That Guy from Penn State at Council…

A Penn State grad spoke at the C&MA General Council.

He referenced John 15:4: Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I took some time to type some of the words that stood out to me.

Jesus said we discern the pedigree of our tree by evaluating its fruit. So can we have some honest evaluation. It’s not a question of whether we’re bearing fruit, but what’s the fruit we’re bearing?

…I hear us, so often, when we’re doing things that are divisive and distracting and aggressive to one another, I hear Christians say with a straight face, “Well – well, I’m just turning over tables like Jesus.” Listen Braveheart – you’re not cleansing temples. You’re being a jerk. Alright?

So what’s being evidenced in us in these days?

You know, if what people encounter in us is divisiveness or arrogance or patterns of narcissism, what have we been abiding in?

If what people encounter in us is bitterness and conspiracy, then what have we been abiding in?

If what people hear in us sounds like a noisy gong to them, then what have we been abiding in?

If our lives smell like America first rather than kingdom first, then what have we been abiding in?

If what people taste when they encounter us is the protection of power and platforms rather than the gentle and lowly way of Jesus, then what have we been abiding in?

And I’m saying, “we” because I am part of this. Right? But I am calling attention to what the world is seeing in the church today. It’s not just the world, it’s what we see in one another…

Jesus wants us to be rooted in the sacred power of his presence.

William Blake wrote that we become what we behold.

So let me put this through the lens of the Great Commandment. I believe that abiding – abiding in Christ – is beholding Jesus with all of our hearts, our souls, our mind, and our strength. That’s what abiding is. It’s the ongoing gaze of the soul upon the glory and the grace and the goodness of Jesus. It’s the one thing – before any other thing – for us as followers of Jesus to behold him so that we can become like him.

That’s what Paul prays for in Ephesians. He prays in Ephesians three…

I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Eph 3:16–19). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.)

We need to be a people who are rooted and established in the love of Jesus. The problem is that we tend to be rooted and established in politics and ideologies that masquerade as the way of Jesus.

We’re rooted and established in traditions and interpretations that we masquerade as the truth of Jesus.

We’re rooted and established in power and platforms that we masquerade as the love of Jesus.

But we’re made to be rooted and established in a greater love – a love that we cannot produce ourselves. It’s a love that, because if we simply allow ourselves to be shaped by our own capacity to love it always turns inward. Right? It always becomes love with expectation. It’s always driven by our own ambition. It’s always eventually revealed in how we treat one another.

But not so. Not so with the love of Jesus.

Do you remember how Jesus loves you?

…Jesus loved us so powerfully and perfectly. Right?

His love’s not self-seeking. There’s no strings attached. His love’s humble enough to value others above himself. He loves at a great cost to himself. And even though he’s equal to God his love did not hold onto power or privilege…. His love led him to empty himself – to become a servant. His love led him to all humility to the point of death on the cross. His love was demonstrated in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us. His love conquered death so that we could be raised up in newness of life.

That’s the love we need.

That’s the fertile soil that we need to put our roots in so that we may be filled with the fullness of God. That’s the love that Jesus called us to. That’s the holy, sacred way of Jesus.

That’s the love the shapes us to be the faithful presence of Christ in our time.

Spencer Sweeting at The Christian and Missionary Alliance General Council, June 4. 2021

You can see the entire message here.

Prayer Gathering (4/28/21)…

One week from today (April 28), at 7 pm, Curwensville Alliance is going to go to Tim & Cristi’s home and encircle it with prayer. We are praying that the adoption of their daughter will move forward.

In case you missed it: The following day, there is a hearing regarding the adoption of the child they have had for the past two and a half years. They brought her home from the hospital as a foster child, planning to adopt, but many obstacles have prevented this from coming to a conclusion.

If you would like to join us, arrive at Tim & Cristi’s home at 7 pm, parking along the road behind their house and walking into their yard. If you are not certain where this is, join us as we carpool / caravan to their home from the church. Please arrive at the church at 6:30 pm. Otherwise we will see you at 7 pm in their yard.

Wear outdoor clothing and if the ground is wet, wear your boots.

We will begin to pray — simultaneously aloud, all in one voice — at 7 pm and conclude our time when the last voice is finished. Please wait quietly until everyone has had opportunity to pray.

Some of us will be fasting throughout the day as we prepare for this time of prayer. We invite you to do the same if you wish.

Thank you for praying – whether you can be there on the 28th or not.