Monthly Archives: May 2009

Showdown on Mount Carmel

At Oasis (high school ministry on Tuesday nights), we?ve been looking at some Old Testament stories together. For some of our students, it?s the first time they?ve heard these stories. Others have heard them more times than they can count. Where ever they are at, our ministry team has challenged them to approach each story with a fresh set of eyes. Our hope is that they will interact with the story on a deeper level than they ever have before – that they would enter the story and allow themselves to be impacted by it. We?ve tried some different (dare I say creative) ways to accomplish this. We?ve looked at different translations, acted out the story, used video clips, and even got out the Children?s Bible and had “story time”. It?s been a blast! I?ve really enjoyed this series.

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Tonight, we are entering into the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). As I was preparing for this lesson, I realized that this is probably my favorite Old Testament story. Every time I read it I get excited! For me, it?s a beautiful story of God revealing himself to a stubborn people.

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-I love that Elijah stands up to King Ahab knowing it could mean his life (v.18).
?-I love that Elijah, 1 man, takes on 450 prophets of Baal because he trusts God (v. 22)…talk about being outnumbered!
?-I love that Elijah challenges Baal to answer with fire (v.24)…Baal was the “god” of fire!
?-I love that Elijah taunts them (v.27)…not usually a nice thing to do, but I?d say it was deserved in this situation.
?-I love that Elijah calls the people to himself and then rebuilds the altar of the Lord (v.30)…symbolizing the work that needs to be done in the hearts of the people of Israel.
?-I love that Elijah has 4 large jars filled with water and then dumped on the offering not once, not twice, but three times! (v.33-35)…made it perfectly clear that this was not some kind of trick.
?-I love that Elijah prays that God would answer and make it known that he is the one true God (v.36)

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But, the thing I love the most about this story is how the people respond in v.39. They fall to the ground and worship God! I wonder what it would have been like for them in that moment. They must have realized the foolishness of following Baal. Probably were a little scared, maybe even terrified. I wonder if they even remember where they got off track…where they took a wrong turn. Was it related to a specific event, or was it more of a gradual process?

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How about you? What sticks out to you about this story? What?s your favorite OT story? What do you like about it? I?d love to hear from you.

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Grace,
?Chris “the Elijah wannabe”

Memorial Day Weekend Fun

I?ll blame it on a long week and the excitement of the upcoming holiday weekend, but I just had to share this video with you. Makes me laugh every time.

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What are your plans for the weekend? Doing anything special? Getting together with friends and/or family? We?ll be staying home, relaxing, cooking out, and enjoying the weather. Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.

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Grace,
?Chris

Shedding the Pounds

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

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I’ve been getting ready for my annual stroll on the Appalachian Trail. I’ll be leaving on Monday with my son Micah for North Carolina where we’ll spend a few days getting a great work out and thoroughly enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I can hardly concentrate on work right now – I am so anxious to go! I love the woods, the mountains, the fresh air – I feel a special connection to my God in this setting – no doubt that my sacred pathway is nature! (Check out: http://www.sacchurch.org/action-steps/sacred_pathways.htm – I also highly recommend the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas.)

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One of the obsessions of any backpacker is to shed whatever weight you possibly can from your pack. My goal is to carry no more than 30 pounds with me. That means that anything that is not absolutely essential gets left behind. No bible – I just copy one page out of it to read over and over again (Romans 12 this year!), count out the estimated number of sheets of needed toilet paper (yeah, too much information – sorry!), all food out of it’s original packaging now placed in storage bags, toothbrush cut in half and only two shirts and two pairs of socks to alternate for the week – same shorts every day! (Yes – we will smell like goats by the time we get off the trail).

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Getting rid of unnecessary weight is a spiritual principle as well. We are instructed to get rid of the things in our life that our slowing us down in our pursuit of God. We need to take the time to brutally and honestly assess what things in our life are non-essential – even harmful – to our spiritual growth. What you throw out of your pack might be different than what I get rid of – the key is what slows YOU down? Watching too much TV? Too much time on the internet? Excessive devotion to sports? A bad habit like smoking or over eating? Impulse buying / buying lottery tickets? The list could go on and on…

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When I return I’ll share a bit about our adventure along with a photo or two…

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Peace,
?Dave

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Way To Go

I?m so proud of 3 of our high school students! We?ve been meeting together on a somewhat weekly basis for over a year now. During our meetings we talk about God and life, discuss a chapter of a book, and do some scripture memory. These guys have made a commitment to prioritize their personal spiritual growth.

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Recently we had our semester memory verse review. The guys were responsible to memorize 12 verses. As the judge, I was brutal. I wanted word for word accuracy. We did the review and they were a little off, a few words here and there…not good enough. I laid an incentive on the table and challenged them to get each verse perfect the next week (this week). All 3 boys came prepared. They nailed – all 12 verses word for word! Here?s a list of the verses they memorized (It?s from a series put out by Navpress)

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Romans 3:23
?Isaiah 53:6
?Romans 6:23
?Hebrews 9:27
?Romans 5:8
?I Peter 3:18
?Ephesians 2:8-9
?Titus 3:5
?John 1:12
?Revelation 3:20
?I John 5:13
?John 5:24

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I find verse memory to be a very helpful spiritual discipline. What?s your experience with it? Any tips, or resources you want to share?

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Grace,
?Chris

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What Drives Your Day?

“He who answers before listening – that is his folly and shame.” – Proverbs 18:13

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Twenty minutes of my time this morning: I grabbed a cup of coffee, went outside and sat on a picnic table – I invited God to speak to me, to tell me whatever He wanted – I soaked in the abundant sunshine, enjoyed the cool, almost chilly, breeze – I sipped my coffee – I tried to intentionally listen for God’s voice, I walked around to the recently planted trees on our church property, carefully inspecting each one to see how it was doing – noticing the blossoms on some, the newly emerging leaves on each – I walked across the grass at a leisurely pace – and then came back to my office. Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes set aside to intentionally listen to God.

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That has not been a regular practice recently. My “to do” list has been dominating my schedule. Even when I read in my bible I tackle it like another chore to check off my list. To sit still and be silent and listen has been dismissed from my life as a quaint yet misguided use of my time.

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To the observer it would have appeared that I had wasted twenty minutes of my day. I’ll be honest with you – I did not receive any new spectacular revelation – no specific insights or leadings – no peek at the winning Lotto numbers for this week – not even a good idea for this Sunday’s sermon.

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Amazingly though – I sat back down at my desk refreshed, focused – my head was clear – a sense of God’s presence and energy in my life. I need to do that a lot more often. I want to have a keener sense of God’s presence in my life – of His leading me through out my day. Maybe it is as simple as me shutting up, sitting still – and trying, even for twenty minutes, to hear His voice.

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When is the last time you tried that?

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Peace,
?Dave

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First Impressions

I love the story of one of our regulars at ACC. The mother-in-law came to check out the church that this young couple was going to get married in. First words out of her mouth… “You want to get married here? Look at this place?!?!” OK, not the kind of first impressions you?d hope the facility would make. If that were somebody checking out our church as a first time visitor, do you think they?d come back? Maybe, but maybe not.

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I?m so excited with funds collected from a couple year end campaigns as well the help of many volunteers we are quickly working to make a huge difference in the first impression of people visiting our church. Our new entrance way will look great, encourage people to hang around out after services, and also help with the old question of, “Where is the main entrance?”

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Since Monday we have had the help of 14 people putting in many hours on all different parts of the project.

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Here?s a little run down of the progress we?ve made.
?Monday – Rip out all the cement
?Tuesday – Start grading the land
?Wednesday – Run some piping to redirect rain water
?Thursday – Clean up the huge mess caused by the rain storm
?Friday – Lay gravel and finalize some grading

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Sounds simple when listed like that, but I can say first hand that each of those steps has caused many soar muscles, sunburns, fatigue, and very dirty clothes. These are the costs that our volunteers have paid to help us change the first impression that people have just walking up to the building.

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If you are interested in getting dirty and helping with this project be sure to let me know.

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Jim

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It Takes One To Reach One

This past Sunday we baptized 15 people in our worship services! It was a time of great celebration, fun, praise, excitement, joy, power, wonder and enthusiasm. Each person briefly shared the story of their coming to Christ and the difference He has made in their life since. These are some quotes:

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“We were both led to a small church in Wisconsin. She became involved in the youth group and I joined a home study. Through our different groups, we opened our hearts and welcomed Jesus in.”

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“A year or so later a couple of members had an informational meeting about Christianity and I went. That’s where I formally asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be in my life forever.”

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“However, it wasn’t until meeting my wife and attending ACC where I honestly understood the implications on my life when responding “yes” to what seemed to me a simple question. I see now that believing in Christ is not just a stated belief it is a way of life.”

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“You see all throughout my mother’s hospitalization I would visit her everyday and she would talk to me about what God has done for her.”

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“I came to know more about Jesus by going to Upward Basketball at ACC. Every practice we would talk about Jesus’ life…”

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“ How I came to ACC was my neighbor Lynn, who had been inviting me and my family for almost a year, and never gave up trying. How I came to Christ was my big sister Tammy. She had been wanting me to find a church for years and been a Christian all of her adult life. I saw first hand what it could do and I really wanted to be a part of it.”

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“About a year ago, our neighbor Lynn Diers told us about ACC. It sounded interesting, and we procrastinated about going. We were all playing outside one nice Saturday afternoon this past October when Bridget said “We’re going to church tomorrow!” and I said “OK.” From the moment we walked in the door, we felt at home and knew that this was where we were going to reunite our relationship with Jesus. Thank you Lynn for walking across the room…or the front lawn in our case.”

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What is the common thread running through each story? Answer: Interaction with a follower of Christ. The truth is that God uses people to reach people. We never really know how a simple act like inviting someone to church, coaching an Upward basketball team or being part of a growth group will impact someone for eternity!

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Two ideas: 1. Who was instrumental in you coming to Christ? Take a moment to thank God for that person – maybe send them a thank you note! 2. Are you allowing yourself to be used by God to reach others? What are you doing to share the good news of Jesus Christ? Think about who you could invite to church – consider a way you could get involved a ministry of ACC to help spread the word!

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God is doing a great work in many lives. Be a part of the action!

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Peace,
?Dave

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