Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This Week's Schedule 7-18

Tuesday July 20th-- Coffee at Amanda's 9:30 am

Thursday - Saturday July 22-24--
Ministry Conference and Yearly Meeting Sessions in Wichita

Friday July 23rd-- Friends Women Lunch at the Ministry Conference

Sunday July 25th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

This week's message: Fruit

God desires for us an abundant life; he wants the best possible health, growth and productivity for us. Just like a gardener wants the best health, growth and productivity for the plants in his garden. The fruit God desires to cultivate in us produces lives that are solid, unshakable in a crisis. They leave the individual satisfied with good things and at the best possible place in their relationships with others.

The world promises self-fulfillment through a series of counterfeit fruit. The goals and desires are self-focused and when followed lead to a mediocre existence at best and total destruction at worst for the individual and all who are connected to them. Worldly Fruit can be tricky, though. Sometimes it is in opposition to God's Fruit. Other times, however, Worldly Fruit is an incomplete version of God's Fruit.

The Fruit of the Spirit -vs- The Fruit of the World System:

Love -vs- Like
Joy -vs- Happiness
Peace -vs- Control or Apathy
Patience -vs- Passion
Kindness -vs- Ingratiation/Kissing Up
Goodness -vs- Status Quo
Faithfulness -vs- Tit for Tat/Contract Mentality
Gentleness -vs- Niceness
Self-Control -vs- Will Power

Love vs Like
God wants us to live lives full of love. He wants us to love him and love others. Not in a warm-fuzzy kind of way that comes from our emotions, but a solid love that puts the best interest of the other before our own. God wants an attitude of love to saturate every part of our lives.

The world, meanwhile, sells us on living lives of like. What does it mean to like something? I appreciate the direct Spanish interpretation of “I like.” “Me gusta” which literally means “it pleases me.” To like someone or something means that they do something nice for me. They please me. It is a self-focused approach to living.

"But, isn't it ok to like things?" Of course it is ok to like things. It is great to like people and like the things we have, but if we stop with "like" we live a shallow existence, not ever really satisfied with life in general. Only by going deeper into a true attitude of love can we begin to find true fulfillment.

In our everyday lives, like vs love is lived out in how we relate with everything around us from our possessions to our families and even the earth itself. When we love our families, we base our actions on what is best for them regardless of the effort and sacrifice on our part. We tend them like God tends us. When we live in an attitude of like with our families, when they stop pleasing us, we stop caring for them in the way God cares for us.

When we live in an attitude of love towards the things around us, we realize that to take on a possession is to take on a responsibility. We weigh the long term cost of the investment and decide if we are up for the challenge. When we live in an attitude of like towards the things around us, our possessions exist to please us, rather than to fulfill a specific purpose. When they no longer produce excitement in us, we buy a new one even if the one we have is still in good working order. Soon our houses are overflowing with junk, our credit cards are maxed out, and we wonder why everyone else seems to have such nice things.

When we live in an attitude of love towards our environment, we realize that it requires us to care for not just the earth around us, but the earth on the other side of the globe. None of us would ever vote in a toxic waste dump in our own backyard, but love is not voting one into someone else's. When we live in an attitude of like, we only care about what we can see or what affects us.

Living in like is a mediocre way of existing that produces want and lack and destruction as opposed to true fulfillment and health and growth. Living in an attitude of love causes us to view all of our relationships as gifts entrusted to us by God requiring us to act as good stewards of them all. Living in love produces good relationships, it helps us balance our finances and not get wrapped up in a race with the Joneses, it helps us to create healthy safe places for ourselves and others to grow and live abundant lives.

"So, how do I cultivate this love?" Good question. Love, being a fruit must grow. It is not instant and we have to deal patiently with ourselves in the growing process. Love comes from God alone, and the best way to cultivate that fruit is to press in closer to Him. We have to seek true food and water and Son-light to nurture this and other Spiritual Fruit. Spend time in God's letter to us, the Bible. Spend time just talking to God, wherever you are, silent or spoken; prayer is simply a conversation with God.

As we press in closer to God, we see how he loves us and become secure in His love. That security gives us courage to love others in the same way He loves us. Then that Spiritual Fruit of love can begin to grow and mature, and we see it's result in our lives.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This week's schedule 7-11

Friday July 16th-- Vacation Bible School!
Programs for Ages 3-14
Bilingual English and Spanish
Crafts, Bible Stories, Games and More
Breakfast and Lunch will be provided
Free for all Participants!

Sunday July 18th-
Regular Sunday Schedule--

Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Spanish-speaking service 3:00pm

This week's message- Bearing Each Other's Burdens

Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." NRSV

Our church body has experienced many struggles and each of us carries our own burdens. It would be the exception to find one among us who is not bearing a heavy load for ourselves or someone close to us. It is interesting to find this scripture, then about reaching out to carry the burdens of those around us, and amazing that Paul says that this act of all things fulfills the very law of Christ.

What could he mean? What is the Law of Christ? Did Christ not come to set us free? Yes, he did set us free from the law of sin and death, but gave us in it's place the law of love. In his teaching, Christ told his followers that all of the law and prophets, all the commands leading up to his coming were wrapped up in two great commands:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

In Luke 10, Jesus has a discussion with an expert in the law who wanted to know what must be done to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him to summarize the law and prophets and the teacher came up with the above statement, but wanted to know who his neighbor was. Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan.

As we read through the story Jesus told, we see that the things he commends are Mercy and Compassion. It did not matter who the Samaritan was, he cared about the wounded man and made a personal sacrifice to make sure his needs were met. (The two days wages today would be in the neighborhood of $150-$500!) His care and compassion set the standard for us to follow if we are to love our neighbor in the way Christ commands.

Bear one another's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The burdens of your neighbor may be too heavy for you to carry on your own, while others may require you to make a personal sacrifice to fulfill. Either way the source of our compassion and action must be our relationship with God through Christ. There are needs that only he can meet and we must carry those burdens first and foremost to him in Prayer. Then we will receive guidance in what we must do to care for those in our community.

(Following the message we spent some time sharing and praying for those around us to put into practice the habit of carrying one another's burdens to the Lord in prayer.)