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Archive for February 2010

Mali here we come!

On March 6th I am leaving for Mali and I am so excited. My family and I have been at CCC for over two years now and while there is a lot going on at CCC, few things seem to excite our people more than the work going on in Mali.

In fact we have a team in Mali right now that gets back on Feb 27th. If you want to read the daily blog entries for this team, go to this link and start reading about the amazing work going on there.

http://cccstm.blogspot.com/2010/02/mali-team-update-feb-25.html

Nick Kelly (our Communications Director) and I will be traveling with half a dozen other Alliance Pastor’s and some leaders from the Alliance headquarters. The purpose of the trip is to develop a new vision for ministry in Mali now that the hospital construction project will be finished this fall.

There will no doubt be continued opportunity to minister at and through the hospital, but what is God calling us to next? Should we be involved in training national Pastors? Should we be involved in Alliance church planting efforts? Should we be looking for more humanitarian projects like digging wells and helping to feed those in poverty? Should we be involved in the Alliance ministry that is working to take teenage prostitutes off the street? Maybe the answer is Yes to all of these, or Yes to a few of these – only God knows right now.

I will share one other thought with you that has been going through my mind. Pastor Mark often talks about the vision to reach the entire city of Omaha for Christ. As I have been more and more exposed to the work of the Alliance in Mali, I’m starting to wonder if God is laying that same vision for Mali on the hearts of CCC and the Alliance. Just like Mark preaches last week, we have a huge God who can and will do huge things, but its often our small view of the God that keeps us from having visions like these.

I will make sure to update my blog while I am in Mali from March 6 – 15.

Pancakes, The Family, and TV

last night the wife and kids were on the news! For eating pancakes! Yup, life is exciting in Nebraska…where everything makes the news. See it at the link below. Be sure to click on the “Pancake Day” next to the blue camera. http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/84961192.html#

The Top Ten Symptoms

The Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality
1. Using God to run from God
2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things
4. Denying the past’s impact on the present
5. Dividing our lives into secular and sacred compartments
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
9. Living without limits
10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey

According to Peter Scazerro, our speaker this coming to CCC March 15 and 16 at 7 p.m., these are they symptoms that your spirituality is UNhealthy. Do any of these resonate with you? Or, perhaps does the list itself confuse you? Or, do you know people whom you could serve to become more spiritually and emotionally healthy? Or, if you are really feeling risky, why not share the list with your best friend or spouse and see if THEY see any of these traits in you!

Our dream is that we are all on a journey from immaturity to maturity, from emotional unhealth to emotional health, always toward Christlikeness! Because our our desire to mature, all of the leaders and servants of CCC, along with about 100 pastors from around the area and special guests from local churches will be gathering to worship, listen, grow and be challenged toward full maturity in Christ.

I am looking forward to seeing you there!

Give Us Your Feedback

Just a quick note to let you know that if you participated in the Jesus Class during the past couple of months, we’d like your input on how we can improve the way we lead the class. We have gotten great feedback from people who were in class last weekend. If you happened to be in the Jesus Class and would like to give us your thoughts, hit on the link below, download the form and bring it to class filled out.

There are also some next step opportunities you can indicate interest in for after the class is over. Even if you missed a few weeks of class, we’d really like to hear from you. Here’s the link:

Jesus Class Evaluation Form

Thanks so much!

Better Than Happy!


“The Epistle of Joy” – that is what Philippians has been known as – at least in intellectual, academic circles. People who speak to normal audiences might call it “The Joy Box”, “Better than Happy”, “The Ultimate Thank-You”, or “Paul is rockin’, when he should be bummin’.” Here’s why:
Philippians is really a long “Thank-You” letter to a church that Paul has huge affection for. Some time before Philippians was written, there was a famine in Jerusalem and the Macedonian churches (i.e. Philippi) stepped up to be the big givers. Their deep poverty overflowed in radical generosity. (2 Cor. 8-9) So, Paul is writing a letter that is cheerleading them in their faith.
At the time, Paul is in prison – technically under house arrest – in Rome. You might think he would be depressed, sad, or overwhelmed, but he is actually stoked about his situation. He is waiting to appear before Caesar, whom he will certainly witness to for Christ. (Just like he did with Herod in Acts 26) In the mean time, he is witnessing to the entire palace guard and everyone else he can get close to about Jesus and many are coming to faith. He is discipling Christians and sending them off to missionary Journeys on his behalf.
Because of all this, the tone of the letter is Joy. Some have found the theme verse to be “Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again rejoice!” (4:4). The book is filled with reasons to rejoice. These include: your salvation, grace, partnership in the gospel, spread of the gospel, the work of God in you, life after death, the mission of God, the wonder of God’s family, the humility of Christ, the example and care of Timothy and Epaphroditus, an Anxiety free life, contentment, the strength of God, a transformed mind, and of course, the amazing gift that the Philippians gave.
In this short, 2-1/2 page book, the words ‘joy’ or ‘rejoice’ are mentioned 14 times! Paul rejoices, prays with joy, commands joy, and seems to rejoice over…everything.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, it is because we are launching a new series. On the backside of “Conquering your Fears” is “Living you Joy”. We can be “Better than Happy” and Phillipians will teach us how. Bring a friend for the beginning February 28!

Making Use of What you Know


Last week in Jesus Class we were served yet another Mark Sandwich… Yum! (see the Jan 28th blog-post on Sandwiches) In chapter 6, Jesus is first rejected at Nazareth. He then sends out the 12 Disciples on a mission. Mark next inserts the flashback of John the Baptist being executed for confronting Herod’s illicit marriage to his brother’s wife. Finally, Mark records the return of the 12 after their mission. Message? The mission of the kingdom is costly – it might bring even painful rejection!

It’s a riveting chapter, but how do you apply its message to your own life? What difference would it make to the church today if we lived in fearless abandon to the mission of Jesus? What do things like “Shake off the dust” mean in a world where we have a hard time just being heard in the first place?

Here’s what the class came up with for personal application points. Actually this is only a fraction of what people submitted. Usually the class teacher is the one putting the bold personal application questions up on the board, but this week we flipped the script and had the students brainstorm.

Here are the best out of a list of over 40 reflection questions. I think they did pretty good!

#28) Who in my life do I need to hold accountable for their actions? Am I willing to take the risks that confronting them might involve? Why not?

#38) Jesus couldn’t perform the miracles he really wanted to in Nazareth because people lacked faith. How is your level of faith affecting Jesus’ ability to work in your life?

#33) Has the fear of acceptance ever held you back? How do you overcome it?

#45) Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs. How can I bring others into my ministry so I’m not alone in my efforts? What are the advantages of always having someone else in partnership with me?

#14) What would you do if you had the power Herod did? a) Use it for selfish gain, caving-in to evil influences? b) Stand up for what is right even if you had to retract something you previously said? c) Avoid the situation and just let things play out? Why?

#12) Is there a Herodias in my life? How can I be prepared to stand up to someone of such power and negative influence?

#11) What would I do if Jesus asked me to go out in mission like the 12 – with little resources or specific directions? Would I obey? What would I stand to learn through such an experience?

#9) What capabilities of mine are actually hindered by lack of faith in those around me? How can I handle myself in a situation where the people surrounding me don’t operate from a base of trust?

Sometime this week, grab your bible, give Mark 6 a look and let the Jesus Class point you toward some penetrating reflection questions as you study.

Way to go Jesus Class!

Bank Robber Turned Supreme Court Expert

So, this guy sent me an email this week. I met him on Sunday. This is all really true! And in the New York Times this week! Whoa!

“I just thought you would like to know that one of your attendees made the
New York Times this week. My name is Shon R Hopwood and the article about
my UNIQUE life story is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/us/09bar.html.
The article is also in today’s print version.

The last 24 hours has been a whirlwind. KETV Chanel 7 interviewed me at
work yesterday for 2 hours. The story has made every major legal blog in
the country. I have had 5 book offers and 4 movie offers. Also, Harvard
University wants me to come and talk to their law students.

But the most amazing part is the fact that both I and my wife became
Christians this summer. We were married in August and had a baby boy on
Christmas day.

Talk to Steve Yost about me. He knows my family and my mother Becky very
well. We attended his church in Kearney during the 80’s.

Just thought you may want to know this incredible news.”

Anesthesia Machine to Mali (missions catalog update)

Last Sunday Pastor Mark shared with the congregation the final results of our first ever Missions Catalog here at CCC. I thought it was pretty cool listening to him talk about the people that were impacted by your generous giving. So I thought it would be a good idea if over the next several weeks I shared more details with you about that impact.

As you may recall, the catalog had items you could help purchase in five different mission fields, one of which was the Hospital for Women and Children in Mali, West Africa.
You gave $12,680 for the hospital, most of which will be used to help purchase a Portable Anesthesia Machine.

Since May 2006, the hospital has performed more than 1,000 surgeries. In a country where surgical options are extremely limited, the hospital is making a difference in the lives of many women and children through safe and skillful surgery. For surgeons to be able to do their job well, good anesthesia is vital. An anesthesia machine will allow the doctors to perform a wide variety of surgical cases that would not otherwise be possible.

As they add operating rooms to the hospital, having an additional anesthesia machine will be a huge asset since many surgeries require more than local anesthesia. If scheduled surgery is taking place in one operating room and an emergency surgical case arrives, they will not have to wait to help the person who needs emergency surgery because they will have not only an additional operating room, but also the tools needed for providing anesthesia in each operating room.

Thanks to your generous donations, this machine has already been ordered and will ship to Mali later this Spring (yes, Spring will eventually come).

Emotionally Healthy – More!

A person’s spiritual maturity is capped by their emotional health. In other words, we must learn to love God with our heart (emotion) AND soul (spirituality). The two are directly linked.
Emotional health can be described in many different ways, but here is one great one:
• Infant-Adolescence – “You meet my needs”
• Adolescence-Teen – “I learn to meet my own needs”
• Dating-early marriage – “I learn to meet my needs and one other person’s needs”
• Parenting Young Kids – “I learn to meet the needs of a group”
• Parenting Older Kids/beyond – “I learn to help groups and systems of people have their needs met.”
The more mature you become, the more able you are to be other-centered. Our natural bent is self-centeredness, but maturity necessitates replacing this bent with a God-centered bent. A person who is centered on God spends their time giving themselves away in love toward others for the sake of the kingdom. This is very difficult for those who are emotionally immature.
Now, it is certainly possible to be ‘saved’ from sins and the wreckage of your life at any of the above stages. Anybody can be forgiven of their past and assured of their future in Christ. The problem comes with reaching spiritual maturity when you are emotionally immature. So let’s imagine that somebody gets stuck in the infancy or teen stage. They are only thinking about their own needs. Their world revolves around themselves. All of us can think of people like this. Maybe it is you! Until they/you get unstuck, it will be very difficult for them to “Love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength… and love their neighbor as themselves.”
We must grow as a congregation – emotionally AND spiritually. If we hope to Double Our Impact, we must be healthy on the inside – as individuals and as a group. During the next few weeks, you can count on a couple of things to press us toward emotional health and spiritual maturity.
First, we will be launching a sermon series from the book of Philippians. It is entitled ‘Better Than Happy’. You can find out why by coming to the services beginning February 28. We will explore the full life in Christ as Paul described it in one of his most joy-filled and life-giving letters.
Second, we will be having a special two-night seminar – March 15-16 at 7pm. Our speaker will be the author of “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” Peter Scazerro. I am anticipating two phenomenal nights that will be a deep investment in the health of heart and soul. If you lead or serve at CCC, I encourage you to carve out time in your calendar to be there and be filled.

Catastrophe vs. Disappointment

This week UNC basketball coach Roy Williams made an short sighted and self-centered analogy.

In a press conference before playing Duke, eventually losing and consequently having a 2-7 record he said this:

Our massage therapist told me, ‘You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catasrophe. What you’re having is disappointment. ‘I told her that depends on what chair you’re sitting in. it does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it’s my life.”

I was driving and blurted outloud to the radio, “You’ve got to be kidding!” I couldn’t believe that Roy Williams was equating a poor season to the death of thousands of people!

As I write this blog, Mark 8.35-37 comes to mind. “Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their livs for me and for the Good News will have true life. It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. They could never pay enough to buy back their souls.”

Roy Williams is wanting to gain the world with fame and sucess. He has is priorities messed up. Life is more important than a basketball game. Life is about saving souls, especially your own.