A Congregation in Prayer

Posted on Aug 26 , 2011 in Announcements

A Congregation in Prayer

You might have been present on last Sunday in our worship service where our sanctuary was turned into a great prayer room.  I have been contacted by members and others who were in attendance on last week, who said that they needed that time in prayer with other believers.

If you missed our time together in prayer, I will tell you it was a great time to feel uplifted and supported by our church family in prayer.  The whole place was filled with voices crying out to God and giving thanks for His grace.  I have to say, I cannot take credit for this event.  As I announced at the end of the very abbreviated sermon on prayer from Matthew 6, that the Lord gave me instructions during my time of preparation of the sermon, that this congregation needed to gather together in prayer more so than hearing a sermon on prayer.  So we did.

Some have been asking question about our Faith-NETT movement we have been working on.  That support and agreement and submission that we all experienced was what Faith-NETT is all about.  You see the NETT is the Kingdom of God which is on mission from GOD to tear down the kingdom of Satan and build up the Kingdom of GOD.  If you were there you experienced it by way of support in prayer.  I’ll tell you, that I experienced it by way of submission to the Holy Spirit and God’s will.  That is the way the NETT works.  The NETT is there to catch us and support us after we have gotten “caught up in it”.

I was not set on a breakout group sessions of prayer in Sunday worship but the LORD told me that I needed to trust Him and call for prayer.  I, at first, thought it was just a spiritual idea that carried little specialty.   I began to lean away from the idea more and more.  And as I tried to forget the idea to go on studying the more I was convinced that the Lord was calling me to call for prayer.

So, the LORD really showed me again that He is the comforter and our leader.  I believe that last Sunday was a perfect commercial for the Faith-NETT.  We all were ‘Caught Up in The NETT’ Matthew 13:47.  The Faith- NETT challenged me, caught me, and supported me and then confirmed God’s holy presence in our service.  I cannot take credit.

You may feel weary from well doing … let’s put the Faith-NETT to Work.

Get Caught Up in The NETT!  The Faith-NETT!!  Have a great Day.

~ Former Assistant Pastor Horace E. Cutter

With All Your Heart

Posted on Jul 19 , 2011 in Announcements

By Former Asst. Pastor Horace Cutter

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” Colossians 3:23

If you have been anywhere near the news lately you have heard the scandal concerning the teachers in the Atlanta Public School System. It is very disheartening to know that the teachers, that we are entrusting children to at a very important time of their lives, are cheating on the tests scores in order to keep their jobs as teachers.

~ Click title to read full text ~

How do we remember them?

Posted on May 31 , 2011 in Announcements

By Former Asst. Pastor Horace Cutter

Years ago when I was a kid in Rahway, New Jersey, there was a river behind our house. It was the Rahway River. Us kids used to like to go to the banks and throw rocks into the river. The city had put all of these wonderful rocks along the banks for a build up against floods, so we just took it that they wanted us to have more fun… just throwing the rocks. Whatever way we threw the rock it left a ripple there. After the rock had sunk out of sight there was still the ripple going out to the ends of the river. That is how life is. One life that is lived leaves such an effect upon the world around it that we cannot ignore what has taken place. So that we ask what impact does one life have upon another?

~ Click title to read full text ~

Victories Over Evil

Posted on May 24 , 2011 in Announcements

By Former Asst. Pastor Horace Cutter

As I got out and about this morning, I continued to hear the reports of the killing of Osama Bin Laden by American Military Forces. I felt happy and proud to be an American. After facing the terror in Sept 11, 2001 that we all remember and can look back to cringe over, we are so grateful of the military blood and effort that brought about this great feat. I also remembered the relief and resultant effect of Adolf Hitler’s death in Germany many years ago. I was not thought of at the time (my boys would disagree with me) but having an appetite for history for so many years and reading up on the wars we have fought I have found that evil men seem to crop up at their own special time in history. The only good thing I have to say about evil men coming on the scene is that they give a definite lesson that good and evil do exists.

~ Click title to read full text ~

Pray for the people of Japan

Posted on Mar 13 , 2011 in Announcements

By Former Asst. Pastor Horace Cutter

We are all praying for the people in Japan. They have experienced a double disaster. May the glorious God of mercy and security, rescue the lives, hearts and minds of those who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami of 3-10-11. Our Father in Heaven has the peace and providence to help each person to come to the knowledge of His gracious presence at this terrible time.

~ Click title to read full text ~

Miss Renee's Candy

Posted on Oct 18 , 2010 in Announcements

Every Sunday after worship, I watch excited children line up at Miss Renee’s Candy Store; which is actually not a store but her office; and she doesn’t sell the candy; she gives it away. However, to get the “free” candy, you have say a verse from scripture. Since Renee started this post-worship routine a few years ago, parents have had to help their children learn their verses to ensure that they didn’t miss out on the “goods.” Some of the children have allergies to peanuts, chocolate, etc. so now Renee offers a colorful selection of rubber wristbands. But whether wristbands, Snickers or Three Musketeers, I am just glad that we have another strategy to motivate children to learn scripture at an early age and help fight biblical illiteracy. Oh yeah, many of the grownups sneak into Renee’s candy stash without her looking–I catch them ever so often. Next time, I will be naming names, but for now I will just give the initials of the culprits–JS, GB, PB, HC, LE, SH, RN, AS, MH, SR and SC. See if you can figure out who these people are and you could win a miniature Tootsie Roll :)

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

What's on the Pastor's Mind?

Posted on Jun 23 , 2010 in Announcements

Today as I sit here in the office, I am wondering how I can reflect the glory of God by offering more of my time as a servant and comforter to those in need.  This sounds like it should be a simple task for a Christian and especially easy for a pastor, and some days it is as quick as jumping into a swimming pool on a hot day in Atlanta–no problem, you just fall forward a let gravity do the rest.  However, I have been a little tired lately with traveling and writing papers and preparing sermons and counseling and being a dad and being a husband and being a faithful son and you get it…don’t you?  The “ands” just keep on comin!

But as strange as it may sound, I still believe that God is calling me to a greater passion for service to those in need.  Don’t get me wrong, God isn’t telling me that I am not doing enough to please him; He is saying that my passion should spring out of the joy of my love for Christ–that would make the serving easier.  I want my service to be out of my gratitude and love for Christ and not just out of guilt and being on the payroll.  This leads to anger and burnout. I am asking the Lord to help me walk in His example.  He took time to refresh Himself and spend time in prayer and meditation while He worked to meet the needs of those around Him. He was a gentle, loving, tireless and effective servant of His Heavenly Father–I want to be like that and you do too.  Today we must submit to the leadership His Holy Spirit in order to know what Jesus knew about service.  He will teach us how to serve others with the passion and vigor that comes with our being the grateful children of a generous Father. If you love Jesus, you will serve the way He served.  He was glad to do it and He did it with passion.

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Sermons Are Now Available Through iTunes

Posted on May 03 , 2010 in Announcements

If you enjoy hearing the Word of God from Pastor Cobbert, then you are in for a treat. I am proud to announce that you can now subscribe to Redemption Fellowship’s sermons via iTunes (and yes it is free)!  If you have an iPod, iPhone, iPad, a computer, or any other device that can play a MP3, then this is for you.  You can now get your sermons downloaded to your computer (or your device) right as they are posted.  You can click -> HERE <-  to get started, or you can just search for “Redemption Fellowship” in the iTunes Store.  Thank you in advance for help spreading the word, and being a witness to our growth.

P.S. If you want to give your friends, family, and/or co-workers an easy to remember link to our sermon podcast… http://bit.ly/RedemptionSermons. If you do not have iTunes, but use another program for subscribing to podcasts, you can subscribe using http://feeds.feedburner.com/RedemptionFellowshipChurchSermons

Pastor Mike's Book Review of "Christ Centered Preaching" (abbreviated)

Posted on Apr 06 , 2010 in Announcements

Book: Christ Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

Description of the Reading

This is a textbook that basically delivers instruction on how to develop and preach an expository sermon.  The book suggests that sermon has the basic structure of “explanation,” “illustration,” and “application.”  The book builds around this structure as it seeks to explain how to create a sermon faithful to the original intention of the text.  The book treats the subject of preaching as something that is well done when it is handled as a step-by-step process in which the preacher exposes the text in a way that resembles a sort of “Indiana Jones” type of exhuming original meaning.  The text explains everything from picking a text, developing introductions and conclusions, determining main and subpoints and effectively transitioning between these points as well as how to illustrate and apply the text.  The book has as a continuous thread the use of a proposition statement that depicts how the text’s Fallen Condition Focus (FCF) will be brought forth to the listeners.

Central Concerns of the Author

I know Bryan Chapell; he is what I call a pure preacher.  He is gifted and passionate about sermon preparation and is a master of sermon delivery.  If the church was a baseball team, Bryan would be a designated hitter as these are usually the guys who are pure hitters and don’t have to practice fielding to ball.  Bryan usually hits it out of the park.  I say all this to enhance my remarks on what I think Bryan’s concern are in writing this book. It is my belief that the author is concerned with the proper preparation of faithful and effective sermons and how they are delivered in our preaching to a contemporary congregation.  He wants sermons to be about the grace of God and the work of Christ and he wants the preacher to reach the audience in a way that touches the heart and communicates not just the sin of man but also God’s remedy; I believe he is continually stressing the need for sermons to be relevant to fallen people.  He writes a “basic training” manual for preaching and to me that says that he wants preachers to give thought to each part of the process and not just grab a text, say a prayer for understanding and just start preaching.  He wants the preacher to do the work it takes to present a well prepared meal for people who need to hear a true word from God.  He understands that we live in a society where people don’t pay attention to well and very few want to be told that they need to be saved by God or surrendered to God.  Therefore, he sees the need for our preaching to reach out and grab the listener quickly and hold on to them unto the final application is made.

How the Book may affect my preaching

I intend to employ as many principles from the book as I can.   I believe I am at the point where I can assume that the Lord has given me this text to make some adjustments to my preparation process.  The book is simple and easy to follow.  I attended the required homiletics classes during my seminary years, but never really got the hang of preparing a sermon as a step-by-step-process; as a result I see that I may be omitting some very important steps such as “formally” developing a fallen condition focus based on man’s needs and God’s gracious solution.  I tend to pick the text and eventually bump into the FCF somewhere during the process. I also tend to preach from narratives, so I was especially interested in the chapter that talked about using narratives to bring out biblical principles.  I believe that the book has caused me to think about the amount of time that I am putting into sermon preparation and whether I am using the time as efficiently as possible.

Mike's Book Review: "The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text"

Posted on Mar 23 , 2010 in Announcements

Book Review by Mike Higgins–yes, I do read books :)

Book: The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text by Sidney Greidanus

Description of the Reading

When I first started reading this book, I figured it would be difficult and extremely technical as compared to the other books that I had read on the subject of sermon prep and preaching.  I was initially bogged down in the early chapters on historical-critical method and the various types of criticisms that can be used to help preachers prepare to preach a text and I just knew this book would be a tough read.   I tend to get frustrated when I have to constantly stop and look up technical terms or re-read sentences to understand what they are saying.  However as I got out of the “hedgerows” and into chapter four, things got better.  And as it turns out, that this book has greatly informed my sermon preparation.  The detailed descriptions of the different types of literature in the Bible and how to interpret this literature, helps me see the scriptures more clearly.  I am a “systems” type of person and I appreciate it when something helps me see how parts of the system fit into the whole.  I am thankful for Greidanus’ guidelines for interpretation as they have reinforced the fact that the Scriptures may all be inspired by God, but they are not all the same and must always be preached as dictated by their appropriate genre (history, wisdom, epistle, poetry, etc.)

Central Concerns of the Author

The bottomline up front is that the author wants the reader to understand that the bible is about God; God’s love, redemption, judgment, plans, etc.  He wants the reader to understand that all of the characters in the bible are accessories to grace, mercy or judgment, but that God Himself is what the Scriptures are about.  Next, I believe the author is concerned that preachers prepare sermons that say what the original authors intended.  I believe the author wants the reader to understand that doing the proper exegesis of a text and understanding the literal, historical, and theological interpretation of the text in view will serve to provide a sermon that is true to the original audience but also relevant to the contemporary congregation.  The author stresses that we should always pick a complete unit to use as our preaching text and that text should be treated with various litmus tests to bring out what is really before us. The author wants us to understand that preachers are given the task of bringing people the word of God and that this task is worth doing well.  He seems burdened to get us (preachers) to “slow down” and put time into doing justice to the work of “rightly diving the word of truth.”  The author presents his feelings of disappointment when preachers isolate a set of scriptures outside of their proper context and then tries to use them to support a personal agenda, for example using Malachi 3:8-10 just to get people to pay their tithes without considering the surrounding scriptures to tell the whole story.  The author challenges us to treat the genres of Old Testament prophecies, histories, poetry and narratives and New Testament gospel narratives and epistles in accordance with their genres so as to get the maximum understanding out of the writings.

How the Book may affect my preaching

This book has already caused me to slow down and dig beeper into the historical, literary, and theological meanings of the ‘preaching unit” (see, already I am adapting the language of the book).  I am presently preaching through The Gospel of Mark and have discovered that, according to Greidanus, I employ the “inductive” form of preaching.  This was refreshing as I personally did not know what my style was called.   I just pick a text and pray over it, stay with it, live and sleep with it until I feel I understand it and then preach it.  I have never stopped to classify my form of sermon prep, I just employ what gets me where I am going.  I have always thought that the sermon was a trip to a conclusion that I, as a preacher, help the congregation to arrive at using transitions or helpful road signs along the way.  I especially love preaching New Testament narratives, and Greidanus’ book has deeply influenced how I look at this wonderful genre.  Of course, I will consult Greidanus’ guidelines when I am preaching from any of the other types of  literature in the scriptures.  The important thing to me is that this book provides guidelines that will make my sermon prep not only simpler, but better–more impacting.  As an army guy, I am always looking for something that will enhance ‘mission accomplishment.”  I am always looking for the “regulation” that covers what I am trying to do—maybe that’s what I love about the reformed faith—it has a theology for almost everything!

Greidanus has done the preacher a great service and I wish I had read this book sooner as I see a lot of my own mistakes highlighted in its pages.  I am seriously concerned with preaching that keeps Christ as the central character and does not focus too much on the other characters of a narrative.  It is so easy to give too much attention to the faith and circumstances of the Syro-Phenician Woman in Mark Chapter Seven and forget about Jesus’ call to persevering faith, His compassion, and His sovereignty over demons.  I hope to remember how the author calls us to remember that the Bible is “God’s words about God.”  I am also reminded by the book that I tend to moralize things especially in the conclusion of my sermons and I have started watching that tendency very closely as not to nullify God’s grace.  Good book.