Draw Near to God Via Lust & Mammon

June 21st, 2017 by
Dear Friends at New Covenant,
We began our year drawing near to God through His Word, in Worship, and in Prayer.
During our  leadership retreat I asked our vestry, intercessors, and worship leaders to press into God in these three areas.  Fr. Christopher and I have invited our congregation to do the same, and have provided a way to do that which has been nicknamed, “The Prayer Book on Training Wheels.”  Barbara and I have found it a wonderful way to start the day and draw near.
As we cross the half way point of the year, and move into summer, I wanted to share two more ways for us to draw near to God, oddly enough, via lust and mammon.
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“Lust can be focused but not eliminated,” so says Andy Stanley, in his last chapter ofEnemies of the Heart.  He suggests it is different from the other enemies; guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy, in that it is God given.
Lusts’ definitions indicate that it is something very powerful that comes from somewhere deep inside us.  I was intrigued by the author’s suggestion that it could be refocused.  What if we were to focus, train, our deepest, almost subconscious, desires on to the things of the Kingdom of God?  Could we harness, or loose it, this force within us, for good, for God?  Perhaps with God’s help, since it is from him, with His might, we might.
I believe it’s possible.  Aren’t all things with God?
With this on my mind: A couple weeks ago I was blessed to listen to Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison, with several of our African partners, as he talked of creating the word ‘metakardia,’ instead of the word metanoia, for repentance.  Metanoia is the Greek word for repentance, which means a change of mind.  Bishop Fitz said, “I can change my mind five time in a minute.  What needs to be changed is my heart.  We need metakardia more than metanoia.”
Since then I have been testing it out, seeing if I can lust for the things of the Kingdom of God, i.e. loose the strength of something like lust to work for the good, for God.  Here’s one incident where I believe the fruit of my efforts was manifest, where the metakardia had done its work.
It was a routine hospital visit, but as I listened to the patient, I realized I was hearing more than the words of the person speaking.  It was as if our Lord began to paint a landscape of the inscape of this person’s life and it was absolutely captivating! It was gorgeous, and as I left I told her how wonderfully blessed I was listening to her story, more than she could guess.  This hasn’t proven to be an isolated incident.
Refocus your lust.  Turn it to the things of God, His kingdom.  Want to be part, share in, and partake of His realm and His riches?  Then really want it!  Be intentional, and seek metakardia.
Lust, as we know, is powerful.  Beware then, that if the things of his His heart become your deepest, almost unconscious, desire, you will get closer to Him and the metakardia He may perform on your heart may be overwhelming.  Lust is powerful.
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Mammon, it, too, is powerful.  Money even talks, as they say.  According to Jesus it contends with Him for our worship, and he adds,  ‘we can’t serve two Gods.‘  It’s Mammon or Him.  Choose this day whom to serve.
It’s unnerving, but Jesus cares enough to watch what we do with it, e.g. ‘the widow in the temple.’  He was so concerned about the power and influence it has that, according to the scriptures at least, he spoke more about money than he did about prayer.
Like lust however, we can use it to bring us closer to our Lord and in turn affect a transformation of our heart, metakardia.  At one point Jesus says, ‘where your treasure is there your heart will be as well.’
If you want your heart to be closer to God, it will, as they say, follow the money.  And this is true too; if you do begin to lust for the Kingdom, you will invest in the Kingdom of God!  It becomes a priority, the priority.
(I want to let you know that we are about 39K short of our budget to offerings so far this year.  So, if you have been on vacation or traveling, or if you are behind in your tithing, it would be a true blessing if you can catch up.  Thank you.)
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The most caring thing I know to do for anyone is to encourage them to draw near to their Lord; the one who knit them together in their mother’s womb, who knows their days before they are lived, and gave the life of his only Son that they may have life, abundant and eternal.
Dare to Draw Near,
Carl

New Covenant Church – Summer 2017 – Inside Out

May 6th, 2017 by

Weekly Lectionary for the 3rd Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2017

April 30th, 2017 by

COLLECT

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

New Testament

1 Peter 1:17-23

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially,live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Gospel

Luke 24:13-35

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas,asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Graduation Sunday – May 21

April 21st, 2017 by

 

 

If you have a graduating high school senior, we want to celebrate this incredible milestone with you on Sunday, May 21, during the 10am service!

Please email Erica Stephenson at erica.stephenson12@gmail.com, by May 7 with your graduate’s full name, high school they are graduating from, a senior picture, and their plans for the future.

Holy Communion and Holy Week 2017

April 20th, 2017 by

 

Holy Week is a special time of year as we reflect and remember the sacrifice Jesus paid for sins.

 

This year, Holy week was observed from April 9  starting with Jesus’s last arrival into Jerusalem in what is remembered as Palm Sunday. Holy Week concluded with the remembrance of his crucifixion on Good Friday on April 14.

You can watch the family of New Covenant Church remember this special time of remembrance in our video recap here.

Community Easter Egg Hunt 2017

April 20th, 2017 by

 

The  Community Easter Egg hunt was held on April 8, 2017.

 

You can watch our video recap here.

Building Bridges with Plastic Eggs – A Thank You

April 13th, 2017 by

 

 

As we prepared for the event that morning you heard colorful plastic eggs being snapped together, about 5000 in total, before they were thrown out on our front lawn. You smelled the grill being fired up for another great picnic.

 

 

 

You heard our 100 Days of Summer  music playlist in the background setting the stage for a worshipful day. You smelled the sugar rising from the 200 candy bags that were sitting on the welcome table. You saw several of us setting up the Easter Story Egg sets on tables in the courtyard. So much preparation from so many from our church family goes into a day like this.

 

We talk about this gathering being one where we build a bridge to our community. Both as a whole and on an individual level – person to person. As I continue to hear the stories of that morning I am convinced that this is exactly what we did. From a family who has now come to 3 community events in a row who were recognized by a familiar face when they came back (Fezziwig’s Christmas Party, Elf Movie Night, Easter Egg Hunt), to conversations that were had with families who were putting together the Easter Story Egg sets – we are building a bridge of relationship.

 

I don’t know where God will take these bridges that we are building, that’s up to Him. It is on us to be faithful with who and what he puts in front of us. This is what we do together.

 

So thank you for praying generously, for snapping eggs together, for putting baggies full of 11 tiny pieces together for the Easter Story Egg sets, for cooking hotdogs and making cupcakes, for stepping out of your comfort zone to meet someone new, for capturing the day in pictures, for decorating the tables, for donating candy, and SO MUCH MORE!

 

 

Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”

Matthew 10:5-8 MSG

Vacation Bible School – July 24 – 28

April 1st, 2017 by

Making plans for Summer?  Be sure to include VBS!   Ages 3 years (potty trained) through entering 6th grade.  The theme for this year is “Mighty Fortress”.  Contact Jane Trnka at jcthrc@aol.com for more information or to sign up to volunteer.

Summer Sunday School (June – August)

March 31st, 2017 by

We are looking for about 18 people who would like to invest in the lives of our kid’s at New Covenant on Sunday mornings this summer! Many of the teachers and song leaders who lead throughout the year take a break during the summer, and so we are looking for a commitment of to 1-2 times per month during the summer months. Please contact Chris Reilly at 407-699-0202 for more information.

Easter Egg Hunt Candy Needed

March 30th, 2017 by

 

The candy donation basket for the egg hunt is out in the foyer.

Please donate individually wrapped candy.