Scripture: Acts 15:7-11 (the Council of Jerusalem)
After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Thought for the Day: This is the scripture I used at our staff meeting yesterday morning. After we read it together, I asked a question about the grace of God that appeared to be ever growing to include more and more people. Is the grace of God growing, or is humanity growing in its receptivity of that gift? If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, then wouldn’t you think that God’s love would be the same tomorrow as it was 3000 years ago? I believe it is important for us to see God’s love as this all inclusive, far-reaching gift for all people in all times. What we need to discuss is how human beings have chosen to understand the gift, describe the gift, mediate the gift and withhold the gift that was never intended to be withheld. When you look at the life of Jesus, what do you see? When Paul and Peter stood before that council, they were men who had struggled to release the powerful gift from their control. Yet in time and through much struggle, they relinquished much of their hold upon it… but not quite all. It is an ongoing process for all of history.
Prayer: Lord, let me glimpse your grace that could only be described as Amazing Grace. As I glimpse it, give me the courage to allow it to freely move into those places I’m not ready to see it go. Amen.
Scripture: 1st John 2:25
And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.
Thought for the Day: We think of eternity in terms of time that goes on and on, but eternity is really the absence of time. Now that’s a little beyond my small mind’s ability to comprehend, but I believe God is both the One who is not bound by time yet chooses to enter time for the sake of those of us who live within its confines. Eternal life is being in union with the One who is not limited by the clock, and when that occurs, our experience of eternal life exists on both sides of the grave.
Prayer: May I continue to grow in my relationship with you, O God, and in doing so, find the fulness of life. Amen.
The Areas Assembly
The Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)
Scripture: 1st Chronicles 29:18-19 (the Message)
O God, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this generous spirit alive forever in these people always, keep their hearts set firmly in you. And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.”
Thought for the Day: A few of you asked about a quote in my sermon from Sunday. It came from an article by Laurie Gerber entitled, Anatomy of Excuses. She writes:
The sad truth
is we believe
in our excuses
more than we believe
in our dreams.
That may not be true of you, but I’m guessing you know someone who resembles those words. It is easy to fall into the comfort of our excuses, missing what God really desires from us. In the above scripture, David is praying for his son, Solomon, who is still young. He desires to see Solomon have an uncluttered and focused heart. David knows God will call upon Solomon to do many things, and there will be a temptation to reach into the bag of excuses the moment it becomes demanding. The word focused in the original Hebrew is shalem, which comes from the Hebrew word, shalom. This focus comes from a sense of contentment and peace. Let us continue to grow in our relationship with God, finding the contentment and peace that casts out all fear and reduces our temptation to reach for excuses. Let us focus our full self upon God, finding not only peace, but a clearer sense of the dream God has for us.
Prayer: Assist me in discovering an uncluttered and focused heart, O God of All People, and may I find it as I focus more and more upon you. Amen.
The Areas Assembly
The Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ)
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)
And Don’t Miss…
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
This Sunday at 7pm
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