Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-31-14

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Scripture: Philippians 3:10-11
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Thought for the Day: In her book, Wonderful and Dark is This Road: Discovering the Mystic Path, Emilie Griffin describes mysticism as “a deep and sustained intimacy with a loving God, sometimes marked and dramatic in its emotionality, more often anonymous and invisible to the casual observer.” For far too long, Christians have been afraid of the words mysticism and mystic. We associate those terms with New Age religion. This is too bad, for the words have deep roots in Christianity. Some of the early Christian thinkers were called The Mystics. They were very intentional in the spiritual disciplines (prayer, study, fasting, meditation, silence, worship, service, etc.), and out of those disciplines, they discovered an intimate relationship with God. Mysticism is reflected in the words of Blaise Pascal, the great French mathematician, who wrote, “The heart has reasons which reason cannot know.” Let us commit ourselves to moving beyond a simple knowledge of Christianity to a meeting with Jesus who is our mentor, savior and friend.

Prayer: I come before you, O Lord of heaven and earth, for I want nothing less than to know you as much as you can be known. Amen.

Don’t Forget

Work Day Next Sunday

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-30-14

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Scripture: Psalm 41:4
As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

Thought for the Day: I always liked the humorous story about the four ministers who would get together on occasion.

During one of their conversations, one of the ministers suggested that they confess their sins to one another. “Our people always pour out their hearts to us, confessing all their sinful deeds. Let’s do the same, for confession is good for the soul.” After they all agreed, one of the ministers confessed he would tell his secretary that he was making hospital calls when in fact he was going to the movies. The second one confessed to enjoying a good cigar. The third minister confessed to playing cards while drinking good whisky. When it came to the fourth minister, he tentatively confessed his love of gossip. And with those words, the fourth minister excused himself for he had some excellent material to share with others.

Trust is central to confession. You and I will be cautious when it comes to naming our sins if we believe they will be used against us. God already knows what we’ve done, yet God desires for us to acknowledge our sin as part of the process by which we accept the forgiveness offered and seek genuine change.

Prayer: I trust you, Gracious God, for you desire to see my sins as far from me as the east is from the west. Amen.

Don’t Miss Worship This Morning
8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Lent-A-Palooza

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-29-14

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Scripture: 1st John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.

Thought for the Day: I recently came across the name of a great Christian—Secundus of Asti. In 119AD, he was arrested, tortured and executed for providing a Christian burial for a fellow Christian named Marcian of Tortona. Secundus understood the implications of his actions, but went forward despite the danger. In the days before his death, he continued to speak of love and compassion, but not in regard to what he had done. Instead, he continued to focus on what God had first done for him. Thomas Merton, the 20th century monk, wrote that the root of “Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved. The faith that one is loved by God.” The amazing acts of faithful people throughout the centuries did not have their origin within these individuals, but in God who acted first. Let us strive on a daily basis to better know and follow the One who loved us first.

Prayer: When I desire to brag about something good I have done, may I find the humility needed to refocus attention upon you, O Lord…the one who deserves all the praise. Amen.

Cypress Creek Christian Church:
Helping individuals and families realize a Love First Life.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-28-14

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Scripture: James 1:23-27
For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Thought for the Day: Shane Claiborne is a fascinating voice within Christianity right now, and boy does he challenge me. He wrote,

“To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.”

Do you feel as uncomfortable as I did the first time I read those words? Even though your first reaction might be to dismiss or trash the words, I would encourage you to let them settle within you. And if you’re like me, the more they settle the more they will become unsettling.

My intention is not to have us chastising ourselves. God is gracious, and we should be as well. At the same time, we are the only witness to God’s grace that most folks will see. Are they getting a good take on grace?

Prayer: God, I ask that you assist me in my work as a witness to your marvelous and unconditional love. Amen.

Are you getting ready for Sunday?

Don’t miss out!
Lent-A-Palooza

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-27-14

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Scripture: Genesis 46:1-3
When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.”

Thought for the Day: Last night at my Wednesday evening Bible study, I tried to remember a specific African-American preacher, but I couldn’t recall her name. Even when I closed my eyes, I could picture the book on my shelf… but nothing else. After arriving home, I spent 30 seconds on Google, and by golly, it came right up—Jarena Lee. Though my memory (it had been 20 years since I read the book) was not quite correct. She had not been a slave, but was, as a preacher of the Gospel, an outspoken critic of slavery. And as a woman in the early 19th century, she was not only battling racism, but also sexism.

Jarena Lee described her call this way:

Between four and five years after my sanctification, on a certain time, an impressive silence fell upon me, and I stood as if some one was about to speak to me, yet I had no such thought in my heart. – But to my utter surprise there seemed to sound a voice which I thought I distinctly heard, and most certainly understand, which said to me, “Go preach the Gospel!” I immediately replied aloud, “No one will believe me.” Again I listened, and again the same voice seemed to say – “Preach the Gospel; I will put words in your mouth, and you will turn your enemies to become your friends.”

As I said a few weeks ago in my sermon, silence can be frightening, yet not for the reason most people might think. It’s not because the silence is empty and lonely. Just the opposite! The silence can be full of God’s presence, pulsating with the divine call…a call that quite often creates anxiety. “You want me to do what?”

The world needs more people who spend time listening into the silence, for that is where many will find the call of God.

Prayer: Let me find a quiet moment where I might listen for you, O Lord. If I find that moment and hear your voice beckoning me to actions, give me the strength to say, “Yes!” Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-26-14

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Scripture: Daniel 9:4-6
I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.”

Thought for the Day: The Hebrew word we translate as confession literally means to throw away or cast down. It is the process by which we acknowledge and begin distancing ourselves from sin and failures. In this confessional piece from Daniel, we clearly hear a declaration of faith. God is awesome, keeping alive the covenant through an unshakeable love. Without an appreciation of God’s love (it could also be translated as: Merciful kindness), an individual is not going to feel comfortable in confessing his/her rebellion and utter failure. Fear does not create a contrite heart that truly desires transformation. It is only when we realize that God wants the best for us that we can more genuinely concede our shortcomings. Merciful kindness and love are the means by which our transgressions are removed – cast down – but confession is how we acknowledge our need for those gifts.

Prayer: I trust your love, Merciful God, and I bring all of who I am before you in prayer. Through my confessions, take away those things that keep me from participating in the Kingdom life. Amen.

 

TODAY

At Noon and 6:30pm

Image-Lenten Study

Ecclesiological Etchings: 03-25-14

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Scripture: Psalm 12:7
You, O Lord, will protect us; you will guard us from this generation forever.

Thought for the Day: The world will throw a lot at us. We will make many mistakes, and some of them will bring about trouble. Suffering will happen no matter how careful we might be. A lot of bad stuff will occur in life, but it is good to know that God will protect and guard us. Of course, that doesn’t mean we are going to be protected from all the stuff the world will throw at us. It doesn’t mean we will be guarded from the repercussions of our mistakes. It doesn’t mean suffering won’t befall us. It does mean God will protect and guard the essence of who we are so that no difficulty we face will have the ultimate victory. Spiritual Disciplines help us to more fully connect with this God, building trust in the belief that God will give us the ultimate victory despite all the bad we might experience.

Prayer: Creator God, in this life many things will transpire, yet I know you stand with me in this life and in the life to come. Amen.

TOMORROW–WEDNESDAY

Study at Noon and 6:30pm