Christmas Reminders

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Here we go!  The most intense time of Christmas is before us. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me

Here are some disconnected thoughts about Christmas:

– Do not talk about politics with your family.

– Avoid explaining the Keto diet during the Christmas meal.  Instead, pass the stuffing

– Limit time on the mobile phone when hanging with family.

– Make time to worship at a church.

– Tell more stories.

– Remember and contact someone who is hurting.

– Mediate on this phrase – “I will trust, and will not be afraid (Isaiah 12:2).”

–  With your conversation, respect those who are not in the room.

–  Listen well.

–  Cast you worries upon the Lord, because He cares (1 Peter 5:7)

–  Laugh as much as possible.

Sermons on Joy can be tough to hear

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This Sunday (December 16) we will focus on the Advent theme of Joy as we prepare for Christmas!

Here are some thoughts about joy that may not make Sunday’s message:

– When one is suffering from depression, messages on joy often feel very painful.  For those under this cloud, we acknowledge your pain and remind you that there is a company of past and present saints who understand the paradox of living the Christian life while suffering from this condition.

– Even in the most dire of circumstances, there can be odd moments of joy.  The fall of 2003 was one of the darkest periods of my life after losing both my dad and grandmother and having a very unexpectedly sick newborn. Yet during that season I still enjoyed good meals, meaningful conversations, and touches of friendship.

– As much as we are able, we should choose joy.  Life is harsh and pain is unavoidable.  So, laughter and enjoyment under the Lordship of Christ reflects His glory to our world.

Reflections on George H.W. Bush

bush_prez_0I am quite an admirer of George H.W. Bush (1924-2018), and think of him fondly on the news of his death. I always liked Bush, but when I was younger I was not overly enthusiastic about his leadership.  As time has progressed, my appreciation and respect for him as a leader continued to increase, until he has developed in my mind – for too many reasons to put in this post – as one of my favorite historical leaders.

He produced cooperation.  He was strong against tyranny.  He was compassionate towards the disadvantaged.  He was very human and very American.

Thirty years ago, Bush stated “We need a kinder and gentler nation.”  We needed that cultural challenge then, and it still calls to those who will listen today.

Thanks, Eugene

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Eugene Peterson died last month (October 22, 2018) after a long life of service to the kingdom of God.  He was an author, scholar, and pastor.   I never met him, but his writings marked my ministry greatly.

51ltEQZuJVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_His 2011 memoirs titled The Pastor, came into my life at just the right time.  One of my pastors – Ronnie Meek – asked me to read Peterson’s book. It was a time of internal struggle with my call, and disillusionment with the modern definition of a pastor that I was watching destroy several of my colleagues while eating away at me.

In December 2011, Beth and I were exploring Chicago (see picture).  As I followed Beth around Michigan avenue, I carried Peterson’s wisdom with a 1stedition Kindle Reader.  Page after page, chapter after chapter, Peterson’s enjoyable stories and thought-provoking phrases chipped away at my hidden obsession to be to be a super-star religious leader.

In Peterson’s stories, I noticed my story in a new way.  As he wrote, “I was a pastor long before I knew I was a pastor; I just never had a name for it.”  God used this book to bring me back home to God’s call.   Since that time, I have referred back to passages in The Pastormany times to re-center my call to this exhilarating, boring, spectacular, ordinary, complicated, privileged call to pastor God’s people.

the pervasive element in our two-thousand-year pastoral tradition is not someone who “gets things done” but rather the person placed in the community to pay attention and call attention to “what is going on right now” between men and women, with one another and with God—this kingdom of God that is primarily local, relentlessly personal, and prayerful “without ceasing.” – Eugene Peterson

The Jewish People

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I love the Jewish people, and will stand for them.
 
I will not participate in anti-Semitic jokes or slanderous innuendos about this race. I am so thankful for this family from which my faith has originated.
 
I grieve with them in the aftermath of the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

You’re on to something

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This message is for all of you with a dream, an idea, a new concept, or a fresh way to see your world. If you really believe in it, don’t be swayed if others are slow to catch on. You are an innovator. You are a creator. You are leading.
 
You’re on to something—it’s just that nobody recognizes it yet. Keep going.

New worship leader begins October 7

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October 7 is an exciting day at CIL, as Pastor Aubrey McGowan begins his tenure as the primary worship leader for our church family. We have enjoyed Aubrey and Jen’s music ministry monthly the last few years, so they are familiar and trusted voices. We look forward to them working more with our entire team, and bringing us into the presence of God each week.
 
To read more about Aubrey’s ministry, click here
 
 
Help welcome them by attending services tomorrow at either 9am or 10:45am.