LIVE IN
CCC blog

Archive for December 2007

When Tragedy Strikes

Thousands perhaps millions of conversations have happened in our community since the events of last week. Just this morning I attended my first meeting in 7 days that did not begin with a processing session of what took place last Wednesday. A staff meeting, a discussion group with college students, three community prayer meetings, weekend services, Sunday morning study groups – whatever the gathering, the agenda was dominated by the need to talk.

As Pastor of Spiritual Discovery, I want to encourage you to take advantage of the thirst for conversation that tragedy tends to churn up in our souls. Let me recommend a discussion guide that might be of great help to you, your friends or family members. When Tragedy Strikes: Jesus’ Response to a World Gone Wrong, is one of a series of seeker discussion guides written by Mark Ashton that addresses questions like:


Where is God when tragedy strikes?
Is God to blame?
How should one respond to evil?
What has God done about evil?

We’ll have extra copies of Mark’s guide on sale this week at the resource center in the Atrium. Get a copy and look through it. The holidays may be a busy time to attempt getting together with others for a discussion, but perhaps after the first of the year you might try inviting a friend or co-worker to join you for a discussion over lunch. If you’d like more help on how to lead a seeker discussion – send me an e-mail at timp@cccomaha.org and I’ll give you a call.

Let’s continue to reach out for God in response to what’s happened. God wants to meet us through our questions and struggles – seeker groups are a great way to help that happen!

Additional Resources:

Study Guide
How Could God allow Suffering and Evil by Gary Poole?
http://www.willowcreek.com/product.asp?invtid=PR23011&action;=details

Booklet
Finding God in the Storms of Life by Bill Hybels
http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=199


Booklet

Praying When Life Hurts by Bingham Hunter
http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=199

Why are you going? Pt. II

I received another response from a family on why they are going to CC-Sarpy. Who knows, maybe you who are reading this will want to be a part of the multi-site campus too!

When asked as to why we, Jason and Tasha Nolting and family are looking forward to CCC-Sarpy, the answer is really two fold. We have been attending Christ Community Church for over 11 years, making a 40 minute commute throughout. When you think of the valuable discussions we have had as a family, the commute has not been a factor, however, it has become more of an obstacle as our four kids get us more involved in our own community. Often we have gotten to know other parents on our kid’s soccer teams/Swim team and invited them to Church, yet the time and distance has dissuaded their response. And, it goes both ways, we find that our best friends are a good distance from our community which inhibits true fellowship. We think CCC-Sarpy will help bridge this gap. Secondly, we are looking forward to developing new friendships within a 20 minute area and strengthening “friendly acquaintances” who are making this move with us into authentic relationships. As this smaller body of people endeavor to create the same GOD centered worship, teachings, and community offered at CCC Old Mill in Christ Community Church – Sarpy county, we anxiously look forward to this new community and opportunity God has in store for us.
Jason & Tasha Nolting

What a great way to reach your friends and neighbors who are currently uninvolved in a church.
CC-Sarpy is a great way to reach out to them and offer hope, love, meaningful relationships and connection with God.

On the Journey,
Steve Walters
Campus Pastor

What Could Have Stopped Robbie Hawkins?

Ann’s blog touches on something my mind keeps coming back to as well. What would it have taken to prevent such a tragedy? You may have seen the Thursday morning press release where city officials described details of the shooting, the response teams, the victims names, etc. The sad truth, only visible from hindsight, is that not a single member of an emergency response team was on the scene in time to prevent any loss of life. Robby Hawkins was unstoppable. It leaves one wondering if any amount of mall security, surveillance cameras, or additional police could make our world a safer place.

At one point in Hawkins life, he probably was an individual who could have been reached. Correction facilities didn’t turn him around. It didn’t happen in his adolescent years. It didn’t happen in his home or in his childhood. So what does that leave us? It leaves us with the challenge of loving people boldly in spite of the fact that we live in a scary and insane world. Preventing a life from going badly wrong at 19 might be as simple as reaching out in love to a struggling family in your neighborhood. Protecting ourselves from crazy people hell-bent on killing others and themselves means reaching them with Christ’s love before they get that way.

We’ll continue to need police officers, security workers, emergency medical personnel as long as we live in such a fallen world. Their readiness to face danger should be commended – our gratitude and prayers are with them. Meanwhile, lets continue to love people and see if God’s word rings true that commands us to overcome evil with good. I’ve found renewed energy for prayer this week for our schools – that kids who love Jesus will reach out and include that awkward 5th grader, geeky sophomore or angry 12 year old. As adults let’s join our kids with our own acts of kindness and love at work and in our neighborhoods. Yes, Ann, God loves Robbie Hawkins as well as every other unloveable person we could imagine. But God shows his love through his children.

A few thoughts on love from John the disciple of Jesus:

1 John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

John 15:9-13 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

I Dont Get It

It still feels surreal, but what I don’t get is why this young man hated people so. Could this have been prevented if he was raised in a Christian home or is this in his DNA? If he ever accepted Christ in his life, would he be with the Lord right now? Is this type of horrific taking of innocent lives similar to what we read about in the Old and New Testament? Does Jesus love this Robbie Hawkins? I want to pray but I don’t even know the victims. I feel like when I talk about this tragedy I’m invading their personal lives. My thoughts are still in shock. My heart hurts and I want God to make everything better.

Ann Wyman
Christ Community Attender

Response to the Westroads Shootings

Hey everybody, I’m in Florida with my family and saw the news. I’m regretting that I can’t be there with you right now, right away in the midst of this tragedy that struck our city. Last night, I was up late wrestling in prayer for all of you there as I know you guys are going through an incredibly difficult time.

I just wanted to give you guys a few exhortations from a distance of how to be working through this crisis as it happens and encourage you to stay strong in the Lord as we move through this. Four things to remember – refill, rearrange, resource and redeem.

First of all, Refill:
You’re only going to be able to work through this crisis and help other people around you if you’re full of the Holy Spirit and letting his power working through you. So as you start your day, make sure that you’re starting off in prayer and in worship. If you need to go and be a part of a corporate prayer meeting, be sure and find one. Make sure you spend time with God. Fill your tanks up with the power of the Holy Spirit so you can be strong, and be listening to his voice for what he will have you do.

Second thing is to Rearrange:
Whatever you have scheduled for this week, rearrange it around dealing with this crisis. If you have group meetings together, start off by talking about what’s happening in our city. Give people the opportunity to share. Pray together. Take steps to deal with the tragedy in our midst. There is a unique opportunity in the midst of difficulty here, so we want to be sure we are listening to the Holy Spirit, even if we have to rearrange our lives around what’s he’s doing in people’s lives. Often times pain brings a lot of issues to the forefront.

Third thing is to Resource:
If people that you run into need to get counseling, do what you can to get them hooked up with a trained counselor as soon as possible. If you need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to ask. Don’t forget Virg Ediger and the great lay counseling team that he’s got here at the church.

There is a talk from the Biggies series last fall on the CCC website about the problem of suffering and evil. It is pretty academic, but should steer the conversation to level ground. Also, my study guide When Tragedy Strikes has both the academic and the pastoral sides of helping people to deal with this kind of issue for this kind of a moment in a Biblical way.

The last thing is Redeem:
God is in the business of taking broken things and turning them into good things. That’s what we are all about because that’s what God is all about. Watch for moments to redeem the evil, redeem the difficulty, and redeem the crisis that we have. I’m convinced that God’s going to lead people to faith in himself in the coming weeks. God’s going to clarify who he is in people’s minds. God’s going to reach people who wouldn’t be able to be reached without a tragedy striking. So take the time to redeem this event and be watching for the ways that God’s going to turn it around.

Really, this is what Christmas is all about. It’s about Jesus entering into a messed up and broken world and taking the sin of the world on his shoulders so that it can be redeemed and people can be brought back to him. As we press forward into our Christmas season, there is a very clear connection between the problem of evil and the solution of Jesus.

Westroads Mall at Twenty till Two

Where’s God When Things Go Real Bad?

It’s about 1:00 in the afternoon as I sit down to write this. Yesterday at this time I’d just finished a bite of lunch and returned to my office to discover the Internet was down. “I’ll zip over to Panera,” I thought to myself. Free WiFi, a cup of hazelnut and I’d be back in business! I almost always pray for a parking spot when I pull in, and “Yes, indeed” I found a great spot not far from the entrance to the coffee shop. I think I even said something like “Thank You, Jesus” as I locked my door and turned to enter the building.

The place was still crowded from lunch. The only spot I could find was in the front of the shop next to the unlit fireplace. I grabbed a round table, opened my Dell lappy and started working on my project.

About 10 minutes into my session I heard a loud, sharp slamming sound coming from the hall. Another slam… and another. A little perturbed, I looked out the front entrance thinking, “Wow, do those guys know how much noise their clumsy construction is causing?” Another series of explosions followed immediately – six or eight. I looked up again, and this time realized something far worse was happening.

People began running past the entrance of Panera. Some ran into the store. A man carrying a toddler with a horrified look on his face speechlessly hustled past the counter and out the rear exit. Two more seconds later another man slid into the front of the dining area like a baseball player stealing second. A third person ran over to the table I was sitting at and started crawling under it – pushing my legs aside.

Another series of shots rang. My next prayer was something like a mildly audible, “Oh dear Jesus, what is happening out there?” I couldn’t move. I wasn’t sure I wanted to at first. A mall security officer then appeared telling us to move to the back of the store while the gate started descending over the entrance. I grabbed my things, tripped over the guy on the floor and rushed for my car. Police vehicles headed into the mall parking lot as I headed back to Christ Community – Internet or no!

Where were you, God?
I’ve often thought that if I were ever in a situation like a shooting, some incredible surge of bravery would kick-in and I’d find an amazing sense of presence to intervene. Have you ever caught yourself thinking that? Truth is, when something that brief and terrifying takes place, there’s very little time for bravery or faith to quell the rush of “fight or flight” that races down your spine. Yesterday at Westroads there were hundreds of terrified people counting on someone or something to shield them from harm. What a grown man was thinking crawling behind my shins for protection I’ll never figure out. It was an insane experience – even the mild dose I was subjected to. If God wasn’t present already, there certainly wasn’t time to call Him to the scene. And if God was there, He chose not to intervene in such a way that prevented the tragic loss of life that happened.

What do we need now that it’s over? We need to go to God with this tragedy. Just as Mary and Martha called Jesus to account for their brother’s needless death, it’s OK for us to bring God our fears, our anger… our disillusionment. If we survived that hellish scene yesterday, we can thank God that things didn’t turn out differently for us. God was definitely with us in a moment of profound vulnerability. Yet for the sake of the victims, their families, friends and loved ones, our hearts ache for a sense of God’s presence today. Let’s reach out to God instead of staying in our coccoons of TV newscasting.

Feel free to send us your thoughts. How are you experiencing God in the face of yesterday’s events? If you could ask God a question or shout something at Him, what would it be? How can we share our city’s loss and help bear each other’s grief?

I encourage you to gather with others, talk about what happened and what it means. There are lots of gatherings for prayer happening around the city. Tonight at Christ Community we’ll have a prayer service at 6:30 in the Sanctuary. Come be a part.

Why are you going?

Often I wonder about the families who are going to the Sarpy Campus. I took some time to ask some families to put down the what and the why. What drew them to CC-Sarpy and why are they going. Read from two young couples each with children on what they had to say.

My family decided that attending the multi-site location was best for the Kingdom of God and our family for many reasons. First and foremost, we are excited for the opportunity to reach out to the community we live in and spread the good news of Jesus. Christ Community Church has a great vision, and we feel that by spreading that vision to as many people as possible, the Kingdom will be that much more populated. Having three little boys to get ready for Church on Sunday can sometimes be likened to a rugby game, so having the multi-site close to home is a perk. This will definitely take our family out of our comfort zone, but hey, you only live once.
Brent & Stefani Fisher

Why Sarpy Campus? We just moved to Papillion five months ago and began visiting churches. Many people also recommended Christ Community Church to us so we added that to our list. Both of us really liked it-the biblical teaching and outreach focus-however, our desire was to get involved in a church closer to home. When we found out that CCC planned to launch a Sarpy Campus that was the clincher. We decided to make CCC our church home and get involved on the launch team.
In Acts 17 it says that God “determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Isn’t it cool that God is so involved in our lives that he even cares about the exact places and times when we live? We are excited to see what God will do in us and through us as we seek him in this new place.

Bo & Sarah Buettenback

Currently we have around 155 adults who are committed to attending CC-Sarpy. What about you? If you are interested in joining or getting more information about the new campus, be sure to click on this link http://www.cccomaha.org/multisite/acceptTheChallenge

On the Journey,
Steve Walters
Campus Pastor