Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-25-16

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Scripture: Galatians 6:9
Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.

Thought for the Day: Bill Bradley said, “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” I don’t know if ambition is the right word for people of faith, but maybe yearning or hunger is the path to success. But Bradley was absolutely correct when he spoke of persistence as the vehicle that will get us there. In the life of the church, it is said that it can take 5-7 years to change the direction and culture, yet the average pastor stays at a church for only 3 1/2 years. The change of leadership on such a regular basis becomes the only real change the church can handle in those years. Thus the church does not change in the areas where change is needed. It is mostly cosmetic – changes in names and personnel – but not in the mission and direction. Our vision (the destination) is the love first life, and I think most people yearn to live that life and to see it lived in their children, friends and colleagues…to see a greater number of people around the globe with such a commitment. The mission, helping individuals and families live the love first life, is how we achieve the mission – and this is where persistence must be present for such an ideal will not come easy in our current world.

Prayer: God of all creation, help us to dream of a day when all of humanity is working to put love first. With the dream before us, keep us passionate and persistent in our daily journey toward that marvelous goal. Keep us moving forward, even when it might feel as if the world is moving backwards. Amen.

TONIGHT

LAST OF
THE CONGREGATIONAL
CONVERSATIONS

6:30pm
In the Activity Room
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Sunday’s Sermon

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-24-16

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Scripture: Deuteronomy 5:12-14
Keep the Sabbath day and treat it as holy, exactly as the LORD your God commanded: Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. Don’t do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your oxen or donkeys or any of your animals, or the immigrant who is living among you—so that your male and female servants can rest just like you.

Thought for the Day: In the book, The Great Omission, Dallas Willard is speaking about the importance of true Sabbath Rest. Willard refers to a pastor who had made a significant change in his life, placing more emphasis on the Spiritual Disciplines, specifically Sabbath. The pastor wrote:
As I have slowed my life down through silence and solitude, I have discovered both the wickedness hidden by a hurried life as well as the wonder and delight my Father has in me. Oddly, through intentional times of practicing spiritual disciplines my walk with Jesus has become more spontaneous. He is present in more of my day. I have loved others better, and seen progress made in overcoming anger and the desire to have things my way. In a nutshell, Jesus has greater access to and control over my life. I’m more in tune to the still small voice of the Spirit.

I don’t want to pretend that Sabbath is the salvation of all things and that suddenly your life will be better. At the same time, being more intentional about Sabbath will almost always make a noticeable change for the better. It is just common sense…yet that doesn’t always mean we do what we should.

Prayer: Provide me, Lord, with time, even if it is just a few minutes. Help me to carve out time for Sabbath rest where my spiritual senses are more attentive to the movement of your Spirit. Amen.

TODAY

Next Round of
Congregational Conversatoins

Noon & 6:30pm

In the Forum

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-23-16

 

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Scripture: Proverbs 15:21
Folly is joy to those who lack sense, but those with understanding walk straight ahead.

Thought for the Day: Today is the second day of school for the children and youth around Spring, Texas. The second day brings with it a new set of challenges. Yesterday, most everyone was on their best behavior. Today, teachers will begin seeing the unique character of each child…and of course, 28 kids in one class means 28 different ways of learning and expressing themselves. Multiply that by 5 or 6 classes each day, and that requires a lot of awareness and creativity on the part of the teacher. Let us pray for discerning eyes and ears so that the needed encouragement and teaching methods are available to each teacher in the right moment.

Prayer: For all who give of themselves for the education of our children, we give thanks for them and give thanks to you, our Creator and Vision-setter. Guide each of us so that we can support the good work done in each classroom. Amen.

TONIGHT

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You are invited to lecture presentation by Hasting Stewart, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, Houston Super Bowl Host Committee. He will be with us to talk about planning for the game and related activities. Should be a great evening!


TOMORROW – WEDNESDAY

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NEXT TWO
CONGREGATIONAL CONVERSATIONS

Noon and 6:30pm
In the Activity Room

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-22-16

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Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant…

Thought for the Day: While reading more of CS Lewis the other night (I referenced him in my devotional yesterday), I came across these words:

Love is not affectionate feeling,
but a steady wish for
the loved person’s ultimate good
as far as it can be obtained.

To simply think of love as an affectionate feeling is a whole lot easier. If I think of it in those terms, I can continue to live for myself – selfishly and arrogantly, with an attitude that is stingy and narrow-minded. To think of love only as an affectionate feeling sure would be nice and easy, yet the Jesus-life offers a crushing blow to such thinking. Each and every time someone attempted to put a limit to love’s far-reaching character, Jesus obliterated the limitation with a story or metaphor that left many trembling and others rejoicing.

Prayer: Allow the love that you have given me, Mighty God, to be a love that seeks the ultimate good of the other. Amen.

Praying For Your Church
Each Day of the Week



 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-21-16

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Scripture: Acts 12:5
While Peter was held in prison, the church offered earnest prayer to God for him.

Thought for the Day: Pray! I don’t know if it was original to CS Lewis, but he said:

I pray because I can’t help myself.
I pray because I’m helpless.
I pray because the need
flows out of me all the time-
waking and sleeping.
It doesn’t change God-
it changes me.

I wonder if the lack of prayer even among highly committed Christians is because they fear Lewis’ final thought. It might just change us. A church in prayer is a church that should never seek for God to bend toward its will, but for the church to submit to God’s hopes and dreams for the world. Are you ready to really pray?

Prayer: I come before you in prayer not because you are in need, but because I need you. Holy and Magnificent God, meet me in this time. Speak to my heart your vision of mercy and kindness, love and forgiveness. May these words spill into my life not only as gifts for me, but as tools for me to use in my daily life. I need you for I feel lost without you. I pray because it is my lifeline to you. Amen.

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Congregational Conversations

Join us Today at:
9:30am or 11:00am in the Forum

Or Wednesday at:
Noon or 6:30pm in the Acitivity Room

Or Thursday at:
6:30pm in the Activity Room

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-20-16

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Scripture: Luke 9:20
Jesus asked the disciples, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ sent from God.”

Thought for the Day: For the next few days, I am going to be guiding the congregation through multiple hour-long gatherings called Congregational Conversations. These are not intended to be an hour of conversation that concludes when the sixty minutes is up. My hope is to put forth ideas, expand on our vision and mission, to put the church (in the broad sense) within the current cultural context, and to think about Cypress Creek’s unique place within this strange new world of 2016. I want people to begin conversing and to continue the listening and sharing well beyond the hour.

John F. Kennedy said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” A lot of what churches need to continue to do is to get in touch with purpose and direction as guided by the Holy Spirit. Simply having the courage to take a leap of faith is not enough if the faith was really nothing but a blind leap with no purpose. The question Jesus put before his disciples is central to who we are and what we are doing. The answer Peter gave was basically correct, but Peter and others were still rather clueless in regard to what it meant. It is one thing to declare our belief that Jesus was and is the Christ. It is something much more radical to ask the question, “And what does that mean for my life, my relationships, my work ethic, my priorities, my spending, my worldview, my… (the list goes on). A lot of what we will be discussing in our Visioning and Mission Conversations is going to assume Peter’s answer to question was correct, but moving on to explore the: So what?

Prayer: I might declare Jesus as the Christ, yet what does it mean, Lord? Help me to explore even when the potential answers confront previously held beliefs and agitate my comfort. Please be gentle and gracious while also pushing me along. Amen.

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CHOOSE A DATE & TIME

Sunday, August 21
9:30am & 11:00am

Wednesday, August 24
Noon & 6:30pm

Thursday, August 25
6:30pm

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-19-16

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Scripture: Acts 9:1-2
Meanwhile, Saul was still spewing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest, seeking letters to the synagogues in Damascus. If he found persons who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, these letters would authorize him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Thought for the Day: Carl Rogers was a well known American psychologist. He was a prolific writer, and the following quote begins to get at the heart of much of his teaching. Rogers wrote:

The good life is a process,
not a state of being.
It is a direction,
not a destination.

As Christianity has been influenced by a success-driven society, it has forgotten its roots in the Way. The people who followed the teachings of Jesus were not originally called Christians or church-goers, but People of the Way. The journey of faith should never be viewed as something a person wants to “knock out” before moving on to another topic like learning Spanish. This does not mean Christians are goal-less and never complete a project, but it reshapes our thinking when it comes to being a follower of Jesus. It is not just another task to complete, but a way of life that continues to challenge and stretch us no matter how much knowledge we gain.

Prayer: Creator of the Universe, continue to put before me new avenues to explore. Present me with new experiences and insights that challenge my preconceived ideas, and help me to see these as new adventures in my own growth as a human being. Amen.

COMING AUGUST 31
Wednesday

Noon Study
Hereos, Rogues and the Rest
If you’d like the church to order the book for you,
call the church office by next Tuesday

6:30pm
Buddhism and the tradition of
‘Advaita Vedanta’ in Hinduism
taught by Dr. Mark Whitten

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-18-16

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IMPORTANT

This coming Sunday, August 21, we will have our usual three worship services (8:15am, 9:30am & 11:00am). In addition to our morning services, you are invited to attend one of the Congregational Conversations at either 9:30 or 11:00 in the Forum. If these times do not work for you, we will offer opportunities next Wednesday, Aug. 24, at noon and 6:30, and Thursday, Aug. 25, at 6:30pm.

As we begin to think about who we are and where we are going, I believe the following quote from Henry David Thoreau can begin to challenge us:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Prayer: Give us ears to hear and hearts to perceive what it is that you, O Merciful God, desire for us to do and to be. Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-17-16

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Scripture: Numbers 9:23
They camped at the LORD’s command and they marched at the LORD’s command. They followed the LORD’s direction according to the LORD’s command through Moses.

Thought for the Day: A journalist, Sydney J. Harris, offered these insightful words:

Happiness is a direction, not a place.

The Israelites were on a journey toward the Promised Land, but part of their difficulty was focusing too much on physical location and not enough on the path of righteousness. The land was a statement of identity in a world of national boundaries, but simply having land or a place to call home does not equate with happiness. It is about a choice one makes to follow certain ideals and values. As people of faith, we are to journey along the path trying to embody God’s high calling no matter what what unexpected situations and circumstances come our way.

Prayer: When you move forward, Lord, I wish to follow your lead. When you pause, let me be aware of your pause. With each passing day, may my life become more and more a reflection of your life. This is my prayer. Amen.


PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND
ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
CONGREGATIONAL CONVERSATIONS

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CHOOSE A DATE & TIME

Sunday, August 21
9:30am & 11:00am

Wednesday, August 24
Noon & 6:30pm

Thursday, August 25
6:30pm

Ecclesiological Etching: 08-16-16

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Scripture: Psalm 44:18
Our hearts haven’t turned away, neither have our steps strayed from your way.

Thought for the Day: Jimmy Dean, the king of morning sausage, said:

I can’t change the direction of the wind,
But I can adjust my sails
to always reach my destination.

Since I read that quote over the weekend, it has had me thinking about the times in my life when I prayed for the wind to change and never pondered my ability to adjust my sails. Too often we feel as if we are victims of the world’s happenings, when in fact, most of the time there is still a lot we can control. God’s gifts to us and those around us create more opportunities than we might think.

Prayer: Guide my eyes and heart, O Lord, to better perceive the gifts and opportunities you have provided. Amen.

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PLEASE PLAN TO ATTENDS
ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
CONGREGATIONAL CONVERSATIONS

This Sunday at 9:30am & 11:00am
In the Forum

Wendnesday, August 24, at noon and 6:30pm
In the Activity Room

Thursday, August 25, at 6:30pm
In the Activity Room

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