Psalm 100.4 (EB)
Enter his gates with thanks; enter his courtyards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name!
Seasonally there is a social media challenge that invites us to practice gratitude. Usually, in November (a month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving), it seems natural for us to be appreciative. Sunday, we will begin a short two week series on “Gratitude” learning again how an attitude will shape perceptions about us as individuals and the church.
What is gratitude? Webster’s dictionary defines it as “…a feeling of appreciation or thanks.” Moreover, while that is certainly true, feelings have a tendency to be fickle and often fleeting. What if in addition to feeling thankful, we shape our attitudes to become more defined by finding things to be thankful for in any given day. Through practiced attention and discipline, I believe that an attitude of gratitude can shift our focus and shape our feelings in ways that have long-term and positive effects.
So why do we focus on gratitude? Gratitude is a gateway in which we place all things in faith-filled order. Humbly, we recognize that God is the giver of all and us receivers of God’s good grace. Thus, we actively recall the story of faith that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” (John 3.16 CEB).
So maybe try your own experiment and find something to be thankful for every day. See you Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
2 Timothy 1.7 (CEB)
God didn't give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.
Discernment is a process in which we intentionally name what/where God is moving and how we might, knowing our gifts and graces, respond faithfully, joyfully, and committedly. Grounded in scripture, prayer, and reflection, we become a community that is purposefully shaped by God.
The Bible study material “A People of Salt & Light: Jesus’ Model for Community” explored various aspects of the Biblical vision for community. I am inviting us to respond a step further and apply Jesus’ teachings to LPCC. Specifically, thinking what God is calling us to in the next 5 years.
1. Read: Matthew 5:13-16
Grace and Peace,
Hebrews 11.8 (CEB)
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going.
We begin a new series this week in Genesis drawing from the life of Abraham. Even in the New Testament, he is considered a person from whom we might learn a thing or two. First, Abraham responds to God’s call to leave everything that he knew: friends, family, and country to go where he was not sure, even at the age of 75. Second, at 99 years old, God told him that the world would be blessed through his lineage, but he had no kids. Third, Abraham, at 100, has a son and anyone cannot help but laugh at the impossible becoming possible. Moreover, Abraham is asked to take his long sought after son to be a sacrifice to a God who does not want human sacrifice and discovers anew that the “LORD will provide.”
Each instance of Abraham’s life we find, “where God leads, God provides.” Stepping out in faith is not easy or straightforward at any age. Responding in faith is sometimes an act of the will believing that God keeps God’s promises to love and be with us throughout all of life. Like Abraham, we must step out in faith, trust that God is leading us, and all the while living, laughing, and loving God and each other.
Please join me these next several weeks as we learn from Abraham that it takes faith to have faith no matter our age.
John 13:34 (CEB)
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.
Stewardship is our ability to recognize that we are partakers in how to experience God in the world. From our actions to our words, we look at the world through the lenses of our faith in Jesus Christ. We are blessed not because we have more. No, we are blessed because we look out for one another. We are salty when we live for God’s glory. We are light when we risk letting the light shine on us even when we do not necessarily want it to illuminate the things we would prefer to keep hidden. The express invitation is to be a steward and know that our lives are not our own, sharing our gifts and graces and seeking to bless others as we have been blessed. That is being a good steward.
So how might we be good stewards in our relationships? Recall that Jesus’ ministry is about a radical love shared between each other. In Jesus’s view, love realizes that anger kills a relationship even before it can start. Love sees each person, not as an object, but a child of God. Jesus taught a love that values committing to each other even when it is hard. Love speaks words of truth gently and patiently. Love lets hatred and fear go because these do not lead to healthy relationships. Love is robust enough to witness commonalities rather than differences. These are ways to be good stewards of God’s radical love in Jesus.
Grace and Peace,
Matthew 11.28-30 (RSV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Christians are called to a different standard formed around the life of Jesus. By being obedient to his way, we are authorized to live in the kingdom as if it is fully present here and now. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5.1-12 describe blessedness in life as we know it, both as a gift and our response to that gift.
Our relationship of Jesus becomes evident when we share our blessings with others. When we share our blessings we are good stewards. Which of the these would you like to see more of in your life?
I’d love to hear your responses. Drop me a note or email or call. On Sunday, we will discover together the power of salt and light!
See you there!
Grace and Peace,
Discernment and Me
1 Corinthians 15.58 (CEB)
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
From this Sunday’s sermon, I challenged the church to consider how each person can take part in discernment. As the theologian and, author, and minister R.C. Sproul suggests, “Discernment is not simply knowing the different between right and wrong. Discernment is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” Beginning, ending, and always pointing to God, discernment is a communal activity that is more than merely decision making or consensus building. While that is certainly part of the process, its goal is to name where God is moving, evaluating, and determining the significance for us. By being aware of God’s gifts and graces present within each person, our faithful work is done most fully together.*
So our question is this: “How will I participate in discernment?” By making a commitment(s) to:
Grace and peace,
*adapted from “Seeing the Future with Eyes of Faith.”
2 Corinthians 5:7 (RSV) …for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Sunday, we looked at how our imaginations are powerful. Our collective imaginations are shaped by the hope that we have found in God. A hope built on our trust in God’s steadfast love and promise to keep. To see with the eyes of faith is guided by our hope and ability to imagine the world and our part in it as God desires.
I asked us to respond to the question: “How we might we use our imaginations to picture living in the way of Jesus?” Reflecting together: how Abraham and Sarah imagined a future God promised, and how the founders of LPCC imagined a thriving church in a time where coming together was key to living out Jesus’ invitation to serve the city of La Porte.
As part of both stories from ancient to recent memory, we too are invited to still imagine the world as God hopes.
Sunday, we will consider how discerning together helps us grow together. This means that we will have continued opportunities for everyone in Sunday worship as well as opportunities to study the Bible together, and participate in a vision panel. These actions will lead us to a
congregational vision celebration in November. Discernment will be an exciting time in the life of LPCC!
Please submit your responses to Sunday’s question to firstname.lastname@example.org or text to 281.941.8091. To listen to the sermon visit the website www.lpcomch.com.
Grace and peace,
Matthew 19.26 (NIV)
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
First, thank you for the wonderful responses to the question that I posed for us as part of our worship on Sunday. Please remember that you can listen or listen again to the sermon on our website at lpcomch.com. If you haven’t responded to the question “What gives you hope?” you can email me at email@example.com . We had 40 responses to this question and I expect that we will have more than 60 responses this week.
Discernment is seeking to listen carefully to what God is inviting us to do, to be, and to live. Grounded in the Gospel story, our hope is grounded in God's keeping of God's promises of liberation, salvation, and deliverance. Our listening and hoping together shapes how and what we see leading us to a clearer understanding of God's vision for us as a community.
Our imagination becomes a powerful way for us to see how Jesus’s salvation, liberation, and deliverance can be lived. By wildly allowing the words of Jesus to be lived in our dreams and possibilities, we take the first steps in letting Jesus' ways become our way. Our imagination becomes exciting and also a but a bit frightening because of endless possibilities and what we might be invited to do.
Sunday, we will tap into the power of imaginations so that we can see with the eyes of faith. See you there…
Grace and peace,
Psalm 39.7 (NIV) "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
LPCC is moving into a season of discernment this fall. Discernment is to discover and test how we might live into God’s will for us being aware of our present unique and
wonderful gifts, as well as our challenges and opportunities. During this time together, we will sort, distinguish, evaluate, and acknowledge who God is and what we will do in response to what God hopes for us. It takes us being soft, malleable and open to what the Holy Spirit does in our lives.
As part of this process, we will have many opportunities to reflect together trusting that God is guiding us. We will have moments of engagement and sharing of what we are discovering during worship and throughout the week. We will have opportunities to
respond to scriptures, questions, thoughts, and challenges.
The first sermon series frames how we see with eyes of faith. The first topic is hope and where we place it. Do we trust God or ourselves? Hope is found in the confidence and courage to first trust the future to God's faithfulness to fulfill God's promises and not in only our abilities or resources.
Here are some questions to consider꞉
-Where has God been faithful in your life?
-In what things do you find hope?
-How does hope help you in your life?
Let’s gather together this Sunday and discern together and see with the eyes of faith.
Grace and peace,
Bread & Cup...
I Corinthians 11.26 (RSV)
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
We offer communion every week. Our practice is called “open communion”. Simply stated, we trust that Jesus has called all to the table and anyone present is welcome to participate based on receiving that invitation.
I love how we observe the Lord’s Supper. One first Sunday’s, we receive the bread and cup as it is offered to us. We hold it until everyone is served and then take it together. This way shows our unity. On following Sunday’s and in the 9am Chapel service, we celebrate the Lord’s Table by intinction by tearing off a piece of a common loaf and dipping into the cup filled with juice. We meet together at the table to receive forgiveness and share our witness of God’s love for us in Jesus.
When you celebrate communion what do you discover? How has Jesus met you there? What do you learn about yourself? Sunday, we finish our series on “Being.” We will be looking at Jeremiah and hear once again that God knows us, carries us, and sets us free to love as God loves. I hope to see you there.
Grace and peace,
Husband, father, minister, child of God, follower of Jesus Christ writing in the context of La Porte Community Church