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Posts Tagged ‘life’

CCC & Instagram

Instagram is a favorite app for many. People share moments and memories with it. Many of us staff post to Instagram on a consistent basis.

Now, Christ Community Church has an Instagram account setup. What we hope to do with it is capture some of the wonderful moments that happen here.

Find us on Instagram at “cccomaha”. Our Instagram pics will also post to a Tumblr we have set up if you’d prefer to follow that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Story of a Roadside Memorial

“Daddy, look! A Pinwheel!”

Duncan squealed with glee at the sight of the pinwheel as we waited at the stop light. I looked over and saw the pinwheel, amidst the makeshift memorial for some unknown person. As habit, I said a brief prayer for the unknown victim’s family and friends.

Since moving into our home, in the fall of 2006, I’ve driven through the 132nd & Blondo intersection thousands of times. I stick to the same pattern when driving on it. When heading west on Blondo, people usually get in the left lane since the road goes from four lanes to two soon after the intersection. This can cause backup at the intersection, so people will line up in the right lane attempting to speed ahead of all the cars in the left lane. The cars in the left lane don’t want to be passed, so they speed ahead as well trying to not let the cars in the right lane merge. All while doing this at 40-50 mph in a metal object. (more…)

The Power of Sabbath

About a year ago, I started having my Sabbath on Mondays. The great thing about having it on Mondays was it became a real Sabbath. Before, when it was on Sundays, it wasn’t a day of rest. Because of my work as a pastor, Sundays were always a work day of some sort. Yes, I could rest Sunday afternoons, sometimes, but the Sabbath is suppose to be about an entire day of rest.

You would think this would be an easy principle/law for Christians to follow, but it isn’t. I’m surprised by how many people in the church think taking a Sabbath isn’t a reality for today. I find this odd. Even when I made the switch to Mondays, one individual (who has been a Christian for a long time) asked me if it was really necessary to have a day off during the week. Yes, yes it is. Just because you choose not to take a Sabbath, doesn’t mean I should abide by your faulty thinking. Sunday is a work day for me. If I didn’t take Monday off, there wouldn’t be a day off from work. (more…)

When Modern Becomes Tradition

Wednesday is my meeting day. I have five schedule meetings, and then in the evenings I take my boys to Kids’ Clubs. While it can be a grind, it’s nice to knock out a majority of my meetings in one day.

One of my Wednesday meetings deals with Access/Online services. Ryan Shields, Travis Williams and I review the previous Sunday services, and go over upcoming services. We approach it from different perspectives, and it’s been fun for me to hear their takes on worship, church, the gospel and more.

Yesterday, we were discussing a classic hymn, and listening to a modern version of it. I dismissed it. The arrangement was well-done, and it was performed with excellence. I dismissed it because it wasn’t what I was used to with the song. I said that in the meeting, and we discussed whether people would join in with the song. (more…)

Returning to the Scene of the Crime…and Receiving Hope (Part 2)

Winner's Circle Celebration at Franklin Elementary

To read Part 1, click here.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.

-Henry V (Act III, Scene I), William Shakespeare

When I signed up to volunteer and serve with The Partnership for our Kids, something happened that I did not anticipate. A mental battle started to occur within me. I was fighting myself over getting involved in a greater way to support the kids who battle poverty.

Christianity would call this spiritual warfare, and that’s what I would call it.

Within the past year, I was asked to be on the board of directors for a local non-profit that combats poverty and advocates for justice. I heard the pitch, and it was good. A friend of mine was on the board. They do great work. They saw and heard my heart for social justice from afar, and wanted to get me involved in a greater way. I had all sorts of legitimate excuses as to why I couldn’t be on the board and be involved at that moment. I had a third child on the way. I was starting a new role at work. I told them I was interested, but perhaps at a later date. It all made sense in my mind, even though at that time I was wrestling with God pushing me toward an increased social justice involvement.

When is it ever going to be an opportune time? When over the next two decades am I going to have time? More importantly, what am I modeling with that kind of thinking and action? How am I leading with my inaction? What is the example I am setting for my family? What is the example I am setting for others?

I’m glad God is patient with me.

So, I signed up to get involved with The Partnership for Our Kids, and the mental battle started. (more…)

Returning to the Scene of the Crime…and Receiving Hope (Part 1)

crime: (noun) a grave offense especially against morality

This past August, I wrote about my experiences, from the third grade, when I attended Franklin Elementary and Howard Kennedy Elementary Schools. The post was partly inspired by an Omaha Young Professionals Event where we were given a pitch to volunteer, and serve, in some of Omaha’s inner city elementary schools. They were schools that had a high percentage of students living at or below the poverty line, and they were looking for young professionals to help students at these schools meet various academic goals.

While I sat through the pitch, I was being stirred. Again. Throughout this year, God has been challenging me to get more involved when it comes to social justice matters. The catalyst was reading Tim Keller’s Generous Justice. It was a book where at the end of every chapter I had to put it down, seemingly, because I was overwhelmed by what Tim was saying. Well, I was overwhelmed by what God was speaking to me through Tim’s words. I was examining my own life and wondering what I could be doing to bring justice to those in need.

It’s not that I haven’t been involved or detached when it comes to social justice, by the standards of the world I’m doing well on that front. I find myself challenging the status quo when it comes to perceptions about the city, specifically North Omaha. I press people when I feel like they are using coded language to mask prejudice, whether they realize it or not. I help out with projects, and attend events, that target areas of Omaha in need, support the community and encourage others to do the same. I try to support local businesses and organizations within the city that give back. I try and highlight how a number of us have won the birth lottery, which has given some of us a huge advantage in achieving success in this life. I’ve worked on various projects that have attempted to draw attention to the need that is there in the city, and for the church to get involved.

But, how am I doing by God’s standards? Not good. Am I loving my neighbor the way Jesus expects? No, not at all. This was the conclusion I was arriving at with God. If I wasn’t getting my hands dirty, if I wasn’t involving myself on the ground or in the streets more, if most of my work on this front was strictly communicative in nature, then I would be guilty. Guilty of inaction. Guilty of not leading out.

Guilty of sin.

I should know better, and God wasn’t going to let me get away with it anymore.

There is a growing injustice going on within Omaha and kids are the victims. They are the victims of poverty, family breakdown, violence and injustice. As some of you know, Omaha has the highest percentage of African-American children living in poverty. What good does it do if all we ever do is just talk about these problems? What are we doing about it? What are we doing about it in our neighborhood, and the neighborhood across town? How fair is it to expect kids, who have all the disadvantages, to compete with kids, who have all the advantages?

A few weeks after hearing the pitch to get involved more, I attended Leadership Summit. One of the sessions dealt with tough callings. The words shared during this session weren’t as challenging as the testimonies of the individuals who shared. One of the individuals who shared was Mama Maggie Gobran. She is serving the homeless, that live amongst trash, in Cairo, Egypt. She is doing this in an area where Christians and women face persecution. You observe her life and you will be challenged to ask, “What am I doing?”

That’s not to say if you aren’t doing what Mama Maggie is doing you are wrong. However, probably everyone that heard her story examined what they were doing with their life. I was doing that, but also sensing the stirring to get more involved on the ground. It was inescapable.

When she got done sharing, everyone was handed a piece of broken pottery. Bill Hybels referenced the prophet Jeremiah and how he had a tough calling as a prophet. He read from Jeremiah 19 and how Jeremiah bought a piece of pottery and smashed it in front of everyone in one of his prophecies. The piece of pottery we had was to remind us that we live in a broken world. There are broken people all around us. God is looking for people who will go into that brokenness to minister and serve people. God is looking for people who will make that kind of generational/lifetime commitment to address the brokenness in this world. God is looking for people who will shun the world’s, and Western church’s, idea of success to please God and serve humanity.

I held that piece of pottery and prayed. I knew I was going to be involved in a deeper way within the Omaha community. I was not going to be guilty of the crime of in action.

While still attending Leadership Summit, I signed up to get involved with The Partnership for our Kids and return to Franklin Elementary.

Part 2 to come.

This post originally appeared on Robert Murphy’s personal blog, RamHatter.

Women, Porn Is Not Just A Men’s Issue

Because of the openness with my story of overcoming porn addiction, I’m asked a lot of questions about it. This is great because dialog is necessary when it comes to the topic of pornography and how it can hurt people. One of the common misconceptions I encounter is that it’s only an issue with men. A woman, usually in defense of her husband, will say something along the lines of, “Well, this is an issue men have to constantly battle.”

Wrong. This is a men’s AND women’s issue.

According to Covenant Eyes, 34% of women struggle with using pornographic sites. 1 in 3 women struggle with porn. When I tell women the stats there is usually shock.

If you are a woman, next time you are at church look around the room and think about one-third of the women there are struggling with porn. Actually, don’t look around the room and wonder about everyone else. Take a look at yourself and ask some honest questions.

Yes, men struggle with porn at a greater percentage. 70%, according to Covenant Eyes’ statistics. Men need to be militant in addressing the issue and putting up safeguards to protect themselves. (Here’s a recent article from Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on how pornography hijacks the male brain.)

And, we shouldn’t think this is an issue for men when they get older. Did you know the the largest consumers of pornography are teens ages 12-17? If you have kids, or are a mentor to someone who is young, what are you doing to address the threat of pornography? Are you talking to them about it? Do you have internet filters in place?

Most children never receive any advice on how to surf the Internet. Is it any surprise they come across pornographic sites and start perusing them?

It’s not just a man’s issue or a woman’s issue, it’s everybody’s issue.

If this is an issue you struggle with, know that you can receive help at Christ Community Church. You may think it is impossible to break from this addiction or struggle, but by God’s grace it can be done. I, along with many others here at CCC, have found freedom through one of the renewal groups that meets here.

Women, we do have a group that meets on Tuesday nights that deals with sexual integrity. If this interests you, please email Josi Poloncic. For more information, check out The HUB for all Renewal Groups that meet on Tuesday nights. (Men, we also have Men of Integrity, a safe environment for men to address the issue of lust, that meets on Tuesday nights as well.)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
-James 5:16 (ESV)

Honoring Caleb, Supporting his Family, Responding to Westboro

This morning was unique in Christ Community Church’s history. The funeral service for US Navy SEAL Caleb Nelson was held in the Worship Center, with over 1,000 in attendance. The pageantry of the military funeral, and the veterans who came to line the road by holding American flags, was amazing and induced awe within me. Several media were in attendance to cover the service. While that was going on, down at the main intersection into Old Mill, you had a handful of individuals from Westboro Baptist picketing the funeral for their own reasons.

When I was driving into work, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I pulled into the Student Center parking lot, and from there I saw the Patriot Guard Riders. Their motorcycles were lined up in the back parking lot. I think there was roughly 120 of them. Amazing to see. They started making their way to the front of the church and lining the road near the entrance of the church. They all had American flags and stood with dignity and respect before the service.

Staff were asked to serve throughout the funeral. I ended up opening the front doors for people entering and exiting. I stood outside and watched the Patriot Guard Riders, along with soldiers and military personnel, set up and set a respectful and honoring tone to the proceedings. It induced a sense of awe in me to see these military men and women rally around the memory of Caleb Nelson and be a loving support to his wife, two sons, and other family. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

I had to pull away for a short time for a meeting at the local Starbucks. On the way there, I saw the small group of Westboro protesters. Inconsequential to say the least. Two, maybe three people? I tried to comprehend why they do what they do, but that is an effort in futility. When your business plan is to bait people to attack you, so you can sue them, it’s not something that makes a whole lot of sense.

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

-Proverbs 26:4-5

What would our response be to Westboro Baptist? Nothing. I know some churches and organizations have tried to engage them in dialog, but not on a day like this. This day was about honoring Caleb Nelson, not giving Westboro more attention. As a church, we asked that people just ignore them. They had their little protest far away from the church, nothing more.

What was cool was a group of people standing across the street to support the military, Caleb and his family. They were peacefully protesting Westboro. At the red light, I flashed them a thumbs up and got a smile from one of the individuals that saw me.

One of my friends, who fought in Iraq, was upset when I told him about the Westboro protest. However, he added at the end of his rant, we fight for their freedom to protest. He understood, even if he hated much of what they stand for as an organization.

When I came back to the church, the protestors were gone. (Good, no more talk about Westboro.) There were four huge groups of people lining the road with flags and signs supporting Caleb, his family and the military. Very cool to see. Just people wanting to show their support in some tangible way.

I went back inside CCC, and the Worship Center was packed. They were showing a video tribute to Caleb. Wonderful photos of him with his wife and two sons, his parents and fellow military personnel. After seeing one photo of him with his two boys, I found myself saying a prayer for them.

At the end of the video tribute was a passage from Isaiah.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
-Isaiah 6:8

That was Caleb. He answered the call.

Outside in the hall, I was hearing from others what had been shared during the service. In summation, Caleb represented everything that is good with the military. He represented everything that is good with being a father, husband and son. He represented everything that is good with being a Christian.

Some of the staff knew Caleb when he was a kid, and the knew his family well. They were telling me more stories about Caleb. As one pastor put it, “Caleb was the kind of man you hope your daughter marries.”

Caleb’s father, Larry Nelson, led the service with grace. Well done by him. (He is the pastor at Millard Alliance Church.)

The overflowing attendance by family, friends and military speaks to the kind of man Caleb was. Some of the media covering the service exited in tears at the testimony of Caleb’s life.

The closing song was “How Great Thou Art”. The words rang true.

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

May God bless and protect Caleb’s wife and two sons. May those boys know the kind of man their father was and be proud of him. May Caleb’s life and story continue to be told, and may it be an inspiration to many and draw people closer to Jesus.

Amen.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

-Selection from St. Crispin’s Day Speech, Henry V (Act IV scene iii)

Thoughts on 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Investing Your Life & Minimalism

I’ve been reading through 1 & 2 Timothy lately, and there have been a few parts of it I’ve kept coming back to. One of those is from 1 Timothy 6:

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. -1 Timothy 6:6-8 (ESV)

One year ago, I was challenged to pursue a minimalism lifestyle after hearing Joshua Becker speak about it. Knowing that it has been one year, I wondered if it had made a difference in me?

Well, financially, it made a difference. I think every month we paid less, than the previous year, when it came to our various utility bills. We changed insurance companies and are saving $1,000 over the course of a year.

Jana and I took countless boxes, and bags, of books, dvds, clothes and more to Half Price Books and Goodwill that had been cluttering up our cellar. We gave stuff away to friends, neighbors and strangers. We made due with things when it would have been easy to not. For instance, we didn’t get a newer car or fix the air conditioner in our current car. I shave my head so I don’t have to pay for a haircut. I try to steer clear from fast food and junk food. We set limits on what we spend on the boys.

It’s been beneficial because we’ve had expenses this past year, like with the birth of Gideon. Beyond that, does any of it make a difference? Yes, I feel better. I don’t feel superior to anyone, I feel freer. I became more content.

Stuff isn’t bad, but stuff can be a waste. Why hold on to stuff that’s just gathering dust and weighing you down? I can’t take it with me once I die, so why not do something with it now?

I think back on the money and time I have wasted. The activities that were time fillers. The things to have because they were cool or added to my status. The activities and things themselves weren’t bad, but it was a waste. What am I doing now with that time and stuff I used up? As the axiom goes, “The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.”

Gavin Johnson put it well in his recent message, “Invest your life, don’t spend it.”

This isn’t to say that you can’t waste time, or you can’t go out and spend some money on some incidental thing. It’s not about being a legalist with minimalism.* Big picture, though, what are you and I doing with our time, treasure and talents?

*It was interesting, once I started telling people about my desire to pursue this lifestyle there were some people who were intent on pointing out everything I spent money on and how in their opinion it wasn’t a part of the minimalism lifestyle. I was surprised by who was criticizing and why they felt the need to do so.

What’s important? What’s priority? You can say one thing, but what does your schedule say is important to you?* What does your bank statement say is important to you? What do your activities say is important to you?

*Another factor in why I recently hit reset with my schedule.

We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we aren’t going to take anything with you. Don’t spend your life, invest it. Invest in a non-profit, a charity, or someone who is in need. Invest in a friend or a coworker. Invest into your family.

As I get older, I realize the limited time I have. What am I doing with that time? Am I just filling time so I can stay busy and/or numb? I don’t want to do that. I would hope you wouldn’t want to do that either.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. -Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV)

Invest your life.

This post is republished from Robert Murphy’s personal blog, RamHatter.

Thoughts on 2 Timothy 2:20-21 and Overcoming Addiction

I am a part of a cohort, at Christ Community Church, that meets every other Wednesday evening. One of our first projects centered around the Book of 2 Timothy. I was reading through it, and a passage stuck with me.

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
-2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV)

If you’ve been reading the Bible for awhile, you know that passages can take on new meanings to you. You will have read something a hundred times before, but then you read it again and something clicks. Something new. A new insight that sheds a whole new light on what that particular passage of scripture means. Perhaps its due to a new experience, maturity, or something else. Whatever the impetus may be, passages of scripture can have new meanings to us. This happened to me with this passage of scripture from 2 Timothy.

If you read my personal blog, you’re probably familiar with my addiction story. In 2007, I finally was able to break free from a porn addiction. One of the things with that story is how God told me, “Before you can take the next step with work, I need to do a work inside you.”

Four years later, and I’m meeting with CCC’s Governing Board of Elders. I realize that God has done the work inside me. I was humbled. I was now prepared to do the work of the Online Campus.

This passage from 2 Timothy takes on new meaning to me. It encapsulates the past few years. God cleansed me of what was dishonorable so I could be a vessel for honorable use. I will be useful, ready for every good work.

God is faithful.

Click here to read the original blog post about my story of overcoming addiction.