HMC E-Newsletter October 13, 2011

Join us Sunday to celebrate Pam S. becoming a member of Houston Mennonite!

Formation Resources:. Christian formation takes more than 20 passive minutes once a week. It takes passionate spirituality, authentic community, and unusual commitment. Here are some tools for your journey:

  • At the Corner of… conference This Friday October 14, 2011 at St. John’s Downtown from 12:30 – 5:45 pm. A great local ½ day training event sharing local stories of missional living & Christ-like obedience. Join HMC leaders by registering (it’s free!) at:
    To carpool with those going, meet promptly at 11:55 to depart from church.
  • Graduate of Eastern Mennonite University Wins Nobel Peace Prize!
  • The Power of Vulnerability.” Here’s a fantastically powerful sermon-like presentation that local psychologist Brene Brown gave at a TED Houston talk last fall on the Power of Vulnerability. She charts the path to deeper community running through, not away from vulnerability. Community and connection happens when we courageously share (not hide!) ourselves with each other.
  • Living More with Less book study 9:30AM Sunday’s, this week covering the chapter called “Nurture People.” I’m not sure what’s better: the book or the people discussing it! Here is a link to an article from USA Today by Tom Krattenmaker entitled “Holy texts as unholy weapons”.  It tries to explain the violence in the Old Testament, and how modern readers should interpret it.

Spiritual practices like this are not an end in themselves. They have no point unless they serve to help us to love self, God, neighbors and enemies more. May it be so for you!

Meet our new Office Ad-minister:
Laura P. has begun serving in the church office Wednesday mornings from 9-12PM. Please forward her all announcements for the bulletin and Newsletter by Tuesday evening for bulletin printing.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Everyone is invited to celebrate Clara Sue’s birthday. Come to our house for a dessert Open House at Hannah and Marty Troyer’s for Clara’s birthday. 6:30PM Sunday October 16. (Address in directory).
►Congregational Meeting: Sunday October 30 the Campus Development Taskforce is hosting a discernment, and update meeting. Please plan on joining us as your input is deeply appreciated!

►Ten Thousand Villages this Sunday October 16
► Conflict Transformation training event: “Waging Peace” This Saturday, Oct 15. Want to learn how to more affectively how to handle conflict; about conflict styles, practices of deep listening, and how to model peacemaking at home and in the workplace? Check out this great training at Covenant Baptist. LeDayne M. Polaski, Managing Director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship will lead this Friday night, all day Saturday event. Long term, I’d love to have half our congregation trained in these principles. We could start with you! Register and find out more at 713-668-8830.

Last Chance to Order a Relief Sale T-Shirt: We’ve had a great response from several of our Texas churches with T-Shirt orders.  Our deadline for ordering one is October 17.  You can fill out an order form at church this Sunday and place it in the white order form collection box or you can email Lynda Voran the size of shirt you would like to order–

► Spread the Word: On Oct. 23 after the Fellowship Meal, the Outreach Team has planned a mailout to our church neighborhood.  Information about the Relief Sale and our basic beliefs will be sent to folks in our community.  Anyone who is able to stay and help in this effort is invited to participate.

► Book Study and time for relationships: A new book study will begin on Sunday, Oct. 30 after church.  Four Women, Three Faiths will be used as the main resource and copies are available in the library.  This is a collection of inspiring spiritual journeys, and was written by Cecile Holmes, who was the Houston Chronicle Religion Editor for 8 years.  There will be time for sharing, praying, and  discussion of the first chapter.   A light lunch will be served, and everyone is invited to join this small group.  For additional information, see Judy Hoffhien.

►Wanna move from Thinking Peace to Making Peace? If you enjoy outreach work and peace and justice activities, plan to come to the Nov. 6 planning session after church.  We will also be working on the calendar for the year and the budget.  If you have ideas or a particular area of interest, but cannot attend the meeting,  please share them with  Marty, Danielle or Adrianne Graybill or Judy Hoffhien.  Lunch will be provided.

 Jesus Reveals A Fully Functioning Life
By Marty Troyer

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. -Psalm 119:1 (Read: Psalm 119:1-8)

Following rules doesn’t sound like much fun. We’ve all seen a child throwing a tantrum when commanded to obey.  And we’ve all probably heard at least one finger-pointing, guilt-inducing sermon. Few, if any, would claim Leviticus or the “Thou shalt nots” as favorite verses.

So I’m struck with how inviting the Psalmist makes morality. “Happy,” he says, “are those who keep his decrees (vs 1).” Following rules is a joy and delight, something to long for, laugh about, and be inspired by (for 176 verses even!).

How can obedience make us so happy? Obedience orients our “whole heart (vs 2)” to relate to God. But more to the point, life just works better when we live as God intends. The consequences of sin are exhausting and painful, its’ shame (vs 6) debilitating. The word dysfunctional says it all: life just doesn’t function as intended. God knows what’s best for us and teaches us how to live a fully functioning life.

Thankfully, in Jesus Christ God has shown us the pattern for a fully functioning life. We are set free to love God, self, neighbor and enemies because Jesus first loved us.

Like the youth who demands to know “Why?” when asked to obey, we want a reason. It’s comforting to know God will never say “Because I told you so!” when we ask “why?” Instead, God will always say, Because it’s best for you, and it’s how I’ve already treated you. Will you obey today, helping God make things the way they are meant to be?

God, you make me happy! Help me to live a fully functioning life I enjoy. Thanks for showing me how to live by treating me with love and grace. AMEN.

At the Corner of Speaker, Rick McKinley: Quite Asking How and start asking Who
Extract of Rick McKinley’s book “A Kingdom Called Desire”. Click here to visit original post at Imago Dei blog.

In the West, Christians have leaned too heavily on the pragmatics of how. When we assume the answer we most deeply need is an answer outside of us that only an expert can give, we become a paralyzed people waiting to be told what to do next:

Go to church on Sunday? Check.
Belong to small group? Check.

Read Bible and pray daily? Check.

Wear appropriate Christian apparel, listen to Christian radio, home school, work in the soup kitchen, write letters to missionaries, take casserole to church potluck, drink fair-trade coffee, work to alleviate extreme poverty, eat vegetarian, recycle, sign human rights petition? Check, check, check, and check.

When we turn following Jesus into a product instead of a relationship, the only question we end up asking is, how do we do that? And we look for clues in what everyone else is doing and do that too. Pretty soon we are doing all sorts of things but we don’t know why anymore.

I realize this is a tremendous oversimplification, but time and time again it comes back to haunt us. Truthfully a lot of the books we buy in regards to following Jesus are couched in this how-to language as well: Will someone out there tell me how to follow Jesus?

Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time answering that question.

I find that to be really hopeful. When he did answer the how question, he did so in a way that was very personal to the one he was talking to. For example, a rich young ruler came and asked Jesus how to gain eternal life (Luke 18:18 – 27). Jesus told him to keep the commandments, to which the man basically replied, “Been there. Done that!” He had a checklist for salvation, licking his pencil as he marked off each step.

So Jesus masterfully tapped into the deeper question of desire in the rich young man’s life. The question is: What are you really putting your security in? What do you really think is going to save you? For that rich young man, the answer was his own personal wealth and his ability to do the right things. That’s where his security was. And when Jesus pointed out one area where the young man couldn’t do the right thing, the man gave up.

In other places Jesus simply asked people, “What do you want?” or “Do you want to get well?” — questions that pushed right past the how-to questions and went directly to the issues most important to the person, the issues of desire.

“Do you really want to follow me or do you need your money to make you feel secure?”

“Do you want to be healed or do you need to be sick because you don’t believe anyone will care about you if you are made well?”

The questions are deep, involved, not simple or reduced, and they cannot be packaged into a one-size-fits-all container. What do you desire most? Do you really want Jesus, or do you want beauty, a career, success, and happy relation- ships? Do you really want Jesus, or do you just want to fill in some boxes to prove that you are saved?

To the rich young ruler, Jesus said, primarily, “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). Get rid of the checklists. Stop thinking you can buy your way into heaven. Follow me. Quit asking how and starting asking who!
Rick McKinley will be speaking at the “At the Corner of…” conference 2011. Click here to register.

Mennonite Church USA

The Pittsburgh bi-annual Convention Marty attended in July was much more than delegate sessions (hymn sing anyone?!). But here is a copy of the feedback given by delegates in the various sessions at Pittsburgh. The following links will connect you to:

1)      a 276-page document that contains all of the comments that were made in regard to the many topics we discussed.  This is a 3 MB file so please be patient with the downloading process.

2)      a 24-page summary of that document drawn up by staff.  Note that we have made specific plans to follow through with the wishes of the delegates.


The Peace Pastor Update:
This week I celebrated World Day Against the Death Penalty with some great people here at Houston Mennonite. Here’s an excerpt of our time together: “Every day the sun comes up is world day against the death penalty,” says Rick Halperin. He says the world community stands in near unanimous protest to this barbaric practice. The United States is like a passenger left behind on the docks as the world ship sets sale without us on this issue, waving ‘bon voyage’ to we and our strange executioning bedfellows: Iran, China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc…

Read the rest at:

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