Glory by Way of a Cross

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Holy Week is fast approaching– leading up to our celebration of Resurrection Sunday, more commonly known as Easter, the zenith of the Christian calendar. During this week nearly 2,000 years ago, Christ secured glory for Himself, the Father, and most amazingly, us.

Pastor Wil Owens takes a close look at John 12: 20-36 and unveils for us how Christ’s agony on the cross “leads many sons to glory”. Click on the link below to listen. Enjoy and be encouraged!

“Following Jesus means we walk the same path He walked, the way of the cross. We take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him. But it also means we will enter His glory with Him, for where He is, there will we be also. How do we live that out day to day, in the middle of the crisis, in the midst of the trouble? We keep looking to Jesus. Heb 12:2 – “looking to Jesus…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…” He endured the agony because He fixed His eyes on the certain, set, guaranteed glory! That’s how we endure as well.” –Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor

 

Fire and Faith

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What do we do when the heat gets turned up on our faith? Nothing reveals the contents of the heart, its strengths and weakness, like a challenge to your Christian walk. Is God refining you? Pastor Wil explores John 12 and challenges us to ask, “When fire challenges our faith–what is revealed?”

“The question for us as we examine this text together today then becomes, what do we do when the heat gets turned up on our faith? How do we respond when it becomes increasingly uncomfortable and even costly to stand with Christ, to affirm the Gospel, to stand upon the truth of God’s Word? Are we only in it as long as we can see an immediate benefit for us? Or are we followers of Christ because we love our Savior? Do we cower and become quiet and compromise when the heat gets turned up? Or do we lovingly, yet firmly remain planted and immoveable from the truth, from Christ?” Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor

Introducing Our Cyber Book Club’s Special Read! Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” Begins July 19th!

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If you are following along with our regular reading schedule, you will know that we are nearly halfway through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s biography by Eric Metaxes. Hitler now has firm control of Germany and German Christians are in a crisis. The national church stance is pro-Nazi and anti-semitic. True followers must regroup, define and defend their ideas. Part of the work that followed was the establishment of what would be known as the “Confessing Church”. Eventually, Dietrich would begin an underground seminary dedicated to sharing and teaching Biblically faithful doctrines. There, among other believers seeking to follow Christ faithfully, Dietrich would pen one of his most beloved writings, “Life Together”.

We are going to delve deeper into this period of Bonhoeffer’s life by reading his book, “Life Together” before we continue on with the increasing horrors of World War II. When we are done we will better understand Dietrich and his struggle for the church under the terror of the Third Reich.

We begin reading on July 19th. If you live within driving distance of Clovis Evangelical Free Church, we would love to invite you to join our “Life Together” book discussion on Wednesday nights, 6:30 p.m., beginning July 22nd. Whether online or in person, let’s read together! So get the book…and get ready!

EBH

Cyber Book Club Week 13: Chapter 13–Imagine the Supreme Court Running Your Church

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Ebenese concentration camp.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his like-minded brethren are facing that the church in Germany has been strong-armed by the political powers that be and is now fully under the control and patronage of Nazi sympathizers. To make matters worse, those who disagree with the new anti-semitic church laws can’t agree on how to disagree. It seemed that nothing could be done to fix things from the inside.

The result? Bonhoeffer and his friends decided to write a position, the Bethel Confession, outlining where they stood on anti-semitic rulings and what they believed should be the stance of true Christians. Out of the gate, 6,000 pastors from across Germany aligned themselves with the Bethel Confession and the seed of what would become the Confessing Church was sown.

Throughout history, Christians have been faced with the problem that occurs when culture diverges in behavior from God’s standards. That’s when we become salt and light. And not very popular. It will always be so. At times the issues are different but what is required of us is the same. We must hold to truth, share it, and take the consequences. Whether it’s slavery, embryonic stem-cell research, jihadism, human trafficking, pornography, extortion, organized crime, Naziism, the KKK, we have to say “I will not go there. I love you, but you’re wrong. You have the power to do as you will, but ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'” It has gotten us crucified, beheaded, impoverished, burned, ridiculed, slandered, and more…but we cannot be made to abandon what God has taught us.

For the rest of this book, Dietrich’s persecution for holding to Christian doctrine intensifies. Bonhoeffer and, indeed, most of the world, will find how heavy the price of resisting evil will be.

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Questions for discussion:

Do you think you are brave enough to kindly and respectfully share you’re religious beliefs with others?

Can you give them the right to disagree without being rude?

Practice sharing your thoughts kindly and respectfully this week.

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EBH

I Commit to Pray

Have you ever wondered how to pray for fellow persecuted believers?  The Voice of the Martyrs ministry offers an online prayer newsfeed for believers around the world.  This is a wonderful resource for keeping up-to-date on current events.  When a believer submits a public prayer request to VOM, VOM posts the prayer request on this website and sends an announcement out over email.  Click on icommittopray.com and sign up for daily prayer requests and praise reports emailed straight to you.  You can also type and post your prayer on the website.  Come join the VOM ministry in supporting God’s children everywhere through prayer.

Pray for Syrian Family and Ministry:  A Syrian child eagerly reads one of the children’s Bible stories received during a distribution to refugees.

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Picture and caption from:  https://www.icommittopray.com/request/182/christians%2Dfrom%2Dsyria/

Hannah Reis

Lent Begins: Remembering the Lowliness of Christ

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The recent mass murder of 21 Coptic Christians is a sobering reminder that we follow a Savior who is not only triumphant but one who suffered as well. Christ told us Himself that the world would hate us because it hated Him.

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

These horrible attacks have fallen just ahead of the beginning of the Lenten season. Being raised Anabaptist, I knew very little about the church calendar, but I am beginning to appreciate the way it divides up our year and facilitates the remembrance of the immeasurable goodness of God to us! Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday. It is a time to consider the lowliness of Christ and the cost of discipleship, and to renew our appreciation for what His suffering achieved for us. Below is a link to a beautiful explanation of Lent. Please consider how you might incorporate this season into your devotional life. Let this time encourage us to not be surprised when persecutions come and to remain joyful in the knowledge that one day all will be made right.

For a fantastic explanation of Lent click here.

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Luke 9:22-26. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” [23] And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  [24] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  [25] For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  [26] For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

EBH