Scripture: 1st Samuel 1:1
There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
Thought for the Day: This is the beginning of one of my favorite stories in scripture. We are introduce to the character, Elkanah, by means of culture, geography and genealogy. All of it is probably important, but in the verses to come, we will learn something about Elkanah that truly places him on the map. One of Elkanah’s wives, Hannah, was unable to have children, yet we will learn that Elkanah loved her and cared for her. In this period of history, women were valued by their ability to provide offspring. This thinking is troubling to our modern ears, and it should be. Yet I find it interesting that Elkanah’s understanding of love was able to look beyond the way the culture of his day attempted to measure the value of a human being. There are still parts of the world, even some in our own country, who continue to devalue women, yet the story of God demonstrates the power of love to see and honor the true beauty of each and every human being.
Prayer: You love me, Lord, even when the culture around me attempts to define me as one who is unloveable. By faith, let me continue to celebrate how I am cherished by you. Amen.
ONE SERVICE SUNDAY
Scripture: Psalm 37:3
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Thought for the Day: The author and speaker, Leo Buscaglia, said that too often “we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Most of us are looking for our history-making moment, that single act of self-sacrifice that would be the lead story on the nightly news. 99.7% of us will never have such a moment, at least according those who make the decision about the lead stories on the news. But each day, there are opportunities to participate in the transformation of the world. We can all do simple things like waiting those few extra seconds to hold the door for someone else or offer a kind word to the grumpy checker at the grocery store. The ripple effect is for real, yet these acts of kindness must be numerous and consistent to counter and overwhelm the ripple effect of negativity.
Prayer: The opportunities are there. The opportunities are numerous. Open my eyes, Lord, so the many opportunities for kindness do not go unnoticed. Amen.
in the Chapel
Scripture: Proverbs 21:21
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor.
Thought for the Day: At times, the Proverbs indicate an unwavering Cause/Effect system in this world, a guaranteed action-reaction where the good receive good and the evil only evil. I doubt there is a single person that doesn’t long for such a system because there are clear examples of just the opposite. It seems unfair…to the point that some good people have justified some of the not-so-good tactics in hopes of leveling the playing field. We seem okay with the idea: If those people on the other side are going to use unfair tactics, then the only way to even things out is to use unfair tactics ourselves. But isn’t that the proverbial snowball down the hill that ends with no one doing anything good? As difficult as it is, people of faith must take the long visionary approach that does good even if it means that the short-term will see absolutely no good. It’s tough, but that is when a relationship with the Source of Peace means everything.
Prayer: Keep me focused as I pursue your righteousness, O Lord, even when everyone around me uses tactics that are unfair, unethical and downright mean. It will be tough, but by your love, I will hold to you and your ways. Amen.
SINGLE SERVICE SUNDAY
…and don’t forget
about our time of prayer
in the chapel at 10:15am
Scripture: Psalm 30:11
You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
Thought for the Day: Last night, I was finally able to live the dream I have been dreaming for over a year. Yes, I was able to shop at the new Whole Foods on Louetta. Though it is not as large as the one we used to visit in Naples, it was good…and more importantly, they had my freshly baked vegan chocolate chip cookies. It was a good night, and though there was no emotional clothing switch – sackcloth to joy – it was a wonderful experience.
Upon returning home, with bits of vegan chocolate chunks still in my teeth, I read an article that spoke of the 168 children rescued from human trafficking this week in a massive operation by law enforcement. All of these children were American, and many of them had previously been abandoned or never reported as missing. But there were some whose families had been desperately searching for them, and tears were shed as families were reunited. All of a sudden my vegan chocolate chip cookie didn’t quite have the same joy-producing power as it had just a few hours earlier. God is in the business of bringing people home (emotionally, spiritually and physically), and when even one person experiences that homecoming, it brings a joy that not even the best vegan chocolate chip cookie could touch.
Prayer: We live in a world of lost souls, yet you – Lord – are all about turning the grief of separation into the joy of reunion. Thank you! Amen.
June 29, 2014
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE
Cypress Creek Christian Church
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-2
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
Thought for the Day: Today, June 26th, is not a day most of us associate with singing a Christmas song or hanging mistletoe, but it was on this day in 1870 that Christmas was named an official Federal Holiday. I believe it was a good decision, but there are times when I think naming it a holiday made it less of a holy day. We have six months, minus one day, before Christmas. What can we do in that time to make December 25th a celebration of God taking on flesh instead of human beings taking another day off?
Prayer: Thanks for all you do, Lord! I desire to celebrate your holiness and not just another holiday. Amen.
Cypress Creek Christian Church
Scripture: 1st Chronicles 29:14-16
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are aliens and transients before you, as were all our ancestors; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.
Thought for the Day: The 29th chapter of 1st Chronicles is King David’s Capital Campaign sermon. Before David’s death, the preliminary plans and vision casting are presented for the building of the temple. It is as if David is saying to the people, “Clearly, we do not have enough to make this happen. In fact, we are going to fail miserably… assuming we view this task as our task.” The alternative view David is attempting to present is one where human beings are not the source of the gifts, but merely conduits by which all gives are shared…since all gifts come from God. In our world today – as it was in the time of King David – it is difficult to view our possessions, lives, gifts and money as owned entirely by God. No where in the divine records of creation does it show any other owner than the Lord God. Of course, we have been loaned these gifts, but loaned with a purpose in mind. What part or parts of your life do you find it difficult to view as belonging to anyone else but you? How might you relinquish some governance over that specific part of your life, allowing God to have more say-so over its destination and use?
Prayer: Whether it is fear or greed or a combination of both, I do have a difficult time relinquishing control over certain parts of my life. Assist me – encourage me – guide me, O Lord of All Creation, so I may manage these gifts in a way that is pleasing to you. Amen.
FOUR WEEK BIBLE STUDY
Begins to Today
Before the One Service
a Prayer Time
In the Chapel
Scripture: Acts 1:21-22
So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.
Thought for the Day: One of the first points of business following the ascension of Jesus was to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot. The person they will seek – with the help of God – is someone who can become a witness to the resurrection. In the Greek, the word is martus, and of course, that is where we get our English word martyr. It is fascinating how those willing to give up their lives to provide a witness are doing so for the sake of resurrection.
Chris Baker was with us this past weekend, and he told some of us about death threats he has received in light of his ministry. I fear for him, yet he maintains a powerful witness to the resurrection for those who are trying to find new life. It is exciting for me to announce that we raised $3,000 for Chris’ ministry, INK 180. And wouldn’t you know – the day he returns home, he transforms a gang tattoo with a symbol of resurrection (see below).
Prayer: Mighty God, we give you thanks for all the amazing witnesses to resurrection. And this day, we give thanks for Chris and all those working with INK 180. We pray for their safety, encouragement in the face of threats, and a constant sense of your presence. Amen.
Special Organ Music