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Archive for February 2016

Will more people like me if I follow Jesus?

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Well… you can decide that for yourself based on what Jesus told his disciples just hours before he was executed.  The weird thing about Jesus dying on the cross is that you’d figure his sacrifice would clear the way for humanity to be more accepting of his followers.  At least make people more sympathetic to our cause.  Nope.  Just the opposite says Jesus.

17 This is my command: Love each other.  18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:17-19 NIV)

Come jump in with us this week at Unconvinced – Christ Community’s seeker venue.  Meets at 10:45 in D-126.

Far from magically wiping away the world’s hostility, the sufferings of Jesus flow over to his followers in the grand scheme of God’s redemption plan.  Jesus doesn’t say come follow me and I’ll make you popular.  His invitation to follow in a funny way is the only way to really understand the world’s hatred.  Come follow me, says Jesus to his followers, and you’ll learn the heartache of loving a world infected with its own hatred.  Living in victory over that hatred is the same for Jesus’ followers as it was for Jesus himself.  It only comes through self-giving, self-sacrificing love.

Week 09 Handout

Week 09 – Text

how Basketball changed my heart

For the past five years, in partnership with Bridge Church, CCC has been helping support and build a youth basketball league in North Omaha. I (Eric Carpenter) have been blessed to be a part of this since the beginning.

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Each time we end practice, we have a Better Together Student Award that recognizes the player that exudes character, integrity, and teamwork. We also end each practice with this prayer, “Today is a day of victory on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. I commit to being a life-lifting, better together, game-changing leader. In Jesus name, that’s what’s up!”

Its 6 AM when I wake up to a frantic knock on my front door.  As I open the door a cold draft comes rushing in and to my surprise the youngest daughter of my neighbor is standing at the door looking to come in.  “Is everything ok?” I ask, and without hesitation she says, “I’m hungry coach.”  Not having much to offer, I grab a granola bar and pour her a glass of juice.  I can see in her face that she’s been up for hours as I ask her if she knows what time it is.  She shrugs her shoulders and quickly asks what time our basketball game is that morning.  In my head I’m thinking, “It’s not for another 3 hours and I need to go back to sleep!”  Instead I ask, “Is your mom coming to the game or do you need a ride?”  With disappointment on her face she lets me know her mom is already at work.  Her mom has not been able to come to a game all year.  After reassuring her that I would be there to pick her up on time, I lie in bed and think about how all 10 girls on my basketball team experience the same disappointment.  In fact, only one mom has shown up to watch her daughter play the entire season.  I think this is when it hit me how much I value the time I spend with these kids and how important it is for me to be a role model in their lives.  It crushes me to imagine my own child with the same look of disappointment.

As parents, we all have moments when we let our children down.  Sometimes because of unforeseen circumstances or work or just the busyness of life. The families we work with at Bridge Church have many barriers to overcome, and many of the children we coach come from single parent homes.  I just got back from a week-long mission trip and when I returned my wife commented on how hard it would be to be a single parent.  If we examine our lives, busyness if often the thing that distracts us from what ‘s most important.  It seems we are always in a hurry.  Our culture thrives on busyness and we are often guilty of not slowing down to see what God is doing right in front of us.  Most of the activities we are involved in are good and seem important,  but I’m realizing nothing is better than getting involved with activities that will change the life and direction of a young child.

One of the greatest ministries I have been involved in these past 5 years is the basketball program at Bridge Church.  This past year it has grew to over 250 students!  When we first started we needed 3 cars to pick up our entire team and had one set of parents in the stands.  Now when I drive to games, I no longer need to pick kids up and we see every parent in the stands cheering for their child!  What a difference Bridge Church is making in the lives of students and families.  Throughout the season each student receives a jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, a snack at each game, and an award for their hard work.  It’s pretty cool to no longer see disappointment on their faces, but rather excitement and joy over simple things.  As the basketball program continues to grow, we will certainly need more coaches to lead and help coach teams.  It doesn’t matter what age you are or how much experience you have, we need you!  Investing in the lives of kids doesn’t just impact them, but it also impacts your life as well.

 

Dominican Republic short-term team

Eric Carpenter, a member of the CCC missions staff, recently led a team from CCC to the Dominican Republic to support and grow the work of the local Dominican church. These are a few thoughts from Eric about the trip.

Pic 1One thing I enjoyed most about this trip is the impact we saw in the lives of others.  We had the opportunity to embark on an adventure with God and connect with a diverse team of people.  We were forced out of our comfort zones and experienced God in new ways.  Our group bonded together quickly and worked well together.  Many people felt a direct call on their life – that God wanted to use their gifts and talents for a specific purpose in the near future.  We were led by a great staff team and partnered with a growing church.

Rebuilding the Church

pic 2One of the main responsibilities on our trip was to reconstruct a church.  It is amazing to think that this task can be done with ordinary people like us!  We had a dozen experienced construction workers and a dozen laborers.  Throughout the week we tore down a few walls and the stage, extended the walls of the church by 30 feet, constructed a new front entrance, and rebuilt the roof.  We also connected and bonded with locals which is a challenge to do in such a short amount of time.

 

VBS

Our team was challenged throughout the week with a memory verse, Colossians 4:2 – “Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Each day after morning construction we went out into the community and spoke to the neighborhood.  Many of the locals invited us inside their homes and displayed great hospitality toward our team.  God gave us unique opportunities to share the gospel and scripture.  We also were able to extend invites to kids for our VBS program.   An overwhelming number of kids showed up!  Here is a picture of our team leading the kids in our Bible and craft time.  img_20160204_161416_559

Prayer Walking

After spending a week with the team, it was easy to see that each person was spiritually challenged.  We were pushed out of our comfort zone and needed God’s help.  For many in the group, praying with people was the most difficult because it was a new experience.  There was fear of the unknown, doubts about how to pray, and if the words would even come out.  Through the doubt came a willingness to step out in faith and let the Lord lead.  At the end of our prayer walk our group was encouraged and shared stories of their experience.

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Intersections is coming!

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One week from today we kick off a four-week training experience called Intersections.  Intersections is a way to grow in every aspect of being a more effective spokesperson for the Christian faith.  We’ll look at how to use our story in sharing the Gospel with others.  We’ll check out a new tool called Big Story that summarizes the message of Christianity in a convenient app that you can download to your device. We’ll practice simple skills like asking good questions.  We’ll also unbox a seeker discussion group tool called Christianity Explored.  With all this packed in to the workshop, we have to charge a mere $10 for the materials participants will receive and use.  The link to register on-line is below.  If you don’t yet have a MyCCC Account with Christ Community, it’s worth the couple extra minutes to sign up so you can pay on-line and be ready to go for the workshop.  If you have any questions about Intersections, feel free to give me a shout.  Tim Perry – timp@cccomaha.org

To register for Intersections:  http://cccomaha.org/newsfeed.php?id=1790

 

Something only a blind guy could see!

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“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
(John 9:39-41 NIV)

This week in Unconvinced we’ll see why Jesus gets in such trouble for healing a blind man.  Ironically it’s only those who willingly bring their blindness to Jesus who will see the light.   Pride is the only untreatable eye problem to Jesus.  Unconvinced meets Sundays in room D-126 at 10:45.  Come join us and bring a friend.   Brent will  be our facilitator this week.

 

I Am The True Vine

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Not sure you can believe everything you read on the internet (including posts from church pastors like me) but according to my painstaking research over the past 12 minutes on Google, the worlds most expensive grapes are the Ruby Romans.  Ever heard of Ruby Roman grapes?  Me neither till 12 minutes ago.  According to an article in the Japan Times a couple paid over $5,000 for a single cluster of 30 golf-ball sized Ruby Romans for their wedding reception.

This week in Unconvinced we’re finishing up the 8 “I Am” statements of Jesus.  I am the true vine (#8) claims Jesus.  He who remains in me will bear MUCH fruit.  But in the same breath Jesus says that apart from him, you can do nothing.  Branches that bear no fruit (much less $180 per grape Ruby Romans) are cut off, picked up an burned!

Each week we’re discovering that Jesus’ identity claims are far more than mere pithy word-pictures tossed out by a flashy public speaker.  In all 8 “I Ams” Jesus is making serious identity claims with huge implications for his listeners.

Week 6 resource sheet

Week 6 – Text

Come on out and join us this week.  Unconvinced meets at 10:45 in Room D-126.  Bring your questions.  Bring your doubts.  And bring a friend and join in the discussion.  The above links are the resource sheets for last week’s session.