has just started, you can, starting today, read one third of the Bible between now and the end of the year!  Reading just a few minutes each day can add up over a relatively short amount of time.

Finally, reevaluate your original goal of reading the whole Bible in 2015.  The purpose behind your goal was hopefully to be in the Bible more than you were last year. Has that happened? Are you currently on pace to do that this year?  Remember the main goal for all of us is to walk closer with God, we as pastors hope that this emphasis on God’s word has helped you grow. 

I hope your reading in the Bible this year is deeper than it was a year ago, I hope you’re a year closer to God then you were last fall.  I praise God that he has grace with us, and hope we can also have grace with ourselves when we don’t do as well as we intend.  I especially hope that if you had given up on your reading plan, that this will encourage you to start again. 

Chuck Mullikin

About the Author:
Chuck serves on staff at Westchester as Associate Pastor of Adult Discipleship