The Psalms: Finding God

Over the next 12 weeks at CBC we will launch in to our Summer Series - The Psalms: Finding God. 

I love the Psalms. I love that poetry and prayers have a space in the Scriptures. I love the honesty of the writings, the emotion that often times is palpable as you read through the psalms of lament or praise and the courage the writers had in how they talked to their Heavenly Father. But most of all, I love the picture the Psalms paint of the character of God. Throughout the Psalms, the emotion of the writers don’t continue to shape the character of God, but rather the emotions of the writers we see on the page are shaped by the character of a God who is known. Sometimes it takes a few stanzas, but the writers reflect on and are shaped by a God who is known and whose character has been revealed to His people. 

As I was getting geared up for this weekend, I came across this quote by Eugene Peterson about why he loves the Psalms: 

In a world of prayers that indulge the religious ego and cultivate passionate longings, the Psalms stand out with a kind of angular austerity. Left to ourselves, we will pray to some god who speaks what we like hearing, or to the part of God that we manage to understand. But what is critical is that we speak to the God who speaks to us, and to everything that he speaks to us…The Psalms…train us in that conversation. We are wrestled into obedience, subjected to the strenuous realities of living by faith in the God who reveals himself to us. There is a difference between praying to an unknown God whom we hope to discover in our praying, and praying to a known God, revealed through Israel and Jesus Christ, who speaks our language. In the first, we indulge our appetite for religious fulfillment; in the second we practice obedient faith. The first is a lot more fun, the second is a lot more important. What is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God. 

If you’re the over achieving type, check out this video Peterson did with Bono on the Psalms. It’s worth every minute of the 20 you give to it. Also - in a culture whose currency is celebrity, Christians are always trying to prove they are credible by latching on to any B list celebrity who says anything about God. I’m not saying I agree with our attempt to trade in the currency of our culture, but come on, it’s freaking Bono. 

Enjoy. See you Sunday as we continue to be shaped by a God who is known. 

– Charlie

A Shared Memory

I'm not sure why so many memories are food memories, they just are. But a smell or flavor can bring you back to a moment in my life almost instantly. I love that, I love being able to relive a moment through an aroma or flavor. 

I have had the beautiful pleasure of being part of a cooking group the last couple of years. There is something wonderful about being able to share in other people's memories, connecting to their memory in a physical and tactile way, like sharing a meal together. You know someone stronger in this way. Likewise, I've loved being able to share my memories through the tastes of my childhood. It's such a special thing. 

Growing up in the middle of nowhere between Mansfield and Midlothian, my father owned a small convenience store/gas station/barbecue restaurant. It sounds strange, but it was always packed. And in his store, he always carried Mindy Lu's Fried Pies. Mindy might seem like a nobody to you unless you live in South Small Town Texas, and then you've probably seen her pies for sale. Every day the school bus would drop me off from School in front of our store or I would go in and get my after-school snack, and then walk home. On too many occasions to count my snack was a Mindy Lou fried pie. It's total and complete comfort at its best with more calories than I care to think about. 

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to love on some of our school teachers and show them a little appreciation, and without a second's hesitation, my mind went to Mindy Lu's Fried Pies, because to me they spell love. And to be able to share them with others was almost as sweet as eating one myself. Do not be mistaken, I totally ate one, but I'm just saying that giving them away was quite nice too. 

More often than not, I mess up and live my life more for me than for Christ. But when I get it right, it always involves me giving a little bit of myself and sharing myself and my love with others. And I'm always glad I did.

– Chantel

The Problem with Patience

The Problem with Patience

So, you go to a movie and, despite several crafty ads from the theater company telling people to silence their phones and stop talking, some people just aren’t PAYING ATTENTION! How long will you wait to say something? Well, thank goodness, Timex, Inc. recently ran a survey on this kind of thing and the average moviegoer said they’d wait for (drum roll)… 1 minute 52 seconds. I assume that’s after the film has already started. Some of you are thinking, and I know who you are, “That’s way too long! I paid my money, I’m not waiting at all!” Others are like, “Well, maybe they have something important to talk about, I’ll give them some time. You never know someone until you walk in their shoes.” (This kind of person probably just doesn’t like confrontation.)

Psalm 98

Psalm 98

It occurred to me during the middle of one of our services a couple of weeks ago as Joe was making his guitar sing that a guitar solo might be considered offensive in church. The thought may have whizzed through my mind at other points during my life, but I never gave it much credence. I’m prone to taking almost any argument in an “ad absurdum” type of way (much to Jaime’s chagrin) and I long for consistency. So, it got me thinking. Is a guitar solo irreverent? If so, how so? We have instrumental breaks in music regularly. Is it because one instrument is standing out beyond the rest? Surely we have the makings for quite a terrible symphony if the first chair violin is never to be heard above the last chair oboe. No offense to any oboe players out there! I’m just wondering if there is something to the notion that a guitar solo could be irreverent. 

Seeing God in Relationships

Seeing God in Relationships

One of the reoccurring things I have students do when I meet with them is to pinpoint a couple of things that have influenced their spiritual growth up to that point in their lives.  It is an open-ended question that I don’t expect certain answers for but seem to always get a re-occurring theme over and over again. Rather than it being deep theological lessons from a sermon or lesson. More than it being an experience in a foreign country serving others. More than it being the tools and tasks given to them to do on their own. The thing that comes up over and over again are the relationships they have had with others.

Love and Vulnerability

Love and Vulnerability

We were created to know and be known, to love and be loved. We're all walking around with this deep seeded need to be fully known and through being fully known, to be fully loved. February has become a month focused on love. You walk into any store and are hit with red hearts and chocolates wrapped in shiny cellophane. There are rows and rows of Valentine's cards, stuffed animals, and candies stamped with words of sentiment. Combine that with the heart eye’s emoji and a meme of a cat holding a flower and you can seemingly express your love and affection to anyone in your life without really expressing anything at all – without knowing or being known.  Because to know and be known might mean being rejected, instead of loved.

Persecution and "Silence"

Persecution and "Silence"

So, last week in my inbox there were two “news alert” emails.

One claims that 2016 was the hottest year ever on earth (during record-keeping times). Alarming.

More alarming: The other email reports that in 2016 Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world; 90,000 believers died, or one every 6 minutes.

Pine Cove No Agenda 2017

“I just don’t know what to do!”
“There are too many options to choose from and I don’t want to mess up.”
“So much stuff is going on right now that I need a break.”
“I need to get rejuvenated before heading into my last semester.”

I heard these, and more, phrases throughout the course of this past weekend at our High School retreat. You can call teenagers selfish, entitled, arrogant, brats, or whatever other stereotypical thing our culture calls them, but you cannot call them rested. Now, you might think you know or have the laziest teenager around, but one thing I always learn from a weekend with literally no agenda is that students carry more burdens than we assume.

From the burden of getting into a certain school to handling family issues that most couldn’t dream about, our students need the space and ability to slow down and relax sometimes. This past weekend we gave them that. It was a weekend where we laid our burdens at the foot of the cross knowing that God doesn’t scold us with our load, but offers to take it from us. We assume everyone is willing to dump their junk on to Jesus so we don’t talk about the permission that we need sometimes to let it all go and fall into the arms of our Savior.

What we find in those moments is vulnerability. Vulnerability with each other and with a God who takes us where we are and helps us take a step deeper into Him. Our prayer going into the weekend was that grace would be shown more than it ever has through our students.

I want you to know that from my perspective, rest was needed, and grace was received by a group of students needing the assurance that they are humans, just like the rest of us.

– Jonathan