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First Thoughts Blog
Monthly Archives: March 2016

Deeper Magic

Can you figure out this puzzle? Can you decipher what C.S. Lewis is talking about in the excerpt below?
 

"Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane stood Aslan [the great Lion] himself.

 

“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” asked Lucy.

 

“Not now,” said Aslan.

 

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan.

 

“It means,” said Aslan, “That though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back….she would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

 
So, did the solution come to you as you read? I knew it would. Lewis wrote an allegory in which Aslan the great Lion represents Christ. He gave his life to save a traitorous young boy, but in doing so, he broke the power of the White Witch and shattered death. Just so, Jesus the sinless man, gave his life for a traitorous humanity on the cross.  Then he rose from the dead, breaking the power of sin, death and the devil. 
 
The gospel is a familiar story to most Christians, so well known that sometimes we aren’t dazzled by its brilliance like we used to be. That’s where stories like Narnia become so important. They bring the power of the gospel to people who may have had bad experiences with the church, or those who may have grown bored with the old story, or those who may never have heard it before.  
 
In two weeks, your church will present Narnia in our Sanctuary. The production values of this musical will reach standards set by Fiddler on the Roof and Roots and Promises. But here’s the twist: the truth of the gospel will never have been more clearly presented in one of our plays intended for outreach to the community. 
 
You won’t want to miss it. That goes without saying if you love and support our church. But will you, and I, take the next step, and invite others to join us? It’s the story we love presented with quality of which we can be proud. Pack the house dear ones!
 
Church of the Resurrection
 
I’m excited to tell you that one of our biggest initiatives over the last year is coming to fruition. Our church leads a network of Presbyterian churches in the Gulf South region who have joined to plant an EPC church in New Orleans. This past month we called the Rev. Ben Cunningham to be the church planter. Ben has been the assistant pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in uptown New Orleans.  Now Ben, and his wife Jenny (finishing her medical residency in N.O.), will begin the long journey of meeting people and gathering worshipers to become the Church of the Resurrection in an area of New Orleans intersecting the lower garden district and the central business district.  
 
Church planting succeeds best when it digs deep and starts slowly. We do not expect a full out worship service for at least a year.  New Orleans is a notoriously tough place to sink church roots. But all year Ben and Jenny will be gathering folks to become the launch team of the new church.  Do you know someone in New Orleans who might be looking to be part of this exciting venture? Contact Ben: cunninghambenj@gmail.com.  You can also hear him preach in our pulpit on May 29. Please pray for God to establish the Church of the Resurrection in a powerful way.

Let's Face It, We Need Each Other

As an only child my perspective of the church is kind of unique. Let me tell you why. Only children can’t help but be just a little bit spoiled because on a day-to-day basis we didn’t have to share toys until we went to school. There was no competition with siblings so we were always winners. There was never a brother around to (literally) pound some humility into us and there was never a sister around to steal our most beloved dresses. One of my favorite compliments is someone seeming surprised that I’m an only child. It's always strange when someone asks me if I had siblings and, after I answer, the reply is “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” 
 
As a member of the Church (God’s people from Adam to eternity) we are NOT only children. We are a part of a huge family. This is the family that God uses to bring about his purposes and to bring glory to himself. When we function as a family we put our gifts and skills together with others and we use that combination of gifts to fulfill our calling as the Church. We work together to take our faith and the truth of the Gospel to our city, our country and to all the world. Our western notion of individuality is not biblical and is anti-church. How is that so? We are called in Scripture to be life-givers to one another. We are called to serve, to sacrifice and to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be each other's greatest prayer warriors lifting one another up to God just as Christ intercedes for us in heaven. Women’s ministry, youth ministry and all the other ministries of the church are not there to give you just another thing to do. Speaking for the women’s ministry specifically I can say we really have a lot of fun! Bible studies are enjoyable and there is often laughter. Retreats are exciting in that we get away from daily life, play fun games and laugh with (hopefully not at) one another. HOWEVER, Women in Ministry doesn’t primarily exist for fun. Every Bible Study, every luncheon, every retreat we do is primarily to take women further into Christ and to connect them with one another. 
 
At First Presbyterian, I have found men and women who are committed to praying for me; not just as the women’s ministry director, but as a 20-something young woman trying to figure out her life. I have men and women who pour into me their knowledge of God and their experience of his sovereignty and goodness. Some of you have taken the time and energy to meet with me and share about God’s faithfulness in your lives and you challenge me when I fear he will not be faithful in mine. I have had the privilege of walking with women through excruciating life circumstances. I have reaped the benefits of loving reminders of my sinfulness. Thank you for being my brothers and sisters. Thank you for welcoming me into your family.
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