Thought for the Day: Have you ever had a day that did not turn out the way you had planned? Have you ever been hit with the unexpected that required a dramatic change in course? Both of those questions are rhetorical as I can only imagine each of you having multiple examples. Paul always seemed to have a plan that rarely went as planned. One moment he was preaching in a town, and the next moment he’s being chased from the town. Or, as we find in this part of Acts, he is being arrested. I like to pretend that I am one of those people who can go with the flow, and that interruptions do not bother me. In fact, the absolute opposite is true. But as Paul learned, following Jesus almost always requires adjustments to the well made plans. Cypress Creek Christian Church knows this well. And guess what? We are going to be making another slight change this Sunday and in the weeks to follow. Hopefully you already read how worship is being moved to the Forum. It is not ideal, but without notice, the company installing the flood gates placed a fence around the Centrum and started digging. I had requested a 30 day notice before they started, but it was already in place before we learned what had happened. I was upset for about three minutes, and then realized that being upset wasn’t going to change anything. And we sure didn’t want to tell them to take it down as that would only add cost to the project. So in the last few days, I have been praying every morning for God to do something unique in our move back to the Forum for a few weeks. And like Paul, we shouldn’t be surprised when God uses our changed plans for something we never would have imagined.
Prayer: Teach me to keep on keeping on even when the unexpected happens. Holy God, I do not want a change of plans to hinder my ability to see what you are doing. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: When we have done something wrong, I don’t believe God is looking to humiliate us or crush our egos. 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 people demonstrate regret through ripping up their 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 birthed through your grace, a change to create a different future. Thank you for your help! Amen.
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Thought for the Day: As children (and quite often as adults), we are unaware of the graciousness of others around us (parents, teachers, etc.). We took it for granted, accepting their blessings without even saying, “Thank you!” Yet the gifts of kindness kept on coming. For most people, there is a point of realization, a humbling moment when things come into focus and we appreciate what we have received. God hopes for a day when all the earth awakens to these divine gifts, yet those gifts are not dependent upon our thankful realization. That is the unmerited kindness of God.
Prayer: For all your graciousness, O Lord, I am grateful. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: Mariah preached a wonderful sermon on Psalm 23 this past Sunday, and there are other Psalms that speak of the Lord being like a shepherd. Here we have the wonderful image of God carrying us as a shepherd might carry a lost or injured sheep. God does not abandon us or forsake us, but carries us ‘forever’ or it could be translated as ‘eternity.’ No matter how difficult this life might become, God remains faithful. The Lord lifts us forever, and when the time comes, the Lord delivers us into eternity. Those words are full of hope, especially in those moments when despair and darkness appear to be winning the day. No matter how bleak the situation might appear, we hear God say, “Don’t worry! I’ve got you.”
Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for being my shepherd in this journey of life. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: The Apostle Paul was often writing about a desire to visit churches. Don’t you think it was a big deal to receive a letter from THE Apostle Paul with words about a potential visit? Now I don’t want to boost his ego too much in the comparison, but the Rev. Dr. Andy Mangum, our Regional Minister, will be visiting us today in worship. He won’t be preaching, just coming by to say, “Hello!” The SW Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) includes Texas, New Mexico and the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Andy and the Regional Staff have a tremendous task in trying to hold together this large geographic Region, but also the unique needs of all the different churches – from rural, to suburb, to the big cities like Houston. Among their many tasks, the Regional staff trains Commissioned Ministers like Paula, Shiela and Karl. They guide the Ordination process in which Mariah and Tamika are currently navigating. The Regional Staff keeps all us pastors on track with required trainings, while also being left to deal with misconduct issues that are never pleasant. It is a tough job, but we are thankful for all Andy and his staff do on our behalf. Andy will be at the 9am service today.
Prayer: Great God, we are thankful for all those who uplift and strengthen the work of the local church. Bless their ministries, and in doing so, bless the ministries of churches far and near. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: Jesus was on a roll, and he called out folks for what appeared to be bad behavior. He even called some of them, “snakes” and “vipers” (vs. 33). Yet I believe it is more than just bad behavior. It is one thing to ignore justice and mercy and faith, and something very different to make a big deal out of the small stuff as a distraction. Even before Jesus, people had been using the tactic of the smokescreen to keep others from seeing what was really happening. Individuals, groups, institutions and nations have learned this tactic, and some have harnessed its power in some pretty profound ways. Get folks focused on mint, dill and cummin as if it is the most important stuff of life, and then quietly go about the business of abusing and marginalizing the powerless. Some might raise a question, “But what about that person who is hungry or doesn’t have a home or was recently orphaned?” And the distractor will say, “Attention, please! Pay attention to the dill. It’s all about the dill.” I don’t want to sound too cynical, but unless you are making your living by selling herbs, it sure appears as if Jesus was not well pleased with the distractors and their capacity to divert attention away from “the weightier matters…” If someone has got you all riled up about something, pause long enough to ask yourself, “Just how important is this really? Does it have to do with weighty stuff like justice and mercy and faith?” If you realize it is something rather small, then ask the follow up question, “What am I not to see?”
Prayer: Beautiful and Magnificent God, your work is all about grace, forgiveness, justice and kindness. You seek to change lives, and to change them in dramatic fashion. Why is it that so many seem to have a problem with your ideals? What is it that is so important for them to stir up all kinds of energy around the irrelevant? There are real needs! There are people who are hurting and afraid! There is suffering and injustice all around us. Let us enjoy the dill in our dill pickles, but then move to the weightier matters. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: I opened a letter at the church yesterday that had come from Boys and Girls Country. It was a thank you letter for the church’s monthly gift. In the letter, the CEO wrote:
Before our kids came to us, they had little chance of escaping the effects of poverty, domestic violence, neglect, abuse and/or drug and alcohol problems in their families.
These words were a good reminder of the circumstance of too many children. Stretching back to the days of the Prophets, the people were never to ignore the needs of the weak and marginalized. Children are our most precious resource, and they should be treated for the gift they are. And of course, God was not suggesting only the children in our own family or the neighbor kids we like. When the Prophets spoke of the orphans, they were speaking of those who were abandoned and living in the shadows. The work of Boys and Girls Country is an attempt to take the words of the Prophets seriously. Today, I give thanks for the good prophet-inspired work of Boys and Girls Country, but also those within our church who partner with this program to make sure these young people know how truly precious they are.
Prayer: O God of the Prophets, inspire us as we speak and act on behalf of those who could so easily be lost in the trials and challenges of life. Too many of the most vulnerable continue to experience hopelessness and rejection. May the good work of programs like Boys and Girls Country point to your far-reaching love and its capacity to change circumstances and lives. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: I’m currently keeping an eye on the garden as this is the first year I planted carrots, and their little tops should be making an appearance any day now. I have mixed results with my gardening, but I still love it. There is something special about digging in the dirt. Maybe instead of the word special I should use the word spiritual. It feels like a religious experience. It was George Bernard Shaw who wrote, “I have found, after a good deal of consideration, that the best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” Today is Earth Day, and scripture reminds me of God’s ownership of the earth. I am a steward of this gift and should never confuse my role with that of God’s role. Yet one of the ways I can feel close to God is when I take seriously the task I have been given – to be a caretaker of the land and water and air. Selfishly, I need all those things to be healthy if I am going to be healthy. At the same time, I am honoring God when I take my role seriously. And of course, Adam (the first human) was created from adamah (Hebrew for the earth). In the ancient Hebrew, the two words are related, revealing how even an ancient people recognized the deep connection.
Prayer: May my life honor you, Lord God, as I take seriously the task I have been given to care for this amazing creation. There is such a splendid abundance, yet not for my exploitation. Give me time to play in the dirt, time to reconnect with the tool of life itself that can get under my fingernails. Amen.
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Listen To Today’s
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Rev. Bruce Frogge