Scripture: Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Thought for the Day: Paul’s words are familiar to most Christians, and as we repeat them, we tend to speak them with a sense of conviction and joy. As I read them, my mind goes to Polycarp who was the bishop of Smyrna in the 2nd Century. He was brought before the Roman Leadership and was told to curse the name of Christ. Polycarp replied, “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” They continued to demand that Polycarp denounce the name of Christ, but he offered only the words, “Listen plainly: I am a Christian.” It was those words that caused his torture and execution. May we find the same passion in our declarations of faith, even when they bring a little negativity from those who disagree. Most of us will not experience anything like what Polycarp experienced, but we can hope to be as faithful no matter our circumstances.
Prayer: As I grow in my love for you, My Glorious King, may I also grow in my willingness to share my convictions with others. Amen.
Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 5:17-19
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
Thought for the Day: Mike Slaughter, in his Dare to Dream study, says:
God does not invest
in our personal agendas.
He has called us
to invest in his redemptive plan.
How often have we gone seeking God’s approval of our personal agendas? How often have people been successful in their selfishness, and then declared that the success demonstrated God’s approval? How often has God’s redemptive plan been dismissed all together, yet people have declared their act of dismissal as divinely blessed? I don’t know a number, but history is busting at the seams with examples of such behavior. We must always be cautious, measuring our dreams and visions against the life of Jesus and the Gospel message of God’s unconditional love for the world. Success can be gaged in many ways, but remember that God’s definition and our culture’s definition are rarely going to be the same.
Prayer: Teach me to invest my resources, O Father God, in your work of redemption. Using my time and talents, my money and influence, allow me to participate in your ministry of reconciliation. Amen.
WORSHIP THIS MORNING
8:15, 9:30 &11:00
Special Dance at all Three Services
And don’t forget the Blood Drive
9:00am – Noon
Scripture: Acts 7:30-32
Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: “I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.
Thought for the Day: Stephen, one of the early church deacons, offered a sermon in which he reference Moses’ encounter with the burning bush. According to Stephen, Moses trembled and did not dare to look. The Greek word (dare), Tolmao, means to be bold. It comes from the root word, Telos, which means end or finish. To be bold is to take something through to the end, yet Moses’ first reaction was to tremble and NOT to be emboldened. He had no desire to take anything to the finish line. Instead, he was ready to run. Of course, that is not the end of the story and Moses did not run. He eventually dared to look at where God was pointing him.
Mike Slaughter, the author of our Dare to Dream study, says:
When you encounter your burning bush
—a defining event that leads you
to your life purpose—
it creates a fire in you that will not burn out.
Now initially, you might find yourself – as Moses did – trembling before the awesomeness of God and the challenge of God’s invitation. Take a breath, and then be emboldened to see the God who will be present with you wherever your God-purpose takes you.
Prayer: Bold and Audacious God, you continue to invite us to participate in your glorious work. Forgive our initial fear and uncertainty, and then immerse us in your spirit that will embolden our purpose and convictions. Amen.
All Three Worship Services
The Activity Room
(9am – Noon)
Scripture: Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Thought for the Day: How do you think those words were originally shared? What was the tone of Jesus’ voice when he said, “Go”? How do people speak it today? Too often the word, “Go!” is spoken in a grumbly tone, a bellyaching woe-is-me. How exactly do others hear our tone when we speak of going to all the nations to make disciples? Are we excited about our mission or do we see it as another item on the to-do list that means we won’t be able to watch our favorite TV show or be lazy this weekend or update our status on Facebook? Next time you speak the word Go, do it with a sense of enthusiasm – an enthusiasm that matches that of God who first called us to the mission.
Prayer: Sort my priorities, O God who first loved us, in such a way as to make sure that my God-inspired mission sits at the top. Amen.
THIS AMAZING CONCERT
Scripture: John 17:14-18
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
Thought for the Day: Back in 1995, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and political satirist Russell Baker gave the commencement address at Connecticut College. In the speech, he said:
The best advice I can give anybody
about going out into the world is this:
Don’t do it. I have been out there.
It is a mess.
Throughout Christian history (and Judaism before Christianity), there have been those who have chosen the path of separation. They did not (and do not) wish to be influenced by culture, and so they pulled away from society. Different religious traditions exhibited this approach to faithfulness in unique ways, but in the end, their approach suggested that the world was beyond redemption.
In the above portion of scripture, Jesus is praying for his disciples. There is clearly a tension between being in the world and not conforming to the world, but at no point does Jesus suggest that the answer to the messiness of the world is to escape or hide. Instead, we are to engage the world as representatives of God’s Kingdom. Jesus came into the world because God loved the world, and this love demonstrates that – from God’s perspective – the world is worth redeeming. And if it is worth redeeming, it is going to be difficult to speak to that idea if I’m hiding in a cave with a bunch of folks who are afraid of the world.
Prayer: Send me into the world, O Lord, not to learn the ways of the world but to reveal your redemptive love for the world. Amen.
All Three Services
In Holy Grounds
9am – Noon
Celebrating 30 Years of Music Making
In the Centrum
Scripture: Genesis 41:12
A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream.
Thought for the Day: Joseph had an astonishing ability to interpret dreams, and when Pharaoh could not make sense of his dream, Joseph was tapped (you can read more about the interpretation in the remainder of Genesis 41). This dream would change the trajectory of Joseph’s life, but also the life of the Israelites. Of course, there would be another turning point, when the situation in Egypt changed and Joseph’s descendants fell out of favor and found themselves enslaved. Another person would discover God at work, not in a dream, but in a burning bush. Centuries later, God would speak through priest and prophets, and still much later, God would present a vision in the birth of a child. God doesn’t just cast a vision and then hide. God continues to reveal and reinvent depending on the circumstances of humanity, though each time the love of God was made real.
Of course, this did not stop when the scriptures concluded. God continues to to reveal the divine nature, including casting a vision among a group 42 years ago this past month. This group would eventually call itself Cypress Creek Christian Church. Over the church’s history, God has revealed and reinvented the revelation more than once, yet there remains some wonderful consistencies along the way – including, an emphasis on God’s unconditional love and a passion for the arts. This coming Sunday night, the Cypress Creek Christian Church Choir will celebrate 30 years of sharing music to the glory of God and for the enrichment of our community under the direction of Clara Lewis. I encourage you to come out and be blessed. The concert will celebrate where we have been, but in the way that only music can, we will be opened to the new things God is doing.
Prayer: Speak to us in dreams and visions, but also through your gift of music. You are holy, O Magnificent God, and we celebrate what you have done and the new things coming alive in our midst. Amen.
A BIG NIGHT
Scripture: Psalm 126:4 (Common English Bible)
LORD, change our circumstances for the better, like dry streams in the desert waste!
Thought for the Day: If your current circumstance feels like a dry stream in the desert, I can understand why a request would be made for a change of venue. But leaving our less than desirable circumstance may not be what God has in mind. Could it be that the change God is attempting to bring is simply a change in the irrigation system? I think too often people leave a dry and barren situation about the time God gets the irrigation system to redirect the nourishing waters. Don’t be too quick to judge your current situation as beyond redevelopment, for in fact, your presence may be what God plans to use to make a once dry land into something that is full of life.
Prayer: Let me dream your dream, O God who has inspired many. Let me dream your dream so that I am where you need me to be. Amen.
At Cramer Retreat Center
Dinner at 6:30pm
Study at 7:00pm
AN EXCITING NIGHT
This Sunday Evening
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:12
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live…
Thought for the Day: Have you ever had one of those little sayings that hit you like a ton of bricks. I read the following: “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” Now I don’t believe we’ll actually see some movie of our lives at the gates of heaven, but if we were to see such a movie, would it be worth watching? I don’t have a concern that it would be filled with things that would embarrass me if my mother was watching (actually, there might be 2 or 3 things), but my fear is that it might be boring. What would the critics say? I hope they might say it had a real sense of purpose and value. At least that’s what I hope. More importantly, would God give it two thumbs up?
Prayer: Creator of life, what might I do to make sure my life has some worthy highlights? Amen.
Cramer Retreat Center
6:30pm — Dinner
7:30pm — Study
All Are Invited
Scripture: Colossians 3:12
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Thought for the Day: Paul is talking to the faithful, yet he needs to remind them even again about the qualities associated with being a follower of Jesus. Those five words carry with them no surprise to anyone who has been in church more than two or three times, and in theory, most of us would hope to embody them all. It was true of the Colossians, yet Paul still needed to remind them of how putting on Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14) meant clothing yourself with the attributes associated with Jesus Christ. Let us continue to remind one another of how to follow Jesus by imitating the most central attributes of his life. It may not seem possible, yet Jesus felt confident enough to say that his followers would do even greater works than he (John 14:12). We surely won’t if we do not take these beautiful characteristics seriously.
Prayer: Come alive within me, Lord Jesus. Make your life visible in mine. Amen.
A Great Day To Be In Worship
8:15am, 9:30am & 11:00am
Scripture: Philippians 4:16
For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once.
Thought for the Day: In a book of prayers, Lavon Bayler writes: “Eye-opening God, whose compassion reaches out to all who walk in darkness, help us to recognize the blind spots in our lives.” This is a dangerous prayer to pray as it requests God’s help so that we might recognize the blind spot in our vision, and by the grace of God, regain a needed perspective by which we see the world as God sees it. And once we’ve gained this perspective, we will need to respond to what we’ve seen. Too often our prayer life consists of requests that will make our lives easier, but I’d like to suggest that we pray for the Eye-opening God to do just that – to open our eyes to the needs around us so that we can respond.
Prayer: Illuminate the path, O Eye-opening God, that leads us to the place where you would have us serving the real needs of the world. Amen.