Winners and Losers
I'm sure you've been seeing plenty of stories about the up-coming big game (if you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll just leave you in your happy, non-sport world). There's so much hype and build up to it that it will be all the more difficult for the team that doesn't get to raise the Lombardi trophy on Sunday evening. I've been on the losing side at various times in my life, but never with millions of people watching me lose!
What do you do when your dreams are smashed? I'm sure that there are some of you who have experienced greater losses than your team losing a game. When you lose your job, home, loved-ones, or dream it can be devastating. It's hard to even have the strength to keep moving.
This Sunday morning we'll be looking at a person who experienced all of these losses and more. By considering how Daniel responded to these things we can be encouraged in our own losses. God is greater than our loss and that can give us hope when we would otherwise feel hopeless. I hope to see you. (and GO HAWKS!)
Give or Take?
When I was a kid I learned a song that goes like this:
"Love is something if you give it away
I think it's true for the blessings we've received as well. If we turn around and bless others I believe God will provide more for us to continue to use. (Check out the story of the three servants in Matthew 25:14-30)
Our church has been blessed during the past year as our giving has been greater than our expenses (certainly not what many churches experience!). At our December Council meeting, our Treasurer, John Rohrer, suggested that we find a way to bless others in our community with some of our excess. We assigned John, Keith Larsen, and Gene Westlund to prayerfully decide how to disperse up to $10,000. What a fun job!! If you're interested in where these gifts were directed you can click here to see the "Joy of Giving" report.
The stories these men have come back with, and the cards and emails of thanks we've received, are wonderful! It makes you wish you could do this all the time.
The danger we all face is the temptation to hold tight to what we have and just use it for ourselves or our own "family". It's important (and biblically taught) to care for our fellow believers. But sharing our gifts with a pre-Christian person helps to build a bridge - one that God may enable us to cross over and bring the Good News to them via. Not all of the individuals and organizations we gave to are Jesus-followers or have an overtly Christian mission. What message does our blessing send to them? That the people who identify themselves with the name of Jesus Christ are willing to share his love in tangible ways. Some of these folks may have had a negative opinion of Christians (lots of people do). After this act of kindness done in Jesus' name they probably now have at least a little better opinion of us. And who knows what the Holy Spirit may do next?!
This Sunday we'll have a chance to consider the other side of the coin: turning our focus and love on ourselves. Tim Boonstra will be preaching about the last days of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and how their attitude of self-worship led to their downfall. Read chapter 17 in your copy of The Story (or 2 Kings 21-25).
About 25 years ago a youth group in Texas was gathering for a Super Bowl party and the youth pastor offered the following prayer before they dug into the food: "Lord, as we prepare to enjoy the Super Bowl, keep us aware and concerned for those who don't even have a bowl of soup." Out of that prayer a movement arisen that has spread throughout the country. Last year over 7500 youth groups participated and collected over $8,400,000 in cash and food items which were all donated to local food banks.
This year a number of the churches in our valley will be participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring. On Sunday, February 1st, plan on coming to church with one or more cans of soup and maybe a couple of bucks which will be given to The Cove. Our teens will be collecting the soup and donations. What a great opportunity to continue to "give it away"!
Going with the flow... uh oh...
One of my family's favorite Disney cartoon is "The Emperor's New Groove". It's a crazy story which features a Peruvian Emperor who get's turned into a talking llama (I told you it was crazy). In one scene a peasant named Pacha comes to Emperor Kuzko's rescue from a pack of jaguars. Take a look at this scene.
As they float down the river, going with the flow is not a great idea. But that philosophy is encouraged by many today.
This Sunday, January 18th, we'll take a look at the contrast between Hoshea, Israel's king in the north and Hezekiah, Judah's king to the south. How does God want us to go AGAINST the flow and just how can we do that? I hope you'll be able to join us. (The Seahawks kickoff at noon, so we'll have plenty of time to get in front to the TV).
Live in Fear
There's a haunted house in Canada near Niagara Falls called "Nightmares Fear Factory". They've installed an automatic camera that snaps pictures of spooked people at the perfect moment, a split second after a big scare in the pitch dark. Take a look at these hilarious reactions!
Some people love to be scared while other absolutely hate it. However, I can't imagine that anyone would want to live in a constant state of fear or anxiety. When we believe we are in constant danger of something bad happening to us, we'll experience all kinds of physical and mental ailments that sap our sense of hope and even the ability to function in a normal way.
This Sunday, January 11th, we'll continue in our journey through the Bible focusing on the aftermath of the civil war that divided the nation of Israel into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Israel was ruled by a succession of evil kings, but God didn't give up on them. He sent prophets to point out their sin and call them to return to worship the one, true God. Elijah was one of those prophets who God used in mighty ways, but even Elijah suffered from fearful times.
As we consider the negative examples found in scripture, this week we'll see how we can wreck our life by living in fear. Let's learn the truth and live differently in 2015. I hope to see you on Sunday.
Thoughts about living as a Jesus follower and life at Community Covenant Church