January 2022 Update & Calendar

Our January edition of the Zion Chronicle can be viewed and downloaded here. The Zion calendar for the month can be viewed here.

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New Life & Wednesday Activities Canceled 1/5

All Zion activities have been canceled for tonight, January 5, 2022 due to inclement weather. This includes New Life, 9th Confirmation, Choir, and other activities.

You can find the announcement at KIMTKIOW, and on our social media channels. Please feel free to share this information with others.

Please trust the Lord and stay safe during this windy time!

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New Year, Same Jesus

Happy New Year to our Zion family!

As we pray and trust that the Christmas and New Year holidays have brought joy and celebration to you and yours, we want spiritually prepare ourselves for what the Lord in His providence will bring us in the new year. Let us prayerfully commit ourselves to living only for the glory of God this year!

Saturated In God’s Word For the Year Ahead


A lot of people will make resolutions this year – lose weight, drop a bad habit, improve yourself, etc. But the best thing you could do is draw deeply from God’s Word! With over a dozen different reading plans, there is something here for everyone! What are you going to let hold you back from diving in to more of God’s holy power in your life through His Word & Spirit?!
Continue reading “Reading Plans 2022” at Ligonier

See also:
Bible Reading Plan for Slackers & Shirkers

The Excellencies of A Bible Reading Plan

Why Should Christians Study the Bible?

A Practical Help For Bible Study

Following Jesus: What’s Wrong and Right About Imitating Christ

[Scripture] calls us not simply to imitate Christ but to live out our union with him. But before [Paul] speaks an imperative, he announces the indicative of the gospel: Christ’s saving work has accomplished far more than we imagined. The Spirit’s work of uniting us to Christ makes us not mere imitators but living members of his body. We are incorporated-baptized-into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Jesus said the same thing in John 15. His disciples are not only forgiven; joined to him as the life-giving Vine they become living branches, bearing fruit that will remain. We have no life in ourselves, he tells them. There are no resources for following Jesus, imitating him, becoming his disciple. We are dead branches, cut off, without hope in this world. Only then does Jesus issue his imperatives to love and serve each other as he has loved and served us.

There is a world of difference between having a role model whose example we fall short of ever reproducing and having yourself “killed” and re-created as branches of the Tree of Life. Doing what Jesus did is different from bearing the fruit of Christ’s righteous life. In fact, the most important things that Jesus did cannot be duplicated. Because he fulfilled the law in our place, bore our curse, and was raised in glory to take his throne at the Father’s right hand, we can have a relationship with him-and with the Father-that is far more intimate than the relationship of a devotee to a guru, a student to a teacher, or a follower to a master.
Continue reading “Following Jesus” at Monergism

New Year’s Eve Prayer

Prayers for the New Year in 2022

Earlier, we encouraged you to re-devote yourself to Scripture for 2022. But are you praying for what is to come? Let other Christians model prayer for you, as it evokes your own prayers in your spirit to the Lord. Read on for prayers from the Puritans, the Reformed, and Billy Graham.
Continue reading “New Year Prayers” at Pastor Brian’s website→

New Year’s Resolutions as An Expectation of Faith

Everything comes around just as it has before [on New Years]… I’ll be honest, I get the same feeling whenever I reflect on New Year’s resolutions. People concoct them every year but it seems that “there is no remembrance of former things.” We fail to recall last year’s resolutions, largely the same ones, that have been left by the wayside, usually long before the red shadow of Valentine’s Day ever hits. Ironically enough, even pessimism about New Year’s resolutions is not new.

Yes, the past happened. Its failures are real. Your failures are real. But so is the reality of a God Who reigns over history and Who gives us hope and anticipation for the future.
Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions…” at Christ and Pop Culture

Edwards’ Resolutions

“Resolved, to do whatsoever I can think to do to God’s glory alone…” So begins the personal statements of resolve by one of America’s most brilliant minds, and highest pastors, Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758). Begun when he was just a teenager, these statements show a life determined not to settle, not to compromise, and not to give in. What resulted was one of the brightest lights that shone for God’s glory in our nation!

Read and digest these simple statements of faith, truth, and courage, and may they inspire you not to make your own resolutions, but to live life resolved. Resolved to follow Christ. Resolved to walk by faith. And resolved to live for His glory, even when no one else will!
Continue reading “Edwards’ Resolutions” at Pastor Brian’s website→

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Happy New Year’s Eve!

A reading from Psalm 90, from Philippians 4:4 – 7, and the following prayer:

Read and download here
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Festival of Lessons & Carols

Most years, before we partake of Holy Communion on the Christmas Day service, our congregation participates in a Festival of Lessons & Carols service. For many of us, that is a Christian tradition unfamiliar to us. The following will hopefully make you more acquainted with this wonderful liturgy. Join us on Christmas Day at 9am to participate in this wonderful worship!

“Keeping Christianity in Christmas: A Festival of Lessons and Carols”

In the typical “Battle for Christmas” banter, we hear a lot about keeping Christ in Christmas, and preserving Christmas as a Christian “holy day.” Jesus is the reason for the season, and all that.

But as a pastor, I think the far bigger battle for believers is keeping Christmas — and Christ — in Christianity. The true spirit of Christmas is something that most of our churches could use far more of, fifty-two Sundays a year. The trick is to cut through all the sentimental crap and grasp this holiday’s essential value for deepening our Christian faith.

This Sunday evening, our church will celebrate Christmas with our annual “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” (or just Lessons and Carols), a traditional Christmas Eve liturgy first celebrated at King’s College Cambridge in 1918. While this service is beautiful and moving, it is a highlight of our church year because it teaches a simple and profound truth simply: that the coming of Christ fulfills the central promise of the Bible.

Continue reading “Keeping Christianity…” at The Federalist

Almost 20 years ago, my husband and I began a new family tradition that has continued to this day. On the morning of Christmas Eve, we gather the children and sit, pajama-clad, in the family room to listen to “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” broadcast live from King’s College in Cambridge, England…

If you have never attended a Lessons and Carols service, here are five reasons to do so this year, either at a local congregation, or thanks to the wonders of technology, on the other side of the ocean.

You will: hear God’s Word, singing which is good, unite with Christians, be transported, and remember the meaning of Christmas.

Continue reading “5 Reasons To Attend A Lessons & Carols” at The Federalist

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Dec 15 Cancellations And Delays

On December 15, 2021, all our Wednesday activities are canceled due to inclement weather. This includes Confirmation, New Life, Christmas Eve rehearsals, Adult Bible studies, and youth activities.

You can find the announcement at KIMTKIOW, and on our social media channels. Please feel free to share this information with others.

Please trust the Lord and stay safe during this windy time!

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Thanksgiving Tools

With the holiday this year, there are always challenges to obeying the Biblical command to “give thanks in every situation” and “be grateful.” When the holidays role around, there are a few extra minutes in between turkey naps and football games. Spend a few minutes prayerfully pondering the below suggestions to help with Thanksgiving for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Gratitude or Grumbling?

Fewer folks attend in-person services at church. Grocers spread limited boxes of baking soda across store shelves to mask the empty space. Why shouldn’t turkeys want to skip town for the holidays too?

I’ve often felt a similar instinct at this time of year. In the midst of so much loss, why participate at all? What’s there really to be thankful for? Perhaps we could postpone festivities dedicated to gratitude until we have more to celebrate…

Call it thankfulness or gratitude, appreciative feelings can be hard to access when life is hard. Thankfully, the psalms offer us a beautiful model of how to genuinely express gratitude in seasons of scarcity, pain, and disappointment…

Midway through, each psalm of lament reaches a pivot point. The complaining wears down, and quiet settles in. And then, like the familiar cadence of prayer around the holiday table, the psalmist begins to give thanks. My heart rejoices in your salvationI will sing your praise. You are my King. (Ps. 13:5–6, 44:4) Pain mingles with praise. Grumbling gives way to glorifying. We are not left alone with lament. In sorrow, the psalms of lament affirm: praise can still be our song.

God invites us, too, in the quiet exhaustion of our grief, to name his goodness. We rehearse these truths to our hearts as a bold creed when scarcity is writ large across our lives. In want and plenty, God is good. In sorrow and joy, he is present. In all things he offers us the abundance of his power and lavishes us with provision. Truly, those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing (Ps. 34:10). Lament gives us opportunity to complain before God, but it always expands our vision to include the beauty of his faithfulness.

Continue reading “How To Move From Grumble to Gratitude” at TGC

Toxic Thanksgiving?

In the past year, I’ve had a lot to give thanks for. After several years of renting, the Lord blessed my family with a home of our own. Shortly after moving, we had a healthy baby boy, our second child. These are amazing and wonderful blessings, undeserved gifts of God’s grace! I do my best not to take them for granted, and sometimes when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed, I remind myself how blessed I am. Yet, despite the importance and benefits of expressing gratitude, it’s possible for giving thanks to become toxic…

I was intrigued when I first heard the term “toxic positivity.” How could positivity be a bad thing? The phrase refers to times when being positive (expressing thankfulness or gratitude) is used to ignore or suppress hard, negative aspects of life, rather than focusing on and acknowledging hardship or pain. The fact is many parts of life are difficult because we live in a fallen world. Even the blessings in our life are tainted by the effects of sin. A new house is a blessing for my family, but that blessing comes with increased work and financial responsibility which, to be truthful, is tiring and frequently stressful. A new child is a wonderful and gracious gift from God, yet taking care of a newborn is no easy task. It’s demanding and exhausting. Every blessing, in a fallen world, has its challenges and difficulties…

Toxic positivity will only lead to bitterness and cynicism because it offers no path through trials. It merely denies them, and denying them doesn’t change the fact that they’re real. Biblical positivity, or thankfulness, leads us to God in worship, even amidst the real trials and pains we experience.

Continue reading “When Giving Thanks Becomes Toxic” at Core Christianity →

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Reformation Sunday 2021

This year, we join Christians and churches around the world to remember God’s grace during the time of the Reformation, to purify and prune the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Historically, God used a monk named Martin Luther when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. From this event, and the Spirit’s leading of women and men in several different countries, the Lord brought about the Protestant Reformation, including Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, Anglican, Congregational, Baptist, and Free Churches. Tracing our spiritual heritage back to the German and Genevan Reformation, our congregation rejoices soli Deo gloria!

Our adult Christian education class meets at 9:15, and will be considering the topic “Sola – The Cambridge Declaration.” We will look at biblical, theological, and ecumenical causes for Christians to arm themselves with the truth of God’s Word to make a difference in our churches and in our world. All our welcome to join us for the lecture and discussion time.

Our 10:30 worship service historically has taken a break from using our Covenant Renewal liturgy, and instead uses the Reformation Divine Service liturgy. Take a look at that service here. The sermon will be from Ephesians 5:8 – 10, entitled “Post Tenebras Lux.” All are welcome to this public service of worship.

Zion has several events taking place each Lord’s Day, including youth groups, Women’s Bible studies, etc. In addition to these, we will have a Lord’s Day afternoon broadcast (online) on the topic of Reformed theological giant Herman Bavinck (1854 – 1921), entitled “Ecumenical Bavinck: Puritan Polemics or Organic Unity?” Link and details on the broadcast will be forthcoming.

Each year, there are a number of resources made available for Christians who wish to dive deeper into the truths recovered at the Reformation to live coram Deo – before the face of God!

Luther Movie
Thanks to Ligonier Ministries for making their documentary, “Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer” free to all through October 31.

Reformation 500
On the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, listen to Pastor Brian on “War With the Dragon: Retrospect & Prospect for the Decline of Reformed Orthodoxy.” (Click here to go straight to the lecture.)

Many different Christian ministries have wonderful resources for us to consider God’s truth five hundred years ago. Please look for the free resources from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Ligonier, Desiring God, and Monergism.

You will find the free resources Zion as highlighted on past Reformation Sundays here.

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MissionFest ’21: MERF and Rev. Buikema

On Sunday, Oct 24th, we welcome Middle Easter Reformed Fellowship (MERF) and spokesman Rev. Derek Buikema to Zion!

What is MERF?!

“Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) is an evangelical Christian missionary organization which serves in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia on behalf of Reformed and Presbyterian Family of Churches and believers worldwide. Our work is bearing fruit for the Kingdom of Christ among the twenty-two nations of the Arab League and other Muslim areas in Africa and Asia. MERF strengthens national churches with ministries of evangelism, church extension, biblical training, and diaconal aid.” You can see more about MERF and her ministries here.

Rev. Derek Buikema serves as pastor of Orland Park Reformed Church (CRC) in Illinois, and he will be sharing on behalf of MERF. At 9:15, Rev. Buikema will present in the Fellowship Hall on the ministry and methods of MERF. At 10:30, he will be preaching in the worship service on Ecclesiastes 2. Plan to join us for these special events!

Zion is pleased to support Zion as one of our Missions of the Month. If you would like to personally support MERF, you can find ways to pray, get involved, and financially support them here.

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Sealed In The Spirit

The Giving Spirit
The Nicene Creed reminds us that the Holy Spirit is “the Lord and Giver of Life.” How does the Spirit give us life?

While the Holy Spirit can be mysterious for Christians, God seals us in the Spirit to show we belong to Him. The gracious event of Pentecost teaches us so much about the Holy Spirit. Christians should never grieve the Spirit, nor quench His power. In fact, learning about the sealing work of the Spirit can help us answer questions about “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” It helps us to know what the filling of the Spirit is, and what we must do.

Sometimes we have questions or doubts about the Spirit, but God’s Word shows us how we can know if we the Holy Spirit or not.

For those who wish to go to the Black Belt level of this subject, learn how the Spirit applies what Christ has accomplished, and what the doctrine of cessationism teaches.

The Spirit In Trials
Some Christians think that if we have the Holy Spirit, our troubles will be taken away. However, “the really foundational and fundamental tensions and trials in the Christian life are not those that will be removed by the Spirit, but those that are actually caused because the Spirit is present with us. Its because the Spirit dwells in us that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit wars against the flesh. But just because, as the earnest of our inheritance, He dwells in us and therefore sets up the tension that is characteristic exclusively of the Christian believer, He is also thew Comforter, because He is the earnest of the inheritance. And the very struggles and trials through which the Christian goes as a Christian believer therefore for Owen are paradoxically also his comforts because they are the fruit of One who is in him, to assure him of the fullness of the inheritance that is to be his in the last day.”

How The Spirit Seals Us
That official seal shows the authenticity and legality of the adoption. In Biblical times, kings and their officials would use the king’s signet ring, a ring that had a special engraving upon it, to stamp laws or documents as official, carrying the authority of the king’s approval. Similarly, Paul is teaching the Ephesians that they have been adopted by God through the blood of Christ. How do they know it is true and official? They were marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. When a person truly professes Jesus Christ, God places His authoritative stamp on that person through His Spirit at that moment, causing the new child of God to cry out by the Spirit of adoption, “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:15).

You can find these resources and more here at Zion’s media resources!

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