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


05/22/2017 6:28 PM

Scapegoating vs. Belonging

05/22/2017 6:28 PM
05/22/2017 6:28 PM

See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. (1 John 3:1)

On Sunday we talked about belonging. In his first letter, John assures us that we belong to God. He has become convinced that, because of Jesus Christ, we are children of God. We belong. But the world doesn’t reflect this reality. We don’t know how to treat each other. We don’t know how to talk to each other. We don’t even know how to look at each other. We don't do community well. We live in a world where, quite often, we feel like we don’t belong. When that is the case; when you feel like you don’t belong, the only one left to fend for is yourself, which makes it all too easy to blame everyone else for you own problems.

Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr calls it the scapegoat mechanism, pointing out that “if your ego is still in charge, you will find a ‘disposable’ person or group on which to project your problems. People who haven’t come to at least a minimal awareness of their own dark side will always find someone else to hate or fear. Hatred holds a group together much more quickly and easily than love and inclusivity, I am sorry to say.”

John would echo Rohr’s sentiment as he paints the reality of God’s belonging. If we are to take John’s words seriously, then our most faithful task is to see others as people who, first and foremost, belong to God. They are not scapegoats for our problems. They are not receptacles for our blame. They are not targets for our complaints. They are part of the family, people we walk alongside with in this life. They belong. This is God's great gift to us in Jesus Christ. So when you are out and about this week, commit yourself to doing the hard work of seeing the people you cross paths with as children of God. Then, treat them that way.

05/08/2017 7:11 PM

The Great Promise

05/08/2017 7:11 PM
05/08/2017 7:11 PM
Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen. (Psalm 77:19)
On Sunday, the young people of Canyon Creek led us in worship through the creative musical, The Sailor’s Bible. It has become an annual tradition at CCPC that we all look forward to every year. This year, we were presented with three “ship” stories: the story of Noah (Genesis 6), the story of Jonah (Jonah), and the story of Paul’s shipwreck (Acts 27). Each of these stories has a different emphasis that our great actors reminded us of.
In the Noah story, we were given a picture of how quickly we judge one another on what we do or what we believe. We all laughed as the cast made fun of Noah and his family for building an ark so far from the water for no apparent reason. The story points out to us our fickle nature and how quick we are to jump to conclusions about someone else.
In the Jonah story, Jonah was the one who became the focus of our laughter. Jonah absolutely did not want to do what God asked him to do, and when he finally did do it, he didn’t want it to make a difference. He walked through the whole thing begrudgingly and with a roll of his eyes. It was not only funny, it convicted us. We struggle to do the right thing, especially when it happens to be the hard thing.

Paul’s shipwreck brought it all home. As Paul and the crew were tossed back and forth across the stage by the wind and the waves, we were reminded of God’s great promise that runs through the whole of scripture. In each story, in every instance and circumstance, we are given a God who is with us from start to finish. This is a God who abides through the raging storms and the calm seas of life. God does not leave, ever. That is the great promise, no matter if the reminder comes from a rainbow in the sky or a movement of the heart.

05/01/2017 9:02 PM

We Have Seen It

05/01/2017 9:02 PM
05/01/2017 9:02 PM

This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. (I John 1:2)

On Sunday we began a sermon series called “Life Assurance” that will walk us through the 1st letter of John. 1 John is heralded by many as a capstone to the New Testament. Martin Luther once called it the kind of letter that “can buoy up even the most afflicted heart.” In other words, people think highly of it. In the coming weeks, we will find out why that is, but one thing I can tell you right now is that 1 John sets out to assure us of our new life in Christ. John believes deep down that every day is Easter.

We live in a world that appears divided at every turn. We can’t agree on policy. We can’t agree on who should be in office. We can’t agree on social issues. We can’t agree. But, one thing we can agree on, one thing that no one can deny is that none of us will get out of this world alive. Every single one of us holds death in common. This we can be sure of. What we have a harder time being assured of is life.

In a divided world that often feels like it sucks the life right out of your, we can’t help but wonder if we can have life at all. Do we have life? Will we have life? John’s answer to that question comes with a loud resounding “Yes! We have seen it with our eyes and touched it with our hands.” And with that grand statement John begins a letter that is sure to sink its teeth into your heart. Read it this week when you get a moment. I’ve heard that it can buoy up even the most afflicted heart.

04/24/2017 9:49 PM

Future Leaders

04/24/2017 9:49 PM
04/24/2017 9:49 PM

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6)

On Saturday I attended a local fundraiser lunch for the Presbyterian Pan American School down in Kingsville, Texas. PanAm, as it is fondly called, is a “Christian college preparatory school that educates and empowers young adults for leadership in the global community.” It takes students from all over the world, including impoverished countries, and helps open new doors through education and spiritual growth. It is quite a unique place.

During the lunch, we heard from alumni students who went on to further education and are now out in the world. One graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, another Presbyterian affiliated school. He is now working in Dallas. A young lady from Piedras Negras graduated from Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, a Presbyterian affiliated school my grandfather once served as president and where my mother currently works. She talked about how a group of Christians came to Piedras to build a home for her family and how they helped her apply to PanAm. She is now teaching in Fort Worth, seeking ways to help students in poverty succeed more effectively in the classroom. Each of these people got emotional when they shared their experience of how the scope of their lives has completely changed.                                           

What struck me throughout the entire lunch is how much the Presbyterian Church has helped shape these future leaders. They have been introduced to a life of learning, led in the way of faith, and have not departed from that way. They are the kind of folks who understand what it looks like to build cross cultural bridges. I left that gathering filled with a rekindled hope for the future.

04/17/2017 6:31 PM


04/17/2017 6:31 PM
04/17/2017 6:31 PM
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. (Matthew 25:35)
For the second year now, Canyon Creek has welcomed refugee families from Gateway of Grace along with all our guests from the area around the church. I am so proud of this event for many reasons, the main one being that it, to me, encapsulates what Christian hospitality can look like when a safe space is provided for people to gather. It was fun and relaxing and filled with laughter. It was brimming with new life. Here is what The Rev. Samira Page, Director of Gateway, posted on her Facebook page:
“This was Gateway of Grace's largest event yet. Easter Egg Hunt for Refugees was a great success. The event was hosted by our great partner church, Canyon Creek Presbyterian, with volunteers and partners from 18 churches across denominations as far as east Texas. We provided transportation for close to 250 refugees, while others came on their own. For many, this was the first Easter in the U.S. It was a great day. Refugees were introduced to Bingo and loved it. Children really enjoyed the egg hunt, the bounce houses, slides, and several other activities. We shared the Gospel and the message of Easter with our refugee friends. Thank you everybody for your love and support. Thank you Canyon Creek! Grateful for amazing friends and partners in ministry.”
Way to go Canyon Creek!

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