Hello Everyone:

I have three brief but important items for you on this chilly Wednesday.

First, I encourage you to read here the inspiring story of our own Alyssa Ferguson and her make-a-wish request. Alyssa is an amazing young woman of God whose spirit will encourage yours.

Second, mark your calendars for our upcoming Missions Dinner, La Posada En Honduras, scheduled for Saturday, March 21 from 5:30-8:30pm. This will benefit both youth and adult short-term mission trips this year. It will be an evening of food, entertainment and a fun auction. Can’t make it? No problem, you can still support the cause by making a donation!

Third, in tonight’s UPLIFT service we will conclude our three-week series on the parable of the prodigal son by asking, What Shall We Do with Failure? The story of the prodigal son is a story about how one young man got free from his past failures and found a glorious new future with the help and mercy of God.

All of us who are honest with ourselves know we have failures in our lives. Some are bigger than others, but all of them must be properly dealt with in order for us to be free to live a healthy life before the Lord.

Not only must we learn to grow through our own failures, but we must also learn in some way to deal with the spiritual failure of others, particularly those very close to us. The father in this story was a very good parent, and yet he had two sons who at one time were resistant to their father’s dreams for them. That is the risk and pain of parenting. That is the risk and pain of loving and caring for another person.

I hope to see you tonight at 7:00pm.

The robe, the shoes, the ring,
They are all for me, an unworthy son,
But the greatest of these, the most wonderful thing,
My father ran to meet me, I SAW GOD RUN!

Blessings,
Ronnie

CCA & Weekend Enote

February 21, 2015 — Leave a comment

HS_chapel

Hello Everyone:

I’m sure fired up and looking forward to tomorrow at First Colony.  I get to teach about the Crazy Love of God in week #3 of our Crazy Love series.

This Sunday is also CCA Day (Cornerstone Christian Academy), which is an absolutely terrific ministry of our church family.  Several CCA students will help our worship teams, read scripture and Dylan Weaver will even help me kick off our message.

I’d like to take a moment and bring all of you up to speed on the work of CCA.  Cornerstone Christian Academy started in 2003 (thanks to the pioneering work of Dana Wright) and currently serves children from age two through the eighth grade.  In addition, Cornerstone offers extended care from 7:00am to 6:00pm and offers various enrichment classes for all age groups after school.  The total number of students at CCA is 430.

CCA’s mission is to equip students with skills for life and faith for eternity.  Casey Farris is the Head of School and does a terrific job.  His predecessor, Chad St. Jean, also did a terrific job and the school is in such a good place in every way.  Mark Mize is the CCA Board Chair.  Enrollment for the 2015-16 school year is currently underway.

Cornerstone recently went through accreditation through AdvancEd, which is the largest community of educational professionals around the world that accredits more than 32,000 schools globally. The global average ranking is a 282 and Cornerstone received a 318, which places CCA in the top 0.5 percentile globally.

Here is a quote from AdvancEd:  “Cornerstone Christian Academy received the highest rating in the supportive learning environment.  The school has well documented values; and the External Review Team saw respect, responsibility, integrity, teamwork, and a quest for excellence throughout the school visit.”

I’m grateful for the work of CCA, their talented faculty and staff, and the partnership we enjoy.  Martha and I are also glad to be CCA grandparents.

Have a great weekend.  Hope to see you tomorrow for an encouraging day of worship and fellowship.

Blessings,

Ronnie

CCA-Logo-top_400

prodigal-the-elder-brother-12-728

Happy Wednesday Everyone:

There is a mindset in Christianity that I’ll call the “colder, older brother mindset.”  It’s a small-hearted mindset of condescension, resentment, and self-righteousness that Jesus verbally portrays in his parable of the prodigal son, which could easily be called the parable of the merciful father, or it could be called the parable of the colder, older brother.  You get the idea.

In tonight’s UPLIFT service we’ll talk exclusively about this colder, older brother/sister mindset – how it arises, how it can subtly influence and how it can be minimized. This is not a sentimental topic.  The early church, for example, wrestled with how they should respond to believers who had lapsed in their faith during a time of persecution.  Sin happens. And when it does, what’s God’s heart on the matter and how can we accurately portray that heart? I hope to see you tonight at 7pm.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and many non-Catholics wonder, “what is this all about?”

Lent (a word meaning “spring”) was an ancient church practice of taking the six weeks before Easter and preparing new converts for baptism.  It was also a time for all believers to focus on repentance before the Lord and thus evolved the Lenten “fast,” giving up something during the six weeks of Lent.

Here’s the Captain Obvious statement: Lent is not a requirement for Christians. Dallas Willard has said, and I agree, that if a certain spiritual discipline not required by God helps you grow in God’s grace, then by all means do it. But if it doesn’t, don’t feel like you must do it.

But here’s what you can know:  Christ followers of varying faith traditions will use the next six weeks to be intentionally more attentive to the call of Christ and the reconciliation He brings through his sacrificial death and resurrection.

One good practice leading up to Easter is to read through the gospels (about 15 minutes per day) and here is a helpful reading plan.  As you read the Scriptures, ask God this question:  “what do I need most, but least want to hear, from your word?”

Blessings,

Ronnie

Hello Everyone:

It is a new year and the turning of the calendar page is inevitable. My primary burden for you, however, is not the turning of a calendar page but the renewing of your mind and heart through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I am asking you to join me through January in a 31-day prayer focus for our church family. This is not a program. This is a united, sustained and humble effort asking God for breakthroughs, renewals and awakenings, both personal and congregational.

Below you will find attached a January 2015 Prayer Guide.  It is 31 days of prayer suggestions that are wide-ranging and kingdom focused. It is not an exhaustive list of suggestions by any means but it is a packet of prayer seeds we can plant together, day by day during the 31 days of January. My hope is we will see God pour out upon us a vivid awareness of who we are in Christ and who we are to one another.

I’m asking God for a year of Open Doors for us all. His hand can open any door and, in the words of E.M. Bounds, “prayer is the slender nerve that moves the hand of God.”

— Ronnie

1 John 5:14-15 14

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

FCCC JANUARY 2015 PRAYER GUIDE

My Weekend Church Enote

December 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-12-07 16.27.45

Hello Everyone!

I’d like to highlight five quick items and the first item has a photo with it.

First, thanks so much for your enthusiastic and generous participation in last Sunday’s Care & Share Toy and Food Drive.  You brought enough toys and food to bless well over 400 families in the Fort Bend County area.  Second Mile was completely out of several staple foods and your generosity replenished their shelves. The above photo dramatically shows a few of the Second Mile shelves after your generosity. Those shelves were barren before last Sunday.  It’s pretty cool to think about what a difference our collective efforts can do.

Second, this Sunday night from 6:00-8:00pm is Winter’s Eve at FCCC and I hope you will come on out for this all church Christmas party.  Everyone is welcome, invite a friend, and come enjoy an evening of traditional Christmas music. You can expect some fun choreography, great music, a Christmas cookie or two, and perhaps even an Elvis impersonator.  Childcare available up through age two.

Third, I am so thankful for all of you who have honored God with your tithes and offerings in 2014. If you are planning to make year-end gifts IRS guidelines require that they be received in our office or postmarked by December 31. You can also give online here. Thanks for honoring God and believing in the vision of First Colony Church of Christ.

Fourth, please remember that our Service of Remembrance will be held in our Chapel next Sunday, December 21, at 4:00pm.  Dr. Virgil Fry leads this service in such a beautiful way. The Service of Remembrance is designed to honor our deceased loved ones during this Christmas season.

Fifth, there is an old adage that says, “preach and teach on great texts!”  And there is not a greater Christ-honoring text than Colossians 1:15-23.  This is our message text for this Sunday. It is an early Christian hymn, a high-definition, awe-inspiring, mind-boggling and culture-confronting look the compelling reality of Jesus Christ.

With hope, love, joy & peace,

Ronnie

parents and their children reading the bible

Kevin DeYoung recently summarized a new book on how faith is transmitted from generation to generation.  I thought the article was intriguing, not because it highlighted something new, but because it reinforced principles that we know to be trustworthy.  Read his article below, think it through, and embrace the points of wisdom appropriate for your setting today.  Also, let’s continue to pray that throughout the world the hearts of parents will be turned to their children and the hearts of children turned to their parents.  — Ronnie

How is religion passed down across generations? That’s the theme of the new book Families and Faith by Vern L. Bengtson (with Norella M. Putney and Susan Harris). As an exercise in statistical and sociological research, there is nothing particularly biblical or spiritual about the book (though, interestingly, the author describes how at the end of the project he started going to church again and now is an active part of a local congregation). And yet, this doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn from books like this.

In the concluding chapter Bengtson suggests five things families should know, do, or remember if they want to pass on their faith to the next generation (195-98).

1. “Parents have more religious influence than they think.” One of the main themes in the book is that parental influence with respect to religion is not actually waning, despite the alarmist cries from watchdogs and worry-worts. The single most important factor in the spiritual and religious lives of adolescents continues to be their parents.

2. “Fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad.” It’s important for children to see religious role modeling in their parents. But personal piety is no substitute for the quality of the parent-child relationship. Parents who are warm and loving are more likely to pass on the faith than those that are distant and authoritarian. This is especially true when it comes to fathers. A relationally and spiritually distant dad is very difficult to overcome, despite the religious zeal of the mother.

3. “Allowing children religious choice can encourage religious continuity.” On the one hand, Bengtson argues that tight-knit religious communities with clear doctrinal and ethical boundary markers are more likely to pass on the faith from one generation to the next. On the other hand, families must allow for some flexibility. Children must not be afraid to explore the whats and whys of their parent’s faith, even if that exploration feels uncomfortable to mom and dad for a time.

4. “Don’t forget the grandparents.” This was the most eye opening theme in the book. In white middle class America, when we talk about the family we mean the nuclear family of mom and dad and their kids. Bengtson’s research shows the important role grandparents play in either subverting the faith of the parents or reinforcing it in their grandchildren. It makes sense: if our children are around grandparents (not to mention aunts and uncles and cousins) who all believe, faith will feel much more of a natural given.

5. “Don’t give up on Prodigals, because many do return.” In Bengtson’s sample, the prodigals who came home were the ones who knew they had parents waiting for them, ready to accept them if and when they returned to their roots. Don’t give up parents. Keep praying and keep on loving.

Overall, Bengtson argues that families are doing pretty well in passing along their faith to the next generation. Intact families do better than families with divorce, and religiously homogenous parents are more successful than parents in interfaith marriages. Warm, affectionate parents–the kind kids admire and look up to–do better than cold, distant parents. And these parents do better with the support of grandparents. But even when these ideals are missing, family mechanisms can compensate: “families are wonderfully resilient” (198).

The even better news is that our God is wonderfully gracious, faithful, and able to do more than we ask or imagine.

The Happiness U-Curve

November 19, 2014 — 1 Comment

Happy-Old-People

Hello Everyone: 

Have you heard of the Happiness U-Curve?  It’s a profound and substantiated reality that happiness tends to peak in our youth and then re-peak as we age!  The U-Curve Happiness scale tends to bottom out in our 40’s and early 50’s but rises again as we age.  That’s not a misprint.  Your 40’s and early 50’s can be some of your emotionally toughest years and your later 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s some of your emotionally happiest.

In other words, do not believe the myth that life peaks in our young adult years and then steadily tapers off over time.  It’s called the “myth of declinism” and it is just not true over the wide range of the population.

The Atlantic Journal has an article on the Happiness U-Curve in its most recent issue and you can read about it elsewhere in plenty of places.  Many researchers say we do not even reach our emotional peak until our seventh decade!  You’ve seen this reality played out countless times and so have I.

The toughest times emotionally can be in our 40’s when social stresses, family transitions, and chronic comparing can wear and tear on your emotional life.  So, if you are in your 40’s, look up and know that your inner person has much to anticipate down the line. Life when you are 45 is not “as good as it gets.”  Learning how to age well is a skill that needs to be embraced as early as possible so that you will understand natural transitions that God has hard-wired into our lives.

Granted, there are exceptions to these principles (debilitating health issues being a major exception) and this research tells us about the human condition apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit.  But then again, much of this research takes into account the spiritual lives of those who are aging.

In tonight’s UPLIFT service, our topic will be “How to Age Wisely and Well.”  We will talk about some of life’s second half ground rules that differ from first half ground rules and how we can embrace “saging more than aging.”  We’ll talk about handling the downturns and the upturns on that generic U-scale.

The Bible is clear and authoritative.  Social research is clear and supportive.  Though we may physically get slower and creakier, our inner person can become richer, wiser, more nuanced, and more insightful.  I hope to see you tonight in our UPLIFT service.

Proverbs 16:31 – “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”

Isaiah 46:4 – “Even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you and will save.”

2 Corinthians 4:16 – “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”

Blessings, Ronnie