LIVE IN
CCC blog

Archive for April 2010

The world is changing, but Jesus is not

I suppose people from every generation feel this way at some point, but sometimes it feels like the world is changing faster than the church can keep up.

This last week somebody sent me a link to a video that showed a disturbing trend in the birth rates in many nations around the world. The basic idea is that pretty much all countries in Europe including Russia have birth rates (meaning the number of births per family) that are so low, like 1.3 children per family, it is statistically impossible to maintain their population. Yet added to that is that immigrants in these nations who are Muslim are having 8 children per family. The result will be that most of Europe will have Muslims as their majority in the next 20 to 30 years.

So how are we as followers of Jesus to think about this? Is Christianity losing? Should we circle our wagons and just ride the storm out until Jesus returns?

The answer must be a resounding NO!

In reality, from a human perspective, the odds have always been against Christ followers. Think about the early church, they boldly went into a hostile word with the message of hope and they changed the world. In most countries throughout history Christians has always been the underdog.

Remember, the victor has already been determined. Jesus can’t lose, its not possible. Remember what Paul says in Philipians, there will be a day “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

So let me challenge you that now is the time for you to be bolder than ever before. Now is the time to venture into dark places like Mali and China and Jordan, or maybe your neighborhood, and share the good news. Now is the time to sacrifice our time, our talents, and our treasures. Now is the time to stop huddling inside our four walls and reach out to a world that needs Jesus Christ.

So yes, the world is changing fast, but Jesus never changes. The message of hope brought to a dying world is the same today as it was 2000 years ago, and the world needs it just as much today as it did then.

Pray for Religious Freedom on Campus!

Here is an article copied from InterVarsity.org website. Critical, current news with powerful nationwide implications!

by Gordon Govier
February 10, 2010

On April 19, 2010, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are scheduled to hear arguments in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. InterVarsity is among a large number of organizations who have filed 34 amicus (friend of the court) briefs in this case. The justices’ decision will have a major impact on campus ministry.

Courts in Conflict
The U.S. Supreme Court often decides to hear an appeal when two different circuits of the federal appeals courts render conflicting opinions. That is what has happened with cases brought by the Christian Legal Society (CLS) in the Seventh Circuit in the midwest and the Ninth Circuit on the west coast. CLS works closely with InterVarsity on law school campuses across the country. Mike Schutt, CLS’s director of Law Student Ministries, also serves as coordinator of InterVarsity’s Professional School Ministries to Law Students.

In July of 2006, the Seventh Circuit appellate judges ordered Southern Illinois University (SIU) to reinstate the CLS chapter. SIU officials had claimed that the CLS chapter’s requirement to have its voting members and leaders adhere to basic Christian beliefs violated the university’s affirmative action policy.

In March of 2009, the Ninth Circuit appellate judges affirmed a federal district court opinion involving the University of California—Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. The district judge had ruled that school officials were permitted to deny recognition to CLS because the chapter requires its officers and voting members to adhere to the CLS Statement of Faith, which is seen as a violation of the religion and sexual orientation portions of the university’s nondiscrimination policy.

A Familiar Issue
The issues in these two cases are identical to the issues that led InterVarsity to file suit against the University of Wisconsin—Superior in federal court in 2006.

InterVarsity’s right to require that the leaders of our campus chapters affirm the basic Christian doctrines of our Statement of Beliefs is frequently being questioned on a number of other campuses. “It’s happening a lot more frequently than I expected, given the state of the law,” said InterVarsity’s legal counsel, Mike Anderson. “Even in the Seventh Circuit, we continue to have to deal with school administrators who are not familiar with the law of this Circuit. These cases are usually resolved quickly and amicably once we remind them of what the law requires, but this resistance still burdens our ability to do ministry.”

Schools in the Ninth Circuit are entitled to design their policies consistent with the law in that Circuit. In fact some ministries, such as Every Nation Campus Ministries at San Diego State University, have already been restricted in their work on campus.

With the law in the Seventh Circuit in conflict with the law in the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted CLS’s petition for certiorari. Oral arguments are expected in April, with a decision possible as early as this summer.

An Experienced Advocate
The lead attorney for CLS is Michael McConnell, who argued the case of Rosenberger v. University of Virginia in 1995. The Rosenberger case found that a state-run university could not withhold financial support from a student publication with a religious perspective when the university funded other student publications. Since 1995 McConnell has served as a Judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and is now director of the Stanford University Constitutional Law Center.

CLS provides a dialogue of questions and answers about the Martinez case on its website. Their brief was filed last week and is posted online..

The ruling in this case will impact every chapter of CLS, every chapter of InterVarsity, and every other Christian campus ministry. That’s why 17 other organizations and 13 state attorneys general have urged the justices to make a ruling that protects the rights of religious groups to set their own membership and leadership requirements. The ruling will either allow these groups to operate the same as all other campus organizations, or it will allow state colleges and universities to deny recognition to Christian groups on their campuses.

More than 80 organizations and 14 states have filed a total of 22 amicus briefs in support of the Christian Legal Society. Eleven briefs have been filed in support of the other side. One brief supports neither side.

You can read the briefs on this American Bar Association web page.

Please encourage prayers for the Supreme Court to render a decision that will not limit campus ministry.

How far are you supposed to go?

When I was on staff with InterVarsity, working with college students in the ’90s, one of the key issues for the guys was “How far can I go physically with a woman without breaking God’s principles?”

My honest answer to the guys is that they were asking the wrong question. The right question is “How can I live in such a way to please God in my physical relationships and honor the woman I am romantically interested in?” My guess is that if you really seek God about a high-integrity lifestyle, then appropriate physical intimacy before marriage should be clear. And, God will give you the power to resist temptation.

Despite my best attempts to teach from a higher plane, guys would often press me for the “ultimate limits” when it comes to physical expression. Now, the truth is that the Bible is not clear. And Christians disagree on what is and is-not appropriate. Not only that, but there are differences based on your age and relational stage as well. (first date? serious dating? engaged? it’s complicated?) If you are still living at home, then I’d suggest a conversation with your parents around what is appropriate for you.

So, I reluctantly post these guidelines. But I want you to know that my opinion is NOT that ‘anything goes’ besides these options. These bullets are designed as “no matter what, a pre-married couple should never go past these guidelines.” In other words, these guidelines may be right for consenting-adults-who-are-engaged… but dating teenagers would be wise to throttle back much more from these limits.

So, what I want to avoid is somebody coming back and saying “Pastor Mark said that as long as you don’t XYZ, then you are safe to do whatever you want.” OK, I think you get it…

So here are the guidelines:
* Stay Vertical – sitting or standing is good; no horizontal positions
* All Clothes stay on
* No touching south of the beltline, or on women, south of the neckline – ya know what I mean
* Do not get alone in a house, room, apartment etc. with the lights out

So those are the lines not to cross pre-marriage, in my humble opinion. When it comes to kissing, hand-holding, linking arms, doe-sa-doeing, high-fiving and eskimo kisses…it is very situational. Remember to live in such a way as to please God and honor the woman you are with.

Cohabitation Research

The following is a summary of key statistics from and organization called PREPARE-ENRICH, www.prepare-enrich.com who specialize in premarital counseling and marital success. If you would like to see the full article and research references, it is listed at the bottom of this blog.

The bottom line is that Cohabitation, statistically, is very bad preparation for a healthy marriage and successful life.

Heterosexual couples cohabiting:
1970 – 500,000
2006 – 5,100,000

What reasons do couples give for cohabiting?
With the increasing number of years that most young adults are single and the
growing social acceptance of cohabitation, couples report several common reasons for cohabiting.
• Economic advantages: “We can save money by sharing living expenses.”
• Time together: “We are able to spend more time together.”
• Increased intimacy: “We have more opportunities to share sexual and emotional intimacy without getting married.”
• Less complicated dissolution: “If the relationship doesn’t work out, there is no messy divorce.”
• “Testing” compatibility: “Living together enables us to better learn about each other’s habits and character and see how we operate together day-to-day.”
• Trial Marriage: “We are planning to marry soon.”

How are Cohabiters different from married couples?
There are several characteristics that distinguish cohabiters from married couples and they include the following:
1. Cohabiting couples have lower levels of personal happiness and higher rates of
depression than married couples (Waite & Gallagher, 2000).
2. Cohabiters value independence more than married partners and have more individual
freedom (Waite & Gallagher, 2000).
3. Cohabiters are less likely to be supportive financially of one another than are married
partners (Waite & Gallagher, 2000).
4. Cohabiters have more negative attitudes about marriage than non-cohabiters (Axinn & Barber, 1997).

What are some characteristics of couples that cohabit?
• On PREPARE & ENRICH, cohabiting couples have significantly lower scores on most
categories (Olson, 2001).
• Couples living together have the lowest level of premarital satisfaction when compared to other living arrangements (Stewart & Olson, 1990; Olson, 2001).
• Marriages preceded by cohabitation are more likely to end in divorce (Popenoe &
Whitehead, 1999).
• Cohabiters have lower scores than non-cohabiters on religious behaviors, personal faith,church attendance and joint religious activities (Thorton, A., Axinn, W.G. & Hill, D.H.,1992).3
• Married couples that cohabitated prior to marriage have poorer communication skills indiscussing problems than couples that did not cohabit (Cohan & Kleinbaum, 2000).
• Cohabiting couples are less sexually committed or trustworthy
(Waite & Gallagher,2000).
• Cohabiting males are less involved in housework and childrearing
(Waite & Gallagher,2000).
• Cohabiting increases the risk of couple abuse and, if there are children, child abuse(Thompson, Hanson & McLanahan, 1994).

Does Cohabitation Contribute to Marital Failure?
Most research has focused on cohabitation’s negative effect on a future marriage.
The following are two possible explanations:
Lack of Commitment to Marriage:
One explanation is that while the basis for marriage is a strong ethic of commitment,
cohabiting couples are much more oriented toward their own personal autonomy and are more willing to terminate the relationship. It is easy to speculate that once this low-commitment, high autonomy pattern of relating is learned, it becomes hard to change (National Marriage Project,2000).

Inability to Make Decision about Marriage:
Cohabitation reflects uncertainty. As professor Pepper Schwartz explains, “I think there is something in the experience of cohabitation that makes it hard to know when is the time to make a choice, to change one way of living for another, and to say, yes, this person… is the one for me” (Schwartz, 2000).

Is cohabiting a good way to prepare for marriage?
Generally not. The social science evidence suggests that living together is not a good way to prepare for marriage or to avoid divorce. In fact, virtually all the major studies have shown a higher divorce rate among couples that cohabited before marriage than those who did not. No positive contribution of cohabitation to a successful marriage has been found to date.

It is important to note that cohabiting that is within 3-6 months before marriage is
different from cohabiting as an alternative to marriage. If a couple cohabits a few months before the wedding and if each partner has had no prior cohabitation experience and no children, then the adverse effects are not strongly supported in research (Popenoe & Whitehead, 1999).

https://www.prepare-enrich.com/pe_main_site_content/pdf/research/overviewcohab.pdf

https://www.prepare-enrich.com/pe_main_site_content/pdf/research/cohabcoupleshigherrisk.pdf

Hey Ladies…Test Time

On pg 23 in Michelle’s book (last post) she suggests a simple self test and makes some comments on the options. Here it is:

How About You?

How have you been affected by the lie that your body must fit a certain standard in order to be accepted? Check all the following statements that apply to you:

  • I am critical of my body
  • When I look int he mirror, I first notice the parts of my body that I think are inadequate.
  • When I see images of “beautiful women” in the media, I compare myself to them.
  • As I get dressed and ready in the morning, I consider what other will think of my appearance.
  • I weigh myself frequently and am emotionally affected by the results.
  • The thought of being seen without makeup or hair done is scary to me.
  • When others compliment my appearance, I have a hard time believing it’s true.
  • When I eat in front of other people, I wonder what they are thinking about me.
  • I tend to wear clothes that are baggy to hide my figure or tight clothes to show off my body in hopes of receiving attention.
  • If money were not object, I would have plastic surgery in a heartbeat.
  • I have often thought that becoming more beautiful would be the solution to some of life’s challenges – my desires for romantic relationships, career success, popularity among friends or self-esteem.
  • In the past month I have spent a significant amount of money on beauty supplies.
  • I’m really bugged if the car is pulled too far forward in the garage.
Just kidding about that last one! I threw that one in there just to see if you were really taking this seriously. Come on out this weekend to Gathering. If you just can’t wait to get a hold of Michelle’s book, come by the church and I can get you a pretty good deal on your copy of it. We’ll be selling them for $10 this weekend.

Manly man series

We at Christ Community have started a series: Jesus the Man.

Here at CCC-Sarpy we will end up with a 5 week series because…well, trust me. We have to have an extra Sunday.

Anyway, I preached on Jesus: The Man with a Purpose. I challenged the men to realize that if they lived with purpose, the purpose God intended for them to have….they will impact and influence society. I Corinthians 16:13-14 tells us, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”

This was a challenge from the Apostle Paul to the men, challenging them to step up and act like men! Jesus was THE man, we have an opportunit to live like a man and make a difference.

I came across a quote that caused me to reread because I am in the “manly state of mind.”

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

I encourage you to attend or at least go to www.cccomaha.org to listen to the messages addressed specifically with men in mind.

Mission Statement

Jesus – The Man Series – has been launched! Along with water balloons, water melons, DVD players, 2 Liters of coke etc. – dropped from a height of 60 ft.! Nail pounding competitions, sawzalls….No telling what might happen at CCC these days!

Well, on week one, we focused on Jesus mission. The challenge was for all of you to write your own mission statement. Remember these four things:
• 10 words or less, simple enough for a twelve year old to understand
• Captures the essence of what God created you for
• Gives inspiration for course correction
• Does not change based on context

If you have not done it yet, consider this a challenge to spend some time with God and write out your statement. Do it today!

Then inspire us all by emailing it in to missionstatement@cccomaha.org

Next week…Jesus Man of Honor!

Body Image – Not for Women Only!


Just want to put in a word for our upcoming series in Gathering entitled Skin Deep. Our guest presenter this upcoming Sunday is Michelle Graham. She’s the author of above title on body image. Michelle comes to us from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship – the ministry Mark Ashton and I worked for before coming here to CCC.

Check out Michelle’s bio and come on out to Gathering this weekend. Michelle will bring copies of her book. Here’s a quick look at the table of contents.

Oh, one last thing. NO, body image isn’t just for women! Men, you are tied into this topic integrally. Michelle gets to talk to you week one, but guys, you’re mine week two. Jerry Bussleman and I are going to look at the topic from the perspective of men. And NO, that week is not just for men, ladies!

Contents
1. The Lie We Buy: Beauty and Culture
2. Was Eve a 36C? Beauty and the Fall
3. When Beauty Becomes a Beast: Beauty and Consequences
4. Who’s the Fairest of Them All? Beauty and Ethnicity
5. Who Are We Trying to Please? Beauty and Sin
6. Can I Still Keep My Favorite Lipstick? Beauty and Balance
7. Is There More Than Meets the Eye? Beauty and Character
8. Where Can I Get a Supernatural Makeover? Beauty and Freedom
Appendix: A Note About Eating Disorders

God's work in Mali – Part 2

One of the ministries in Mali that has really grabbed my attention is Bethel Seminary. Bethel is a Christian & Missionary Alliance Seminary that is used by the Malian church to train new Pastors. Simple enough, right?

Well, not so simple. This seminary has huge potential, but today it is not producing enough Pastors and the Pastors that are graduating are not trained as well as they need to be. In fact, the Malian leader of the seminary said to me, “The lack of training of church Pastors is a plague on the Alliance national church in Mali.”

What grabbed my attention though, what really got me excited, is the huge potential there is at Bethel.

We take for granted here in the States that our churches will have Pastors who are well educated at schools with the highest standards of education. We take for granted that our Pastors have access to the best libraries, the best study materials, and access to all the latest websites that offer impactful sermon illustrations and the best sermon ideas.

Yet in Mali, as in much of the world, this is not the case. Bethel is currently producing about 5 Pastors per year but the need by the Malian church is for a minimum of 20 Pastors per year.

Bethel Seminary is situation on a large compound that provides housing for teachers, housing for students and their families, a radio station, classrooms, and a rather nice library. However, the library only has about 25% of the books and study materials that their students need. Below is a picture of the library, and what you are seeing is all the books in the library! Just three book shelves that are not even 50% full.

What really excites me though is that the students there really love the Lord and have a huge passion to learn. What really excites me is that the potential to have Bethel be a seminary that is graduating at least 20 Pastors per year is very reachable.

What excites me is that a church like Christ Community has the potential to assist the Malian church in turning Bethel Seminary into the premier Seminary in all of Mali. A Seminary that attracts the best students and produces Godly, well-educated Pastors who are effective at reaching their country for Christ.

The Alliance church in Mali is growing by leaps and bounds. Today we have over 1,000 churches but just 600 Pastors. The Alliance is the largest Protestant denomination in Mali with over 70,000 members. I feel like now its time for the Alliance to have the best Seminary in the entire country.

A great Colson Article!

Taken from Crosswalk.com “The millenial generation: Do they know what they believe? By Chuck Colson
BreakPoint
April 6, 2010
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life just released a survey called “Religion Among the Millennials.” It offers some good news and some bad news about young people ages 18 to 29.
First, the bad news. According to Pew, these Millennials “are considerably less religious than older Americans.” Fewer belong to any particular faith than older people do. No surprise.

But a real cause of concern is that young people today are “significantly more unaffiliated” than young people were 10 or 20 years ago. Millennials attend religious services less often than oldsters like me; they pray less,
and are less likely to say that “religion is very important in their lives.”
And their worldviews are skewed. More than half of young adults—including evangelicals—believe that evolution is the best explanation for the development of human life. And they are far more likely than older people to say that homosexuality is a way of life that ought to be accepted by society rather than discouraged.

The good news is that “more than three-quarters of young adults…agree that there are absolute standards of right and wrong,” including 85 percent of young evangelicals. That’s a dramatic improvement over earlier years. Sixty-four percent of young evangelicals agree that houses of worship should “express their views on
day-to-day social and political questions.” Good—depending on the views.
Finally, 88 percent of evangelicals believe the Bible is God’s word, and 86 percent believe in God with “absolute certainty.” Among Millennials in general, they believe in God “at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago.”

But let’s think about this. Young evangelicals believe in absolute right and wrong, they believe that God exists, and that the Bible is His word. Yet they’re less likely to go to church and pray than older people, and they’re more accepting of evolution and homosexuality.

The basic beliefs of young evangelicals are sound, but they are not applying them in a consistent way. This is why I believe we, the Church, must do a much better job of catechizing our young people and helping them develop a biblical worldview. We’ve got to give them a framework for understanding how absolute truth and the Gospel interact with all of life.

So if you are close to a young evangelical, why not engage him or her in a conversation about the Pew study?

Discuss his or her beliefs, and how those beliefs stack up against biblical teachings. You might consider also ordering our worldview video series for young people called ReWired. We produced it with Ron Luce of Teen Mania.
I also recommend you introduce young people to Summit Ministries. Summit has excellent Christian worldview resources for young people. In addition, Summit’s summer conferences are outstanding. They give college students a two-week crash course in worldview analysis. They’ll learn how to sort out what
Christianity actually teaches, as opposed to what they are absorbing from the culture. And they’ll learn about the major worldviews battling Christianity for their hearts and minds—worldviews like secular humanism,
Marxism, postmodernism, and Islam.

Our young people believe in absolute truth, God, and His word. That’s good news. But it’s clear we have got alot of work to do to help them apply what they believe to the way they live in the world. Let’s get busy.

Find this article at: http://www.crosswalk.com/news/commentary/11628517/