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Archive for November 2008

The 109

Today was a milestone for Christ Community Church with our “Baptism on the Spot”. Crazy thing…just tell the good news real plain and invite people to be baptized. 109 people came forward in obedience to Jesus.

109 people taking that first step of obedience in following Jesus. 109 people who are bold enough to declare publicly that they are a follower of Christ. 109 people who matter to God so much that he would die for them. 109 people who are now in God’s family, forgiven of their past and given hope for their future.

Congratulations to the 109! But also, I must say congratulations to the CCC family. You have created a culture where it is OK to invite outsiders. You have boldly witnessed to your friends. You have invited people to see what faith in Christ looks like – in your life and in the broader community. You have demonstrated what life looks like based in truth and lived consistent with what Jesus has called you to. The results are that God is pleased to use us in his redemptive purposes. People are getting saved and baptized. Eternity is changed.

Thanks for your investment!

I'm Amazed

It wasn’t more than three weeks ago that I was discouraged. Frustrated and discouraged is more accurate. Frustrated that our numbers were lower than I wanted. [Wow, that looks petty as I type out “than I wanted.”] Any way, I was discouraged because the couples and families who visited weren’t coming back for a second visit.

I mean, we had a fantastic visitor follow up system in place. Complete with a follow up phone call, email and a hand written note within the week, thanking for them being with us that Sunday.

I asked myself, What more could be done? What else should I do to get visitors to come back?

I was moping around and vented my frustration and discouragement to my wife. After whining for awhile, Terry then asked a very simple question, “Are we praying about it?”

Whoops. Right there I realized I was trying according to my own efforts. I was ignoring the power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.

So…we started a prayer time during second service.

Since then we had a family visit us because of seeing the flags flying in front of the school and have a dad walk into church after seeing our signs while waiting for his son’s football game to start there at Lewis and Clark. We have also seen several families come back for a second and third visit and also get plugged into a Journey Group!

All that said, I’m amazed. I’m amazed at my near sightedness and lack of dependence on God.
I’m also amazed at how God works and the power of prayer.

On the journey of growing and learning,
Steve Walters
stevew@cccomaha.org

Mistakes in the Bible?

Here’s a great topic for conversation we’ve recently launched at Gathering – our Sunday lunch discussion venue at Christ Community Church. For the past month we’ve been looking at the historical reliability of the Bible … the process by which the scriptures have come down through the ages … the archeological evidence of the people and places mentioned in the Bible … and the way history-telling worked in ancient times.

This next week at Gathering we’re going to tackle the issue of inerrancy. Is the Bible free of errors that would make it inconsistent with itself, factually inaccurate and ultimately an unreliable guide to knowing and following God? To jumpstart our consideration, let me give you a sample of author Bart Ehrman’s recent best seller “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.”

“Because the early Christian texts were not being copied by professional scribes, but simply by educated members of the Christian congregations… we can expect that in the earliest copies mistakes were commonly made in transcription.” (p. 51)

“Even scribes who were competent, trained and alert sometimes made mistakes. Sometimes, though they changed the text because they thought it was supposed to be changed. This was not just for certain theological reasons, however. There were other reasons for scribes to make an intentional change – for example they came across a passage that appeared to embody a mistake that needed to be corrected, possibly a contradiction found in the text, or a mistaken geographical reference, or a misplaced scriptural allusion. Changes were made and the author’s original words, as a result, may have become altered and eventually lost.” (pp. 55-56)

“One of the leading questions that textual critics must deal with is how to get back to the original text – the text as the author first wrote it… It is an enormous problem. In fact it is such an enormous problem that a number textual critics have started to claim that we may as well suspend any discussion of the “original” text because it is inaccessible to us.” (p.58)

Well, there we have it folks. Mistakes in the Bible. What do you think of Ehrman’s assertions? If true, how much damage is done to the Christian claim that the Bible is infallible and authoritative? Send me your thoughts and reactions. Hit on the comment link below and give me your best shot. Or swat me a quick e-mail and we’ll dialogue some this week. To e-mail me directly send to:

timp@cccomaha.org

More from me and Bart as I hear back from you! Feel free to check out the web-page about The Gathering at:

http://www.cccomaha.org/venues/gathering.php

Obama in the House

In the post-election millieu, there was great celebration in my home city of Chicago, where supporters in Grant Park shouted “Yes We Can”. In other places there was deep sorrow because of a deep disagreement with the philosophy and politics of our newly elected president.

In the midst of a variety of responses some things are for sure. One is that we have our first bi-racial president-elect. This is a huge marker for the civil rights movement, the opportunities for minorities, and the progress of the United States. Who would have thought this possible even 40 years ago? Soon the most powerful politician in the world will be a son of immigrants, from two different races, raised by a grandmother through turmoil and eventually into the White House.

But far more importantly, it is certain that followers of Jesus should be praying for our new leader (and other political leaders.) The Bible commands us to pray for our kings/presidents/governors etc. regardless of whether we would vote for them.

An evil dictator? Pray for him!
A benevolent king? Pray for him!
A follower of Jesus? Pray for him!
An atheist? Pray for him!
A despotic, nefarious, wicked, furher? Pray for him!
A wonderful, wise, brilliant, kind, prime minister? Pray for him!

I want to encourage you to pray for Mr. Obama, and Mr. Johanns, and Mr. Terry, and Mr. Heineman and Mr. Nelson and our school board members, and all our state, local and national leaders. Pray for them now as they hire staff and put together cabinets. Being in leadership is no simple task and they need the wisdom of a God who oversees the affairs of nations.

I hope that one of the lessons that we learned from Defining Moments is that God is at work in the culture – whether Ahab or Jeshephat is the king. There will be a new president in January, but God is the same.

God is still at work in our culture.
God is still on the throne.
God is still healing people.
God is still turning evil into good.
God is still healing people.
God is still drawing men and women to himself.
God is still growing his kingdom.

Our trust never has been and never will be in government. Our trust is in God…because he can be trusted.

Halloween Hosts…

Last Friday we had a number of families from the Sarpy Campus commit to let them know they care. They demonstrated care with fire pits, mini or full sized candy bars, smiles, costumes and even some cider or hot chocolate for the adults.

I heard a number of stories of how the people from the neighborhoods appreciated the friendliness and creativity of these families. I talked with one family from Sarpy who purchased 200 candy bars and taped a card with information on the ministries and times of services at the Sarpy Campus. Afterwards, the neigbors came over and hung out in their driveway until late into the night.

I couldn’t help but think about how this was happening all over Sarpy County and that God was pleased. Pleased that people were meeting neighbors in the neigborhood and blessing them with a smile, sugar and most importantly, hope. I know each host didn’t take a soap box and start preaching, but they didn’t have to. They preached in a far more effective way. With love and a way to show that they care.

May God continue to give our families caring and creative hearts to reach their neighbors!

On the journey,

Steve Walters
CCC-Sarpy Campus Pastor

A Fire Pit and Some Rubber Duckies!

Tim,

We had a great evening.

I told my neighbor, Donna about what we were planning on doing. She wanted to help. I said, “All we need is a fire pit”. She said she had one we could use. Donna also joined us since her husband was out of town.

We brought the nice chairs from the back deck. We circled them around the fire pit. We had a table with hot chocolate and coffee with the favors.

For the kids, we had a duck pond. All the ducks had number on the bottom. The kids told us the number and we gave them there prizes. The prizes were pens, highlighters, sticks, candy and super-superballs. All the kids got glow sticks and candy and a spider ring as well. The kids had fun.

Conversations were flowing with the neighbors. Even if they didn’t want coffee or hot chocolate, they still stopped to talk. Some stayed for a long time and we talked and laughed. It wasn’t long until the neighbor on the other side of us joined us as well for the rest of the evening.

Saturday morning, another neighbor was walking by and started talking about the fun and hot chocolate that she heard we had at our house.

We were tired when if was all over, but it was worth it all.

In Christ,
Dianne and Mark

Andre's Trunk or Treat!

Tim,

Since the summer we have enjoyed doing small gatherings with our neighbors. They have become our journey group. This Halloween our families had fun by doing a “Trunk-r-Treat” in our community.

Each family decorated their vehicles and lined them up in row. It was neat to see the kids go from trunk to trunk collecting trinkets and candy. We ordered some pizzas and enjoyed stories presented by our friend from Christ Community, Mike Carroll. Being the professional storyteller that he is, Mike held the kids captive for close to 30 minutes with some fun Halloween tales and closed the night by sharing the gospel with a pumpkin illustration.

An event like this is helping us to know how we can pray and serve each other in the neighborhood.

We have some photos that we will send in.

Andre

So, How Did it Go?

We went for the tripple whammy this Halloween – Chili, Curb-site Hot Chocolate, and Outdoor Theatre. Since the weather was outrageously unseasonable, we cashed in on as many strategies as we could imagine.

First of all we did the killer Chili for our neighbors – three pots of chile, chips and a crock pot of nacho cheese! About 20 of our neighbors swung by, checked out the fire pit and were amazed at my orange extension cord running out to the street!

A handful of International students came over for chili – they stuck around and helped us hand out candy to kids on our front porch so we could talk with adults over hot chocolate at the end of our sidewalk.

On a whim we decided to set up a back-yard theatre on our garage wall. Our teens hosted some of their friends for a movie night starting after the trick or treating wrapped up. Kids from school. Kids from youth group. Kids from the neighborhood. The back patio was knee deep in bodies. What a mess. We loved it!

Send me your e-mails on how Halloween shook out at your place and I’ll post them right here on the blog.