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Archive for March 2011

CCC sea container arrives in Mali

Back in the summer of 2010, the Nebraska Methodist Hospital System donated a bunch of amazing medical equipment for us to send to the Women & Children’s Hospital in Mali. This includes things like 4 labor and delivery beds, 4 infant warmers, fetal heart monitors, medical furniture, and a bunch of medical supplies.

Along with that we put the word out that a ministry in Mali called the Lydia Center was in need of a tractor, and someone at CCC donated a full-sized farm tractor.

So back in January, after months of planning, we loaded up the sea container and sent it on its way to Mali. We just received news in the middle of March that the container arrived!

Here is the exact email quote I received from the Medical Director at the hospital, Dr. Dan Nesselroade:

“The container arrived and there is some amazing, beautiful stuff in it. Thank you so much to you and all that were involved in getting it over here. I’m blown away by the quality, not your typical donations! Such a blessing. Thanks! Dan”

Below are several pictures showing the Malians unloading the container. (click on any photo to see it in full size)

April Opportunities

Looking ahead to April, there are some opportunities for men to connect in small groups, be training in sharing how to have a relationship with Jesus and pray specifically for the men of Christ Community.

April 4

o Join a Men’s Group

Called to Lead. Begins April 4th. Join us bright and early on Monday mornings at Panera on 78th & Dodge at 6:45 (yes, that’s a.m.!) to consider the leadership lessons of the life of Paul. Using John MacArthur’s book Called to Lead, we’ll look at a model of leadership based on God’s Word. MacArthur explains the 26 characteristics of a leader drawn from one of the Bible’s most renowned leaders, who learned to achieve results without forfeiting faith and obedience. For more information, contact Todd Conkright, todd.conkright@gmail.com or 402-650-4921. Books can be purchased on Amazon.com or through Parables.

April 12

o Be Trained in Sharing Christ with Others

Intersections Tuesday evenings / 7 – 8:30 PM / beginning April 12 / Student Center / Old Mill Campus (404 S 108th Ave) / 4 weeks

Explore what it means to connect with others and help them find faith in Christ. This class will look at how Jesus intersected with spiritually interested people. What tools did He use to build relationships, guide spiritual conversations and invite people into the Kingdom? Each session will include dialogue teaching with CCC’s Lead Pastor Mark Ashton and Pastor of Spiritual Discovery Tim Perry as well as stimulating small group interaction. Each week will also focus on specific skills and challenges to make learning evangelism fun and productive in real life. There is a $5 fee for the participant’s booklet.

Sign up on line at cccomaha.org

April 15

o Join a Men’s Group

New Men’s Group Starting Fridays / Old Mill Campus / 6:15 – 7:30 AM / FLC 145/ 8 weeks

This group will use Stephen Arterburn’s “Every Man, God’s Man”, a Guide to Courageous Faith and Daily Integrity as a basis for discussion for growing as a man following God. It’s about renovating men’s hearts to be the men God created them to be. For information, contact Terry Frolio at 402-350-7357 or tfrolio@us.ibm.com There is an $8 fee for the study guide.

Sign up on line at cccomaha.org

April 23

o Pray

Fourth Quarter for Men

Fourth Saturday of the month/ 9 – 10:30 AM / WC 118 / Old Mill Campus

On the fourth Saturday of the month, men are invited to the Fourth Quarter, a time of prayer for men, discussing a leadership development topic and looking ahead to the upcoming opportunities for men. Come to finish a month well and launch a new one in God’s power.

Decision Tree – Jesus and the Resurrection

So we’ve got Mark Ashton here in Gathering this afternoon. Looking at the claims of the Bible related to Jesus and his purported resurrection is a matter of simple sequential decision making. It’s like a decision making tree if you’ve ever seen one of those.

Decision One: Was Jesus a Historical Person? Yes or No?

If he wasn’t even a real person, we can talk about how legends arise and spread. How a legend with such implications have ever gotten off the ground is another issue. We’d also have to explore the possibility that Jesus was a real person, but just not a divine person.

Decision Two: Did Jesus really die? Yes or No?

The Swoon theory postulates that Jesus in fact survived the crucifixion! Everyone merely thought he was dead. His body was placed in the tomb where he revived. Possible. Not very likely given the efficiency of the Roman execution apparatus.

So where are we? Let’s suppose Jesus was a real person. Who really was successfully executed. What about the tomb? On to decision three…

Decision Three: Did the tomb remain inhabited by Jesus or not?

If Jesus’ remains were in the tomb, this would have been a very powerful deterrent against the initial spread of the Christian claim that Jesus was resurrected. Just produce the body and this “ridiculous rumor” would be immediately silenced! Hmmm. What else we got? Is that the end of the decision-making line?

Decision Four: OK, empty tomb – what are the options for what that means?

Three real options are open to us here according to Mr. Ashton’s decision tree. The disciples stole the body, made up the resurrection story and spread the legend. This would beg all manner of questions about the ability of the disciples to steal a body from a tomb under Roman guard.

A second possibility is that either the Romans or the Jews stole the body! This wouldn’t be in their best interests. Both groups were opposed to the spread of a radical new religious movement excited about a risen Messiah. They would have had reason to KEEP the body under guard, so that if stories did circulate about a risen Jesus, they could simply produce the corpse of Jesus and use it as conclusive proof of Jesus’ permanent death.

That leaves us with an empty tomb and a resurrected Jesus as a very plausible explanation (miraculous though it be) for the widest body of evidence. It’s not a slam dunk for many people – partly because we don’t have the same kind’s of evidence we’re used to handling today in modern forensics (DNA, photographic or video recordings of a live Jesus, etc). We’re forced to weigh the merits of the eye-witness accounts.

Questions from the crowd.

  1. At one point they’re called Disciples. At another point they’re called Apostles . Are these the same groups?
  2. What is the secular evidence for the Resurrection? How detailed is the information those resources give us?
  3. Was anyone else’s remains in the tomb Jesus’ body was initially laid in?
  4. Why do the gospel writers make it such a point that it was women who first discovered and reported the empty tomb?

Catch the whole presentation with Q/A on our media page in a day or two:

http://cccomaha.org/gathering-media.php

Die for a Lie!

Christianity is absolutely inexplicable without the historical reliability of the resurrection. Did Jesus himself die a mere tragic mortal death. If so, Christianity is a religion of fools shouts the apostle Paul from the pages of the new testament documents themselves.

If Jesus died for his own lie (being one with God, claiming to be the long-expected Messiah of the old testament) what does that mean for his followers? They are to be the more pitied for their lack of sanity! If they knew Jesus lied, what do we make of the fact that many of them went to their deaths believing the same lie? How far does this lie stretch? How far could it? Wouldn’t someone who knew better go on record as saying such?

If Jesus didn’t in fact raise from the dead, what are the best explanations we have available to us? How do these possibilities stand up to the evidence? Tomorrow we begin a three week investigation into the resurrection of Jesus at Gathering, CCC’s lunch apologetics and seeker forum.

Check out this link for the details!

http://cccomaha.org/spiritual-discovery.php

Carey Schlieker – our newest CCC international worker!

The letter below is from Carey Schlieker about her future.

Hello Friends –

I have some exciting news to share! God has opened the door for me to return to Mali, West Africa. This time I will return as a career international worker with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I’m honored to be joining the great team in Mali again! My first term will be four years. I will be leaving this August, 2011. The first year will consist of French language study in Albertville, France. Of course, I will be happy to speak Bambara again as well when I get to Mali the summer of 2012!

Although my new role in Mali is largely uncertain at this point, I will be on a brand new team working in Segou, Mali. The town of Segou is the 2nd largest city in Mali with an approximate population of 160,000 people. Many young people come to the city for education or jobs. Segou is located on the Niger River and is a major hub for trade and transportation. It is largely unreached with the Gospel, with over 90% of the population following Islam. I am trusting God that he will know exactly how I can combine my nursing skills with my seminary training to show and tell the people of Segou about Christ’s love for them.

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth: shall you not know it? Isaiah 43:18-19

Over the next few months my schedule will include the following:

March – Pre-Field Orientation in Colorado Springs with the other new international workers going out this summer with the CMA

April – Training workshop on Community Health Evangelism in Ashville, North Carolina. I’ll also be visiting friends in Columbia, SC before the workshop

May – Commissioning service at the CMA General Council on May 29th in Kansas City, MO and finish my employment at Methodist Hospital

July – Three-week online language acquisition class

August – Leave for Albertville France to start French language study

Whew! The time will fly by and I would love to see as many of you as possible before leaving. I am available to share with your small group or church about the ministry in Mali and Segou. Please email or call me if you are interested.

Please pray for me as I prepare to go. In some ways I feel that I am returning to a familiar land; however, I am preparing for the NEW and DIFFERENT! I am confident that God will strengthen me for the task ahead.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Many of you have supported my ministry through the years through prayer and financial gifts. Thank you! As I return overseas, my monthly expenses will be covered through the Great Commission Fund. This fund supports over 700 international workers in over 60 countries. Contributions can be made three ways: through your local Alliance church, on line at http://www.cmalliance.org/give/ or by sending a check to the C&MA, PO Box 35000, Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3500.

You are all so special to me and I thank God for the gift of good friends!

Love in Christ,

Carey

Your Skills Matter

Graham Frank’s comments about using your marketplace skills for missions were a challenge to many people who have well developed professional skills. From driving large construction vehicles to teaching English to practicing law, everybody has a significant kingdom contribution.

Here is a helpful article to flesh that out in your life. Two paragraphs get you started and a link will give you the full expression. http://www.businessasmissionnetwork.com/

For Japan

An international student just emailed me. He is from Japan, has been here a month and has been to CCC three times in that time. He emailed to say ‘thanks’ to us for our compassionate prayers and giving to the earthquake victims during services. It meant a lot to him.

You know, when we decided to have the special prayers and offering for the people in Japan, I never thought about the possibility of it impacting a Japanese student who happened into our services. I think that God is like that. When you do ‘acts of compassion’, you never know what kind of unsuspecting bystanders will be positively impacted by your love. Just a thought…

Good Work Jesus Class!

The last couple of weeks we’ve been working at the inductive method in the Jesus Class. Observe. Interpret. Apply. We spent an hour or so looking at Mark chapter 6. Give it a read if you have a minute – here’s a link to the text:

Mark 6:1-32 Jesus rejected in his hometown. The Twelve sent out in mission. Flashback to John the Baptist’s execution!

The class did a great job coming up with questions that drew out the application issues from this text. What do we make of people being rejected for directly obeying Jesus? Was John the Baptist’s example of costly obedience relevant for our faith today? Here are a few samples of the kind of questions we collected from class:

  1. Why do we insist on doing so many thing in isolation as Christians when Jesus set such a strategic pattern for us of sending people in pairs?
  2. How could everything we do be improved by working in teams and pairs?
  3. Has Jesus really empowered me to actually heal sick people today? Why or why not?
  4. Am I actually more like the people in Jesus hometown than I want to admit? In what ways does familiarity with Jesus dull my belief in him?
  5. How does my lack of faith affect God’s ability to work in my life and in the life of those around me?
  6. Why do I struggle so much to be available to Jesus when he looks for someone to “send on assignment”?
  7. What are the actual fears and excuses that prevent us from obeying?
  8. Could I persevere in the face of actual persecution for my faith or would it shut me down? Explain.
  9. Where am I putting my security other than in Jesus?
  10. What would I be willing to give up in order to obey God?
  11. What is Jesus asking you to sacrifice in order to spread the Gospel?
  12. Why do I have such a hard time trusting what Jesus tells me?
  13. Why is it that the people you grow up with are the ones most skeptical and hardest to connect with?
  14. What might be preventing Jesus from doing miracles in my life?
  15. Am I willing to do without creature comforts for the sake of the cause of Christ?
  16. How can God’s path or plan for us coincide with the free will he gave us? Why does it ultimately matter whether or not we pray?
  17. What would I do if people close to me reject me for trying to share my faith with them? How can I talk about my faith without unnecessarily offending?
  18. Does worrying mean I have no faith?
  19. What do I do if Christians around me aren’t helping me follow Jesus with my choices?
  20. Would I be willing to risk everything in order to follow Jesus?
  21. Is my view of Jesus too small?
  22. What habits do I have that stand in the way of trusting Jesus?
  23. How great would by life be if I really did hand it over to Jesus’ control?
  24. What does it mean to be truly teachable?
  25. Jesus told us to scatter the seed everywhere – why am I so afraid of throwing it out there to the “hard soil” people?
  26. Who are you more comfortable sharing the Gospel with – close family and friends or mere acquaintances?
  27. Can I trust Jesus with my financial issues?
  28. Are there parts of my life Jesus can’t touch because of my total lack of faith?
  29. Who do I identify with more: Herod – powerful, comfortable yet compromised by status; or John the Baptist – humble, pennyless yet boldly pointing people to Jesus and living right before God? Explain.

Project Experience is off and running

We kicked off our Global Summit week yesterday by having about 100 of our senior adults go through Project Experience in the gym. In talking with a number of these folks when they were done, I saw a number of tears and heard quite a few really good comments. One gentelmen said to me, “All of our young people need to go through this.”

Yesterday was actually my first time going through this as well, and well – it was a powerful experience!

I really appreciate how the last few rooms end with everyone having a chance to stop and pray and to take action now. The last room is called the Follow-Up Room and there are a bunch of things you can do to take action if God is moving in your heart. I recommend everyone take about 5 to 10 minutes to look around this room as there is something there for everyone.

If you’re not signed up yet for Project Experience – there is still time! Go to www.cccomaha.org and click on “C&MA Project Experience”.

Questions Questions Questions

So what kind of questions are important to ask when you’re trying to figure Jesus out? If you’re going to get anything out of the bible, your mind learns how to ask three distinct kinds of questions.

Facts. Our minds first take things in at a basic level of content. What are the words saying? This gets at the speaker or writer’s choice of ideas, turn of phrase, illustrations etc. In communication theory we refer to it as locution. What in fact is the person saying. Great fact questions include things like:

  • The typical reporter questions – who, what, where, when and how?
  • Who is the writers audience? In narrative writing, who is the main character and who is listening or interacting?
  • What action is taking place? What is causing it and what are the results?
  • Key words. Words I don’t understand. Words that might mean something different in the passage than they do today?

Meaning. If locution is a matter of the words themselves, illocution gets at the intended meaning of those words. What is the author or speaker or actor intending to convey by what he says or does? When we speak we use our words (locution) to get what we mean from our mind into the mind of our audience. Questions that get at the meaning of what is being said are essential at this level of reading:

  • What did Jesus mean when he said, “If anyone doesn’t welcome you shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them?”
  • What is the context in which words or actions are to be understood? What has been happening immediately before and after the part of the text in question?
  • How do others in the narrative understand what is being said or done based on their reaction?
  • What meaning do we see in the text? How might our desires or assumptions play into what we think a text means?
  • What is the simplest explanation that accounts for what is being said or done?

Application. Once we’ve clearly seen what is in the text (locution) and arrived at the best interpretation of what the author means to say by it (illuction), we have to ask the most troubling of all questions: How are we to respond. This is what we call application. Communication theorists call it Perlocution: what response or reaction is the author calling for by what he’s written. Great application questions include things like:

  • Does the text make it explicit what we are to do? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
  • If the text doesn’t make it quite that easy for us, what is it the passage implies believers should do – an action to follow-through on, an attitude to follow, an example to avoid, etc?
  • What truth about God is being taught that our world needs to know today?
  • How does the text challenge God’s people today? What can/should Christians do differently?
  • How does what the author says challenge the broader culture of our day?