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Archive for May 2010

Hypocrisy Sensitivity Test…

Give this a try sometime. We used it at Gathering last week as an on-ramp to our discussion about Christian Hypocrisy. See where you land. Do you notice a pattern in your selections? What do you think of the charge that all Christians are hypocrites of some form or another? Would you consider yourself one?

Which do you consider the worse of the two options in each pair of options below:

a) Someone who tells a small lie on a daily basis.

b) Failing to tell the truth when it will just cause more trouble.

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a) A person who judges others for watching any R-rated movie.

b) A person who watches R-rated movies.

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a) A politician who changes his position on an issue once in office.

b) A pastor who changes his view on a significant theological issue.

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a) A parent who swears when he loses his temper, but punishes his teenager for doing so.

b) Driving over the speed limit with kids in the car while late to church.

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a) Looking at inappropriate material on the internet.

b) Quietly lusting after someone with no one else finding out.

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a) Wealthy Christians who don’t tithe.

b) Mature Christians who never share their faith.

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a) A Christian who won’t reconcile with an estranged spouse and pushes for a divorce.

b) A person concludes God could never forgive him for what he’s done and stops attending church.

Christian Hypocrisy

Last week at Gathering we discussed reason #2 in our Unbelievable series why people don’t buy Christianity. Here’s a couple of gems from our presentation. Feel free to download the MP3 and listen to the whole presentation.

Hypocrite, we discovered is a greek word connected with theatre. A hypocrite in antiquity was one who played a part. An actor! At the heart of it’s biblical use is the idea of pretense. Pretending to be one thing when there’s another reality on the inside.

Two other jumping off points early in the discussion had to do with how Jesus defined and encountered hypocrisy. Here are two absolutely classic texts you have to look up and read:

Jesus Definition of Hypocrisy: Matt 7:1-5

Jesus Blasts the Professional Hypocrites of his day: Matt 23:1-32

Give the presentation a listen (link at top) and come back to my next post and take the hypocrisy test… if you dare.

No Complaining or Arguing

OK, so here we are, starting the challenge of no-complaining-or-arguing. We are going to try to do it for 21 days (as that is how long it takes to develop a habit.) And hopefully, we can do 21 days in a row before 35 days is up.

Why? Well it comes straight from Philippians 2:14 – “Do Everything without complaining or arguing.” Most followers of Christ don’t take this command seriously, but I/we are going to try for the next month.

Can you imagine a complaint free world? Church? Family? Wow! I want that! So, I am starting with myself. If you want to see the message that supports this idea, watch Love, Live, Give part 2 from May 23. The last 20 minutes give the explicit challenge to you. We are also all wearing orange rubberbands for 35 days to remind us of our commitment and snapping it when we screw up to remind us of the pain we cause by complaining.

Well, so far, I have not complained, nor have I argued. I actually tried to train myself for a few days last week and had some bumpy days through the week. That way, I was ‘preconditioned’ for a Sunday start.

The difference is not dramatic so far in my internal world. I really have never been much of a complainer and my life is so blessed that I really don’t have much to complain about. So the low temptation level, plus my training have served me well! We’ll see how I do tonight when I ‘get’ to pay my bills. 🙂

The dramatic change already is within my family. It is amazing how much low-grade bickering, sarcasm, and complaints just reign in family systems. One day of bringing the issue to the forefront – in a fun orange rubberband kind of way – is great for the simple fact of awareness. We complain so much!

It has been fun to define ‘complaining’ as well. After one comment fromone kid “He’s so annoying!”, we had to bring up that this is complaining! The defensive kid said, “That’s not a complaint…it’s just a fact.” After arguing about the matter, there was final aquiescence and a ‘snaap – snaap!’ of the rubberband for behavior modification.

I look forward to the coming days and more lessons in not complaining!

Evan's Update

For those of you who were not in the Connections Service last week, Evan Sharpe is a kid who is 9 years old and had a cancerous tumor in his brain. Surgery was yesterday. Here is the update.

Dear Friends,

Evan’s surgery lasted about 4+ hours this afternoon; his parents, Dave and Rhonda reported the following (my general summary) after their meeting with the surgeon, about 6:30 pm this evening:

  • The surgeon was able to remove about 70% of the tumor, which was found to be malignant, as expected. It is a very aggressive type, that grows rapidly.
  • The tumor was located deep in the center of the brain. The surgeon believes that he was able to avoid the areas that control speech and memory.
  • Evan did experience two strokes, caused by the depth of the surgery needed to remove the tumor. This is expected to cause paralysis on his left side for a period of time. Children usually recover most of their movement, eventually, from this kind of brain trauma. The doctors are hopeful that Evan will be able to walk again with a slight limp.
  • The doctors plan to do another brain scan in a day or two to better determine how much of the tumor remains; they plan to start chemotherapy in two weeks, or possibly sooner, to attack the remaining tumor.
  • The doctors acknowledge that the survival rate for a child with this kind of tumor is 10%.
  • The surgeon is “cautiously optimistic” for a successful outcome.

There were at least 40 family members and friends present in the Children’s hospital lobby when Dave delivered his report. I understand that many from the community participated in the prayer vigil all afternoon at the hospital. I’m confident that Dave, Rhonda and their family appreciate the outpouring of love and support from all.

Please continue praying for Evan’s treatment and recovery, wisdom for the doctors and strength for his family.

Please also pass this message on to others in your network(s) who would appreciate this update.

Global Summit: Dr. Brett & Sheri MacLean

One of our very special guests for this years Global Summit at CCC, which is from June 6 – 9, are Brett and Sheri MacLean. The MacLeans are originally from North Carolina but have been serving in Mali at the hospital since 2008. Brett is the only Pediatrician at the hospital, and Sheri is a Nurse Practitioner working in Pediatrics.

Where can you see the MacLeans?

On Sunday, June 6th, they will be the main speakers at our Sarpy Campus in Bellevue for both morning services.

On Tuesday, June 8th, Brett will be the main speaker at our Malian dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. He will be showing pictures and telling amazing stories from the hospital.

On Tuesday, June 8th, at 6:45 PM, Sheri will be partnering with Carey Schlieker and giving a workshop talking about the Role and Future of Nursing in Mali.

On Tuesday, June 8th, Brett will speaking to children ages Kindergarten to 5th grade from 7:30 – 8:00 PM.

We’ve talked a lot here at CCC over the last few years about babies being born, but with the addition of Pediatric care starting in 2009, the hospital is literally exploding with children needing medical care.

To learn more about Pediatrics at the hospital, watch the video below.

http://vimeo.com/10981406

Global Summit at CCC

Each year at CCC we have what is called our Global Summit. This is the new and modern name for what used to be called a World Missions Conference or Mission Festival. Regardless of the name, our 2010 Global Summit is almost here and will be running from June 6 – 9.

So what are a few of the highlights that I am looking forward to as this time approaches? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Our Keynote Speaker. Our main speaker is the Pastor of a large Christian & Missionary Alliance church in Baghdad, Iraq. I’m not even going to say his name since this blog is on the internet, but this is a guy I can’t wait to hear speak. I’ve seen a video of him speaking and he has amazing stories about God’s faithfulness and the power of the gospel in Iraq and the Middle East.

Stories of God’s work from around the world. Dr. Bret MacLean, who is the Pediatrics doctor working at the hospital in Mali, will be speaking at the Sarpy campus on Sunday morning and then will be our guest speaker on Tuesday evening. I can’t wait to hear his stories and see his pictures of how they are saving the lives of women and children in Mali.

Also with us will be Ed & Julie Mangham from Jordan, Lisa Reynolds working in a very difficult place in Central Asia, and then Carey Schlieker who has been working in Africa and the Middle East. They will all be speaking at different times and sharing stories of God’s faithfulness.

Impact on our young people. I hear stories all the time from teenagers and adults who reflect back and say they were first moved towards or called into missions when they heard a missionary come speak at a mission’s conference. Our children are going to get lots of face time with our missionaries and I cannot wait to hear years from now how God impacted them towards missions at our 2010 Global Summit.

Health isn't contagious

I’ve been reading in the Minor Prophets this past year using the S.O.A.P. study method. S.O.A.P. means Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

A simple yet profound way of going through the Bible on your own letting God speak to you through His Word.

I read in Haggai 2.11-14 this past week.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says; ‘Ask the priests what the law says; If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated? The priests answered, NO. Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” YES, the priest replied, ‘it becomes defiled.’ Then Haggai said, “So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.”

I couldn’t figure out that passage. I looked in a study Bible and in just a short sentence it made sense. The commentator said, “Sanctification cannot be transferred, but defilement can; just as health is not contagious, but disease can be.

I encourage you to think about that and ask if you are “contagious” or not.

update from the China Orphanage team

Greetings from Beijing!

We are so grateful for your prayer support as we trained Chinese leaders on how to work with children in their places of worship. The group of 19 trainees included men and women from Beijing and beyond. They were so appreciative of the methods that were presented by several from the team.

We demonstrated several storytelling methods and activities that can be used in any size church setting with children. We trust that the work we did today encouraged the leaders and will impact many children.

The other members of the team spent their last day at the orphanage. Saying good-bye was not easy as the children have found their way into our hearts after only a few days. The kids loved the extra attention and lessons that we shared each day. We kept them busy with Bible stories, singing, coloring, watercoloring, parachute games, bean bag activities and more. I am not sure who is more tired from playing together, the kids or the adults! We emptied our suitcases of the supplies we brought with us to leave at the orphanage.

On Friday we complete our trip with sightseeing and a visit to another church in the area. It seems fitting to end our time in China the same way we began, meeting with other believers.

I'm not a Christian because…

Join us at Gathering this week as we launch a new series entitled Unbelievable! We’ll explore major reasons why people have struggled to trust Christianity. Sometimes Christians can become insensitive to the objections of those not yet convinced that Christianity is for them. Seekers of truth are looking for interaction with Christians that is honest about the challenge of belief in God.

Whether you are a seeker of truth or a believer in God, it’s worth the time and consideration to talk over issues like miracles, Christian hypocrisy, and proof for God’s existence. Come add your voice to the conversation.

This week we’ll experience a Gathering first – Director Tim Anstead will be kicking off the series by sharing his journey to belief. As a seriously skeptical seeker, Tim took the time to ask and answer every question about God he could think of. You’ll find Tim’s honest and keen mind a great encouragement as you sort through the question of belief for yourself. If you are a Christian, come find some helpful insight for how to talk with seekers you may have in your circle of friends, family and associates.

The last couple of weeks of the series we’ll have the added bonus of hearing from our guest speakers from Access and the Worship Center. It’s a great line-up of topics and speakers! Come on out, join us for lunch and fascinating discussions. Check out the following posts for the specifics. See you this Sunday!

Remember that you can always find MP3s of our Gathering series on the Gathering Media Page of the Christ Community web-site.

update from China team

by Nancy Davies (China Team Leader)

Beijing is a fabulous city! Our hosts, the orphanage leaders, have provided us with all the assistance we need to make our stay enjoyable and our work profitable.

We spent the first day, Sunday, visiting the government approved church and sightseeing. It was a blessing to worship with the believers in this historic church. On Monday, we headed to the orphanage to start our program with the kids. The first few minutes the kids were tentative but by the afternoon we were laughing and playing together.

During the morning session we lead the children in story, songs, games and activities. They love the parachute and other supplies we brought. When the youngest children take their afternoon nap we lead the older children in the worship program. The children are so bright and eager to learn–they pick up anything we teach them very quickly.

We have an unexpected opportunity on Thursday. Half of the team will be leading a workshop on kid’s ministry for leaders in China. Programming for children in the church is rare and few have experience working with kids. Please pray that the material we prepare will be helpful for the leaders and that our communication will be clear.

We appreciate all your prayers on our behalf. Thanks so much for your support.