Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-30-14

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Scripture: Act 10:42
[The resurrected Christ] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead

Thought for the Day: In the last two days, in three separate settings, I heard the word preach used. What caught me off guard was the context and purpose of its usage. In each case, the word preach was used as a negative. For example, I heard a woman say to her son (late teens), “The last thing you want is for me to preach to you, and for that reason, I won’t. But please understand my concern…” I know that Christians do not hold a copyright on the word preach, but as I heard the words of that mother, I thought to myself that maybe her son needed her to preach…remembering that some of the best sermons are ones that we see with our eyes and not hear with our ears.

In this part of Acts, Peter was talking about the preaching that Jesus followers were called to do. It included preaching peace, the healing of the oppressed and the forgiveness of sins. Those all seem like incredible gifts, something everyone would want to experience. Maybe the reason the word preach has taken on such a negative connotation is because many sermons don’t have much good news. Preaching has become sirupy self-help or embarrassing attacks on proven science or simply mean and hateful speech. If those were the experiences of the three people I heard over the last couple of days, I could understand why the word preach was used as a negative. But before we toss the whole thing down the drain, let’s try to reclaim it by providing an experience of preaching that is life-giving, joyful, instructional and relevant in our intellectually savvy world. That seems to be what Jesus did, and he had all kinds of folks flocking to experience his preaching.

Prayer: Give me a word, O Source of the Living Word, so that what I offer is relevant and provocative and liberating. Amen.

DON’T FORGET
This Saturday
Creekfest
&
The Blessing of the Animals and Stuffed Animals

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-29-14

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Scripture: Luke 16:19-21
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

Thought for the Day: If you know the Gospel of Luke, then you should have an idea of where this parable is going.  In the first chapter of the Gospel, we heard Mary sing a song about a reversal of fortune for the rich and poor.   In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, we hear of the hungry and poor being blessed with good things.  Luke has a litany of ‘Woes’ in which he denounces the wealthy.  With those statements in mind, we should come to the opening words of this parable and know where it is going.  This sharp contrast sets the stage for another reversal of circumstance.  This parable is both good news and troubling news to most everyone, and maybe that was the intention of Jesus.

Prayer: O Lord God, humble me when I’ve become a little arrogant for my own good.  O Lord God, lift me up when I find myself as low as I can go.  Amen.

THIS COMING SATURDAY

Spread the Word
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Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-28-14

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Scripture: Luke 14:23-24
Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

Thought for the Day: I’m going to say something that isn’t very smart when it comes to pastoral job security, but here it goes: Jesus isn’t talking about bringing people into the church. This is a passage often quoted out of context to encourage people to bring others to church. Jesus is referencing, not the church, but the Kingdom of God. He is looking to make citizens of a new reality in which love and forgiveness are the core values. Now the church can be an embodiment of the Kingdom, or what some might call an outpost of God’s reign. This is a wonderful model of church life, but let us not fall into the trap of simply growing the church in hopes of maintaining an institution. Through our words and actions, we are to invite others into the growing dominion of grace where lives are transformed, outsiders find welcome, hate vanishes, justice is made manifest, and love rules supreme.

Prayer: O Creator God, may the reign of your mercy and love find an outpost in my church. Empower our mission on the frontiers of loneliness, injustice, greed and hate. We ask such things in the name of Christ. Amen.

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-27-14

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Scripture: Luke 4:21
Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Thought for the Day: A man picks up the morning paper and he begins to read it. Suddenly he realizes it is dated two months in the future. All the stories he is reading are in the future. He flips to the stock pages and is thrilled to discover that he knows which stocks are going up. He turns to the sports section, and reads what team will win the World Series. He begins to dream of all the money he’ll make gambling. As he flips back to the stocks, he passes by the obituary and notices his name.

We can so easily find ourselves distracted by the future and miss the very real present that is set before us.

Prayer: Keep me focused on this day, O Lord, for there is plenty of good things that need to be accomplished before the sun goes down. Amen.

See You Tomorrow
for
Worship

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IMPORTANT
THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Pastoral Care Ministry invites you to A Journey of Hope Cancer Seminar from 3-5 pm (Rooms 203-204). Discussions will include explanations and understanding of what cancer is and is not. Also included are treatments, prevention, and spiritual insights of hope and prayers. Hear the amazing testimonies of our own Ange and Bob Aghamalian’s journey. There will be surprises and refreshments. We look forward to seeing you and hearing your questions and comments.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-26-14

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Scripture: 1st Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

Thought for the Day: In an essay titled “Revitalizing Rural Communities: How Churches Can Help”, Dr. Fred Kirschenmann (professor of religion and philosophy at Iowa State University) writes:

Vaclav Havel, Paulo Freire, Wendell Berry, and Martin Luther King all have reminded us that hope is not confidence that things will turn out alright, but a commitment to justice even when there appears to be little to be gained by making that commitment. Wendell Berry refers to this virtue as ‘difficult hope.’ … Hope is not a belief that things will go well, but a willingness to work for something because it is right.

For those of us who are result oriented and maybe a little impatient, this is not an easy description to accept. We might be confronted with the question, “What if I work for something all my life, yet the end result appears no different?” In those moments, we need to remember that our willingness to live our lives with hope changed us, and in doing so, changed the world around us whether the evidence of that change was visible to us or not. Know that God will always use your hope-filled faith.

Prayer: May I find the strength to maintain my trust in you, Lord, even when my best efforts appear to make no difference. You desire for me to be successful, but at the end of the day, you have simply invited me to be faithful. Amen.

Worship This Sunday Morning

8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Sermon: We ain’t the Blues Brothers, but…

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IMPORTANT

THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Pastoral Care Ministry invites you to A Journey of Hope Cancer Seminar from 3-5 pm (Rooms 203-204).  Discussions will include explanations and understanding of what cancer is and is not. Also included are treatments, prevention, and spiritual insights of hope and prayers. Hear the amazing testimonies of our own Ange and Bob Aghamalian’s journey. There will be surprises and refreshments. We look forward to seeing you and hearing your questions and comments.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-25-14

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Scripture: Romans 6:5
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Thought for the Day: CS Lewis wrote:

In Christianity God is not a static thing — not even a person — but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance. The union between the Father and the Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person…joint life of the Father and Son is a real Person, is in fact the Third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the ‘spirit’ of God… Once a man is united to God, how could he not live for ever.

I love the language of the complex God being this triune dance of sorts, this movement of grace that is alluring and enlivening. And might I suggest that God is seeking a partner to join in the dance, a witness to a Gospel that is neither static or dull.

Prayer: Restore and revive me, O God of the Triune Dance, for the world does not need an unmoving icon to behold but a living partner with whom we move and find our being. Amen.

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Will You Donate
Soda
for the Youth?

– Bring This Sunday –

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-24-14

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Scripture: Psalm 138:7-8
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Thought for the Day: God has a purpose, and you and I and every person on earth – past and present and future – are the focus of that purpose. Both the purpose of God and the means by which that purpose manifests itself is the steadfast love of the Lord that endures forever. If God has a purpose, don’t you imagine that we should have one as well. And if we claim to be followers of God’s fleshly agent, Jesus Christ who clearly had a purpose, don’t you believe we should have one. Too often churches do lots of programming, look busy, but do not actually have a sense of purpose beyond simply providing programs. Some have suggested that churches desire to look busy as a replacement for having a clear sense of purpose. At Cypress Creek Christian Church, we are living into our mission of Helping Families and Individuals Learn to Put Love First in All Things, which is based upon the clear sense of purpose made real in a God who first loved us.

Prayer: As I enjoy the blessings of your purpose, O Lord of Heaven and Earth, allow me to also discover my own purpose that will help to actualize your purpose. Amen.

Join us for informational coffees

Today at the Church
Noon or 7:00pm
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Youth Gathering Soda

For Mission Trip Fundraiser
Consider Donating
a
12 Pack or 24 Case
Sodas will be sold at
the Blessing of the Animals
& Stuffed Animals Event

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Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-23-14

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Scripture: Daniel 9:20-22
While I was speaking, and was praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God on behalf of the holy mountain of my God—while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding.”

Thought for the Day: I must admit how I wish my prayers were answered with an angel walking into my room and explaining in detail how the prayer would be answered.  I think most of us would appreciate God answering our prayers with more bells and whistles.  We’d like to see more specifics, including a detailed timeline.  I wonder if our understanding of prayer is a little skewed.  I pray for a new car when my old car is working just fine.  A mother in eastern Congo is praying for just enough food to keep her child alive.  Maybe the answer to my prayer is, “No!” in hopes that the money saved by not buying a car will become an answer for the woman in eastern Congo who is praying for food.  At the end of the day, I still have the freedom to choose, and maybe that’s the reason Daniel receives wisdom and understanding as an answer to his prayers.  In all of our praying, may we first seek God and God’s gifts of wisdom and understanding.

Prayer: Humble my heart, O God, so I can hear your wishes and not the wishes of my desires.  Amen.

Crossing Over the River Campaign

Cap Campaign2014 JpegJoin us for informational coffees

This Wednesday
Noon or 7:00pm


Youth Gathering Soda 
For Mission Trip Fundraiser
Consider donating
a
12 Pack or 24 Case

Sodas will be sold at
the Blessing of the Animals
& Stuffed Animals Event

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blessing the animals PROJECTOR

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-22-14

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Scripture: Isaiah 41:10
…do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Thought for the Day: I often use those words in the context of a funeral, and though I can’t say if they have ever provided comfort to those in attendance, they have provided comfort upon comfort in my own life. We live in a cynical and pessimistic world, and at some level, I can understand where that sense of hopelessness finds its beginning. There is a lot going on these days that could leave a person feeling suspicious and disillusioned.

I remember working with a kid in the inner-city of Indianapolis who came to our after school program with broken glasses. We were working to get him a new pair as the frames were bent and one of the lenses was cracked. I was surprised they hung together during the two weeks it took to find the money to get them replaced. A few days before the new glasses arrived, I asked him about his glasses and how difficult it must be to read and do his class work. He nodded, but then added, “It is rough to have a constant reminder of the guy who punched me.” Until that moment, I had not realized the cause of his broken glasses. How often do we carry with us a perpetual reminder of some negative or hurtful experience? Such an experience would distort how an individual sees the world, and in time, leave him/her feeling a bit skeptical about life.

In the face of disheartening events that attempt to define us, we need to hear these words from the Prophet Isaiah who speaks of a God who is fully on our side. When we are constantly reminded of the discouraging and deflating experiences of life, God wishes for us to be defined by the eternal love revealed in Jesus.

Prayer: There are many who might say otherwise, God, but I believe that your opinion really matters. I desire to build my life and my sense of value as a human being upon your gracious attitude. In your love, Lord, you have claimed me. Thank you! Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 09-21-14

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Scripture: Exodus 16:2-3
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Thought for the Day: It was Winston Churchill who said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Such a statement wouldn’t be all that impressive if it came from someone who knew very little difficulty in life, but when you think of Churchill’s circumstance and life-experiences, it provides us insight into the character of this man.

Pessimism – including whining and grumbling – was a powerful and coercive force among the Israelites, though not unusual for any group of people who find themselves in the unknown. Such an attitude can dramatically distort a person’s memory of the past which intensifies the bellyaching. The only clear way of changing perspectives and finding the opportunity in the difficulty is in having a clear sense of purpose and identity. When the direction is clear and the passion is palpable, the voices of the naysayers are covered by the joyful singing of the resolute.

Cypress Creek Christian Church is on the cusp of the unknown, but will this be an opportunity for the pessimists to undermine our sense of purpose with their whining? – Or – …will it be our opportunity to convert the skeptics?

Prayer: We join our voices in celebration of you, O Lord, for you are the One who has not only provided us a vision of your dream, but invited us to participate in its fulfillment. All praise and honor belong to you. Amen.

Hope To See You
This Morning
for

WORSHIP
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