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Archive for September 2010

Remembering Jeff

I was very saddened to hear the news of Jeff Layten’s death yesterday. Jeff operated the Upland Fields Hunt Club in Tekamah, NE. I have been bringing groups of guys from Christ Community to the club for pheasant hunts and sporting clay shoots over the last five years. Jeff had this unique ability to make you feel like a million bucks whether you made the shot or not. Hunting with him was always a memorable experience and lots of fun. I’ll never forget my first hunt with Jeff. I brought a friend and his son from warm Texas for a January hunt. We woke up to a howling wind that ushered in a twenty degree below zero wind chill factor. Jeff’s humor and expertise got 18 guys through a great day of hunting and target shooting.

Jeff was a great host and guide and was the reason I kept going back to Upland year after year. I had always hoped that our groups could reciprocate back to him through our words, actions and conversations around Jesus. The funeral will be at Christ Community Church on Monday, October 4 at 2 PM in the Sanctuary. Join with me in praying for his wife and two children.

It won’t be the same around here this hunting season, I’ll miss you Jeff.

A Good Day in the Field

Great Colson post

Good for Business Christianity in China by Chuck Colson

The man who owns the industrial valve company makes no secret of his religious faith: He’s a committed Christian. Once a week, he gathers together his senior staffers for prayer. Employees are invited to attend Bible studies on the premises and pray for one another’s needs.

The factory owner is also quite open about another fact: When it comes to hiring, he would choose Christians over non-Christians every time-because he thinks they make better workers.

You may think this company is located in South Carolina-but you’d be wrong. It’s in southeastern China. The company is exhibit “A” for the argument, backed up by social researchers, that Christian faith is responsible for much of China’s productivity.

A faithful BreakPoint listener alerted me to an article from the BBC, written by Christopher Landau. Landau reports that the valve company’s owner, Weng-Jen Wau, believes that the more Christian employees he has, the better his business will prosper.

“If you’re a Christian you’re more honest, with a better heart,” Wau says. And if they do something wrong, “they feel guilty-that’s the difference,” he notes.

An employee at Wau’s factory agreed. “If everybody became a Christian,” he said, “it would have a very big impact, and would really help the development of our factory.”

Wau and his employees are not alone in believing this. The Chinese government is studying the impact of Christian entrepreneurs and Christian-run businesses. A professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Landau that it’s clear to him that the growth of Christianity and economic prosperity are taking place simultaneously in Wenzhou-a city deeply influenced by Christian missionaries in the past.

An American sociologist named Rodney Stark would not be surprised at this finding: He’s been saying the same thing for years. Stark is the author of a wonderful book titled The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success.

Stark writes that without Christianity’s commitment to “reason, progress, and moral equality . . . today the entire world would be about where non-European societies were in, say, 1800.” This would be a world “lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos”-not to mention scientists.

Amazingly enough, at the end of his book, Stark quotes a published statement by Chinese scholars, who said they had no doubt that Christianity is the source of Western prosperity! “The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life,” they said, “was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics.”

For some time I’ve been saying that America’s economic collapse was the result of a moral and ethical collapse-and the abandonment of Christian principles in public life. I find it amazing that a Chinese factory owner can understand this, but our business, academic, and political elites cannot.

The simultaneous rise of Christian faith and economic success in China is just one piece of evidence that worldview matters. And that the Christian worldview, above all others, allows us to thrive in-and make sense of-the world we live in.



The Cloud of Confusion

Being a man today is more confusing than ever. Have you ever tried to answer the question, “What is a man?” There are physical aspects that determine maleness, but shouldn’t being a man go beyond biology?

The message last Friday in the Quest for Authentic Manhood emphasized the confusing condition that plagues men around this very question. An unrelenting cloud seems to obscure a definition and plan for what it means to be a man. During our discussion time Friday, some of the guys expressed the overwhelming challenge of fathering their sons in a manner that equips them to become men.

Men are adept at problem solving and dig into this problem with great determination; but without connecting with the right person, their efforts are empty. The basis for living out an authentic manhood begins with the person of Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus reminds us that he came so that we may have life and that it would be to its fullest. Learning who we are meant to be as men and living out of that purpose comes from a relationship with Jesus. Have you connected with the right person to begin the quest for authentic manhood?

Connecting with Jesus is the first step. Click on this link to view a brief video clip of Pastor Mark Ashton explaining how to connect with Jesus. http://cccomaha.org/biggies.php

Bite Size Pieces

This is the beginning week for viewing and discussing the Quest for Authentic Manhood study. Our facilitator Robert Lewis will touch upon several topics describing what all men need. One of these will be bite size practical application pieces from each week’s lesson. At the end of the week, my desire is to personally apply a bite sized chunk that will help me experience a Biblical manhood. Check in each week for ways to make this good stuff practical.

How Wealthy Are You?

Check it out here…

www.globalrichlist.com

Counterfeit Gods

As you might know, Lead Pastor Mark Ashton has encouraged everyone to read the book Counterfeit Gods. It’s written by Tim Keller, and explores the things we “worship” with our time, energy and resources. Things like money, power, family, identity and sex.

There are different men’s groups that are meeting during the week, over the lunch hour, discussing this book. We’d encourage you to jump into one of these groups. For more details, check The Hub or email CCC.

Here’s an intro to the book by its author, Tim Keller.

Spotlight on China

This last Tuesday night we had a Double-Your-Impact (DYI) spotlight event on what CCC hopes to be doing in China over the next several years. Rick Mann, the President of Crown College and a former missionary to China, came and shared a little about the history of religious freedom in China and where China stands today.

The changes in China over the last 30 years have been nothing short of a miracle!

Let me share a couple of things that Rick said during his time that really stood out to me.

First, Rick said that today you can walk down the street in a large city like Beijing and find Christian book stores with Christian books and Bibles. In fact, one of the largest Christian publishers in the world is in China. Wow, I had no idea! I take this as a really positive sign that in deed China is becoming more and more open to Christianity.

Another thing Rick said that was amazing is that there are estimates of 80 to 100 million born-again followers of Jesus in China. Do you realize that this means China has more believers than America? This makes it even more urgent that CCC get involved in China to help train and develop Christian leaders.

In my next blog I will outline in some detail what we hope to do in China through the DYI vision. Stay tuned.

It's Arrived – A Blog for All Men

There are a number of opportunities for men at Christ Community Church this fall. This morning the Quest for Authentic Manhood kicked off bright and early at 6:15 with 35 guys. This blog will be discussing key insights and the practical applications of living in light of an “authentic manhood.” Whether or not you are able to attend the group, you’ll stay informed and be challenged to grow as a man following Christ. If you’d like to join the Quest for Authentic Manhood, visit the “groups” page on the website and sign up today.

So What is an Intersection?

An intersection is a place of connection. In terms of people seeking God or Christians making an impact around them, an intersection is any time people on two separate paths cross. It might be a conversation. It might be bumping into that person at work or Starbucks. It might be someone encountering God while at a quite moment in his day reading the Bible or praying. An intersection for some could be that vague sense that God is out there and somehow watching out for me.

Intersections happen all the time. Christians see more than just “chance encounter’ as the explanation. Somehow every intersection that takes place has God’s fingerprints on it. A person just so happens to run into someone at a point in their day when they really need a conversation. An unexpected event takes place and it just so happens that a friend is there to experience it with them. Another example could be someone whispers a desperate prayer a moment of need, then later realizes that very prayer was answered.

Evangelism always involves three people in some form of intersection: God, Myself, and Someone else. Great outreach is never accidental, yet never a matter of “sales technique”. If God loves people, we can safely assume he’s already hard at work trying to prove that point to them. Our job is to join God and be available to how he want’s to reach someone.

Suppose we’re the person not interested in reaching others, but in need of God ourselves? That same intersection shows us that God does care. He’s watching our life. He can bring people into our life we need to meet and get to know.

If you want to see how intersections work, give Acts chapter 8:4-40 a read. God is the orchestrator. Philip is the instrument. And a spiritually curious Ethiopian is the victim of God’s loving pursuit.

As a seeker – you might be that Ethiopian. As a Christ follower – you could be a Philip.

Watch out for the intersections! They’ll get you every time.

Intersections

Evangelism isn’t about technique, it’s all about intersections. As we launch out to Double our Impact here at CCC, we’re wanting to grow in how effectively we reach others with the Gospel. That’s why we’re offering Intersections – a 6 week learning experience designed to move people through the basics of befriending others and communicating the message.

Often what holds people back is the familiar excuse “I just don’t know enough to lead others to Christ.” If we could just get people using the right tool, evangelism would be fast acting and pain-free, right? Kind of like a new piece of exercise equipment! Not really.

The best place to turn to see great outreach in action is the life of Jesus himself! He did outreach as a comprehensive way of life! No one technique dominated his style. It wasn’t all that easy. He was very effective! We’d do well to pay attention and learn. And that’s what Intersections is all about.

It’s not too late to jump in on this fall’s class. We meet in EC 178 (the Fireside Room) at either 9:00am or 10:45 am on Sunday mornings at the Old Mill campus of Christ Community Church.