Posts filed under About Proclamation

Meet a Ministry Team


Proclamation’s Blogging Ministry Team

If the Internet were a cheese, it would be Limburger, heated, slowly for hours. The smell of its presence is inescapable no matter where you go. Although the technology itself is morally neutral, the amount and type of Internet usage can be as delightful as connecting with friends or shared family pictures, as comical as <<insert your favorite silly cat video here>>, or as dark as walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. No single word can encapsulate this technological tangle, but one might try; “shallow,” “comforting,” or “insidious,” “provocative,” or “dangerous,” “threatening,” or “refreshing.” It all depends on where you go. The challenge is that the choices are many, access is easy, and the available content represents a huge spread from God-honoring to blasphemous. With a few “clicks” a person can find truth that leads to life or lies that condemn to eternal death.

The blogging ministry at Proclamation seeks to speak, into the Internet maelstrom, words of truth, guidance, encouragement, and hopefully, a little humor and insight. We seek to enlighten, investigate, and explain. Our topics range from worship to apologetics, evangelism to prayer, and even current events, (although we carefully dodge discussing politics.) At all times, at the bedrock of each word we write is our desire to bring glory to God and to fulfill the Great Commission; always with the Bible as our ultimate source of truth and understanding.

It is easy to find the fruit of our blogging ministry on our church website, (, by clicking on “blog,” in the top navigation of the site.

How you can help:
1) Pray for our team of writers. We want to “get it right,” which means taking time to know God, know our topics, and then, make it come alive! Pray for us to receive the spark of inspiration and the time to write.

2) Read the blogs, provide comments, and share the links. As typical aspiring (and starving) writers, we all want our words to go viral, start a revival, and transform the world. (Sorry, I couldn’t think of another word that ended -al.) More seriously, this is a ministry, and we do want God to be seen and glorified, people to be challenged, and hopefully, some to claim the name, “Christian.” And it is simple math, if 50 people in our church post the link on their Facebook page….

3) Provide feedback to our team. As always, writers are shy, mousy people who hide out typing in their private basement sancti, (What is plural for sanctum?) dreaming that someone, somewhere really cares. (Don’t tell them I said this, though.) But DO accost them after service, point out every error of punctuation or syntax, pat them on the head and make suggestions for their next blog.

This blog was written by Charles Fox

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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The God of Abraham Praise: Our March Doxology

Fittingly, our hymn “The God of Abraham Praise” was inspired by a Jewish doxology. Tradition holds that Methodist preacher Thomas Olivers attended a service at the Great Synagogue of London at some point in 1770, where he heard the celebrated singer Meyer Lyon leading the congregation in the Yigdal prayer. Lyon generously shared his music with Olivers, who composed a hymn to it. (Here’s a video of a modern version of the Jewish hymn.)

The text of “The God of Abraham Praise” may also be loosely based on the Yigdal. Yigdal literally means “may he be magnified,” and—as you may have guessed—it’s the first word of the prayer in Hebrew. The entire prayer is a 14th century adaptation of a creed written by the philosopher Maimonides, the most significant medieval Jewish thinker.

Whether or not Olivers intended to paraphrase the Yigdal text, the lyrics of verse 6 constitute an explicitly Christian doxology. Where the Yigdal stresses only God’s unity—his “inscrutable and infinite … Oneness”—Olivers’s hymn takes care to praise our one God in three persons: “Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”

Verse 6 also reflects the Revelation imagery of all the saints eternally praising God before his throne in heaven. Remember “Holy, Holy, Holy,” in which we join this congregation, echoing the words of the cherubim of Revelation 4:8. Verse 5 of “The God of Abraham Praise” sets up this same scene for us: “On Zion’s sacred height his kingdom [God] maintains, and glorious with his saints in light forever reigns.” So when verse 6 refers to “the whole triumphant host,” it means all believers—past, present, and future—singing together in heaven.

The second half of the verse makes this personal: “Hail, Abraham’s God and mine! I join the heavenly lays [songs] …” The same God who called Abraham out of his city to the promised land has called us to participate in his kingdom today.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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Gloria Patri: Our February Doxology

Our February doxology, the Gloria Patri, happens to be one of the oldest continuously sung doxologies in the Christian tradition.* At least one record suggests that the first half appeared before A.D. 100, and the entire text has been chanted since the fourth century at latest. Today it is regularly sung all over the world in Catholic churches, in Eastern Orthodox churches, and in countless Protestant churches.

For the non–Latin scholars among us, the doxology’s title—Gloria Patri—is simply the first line in Latin, “Glory be to the Father.” The first half of the song, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,” reflects the language of the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” When we sing this we’re affirming our identity as disciples.

When we sing the second half, we’re affirming the Trinity by acknowledging that Christ and the Holy Spirit are eternally deserving of glory alongside God the Father—past, present, and future. Indeed, this line was probably added during the Trinitarian controversies of the early church, when this hymn may have served as a sort of “fight song” for orthodox Christians!

The last phrase of the doxology (well, not counting amen) is particularly interesting. The phrase we sing as “world without end” is a translation of the Latin in saecula saeculorum, which in turn is a translation from Greek. In both Latin and Greek, the phrase literally means unto ages of ages, and is normally translated to English as forever and ever. You may be familiar with this phrase: it occurs many times in the New Testament, including 12 times in Revelation. For instance, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Rev. 7:12).

So the second half of the Gloria Patri encompasses all of Scripture, in a sense: from “in the beginning” (Gen. 1:1) to “forever and ever” (a continual refrain in Revelation, finally in Rev. 22:5).


* Here’s a challenge: find an even older doxology! Remember, doxology simply means a brief expression of praise to God. By this definition, any Scripture passage that praises God counts as a doxology. If you consider only doxologies that are sung by churches today, what’s the oldest doxology you can find? Please share your discoveries in the comments.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Proc Talk: Theology and Current Events at Proclamation

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Not Your Fine China

In early December over 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, in Sichuan province, China, were arrested and detained by the Chinese government. Among the detainees was the Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong. Their son is currently staying with the Pastor’s mother. The arrest included church leaders, seminary students, and worshippers at the church, many who were in a worship service, but also many were arrested in their homes or on the city streets. As is typical of religious persecution in closed nations, there has been no way to make contact with the people arrested and there have been reports of torture and coercion.

Although the church in China is often understood as the fastest growing in the world, this is often matched with wave upon wave of official persecution from the Chinese government. It is remarkable that the church in China wears their persecution proudly like a badge of honor, and the members have stood strong and faithful. The government allows the church to meet in an “official” capacity where the teaching and worship is carefully controlled by the government. In contrast, there is a thriving unofficial church that loves the Bible, teaches the gospel, and worships the risen Jesus. The unofficial church has a stance of “faithful disobedience” to the government, which brings a heightened level of animosity upon the church. This latest round of persecution and incarceration of the church is part of a concerted action against all religions which include a massive round up of Muslims who are being held in retraining camps.

As always, God has worked in both ordinary and miraculous ways in and through this persecution. The stories of God’s faithfulness and the perseverence of his people are painful, touching and awe inspiring. We need to pray. We need to be aware. We need to worship God for his wisdom and love.

For an article that contains far more details and a copy of Wang Yi’s letter to his church, navigate to the following link:

This blog was written by Charles Fox

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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Holy, Holy, Holy-Our January Doxology

When I was a child, if you had asked me to sing a doxology I would have used the following words: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Thousands of English-speaking congregations around the world treasure this poem and sing it regularly. Yet the term doxology does not refer to these specific words; it simply means a brief expression of praise. The word is derived from the Greek doxa, meaning glory, and logos, meaning word or speaking.

Verse 4 from “Holy, Holy, Holy!” makes an excellent doxology. Note how the traditional words cited above urge God’s earthly and heavenly creatures to praise him: “praise him all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host.” When we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy!” we join the chorus of creaturely voices already singing God’s praise on earth and in heaven.

“Holy, holy, holy” echoes the refrain of the cherubim John saw in his vision of heaven, endlessly praising God from before his throne: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:1). Isaiah similarly saw a vision of seraphim before God’s throne crying “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Is. 6:3). These passages lend even more of their imagery to verse 2 of the hymn, which not only pictures the cherubim and seraphim worshipping God, but also refers to “all the saints … casting down their golden crowns before the glassy sea”—the calm-as-crystal sea John describes in front of God’s throne (Rev. 4:6).

John’s “twenty-four elders” who “cast their crowns before the throne” (Rev. 4:10) represent all the saints—that is, the complete church past and present, two-times-twelve suggesting the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. As Andy Styer explained in week 5 of his Revelation class, Revelation 4 reminds us that God is receiving the worship he is due right now, in heaven, by the whole gathered church and all the angels. So when we sing our doxology to God, this is the congregation we are joining.

And what do we join all God’s works in calling him? “Merciful and mighty,” and—most emphatically—“holy, holy, holy.” We tend to think of holiness as synonymous with righteousness, but it more properly refers to being set apart: a holy object is set apart from common use, and a holy person is set apart from common existence (including sin). To call God “holy” is to acknowledge his transcendence and his absolute superiority to his creation.

Finally, who is the God we are praising? Our God has graciously identified himself to us in his three persons, and so we take care to address our praise to the Trinity explicitly.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Posted on January 11, 2019 and filed under About Proclamation.

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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What Child Is This: All Hail the … Baby?

It’s easy to forget just how incongruous Christ’s birth must have seemed at the time. The long-awaited Messiah, the son of David, the king with angel heralds—introduced as a helpless infant sleeping in a feeding trough! And of course that incongruity pales in comparison to the paradox that this human child was God himself.

The question-and-answer format used in “What Child Is This” serves to revive our sense of awe and wonder at Jesus’s identity. Each verse juxtaposes signs of Christ’s majesty with signs of his humble position. I’d like to focus on the carol’s second verse, which is packed with meaning.

Why lies he in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?

Mean estate means a humble, lowly, or impoverished condition. This phrase brings to mind Mary’s hymn of praise (the Magnificat), in which she glorifies God for singling her out for blessing: “he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:48). It also brings to mind Paul’s meditation on Christ’s humility: Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7). (More on this later.)

Good Christian, fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.

In normal syntax, this sentence might run something like this: “Fear, Good Christian, because the silent Word is pleading for sinners!” The Word refers to Christ, identified as the “ultimate truth” sought by Greek philosophers—though they conceived of the Word as an impersonal force. In his very personal role as the mediator between God and his people, Christ pleads our case before God’s judgment seat (Rom. 8:34). And what does Jesus plead? He pleads for God to show us mercy because he (Jesus) has satisfied God’s law on our behalf. This is why, even as a speechless baby, the then-silent Word was pleading for sinners by his righteous life.

Christ’s accomplishment should inspire fear, in the sense of reverential awe of God.

Nails, spear, shall pierce him through; the cross be borne for me, for you …

Going back to Philippians 2, “And being found in human form, [Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8). Becoming human wasn’t enough, becoming a helpless baby wasn’t enough, even becoming a poverty-stricken, homeless baby wasn’t enough. Jesus came to endure the most shameful death imaginable.

And now we come to the answer to the question posed in the first line of this verse: the reason for Christ’s “mean estate,” the explanation for the incongruity of God the Word as a human baby destined to be crucified, is that he bore all these things out of love “for me, for you.”

Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary.

Our response is decreed by Philippians 2: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (v. 9–11). In the last line of the carol’s second verse, as in the last lines of the other two verses, we urge creation to join this chorus.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel: It’s All in the Name

Since (at latest) the eighth century, Christian churches have been using a set of call-and-response chants known as the “O Antiphons” during the Advent season. Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering whether the O Antiphons come after the N Antiphons. But “O” in this case doesn’t signify a letter of the alphabet; rather, it’s a one-letter word that indicates direct address. Each chant addresses Christ using a title related to an Old Testament prophesy of the Messiah’s coming. For instance, the final chant begins with “O Emmanuel.”

The original seven Latin chants are still recited in Catholic churches during Advent, but many centuries ago five of them were converted into the hymn we know as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” with the verses rearranged to put Emmanuel first.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel” makes a great first line (and a great title) because it’s a play on words. Since Emmanuel means God with us, the first line is essentially calling on God-with-us to come to us: the answer is in the request. The name Emmanuel first appears in the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The hymn’s second verse begins “O come, O come, thou Lord of might” and goes on to highlight Christ’s identity as God the majestic lawgiver. Lord in English (and the corresponding dominus in Latin) is usually used to translate two of God’s names: his title Adonai, which indicates his sovereignty and power, and his name Yahweh, which declares his self-sufficiency. The Latin version of our hymn actually uses the word Adonai. The prophesy in view, however, seems to be Isaiah 33:22, where Lord is a translation of Yahweh: “For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.”

The third verse calls Christ “Rod of Jesse.” Rod here means shoot or branch: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). But the English translation also lets us envision the rod as something that can physically beat down Satan’s tyranny. Jesse, of course, was King David’s father, so this title indicates that Christ is the heir of David, rightful king of God’s people. By referring to Jesse rather than David, though, Isaiah not only states that the Messiah will be David’s heir, but also suggests that he will be at least as important as David.

The fourth verse refers to Christ as Dayspring and highlights his role as comforter. Dayspring is a delightfully picturesque word for the dawn, and the rest of the verse reflects Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”

The fifth and final verse begins “O come, thou Key of David,” and asks Christ to bring us safely home. Key of David refers to Isaiah 22:22, where Isaiah prophesies about God’s servant, a man named Eliakim: “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” A further reference to the key of David in Revelation 3:7 makes it clear, however, that Eliakim prefigures Christ, “the holy one, the true one,” who has ultimate authority over who enters God’s house.

The refrain at the end of each verse switches from addressing Christ to addressing Israel (i.e., God’s people): “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” Again, calling Christ Emmanuel reminds us that he is already with us even as we ask him to come. Indeed, the season of Advent brings into sharp focus the already-not-yet state of our Christian life: we anticipate Christ’s second coming even while we remember how he already arrived and redeemed us, just as we long to fully experience God’s kingdom even while we know we’re already living in it.

And what gives us assurance that Christ will come again and fulfill all the promises about him? It’s in his nature—in his very name.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Sermon Follow Up: Why Read the Bible

What are some things you might do every day or nearly every day in the coming year? Eat? Brush your teeth? Exercise? Listen to music? Watch TV (youtube, netflix)? Read (books, blogs, email, facebook, twitter)?

This past Sunday I preached on 2 Timothy 3:14-17, “Why Read the Bible?”, encouraging all Proclamation members to develop (or continue) the habit of daily reading the Bible in 2016 using the same Bible reading plan: the discipleship journal through the Bible in a year plan.

The Bible is worth reading. It is worthy of your time.

In 2 Timothy 3 we learn that we can benefit from reading the Bible in at least three ways:

1. The Bible is God’s appointed means of saving us and making us more like Jesus.

…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. -2 Timothy 3:15

2. The Bible is God’s appointed means of speaking to his people.

All Scripture is breathed out by God…-2 Timothy 3:16

3. The Bible is God’s appointed means of equipping us for every good work.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17

I would encourage all of you to join us in using the same plan to read the Bible in 2016.


1. Community
It will enable us all to read from the same passages in the Bible at the same time and we can learn together and ask our questions together and share with one another what we are learning. We can also incorporate passages into our gathered worship services on Sundays.

2. Variety
This plan has you reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospels every day throughout the year.

3. Flexibility
This plan is easy to customize. You can use anywhere from 1 to 4 of the bookmarks and take from 1 to 4 years to read through the Bible. This allows everyone, even the smallest child, to participate.
If you can read, you can begin this plan (the Gospels bookmark is the shortest). You can also read to your children, perhaps using a bookmark as part of your family worship.

4. Buffer Days
Each month has only 25 readings, so you can miss days and not fall behind.

5. Don’t use this plan if you already have a plan that you are using and that has worked well for you.


1. Make a plan: having a time and place to read each day will help.

2. Dig: Read the passages for each day

3. Digest: Think and pray about what you are reading
    It may help to journal or write down a verse or thought each day.Write down any questions           you have of the text (anything you don’t understand).                                                                         Ask/answer these questions:

    What does it teach about God (Father, Son, Spirit)?

    What does it each about me/people?

    How should I respond (repent, believe, praise, thanks, worship, etc)?

    Who can I tell?

4. Declare: (begin talking with others about what you are learning)

5. Delight:

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. -Psalm 19:10


Our aim is not to be successful in a new year’s resolution or simply complete a plan or check of a box. It is not to simply finish.

Our aim is to feed our faith as we seek God in his word. It is to be made more like Jesus and hear God speak and be equipped for every good work. I hope you will join us!


Posted on December 30, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

My First Year As Your Pastoral Intern

I thought it would be good, coming up to the end of my first year of my internship at Proclamation Presbyterian Church, to take a few moments to give some reflections on my first year.

It goes without saying, although I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to serve Christ's church here at Proclamation. When I finished my under-grad degree at Lancaster Bible College in the May of 2014, I was in a complete daze. My brother Peter passed away less than a month before, I had a degree but a Bachelor of Science in Bible is a pretty useless degree, practically speaking. I had no plan, no idea where to go or what to do next, I was physically and emotionally emptied, wondering what the Lord had next for me. I had no idea that by the end of that summer, through the love, support, and guidance of men like Dr. Michael Rogers at Westminster PCA and our own Troy De Bruin that I would be enrolled in Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, would be taken “under care” of the Susquehanna Valley Presbytery, and would be serving, at the time, as a part-time unpaid pastoral intern at Proclamation. I was grateful and energized, excited to be able to further my education, serve my local church body, and to have the guidance and accountability of the presbytery over me. Then, most unlooked for and unexpectedly to me, talks began circulating about making my internship a full-time paid internship beginning in January of this year. I would have never thought that I would be working in full time ministry less than a year after finishing my under-grad degree, but the Lord God seems to be full of surprises!

As Troy and I sat down at the beginning of the year, we laid out a pretty aggressive outline for what my internship should look like. We modeled this largely upon Kevin DeYoung's internship program at University Reformed Church. The outline included a lot of reading and a lot of book reports. Of course, Troy and I did not account for the fact that URC was a well established church with long established ministries already in place. Needless to say, while our outline was not completely laid to waste, the tasks of working full time for a young church and beginning a seminary program sort of “got in the way” of our internship outline. 

Personally, I do not consider this veering from the internship outline a loss. In the past year, I have had an experience in ministry that most seminary students will never have. It seems I've been able to have my hands in many different pots as the ministry of Proclamation has grown. Everything from planning our weekly worship services to helping launch a children and youth ministry, helping to teach and train men for leadership roles in our church, sitting in on session meetings, helping to plan and facilitate our first congregational meeting, memorizing and blogging my way through the Westminster Shorter Catechism, preaching for the first time, sitting in on new-membership interviews, being involved in the organization of Proclamation into a particular congregation of the Presbyterian Church of America, I count it all a great and wonderful blessing to have the Lord allow me to be involved in so many different aspects of Christian ministry. The Lord has and is doing amazing things through the body of believers at Proclamation and I thank God often for this amazing opportunity.

I also praise and thank God that he brought me to this particular body of believers. The community at Proclamation is a beautiful, loving, and supportive community who, I believe, is truly united around the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I read in the book of Acts about how the early Christians shared in every aspect of their lives, I'm encouraged at how our little church reflects this spirit. We have shared in times of great joy, great growth, and especially great sorrow and grief. It seems that in the life of our young church, we've had to endure the entire range of trials, tribulations, and joys that any large church would face. And I count it a blessing to serve this congregation in all of these circumstances. 

The support, both financially and spiritually, that I've received this first year is overwhelming. I could never repay all of you for the love and support I've received. I could never express the deep-seated gratitude that I truly feel. I praise God often for you all. The Lord God truly is building his church, both here in Mount Joy and globally, and I pray that you all agree, it is a tremendous privilege and honor to be part of such a great and eternal work. 

Posted on December 21, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

Sermon Follow Up

I closed the sermon this past Sunday by quoting (with some minor edits) from a sermon by Dr. S. M. Lockridge (1913-2000) entitled “That’s My King”:

Transcript of the original below (HT: David Reimer):

“My King” – Dr. S.M. Lockridge

My King was born King.

The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King.
He’s the King of the Jews — that’s a racial King.
He’s the King of Israel — that’s a national King.
He’s the King of righteousness.
He’s the King of the ages.
He’s the King of Heaven.
He’s the King of glory.
He’s the King of kings
and He is the Lord of lords.

Now that’s my King. Well I wonder if you know Him.
Do you know Him?

Don’t try to mislead me.
Do you know my King?

David said the Heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament showeth His handiwork.
My King is the only one whom there are no means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supplies.
No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

Well, well,
He’s enduringly strong.
He’s entirely sincere.
He’s eternally steadfast.
He’s immortally graceful.
He’s imperially powerful.
He’s impartially merciful.
That’s my King.

He’s God’s Son.
He’s the sinner’s savior.
He’s the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands alone in Himself.
He’s august.
He’s unique.
He’s unparalleled.
He’s unprecedented.
He’s supreme.
He’s pre-eminent.

Well, He’s the loftiest idea in literature.
He’s the highest personality in philosophy.
He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism.
He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He’s the cardinal necessity of spiritual religion.
That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age.
He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.

Well, He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.
He supplies strength for the weak.
He’s available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He’s strong God and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek.
Do you know Him?

Well, my King is a King of knowledge.
He’s the wellspring of wisdom.
He’s the doorway of deliverance.
He’s the pathway of peace.
He’s the roadway of righteousness.
He’s the highway of holiness.
He’s the gateway of glory.
He’s the Master of the mighty.
He’s the Captain of the conquerors.
He’s the Head of the heroes.
He’s the Leader of the legislators.
He’s the Overseer of the overcomers.
He’s the Governor of governors.
He’s the Prince of princes.
He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords.

That’s my King. Yeah. Yeah.
That’s my King. My King, yeah.

His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Well. I wish I could describe Him to you,
but He’s indescribable.
He’s indescribable. Yeah!

He’s incomprehensible.
He’s invincible.
He’s irresistible.

I’m trying to tell you,
the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him,
let alone a man explain Him.
You can’t get Him out of your mind.
You can’t get Him off of your hand.
You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him.

Well, Pharisees couldn’t stand Him,
but they found out they couldn’t stop Him.
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him.

That’s my King. Yeah!

He always has been and He always will be.
I’m talking about He had no predecessor
and He’ll have no successor.
There was nobody before Him
and there’ll be nobody after Him.
You can’t impeach Him
and He’s not gonna resign.
That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine, Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Well, all the power belongs to my King.
We’re around here talking about black power and white power and green power,
but it’s God’s power. Thine is the power.

And the glory.
We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves,
but the glory is all His. Yes.
Thine is the Kingdom
and the power and the glory,
forever and ever
and ever
and ever.

How long is that?
And ever and ever and ever and ever.
And when you get through with all of the forevers,
then, Amen.


Posted on October 27, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

Love and Mawwiage

Lord willing, this Sunday we will consider what Jesus has to say about marriage in Mark 10:1-12 as we continue our series through the gospel of Mark. There is a lot of talk about marriage these days, and we will address some of that on Sunday as we seek to listen to what Jesus has to say about it.

It's natural for people to associate love and marriage. One of the many memorable scenes from the cult classic film, The Princess Bride, is the marriage ceremony of Prince Humperdink and a very reluctant Buttercup. The priest begins the service by saying:

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove

But what is true love? And what role does love play in marriage?

Paul Tripp has an excellent definition and explanation in his book on marriage, What Did You Expect? 

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

He then goes on to unpack the definition (pp. 188-189):

Love is willing.

Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). The decisions, words, and actions of love always grow in the soil of a willing heart. You cannot force a person to love. If you are forcing someone to love, by the very nature of the act you are demonstrating that this person doesn’t in fact love.

Love is willing self-sacrifice.

There is no such thing as love without sacrifice.

Love calls you beyond the borders of your own wants, needs, and feelings.

Love calls you to be willing to invest time, energy, money, resources, personal ability, and gifts for the good of another.

Love calls you to lay down your life in ways that are concrete and specific.

Love calls you to serve, to wait, to give, to suffer, to forgive, and to do all these things again and again.

Love calls you to be silent when you want to speak, and to speak when you would like to be silent.

Love calls you to act when you would really like to wait, and to wait when you would really like to act.

Love calls you to stop when you really want to continue, and it calls you to continue when you feel like stopping.

Love again and again calls you away from your instincts and your comfort.

Love always requires personal sacrifice.

Love calls you to give up your life.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another.

Love always has the good of another in view.

Love is motivated by the interests and needs of others.

Love is excited at the prospect of alleviating burdens and meeting needs.

Love feels poor when the loved one is poor.

Love suffers when the loved one suffers.

Love wants the best for the loved one and works to deliver it.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation.

The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. If he had waited until we were able to reciprocate, there would be no hope for us.

Love isn’t a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” bargain.

Love isn’t about placing people in our debt and waiting for them to pay off their debts.

Love isn’t a negotiation for mutual good.

Real love does not demand reciprocation, because real love isn’t motivated by the return on the investment. No, real love is motivated by the good that will result in the life of the person being loved.

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

Christ was willing to go to the cross and carry our sin precisely because there was nothing that we could ever do to earn, achieve, or deserve the love of God. If you are interested only in loving people who are deserving, the reality is that you are not motivated by love for them but by love for yourself. Love does its best work when the other person is undeserving. It is in these moments that love is most needed. It is in these moments that love is protective and preventative. It stays the course while refusing to quit or to get down and get dirty and give way to things that are anything but love.

There is never a day in your marriage when you aren’t called to be willing.

There is never a day in your marriage when some personal sacrifice is not needed.

There is never a day when you are free from the need to consider the good of your husband or wife.

There is never a day when you aren’t called to do what is not reciprocated and to offer what has not been deserved.

There is never a day when your marriage can coast along without being infused by this kind of love.

May you rest in the love Jesus has for you and may our marriages reflect his love.

Posted on October 15, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

How Should We Respond to the SCOTUS ruling?

While I do not claim this is the only or best way to respond to the SCOTUS ruling regarding same-sex marriage last week, I do believe our biblical response as a church, as the people of God, would at least include these attitudes/actions:


We each should examine our own lives and honestly assess whether our marriages and relationships are reflecting the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should be more concerned about our own sin than the sin of others. And as we are aware of sin in our own lives we ought to repent immediately and once again plead the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. When people were telling Jesus about others who they thought were “worse” sinners his response was, “Do you think (they) were worse sinners than all the (others). . . No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2-3).


Those who celebrate this ruling may claim that “love wins”, but what about love for God and passion for his glory? When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he began his prayer with these words, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9) In this ruling God’s name is not being lifted up as holy, instead, this is an assault on God and his image in man. This should grieve us as God’s people, as a church that aims to worship God in all of life.


We live in a fallen world, a world that ignores God, and so it should not surprise us when this world rejects God and his ways. We should not expect the world in which we live to honor God and uphold his Word (1 John 2:15-17). It should also not surprise us if this world hates us. Jesus told us to expect as much (John 15:18-26, 1 John 3:13).


This is still God’s world and he is still reigning on his throne doing as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the people of the earth (Psalm 24:1, Psalm 115:3, Daniel 4:34-35). The justices of the Supreme Court are there, ultimately, by God’s appointment. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1). Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” And, as the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us: “not a hair can fall from our heads apart from the will of our Father in heaven.” Our Father in heaven is almighty and glorious, we have no need to fear others. “Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” (Psalm 24:10)


God’s Word tells us that the church is a pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). And so we will not be peddlers of the Word of God. We will not redefine marriage but continue to uphold it as a gift from God for the good of humanity, the first institution that he established for the good of mankind, consisting of one man and one woman and intended to be a reflection of the gospel, of the union between Jesus Christ the Son of God and his bride, the Church, the people of God.

Jesus himself affirmed this definition of marriage in Mark 10:6-8: But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.

We must remember that we are the household of God, the church of the living God. We are not an American Church. Yes, we are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy in this country we live in, and we are thankful for all the men and women who have given their lives and who currently serve to protect these freedoms. But we must remember that Jesus is the head of the church and that his church includes people from every tribe and tongue and nation and language. America is not God’s chosen nation. Our allegiance is not to America but to King Jesus, and his kingdom includes people from every nation on earth.

We are also not a political church: Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. Our response as a church is not political. Individual Christians may get involved in politics, but we as a church are not committed to any one political party. And the people of God do not place their hope in a nation, a political party, or a particular person running for office.

And so we will not sway from our mission. We will continue to PRAISE GOD, striving to worship Him in all of life. We will continue to LOVE PEOPLE, all people, pursuing them in love as Jesus has pursued and loved us. We will PROCLAIM CHRIST, his life, death, resurrection and coming again. And we will PRAY IN THE SPIRIT at all times. Soli Deo Gloria.

If you want to consider other appropriate responses, here are a few others I believe are worth reading:

Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the PCA, has given our denomination’s view in a brief Statement on Same-sex Marriage

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has a well-written Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Kevin DeYoung has asked, But What Does the Bible Say?

John Piper has shared a lamentation

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released an official response.

And here’s a response from Rosaria Butterfield and Christopher Yuan, two people who not long ago would have celebrated this decision.


Posted on July 2, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

Sermon Follow Up

Nathan Lino has an interesting post over at For the Church which fits in nicely with Troy's last couple of sermons from the book of Mark:

It is curious that we as believers take no time to think about how to listen to a sermon. In fact, it makes no sense.

One would think we’d be naturally motivated to learn how to develop the spiritual discipline of listening to a sermon. Even just for a very practical, utilitarian reason–to not waste our time. Get this: If you attend Sunday morning worship 45 out of the next 52 Sundays, that is 45 x 40 minute sermons. That is 1,800 minutes or 30 hours of sermons; a significant amount of your time. If you are an adult that has been in church for many years you have spent hundreds of hours of your life sitting through sermons. Just the sheer amount of time we spend listening to sermons should at least spark curiosity in us about how to listen to a sermon effectively.

But of course, there is a far greater motivation for a believer to want to listen to a sermon well: the fact that we know preaching is God’s design and a great gift of His to us. We find it in passages like 1 Corinthians 1:20-25, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Ephesians 4:7-16, and 2 Timothy 4:1-5: Christ’s appointed shepherd, delivering a message from God’s Word to God’s gathered people, all under the anointing and power of God. Natural or unnatural, easy or difficult, we know at a basic Christian level that regularly sitting under the preaching ministry in our Sunday morning services is God’s plan and a great gift from Him.

Listening to a sermon is a learned discipline that can be developed in you.

So listen: if we know this is God’s plan for us and we are going to spend countless hours doing it, why wouldn’t we want to get really good at it? What if I told you listening to a sermon is a learned discipline that can be developed in you and will maximize the effect of preaching upon your life?

Here are some pointers to get you going:

First, just knowing that listening to a sermon is a spiritual discipline that must be developed is a game changer. This tells you it’s ok if you struggle to concentrate listening to a monologue for forty minutes; it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It also tells you that it is possible for you to develop the ability to listen to a sermon well. But, this also tells you that if you don’t put forth effort to work at it, you won’t ever develop the ability to concentrate through a sermon.

Second, I preach through books of the bible. So, most Sundays, you know in advance what passage I’ll be preaching from. Take a few moments during the week to read the text and familiarize yourself with it so you aren’t starting from scratch when the sermon starts. The more ambitious could even do a little research and bone up on some background information on the passage.

Third, pray in advance for the sermon time. Preaching is a very spiritual phenomenon: God revealed through Christ revealed through the Scriptures revealing a particular message through His appointed, earthly messenger to a particular audience on a particular Sunday. It is a highly spiritual phenomenon and if you don’t approach it spiritually, you won’t experience its full effect upon your life. So, in advance, pray for the Holy Spirit to give me His message for NEHBC and to help me deliver it. Pray for the congregation and yourself to hear and understand it. We need the message delivered effectively and we need the message received effectively. Both require the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

Fourth, know your learning style and prepare for the sermon time accordingly. Here are some examples of how I do it: I am easily distracted by people around me. So, my solution is to sit in the very front and center of the room. Even when Nicole and I were 22 year old newlyweds without children, we sat in the exact same seats as lay people in the church to which we belonged in North Carolina that we sit in as lead pastor couple now: second row, front and center. If my pastor has a message for me from God, I want to be able to concentrate, which for me means sitting up front. I also know my mind wanders; a laser like focus I do not have. My mind resembles the attention span of a Labrador puppy more than a King Cobra. So, my solution is to take notes when I listen to a sermon. By taking notes, it forces me to concentrate more, and it keeps my mind on message.

Finally, here is a basic technical aspect of a sermon that can help you focus: a sermon has a “big idea;” a main, central truth or principle. Everything the preacher says is going to be about that principle: he will show it to you in the text and then flesh it out, argue for it, defend it, apply it, etc. Different preachers use different approaches to showcasing the big idea of the sermon. Some build up to it as the sermon unfolds so it doesn’t come out until later in the sermon, or some announce it at the beginning of the sermon and then unpack it as the sermon goes along–you know, the whole “tell them what you are going to say, say it, then tell them what you told them” approach to teaching. Here’s a tip for finding the central truth of the sermon: generally, it is a sentence that the preacher keeps saying repeatedly for emphasis. Once you find it, write it down, and lock it down in your mind. Everything the preacher says in the sermon is about this one main, central truth or principle. Knowing this, go into the sermon seeking the big idea–this will really help you concentrate and understand Christ’s message to you.

Posted on May 20, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

Will we be ready for Sunday?

Pastor Joe Thorn has a great post worth reading as we prepare for our gathered worship each week. You can read it below or at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals website:


Corporate worship on the Lord’s day is precious to the people of God. We are invited to gather together for fellowship with God and one another through both word and sacrament, prayer and song. This gathering is perhaps the most beautiful, earthly picture we have of the church as we, of differing backgrounds and interests, unite together in Jesus Christ. Edmund Clowney put it so well when he wrote:

“Above all, we must prize the blessing of corporate worship. The church of the Lord, gathered for worship, marks the pinnacle of our fellowship with the Lord and with one another. The church is the people of God, the new humanity, the beginning of the new creation, a colony of heaven… In corporate worship we experience the meaning of union with Christ.”1

Yet, Sundays can be trying. We are busy and tired from a week of labor and activities. For those families with children just getting out the door on time can be a challenge--if not a battle! And when we finally sit down in church we are assaulted with distractions emerging from our own hearts and minds.

I want to encourage you to make the most of corporate worship, not just this weekend, but every weekend. As we look forward to what God will do among us as we gather let’s remember that there are three ways to get the most out of your Sundays with the church: prepare, participate, and reflect.


The significance of corporate worship must not be missed. We are not gathered to observe a show, or attending a lecture. We gather to worship the living God, drawing near to him through Jesus Christ, feasting on his word, repenting of sin, and rejoicing in his salvation. Getting the most out of worship is greatly helped by preparing our hearts to meet with God the night before.

Prayer is the primary means by which we prepare our hearts for worship. We should be in prayer for those who will lead as well as all who attend, asking God to draw men to the Son, to revive the lukewarm by his Spirit, and to penetrate hearts with the word.

And of course you must pray for your own soul; confessing your sin, trusting in the pardon only the Father gives in Jesus. We ought to be asking God to show us any hurtful ways in our hearts, and to speak to our fears and needs when we gather in the assembly. In his outstanding little book, The Christian's Daily Walk, Henry Scudder explained the place of prayer in preparation for worship when he wrote:

“Then pray for yourself, and for the minister, that God would give him a mouth to speak, and you a heart to hear, as you both ought to do. All this, before you shall assemble for public worship.”2

It is also helpful to read and meditate on the passage that your pastor will preaching from on Sunday. Early on in my first church plant a man named Mark called my cell phone, which at the time was also the church’s official phone line. He told me he was in town with his son and would be joining us for worship the next day. He wanted to know what passage I was preaching from so he and his son could read it and pray through it together that night. The next day Mark and his son showed up to our little church plant prepared to worship our risen Savior. I had no idea the night before I was speaking on the phone with Pastor Mark Dever of Capital Hill Baptist Church! His example is one we would all do well to follow.

Another means of preparation is rest. The hectic (and often times unnecessary) pace of our lives can make transitioning to worship on the Lord’s Day difficult. Be sure to get enough sleep the night before. Fatigue can be a great hindrance to worship, so let’s not give it any room to distract us. On Sunday morning be sure to get up early enough to not be rushed. And when you arrive be ready to respond to what the Lord will do.


Getting the most out of corporate worship requires you to do more than show up. You must participate in the act of worship in all of its forms. You are not an observer, but a worshipper. The only Observer is the Lord himself who receives our offering with delight through his Son Jesus Christ.

Get there early. Sometimes, in God’s providence, we arrive late, but our habit should be to arrive early. Getting there before worship begins allows us to not only be part of the whole gathering, but also gives opportunity to see and serve others. The Call to Worship that formally begins the assembly is not a bell that merely announces the beginning of an event, and is an invitation to draw our hearts upward toward our triune God. The first verses of Scripture that are read are put in place through careful planning and God’s providence. Arriving late means you are missing something good God has for you to hear.

Hear the word with eagerness. The reading of Scripture in worship is the voice of God, and we must be ready to hear him. Here the Lord speaks to his people collectively, and to you individually. Distractions will abound, so we must consciously lay them aside to give God our full attention. Whenever the word of God is read it is an “audible conference of the Almighty with your soul. A distraction lets him talk unto the walls.”3

Sing with your heart to the Lord and to those present. Scripture commands us to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” (Eph 5:19) It is painfully obvious that in many churches today much of the congregation lip-syncs along with the band on stage. Even if the entire body was to sing aloud it is often impossible to hear them over the vocalists and musicians. But the Lord calls us to sing to him and to one another. This is a form of worship God has specifically prescribed for us. Yes, we sing with our hearts, but such songs are to be amplified by faith and run through our mouths. Here is where the real volume should come in. We should be turned up as far as we can go.

There may be songs you are not fond of. If the melody isn’t to your liking focus on the words, assuming they are reflect the truth of God and the gospel. Do not allow your preferences to short-circuit worship. This gathering is not set to meet your tastes but the taste of almighty God.

Pray with those who lead in prayer. It is easy to tune out when someone else is leading in prayer. So keep in mind this is not the time for one person to pray, but for all God’s people to pray. Push distractions out of your mind to give attention to what is being offered up by the one, and echo those prayers in your own heart, adding to them as you and the rest of the church entreat the Lord together. “Prayer is a pouring out the heart unto the Lord; by a distraction you pour it aside."4

Follow the preacher. When the preacher stands to deliver the sermon work hard to follow him closely, bible in hand, ready to receive the message not as man’s word, but God’s word (1 Thess 1:6; 2:13) If you have a hard time following the preacher, keep your Bible open and prayerfully search it. When you read the word of God it is read it is a “perusing of God's heart in black and white, where you may believe every letter to be written in blood.”5

Let the various parts of corporate worship draw you to our triune God. In our weakness, or sometimes in the weakness of a particular element in worship, we may not experience much grace in the moment. But If the songs do not enflame your heart, perhaps the sermon will. Or if the sermon is difficult for you to digest, perhaps the prayers will lift your head in adoration. God is at work in each element of worship, so each component has the ability to challenge and change you, including the call to worship, the songs, the prayers, the preaching, the Lord’s Supper, the offering, and the benediction.

Go as one who is sent. As worship concludes and you return home, remember that you are not simply leaving, but are sent by God to believe his word, walk in the Spirit, and testify to the reality of Jesus Christ in all of life.


Finally, when the assembly has been sent out, and you are alone or with family or friends, reflect on what was heralded and heard. Return to the word that was preached, discuss it with others, and ask God to continue working in you what he said that day.

There is much to be gained in corporate worship, but I find that  we easily miss out when we are not prepared for it, participating in it, or reflecting on it. Again Scudder noted:

Do all this the rather, because there is not a clearer sign to distinguish you from one that is pro fane, than this, of conscientiously keeping holy the Lord's day. Neither is there any ordinary means of gaining strength and growth of grace in the in ward man like this, of due observing the sabbath. For this is God's great mart or fair-day for the soul, on which you may buy of Christ wine, milk, bread, marrow and fatness, gold, white raiment, eye salve, — even all things which are necessary, and which will satisfy, and cause the soul to live. It is the special day of proclaiming and sealing of pardons to penitent sinners. It is God's special day of publishing and sealing your patent of eternal life. It is a blessed day, sanctified for all these blessed purposes.6

1. Edmund Clowney, The Church

2. Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk

3. Richard Steele, A Remedy for Wandering Thoughts in Worship

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk

Posted on April 24, 2015 and filed under About Proclamation.

Holding Fast to the Word of Life

We looked at Philippians 2:14-18 this past Sunday at Proclamation.

We are commanded in verse 14 to do all things without grumbling or disputing. At the heart of grumbling is a lack of trust in God, a failure to submit to his right to reign in our lives. One of the lessons of the Israelites’ grumbling in their wilderness journey is that the root that feeds the sin of grumbling and disputing is despising God and not believing in him (Numbers 14:11). Grumbling comes from a heart of unbelief and ingratitude.

“Holding fast to the word of life” is the means by which we can fight against this temptation to grumble. The word of God, the word of life, reveals God’s character and contains God’s promises to his people. As we hold fast to the word of life by God’s grace we are enabled to trust God and interpret our circumstances in light of God’s character and promises. As the psalmist says in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

Pastor Erik Raymond, at his blog, Ordinary Pastor, wrote an article that I found very encouraging as I thought about “holding fast to the word of life”.

Here’s his conclusion:

“Therefore, whenever you are dealing with the day-to-day grind, the data points of life, remember the bookends of God’s character and his promise. See everything in light of the cross of Christ! Let his character interpret your circumstances and not the other way around.”

I encourage you to read the entire article here: God's character and your circumstances.

Posted on June 27, 2014 and filed under About Proclamation.

How the Pew Can Help the Pulpit

Photo credit:    Paul J. S.    (modified for style)

Photo credit: Paul J. S. (modified for style)

It is a privilege and joy to pastor the people of Proclamation. They pray for, encourage, and provide for me and my family and I thank God for them. They are doing what H. B. Charles encourages congregations to do in this article:

Good preaching is a partnership between pastor and congregation, pulpit and pew, the one who preaches and the one who listens. The pastor preaches to help those in the pew. But the congregation can and should help the one in the pulpit, as well.

Read the rest of the article here: How the Pew Can Help the Pulpit

Posted on June 6, 2014 and filed under About Proclamation.

A Prayer for the People of Proclamation

This past Sunday we looked at Paul’s gospel-saturated prayer for the believers at Philippi from Philippians 1:9-11. We made copies available of our first ever pictorial directory and our regular church directory (Every Christian’s 2nd Most Important Book) and we were encouraged to pray for one another using Paul’s prayer (you can pray the exact words or use it as a guide).

Posted on May 8, 2014 and filed under About Proclamation.