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Part 5 of our Keeping Sabbath Wholly series.
Recorded audio from Keeping Sabbath Wholly - a 5-week course aimed at helping ordinary Christians live Sabbath lives.
After all, that is what we’re celebrating this Pentecost Sunday. After our Lord’s Ascension, we read in Acts 2 that the Apostles were “filled with the Holy Spirit” as tongues of fire rested upon them. In the power of the Holy Spirit they are then sent around the world to proclaim the salvation of Jesus Christ. Every celebration of Pentecost year after year, generation after generation, is a celebration of the Church’s birthday and renewal of our God-given mission—a global mission—to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. This is a huge mission—and praise the Lord we aren’t left to accomplish it on our own! In last week’s article, Fr. Steven reminded us that after Christ’s ascension “the promised Holy Spirit would guide and fill the faithful with the commission to 'Go' and tell the world what Jesus had done.” The Holy Spirit is God’s empowering presence dwelling within each one of us; that means that the Holy Spirit has equipped you and I with everything we need for our mission. St. Basil the Great writes, “The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.” Even today the Holy Spirit sanctifies us from sin, and draws us deeper into the love and mystery of God, and commissions us for mission just as he did with the Apostles on the first Pentecost. So happy birthday, beloved Church! May we go forth on mission, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit!
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Last week, we welcomed 360 children and 160 teen and adult volunteers for an amazing time of learning, connecting, and fun!
The children learned that God created them, loves them, and is always with them wherever they go. They talked to God each day, spent time in His Word, and were encouraged in their efforts to share Christ-like character with others.
Here are just a couple of stories we heard from the week.
I'm pretty sure David enjoyed every minute of it. His stories each afternoon of what he ate, who he played with, jumping on the bounce house, and singing songs certainly indicate that he did. I have been reliably informed that in Guatemala they don't have ovens or clean water. And I am thrilled to hear that thanks to a money munching robot we are all helping to sort these problems out! What a joy it is to see these things through the eyes of a three year old.
My boy really had a good time and this week was a special time of renewal for him. He has had some serious behavioral issues in the past 6 months and God placed him exactly where he needed to be with the message he needed to hear and the people he needed to love on him. Thanking God for Christ Church and VBS!
We praise God for these stories and so many others. If you would like to share your family's story with VBS Maker Fun Factory, send us an email to AngelaR@ChristChurchPlano.org .
God calls us and blesses us and shapes our hearts. Our Children’s Ministry team feels so very blessed by this week and would like to extend a huge thank you to all who worked so hard to make it possible. The honor and glory are His.
View VBS Photo Album on Facebook »
What an incredible week we had here at Christ Church Plano for VBS!
About 360 precious children joined us each day to learn and sing about God's perfect love during Maker Fun Factory VBS week.
A very special "Thank You!" to the 160 dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly to guide the children each step of the way through five fun-filled days.
And thank you, parents, for sharing your wonderful children with us for a week. It was a blessing to get to know them more and watch their love for Christ grow each day.
Our photography team captured so many great memories. Many photos are posted in our private Christ Church Children & Families Facebook group.
Browse our Facebook Gallery »
I’ve decided to put a new twist on Father’s Day this year. Inspired by the way Hobbits celebrate their birthdays—giving gifts, rather than simply receiving them—I am choosing to put the focus on my children, and not on myself as their father. For my youngest, Madison, our Father’s Day celebration will be delayed for a few weeks until he and I head off to Wyoming, in August, to engage in one of our favorite activities. We hope to climb to the summit of Grand Teton—one of America’s grandest, indeed! A true mountaineering adventure. For my middle, Ian, we are spending the day on mission in Guatemala, serving the impoverished people of the Highland villages, providing them with something simple yet profoundly life-changing: wood-burning stoves and water-purification systems. An adventure of a different type. And, finally, for my oldest, Story, I am standing with her in her fight against cancer—her own, and that of others who face genetically-increased risk. She started a campaign to raise money for an organization that is pioneering research in hereditary cancers. Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) gives us hope that she, and our granddaughters, will be around for many years to come. FORCE has my support; and I am encouraging others to join me. An adventure I never wanted to have. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Anyone can be a father; but it takes someone special to be a Dad.” I make no claims here—I know I have sometimes failed miserably—yet my hope is that the love of God our Father has shown through me, in spite of my deficiencies, and made me worthy of being called “Dad.” May the Lord grant the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians for me and every Dad: “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:14-16).
Join Christ Church in prayer for these vital ministries on our campus and abroad. Guatemala Mission Team Prayer Needs June 10-18 Safety and Protection. Pray for safe travels to/from Guatemala, for safety while performing physical work, and for protection from food- and water-borne diseases. Ministry. Pray for opportunities to demonstrate and share the love of Christ with recipients, neighbors, and translators. Team Dynamics. Pray for unity, joy, and meaningful fellowship among team members. Spiritual Growth. Pray for team members to experience transformation and increased commitment to Christ. Christ Church VBS 2017 Prayer Needs June 12-17 Children. Pray for the children to learn more about God and His great love for them. Volunteers. Pray for connections and encouragement with the teen and adult volunteers who are serving in VBS. CCP Staff. Pray for our staff as we guide everyone through VBS, that all would bring honor and glory to Him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
People often say to me “you are so busy.” It breaks my heart as I know what they are really saying is that I don’t have time for them. As much as it hurts, I know it is true. For as long as I can remember, the only pace of life that I have known is frenetic and harried. Often I made resolutions to slow down—but always with the caveat of after “this project is completed” or “that goal is accomplished.” But when I gave myself permission to slow down, I felt restless and eager to jump back into another project. I found myself in a vicious cycle.
My busyness demonstrated how my identity in Christ was based upon what I did, and not on my relationship in Christ Jesus. I often tried to increase the things that I did for Him instead of what I really needed to do: prioritize my time with Jesus. The Bible teaches us that our true identity is found by resting in Christ—not filling our lives with activity.
One of the hardest lessons for me was learning that when I said “yes” to so many things, leaving no margins in my life, in actuality I was saying “no” to Jesus. I wasn’t leaving any room in my life for rest, for my family and friends, and for time with Him. Nor was I leaving room for those daily interruptions that allow me to serve Him exactly when and how He choses. I knew I had to make enormous changes to remove the busyness of my life and to truly rest in Christ.
As summer begins, will you set aside the time to accept His promise and rest in Christ? Will you separate yourself from the habit of busyness and spend time with the Lord? Will you say “no” to some things, so that you can say “yes” to God? The promise of Christ’s easy yoke is available to those who rest in Him.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2
Each year, we honor our graduating high school seniors for all of their hard work and faithfulness as they get ready to launch into their next phase, whether that’s a career, further education, or the military. This day also happens to land on Pentecost. I couldn’t help but notice the theological significance of this confluence of dates. In Pentecost, we see the church given the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples for a new mission: to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension throughout the whole world. As we get ready to send these seniors out, I am confident that that same Pentecost Spirit continues to empower and send Jesus’ disciples today. As they leave home or begin to make their own way in the world I know that they aren’t totally on their own. The Spirit reminds them of Jesus’ teachings; He helps them to follow in His footsteps. God will not abandon them or forsake them, even when they have to learn things the hard way. The words of Paul to the Philippians are particularly appropriate for the young adult life stage: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Seniors, know that as you go, you go with God. Growing up is hard and sometimes confusing, but God doesn’t necessarily ask that you graduate top of your class or make a lot of money. What God asks of you is faithfulness: faithfulness in prayer, in love of neighbor, and in using your gifts and talents not just for your sake, but for the sake of God and others. We, the Church, are here to cheer you on, to lend an ear, to pray with you, or to feed you a good meal just when you think you can’t stomach anymore instant noodles. All you need do is ask. As I transition into working in Adult Discipleship and focus on our college students and young adults, I’m excited to be a piece in this next step of the journey. No matter how far you travel, Christ Church will always be your home. If you are sticking around, I hope you will continue to connect with us and with Jesus. We look forward to seeing the work of the Spirit on display in your life!
Earlier this year I had the privilege of participating in a wedding. Much of my ministry involves directing funerals, so this was a new experience for me. A friend said that it must have felt good to do a wedding—a happy event instead of a sad one for a change. I replied that weddings and funerals actually have two things in common: hope and joy. “OK,” my friend said, “I can understand hope and joy at a wedding, but where is the hope and joy at a funeral?”
Besides the obvious differences, the distinction between funerals and weddings concerns the feelings experienced. We feel sad at funerals and happy at weddings. But hope and joy are more than feelings. Hope is a way of thinking based on our knowledge of truth—the truth found in the good news of Jesus. Joy comes from our beliefs, and unlike happiness or sadness, is not temporary or based on the circumstances of the moment.
It is much easier to see hope and joy in a wedding. Two people making their vows before God and a gathering of loving friends and family is a hope-filled and joyful moment. We feel happy for the couple and their families.
A funeral means that we have lost someone we care about. The feeling of sadness because of this loss can be overwhelming. However, a Christian burial service points us to the “sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Even when we are feeling pain and grief, this reminder helps us to see the sad event as a joyful celebration of this hope.
Whether mourning at a funeral or dancing at a wedding, the source of our inextinguishable hope and joy is Jesus. St. Paul says in Romans 8:39 that “absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (The Message).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
Many of you are gone on vacation this month, and already we miss you!
Three summers ago I was in an accident, and I walked away from my totaled car with not much more than a cricked neck. Though I was kept from the worst, I had to hurry to the chiropractor to make sure that even the little things that got out of joint could heal right.
We've been talking about Sabbath in Student Ministry lately. Some day, as scripture promises, the total delight, rightness, and rest of God are all that our planet will know. But for now, life hits all of us hard. Sooner or later some intersection leaves a good plan totaled. Or the wear and tear of daily living jolts our bones little by little until we can feel out of sorts, unmoored, lacking purpose or delight.
But in the book of Hebrews, God promises that there is deep, soulful rest: a Sabbath center for those willing to say Yes to Him and No to fear. Yes, you can rest, but even 1,900 years pre-internet, the writer of Hebrews insists that if we want God's rest we must intentionally pursue it and defend it—sometimes fiercely—like the Israelites had to do with the promised land (Heb 4:1-11). And like the promised land, God's rest is our inheritance. Jesus won it. We can claim it!
What hit you hard this year? Don't ignore those sore places. Let God care for you!