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Archive for October 2009

Mali short-term team is full! El Salvador team still has need.

A few weeks ago at CCC we invited people to participate in a short-term mission trip next February to Mali, West Africa, to continue the process of building at the Women and Children’s Hospital.

The response that morning was tremendous and I have been relying on God to fill that team. Well Praise God, our team is now complete! We have filled out both the Construction and Medical parts of this team.

If you indicated that morning you were interested in this trip but you have not been contacted, please know that I will keep you informed of our future trips. We have plenty of opportunity coming in 2010 and beyond for you to participate in short-term missions. As I confirm dates for more trips to many parts of the world I will keep you informed.

IMMEDIATE NEED! I do want to let you know about a need we have on another short-term trip that will be happening from February 27 to March 6 in 2010. This team will be going to El Salvador to work with CCC missionary Lance Grush. The team will be putting on an evangelistic program in public schools for kids from 8 to 17 years old.

The El Salvador team is almost full but I have an immediate need for two men to participate.

If you are a man and you are interested in learning more about this trip, please email me at craigw@cccomaha.org or call my office at 938-1575. I would love to give you more information.

Thank you for your interest in missions at CCC. I can’t wait to see how God continues to use people like you to reach a world so desperately in need of Christ.

Great response from Message


Here is an email I got from a family that came on Sunday! Great story about a girl who is not ashamed!

Dear Mark,
I wanted to tell you a story regarding your last sermon that I think will warm your heart. My 13 year old daughter, Aleesha was in Access this last Sunday for service. One thing you said during the sermom really spoke to her heart ” Sin always costs more than it’s worth” She wanted to write it down and lacking paper took the next best thing – her arm – because that’s the perfect place to write things down so you won’t forget! She left it there, and went to school with short sleeves on Monday. One of her teachers saw the writting on her arm and became very upset that she would write on her arm, not stopping to ask her what it was she sent my daughter to the nurses office to wash it off. Aleesha complied and began to scrub and scrub, till her arm was beat red. The ink would not budge. The nurse finally stopped her out of concern for her arm. My daughter then said to me “it just proved to me that you can’t wash away the Truth! It’s like it’s a part of me forever now!” My daughter is sometimes wise beyond her years. I do believe the ink will fade, but the words now never will.
Thank You!
Shawn Liu

Halloween – 3 – Responses

So, we’ve heard some about Halloween’s Roots and some Rumors about the holiday. How should people who follow Jesus respond to Halloween? There are a number of different ways that Christians have chosen to respond in these situations. If done with a right heart, all can be honoring to God.

1) Avoid – In order to keep one’s children pure, some parents decide to simply avoid connection to the holiday altogether. They will miss school on the day of the party, go out to eat or have a family movie night during trick or treating, and avoid all costumes and anything to do with Halloween. They might take this opportunity to serve the poor or spend extra time in the spiritual formation of kids through additional Bible Study or prayer. It is critical that parents who choose to avoid not be overtly critical or condemning in their approach to the holiday or in their approach to followers of Christ who choose one of the other strategies on Halloween.

2) Engage – Others see Halloween as a prime opportunity to engage within the culture. The idea here is to allow kids to participate in pure ways in the Halloween fun. These parents will help their kids to choose appropriately fun and creative costumes that do not celebrate death or evil. Kids attend parties and go trick or treating as a part of a broader community in order to build relationships and be an influence. Those who choose the engagement strategy point out that this is the one day of the year when all of your neighbors come knocking on your door. It is also a day when you can visit everybody’s house and spend a few moments with a trick-or-treat…or a few house with neighbors and their kids running around the neighborhood. Those who are best at the engagement strategy take it a step higher. Some might have hot chocolate available for parents in their driveway and take a few more minutes to chat with people who pass by. Others will invite their block to come over for a chili supper and candy-swap after the trick or treating.

3) Triumph – The last group of people see Halloween as something to triumph over. They do a fall holdiay bigger-and-better than the normal culture. Some churches put on an all-out Fall Festival that is more fun than the best Halloween party in town. They invite friends to their party so that they can see the power of Christian Community in action. Others will dress up as Bible Characters in order to create opportunities for dialog. Some have alternative fall parties in their homes as worship/fellowship opportunities for fellow Christ followers OR as outreach opportunities for people from all spiritual backgrounds.

For all of these groups, it is imperative to be kind to others who respond in different ways. Navigating cultural challenges can be tricky business. There are many ways to represent Christ well without submitting to the dangers that a broader culture can bring.

What about babies?


One of the most heart-wrenching questions that somebody asks about eternity is the question “What happens to babies that die before they have the chance to make a decision for Jesus?” It was a question that I asked back in my early marriage years when we lost two babies during pregnancy.

As we go through the passages related to David, one of the best narrative passages related to babies emerges. In 2 Samuel 12, immediately after the Bathsheba/Nathan episode, David’s son by Bathsheba is born and immediately becomes sick. David pleaded with God for the child and fasted and spent nights prostrate in prayer. Seven days later, the baby died.

When David was told this, he did something very strange. He got up, washed, put on lotions and worshipped God. His befuddled servants asked him about this and David responded by saying this:

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Sam 12:22-23

David models two great things in this. First, when the baby dies he worships God. He rests in the confidence of God’s goodness and justice. He knows that God holds the keys to life and death and that He will do the right thing. God will judge everybody – even babies – justly. He knows everything about them, including what they WOULD have done if they HAD lived a full life. (mind-blowing, eh?) David’s confidence in God through life and death is remarkable. He does not let the tragedy of life take him on a downward spiral away from God, but allows it to become an excuse to draw him closer to God.

Further, David knows that “I will go to him.” There is a cool confidence that the baby’s eternity is secure. So is David’s. Therefore, he will go to be with the baby in heaven for eternity. Is this a clear doctrinal promise that every baby goes to heaven? No, that would be stretching the narrative too far. However, it does provide comfort for parents that we can rest in the goodness of God. We need not get trapped in a moment of pain forever.

God is merciful and good. David trusted that he would go to his baby on the other side of death. I trust that I will see my two kids on the other side of death. If you are struggling with the pain of a baby’s death, I’d suggest that you take the same posture of trust that David had. Worship God and say “I will go to be with him.”

Extreme Makeover


There is one show on TV that is a guaranteed cry every week. Extrememe Makeover Home Edition. But the emotion is not the only reason to love the show. Ty is an amazing leader, spokesperson, cheerleader, bleeding heart. Lives are totally changed when they encounter the big ‘ol bus. It is amazing to see the community come together for a week to be all about the transformation of a single family.

It is also a brilliant picture of redemption. They take a family that is in chaos. From one angle or another, they have been a victim of sin and evil in this world. The stories of diseasses, sickness, tragedy, poverty, fires, economic disaster etc. are heartwrenching. But Ty swoops in with his megaphone and brings hope. Then he brings resources. The generosity of the community pours in and ba-da-bing, 7 days later you have a dream home. Often times you throw in the bonus of an old mortgage being paid, a college education set up, a visit from a celebrity or a really cool three-story doghouse in the backyard. Everybody watching cries – because we know that there is something beautiful and good and life-giving in these moment.

This is what God does with our lives. When we were all a wreck, he swoops in with Jesus and a megaphone giving us words of hope. Then he pours out the resources of the Holy Spirit, and the community of the church, and joy. There is a guarantee of a great big mansion that we will live in for eternity, with the ultimate joy of the knowledge of God himself, community that is pure AND the power of sin and death being eliminated. WOW! And everybody cries…but only for a moment. Because he will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more crying or death or mourning or pain.

Extreme Makeover is coming to Nebraska. You can submit names of worthy families this week at castnebraska@gmail.com. Include name, ages of kids, situation etc. If you know somebody worthy of this redemption, submit names by Friday.

The Kingdom of God is coming to Nebraska too. This week and every week. You are a key player. You bring words of hope, you bring kingdom resources. You bring the perspective of truth. You bring vibrant community. Be the kingdom for somebody… and everyone will cry…but only for a moment.

More From R. T.


Ever wonder what Jesus was up to for the thirty or so years before he worked miracles and taught in public? R.T. France helps me see how strategic it was of God that Jesus WAS NOT taught in the best seminaries of his day nor was he raised the son of a priest or a prophet. NOR was he born in a prominent city. And to top it all off, history has most certainly NEVER gotten his birthday right (not the day, the month or even the right year)!

I Came to Set the World on Fire!

“His family was probably what we’d call middle class. The carpenter was a skilled craftsman perhaps employing labor, and certainly an important figure in the village economy. But they were not wealthy. … Jesus was born into such a family about 6 BC. Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC.

Back home in Nazareth, Jesus was brought up in almost total obscurity. His later teaching shows that he had a full and sound grasp of the Hebrew scriptures, but that is no more than any pupil of the village synagogue-school could gain if he took his opportunity seriously. The level of literacy and formal education among the Jews was probably as high as in any other part of the Roman Empire, and a good grounding in the Old Testament Scriptures was the primary goal of this education.

With at least four younger brothers and an unknown number of sisters to be brought up (Mary’s husband, Joseph, had passed from the scene before Jesus’ adult years), the hope of formal education beyond the normal level must have been remote. At least Jesus, for all his remarkable grasp of the Old Testament, could not compete in paper qualifications with the scribes. To the superior eyes of Jerusalem he was uneducated.

Yet from this long hidden period of Jesus’ life that many of the most effective features of his later teaching are no doubt derived. Most of Jesus’ parables focus on the experiences and events of life in a village setting – farms, vineyards, village houses, shepherds on a hillside, fishermen by a lake…. They include many unforgettable portraits of people like shrewd managers, eccentric employers, a power-drunk local magistrate cut down to size by a nagging widow!

One of the secrets of the appeal of Jesus’ teaching to such a variety of cultures over so many centuries is its firm earthing in ordinary everyday life and in the unchanging features of human characters.

It is not difficult to recognize yourself and your neighbors in many of Jesus’ parables. If he had grown up in monastic isolation or the academic remoteness of Jerusalem, his teaching might not have been very widely appealing.” pp 31-36

If You Understand Jesus You Can't be Neutral


I started a new book yesterday. Actually it’s not a new book, but an old one. But you’ve noticed that Starting a Book feeling before and how fun it can be to launch into something you haven’t read before.

Well, for R.T. France fans, this is a classic book on Jesus packed with inspiring insight about the life of history’s greatest heart-and-mind. I’ll throw you some R.T. in the days ahead – tell me what you think!

Can Anything Good Come From Nazareth? – Chapter One

“Jesus is a divider, a disturber of the peace. People’s reactions to him cause some of the deepest divisions this world knows. If you understand Jesus, you can’t be neutral about him.

This is the Jesus of the Gospels, the only Jesus history can recover. Many other Jesuses have been invented. The liberal theologians of the last century invented a sentimental Jesus … the great preacher of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men. The modern humanist invents a Jesus who is the supreme example of self-giving service to fellow men. Many of us have been brought up on an anaemic Jesus, friend of little children, incapable of any angry thought or divisive action.

All these Jesuses contain some genuine features, of course. Jesus did preach the virtues of love and forgiveness; he did attack exploitation and injustice; he is the supreme example of self-sacrifice for others…

But we gain nothing by suppressing the other, sterner aspect of the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus men were prepared to kill, and to die for, the Jesus who was sufficiently dynamic and controversial to start the most lasting revolution the world has seen.” pp 13-14.

How about your Jesus, reader? Who do you say that he is? Even when you’ve landed on who he is…what do you do with him? The greatest heart-and-mind that ever walked the face of the earth will offend the sentimentalities of smaller heart-and-minds like yours and mine. You either love him or hate him! Sometimes I wish it could be different!

Halloween – 2 – Rumors

Bob and Gretchen Passantino have some great comments on their CRI website about Halloween. They list these unfounded rumors about Halloween…

* It is not true that Halloween is the most important holiday for contemporary Satanists. Their favorite day: Their OWN birthday! It makes sense with their narcissistic sensibilities.

* The actual incidence of Satanic related activity on Halloween is very low. Most crime is petty misdemeanors and vandalism by minors.

* It is not true that Satanists look for “Christian Virgins” to rape on Halloween. Our bigger dangers for our daughters would include being hit by a drunk driver, drug use, or a party that gets out of hand.

* It is not true that the sabatoging or poisoning of halloween treats is a signficant risk if parents take reasonable precautions. Stay in your neighborhood. Only accept pre-wrapped sealed treats. Check all candy when your kids get home.

The Passantino’s full article is available at: www.answers.org/issues/halloween.html

Halloween – 1 Roots

Halloween is a bewitched time of Satanic worship rituals, horror, ghosts and evil. We should compeletly disengage!

Halloween is nothing but secular fun and games. What harm is there in some costumes, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, or trick or treating?

Halloween will be here soon. People certainly have all kinds of opinions!: What are its origins? Are there dangers? How should I respond?

In this blog, I’d like to delve into the facts of the origins of Halloween. Future blogs will have more details.

Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” which means “Holy Evening.” It is the evening which precedes All Saints Day, November first. When Christians began celebrating the great works of men and women of God, and the martyrdom of great people of faith (All Saints Day), they marked it in traditional Jewish fashion – from Sundown on the 31st to Sundown on the 1st. This made October 31 a Holy Evening. This is similar to the celebration of Chistmas, with huge significance on Christmas Eve.

Now, when the event of All Saints Day was firmly established, it was in Northern Europe and Great Britain where there was an already established Celtic/Pagan holiday called “Samhain”. This holiday celebrated the changing of the seasons, the harvest and the cycle of death. In the Samhain festival, it was believed that the spirits who died in the previous year were sent to their final resting place with food, posessions and celebration

Samhain was also the time of year they used to use divination for the future of crops and harvest. Many believe the origin of “Trick or Treating” came from pagan rituals used to understand the future and placate the spirits who were departing.

As the British Isles became increasingly Christian, the All-Saints Day holiday (holy day) became one way to keep Christians from the dangers of Samhain. It was also a symbolic statement of the superiority of the Christan faith over common pagan practices.

It was in the late 1800s that Americans began to celebrate Halloween, with swelling immigrant populations from Northern Europe. They adapted the holidays mischevious traditions without connecting them to the pagan origins. Today, Halloween is primarily found in the U.S.A. It is an event that is largely disconnected from its Pagan or Christian roots, but still has traces from each that can be found mixed into the sugar-loaded, costume-oriented celebrations.

Don't you just love a great quote?

I realized that my “recent” [if you call two weeks ago as recent] three posts have been fairly introspective about life, death and confessing sin.

Tuesday I read a quote that made me smile. Then I read it outloud to others as soon as possible, interrupting the existing conversation if necessary.

I guess those are my two criteria for a good quote.
1. Makes me laugh/smile
2. I have to tell others.

Enough of my opinion.

This quote is from the business section of Newsweek in discussion about technology and computer security.

Passwords are like underwear: you don’t let people see it, you should change it very often, and you shouldn’t share it with strangers.” October 19, 2009 Newsweek-Business section