Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-31-14

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Scripture: Lamentations 3:46-51
All our enemies have opened their mouths against us; panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction. My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of my people. My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees. My eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the young women in my city.

Thought for the Day: On this day in 2005, a tragic event occurred on the Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad. It all started when more than a million pilgrims were on their way to a shrine. It was a tense time, heightened by the fear of potential violence. At one point, an individual in the crowd allegedly pointed at another person and yelled, “Bomb!” The crowd panicked, and began to run. Many attempted to cross the Al-Aaimmah bridge which was closed. It is estimated that nearly 1,200 people were killed in the stampede that day, many of them children and the elderly. To this day, I can still remember the news stories and the images.

Lamentations portrays a people who are devastated, grief upon grief. In such a state, panic can easily be triggered by a simple comment. Panic has people acting irrationally, and faithful discernment is lost amid fear and apprehension. The best way of dealing with those moments is to build a good relationship with God, the One who is the source of peace and contentment. That relationship cannot be built when anxiety flourishes and a spirit of panic is building. Waiting until the last minute rarely brings a healthy response to crisis. Instead of reacting with panic, let us become a people who can respond with faithful calm and healing grace.

Prayer: Can we chat for while, God. Just you and me… let’s make the time. Actually, you always do. So help me to make the time. Amen.

WORSHIP
This Morning
at
8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Lag2

 

Sufficiency Grace

 

blessing the animals FRONT

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-30-14

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Scripture: Romans 10:1-3
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.  I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.  For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.

Thought for the Day: Author and humorist, David Sedaris, offers the strange observation: 

“There seemed to be some correlation
between devotion to God
and a misguided zeal for marshmallows.”  

I don’t know what it is that Sedaris bases his supposition upon, but the antithesis of it is, in my opinion, the more profound truth:

There seems to be some correlation
between devotion to marshmallows
and a misguided zeal for God.  

Actually, you can replace ‘marshmallows’ in this statement with almost anything.  There are countless things in this world that can skew our zeal for God.  The Apostle Paul suggests that this misguided zeal has its origin in an inadequate understanding of God’s righteousness, and for that reason, it is impossible to submit oneself to that righteousness.  Righteousness is not worship or Bible reading or prayer, but living justly for the sake of others…specifically those who are treated unjustly.  Let us keep our zeal on track by growing in our understanding of God’s righteousness, and then choosing to submit our lives to its implementation in our day to day existence.    

Prayer: Help us keep our zeal for you, Lord, focused in such a way that what we do assists you in manifesting your kingdom here on earth.  Amen.

Sunday’s Worship
(8:15am, 9:30am & 11am)
Lag2

…and don’t forget about
prayer time in the chapel
at 8:00am

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-29-14

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Scripture: Genesis 20:1-2
From there Abraham journeyed toward the region of the Negeb, and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While residing in Gerar as an alien, Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” And King Abimelech of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

Thought for the Day: It appears that Abraham is not a quick study since he denied that Sarah was his wife just a few chapters earlier. Notice how Abraham comes to this decision out of fear for he was residing as an alien in a foreign country. Throughout scripture, people find themselves in difficult situations or forced to make tough choices for the simple reason that they are living in a foreign land. Because of this history, God will later teach the Israelites that they are to be respectful of the foreigner residing in their midst. We should always try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, or as Jesus will later teach, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Prayer: Though life may have changed, O God, may I never lose sight of where I have been. Amen.

SUNDAY’S SERMON
at
8:15am, 9:30am and 11:00am

Lag2

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-28-14

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Scripture: Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Thought for the Day: I doubt there is one person who has not, at one time or another, made a decision while intoxicated. This intoxicating impairment might have been brought about through an overindulgence of alcohol, but equally concerning is when we are drunk with hormonally-induced infatuation or irrepressible apprehension or some other momentary experience that limits our judgment. Not that alcohol or hormones or anxiety are bad in and of themselves…they’re not, at least in appropriate amounts! The concern lies with the decisions we make when we are under the influence of something that impairs our judgment. Paul wishes for us to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. There are times when we are so blind to our impairment that we cannot think clearly enough to name it. Could it be that, on occasion, the faith God assigns us is the faithfulness of another human being? It is good to have a friend in the faith who can think with sober judgement when we cannot. And know that maybe, just maybe, God will assign your faith to someone else who is not in a place to make a sober judgement. It’s what we call living in supportive community. It is really a good thing.

Prayer: I love you, Holy God, and I appreciate those friends in the faith who can speak from a better vantage point than the one I currently have. Let me hear their words in love. Amen.

Join us Sunday Morning
at
8:15, 9:30 or 11:00

(It is family worship Sunday)

Lag2

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-27-14

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Scripture: Matthew 9:7
And he stood up and went to his home.

Thought for the Day: This short verse comes after Jesus healed the paralytic man. This unnamed man had his life totally reordered and redefined by his encounter with Jesus. His response – to stand and walk home – doesn’t appear all that dramatic when you read it, but just imagine no longer being dependent on others to transport you. Picture yourself in his shoes (sandals) crossing the threshold of your home under your own power for the first time. You left the house earlier with limitations, and now you return healed and liberated. He is returning to his home, but because of his change, everything else will change. With the paralytic man’s dramatic transformation, the household system had to have been turned upside down. As people who have been and continue to be transformed by the healing grace of Christ, let us be mindful of the dramatic impact our change can have on the systems around us…from our households to our workplaces to our schools.

Prayer: May the change I have experienced become the change I offer to others. This is my prayer offered in your name, O Lord of my life. Amen.

Labor Day Weekend
Sunday Morning Worship
at
8:15, 9:30 and 11:00
(all children in worship)

Sermon:
Your Lag Shouldn’t Have a Leg to Stand On

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-26-14

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Scripture: James 1:5
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

Thought for the Day: I made a visit to the new Sprouts Grocery store yesterday, and though I was not in awe of my experience, I did find cherries covered in dark chocolate (no dairy which is important for me). I would try to describe the joy of my indulgent act of consumption, but I don’t want to make you feel too jealous. While I was enjoying a few of the quarter-sized morsels of euphoria, I did a little research and discovered that chocolate was first understood by the Aztecs as a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom. It was even believed that chocolate, specifically cacao seeds, were a vehicle by which wisdom was shared.

James believed that when striving toward maturity, seeking wisdom was important. In fact, those lacking could simply ask God who would give lavishly and without hesitation. James’ way seems a bit less complicated, though I think the Aztecs’ approach was more fun. Not to flaunt with the worship of other gods, but I have a feeling that a little time spent seeking wisdom through prayer and Bible study would not be hindered with a few pieces of chocolate. The wisdom may not come as quickly as you’d like, but when you have chocolate, patience seems a bit easier.

Prayer: Grant me wisdom, O God of Creation, and may I taste the joy of good and faithful judgment. Amen.

 

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-25-14

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Scripture: 2nd Peter 2:12-14 (the Message)
These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. Their evil will boomerang on them. They’re so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. They’re obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they’re experts at it. Dead souls!

Thought for the Day: On Friday evening, I was reading an article about a so-called minister who had been abusing young girls for many years. He is currently on the run from police, but this man used his charisma to persuade families to turn over their ‘first born daughters’ to him. A dozen or so families agreed, and he took these young girls to a camp site where he lived with them and abused them for years.

This is just one example of why the church and other institutions need to be extraordinarily diligent in their protection of the vulnerable, specifically children. Along with other congregations, we at Cypress Creek Christian Church have instituted specific steps to keep children safe. I wish it wasn’t necessary, but God has given us a responsibility to teach our children and to make sure they are safe. If you are asked to help with youth or children, please understand that an extensive background check must be done and specific procedures will be followed. We are constantly reviewing those policies and modifying when needed. They have a purpose, and no one can be exempt.

With that in mind, let me also call Christians to a commonsense responsibility. We all should help guide one another into a relationship with Christ, but at no point should pastors or church leaders use their authority to manipulate or guilt those under their care. I don’t care how charismatic or spiritual someone might appear, don’t be afraid to ask questions or raise genuine concerns. This is why we do our work in community. Our denomination adds an additional level of accountability, requiring clergy to do Boundary Training and other classes that focus on creating safe-space.

I know this is not an upbeat devotional, but after reading that story, I felt compelled to call our attention to one of the greatest responsibilities of the church: teaching and caring for the vulnerable, specifically children. The church is capable of amazing acts of grace, but a single person can cause extensive damage to the life of another human being. For that reason, let us take our responsibility seriously.

Prayer: Before you, O Lord, let me renew my commitment to making my church an amazing place of grace and wholeness. Let me reach out to others, so that together, we can create a safe environment where young minds and spirits can flourish. Amen.