Beautiful Testimonies of Saving Grace

One of the greatest joys of the people of God is witnessing the baptism of new believers. Last week I was privileged to baptize a family of four—a respectable Dad and Mom and their two daughters, one a postgraduate student and the other a freshman in high school. The clarity with which they explained the gospel, told of their conversions, and magnified the Savior was a delight to hear. I share the MP3 of their testimonies with their permission for your encouragement. The gospel continues to be the power of God for the salvation of sinners (Romans 1:16). Might TCBC and other gospel preaching churches have many more such services. Grace!

Pics of TCBC’s Building. Grace.

Several friends asked me when I’m going to post pictures of the new building the Lord has provided for Tri-County Bible Church. Well, you can see the new building and highlights from our first service here.

We have much for which to give thanks after 12 years in a high school auditorium. The Lord has done great things for us (Psalm 126:3). Thanks for rejoicing with us! Grace.

Gluten-Free Grace

Well, it’s around 2:30 pm on Thanksgiving Day 2010. The only thing fuller than my stomach is my heart. I ate and ate and ate, starting at 1:00 pm. It was the best meal I’ve ever had, bar none. No hyperbole there. Unbelievable. All home-made. All gluten-free, since I have Celiac Disease. All made this morning.

What was on the menu?

  • The perfect turkey. Twenty pounds of tender poultry paradise.
  • Mashed potatoes. Ida-Ho-My-Goodness. From scratch.
  • Killer gravy. Lumpless loveliness. From scratch.
  • Sweet potato casserole. Decadent and dessert-like. From scratch.
  • Green beans almondine. It’s an onion-free, soup-free casserole for grown-ups. From scratch.
  • Apple sauce. Sassy. From scratch.
  • Fluffy dinner rolls. Yes, I said fluffy. From scratch.
  • Fluffier pumpkin bread. That’s amazing. Try baking anything fluffy sans gluten. Good luck. From scratch.
  • Apple pie. Home-made crust on bottom, crumble crust on top. From scratch.

No kidding. And all of it was made today. Like, since sunrise. All by a mother of 4 who arrived at the table looking like she came straight off a runway. All frazzle-free, made in one peace-filled, sing-songy morning. All crafted with caramelized affection by a lady whose great passion in life is serving her  daughters and her less-than-healthy husband. She lives for this. She always has, but ever since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, she’s been on a mission to take care of me and make me forget that I’m missing a thing. She’s one of a kind. Unrivaled (Proverbs 31:29).

Every good gift comes to us from our heavenly Father, James 1:17 tells us. Today’s meal of embarrassing abundance is but one evidence that the greatest gift of grace God has given me after my Savior is my lovely wife. Thank you, Lori. I praise you (Proverbs 31:28). I love you. I thank God for you.

Grace.

PDFs for New Hymn: Not to Us (Psalm 115)

Tri-County Bible Church met in our own building for the first time in over 12 years of ministry this last Sunday. It was a remarkable day, filled with joyful thanksgiving for the great things God has done for us and His name. We chose songs which give glory to God, I preached on Psalm 115, then we concluded the service by singing a metrical version of the Psalm, which I composed for the occasion. It was a great blessing to give our praise to God using the very words of Scripture (as friend Joe Tyrpak has urged us to do here). And Psalm 115 was especially fitting for the day because it contains not only a doxology (v. 1), but also a charge to continued faith and praise (vv. 9-11, 18) and a petition for God’s continued blessing (vv. 12-17)—all building on one of my favorite comparisons of God’s living sovereignty with the folly of idolatry (vv. 2-8). All glory to God—who does whatever He wants (v. 3)!

It’s a rich biblical text, and St. George’s Windsor (associated with Come, Ye Thankful People, Come) provides a perfect musical partner for the new poem. We’ve hurried to provide the sheet music for the hymn via ChurchWorksMedia.com with the hopes that many churches might find it useful during Thanksgiving week and beyond. (Thanks for you work on it, Greg Habegger. Your getting it done was a special “housewarming gift” to our church family.) Here are the files and dedication:

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Not to Us — Psalm 115 (Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by George J. Elvey)

Full Page / Half Page / Text / Midi (St. George’s Windsor)

Written to celebrate the new home of Tri-County Bible Church, November 14, 2010.

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Glory to God—and not to us!

On the Eve of Our First Service in the New Building

My text for tomorrow’s service is Psalm 115:1 — “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

Non Nobis Domine. Grace.

On the Eve of Our Last Service at Madison High School

TCBC 2005

Barring some very unexpected delay, tomorrow will be our final service at Madison High School. Our new building is ready. Only some carpet and a few plumbing fixtures remain to be finished. Walls are painted. Trim is in place. Tile is done. Most inspections are passed. We’re there. Finally. A new chapter in the ministry of Tri-County Bible Church is about to open, even as an old chapter closes.

Since October 4, 1998, Tri-County Bible Church has met every Sunday morning in the MHS Lecture Hall. Over 600 Sunday morning services have been held there, not to mention scores of Sunday School classes and midweek services. Tomorrow that all comes to an end. As you can imagine, we’re excited. Thrilled. Amazingly, we’re moving from being homeless directly into a $2 million facility. No more moving desks aside to make room for a still filthy nursery. No more third-world sound system. No more lugging in boxes of hymnals and toddler toys. No more graffiti on the backs of chairs and the walls of restrooms. No more bathroom stalls without doors. No more children pulling gum from who-knows-where off of auditorium chairs and popping it in their mouths. (Well, maybe a bit of that.) No more near anonymity. What a huge relief. You can’t imagine. And yet…

The Lord has built His church using that high school. It’s been the only “church building” my children have known. It’s been almost the only church building I’ve known as a pastor. More importantly, the Word has been preached there, week after week. People have been saved there. Christians have grown there. Lifelong friendships have been made there. Lives have been changed there. Some 2000-3000 songs of praise have been sung there. Thousands and thousands of prayers have been said there. God has shown His power there and has been glorified there.

So as relieved and grateful as I am about our new building, tomorrow will be a bit of a bittersweet day. God has been good to provide such an adequate facility and accommodating school district for this little flock. I’m thankful. I’m actually in awe of what He has done, not in the building of a structure on Burns Road, but in the building of His church in Madison, Ohio. And as I think about loading up, turning off the lights, and closing the doors one more Sunday afternoon, I actually get weepy. Weird, I guess, but there it is.

God willing, only our facilities will change next week. Hopefully we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing for twelve-plus years at Madison High School for many years to come—exalting the Lord, evangelizing the lost, and edifying the body, all for God’s glory (Psalm 115:1). And hopefully we’ll remember these years of humble beginnings with wonder and praise.

Grace. Great, great grace.

Twelve Years and Counting. Grace.

Tri-County Bible Church is officially a pre-teen. Sunday marked 12 years since the church was founded. I remember the first service like it was yesterday. I stayed up almost all night working on the message, the bulletin, visitor cards, and some silly bookmarks that seemed really important at the time. Afterwards, I went to lunch (BBQ ribs!) with Granny and Mary, the two Matriarchs of our new church family. Granny (now with her Savior) is the one who greeted me at our first Bible study with the unsettling exclamation, “He’s too young to be a pastor!” (She was probably right.) I especially remember praying with those dear ladies and the others in attendance at the first service, pleading with the Lord to build His church in Madison, Ohio—to do what we knew we could not. He has done so, unmistakably, and one of His great kindnesses to me is letting me participate.

So Sunday, for the 600th time (or thereabouts) we moved our stuff into the local high school, the church’s equivalent of a homeless shelter. We set up the nursery in a filthy classroom, where we pushed the desks out of the way as much as possible. Again. We used a bathroom that doesn’t even have doors on the stalls. Again. We had no microphone, as our soundboard should have been retired about 11 and a half years ago. We looked at familiar and profane graffiti on the backs of our seats. Again. We carried in hymnals, nursery supplies, a coffee maker, and an offering box. Again. Ah, church planting.

Nevertheless, for the last 12 years the Lord has answered our prayer from the first service in remarkable ways—at the high school, the YMCA, four different community centers, two park pavilions, a coffee shop, a tent, multiple homes, and a pond and several pools that served as baptismals. Along the way, we’ve learned a vital lesson: The Lord’s promise in Matthew 16:18 that He will build His church and triumph over the gates of hell has nothing to do with brick and mortar. Continue reading

MP3 of For the Sake of His Name

While Greg an I were enjoying the Wilds Music Conference in North Carolina Tuesday night, our latest hymn was being introduced at the Student Global Impact Conference in Detroit. The more I hear of the missions conference (preaching, worship, etc.), the more I wish I were omnipresent—or at least bipresent.

Missions Mandate has a blog post about the hymn, which includes an mp3 of the first time the new hymn was sung.

Praise the Lord, who stoops to use unworthy servants (Luke 17:10).

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For the Sake of His Name (Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger)

Full (1 pg, 2 pg) / Half Page / Text / Notes & Discussion / MP3 (live)

Gratitude for Joe Tyrpak

I spent a few minutes in the beginning of my November 22 morning message to express to the TCBC body the blessing that Joe Tyrpak has been to our church and to my life. Much of what the Lord has taught me over the last 5 years (including much of what I’ve posted here) has been the result of conversations with Joe, books Joe has recommended, and messages Joe has preached. He’s been a great assistant pastor for me, shoring up my weaknesses and helping me minister more effectively. More than that, he’s been a great pastor for me, teaching me the Word and pointing me to Christ. I thank the Lord for him and want MTC readers to know what a blessing he’s been.

Here’s a 2-minute clip from that message. Thanks, Joe!

O God, My Joy

This hymn by Paul Keew and Brian Pinner is a delight. Exquisitely written, and relentlessly God-centered. You can hear it here. [Addition: You can also here it here (an octavo by Molly Ijames) and here.]

O God, my joy, You reign above in radiant splendor and beauty.
Your Word has drawn my heart to love the awesome sight of Your glory.
Your blazing Light and gospel grace shine brightly from my Savior’s face.
No other wonder would I see than Christ enthroned in His glory!

Sustained by joy in trial and pain, I trust Your wisdom and mercy.
Through suff’ring that Your love ordains, more like Your Son You will make me.
For Christ embraced the cross of shame, beholding glorious joys to come.
O give me faith like His to see that suff’ring lifts me to glory!

Compelled by joy, I fight the sin that turns my gaze from Your glory.
Your Holy Spirit dwells within; His presence arms me for vict’ry.
Let death and hell against me rise; through death I’ll gain eternal joys.
All pow’rs of hell will bend the knee before my great King of Glory!

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