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ISSUE 18 | July-September, 2016


EXECUTIVE EDITOR Mark Shetler

FROM PASTOR JESSE

M

y childhood was great. I had very loving parents and an awesome big brother and big sister. I had lots of friends, was very active in

sports and was fortunate enough to grow up being a part of this church.

EDITOR Melissa Shetler EXECUTIVE DESIGN Jessica Ripley CONTRIBUTORS Jennifer Briggs, Jane Daly, Rebecca Estenson, Kyle Kerchener, Cannessa Lewis, Jessica Ripley SPECIAL THANKS Christina Harrison Photography

In fact, some of my former Sunday School teachers are still here and they let me be their pastor despite some of the stuff I tried to get away with in their classes! This issue of the COMPASS focuses on childhood. Here at River City Christian, we believe in kids and we want to support families the best way that we can. We know that some of us had a rough time growing up, but we believe that Jesus can bring healing to those memories. And we want to remind adults, whatever their age, that there is still a child inside all of us that sometimes just needs to have a little fun.

THE

COMPASS IS A PUBLICATION OF

RIVER CITY CHRISTIAN (Formerly First Covenant Church) P.O. Box 276450 Sacramento, CA 95827 916.861.2240 • rivercitychristian.org Physical address: 10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova

Our staff is here to support you and to help you connect with the River City family. There’s a lot of information inside this magazine to help you figure out where you will fit in. You can also check out rivercitychristian.org, and you’re always welcome to contact the church office if you want to talk with someone in person.

ABOUT THE COMPASS COMPASS Magazine is River City Christian’s quarterly publication. In a church our size, it can be an overwhelming task to meet everyone and know everything that is happening. The COMPASS serves as a platform to bring our church family

God bless you and your family! Enjoy this issue of the COMPASS!

closer together. Within its pages, you will find true stories about the people and ministries of River City Christian. And, most importantly, it will help guide you farther along The Path to becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Jesse Smith, Senior Pastor

CONTENTS 04 • Who I Am in Christ 05 • Healthy Water 08 • Adult Child of God 10 • The Call to Worship 13 • Leaving a Legacy 14 • The Joys of Being Auntie 15 • Through a Kid’s Eyes 16 • What Is 30 Like?

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


WHO I AM IN CHRIST

BY REBECCA ESTENSON

I am 22 years old and I am very thankful for my childhood. I started attending River City Christian when I was eight months old, so it’s safe to say I grew up in a Christian home. I have two wonderful parents who did their very best to instill sound morals and godly perspective into my life at an early age. Even though their parenting styles were in sync, other areas of their life were, unfortunately, not. In 2007, my parents divorced. At 12 years of age my little world was turned upside down.

G O D M E T M E I N S O M A N Y P L AC E S A N D P O U R E D S O MU C H T R U T H I N TO MY I D E N T I T Y A S H I S C H I L D.

Despite a foundation of wonderful memories and biblical teaching, divorce

During my DTS, God wrecked me in the best way possible! Through this six

created division within my family and, consequently, a division between my

month long journey, God met me in so many places and poured so much

heart and God. I had always seen Him as Creator; now I reasoned that He

truth into my identity as His child. He spoke life into the areas that had

had created this split in my family. My heart was torn. I felt alone.

been pained and broken. He restored relationships and brought me into a new understanding of how He had been with me throughout my childhood.

Even though I was sad on the inside, I worked hard at maintaining my outside

I became more aware of the indescribable magnitude of His love and His

identity as a “good Christian girl.” I was secretly angry at God, but felt I had

power to redeem the lost and broken. I discovered gifts and passions that

to appear as if I was taking this divorce with grace and understanding.

I never knew I had. I learned to accept myself as His daughter, wildly loved by the King of the universe.

In 2010, my sophomore year in high school, I experienced some spiritual renewal. I came back to God. I began to give His Spirit permission to deal

A key lesson He taught me during this time was to hold onto an unshakable

with my heart attitudes, as well as my actions. However, there were still

joy. This wasn’t simply an attempt to find happiness, but rather developing

places of bondage and insecurity in my life. As I entered my college years I

an ability to choose joy in everything. If God is always with us, and He is

knew that the Lord desired to bring more healing into my life.

the source of joy, I can choose to focus on Him and experience joy that overcomes any sorrow or pain that I may encounter. I learned that I can do

By my third year in college I acknowledged that I possessed no true vision

this through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me.

or passion. I decided to take a step back and ask Jesus what He wanted me to do. In that moment, God spoke clearly to me. He wanted me to

The intense time of discipleship and the subsequent outreach experiences

go into Youth With A Mission! YWAM was something I had half-heartedly

with YWAM were huge blessings in my life. I gained some amazing

considered in the past, but my brokenness always blocked any action. I

God-centered friendships. I participated in some incredible ministry

thought I needed to get my life together before I could serve God and follow

opportunities. Most of all, I began the process of learning who I am as

His plans. (Go ahead and chuckle; I do as I look back.) I had the option

His child. Even though I have known disappointment, pain and fear, I am

to step out in faith or to continue down the same directionless path I’d

beginning to replace those experiences with joy, trust and peace. I am so

been fighting to stay on. After much prayer, seeking counsel and wrestling

thankful for His relentless pursuit of my heart and His endless grace poured

with God, I finally decided to take a step of faith and pursue YWAM. I was

out upon my life. He is the loving Father who redeems and restores.

accepted into the Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Oxford, New Zealand, which had an outreach focus of ministering to the backpacking community.

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HEALTHY WATER BY KYLE KERCHNER

In April, six men from River City got the opportunity to spend ten days in Uganda. I was fortunate enough to be one of those men. Since coming back home I have been processing what that global outreach trip meant to me. I’ve looked back at the experience attempting to find words to describe it. I’ve become overwhelmed. How do I share the meaningful moments in my life with people that haven’t experienced the same things I have? How do I synthesize the thousands of thoughts and emotions that filled each moment of those ten days into a short but meaningful description?

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I SAW A BOY STARE AT WATER, AND NO MOMENT IN MY LIFE BEFORE OR SINCE SEEMED TO MATTER.

I journaled while I was in Uganda. I recently

He gulps it in. Back and back and back

reread the entries and found one to be

he goes. More water, more refreshment,

especially shareable.

more new understanding.

I saw a boy stare at water today.

Have you ever jumped from a plane?

Confused, perplexed and in great wonder

Or been on a first date? Or had bacon

as to its meaning.

on your maple donut? Have you ever been overwhelmed by both confusion

“What is this?” his face asked as he stared at the newly installed pump well.

COMPASS MAGAZINE

no moment in my life before or since seemed to matter.

“This is heathy water,” I explained, my eyes staring intently at the mud dripping from

Coming back home I knew what would happen.

his young weathered hands.

The same thing that always happens in me after a trip like this. In the weeks that followed

He looks back at the water. Tilting his

I walked around in silence. What could I say?

head he stares deeper still. He takes

Did words matter? I stared out windows longer.

a drink. He pauses. He puts his hands

I listened to music without emotion. My mind

back under the mechanical stream and

was processing the simple thought that people

with the force of curiosity he finds the

need help. Simple, real material help. Not

mud-less skin tone hidden underneath.

selfish wants. Not complicated things that I

Inspecting his hands he still finds them

can’t provide. But simple, real help. How can I

unworthy, and he kneels down before

go about my daily life the way I did before?

the well. His mouth touches the stream.

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and joy? I saw a boy stare at water, and


Benefitting the Christmas Mall

But then, I did. Things became normal again.

only shared brief interactions with the Ugandan children, I believe those kids

The hugeness that was the trip is slowly fading

were impacted for life. Not because they

into memory. Certainly it made an impression,

met me. I’m sure they will forget the name

but the specific moments that boasted of

of the white bearded guy soon enough. The

monumental importance have become blurry.

impact is that they received hope from

I’m left with a vague remembrance of events

Jesus. They witnessed clean water entering

and less vivid emotions. I know that we did all

their village for the first time. They knew

sorts of good works in the African countryside.

that God provided for them.

We built a guesthouse, installed three wells, ran a sports day attended by thousands, presented

In Matthew 25, Jesus challenges the

the Gospel in various settings, baptized people

people saying, “Whatever you did for the

in the Nile River and forged friendships with

least of these, you did for me.” I came

people committed to the same work. But after

back challenged and encouraged. I

less than two months the memories of the

still want to find ways to do more. I am

things that we did are fading. The names of

planning the next trip in January 2017. I

most of the people are gone from my mind, and

imagine how participants from River City

the few native words I learned have vanished.

will be changed because of that trip. May

I’m left with a short internal explanation of the

we be people who see every child as a

trip. “We brought clean water. God can use me

child loved by God.

to help people in need.” As I sit down to write this article for the “kids’ issue” I’m realizing something new. While I

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BY CANNESSA LEWIS

G

rowing up, having childlike faith was fairly

Adulthood is not quite that simple, but neither

simple. Now I know what you are probably

is faith. In fact, faith as an adult comes with

thinking: of course childlike faith is easy when

some pretty deep and treacherous waters. Now

you are an actual child! But let’s ponder just

add that to the adult list of responsibilities:

exactly what it means to be a child of God even

maintaining your relationship with God as His

when you are biologically an adult.

child when you are no longer a child.

It’s no secret that being an adult is hard. Take

I’ve always wondered what it is about being

it from me, a twenty year old “young adult”

an adult that makes us think we can do every

juggling a full time job, a small business on

single thing on our own? I mean, let’s be honest,

the side, relationships, a social life and—oh,

you know it’s true. Take following directions for

yeah—going to school. I now laugh at how eager

example. Building a desk—what step by step

we were as children to grow up, graduate high

instructions? Driving to a new location—who

school, attend college, get a job and develop

needs a GPS or a map? If any of this is sounding

a sense of freedom from our childhood selves.

familiar, then yes, I am talking to you.

While that all sounds pretty grand, I have honestly found adulthood to be much more

All too often, we think we can do life on our

complex than getting to eat all the candy

own. Our prideful nature compels us to prove

you want or determining on your own what is

that we don’t need any help from anyone. It’s

“bedtime.”

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like we have this preconceived notion that once you have reached adulthood you no longer

“I NOW LAUGH AT HOW EAGER WE WERE AS CHILDREN TO GROW

have access to lifelines, even when you are

UP, GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL, ATTEND COLLEGE, GET A JOB AND

struggling or hurting. Growing up, we didn’t have this intense, prideful spirit. We knew that it was

DEVELOP A SENSE OF FREEDOM FROM OUR CHILDHOOD SELVES.”

okay to want or even need help. But as adults,

Maybe that’s why is it so important for us to

Embracing our identity as a child of God isn’t

we want to be smart enough, strong enough,

understand that we can still be children of

childish. In fact, I think it’s the most adult

good enough or, shall I say, “adult” enough that

God as adults. The amount of faith we had as

choice I’ve ever made. It blows my mind that

we can overcome hard times without outside

children is something we can still attain as

I have a heavenly Father who truly loves me as

assistance.

adults. God doesn’t need us. God would be

His kid. Every day. “Yet to all who did receive him,

fine without us, cruising through the universe

to those who believed in his name, he gave the

Unfortunately, we can treat God as if we don’t

empty-handed of sinners. We, on the other

right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NIV)

need Him either. We get so comfortable in the

hand, need God. But the Lord gives us the

routine of our lives that we believe we don’t

ability to choose to admit our need or not.

need God. But, if there is one thing I have

It’s up to us to either pursue Him with the

learned from being an adult it is that I really do

same trust and abandon that we did as young

need Jesus! Every day. Thankfully, we have a

children or to refuse the lifeline because we

Savior who longs to be our lifeline. Every day.

want to prove that we are all grown up and independent.

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THE

C A L L TO WO RS H I P

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Chris Alaways grew up in Nevada City but his

music it became a much larger part of our lives.

producer-friend of mine, I reached out to Will

musical talents took him to Nashville for the last

My sister has since picked up playing guitar

Denton (DC Talk, Steven Curtis Chapman,

several years. Now we are pleased to say that

and drums. My mom plays keys. My dad isn’t

LeAnn Rimes) and he quickly became one

God brought him to River City Christian as our

musical but knows more about instruments and

of my dearest friends. After touring together

new Director of Worship. We asked Chris some

gear than I do. My family is extremely supportive.

for several different artists over the past

questions to help you get to know this guitarist

few years, he and I decided to record our

with a passion for engaging others in authentic

What kind of music did you listen to growing

own project. I think we both reached a point

worship of the Lord of the universe.

up? Who was your favorite artist?

in our careers where we started asking

I absolutely loved rock music growing up. Still do.

ourselves, “Is this really it?! Is this all there

U2 was my favorite band for most of my life. “I

is?” So we put our heads together and set

We understand that you are an accomplished

Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is one

out to do something different. Something

guitarist. When did you first pick up the guitar

of my all-time favorite songs. To me, their early

of value. Something organic that no one’s

and how long did it take you until you were

records epitomize a less-is-more approach that

heard before. Ambitious to say the least,

“good”?

gave the music and songwriting room to speak,

but it’s been my most artistically fulfilling,

My mom had a really old classical guitar in a

a production style that’s elusive in today’s music.

exciting, soul-mending project to date. If you

cardboard box under her bed. There were a

The idea of four guys in a room making noise

listen closely, you may be able to hear me laughing in a couple guitar tracks.

couple of strings missing and at 12-years-old

together really resonated with me. I also admire

I could barely fit my hand around the neck, let

Bono for using his platform to raise awareness

alone push the strings down hard enough to get

for causes that are much bigger than U2. He

Was it difficult maintaining your walk with

a clean sound. I absolutely loved that guitar and

constantly strives to use his status to change

Christ while working in the music industry?

played it every moment I could, often until my

the world for the better, and it’s an inspiration.

Absolutely! Fortunately, I spent most of my

fingers bled. My poor parents had to suffer for

time in Nashville as a music director, which

months before I could actually play discernible

What other kinds of activities were you

meant I was able to hire musicians who I

notes. It took another year to become passable

involved in as a kid?

considered right for the job. Having that

as a guitarist. At age 19, I was able to make a

My dad is athletic so I played a lot of sports

kind of influence meant I had the freedom

living playing guitar.

growing up. Surfing was a heavy favorite. In fact,

to surround myself with solid, godly guys

I used to shape surfboards! Living in the south

who I didn’t have to worry about on the road.

When you were a kid was music a big part of

has certainly cut down on my time at the ocean.

We could all hold each other accountable,

Having lived in Nashville as part of the music

things got tough. They had my back and I

initially. I remember my dad having music on

industry for several years, what was the most

had theirs. God has placed some amazing

in the background whenever he was working

exciting project you ever worked on? Why?

human beings in my life who have been

in the garage, but that was the extent. Most

About six years ago I was putting a band

instrumental in shaping who I am today. I

people assume I grew up with a family dynamic

together for an artist on MCA records. All my

know I wouldn’t have survived the last ten

similar to that of the Von Trapps, but that

go-to drummers were already booked and I

years without them.

wasn’t the case. After I developed a love for

was forced to branch out to new territory. Via a

as well as look out for one another when

family life? I wouldn’t say it was a big part, at least not

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Why do feel that God has called you to

What dreams do you have for the worship

become a Director of Worship at a church?

experiences at River City?

I actually don’t! Well, at least not “a” church. I

Oh man, how many pages are you going

feel like River City is THE church I’m supposed

to give me? An overarching theme of all

to be involved with. Churches are abundant

my visions: a healthy, thriving worship

out in the Bible belt and I’ve had several

experience that transcends music

opportunities to direct worship. I’ve never felt

styles/genres and connects the entire

led to invest in a church’s worship experience

congregation to Him. I want to use

until now. I feel like God is doing something

whatever influence and connections I have

new and exciting with River City. I really don’t

to draw more people into what we’re doing

want to miss out on it!

at River City.

When and how did you come to put your

What’s an interesting factoid that you’d

faith in Jesus?

like our readers to know about you?

My dad’s a pastor so my sister and I started

Here are the first two that come to mind.

attending church at a fairly young age. I

First, my late grandfather was a captain

remember asking my mom about baptism and

for United Airlines for over 35 years and

she said it’s for people who have surrendered

taught me to fly at a very young age. While

their lives to Christ. I asked her how a person

I never got my license, I can still fly a plane.

does that and she offered to pray with me on

Second, I’ve played shows in every state

the couch. I was in grade school. Maybe six or

except Alaska.

seven years old. You have only been recently introduced to our church family. What three words would describe your impressions of River City Christian? Dedicated. Passionate. Welcoming.

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LEAVING A LEGACY–

LONG DISTANCE GRANDPARENTING

BY JANE DALY

up, they’re still sleeping. When they get home

Then finish this sentence: Everything changed

Eleven years ago, I stood in my driveway with

from school, we’re having dinner. When they’re

when… . Think about a significant event in your

teary eyes and watched my daughter, Heather,

having dinner, we’re getting ready for bed.

life. Looking back, can you see God’s grace at

and son-in-law, Craig, drive away, along with my five-month-old granddaughter, Audrey. My only

work? Were you protected from a disaster? Did Psalm 78:2 says, “I will open my mouth with

you experience a miracle? Perhaps you endured

grandchild. They were on their way to Oregon.

a parable; I will utter hidden things, things

a trauma, yet came through it with stronger

Craig received a promotion and it required he

from of old—things we have heard and known,

faith than before.

move the family to Portland.

things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell

Ten hours.

the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has

IT’S JUST AS IMPORTANT TO LEAVE A WRITTEN LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

Over six hundred miles.

done.” (NIV)

Being a long distance grandparent required

I recently spoke at a conference about the

extra effort. Both my husband, Mike, and

importance of leaving a legacy for your children

I worked full-time, and vacation time was

and your children’s children. We think of a

measured in days, not weeks. We drove to

legacy in terms of something big and important;

Oregon every chance we got, determined to be

perhaps a gift of money or other inheritance,

Finally, share your stories with your grandkids.

involved in our granddaughter’s life.

like a house or property.

Don’t email them. Even in this electronic age, kids still love to get something in the mail. That

Along came Micah, then Adelyn. Triple the reason to make the long trek to Oregon.

It’s just as important to leave a written

will make your stories more precious.

legacy for future generations. We realized our grandchildren need to know what makes them

Grandparenting with a nineteen hour time

Spending time with the grandkids: Priceless.

who they are. They need to know the significant

difference is a challenge. I am desperate

Saying goodbye: Not so much.

events that shaped us, which in turn impacted

to instill all that God has given me into the

how we raised our kids, which is impacting how

generations to come. It’s impossible to do

they raise their kids.

during a thirty-minute Skype call, with all three

I wish I could say it’s gotten easier. Craig and Heather believed the Lord was calling them into

munchkins grappling for the iPad. So I write.

full time ministry as missionaries. Mike and I

If you want to leave a written legacy, start

steeled ourselves for their departure.

with this phrase: God first became real to me

So this is my challenge to you. What’s your

when… . Write out your testimony as if one of

story? What legacy are you leaving?

Now, my grandkids are on another continent.

your grandchildren asked, “Why do you believe

Nineteen hours separate us, according to the

in God?”

World Clock app on my phone. When we get RIVERCITYCHRISTIAN.ORG

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THE

JOYS OF BEING AUNTIE

BY JENNIFER BRIGGS

Anyone who has seen my Facebook or Instagram notices two things

I have been at births, birthday parties, holiday gatherings and other

dominating my pages: my latest baking project and children. The photos

get-togethers for my nieces and nephews. I have seen them at their

of kids on my pages often have people asking me how many I actually

happiest and not so happy. While I may not be their mom, they know I

have. The answer is zero, but I get to play “auntie” to several. I have

am someone who will be there for them.

always really liked kids. I started babysitting when I was in junior high and continued through high school because I enjoyed being around kids. For

Every once in a while I’ll get the awkward question from one of them

me, babysitting was more than just a way to earn some spending money.

about whether or not I have kids. They have never seen me with kids

(As a side note, if you need any stories about Pastor Jeff and Betty Koons,

of my own. I get it. They are trying to make sense of what they know to

this babysitter will be glad to share!)

be normal. One day this conversation happened between me and Rilyn, age 4. It went like this:

There is never a dull moment with children. They say some of the funniest things and see life through pure, sweet lenses. I have been there for some

Rilyn: Jennifer, do you have kids?

of my “nieces” and “nephews” since the day they were born. While I enjoy

Me: What do you think?

OCCASIONALLY,

SINGLENESS FEELS LIKE A BURDEN, UNTIL I START REMEMBERING ALL THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT MY SINGLE LIFE.

taking them to do fun activities, it is really

Rilyn: Yes.

their excitement to be with me that I live

Me: Really? Have you seen me with kids? Do I hide them

for; so much so that it is a running joke

when you guys are over?

with my best friend as to whether I come

Rilyn: No! Silly! You have us. We’re your grandkids!

over to see her or her kids.

Me: (I laugh a little) Are you sure I can’t be your aunt? Rilyn: No. We’re your grandkids.

Being auntie consists mostly of ups, but

Me: Okay, that works.

it has its downs as well, especially for someone who has always wanted kids. While the best feeling in the world is showing up and hearing them

She wanted me to know I mattered and was a part of their family. They

scream, “It’s Jennifer! Jennifer’s here!” or being introduced to other people

are so smart, picking up on feelings or thoughts that I often think I’ve

as “My Jenn,” the worst part is going home to no kids. Although I know I

hidden. It’s in these moments I wonder how they know what needs to be

have had amazing opportunities, I still cannot help but feel like something

said. It is because of moments like this, and many others, that the joys

is missing sometimes. I do not bring this up to say that single life is not

of being auntie outweigh any bad day.

great and married life with kids is the only way to go. From what I can see, they both have their appeal. But, at times, I want the married life with kids. Occasionally, singleness feels like a burden, until I start remembering all the good things about my single life.

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CHRISTINA HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY

If you could be any age you wanted right now, what age would it be and why? I’d be 36 because I could be a pro baseball player on a pro team. What do you wish more adults understood about kids? That kids are more fun than adults and more cheerful. What do you think kids need to remember about adults? That adults have lots of responsibilities to think about. What are your favorite hobbies, sports, activities? Baseball. I like baseball a lot! What do you like about River City Christian? It’s fun! I’d go here even if my mom didn’t work here. What do you think you will be when you grow up? A baseball player on the Red Sox. You have a pretty big family. What’s your secret to getting along with everyone? You gotta do stuff for them and try being nice. If you could ask Jesus one question right now, what would it be?

THROUGH A KID’S EYES

What is Heaven like? Is it fun there? What three words would you use to describe Jesus? Fun, awesome, cool.

For this issue we wanted to interview a kid who

What’s your favorite Bible verse or Bible story?

is involved in our church. Meet the energetic,

John 3:16 is my favorite verse because it tells us

charming and fun 9-year old Travis Smith, son

that God loves everyone. Oh, and I really like the

of our Children’s Director, Shannon, and her

story about David and Goliath because the little

husband Patrick.

guy wins when nobody expected it! What would you want to say to kids your age

What do you think is the best thing about being

that don’t know if God is real?

a kid?

You have to believe and have faith. But I also

You get to live longer than someone who is

would ask them how they think people were

already older.

made.

What do you think is the best thing about being an adult? They can drive.


BY JESSICA RIPLEY

“I wonder what I will look like when I am 30?” a wildly curious, seven-year-old version of me often pondered. I assumed that at 30 I would be taller, that my permanent teeth would have broken through my gum line and that I’d maybe (by 30!) be brave enough to remove a BandAid without tears. Beyond these assumptions though I was perplexed, convinced I would not recognize my future self. My stream of consciousness as a child was frenetic. Thoughts jumped from, “I want ice cream!” and, “Where did my stuffed doggy go?” all the way to, “What will I look like as an adult?” It makes me laugh now, but I guess I had it in my mind that my appearance would change drastically over the years. However, looking back at old photos and comparing them to recent ones, I see the same dark haired, long armed girl blinking during the flash in both sets of photographs. I hate to break it to my younger self, but the film captured the same Jess, just two decades apart. Perhaps seven-year-old Jessica would be disappointed to find the grown-up version of herself still very much resembles the child. But


WHAT IS

30 LIKE?

MY STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS AS A CHILD WAS FRENETIC. THOUGHTS JUMPED FROM, “I WANT ICE CREAM!” AND, “WHERE DID MY STUFFED DOGGY GO?” ALL THE WAY TO, “WHAT WILL I LOOK LIKE AS AN ADULT?”

she might also be surprised if I said that the

Jump ahead a few years. 20-year-old Jessica

What I have learned in the twenty years since I

resemblance ends with the physical. Spiritually

had a stronger relationship with God. Once again

first pondered the question of what I would look

speaking, grown-up Jessica is unrecognizable.

she thought, “Now I get it. Now I am no longer

like in the future is this: God is sanctifying me

childlike.” While clearly pride and humility were

and keeping me aware of the process. It was

At seven I was neither convinced that God

still being worked out, I was actually growing in

a neat moment when it dawned on me that,

existed or that He didn’t. While I had some

my faith. God would reveal aspects of my life I

with each passing year of my life, I have grown

exposure to church as a child, I didn’t

needed to work on, relationships I needed to

closer to God. The best part is that this growth,

understand the concept of God. I sang, “Jesus

mend, habits I needed to break and I would

this sanctification, will only continue. So that

Loves Me,” but failed to see the profound,

actively seek to do so. The thought of having

curiosity of childhood returns. It finds me here

life changing truth in those lyrics. It would be

finally grown up in my faith would reoccur

at 27, once again thinking, “I wonder what I will

another ten years until it clicked in my mind that

however, and I would take pride in how much

look like when I am 30?” This time, however,

Christianity meant relationship. So there I was,

I had changed. This seemed to be the pattern

I ponder in terms of my spiritual appearance:

at 17, thinking I had finally figured it all out; that

every few years—God would prompt growth then

Where will God take me? What will He teach me?

surely I looked different from my younger self.

need to remind me that it was not the last time

Where will He use me? How will He grow me?

True, I knew more about what my faith meant,

I would have to strive for maturity. But the fact

but I mirrored my childhood self in selfishness,

remained: there had been substantial spiritual

rebelliousness and immaturity. Apparently some

growth from age seven to 17, 17 to 20, 20 to 22

struggles know no age.

and so on. Each year I grew and looked different spiritually than I had any year prior.

RIVERCITYCHRISTIAN.ORG

17


DAVID AND GOLIATH,

because I loved to hear how God used a simple shepherd boy to defeat a giant. David saved his people when the strong, adult men soldiers, who were trained and armed to fight, were afraid to even face Goliath. It taught me God can use anyone, even a young boy like me, to fight His battles and be a brave conqueror for Him.

DANIEL AND THE LION’S DEN. I loved tigers and lions as a kid and I thought how cool it would be to be able to hang out and play with lions. Fortunately my parents watched me closely when they took me to the circus! —FRED HAMMER, PASTOR OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH

—TED SMITH, PASTOR EMERITUS

I didn’t have a favorite Bible verse when I was young.

I WAS A CHREASTER CHRISTIAN (Christmas and Easter) and seemed to hear the same couple of stories whenever we attended church. It wasn’t until I got older that I learned how rich the Bible really was. —KELLEE BAKER, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

My memories are often tied to music. The first song that comes to mind is NOAH

W

E ASKED OUR CHURCH STAFF WHAT THEIR

AND THE ARKY, ARKY.

FAVORITE BIBLE STORIES WERE

parade of animals on the flannelgraph (a precursor to modern media) and the hand motions that went along with the verses of the song. Ultimately, I’m most thankful that it’s a song of hope and God’s redemption. (Come to think of it, this may be a great choir special for the fall!) —JIM PLASKETT,

GIVE YOU A GLIMPSE INTO THEIR

I always enjoyed the

DIRECTOR OF CLASSIC WORSHIP

WHEN THEY WERE GROWING UP. THEIR RESPONSES MAY CHILDHOOD AND EARLY SPIRITUAL FORMATION. SOME MAY JUST MAKE YOU CHUCKLE.

ZACCHAEUS was my favorite. For obvious reasons! Like him, I had to learn to climb

trees to see over the crowd. I also liked Lazarus. We used the King James Bible and it said that he “stinketh!” —MARK SHETLER, EXECUTIVE PASTOR

I always liked the story of MOSES’

BROTHER AARON being used to speak for Moses. Having the same name, I identified with Aaron being able to talk to a lot of people. I didn’t quite identify with him when he made the golden calf and led the people away from God—clearly someone else must have been to blame! 18

—AARON BRACKNEY, MIDDLE SCHOOL PASTOR

COMPASS MAGAZINE

OUR FAVORITE BIBLE STORIES

My favorite childhood story was SAMSON because I thought it was cool that the Bible had its own super hero. Then, when I got a bit older, I read the story in the Bible instead of a story book and realized this guy’s life was an absolute mess. As a parent I found it somewhat humorous that he was in all the children’s Bibles usually as some kind of hero yet he really is an example of what not to do way more than a person to emmulate. —JESSE SMITH, SENIOR PASTOR


I didn’t grow up going to church. However, I do vividly remember that the movie

KING OF KINGS would air on TV every

Easter. That movie hand a profound effect on me. Every Easter I would make sure that I rallied the family to watch it. It was something I looked forward to every year. I still own the VHS and DVD versions of the movie. ­—TIM LAYFIELD, HIGH SCHOOL PASTOR

NOAH AND THE ARK.

It fascinated my forever curious nature and mind on many levels. How in the world could all those animals get into one vessel with all the food they needed? What about all the animal waste involved with such a long journey? And what happened to all the ants, chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats and sand fleas that always bit me? Were they on board, too? (When you live in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Kansas, as a kid ya’ gotta’ think of these things, right?) What did Noah and his family do on the boat when they wanted a hamburger? How could the little bitty animals not get trampled? Who organized the inside of the ark and decided who took which stall? And, then after all that time on the ark together, how did the animals know where to go to get back to where their native habitat was after the flood ended? —LYNN CAMPBELL, WELCOME MINISTRIES COORDINATOR

One of my favorite Bible stories was

JOSEPH THE

DREAMER. I enjoyed the “Stories that Live” series

and grew up popping in the cassette tapes and listening as I followed along in the illustrated books. This story absolutely fascinated me with how faithful God was even in the midst of such terrible circumstances. God was so much bigger than I could imagine. I was amazed at the trust Joseph had in God, despite the constant difficulties he went through. It greatly encouraged me as a young boy.

—MATT NEWTON, PASTOR OF GROWTH GROUPS

DAVID AND GOLIATH.

I loved the idea of a kid slaying the giant! This young kid was so courageous, strong, and fearless. I was able to envision this BIG man with a BIG sword and shield next to a small boy with nothing to shield him and no weapons except a homemade slingshot. We used to sing a song “only a boy named David, only a rippling brook, only a boy named David and five little stones he took….one little stone went into the sling and the sling went round and round and the sling went round and round. Round and a-round and round and a-round.” That last section was the best part. We all pretended to have slings that were being whipped around many, many times until it flew to kill the big, bad giant. —PEGGY MATHEWS, DIRECTOR OF WOMEN’S MINISTRIES

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO.

It had the potential of being pretty gruesome, but I loved the fact that God rescued them when they obeyed His commands. —SUZANNE PENNINGTON, OFFICE MANAGER

THE PRODIGAL SON. Our church did a Children’s Musical on the parable and it was my first glimpse into God’s mercy and character. It continues to serve as a good reminder. —CAROLYN MELVILLE, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT AND DIRECTOR OF DANCE STUDIO

JOSHUA AND CALEB. I loved their

courage and conviction that God would give them the Promised Land. Twelve spies were sent to scout the territory but only two had enough faith to overcome their fear. These two young men who had just gained freedom from

Egyptian slavery knew that God had even more miracles in store for them. Their story of courage and faith ends when they are old and Joshua has become the leader of Israel. Caleb is 85 years old but asks for the heavily fortified, enemy occupied hill country as his inheritance (Joshua 14). He says, “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; just as vigorous to do battle

now as I was then.” He goes up as an old man and defeats his enemies with the help of God. I named my first son Caleb because of this story of a man who, from youth to old age, never wavered in his courage, his faith in God or his willingness to fight for what was right. —DAN PALMER, EXECUTIVE TEACHING PASTOR RIVERCITYCHRISTIAN.ORG

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