10-16-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

October 16, 2019

A Prayer For Good Stewardship: Gracious God, you have invited us to be stewards, and not just any ordinary stewards, but good stewards of creation and all that it has and is. Grant your people an awareness that what we have should always be perceived as potential instruments in the amazing work of sharing the love of Jesus with others. Continue to provide the encouragement of your Holy Spirit as we struggle with a culture that is driven by materialism and individualism, greed and selfishness. Continue to provide for us wisdom and teachers who are wise, for the gift of wisdom is important as we discern how to be the best stewards of what we have. With each passing day, grow our understanding of both gratitude and generosity. Continue to shape the attitudes we have in regard to our belongings, money and other resources. Let us become an alternative vision of how life is lived for people instead of possessions, and how the making of healthy relationships is worth letting go of some of our stuff. This is our prayer offered in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.



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REMINDER

The ONLY construction we are doing is the building of lives, the forming of faith and the creation of community. This is the “building” that requires real energy and work.

10-15-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS
October 15, 2019

Scripture
: 1st Corinthians 14:33
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Thought for the Day: Paul suggests there is no confusion in the churches of the saints, but we might be the exception at Cypress Creek Christian Church… in our church there is some confusion among the folks. With that in mind, let me clarify once again. Our underlying theme right now is: Building A Training Center for the Love First Life.

Question One: Are we building a new building?
Answer
: NO!

Question Two: Are we remodeling a building to create the training center?
Answer
: NO!

Question Three: Are we currently raising money for any new brick and mortar?
Answer
: NO!

The idea of Building a Training Center for the Love First Life is predicated on the idea that Living the Love First Life requires us to be intentional. It is more a metaphor as we are building people, forming them through study, programming and worship to better their ability to Put Love First In All Things. All we need is our current staff and congregation, the current classrooms, the sanctuary and maybe a couple of workshop leaders from outside the congregation who would bring some expertise to a topic. Oh yes, we also need willing hearts who yearn to follow Jesus more closely.

This is more of a shift in our mindset and mission. What do we do at Cypress Creek Christian Church? We are in the business of making Disciples who strive toward the vision of Putting Love First In All Things. If we are going to “make Disciples,” then we need to have a plan and program. We need to look at where people struggle to put Love First, and then offer relevant learning opportunities to help people grow in their capacity. Too often the church has defined “making Disciples” as simply getting people in the door of the church, but Jesus took with him a group of a dozen who deliberately studied with him for three years. And even then, they continued to require more learning in the years that followed.

So let me review – we are NOT building any new buildings. We are seeking to remodel some hearts, reshape some minds and reconstruct some people’s lives. No building built with wood and nails can do what one person can do through simply loving another human being. Earlier in 1st Corinthians, Paul writes: “…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…” The “your” in this passage is the plural (in Greek, there is a singular and a plural), and so Paul is saying, “You all” are a single temple. At Cypress Creek Christian Church, we are working to build the temple (the people) where the Holy Spirit dwells. And that temple, made of flesh and blood and faithful people, will become empowered by the Holy Spirit to live The Love First Life.

Let us know if there are still questions as we do not want any more confusion. Thanks!

Prayer: Holy God, lead us in the good work of building the lives of people. Allow your Spirit to animate the gifts we have so that we can strengthen our work of Putting Love First In All Things. This we request in the name of the one who demonstrated the Love First Life, Jesus Christ. Amen.

SIDE NOTE: We are still working with FEMA to get the final information and documents on the Centrum. That renewal process is not connected to the Training Center idea whatsoever, though we continue to move forward.


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10-14-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

October 14, 2019

Prayer for the Week:

One of your expressions of love –

A faith community –

this faith community –

was impacted by flood waters.

Experts warned

of decline and despair.

They told of many churches

that never recovered

But moving among a quirky

and authentic group of people

Your Living and Life-Giving Spirit

has been named,

enjoyed and embraced.

Some decline has occurred,

but not in faithfulness.

Despair was felt, understandably,

but despair did not rule the day.

O God of the Universe

and Everything Beyond,

God of the Known and Unknown,

thank you

for doing something among us

that clearly was not of us.

Thank you

for allowing love and decency

to prevail even amidst the sorrow.

Continue

to provide us a confidence in you

and what is possible through you.

Continue

to shape us into the people

you need us to be

in the world today.

This is our prayer

at a time

full of promise and possibility.

Amen.



10-13-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

October 13, 2019

Scripture: Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the Day: Is the power of the Holy Spirit standing on the outside of us sucking the joy from our pores so that it might spill upon the world? Or is the Holy Spirit within us already, and since the Holy Spirit is God, and this God is the God of hope according Paul, then it probably makes more sense that this Holy Presence within us – that is hope and joy and peace – is pressing from the inside as its power cannot be contained. As we will talk about in worship this morning, the Holy Spirit is power (a different kind of power than we usually think of) for the ways of God, yet many Christians are fine with this power if it can be contained, domesticated and made to be predictable. Yet that sounds like an ineffectual and impotent understanding of the Holy. I’d even go as far as saying it sounds like an idol we have created, not in our own image, but for our needs and likes. When it is domesticated, we can put it on display as an ornament of blessing upon whatever decisions we make. But if we choose to allow the Spirit to do what it is trying to do within us and around us, then we need to be prepared for all the stuff for which we cannot prepare. We won’t be leading the Spirit where we want to go, but allowing the Spirit to nudge us into those situations and circumstances where we will feel vulnerable, and even a bit nervous. The Spirit will challenge us to live the Gospel of God’s relentless and unconditional love among folks we might not like. That Spirit might even push us to love our enemy and pray for those who seek to do us harm. Whenever we claim to be following the Spirit, but it looks a whole lot like the life any of us would choose, then we might want to consider whether or not we have domesticated the Spirit for our own use.

Prayer: You have gifted me with your Spirit, Merciful God, and today I will do my best to allow my will to be aligned with the movement of your Spirit. I make this request in the name of Jesus whose life was fully in sync with the Spirit. Amen.


10-12-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

October 12, 2019

Scripture: Isaiah 32:17-20

The fruit of righteousness will be peace, and the outcome of righteousness, calm and security forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful dwelling, in secure homes, in carefree resting places. Even if the forest falls and the humbled city is laid low, those who sow beside any stream will be happy, sending out ox and donkey to graze.

Thought for the Day: As I am writing this devotional, I am thinking about tomorrow morning (Saturday). I will be getting up around 3:15am to drive to Omaha, Nebraska, to catch a flight back to Houston. The temperature has gone from 50’s and 60’s to below freezing. I don’t believe there will be any problem driving to Omaha, but there is always a little concern when you drive unfamiliar roads before sunrise and it is below freezing. As I write, my expectation is that you will be reading this after I am already on the plane or even back to Houston. But I write these things to provide an example of life for most of us, a life that can be a bit chaotic, with unforeseen happenings that cause anxiety and some good old fashion fretting. It is not “End of the World” stuff, but since I have an important event on Saturday evening, I feel some apprehension about timing in regard to my flight. The Prophet speaks of righteousness, or some will translate it as the right-ness of God or right-living according to God. Those who live a certain way, in the ways of God, will know calm and security. Even if the world around them appears to be falling apart, they can live righteousness. I don’t know if the Prophet would agree with me or not, but it’s as if we are being told to choose the right things (the God way of living) when we have a choice. A lot of stuff just happens, and there is nothing we can do. But when life offers us the opportunity to do something, we need to do so with right-ness. It may not appear big, but when we make the decision to do something resembling God when every other factor in life would suggest a different decision, it brings with it a sense of connection to God. I will not let all the chaos, or the unforeseen troubles, dictate the choices I can make. Other stuff will happen that is beyond my control, and in those cases, I will claim even more passionately what I can do…and do so with a spirit of righteousness.

Prayer: Giver of Rightness and Right-Living, continue to guide me to those places and moments when I can choose to embody you to the world. And please make your presence known when the stuff of life happens and anxiety shows up. Amen.



10-11-19

ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS

October 11, 2019

Scripture: Joel 2:28-29

After that I will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days, I will also pour out my spirit on the male and female slaves.

Thought for the Day: After what? According Joel, a vision of transition from despair to life is presented, and then after this period of transition, the Lord will pour out the Spirit upon everyone. Throughout my life, I have heard people describe the current moment as the moment of the Spirit’s arrival. Whatever the events or period of transition might be, this is the designated moment for whatever happens after. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have done that very thing more than once in a sermon. It fits with the text, except to say that technically this is no longer a future moment being described. As followers of Jesus, the Spirit came on Pentecost and started a whole process of dreaming and visioning and transformation. It sure appears as if the church lives in an uninspiring attitude of waiting instead of naming the fact that we are the living proof of the Spirit’s arrival. Using a track metaphor, we should not be sitting in the starting blocks, but fully into the race. Using a car racing metaphor, we should not be at the starting line revving our engines, but going full speed down the straightaway. We are living in the after and we need to own it. Otherwise, we might just spend an eternity waiting for the arrival of the moment after.

Prayer: May the Spirit that has come and continues to move be the gift that I allow to enfold me and fill me. O God whose breath has come upon us in the after, let me be fully available to the life that is lived through this gift. Amen.