Tag Archives: Heliopolis Community Church

Worship Wednesday – Ascribe Greatness to Our God the Rock – Don Moen

Photo Credit: Bible Screen, Pinterest

For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!  “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. – Deuteronomy 32:3-4

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

This is going to be a little random and ranging…but throughout this day, over and over, I was reminded of the faithfulness of God.

This morning, first thing, I routinely get up, quick stop in the bathroom, and make the bed. While making the bed, that amazing old hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness wafted through my thoughts… out of nowhere.

Soon, it’s out the door to pick up one of my grandsons for Play ‘n Pray at church where we gather, kids in tow, and pray while they play.

Do you ever have those times in the car that God seems to speak through something on the radio? That happened briefly this morning across two great songs on my favorite Christian radio station.

First, David Crowder‘s song Red Letters came on. Red Letters refers to the words recorded in Scripture that Jesus spoke. Crowder tells the story of how the Lord gives us freedom though we deserve death because of our sin. Then right after, Lincoln Brewster‘s jumping version of Everlasting God… If a car could rock with praise, mine was rocking! You know how you see some people at traffic lights with their arms raised, or drumming their steering wheel, or heads bobbing…that sort of car-rocking praise.

By the time, my grandson and I arrived at Play ‘n Pray, my heart was so full of the faithfulness of God.

While the kids played on the playground, we moms and grams sat, watching, talking, and finally praying. Between gummy bear snacks, sorting out rows between the kids, and rounding up the scattering crawlers. We prayed. God is faithful to draw near to us in all the chaos of mothering small ones.

I had to leave after our scheduled time was over, but one of the young moms lingered to continue talking to moms from the neighborhood who had joined us on the playground. It was the very thing we hope happens each week…connections, bridges, neighborly links to the very love of God.

On my way to the next thing, with a content little guy in his car-seat behind, an odd memory surfaced. Both sad and lovely. Something I hadn’t thought of in years…

It was a memory that goes back over 20 years to a church for internationals in Cairo, Egypt. Heliopolis Community Church. Living in Cairo in those days, we loved being in the English-speaking congregation of HCC. It was an oasis of sorts where we didn’t have to think or speak in Arabic and we all had in common that we were, most of us, foreigners and we loved Jesus.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Heliopolis Community Church, Cairo, Egypt

Rotating teams of laypeople led the worship part of the service each week. A young man from South Asia led our worship from time to time. Although I do not remember his name, but I’ve never forgotten him…or his story. He was originally of a different faith and had come to receive Jesus as his Savior gradually. First through dreams, then in chance meetings with Christians, in minority where he lived. Finally, he received a Bible and devoured it…especially the red lettered words of Jesus.

He told us that his conversion to Christianity was very hurtful for his parents. He was their only child. His father rejected him and would die still estranged from him. His mother also became fatally ill at some point. In her faith, if her son did not return to the faith of the family, it could create too great an impediment for her to be able to enter Heaven. I didn’t understand how that worked, but for his mother it was a terrible, horrifying belief. She begged him to give up his faith in Jesus…but he could not. She died with that bitter plea on her lips…and that painful dagger in his heart.

He closed out his story by giving witness to the great faithfulness of God in his life…to seek him out, to save him, to love him even when his parents could no longer.

We were all mesmerized by his story and his own faith in God.

He then led us in singing Don Moen‘s chorus Ascribe Greatness. It is a simple song, lyrics repeated (as the praise songs often were in those days – 1990) – taken from Deuteronomy 32:3-4.

Worship with me and consider the faithfulness of God to each of us – His children.

A God of faithfulness without injustice
Good and upright is He
Ascribe greatness to our God, the Rock
His work is perfect
And all His ways are just
Ascribe greatness to our God, the Rock
His work is perfect
And all His ways are just

A God of faithfulness without injustice
Good and upright is He*

As I write, it’s the end of the day. Housework, cooking, community group and the hours passed by. My heart continues full…reflecting on the happenings of today…and the memories of others whose stories we know…stories of the steadfast love and faithfulness of God even in the most difficult of situations.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:22-23

*Lyrics to Ascribe Greatness to Our God the Rock – Songwriter: Don Moen

New Mercies Every Morning – Dave Zuleger

Worship Wednesday – How Deep the Father’s Love For us – Stuart Townend

blog-movement-church-how-deep-the-fathers-love-worship

Worship can be a deeply emotional experience. In fact, sometimes, we lose our focus on God Himself in the midst of the singing of a familiar song. Our minds wander as memories of other times and places take us out of the moment. Not a bad thing necessarily, but…

That happened to me as the praise band at Movement Church this Sunday opened the hymn How Deep the Father’s Love For Us. I love this Stuart Townend hymn. He published it in 1995, the year we moved to Cairo, Egypt. New to us, this hymn became a standard in our family from those early days of adjustment to a new life in another country. [This and another hymn of his – In Christ Alone.]

On Fridays, we would join other internationals and a smattering of Egyptian Christians, at Heliopolis Community Church, and we would sing and pray in English. Such a refreshment to our souls as we spent most of our week, learning and using Arabic in our work and with neighbors and friends. English was our worship language.blog-international-church-worship-how-deep-the-fathers-lovePhoto Credit: CCCLux

Sweet memories of hot Friday mornings, singing with believers from all over the world, as the call to prayer broke through from a nearby mosque. Sweet memories of a oneness with each other…and with God.

Then my thoughts sprang back to the present on Sunday, as we sang this lyric:

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Because of what Christ did for me…for us…on the cross, I am no longer separated from God by the penalty of my rebellion against Him. The debt I built up through life is paid in one great act of God through Christ – His perfect, sinless life substituted, in death, for my own sin-filled mess…for our own. There is nothing left to pay…nothing. Christ paid in full, on the cross, for all our sins.

At what cost? Oh…we can imagine the considerable cost Jesus paid because our own flesh cringes at the excruciating pain of the cross. Yet, we also must take in, as much as we can, the cost to the Father. Such great love He has…for His own son…and for us…each one of us. The whole world, in fact.

When Stuart Townend was writing this hymn, he was very aware of the emotions that can be elicited in praise music. Just as I have described, the personal joy, refreshment, and happy memories that can be so satisfying in the experience of individual and corporate worship. His hope was to write in such a way as to help the worshiper get beyond himself and to a greater awareness of God.

“The danger now is that we are so focused on the experience our worship can become self-seeking and self-serving. When all of our songs are about how we feel and what we need, we’re missing the point. There is a wonderful, omnipotent God who deserves our highest praise, and how we feel about it is in many ways irrelevant!  I want to encourage the expression of joy, passion and adoration, but I want those things to be the by-product of focusing on God – I don’t want them to become the subject matter. I’m trying to write songs that refer to us as little as possible, and to Him as much as possible!”Stuart Townend

Hymns like How Deep the Father’s Love For Us complement our prayer life and study of God’s Word. For those friends of ours who don’t yet believe…those who say, “That’s nice for you that you believe God. I just don’t believe like you do.”…we have a witness in worship.

It is not just that we believe…what Townend describes in this hymn, reflective of the truth of Scripture, isn’t just what we believe…it is what happened and was witnessed by others – the deep love of God displayed in the self-emptying life and death of His Son. Hallelujah!

Worship with me.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

blog-how-deep-the-fathers-love-youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.*

blog-movement-church-how-deep-the-fathers-love-worship-2

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.1 John 3:1

…the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20b

*Lyrics – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Stuart Townend

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Cover by Joy Williams

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Lyrics (with Scripture portions that support them)

The Depth of Christ’s Love: Its Cost – John Piper

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Stuart Townend

The High Cost of the Cross – Joe Crews

Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Adam Faughn

Worship Wednesday – Knowing You, Jesus – Graham Kendrick

Blog - Knowing You - surpassing worth of knowing Christ - slidesharePhoto Credit: Slideshare

Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:7-12

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he wrote from prison. He loved this church and wanted to encourage them to stay true to the teachings of Christ, in humility and unity together. As he wrote about the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, he listed out some of his own qualifications of renown(Philippians 3:3-6) …and counted them as rubbish, filth, dung in comparison.

Cliff Jordan, lead pastor of Movement Church, taught on this passage this week (podcast here). At one point, Cliff pointed us to the things we value in life and how sin relates to that. If we kill an ant, we don’t consider that as much because of the value of the ant. Then he moved to higher and higher objects of value and our level of loathing when we sin against those (a museum piece, a neighbor’s pet, a child…the Lord Himself). It was a powerful teaching.

Our tendency is to discount our sin, or even how we spend our time, other resources, or our words… It’s not so bad… When we are lavished with the opportunity and experience of truly knowing and experiencing God through Christ, the Messiah…how can we squander that? How can we allow the lesser of this life to crowd out the greater?

We, as a family, first sang Graham Kendrick’s song Knowing You as newcomers to Cairo, Egypt, in 1995. We sang it along with Brits, Australians, Egyptians, Americans and a smattering of other internationals at the Heliopolis Community Church. Blog - Heliopolis Community Church

Photo Credit:  HCC Cairo

Our experience of Jesus, through this song and this Scripture, was deepened more when our young friend Genessa led worship in our house group. She would sit at a keyboard, singing that song to Jesus, tears flowing down her face, as if no one else was in the room but her…and Him. As young as she was, she understood the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus. Genessa would not be long in this world, dying months later in a bus accident in the desert of the Sinai. Genessa with team

Her love for God is her legacy still in all of our lives who knew her. Now her joy is complete as she worships the Lord face-to-face. We remember her…and we understand God more…in this song.

Today, I see the worth of Christ much more clearly…thanks to Cliff, and Genessa, and others’ lives full of God. I also see His worth through His Word and the testimony of those who knew Him personally…who saw Him, witnessed His greatness, and wrote it down for the generations to follow. the best part of all is I see His worth because of His own sweet presence in my life. The more we seek and savor Him…the more we see His perfect love and generous goodness…and everything else in our life? In its place…lesser in the face of His greater, all-surpassing worth.

Worship with me:

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart’s desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh, to know the power of your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like you in your death, my Lord
So with you to live and never die

Lyrics to Knowing You by Graham Kendrick @1993 Make Way Music

Story Behind the Song Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear) by Graham Kendrick

Worship Wednesday – You Are Beautiful, God…and We Are Made in Your Image

Blog - Beauty of God - desertsendPhoto Credit: Desert’s End

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.Psalm 27:4

Before coffee this morning, I stretched myself awake. No note-to-self was perched on my keyboard. No song to highlight on today’s blog had come to mind. In the dark of this morning, this moment, quiet in my bed, the thought “You are beautiful” came to mind. Oh God! You are so beautiful!

We are surrounded by beauty in this life of ours. The glories of nature that stop us in our tracks to take it in. The faces of those we love who incredibly love us. The great satisfactions of pay for our labor, work that can make a difference, and rest when we’re weary. So much beauty in life – even in the midst of suffering. In fact, it is sometimes in the midst of suffering that the beauty of God is most evident – as we discover His presence in the resilience of the human spirit, the community that rallies, and the reach of outstretched hands.

How beautiful the works of God, but more beautiful God Himself. Mercy and justice perfectly blended. Love beyond anything of our understanding. Complete in the unity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Impossible for me to grasp and yet more real than anything else in this life.

Wednesday morning often includes a walk around my neighborhood, but not today. Without my notice, the rain came to wash away the rest of the snow. Stepping out of the house, and seeing the rain, I made a quick retreat back in…but not without taking in the sky and capturing a shaky panorama of that dense gray. Blog - Rainy Day - panoramaIf you click on the image, you notice a bird sitting atop a branch of one of those sturdy oaks. Like that bird, we are so small taking in the vastness of this beautiful world God has made for us. This created beautiful thing we call home for now. How much more beautiful is the One who created all this vastness – yet a tiny marble in His universe.

He is beautiful. You are beautiful, God…and You call us beautiful simply made in Your image and as we radiate Your glory.

I wrote before (here) about the beauty of God, focusing on the song You’re Beautiful by Phil Wickham. Another song that comes to mind, thinking of the beauty of God is MercyMe’s Beautiful. This song actually focuses on our beauty. How hard it can be to focus on the beauty of God when we feel so broken ourselves! He has made us beautiful… I wish we could hold up a mirror to each other, struggling in whatever our hard places are today, such that we could see ourselves as God sees us. MercyMe has done that in the song Beautiful.

Mark Altrogge wrote the song, I Stand In Awe of You, almost 30 years ago. I remember singing it during our years of living in Cairo, Egypt. We worshipped with other believers and seekers, foreigners and Egyptians together, (at Heliopolis Community Church). Blog - Heliopolis Community Church

Photo Credit: HCC Cairo

Hearing this song in various accents would remind me afresh of what it will be one day when we see God in Heaven, When our eyes of faith will be made sight…and we see Him as He is…”beautiful beyond description”.

Worship with me:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to Whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You*

How have you experienced the beauty of God? Are there moments when you have had a glimpse of His beauty in your circumstances…or when He’s given you eyes to see how beautiful He’s made you? I would love to hear your stories (Comment below).

*Lyrics to I Stand In Awe of You by Mark Altrogge – as sung by Annie Herring

I Stand In Awe – Mark Altrogge, 1987 – at and Spiritual Songs

Story Behind the Song I Stand In Awe of You by Mark AltroggeBlog - The Beauty of God - the6cPhoto Credit: The6C