Common Faith Network

Common Faith Network

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2017 Feast of Tabernacles


DATE: Mark your calendars and start making preparations to join us. We will be observing the Feast beginning with food and fellowship as we welcome the Holy Day on Wednesday evening October 4th and running through Thursday, October 12. The opening session of the Feast 2017 will begin at sunset on Wednesday, October 4th. There will be food & fellowship followed by opening night services to kick off a wonderful time of spiritual reunion of God's family. More details coming.
LOCATION:We are happy to announce that CFN will be meeting on beautiful Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach Florida. The Fort Walton Beach/Destin area is a family favorite feast destination, and it is easy to see why. With sugar-white sand beaches, abundant family friendly leisure and recreational activities, and a veritable smorgasbord of dining options to please every palette, there is no end to the possibilities for family fun.
Venue:CFN is excited to announce that we will be hosting the Feast of Tabernacles at the wonderful Emerald Coast Convention Center again in 2017. The ECCC is located at 1250 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548 on beautiful Okaloosa Island. The ECCC is situated on the main highway connecting Fort Walton to Destin. It sits just across the street from the Gulf of Mexico, and backs up to a state park on the inland waterway of Choctawhatchee Bay. This modern facility has spacious public areas, meetings rooms for all the many feast functions, and a grand ballroom that serves as the worship center for the feast.
Luxurious Housing: Members have varied housing needs and interests and the beautiful Emerald Coast is the best place we've found to provide the ideal home for each family. You will find a wide range of restaurants, shopping and activities. Many members will be staying at:
    Azure
    Waterscape
    Summerplace
    Many others within one mile of the Emerald Coast Convention Center
HOUSING DISCOUNTS: Are available to attendees of the Common Faith Network Feast of Tabernacles. Resort Quest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is offering 15-20% discounts for their properties in Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin (including Azure, Waterscape, Destin West, Bella Riva, and many others). To claim the discount you MUST BOOK BY PHONE by calling ResortQuest Reservations Department at 1-800-380-4808 to make individual reservations. Guests should identify themselves as part of the Common Faith Network, customer code S1117, when they call. Guests will be asked for a credit card for their advance payment at the time of booking their reservation. The advance payment will be 20% of the total rent. Remember, the discounted reservations are NOT available ONLINE with the group booking code, only by phone.
We understand that some have experienced problems finding housing due to several local schools being on Fall break during the same time, many of the rental agencies are requiring Saturday to Saturday only rental. We suggest you try Airbnb and VRBO. The good news is that many are having success finding beautiful, affordable units available for the specific Feast days.
WORKSHOPS:CFN is on the cutting edge of feast developments, and CFN feast attendees LOVE seminars and workshops. We are making plans for a week full of helpful, informative, and entertaining workshops from the family of faith.
YOUTH CLASSES:CFN is dedicated to making the feast experience special for our young people and has plans for another great Vacation Bible School adventure with classes for ages 4-9, 10-12, and 13-18. Additionally, the young adults (ages 19 and up) will be challenged and encouraged in the INFUSE program with life application learning that extends outside of the classroom and encourages community service.
SPEAKERS:CFN will once again provide a variety of speakers from across organizational lines to inspire and instruct God's people during the feast.
MUSICCFN has something for just about everyone when it comes to music. We enjoy a variety of musical styles and lift the sound of our instruments and our voices in praise with standard hymns, old time gospel, contemporary gospel, and praise & worship music.
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Church of God Cincinnati

Sermon by Jim OBrien


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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
August 04, 2017

Hi Friend,

Losing Eden

The list of people deserving a high level of trust isn't as numerous as it once was. Growing up I could trust parents, relatives, neighbors, the members of our local church, teachers-in fact nearly everyone in the immediate community. It resembled Eden-a protected environment. We trusted our neighbors.

College, however, brought a rude awakening. Part of maturation is learning that the world has dangers. Satan was in the Garden with Adam and Eve.

The decline of trust has spiraled out of control in our culture. Citizens don't trust members of Congress. Church members often don't trust the leaders, especially the titular head who lives in another part of the country or the world. Ministers teach congregations things that are counter to the moral fabric of the community and contrary to the Bible.

The diminishing trust reflects a deeply troubling symptom of a serious illness in America.

Maybe it started with Elvis. He was known as Elvis the Pelvis because of his sexually suggestive gyrating style. No normal family would allow such a perverted individual in their home especially around the kids. But millions of parents trusted Ed Sullivan, so they invited him into their living room and he introduced Elvis to the children. My parents sent me to bed early but allowed my older brothers to stay up and watch because their friends were watching.

That brings us to the Bible. The theme running from Adam to Revelation is trust. Call it faith, or belief, but each is a synonym for trust. The Old Testament is a commentary on men who believed God-they trusted Him to deliver them in times of trial, to guide them during times of peace, and most of all to provide a framework of order for their lives.

The term Promised Land is a statement of trust. God promised the land to the Israelites-but they had to go to battle with well-armed giants. It's hard to imagine what hand-to-hand combat would be like in the days of Joshua. The Anakim were brutal giants that ruled the military landscape.

God had told them, "you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you." (Deut. 11:23) The Anakim were stronger-much stronger-and there were more of them than the relatively smaller number of Israelites.

God also told them, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 31:6)

What would it take for an average size Israelite to face an 8-foot barbarian in a one-on-one confrontation? Or to go to battle against an armed chariot with man-eating blades on the sides?

It takes trust in the God who promised to go with you! You have to believe His word!

It is the story of mankind. Who do you trust? Your spouse? Your doctor-when you're going under the knife? The drug company? I had a friend who took medication for diabetes that caused a brain tumor that took his life. Do you trust your congressman? Who can a person trust?

In all of mankind's history there is only one person that has demonstrated such solid evidence that His word can be trusted. It is the God who created you. The next time you face a giant, remember the words that supported Joshua, "He will never leave you nor forsake you."

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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Church of God Cincinnati

Self Love by Jim OBrien


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Morning Companion

Maslow Had It Backwards


Among the great insights into human development is the framework known as The Hierarchy of Needs. Developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow, it’s a theory that attempts to describe a hierarchy of needs that we must be progress through in order to reach our full potential. His Hierarchy of Needs can be illustrated like this:


 

According to his theory, the basic needs, which are those at the bottom of the pyramid, must be fulfilled first before a person can begin the journey toward Self-actualization, which we can think of as reaching your full potential as a moral and productive human being.

By way of illustration, if you were lost in the woods, your first concern would not be prestige in the eyes of your peers. You would be more interested in finding food and water. Your second concern might be to find shelter.

Maslow’s insights are worth studying, but I am going to be so bold as to disagree with the eminent professor in a few particulars, and I’m going to illustrate it by way of a not-so-fictitious example.

Recently someone told me about an institution of higher learning that has as a point of pride something that seems to have dropped out of vogue these last few decades. I’m declining to reveal name of the institution in question because I have not been able to verify for certain what I have been told, so for the time being we’ll refer to the university as Classic University, or CU.

Supposedly CU advertises a high dropout rate (I’m told it’s nearly 50%) as a point of pride. It might be puzzling why the school would think this is a good thing, but in my opinion this could be the best favor they can offer their current and prospective students.

This school’s specialty is one of the creative arts, and it is not an inexpensive place to get an education. The program is rigorous, and it is not just because of the course of study. Their honest and what some might take as brutal critiquing of student performance is viewed as a necessary part of the educational experience. Notice! Critiquing is honest, which can sometimes in our world be viewed as brutal.

This might not be the politically correct way to run an institution in these days of the Participation Trophy, but I would submit that this not only helps the talented students stretch higher (and thus get the most out of their education dollar), but it can also help the lesser talented to see that maybe their $50,000 per year education investment might provide a better return on capital in another field.  

For those who are mediocre at best, is it fair to them if the teacher worries about building up their self-esteem while at the same time knowing that their gifts lie in a different direction and that the path they are on will never allow them to become Self-actualized? Should they continue to be stroked when what they really need is some guidance that will allow them to find their own unique gifts, talents, and abilities that will set them on their correct path to achieve their full potential?

I believe this school, if it practices what I have been told it does, is Old School in the best sense of the word. The short term disappointment of the failed students is a small price to endure given the decades of frustration and financial failure that follow from an education where stroking one’s self-esteem is more important than achieving excellence.

It is here that I want to point out a flaw in Maslow’s insightful theory. Is it too much to say that Dr. Maslow had it backwards on at least two of the levels on his pyramid? Let me posit this: having esteem for oneself does not necessarily lead to success. But success most often will lead to self-esteem.  Getting it backwards gets us where we are, and sadly where we too often are is a boatload of mediocrity. We have college graduates with high debt and little marketable talent. Guiding a student toward a path that recognizes a person’s real talents is a surer way to build a person’s confidence. False praise raises unrealistic expectations.

One last thing about Maslow’s hierarchy, and I believe this is something he would agree with. Self-actualization is a nice thing. Striving toward one’s full potential is a worthy objective and maybe even an obligation to ourselves and our Creator. But it is not the ultimate goal. Perhaps the need to consider is transcendence. We as human beings are drawn toward causes and ideas that are bigger than ourselves. Self-esteem and Self-actualization are just that: about the self

If you want to truly reach your potential, your focus will be beyond yourself. It will be something bigger and more meaningful, something that will motivate you for a cause greater than yourself. In my case, my transcendent purpose is bound in my faith and the better world that this faith promises. That “better world” is not off in some distant dimension somewhere, but it is this world that we inhabit that is to finally be made right. It’s what Jesus meant when he prayed, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Given the brokenness of this world, it’s my job now to sow as many mustard seeds for that kingdom as I can.

What is yourtranscendent dream?

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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
July 27, 2017

Hi Friend,

In Search of Normal

At the doctor's office for a medical procedure a couple of weeks ago, he asked what medications I am on. I told him, "None." He expressed surprise that a person my age-I thought I was younger-is not on some medication. "It's not normal!" he said.

What is normal?

John Ortberg, in his book, "Everybody's Normal 'Til You Get to Know Them" asks, "Normal? Who's normal? Not you, that's for sure! No one you've ever met, either. None of us are normal according to God's definition, and the closer we get to each other, the plainer that becomes."

Even brothers to U.S. presidents-maybe especially-have been an embarrassment to both family and nation. Billy Carter, well known for public urination in front of a cadre of reporters and national news correspondents once said, "My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I'm the only sane one in the family." Maybe he was telling the truth.

Abnormal lifestyles have often been accepted by an entire nation and forced on its citizens. For over a thousand years the Chinese considered small feet a requisite for women so they engaged in the practice of "foot-binding". Millions of young Chinese girls were virtually crippled by having their feet so tightly wrapped during childhood that the toes would grow under the foot.

The most desirable Chinese bride possessed a three-inch foot, known as a "golden lotus." It was respectable to have four-inch feet-a silver lotus-but feet five inches or longer, iron lotuses diminished a girl's chance for marriage.

The Smithsonian reports that the feet of a young girl were first plunged into hot water before clipping short her toenails. Then the feet were massaged and oiled before all the toes, except the big toes, were broken and bound flat against the sole, making a triangle shape. Next, her arch was strained as the foot was bent double.

Finally, the feet were bound in place using a silk strip measuring ten feet long and two inches wide. These wrappings were briefly removed every two days to prevent blood and pus from infecting the foot. Sometimes "excess" flesh was cut away or encouraged to rot. The girls were forced to walk long distances in order to hasten the breaking of their arches. Over time the wrappings became tighter and the shoes smaller as the heel and sole were crushed together. After two years the process was complete, creating a deep cleft that could hold a coin in place. For more than a millennia this was normal in China.

What is "normal" in our culture? Has cohabitation replaced marriage as normal? Is homosexuality normal and heterosexuality abnormal? How about being transgender?

Recently the news carried before and after pictures of a mother and son who had transformed. The mother had become the father and the son had become the daughter. Has a ten-year-old had sufficient life-experience to overrule nature in determining his or her sex?

The person whose emotions motivate him to take such action against his own body should listen to the words of the Prophet Jeremiah. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" he wrote, "who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) It's hard for a man to accept that his own heart can be the worst deceiver and his biggest enemy.

When I was a child, I once got lost hiking in the woods. As a 10-year-old it was a frightening experience. Every choice I made took me into territory that was worse than before-until I found a landmark. It was a creek that I knew ran near my house. So I followed the creek until I came to familiar surroundings and thus found my way back home.

Our nation needs to find its way back home! We are lost. We've allowed a tiny minority, less than a tenth of one percent of abnormal people to tell us we can't have restrooms and school locker rooms that segregate between men and women.

But it doesn't need to be. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Paul has given us the key to being normal. The created world tells us what God is like. He has existed-not just seventy years, or a thousand or even a billion years. He has existed for eternity. THAT is normal-and you are made in His image.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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Church of God Cincinnati

Camp Outreach July 2017


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Church of God Cincinnati

Honor by Rick Pratt


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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
July 21, 2017

Hi Friend,

Believing Your Moral Convictions

The proclivity of human beings to willingly reject their own moral convictions in preference for group think is one of the most perplexing aspects of free men. Alexis de Tocqueville once described America as the nation with the most freedom of speech and the least freedom of thought. The unbridled race toward politically correct speech has made Tocqueville a prophet.

The WWII criminal trial of Adolph Eichmann shed light on the willingness of otherwise kind people to commit heinous crimes and excuse their actions by saying "I was only doing what I was told."

It was such a fascinating subject that Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram designed an experiment that has become legendary. He paid 40 volunteer subjects $4.50 to participate in an experiment where they were told to administer electric shocks to a "student" who answered questions incorrectly. Milgram rigged up an elaborate device that looked real. The subject believed he was administering real electric shocks to a victim seated on the other side of a curtain.

Milgram speculated that only about 3 percent of the subjects would actually comply with the commands of the experimenter to administer maximum shock to the student. Instead, in spite of moans, pleas from the students to stop, and screams of pain coming from the other side of the curtain, 65 percent continued to follow instructions. In some cases the subject continued administering shocks until it appeared the student had died.

Milgram concluded that there were several reasons for the extraordinarily high rate of compliance. One of the most intriguing was that Yale University sponsored the experiment. Surely Yale was morally superior to the individual and therefore would do nothing to harm a student.

The researchers concluded that most people place more confidence in an institution such as Yale than they do their own sense of what is right and wrong. It's an indication of the lack of conviction the average person places on such fundamental Christian concepts as life itself.

That thought came to mind when another politician again referred to Islam as a "religion of peace." His voice had the ring of an experimenter telling the subject to administer another electric shock. Don't believe the screams of the victims. We know what is right better than you. Our values are superior.

Once Jesus asked His followers, "When the Son of Man returns will He find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8) One wonders what it will take to convince Americans that the ethics of Jesus Christ are superior to anyone else. The evidence is overwhelming that the teachings of Jesus have had a greater positive effect on mankind than any other religious teacher who has ever lived?

God never expected His followers to close their eyes to truth. He calls us to be a light for mankind. It isn't Christians who are blind.

America can conquer her enemies when the average citizen has enough faith in Jesus Christ to believe his own eyes and ears even when professors, politicians and pundits are blind.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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