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Archive for October 2010

What would you say the worst sin is?

It’s a question that haunts everyone somehow. Whether or not someone reading this would ever even dream about doing something as horrific as murder or terrorism, we all seem to share a collective hunch that some things are just beyond human dignity. We keep those awful things way over in the margins of our experience – maybe only now and then watching a gritty movie like Se7en. I certainly hope that a movie is as close as I get to some forms of darkness.

But what is at the root of this thing we call sin? Just because we can name 7 things we’d never intentionally plunge ourselves into are we off the hook? Turns out all sin is deadly regardless the degree of damage it does or the social stigma it costs the offender. Sin could be something we’d better stop pretending we don’t all have a problem with or we’ll be in big trouble.

Come join us for the next few weeks at Gathering where we’ll talk about the Seven Deadly Sins, where that list came from and more importantly, why we’d better have a bigger view of sin than that! Here are a few questions we’ll take aim at throughout the series:

  1. Why did the early church gravitate to this list of seven?
  2. Has the church ever distorted the bible’s message about mankind’s moral need?
  3. What happens when people try to help God decide who and how he’ll forgive a repentant soul?
  4. Is there in fact a mortal sin? Where does the bible mention it? Exactly what is it?
  5. How are people supposed to live with the tension of being forgiven by God, but still prone to screw up?
  6. How does God finally settle the question of what sin is and what punishment it deserves?
  7. What do Christians mean by grace and forgiveness and why do we struggle to live it out?

I’ll be starting the series this Sunday with our first talk on the history behind “The Seven Deadly Sins”. Come on out and bring your thoughts, questions and doubts. Gathering is a great place to catch a great $5 lunch, meet other spiritually interested minds and have a stimulating conversation about stuff that matters.

Gathering:

Sunday’s at 12:30

Christ Community Church Student Center

Wearing The Face of a Friend

In the Authentic Manhood study, Robert Lewis discussed the various “faces” (that of a king, warrior, lover and friend) a man display’s as he lives authentically. The face of a “friend” stool out to me the most at that time. This face is best displayed and experienced when a man is “friend worthy.” Sometimes we may lack the friendships that are life giving because we conduct ourselves in a manner that is unworthy of friendship. What a challenge before us to live in such a way of being worthy of friendship.

As I look at the different men’s groups that meet during the week, I’m amazed at the diversity of age and experience present. There are very few opportunities like this where the life seasoned men (nice way of saying old) are with the younger men. These groups provide a platform for those wearing the face of a friend to bridge the gap between generations. Seasoned guys, these young guys are the future of the church. They will carry the banner behind you and they need your friendship to prepare them for that task. If you haven’t done so already, walk across the room this week in your group and talk to one of the guys “who isn’t like you.” Who knows, this simple little act may lead to a friendship that keep the impact of the church strong in the generation to come.

Please pray for Chinese college students

This last week I was able to spend nearly a week in China. I am going to keep the details of my trip private for security reasons, but I did want to share one very moving and important aspect of my trip.

Pastor Tim Perry and I had a chance to spend about 2 hours with 7 Chinese university students, 2 of which were Christians. The setting was a coffee shop on their campus and it was intended to be a discussion, in English, about our two different cultures. The discussion migrated quickly to Christianity and we got to share, in detail, the gospel with these students. We were able to share in detail how Jesus is different that other religions, how salvation is by faith and not by works, and how God is working in America, China, and other parts of the world.

These students are like a blank sheet of paper. They came with no preconceived notions about Christianity. One girl named Eve said in the discussion, “When I grew up nobody told me about God so I know nothing about him.” Another girls named Greta said, “I have considered Christianity, but I cannot understand why babies who are born are sinners.”

We were able to explain to them that of all the religions out there, Christians are the only one with a Savior who is alive and who claimed to be God himself. This was quite a surprise to them.

If you are reading this, please stop what you are doing for about 1 minute and just pray specifically for Eve, Greta, and the three other students who heard the gospel. Several of them seemed quite close to trusting in Jesus. Pray also for the two college students who are already Christians, that they would be able to follow-up with their friends and lead them to Christ.

Double-Your-Impact money heads to Mali

Some of the First Fruits gifts given this last week as part of the Double-Your-Impact campaign are already headed to Mali.

Bethel Bible School– By now you are well aware of Bethel Bible College and their goal to grow this school to a point where it will have 100 students in Pastoral training by the year 2015. The 2010 – 2011 school year starts in November and they currently have about 25 students scheduled. CCC has immediately provided the school $5,000 in student grants to assist some of those incoming students who were wavering due to lack of finances, and some of this money will be used to encourage other students who want to come to Bethel but cannot afford the cost. The total cost to educate one student for one 6-month term is $400.

Higher Education– A key need for the Malian C&MA churches is the need to have some of their top leaders trained in the Bible at both a Masters level and even the PhD level. The church in Mali has 8 men who are ready to be trained at an Alliance college in the West African country of Cote d’Ivoire, but lack the necessary funds. It’s too late to help those 8 students for this year, but they have 1 man already in school but he is lacking significant funds to start his second year. CCC has sent $2,200 to assist him as he begins his second year of Masters level training.

Baramba Girl’s School– The C&MA has a girl’s school near Koutiala in a village called Baramba. This school is basically for high school level girls who are given a Christian education and trained up to be Pastor’s wives and Christian leaders in the church when they become adults. There are currently 63 girls in this school and today each girl sleeps on basically a floor mat on concrete floors. CCC has sent $3,500 to fund the purchase of mattresses for all of the girls as well as 10 manual sewing machines, which will be used to teach the girls vital sewing skills.

What a blessing it is to already begin to use your gracious gifts to impact the people of Mali.

10-10-10 Results

WOW! What a morning!

For weeks/months, we have been ramping up to a celebration of God that would be the commencement of a vision to impact Omaha and certain parts of the world for the kingdom of God. Sunday was a fantastic celebration.

The music was exhilarating, the truth of it honored God. The stories of doubling your impact and the miracles of God touched the heart. For me, though, the best part was the procession of people bringing their sacrifical gifts. This was a moment truly pleasing to God. As hundreds of families, couples and singles filed by – dropping their cards in the silver bowls – I could not help but reflect:

Each of those people is designed in the image of God, redeemed by his love, forgiven and changed. Each one is on a spiritual adventure. Each one was sacrificing something they love for something they love even more. Each one is, even by their pledge, being transformed by the power of God. Each one has a story, has recieved a touch from God, has a past and a future.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for our God, whose generosity is unmatched, and for the people of CCC who respond in generosity to God’s initiative in their lives. It was a Sunday to never forget!

Now I know that many of you are hoping for an announcement of the totals! The truth is, we are still getting it figured out. There were many gifts that were in-kind, stock gifts, jewelry, etc. that need to be appraised. There are still dozens of people (maybe hundreds) who were not there on Sunday and will turn in cards the next 2 weeks or so.

Because we are still in process, we will wait to announce the ‘first fruits’ offering until this Sunday, October 17. And we think that by October 31, we will know the total commitments and be able to make a strong announcement at that time. In the mean time, please refrain from harrassing or bribing our finance people 🙂 . They are doing their best to get the work done…and to keep a secret.

In the mean time, let’s praise God for his faithfulness and love for us! When we commit, he is faithful!

quick prayer for the Suttons

Norman & Vickie Sutton are CCC missionaries in Guatemala working to enrich the lives of children in an orphanage. The last few months Vickie has had a number of health problems that she cannot seem to shake. Read the contents of their latest email below and please spend a few minutes in focused prayer for the Suttons after you are done reading.

Dear Friends,

Life in Guatemala continues to be unpredictable. Vickie has been struggling with intestinal issues for the last month. They took a turn for the worse on Wednesday so Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 we headed to Guatemala City to see a doctor. We were planning on going to the emergency room that night but the roads were so bad that it took us 3 hours to get to Quiche which is only 25 miles on a dirt, or should we say, mud, road from San Andres.
Since it was dark, and still raining, and there were rumors of many mudslides happening, we decided to stay in Quiche for the night. We made it to Guatemala City today in 5 hours instead of the usual 3.
Vickie was able to get in to see a doctor in the afternoon. He is running some tests and the results should be back tomorrow. Originally we were planning on driving to the city today and leaving for Belize tomorrow to renew our visa. We are postponing our trip to Belize now until Saturday so that we can get the test results back before we go. Please pray that they figure out what the problem is and that Vickie can start on treatment tomorrow.
Thanks so much for your prayers and support.
In Him,

Norman and Vickie Sutton

http://suttonsserving.blogspot.com/