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COMPLIMENTARY JUNE 2015 - SEPTEMBER 2015

A CHRISTIAN CHURCH PUBLICATION

Connection

BIBB, JONES & MONROE COUNTIES

What is the

Church? Local Local Church Church Connection Connection provides provides local local Christian Christian Churches Churches with with effective effective methods methods to to connect connect with with individuals individuals and and organizations organizations throughout throughout the the communities communities we we serve, serve, while while promoting promoting local local businesses businesses and and community community organizations. organizations.


Message From The EDITOR

Local

CHURCH CONNECTION Volume 5 No. 2

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s I sit here and write this, I am getting ready to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend by doing a little fishing with my sons. I love this holiday for a lot of reasons. Kids are getting ready to be out of school for the summer. The fast pace of all their activities slow down a bit, and it is basically the start of a summer break. While those are all good reasons to love Memorial Day, they pale in comparison to why we should all cherish this holiday in this country. I hope that everyone took the time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women serving our country and especially their family members that have been left behind. One of my favorite summer activities is fishing. I grew up fishing in small ponds around middle GA, but it was not until about 5 years ago that I went salt water fishing for the first real time. I was hooked (pun intended) immediately. Since that time, I have subscribed to magazines that teach best methods for catching the various species of salt water fish. I have been” that guy” that goes to the marina to seek out the boat with the most fish to quiz them about how they caught them. Some people are quick to help and others not so much. I get it. They don’t want others knowing what they know because then there is more for them. More of what? Fish? Enjoyment? I know Jesus loved fishing! In the book of Mark it says that Jesus came upon Simon and his brother Andrew fishing on the sea of Galilee. He told them to follow him and he would make them fishers of men. They dropped their nets and went. Just like that they were hooked. The more they heard from Jesus the more hooked they became. As excited as I get about going fishing this weekend, I can only imagine how excited they must have been to be learning form Jesus how to fish for men. I know that it had to be a rush like no other to see people’s lives changed for eternity. Unlike some of the fishermen at the marina not wanting to give away their secrets, they were trying to give away their knowledge of how to catch men for Christ which would be way more gratifying than catching the biggest fish in the Ocean. They learned that the greatest feeling of all was the feeling of teaching someone something. Helping someone experience what they had experienced. I have learned many things over the last 5 years. The first is that I still don’t know nearly enough about this new found passion of mine, but what little I do know, I can share with those who know nothing. We can be the same way with our knowledge of God. You don’t have to know how to quote the bible to share what you do know about how your relationship with God has changed your life. I get more enjoyment in watching others catch fish than I do catching them myself. I have also learned that you should listen to those that have more knowledge than you do about how to be successful. The same goes for your walk with Christ. Seek those spiritually mature people around you to learn as much as you can about being a successful fisher of men. Study Gods “fisher of men” book, the bible, as much as you would a fishing magazine to learn from the most respected authority there is on fishing for men. As Christians, we should be as passionate about sharing the knowledge we have about Christ as we are the hobbies we enjoy. Try fishing for men this week, and see if you don’t get “hooked” by the feeling you get when you partner with God. Fish On! Hope you have a blessed Summer! Please remember to support our local advertisers as they are faithful in helping us distribute this magazine to your local community in an effort to help those without a church home to get connected with a church that will help them grow closer to the God we serve. Cover Photo by Caleb Money

For more information, please contact Sandy Ellingson sandy@localchurchconnection.com • www.localchurchconnection.com


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What is the Church? An invitation to a conversation throughout this issue.

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f you had asked me this a few months ago, my mind would have immediately gone to “It's a place where Christians gather to worship.....” and in today's culture that would have been more right than wrong based on our use of the term. But I have been challenged to really explore this question of late. It seems to be a central question that must be answered if I am to fulfill my current calling. As the newest member of The Local Church Connection executive team, it seems important to understand the term church if I am to help others make a local church connection! As someone who was raised in “the church” and considers herself an above Bible student, I was surprised at how much I had adopted the meaning of “church” to be a building. I needed an attitude reset before I even got started! Sandy Ellingson

When the church is first mentioned in the Bible, the term used is ekklesia. The meaning of this word refers to “a gathering or an assembly.” There is actually no building involved at all, just people! Translated......the church is a gathering or assembly of people. Now, it is not just a gathering of any people for any reason. It is a gathering of people with a common cause and purpose and with the Christian church that is Christ. So, if the church is a gathering of people and not a building, then should the question be, “Who is the church?” So this is where we will start the conversation about the what and who of the church. This months issue is devoted to helping us answer the question, “Who is the church?” Every article, every church posting, and every advertisement should help us identify “who” is the church. Enjoy the journey, and let us know what you think by going to our blog: http://online.localchurchconnection.com/what-is-the-church Blessings, Sandy

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FCA Christian Athlete Spotlight

Trey Rule: The Class of 2015 By Scott Adams, Local FCA Representative

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olf is a sport of integrity. It is a sport of self-called penalties that sometimes go unnoticed by opponents, but live in the conscience of the rule breaker for a long time if uncalled. Golfers who are short on character and integrity, sometimes struggle with the penalty side of the sport.

conferences in the country.

Mercer senior Trey Rule is leaving the Bears as arguably the greatest golfer in school history. Easily one of the classiest Mercer athletes in the “Class of 2015.” He’s a three time all-conference selection, the first All-American golfer in program history and is the first to appear in three NCAA regional competitions. He was also the 2014 Atlantic Sun Golfer of the Year in one of the toughest golf

Character and integrity have not been an issue with Trey at Mercer. A factor totally controlled by his faith in Jesus. I asked him how his faith played a part in his college life. “My faith affected me the most in college because it was my foundation. I knew who my Rock was and continues to be. Throughout all the highs and lows of college and growing up, I knew God was always with me and He loves me as I am. Even in my doubts and fears, He is constant,” Rule shared. “The amazing beauty of the Gospel was what affected me the most while I was in college.” Rule is on the leadership council for the FCA group at Mercer. He is a great recruiter and mentor to many of the younger athletes on the campus. He has some great advice for new students at Mercer. “Meet as many freshmen as you can. Find a core group of friends but don’t be afraid to branch out. Don’t be afraid to give your phone number to people to hang out later,” Rule said. “I always tell freshmen to find upperclassmen who can help you. They can get you plugged in to clubs and organizations, but also make you feel part of the greater community of Mercer.” He is graduating with a degree in Religion, but like most college students, a lot of his best lessons learned came out of the classroom. “I know this sounds cliché, but time management is one of the most important skills you must learn in order to be successful in college. This will be a conscious effort on your part to schedule your day accordingly in order to make the most of your time,” Rule shared. “The other thing I would say is, make your faith your own. I heard a statistic that 8 out of 10 students who were raised in the church fell away from their faith once they got to college. Your parent’s or grandparent’s faith will not save you, it is only your own personal relationship with, and faith in Jesus, that saves us alone.” Trey Rule might be a name you see on the leaderboard of a major professional tournament one day. The Eatonton native will make a run at getting on one of the professional golf tours soon. He will play the big tournaments in the state this summer like the State Amateur that will be played at Sea Island, Ga. He was a leader late in that tournament last year when it was here in Macon at Idle Hour Country Club. Rule has saved one more weekend for FCA this summer when he’ll be a leader for the third time at the Sea Island Golf Camp in July. It starts on the Sunday the State Amateur is over. He would like nothing better than to come share that victory with the FCA golf campers who have come to idolize him. “FCA made an enormous impact on my life at Mercer. I was involved with FCA from the very beginning. I was given a leadership role that I never thought I would have. FCA brought together my two loves: Jesus and sports. Through the weekly FCA meetings I have met some extraordinary people. The beauty of it is that we all have different backgrounds and play different sports, but we all come together to worship and glorify the same God together.” Praise the Lord for young men of character and integrity like Trey Rule. The game of golf and the ministry of FCA are in good hands with players like him involved.

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What is the Church: A Pastor’s View

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By Cameron Shiflett, Executive Pastor • Rock Springs Church

hat is the Church? Google says that the church is “a building used for public Christian worship.”

Respectfully, I disagree. According to the Bible, the church is an assembling together of believers. The church is formed when God’s people come together for His glory and to make known His name. It’s not a building or a structure, but a body of Christ’s followers. Over and over, we all see that people are lost & hurting and they need hope. It is the mission of the church to be the “light of the world. A city set on a hill” that cannot be hidden according to Matthew 5:14. We must assume the responsibility of being the “hands and feet” of Jesus to reflect His love and care for everyone that we come in contact with. I heard a portion of a poem written by Annie Johnston Flint that says, “Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today. He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way. He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died. He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.” In my opinion, that is the function of the church. My prayer, is that this writing will be a simple reminder to you, that we must be the church that God has called us to be. It’s not about you, it’s about others. As being a part of the church, we must exist to reflect Christ to a lost and dying world that’s groping for answers in the darkness. May God bless you, Cameron Shiflett Executive Pastor • Rock Springs Church

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The Tuesday Night that Changed My Life By Michael Apple

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hile working at a former church, our Pastor and a group of us geeks took a road trip to visit Andy Stanley’s church. We watched a 722 service from the controlroom and then toured the facilities.

As we walked into their KidStuff theater the two story Technicolor 3D set seemed to wrap its way around us. Or moment of awe was shattered when one of the kids that had traveled with us turned to our guide and said, “Man – this is so cool. The other churches around here must really hate you.” I cringed and tried to slip to the rear of our group as our guide responded without missing a beat, “No ‐‐‐ we aren’t in competition with other churches here – we’re in competition with other forms of media”. It took weeks for that to completely sink in. But once it had – it changed my life and my perspective in ministry. The church is up against not only more messages each day, but more conduits each year. The church must be as dynamic as the Gospel itself. Today people are the most well connected yet most isolated individually. To stand out in the communication clutter we must be attractive. I am speaking of an attraction to the very substance of who and what we are as the body of Christ. Whatever we do should be done “as unto the Lord”. And that means with excellence and a motive of Love. God’s Love. Once we have attracted their attention we must pass another test. Whatever we do must be found to be authentic. 1 John 4 begins, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” Spirits here refer to people. The Greek word dokimazo is a verb that means to test (literally or figuratively). In metallurgy it is the concept of assessing the purity of a metal. By implication it means to examine carefully to see if you approve and accept.

“We aren’t in competition with other churches here, we’re in competition with other forms of media”.

We don’t have to encourage the world to test the Church. They are natively suspicious and questioning. We live in a time without heroes. We have seen disappointments in every area of public and private life; sports, Hollywood, politics, and yes, even the church. We have been hurt by even those closest to us. We have a culture of cautious fear. Fear keeps us from trusting. The world today doesn’t reject the church – they just don’t accept it. Those outside the church care can less about what we have to offer until it is something that impacts them. When they find hearts and hands that are devoted to Christ there is an attractive difference. We can’t just “say it” – we must “live it” to make an impact. Christ followers who are speaking and doing the truth in God’s love are found worthy of trust. None of this can be done in our power or it will be ineffective. When we live out God’s love His love is made complete in us and His love is seen by the world (1 John 4:12). Once that love is found to be authentic there will be acceptance. 1 John 4:18a “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . .” With fear removed there can be acceptance of the Gospel. That acceptance leads to attachment. Jesus called His Disciples to be fishers of men. These principles of reaching the world simply parallel getting a fish on the line. We must be attractive to get their attention. We must be authentic to earn their acceptance. We must be accepted to gain their attachment.

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My Story: Your Changed Life

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By Kelly Philbrick

y own personal faith story resulted from words spoken by my aunt and by a speaker at a Christian woman’s retreat. My aunt’s words got the ball rolling. The retreat speaker’s words sealed the deal. I am sure at the time, neither one of them knew the eternal impact their words would have on my life. As far back as I can remember, my mom and dad took us to church. When I was in the sixth grade, my parents got a divorce. It was a very unsettling time, as they were given joint custody. Basically, at the tender age of eleven years old, I had to choose which parent to live with. I was distraught about having to do this, and it was a horrifying decision to have to make. Either way, one parent would be hurt, and my brothers and I did not want either one of them to be left alone. My mother had an active drinking problem at the time, including drinking and driving. Since I was not able to drive yet, I chose to live with my dad. It hurt me too deeply to be with my mother when she was drinking. My older twin brothers could drive, so that was not an issue with them, and they stayed with my mom. They were protective of her and relished the good home-cooked meals, plus the laundry service to boot! Even though I knew it broke my mom’s heart, it seemed safer and more secure to reside at my dad’s. Periods of sadness enveloped my heart. I can remember being curled up in a ball in my bed crying profusely until I had stomach aches from the inner turmoil. Not all of my childhood was stressful. I have fond memories of many family get-togethers with relatives. One highlight was my mom’s full recovery from her alcohol addiction when I was a senior in high school. Our relationship has flourished since then, with complete restoration! Overall, I felt loved and special, despite my home life. However, trying to be a peacemaker and taking on the don’t offend anybody role caught up with me. When I was thirteen years old, I recorded in the front page of my Bible the following: “I, Kelly Grant, was born again on February 23, 1981, a Sunday.” I went to Bible study at church. Two girls had been born again, and I saw how happy they were. Then I thought, well, am I happy and a Christian? I asked my Aunt Carolyn if I was a Christian, and she said, “If you are not sure you are a Christian, then chances are that you aren’t.” Those words made me stop and think. I was no longer convinced I was saved, and I wanted to be sure. I stayed at her house late that night talking about God and loving every minute of it. On my bed when I got home I said, “Lord, I believe your son Jesus Christ died on the cross to save my sins. Please open my lid and come into my heart.”

I still believed in Him but was not living for Him.

After that night, I continued to read my Bible and go to church. I still liked discussing the things of the Lord, but I was now a full-blown teenager, which in my case meant that I was on the throne of my life, not God. Slowly, over time, my excitement for the Lord waned. I would go to Bible study with one group of friends and then party with others. Because I was not living the way I knew I should, I became miserable. Looking back, I realized this was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I was not really living badly in the eyes of the world, but I was definitely falling short of God’s standard of holiness. When I went to college I quit going to church on a regular basis. I was not forgetting God, but He was not a priority in my life. I still believed in Him but was not living for Him. While at college I met my husband, Bill, and we got married after my sophomore year. He was in the military, so we traveled all over the world. During this time, I attended Bible studies through the military chapel and on occasion attended church. As time progressed, our two children entered the scene, and I also became discontent with where my life was spiritually. Something was missing, but I did not know exactly what. While we were stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, I had the opportunity to attend a Christian woman’s retreat through the chapel. To be honest, for me it was a weekend away from the kids to rest and have adult fellowship. The Lord definitely works in mysterious ways! He got my attention in Alaska—far, far away from my hometown in Georgia. Here is how it happened. I will give you a glimpse into my journal four months prior to the retreat. Seeds were being planted along the way leading up to the retreat, so my heart was ripe to hear the gospel by the time that weekend arrived. Why No Lasting Change? Fear, self-hate, misery, fatigue, lack of joy, impatience, complaining, irritability, and a few periods of temporary happiness seemed to (continued)

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My Story: Your Changed Life By Kelly Philbrick

characterize my life. I was not sure who I was. The Christian life had to be more, but my life did not show it. Where was the joy? The peace? The victory over sin? I felt like a book with a pretty cover that looks good on the outside, but once opened, would reveal a person dying on the inside. Here are a few entries from my journal. October 26, 1993 I want out of this vicious cycle. Things go well for a few days, and then I go back to talking to God about the same changes. Why is there no lasting change? The only area I am consistent is being inconsistent. I get completely miserable. Then I read the Bible, pray, and lean on God. Things go good for a few days, and then back to the same vicious cycle where I feel stuck and hate it! I don’t like myself much. November 2, 1993 Thank you Lord for showing me two things yesterday. (1) That I am not really studying your Word and feel like I really don’t know how. (2) That I really don’t pray much. In my quiet times with You, Lord, I just read a little here and there. I don’t really study the scriptures. I want a deeper relationship with You, but I feel stuck, and ignorant. I want so bad to be normal, or am I normal? February 9, 1994 Lord, today in Bible study I learned continuance in the faith is evidence of your salvation. I want so much to tell others the truths I am learning but do not feel prepared scripturally or spiritually. Where I am inadequate and unprepared, You are adequate and will give me the wisdom I need.

Press into the heart of God. He yearns for intimacy with you.

February 16, 1994 The retreat at Camp LI-WA: Intimacy with God was the focus of the retreat. The speaker challenged us with truths that made me ponder—just how intimate was my relationship with the Lord—really? She said, “God yearns for you. Do you know He loves you with an everlasting love, and draws you to Him? When we turn away from God it hurts Him. Are you hurting God?” She told us that in Luke 8 we could glean four ways to respond to God. (1) We can have hardened hearts desensitized to the Word of God. (2) We can be shallow, settling for a minimal dose of intimacy. (3) We can be too preoccupied and busy. (4) We can be open and share all our thoughts with God. Then she challenged us, “Which way are you responding?” Over and over at the retreat I would hear the speaker saying, “Press into the heart of God. He yearns for intimacy with you. Personal holiness is where the battle is won. Heaven is your home, not earth. Do not conform to the lukewarm Christianity around you. Is Christ in all you do?”

After the speaker finished the last session, I kept rehearsing her words in my mind. I realized my faith did not have much evidence. I had no real intimacy with God. These words of power turned another key inside me. When I returned from the weekend retreat, alone in our log cabin at the kitchen table, I told the Lord He could have my whole heart. I would follow and do whatever He asked or required of me to fulfill His plan for my life. I was all His. No longer could I settle for anything less than to press into the heart of God. So I took the Word of God and started applying it to my life. Understanding of scripture came to me, and my life has never been the same. It is amazing to look back in my journals and see how the Lord kept me in the palm of His hand and has always been so wonderfully faithful. He heard my pleas, knew my inner turmoil, and was waiting to give me the freedom I longed for. He was transforming me every day to be the child of God He wanted me to be. Now, inner peace characterizes my life. My desire each day could be summed up in Psalms 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. John 8:32 says: And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. I keep pouring truth into my life, so I can continue having a lasting change, becoming more Christ-like every day.

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THE CHURCH TO THOSE WHO CAN’T GET THERE By Chaplain Janet Smith

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The call comes in at 2:00am and I fumble for my phone. The on-call nurse is on the other end. “Our patient in Macon has died, and the family is having a difficult time. Would you be able tomake a visit?” “Oh, of course”, I say in a groggy voice. I throw on a dress, a little makeup, and I’m out the door to make the visit. I roll back into the driveway around 5:00am to catch a little more sleep before a new day begins. Though not every day starts off this way, flexibility is the key when it comes to the life of a busy hospice chaplain. There are many needs in hospice work, often urgent, and I know that I can be pulled in any direction at a moment’s notice.

Gentiva Hospice is located in Warner Robins, but we serve patients all over the middle Georgia area. Some of our patients live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but many also live in their personal homes under the watch of family and friends. It’s our job as nurses, nursing assistants, social workers ,volunteers, and chaplains to provide the best medical, social, and spiritual care possible to the patient where he lives. But hospice care is more than just care for patients. It is also care for the patient’s family, and we approach both with equal seriousness. The primary responsibility of the hospice chaplain is to provide spiritual and emotional support to the patient and family. In essence, the chaplain is the hand of Christ outstretched to reach out with love to those who are hurting, and to comfort those who mourn. Each patient has unique needs and different circumstances. The chaplain’s job begins with meeting the patient and family shortly after they come on service to assess the unique em tional and spiritual needs that exist. Chaplains ask a variety of questions to determine their church or religious background, the level of support they have from their church, and if they are comfortable with their present spiritual condition. They also inquire into matters such as a patient’s favorite scriptures, and if a patient or their family has particular spiritual concerns. This information helps the chaplain know how to best provide for the needs of that specific patient and family.

... the chaplain is the hand of Christ outstretched to reach out with love to those who are hurting, and to comfort those who mourn.

We both recognize our roles as chaplains as that of coming along side of the patient/family at a crucial time in their lives. Facing a terminal illness is not easy, and the hospice team’s responsibility is to try to prepare and support everyone involved, easing a difficult transition. We work hard to do that in whatever way necessary. Hospice care is often seen as end of life care, but it is so much more. It is quality of life care, it is emotional support, it is providing chronically ill patients the comfort and ability to stay in their own home, and it is em tional support for those who have lost loved ones. Editors Note: Janet Smith is a Chaplain at Gentiva Hospice in Warner Robins, GA along with Coleman Dumas, III. You may contact Janet or Coleman at Gentiva Hospice, 478-953-1016. They are the church to those who can't physically get there!

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Be the Un-Offendable

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By Marti Sullivan Tidwell

everal weeks ago while Jason and I were visiting Georgia, our Sunday School teacher at Northway Church, Jack Gregory, asked a basic but thought-provoking question… “What are you most afraid of?”

The answer for me was immediate: Anger. I’ve never been a fan of anger. I don’t care for confrontation. I am of the “hold it in until you blow” faction. In most cases, I would rather lose my way than get into an argument. I’m a people-pleaser type. I don’t like raised voices, awkward moments, and I am terrible with verbalizing my thoughts and emotions inside of an argument. It’s just not my thing. I’m certainly not suggesting this is healthy.

There is such a thing as good confrontation. Marriage has been just the training ground I needed for that realization and, admittedly, I have witnessed how healthy confrontation leads to growth in a relationship. I still don’t enjoy it, but I see that it has purpose. My answer to Jack’s question, though, had nothing to do with healthy confrontation inside relationships. Rather, my answer came from a heart aching and quite frankly frightened for a world that I see more and more destroyed by that powerful little word: anger. For so many of us, both individually and corporately, life has not turned out the way we had hoped. One of my favorite quotes, by William Shakespeare, says it best: Expectation is the root of all heartache.

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

Perhaps our heart aches because we were treated poorly, or did not have the upbringing and advantages that many had. Perhaps we worked tirelessly towards a career goal that has left us empty and frustrated. Perhaps our family has disappointed or betrayed us. Perhaps you have no family, and loneliness is more than you can bear. Perhaps a dream you longed for has never been realized. Perhaps you or someone you loved has been wronged in an enormous and undeniable way, and no one ever bothered to try and make it right. Perhaps the difficulty and stress and danger you constantly encounter has left you jaded and bitter… And angry. The truth is, we can all find reasons to be angry. The real question is…what will we do with it?

Watch the news, it’s everywhere. This people group warring against that people group…this family warring against that…this company warring against another…this person warring against that establishment. We have become programmed to become offended…to look for reasons to get angry. We are angry at our loved ones an dfriends, angry at the curch and all they ways we believe they are getting it wrong. Heck, I got angry at Salsaritas last Sunday because they didn’t open until 1:00pm and I wanted lunch at 12:30! Seriously. I’m talking to Christians here…where is Christ in that? Several years ago I met with a woman whose marriage was crumbling was in no way qualified to counsel her, but a friend wanted me to meet with her and just talk, so I consented. It didn’t go well. And let me tell you why…expectations, the root of all heartache. To make a long story short, this woman was withholding love from her husband because she felt as though he was withholding intimacy and time with her. Neither would budge. They were both hurt and angry, and no one would make the first move towards healing. No one would extend grace… “I will do that when he/she does this…” Does anybody see the tragedy there? All somebody had to do to BEGIN to break down that wall was cry uncle and give…give when it hurt and give til it hurt for the sake of the (continued)

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Be the Un-Offendable By Marti Sullivan Tidwell

marriage, the family. All someone had to do was demonstrate with actions, with giving, that this relationship is important to me and I’m going to be a good husband /wife even though I believe he/she doesn’t deserve it. I’m going to catch them off guard with my kindness and my generosity and show them they are worth more to me than my pride and being right. Maybe it wouldn’t happen overnight, but my life has shown me that very few people can continue to be ugly to someone who is intentionally and genuinely showing them kindness and grace day after day. Nobody would budge. Divorce was inevitable. Here’s my question: Where would we be if Jesus didn’t give til it hurt? Where would we be if He treated us as we deserved? Where would we be if He insisted on an apology from us before He hung on the Cross? Where would we be if He treated us as we treat those that have offended us, hurt us…made us angry? Hell is where we would be and Hell is where a lot of us are…in our own homes, at work, in our nation and culture. We won’t give, forgive, extend grace, because THEY HAVE TO BE FIRST… Listen, I get it. You may be angry for a completely righteous reason. You may be anger for a situation that is screaming for justice. But if you entertain that anger and you allow it to give way to bitterness… That’s where the tragedy lies. “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:15 The poisonous root of bitterness is a devastating problem in our families and communities and in our nation and world. When we choose bitterness, we poison not only ourselves but those around us, those we have contact with daily, those we love the most. And we are missing, we are falling short of, exhibiting and extending the grace…the undeserved favor of God. When we decide to let our anger give birth to bitterness, even if we are angry for good reason, we just blew it. A life filled with anger and bitterness will never grow in Christ, will never realize the incredible and unfathomable plans God has just for you to bless this world. Bitter work for even a righteous and good cause yields nothing but poison. People will let us down. Always. They will disappoint us, they will hurt us. This world will always fall short.

This world will always fall short..

It’s why we need Jesus… The First, the Last, the forever and always. The same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We don’t slip His mind and He doesn’t fall out of love with us. He won’t leave us or abandon us. He won’t retire or resign. He won’t get cancer or Alzheimer’s. He is unchangeable and He loves you and has plans for you better than you could ever hope or imagine, and that will never change. His eyes are always on us and He always does the perfect thing at the perfect time. He will never ever ever let you down. If He allows a hardship, a hurt, an offense… it is somehow destined for our own spiritual growth, His glory, or the growth of His Kingdom. Your hurt matters to Him. It will without exception yield beauty in time if you trust Him with it. He IS our sure thing. We can give each other a break. We already have our sure thing and we can’t lose Him. So, go ahead…let it go. God says vengeance is his alone. There is nothing anyone can do to make that hurt better but Him…let Him have it. Choose joy. Treat people just as He treats you…better than you deserve. We can change the world, y’all. Be un-offendable. Choose joy. Extend grace… Forgive just as you have been forgiven. Forgive when it hurts and give til it hurts…for the sake of your marriage, your family, your church, your community, your nation, your world. Leave the rest to God. - Ephraim.

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The Church in Political Activism:

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One Person Can Make A Difference!

ow many times have you seen something that you thought should be changed and thought, “I am just one person. I can't have an impact.” Unfortunately, in many cases this doubt is lived out by inaction! Because we think we can't effect change, we never try! But on occasion, there is a rare person who says, “I know this is a huge issue and I am only one person, but I believe I can make a difference!” That is the story of Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center for Sexual Exploitation. (NCSE) I had the privilege of meeting Dawn at the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention. She immediately caught my attention as I saw her working her booth on the trade show floor. Many of the attendees of the conference are radio and TV people. NRB members provide biblical content through radio, TV, and the web all across the world. Seeing Dawn's booth caused me to step outside of my comfortable bubble and realize that while I was surrounded by amazing people providing amazing family oriented and safe content, but there was a big world with media outlets that did not meet these safe family friendly standards. There are people who intentionally prey on others using the same mediums. Before I ever introduced myself, I watched as she spoke with others passing by, passionately expressing her position on morality in media and the damage that this lack of morality was causing. To say I was filled with hope is an understatement. I felt so blessed as I watched this young woman taking a major stand, on an issue that seems so huge, and doing it with such confidence. There was no hint in her demeanor or conversation that she wasn't confident that we could overcome these problems.

“... I am only one person, but I believe I can make a difference!”

The President of the National Center for Sexual Exploitation said this about Dawn: “From the imagination and hard work of Dawn Hawkins, a nationwide movement against sexual exploitation has been formed and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation recognizes that accomplishment by honoring her today. In her tenure at NCSE, Hawkins’ initiatives have led to sweeping changes of policies that foster exploitation for targets such as Google, Groupon, Verizon and the Department of Defense. Hawkins has organized many grassroots campaign efforts including a highly successful nationwide letter writing and email campaign targeting executives from the major airlines, which led to policy changes prohibiting pornography viewing on planes. Through her leadership, NCSE has grown a network reaching hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, including organizing a national Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation comprised of 280 groups purposed to defend dignity and oppose sexual exploitation.”

What a statement about just ONE person, one young person, who believed that she could make a difference. Dawn Hawkins is a passionate defender of human rights who has dedicated her life to fighting against societal harms that threaten the dignity of others. Her energy, creativity and mobilization skills have revived the anti-pornography movement. Many of us are seeing (or not seeing) the results of her efforts, but will never know her name or her contribution. What is the church? Maybe as we go on this journey of answering this question, we really are seeing that the question is not “what” but “who.” Dawn Hawkins is the church in action. She is a defender of our faith, our safety, and morality through all mass mediums. As a boomer, I love to celebrate the contributions of millennials like Dawn and know our future will be impacted in a mighty way as more young people like Dawn step up to the plate and are the church in all areas of our world. Editors Note: Many people believe that “the church” and “government” should not interfere or infringe on one another. If we believe that “the church” is a collection of individuals working together towards a common cause, then I say “the church” and “government” need more opportunities to collaborate to make this world a better place.

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A SON Filled Time Of Summer Fun! By David Duncan

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elcome to the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. :) Do you know what frogs drink on a HOT summer day? Croak-a-Cola!!! :) Guess what the coolest letter of the Alphabet is? Iced “T”! :)

I once knew of a grandpa that was telling his young grandson what life was like when he was a boy. "In the winter, we’d ice skate on our pond. In the summer, we could swim in the lake, and pick berries in the woods. We’d swing on an old tire my dad hung from a tree on a rope. And we had a pony we rode all over the farm. I’d practice shootin’ my slingshot on tin cans in the field and could pretty much hit anything dead on target. I went barefoot and would play outside all day long until mother would ring the supper bell." The little boy was amazed, and sat silently for a minute. Finally he said, "Granddad, I wish I'd gotten to know you a lot sooner!" Now, when I was growing up in Pickens, S.C., we always had a Lemonade Stand out by the roadside to raise a little money for extra things. We’d get mother to help us make the lemonade and buy some bubble gum from the grocery store to sell to the neighborhood kids. My sister and I would sit out in the hot sun all day and only make a few dollars. But, the best part of working so hard was walking to the Mill Store and buying a Popsicle, candy bar, or a soft drink. THAT was what summer for us growing up was all about! There were no vacations because Dad would always say, “We need to paint the house”…”We need to fix the roof.” So, I learned early on to create my own FUN! When I got older and became a Youth Director, we never had a lot of money in our Church budget so this came in handy. I had to invent fun things to do with my group of young people that were FREE and FANTASTIC. In case, you’re a mom reading this and you need a few ideas to help get your kids through the summer without driving you crazy, then I hope these kooky suggestions help you to add some zest and zing to the summer break!

Teach the kids about how Jesus 2 - Have each kid wear a bright yellow T-shirt and Spread A Little Sunshine. Adopt a shut-in and take flowers to them. Sing left Heaven a song and read a Scripture out loud. Before the visit, take a shoebox, wrap it so the lid can be easily be removed, and fill it with homemade cards, small toiletry items, a special candy/cookie treat, etc. and present it to the homebound patient. If there and came to is yardwork that needs to be done, maybe the group can pitch in and do it FREE for the individual. Teach the kids about how Jesus left heaven and came to be a servant. This is an example of a modern day washing of the disciple’s feet. be a servant. 1 - Have grocery cart races in the store parking lot away from the crowds and the cars. Divide into teams and have wacky awards ready to present at the end. Use colored duct tape to mark the START line and the FINISH line. Let the teams make up goofy names for their entry. With some preparation prior, you can give them some impromptu supplies to decorate their grocery cart. Ex: crepe paper, cloth that can be cut and tied on for flags, balloons, etc. After the race is over, treat everyone to an ice cream cone. Be sure to take pictures and post on social media. Take time while eating the ice cream to talk about how Jesus wants us to run well and winning the Christian race by keeping our eyes on the prize.

3 - Create a massive fort outside (backyard) using old bedsheets and tie them to the trees so that it forms a connected covering overhead. Then, using retrieved refrigerator boxes, make a passageway by duct taping them together with open ends so that it is transformed into a maze. Be sure that they turn different directions rather than a straight line. Set up a grilling area for a cookout and plan a sleepover for the kids and have each invite a friend. Enlist the help of other parents to bring food items, tell ghost stories, and include an ample supply of rubber spiders, snakes, and bugs to scare the kids during a lull. Sleeping bags are a great place to slip a large spider into just before they go to bed! Don’t forget to sing around the fire pit some Sunday School/praise songs and share some testimonies. This can be planned ahead by asking a teenager from your church to play the guitar and lead during this time of outdoor worship. 4 - Talk with a fake accent all day. Do not revert back to ‘normal’ no matter what. Be sure and take them somewhere where they have to order fast food or do something publicly…and…videotape it! :) 5 - Water balloons are always a great idea to do on a blazing hot summer day! If there is a waterpark nearby, this would be a terrific surprise trip if you wanted to blindfold the kids and take them off on an adventure called “Destination Unknown”. The suspense will kill them! This is a super idea right before going back to school as a really special reward. 6 - On a rainy day, it is nice to cut off all media and just allow them to read a real book. It may sound weird, but you can go places in a book that you cannot go otherwise. They may complain a bit but after a trip to the library and then with no other options, they will settle in and actually enjoy it. 7 - I made a rule early on that if ANYONE gripes that “I am BORED” then weed pullin’ and/or various forms of rigorous yardwork can be done as BOREDOM BUSTERS. I NEVER got the sighs and ‘boredom’ complaints! And if you need to teach some valuable lessons on being grateful for your blessings and just being glad to be alive, then visit any local nursing home and have the kids mingle with the residents. It is a real wake-up call for all of us! One last funny as I close this summer edition of Church Connection…what did the pig say as he sunbathed on the hot beach? “I’m bacon!” :) Wishing you a SON filled time of summer fun, and remember, Habakkuk 3:18, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Spring, summer, winter or fall…there is a wellspring of joy in them all! Live, Love, and Laff! David Duncan Contact me on Facebook or dedsld13@juno.com.

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Inheriting and Cultivating the Fruits of Someone Else’s Labor

By Julia H. Magna

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hen the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV) Recently I attended a women’s retreat sponsored by my church conference, and during my allotted quiet time, I rediscovered the passage quoted above. Immediately, parallels within my own life sprang to mind, and no longer was the text merely describing God’s admonition to the Israelites coming into Canaan after wandering in the desert. Struck by the metaphoric imagery applied to my life, I quickly started journaling because I knew that this would become one of those seminal passages for application in my personal and professional life. I firmly believe that God leads us to our careers and our callings if we just listen closely and follow his direction. Sometimes we wander in the desert for what seems like forty years; other times, God can be much more direct, all according to his timing and our receptiveness. I realized that day that my own law career is like the land of Canaan and that God had provided all of the blessings and benefits for me in advance, well ahead of my arrival on the scene, and that God is calling me not to forget what has been done for me just like he encouraged the Israelites. Here is more on the personal parallels that I drew and how I am trying to remember the particular gifts that God has given me: “A land with large, flourishing cities you did not build” – Right away, this phrase conjured up the image of my law firm and the esteemed attorneys that built it and its reputation based on years of exemplary service to the citizens of central Georgia and beyond. I have been fortunate to step into a law practice that has built in professionalism, ethics, mentoring, and collegiality as tenets for how things get done. I did not lay the cornerstone for Sell & Melton, but I like to think that I am continuing to build on it so that our firm might continue to flourish. I am fortunate in that I had a personal connection to the founders of our law firm, who have long since practicing law and some have even died by now. I cherish the opportunities I had to interact with them, to learn by their personal example, and to express what a privilege it was to learn from them. Continuing to build on their legacy with a grateful heart is one way that I acknowledge and thank God for this gift. What is flourishing in your life that you did not build?

Thank God for those silent blessings as you go about your day.

“Houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide” – One’s mind might automatically jump to material objects (or to Martha Stewart, more specifically) at the reading of this phrase within Deuteronomy, but instead my thoughts turn to resources and technology. Rarely do I stop and think in my busy day how blessed we are to have the research and technological support that we have at this time in history. Fortunately, I am well versed in how to conduct legal research using books and journals in the law library, but when I think about the sheer volume of online resources that we have now to serve our clients, it is easy to see those as blessings as I go about my work helping others solve problems. Pause and consider what “little things” have been working well for you. What has been giving you good service in your everyday life that you may not have noticed? Thank God for these silent blessings as you go about your day. What are the good things you did not provide? “Wells you did not dig” – Having lived “in the country” for the first ten or so years of my life, I understand the importance of having a good well. I did not dig the well that provided water for my family to use, but I benefitted from it nonetheless. Water is basic and utilitarian; we need it for cooking and cleaning, for sustaining our plants and flowers, and otherwise to get things done. Water can be fun, however, and I recall many silly activities in sprinklers, on Slip & Slides, and so forth as a child, all available thanks to a well that had been dug for us. The employees in our law firm are like water from a well. They work very hard to help us serve our clients, but they make what could otherwise be a dull and boring place due to the complexity of what we do be instead a fun, light-hearted, and open environment. Not a silent blessing by any stretch, but one that we should perpetually thank God for when we have such colleagues because it is just another way that God refreshes our souls. What wells are available that you did not dig?

(continued)

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Inheriting and Cultivating the Fruits of Someone Else’s Labor

By Julia H. Magna

“Vineyards and olive groves you did not plant” – I like to imagine what it was like for the Israelites to walk into Canaan for the first time and to see, feel, and touch the various plants and foods growing there, knowing that God had given it over to them from their predecessors. Someone else planted the vineyards and groves, but the People of God would have to tend them with care to preserve them so that they might continue to bear fruit. In much the same way, I have benefitted from the cultivation of clients in my law firm, many developed over decades, planted either from seed or grafted, if you will, and it is my duty always to maintain those client relationships so that they will continue to flourish. It may be easiest to forget to thank God for these gifts despite their being right under our noses. It is a privilege for me to pray over our case list each week in the privacy of my office, asking for guidance for the attorneys handling the matter, seeking peace for the client as the matter progresses, and thanking God for the opportunity to help. What are you harvesting that you did not plant? Maybe you are a business owner or a manager or a teacher and you feel the same way about the blessings that were waiting for you as well as those that unfold as your professional life takes off. Remember those that came before you, those that walk alongside you in the journey, and those you support, whether they are customers, clients, or students. And be sure not to forget that God is the one that brought you to this place and that he expects you to cultivate further the gifts you have been given. Julia H. Magda is a partner in the law firm of Sell & Melton, L.L.P. in downtown Macon where she has practiced since graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. In addition to helping health care clients, she also advises on employment law, nonprofit governance, guardianships, contracts, and more in addition to maintaining a trial practice. A member of Mulberry Street United Methodist Church, Julia and her family are actively involved in a number of community endeavors. For more information, please visit www.linkedin.com/in/juliamagda or www.sell-melton.com or contact her at (478) 464-5332 or JHM@sell-melton.com.

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The Unnamed Servant

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By TREY DICKERSON

e are told in Genesis chapter 24 that Abraham was well advanced in age, and, therefore, found it necessary to find a bride for His son of promise, Isaac. Therefore, he called the oldest servant of his house (who is left unnamed), and made him swear that he would find a wife for his son from the country and family he left. Well, we see in the remainder of this chapter how this unnamed servant traveled to Abraham’s former country and how his journey brought him to Rebekah. After the Lord confirmed that she was indeed the bride that He had chosen for Isaac, Abraham’s servant adorned here with beautiful jewelry and led her back to the dwelling place of Isaac to become his bride.

In this story, we have a beautiful type and shadow of this new and better covenant you and I live in. Now we understand that Abraham was a type of our Father-God and Isaac, His only begotten son of promise, was a type of our Lord Jesus. But, saints, today I want us to talk a little bit about the lost man in this story- Abraham’s eldest servant. I believe that this unnamed servant is a type of the Holy Spirit. Someone might ask, “Why would you think an unnamed servant of Abraham was a type of the Holy Spirit?” Well, first of all, you do understand that “Holy Spirit” is not His name, correct? No, He is the Holy Spirit- the unnamed Spirit of God. On top of that, He is the One who was sent from heaven to serve, and not to be served just as Jesus was sent to serve and not be served. And more specifically, He was sent to this earth to find a bride for Jesus, the Son of God.

No, He is the Holy Spirit the unnamed Spirit of God.

My brothers and sisters, this is the ministry that He has here on the earth- to draw those who were afar off into a loving relationship with their Christ. He first draws us to our Lord and then is responsible for revealing Him unto us- guiding us into all truth, teaching us all things concerning Him, and reminding us of the things Jesus has already said. This is the Holy Spirit’s ministry! But although He is this important in the life of the believer, I consider Him to be the most disrespected and dishonored person on this planet. And, you know, one of the main reasons I believe this is because the vast majority of the church today doesn’t even see Him as a person. Many churches rarely even acknowledge Him and the churches who do acknowledge Him only see Him as a feeling or a goose-bump. This leads many believers to refer to Him as an “it” if they refer to Him at all. Let me ask you a question: What if you were to walk in to the church I pastor and I acknowledged your presence by saying- “There it is! If it so wonderful to have it with us today!” Do you reckon you might be a little offended with me if I referred to you this way? No, me referring to you this way would certainly not bless you. But too many churches do just that with the Holy Spirit… They sing songs like “Send it on down, send it on down, Lord, let the Holy Ghost come on down.” Now, thank God, the Holy Spirit is not easily offended and is not quick to get His feelings hurt, but the bottom line is that He is not an “it”; He is the Third Person in the Godhead- with divine characteristics and a divine personality that we should appreciate and acknowledge. Jesus taught us this in His last message to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion... In John chapters 14-16, Jesus began to instruct His disciples on many vital truths which included a strong focus on His replacement- the Holy Spirit. (continued)

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The Unnamed Servant By TREY DICKERSON

Some might think- “Replacement! Nothing can replace our Messiah!” Well, I am not referring to a replacement in regards to us not needing Jesus anymore. I am referring to the words of Jesus Himself in John 14:16 when He said of the Holy Spirit- “And I will pray to the Father and He will send you another Helper…” You see, Jesus also mentioned in this, His final exhortation to His disciples, He would be departing. So here He was providing them with the comfort of knowing that He was not going to leave them comfortless. In other words, He was letting them know that He was not leaving them helpless, but was sending them “another Helper.” Now what is of extreme significance in this phrase “another Helper” is the word “another.” The Greek word used here to translate “another” is the word “allos” and this word describes “another of the same exact kind, a duplicate, or a twin.” So a good question then is: Who was the original “Helper”? Of course, Jesus was referring to Himself here. Therefore, what Jesus was saying was that the Father was going to send another just like Him to be a Helper to His disciples. In other words, Jesus was the original “Helper” and the Holy Spirit is “another Helper” just like Him. Jesus went on in these three chapters to explain the myriad of benefits that the Holy Spirit would bring to His disciples, but my point is that in these three jam-packed chapters, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit with a personal pronoun a whopping 22 times in a nine verse span! (I do not have the space in this article to list them but go look it up for yourself in John chapters 14-16) So through Jesus constantly referring to the Holy Spirit as “He, Him, Whom” we can clearly see that He is a Person, and as a member of the Godhead, He certainly deserves our honor and respect. But, saints, the main point I wanted to leave you with today is that He deserves our respect and honor more than just by us acknowledging the fact that He is a divine person; He is worthy of us actually learning to acknowledge His presence on the earth today and He is worthy of us taking full advantage of His ministry in our lives today!

He certainly deserves our honor and respect.

Far too many churches leave the Holy Spirit out of their gatherings. Perhaps this is out of the fear of the unknown, but as the well respected minister R.A. Torrey was quoted as saying, “If the Holy Spirit is a divine person and we know it not, we are robbing a divine Being of the love and adoration which are due Him. It is of the highest practical importance whether the Holy Spirit is a power that we, in our ignorance and weakness, are somehow to get hold of and use, or whether the Holy Spirit is a personal Being who is to get hold of and use us...” Saints, He wants to be to you today what Jesus was to His disciples then. He wants to be your Helper- present to help navigate you through this life’s turbulent waters. He wants to be that unnamed servant whom on this journey to the marriage supper of the Lamb reveals to us who our Groom truly is. His ministry is to reveal to you and I all the things that eye has not seen nor ear heard which God has prepared for all who love Him. But in order for His ministry on this planet to take full effect in our lives, we must learn to acknowledge Him in all our ways. We must learn to communicate with and depend upon Him every day. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. Trey Dickerson is the pastor of High Point Church located at 2963 Hollis Rd, Macon, Ga 31204. For more information on Trey Dickerson’s ministry, you can visit his websites at www.treydickerson.com and www.highpointmacon.com. Also, Feel free to contact Pastor Trey at trey@treydickerson.com and request to be added to his monthly teaching newsletter. Be blessed!

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Wrapping It Up: What is the Church? Don’t go to church, Be The Church!

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By Sandy Ellingson

hroughout this issue we have been on a journey to answer the question, “What is the church?” We've heard from people of all walks of life, age, race, and background. The overarching theme, that has been supported by the biblical historical definition, has been that the church really is a group of people. No where is it defined as a building or location. Being from the south with a husband from the northwest, an easy way for me to understand this is BBQ! If I use the word BBQ, I am talking about a noun! It's what I cook on the grill. If he uses the term BBQ, he is talking about something he is going to do, “Let's BBQ!” Over the last 2000 years, we have built buildings and called them churches and now many people based on their experience and areas where they have been raised equate the church with a building. So just as my husband is wrong when he uses the term BBQ like it is a noun (haha!), we are wrong when we use the term church as if it is a building. I think it would be nice, and more correct, if instead of saying we are going to church, we said, we are going down to the building that houses the church! Or, we are going to the place where we meet as a church! This magazine is distributed in over 150 locations. Thousands of people will pick it up and read it. The reasons for doing so are just as varied as the people who do it. Some of you may have just been intrigued by the picture on the cover. Some may have just been bored to tears while sitting in a doctor's waiting room. Some of you may have actually been looking for a church and the name of the publication got you! Here's what I hope you walk away from this issue knowing: • The church is a group of people that meets together with a common cause, sometimes in a building, sometimes in a mini-strip, and sometimes in a home. The physical building does not matter. • The church is a group of imperfect people. Don't be fooled. There is not a single perfect person within any church group. You don't have to be perfect to join. • The earthly group of people that identifies themselves as a church is filled with those who believe in Jesus, those who are searching, and those who don't believe at all. So often we forget this. You don't have to believe to get involved. • Just as there are many flavors of ice cream, there are many flavors to church groups and there is one that is right for you. Not all people are alike so not all church groups are alike. • You are wanted, welcome, and needed. There is not one group of people, meeting as a church, who are not in need of something and that something might be you! We hope you will continue this journey with us through additional issues. We'd love to hear your feedback via our website. You can find future issues of Local Church Connection online at http://www.issuu.com. Just search for Local Church Connection. Our goal is to connect individuals in a local community to a group of people, (the church) in a local community so that they can serve each other, Christ, and the world.

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Profile for Russ Cooke

Local Church Connection Jun - Sep 2015 Macon GA  

Local Church Connection Magazine June - September 2015 Macon GA Bibb County Jones County Monroe County

Local Church Connection Jun - Sep 2015 Macon GA  

Local Church Connection Magazine June - September 2015 Macon GA Bibb County Jones County Monroe County