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August 23, 2017, 2:42 PM

From Disciples of Christ General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens

Sisters and brothers, my heart breaks at the violence this weekend in Charlottesville – the loss of life, the dishonoring of children of God, the vile insults hurled and the wounds of history reopened. I pray for the family of the woman who died. I pray in praise of the peaceful demonstrators. We cannot take backward steps fueled by hatred. We cannot be silent when the humanity of black persons is being assaulted and terrorized. The commandment in 1 John 4:20 calls us to account: “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” And so let us love one another as we love God. With such love, we are compelled to stand for justice, and walk in peace.




May 2, 2017, 12:00 AM

Reaching Out with Service

Albert Schweitzer is one of my heroes. He was born in 1875 and lived until 1965. He was a Christian theologian who midway through his life went back to school and became a medical doctor so he could help people in Africa. He and his wife spent the remainder of their lives in Lambarene (now Gabon) in central Africa. There they founded a hospital and served the needs of the poor.

Here is something Dr. Schweitzer wrote in a book called Your Second Job:

"No matter how busy one is, any human being can assert his personality by seizing every opportunity for spiritual activity. How? By his second job: by means of personal action, on however small a scale, for the good of his fellow men. He will not have to look far for opportunities. Our greatest mistake, as individuals, is that we walk throughout life with closed eyes and do not notice our chances. As soon as we open our eyes and deliberately search we see many who need help, not in big things but in the littlest things. Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him."

I am encouraged and inspired by a man who did great things to serve the neediest people. His recommendation is simple. Do something for someone else. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big thing or a little thing. Our lives are immeasurably enriched when we go outside ourselves and help another person. That’s what we mean by “service”, and it is central to the message of Jesus.

 

  • “ Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42 - 45 (NIV)
  • “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42 (NIV)
  • “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
  • “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Matthew 10:29 (NIV)
  • “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3 - 4 (NIV)
  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 (NIV)

Why is it that service is so important? Well, it is most definitely rewarding. Service is fun. Service can make a difference in many people's lives. Service gives us a sense of purpose and pride. When we put other's needs before ours, and stop focusing on the, "What do I get out of it,"  mentality, but instead on the, "What can I do for others" we participate in God’s work in our lives and in our world.




March 28, 2017, 9:41 AM

Reach Out to World Missions

At FCC, April is “Reach Out to World Missions” Month

There are now 7.5 billion people living in the world as of March, 2017, based on United Nations and US Census Bureau estimates. The number is overwhelming to imagine. I mention this because as Christians we have a mission to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom of love by word and by our life to the whole world. But what can we do—what can I do—what can you do—to connect with and communicate with 7.5 billion people?

Probably not very much if we try it on our own power. And probably we won’t do anything if we consider the magnitude of the mission and compare it to our tiny selves. But let’s look at this from another perspective. From a divine perspective to be specific.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NRSV)

 “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15 NRSV) “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations....” (Matthew 28:18-19 NRSV)

Here are some important points to consider:

1. God loves the people he has created. That includes us, our families, our church, our neighbors, our city, our country, our planet.

2. God’s way of loving the world was to communicate himself through one man.

What? Through just One Man!

Today, according to the same UN and US estimates, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. And how did that happen? It started with one man—Jesus. Then the twelve apostles, who believed in him, trusted him, and couldn’t contain their joy at experiencing his life and love. From there, the twelve became more than 3,000, then soon after, 5,000. People who at first resisted these new Christians later joined them.  People like Paul the Apostle. He went all over the Roman Empire spreading the good news, converting those who were hungry for something hopeful and better and divine. Christians gathered to form churches.

And now, here we are. In San Marcos, Texas. With a tremendous history and story as one of God’s churches. We salute and respect those who have gone before us. But our mission isn’t over. Again, from Jesus: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NRSV)

3. Which brings us to this: God still is communicating and connecting to his world through his people. By ourselves we can do little. But as God’s people, we can, with Paul, do all things through him who strengthens us.

 




March 28, 2017, 9:33 AM

Reach Out to Our Planet

Reach Out to Our Planet

We have adopted the theme at First Christian Church of “2017: The Year of Reaching Out”. Each month we are focusing on a different specific area for reaching out. In January we found ways to reach out to our youth. In February, Valentine’s month, we looked at ways to reach out to our neighbors (love your neighbor as yourself). For March, the month of Spring—at least in Texas—we will be considering how to reach out to our planet.

Nothing exists by itself and for itself. Everything has its place in God’s creation. We humans are also part of God’s creation, and we have a

place of responsibility in it. To appreciate the world we have inherited is to understand our Father and ourselves better.

Here are some biblical expressions of God in the natural world:

Genesis 1:1—In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Psalm 19:1—The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Isaiah 40:26—Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.

Amos 4:13—For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.

Nehemiah 9:6—You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.

Revelation 4:11—Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because

of Your will they existed, and were created.

And here, in the creation story is a reminder of our responsibility to our world:

Genesis 2:4-7, 15 —In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no

herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a

stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground—then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being....The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

Let us, then, reach out to our planet —to our God-given environment—and keep it as a gardener tends to a garden.

 




March 28, 2017, 9:26 AM

It's About Love

It’s About Love

At First Christian Church February is “Love Your Neighbor Month”. I don’t really know if I talk, teach and preach more about love than anything else, but I hope I do. Love IS the unique focus of our Christian faith. That priority comes directly from Jesus, who teaches us that the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love God, and the 2nd greatest commandment in the Bible is to love our neighbor as ourselves. He tells us how to do it by giving us the Golden Rule: whatever you want others to do for you, that’s what you should do for them. When asked, but who is my neighbor, Jesus makes it clear that we can’t get away with hating anyone. He says others have told you to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your heavenly Father!

What the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians about joy he could as well have said about love: “Love in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” (Philippians 3:1)

Don’t lose me here. Don’t think, I have heard this before It’s nothing new. That’s not quite true. The purpose of life is to love. If that seems easy and simple I am pretty sure you haven’t tried it, and you aren’t doing it. If you feel challenged by Jesus’ command—Paul calls love your neighbor “the Law of Christ”—then you are probably on the right track. This is really life-changing, and in a good way. It enhances our life when we try to love someone who is, well, unlovable. And, like Paul tells the Corinthians, love never ends.

This month, pick a neighbor. And love them. They will benefit from it. And so will you!


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