February 2008

This is our discussion board for what we as a community look like.  We’ve talked in Leadership the last few weeks that we are called, primarily, to Love God and to Love Others.  What does this mean for us today, though?  Do we love others by continuing to partner with Cimarron?  By meeting with discussion, as we are doing now, or meeting in a more traditional worship setting with New Hope?  How do we relate to all of creation?  What else are we passionate about that we could be doing?  What sort of giftings do we have? 

Please comment on anything and everything!


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

It is Monday. We studied Philippians 4 yesterday, and next to me is a sheet to fill out. It includes a prayer for enemies, requests to make known to God, and blanks to fill in gifts that I have that I could give to the community.

God’s promises, as Paul writes them in his letter to the church at Philippi, are quite surprising. The peace of God will guard my heart and mind. Yesterday, Debbie drew a picture of a heart guarded from arrows: it is guarded both by incoming attacks and from within, by our cowardice to run away from the fight. In some mysterious way, as I talk to God my mind and heart both become calm and safe, and this only from letting him know my requests.

Often, when I pray, it takes a few moments for my true requests to show themselves. I start praying generally, generic thanks for the day or generic requests for help. But, as I enter into the prayer, my soul or heart or mind or whatever the deepest part of me praying is, that part gets warmed up and I pray what I really mean. I pray as David prays in the psalms. It gets messy because I am messy and David was messy: he prayed for revenge and deliverance from enemies trying to kill him and for forgiveness after committing adultery with Bathsheba. These are the real prayers, when I truly show God my heart by telling him my deepest requests: for forgiveness in a specific sense, for peace when a father is sick and a brother is traveling and a job is unsure. They are real requests that admit: I am not God and cannot do this alone. This is the place we to which we must come.

From there, God guards us. He guards — not our bodies — our hearts and minds, helping us withstand attacks from without and attacks from within that we level at ourselves.

I think about this, on a Monday afternoon. On Sunday mornings thinking about this and feeling God’s love are easy: I am surrounded by people who care for me and want to follow God, too. But there are times in the week when it becomes hard. There are many times when I don’t make my requests known to God and allow him into those requests, allow his peace and light into those requests. I think I can satisfy my own requests at such times, at least sub-consciously, and I can’t.

May we be people who place our requests before God. May we find peace from doing this. And may this peace extend beyond our own lives into our relationships and actions and very thoughts, that our lives may be “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Please use this as a forum for views on alcohol and gambling: specifically for us as a community, as we talk about whether to have these things at outreach events.  What does God call us to?  How do we best love Him and love others?  How do we bring his Kingdom to this world?  How do we best represent the church?

There are lots of questions.  Please feel free to post on this forum as we discuss; we need the input of our leadership!

We talked yesterday about credentials, about how we define ourselves by what we do, by our grades or jobs or shoes or…you get the idea. Think about this: you meet someone and get into a conversation. Inevitably, as you try to give an impression of who you are to your new friend, you tell them what you do. This is normal, since to withhold what you do would be really weird, but in subtle ways we define ourselves with this. We define ourselves by what we do and how we look: our clothes and hair and shoes, our words and interests and vocations. Or think of the statement, “I am _____” and fill in the blank. What comes up? A husband or wife? A brother or sister? An insurance agent or writer or teacher or homemaker or student?

Does ‘lover of God’ make the cut?

As Paul begins his letter to the Philippians he introduces himself: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus… He looks more deeply at this in the 3rd chapter, which we read and discussed yesterday as a community. He mentioned the ‘credentials’ that we hold onto: the husband and teacher and nice shoes credentials. And he says they are rubbish compared to his relationship with Jesus, compared to knowing Christ and experiencing him — his power and even his sufferings. He writes that his relationship with Jesus makes everything — everything — else pale and become secondary. His identity was his relationship with Jesus. This was almost completely how he defined himself. (Note: I say almost so we remember that, as much of an example as Paul was, he was not God himself in the form of Jesus: as a human he had shortcomings like us.)

The questions that I ask myself today: How do I define myself in this way? How do I take away the identity that I’ve carried for a long time and replace it with a new identity: Loved by God and Lover of God? I know that these other identities I carry, these brother and writer and student identities will eventually show themselves as empty. That is, I will fail in what I do, or relationships will go through periods of distance, or my fancy shoes will become very shallow and worthless one day. How do I redefine myself as a follower of Christ, one who knows Him and is known by Him? How does everything else become rubbish?

Just a quick note:If you’re ever looking for something to do while on the ole’ computer, go to freerice.com.   It’s a great way to have a little fun and provide some food while you’re at it…