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 | Wednesday Weekly Blog |

The Church 8/26/15

Good morning,

I have this quote that I read a number of months ago that has been ruminating in my soul.  I wrote it down and put it aside and every once in awhile lately I’ll pick it up with a bunch of other papers to “clear out” my space and I see it again – I can’t throw it away.  It resonates deep down inside.  I want to rush past it but every time I read it I’m gripped again by it.  The quote is by Henri Nouwen – let me tell you a little about him before I give you his quote.

Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen was born in 1932 and died in 1996.  He was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor and writer.  His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community.  After nearly two decades of teaching in academic institutions, which included the University of Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard Divinity Schools, Nouwen went on to work with mentally and physically handicapped people in Ontario, Canada.  Okay, here is the quote.

“The Church is not an institution forcing us to follow rules, but a community inviting us to still our hunger and thirst at its table.”

I urge you to stop right now and go back and read it again, and if you need to read it again; and just think about the consequences of that if it is true!

The Church is Christ’s – it is NOT ours – it does not belong to the state, ANY state, to people, to a group or sect of ANY society.  The Church didn’t come into existence because some people got together and thought it would be a good idea.  It isn’t a building, an institution or a denomination.  It doesn’t exist to make us feel good.  The Church is Christ’s.

Hunger and thirst are universal conditions.  We MUST eat – we MUST drink – if we do not we will eventually die.  We can go several weeks without food, but ultimately if we do not eat, satiate our hunger, we will die.  We can only go a few days without water and if we do not slake our thirst eventually it will consume our life.  So perhaps you need to stop right here again, go back up three paragraphs and read that statement again and see what it is that the Church was not designed to do and what it was designed to do.

It seems to me that when “we” put ourselves in charge of the Church, it ultimately is going to come down to a list of rules.  We can’t help ourselves.  We can’t seem to get it through our thick skulls that it ISN’T supposed to be about following a list of rules.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).  (There is that hunger and thirst thing again.)  Are we seeking righteousness like someone who will die if they do not eat . . . like someone who will expire if their thirst is not satisfied?  I think if we will do that then the Church is going to become that table where we will be satisfied.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).  It doesn’t say anything there about following the rules – it doesn’t say anything there about earning something – it doesn’t say anything there about figuring it out – it simply says COME!

There is so much more here that specifically deals with Nouwen’s quote as it has to do with community, but I don’t have the time.  But I want to tell you that we are going to be looking at this a LOT MORE CLOSELY over the following weeks and months because I think this is exactly where God is calling and leading us.  And this community has NOTHING AT ALL IN THE WORLD to do with a building, a denomination or a specific group.  It has to do with the Church.

So this morning, I’m inviting you to become a part of this community, I am inviting you to come and “to still [your] hunger and thirst at its table.”

I love you,

Rick

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Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday August 26 – Regular Wednesday evening activities beginning with dinner at 5:00.  At 6:00 we invite anyone who is hungry to pray, to learn more about prayer, to seek God’s heart to join us in the sanctuary as we begin a journey into the school of prayer.

Sunday August 30 – We have a great day planned and we are excited to see where God is calling us as His Church.  We have our regular morning worship times at 8:45 and 10:30 and then our Hispanic worship time at 4:00 Sunday afternoon.  We hope to include you as we seek to become more like Him.



Get Ready! 8/19/15

Good morning,

WOW, what happened to summer?  I left Capitan this morning at 8:15 and it was 57 degrees, with a cool breeze and the forecast today is cool and breezy.  I love days like this and it makes me anxious for Fall – my favorite season of the year!

Have you stopped this week to consider the people around you?  I’m not just talking about those close to you; I’m talking about the people all around you.  There are people that God puts into our lives every day that need to see Jesus lived out and you and I are the ones that God has chosen and blessed to do just that.  It might be someone who is struggling just to make it through their day because they are so overwhelmed they can hardly function.  It might be someone who just received news that will emphatically change the rest of their life.  It might be someone who has been hurt and kicked aside.  It might be someone who is simply hurting and is asking a lot of questions.  Whoever it is and to whatever degree they are hurting, I believe that God places people around us so we can touch them for Him!

I think about people that Jesus met along the way.  There were people who were dealing with severe disease and sickness that a family member or a friend purposefully brought to Him.  I’m thinking about a man with leprosy who sought Him out and said, “If you are willing . . .” and Jesus said, “I am willing . . .”  I’m thinking about a Centurion who cared enough about a servant that He sought Jesus out; about a demon-possessed man living in a graveyard that Jesus found; about a mom who was burying a child that Jesus interrupted the funeral procession; about a deaf man, a woman suffering from a bleeding disorder; about 5000 men (not counting women and children) who were hungry; about a rich young man whose priorities weren’t exactly in order . . . and the list goes on and on.

Some people were changed dramatically; in fact, everyone was changed, just not everyone received what they had expected.

What about the people that you come into contact with today . . . will they be changed because of Jesus in you?  You and I don’t have the capacity or the ability to change people, but Jesus does and He wants to use us.  I believe that He’s going to put people into your life today who need to see Jesus and Jesus is counting on you to show them.  We won’t be perfect; we aren’t able to do what they need, but Jesus is, and He wants to use us!

So open up your eyes, watch, listen, pray, be ready!  You don’t have any idea just how much God has in store for you today!

I love you,

Rick

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Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday August 19 – We are beginning our regular Wednesday evening activities tonight and we hope to see you here!  Dinner begins at 5:00 and then the activities galore!  Children’s Bible study starts at 4:20 and they’ll finish at 6:30.  Teen worship begins at 6:30 and they end at 8:00.  Betty leads a ladies Bible study that starts at 5:30 and tonight Marco is going to lead the time in the sanctuary at 6:00  Welcome Back!

Sunday August 23 – We are going to hear from Louay Azar about the Church in Syria where he was born.  Louay and his wife Kala and their two sons Laith and Zaiden have been here worshiping with us this summer and soon will return to Saudi Arabia where Louay works as a Web Engineer and Kayla works with the US State Department. This is a service you won’t want to miss.  Louay will be sharing in both of our morning services.

School has begun around the county.  Please pray for our children and teens who are in school and pray also for the teachers, administrators and staff members in each of the schools.  Continue to pray for God’s protection and blessings in our schools.