Sweet Spots

Ideas and messages from Len Sweet.

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Letters to the Chuch

Letters to the Church

Francis Chan, 2018

 

–Review by Landrum P. Leavell III, ThD.

 

 

          Backstory: I have a dear friend who has been on staff at two mega-churches, one in Seattle and one in Texas. He is currently between churches, evaluating his past experiences, and looking at the future church-wise. He read this book, and he told me I needed to read it. Therefore, I had to read it. We are going to talk about it soon.

 

          Most people in the evangelical eco-system know about Francis Chan and some of his experience. He planted Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California in 1994 at the age of twenty-six (and as a newlywed). It grew to be a mega-church. At some point, most pastors have asked themselves, “Is this what God had in mind?” For Chan, questions like this led to his eventual resignation in 2010. He subsequently took his large family overseas, living in India, Thailand, and China, prior to returning to the San Francisco area to start a house church planting network called We Are Church. This book is the rest of the story to date. read more…

Lent 1

It’s that season again. Like clockwork.

You know this chapter of the story. It calls to you. It draws you.

The Story echoes into our own stories and shatters our complacency. We are shaken from the rhythms of ordinary time and swept into the tempos of Lent.

A slower pace; not plodding, but not spritely either. Attentive and aware that the scenery has changed and that we will, in time – if we choose to – be changed, too. The landscape I inhabit in these days will be different from yours. But the unfolding story invites each of us along the Lenten path. Jungle or desert, mountain or valley, ocean or ice pack, all lead to the cross. Whichever path is yours in this season, Jesus is your companion. Let his story be yours.

There are two very different journeying songs in this first playlist for Lent: Sound Theology #180 – Lent 1

Your Life is a Steinway

Your Life is a Steinway Lectionary 10 March 2019 First Sunday in Lent Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 Romans 10:8b-13 Luke 4:1-13 Text to Life Music lessons fall into two categories. Either they enter our lives as a gift from God, or they enter our lives as the wrath of…
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Pastor’s Prayer for 10 March 2019

To You, O God, Fountain of Mercy,
I come, a sinner.
May You wash away my impurity.

O Sun of Justice,
give sight to the blind.
O Eternal Healer,
cure the wounded.
O King of Kings,
restore the despoiled.
O Mediator of God and man,
reconcile the sinful.
O Good Shepherd,
lead back the straying.
O God,
have pity on the wretched,
show leniency to the guilty,
bestow life on the dead,
reform the impious,
and give the balm of grace
to the hard of heart.

O most merciful God,
call back the one who flees,
draw back the one who resists,
lift up the one who falls,
support the one who stands,
and accompany the one who walks.

Do not forget those who forget You.
Do not desert those who desert You.
Do not despise those who sin against You.

For in sinning,
I have offended You, my God;
I have harmed my neighbor;
I have not even spared myself injury.

I have sinned, O my God,
against You, almighty Father,
because of my weakness;
against You, all-knowing Son,
because of my ignorance;
against You, merciful Holy Spirit,
because of my malice.

Thus have I offended You,
most high Trinity.

Woe to me, a pitiful soul!
How many,
how great,
and how diverse
are the sins I have committed.

I abandoned You, Lord
I question Your goodness,
by yielding to evil cravings
and weakening myself with harmful fears.

By such things, I preferred
to lose You
rather than abandon what I desired,
to offend You
rather than face what ought not to be feared.

O my God,
how much harm have I done
by word and deed,
and by sinning
secretly, openly, and defiantly.

Therefore,
out of my weakness I beg You
not to pay heed to my iniquity,
but rather to Your immense goodness.

And I beg you mercifully to pardon
what I have done,
granting me
sorrow for my past actions
and precaution in the future.

Amen.

-St. Thomas Aquinas

In Other Words

In Other Words

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Translated by Ann Goldstein

–Review by Teri Hyrkas

The fifth book by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words (Vintage, 2016), was translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. Yes, you read that correctly. Lahiri, who is a native English speaker, fell in love with the Italian language as a young woman. She learned to speak and write in Italian over the course of many years, then wrote In Other Words – the account of her life-altering language-learning experience – in Italian. Lahiri could have translated the work into English herself but for many reasons, which she catalogs in her book, Lahiri chose to use a translator.

In Other Words is a story about language, identity, and writing. It is also an autobiography of sorts with Lahiri telling of her encounters with various languages, what it means to be identified by one’s language, and the many layers of difficulty involved in trying not simply to speak in a foreign language but to think in it as well. Additionally, In Other Words addresses the interests of writers since Lahiri frequently delves into language challenges that are inherent in the writing process. Happily, we get to see the wonderful results of Lahiri’s language and writing mastery in this book. read more…

Faith Fire

An Ash Wednesday Special Sermon by Len Sweet *** Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from off the altar. –Isaiah 6:6-8 *** Burnings at the stake, which did not cease until the 18th century in…
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Holy House

Holy House Story Lectionary 3 March 2019 The Story of Noah (Genesis 5-7) Psalm 22: God’s Victory Psalm Psalm 30: You Have Turned My Mourning into Dancing Psalm 84: Blessed are Those Who Dwell in Your House Psalm 90: You Are Our Dwelling Place Psalm 113: The Lord Raises Up…
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Face Time with God

Face Time with God Lectionary 3 March 2019 Transfiguration Sunday Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 Luke 9:28-36 (37-43a) Text to Life “Facebook” is an oxymoron at best, a deception at worst. When you are communicating online, whether on Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram, or some other digital communication…
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