Dear Woodside... You're Free!

“Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34–36, ESV)

Sin is no easy task master. It dominates and directs every step of our lives. No matter how much we like to believe we are independent and free to make our own choices, still our slavery in sin is overbearing and dominating. Unless we are freed!

Romans 6 came up again in my daily Bible reading this week and I find such encouragement and power there to help us be free from the dominating, overpowering slavery to sin. Romans 6 gives us a new identity that enables us to live in freedom from sin. Listen to what God’s Word declares about those who are in Christ:

“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:9–11, emphasis mine)

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14, ESV)

“and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18, ESV)

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22, ESV, emphasis mine)

Do you see the identity there? Christ has died and was raised to life again. We, by faith, have been unified with him in his death and resurrection and therefore are now dead to sin! Sin has no dominion over us who are in Christ. We are free from sin! Sin has no authority or dominion over every child of God.

Experientially, however, we know that we still struggle with sin. We aren’t perfect and completely free of sin in the here-and-now, but the dominating power of sin over us is gone. Today, those who are in Christ, are free from the shackles and power of sin. I tell you these things to encourage you not to become weary or to give up in your daily life in pursuing holiness. Many times we can be confident that we aren’t growing, that we aren’t moving forward, and so the tendency is to just stop and give up. No! Keep struggling, fighting, aspiring, pressing on towards Christ.

Ray Ortlund describes it this way,

”What marks a Christian is not sinlessness but aspiration. When God’s grace opens a window into the sin-darkened prison of your soul, a shaft of pure light falls on your uplifted face. You see everything in a new way, and you can never be the same again. Before God came, you just tried to make the best of your prison, pretty much the way everyone else does. You bought your pleasures there. You built your life there. You even cultivated your religion there. But when the life of God enters your soul through the Holy Spirit, you come to realize that there is more for you than anything this world can offer. Your soul opens up to a whole new world.”

Friends, today, in Christ, we are free from sin - so let’s continue to move forward and pursue the life of holiness. If so we will see “the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22). We’re free, kadima on to life!

Thank You!

Thank you to so many of you who came and served at our Work Day last Saturday. We got so much accomplished around our facility and have taken another step forward in making sure we care for the physical location that God has entrusted to us so that we can be effective in our mission to make disciples.

Also - thank you to the folks to served and helped make our Family Feast on Sunday a success and a time for community and relationships to be built. It was a great weekend together last week and I am grateful for the many hands that helped cook, clean, prepare, organize, and lead us for that day!

This Sunday

Sunday we are going to be looking at how we move forward in our faith from duty to desire. We will be looking closely at Hebrews 12:2 and seek to "kadima" together. As we praise God together in song we will be singing:

  • Open Up The Heavens
  • Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)
  • Jesus, I Come
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Great Are You Lord

The worship songs are posted on Spotify for you to hear and become familiar with before we sing together on Sunday. Also this Sunday we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper together as church family.

I look forward to continuing to grow with you and am keeping you in my heart and prayers. You’re free in Christ to pursue righteousness - so let’s move forward “upward and onward” in Christ together.

Kadima!
Jeremy

P.S. Go Broncos!

Dear Woodside... Kadima!

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12, ESV)

”KADIMA!”

You’re going to hear that phrase a lot over the next seven weeks. It’s going to be a battle cry and anthem at Woodside. Kadima! “Come on, let’s go!” Kadima is a Hebrew word which means “forward.” The word has a sense of action, impulse, progress, and movement. For us we’re not talking about just getting off the couch and getting busy with life — we’re looking at making progress in the Christian faith and in our pursuit of Christ.

Often times we can look at the Christian life, and our spiritual growth, as a some what passive action. God works on us, God works in us, God works for us. We are the recipients of God’s grace. That can make us feel comfortable and secure. It should! God is the one who has done everything to reconcile us to himself. Jesus is the one who paid the penalty of our sins and died on the cross so that we are forgiven in him. We receive those gifts by faith.

But the Christian life isn’t merely one of sitting back and letting God work and somehow we amazingly end up in his presence forever at the end of our lives. No, the Bible speaks about God’s people moving forward in their faith. The Scriptures are clear that as a result of God’s work for us first we become people who move forward in our growth. This is what Paul was getting at with Timothy.

All throughout 1 & 2 Timothy, Paul is speaking to spur on Timothy to action. He tells him things like, “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved” (2 Timothy 2:15) and “train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7) and “practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15). Even the passage I mention above “fight the good fight! Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” speaks of the pursuit and ambition forward of godliness. The Scriptures resound with the cry of a general saying “Kadima! Forward!”

Jerry Bridges in his book The Practice of Godliness summarizes it in this way when he says “godliness is no optional spiritual luxury for a few quaint Christians of a bygone era or for some group of super-saints of today. It is the privilege and duty of every Christian to pursue godliness.” Over the next seven weeks at Woodside we are going to be challenged in several ways. Through the Holy Spirit applying God’s Word to our lives I am hopeful that you will be spurred on in your growth and pursuit of godliness more and more. Let’s not be a church that just sits back and enjoys the fruits of what God has already done in the past through us. Let’s kadima! and “take hold of the eternal life to which we were called.” Let’s move forward in grace and godliness together this year!

Gathering for Worship

Our first Kadmia movement is entitled “From Looking Back to Moving Forward” and we will be in Philippians 2:12-14 this Sunday morning. As we gather we will be singing together:

  • Open the Heavens
  • Great Are You Lord
  • Grace So Glorious
  • Blessed Assurance
  • Lord, I Need You

We’ve posted the songs as a playlist at Spotify so you can listen (or sing along) beforehand.

Work and Feasting

Towards the end of this month, Saturday January 30th, we will be having a campus work day to clean, update, beautiful and finish some projects around the campus. We would love to have your help that day as we spruce up and work to maintain the building well. These workdays are always a good opportunity to spend some time with others at the campus and build relationships.

Additionally, the 31st we will be celebrating a Family Feast together after the 11am service. We want the church to get together and join us in celebrating the last year of God’s mercy at Woodside Plymouth. We’ll have a sign up and more information for you on Sunday morning to be able to participate in bringing dishes to share with the church.

I am looking forward to being with you again on Sunday and worshipping our Lord and God together. Please let me know if there is anyway I can be in prayer for or serve you. Let’s grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord together!

Kadima!

Jeremy

Happy Birthday Woodside Plymouth

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (Ephesians 1:16–18, ESV)

A year ago today my family was loaded up (including Sparkle our rabbit) into our minivan with Joe and Grace Peper chasing us from behind in my old "Merc" leaving the relative comforts of my in-laws and venturing into the unknown of Plymouth, Michigan. A year ago last Sunday the membership of two churches, Woodside Bible Church and Plymouth Baptist both voted to become one church and to launch a new campus of Woodside Bible. What an amazing year it has been.

Lately, as I have read Ephesians I have felt a sense of unity with Paul in how he thinks of the church; with gratitude. I am so thankful for each of you at Woodside. But Paul also couples his gratitude of the church to the Lord with a request for the church. He prays that the Father would open the eyes of the hearts of the church to see and know the hope to which they have been called. Effectively, he prays that the church would have a clear vision of how incredibly great, in Christ, our future will be.

So how do we have any clue about how great the future will be for us? That’s what Paul tells us he is praying for in the first part of this passage. That the Father would give us a view of his glory, the Son’s authority, and the Spirit’s wisdom and that beyond just knowing these attributes about God we would really know, or maybe better said experience, who he is for us. Paul wants us today to know how great our tomorrow will be by the reality of knowing the kindness and love and grace that God has for us.

You may have heard me, here or there, say something to the effect of “in Christ our best days are in front of us.” That is absolutely true because of what Jesus has accomplished for us. He endured a lifetime looking forward to his future death so that we might, in this lifetime look forward to future life with him. And because of what he has purchased for us, all the best days lie in front of us, even if they are difficult day, because of the hope we have in Christ.

So I am praying that whatever the Sovereign Lord holds in his hand for each of us, and Woodside Bible Church, this next year that we would know and experience the hope to which he has called us. I want our eyes to be open to see God at work and his grace and mercy moving powerfully among us and through us to the world. Our future is incredibly bright!

Sunday Gathered Worship!

This Sunday will mark for us the one-year anniversary (or birthday) of Woodside Bible Church’s Plymouth Campus! So we will sing, and give thanks, and worship God as we usually do. Here’s what we will be singing, which you can listen to this weekend via Spotify.

  • Mighty Warrior
  • Grace So Glorious
  • Lamb of God
  • It is Well With My Soul
  • Jesus, Thank You

Our Senior Pastor, Doug Schmidt will also be preaching this Sunday as we look forward to a new year.

Ice Fest Activities

This weekend is also the annual Plymouth Ice Festival in downtown Plymouth. Tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday we will be making our parking lot available as well as a free shuttle into downtown to serve and bless anyone who is attending the festival. We’d love to have you serve with us on Friday evening or Saturday as we want to be as hospitable and welcoming to anyone who comes. Please let me know if you can serve for a few hours on Friday or Saturday.

Also — be sure to come out on Saturday at 4pm as we host the “Ice Fest Movie Night” for everyone. We’ll be showing the movie Frozen and there will be plenty of popcorn and hot chocolate. Even if you don’t have children, come and join us for the sake of shared life together! It’s going to be a lot of fun to just gather together and have a great time! Of course invite your friends, neighbors, family members, grandkids, coworkers, worst enemies, whoever else out to join us. We’re going to have a great time and this is an easy way, low-key way to introduce someone to Woodside. Perhaps we will be able to experience more of the hope to which we are called as we share life and the goodness of God together.

I am thankful and praying for you this week! Because of Christ our best days are ahead.

In Christ,

Jeremy

Dear Woodside... Make a Devotional Plan

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV)

2015 is almost in the rear view mirror. I can hardly believe it, but I am very thankful for what a great year it was for our family. At the end of the year I am often reflecting on the year that was and what God did in my life over the past 365 days. But I also like to take some time to look ahead and prepare for the year ahead. Now I am not one to make a lot of "New Years Resolutions" often because I don't get far into January, occasionally February, without finding myself in failure in those areas.

What I do like to do, and what I want to encourage you to consider this year, is to make a specific plan to grow in my relationship with Christ. I have to have a map of sorts laid out before I get to January 1st so that I know the terrain that I want to cover and the method in which I want to pursue engaging and connecting in God's Word. So I make a Scripture plan each year to help me walk through and with God in the Word, and in prayer.

I'd like to encourage you to do the same this year. It doesn't have to be an elaborate or incredibly complex plan. Just make a plan! Making a plan at least gets a direction in front of you for reading and praying. It gives you a trajectory to plod and pray and grow. Now, there are all kinds of great plans out there and certainly we have plenty of technology available to us today to help us track our progress in those plans. Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition has compiled a helpful "FAQ" of reading plans and locations to download or print them. Go for it! Find one and use it. Another helpful resource, for those who are technologically inclined is the YouVersion Bible App. There are all kinds of different reading plans included in this app, ranging from a few weeks, to a month, to all year. Again, pick a plan and set your course for the year ahead.

I know how hard it can be to make this a regular pattern, and many Christians -- myself included -- have struggled with this sort of thing year after year. Let me share a little bit of my personal strategy for this in the next year so that you can be instructed, and perhaps join me in this pursuit.

First of all I have a set course of reading based on the M'Cheyne Reading Plan. It goes through the entire Old Testament once in a year, and the New Testament twice. I will read through essentially four chapters each day, this takes me about 20 minutes or so. As I read I also want to spend some time in meditation and prayer each morning. So I've picked up Timothy Keller's devotional book The Songs of Jesus which includes reading a Psalm, or a portion of a Psalm each day and then some comments on it with a prayer. I have picked up a prayer pattern of Adoration/Confession/Supplication so I will reflect on the Psalm and through meditation on it pray in those three categories, usually writing and journaling those prayers. Between my Bible reading and prayer this usually takes my allotted hour in the morning.

Again, my encouragement to you is to read and pray. Create and cultivate a routine of listening to God in his Word and responding to him in prayer. Growth in our relationship with anyone means time with them, knowing them. So it is with our God. Let's make 2016 a year to grow in knowing God! I am eager to grow and walk with you and Christ together. I will see you Sunday.

In Christ,

Jeremy