The Cup of Blessing

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

The central image in the great 23rd Psalm is the prepared table, an obvious symbol of provision and honor. The fact that our Shepherd / King provides for us and honors us “in the presence of my enemies” paints a beautiful portrait of our God’s protection and blessing while we journey through life on earth. A life lived in the presence and power of God is still a life lived in a world not yet restored to the wholeness God intends. So, even though we presently experience divine presence and reward, we are still among the enemies.

We should recognize that being in Christ doesn’t mean the troubles, cares, pains, and dangers of this world are removed from us. We remain “in the presence of” our enemies. However, we should ask ourselves and reflect on the ways, day after day, our Father is setting a table for us in the presence of those enemies.

One of the ways our Lord protects us and provides for us is in acts of love and service done for us by our Christian brothers and sisters. When the culture and the world seek to taunt us and tear us down, we find comfort and strength in the handshakes of friendship, the caring hugs, the community of fellowship, and the unity we share in the blood of Jesus.

These acts of love toward us become tables prepared by God — and his people — in the presence of our enemies who want to ridicule us and shatter our hopes.

God prepares the table of provision and protection and honor. I challenge you, today, to become a caterer at that table to those we know and love who are surrounded by enemies.

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We’re preparing now to take Legacy from a church that does small groups to a “Small Groups Church.” And it seems the biggest hurdles hereĀ in making that transition are related to the concept of breaking down the already established larger groups into smaller groups so more people can be invited in. This is a church-wide struggle here. It’s not just one age group or demographic. Young, old, in-between — there are lots of people here very worried about breaking out of their comfort zones and their comfort circle of friends and engaging other brothers and sisters in the congregation who don’t have those kinds of friendships and connections.

In our congregational informational meetings (the next one is set for Tuesday evening, October 23) everyone completely buys into the concepts of applying the Word, connecting as a family, and evangelizing our community through Small Groups. But lots of people don’t seem to understand how it’s up to the established groups, who already see the significance of what we do, to lead the other 65-70 percent of the congregation in the same direction. I keep hearing that they’re afraid they’re going to lose their friends if they begin a new group. I keep hearing that what they already have as a group is so special, so meaningful, so deep and intimate, they don’t want to lose it.

If it’s that special and meaningful and deep and intimate, why in the world wouldn’t you want to share it? Why wouldn’t you want to grab three or four other families in our church and help them experience the same thing? Why wouldn’t you do everything you could — if it’s really that great — to mentor others to help them grow and minister in the same ways you have?

You must read Jennifer Green’s blog post from yesterday. Click here. She and her husband Aaron see the benefits of Small Groups. And while they’re deeply connected to an existing group in our Young Families Class, they’re determined to start a new group in January so they can involve other people in our church who need it just as badly as the rest of us. They already have in mind a couple of neighbors on their street they’re going to invite and involve. They’ve been praying about it for weeks. And they can’t wait for January. They’re already inviting people to join them. They’re encouraging the entire class to follow their enthusiastic example.

If you’re nervous about commiting to a new group or leading a new group or breaking your existing group up in order to minister to others, Jennifer’s blog will inspire you. Read it.

Thank you, Aaron and Jennifer. And thanks to all who are jumping in.

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The Cowboys’ last two games have been decided in the 4th quarter. In both of those 4th quarters, combined, all 30 of the closing minutes against the Bills and Pats, Terrell Owens was thrown to five times. He’s seen five 4th quarter passes come his way in the past two 4th quarters. He dropped one. Two were intercepted.

For the entire season, Owens has only three 4th quarter catches.

And here’s T.O. from Wednesday:

“That’s all on the quarterback. All I can do is run my routes. Look at the film and there’s some situations and opportunities for me to get the ball.”

Let the turmoil build.

Minnesota has the league’s worst ranked defense against the pass. You think Romo’s going to be throwing the ball all over the place Sunday? The Vikings also have the #1 rushing offense in the NFL. I’m thinking the Cowboys are going to lose the time of possession battle as badly as they did against New England. And if they’re throwing 75-percent of the time, that’s not going to translate into a win.

Peace,

Allan

1 Comment

  1. stephanie frost

    Allan,

    I just wanted to send some support your way regarding Legacy becoming a small groups church. Ron and I continue to be very excited about this upcoming change. We experienced small groups previously at Alameda Church of Christ in Norman, OK. It was an amazing experience.

    As new members going into Alameda, small groups gave us immediate connections with several diffent families. It gave us a place to fit in immediately. That was huge for us in feeling ‘plugged in’ and part of the family. It also gave us connections for ministry opportunities in the church right away.

    As we became ‘not-so-new’ members, our small group had already become family. The ones you call on when things are great and especially, not so great. (They waited for HOURS in the hospital waiting room waiting for Brighton to be born. Our hospital room was PACKED by the time she arrived ~ husbands, kids and all! My parents and hospital staff couldn’t believe it. They even went on a Bueno run for me!) Prayer requests big and small were shared weekly. We were missed when we couldn’t attend and our answering maching would be full of everyone checking in on us.

    Yes, our group would grow! Yes, we would multiply, b/c you were not allowed to say ‘split’! Yes, it was wonderful. Our friendships didn’t end when we would end up in different small groups. They would continue to grow and extend into the body of Christ. We had CLOSE friends/family throughout Alameda.

    We witnessed families of differing denominational backgrounds finding a place in small groups b/c it felt like a non-threatening, neutral territory. We witness friends being baptized who were introduced to Christ through small groups. We were able to reach people who were not necessarily interested in ‘church’ but who were searching. After building relationships with friends and Christ through small groups, they would begin coming to Sunday morning worship.

    I know this isn’t supposed to be ‘about us’; however, selfishly, I am so excited b/c of what I know it will mean to us and our kiddos. I also know it means a great way to invite my friends on the street to Bible study who already attend church elsewhere and those who don’t. How awesome for my girls to get to have Bible study with their friends they play with everyday!

    We’re excited. Since ‘what you think about, you bring about…’ ~ We’re thinkin’ we’re going to have a rockin’ small group! Sure, there will be snags. But that’s true with anything.

    In Him,
    steph

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