Preparing for our Day of Rest – Sunday, Feb. 1st, ’15

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Over the next 3 days, take some time and read the text for this week as we resume our series on Genesis:  Beginning & Blessing – “The 1st Marriage”.  Ask the Lord to open your heart to His Word, and speak to you as you gather with God’s people at Christ Church!

Genesis 2:15-25 ESV

[15] The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. [16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, [17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” [18] Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” [19] Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. [20] The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. [21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. [22] And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. [23] Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” [24] Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. [25] And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Wise Words from Rich!

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Below are some wise words from my friend Rich Melheim at Faith Inkubators.  If you are a Christ Church Parent, Grandparent, or wanna be parent –  please read, and let’s talk how we can hold your families together in a world that is tearing them apart.  – Gene

“Over the last 20 years in America, we have created a situation where little boys begin “killing” monsters and demons and aliens by the thousands on handheld games, X-boxes and online. By the time the adolescent brain begins to rewire into an adult brain – from the beginning of puberty until 25 or 26 – the cutsey little innocuous games give was to blood and guts. These young Sparans graduate to extremely realistic videogames as they run through combat zones, shooting and killing by the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, then millions. Their brains are wired to ‘play’ and shoot and kill. The score, the gore, and the explicit ante goes up higher, ever higher, along with their kill scores. Mom and dad don’t pay much attention. It is a game. It is only a game. Right?

Wrong. It rewires the brain. It creates grooved pathways where hands and eyes and movement and squeezing the trigger become rote and remote. The adreneline and dopamine adds to the addictive rush, and to brain craves more and more. It’s becomes all about scoring more and more and more. Getting more kills.

To the adolescent brain, anything that gives a rush is attractive. Anything that gives a regular rush on demand is even more so. But the virtual kills really don’t matter. There is no consequence. No one is really hurt. No real blood is spilled. It’s all a game. A training game. And the mounting scores give the pride, along with the skills that can be leveraged by a government. They are wired to kill but not wired to feel. Exactly what an army wants.

Then they go into real war. Real dark alleys. Real dusty villages. Real crowded city streets with real enemies and really eyes staring at them. Is that hate I see? How can it be? I’m a good guy. Is that child coming at me strapped to a bomb? How can that be. They should be in school. Is that car heading my way filled with explosives. Raise your weapon. Its him or you.

Then, the first time they see their buddy who was joking next to them a moment ago blown away, something switches in their brains. It’s not supposed to be like this. It never was before. It’s not supposed to hurt. To matter. To wound.

Then, the first time they make their first real kill, there’s a deeper cognitive dissonance that the brain just doesn’t know how to handle. It’s not supposed – blanking – to matter. It’s not supposed to be like this. It’s not supposed to hurt. This is not how it ends. I’m used to shooting, killing, blowing things up and going out to Taco Bell three five minutes. I just killed someone. A real someone. Pulled the trigger. Watched him die. I’ve trained all my life for this virtually. It never mattered.

But now it does. I’m a killer.

And then the lucky ones come home and walk back into a world that is exactly the same as it was when they left and yet, somehow altogether different. And after a party and a welcome home, they’re supposed to go on as if nothing happened. But it did. It (blanking) did. And it always will.

Most of them are altered in some way, shape or form. And some of them bear wounds that no one will ever see. The guy with the missing leg is maybe the lucky one. He knows what he’s dealing with. So does his family. His friends. His church. There are wounds that show no scars. And those are the most dangerous kind.

The wounds that no one see are often not even fully understood by the soldier. The victim who was the perpetrator. But those wounds linger and fester below the surface. Sometimes below the conscious awareness of the most mighty and brave and true. Those wounds begin eating the gamer up from the inside. They hunger and they scar and they scare deep in the psyche and soul like a monster, a demon, an alien eating them out from the inside.

How do you kill a monster inside you without killing yourself? How do you exorcise a demon that may actually be you? How do you cut away the alien in your chest and in your brain and in your very soul without cutting yourself?

And the pain? It will eventually go somewhere. Pain always does. And the confusion? It may lead to lashing out or lashing in. Confusion often does. And the monsters and demons and aliens? What can a lifelong gamer who has killed millions before do to erase them from the screen? Deal with one and ten pop up. Deal with ten and there’s a thousands waiting for you in the wings. In the night. In your dreams. But this time there is no scalpal, no video game console, no M-16 that can stop even one of them.

Who will be there for the wounds that show no scars? Who can do such prognosis, let alone soul surgery?

Can the church? Will the church? Can you? Can I? Not unless they let us into their pain.

It is hard to love someone who won’t let you into their pain. We can try to play catch-up with this generation of soldiers who are committing suicide at a record level. Or we can start on the other end of the problem, and train up children who know how to share both highs and love. Children who have done them every night of their lives with parents, grandparents, guests and others who have wandered into their homes and hearts.

Just as the violent video games create grooved pathways in the brain that become their default mechanism, the healthy habit of sharing, reading, talking, praying and blessing can create a grooved pathway towards health. Towards healing. Towards cleaning out the garbage. Toward wholeness. Toward life.

Don’t think your nightly home huddle is a small matter. Don’t think of sharing highs AND lows as a gimmick that can be jettisoned the first time they turn hormonal and say, “Mom, Dad, I don’t need this anymore.”

Adolescence is the absolute WORST time to stop communicating with your child before sleep. It is the absolute WORST time to abandon them to their devises and their other adolescent mentors. The brain is beginning a reformatting process, and it will rewire from the back (motor skills) to the middle (emotions) to the front (adult judgment center) over the next 10 years. They’ll have their fully developed pre-frontal cortex when they’re 25-26. Not 18 when they ship out. Not 21 when they come home. A decade after they start looking like an adult and order you to treat them like one.

We can’t abandon our children to the killing games and the school cafeterias and then the killing fields without a steady, regular, pervasive, intentional faith practice that wires their brains for communicating their joys and their fears, their highs and their lows, their superficial and their deep-seated angst. There is too much at stake.

Your child may never go to war, but they will surely at war on many fronts and in many ways from 12 to 26. Their brains will wire most profoundly in the areas where they have the most practice. Gaming. Shooting. Killing. Porn. Shopping. Bowing to ten thousand idols in a technological temple to another god that demands blood. Or sharing. Reading. Talking. Praying. Blessing.

Take your pick. Something is going to wire their brains and prepare them for a thousand battles, a thousand wounds, a thousand dark nights of the soul.

Reconsider the grooved pathways you want your child to imbed. Reconsider a few minutes a night – every night – to practice healthy caring conversations. Reconsider something like FAITH5 (share, read, talk, pray, bless) as the default to every night they are living under your roof and under your care. Make it as normal and natural and expected as brushing your teeth before bedtime.

Psychologically, sociologically, neurologically and theologically, “rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep, then bringing it all to God in prayer and blessing each night creates a powerful grooved pathway in the brain and grows a child into an adult who knows who they are, whose they are. Into an adult who can recognize the monsters and demons and aliens and name them out loud in the company of people who listen and care. If they grow up with this, they will seek it out when they need it. They will come home. They will come back.

You can’t come back to a place you’ve never been.

Begin tonight, recommit tonight. If you don’t have ten minutes for one another as a family, what is it that you have 2 hours for television, 2 hours for internet, 2 hours for video games? Get your priorities straight and get your time together on the calendar tonight. Every night.

You will grow a young adult into a resilient person who knows where they can go when the wounds that show no scars begin to bleed internally.”

Making Sunday Special – for Sunday January 18, 2014

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Take some time over the next few days and read our text for this Sunday, Epiphany 2 & our annual Sanctity of Life Sunday!

Matthew 2:16-23 ESV

[16] Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. [17] Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: [18] “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” [19] But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, [20] saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” [21] And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. [22] But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. [23] And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. (

9 things to know about (Christ Church &) Anglicanism – Rev. Michael Jensen, Rector of St. Mark’s Anglican – Sydney Aus.

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1. Since the arrival of Christianity in Britain in the 3rd century, British Christianity has had a distinct flavor and independence of spirit, and was frequently in tension with Roman Catholicism. The Britons were evangelized by Irish missionary monks, and it wasn’t until the 7th century that the Roman church established its authority over Christianity in the British Isles, at the Synod of Whitby. But tensions continued until the 16th century.

2. The break with Rome in the 16th century had political causes, but also saw the emergence of an evangelical theology. The Church of England was not just a church of protest against the pope’s authority and his interference in English affairs. It was also a church that adopted a distinctly evangelical theology. The English Reformation cannot be reduced to the marital strife of Henry VIII.

3. Anglicanism is Reformed. The theology of the founding documents of the Anglican church—the Book of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion—expresses a theology in keeping with the Reformed theology of the Swiss and South German Reformation. It is neither Lutheran, nor simply Calvinist, though it resonates with many of Calvin’s thoughts.

4. Scripture is the supreme authority in Anglicanism. Article VI, “Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation,” puts it this way:

Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

In Anglicanism, Scripture alone is supreme as the saving Word of God. Reason and tradition play an auxiliary role. This was the view of divines like Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker. There is a popular myth that Anglicanism views reason, tradition, and Scripture as a three-legged stool of authorities, but it is quite false.

5. Justification by faith alone is at the heart of Anglican soteriology (belief of salvation). In its liturgy, its view of the sacraments, in its founding documents, and in the mind of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the Church of England holds that works do not save and cannot save a person. Only the blood of Jesus Christ is effective to save.

6. In Anglican thought, the sacraments are “effectual signs” received by faith. For Anglicans, the sacraments—the Lord’s Supper and baptism—do not convey grace in an automatic sense, or by a grace adhering to the objects used in them.

7. The Anglican liturgy—best encapsulated in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer—is designed to soak the congregation in the Scriptures, and to remind them of the priority of grace in the Christian life. There is grace on every page—it is not only the heart of Anglican theology, it is the heart of Anglican spirituality.

8. Anglicanism is a missionary faith, and has sponsored global missions since the 18th century. The sending and funding of missionaries to the far reaches of the globe to preach the gospel has been a constant feature of Anglican life, although this has happened through the various voluntary mission agencies as much as through official channels.

9. Global Anglicanism is more African and Asian than it is English and American. The center of contemporary Anglicanism is found in places like Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya. In these places there are burgeoning Anglican churches, and a great deal of evangelism and church planting. There are strong Anglican churches too in Asia and elsewhere. Noticeably, where liberal theology has become dominant in Anglicanism—mainly in the “first world”—Anglicanism is rapidly shrinking, and is possibly only a generation from its demise.

Michael P. Jensen is the author of Sydney Anglicanism: An Apology and (with Tom Frame) Defining Convictions and Decisive Commitments–The Thirty-Nine Articles in Contemporary AnglicanismHe is the rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point, in Sydney, Australia.

The 8th Day of Christmas Reflection

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Today in the Sherman home, we  will,  God willing, have a relaxing day celebrating the 8th Day of Christmas / the New Year with the Annual “Winter Classic” Hockey game, eating Chinese food, taking a brisk walk with Sherlock, and, of course watching the college football playoffs (Go Buckeyes!).  With all of the fun New Year’s day events, I think it most appropriate as a follower of Jesus to commit 2015 to grow in the Wisdom of the Lord.  This year in Morning & Evening Prayer I will spend time in the Wisdom Literature (Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon) in order to grow in Wisdom.  As always, the ways of the Lord, are not the ways of the world; but as Proverbs tells us:

[5] Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

May your 2015 be filled with great trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth as an infant, so that he could secure your salvation and give you abundant life in the present with great Wisdom day by day!

Merry Christmas and a most Happy 2015!