Why The Apostles’ Creed?

You may have noticed we’ve been singing the Apostles’ Creed verbatim every week during our series on the local church. “Creed” means belief, and this particular one is the oldest of Christian creeds. Why have we been focusing in on this creed?

First, it proclaims the gospel.
When JI Packer was asked if you can find the gospel in the Apostles’ Creed, he responded that the Creed was in essence a “power-point declaration of the basics of the Christian message – in other words, of the gospel itself.” While many have boiled down the gospel to certain basics for ease of comprehension and sharing, the Apostles’ Creed provides a full picture of the gospel without watering down any elements. It’s a way of reminding ourselves of the gospel’s larger story and beauty!

Second, it’s a tool for discipleship.
Over the last few years, so many books have been written on discipleship that it’s somewhat overwhelming to know where to start! The church in the second and third centuries would utilize the Apostles’ Creed as they taught new converts about the faith. These courses often lasted three years, culminating with their confession of faith, baptism, and communion on Easter. In the Apostles’ Creed, we learn the basics of Christian doctrine: the Trinity, creation, the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the forgiveness of sins, and the nature of our resurrection. When was the last time you read all of these held together in a single, fairly concise statement?

Third, it connects us to those who’ve gone before us.
The Apostles’ creed was written in the second century. In using it, we’re reminded that the Church wasn’t birthed in the last 20 years, but rather has been around for 2000 years and continues to hold to central and key beliefs grounded in Scripture. It’s a beautiful thing to know we are not alone in our journey!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Apostles’ Creed, consider reading through JI Packer’s book “Affirming the Apostles’ Creed” (we’ve made these available on the bookshelves at Park Church) where he breaks down each phrase. It’s been an incredibly encouraging resource for me personally, and would be a great tool to take others through as well.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting. Amen.

Lenten Song Meditation: Week 6

Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll be posting various songs that will help us engage in this season. Music is a helpful way of engaging both our minds and our affections as we meditate on truths of Scripture. This week’s Lenten song meditation will be “Not In Me”, a song written by Eric Schumacher and David Ward and sung by Aaron Ivey on The Gospel Coalition’s “Songs For The Book of Luke”.

(Verse 1)
No list of sins I have not done, no list of virtues I pursue
No list of those I am not like can earn myself a place with you
O God! Be merciful to me. I am a sinner through and through
My only hope of righteousness is not in me but only you

(Verse 2)
No humble dress, no fervent prayer, no lifted hands no tearful song,
No recitation of the truth can justify a single wrong.
My righteousness is Jesus’ life. My debt was paid by Jesus death.
My weary load was borne by Him and He alone can give me rest.

(Verse 3)
No separation from the world, no work I do, no gift I give
Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands, I cannot cause my soul to live.
But Jesus died and rose again. The pow’r of death is overthrown!
My God is merciful to me and merciful in Christ alone.

(Tag)
My righteousness is Jesus’ life. My debt was paid by Jesus’ death.
My weary load was borne by him, and He alone can give me rest
And He alone can give me rest.

1) Why do you think God shows His mercy to you? Verse 1 reminds us that it’s not because you stayed away from a list of sins or pursued a list of virtues. Verse 2 tells us that it’s not through more prayer or more expressive worship! Verse 3 declares it’s not by separating ourselves from the world, or work, or generosity. God’s mercy flows out of who He is and what Christ has done. God’s mercy is not in response to your life, but rather Christ’s life & death.

2) Take time to remember in this season that your righteousness comes from Christ alone! Remember, rejoice, and rest in this amazing truth.

Lenten Song Meditation: Week 5

Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll be posting various songs that will help us engage in this season. Music is a helpful way of engaging both our minds and our affections as we meditate on truths of Scripture. This week we’ll be looking at an old hymn by Philip Bliss slightly reworked by the folks at Austin Stone called “Hallelujah What A Savior” (aka “Man of Sorrows, What A Name”). If you’ve been around this last month, we’ve sung it a few times. If you want to purchase the track, click here.

(Verse 1)
Man of sorrows, what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim
Hallelujah! What Savior

(Verse 2)
Stand unclean, no one else could
In my place condemned He stood
Now His nearness is my good
Hallelujah! What a Savior

(Chorus)
Hallelujah, praise to the one
Whose blood has pardoned me
Oh what a Savior, Redeemer and King
Your love has rescued me

(Verse 3)
Lifted up was He to die
“It is finished!” was His cry
Now in Heaven lifted high
Hallelujah! What a Savior

(Verse 4)
When He comes, our Glorious King
All His ransomed home to bring
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! What a Savior
Hallelujah! What a Savior

(Chorus)
Hallelujah, praise to the one
Whose blood has pardoned me
Oh what a Savior, Redeemer and King
Your love has rescued me

1) This hymn starts with the line, “Man of sorrows, what a name for the Son of God who came…” This is a reference to Isaiah 53:3-6, so take some time to read through that passage, seeing that Jesus took your sin & sorrow upon Himself on the cross. Thank Him for doing this!

2) Do you see yourself as One who needed and needs pardon? Do you see yourself as one who needed and needs saving? Confess your need before God. Praise Him for being a Savior, Redeemer, & King.

3) Think on His return in glory, where finally we’ll be free from sin. Let your Savior’s return fill you with a deep sense of hope this season.

Lenten Song Meditation: Week 4

Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll be posting various songs that will help us engage in this season. Music is a helpful way of engaging both our minds and our affections as we meditate on truths of Scripture. This week we’ll be listening to “To Thee I Come”, a song on Red Mountain’s album “All Things New” and sung by one of my favorite singer/songwriters Thad Cockrell. If you want to buy the song or the album, click here.

(Verse 1)
To Thee I come a sinner poor
And wait for mercy at Thy door
Indeed, I’ve nowhere else to flee
Oh God, be merciful to me

(Chorus 1)
To Thee I come a sinner weak
And scarce know how to pray or speak
From fear and weakness set me free
Oh God be merciful to me!

(Verse 2)
To Thee I come a sinner vile
Upon me Lord vouchsafe to smile
Mercy through blood I make my plea
Oh God be merciful to me!

(Chorus 2)
To Thee I come a sinner great
And well Thou knowest all my state
Yet full forgiveness is with Thee
Oh God be merciful to me!

(Verse 3)
To Thee I come a sinner lost
Nor have I aught wherein to trust
But where Thou art, Lord, I would be
Oh God be merciful to me!

(Chorus 3)
To glory bring me Lord at last
And there when all my sins are passed
With all the saints I’ll then agree
God was merciful to me!
God was merciful to me!

1) This song provides us a few descriptions of how we come to God: a sinner poor, weak, vile, great, and lost. These are reminiscent of the tax collector who approached God and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” in Luke 18:9-14. As we approach God, may we approach with a deep sense of humility this season.

2) Verse 2 says, “Mercy through blood I make my plea.” On what basis do we ask for mercy from God? Here we are reminded that it’s only through the blood of Christ that we ultimately find mercy and cleansing. Thank Him for His blood shed for your sins!

3) The last verse reminds us of our glorious end in Christ. One day we will be with God in glory and all our sins will be wiped away. One thing that won’t be wiped away is the worship that we’ll be pouring out on God for all eternity as we thank Him for the mercy that is ours in Christ! Take time this season of Lent to thank Him for this beautiful and hopeful truth.

Lenten Song Meditation: Week 3

Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll be posting various songs that will help us engage in this season. Music is a helpful way of engaging both our minds and our affections as we meditate on truths of Scripture. As we enter into week 3 of Lent, we’ll take time to listen to “Lord I Need You” by Daniel Carson, Matt Maher, Christy Nockels, Jesse Reeves, and Kristian Stanfill. If you’re interested in purchasing this song, do so here on iTunes.

(Verse 1)
Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

(Chorus)
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

(Verse 2)
Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

(Bridge)
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

1) Lent is a season where our awareness of our need for a Savior is deepened. Are we aware of our need this season? May we cry out to God for open eyes to see our true state before Him: as needy & desperate; Him as eternally sufficient & compassionate.

2) Not only do we want an awareness of our sin, but also for God to give us strength to overcome the sin that overcomes us. Ask God for the power to kill the sin lurks at your door! Apart from God’s grace and empowering presence, we will not find victory over these sins! We need God.

Lenten Song Meditation: Week 2

Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll be posting various songs that will help us engage in this season. Music is a helpful way of engaging both our minds and our affections as we meditate on truths of Scripture. For week 2 of our Lenten song meditation, we’ll be looking at Red Mountain’s “Christ Or Else I Die”. We’ll also be singing this song on Sunday, so take time to meditate on the words! If you want to buy this song on iTunes, click here.

(Verse 1)
Gracious Lord, incline thy ear
My requests vouchsafe to hear
Hear my never-ceasing cry
Give me Christ, or else I die.

(Verse 2)
Wealth and honor I disdain
Earthly comforts, Lord are vain
These can never satisfy
Give me Christ, or else I die

(Chorus)
All unholy and unclean
I am nothing but sin
On thy mercy I rely
Give me Christ, or else I die

(Verse 3)
Thou dost freely save the lost
In thy grace alone I trust
With my earnest suit comply
Give me Christ, or else I die

(Verse 4)
Thou dost promise to forgive
All who in thy Son believe
Lord, I know Thou cannot lie
Give me Christ, or else I die

1) When we read & sing the words “Give me Christ, or else I die,” what’s our response? Is it one of agreement, complacency, or even disagreement? During this season of Lent, we want to remind ourselves that Christ is the only hope for sinners like us! Apart from Christ, there is no salvation from our sin, only judgment. May Park Church be a place that trumpets the declaration: “Give us Christ or else we die!”

2) The chorus says some big statements about our condition apart from Christ. “All unholy and unclean, I am nothing but sin.” Often we forget our state apart from Christ. May this season of Lent stand as a reminder to us that our sins took Christ to the cross. Take time to meditate on the truths of Ephesians 2:1-3 (we were dead in our trespasses and sins). May this again lead us to sing, “Give me Christ or else I die.”

3) Often we seek to find life outside of Christ, be it in our jobs, hobbies, money, etc. This song is a reminder to us that though those things can bring temporary joy, they can’t truly and eternally satisfy us. Take time to think on Peter’s response to Jesus in John 6 asking if he was going to leave as well: “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'” This season of Lent, let us remind ourselves of where we find the words of eternal life.

Lenten Song Meditation: Week 1

Throughout the season of Lent, we’ll be posting various songs that will help us engage in this season. Music is a helpful way of engaging both our minds and our affections as we meditate on truths of Scripture. For week 1 of Lent, we’ll be looking at “Out Of The Depths” by City Hymns, which we played on the first Sunday of Lent in our time of confession. It’s based on Psalm 130. If you want to buy this song or album on iTunes, click here.

(Verse 1)
Out of the depths I cry to Thee, oh Lord please hear my call
O Lord be merciful to me, at Thy throne of grace I fall
At Thy throne of grace I fall

(Verse 2)
Out of the woeful depths I cry, from the depths of sin
Of evil done in days gone by, of evil now within
Of evil now within

(Chorus)
If Thou, oh Lord, should mark iniquities
Lord, who could then draw near?
But here I find forgiveness with Thee
That Thou may be feared, that Thou may be feared

(Verse 3)
Lord from the depths I wait for Thee, my hope is in Thy Word
All through the night ’till day is nigh, my soul waits upon the Lord
My soul waits upon the Lord

(Verse 4)
Lord here I find Thy mercy now, as ever was with Thee
Before Thy throne of grace I bow, Lord be merciful to me
Lord be merciful to me

(Chorus 2)
O Israel cast your hope upon the Lord
And in His Word do trust
He will redeem you from your sin
And raise you from the dust, and raise you from the dust

A few questions/observations as you engage with this song:

1) Note in verse 1 the basis on which mercy is requested: the throne of grace. We do not request mercy blindly hoping God may hear, but rather because God has called us to approach His throne of grace with confidence because of what Christ has done! Come with a humble boldness.

2) Verse 2 describes crying out from the depths of sin. Are you aware of sin in your life? Either in the past (“as in days gone by”) or currently (“evil now within”)? If you’re not aware of sin, ask God to graciously open your eyes to see it and in turn confess it.

3) Part of confession is in turn trusting God to forgive us and cleanse us through Christ’s work (1 John 1). As you confess, on what basis do you hope for forgiveness? Do you move into gratitude for God’s forgiveness in Christ (Romans 8:1) or do you get stuck in the confession, never moving on?

Bread & Wine—Recap & Photos

On November 15th, 2013, we gathered at Park Church for our very first Bread & Wine event (as part of ParkRenew, see below for more info). Bread & Wine was an evening celebrating Christ’s incarnation through bread, wine, art, & song. A month before the event, we invited artists to create artwork in response to the first few chapters of John and its implications (particularly the incarnation of Christ). We asked one of our photographers to capture images of 7 different people from Park Church in their workplaces who do very different jobs: a financial adviser, a barista, a hair stylist, a stay-at-home mom, a barista, a carpenter, and a nurse.

We hung the artwork created and photos taken, and then invited the church to join us for a meal and art show of the pieces created during that month. We provided freshly baked baguettes hand-crafted by a baker from our church and asked everyone to bring their favorite bottle of wine to share. We sang songs of praise and thanks to our generous and lavish God “from whom all blessings flow”. Our goal for the evening was to eat good bread, drink good wine, have good conversation, and ultimately to enjoy these to the praise of our God! We wanted to remind our people that because God is Lord, how we eat and drink and open our homes and work are affected. All things are to be done to the glory of God!

About ParkRenew: ParkRenew exists to advance the work of cultural transformation and renewal under the Lordship of Jesus, through the Gospel of Jesus. Our hopes are to see the confessional work of the church pushed into the corners of our world and to see it renew all parts of our city. The Gospel changes the way we think about everything, including business & economics, the arts, missions, sexuality, friendship, the realities of marriage, and living in a complex culture like the modern city.

Below are some photos of the event taken by Caitlin Fairly (http://caitlinfairlyphoto.com/).

Why Do We Follow the Christian Calendar?

There’s no clear command in Scripture to observe the Christian Calendar rhythm. So why do we do this at Park? Here are just a few reasons:

1) To Remember Jesus’ Story 
It’s a way to year after year remember and order our calendars & days around the Good News of Jesus and His Story. We are quick to forget Him, so observing the Christian Calendar is one of the things we can do to call our forgetful hearts back to its roots in Christ!

2) To Link Arms with our Forefathers
It’s a way to link arms with our forefathers from centuries before us who celebrated the Christian Calendar. The church was not born a couple years ago, but rather comes with a great heritage we join in.

3) To Prepare Our Hearts
It helps prepare our hearts for Christmas and Easter. Too often we hit Christmas & Easter completely distracted by everything else except Jesus’ birth or His resurrection. Not only does it help prepare us for Christmas (through Advent) and Easter (through Lent), but both Christmas and Easter are not simply days but also seasons. We’re allowed a bit more time to sit in them, worshiping our Savior, and thinking on these amazing truths!

4) To Humble Us
Lastly, it reminds us we’re a part of a much bigger Story. Eugene Peterson said, “When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.”

If you’re looking for a couple books to read on the Christian Calendar, check out a couple below:

“Living The Christian Year” Bobby Gross
“Ancient Future Time” Robert Webber

Here are a couple Advent devotionals (one of which is free!):

“Good News of Great Joy” John Piper Free! If you want an actual copy, click here. We also carry them in our bookstore.
“Counting The Days, Lighting the Candles” Elyse Fitzpatrick. Includes activities for kids.