The Simplicity of the PRC

This past Sunday, my fiancé had to usher at our church (Doon PRC). So, I rode to church with him, per usual, and sat down really early near the back of church. This gave me an opportunity I don’t get very often. I got to sit and watch as our little Doon church filled up with people, from back to front. Those of you who know Doon know that we’re a pretty small congregation, but it got me thinking a bit. Many of the Protestant Reformed churches are actually bursting at the seams! Although we are a small denomination, there are quite a few churches that are at or even over their capacities!

So, I started thinking about why. Why is this little, unknown denomination growing and thriving so much? Here’s my thought process. It’s pretty simple, and it’ll only take a short article to explain it to you.

This past Sunday was Resurrection Sunday. Most of you probably call it Easter. So, as is expected, many of the people in church had on bright, beautiful colors to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. Although everyone was dressed up and looked nice, I noticed that the style remained fairly simple. That’s pretty common in the PRC, modest and simple clothing. So, obviously, it isn’t our flashy clothes and stylish dresses that attract people to the PRC.

Next I got thinking about our building. Doon is a very simple building; in fact, we didn’t even have lilies decorating the front of church! Although many PR churches do decorate with flowers, the buildings are typically somewhat simple. We don’t use large sound systems or expensive décor to attract people to our denomination either.

Then, the organ started playing. Although it was beautiful, I realized that again, compared to the disco, loud, attention-grabbing music and lights the mega-churches use, our music is quite simple.  It usually consists of just an organ or piano playing Psalter numbers or hymns to help people focus on the upcoming church service.

After thinking through those few things I realized the word “simple” had come to mind quite a bit, and I suppose that’s how many people would see the PRC. Although there is a time and a place for more extravagant clothes, buildings and music, the Protestant Reformed Churches have made and effort to keep these things simple in the church settings. This is because we recognize the most important thing in our service is the gospel itself!

The reason for the growth of the PRC is because we teach good, sound doctrine (NOT to say we are the only ones who do!).  The simplicity of the PRC is that we are doctrine based. At the heart of our denomination is a focus on the Lord and His work in our lives. As long as we continue to do that, the world will never drown us out. They may continue to outnumber us, and sometimes seem to drown our voices out, but God will richly bless the churches that take pride in doctrine. Church is about the gospel of our Lord, not us! That means although pretty clothes, well-kept buildings and beautiful music is great, our focus is to remain on Him. It’s that simple, really.

Suzie Kuiper

Preparing For a Feast

It’s getting close to the end of the week, and I’m starving! Not physically starving, of course, but spiritually! I need the Bread of Life and the sincere milk of the Word. I want to drink from the fountain of the water of life and never thirst again! I look forward to the day that is foretold in Revelation 7, which says, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more … For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (vs. 16-17).  What a marvelous day that will be!

Tomorrow, on the Lord’s Day, we will have a small foretaste of this great wedding feast. Are you looking forward to it? Hungry for it? Maybe throughout the whole week you’ve had quick “bites to eat” that you sneaked into your day when you could find the time, maybe when you read some devotions in the morning before starting your day, or before meals, or at night before going to bed. But tomorrow is a feast! A whole day set aside to be fed with the only thing that will truly satisfy the hunger of your soul:  the Word of God. A whole day!  A day where you are given the opportunity to gather together with brothers and sisters in Christ and dine at the Lord’s table not once, but twice.  What an amazing blessing!

Imagine that someone has invited you to a huge feast. You get there and the food looks amazing and tastes even better– it must have costed a fortune! Obviously, you would be filled with joy and thanksgiving, right?

Now think about when you enter the Lord’s house on Sundays, where God feeds you with the Bread of Life, paid for with a price far greater than any earthly feast – the blood of His only begotten Son. No other meal on this earth could ever compare to it! So why we aren’t we always filled with joy on the Lord’s Day? Why do we sometimes go to church not with thankful hearts, but grudgingly or just out of habit?

We become like sheep who stray from the path of the Good Shepherd, who leads us in the pastures where we can be fed with the greenest grass and drink from the clearest of streams. Sinfully, we turn from His ways and find ourselves lost in a barren desert, a wasteland where we would die of starvation if not for our loving Shepherd, who takes us in His arms and carries us back to the green pasture.

Today, as you prepare to enter God’s house, hunger for the Lord! Don’t “spoil your meal” by filling yourselves with sinful pleasures and the things of this earth. Prepare your hearts to be filled with the Word of God, the only thing that truly satisfies.  And when you enter the Lord’s house tomorrow, be filled with joy and thanksgiving, excited to be fed by His Word, and looking forward to that day when our souls will be forever satisfied.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  – Matthew 5:6

For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. – Psalm 107:9

Amy Kaiser

 

 

 

Preparing Our Hearts for Worship

As Christians there is nothing better, nothing sweeter than going to God’s house with fellow believers, hearing the words of Christ spoken, singing Psalms of praise to our God and experiencing the communion of saints. Question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks us, “What is thy only comfort in life and in death?” It is followed by the answer: “My only comfort in life and death is that I belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Only through Christ can our true comfort be found, not in things, not in other people, but in Christ. We are not alone. We belong to Christ. We are God’s eternally. We are His precious possessions and He wants us to praise and honor Him.

Going to God’s house is a weekly occurrence that we as Christians do and love to do. Unfortunately, sometimes it can become such a routine, just a habit that it becomes an activity we just do. God calls us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. How often have you thought about the preparations we must make to worship Him?

What we sometimes do.

In getting ourselves ready for worship we can oftentimes prepare everything but our hearts. We have our car gassed up, our collection ready to go, our outfit figured out. But before we arrive at church our minds are on the trivial things of life-the dishes we left in the sink, all of the preparation we have yet to do for lunch, did we leave the stove on? When we are in the pew-on the family sitting in front of us, the baby crying in the back, if it’s too hot or too cold in the sanctuary, the test we have to take on Monday, or the fun things we will be doing that week. Our minds can usually be on everything and anything but on the One whom we came to worship.

Sometimes we may even come ready to serve. Maybe we teach Sunday school, usher, or like to seek out people to talk to after church. We come ready for those things, anticipating those things, all the while forgetting why we do those things. Sometimes maybe that can be where we get our self-worth or significance. We can put too much emphasis on the activities of church and be prepared for those, but forget to be ready to worship God.

Oftentimes we can come with an attitude that says I’m here for me. I’m here so that I can feel better about myself; I’m here so that I feel fulfilled, so that I feel like a good person. I need to walk away with something that I “felt.” With this kind of attitude we can oftentimes feel disappointed-disappointed in the minster himself. When it comes down to it, church can become a place for me rather than God. Is it really always the minister’s fault when I come away saying that there was nothing in that sermon for me? Was it because I was uncomfortable? Maybe it was a hot day. Or was it the way we worshiped? do I think we need to sing more songs that go with today’s culture, or hear more jokes to make me get more out of the worship service? OR is the real reason because I didn’t come with my heart prepared?

How we should do it.

First of all we need to realize, what a privilege it is that we get to gather as fellow believers, go into the house of the Lord, and hear God speak to us. We have no fear of persecution as other believers might, we have a place to worship God, most of us even get to go with our families, these are only a few of the blessings we have been given! Because of this we should be coming to church with a heart of thankfulness. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (Psalm 100:4).

We also need to comprehend who we are coming to church to worship. “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). Or the words of David in 1 Chronicles 29:11 “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as Head above all.” How great is our God, and how wonderful is it, that we as sinful people, get to come before Him, not only on Sundays, but each and every day! Hebrews 12:28 says “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” This ties into realizing how great and powerful God is. When we come to worship Him we need to do so reverently and with great awe.

There are many ways to prepare our hearts for worship. Prayer is one of the best ways. Pray and ask God to prepare your heart for going to worship Him. Ask Him to make you ready to listen and want to listen. Pray for God to forgive your sins so that you don’t come to church separated from Him. There are practical ways of preparing our hearts: making sure we are well rested, going to bed early and getting up on time so we are able to get ourselves ready. Sometimes even reading the sermon passage beforehand so that we are in the right mindset can be helpful.

Preparing our hearts doesn’t need to be done JUST for attending church either, it needs to be done whenever we spend time worshiping God with our family or alone. Anytime we bow before God in prayer, we need to be in the right mindset–once again realizing how great and powerful the one with whom we are speaking is.

Worship isn’t easy, it takes work. It’s not about me, it’s about hearing God. Worship isn’t deemed “successful” if I come away pleased; it’s successful if God is praised and honored. If we come with hearts ready to worship: sins confessed, no hatred for the brother and thankful hearts, we will leave satisfied. We will come to bless God, but go away being blessed ourselves in the end. “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1).

We will also be satisfied and assured. 1 John 1:7 says: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  Jesus Christ’s precious blood washed our sins from us and that alone can only make us worthy. Christ is the only one that can satisfy us. Satisfy our hunger for something more, and make us acceptable to God. Knowing God through worshiping Him will help us be assured. Assured that we will have eternal life with God, glorifying and praising Him.

In ending this, a couple verses come to mind. 1 Peter 3:15 “but Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready to always give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Psalm 95:2-3 says “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

Prepare your hearts. Come ready to listen and praise our great and glorious God.

Lisa Heystek