Students returned to town last weekend which means lots more traffic on the streets AND at church. This years marks the 13th that we've experienced this "return." (Which means Kory was 4, Cooper was 2 and there was no Kayla for the first "return"!) Robert says it's like planting a new church every year ~ lots of new faces, many new believers, some curious seekers, and fresh opportunities to reach out. He absolutely loves this, and there is truly an excitement about it that fills the hearts of all involved just as the crisp autumn breeze arrives to fill our little valley.
(The low was 38 degrees on Saturday morning!)
Robert and I heard the beginning of a radio sermon on the book of Leviticus early this summer by Chuck Swindoll. Unfortunately, we were driving from the Grand Canyon back to Phoenix to catch an airplane at the time and lost the station rather quickly, but it got him thinking. I was already reading Leviticus which is why I tried to tune into the sermon for as long as possible. Anyway, the Lord used those moments and the fact that many in our church do not have much Old Testament knowledge to convince Robert that this was the book to teach through this semester. So, "Blood and Guts of the Bible" was birthed, as well as a passion to share the ways the book prepares the way for Jesus so clearly.
Cindy (with Nicolette joining to help lead worship) is a master at choosing songs that perfectly prepare us for and then help us reflect on the teaching of whatever book of the Bible we're studying. Today was no different ~
See from His head, his hands, his feet ~ sorrow and love flow mingled down...
You came into a world of shame, and paid the price we could not pay
Death that brought me life, blood that brought me home...
The announcement guys ~ Chris and Brian ~ were as entertaining as usual!
Opportunities for Sunday school classes, mid-week small groups, and all areas of service, not to mention free books and not-so-free t-shirts, were beautifully displayed thanks to intern Josh and others.
Tables were hosted by knowledgeable and smiling volunteers. Cute babies named Owen were especially helpful in drawing the reluctant to go ahead and check out the information at the table!
Kory took his every-Sunday position at the computer and sound board in order to run PowerPoint for the music and sermon. Ian is the master sound and video guy!
And below was my table to host along with another Josh ~ the Mercyhouse University Table. This is our version of Sunday school, and four classes are being offered this semester. Mine is "Doctrine for Women" using this book. (Not "women's doctrine" ~ whatever that might be, but a class on Christian doctrine for women only!) Josh is teaching Tim Keller's Reasonable Faith, Greg is teaching a class called "Christ in U" on surviving the college years, especially the challenge to faith those years can be, and Liz is teaching Me, Myself, and Lies ~ also a class for women only.
Robert's sermon today took us from the first chapters of Leviticus with its instructions on how the Israelites were to bring an unblemished animal to the tabernacle to be slaughtered, bled, and burned on the altar to John the Baptist's declaration upon seeing Jesus for the first time:
"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 2:29
(Truly it was, Greg.)
"Pastor, from your sermon I understand the concepts of imputation (our sins were transferred to Jesus, His righteousness was transferred to us) and of propitiation (His appeasing sacrifice on the cross), but why was all of this necessary for ME?" was one of several gospel-centered questions my husband was more than thrilled to answer today after the services even if it meant a trip back to Genesis.
(He reported this joy to me over iced coffee in our kitchen when he finally got home this afternoon ~ our own little "church debrief.")
I love my church, and my husband's heart for the gospel.
And because of all of this, I have loved my Lord more and more with each of the thirteen years we've been privileged to serve Him in this way.