Just when I thought the year of unprecedented events was over, our city (and state) freezes, leaving many without power and heat (myself included). While sitting five inches from my fireplace, with three sweatshirts on, and two blankets, I asked myself how much more could possibly be added to the weight already being carried out of last year? When will it start getting better?
I do not have any great answers, but we want CCEM to be a community that supports each other through times like this. God tells us to lay our burdens on Him (Ps 55:22, 1 Pet 5:7) and while this is an important call to reflect on, what does that mean in midst of a (literal) storm? Casting our burdens on God can come in many forms (i.e. prayer, worship, etc.), but we as Jesus’s body play an important role in helping others through hard times. We as a body can help bear each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2).
I know you have all been carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders. Things at work and in life have been very difficult the last year or so (maybe longer). Know that you are never alone, and that you are loved. If there is anything CCEM can do to help bear your burden, even if you just need someone to talk or vent to, please do not hesitate to reach out to us here.
All of us can use some help through tough times. We are made for community and it is important to know that you are never alone, regardless of your circumstances. We want to provide you with some resources to help during these tough times:
Prayer – CCEM wants to be a community of prayer. You can submit your prayer request here and know that we will be praying for you. Also, if you would like for someone to contact you and pray with you directly, please let us know that in the prayer request section of the form.
As I am sure is the case with many of you, I listened to the recent announcements about changes to our workforce with angst and concern. Many questions are still unanswered, and the uncertainty about the future leaves me feeling uneasy and anxious.
Reflecting on all that is going on, I realize the consistent struggle I have with understanding my value and my identity. Too often I have tied my sense of worth and my value to how our world defines it. How I see myself is tangled in my work, my job title, my income bracket, my performance assessment. As I sit and wait for more details on the changes coming to our organization, I am once again struggling with these same feelings.
I need to remind myself that my true value and my true identity has already been told to me. The God of the Universe saw me as so valuable, that He willingly came to Earth, took on the form of a man, and sacrificed Himself so that I could be in a relationship with Him for all eternity. In Jesus, I have been assessed as priceless. In Jesus, I have been given a title of royalty, and in Jesus, that title has been eternally secured for me. I did not have to earn the position, and there is nothing/no one that can take it away from me. It is a gift through the pure grace and love from the Father.
As we continue to learn more about the changes from the recent announcements, each one of us is likely to know someone who is directly impacted. Many of us may end up learning that we are in fact being personally impacted by the changes. There are no soothing words to say that will make any of this easier. I just pray that we all turn to Jesus for our strength and our identity, recognizing the hope, security, and value we have in Him.
It is critical that we be a family for each other; no one should feel alone at this time. We as a family need to have grace, love, and be there for each other. Let each of us reach out to our brothers and sisters for fellowship and support. Let our community be a bright light through tough trials. Know you are never alone. We are consistently praying for you and are here to help however we can. You can reach out to us at CCEM for prayer at any time. Finally, let us all reflect on what God has said about us: We are loved. We are priceless. We are secure in Him.
How does God define my identity?
I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1: 5)
There is undoubtabley anxiety, concern, and hardships for many of our brothers and sisters throughout the country. Between COVID-19, Racial and Social Justice issues, and economic hardships, now more than ever it is important for us as a body of believers to be a light and an encouragement for those who may be hurting.
Checkout some of the following resources for tips on how to be an encouragement to others during this strange time.
There is no denying that 2020 has been a tough year. The anxiety of a global pandemic, the wave of uncertainly from a global economic recession, and the pains of racial and social injustices playing out on a national stage have cast a deep and dark cloud over our country.
As a community of faith, we believe in the power of prayer. Join us on August 4th at 7:30am on Zoom as we meet to call out to God for healing and restoration.
Therefore, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
There may be no more powerful words in all of scripture than these three words uttered by Jesus. A single word in Greek (tetelestai), the expression was actually quite common. Pastor and popular Christian author, Warren Wiersbe, notes, “The word tetelestai is unfamiliar to us, but it was used by various people in everyday life… a servant would use it when reporting [a completed work assignment] to his or her master… when an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say [it].”1 Dr. Edwin Blum, former Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, highlights the legal/clerical uses of the word, stating, “Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the word tetelestai written across them, meaning ‘paid in full.’”2 When Jesus said this common phrase it took on extraordinary meaning. He had paid our debt in full. Through faith in Jesus, our accounts have been reconciled for good. This is the basis for our hope, the basis for our salvation.
However, at the time Jesus exclaimed this important phrase there was little rejoicing. Those who had believed Jesus was the Messiah had expected Him to rise to a kingly prominence, overthrowing Roman oppression and restoring Israel. They had high expectations of Jesus and in His death, their world came tumbling down. If this man who could command the wind and the sea, who could heal the sick, and who could feed thousands could be crucified by the Romans, what did that mean for His followers? Hope was seemingly lost, and most of the Disciples went into hiding. It was Friday, but Sunday was coming…
On Sunday morning, everything changed. Their disappointment in lost expectations, their fear of what the future holds, their confused sense of personal identity, all were erased with a second phrase of three words: “He has risen” (Mt 28:6, Lk 24:6, Mk 16:6). Hope was restored and even in the face of trouble, that hope drove the disciples to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
This Easter season there are many (both believers and non-believers) who are facing lost expectations, fear of the future, and confusion. The days seem dark and hopes are dwindling. Hold onto the hope of the finished work of Jesus. Hold onto the hope that even though the outcome of this trial is uncertain, our position and identity in Jesus is certain.
During this time let’s continue to Be The Church to each other, encouraging one another in love and being there to support each other. We have a list of virtual resources that you can consider to keep connected in community with other believers during this time of social distancing. Many churches are offering Good Friday and Easter Sunday services online so that we can still gather together even when we are apart. Furthermore, please let us know how we can pray for you, how we can help you, or if you just need someone to talk to. Finally, let’s show love to those who may not know Jesus, and are losing hope during this difficult time.
We are here for you and we love you. He is Risen!
The CCEM Team
1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 384.
2 Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 340.
“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
As we continue to battle COVID-19, we know that now more than ever how important it is to Be The Church to each other. We need to continue to maintain smart social distancing as a way to love our neighbors, family and friends, as well as a way to continue battling this disease. Fortunately, today’s technology allows us to continue meeting together, while not being physically together.
The CCEM Team wants to provide some virtual resources for you as opportunities to continue meeting together in a safe, socially distant way while at home.
CCEM Bible Studies/Prayer Groups – Many of our Bible Study and Prayer Groups continue to meet virtually through various platforms. If interested, please contact one of our study leads to get the latest virtual meeting information. (Visit Bible Studies/Prayer Groups Page)
Alpha has also moved to a weekly prayer call during our time off campus. To get connected with the Alpha prayer call, please contact Garrett Shaw or goto/Alpha.
Local Churches – Many local churches are currently broadcasting their sermons live on Sundays, as well as hosting small groups and ministry events virtually during the week. Check our Churches list for links to various local churches that members of our community are connected with. Visit church websites for opportunities to connect virtually.
Grace Center of Spiritual Development – GCSD is a local organization that offers Bible Studies, Leadership Training, Devotionals, and Podcasts for free. GCSD is promoting a new 2 week live virtual study on Habakkuk starting next Wednesday, April 8th at lunch (information here); as well as a 3 week virtual Biblical Leadership Seminar Series Starting Tuesday March 31, 6:30 – 8:30 pm (information here). View previous GCSD content and more at Grace Center of Spiritual Development Website
Toolbox Lunch – Toolbox Lunches are having a virtual meeting on April 1 with their Executive Director. Learn more about the event here and more about Toolbox Lunches from their website http://www.toolboxlunches.com/
Christians in Commerce – CIC is an organization focused on bringing Christ into the workplace. The have a library of stories of how individuals have reflected Christ at work. Visit their Christ Alive! Testimonies Webpage.
Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi: Pope Francis delivers an extraordinary blessing “To the City and to the World” on Friday to pray for an end to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. In his meditation, the Pope reflects on Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” See more here.
Dear Catholic Faith Study Friends,
Our next topic will be on the subject of suffering (3 classes, maybe 4, not sure how quickly we will get through the material) based on the book written by Peter Kreeft, “Making Sense Out of Suffering.”
In these lessons we will cover the deep and profound questions we have such as the following:
• Why do I have to suffer?
• If God is all-powerful and all-loving then why does he permit evil to exist?
• Does my suffering have meaning?
• Why do bad things happen to me?
• What is the answer to all these questions about suffering?
When: Thursdays: February 20th, 27th and March 5th
I will send the class notes to the meeting group. Hope you can join us in person or on Skype!
People of all faiths are welcome!
Contact Henry Avila (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be added to the distribution list.
Come see Pam Tebow speak on her book Ripple Effects at Houston City Place Marriott at Springwoods Village! Wednesday March 18th from 11-1.
For questions please contact Trisha Dillon (please use her personal email address email@example.com since she is currently on maternity leave.)