Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-31-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: 1st Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant…

Thought for the Day: In the ancient Greek, the word we translate as ‘arrogant’ in this passage means what we think it means — to be puffed up or inflated.  It could probably be translated as being full of oneself or full of hot air.  One of the great preachers of the 20th century was Harry Emerson Fosdick, and he once said,  “A person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”  Actually, the package initially looks big, but there isn’t much substance and it easily deflates into an empty shell.  Love, on the other hand, is known in substantive ways.  Those who love are a weighty gift to the world, and when fully unwrapped, the gift never disappoints.

Prayer: O God, I ask for you to pop my big ego and help to set aside my pride, so that your loving presence might more greatly reside within me.  Amen.

Study - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-30-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Job 38:1-4
[In response to Job and his friends presenting simple answers to complex problems, God enters into the conversation] Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.  Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding…”

Thought for the Day: Why is it that we live in an either-or society? I understand that in politics, we must eventually choose and vote, but it appears impossible to suggest that the person I’m not voting for may actually have a couple of good ideas. Not only are we incapable of saying so, but the tendency is to demonize the other. This same tendency is seen when it comes to solving significant social problems. In recent tragedies and acts of violence, including the heartbreaking murder of Deputy Goforth, there appears this immediate rush to cast blame in one direction or another. I understand the desire for simple answers, but at the end of the day, oversimplified explanations are getting us no closer to actual solutions to the larger problem. People point to personal responsibility, and YES…let’s be clear, an individual must be and will be held accountable. But we also need to ask broader questions about our social context that shapes an individual to make that decision. The counter point – there are those who believe we should blame only the social forces without talking about individual responsibility. To do so will also limit the capacity of our culture to solve the problem. At this point, we know very little about the recent tragedy suffered within our local sheriff’s department, and prayer for the family and for fellow officers is a priority. At the same time, let us stretch ourselves and rise above the human propensity for an either-or response. Let the judicial process do what it was created to do – prove beyond a reasonable doubt and seek justice within our current system of laws -AND- let us seek to ask tough questions about our social context, and all the cultural influences that help to create an environment where such horrific choices are made. It will be a stretch for almost all of us, but a stretch we must be willing to make if we desire real solutions.

Prayer: Have mercy on us, O Lord! We weep for a brother who has died in the line of duty. His death is senseless, and our community cries out for answers. Let us seek your will, God of Grace and Justice; let us rise above easy solutions that will solve nothing; let us have the courage to follow you in the difficult work of building your reign of justice and peace on earth. Amen.

Let Us Gather Together
for worship this morning
at 8:15, 9:30 & 11:00Doubt ChangesStudy - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-29-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Thought for the Day: One of my favorite people, Richard Rohr, writes that “transformed people transform people.” As I look around the world these days, I see a lot of people trying to transform others, yet their language and actions reflect a non-transformed life. They continue to speak from a place of violence and vindictiveness, prejudice and sanctimonious piety.  They are transforming the world, but not into anything that resembles the love and mercy of God. I recognize culture’s draw toward violence and vindictiveness, prejudice and sanctimonious piety. And I recognize how often I see within myself an untransformed life and the potential damage it can have upon the world – specifically the people around me. Transformed people are first and foremost humble, and for that reason, they are very cautious about arrogantly parading their transformed nature for others to see. In fact, it is in their humility that the transformative power of divine love and mercy begins to reshape others. Transformed people transform people, but rarely do the transformed people set themselves up as an agent of transformation. They just attempt to live faithfully, being the love and mercy of God, and transformation begins to happen.

Prayer: I desire to be less and less conformed to this world and more and more transformed by the renewing of myself through your love and mercy, O God. In humility, lead me to faithful living…and maybe, just maybe, to a place where my life my help to transform another life. Amen.

DON’T MISS TOMORROW’S
WORSHIP
Doubt ChangesStudy - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-28-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: 1st Peter 3:9-11
Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.  For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.”

Thought for the Day: My sister, Beverly, introduced me to these words from the Dalai Lama.  He wrote, “In daily practice, reflect on the benefits of love, compassion and kindness, then reflect on the disadvantages of anger. Such continuous contemplation, the growing appreciation of love, has the effect of reducing our inclination towards hatred and increasing our respect for love. By this means even anger can be diminished.” I find it interesting how every major religion places peace and love, blessing and goodness, above everything else.  In turn, every religion defends those ideals by using methods that demonstrate a complete lack of trust in those ideals.  We think defending them is the most important thing, when in fact living them is foremost.  And as we live them, we do more than defend them…we embed them in the very fabric of ourselves, our community and the world.

Prayer: Guide me, O Great and Good God, using what you have taught the world through the many expressions of your incarnate word.  Amen.

THIS SUNDAY’S SERMON

Doubt Changes

Study - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-27-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Proverbs 31:8
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.

Thought for the Day: Yesterday I did something stupid. Please, no commentary! But I was eating my lunch at my office desk, and I picked up the phone to call one of our church members. Immediately after dialing, I grabbed my sandwich and took a big bite. It was a peanut butter sandwich. The call begin to ring – I panicked. There was no way I could make a sound, let alone speak. I was so thankful when it continued to ring, never even going to voicemail. Had someone answered, it would have been nice to have a friend to speak for me.

The Proverb references those who cannot speak, and thinking of it as symbolic language, I believe there are a lot of situations in which people feel as if they have a mouth full of peanut butter. They feel as if their voice will not be heard, or speaking could cost them a job or promotion. It is hard when we feel as if we have something to say, but a mouth-full of peanut butter.

Let us pray that in such moments, God will provide us someone who will speak on our behalf. And let us be so bold as to ask God to guide us to those situations where we can speak for others who feel as if they have no voice.

Prayer: Give me your voice, O Lord of Love, so I may speak your glorious message.  And when I have nothing, please provide me a spokesperson who sees my need and speaks on my behalf. Amen.

THIS SUNDAY’S SERMON
Doubt Changes

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-26-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Luke 11:1-2
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come…”

Thought for the Day: A week from today, I will begin a study focusing on prayer. In the above passage, we get a little taste of what will become the Lord’s Prayer and the context in which Jesus originally taught these words.  One of those words that catches my interest is ‘hallowed.’  It is not a word that makes its way into my daily conversations.  I occasionally use it when I’m watching Nebraska football and the camera pulls back to make Memorial Stadium visible.  I remember going there as a child, and I thought it was hallowed ground.  The word here means to be set apart, and so Jesus is suggesting that when we pray we should place the divine name on a pedestal of sorts.  Do we do it because God’s ego needs to be encouraged through our acclamations? I don’t think so.  I believe the name of God should be extolled and set apart as a reminder that God is the Holy Other (borrowing from Rudolf Otto).  We may claim to have within us the image of God or the divine spark, but we should not confuse ourselves with God.  God remains uniquely God and distinctive from humanity.  Though humanity has often tried to make God in its image, at the end of the day God remains the Unequaled Other…and this is good for both of us.

Prayer: Holy God, all of creation deserves respect as we are created in your image.  At the same time, let us never think of ourselves as equal with you, the One who gave us life. Amen.

Study - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-25-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Isaiah 40:28-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Thought for the Day: Yesterday was probably not my best driving day. There was no accident or even near accident, but on the way home from the grocery store, I came to a stop at an intersection only to have my wife point out that there wasn’t a Stop sign at the corner.  We laughed, drove a little further, and then I stopped again for no apparent reason just to be funny. We laughed again, drove a little further, and once again I came to a stop. This time there was a Stop sign, but as I pulled out in front of an approaching car, my wife pointed out that it was not a Four Way Stop.  Oops!

The scripture speaks of the everlasting and incomprehensible nature of God’s concern for humanity. In difficulty, we are to wait for the Lord, and in our waiting, we are to find renewal. The Hebrew word used here is Qavah, and it means to wait or linger or to look eagerly for what is to come. I guess it is always good to be cautious, but we do need to know when to wait and when to go, when to stop and when not to stop. But even when it is time to wait/stop, let us remember that it is for the purpose of renewal. Let us view it as a period of time in which we look eagerly for what is to come.  And once rested and reenergized, it is time to move forward with a sense of renewed faith.

Prayer: Stop me, Lord, when it is time to stop. Bring me to a pause for the purpose of revitalization. Let me wait eagerly, receive openly, and move forward faithfully. Amen.


WEDNESDAY AT 6:30PM

Final Session
of
Dr. Mark Whitten’s Class

Critical Christian Thinking
About Homosexuality & Gay Rights

Doubt Changes

SUNDAY’S SERMON

Based on: Matthew 20:29-34


Study - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-24-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Zechariah 7:9-10
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.

Thought for the Day: Did you hear about the man who fell into an upholstery machine? He is fully recovered. I came across that joke on Facebook, and a day later, I was visiting my in-laws in Harrison, AR, when my father-in-law tells me about how a man in their community had been drug into a factory machine and killed. I had laughed hard upon reading the joke, but suddenly I felt rather shallow and insensitive. My laughter was never intended to show disrespect as I did not know the other story, but it made me think about how often we may innocently joked to only find out how it hit painfully close to home for another person. We can never know every situation, and there will be times when a joke may not feel like a joke to someone else. A sensitivity to those around us is essential if we claim to be a follower of Jesus, and though we will still say something that will be unintentionally hurtful, we must continually strive toward greater awareness…and when we fail, we must be unafraid to say, “I’m sorry. I never intended to be hurtful.”

Prayer: Provide me an awareness, O Lord, to be able to show compassion and demonstrate kindness. And when I am unaware and cause hurt, provide me the courage and grace to say that I am sorry. Amen.

LOOKING AHEAD

Study - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-23-15

IMG_0028

Scripture: Exodus 12:37-41
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds. They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt; it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years. At the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

Thought for the Day: Do you remember your first day back at school? If you were like me, there was both anxiety and excitement. There was always the unknown factor, but if it was a new school, the anxiety usually eclipsed the excitement. I can’t imagine what it was like for the Israelites as they were escaping more than 400 years in Egypt, many of those years were spent as slaves. They were rushed out, unprepared when it came to their provisions. Their bread had not had time to rise, and so it was unleavened.  They didn’t know exactly where they were going and they didn’t trust Pharaoh who they hoped would remain behind. Would this be the doorway to their destruction or would there be promise and new possibility in the future?

To be fair, starting a new school year is not the equivalent of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt. And even though some kids will suggest that school is like slavery in Egypt, it is not. At the same time, the unknown is the source of great uneasiness. Children’s imaginations can run pretty wild, and their late night fears about teachers, locker combinations or school food can produce all kinds of apprehension. If you’re like me, I had some of that return to school apprehension. Let us pray for our children who are returning to school and those who are beginning school for the very first time. Though it is hard for them to see it from where they currently stand, these are important steps toward the promised land of knowledge and growth. As best we can, let us listen to their concerns, comfort their anxiety, and cheer for them along the journey.

Prayer: Quiet the anxiety that is felt, O Lord of Grace. Provide assurance to those who are feeling fear. Let the nightmares of three-headed monster teachers be replaced by the genuine love each teacher seeks to share.  Amen.

TODAY
SPECIAL SERVICES 

for
Teachers and Support Staff and Students

A special prayer card will be given
to all educators present in worship
Prayer Cards-Teachers


ALL WOMEN ARE INVITE

To a Gathering from 3-5pm

TODAY

(In the Activity Room)


COMING SEPTEMBER 2

Study - Prayer-Basic - Announcement

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-22-15

IMG_0028

Today’s Devotional Written by: Jessica Galvan

Scripture: Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

KJV:  For our battle is not against flesh and blood; but against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Thought for the Day: Paul writes, our battle is fought against things we cannot see!…not against flesh and blood. Do we not fight flesh and blood daily, already? Yet now, we fight another battle – this battle for our mind/spirit. How do we battle, fight, and win a victory over things unseen? Does it have to be seen to be believed?

Feelings make us happy, smile, laugh or cry. Oxygen, hydrogen, pheromones and water vapor are all good things you can’t see flying through the air. A person, a song, a warm fuzzy or an ill will; a sad memory or an odd thought comes “from out of the blue” and you ask – from WHERE did that thought COME? Why am I thinking that? Why did I dream that? Sound familiar?

With those questions asked, how unbelievable can that (things that can’t be seen) remain when one considers that our precious health and well-being; our very bodies, minds and thoughts are subject to things we cannot see. Catching a cold, Ebola, H1N1 or the measles — are all illnesses we cannot see enter our bodies through the air we breathe – and our bodies become infected. We battle for our physical health with vitamins, proper diet & exercise, using caution, not running with scissors, etc.

Before the “digital age”, antenna radio and TV signals were received through the air. Today, our computers and electronic minds (drives) are subject to viruses and other bugs. They can become infected through Wi-Fi connection (through the air). We battle for our computers health with programs or apps and use caution about the websites we visit.

Much like our bodies and computers, our minds/spirit (thoughts) can become infected with disbelief such as Ill-feelings toward others, deception or depression; each full of darkness and defeat. In the same manner we battle for the health of our body and electronics, we should battle for our mind/spiritual health (against spiritual darkness) using the powerful word of God, prayer, and with the whole armor of God; about which Paul continues to write. Could spirits be in the air? Consider please, it is what you cannot see that can be the most impactful and meaningful.

We may not be able to “see” spirits or infections; however, we can see evidence, the result of each, in our actions. It is likewise, with our faith. Yet one day our faith will be SIGHT! Until then, the good news is, the victory we seek is ours through a relationship with Jesus Christ!

Prayer:  Praise you, Almighty God, Ruler of all! In your Son’s name I seek the refuge of Your protection against the dark spirits of this world that I cannot see AND the flesh and blood I can see. Who can be against me when You are before me? Father, prepare me for battle. Please continue to be with me (and this dear reader). Strengthen The Holy Spirit within me and help me to adorn the full armor of God so that the wickedness does not infect my spirit. Thank you. In the name of Jesus, Amen!

JOIN US IN WORSHIP

TOMORROW MORNING

8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

A Special Service for:
Teachers, Administrators, Bus Drivers,
Librarians, Cooks, Office Staff, Nurses,
Volunteers, Custodians, etc.

Also, we are Blessing Backpacks at 9:30 & 11:00.


WOMEN’S GROUP

Sunday from 3-5pm

Theme: “Fear Not — Trust in the Lord!”

All women are invited!