Funeral Service At Zion

Due to preventative conditions, many in our church family were unable to attend the funeral service for an important saint in our congregation, Hilda Greiman. Here is the service for those who wished to participate.

Cataldo Funeral Homes also recorded the service here, and you can view the livestream of the graveside service here.

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Live Stream: Do Over

From Monday night:

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Sunday School: Ancient Treasures, Future Faith

As we have been sharing online resources for worship and sermons, we want to try bringing some instruction and training in God’s Word. Psalm 119:12, 14 reminds us, “Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statues… In the way of Your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” In this video, take a 3D tour of the Hezekiah Tunnel, zoom in on Assyrian relics, and learn how Christ challenges us to live for Him today!

Some of the resources mentioned in the video:
The Story of Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Catherine McDowell, “Why Biblical Archaeology Matters” The Gospel Coalition Accessed online May 12, 2020 <https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-biblical-archaeology-matters/>

Michael A. Grisanti “Recent Arcaheological Discoveries That Lend Credence To the Historicity of the Scriptures” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Vol 56 No 3 (2013) pp. 475 – 97.

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Live Stream: Armor of God

Pastor Brian had a few updates, reminders, and encouragement from Ephesians 6.

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From Consistory: Worship Online May 3, Worship in Sanctuary on May 10

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The State of Iowa changed regulations for churches beginning on May 1. Our Consistory has been prayerfully debating what is best for our congregation. After much deliberation and coming together in the Spirit’s unity, the following letter explains what we as a church will be doing. You can download this letter as a PDF file here. This letter will be sent via postal mail to our members for those who do not have internet services. Please help spread the word.

Thank you for your glad-hearted submission and encouragement to our congregation’s leaders. If you have questions or concerns, their contact information is at the end.

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Dear Zion Congregation,

Greetings from the Consistory in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Lord has answered our many prayers and has blessed us with the opportunity to resume public worship at Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church. We are excited to announce that Zion will be resuming church services in our building starting Sunday, May 10th. (pending any changes in Gov. Reynold’s recommendations)

We know that many of you may have mixed emotions about this decision and we respect those feelings. If you feel uncertain about attending the worship service in the church building, then please continue to worship with us by live stream. If you do not have access to internet and would like to get a DVD of the worship service, please contact the church office. We feel that it is important to bring our congregation together once again to be able to worship our Lord in communion with one another. We are also fully aware of the concerns you might have and we will do everything possible to ensure the safety and health of our members. We will be cleaning the carpets and sanitizing all surfaces prior May 10th.

We are making preparations to hold 2 worship services on Sunday, May 10th. We feel it is very important to stay in line with the Iowa COVID-19 safety guidelines. By doing this we are restricted in the number of members that can worship in the building at one time. Because of this, the first service will start at 8:30 AM and we are asking that single persons, couples and older members attend this worship service. The second service will begin at 10:00 AM and we are asking that the families with children attend that service. Surfaces will be sanitized in between services. We will not be having Sunday school for the children at this time. There will be no nursery available for young children until further notice. Continue reading

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Different Preferences For COVID-19 Recovery

Coronavirus_HandsIn our most recent sermon, we considered the danger of comparison. As our nation – and especially churches – begin the slow process of recovery, we will be tempted to compare. Some churches will add more options more quickly; some churches will choose to keep their buildings closed longer. Churches in New York City will respond differently than churches in Iowa. And even in the same community, churches will evaluate theological, denominational, and congregational commitments differently.

A helpful word reminds us to navigate these differences with grace. Read more from this article by For the Church below.

As Zion moves forward under our gracious Lord’s providence, our Consistory and pastors will strive to keep these ideas in place as we trust Jesus for what comes next!

Navigating Different COVI-19 Recovery Convictions

“If there is one word to describe how we must navigate re-assimilation amid COVID-19, it’s this: grace.

…Charles Smith wrote: “Prediction: one of the most challenging aspects of the #COVID19 recovery will be disagreements over acceptable post-COVID social norms between friends and family. Hurt feelings will abound if we’re not careful. Extend lots of grace. Everyone is different.”

…I believe one of the ways that the Enemy will seek to divide our ranks within the church is by tempting us to use our opinions against each other. If the Devil has his way, we’ll be throwing stones of accusation from all sides, calling the cautious people “soft,” labeling the optimists of being “reckless.” More than that, the enemy especially loves when we cement ourselves in political corners; adding opinionated fuel to the already tumultuous fire of conflict.

Things can get ugly — very quickly.

We’re Going to Be Different. Continue reading

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Abide in Christ

Our Monday night livestream here:

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Cut Out Comparisons

comparison2Many of us realize that playing the comparison game leads to disaster. When we try to measure ourselves, our families or spouses, or anything against what others have, this is often a surefire way to end up discouraged and disappointed.

So why do we still do it so often?! Why do we still allow other’s vacation pictures to make us covet, other’s success to make us insecure, and our unfulfilled desires drive us to despair?

At least part of the reason for many Christians is that we do not know biblically how to stop. We know it is wrong, but lack the means to cut comparing out of our hearts. For some of us, it almost feels impossible to get out of this trap.

What is impossible with man is more than possible with God! I learned these comparison cutting truths from Desiring God, and have tweaked them over the years. Follow these seven steps by faith in God’s empowering grace:

When you wonder if you can even start because you don’t compare to others…
1. Jesus chose you. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16).

When you come up short compared to others’ resources…
2. God equips you. “He will equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:21).

When you feel like you won’t have enough compared to others…
3. He is sufficient for you. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 12:9).

When everyone else is rewarded and recognized compared to you…
4. God sees you. “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

When everyone compares on outward factors…
5. God assesses. “The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

When you compare yourself to others who got to the end…
6. God will finish. “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

When you compare for all of time…
7. Jesus is always with you. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

I pray these seven truths would cut comparisons out of your life!

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Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

Seeking-After-God_1920I grew up in a Christian world where salvation was only found through one door: praying the sinner’s prayer. At church, Bible camp, VBS, Sunday school, and in my own home, it seemed that there was one unifying message: the way to be saved from hell was to ask Jesus to come into your heart.

Where did that idea come from? There is no Bible passage that tells us to do this. There is no passage on praying the sinner’s prayer. Perhaps even more worrisome, no believers in all of the Christian Church held this practice. So where did nearly all recent American Christians get this idea?

It is probably because we have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). “Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to unbelievers, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.”

But even if Revelation 3:20 wasn’t originally an evangelistic Bible verse, could we turn it into one? No, because if we make this verse about “how to get saved,” we will miss the beautiful truth God has for us! Jesus is teaching His church to listen to His Word, the Scriptures, and seek Him with all of our heart.

Christian pastor and theologian R.C. Sproul wrote, “The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, ‘The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.’ Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it.”

The Christian life begins at conversion; it does not end where it begins. It grows; it moves from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life. This movement of growth is prodded by continual seeking after God.

Just like we love God because He first loved us (I John 4:19), we will not seek after God until He first seeks us (John 4:23). Jesus does not stand at the door of my heart and knock, vainly hoping I will open it. Jesus is Lord of all, and even Lord of my life, whether I trust Him or not. The problem is not for Jesus; He is sovereign! The problem is for me: either I will trust Him, and own Him as Lord in glory, or I will be His subject of wrath for all eternity.

Jesus does not need to come into my heart, because He is right now sitting at the right hand of God the Father, the Almighty. There, Jesus sits because He has completely accomplished our redemption, and He is praying for each of His believers by name before the Father. Picture a military general: he is not down on the front lines, but above at HQ, where he can oversee the battalions and squadrons, directing them into the fray. Jesus is not indwelling my heart on the front lines of the spiritual battle; He is at the Father’s throne, guiding His Church toward the defeat of Satan.

Also, Jesus cannot come into my heart! In His resurrected body, Jesus cannot be at the Father’s throne, squeeze his glorified body “into my heart” (whatever that might mean), and be in your heart at the same time. He can, however, send His Spirit! Scripture teaches that it is not Jesus who lives within us, but His Spirit that indwells Christians.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but He is knocking for His church family to open up to seeking Him spiritually, day by day. “In your spiritual walk, are you moving from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life? Are you continually seeking after God?”

photo from Ligonier

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Cross Walk Bulletin

goodfriday (1)This Good Friday, we cannot hold the normal community CrossWalk that has always met at noon. But though we cannot gather, that doesn’t change what Jesus has accomplished for us!

For many of you, walking through our community while focusing on the last seven sayings our Lord uttered from the cross has been a moving and spiritually uplifting time. Perhaps for others, you have never participated in the CrossWalk before, but you have extra time to consider what Jesus said in His dying moments. How are you going to “make the best use of the time” this Good Friday?

We have provided the CrossWalk bulletin for anyone to use here. Want an extra challenge?! See if you can find Jesus’s seven sayings for yourself by looking in the Gospels! But whether you look them up or use the bulletin, prayerfully reflect on what God is teaching you this Good Friday. You can download the bulletin for yourself here.

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