Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-30-16

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Scripture: Luke 16:13
No household servant can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Thought for the Day: On this day in 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory which doubled the size of our young country. I was always fascinated by the Louisiana Purchase as my home state, Nebraska, was the center of that acquisition. Even in those days, the purchase price of $15 million was a bargain. But the purchase also came with some complications. For instance, there were already people living in this broad territory who had allegiances elsewhere. There were Native Americans, Spanish, French and English. There were those who had come from Mexico and modern day Haiti. There were multiple allegiances among the people living in the territory, including those who felt no allegiance to France (the previous owner), the United States (new owner) or anyone in particular. In fact, there were probably many living in the territory who wouldn’t learn of the transfer of ownership for quite some time. It had to have been complicated. 

Jesus spoke often about split allegiance or loyalty. There are times when it may not create a significant problem, but in many circumstances, it really can cause all kinds of chaos – both internally and externally. Who do you follow when the pressure is on? To whom do you listen when the stakes are high? For those living in what would become the state of Iowa in 1803, a negotiated document and purchase price did not necessarily change their alignment to the United States. Just living in the territory did not create commitment to the United States in the same way that just sitting in the church building does not automatically create commitment to Christ.

Prayer: To you I turn, O Lord. May my heart have a single focus, though if I’m able to achieve it, I know it will be done only with your help. Amen.

 



See You Sunday

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-29-16

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Scripture: John 4:1-3
Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was making more disciples and baptizing more than John (although Jesus’ disciples were baptizing, not Jesus himself). Therefore, he left Judea and went back to Galilee.

Thought for the Day: There are things we’ve read but never really noticed. I’m pretty certain I’ve read these verses of scripture numerous times, yet for some reason the fact that Jesus was not doing the baptizing has never stood out to me until I read it last night. John the Baptist started the baptizing movement near the Jordan River, and it was there that he baptized Jesus. John continued his work of baptizing those who came, but the Jesus movement also took up the task of baptizing. It is interesting that the leader of the movement, Jesus, did not see it necessary for him to do the baptisms.  Control with a movement might be necessary early, but success and health is found when the tasks and mission are decentralized. It has more to do with casting a clear vision with high expectations, and then releasing people to go and do without micromanaging. The Jesus model seems to have worked pretty well.

Prayer: Holy God, with Jesus as the model and your spirit as our guide, we seek to make disciples for the sake of your Kingdom of Grace. Thank you for trusting us in this work. Amen.


SUNDAY

WORSHIP – 8:15, 9:30 & 11:00
SERMON – A Politics of Kindness

AREA ASSEMBLY at 3:00pm
Texas City

Choir Concert at 7:00pm
In the Centrum
Spring Conert

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-28-16

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Scripture: Psalm 18:46-49
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. 

Thought for the Day: King David is doing a happy dance, an all out praise-fest for what has occurred. Early in the Psalm, the author (thought to be David) speaks of how enemies and even death have confronted him. In the struggle, the Lord was present in an unmistakable and palpable way. The Lord was like a Rock for David, and even though David had to have been frightened and uncertain about the future, the Rock was unmoving. One moment it did not look promising, then suddenly it was turned into victory. In those moments, God is quickly forgotten. Oh sure, there might have been an initial thank you, but is it lasting? David is doing his happy dance, and it sure does not appear to be short lived. He plans to go out among the nations to praise and sing the name of God. How long does your gratitude last? Does it last past the front door? Would it last as long as it takes to travel among nearby nations, especially when traveling by donkey? Just something to ask yourself.

Prayer: Praise to the Lord, my Rock! You are the One who deserves to be exalted, yet you have chosen to come near in times of crisis. I give praise to you for your eternal presence and unconditional love. May my gratitude resemble the duration of your faithfulness. Amen.


SUNDAY

WORSHIP – 8:15, 9:30 & 11:00
SERMON – A Politics of Kindness

AREA ASSEMBLY at 3:00pm
Texas City

Choir Concert at 7:00pm
In the Centrum

Spring Conert

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-27-16

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Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 

Thought for the Day: JaMarcus Russell was the #1 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. He was chosen by the Raiders to be their big name player, but the opinions of most analysts have been that JaMarcus was a bust. There were those who suggested that he didn’t put in the needed time; he didn’t have the commitment; he did not understand what success would require in the NFL as compared to the college level. He has been out of football for a few years, but now he would like a second chance. He is willing to do whatever it takes, even playing on the scout team for no money. In a letter he wrote to one of the NFL owners, he said:

My tribulations have humbled me. I am a better man because of my struggles and I simply desire an opportunity to redeem myself. I do not want my legacy to be a trail of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities. 

How many of us learned what was required only after it was too late? The painful part is that there are certain situations when a second chance is simply not available. In those moments, we need to let the God of second chances (grace) point us to new beginnings. It may not be an opportunity to reclaim or redeem a past failure, but God remains the One who points us to a future no longer defined by the past.

Prayer: Give me the necessary vision to see the new thing you are attempting to do, O Lord. I wish to see it and to embrace it. Amen.

HOPE TO SEE YOU SEE SUNDAY EVENING
7pm in the Centrum

Spring Conert

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-26-16

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Scripture: Ephesians 6:19-20
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Thought for the Day: I am both humbled and thankful for the number of people in the life of the congregation who say (and I believe them) they are praying for me. There is a desire to preach and teach boldly (as we hear Paul say in Ephesians), share a good word in the hospital, have just the right thoughts for the stranger who calls in crisis, and continue to guide the church on a faithful path. There are days when it feels as if all these have come relatively easy, but those days are fewer than I wish. There are days when I wish I had the batting average of the Houston Astros (Houston is currently right in the middle of the pack at .241), but even that is wishful thinking. This is not to complain or to look for sympathy, but to recognize how my job and everyone else’s jobs can be tough. Whether you are a teacher, waiter, plumber, musician, IT person, engineer, warehouse supervisor, student, security guard, truck driver, salesperson, EMT, artist, business owner, cook or ____________ (fill in the blank), you probably have some really good days where you feel as if most everything went your way. But there are those other days…  This is where I want to encourage us to be praying for one another. Having people pray for us does not make us successful or the job easy, but I believe there is spiritual energy that is shared from which we can draw. This spiritual energy (grace, hope, mercy) is ultimately from God, but as people of faith, I believe we can distribute it – through words, actions and prayer. It is the ability to reach into that spiritual energy being gifted to us that helps on those less than stellar days on the job. It provides us the grace to get out of bed the next day, and to do so without being consumed by the failures of yesterday. The prayers of others help us to see the new day with more possibilities than we might have otherwise seen. Thank you for the prayers you offer me!

Prayer: Continue to put me in the streams of your grace and mercy, O God, for it is there that I can draw the sustenance for life. Allow me to also be the one who helps to divert that stream into the lives of those who are needing to draw from it themselves. Amen.


THE SHADOW OF A DOUBT

The Study Continues

TODAY-Tuesday
Paula’s class will be focusd on chapter 3

TOMORROW-Wednesday
Bruce’s class will be focused on chpater 4

We missed a week because of the flooding,
so we are extending the classes by one week.



AND THIS SUNDAY…

Spring Conert

Cypress Creek Chorale Presents:
Antonin Dvorak – Mass in D
7:00 PM – May 1
In The Centrum
6823 Cypresswood Dr.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-25-16

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Scripture: Joel 2:12-13
Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

Thought for the Day:  When we have done something wrong, I don’t believe God is looking to humiliate us or crush our ego.  Instead, God is always encouraging us toward a healthier and happier future. Bernard Meltzer said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”  I think the same is true about being remorseful and seeking forgiveness. God is not looking for a show in which a person demonstrates regret through ripping up his/her clothes.  Instead, God desires a changed heart. It would make no difference in regard to the past, but it will create the potential for a renewed relationship in the future.

Prayer: A real change can occur this day, O Lord…a change through your grace and my desire for a different future.  Thank you for your help!  Amen.



 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 04-24-16

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Scripture: Romans 5:2-6
We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people.

Thought for the Day: Paul describes the love of God being poured into us through the Holy Spirit. The word we translated as poured (Greek – Ekcheo) is the same word used in Matthew 26 when Jesus speaks of his blood being poured out as a symbol of people’s sins being forgiven. The kind of love Paul speaks of in his letter to the Romans is not some romantic or shallow understanding of love. It is a love that is poured upon us through sacrificial giving, through the relinquishing of self for the sake of others. The word poured could carry very little meaning, even overlooked. But when read in light of the larger Christian story, it brings a depth of beauty and challenge. How has God poured love into your life, and how exactly are you choosing to do the same?

Prayer: Make me a more of receptive vessel, O God who shares with us the gift of love. Empty me of all that is not of love so that I may receive your gift, and in turn, pour it upon others. Amen.

A LOT HAPPENING TODAY

First – Morning Worship
at 8:15, 9:30 & 11:00

Second – Stock Sale
Youth Selling Stock
for their Mission Trip

Third – Special Offering
Consider Giving A Gift
Memo Line: Flood Releif
(Going to NAM)

Fourth – Video & Discussion
The New Jim Crow
In the Centrum at 2pm


Today’s Sermon Based Upon:
1st John 4:16-19

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