Over the centuries, it’s become a tradition in Western churches to greet each other on Easter with the phrase, “Christ is risen!” and to then expect the response, “He is risen, indeed!” The origin story of this Paschal Greeting has passed from history into myth. Though we don’t know when it came into being as a greeting, it is clear that this phrase has been used by myriads of Christians throughout history, both as a daily greeting, and as a special feast day greeting on Easter. It captures the foundation, joy, and hope of the Christian faith as believers center their relationship with each other around the reality and experience of Jesus’ resurrection.

Keith and Kristin Getty, two of our favorite modern hymn writers, have provided the church with a beautiful hymn based on this greeting. It affirms the historical reality of the resurrection and revels in what it means for the Church and her mission. We will be learning this hymn together over the next few weeks so that we will be ready to sing it well together on Easter Sunday. As we prepare ourselves, I’d like you to consider some of the following ideas in order to better prepare yourself and your family to worship through this song.
Read over and meditate on the lyrics
When it comes to music, what matters most in our Sunday gatherings is that we understand and embrace the words we are singing. Taking a few minutes to learn these lyrics will go a long way in helping us all to savor the resurrection together. Just scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the them.
Listen to the song
One mixed blessing of living in the Age of Information is that we have many avenues to access musical recordings. Whether you stream through Spotify, purchase through iTunes or Amazon, or prefer to purchase direct from the artists, you have several options to obtain excellent recordings of this song. You can follow the links above, or just do a search through your preferred music provider and see what other recordings you find. You can also watch the YouTube video embedded in this post.
Play the song
Finally, if you are a closet musician or vocalist and would benefit from having the sheet music, you can purchase music online to print at home. For a simple, hymn-like version, I’d suggest Lifeway Worship, the company that produces our hymnbook. If you’d like a more complicated arrangement for piano, Praisecharts and Lifeway have multiple arrangements available.
I’m looking forward to preparing this song with you and greeting each other Easter Sunday with…
Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
VERSE 1
How can it be, the One who died,
Has borne our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death?
Sing, sing hallelujah.
VERSE 2
For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King;
Christ, Christ He is risen.
CHORUS
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
Oh, sing hallelujah.
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed;
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.
VERSE 3
Where doubt and darkness once had been,
They saw Him and their hearts believed.
But blessed are those who have not seen,
Yet, sing hallelujah.
VERSE 4
Once bound by fear now bold in faith,
They preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting.
CHORUS
VERSE 5
The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness.
CHORUS
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Heaven’s gates are opened wide.
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Now in heaven glorified.
Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Ed Cash; © 2012 Gettymusic and Alletrop Music (BMI) (adm. by MusicServices.org) 

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What would a sermon be like that is about the whole Bible? To find out, join us for a special Christmas sermon this Sunday 12/20 at Grace Church of Alexandria!

Pastor Jonathan Matías will give a tour of the magnificent story of the Bible from cover to cover showing how the first Christmas fits in, through a special presentation The History of Redemption.

The History of Redemption is a compilation of powerful Bible passages from Genesis to Revelation in concert with a stunning visuals by artist Chris Koelle. Come on out to church this Sunday December 20th, at 9:20 for our Holiday Prayer Brunch and then at 10:30 for the worship service featuring this unique sermon.

The Bible is more than just a collection of stories; it is God’s personal revelation to his creation… It’s the story of covenantal love that failed to be extinguished even by our insidious rebellion. Great sinners redeemed by a  great Savior. It’s the story of God rescuing his children from the clutches of sin through his Son Jesus Christ that we might find eternal happiness in him. This awe-inspiring story comes to life in a fresh and memorable way through the stunning artwork of Christopher Koelle encouraging the reader to treasure it deeply in their heart.

The History of Redemption inside cover

p.s. special thanks to artist Chris Koelle for granting Grace Church of Alexandria to show his artwork this coming Sunday!

Victory of Christ over the Grave

At Grace Church, we recognize that every day is a day to rehearse the gospel, every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and every moment is to be lived in the reality of our King’s soon return. However, this does not negate the benefit of observing Christian holidays and festivals. If there is a high point in the Christian year, it is Easter, when we especially celebrate the victory of Christ over the grave.

jerusalem-artwork

Jerusalem

As we prepare to honor this special day, we’ve been learning a new song called Jerusalem, and it was written by a group of church musicians in Australia called City Alight. Here’s whatTim Challies had to say about it recently:

What do I like about it? I like that it is written in the present tense rather than the past tense; I like the constant calls to action: See, Hear, Feel, Lift; I like the progression from the streets of Jerusalem, to the cross, to the empty tomb, to the New Jerusalem; I even like the simplicity of the melody.

Listen, Download, Watch

My hope in introducing this is that our congregation will be able to offer it up skillfully in worship on Easter Sunday. I encourage each of you to take time this week to listen to the song a few times. If you’re a musician, take a look at the sheet music and play it through. Everything you need is found right here, on iTunes, or (listen for free) on Spotify. If you really like it, I’d encourage you to support these songwriters by purchasing the song on iTunes. They also have a full album available that sounds excellent.

I’m certain this song will become a staple in our repertoire for Sunday morning worship services at GCA, and I’m greatly looking forward to singing it with you.

~ Garrett Lee, Pastor of Worship

The Basin and The Towel

November 5th, 2013

Sermon Title: The Basin and The Towel
Speaker: Jonathan Matías, Lead Pastor
Text: Matthew 20:17-34
Series: Jesus Messiah-The Gospel of Matthew

Listen by clicking the audio player at the end of this post.

  1. A Personal Revelation (v. 17-19)
  2. A Principle Stated (v. 20-28)
  3. A Pattern to Follow (v. 29-34)

Stephen Enjaian, a friend of Grace Church, provides this helpful review of Thabiti Anyabwile’s book, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence. Thabiti is a converted Muslim and now Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands. You can also find a video of a helpful conversation between Thabiti and J.D. Greear, another pastor with a heart for Muslims, entitled Loving Our Muslim Neighborshere. This book is the basis of an upcoming study at Adult Bible Class.

gospel_for_muslims

Title: The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence
Author: Thabiti Anyabwile
Publisher: Moody Publishers (April 1, 2010)
ISBN: 0802471110
Length: 176 pages

Summary
Thabiti Anyabwile [on yob WEE lay] knows that most Christians are afraid to talk to Muslims and are intimidated by the theological expertise they think is required. With a joyful style, he shows why every Christian who understands the Gospel is equipped to share it with Muslims. Having left Islam for Christ, Thabiti is living proof that the Gospel is the power of God to Muslims. His new book is the ideal introduction to Muslim evangelism.

Though Part 1 has a greater theological emphasis and Part 2 more application, both parts have a balance of doctrine, example and practical suggestion.

Part 1: The Gospel
Chapter 1: God by Any Other Name?
Chapter 2: Man’s Sin: Resting Lightly on the Muslim Conscience
Chapter 3: Jesus Christ: Fully God and Fully Man
Chapter 4: Jesus Christ: the Lamb Slain—and Resurrected!
Chapter 5: The Response: There’s Repentance and Faith . . . and Then There is Repentance and Faith!

Part 2: As You Witness
Chapter 6: Be Filled with the Spirit
Chapter 7: Trust the Bible
Chapter 8: Be Hospitable
Chapter 9: Use Your Local Church
Chapter 10: Suffer for the Name
Chapter 11: The Good News for African-American Muslims

Thabiti invites his readers to listen as he excitedly tells of his many conversations with Muslims. These conversations illustrate his points in a way that invites us to follow him out the door and join the next encounter.

Thabiti’s own conversion resulted in part from reading the Qur’an’s affirmations of the Bible as God’s Word. He quotes several Qur’ anic passages that show why even according to the Qur’ an, the Bible could not have been corrupted, contrary to what Muslims are taught.

Though Muslims frequently talk of God’s forgiveness, their system ultimately gives them no guarantee of forgiveness. Thabiti recommends explaining the Bible’s unique and rich descriptions of conversion (i.e., the new birth, raised from death to life, united with Christ).

Most Christians have the fear of not knowing “the right answer.” Thabiti shows that we already know what we need to know. Our role is “to lift the hands of suppression [of truth]” and “draw out the knowledge of sin, unrighteousness, God and judgment that God has already placed inside their hearts” (p. 48).

Unless we intentionally seek out Muslims and befriend them, they will never see a vital witness to Christ. This is especially true of Muslim women, who usually have very limited social contact outside their families. Thabiti makes a heartfelt plea for Christian women to reach out to them with hospitality, and offers practical suggestions.

Thabiti gives five action-provoking reasons to be prepared to suffer for our witness. As an African-American, his insights in the closing chapter on African-American Muslims give valuable insight into the unique barriers and opportunities of witnessing to these individuals.

Recommendation
Authors are pleased enough that people buy and read their books. I will go a step further. I am actually using The Gospel for Muslims to evangelize Muslims. Read this little treasure and be ready to share the Gospel with Muslims—with confidence.

You may purchase the book here.

Stephen Enjaian is a member of our sending church, Heritage Bible Church and regularly writes at www.activefaith.wordpress.com.

Considering Christianity

Do you want to learn what the message of Christianity is all about? Are you wondering why Christians are so compelled by Jesus of Nazareth and live by his words even today? Do you have questions you’ve been wanting to ask about the credibility or reliability of the Christian faith? I invite you to join in on a short series of discussions called Christianity Explained where you can learn the core message about Jesus Christ.

christianityexplained

Christianity Explained

Someone from our church would be delighted to introduce you to the message of Jesus in six brief discussion studies in the Gospel of Mark, a biography of Jesus in the Bible. The booklet show below, Christianity Explained, will be your guide. You are welcome to ask any questions that you have, and no question is too threatening, or off-the wall. Jesus made staggering truth claims and issued incredible promises to his followers. We’d like to show you what he said, and give you a comfortable atmosphere to think through those claims and promises for yourself.

Interested in going through Christianity Explained? Contact me, Pastor Jonathan Matías, at 703.639.4077 (press 4 to reach the pastoral staff) or email the church here.

The Story
In addition, here is a visual explanation of the gospel, the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ, that has changed our lives. It’s called “The Story” and it tells how you can find peace with God and enter into an everlasting relationship with him!

TheStory_lg

 

The Bible records a wide range of true stories, from the dramatic Red Sea crossing of the Exodus, and the sordid adulterous relationship of David and Bathsheba, to the courageous missionary journeys of Paul which are as dramatic as an episode with Jack Bauer in 24. One of the most difficult narratives to grapple with and understand is the time in Genesis 22 the Lord God commanded Abraham to take his one-and-only son to the top of Mount Moriah and sacrifice him on an altar.

Abraham+Isaac+Rembrandt

If God is moral, how could he order a man to murder his only son? What legitimate reason could God ever give a believer to do that to his child? Where is the love and compassion Jesus preached in this bloody story? If you’ve wrestled to accept and understand this biblical account, I commend you to read Jean Williams’ thoughts on that difficult scene. Here’s an excerpt as she probes why this story is in the Scriptures:

“How strange Genesis 22 has always seemed to me. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? What kind of Father asks another father to kill his child? Did Sarah know what was going to happen as her husband and son left that day? What psychological scars did Isaac carry into adulthood? (A very modern question, I know.)

“What did it cost Abraham to take each step on that three-day journey? Did he stare at the knife as he cut branches for the fire, thinking about what else it would soon cut? What thoughts ran through his mind as he reassured Isaac that God would supply the sacrifice, knowing he had supplied it in the boy who walked by his side?

Jean tells speaks of Abraham’s rock-solid faith that God could resurrect his son from the dead. She recounts how in the nick-of-time, God sent a ram caught in a thicket to replace Isaac on that altar. And then, she brings home the meaning of this story, and what it points to–

“What God asks of Abraham, he gives himself. Once again, a father offers up his only son. But this time there is no reprieve, no last-minute escape clause. The sky is unbroken by a voice. Instead, darkness gathers, and the full weight of a father’s anger descends. A cross instead of an altar. Nails instead of a knife. A Lamb instead of a ram. Blood thick on the ground. A voice whispering, “Father?”. A life given so that others may live.

“Three days later, the Father receives his Son back from death.

“And suddenly the story of Abraham and Isaac doesn’t seem so strange, but inevitable, a line drawing for the future to fill in.”

God instructed Abraham to take his son up on that hill because this is exactly what God himself would do generations later, on our behalf. We need this story to understand just how dreadful our sins are and how much it cost the Father gave up to atone for our sins. Oftentimes missed in the story by critics is the fact that God never had Abraham kill his son….instead, he provided a suitable substitute. In our own story, God doesn’t crush us for our sins…he provides a suitable substitute in his Son Jesus who ascended the cross for us.

This article, “A Son For Sacrifice,” is in the December 2012 edition of The Briefing, published by Matthias Media. You can read more articles like this, or subscribe to this worthy magazine.

Looking for a great Christmas gift that shares the gospel? Look no further. I just read Christmas Uncut and my heart is pounding from how clearly and compellingly this short Christmas-themed booklet presented the gospel to me. I came away amazed at our Lord and the rescue plan he carried out for us which we call Christmas.

Carl Laferton’s book cuts through all the holiday tradition to get to the real Christmas story– Scandal. Controversy. Massacre. Mystery. Above all, the person of Jesus Christ. I’m going to give this book to several non-Christians I know, confident that if they read it, they will come face-to-face with the real Jesus who has won over my heart and owns my life.

It’s short and readable. And only $3.59 at WTSBooks.com. And they’re fast! My copy arrived exactly 24 hours after I ordered it, having paid for regular (not rush) shipping.

Order here.

Here’s a nifty trailer video with the author–

The Gospel In Song

Recently our son Jadon became very fussy whenever we try to feed him breakfast. But then, we started playing the new kids album Rain For Roots during breakfast, and he now loves to eat! I’m thrilled about this because Rain for Roots is one of the most powerful, understandable, and moving presentations of the gospel and God’s majesty for children that I’ve ever heard.

Kids Music For Kids…and Adults!

I’ll admit it–Rain For Roots is such a clear, compelling presentation in music about God’s power and redemption, that it makes me cry whenever Jadon and I listen to it. This album for children is composed by some of our favorite musicians, including Sandra McCracken, and puts to song the words from Sally-Lloyd Jones’s stunning Bible story book The Jesus Storybook Bible. It thrills me to see Jadon smiling, and trying to sing along to words like this:

Track 9 – “Jesus Is Alive

Listen here: http://rainforroots.bandcamp.com/track/jesus-is-alive

“Who died, but came alive again?
Who came to rescue you and win?
Who came to make all things brand new?
Who did it all for love of you?
Who did this all for love of you?

Chorus:
So sing and dance and leap and run;
His name is Jesus, little one.
Sing and dance and leap and run;
His name is Jesus, little one.”

As Jadon learns to speak, I am eager for him to know and to sing along to these simple folk songs about God. They move his dad’s heart, and I hope they’ll move his too, to become a worshiper of the Mighty God.

Where to Buy
Best of all, right now a sampler of their music is available for free at Noisetrade.com.
Purchase and download the full album Rain For Roots here: www.rainforroots.com

p.s. I just love this photo from last Saturday night’s release party! Gotta love that they have quilts and blankets out for the little ones to gather round and hear the gospel in song.

p.s.s. For other great Christian children’s music, here’s a great blog post called “Children’s Songs and Parents’ Sanity” written by my fellow pastor Garrett Lee with several more recommendations.

Conflict in marriage. It’s inevitable. Because a husband and wife are both sinners who need to be changed, even the most sanctified of couples is bound to disagree and experience conflict in their marriage. If marital conflicts aren’t dealt with wisely, they’ll spin out of control and over time devastate a marriage.

So, how do you bring resolution to a conflict? What does God require on your part when you find yourself in an argument? Where do a husband and wife start in unraveling years of hurt and pain that have built up due to unresolved arguments? What hope is found in the cross for restoring a fragile marriage?

Biblical counselor John Hagen of Grace Harbor Ministries gives wise, practical guidance for marriage in a 6-part video series entitled “Conflict Resolution. Each video is just 10 minutes long, and there is a study guide with questions to guide a husband and wife with applying counselor Hagan’s guidance.

I have found these brief videos to be helpful in instructing me in my marriage. I intend to go through this series with my wife Christy to remind us of a solid, biblical foundation for responding whenever one of us sins against the other (usually, I’m the culprit).

Here’s a sample. Take a look at Session 1, The Heart of Conflict

You can wach all 6 videos here: Conflict Resolution in Marriage (6-part video series)

Part 1 – The Heart of Conflict
Part 2 – The Ultimate Conflict
Part 3 – Owning the Offense
Part 4 – Making a Plan
Part 5 – Paying It Off
Part 6 – Release and Resolution

Download the.pdf Conflict Resolution Study Guide

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