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Archive for August 2011

Maybe I should be worried?

Starting to think about our next message series coming this fall – Future Shock. Not sure how I landed it but my job on the teaching team this series is to deal with all the cosmic bad-boys found in biblical eschatology! Who are God’s most powerful enemies- bent on the destruction of his people- alive and dangerous as they rise in power and influence in our world?

If you’ve ever read parts of scripture like Daniel 8-9 or Revelation 16-19 you’ll meet world rulers with blatantly anti-God goals, Dragons and Beasts depicted as tools of Satanic aggression, false prophets actively manipulating world systems, deceiving people and bringing them under his power, the Anti-Christ, and even a cosmic bad-girl who imbibes the blood of Christian martyrs! To be honest, I feel like Daniel in response to his apocalyptic visions:

“I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.” Dan 8:27

Something of enormous proportions is at stake. In Daniel’s day a vision of a goat with a few extra horns growing out of it’s head turned into a disgusting abomination of God’s temple and the public executions of priests. Antiochus IV was a real world ruler Daniel’s vision predicted would unleash great evil on God’s people. Does the Bible tell us similar things might be in store for Christians today?

YES. God has enemies. Real ones. That means God’s people will face God’s enemies in some form. Church history tells that story already. Christ followers have always taken the mission of Jesus forward through real opposition. That will only intensify as the timeline of salvation history advances to it’s climax. The role for Christians isn’t to “hope it doesn’t happen” or just close our eyes and brace for it.

Jesus gave us absolutely realistic instructions when he said this: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love you as its own, but because you are not of the world, the world hates you.” Or how about this one: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15.

I don’t know about you, but along with the likelihood of being the target of Anti-Jesus hatred comes a fascination with who those enemies are. I want to know as much as I can about The Anti-Christ, The Beast, The False Prophet, The Dragon, The Man of Lawlessness, The Blood-drinking Prostitute riding a scarlet beast (well maybe not so much about her).

Make sure you don’t miss Future Shock. I think it will scare your pants off to be honest. But I also think for every nasty enemy of God poised to unmake our world, there’s an assurance from Jesus that he can see his people through and that he longs to share his cosmic victory with us!

Send me your comments and questions as we gear up for this incredible series. Get into the book of Revelation over the next several weeks. Let us know what you’re thinking!

PS – no, this is not a photograph of me or any other CCC staff member.

One of the Most Dangerous Questions to Ask

Since I’ve started my role as the Online Campus Pastor, one of the best things has been all the people I’ve been meeting. It’s dominated my time, meeting with people who are interested in helping out, in some capacity, with the Online Campus.

In meeting with people, and getting to know them, we get to know more about each other. Inevitably, my story of overcoming addiction comes up in most of these conversations, and people feel comfortable sharing with me their own stories. Their own joys and heartbreaks.

I like this. I like getting to know people beyond the superficial. It can lead to some interesting conversations.

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CCC container arrives in Mali

For many years now Mali, West Africa has been a country at the center of CCC’s heart. We built a hospital for Women & Children that opened in 2006 and was finished this last year. Now our primary role for the hospital is to send medical supplies via large sea containers.

Just this last May we sent them a sea container that held medical supplies, a tractor, and an abundant supply of toilet paper, cereal and paper towels.

The Malians were truly blessed from the generosity of CCC. The bountiful supply of toilet paper that was sent has overstocked the hospital along with missionaries receiving their own personal stash. Also, each employee will receive four rolls of toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, and candy that was sent in the container.

Continue to pray for the country of Mali and the work that God is doing across the world!!

Back to 1985 (Thoughts on Being a Student Amongst Poverty)

Howard Kennedy Elementary

This morning, a number of the Christ Community Church staff toured the Village One area. This is a North Omaha area, surrounding Compass Ministries, that CCC is working in with other organizations like Abide Network and Bridge Church. Ron Dotzler was the tour guide, and he’s great. (A few years ago, he helped me out with the special Kingdom Color podcast I produced about Omaha’s race history.) One of the stats Ron shared this morning was that half the kids that start kindergarten, in North Omaha, do not graduate high school.

One of the things CCC is trying to do is work with the kids and students in the area. One of the schools in the Village One are is Franklin Elementary, a school I attended for a brief time during the 1984-’85 school year.

The 1984-’85 school year was a memorable one, but not necessarily for good reasons. I was entering the third grade. I had been going to Dundee Elementary, but Dundee didn’t have a third grade due to the district’s forced busing plan.* Most of my classmates went to Howard Kennedy, but somehow I was selected to go to Franklin Elementary. Franklin was also in North Omaha. Going to Franklin was somehow a great honor for me because it was magnet school, or something like that. I think my name was randomly selected from a pool of candidates. I had no idea I was a candidate. I had no idea how I was selected. All I knew was I was now going to Franklin without any of my friends or classmates.

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2011 Leadership Summit Recap

As long as I’ve been a part of the Christ Community Church staff, we’ve always attended the annual Leadership Summit. It’s a conference held at Willow Creek Community Church, in Chicago, IL, and simulcast all around the world. Some of the best leaders in the world share their leadership principles, and stories, to aspiring and current leaders. This was my sixth time attending Leadership Summit in some capacity, and I thought I’d share with you a dozen highlights from the event. At the end of the post, I’ve added links to my notes from all the speakers.

12. “Dig some ditches.” – When I first came across Steven Furtick I was intrigued. This will be expanded upon in an upcoming post, but needless to say the curiosity continues. Him being a speaker at Leadership Summit wasn’t surprising, because of the success his church has had, but I wondered what his talk would actually say. Steven’s talk was good. I appreciated him addressing the fact that so many conference attendees are inspired, but then go home and do nothing. I liked how he referenced Elisha. I liked some of the one liners he delivered. I thought Steven had one of the better talks at Summit. Simple, to the point and actionable items for people. All of us have some dirty work to implement the ideas we generate at a conference. We just need to do it, and trust God to do his part.

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CCC blesses Teachers in Village One

CCC is embarking on a significant new ministry in the Village One area of North Omaha. Village One is the name of the many neighborhoods that surround CCC Compass Ministries located at 33rd & Franklin Street.

As today was the first day of school for Teachers at Omaha Public Schools, we decided to bless the teachers and workers at Franklin Elementary School with a small gift bag to show our appreciation for their hard work. Franklin is located in Village One and is just 2 blocks to the West of Compass.

Led by Eric Carpenter, a group of people from CCC put together gift bags for 49 school teachers, administrators, and other staff and delivered them in person early this Monday morning.

Say a quick prayer today for Franklin – for their teachers and their students – that this would be their best year yet and that God would bless their school and community in amazing ways.

Franklin Elementary School

Omaha is best VALUE in America

http://kiplinger.com/slideshow/best-value-cities-2011/2.html

Kiplingers just did an amazing job writing about our fair city. Their conclusion? Of all of the cities in the United States, Omaha is the best place to live for its VALUE. The combination of low unemployment, low cost of living and high salaries are key reasons, but there is also acclaim for the development of the social, infrastructure, and entertainment aspects of our city. A great read!

Bob Thune back at Okoboji Bible Conference

Greetings from the 77th Annual Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference! This conference has become an annual trip for our family that we look forward to every year. What a blessing to hear from our former Senior Pastor at CCC, Bob Thune. Bob spoke at the Sunday morning service and stepped on to the platform trim and fit and not looking a day older than when he left CCC 7 years ago. He was engaging, as always, and shared 10 key things that the Lord has taught him over the years. These insights ranged from the importance of Integrity and Eternity, to the importance of the proclamation of the Gospel, to the importance of cherishing your spouse, as he so obviously does Ruthie. One of the most significant things that I, personally, took away was when he spoke about the secret of life being wrapped up in “the New Covenant.” He talked about the quest for all of us to find a sense of adequacy in our lives. He said, “a sense of adequacy begins with acknowledging that we can’t find it in ourselves. It must be found in Christ.”

As most of you know, Bob has been the Pastor of Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, CA since he left Christ Community. He shared some of his personal journey over the last few weeks as he is now transitioning out of that role officially at the end of August. His comments on the subject were a testament to how Pastor Bob has modeled all of the aforementioned integrity, eternal perspective and Godliness over the years–and continues to do so. The comments evolved from one of his points, which was that “It’s not about me.” He graciously said that God IS doing something at Southwest Community Church and powerfully and humbly proclaimed that “The Mission is more important than any man.”

Well, at CCC we feel like God’s Mission for us is to make Disciples of Jesus Christ for Kingdom Impact. May God bless us as we do that, and may God bless Bob and Ruthie Thune as they enter the next chapter of their lives.

Brian Smith

Online Campus Countdown / Prayer Requests

“It’s already August?!”

It’s a bit cliche to say, but it is true how fast the year seemingly goes by. For me, it’s also the realization the Online Campus will go live in a few months. Actually, its five months from today. Quoting Keanu Reeves, “Whoa.”

There’s a lot to do before that first service. While we have lots of great ideas, we need to identify what is possible in accomplishing before we launch. Tomorrow, myself and a few other staff will be having an all-day planning session related to the Online Campus. As well, I’m grateful that Jason Morris, Online Campus Pastor at Westside Family Church in Kansas City, will be joining us for the planning session. Jason has been an asset and support in the lead up to announcing the campus.

We would appreciate your prayers as we map out more specifics with the goals/big ideas, come up with a timeline through the end of January 2012, and identify the practical steps that need to happen with projects. (more…)