These days we are always talking about the healthy church. I borrowed this idea from Dr. Erwin Lutzer and re-worked it a bit - just added a couple other marks. The Marks of a Healthy Church - wet eyes, bended knees, humble minds, serving hands, broken hearts, and joyful spirits. Want to add any?
Share the stories of how the Holy Spirit empowers you for mission in the world. As we pray morning, noon and night, “Holy Spirit take control of me for Your Mission.” The Spirit will fill us for God’s purposes. Let’s encourage each other with God’s faithfulness and power at work in us.
Check out this evaluation of the economic health of the Cincinnati Region. Knowing this information, how do you think Jesus would direct us to seek the prosperity of the city?
Learn, too, to contemplate the beauty and holiness of the city where God resides and where he has placed you. There, at the heart of the city, raise your arms in praise and intercession.
– The Jerusalem Community Rule of Life
Steve McLemore shares this gem with us. Where do you see beauty and holiness in the city?
CHPC started a new schedule on Sunday, Sept. 19. On Sunday morning adults have opportunities to worship God, interact around the Scriptures in different small study groups, and serve the work of the church. How did you experience it? Share your thoughts, experiences, learnings and suggestions for improvement!
“I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with the infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. Nothing will ever separate us.”
From “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen quoted yesterday as we considered that being clothed in Jesus we receive the same blessings from the Father.
Simeon and Anna are some of my Biblical heroes. They personify patience, waiting, hoping and preparing. Check out Luke 2:21-32. Both of them were so in tune with God that they new God the minute they saw him. Even though he was in the form of a helpless infant.
Their lives had been formed by worship, prayer, fasting, and the Torah (Jewish Bible). The ears and eyes of their soul had been trained to hear the master’s voice and see the master’s work.
I’m always amazed at the flexibility of Olympic gymnasts. I’m also thankful at how flexible young children are. One time I accidentally shut a car door on my child’s arm. It was bad but he just had a bad bruise and some pain - no broken bone. The pediatrician said that even the bones of children can be flexible.
I figure it’s a good thing that Mary the mother of Jesus was young. Talk about the need to be flexible. Read about her in Luke 1:26 - 38. Her plans were changed drastically, with no notice, and no body else initially informed. She had to be flexible in order to follow God’s plans and she was.
A question for the second week of Advent - how flexible, malleable, teachable, open are you to the plans of God in your life? Are you willing like Mary to be God’s servant on such short notice?
Our passage this Sunday - Luke 1:8-28 - the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer. The main point from this story - Spiritual Calluses. A thickness to our soul that hardens are heart to God’s presence and work in our midst.
Read the story. Zech was a priest called into the highest service. God shows up but Zech isn’t prepared. He’s been callused by the rituals or lack of spiritual preparation on his part. God gives him a gift of 9 months of silence. He can hear, see, reflect, think and explore but he can’t talk.
The temple is not suppossed to be a “thick” place but it is supposed to be a “thin” place between us and God. The thick places have developed a cynicism or a familiarity that breads inactivity - even boredom. The thin places provide a closeness, heightened awareness, and increased excitement from the proximity of the spiritual in our current situation.
Where are you thick - calloused? Where are you thin and ready to hear God?
Twice Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” - check out Matthew 9:9-12 and 12:1-8. Jesus tells the religious leaders of the day, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” He says if they had understood what that meant then they would understand why Jesus hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners; and why he could heal and eat on the Sabbath. What do you hear when you read Jesus words in those passages? What does it mean that God desires mercy over the religious rules?