Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-31-15

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Intro: During Holy Week, seven staff members from Cypress Creek Christian Church will reflect on the same passage of scripture from Luke’s Gospel. Today, it is Tami Nelson…

Scripture: Luke 23:33-34
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

Thought for the Day: One of Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey’s favorite quotes is “When you know better; you do better” We are often taught to forgive others because more than likely their action towards us either was unintentional or they had no real consciousness they were hurting you.  Jesus in his most dire time of pain and hurt was able to identify that simple thought that it wasn’t really about him, but it was actually about the lack of knowledge, faith or understanding of the people of what was happening.  As we extend forgiveness to others with the notion that perhaps they just didn’t know better I often encourage myself to lend that same grace and forgiveness to me when thinking of my personal mistakes or mishaps. Perhaps I just didn’t know better…..

Prayer: Most gracious God, often we don’t forgive ourselves. Thank you for giving us a spirit of forgiveness and a model through your son Jesus Christ of how forgiveness works to liberate us in our own personal lives. Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-30-15

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Intro: During Holy Week, seven staff members from Cypress Creek Christian Church will reflect on the same passage of scripture from Luke’s Gospel. Today, it is Sheila Gillette…

Scripture: Luke 23:33-34
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

Thought for the Day: Have you ever been so hurt by someone that you thought you could NEVER forgive their actions? I have, yet I prayed and prayed because I really wanted to forgive this person. I knew if I did not, anger over the wrong would just spread like a cancer and consume me. Seeking God’s help, he planted a seed of love in my mind and heart. Forgive – one day at a time. Today I forgive, tomorrow I forgive, then the next day I forgive, and after 40 days, a habit of forgiveness was formed. I was able to accomplish complete forgiveness with love.

Prayer: Most Holy God, Grant me the wisdom, courage, mercy, and love I need to forgive others. If I do not forgive, the hurt and anger will consume me. If Jesus could forgive the criminals that took his life; then surely with Jesus’ example of love, I can forgive others. AMEN.


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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-29-15

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Intro: During Holy Week, seven staff members from Cypress Creek Christian Church will reflect on the same passage of scripture from Luke’s Gospel. Today, it is Rev. Clara Lewis…

Scripture: Luke 23:33-34
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

Thought for the Day:  When I read this Scripture, I am overcome with wonder at how Jesus could ever have forgiven the atrocities He endured for our sake. And then, I am reminded of an interview that I once saw with a woman who had suffered the unspeakable horrors of a Japanese concentration camp during World War II some 40 years before.  The interviewer probed and challenged the remarkable peace that the woman had when recalling the experience, the absence of any vengeful thoughts regarding her persecutors, and, in fact, her forgiveness for the unforgiveable. The woman told of the last time she saw her beloved husband and sons before they were taken away, cruelly tortured and murdered.  The last thing her husband said to her as he begged her not to harden her heart, was this,

“…it is not the experience that will kill you, it is bitterness.”

The power one gives to his or her enemy and any that would seek to destroy is to permit the capture our soul, our mind, our spirit, with bitterness and anger.  Through Jesus’ dying words we come to understand that through our forgiveness of others and our acceptance of the forgiveness of God, we are set free.

Prayer:  O Lord, what Wondrous Love have you given to all of us who deny You when we injure our brother and sister or allow ourselves to be consumed by the wrongs we have suffered.  What Wondrous Love have you taught us through your rejection of bitterness and spite for all You endured so that we might have Salvation.  Cleanse our hearts, our minds, and our spirits of all bitterness and hate. Empty our souls and fill us up with the Joy of Your Salvation and Love – yes, even for our enemies.  Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-28-15

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Scripture: Matthew 26:12
By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial.

Thought for the Day: After Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), he found himself in the home of Simon the leper.  While visiting, a woman entered the home with a jar of expensive ointment. She poured it over Jesus’ head, and the disciples were offended by the act.  They tried to justify their disgust, but Jesus took the act of generosity and used it to reinforce his mission.  As he so often did, he pointed to the sacrifice associated with being a disciple.  Though many in our present culture have tried to make Christianity into anything but sacrifice, the voice of Jesus reverberates with a clear message: If you wish to follow me, it will require that you abandon yourself for the sake of others.

Prayer: O God, when Christianity is made easy and painless, point me to the cross and the self-giving love of Jesus.  Amen.


THIS SUNDAY

Palm Sunday
8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Sermon: Behind Bulletproof Glass


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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-27-15

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Scripture: Mark 14:1-2
It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

Thought for the Day: Though the scriptures often focused specifically on the religious authorities, in fact, there were many others who would have found Jesus and his teachings unnerving disruptions to the system as usual. How can a carpenter’s simple words about sowing seeds, praying quietly, serving others, sharing bread and neighborliness get him in such trouble?

Jesus was a calculating agitator, not in a scheming or conniving way, but in the way a foreign object irritates the lining of an oyster and produces a pearl.  Of course, many would rather maintain the old system as it was; clinging to the security of the known instead of allowing an alternative message to trouble us into transformation.

Let us be cautious not to kill the messenger or the message, even when it irritates us. Know that Jesus seeks to make a pearl of great value (Matthew 13:46) which all will seek..

Prayer: You are not irritating, Lord, but your message can cause a great deal of irritation. Help us to respond, not in anger or frustration, but with an openness to what your Spirit can produce. Amen.

THIS SUNDAY

Palm Sunday
8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Sermon: Behind Bulletproof Glass 


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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-26-15

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Scripture: 1st Corinthians 12:26-27
If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Thought for the Day: Notice how the scriptures say, “If one member suffers, all suffer together…” It does not say that members of the body cause other members to suffer. In a recent article (Nine Traits of Mean Churches), Thom S. Rainer writes,

Leaders of the power groups
have an acrimonious spirit.

Rainer has clearly seen a mean streak emerge among the members of Christ’s Body, and it is not surprising that this mean-spiritedness is one of the reasons people are running away from the church. It is tough to maintain Christ-like values in our interactions, both inside and outside the faith community, yet it is absolutely necessary for us to do if we desire to be faithful to the One whose name we claim. Each of us has work to do as we strive toward this high ideal, and in our work, let us continue to allow the spirit to bind us together in such a way that we perceive the joys and sufferings of others.

Prayer: Bind us together, O Lord, so that Christ’s Body is made visible in today’s world. Amen.


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Maundy Thursday
April 2 at 7:00pm
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-25-15

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Scripture: 1st John 1:4
We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Thought for the Day: Tonight (Tuesday evening), I am writing this devotional so my joy may be complete. My joy tonight is connected to our church’s Prison Ministry, and the breath-taking impact we are having on the lives of women who are incarcerated.  I am blessed by those who give so much of their time to make the program happen, including my compadres from earlier today – Jerry, Sarah and Carl (I mean, Clay… inside joke). The laughter and the tears, the words of praise and the affirmations of self-worth were signs of the Gospel’s power. Those women are going to be forever changed by the experience, and their outlook on life beyond prison is hopeful. Tonight, I am writing this devotional so my joy may be complete. Thank you for allowing me to share my joy.

Prayer: What an amazing thing you are doing, Mighty God, through our Prison Ministry. Thank you for willing hearts who volunteer to share their gifts. And thank you for the women who choose to participate, and their willingness to be open to the movement of your grace-filled Spirit. Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-24-15

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Scripture: Ephesians 4:22-23
You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Thought for the Day: For those who did not see it, I clothed myself on Sunday in a vintage powder-blue leisure suit (see below). I was looking pretty hip, though I am regularly reminded by my wife that by using the word “hip” I am demonstrating how unhip I really am.  I want to thank Guy and Pam Johnson for exploring their attic to retrieve that beauty.

The act of putting on an outfit, specifically a costume or vintage look, has a tendency to draw something unique out of us. People have said that clothes make the man, and though I don’t know if that statement is entirely accurate, what we do put on can shape our attitude and perspective. The same is true when it comes to clothing our spirits in the likeness of God, in true right-living and holiness. This act must be intentional, each and every day. As Paul suggests – the old self: corrupt and lustful – is hanging in the closet and ready to be put on. If we are not deliberate in finding the attitude that will convey the likeness of God, we will have a tendency to toss on whatever is close at hand…and it probably won’t be God-like.

Prayer: Give me exceptional taste in spiritual clothing, O Righteous and Holy God, for I want my life to declare you. Amen.

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HOLY WEEK SEDER MEAL

Maundy Thursday
April 2 at 7:00pm

For Reservations,
EMAIL-kgordley@cypresscreek.cc

41043_100782_217537

The Seder Meal is the Jewish celebration of the Exodus Story during Passover.
The meal itself is a teaching experience, and it was this meal that Jesus
shared the night of his betrayal and arrest. Come and learn the Jewish
origin of this meal, led by a local Jewish Cantor.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-23-15

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Scripture: Genesis 17:1
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.

Thought for the Day: In the English translation of the Hebrew, there are some words and phrases that have lost their meaning. I had never quite understood what it meant ‘to walk before’ God.  Even as a metaphor, I wasn’t too sure exactly how I did that.  But once I learned the Hebrew verb hitpael (that we translate as walk), I gained a new appreciation for God’s invitation to Abram.  The verb really doesn’t mean ‘to walk’.  Instead, it describes a reoccurring action or a back and forth movement.  One scholar described it as the rhythm of life.  God’s invitation to Abram and to us is to make the rhythm of our lives reflect the rhythm of God’s life.  I can’t say I am able to do that fully, but I can try.

Prayer: May the heartbeat of my life pulse in sync with your loving kindness, my Lord and my God.  Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-22-15

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Scripture: Isaiah 54:10
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Thought for the Day: Albert Ellis, the psychologist and author, once wrote:

The art of love is largely
the art of persistence.

The Lord’s love is steadfast, and we often speak of it as unconditional or unchanging. This stands over and against human love which strives for the high ideal set forth by God, yet our love will forever be a work in progress.  In pursuit of this love, it will require a great deal of persistence, some failures along the way, and a willingness to try again and again. Keep growing, learning and developing your ability to share and receive love.

Prayer: With gratitude for all the ways I experience your love, O Generous God, may I strive tirelessly to mirror this great gift. Amen.

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