September 23, 2018

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September 23, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • HELP OTHERS FIND US online by reviewing us on Google, Yelp, or Facebook. Search “Woven Church.” Today’s hashtag is #LivingTogether  

  • WELCOME TO OUR 11AM SERVICE! Full childcare and children’s ministries are available every Sunday at Kingdom Kids, down the hall. All children from infant to 5th grade must be checked in immediately upon arrival. **Special news: We now also have a room dedicated exclusively for Woven nursing mothers! We are completing renovation and will have a live video feed of our entire service going into this room! For more info, speak to Ashley Park, our children's director: ashley.sj.park@gmail.com**

  • 10:30AM FELLOWSHIP TIME! Every Sunday we open up coffee before the service for fellowship out in the foyer at 10:30AM! Come early, find parking, and treat yourself to free church coffee OR purchase a specialty drink at our community coffee bar (proceeds go to Kingdom City mission)! Refreshments will also be served after the service so stick around!

  • 9/23 ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL STARTS @ 9AM: At Woven, one of our mission priorities is “Insightful Teaching.” Starting THIS Sunday at 9AM, Pastor Wayne will be continuing our survey through the entire Bible with “Ruth in the progress of revelation.” For a class sample, click here. Pls RSVP to wayneandash@gmail.com and meet in the fellowship hall at 9AM this Sunday! Youth and children’s ministry ARE also available during this time.

  • 9/26 WEDNESDAY NIGHT PRAYER MEETS START! Need to get your prayer on? Want to belt out your praises? Want to pray-fight? Then come out to Wednesday night prayer meeting, held every Wednesday starting this week @ 7:30pm! This is a joint KC bridge ministry; youth and children’s ministry ARE available during this time as well.

  • 9/30 YOUTH PARENTS MEET AFTER SERVICE: If you are a parent of a middle or high schooler (grades 6-12) please stick around after service next Sunday, 9/30 as we will be having a meeting to discuss how we might benefit from joining the Kingdom City Fusion Student youth ministry. Pastor Wayne will be present to share some new directions and ideas and to hear your thoughts.

  • 10/13 #DIVERCITY2018 is a free community festival hosted by the churches of Kingdom City.  It is scheduled for October 13th from 3-6 PM.  It will represent 20+ different cultures, and there will be live music, kids' activities, games, food, and more.  Flyers for this event are available so take a few and invite your friends, family, and neighbors.  Direct questions to Shelly Kim at shelly.sohyun.oh@gmail.com.

  • 10/20 HILLSONGS CONCERT: We have 20 tickets reserved exclusively for Woven to the upcoming Hillsongs concert in Houston on Oct 20th! All youth and grownups are invited! For more info, speak with Bo Zhang!

  • JOIN OUR COMMUNITY GROUP MEETING EVERY SATURDAY! Woven Community Groups are multi-generational groups designed to encourage community and fellowship with people inside and outside of our church. Our mission priorities for Community Groups are intentional discipleship and holistic outreach using our Examen of Conscience as a guide. If you would like to host or have any questions, please contact Andrew Ye.

  • WORKPLACE LUNCHES: Part of Woven’s vision is sanctified workplaces (“Sanctifying Monday to Friday”). To that end, we have workplace lunch meetings in several key strategic areas: Galleria, MedCenter, and Downtown. The purpose is to meet for directed spiritual conversation over lunch using our Examen of Conscience, inviting intentional discipleship and holistic outreach into our professional lives. If interested, speak to Andrew Ye!

  • WOVEN COMMUNITY XCHANGE! (WCX) Woven believes in “holistic outreach” and asset-based community development. To that end, if you have any needs, services, or donations, they can be communicated here: http://www.wovenchurch.org/wcx/. Alternatively, you can indicate your need, service, or donation on the bottom of your yellow communication card.

  • KIDS @ WOVEN: If you haven’t already, please check your kids into our children’s ministry. We have childcare for toddlers and children’s ministry for K-5th.

  • DOWNLOAD OUR PODCAST! Our sermon podcast is available online at www.wovenchurch.org/sermons or on your podcast player. Search “Woven Covenant Church” to automatically download our sermons!

  • SURVEY: If this is your first time here, please fill out the survey on the back of your yellow communication card. Help us know how we can better serve you!

TEXT FOR THE WEEK:

selections

 

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September 16, 2018

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September 16, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • HELP OTHERS FIND US online by reviewing us on Google, Yelp, or Facebook. Search “Woven Church.” Today’s hashtag is #LivingTogether  

  • WELCOME TO OUR 11AM SERVICE! Full childcare and children’s ministries are available every Sunday at Kingdom Kids, down the hall. All children from infant to 5th grade must be checked in immediately upon arrival. **Special news: We now also have a room dedicated exclusively for Woven nursing mothers! We are completing renovation and will have a live video feed of our entire service going into this room! For more info, speak to Ashley Park, our children's director.**

  • 10:30AM FELLOWSHIP TIME! Every Sunday we open up coffee before the service for fellowship out in the foyer at 10:30AM! Come early, find parking, and treat yourself to free church coffee OR purchase a specialty drink at our community coffee bar (proceeds go to Kingdom City mission)! Refreshments will also be served after the service so stick around!

  • WEDNESDAY NIGHT PRAYER MEETS STARTING 9/26! Need to get your prayer on? Want to belt out your praises? Want to pray-fight? Then come out to Wednesday night prayer meeting, held every Wednesday starting 9/26 @ 7:30pm in the main sanctuary! This is a joint KC bridge ministry.

  • 10/13 DIVERCITY OUTREACH EVENT is a free community festival hosted by the churches of Kingdom City.  It is scheduled for October 13th from 3-6 PM.  It will represent 20+ different cultures, and there will be live music, kids' activities, games, food, and more.  Flyers for this event are available so take a few and invite your friends, family, and neighbors.  Direct questions to Shelly Kim at shelly.sohyun.oh@gmail.com.

  • 10/20 HILLSONGS CONCERT: We have 20 tickets reserved exclusively for Woven to the upcoming Hillsongs concert in Houston on Oct 20th! All youth and grownups are invited! For more info, speak with Bo Zhang!

  • ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL: At Woven, one of our mission priorities is “Insightful Teaching.” If you would like to learn more about the Bible and Christian theology, please confer with Pastor Wayne.

  • JOIN OUR COMMUNITY GROUP MEETING EVERY SATURDAY! Woven Community Groups are multi-generational groups designed to encourage community and fellowship with the people inside and outside of our church. If you would like to host or have any questions, please contact Andrew Ye.

  • WORKPLACE LUNCHES: Part of Woven’s vision is sanctified workplaces (“Sanctifying Monday to Friday”). To that end, we have workplace lunch meetings in several key strategic areas: Galleria, MedCenter, and Downtown. The purpose is to meet for directed spiritual conversation over lunch, bringing Christ's discipleship into our professional lives. If interested, speak to Andrew Ye!

  • WOVEN COMMUNITY XCHANGE! (WCX) Woven believes in “holistic outreach” and asset-based community development. To that end, if you have any needs, services, or donations, they can be communicated here: http://www.wovenchurch.org/wcx/. Alternatively, you can indicate your need, service, or donation on the bottom of your yellow communication card.

  • YOUTH GROUP SCHEDULE: We have a youth group for grades 6 – 12. Youth Bible studies take place every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month during service. 1st, 3rd, (and 5th) Saturdays of the month there are social events. Friends are invited!

  • KIDS @ WOVEN: If you haven’t already, please check your kids into our children’s ministry. We have childcare for toddlers and children’s ministry for K-5th.

  • DOWNLOAD OUR PODCAST! Our sermon podcast is available online at www.wovenchurch.org/sermons or on your podcast player. Search “Woven Covenant Church” to automatically download our sermons!

  • SURVEY: If this is your first time here, please fill out the survey on the back of your yellow communication card. Help us know how we can better serve you!

TEXT FOR THE WEEK:

selections

 

Comment

September 9, 2018

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September 9, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • HELP OTHERS FIND US online by reviewing us on Google, Yelp, or Facebook. Search “Woven Church.” Today’s hashtag is #LivingTogether  

  • WELCOME TO OUR 11AM SERVICE! Full childcare and children’s ministries are available every Sunday at Kingdom Kids, down the hall. All children from infant to 5th grade must be checked in immediately upon arrival. **Special news: We now also have a room dedicated exclusively for Woven nursing mothers! We are completing renovation and will have a live video feed of our entire service going into this room! For more info, speak to Ashley Park, our children's director.**

  • 10:30AM FELLOWSHIP TIME! Starting this Sunday, we will open up coffee and refreshments before the service every Sunday for fellowship out in the foyer. Come early, find parking, and treat yourself to free church coffee OR purchase a specialty drink at our community coffee bar (proceeds go to Kingdom City mission)!

  • WEDNESDAY NIGHT PRAYER MEETS STARTING 9/26! Need to get your prayer on? Want to belt out your praises? Want to pray-fight? Then come out to Wednesday night prayer meeting, held every Wednesday starting 9/26 @ 7:30pm in the main sanctuary! This is a joint KC bridge ministry.

  • 10/13 DIVERCITY OUTREACH EVENT is a free community festival hosted by the churches of Kingdom City.  It is scheduled for October 13th from 3-6 PM.  It will represent 20+ different cultures, and there will be live music, kids' activities, games, food, and more.  Flyers for this event are available so take a few and invite your friends, family, and neighbors.  Direct questions to Shelly Kim at shelly.sohyun.oh@gmail.com.

  • 10/20 HILLSONGS CONCERT: We have 20 tickets reserved exclusively for Woven to the upcoming Hillsongs concert in Houston on Oct 20th! All youth and grownups are invited! For more info, speak with Bo Zhang!  
  • ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL: At Woven, one of our mission priorities is “Insightful Teaching.” If you would like to learn more about the Bible and Christian theology, please confer with Pastor Wayne.

  • JOIN OUR COMMUNITY GROUP MEETING EVERY SATURDAY! Woven Community Groups are multi-generational groups designed to encourage community and fellowship with the people inside and outside of our church. If you would like to host or have any questions, please contact Andrew Ye.

  • WORKPLACE LUNCHES: Part of Woven’s vision is sanctified workplaces (“Sanctifying Monday to Friday”). To that end, we have workplace lunch meetings in several key strategic areas: Galleria, MedCenter, and Downtown. The purpose is to meet for directed spiritual conversation over lunch, bringing Christ's discipleship into our professional lives. If interested, speak to Andrew Ye!
  • WOVEN COMMUNITY XCHANGE! (WCX) Woven believes in “holistic outreach” and asset-based community development. To that end, if you have any needs, services, or donations, they can be communicated here: http://www.wovenchurch.org/wcx/. Alternatively, you can indicate your need, service, or donation on the bottom of your yellow communication card.

  • YOUTH GROUP SCHEDULE: We have a youth group for grades 6 – 12. Youth Bible studies take place every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month during service. 1st, 3rd, (and 5th) Saturdays of the month there are social events. Friends are invited!

  • KIDS @ WOVEN: If you haven’t already, please check your kids into our children’s ministry. We have childcare for toddlers and children’s ministry for K-5th.

  • DOWNLOAD OUR PODCAST! Our sermon podcast is available online at www.wovenchurch.org/sermons or on your podcast player. Search “Woven Covenant Church” to automatically download our sermons!

  • SURVEY: If this is your first time here, please fill out the survey on the back of your yellow communication card. Help us know how we can better serve you!

TEXT FOR THE WEEK:

selections

 

Comment

September 2, 2018

Comment

September 2, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • HELP OTHERS FIND US online by reviewing us on Google, Yelp, or Facebook. Search “Woven Church.” Today’s hashtag is #LivingTogether  

  • WELCOME TO OUR 11AM SERVICE! Full childcare and children’s ministries are available every Sunday at Kingdom Kids, down the hall. All children from infant to 5th grade must be checked in immediately upon arrival. **Special news: We now also have a room dedicated exclusively for Woven nursing mothers! We are completing renovation and will have a live video feed of our entire service going into this room! For more info, speak to Ashley Park, our children's director.**

  • 10:30AM FELLOWSHIP TIME! Starting next Sunday, we will open up coffee and refreshments before the service every Sunday for fellowship out in the foyer. Come early, find parking, and treat yourself to free church coffee OR purchase a specialty drink at our community coffee bar (proceeds go to Kingdom City mission)!

  • 9/8 COMMUNITY GROUP STARTING THIS SATURDAY! Beginning this coming Saturday, 9/8, we will start our new Woven Community Group! Woven Community Groups are multi-generational groups designed to encourage community and fellowship with the people inside and outside of our church. If you would like to host or have any questions, please contact Andrew Ye.

  • 10/13 DIVERCITY OUTREACH EVENT is a free community festival hosted by the churches of Kingdom City.  It is scheduled for Saturday, October 13 from 3-6 PM.  It will represent 20+ different cultures, and there will be live music, kids’ activities, games, food, and more.  We are expecting 500 to 700 people so a lot of volunteers are needed.  Volunteer recruitment will occur after service on August 12 and 19.  Help represent Woven at this huge community outreach event!  Direct questions to Shelly Kim (shelly.sohyun.oh@gmail.com).

  • 10/20 HILLSONGS CONCERT: We have 20 tickets reserved exclusively for Woven to the upcoming Hillsongs concert in Houston on Oct 20th! All youth and grownups are invited! For more info, speak with Bo Zhang!  

  • ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL: At Woven, one of our mission priorities is “Insightful Teaching.” If you would like to learn more about the Bible and Christian theology, please confer with Pastor Wayne.

  • WORKPLACE LUNCHES: Part of Woven’s vision is sanctified workplaces (“Sanctifying Monday to Friday”). To that end, we have workplace lunch meetings in several key strategic areas: Galleria, MedCenter, and Downtown. The purpose is to meet for directed spiritual conversation over lunch, bringing Christ's discipleship into our professional lives. If interested, speak to Andrew Ye!

  • WOVEN COMMUNITY XCHANGE! (WCX) Woven believes in “holistic outreach” and asset-based community development. To that end, if you have any needs, services, or donations, they can be listed on the back of this bulletin. Indicate your need, service, or donation on your yellow communication card in the space provided at the bottom, and after review, it will appear in the bulletin.

  • YOUTH GROUP SCHEDULE: We have a youth group for grades 6 – 12. Youth Bible studies take place every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month during service. 1st, 3rd, (and 5th) Saturdays of the month there are social events. Friends are invited!

  • KIDS @ WOVEN: If you haven’t already, please check your kids into our children’s ministry. We have childcare for toddlers and children’s ministry for K-5th.

  • DOWNLOAD OUR PODCAST! Our sermon podcast is available online at www.wovenchurch.org/sermons or on your podcast player. Search “Woven Covenant Church” to automatically download our sermons!

  • SURVEY: If this is your first time here, please fill out the survey on the back of your yellow communication card. Help us know how we can better serve you!

TEXT FOR THE WEEK:

selections

 

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How to BEHAVE Better at Work #sanctifyMONtoFRI

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How to BEHAVE Better at Work #sanctifyMONtoFRI

Years ago when I was in ministry (and thankfully I still am – you’ll see why), I was driving on a road in Seattle when for some reason I cannot remember (isn’t that often the case in these situations?) I became incensed at another driver and cut loose in my rage; honkin’, tailgatin’ and just generally hootin’ and hollerin’. And then I realized it: a staff member of my team was driving behind me. She beheld the entire incident. I have made many mistakes in ministry. This was certainly one of them.

My problem I believe was diagnosable across a range of character flaws, disorders, and deficiencies. I was just one arrogant, care-for-nothing dude. In many ways, this marked the first half of my life. And what we give to the world, the world gives back. Now, I am not perfect, but I try my best in this second half of my life to not live that way anymore, to do no more harms. Many things have changed within me; one of them – the certain realization that God is watching… and so are people.

12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)

I am lucky I get to shepherd and pastor a flock today. I do so out of my many weaknesses, hopefully helping others to not trip up where I have in the past.

I think one thing that sabotages so many of us in the workplace is the notion that no one is watching. Wrong on two counts: 1) People are indeed watching, we get away with little, I find in life; 2) God is watching.

While fear is not the only nor the best motivator towards ethical behavior, it is still a sizable one; add this to your toolkit for life – “people are watching, and God is watching.”

Tell me about an incident where this has happened in your life, either for good or for ill!

#vulnerability

message here:

http://www.wovenchurch.org/sermons/2017/1/17/sanctifying-mon-to-fri-from-strangers-to-ambassadors

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3 Ways To Beat Your Competition And Get Ahead At Work #sanctifyMONtoFRI

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3 Ways To Beat Your Competition And Get Ahead At Work #sanctifyMONtoFRI

A few weeks back I delivered a sermon about getting further, getting ahead, and beating your competition. It's downloadable here, and part of our Work & Spirituality series at Woven, "Sanctifying Monday to Friday". Yes, I'm providing my cutting-edge, biblically-based, industry-shattering secrets that will result in you going farther than you ever have, all if you buy my book for $19.95 and PLUS! I'll throw in this keychain flashlight!

In all seriousness, yes; advancement at work was the sermon topic. But the secret is actually in one word: humility. It is completely counter-intuitive and not the way the world does things. It is not Machiavellian, quicker, more clever, faster, more cunning, more ruthless; it does not market better, nor beat out, nor edge out the competition.

Pause. Perhaps you're reading this after a fresh high, on your commute home. You one-upped someone. You feel good about it. You got to the boss quicker. You made your move. It was glorious. What is this pastor talking about?

Remember Nebuchadnezzar:

"Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan 4:30)

His madness was self-inflicted. We, humanity, can be so fickle. On days of woe, we blame others. On days of blessing, we take credit ourselves. This is foolishness. Take no credit for myself; be proud not, O my soul - for God gives, and he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. And worship Him. Be thankful, and grateful, for our simple daily bread. Glory not in fame and successes.

So how do we truly - from a spiritual sense - advance at work? How do we get ahead?

1.  STOP THE LOOKING

Chad le Clos in the video above serves as excellent metaphor. His actual race was spent the whole while looking sideways; askance at Phelps. He didn't even medal. As a layman when it comes to swimming, my guess is all that jerking sideways with his head ruined his form. Messed up his stroke. What a metaphor for life. Keep looking at the competition. You ruin your own game. Spirituality at work begins when we stop the looking, and do our own thing well, what God has gifted us to do. If we are inflamed with covetousness and comparison, this is impossible. That is when we must fire up the gratitude:

2.  START UP THE GRATITUDE

I have envy. I have covetousness. Yes. Ambition. We are not immune to it. I find the only medicine that works is the slow-release of gratitude. In my experience there is simply nothing else. Nothing else will soothe the coveting inflammation quicker than a slow, regular dose of gratitude. It will ease the pain. Better yet, taking gratitude as a preventative measure, like a baby aspirin daily - will keep the headache of envy at bay.

Write down 30 things you are grateful for. Go ahead. Do that every day for a week. See how you feel then.

God blesses YOU today. Why are you looking at what He did for the other? Forget that; ingratitude is comparison run amok. St. Ignatius of Loyola recognized this: such a terrible sin is ingratitude - it fails to recognize the manifold graces of God to us today.

3.  DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING - DON'T TRY TO BEAT THE DEVIL AT HIS OWN GAME

We try to compete - market better - beat them at their own game. It works for awhile, until they figure out how to beat you too. It is a life-sucking pursuit. When we live by the adage, "might makes right" we die by that same adage; we will be beaten, crushed by it. God's rule still stands - "right makes blessing" - even "right makes might" because in the end, rightness is meekness. Smallness. Humility. This is what God elevates in His kingdom. Try to be anything else - faster, sleeker, shrewder, more cunning - we will be undone.

So I hope these industry secrets help you today.

I share these thoughts with the world in the hopes that it will help someone at work today, and exorcise my own flaws in these areas; I myself need gratitude daily.

May God grace your workplace with you; may God redeem heaven on earth through your labor; and may you turn your city into a veritable Garden once again.

Take a listen here. And drop me a line letting me know how you are advancing at work today. #sanctifyMONtoFRI

- PW

 

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How Can I Find Meaning At Work? #sanctifyMONtoFRI

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How Can I Find Meaning At Work? #sanctifyMONtoFRI

At Woven, we've begun a new series on WORK & SPIRITUALITY, and this past Sunday I dug deep down and preached from the soil between my toes. It was a lifetime opus. Here is the summary of my message in 3 principles illustrating the pursuit of meaning when it comes to Monday to Friday:

1. WORK IS NOT BAD

We get our notions of "fallen" work from Gen 3:17-19 (just after Adam & Eve ate from the tree of knowledge): “Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread."

But a closer search on the theme of work will turn up that the above passage is not the earliest precedent; it is Gen 2:15 "15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." Indeed, if one wants to find an earliest precedent we can even go as early as Gen 1:1 "In the beginning God created (בָּרָא) the heavens and the earth" - and you can't get earlier than that. Yes, this was work, right at the beginning of creation - otherwise why would God have rested on the seventh day?

So this picture of heaven where we will have escaped evil, terrible work, sitting under a beach umbrella sipping mai-tais - in other words - on permanent vacation - is somehow theologically off. Work is not fallen; bad work is. Work itself is intrinsically good, and pre-Fall. This tells me:

  1. Work is an ideal state
  2. The work we do here on earth is a reflection of heaven
  3. The work we do here on earth can bring heaven to earth

Redemption. That is what the Gospel is about. Redemption of all things. Good work brings us back to the Garden of Eden, turns cities into Gardens.

2. FALLEN WORK IS BAD

The "toil" of work mentioned in the verses above regards work as resulting from Fall, in other words work resulting from sin. I believe any work done by a Christian is sanctified work, holy work, spiritual. But there is no such thing as a diligent, hard working, sanctified... pickpocket. Or a glorious, holy, sacred... human trafficker. The work must be ethical for it to be redeemable. Now many of us do not work in professions in such blatant violation of what is right and wrong, but many of us do struggle with the less than blatant ethics violations, the white lies, the inflated numbers. Remember: work resulting from sin becomes fallen work; these are areas of challenge and honesty for us as we endeavor to sanctify our labors. Ministers and pastors and preachers are not the only ones called to holy vocation. Therefore we must all strive towards more sanctified work.

3. EVERYONE IS CALLED TO "VOCATION"

"Vocation", not "vacation". I don't snub the latter. On that see / hear our teaching on Sabbath: http://www.wovenchurch.org/sermons/2016/8/31/on-sabbath

Vocation comes from the Latin, vocatio, which is a Christian term for works that we are divinely called to. It is holy work, and not just for the priesthood. It was extended to the laity and rightly so, that all can be engaged in a vocatio that is uniquely gifted and divinely conferred and called to. I saw three necessary elements to "vocatio":

  1. Giftedness - we cannot presume to do what we were not created for. Vocatio is to work with your natural giftings and inclinations.
  2. Preparation - nothing replaces good preparation for our fields. As a student I had a natural inclination to synthesize thought in creative ways that people could understand; but it is preparation that made me a preacher.
  3. Calling - there must be a divine element to this. A discernment process, sometimes difficult. We must not only be gifted and prepared, we must be called from above to do this labor - whatever it is - for the kingdom.

So this series preaches from the heart for me, and I hope it equips and empowers you in your respective marketplaces! #sanctifyMONtoFRI!

- PW

 

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Six Ways To Sabbath Better #sanctifyMONtoFRI

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Six Ways To Sabbath Better #sanctifyMONtoFRI

Almost 20 years ago, I suffered my last bout with depression.

And I am so thankful it has not returned: the horrible plunges, the sinking feeling in my chest, the downs, and worst, the fear of hopelessness – that I would be subject to this – again and again. I would never be free. There – there was the hopelessness. Hopelessness of continued hopelessness.

Which is why I began a journey into the idea of Sabbath; from a psychological standpoint, to a theological, and even to a physiological. I’ve swayed between several extremes of hedonistic self-centricism to dogmatic Sunday observance. I’ve studied closely passages on it, from Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, to the Book of Hebrews, to Old Testament perspectives, and even learning from Jews themselves on how they observe Sabbath. What I have come away after years of study is this:

Which is why I “labor to enter that rest” – to capture the spirit of Sabbath; it is the chief pursuit of life because true Sabbath is paradise – it is heaven. This past Sunday I taught six applications on how we might Sabbath better. While trying to avoid the above-stated legalism, I am also trying to capture the Spirit of the matter:

1. First way to Sabbath = VALUE SELF CARE

This is the beginning perspectival shift; if we don’t value self care, then why even try? It’s just another religious thing to accomplish. Sabbath is contrary to that. It is not about attaining more; it is about halting accomplishment. Valuing self-care means stopping. Here’s an important saying:

2. Second way to Sabbath = SURRENDER. LET IT GO.

Being schooled in graphic design, I approach work with a meticulousness only a lover of fonts could understand… pica, kerning, minute measurements, getting it just right. These are all things that can be slave masters. It is important to remember this:

It is the hardest thing for me to do, but let it go. Surrender it at the end of the workday. Listen to the beautiful words of this poem by Melodie Beattle:

Rest when you’re tired.

Take a drink of cold water when you’re thirsty.

Call a friend when you’re lonely

Ask God to help when you feel overwhelmed.

 

Many of us have learned how to deprive and neglect ourselves.

Many of us have learned to push ourselves hard

When the problem is that we’re already pushed too hard.

Many of us are afraid the work won’t get done if we rest when we’re tired.

 

The work will get done; it will be done better than work

That emerges from tiredness of soul and spirit.

Nurtured, nourished people, who love themselves and care for themselves

Are the delight of the Universe. They are well-timed, efficient, and Divinely led.

3. Third way to Sabbath = CEASE FROM PARTICIPATION IN THE FUNCTIONING OF THE ECONOMY

This definition comes from my OT Prof from Regent, Bruce Waltke. I think it is the most succinct definition of Sabbath. Anything that we do to advance or promote ourselves in the game of life – we are to stop on the Sabbath.

I enjoy board games like Monopoly and Risk. I like the acquisition, the aggrandizement, owning more properties, more pieces of land. It’s so much like life. In fact, in my own mid-life crisis I am beginning to see that life is so much a game. It’s just a game. Acquisition. Aggrandizement. One more hour to get ahead of the competition. One more self-depriving and-God-neglecting day. All to get further. Ahead. STOP.

Sabbath teaches us to protest.

Protest our own self-aggrandizement.

4. Fourth way to Sabbath = DON’T GO TO SERVICE; USE A SERVICE.

I am convinced Sabbath without worship is only a pseudo-Sabbath; I have heard too many people say: Sunday is my Sabbath – so I’m going to sleep in (well-deserved, I concede), wake up at noon, go to my favorite cafe, order my favorite beverage, and take care of ME. I’m going to be spiritual all day – me and my journal – and just “be” worshipful and in touch with God.

Having done this myself, here is why I now think it’s wrong:

It’s all about self. It’s only about me.

And yes, I agree “Sabbath is made for man” but at the same time it is also meant for worship unto God. There is a reason I believe, it is the 4th of 10 Commandments; it transitions between the first 3 commandments unto God and the last 6 commandments unto man. In other words, it is a commandment both for man AND unto God.

If we go on working 6 days but neglecting the worship of God, it is to fail to acknowledge the giver of work. The One who kept us from workplace injury, or the pink slip; the One who gave us livelihood and gainful employment in the first place. Failing to worship Him on Sunday is a form of ingratitude. I believe there is a monetary dimension to this as well, and why I believe tithing is important – it is a form of worship to the Giver of good gifts.

5. Fifth way to Sabbath = KEEP COMING BACK IT WORKS IF YOU WORK IT.

What if you come to church and you say “OK I will worship” and you walk out and say “That was a disappointment” – do we give up on the church? Friends, there is no perfect church. We seek after ideals – especially when we are young – and that is a setup for disappointment. The church is a community of worship, and not about self-driven consumerism. Don’t make yourself a consumer to say “what can this do for ME” – because as I’ve already put forth, Sabbath is not ONLY just for YOU. Be intent on worshiping God regardless of whether your needs or tastes were met. Keep coming back. The music will grow on you. The repetitive message will start to make sense. The odd folks two aisles down will become good friends. The spirit of the service will touch you, you will sway and find yourself moving, growing, worshiping with the rhythms. Embrace it. It works if you work it.

6. Sixth way to Sabbath = STAY IN THE CENTER OF THE HERD.

This is just about the best way I can stress church attendance as a central part of Sabbath without getting legalistic. No I am not saying Thou Shalt Not Miss Church, rather I am saying missing regular worship as a part of your Sabbath is a good way to put yourself in a place of danger. It is not about rule-keeping. It is about staying where you are most connected, most supported. Skipping church repeatedly and missing Sabbath isolates yourself and makes you an easy target for the wolves of life; better to stay in the center; it is the safest place to be.

I’m going to continue teaching on Sabbath and Work with a new series beginning Sept 2016 called: Sanctifying Monday to Friday – A Study on Vocation & Spirituality. If you’d like to hear more in-depth about a theology of Sabbath, I invite you to join us!

- PW

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Sanctifying Monday to Friday

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Sanctifying Monday to Friday

I grew up in a tight-nit, blue-collar, small church of about 200 where faithful people attended week-in and week-out. Sure there was drama, sure there were problems. But what left an indelible impression on me were the hard-working, honest, faithful people who provided the backbone to the church. These were my heroes, among them my father, who gave significantly to the church, and quietly worked away Monday to Friday, pleased and content with his work. He was not a minister as I am. He owned a telecom business.

To me, this was true spirituality. Almost to a point that I begrudged the thought of ever entering ministry myself; why should “spiritual” work only be done on Sundays by professionally trained clergy? It didn’t jibe with the holistic view I was developing from my own study of Scripture. Unfortunately, I didn’t find many who understood this, and I searched far and wide for those who shared these views on faith and work.

I finally found it when I landed at Regent College, ironically, a seminary, in Vancouver, BC. The neat thing however, was that I wasn’t studying alongside students for the ministry only; I was studying alongside professionals, laypersons in fields ranging from law to medicine to social work to art. I thought, “if we could just distill this perspective on vocation, and make it accessible to people who cannot afford to take 2-years off to study at a seminary in beautiful Vancouver… then more would understand that there is spiritual significance to what they do Mon – Fri – and that thus, their lives have meaning, spiritual significance, difference.”

Which is why when I heard about the Reframe Course I was blown away – thrilled. The Reframe Course offered by Regent College (my alma mater) is a 10-week film-based study about what it means to follow Christ in the context of work, vocation, and calling. In the intro video, one puts it well; “God is not just concerned about lawyers, but about law; he cares about engineers, but also about engineering“:

This holistic view of spirituality is what drew me to Regent College in the first place; the recognition that all of life is spiritual, and the rethinking of the sacred / secular divide. Spiritual vocation is not just reserved for those in Christian ministry, but those who actively view their work as spiritual and sanctify not just their private lives on Sunday, but their fields from Mon to Fri. This, I believe, is the right theological perspective.

This Fall Season, Woven will be going through the Reframe course in groups based around Houston. Hit us up if you are interested in learning more about this great opportunity to learn and to grow this Fall 2016!

- PW

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Prayers for Racial Reconciliation

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Prayers for Racial Reconciliation

Events in our nation and in this great state of TX are causing us to shout past each other, and not to hear nor listen. Prayer is the way forward; listening to the Other as we listen to ourselves, all before a Holy God. Here are some helpful prayers of Woven:

The Set Aside Prayer: 

“Dear God please help me to set aside everything I think I know about [people. place or thing] so I may have an open mind and a new experience.  Please help me to see the truth about [people. place or thing]. Amen.”

Prayer for a Better Way:

“God, please show me how to find the way of Patience, Tolerance, Kindness and Love in my heart, my Mind and my Soul. Lord, show me how to demonstrate these principles to all those around me. Amen.”

Prayer of Radical Acceptance:

God, help me to practice radical acceptance today. To receive whatever and whomever comes my way. To resist nothing. To turn my cheek, to give my cloak. To take no offense at offense. Only then will I be open, only then can I meet You today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And so we pray for those hurting in our nation today, as well as those who serve our communities to keep it safe.

I pray we can use these prayers as a Way to greater openness and to allow Christ to show us a better Way forward. Continued blessings and protection upon our communities and our police.

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How To Stay Afloat In This Economy

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How To Stay Afloat In This Economy

When I first moved to Houston almost 6 years ago we were weathering a recession that prolonged my job search, landed me on food stamps and WIC, and caused a general anxiety over my life. Coming to Houston was like a light at the end of the tunnel for me, and I was surprised to find that the recession had not hit Houston that hard. 

Today it's a different story. I've watched the present oil crisis creep closer and closer to just a degree of separation, where my own job isn't immediately threatened, but I am feeling the effects in various ways. Friends have been laid off. Others consider relocation. It's sad, and hard. But as I dig my hands deeper and deeper into the Houston soil I am finding a rootedness that is hard to escape: I love my city, and I am happier nowhere else. So the question is, how do I stay afloat in this city I love while the economy tanks? Here's a few suggestions from a minister's point-of-view - consider it a spiritual vantage point for your own journey through the dark tunnel:

  1. Build something. Plant something. I have oft reflected on the words of Jeremiah 29:5-7 as a stranger in a strange land: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” These are words that don't twist and turn away; looking and yearning for greener pastures. These are words of settledness, contentment, and trust. Unless directed otherwise, sometimes we need to dig in for the long haul, and it is only in blessing our own very soil we find ourselves on that we find purpose on it.
  2. Say: "Your Will, Your Way." This is a prayer I pray often, myself. The biggest component of my struggle is often myself - the notion that I know what's best for me. This is problematic because those times I didn't run the show, it was so much more charmed; so much more sublime - I just couldn't script this stuff even if I wanted to. Having to surrender my agenda meant relinquishing control and all of the associated discomfort, but the trade-off was the surprising adventure of discovering God's purposes in the twists and turns and redemptions of life in His plan and will. So the best thing I have concluded, is to say "Your Will, O Lord, in Your Way" and to live in expectation and trust of the adventure to come!
  3. Don't discern in a bubble. There are people in your life who speak deeply and see as you can't. As a pastor to my congregation I try to serve this role as a deeper voice in people's lives, and have found that people are grateful for it. I try to avoid telling people what to do, but I do share what I believe to be the direction of God in light of Scripture, ethics, and personal circumstances. For some, it meant leaving Houston to find work elsewhere. As heartbreaking as this was for me, I also knew it to be right. For others, I can tell God is steering differently. The point is, we all need that outside voice to help us; don't discern in a bubble; don't discern in isolation. We often deceive ourselves with crazy thoughts. Rationalizations abound. Get some input. Use telephone therapy. 
  4. Give; don't take. I think times of lack are times of trust. Giving is a way of moving out of our isolated fears, panic, worries. It is an opposing posture to self-absorption. Greater generosity during times of uncertainty may jump-start the blessing process we've been looking for. It may just be the breakthrough - economic or otherwise - to the stoppage we've been experiencing. Give in order to breakthrough. 

So in the end, friends, cast yourself upon God. Get out of your dark room. Stop ruminating, obsessing, worrying. Get your hands into the soil. Sweat it out under the sun a bit. Talk to your spiritual director. Panic not over the Brexit or the oil slump; the Lord of the Storm is asleep in the hold and will not let your ship sink.

-PW

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How Much Does The New Testament Tell Us To Tithe?

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How Much Does The New Testament Tell Us To Tithe?

An ambitious young man told his pastor he'd promised God a tithe of his income. And so together they prayed for God to bless his career. At that time he was making $50.00 per week and tithing $5.00 per week. In a few years God blessed him, and his income increased and he was making $5000.00 per week and tithing $500.00 per week. He called on the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, it was too costly now. The pastor replied, "I don't see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income back to $50.00 a week, then you'd have no problem tithing $5.00." (W.A. Criswell)

J.L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who had given approximately 25% of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, "The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord." 

Tithing your income, whatever percentage, net or gross, pre-tax or after-tax, is a big decision to make. We search the Scriptures for understanding. There is no lack of verses in the Old Testament on the subject, but aren't Christians under a new covenant in Christ? Since when were we bound under the Deuteronomic Law of tithing, tenths, and refraining from pork? So we look to the New Testament for direction. But what exactly does the NT say on tithing? How much does the New Testament tell us to tithe?

Here's the thing:

It doesn't.

There are a few passages where tithing is mentioned in passing, but not really as a prescription, let alone command:

  • Matt 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law"
  • Hebrews 7 "Abraham gave (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything"

We are hard-pressed to find any teaching on exactly what percentages to tithe in the NT. But there are teachings on giving. And there the real prescription doesn't seem to be 10% at all. It's a different figure. Do you know what it is? Do you want to know? I'll tell you.

Are you ready?

  Parable of the   Talents , A.N._Mironov

Parable of the Talents, A.N._Mironov

It's 100%.

Here are a few passages that convey this ethos:

  • Acts 4:32-37 "32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them… 34 there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need."
  • Mark 10:17-31 "go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven... and come, follow Me.”

The ethic of Jesus when it comes to giving our lives to the Gospel is 100%. For some they paid for it in full with their own lives. So there is no haggling over percentages, pre-tax or after-tax, net or gross. It is quite simply, 100%. That is the New Testament Jesus ethic when it comes to giving.

Now in one sense, this is an impossible standard; in another sense, it's a relief.

Relief, because now giving is not about a rule to stand by and keep but a direction, a goal to strive towards, of complete surrender. There is no judgment for failing to give all if you are unable to give all. But Jesus does hold us to that higher standard. Perhaps today we are unable to tithe. But as our faith grows so our giving...

R.G. LeTourneau was one of the more unlikely leaders of 20th century industry. From humble beginnings and a 7th grade education, he taught himself engineering and eventually built a manufacturing empire. His earth-moving machines helped win WWII and construct the highway infrastructure of modern America.  By the end of his life he held more than 300 patents. He had also become one of the leading spokespersons in the lay-led faith and work movement. In the church today he is famously known not for tithing. No he didn't tithe 10%. He practiced something called a "reverse tithe" - 90%. He tithed 90% of his income and kept 10% of it for himself. It was a solid step of faith he took in his younger years to do so, and his legacy continues to this day. As the faith, so the giving.

I don't think Jesus is disappointed with our giving, if it is less than anything but 100%. When he encountered Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-10, he was satisfied with Zaccheus' 50% and 4X amends saying, "Today salvation has come to this house." Now that's still a lot, but somehow this camel made it through the needle's eye: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:25)

So in the end it's not an issue of percentages. It is the response of the rich American that is everything. Be chastened, as I am, by the conscience-piercing lyrics of a song by Arcade Fire: "You never trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount". If there is any prescription in the New Testament for us camels struggling to get through the needle's eye, perhaps it's this:

"Much has been given; much is expected" (Luke 12:48)

- PW

 

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