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


 

01/27/2018 11:14 AM

Shared Experience

01/27/2018 11:14 AM
01/27/2018 11:14 AM
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7)
 
Some of you have been participating in the study and conversation many religious communities in Dallas have been doing together on the book, A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, by Thupten Jinpa, a former monk. It is a wonderful book. In it, Jinpa talks about empathy. “What is empathy?” he asks. “It’s our natural ability to understand other people’s feelings and share in their experience.” He goes on to talk about how a shared experience has two components: an “emotional response to someone’s feelings, and cognitive understanding of his or her situation.” When we share in someone else’s experience, whether it be by an emotion we share with them or a feeling we have for them without actually feeling what that person is feeling, we gain a sense of empathy. Something in us changes, and we end up feeling closer to that person.

There is no greater act of shared experience than the act of God emptying himself and becoming one of us. In that act, God gives us the gift of shared experience with Christ. Christ poured out his own life for us so that, in turn, we may experience Christ’s life. In other words, something in us changes, and we end up feeling closer to God. We gain empathy for one another because God has empathy for us. We can share in one another’s experience and grow in that sharing because God shares in our experience. This is the gift we are given. This is the gift we can give.

01/22/2018 8:05 PM

Unexpected Welcome

01/22/2018 8:05 PM
01/22/2018 8:05 PM
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
 
This is one of my favorite lines in the bible. Simply reading it reminds me of the posture I should take with others, a posture that is not always easy to have. After all, let’s face, people can be frustrating. The guy who cuts you off in the parking lot pulling into that one last spot you were hoping to get. The young lady who gets upset in the check-out line over something you consider trivial, but you have to wait while they hash it out and call the floor manager. People can be frustrating, and yet we are called to show hospitality. We are called to show hospitality in places you would not expect it.
 
On Sunday we welcomed The Rev. Dr. Samira Paige from Gateway of Grace as our guest preacher. If there was ever a poster child of someone who has been surprised by hospitality, she would be it. She shared her story of how her family escaped from Iran in the 80’s, fleeing over the mountains through the snow and the cold, almost freezing to death. She shared about how, in Turkey, the Mexican ambassador just happened to be passing by as she was trying to get passage out. He stopped, cleared them, and gave her his personal phone number in case they ran into any snags. She shared about how in Mexico City, they so happened to run into a former tenant of her husband in Iran. Every step of the way, they received unexpected welcome in unexpected ways, all the way into the U.S. where they were given a place to live, help to get their feet on the ground and proper documentation, and a church who invited them to worship. God’s hand, it seems, was on Samira’s family from start to finish.
 
What kind of world might it be if we were each to show hospitality to strangers, to treat them like we would an angel from heaven? It would be a world, I think, filled with unexpected welcome.
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.

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Women's Summer Bible Study Every other Wednesday starting June 13. From 10:00- 11:30 am in Room 102
Join us June 24 at 7:00 pm for our annual Patriotic Concert. Then stay for homemade ice cream.