Shadows of the Dawn – The Gray Havens

The Shadows of the Dawn
Written by Dave Radford and Licia Radford – The Gray Havens Music, and Ben Shive – Junkbox Music.
©2016 The Gray Havens Music.

I do not own the rights to the music. Please support the artists by buying the song or the album (“Ghost of a King” – awesome album)

All imagery copyright 2017 by Robert. J. DeGray. This was all shot from the porch of the Lance Cabin at En Gedi Retreat on Fish & Cross Ranch in Yampa, Colorado, January 21st and 22nd, 2017.

Heart Prep for Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

The text for this week is Romans 12:1-2. Todd will be preaching us, and leading us to ask the question “What Will You Do with Jesus?” The worship theme will be the God of Mercy, and the visual theme will be waterfalls.

spring forest waterfall 01 feature sized

Here is the link to the YouTube playlist: 170122 Heart Prep

When All Thy Mercies

Worship Set:
Thy Mercy My God

Shout to the Lord

Psalm 108:1-5 My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! 2Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 3I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 4For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 5Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

Good to Me

Great and Mighty

Psalm 103:8-12 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Draw Near – Kristian Stanfield

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken – Indelible Grace

Lead Me to the Cross – Chris and Conrad

Build Your Kingdom Here – Rend Collective

We Believe – Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend – Lyrics

We Believe (Apostle’s Creed)
Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend
(C) 2016 Thankyou Music;
Getty Music Publishing (BMI) and Townend songs (PRS)

I do not own the rights to the music. Please support the artists by buying the song or the album.

All visuals copyright 2017 by Robert J. DeGray. The fractal backgrounds were generated with the awesome iOS app, FRAX.

Heart Prep for Sunday, January 15th, 2017

The text for this week is Matthew 3:13-17, in which Jesus is baptized. Many of the threads of God’s Big Story come together in Jesus’ baptism, including the interaction of all three persons of the Trinity. So our worship theme will be “Blessed Trinity,” and our visual theme will be (mostly abstract) depictions of ‘triune’ things and Trinity symbols.


Here is a link to the YouTube Playlist: 170115 Heart Prep

New Wonders – McCracken

Worship Set:
Wonderful Merciful Savior

Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here

John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Grace Alone

Arise My Soul Arise

We Believe – Getty

Come Thou Almighty King

How Great is Our God

Heart Prep for Sunday, January 8th, 2017

The text this week is Matthew 3:1-12 (with a couple of other ‘John the Baptist’ texts.) We’re looking at the key moments of redemptive history in the Gospels, and the moment when John points to Jesus is certainly one of them. Our worship them is ‘The Exalted King’ and our visual theme is water in the desert.


Here is the link to the YouTube playlist: 170108 Heart Prep

Instrumental Piano Only – Behold the Lamb

Worship Set:

Be Magnified

Psalm 99:1-5 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 2The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. 3Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! 4The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!

He is Exalted

Not to Us

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Revelation 5:9-14 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Crown Him with Many Crowns

No One Else

All Glory Be to Christ – Dustin Kensrue


Humble – Audrey Assad

Glory Will Cover the Earth – Justin Rizzo

Ridiculously Easy (and Complicated) Bible Reading Plan

As we approached the end of 2016 I realized that I wanted to do a read through the Bible in a year plan for 2017. I looked at several and stumbled across one published by Mark Roberts on Bible Class that looked really good. It is a five day a week plan, which I like, and it goes through the Old Testament in roughly chronological order while going through the New Testament one Gospel per quarter paired with associated letters. Also three Psalms per week.


Here is the link to the PDF, which you can print out and tuck in your Bible: Five Day Bible Reading Plan (!Ridiculously Easy!)

Here is a sample of what it looks like:


The question was how best to use it? My first impulse was to go to YouVersion and see if it was one of the available plans. But it wasn’t. My next impulse was to see if I could add it to the list of YouVersion reading plans. I contacted the author, Mark Roberts, and he indicated that they had submitted the plan to YouVersion but had not yet been approved. Apparently it’s a pretty selective process and takes a while.

But I really wanted to be able to read or listen on my phone, and I wanted to be able to keep track, day by day. So I looked up little further and found a reading plan manager called Reading Plan in the App Store (iOS). This is kind of a neat app because it has a number of reading plans, or you can create your own, and you can link it to any of several popular Bible apps. Which means it will open that Bible, even YouVersion, for you to read or listen.

So the ridiculously easy part of this is the plan itself. It’s really well done and simple. The complicated part is getting the reading plan set up for your iPhone or iPad. I’d like to use the rest of this post to walk you through that process, screen by screen.

Heart Prep for Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Welcome to the New Year! This week we begin our Winter 2017 series on God’s Big Story, Redemptive Moments in the Life of Christ. This week’s message is called “The First Coming of the Nations” and focuses on the story of the Magi from Matthew 2. Our worship will lead us to join the nations in praising the eternal King, with still a bit of a Christimas feel. We will also share communion. Our visual theme will be maps, symbolizing the coming of the nations to worship and serve Jesus.


Here is the link to the YouTube playlist: 170101 Heart Prep

Nations that Long in Darkness Walked – Andy Gullahorn/Jill Phillips

Worship Set:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – Hymn #124

The First Noel – Hymn #136

Angels from the Realms of Glory – Hymn #131

Alleluia Christ is Born/ Glory to God in the Highest – Twila Paris

Invitation to Communion:
Wandering Pilgrim – Twila Paris

We Three Kings – Hymn #166

We Three Kings – Piano Guys

Scripture for Meditation

Micah 4:1-4 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; 4but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

Matthew 2:1-2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:19-20 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Revelation 15:3-4 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! 4Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Winter 2017 Preaching: Redemptive Moments in the Life of Jesus

This winter (and spring) we will continue to explore God’s Big Story, but now we will focus on the life of Jesus – the moments when God’s Big Idea became apparent in the words and actions of the Savior. We’ve structured to bring us right into Easter, and we’ll go a little bit further after that to wrap up.


Here’s the plan:

January 1 – God’s Big Story, Week 18, (New Year)
Title: The First Coming of the Nations
Text: Matthew 2:1-12, the Wise Men
Worship: The Nations will Worship
Key Sentence: The journey of the wise men is a small preview of things to come

January 8 – God’s Big Story, Week 19
Title: The Ministry of John the Baptist
Text: Matthew 3:1-12
Worship: Ready for the King
Key Sentence: When the time comes, point to Jesus

January 15 – God’s Big Story, Week 20
Title: The Baptism of Jesus
Text: Matthew 3:13-17 (cf your son whom you love)
Worship: Blessed Trinity
Key Sentence: The Father’s beloved Son was filled with the Spirit

January 22 – Todd Cobbs Preaching (Bob and Gail to Colorado)

January 29 – God’s Big Story, Week 21
Title: The Temptation of Jesus
Text: Matthew 4:1-11 (cf. the garden)
Worship: Save in Thy Written Word
Key Sentence: Satan never changes his tactics, so we need to change ours.

February 5 – God’s Big Story, Week 22
Title: The Beginning of Ministry
Text: Luke 4:14-30
Worship: Good News
Key Sentence: In Jesus we find the fulfillment of Scripture

February 12 – David Jackson Preaching (Bob to Austin)(Todd to Colorado)

February 19 – God’s Big Story, Week 23 (Todd to Colorado)
Title: The Heart of the Gospel
Text: Matthew 5:1-12, 6:9-13
(Sermon on the Mount) (cf. Jeremiah and Ezekiel)
Worship: Blessed Are You
Key Sentence: In Jesus’ Kingdom we get to operate at a heart level

February 26 – God’s Big Story, Week 24
Title: By Faith
Text: Matthew 9:1-8, John 6:22-40
Worship: By Faith
Key Sentence: Jesus points to faith as the key to forgiveness and eternal life

March 5 – God’s Big Story, Week 25
Title: His Power
Text: Mark 1:21-28, Matthew 8:23-27, John 6:1-14, Luke 8:40-56
Worship: In the Storm
Key Sentence: Like every created thing, we should submit to him in awe

March 12 – God’s Big Story, Week 26
Title: Who Do Men Say that I Am
Text: Matthew 16:13-23
Worship: You are the Christ
Key Sentence: What is your answer to Jesus’ most important question?

March 19 – God’s Big Story, Week 27
Title: The Transfiguration
Text: Matthew 16:24-28, Matthew 17:1-8
Worship: We Have Seen His Glory
Key Sentence: Those who will follow will see his glory

March 26 – God’s Big Story, Week 28
Title: Why Did the Son of Man Come?
To Seek and Save the Lost (Luke 19:1-10)
To Give his Life a Ransom for many (Matthew 20:20-28)
Worship: God has ransomed us
Key Sentence: The glory of Christ is the self-sacrificing opposite of any man’s

April 2 – God’s Big Story, Week 29
Title: One Man to Die for the People
Text: John 11:45-57
Worship: Arise My Soul Arise
Key Sentence: Not even the nation is of more importance than accepting Christ
Watch out when you begin sacrificing Christ for any other cause

April 9 – God’s Big Story, Week 29, Palm Sunday
Title: With Shouts of Hosanna
Text: Matthew 21:1-11
Worship: Hosanna to the Son of David
Key Sentence: Too often we praise the promised king on our own terms.
This is, by the THE IT of God’s big story

April 13 – God’s Big Story, Week 30, Thursday of Easter Week
Title: This is My Body, This is My Blood
Text: Matthew 26:26-29 (cf Passover)
Worship: Smitten, Stricken and Afflicted
Key Sentence: The fulcrum of eternity turned on a hill in Palestine

April 16 – God’s Big Story, Week 31 Easter Sunrise
Title: Did not our Hearts Burn within us
Text: “The Road to Emmaus” Luke 24:13-35 He opened all of Scripture
Worship: Hear the Bells Ringing
Key Sentence: The risen Christ gave the best version of God’s Big Story

April 16 – God’s Big Story Week 32 – Easter Service
Title: The Culminating Victory
Text:Luke 24:1-52
Worship: He is Risen
Key Sentence: Every hope that we have is a resurrection hope

April 23 – Guest Preacher (Bob off)

April 30 – God’s Big Story, Week 28, Ascension and Pentecost

May 7 – God’s Big Story, Week 29, The Gospel for the Nations

May 14 – God’s Big Story, Week 30, The Epistles

May 21 – God’s Big Story, Week 31, Return of Christ and the Age to Come

May 28 – God’s Big Story, Week 32, Eternity

June 4 – Summer Series begins

Heart Prep for Christmas Eve and Christmas, 2016

The text for Christmas Eve is Micah 5:1-5 and related prophecies of Jesus’ place, especially Bethlehem and Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2). The worship theme is “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and the visual theme is “Winter Night.” (Note: Scroll down for the Christmas Day worship plan)


Here is the link to the YouTube playlist: 161224 Christmas Eve and Christmas Heart Prep

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O Little Town of Bethlehem – Hymn #141

Micah 5:1-5 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. 2But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. 3Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. 4And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. 5And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men;

Exposition Micah 5:1-5

Luke 2:1-7 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Children’s Corner Luke 2;1-7

Special Music:
Light of the World – Lauren Daigle

Born Where the Shadows Lie – Getty

What Child is This? – Hymn #137

Matthew 2:13-23 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 16Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” 19But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

Isaiah 9:1-2 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Exposition: Matthew 2:13-23, Hosea 11:1, Isaiah 9:1-2

Candle Lighting

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear – Hymn #128

Silent Night – Hymn #147

Worship for Christmas Day

The text for Christmas Day is John 1:1-14, supported by Genesis 1:1, Exodus 40:34-35. We’ll be celebrating the incarnation of the one who came to make his dwelling among us. The Worship will focus on the incarnation, and the visual theme will be winter mornings.


Here is the link to the YouTube playlist: 161224 Christmas Eve and Christmas Heart Prep

Here with Us – Joy Williams

Worship Set:
Joy to the World – Hymn #125
Also, the Pentatonix verson: Joy to the World

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

O Come All Ye Faithful

Angels We Have Heard on High – Hymn #132

Good Christian Men Rejoice – Hymn #151

Noel – Daigle

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing – Hymn #133

O Holy Night – Hymn #148

Additional Favorites

Assuming you might want to use the playlist as background for your Christmas activities, I’ve added a few more of my personal favorites:

Winter Snow by Audrey Assad

Fernando Ortega’s version of O Little Town of Bethlehem

Labor of Love by Andrew Peterson

David Jackson’s Angels Strain to See

Come Children of this Long Discarded Night by Ron Block, Jeff Taylor and Rebecca Reynolds

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, the Casting Crowns version

Prepare Him Room

He Who is Mighty

Heart Prep for Sunday, December 18th, 2016

The text this week is 2 Samuel 7:14, along with Psalm 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-38, and Hebrews 1:1-5. The point of these texts is that Jesus is the Son of God. The worship theme will be Christmas Carols and songs that echo this “Son of God” truth, and the visual theme will be winter evergreens (because the Son of God is eternal).


Here is the link to the YouTube Playlist: 161218 Heart Prep

Joseph’s Song – Michael Card

Worship Set:
O Come All Ye Faithful

Hebrews 1:1-5 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father

Angels We Have Heard on High – Hymn #132

In the Bleak Midwinter

One Small Child – Hymn #164

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Joy to the World – Hymn #125

O Holy Night – Hymn #148

If I Be a Father – David B. Jackson

Silent Night – Hymn #147

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

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