Sunday, April 21, 2013

First Sunday as a New Member!

After a year of being involved at the church I have been attending, I officially joined last week.  I had not thought much about joining over the past year, because I had always been so welcomed there and already feel like part of a big, wonderful family.  All of the pastors there are incredible people and talented preachers; you can see and feel God speaking through them every Sunday!  Each service is a powerful worship experience.  

What sets it apart from other churches and makes it feel like a good fit for me is that the senior pastor encourages everyone to use both your heart and your head for knowing and loving God.  He says that it is good to ask questions and use your intellect, and that it is not bad if you do not agree with everything he says.  The church started in 1990 with the intention of starting a church for thinking people.  Learning and thinking are activities I love very much, so I feel that I was born to be a part of this congregation!  They also have a big focus on loving and serving others, and bringing light to a world of darkness.  I also love their purpose, vision, journey, and values: 

Purpose: To build a Christian Community where non-religious and nominally-religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. 
Vision: Changing lives, transforming communities, and renewing the church.  
Journey: Knowing, loving, and serving God.  
Values: We will do God's work with the qualities we most value: integrity, grace, excellence, relevance, authenticity, passion, humility, faith, inclusivity, commitment, joy, and love.  

Throughout the past thirteen years, the church now has over 18,000 people worshiping, studying, and serving at four campuses.  I love that God's touch is now being felt all over the city, and that I get to be a part of this!  

Today's sermon was the second in a series entitled "Finding Joy in Real Life - 5 Habits for Living Well."  They have been giving out little playing cards with the scripture, prayer, and focus for the week with the bulletin:  

 I tape mine to the bathroom mirror, so I can see it and be reminded every morning to love others all day every day!  

Notes I took during the sermon:

  • Religion should not be about making us happy, but about doing God's will.  It is not about going where we want and dragging God with us, but going where God calls us and following Him.  This will create more joy in our lives! 
  • God tells us we need to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves - the widow, the orphan, the alien (immigrant), and the poor.  
  • This is exactly what I want for my life: "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."  ~Mother Theresa 
Referenced scripture in the sermon:

It is my prayer and focus this week to speak up for the vulnerable and powerless who need me to speak out for them.  I pray that God gives me courage, and helps me to pay attention to those who need me.  I pray that I bestow kindness on every person I interact with, as a daily part of my life.  I pray that I will be a bold, courageous Christian, and do justice and kindness to everyone.  Have a blessed week!!!  

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