Anticipating Easter

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This Sunday is Easter. CIL leaders have been working on the building and property for quite some time to get ready for this Sunday. We will set out extra chairs, schedule more greeters, and print more Reviews.  When all of us show up on the same Sunday like we do each Easter, it creates quite a buzz.

Many will buy a new outfit, the worship team will practice more than usual, and I will feel a bit more pressure to nail the sermon.  There will be a fresh energy – a delightful mixture of cultural tradition and spiritual practice.  We do all of this because

Jesus is worth it!  Jesus is more than worthy of this tradition, effort, and love.

I look forward to seeing you at either 9am or 10:45am this Resurrection Sunday!

Holy Week points me to Jesus

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We are in Holy Week, leading to Easter Sunday. The death of Jesus, and his resurrection, was the pinnacle of history. Everything changed after these events. Even the modern calendar is based off these occurrences (B.C. / A.D.).
The most important question we answer in life is what our posture is towards Jesus Christ. I have believed that He is the son of God and the expression of God’s love for the world. I have made Jesus the Christ my sovereign. I follow His teachings, leadership and active presence in my life. This has been my greatest decision. My greatest honor.
Eternal life has already begun for me though faith in Jesus. I am so grateful for this fortunate grace on my life. Still, I know that any human being who believes Jesus is God receives this same blessing. Please take time to reflect on what Jesus means to you this week. No consideration is more important.

God of the Wilderness

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If you are in the wilderness, God is going before you to help you. In Exodus 17:6, God told Moses, “I am going to stand there in front of you,” when he led Moses to an unlikely source of provision. CIL prayed this together twice during our Sunday service, and you can pray it with us now. (This is a picture of the Sinai wilderness)
 
God of the wilderness,
You go before and await our coming.
May our desire for you compel us
beyond complaint to conversation,
beyond rejection to relationship.
Pour your love into our hearts,
that, refreshed and renewed,
we may invite others to the living water
given to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

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.

Scriptures and Quotes

Here are some Scriptures and quotes working on me this week . . .

“Just as sin becomes habitual, so holy living can become habitual…just as sin numbs the spirit to the things of God, so obedience opens the spirit to God’s transforming power.”
– The Renovare “Life with God” Bible

Don’t stifle the Spirit.
Don’t despise prophecies,
but test all things.
Hold on to what is good. – 
1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (HCSB)

There is a place in God’s heart with your name. No one can take your place. He is keeping it for you. No anxiety. No competition. (paraphrase from Gary Best teaching)

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” – 1 Kings 18:21 (ESV)