Tennessee tragedies point us to the Eternal

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There have been difficult times in Tennessee in recent days.

The deadly bus crash in Chattanooga (November 21).
Gatlinburg fires (November 28).
Tornados on Tennessee-Alabama border (November 30)

In this world of both environmental tragedy and human evil, we need a refuge and eternal perspective.  That place of security is not a location or institution. but the person of Jesus the Christ.

Blessed are you, Sovereign God,
creator of light and darkness,
to you be glory and praise for ever . . .
May your word be a lantern to our feet
and a light upon our path
that we may behold your coming among us . . .
As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
may we call upon your name,
raise the cup of salvation,
and so proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come in glory.
                              – Daily Office, Evening Prayer, December 2

Advent begins this Sunday (Nov. 27)

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After enjoying Thanksgiving, let’s gather this Sunday in anticipation of what God is going to do. We’d love to meet your visiting family, and believe God’s Word will speak to them, as well as to us, as I preach from Romans 13:1-14. It will be a blessing to enjoy a Family Sunday together.

ADVENT, a word with Latin roots, means “coming.”   Advent designates a period before Christmas when Christians prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. This practice began in the church over sixteen hundred years ago! Sermons focused on the wonder of the Incarnation. By the Middle Ages four Sundays had become the standard length of the Advent season. Since then, Advent has been considered the beginning of the church year.

This Sunday at CIL we begin our fifth year anticipating the celebration of Christmas by preparing our hearts through the season of Advent.

Here are our themes:
November 27            Anticipate
December 4               Prepare
December 11              Rejoice
December 18             Adore

These themes will prepare us for a Jesus-centered Christmas!  We will gather on Christmas Eve at 3pm and 4:30pm for services that welcome the Lord Jesus fully into our lives and church.

Also, we are collecting items for the Christmas Blessing this Sunday through Christmas Eve. Items needed: Coats (new or in good condition) Hats, Gloves, Scarves, Socks, Blankets, (new or in good condition) Sleeping Bags, Individually wrapped candy, Fruit Snacks, Peanut butter, or Cheese crackers, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Chapstick, Cough drops, Pocket Pack Kleenex, Band-aids, Feminine Products, $5 McDonald gift cards.

 

My hope from the Presidential Election

I would like to post something uplifting, hopeful or original about the presidential election, but I have little to contribute in those areas. We are not a better people because of this election. We have not been inspired, lifted or given a vision. We are more divided, confused and uninformed.
But, we will survive. America is still exceptional.
Our founding fathers created a brilliant system of checks and balances that limit the power of the presidency. Neither candidate can accomplish much of what they claim. Representative government across the 50 states is designed to limit the influence of one person. Its time for us to de-emphasize the role of the executive branch, and we should expect Congress to assert greater authority in forming our national direction.
This is my hope from this presidential election.

Lesson from Zacchaeus

This John Wimber quote from my sermon on Sunday stirred me and several people.
 
“Many times, God works miracles in quite different ways from what we expect. Zacchaeus climbed the tree in order to see Christ more clearly, but in doing so was himself more clearly seen by God. In this regard, divine appointments have an air of serendipity about them, a surprising discovery of divine favor.”
 
Wimber, John; Springer, Kevin (2009-05-01). Power Evangelism (p. 100). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

My sermons on “Growing in the Normal”

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We are in the “normal” season in the church calendar, but normal time is a growing time. I want to share with you messages from the Bible in the next few weeks that will inspire you to love Jesus and love people more. Tomorrow I am preaching on Hebrews 11, and the Scripture will speak to your creativity, geographical location and future. So much to learn from Him! Join me at either service at 9am or 10:45am. Let’s keep growing in Him!

August is a Great Month to Read the Bible

On this first day of August, it is a great day to start or re-start a Bible reading plan. Here is the 5x5x5 New Testament reading plan that I use, and encourage our church to use. There are 25 readings a month, so there are built in “miss days.”
You can start now, and already be in the habit of Bible reading when all the New Year’s resolutions occur in a few months.
I encourage you to print out the plan, and use a physical Bible. I supplement digital versions when I need to, but love underlining and and holding the physical Scriptures in my hand.

Responding to the Conventions

Prayers for Philadelphia
Here is some good news no matter your political persuasion. After months of expecting and preparing for the worse, there was no significant act of violence or civil unrest in Cleveland. Let’s pray the same for Philadelphia in the coming week. Let’s remember, that despite our various national challenges, we are so blessed to be Americans!

I’m Trying to See the Better Side
We are most Christlike when we look for the good in people instead of only their faults. I’m trying to do this more these days. While I do not want to blindly believe propaganda, discovering and believing positive things about public figures with whom I disagree is good for the life of God in me. Public figures are influencers of our culture, so the more God works in their hearts, the better we all are. So, we should wish them all God’s best. Because of Jesus and His work in my life, I hope I will choose civility and kindness more and more.