Indelible Grace Church

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Indelible Grace Church Blog

Book Table

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We have recently started a book table at Indelible Grace Church. The purpose of the book table is to encourage people to read these great books for their spiritual benefit (and at a price discount!). Here’s a brief description of each book:

ESV Study Bible
This is hands down the best study bible out there. The notes are plentiful, the maps and charts are beautifully arranged, and there are a series of excellent articles on the Christian faith in the back. The scholarship is top notch and the joint work of Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians.

The Prodigal God (Tim Keller)
This book explains the heart of the gospel – that we can run away from God by both breaking all the rules and by keeping all the rules (profound!). The essence of sin is self-salvation. The essence of saving faith is to realize this and turn to Christ alone for salvation.

Mere Christianity (CS Lewis)
This is the classic book on the Christian faith. CS Lewis has a unique gift in explaining what Christianity is, giving memorable illustrations, and addressing so many of the objections modern people have.

Knowing God (JI Packer)
If you want a sustained meditation on who God is – this is your book. Discover the true God of the Bible and how radically different he is from what our culture tells us. You will find yourself on your knees in worship as you read through this book.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart)
We often forget that the Bible was written over the course of 1,500 years, by numerous authors, with a dozen different genres – history, poetry, letters, etc. And so we often get frustrated when we try to read the Bible like it’s People Magazine. This book will teach you how different genres affect the way you read the text, how to bridge the enormous historical gap of the Bible’s original context, and how to apply the original meaning to the modern world.

Let the Nations be Glad (John Piper)
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.” This is the famous opening paragraph to John Piper’s book in which he lays out for us the awesome missionary heart of God that loves every tribe, tongue and nation.

The Unfolding Mystery (Edmund Clowney)
The master Bible teacher, Jesus, once walked with his disciples on the road to Emmaus and taught that all Scripture points to himself (Luke 24). What an amazing Bible study that must have been! Jesus teaches us to read the entire Bible through the lens of the gospel and to see the Old Testament as a foreshadowing of the truths in the New Testament.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 January 2012 12:49
 

J. Edgar Hoover, Sexuality, and the Gospel

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There are few figures in American history that loom as large and as menacingly as J. Edgar Hoover.  The first and long-standing director of the FBI, Hoover abused his position to harass political enemies and amassed secret dossiers on civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.  The newly released biopic, J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood and staring Leonardo DiCaprio, explores what might have been the driving psychosis behind Hoover's abuse of power.  The reason, according to the screenplay writer, Dustin Lance Black, who recently gave an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, is sexual repression.  The narrative thesis is that Hoover, as a gay man in the constricted 1940s and 1950s, was not "allowed to love."  And because he found no societally permitted outlet for his sexuality, he channeled his angst and anger by terrorizing his political opponents.  The lesson, Black opines, is that denying sexual desires will only create pathological and destructive behaviors.   Hoover's story resonances because so many of us feel that same sense of longing and frustration.

What is Christianity's answer to this?  The Bible uncompromisingly maintains that sexuality is only for marriage: total abstinence before marriage and life-long fidelity after marriage.  This seems laughably impractical and perhaps even unhealthy in our modern culture.  Isn’t it wrong to deny our natural sexual desires? 

But the Bible tells us that sexuality and marriage are only shadows of the true and ultimate reality.  That our sexual yearnings are really a search for meaning and oneness with God.  And that we are so desperate for that sense of connection and completion, that we will abuse sex as a way to fill up the inner emptiness.  

This is why Jesus, when speaking to the woman at the well in John 4, turned to her sex life when she asked for the water of life.  Jesus was pointing her to himself as the one true love she had been looking for all her life.  This is why Paul speaks of marriage as "a profound mystery; and I am speaking of Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:31-32)  Behind sex and marriage lies the deeper truth of Christ as the ultimate bridegroom.  And when you have that, there will be a profound freedom, so that sex and romance now become good things, but not the ultimate thing.  The gospel tells us we can practice abstinence because we already have the reality to which sexuality points – union with Christ.

This blog is based on our recent sermon, "The Meaning of Sex."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 19:50
 

Softball Match

A few Sundays back, we had a friendly softball match with San Jose New Hope Church. We each won a game a piece and a rematch is in the works. Here is a collage of images from the games:

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Trick-or-Can

This past Halloween, Indelible Grace Church did a mercy project collecting canned foods to donate to the Alameda County Food Bank. This is the second year we have done this. Below is a picture of the total take - nearly 850 food items!

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 November 2011 15:03
 

Worship Matters

Recently, the worship music leaders have been reading a fantastic book about, what else, worship music leading, called Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin (director of worship development for Sovereign Grace and songwriter of many great worship songs). This excellent, theologically strong, well-written, practical guide always spurs a lot of thoughts in our email discussions that follow.

Here are some thoughts from the team:

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I really like how transparent and honest the author is about his struggles as a worship leader and hope that I too would just be able to follow in his example. What I liked most about chapter 2 was how he talked about our greatest challenge as worship leaders which is "what we bring to the platform each and every Sunday. Your heart". I think this is so important to realize as so many times I find myself worrying so much about the songs, or how it will sound, or what to say that my focus starts becoming all about me and not about God. Even though the worship set may run smoothly or things may not go as planned, if our heart is not in the right place and is serving something else other than God, than our worship is meaningless. --Melissa

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The Bible tells us to worship God in truth, and we need to know who God is in order to do that. The book says that "When we're dodgy about our theology, we're really saying we want our own Jesus. But our worship isn't based on people's personal opinions, ideas, or best guesses about Jesus. Nor should we base our understanding of him on anyone's individual experiences. He has a name, a particular history, and a specifically revealed body of teaching. God has theology; will we sharpen our own biblical understanding to find out what it is? Will we worship the Son of God, the Redeemer, the second person of the Trinity, the Alpha and Omega, our High Priest, sanctifier, and intercessor and seek to understand what all this means?" I totally agree. I'm glad IGC doesn't only sing hecka shallow songs which only say that we love Jesus and he's awesome. Of course those two things are true, but when we sing songs which go deeper into who God is and why he's awesome, and what Jesus has done, then I feel that it helps people connect the dots as to why we are lifting up praise. --Marsh

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I'm gonna reach back to chapter five and point out something that stuck out to me - "individuals on worship teams wear clothes that are too tight and revealing." This is something I need to change because I know that lots of people are distracted by my muscles and lean, tall body when I am standing in front of the congregation. --Wade

One thing that I remember and stood out was that we no longer need to worship in the temple anymore because Jesus is our new temple. Pretty profound stuff. I love how he keeps going back to the Christ centered-ness of our worship and our lyrics. I think it's pretty cool that our church tries to follow this model and we do our best incorporating that into our worship. --Sammy

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For me, the main take away from both these chapters was that we need to magnify God IN CHRIST during our times of worship singing. Our worship singing has to be all about how God has revealed himself, his nature and his works in the work of Christ on the cross. As Kauflin said, it should not only be Christ-centered, but cross-centered. Meaning, we need to be specific, concrete and very explicit about what Christ did and how he did it on the cross. And I love when Kauflin challenged us to think about whether non-Christians would enjoy our worship music. Would Muslims, Buddhists, secular pluralists enjoy singing our songs? I remember in college there was a Hindu girl who loved singing worship songs at a Christian club I visited. Those songs were all vague and unclear about what Christ did - it was just general language about God loving us, forever and ever and ever, etc. Kauflin's own example, about how the song Amazing Grace is quite vague and never mentions the cross was really insightful - no wonder non-Christians like that song so much. --Christina

Please pray for us as we continue to strive to glorify God in Christ through musical excellence and personal hearts of devotion to Him. If you’d like to read this fantastic book with us, contact Christina and she will send you a book and add you to the list.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 15:42
 


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