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Archive for June 2010

Tozer said it so well…

“A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge.”

-A.W. Tozer, The Root of Righteousness, p. 156

Religion creates just more religious people

A few weeks ago I came across an article in The Christian Post about Brian Bloye of West Ridge Church in Dallas, TX. Rev. Bloye said recently. “Religion never creates true fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. All it does is create more religious people.

And a lot of times, it creates “ugly religious people,” he said.

In 1987, Bloye made a decision – not a salvation decision because he already had that down – but a decision that involved total commitment and one that not many Christians have made.

“What God really wants from us is total commitment,” he stressed. That means, giving God everything, holding nothing back and not playing the game.

“For someone who’s been a believer for 32 years, I have found that not being totally committed just doesn’t work.”

While the phrase “total commitment” may conjure up an image of a serious Christian who doesn’t have fun and is “robbed” of everything that’s out in the world, Bloye encouraged his congregation to look at it a different way.

Total commitment is the “smartest, most reasonable thing you can do in light of what God has done for us,” he said. Total commitment is “a channel through which God’s best and biggest blessings flow.”

And the motivation is the mercy of God, His grace and love, and gratitude, rather than fear.

“God doesn’t want your church attendance, your money, your Bible time, … your religious list,” he said. “What He wants is you. That’s all God wants from you.”

That is what we here at CCC are asking when we challenge you to be a R.I.S.K.S. disciple. One who is totally sold out and committed to Christ. Not just publicly and on Sundays, but privately and 24-7.

CCC Missions Catalog

One of my favorite things that we do in missions here at CCC is the Missions Catalog. It’s just such an easy way for any of us to show the love of Jesus in a very tangible way in the life of somebody half-way around the world that we will likely never meet.

• For just $35 you can help provide musical instruments to children in an orphanage in Guatemala.

• For just $50 you can help buy supplies for a bakery in a very difficult country in Central Asia that uses this bakery to reach destitute women.

• For just $200 you can help purchase a bed for a mother and her new baby to sleep in the Hospital for Women and Children in Mali.

• For just $100 you can help provide clothes, shoes, bedding, and other simply provisions for orphans.

The total amount needed for this catalog to fund everything is around $30,000 and we are already over 1/3 of the way there after just the first week.

So if you have not given anything yet, please pickup a catalog on Sunday and see where God might use you.

How does God engage our hearts?

Last week we finished up another Global Summit at CCC and as I reflect back on all the time and energy that went into the Global Summit, the thought came into my mind, “why?”

Why do we have a Global Summit every year? Why do we invite a bunch of missionaries to come tell their stories and interact with our children? Is it just to inform us about how they are doing in their jobs? Do we have the Global Summit just because that’s what has always been done and we need to check it off the list?

I believe the answer comes in a statement I have heard Bob Fetherlin, Vice President of International Ministries for the C&MA, say many times. “What we see with our eyes and touch with our hands – that’s what will engage our hearts.”

Its one thing to read in the HUB a story about the hospital in Mali. It’s quite another to have one of the actual doctors come show us pictures and tell us stories of real life and real death and real people choosing to follow Jesus through the work at the hospital.

Its one thing to know that there are millions of people in Africa with AIDS, but its quite another to hear from a nurse in Mali who works directly with women who contract AIDS from their husbands but then get kicked out of the home because they are infected.

Its one thing to hear on the news that the government in a Central Asian country is cracking down on Christians, but it’s quite another to talk in person with a worker who lives there each day and knows their very life is in danger.

Its one thing to hear that there are community centers in the Middle East that are effectively reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but its quite another to have the missionary who lives there show you pictures and tell you real life stories.

So the Global Summit is about God engaging our hearts. It’s about more than just knowing what is going on around the world – it’s about caring. And when we care, we act! When we care, we give. When we care, we pray. When we care, we go.

My prayer is that God has engaged the hearts of many children and adults at CCC over these last few weeks, and that the result will be increased Kingdom impact.

Husker Dream Come True

As a member of the Big Ten since 1987, with two degrees from the Univeristy of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I watched the unfolding of the Nebraska deliberations about joining the Big Ten with great interest. My conclusion is that this is a win for the Big Ten and a dream-come-true for the University of Nebraska. Here’s why:

Academics: According to the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of Public Universities, Nebraska has been steadily climbing to number 43. Every one of the Big Ten schools is ranked above 32. In academia, people consider you by the company you keep. Nebraska moves to a conference with MUCH higher academic prestige, scholarship, grants, endowments, entrance scores and nearly every measurable factor. Associationwith this company will do nothing but increase the percieved and real value of a Nebraska education. It will attract better students, better professors, more research grant and a stronger environment. I’d predict that over the next ten years Nebraska will pull up therankings into the high 20s or low 30s. Although they may never compete with a Michigan (4) or Illiniois (9), the ranking will certainly flourish with the new company. As a parent, I am personally more optimistic about the possibility of a Nebraska education for my kids in the coming years.

Football: Nebraska will fit very well with the Big Ten ethos and style. Nebraska can hold its own in any conference, Big Ten included. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan (once they recover from the current slump) will be perennial highlight games. One difference is the ‘cream puff’ factor. Although some teams are better than others, in the Big Ten every team can beat you. Illinois is one of the teams not considered a national contender normally (as well as Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern…), But any one of those teams is a threat – every year. Illinois, for example, went to the Rose Bowl two years ago and beat Ohio State…in the horseshoe, when the Buckeyes were rated number 1 in the nation. In the Big 12, there are always teams that are basically a ‘free pass’ (Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, and often Missouri). In fact, there are NO perennial powerhouses in the Big 12 North except Nebraska. You could chalk up 3 wins in the Big 12 based on the ‘cream puff’ factor. Despite this, I predict Nebraska will place in the top three teams it’s first year and stay in that arena for the next decade or so.

The Rose Bowl: The Huskers will have a shot to play on New Year’s Day in ‘the granddaddy of them all’. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena is the oldest and richest tradition in college football bowls. Except for the very odd BCS championship year, only Big 10 and Pac 10 teams play there. Every other bowl is just a copycat of the original.

Other Key Sports: Women’s Volleyball will be in a much more difficult conference, picking up a great rivalry with Penn State, who is always in national contention with Nebraska. Outside of the Pac-10, you could not ask for a better match up for Nebraska’s ‘other’ consistently great team. Men’s Hoops – Look out Huskers, you are in for a slicing and dicing. Women’s Hoops – We’ll soon find out if this year was the beginning of a dynasty for the Cornhuskers or a really fun fluke.

Stability – The Big 12 is destined to be totally reshaped or die. The Big 10 is 114 years old and will be around another 114 years. It will likely still be the most academically prestigious public conference in America. Nebraska is wise to get in now and ride the gravy train.

Wins for the Big 10 – Nebraska carries with it national interest in the football arena, an absolutely lunatic fan base and a great tradition. This will strenghten Big 10 revenues and positioning in the TV arenas. But the biggest win is national championships. Nebraska carries 4 and a half championships (split with Michigan in 1997) over the past forty years, while the other teams in the Big Ten have a combined One and a half during the same time period.

Wins for Husker fans – No more pay-per-view games! A better university. A richer football team. A stronger tradition. Increased stability. And road trips to Champaign every other year. Life doesn’t get any better than this!

One Illini's Nightmare

Four years ago, when we signed on for this job, one of the things we considered was the fanatacism of Husker Nation. We are big fans of Illinois. Kelle and I hold three and a half degrees from that great institution and we lived in Champaign 15 and 13 years respectively. Our blood runs blue and orange.

So, we thought “No problem…we can adopt the Huskers as our next favorite team and root for both. After all, they never actually PLAY each other. So we will never be conflicted!” Right.

Enter the conference revolution of 2010. The Huskers WILL play Illinois. Perhaps every year. Now what? It is a total lose-lose for me. Lets play this out…

Assume in the Illinois-Nebraska game of 2011, the likely outcome happens. Nebraska 42 – Illinois 24. At church the next day, comments are brutal, compassion is minimal. Steve Yost does a practical joke on me during the services – along with his Husker henchmen – that brings the humiliation even deeper. I’ll be forced to preach with my proverbial tail between my legs and would have to continually repeat “Sticks and stones may break my bones…” LOSE.

But what if the unthinkable happens? An Illinois upset? Even if I wear my blue and orange tie that day and get a few good jabs in during the sermon, I’ll get beat up in the parking lot on the way out of church. LOSE.

My only survival strategy is to keep my head down and hope for the best. Or, maybe I’ll carefully schedule myself ‘off’ during the weekends Illinois plays Nebraska.

Understanding brings Healing… but not overnight!

It’s impossible to heal a disease you don’t understand. Take cancer for example. The history of cancer treatment has slowly advanced as thousands and thousands of hours of careful research have been poured into understanding the causes and possible cures. Racism is a stubborn cancer on the soul of our nation. Many feel it’s absolutely incurable. Many see some signs of hope, places where healing has happened. Still others pretend it doesn’t even exist. “I don’t feel the pain – so how can I be sick?”

Healing the racial divides that are still with us today will take an enduring effort on everyone’s part regardless our socio-economic status. We can’t simply preach a sermon on it and walk away. We can’t attend a class then feel like we’ve done our part. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. We can’t give up either – refusing any medical attention just because we have cancer. There is hope. There is progress as long as God’s people are willing to engage in the healing process. It takes a tenacious willingness to learn, repeated attempts at solutions, reinventing the strategies, realigning the priorities and always being willing to admit mistakes and try again.

Here are a few links to some important resources we’re talking about in the class Healing the Racial Divide:

  1. The Kingdom Color Map of places of historic interest in North Omaha. The map will show you locations of significant events and landmarks each with a pop-up description when you click on it. If you’re not familiar with North Omaha, poke around on the map a little, find a couple of places you’d like to see and drive there with a friend.
  2. The Kingdom Color Podcast is an audio interview of several community leaders describing Omaha’s cultural landscape in historic terms.
  3. The Kingdom Color Feature Video is a report from the Justice Journey several of us staff went on in the spring of 2009. A group of 25 white pastors and a group of 25 black pastors toured three cities in the south looking at significant civil rights locations, deepening our understanding and trust.

Keep building your understanding of what has happened. Keep building key relationships along the way. Keep engaging the context you live in – those of us here in Omaha have a rich field of possibilities on all these fronts.

A Journey Of Justice and Healing

So, what’s so famous about the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama? It was the cite of Bloody Sunday, a Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery that happened March 7, 1965. The march ended in a violent clash in which police used excessive force to crush the otherwise peaceful demonstration. The event drew national media attention and became one of hundreds of catalyzing events in the Civil Rights Movement.

I had the opportunity to visit Selma about a year ago on an adventure called the Justice Journey – a trip that involved an equal number of white and black pastors and community leaders from Omaha. For me, visiting the historic site myself brought a sober reality deeper into my heart and mind. We belong to a country where deep wounds penetrate our social history. Without understanding where those wounds have come from, how can we ever experience an equally deep and penetrating healing from them?

Healing the Racial Divide is an attempt to revisit the wounds, to hear what they are saying to us and spark a new imagination for the Kingdom of Jesus. Jesus calls us into a kingdom of reconciliation and peace. A kingdom where all his people dwell together with him under his leadership. Healing the Racial Divide will be a starting point for many. It will be a transition point for others. And maybe for others the opportunity to encourage those just beginning with lessons years of efforts in reconciliation have taught.

We’ll be posting some of our session materials on-line, but the best way to enjoy Healing the Racial Divide is to come on out and join the class. June 6th – June 27th on Sunday’s at 9:00am at CCC Old-Mill. Come be a part!

Class Outline

  • Week One: Awareness – Where does racism come from and is it still with us today?
  • Week Two: Identity – What is ethnic identity and why does it matter?
  • Week Three: Engagement – How can we help heal the divide?
  • Week Four: Worship experience with our sister church Salem Baptist Church

The Emund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, Mar 7 1965

Global Summit: Calling all MEN!

Men of CCC! Please do not miss this session that has been created just for you during this weekends Global Summit.

And you young guys out there don’t think this is just for men over 40 who have nothing better to do with their time. This is for men of all ages, especially those under 40.

On Sunday morning, during both the 9:00 AM and 10:45 AM services, men will be gathering in the Chapel for an opportunity to here from some unique people.

To start, Curt Hofer will host an inspiring panel of men who will share their experiences involving the most important decisions of their lives. What a great chance to come hear from some men who have made some good decisions and some bad decisions, some Godly decisions and some un-Godly decisions.

During the 9:00 hour, the panel will consist of Mike Bliss, Jerry Busselman, Mark Bristol, Greg Gaggini, and Terry Frolio. During the 10:45 hour, the panel will consist of Doug Pedersen, Clark Osborn, Jason Hackel, Dave Pugh, and Mike Kelleher.

For the last part of this hour, you will get to hear from C&MA Vice President of International Ministries, Mr. Bob Fetherlin. Bob will be inspiring you as men to get involved with your hands and your feet. As Bob likes to say, “What you see with your eyes and touch with your hands will capture your hearts.”

Bob is not some old missionary guy who is dry and boring to listen too. He has a tremendous understanding of the emerging generation of Believers and how important it is tap into their passion and potential.

Men – please take the extra time this Sunday to come hear from all of these men.

Know the name of This Famous Bridge?

I’ll give you one hint. The body of water is the Alabama River.

By the way, Healing the Racial Divide starts this next Sunday at CCC Old Mill. See this link to get signed up so I know you’re coming!

More details in posts to come this week!