Disaster Relief for Texas – Follow Up from Sunday

Hello all, I wanted to offer you an update.

On a Labor Day weekend with many of our church family away, the grace of God was made evident through your generosity. We were able to collect a total of $5,075 for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief. Praise the Lord!

Thank you for your hospitality, compassion and generosity toward the hurting and displaced in southeast Texas. You never cease to amaze me with your love, WCC. I also want to sing the praises of our Shepherds and thank them for their faithful leadership to present this opportunity to us. I’ve served with enough churches and have enough friends in vocational ministry to know that not all congregations have shepherds that will make decisions like this in fear that the general offering will be short-changed. It didn’t even come up as a concern with our leadership. I’ve come to believe that this is one of the reasons why God blesses WCC so abundantly. I pray we always honor our Lord faithfully and courageously, especially in moments like these. We are blessed to have these Shepherds watch over us and lead us onward in God’s mission. And I know they count themselves blessed to serve you!

Let’s continue to pray for the healing of our neighbors in southeast Texas. Let’s pray for the shalom of God to overwhelm the hopelessness and confusion. Let’s pray for the Church to rise up with self-giving love expressed through hospitality, generosity, and compassion, and a willingness to put our hands to work on their behalf. Let’s pray so we can discern if we, any of us in WCC, are to be answer to these prayers. 

I have included a link to an update from CRF (Christian Relief Fund) concerning their efforts. You can access it here. I am very thankful for their work.

Have a grace-filled week as you discern what the Spirit is doing within you and out ahead of you in the lives of those you’ll cross each day.

Your bro,
Fred

Disaster Relief for Texas: How We Can Help

WCC family, 

This Sunday we will take up a special offering for disaster relief in Houston and other cities in Texas. As usual we will work through Christian Relief Fund – CRF. 100% of the money given will go directly to our neighbors in Houston for relief. I have been in communication with Milt (CEO of CRF) and they are partnering with an local agency to coordinate and insure adequate distribution and allocation of resources. As experts well practiced in bringing relief to disasters both domestic and abroad in over 20 countries, I am confident they will do an excellent job. 

As of yesterday, CRF had volunteers on the ground in Portland Texas where 20,000 residents were affected. Their volunteers are on the ground providing much-needed clean water, serving hot meals (up to 4,000 per day!), providing beds and supplies for local shelters, and offering free shower facilities. As the situation in Portland begins to shift toward rebuilding, they will provide tools and volunteer support to local residents looking to repair their homes and rebuild their live

Please begin discerning what you’re able to give this Sunday. 

We are also exploring what it involves to send more boots on the ground to join the CRF volunteers to serve Houston. We will talk more about this Sunday. 

In the meantime please continue to pray. The trauma many have experienced will be be a barrier no amount of money will overcome. At first there will be shock trauma brought about by the event. Then there will be cumulative trauma brought about by an unfolding of circumstances and anxiety-producing barriers to their recovery. The cumulative trauma can lead to depression, and for some, PTSD. It has the potential to be a debilitating force. 

Let’s pray for their healing. Let’s pray for the shalom of God to overwhelm the hopelessness and confusion. Let’s pray for the Church to rise up with self-giving love expressed through hospitality, generosity, and compassion, and a willingness to put our hands to work on their behalf. Let’s pray so we can discern if we, any of us in WCC, are to be answer to these prayers. I’m sure in many ways we will be. 

If you want to give now, feel free to do so here

You can read CRF updates here.
Thank you, family. See you Sunday. 
Your bro,

Fred

The Vulnerability of a Friendship of Love & Gracious Hospitality

Over the past three years I have lost three dear friends for three very different reasons. All were formerly homeless. All were thrust in to making difficult choices under difficult circumstances. All did the best with what they had. All were ushered in to my life and the lives of God’s people. All were truly […]

read the rest here The Vulnerability of a Friendship of Love

Ascension Day (dating back to 68)

Today is Ascension Day! It is one of the earliest Christian festivals, dating back as early as the year 68.*

According to the teachings of the New Testament Scriptures, Jesus Christ met several times with his disciples during the 40 days after his resurrection so he could teach them about life in the Kingdom of God. On the 40th day, he took them to the Mount of Olives, where they watched as he ascended to heaven to reign as Lord of all. This day also symbolizes the end of the Easter season, and takes place ten days before Pentecost.

Today, pause and celebrate that Jesus is Lord. Ascension Day reminds us that no world power can overtake the Father’s promise. Ascension Day reminds us that no impossibility is impossible for God. Ascension Day reminds us that no matter how unstable our society becomes the light of King Jesus can guide our feet to the path of peace where HIs joy can be our strength. In and by the Lord Jesus, God has entered into our suffering, embodied our sorrow, and enabled our salvation. We are citizens of a kingdom that isn’t frail, is never fickle, and will not fail. Capitol Hill can never outdo Calvary’s Hill and the Pentagon will never possess the power of what came to us in Pentecost.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son,” and He has been exalted as Lord of all.

For God so loved and still loves, that He loves you without caution or restraint; He loves you without boundaries or limits; He loves you beyond your inadequacies or failures and beyond worthiness or unworthiness; He gave His one and only Son to prove it and to show us what love looks like with skin on. For God so loved, and He can’t stop. His love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God’s love will never fail because Jesus is Lord.

See you all Sunday,

Fred


* According to Augustine of Hippo, the Feast of Ascension originated with the Apostles. John Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa, contemporaries of Augustine as you may recall, refer to it as being one of the oldest feasts practiced by the Church, possibly going as far back as AD 68. There is no written evidence, however, of the Church honoring Ascension Day until Augustine’s time in the fourth century. Cf. Laura Holt, “Inquisitiones Januarii, Ad,” in: Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Allan D. Fitzgerald (Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans, 1999), 452.
** Ascension Day is not a federal public holiday in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is a public holiday in some countries, including: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, FranceGermany, Indonesia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Vanuatu.

Following up from this past Sunday

In this post are practical ways in which we can make the greatest commandments our great commission.

I’ve been thinking about how the Christian life has been anchored in what Christians (mostly preachers and scholars) have branded as the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16ff), despite the fact the Scriptures never explicitly or implicitly refer to it in that way. Yet, the Lord Jesus explicitly calls loving God and loving our neighbors as we […]

via The Beauty of the Greatest Commandments as Our Great Commission — Inside This Guys Head

Good Friday: The Cross Speaks What is True


In the Cross, God speaks what is true for those who believe. As the Word Incarnate died upon it the Cross becomes His voice. In the Cross, God offers this message of truth in both a promise and summons. The promise is new life lived with God now and forever. The summons is to live this new life with a deep-seated trust and obedience to the way of life witnessed in Jesus, and to do so in community with others who believe. In the Cross, God speaks what is true. 

No longer lost, we can live in light.

No longer dead, we can come alive.

No longer blind, we can see.

No longer suffocating, we can freely breathe.

No longer broken, we can be healed.

No longer numb, we can feel.

No longer stained, we can be made pure.

No longer weak, we can endure.

No longer deceived, we can know the truth.

No longer must we search, His love is proof.

He is our way. He is our light.

He is always true. He is our life.

He never leaves. He is our peace.

He is our help and sweet relief.

He is our strength. He is sure.

He is more than enough. He is the crucified Lord.

Have a meaningful Holy Saturday and I look forward to us being together on Resurrection Sunday!

Your bro,

Fred

At the Table this Past Sunday

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I wanted to share this picture with you. Garrett Laubscher happened to take it during the first worship gathering. It struck me in a beautiful way because I know that it all just, well, happened. Each Sunday when we invite members of our church family to come a preside over the Lord’s Table there’s no method to it. We just ask people to come, serve and see.
 
Look closely at the picture and witness an embodiment of grace. Standing at the Table is a picture of diversity uncommon for our city, yet possible. It is what the gospel can do when the Church allows the Holy Spirit to work, even when it means pushing us outward to the margins of society. 
 
In the picture to my left is our beloved sister and friend Sally, who leads CenterPeace and was working with some of us this weekend. To my right is a member of our church family, Mabel, an hispanic wife and mother of two. To her right is another member of church family, Frank, who when we first met almost five years ago was living through homelessness. In this picture we see lives represented by gender, nationality, race, sexuality, or social economic status all finding a common seat at the Lord’s table, placing these identity-markers in submission to that which is first important, our baptismal identity.
 

As society imposes upon us a logic of separation and distinction that tells us to which social categories we should belong, the church announces a different social reality. Any one can find a home with God and His people because each week at His Table we once again proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Lover of all. We have been joined together in Him as a new society and eternal family. We see it at the Lord’s Table every week and catch a small glimpse of it in this picture. Only the crucified and risen Lord who welcomes all could do a thing like that.

Today, Mabel told me that as she watched our church family come together around the Lord’s table in all our beautiful diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and stories:

“I was so overwhelmed with emotion that when I went back to my row I just had tears streaming at what I saw. I’ve been thinking about it all week and sharing what I experienced with people I work with. It was an indescribable moment.”

Thanks be to God our Father who by His Spirit makes us one in Christ and invites us to celebrate our differences, including stories of redemption and grace. I praise God for what he is doing in and among us.

May what we see when we come together in our Sunday worship gatherings open our eyes so we will grow in love, hospitality, and in our desire to see the wrongs in this world made right through the Lordship of Christ living through and among us by His Spirit.

Your bro,

Fred