3 What Does God Expect Of Us? By Larry Weber
4 The World As I See It By Rev. Shane Bishop
5 Are You Truly Happy When A Sinner Is Saved?
The magazine of Christ Church Rev. Shane Bishop Senior Pastor Rev. Allen Miller Associate Pastor Justin Aymer Director of Communications Donna Harrison Editor Barbara Germany Proof Reader Service Times Sunday 8:30am, 10:30am, 6:00pm Saturday 5:00pm For a complete listing of the Christ Church Staff and to learn more about Christ Church please visit:
www.mychristchurch.com © Copyright 2011, Christ Church. Questions about the Flame? Contact Donna Harrison at: firstname.lastname@example.org Christ Church 339 Frank Scott Pkwy E Fairview Heights, IL 62208 618.277.4659 2
By Demian Farnworth
5 The Stay-At-Home Son By Emily Climaco
6 All I Am
By Don Frazure
8 A Message Of Hope For The New Year By Pat Mace
9 Getting To Know You 10 Unto The Least Of These
By Mary Pierce and Michael Harrison
11 Women 4-Given By Kathy O’dell
11 No Greater Love Ministry By Bernie Kneale
12 Spotlight On Ministry “Men’s Softball” 13 Don’t Waste The Wilderness By Nick Turner
15 Watch Us Grow
A Note From The Editor 2011 will mark my third year as Editor and I consider it a privilege to serve at Christ Church. I’d like to thank the staff for their leadership, encouragement and patience. Many thanks to Justin Aymer for his graphic artistry; he has truly made the Flame vibrant. To the folding team and proof readers, thank you for your faithfulness. To the authors and poets, I can’t wait to see what God puts on your heart this year. Thank you Lord Jesus for another year of life and service. Happy New Year! Donna Harrison email@example.com
What Does God Expect Of Us? By Larry Weber
Jim Wallis and some friends involved in Bible Study cut out all the verses in their Bibles that dealt with poverty, wealth, (in)justice and oppression. They named what was left the “American Bible.” In Matthew 27: 3739 Jesus tells the Pharisees that the most important commandment in the Law of Moses is, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. …A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” The issue is not whether or not we believe the words of Jesus but how do we apply His words to how we live our lives. We seem to know how to love God with all our heart, soul and mind; it certainly is made easier by the incredible corporate worship we experience each week at Christ Church and our daily study of the word. But how do we live out the second commandment–loving our neighbor as ourselves? What are our responsibilities to the people in the world who are living in areas of poverty, injustice and oppression? This past fall I read Rich Stearns’ book, The Hole in Our Gospel. The book makes the case for expanding our personal faith into a public and transforming relationship with the poor and sick of the world. As I read the book, I was troubled by my own beliefs, attitudes and (lack of) actions in caring for the poor. I live in the richest nation in the world with freedoms
that many can only dream of. I have an income that is in the top 1% compared to the rest of the world. But I do not have an awareness or understanding of the twin crises of poverty and sickness that affect many of my neighbors in other parts of the world. My values/belief system would suggest that those in poverty should grab hold of their bootstraps and pull themselves up with no understanding of how unlikely, if not impossible, that is for my neighbors in other parts of the world. Yes, at Christ Church we do many things that serve those Down the Hall, Around the Corner and Around the World. And I do not mean to minimize the impact those things have upon our neighbors. But does our understanding of stewardship truly demonstrate our love of neighbor in an intensely personal way? Do we have a Hole in Our Gospel that needs attention? At Christ Church my role as Director of Ministries is to identify opportunities for growth for our congregation. For Lent it is my desire to engage the entire church in this stewardship study, The Hole in Our Gospel. In this 6 week quest, we will learn how Stearns believes our lives can be transformed as we grasp the magnitude of the challenge and the opportunity to fill the Hole in Our Gospel. I am asking you to join a small group for our church-wide Lenten Study or establish your own group. Every God Is Calling You connection class will be devoting their time to this study. The quest to fill the Hole in Our Gospel begins in March and April and we invite you to be a part of it. 3
The World As I See It By Rev. Shane Bishop
At Christ Church our mission will always be to “connect people with Jesus Christ.” Though the mission is a constant, our strategies to accomplish that mission must change from time to time. Up to this point our strategy has been to evangelize, grow into as many worship services as possible, construct more buildings and then run capital campaigns to pay for the buildings. We now estimate, at our current rate of growth, that we have 3 to 5 years before we again fill up all 3 Sunday services. While this clearly gives us some breathing room, it is time for strategic thinking right now. As the current complex moves toward maximum capacity, we will have three very clear choices. 1) We can stop growing. This is not an option for me as I have no understanding of the church apart from evangelism and growth. 2) We can relocate. We could look into the purchase of 100 acres and begin planning for a sanctuary seating 2,500 at a price tag in upwards of 20 million dollars or 3) We can join the multi-site revolution. The multisite movement already attracts about 10 percent of Protestant worshippers in US America. The idea is simple. You first build a great church in a single location and take the DNA of that church and plant it in multiple locations or “campuses.” All campuses run from a common mission, budget, staff and board. 4
Each campus features a lay pastor, a children’s worker, a small group coordinator and a live band. I would preach the sermons live at the Fairview Heights Campus and the other campuses would experience the same message via video projection. There are four things that excite me about this concept: 1) It moves us away from a “brick and mortar/capital campaign” existence. 2) It keeps us growing without major capital expense. 3) It will multiply leadership and plunge hundreds more people into ministry. 4) And most importantly, it will exponentially increase our capability to connect people to Jesus Christ. Are multi-sites the “next big thing at Christ Church?” Almost certainly! We are currently talking with Bishop Gregory Palmer, District Superintendent Gary Wilson and New Church Development Mike Crawford about possibilities that could come as soon as this fall. Please keep this new strategy to fulfill our mission in your prayers as we look boldly toward our future! And that is the world…as I see it.
Are You Truly Happy When A Sinner Is Saved? By Demian Farnworth
Let’s admit it: The Prodigal Son is our favorite story in the Bible. Son hates father, squanders inheritance with loose living and crawls back to father. Father runs to son, throws his arms around son and kisses son. Who wouldn’t love a story like that? But did you ever think that maybe you’ve got the story half right? Let me explain. In the story of the Prodigal Son—as so often the case in Jesus’ parables—the twist in the story makes the point. What’s the twist? No Middle Eastern father would greet a rebellious son that way. And that’s something the elder brother picks up on.
the fuss over a misfit like my younger brother? What about me: My obedience, loyalty and hard work? His response should remind you of two other parables: the workers in the field and the lost sheep*. The workers in the field teach us that God’s love for us disregards our levels of obedience or performance. And the lost sheep demonstrates our proper response when it comes to a sinner being saved: joy. And these are the same lessons taught in the Prodigal story. So let me ask you a question: Are you truly happy when a sinner is saved? Or are you like the elder brother? I am the elder brother: apathetic toward the lost, bitter over the attention paid the new convert. But don’t feel sorry for me. I need this pointed out to me, otherwise I remain a liar: “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” 1 John 4:20. And trust me, I don’t want to be a liar. Neither should you. *Matthew 20:1-16 and Luke 15:1-7
Remember him, the elder brother? He’s the other person in the story. He is miffed and asks: Why all
The Stay-At-Home Son (Luke 15:11-32) By Emily Climaco
I’ve always identified with the older son in the prodigal story; this son is annoyed when his younger brother returns. His blood is boiling, but he’s reluctant to make a scene; after all, he’s the good one. Through clenched teeth he argues, “I’ve been here all along, Dad, working hard, but where’s my party? He shows up and you have a feast!” In first grade I developed a strong sense of injustice, especially in cases of unfair rule enforcement. In other words, I was the recess tattletale. Miss Johnston once asked me, “Do you like getting other kids in trouble?” I sensed that the question was rhetorical and saved my answer for now: no, I didn’t enjoy getting kids in trouble, but I wanted her to notice me being super-
good. Pointing out others’ faults made the contrast crystal clear. Funny, Miss Johnston never threw me a party. The older son wants a little recognition, but he seems to think his father’s recognition is a zero-sum game. There is something slightly unsatisfactory in the father’s response, “You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours.” As in, of course you’re always here; however, . . . Understandably, he feels there’s not enough attention to go around. In contrast, our heavenly Father’s attention toward us is steadfast, affectionate, overflowing. When someone else receives God’s mercy, there is still enough for me. God doesn’t recognize my supposed goodness; He recognizes me simply as His beloved child. A spotlight is not a halo; a stage is not an altar. While people’s recognition is nice, it recedes into shadow in light of God’s love. When the sheep are rescued, the coin turns up, or the child returns, God smiles and throws a party. May as well let the good times roll. 5
All I Am By Don Frazure
“Holy Spirit Come” is a song that Jeff Allen wrote several years before he came to Christ Church as our Assistant Worship Director. We sing it with a good degree of regularity because, let’s face it, it’s a good song and it connects with our congregation. In October we were recording each service so we could use the takes on the new worship CD (set for release late February/early March 2011 – shameless plug, I know,) and “Holy Spirit Come” was on the set list for that Sunday. The day we recorded this song I was going through a rough period of time. On the outside, things looked great; the Fall Journey event was a success, our weekend attendance was surging, the new 6:00 p.m. service was off to a great start, the band and vocal team were tearing it up, the choir and orchestra were bringing it – we were on fire. But something was wrong with me. I was becoming so concerned with little details and things that shouldn’t have bothered me. I noticed myself becoming snappish with basically everyone on the team. I was becoming annoyed with people I loved and wasn’t extending grace to them for not being like I wanted them to be. Let’s just say that I wasn’t offering up the best example of good leadership at that time and leave it at that. I was putting my focus on the service of worship rather than 6
on the God to whom I was worshipping. So it’s no wonder that things seemed to fall in on me that day. Remember to Pray – no matter what! We normally have prayer just before the band and vocal team go out on stage. On this particular Sunday I lost track of time and when I checked the count down it said 0:30 – uh oh!!! “Everybody on stage we’re late!!!” is all I could say (yell is more like it) as I rushed everyone out on stage (without prayer) and we hastily began the service. It was all downhill from there. It seemed like so many simple things that normally go off without a problem suddenly were a problem. It seemed like nothing was going right and I felt like I was propping up everything for most of the service. As I look back on that day, having prayer with my team would have centered my focus back on Christ and on worshipping Him. Since that didn’t happen, the dominos began to fall in the wrong direction. The problem, however, was deeper than just a missed prayer. My focus was not only on the things going wrong in worship, but I was feeling it was about me and I was judging myself by those things. Then we came to “Holy Spirit Come.” When we sang “All I have for You, is what I am to You” the words hit me hard and the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I was convicted of what I was doing. In an instant the meaning of that line sunk into my heart. Instead of
seeing myself as God sees me, I was seeing myself through the eyes of man – or rather like I see myself. I was letting the success of Christ Church and my success as worship director become the foundation of my identity. While I am proud to be serving at this church and take great joy in all that we get to do in worship, that is not who I am. I was letting myself feel equated to the success and also the perceived failures (remember how I said it seemed like the whole service that morning was falling apart) of the worship team and worship services of Christ Church. I had lost sight of my true identity. While we were still singing, I had to stop and pray for God’s forgiveness for losing sight of who I am in Him. Who am I, really? When all that seemed to fail that day, I felt like a failure. And if that was how God saw me, then I really was a failure in His eyes. Thankfully though, He sees me differently than I do. All I have or am to Him, is who I am through Jesus Christ – not who I am through the works of Don Frazure or Christ Church or the worship team, etc. That “righteousness” is “as filthy rags” in His eyes (Isaiah 64:6). No, when God sees me, He sees His child who He bought with the blood of His Son. In preparation for this devotion, these scriptures spoke to me as to how God sees me through the saving grace of Jesus Christ:
My ministry here at CUMC is not who I am. It is a part of who I am and I pray that God will always get the glory for what I do in His name. Your occupation is not what God uses to identify you either. When God looks at you with your sins covered by the blood of His son, He sees His child that He created. He loves you because you are His and He is yours. That is how we need to be identified. That doesn’t give us permission to ignore His teaching and go our own way. We must daily repent of our sins, forget the world and remember not only who we are, but whose. Do you see yourself through the eyes of your Creator? Do you know who you are in Christ? Take some time to reflect on these verses and peel back the layers of your self-image and see just who you really are in His sight. When you see who you think you are measured against who you really are, the differences may reveal more than you want, yet need to know.
I am a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I am a child of God. John 1:12 Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. I am a friend of Jesus Christ. John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know His master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. I am God’s temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
A Message Of Hope For The New Year By Pat Mace
Perhaps the best reason for having calendars and for marking life in years is that the cycle offers hope. We need fresh starts and new chances. As we face a new year, we pray for guidance. If we pray for guidance, our first task is to listen deeply, alert for how answers appear from deep within our inner dialogue. We’re always talking to ourselves and hearing our minds talk back to us. It’s called “thinking.” Let’s take quality time in this new year to aim ourselves God-ward to present a deep openness, and to bear with patience the sound of silence and the din of distracting thoughts. Depending on the issue, this may take a while. After my husband’s death, when I was driving myself, I was often lost (weird sense of direction). I needed to find my way out of dead ends and wrong turns. Perhaps you have had this experience one way or another, of suddenly not knowing where you are or which way to turn, what road to take. The journey reveals itself to be full of unexpected dangers and unmarked crossroads, bewildering choices, discouraging setbacks. We are all on our long journey home; we get lost along the way. We need to ask for help. We have to learn to listen, follow directions, and recognize the help we asked for when it comes. We need to be sure of our destination and take responsibility for the path we choose. Because society is committed to success, our time of dislocation and confusion can be terrifying. Similarly, it can be difficult to admit that we cannot find our way alone. If you are on the wrong road, progress means turning around and walking back to the right 8
road. In the dark days of Nazi control of the German church in the 1930’s, it was suggested to the young pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer that he could continue to do much good from within the false church. I like Bonhoeffer’s response: “If you board the wrong train, it’s no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.” Sometimes we need to get off the train altogether. So how can we recognize God’s way in a world that so persuasively offers us its own way, a way that will lead to destruction? The courage to keep going when the going is tough is necessary, but not sufficient. Fortitude must be informed by prudence. The person seeking good must first know what the ‘good’ is. In other words, a long obedience in the same direction is not necessarily a virtue. A long obedience in the wrong direction will not get us anywhere Christ leads. Fortunately, Christians know that we never journey alone, that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even when we are lost God is with us. In the John Bunyan classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, I remember the way the hero Christian goes astray over and over. Repeatedly he takes the wrong turn, gets distracted by ignorance and mistrust. But every time, with the help of Faithful and Hopeful, he gets back on track and keeps going toward the celestial city. It seems significant that Hopeful is the companion who stays with Christian to the end. No matter how many times we find ourselves lost and afraid, there is no reason to despair. Hope goes with us and there is nowhere we can go where God is not. May we, like Christian and all saints, rejoice and be of courage by following the one who said “I am the way.” The message for the new year is this: keep your eyes on Jesus and then you can offer an arm to others to ease their struggles. We will recognize our oneness and our responsibility to others, listening with love and an open heart.
I delivered newspapers in high school for 2 weeks. I needed to buy a guitar amplifier, so I took this job long enough to get a paycheck. I delivered newspapers overnight from 2 am – 6 am in the middle of winter during school days. That was horrible. What is your mission? The “Church” as a whole is not known for quality media. Actually, it is almost a joke. Church websites and print media are way behind. I want to change that perspective. I want to create quality media for the church. I want to utilize print and digital media to connect people with Jesus Christ.
Getting To Know You Name: Justin Aymer Job Title: Director Of Communications Job Description: Responsible for the creation of, strategic planning and implementation of the digital and print media in the church. What are your hobbies? I enjoy creating stuff, playing music, songwriting, fishing of any kind, canoeing and radio controlled helicopters and airplanes. What is your favorite part of your job? I strangely enjoy the large capacity paper cutter. I feel weird about this, but I discovered that I love to cut paper. What drives you every day? My wife because we share a car, but sometimes I ride a scooter or my bicycle. What is your favorite food? I really like cheese. What was the worst job you ever had?
Who has influenced your life the most? I can’t even count how many people have blown me away with generosity. People have shared their homes, money, food and stuff with me. Sometimes when I was a complete stranger to them. They shared their life with me. Because of them, I strive to be open with everything that I have. If anyone needs something and I can give it, then I am going to give it. What frightens you? The sound of wringing out a wet rag is terrifying to me. It creeps me out. What advice do you have for the young people at church? Do something besides just coming to church. Go on a mission trip or join a ministry. That goes for anyone. Showing up is the smallest part of Christianity. If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would that be? I would pick some sort of Viking or pirate tag to put on the end of mine. Something like, “Justin – the short guy.” Or I would go with Jason because most people I know over 40 call me that anyway. Contact Justin: firstname.lastname@example.org 9
Unto The Least Of These By Mary Pierce and Michael Harrison
But for the grace of God there go each one of us. A single mother of three small children who, after paying nearly all she has for rent and utilities, has scant left for food; an out-of-work dad desperately looking for employment, scared that he may be unable to keep his family fed; an elderly widow seeing the last of her income succumb to rising costs; a homeless veteran. Any one of these are you and me under different circumstances, and all of these are loved dearly by our God because they are His children...and in this He calls us to be His ministering hands. Throughout the year people in tough times find their way to the Fairview Heights Food Pantry facing the challenge of feeding their hungry families, rapidly emptying pantry shelves. Christ Church has been one of the largest and most generous, systematic supporters of this pantry and what we do from week to week is vital to the 10
service offered to those in need. At any given time the pantry has need of what we can provide: canned and boxed food, pasta, canned meats, rice, potatoes, beans, tuna, coffee, tea, sugar, flour, cooking oil, salt and pepper. Personal hygiene items such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and body wash as well as household cleaning supplies and laundry detergent are also needed. Please remember that large, bulk items are difficult to repackage, so smaller, family sized items are better. Deliveries are made to the pantry every Monday morning, so please place your items in the designated bin in the collection room off the gym. Your generosity is a powerful way to connect people with Jesus Christ by meeting their needs.
...Any one of these are you and me under different circumstances...
Women 4-Given By Kathy O’dell
For a few years I have had a “sometime” goal of creating a Giving Circle based on the belief that giving is a source of spiritual joy. Okay, you might say, just what is a Giving Circle? A Giving Circle is a form of philanthropy where individuals join together and share the joy of giving. We will do this by embracing generosity, becoming more aware of area needs, and using membership contributions to award grants to not-for-profit organizations to make a positive difference in the lives of women and children. Last April, women (many from Christ Church) agreed to come together, listen and consider this concept of bringing together women from many churches to increase our impact in serving Christ by serving others. These 16 women have prayed, encouraged and worked together to form Women 4-Given, our new 501(c)(3) charity.
No Greater Love Ministry By Bernie Kneale
With each new year one of the first things I put on my calendar is the dates for the NGL trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (March 4–8). This year will be number 19 for me. And each year I ask myself the same question: Why should I go to Mardi Gras? I am not an outgoing person; in many ways I’m a loner. Over the years I realized the importance of having a relationship with Jesus and how it has given me an abundance of love, joy, and peace. I want others to share in that abundance as well. Jesus has commanded me to share and I desire to be obedient. My natural inclination is to be quiet and, most of all, not embarrass myself. Hence, a major conflict between Jesus and me. Any skill I have ever developed came because I stepped out, overcame my fears, and did it. I love Jesus and want to share Him with others, but I know I can’t (or won’t) do it if I don’t put myself in a “haveto” position. I won’t share Jesus alone because I need support, encouragement, strength, experience,
The mission statement reads “Women 4-Given prioritizes generosity to serve women and children in Christian love.” The numeral “4” in our name represents the four key principles of our Christian faith upon which this charity is founded: 1) We are all sinners. 2) We are saved by the grace of God found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone. 3) We love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. 4) We love our neighbor. Membership will decide what agencies receive grants. There will also be opportunities for hands-on service. Annual membership contribution equals $1 per day $365 per year. You are invited to the “launch information meeting” that will be held 7 p.m., Thursday, January 20, at Westview Baptist Church in Swansea. For questions please email me at email@example.com Visit our blog at: www.women4-given.blogspot.com
practical advice, and wisdom. The men of NGL give me that. Because of my experience with NGL, I can be a greeter at the doors on Sunday, I can lead a Bible study, I can “hang-n-run” or “knock-n-talk,” I can talk to the store cashier about Jesus, I can pray with people, and I can boldly say, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel!” Why not plan now to join me with a bunch of “Jesus loving,” boldly contagious, committed men and participate in one of the best mission trips you will ever experience—the Mardi Gras outreach with NGL?
Spotlight On Ministry “Men’s Softball” 87 wins.. 33 losses… 7 post-season teams… 3 League Championships… …and more men than ever on the field for Jesus Christ! That pretty much sums up the 2010 season for the Men’s Softball Ministry here at Christ Church. With the success of our teams during the 2009 season, it was difficult to imagine how things could improve during 2010. However, the Lord took the men of Christ Church Softball to new heights this year! I can recall a time in the history of this ministry when victory was hard to come by. However, patience and perseverance have paid off as the Lord now dishes out victory to our teams over 75 percent of the time! The Men’s Softball Ministry at Christ Church houses men who compete on teams each spring and summer. Having its roots in a church league whose games were 12
held on Monday nights, Christ Church Softball has grown into a powerful men’s outreach ministry strong enough to compete against the best teams in the Metro-East region. Ryan Blaha leads the men of our Tournament Division onto fields which had previously been untouched by “church” teams. Their mission is to compete in an arena which we know to contain men which share a couple things in common: 1) They are searching for answers to difficult situations encountered during this life; 2) They love to play softball! The fruit of this group is becoming evident as men’s lives are being impacted by the presence of Godly men on the field of competition. Men are beginning to show up every Sunday morning at CUMC as a result of the efforts of our Tournament team. And there are still many more to be harvested! On the “church league” side of things, Jim Shoffstall works to build teams using opportunities to compete against men of various Metro-East churches to organize teams who will hopefully grow beyond competing in the “church” setting. The vision is to send strong teams of Godly men into area “beer” leagues to pursue evangelical opportunities offered in that setting. The 2011 season is just around the corner. For more information please visit us on the web at: www.leaguelineup.com/christchurchsoftball
Don’t Waste The Wilderness By Nick Turner
Today in Christianity the wilderness is a concept that is talked about seldom. We see the concept of wilderness throughout scripture, especially in the Psalms. Many Christians of the past and present testify to their personal experience in the wilderness. The wilderness is not to be confused with the daily grind of life. The Christian life is hard, but the wilderness is a season–weeks, months or even years of spiritual depression architected by God Himself. The agony of the soul is known only to the one enduring the darkness and to God. God feels distant and the depth of your sin and unbelief feels near. The wilderness exposes our weakness. You doubt the assurance of your salvation. You doubt any evidence of Christ living in you let alone near you. Yet the wilderness is a time when the Lord is crafting His likeness in you with gracious precision. The Master is at work in His creation. Ironically, when you are doubting His favor, He is actually showing you rich favor. Count your time in the wilderness a privilege.
The people of Israel endured the wilderness. Scripture tells us that Israel was taken through the wilderness so that God would humble and test the heart of His people. Israel endured the wilderness before inheriting the promise land. It was a time of preparation and testing to receive something greater in the future (Deut. 8:2-3 & 11-16). David endured the wilderness. The promise of kingship was David’s, but the envy of Saul put David to flight for his life in the wilderness. Throughout the Psalms we read of his soul’s dryness and how he felt abandoned by God (Psalm 63). Jesus endured the wilderness. Before Jesus began His ministry, the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness where He faced temptation of the devil. We know Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and His time in the wilderness was a time of preparation. Notice a key principle here: the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. It is God who leads us into a dryness of soul – the wilderness is the work of God (Mark 1:1213). There are times in the Christian life when the Lord chooses to take us through the wilderness. It is painful. Yet the Lord takes us through for our good.
Why does the Lord take us through the wilderness? 1.Preparation – The Lord takes us through the wilderness to prepare us for the future. We must develop a spirit of humility and dependency for the work of the Lord to come (Mark 1:12-13). 2.Discipline – There are times when the Lord may take us through the wilderness in order to discipline us for something that displeases Him. Our character must be refined (Deut. 8:5; Hebrews 12:5-11).
praise Him, my salvation and my God.” – Psalm 42:11 (ESV) “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 (ESV) Don’t waste the wilderness. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
3.Cultivation of a Deeper Passion – Often the Lord will take us through the wilderness to break us from anything that competes with Christ for our worship. We may have objects of affection (other than Christ) removed where we are forced to press in and lean on Him. As the darkness grows we find ourselves hungering for Jesus. As we recognize our desperate need for Him, we pursue Him like our life depended on it, because it does. A deep passion for Jesus begins to develop where our greatest desire is to know Him (Psalm 63:1; Phil. 3:7-11). 4.All of the above – The ‘why’ in the wilderness is not as important as the ‘Who.’ The result of the wilderness is Christ-likeness, Christ-centeredness, and Christexaltation. The soul seeking, pursuing, glorying in, and being satisfied in Jesus and Jesus alone is the purpose of the wilderness. Don’t waste the wilderness. The barrenness of the wilderness produces the flourishing fruit of a heart yielded to God. Be patient and wait upon the Lord. Allow the Lord to teach you and mold you into His likeness. Take courage and let faith rise in your heart. Lean on the promises in His Word. Trust in Him and His goodness despite any evidence. Trust in His presence even if He seems far away. I once heard that it greatly pleases the Father’s heart when His children trust and seek after Him despite any external evidence. Any person with a luxury car, a house and 2.5 kids can believe in God. But when we have no evidence that He is near, it pleases the Father when His children choose to trust in Him and His Word. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again 14
On Sunday, January 30 from 1-3 p.m., the Bone Marrow Registry will be at the Christ Church Gym to test and register potential donors. If you are unable to donate personally because of a certain condition, you can still help by bringing others that can donate and by giving financially. It costs about $100 per person to be tested (which is done by a cheek swab), and while we have already raised about $250 with bake sales, we will need more to help support our volunteers. (There is no charge to you to be tested, but a donation is kindly accepted.) There will be a sign-up sheet at the Activity Center if you are interested in donating. If you have any questions, please go to BeTheMatch.org or call the Parish Nurse at 277.4659. Remember, all you need is to: Be between the ages of 18 and 60, be willing to donate to any patient in need, and meet the health guidelines. When you join the Be The Match Registry, you can SAVE A LIFE! Jeri Lyn Horowitz, RN FCN Parish Nurse Ministry Coordinator
Watch Us Grow New Members -------------------------------November Jessi Semaan, Vince Semaan, Patrick McGinthy, Sara McGinthy, Corinne Whitlatch, Connie Easley, Kathleen A. Clark, Terry Snodgrass, Brent N. Kohlenberger, Lisa K. Kohlenberger, Vee Richardson, Ryan Wilson, Aleida Wilson, Harry Easley, Debbie Porter, Lori Yung, Todd Yung December Ryan Sweeten, Christina Ballard, Carrie Gaxiola, Jonathan Gaxiola, Joshua Gaxiola, Landon Gaxiola, Megan Gaxiola, Urban Gaxiola, Frances Howie, Mike Creagh, Debby Creagh, Kyle Clark, Jeron “J” Haas, Dustin Ballard, Deanna Haas, Tracy N. Meyer, Dennis Howie, John Moore Baptisms -------------------------------November Terry Snodgrass, Paula Peppers, Melissa Markle, Natalie Painter, Mikayla Archambo, Allison Gail Mayo December Gabriel Lakota Castaneda-Sexton, Jacob Pierre Howie, Landon Gaxiola, Parker Christian Barrett Member Passings -------------------------------Ann F. Prescott – November 19 Neil Cresswell – December 13
Membership Transfer -------------------------------November Kaylyn Nation, Jack Haydon, Janice Haydon December Jeffrey Mitchell, Debi Mitchell, Joshua Mitchell Attendance -------------------------------December Worship = 1,559 Dec. Connection Classes = 302 Year Avg. Worship = 1,382 Year Avg. Connection Classes = 379 Finances -------------------------------General Budget YTD Giving = $1,631,391.65 YTD Expenses = $1,656,334.51 Annual Budget = $1,680,054.00 Change The World Total Remaining Debt = $5,751,166.91 Remaining Pledges to Collect = $310,089.99
Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID E. St. Louis, IL Permit #2290
339 Frank Scott Parkway East Fairview Heights, IL 62208
Feb. 24-25, 2011 Church Leadership Conference
navigatethechange.com Volunteers are needed to help with registration, greeting, hospitality, and food service. If you would like to volunteer for Thursday evening, Friday morning, and/or Friday lunch and cleanup, please contact event coordinator Liz Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the conference website for more information. www.navigatethechange.com