Read this passage this morning. It was just what I needed. Hope you find it encouraging as well! (Emphasis is my own)
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As we’re wrapping up the school year and transitioning into our summer programming, I’d like to invite you to be praying for our Children’s and Youth Ministry. Here are some specific prayer requests for each ministry:
- Students moving up to new classrooms to make a smooth transition. That they’d be able to celebrate this milestone and quickly settle into their new setting.
- Day Camp. For lots of kids to register, for volunteer positions to be filled, and for kids to grow in their faith through their experience with us.
- More team members. We’re in need of people to meet our growing needs in Children’s Ministry. Pray God would provide people who love him, love kids, and are willing to serve.
- Children’s Ministry Director. We continue to prayerfully seek someone to fill this very important position. Please pray for God to provide the right person for the job.
- Transitions. Students who will be freshmen next year, are welcomed into our high school ministry (Oasis) on Tuesday, 5/26. Students who will be in 6th grader next year, are welcomed into our middle school ministry (Pit Stop) on Thursday, 6/4. Please pray for these important transitions.
- Summer Trips. We’ll be taking a group of HS students to Nashville, TN for a mission trip June 13-20. We’ll be taking a group of MS students to Lake Geneva, WI June 21-26. Please pray for safety, spiritual growth, and lots of fun.
- New team members. We’re looking to add several new adult leaders to both ministries next September. Please pray for our recruiting efforts this summer.
Christianity Explored is a fascinating, highly interactive seven-week course that examines the life of Christ from the gospel of Mark. Whatever end of the spiritual spectrum you might be on – from a skeptical agnostic to a highly devoted follower of Christ – the material is very thought-provoking and generates some fantastic discussions.
Each week begins by sharing an excellent meal together. (Thank you Carol Rech!) Each week you sit at the same table with the same people and the same leader. As you wrap up your meal you begin a discussion by reading certain passages in Mark. You then transition to some excellent teaching on DVD by Rico Tiece, the developer of the course. Then after the teaching you interact with what you just heard. Wow – we had some great conversations! It makes for an awesome evening.
In this inaugural run of Christianity Explored at ACC we had 44 participants. Here is what a few of them had to say:
“I really enjoyed the group discussions and the opportunity to get to know people better.”
“I learned a lot. I so enjoyed the people at my table. I love the program.”
“Such a good course. Great way to look at Mark, and to look at what Jesus said about himself.”
“I enjoyed the course. The content, dinners, and the way in which the course was designed was great. Feel this would be something you could invite a non-churched person to attend.”
“The course was absolutely fantastic. My goal was to understand Christianity more and I feel very confident that I understand what being a Christian means.”
“Great atmosphere for a new Christian like myself to read a gospel guided and be able to ask questions. It was a good way for me to start reading Scripture more thoughtfully and thoroughly.”
Plan this fall to experience Christianity Explored at ACC. You won’t regret it!
Are you in a tight place right now where you just can’t see how you are going to escape? Financially? Medically? With a fractured relationship? Stress or grief that is about to break you?
The ancient Israelites knew that feeling! Upon finally being released from 400 years of slavery they find themselves with the Red Sea in front of them and the pursuing army of Pharoah coming up behind them. The situation most definitely appeared hopeless.
And yet God came through for them in a most astonishing way. Will he do the same for you?
Look to God for your deliverance and you will be able to sing like the once trapped Israelites:
“I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.” Exodus 15:1
Join us at ACC this Sunday to learn the lyrics to your own victory song!
I’m about to enter a very busy season – wrapping up the school year and then going into our youth ministry summer trips…the next 2 months are VERY full. As I look ahead at all that’s on my calendar, I’m reminded of the importance of scheduling in things that refuel me. For me, that means things like:
Family Time Making sure to eat meals with my family, talking with my wife, and even getting down on the floor and playing with my kids. These times remind me of the unique roles I play as Husband to Lisa and Father to my kids.
Reading I LOVE sitting in a coffee shop with a good book. Having a little ones at home makes this one difficult sometimes. I’ve had to scale back my expectations of my amount of reading time, but I know that I can’t go without this one.
Exercise There’s all sorts of information about the importance of exercise for our emotional/mental well being. I don’t know much about that, but I do know that when I stick to a regular workout schedule, I have more energy and feel better about my day. When I’m stressed out, sometimes the best medicine is to head to the gym or go out for a run.
How about you? What do you do to refresh yourself? What kind of activities recharge you? Are you being intentional about scheduling those things into your week?
THE MOST SELFISH THING A CHURCH CAN DO IS TO NOT GROW.
This statement was made by the presenter at a seminar I attended last week. I’ve thought a lot about it ever since…
Here are a few things I’ve been thinking:
- How self absorbed and/or unloving would we have to be to possess the good news of Jesus Christ and not share it with our community? To have unsaved family, neighbors, classmates and coworkers all around us but never tell them about Jesus and never invite them to church – yeah, I’d say that’s the height of selfishness!
- I doubt that there are many churches that consciously choose to be selfish. It just kind of happens. All the Christians gather at the church and enjoy each other’s company so much! The fellowship is sweet! And slowly you become calloused to those who’ve not yet been reached.
- Here at ACC we certainly desire to grow; but not merely for growth’s sake. We do not desire to grow simply because we want to be a “bigger” church. We want to grow because growth would equal people crossing the line of faith! We are not interested in stealing people from other churches. We want to reach those who are currently not attending church anywhere. If our numbers grow, that’s a signal that we are reaching out to the lost the way Jesus commanded us to.
- Last summer we moved into our new building space. We essentially doubled our seating capacity on Sunday mornings. We now have a lot of chairs to fill! What can you do to help fill those seats? (Help people cross the line of faith.) Let me give you a few suggestions:
- Talk about ACC. Tell your friends and acquaintances about our church. Tell them what you’re getting out of it and why you enjoy it. Make a habit of talking it up with those you care about.
- Invite to ACC. When is the last time you invited someone to church with you? Some people don’t attend church simply because they really don’t know where to go or how to get started. There are many people who would begin attending church if they were warmly invited!
- Pray for ACC. Pray that God would increase our influence and effectiveness. Pray that he would give our people a heart for reaching those who don’t know Christ. Pray that we would be loving and generous and accepting and that those who come through our doors would feel like they found a place where they can make friends. Pray that our church would always teach the Bible clearly and communicate without compromise the good news of Jesus. Pray that our church would be filled with people who are praying for their unsaved friends and neighbors. Pray. Pray. Pray.
THE MOST SELFISH THING A CHURCH CAN DO IS TO NOT GROW.
Think about that!
I was at a conference recently where one of the speakers shared a thought that really stuck with me. In regard to our spiritual life and how God wants to use us in the world, he said that as we get older, we tend to dream less. We tend to set the bar lower, depend more upon our own abilities and experience, and take fewer risks. He went on to say that this shouldn’t be the case. Our God is powerful! Nothing is too great for Him. We need to remember His faithfulness (Psalm 119:90, I Thessalonians 5:24). In fact, remembering His faithfulness should lead us to dream more…His track record demonstrates what He’s capable of and should inspire us step out in faith and trust Him.
As I reflect on these ideas, I’m convicted. I think of all the times where I stressed out over details that I should have trusted God with. I think of the times when my prayers were small, because my faith was small. While I believe we should be careful and discerning, I also believe we should have bold faith. I’m challenged to step out in faith and pray big for our church, for our youth and children’s ministries, and for my family.