Reflections on Faith

Dear friends,

In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.

Andrew S. Odom
Pastor

01/16/2018 7:40 AM

Villages in Partnership

01/16/2018 7:40 AM
01/16/2018 7:40 AM
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. (Matthew 25:35)
 
On Sunday Canyon Creek welcomed our friends from Villages in Partnership, Stephen and Liz Heinzel-Nelson. VIP is a mission in southern Malawi, Africa that serves tens of thousands of people in numerous villages in the Sakata region. God is doing remarkable things with VIP, and we are proud to be part of their work. If you did not get a chance to contribute to VIP on Sunday, you can still do so online.
 
I also encourage you to consider going with us to Malawi on a Friendship Trip. I went a few years ago and can tell you that it is an experience one is unlikely to forget. One question I get about taking a trip like that is, “Why is it important to go there? Wouldn’t it be better if I sent the money I would have spent for a trip?” It’s a good question. Obviously going to Malawi is something that will help you grow in your faith. It will challenge your assumptions about the fairness of life and the disparity that exists in the world. But, perhaps the best reason to go is what it does for the people there. When you go to Malawi, it shows the villagers that we are serious about being in relationship with them. Each new person who goes on a Friendship Trip helps ensure confidence in the people there that VIP is a group who will stay with them. So many groups go on a mission trip to Malawi but never return. VIP is committed to staying, and they need people like us to be part of that commitment. So, it will change you, yes, but more than that, it builds our relationship with the people who live there, and if there is anything God wants most of all, it’s to build relationship. Give it some thought.
01/09/2018 12:32 PM

Milestone

01/09/2018 12:32 PM
01/09/2018 12:32 PM
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
 
One year ago, our neighbor to the west approached the church with an interest in purchasing our field on the west side to use as grazing land for their horses. After much discussion by the Property and Maintenance Committee and the Session, the recommendation was made to sell, and the congregation approved it. Since that time, process of finalizing all the details has taken much longer than anyone anticipated. There were city requirements that needed to be met, along with variances that needed approval. We also had to research for original documents and other information. You name it, it was on the list.
 
Needless to say, after a year of hard work, the sale finally closed on December 28, 2017. After costs, the church received $1,158,750.69. The proceeds will be used to remove short-term debt and lower long-term debt. In other words, this places Canyon Creek in a very sound financial position for the first time since moving out to this location in 2003. It is a milestone.
 
I would like to take a moment to say thank you to a couple of people. Bart Hubbard, Herb Reed, and Frank Holt early on, all put in more hours on this project than they can count. Without their help and dedication, things would not have gone as smoothly as they did, and it would have cost us more. I would also like to thank our Director of Finance, Beverly Oberdorf, who worked extra hours, including some weekends, to help ensure things went well. Thank you all for your gift of time and expertise to the life of the church. God has gifted Canyon Creek with wonderfully faithful and dedicated people. We are all grateful for you!
12/19/2017 8:35 AM

Christmas Meaning

12/19/2017 8:35 AM
12/19/2017 8:35 AM
Our heart is glad in God, because we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:21)
 
What does Christmas mean to you? I sometimes find myself asking that question. So much of the season is filled with activities that all try to pull you in, promising to point to the meaning of Christmas. Come be wowed at this megachurch over the top Christmas extravaganza. Soothe your eyes with a tour of lights in the great neighborhoods of the city. Laugh with Scrooge and see the Christmas trains at NorthPark Mall. Take a walk through the ice sculptures at the Gaylord. Don't miss this. Be sure to attend that. It's all great fun. You can fill your whole Advent calendar with attraction after attraction to your heart's content. And yet, what does Christmas mean to you? The meaning can easily get lost in the shuffle.
 
One of the things the psalms do so well is re-frame our focus. They turn our attention away from the ways in which we parade meaning in front of each other toward the ways in which we can open ourselves up to what God means to us. "Our heart is glad," says the psalmist, not because of some extravagant thing we have put together to wow an audience, but because we trust in God's holy name. At the end of the day, Christmas is a spirit that fills us with the promise that God will dwell with us. In the midst of all the activity and the attempts to garner our attention, God will come and dwell with us in the Christ child. That is the meaning of Christmas, and our hearts will be glad.
12/12/2017 3:46 PM

Before the Manger

12/12/2017 3:46 PM
12/12/2017 3:46 PM

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12)

Lately I have been reading a collection of daily devotions written by theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer does not mince words. With rigorous honesty and clarity of faith, he challenges the reader with the good news of Jesus Christ. One line I read this morning states, “No powerful person dares to approach the manger.” This one line alone is a challenge. To come before the manger, we have to let go of all assumptions of power. To come before the manger, we have to drop any notion of influence. To come before the manger, we have to lay down every ounce of who we think we have become, for the manger sits not with the powerful, but with the lowly.

We have such a hard time in this life letting go of things. We cling to the past. We cling to our stuff. We cling to our responsibilities. Over time they start to weigh heavy on our soul. Even the shepherds in the field that the angel speaks to had to leave what they knew for a time in order to come before the manger. This is what the manger does, it draws us out of the life we have fooled ourselves into living and reminds us of the life of the one who is truly in control.

Bonhoeffer puts it best when he asks, “Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, al vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high.” May you come before the manger this year with the spiritual posture of one who has laid it all down.

12/04/2017 8:49 PM

Expect It Anyway

12/04/2017 8:49 PM
12/04/2017 8:49 PM

There is good news for the city of Zion. Shout it as loud as you can from the highest mountain. Don’t be afraid to shout to the towns of Judah, “Your God is here!” (Isaiah 40:9)

A long time ago, Isaiah spoke a word of certainty to a people who were uncertain. He spoke a word of faith to a people who were struggling with theirs. He spoke a word of hope to a people who had run out of things to hope for. Isaiah came to the people of God with a word that comes again to us today. It is a word we need to hear.

In a world where schedules and busyness dominate us with an unrelenting hand, the word we need to hear tells us to not lose heart.

In a world that props up politics over people and rhetoric over relationships, the word we need to hear tells us to not lose faith.

In a world that feels overbearing and heavy and lost and confusing, the word we need to hear tells us to not lose hope.

Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope. This is the certainty from which Isaiah preaches. When you're not sure whether you believe or not, believe anyway. When you feel like you don't have the energy to take another step, put your shoes on and take it anyway. When you simply don’t think you can expect anything else from God, expect it anyway. This Advent, expect God to show up. Expect Christ to come. Expect the Holy Spirit to birth a new fire in your heart, for there is good news for you. Your God is here!

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