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Wednesday
Aug272014

Thy Kingdom Come...

A senior pastor's perspective - by Marcus Murphy

 Sunday, August 3, 2014 marked a significant day for the expression of the reality of the Kingdom of God in our city.  Four southeast Lubbock congregations (comprising three Christian traditions) met together for praise, worship and prayer in Ribble Park. This was an unprecedented gathering, in that it occurred during the traditional morning worship time for these congregations.  Each fellowship laid down their times, traditions, agendas and buildings to meet with God in unified worship out in the open space between them.  Rich Smith led a worship team of members from these congregations, and the pastors read scripture,  spoke words of encouragement and prayed over the gathering.

 The Holy Spirit’s call to gather in Ribble Park is profoundly significant.  From the Urban Dictionary

Ribble

–noun
1. a small, mildly disorderly crowd; huddle.
2. the ribble, the common people: The well to do held the ribble in quasi contempt.

-verb
1. a meek rallying cry. To be used in the place of "rabble" when the crowd is not large enough or enthusiastic enough to warrant the superlative form.
2. the diminutive form of rabble 

Thus, we see the prophetic nature of what the Lord was doing and saying on that day.  Throughout Scripture, we see God initiating great works in small and inconspicuous ways, as He utilizes a “ribble” of people who are willing (sometime, just barely) to show up and be used.  As the word suggests, these mildly disorderly little huddles are comprised of common people who do not draw the attention of the masses nor do they impress the elite.  However, they issue a meek, but genuine, rallying cry to the Kingdom of God.  This cry goes forth, uniting with the Power of the Heavenlies, and becomes a force that carries the very authority of God’s Word and will.

 Therefore, what occurred on that day, unimpressive as it may have seemed to the natural mind, was a call to unity and power in Christ for the Church in Lubbock. It was a cry for the Kingdom and will of God to be fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven.  It was a cry that still rings in the realm of the Spirit all around us, and it is one that will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

 As a measure of His grace and approval over the gathering, the Holy Spirit caused four white birds to unite and circle above the gathering even as the very words of the unity of the four congregations were being spoken by a pastor down below.  Many people witnessed the sign and were inspired and encouraged in their spirits at the sight.  I believe that this day will prove to be a watershed moment for the Kingdom of God in Lubbock, as the Spirit continues to unfold His plan among us.  Therefore, to God be the glory as Christ’s one Church in Lubbock unites and becomes one just as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are One. Amen and amen!

Friday
Aug152014

Family Camp '14 Testimony

A Mom's Perpective - by Jane Backus

 

If you know me, you probably giggle at the thought of me camping. If you don’t know me, let’s just say I’m a little bit girly and “non-outdoorsy”. Add to that picture the fact that this year’s accommodations involved a pop-up camper rather than a cabin or bunkhouse. Throw into this mix the detail that it rained almost the entire time we spent in New Mexico, and you have what should have been a recipe for disaster in my camp experience. 

Yet, it was one of the most relaxing, lovely times of soul-rest I have enjoyed in many years. Frizzy hair, no make-up, wet clothes, and lack of shower facilities aside, we had fun and our study in Ephesians left me with thoughts I’m still mulling over in my quiet moments.

You see, I’m a classic introvert, preferring to be alone with my thoughts than to be with most people. Because I dearly love my husband and four children, I’ve allowed them into the inner circle of my soul, but I still have to retreat into solitude for a short time every few days in order to regroup. Over the past few years, our family’s time and activities have intertwined with the three other families who were at camp, and I had not realized that I had begun to let my guard down and let them in, as well. It was uncharacteristically easy for me to go deep quickly with all of these people as we shared meals and Scripture, played games, worshipped together, and prayed with one another.

Through a simple yet profound group activity, Rich showed us that there are certain people in our lives with whom our “yarn is knotted”, and that the only way we are ever going to be able to carry the “beach ball” of life is with each other. That’s when the light bulb went off! I’m knotted to each of these people for time and eternity with yarn that won’t unravel because I look like a drowned rat or was rather ungraceful in my slide down the hill at White Sands. The knotted yarn gets messy and tangled; it requires us to be committed to each other and sometimes pulls us where we don’t want to go. But the reward is sweet Christian fellowship with those that God has placed in our lives. It is the rarity of unconditional love, and it’s worth the cost of messiness and loss of solitude.

Friday
Dec062013

Re-gifting Christmas

When I was a cash-strapped college student, one holiday season I had the privilege of working retail... in the mall... at a Christmas store. :/

Two things I learned through that experience.
  1. Expect to spend your whole paycheck on gifts when you work at a place called Tis Christmas!
  2. People, who are otherwise good, can morph into the Grinch while shopping for nativity sets & tree skirts.
Needless to say, I came out the "business end" of December 25th a little numb and jaded. Even now, with a few decades of experience under the belt, it is easy to lapse into Christmas autopilot as I'm "checkin' it twice" at Giftco (an upscale version of Giftmart). Which is why a recent facebook post from (long-time friend) Wendy Morton Edwards caught my eye. Proactive parent Wendy offers her children these Christmas wishlist guidelines...

Something you want, something you need,
Something to wear, something to read.
And something to share, for a girl or a boy,
A ball, a book, a game, or a toy,
To give to another, Christmas joy!

Wendy has integrated scripture with her limerick, so her family can discuss what God says about the many ways He provides for us all year long, even as they share their wishlists. Wendy's goal? "To encourage joyful hearts under our roof this Christmas, no matter what's under the tree!"

Well done, Mrs. Claus!

*My mom still displays the woven, grapevine crèche I gave her that year. ;)
Saturday
Feb232013

birdseyeVu Family Camp 2013

Time to start making plans...

July 14-19 (limited to the first 20 families)

*Call Rich (806-370-0409) for more details and to reserve your family's spot.

Friday
Feb152013

Radiation Therapy

The past few months, I have been walking alongside a local congregation that is in transition. Their choir sets aside the first portion of Wednesday rehearsal for prayer - mostly, needs within the congregation and praise reports related to past prayers. This Wednesday, cancer dominated the requests. My heart was heavy, knowing just a few of the people mentioned...

"Lord, hear our prayer and drive this disease from our midst! Supernaturally galvanize the bodies and spirits of those who are wrestling and grant abundant peace to them and their loved ones."

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalms 16:11 NASB

Our friends receive various treatments for their disease. Among the most common is radiation therapy. These two words have mingled together with Psalm 16 in my heart this week.

Scripture tells us that Christ dwells in brilliantly intense light (radiation). Furthermore, Jesus said of Himself...

I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."  John 8:12 NASB

The abundant life Christ has purchased for us is indomitable.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39 NASB

We all need radiation therapy, and often. When our hearts are overwhelmed, the sheer light of His presence permeates the dark recesses, dispelling every shadow and melting the mountains like wax. It takes but a moment, as we fix our gaze on Him, for us to bask in the warmth of His nearness. Bless the Lord, oh my soul!

Let this familiar song be a constant reminder to us this week.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim;
In the LIGHT of His glory & grace."