Posts by Leo Schuster

Reflections on Racial Turmoil

I am deeply troubled by the racial turmoil coursing through the streets of our country. I am grieved over the evil mistreatment and killing of George Floyd. I am angry about justice denied to countless others like him. And I am upset with myself and ashamed to admit that all too often I've been silent or apathetic about persistent racism in our country—racism before my very eyes.

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Maundy Thursday, Communion, and the Coronavirus

The night before Jesus died he had dinner with his closest followers. That “last supper” gave rise to what we know of as the Eucharist (also called the Lord’s Supper and Holy Communion). Christians have often gathered on Thursday of Holy Week, called Maundy Thursday, to commemorate this important event and its lasting import to us. 

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Tenacious Love | New Sermon Series

This Sunday we launch a new series to begin the season of Lent at City Church.

Lent is designed to help us grow spiritually and prepare for Easter. There's a sense in which Lent should launch us into Easter and the new day of hope we enjoy as followers of Christ. What makes for a productive Lent? Carving out time to hold up Scripture as a mirror to our heart and mustering the courage to let the Holy Spirit speak candidly to us. This inventory-intake process encourages our souls to be honest with respect to our life mission to love God, love others, and love the city. This is exactly what we see in the ancient Hebrew prophets: they hold up the mirror of God's law to God's people.

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2020 Vision

Can you believe the 2020s are here? The new decade invites us to sharpen our focus—to recover twenty-twenty vision! It’s all too easy, given our fast-paced lives cluttered with distractions, to lose focus, let our vision blur, and even lose our way.  As we embark upon the new decade, our first series is designed to refresh our focus on our vision.

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Stock Giving

Did you know estimates show that ministries receive up to 95% of their charitable receipts through gifts of cash, yet 90% of the wealth held in America is in some form of non-cash, often highly appreciated assets?

 

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Open-Handed Living

When do you find another person's character most attractive? Isn't it when you see them give of themselves freely to care for others? Our new series will explore this open-handed lifestyle born of the Christian Gospel.

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Words for the Wild | Reflections from Deuteronomy

Filmmaker David Lynch said, “the whole world is wild at heart.” We’re all then, in a sense, people of the wild. And there’s no better place to turn for help than the book in the Bible written specifically for people who had spent their entire life wandering in the wilderness: Deuteronomy.

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Love For Life

With the launch of our new year on September 8, we’ll begin to explore the new overarching theme for our 2019–2020 sermons: “Love for Life.” 

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Our Moralism isn't Generous

Generosity, the type that cuts across all of life, is a beautiful mark of a follower of Christ. While the biblical vision for generosity certainly includes much more than money, it does not include less. 

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A Generosity Blueprint

Central to being a follower of Christ is being a generous person. This cuts across all of life. Two important areas in particular are money and time—both commodities that seem to be constantly in short supply! While the biblical vision for generosity certainly includes much more than money, it does not include less. The Scriptures give us a blueprint of God’s design for financial generosity. Here are four basic biblical teachings that will help us frame our lives in an open-handed way:

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New Sermon Series: How to Grow Spiritually

Let’s get practical—don’t you want to grow and develop as a person? Since we only have one life to live, why not look to what can exceed our earthly limits?  If you are a Christian, it turns out being formed as a follower of Christ doesn’t just happen. It takes effort. Our new sermon series, which launches June 16,  is designed to help us understand and realize this.

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The Strength of Knowing God

This Sunday we begin a new study in the Old Testament book of Daniel, called The Strength of Knowing God.  I’m really excited about this series because it will help us consider relevant questions we regularly face in life. In his book on Daniel, Biblical commentator Iain Duguid put it this way:

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Tools for Knowing God

Lent is a season of spiritual renewal that prepares us for Easter. It lasts forty days and reminds us of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness (it’s actually the forty-six days before Easter, but Sundays in Lent are not counted). For followers of Christ, all life should be characterized by devotion to him. Lent, however, is an opportunity to give focused attention to soul care. The Old English word, Lent, means spring. Think of it as a sort of spiritual spring cleaning or spring training (go Astros!). It’s a season for sharpening our spiritual senses so we might grow in our knowledge of the Lord.

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This Sunday: Friendship of God

This Sunday, March 3, we’ll explore the friendship of God in the final lesson in our series, Experiencing God’s Beauty. While friendship is one of the most important and powerful gifts on earth, it can prove to be elusive. Studies show only about half of our perceived friendships are mutual. Life’s sweetest and most sorrowful moments often involve friends.

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Experiencing God’s Beauty

Beauty is a powerful thing. We know that from our encounters with it in its many forms. It can lift us out of the mundane and at times transport us. And what about ultimate beauty? Might it even, as Dostoyevsky imagined, save the world?

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A Season for Others

The season of Advent, which begins this Sunday, December 2, is an overtly outward-facing time of the year.  It means “coming” and reminds us that when God decided to know us, he didn’t merely talk about it from a distance. He reached out to us and came near.

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Sermons on Social Isolation

Reflecting upon the question “what is the central challenge facing our era?” New York Times columnist David Brooks concluded, “My answer would be: social isolation.” Based on my experience serving as a pastor for over a quarter century, I think he’s correct. We’re a lonely lot. Many of us feel like people don’t really know us, and we long for deeper, safer, more life-giving relationships with others.

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Make Your Work Matter

According to recent Gallup research, sixty-seven percent of the American workforce is disengaged from their work. This is tragic, not only because of the economic implications this represents for employers and our economy, but also for the individual. We spend so much of our lives at work that when we’re disengaged in our work we’re wasting our lives.

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The Longing to Be Known

I’m excited to introduce this year’s overarching sermon theme: Knowing and Being Known. Two interlocking ideas animate this theme: the human longing to be known and the gift we’re given to know the supreme being of the universe and be known by him.

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New series begins this Sunday

Easter is a uniquely important day, but it’s far more than just a day. With his resurrection, Jesus inaugurated a new epoch characterized by hope.

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Smoke and Mirrors….or Substance?

I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of a famous expression of the Apostle Paul: “Let’s face it—if there’s no resurrection, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors!” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, The Message).

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Christmas 2017 at City Church

Memories and music rush to my mind this time of year. Even my earliest recollections of Christmas seem to be paired with a playlist: Drooling over the kitchen counter as my mother bakes her delicious fudge and Bing Crosby croons White Christmas in the background or shouting Feliz Navidad along with Jose Feliciano as my father and I string Christmas lights outside our home. The older I get the more heartwarming these kinds of moments are to me. For many of us no other season of the year is so richly adorned with vivid stories and songs from our past.

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City Church Affiliates With ECO

Earlier this year I asked our founding core leaders to engage with me in a process of discernment about the denominational future of City Church. Over the next many months we gathered to pray, study, seek wise counsel, and discuss this. We all came to the conclusion that the best long-term fit for City Church is ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

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New Series: Songs in the Key of Life

“Ah music,” said J.K. Rowling’s Albus Dumbeldore, wiping his eyes, “A magic beyond all we do here!” In my experience music does have almost a magical power. It has the capacity to help us connect with places deep inside our souls. It shouldn’t surprise us, therefore, that one of the most important books in the Bible and Christian practice throughout the centuries is a collection of songs.

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Stories and Songs: Stories about Jesus

City Church’s new ministry year begins this Sunday. I’m really excited about our sermon theme for the new year: Stories and Songs. Most of the Bible is written either in narrative or poetry. Our sermons this year will be comprised of both. 

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A response to Charlottesville

The horrific events in Charlottesville on Saturday left me heartbroken and deeply disturbed. 

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City Church: Who We Are
City Church launched in August 2015 with a dream to renew Houston by bringing beauty into broken places. As a central Houston church where all are welcome, we want to be a safe place for everyone to explore the possibility of faith and the implications of it in their life. Questions of belief and unbelief are taken seriously and addressed respectfully.
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New Series Begins Sunday
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom,” said Pulitzer prize-winning biologist, E.O. Wilson. Wisdom is essential because it helps us navigate the complexities of life in the modern world. 
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Exploring Faith | Following Jesus
Regularly I have two kinds of conversations with people attending City Church. The first is with those who have come to church for the first time or are coming back to church.
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New Sermon Series - Scandalous Grace

Curious, isn’t it, the New Testament begins with a genealogical record? Christianity introduces itself to the world with what may appear to be an uninteresting, even boring literary form. Often missed, however, are the provocative elements in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ ancestry. Not only is the mere mention of five women unusual, given the paternalistic subculture of ancient Israel, but the particular stories embedded in the genealogy cryptically provide color, drama, and even juicy scandal. 

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Thoughts On The Election

With the election now behind us, I would like to share some things that are on my heart as a pastor.

Our Vote. This has been the most contentious presidential campaign of my lifetime. Equally thoughtful and concerned people came to different conclusions in the voting booth and I respect that.  I’m passionate that City Church be an apolitical space. People from across the human spectrum need to be able to explore the possibility of faith and the implications of it without feeling they have to adopt a particular political position. Jesus was, of course, neither a Democrat nor Republican (nor American for that matter!). He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

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You Are What You Love
What unites every human being on the planet? Not our beliefs, of course. We live in a world torn apart by ideological differences. Nor is it cultural norms, economic or politics paradigms, or even the ubiquity of social media. The one thing we all share in common with everyone is that we’re lovers. 
 
If we want to live healthy, full lives—lives that really matter—the key, then, is to curate our hearts. 
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why would God allow evil and suffering?

Belief is a difficult thing, especially for modern people. This is a basic assumption for us at City Church. We’re not just a community for the convinced but also for the curious and spiritually conflicted as well. We want to be a genuinely safe place for anyone to process their doubts. Starting this Sunday, we’ll explore some of the most common questions people have about the Christian faith in a new sermon series called Why? Questions About Christianity.

 

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Thoughts on Racial Unrest
As a white male in a position of authority with my life having been packed with privilege, I don’t come to this subject as the expert. I'm not the expert because I have no idea what it means to experience racism first hand, to be in fear because of the color of my skin. So I want to be in a position first of listening, learning and loving. But, as the leader of City Church, the fact that I have not experienced racism first hand won’t prevent me from speaking to this issue and leading. And I believe the Lord has called me to do just that. 

 

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How long, Lord?
A New York Times/CBS News poll published Wednesday revealed seventy percent of Americans say race relations are currently bad, and six in 10 believe they're growing worse, a significant increase from just a year ago. I am heartbroken over this and the events of last week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas. As a pastor I'm wrestling with how best to respond and what it means for me to lead and love City Church well. I plan to share briefly on Sunday some of my thoughts.  

 

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The Church in the City

Plato said the most important part of a work is the beginning. It’s when something new is being shaped into what it will be. That’s what is happening right now in the early days of City Church.

 

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To Be Fully Human

We pray because we’re human. While we all need moments of solitude, studies consistently show that isolation from others is detrimental to our health. If that’s true interpersonally, how much more so with the One who made us? Prayer opens up communication with God and gives us a lifeline to the world beyond the walls of this world.

 

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Skeptics Welcome

I have a confession to make: I’m a doubter. I believe in Jesus. I love him deeply. But, if I’m honest, it’s sometimes difficult for me to believe. Because I wrestle with my faith, I find it wonderfully refreshing that Jesus is not put off by those of us with questions, who struggle to believe.

 

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Good news to share

Since ancient times, Christians in the west have recognized the four weeks before Christmas as the season of Advent. From the Latin Adventus, meaning “coming,” it refers to the coming of Jesus into the world. It is an invitation to reflect on the rich origin of Christmas when the long-anticipated Christ entered the world in the humility of a manger in Bethlehem. It also looks forward to his coming again in great glory when the Prince of Peace will usher in universal and enduring harmony. 

 

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The Hospitable Community

Jesus is full of surprises. When he was passing through Jericho one day, he stopped and invited himself over to the home of Zacchaeus, a social outcast. This audacious move was deeply offensive to many who despised the chief tax collector: “He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner,” they scoffed. But it dramatically changed Zacchaeus’ life.

 

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Beauty will save the world

In his book, Beauty Will Save the World, Brian Zahnd suggests, “Christianity that is deeply enchanted by Christ’s beauty…has the opportunity to present to a skeptical and jaded world an aspect of the gospel that has been too rare for too long.”

 

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Thoughts from Launch Sunday

"What just happened?” That’s what my wife, Ellen, and I kept saying to one another after Sunday’s launch of City Church. We know it’s going to take time for us to fully process what it all means, but for now we are simply stunned and in awe.

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Loving the City to Life

Sometimes we’re led to unexpected places …. like the launch of the City Church blog!  Welcome, by the way.

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