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A from the editor Note

Fairview Heights Campus


Sunday - 8:30am, 10:30am, 6:00pm Saturday - 5:00pm

Collinsville / Maryville Campus


Sunday - 10:00am Sunday - 10:00am

Millstadt Campus

Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)
While living in Italy, I had a crazy American friend with a strange Christmas tradition; she would steal a piece of straw from every nativity set she saw. She believed having the straw would bring her good luck. I believed it would bring us time in a Roman prison. To pull off these capers, she would kneel before the Nativity, bow her head in prayer while stealthily scooping up a piece of straw. In order not to appear to be her accomplice, I would stand at a distance and pray. Most of my prayers focused on the gift of the baby Jesus, but often I prayed that she would not get caught. Spending time in a Roman jail was not on my Christmas list. I will always remember those wonderful days in Italy peering into the manger and thanking God that He sent His Son. This Christmas remember to bow your heart before God and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. In His Name,

Contents
3 - God Is Good! 4 - From A Mothers Perspective 5 - Fear Not! 6 - A Christmas Wish 7 - How Do You Say Thank You... 8 - God Is With Us 9 - Getting To Know You 10 - Its Your Choice 11 - Thankful 12 - Dreaming Of A Perfect... 13 - Until We See Your Face 14 - Christmas Ministries 15 - God At Work

Donna Harrison

Editor - donnaharrison@mychristchurch.com

Senior Pastor: Rev. Shane Bishop Associate Pastor: Rev. Troy Benton Editor: Donna Harrison Proof Reader: Barbara Germany Design: Justin Aymer
For a complete listing of the Christ Curch Staff and to learn more about Christ Church please visit: www.mychristchurch.com

The Flame Online: Get The Flame Magazine online. Free pdf downloads. Email reminders of new editions. Visit www.mychristchurch.com/theflame. Mission Of The Flame: Be inspirational through biblical articles and devotions. Be informative in the announcement of future events that connect people in ministry. Questions about the Flame? Contact Donna Harrison at: donnaharrison@mychristchurch.com
The Flame Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine published by Christ Church. 2012, Christ Church. All rights reserved.

God is Good!
S
ometime in late 1992, I attended a seminar on how to do ministry with senior adults held in Peoria, Illinois. There was this feeble, little man who inched up to the platform (like Tim Conway used to do on the Carol Burnet Show) and opened the thing up by proclaiming weakly, God is good. The people replied, All the time. He quietly responded, All the time and they politely finished, God is good. I remember thinking to myself, This is almost cool! I wonder what would happen if living people tried it? The potential of this greeting captivated me and all I could think about was putting a V10 engine and glass packs on this thing and flooring it the very next week at Sumner. Our first four or five tries the next Sunday morning were a little lame but after that God is good became an institution. Every worship service I conducted at the Sumner United Methodist Church began with a rousing, God is good! It was a bold and upbeat way to begin our worship servicesuntil that exceptionally cold winter. It was Advent 1996. Advent in the United Methodist world is a traditional time of preparing our hearts for the arrival of the Christ Child on Christmas. On Wednesday, Melissa had been informed that our third child, a son we were to call Liam, had died in her womb. Nothing could be done until the next week and Sunday loomed in between. We were devastated. It was as if the best Christmas present in the world had been placed under the tree only to be snatched away in a cruel cosmic joke. Never had I felt so crushed, staggered and utterly...de-converted. All I could think about was the expectation that I would start the worship service with God is good! I had no idea how I would do that. Never had I less perceived God to be good and the prospect of proclaiming it was more than my weary heart could bear. These were the days before hospital privacy laws and everyone in our One Caseys Town (though we were yet to actually get a Caseys) knew what was happening. Rural folks know well how to dance with pain and death, so they gave us space to hurt; when we walked into the church folks steered clear. On the bulletin were printed the name of Melissa Bishop followed by Shane Bishop. Melissa was scheduled to open by singing a song called Harmony with her best friend Sherri Baker about Gods gift of a baby boy to creation. It seemed ironic. I was to follow with a rousing, God is good! I could not possibly imagine how any of that was going to happen. To my amazement, when the prelude concluded, Melissa (with our dead baby in her stomach) quietly arose from her seat and in beautiful harmony sang of a babys arrival long ago. My stolid congregation listened with quivering lips, fighting back uncharacteristic tears, as they marveled at the Spirit-energy of this incredible woman temporarily caught between a rock and a holy place. As I sat in awe of Melissas inner strength and the sheer power of her spirit, something occurred to me. If God is not good at this very minute, I mean right now, then He wasnt good last week and wouldnt be good a month from now. It was as if God spoke to me, I am either good or I am not good and you have about thirty seconds to decide. When the song ended, I walked behind that wooden pulpit and shouted for my soul, God is good! to which the people nearly raised the roof as they replied, All the time! I was re-converted. For the past two decades, I have opened each of our worship services with God is good but never assume it is an easy thing. Sometimes you have to fight for it.

By Rev. Shane Bishop, Senior Pastor

Rev. Shane Bishop, Senior Pastor of Christ Church facebook.com/revshane @RevShaneBishop

From a Mothers

Perspective

By Diane Kruger

hristmas! The majesty of God! The compassion of a loving Father! The selfless love of a mother! And the blind trust of a young girl who responded with a glad, I am the Lords servant. (Luke 1:38)

How many of us could do that, could totally surrender our lives, our reputation, our present, our future, our everything, out of pure love for and obedience to God? What faith Mary had! The story of Christmas is the foundation of our faiththat God would send His only Son to save us and secure for us eternal life. Recently I had the privilege of hearing Mark Lowry at a Women of Faith Conference in Indianapolis. Among other accomplishments, Mark Lowry is the author of the book and the song by the same title, Mary, Did You Know? Since I heard Mark speak and sing this song, the words have resonated in my mind as I keep thinking of Marys role in the Christmas story. Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you delivered will soon deliver you. Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, youve kissed the face of God. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the dead will live again. The lame will leap; the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb! Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heavens perfect Lamb? This sleeping child youre holding is the great I AM. I remember when my children were born, and the joy I felt, a joy like no other. I remember touching the softness of their skin for the first time, marveling at the tiny fingers and toes, kissing the

sweet lips and face, smelling the baby fragrance of their hair, just wanting to hold them forever as they held onto my finger with their tiny fist. I remember sitting in the hospital bed with tears of joy running down my cheeks as the nurse asked, Honey, whats wrong? Are you okay? Just as we love and treasure our children, just as we want only good things for them, just as we want to protect them from hurt and suffering, Mary felt the same about her baby boy, Jesus. For the moments of Jesus life, Mary was there. As Mark Lowry says in his book, That was her firstborn hanging on the cross. She had nursed Him. She had changed His diapers. She had watched Him learn to crawl and then walk. She had told Him bedtime stories. She had rocked Him and calmed His fears at night . . . Mary saw it all. She was the first to hold Him when He entered the world, and she saw Him breathe His last breath on the cross. We dont know all that Mary knew, but one thing we do know Mary knew from the beginning that Jesus was a special child, the child of God, and that God had a plan for His life. And Jesus knew this as well. Do our children know they are special, that they are children of God, and that God has a plan for their lives? Do we know that? Jesus knew to whom He belonged. Do we? Do our children and grandchildren? Mark Lowry says in his book that he feels sorry for all the people in the inn who missed it. They were right there, and they missed it! He says, They could have walked right out to the stable and witnessed the coming of the Messiah! . . . but they were too busy with the mundane to notice the eternal. Lets not miss it this Christmas!

Diane Kruger, Special Events Coordinator dianekruger@mychristchurch.com

Fear Not!
By Rev. Don Frazure

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)
hen I was in the 8th grade, I experienced one of the most painful periods of my childhood life. It was the week between Christmas and New Years. I was off from school and still coming off of the Christmas high. My brother and I shared a room, while my sister was across the hall in hers. Since we were out of school for the week, we were all still in bed at around 8:00 that morning when the three of us were awakened by the sound of our parents having a fight. But this was no ordinary fight. The intensity of it made us all realize that this was no mere disagreement. While I wont go into details, I can assure you it was over an incident that would have tested, if not broken, the strength of the some of the most solid marriages. After overhearing what it was about, I got really scared. I knew that things would never be the same for our family. I spent the next several days wondering if my parents were going to get a divorce. Although my siblings were younger and may not have understood the gravity of the situation, they knew that something was not right with mom and dad. During this time, my dad took us to my grandparents house for a couple of days. It was good in one sense because my grandparents lived in the country and there were many diversions to occupy our time. In another sense, however, we spent a good deal of time worrying what the outcome would be when we saw our parents again. My grandmother really helped me during this time. Not just by a truth that she could share in the moment (which she did), but because her whole life was a lesson in relying on God. I knew

she was hurting for our family, but she was not going to be afraid. She knew that it was in Gods hands. She knew this was beyond her control and that God would have to see our family through this ordeal. She knew that it was her job to love us, my dad and my mom through this time and let God do the heavy lifting. Come bring Him all your worries for tomorrow, surrender all the things you cant control. He will be your joy through evry sorrow, the Prince of Peace that whispers to your soul: Fear Not by Carl Cartee and David Moffitt After all was said and done, our lives had been changed dramatically - but not in the way you might expect. By the grace of God, my parents worked through their pain and became the two most in love people Ive ever known. I saw in my parents an amazing transformation and a picture of Gods forgiveness lived out in their lives. Now that I am grown and married with children of my own, I am daily living to Fear Not and let God do the impossible in my life. I must continually surrender what my mind tells me is impossible so that my faith can grow through seeing what only the Lord can do when I fully trust Him.

Rev. Don Frazure, Pastor Of Worship Arts Email: donfrazure@mychristchurch.com Twitter: @donfrazure

A Christmas Wish
By Rev. Bernie Kneale

ately, my mind has been clouded with the ills of this world and its future. The upturn in violence. The rising abuse of children. Global warming and persistent droughts. Depletion of fossil fuels. Concern for ones physical safety--locked cars, security systems, and increasing sales of hand guns. Obesity and its related health problems. I am reminded, frequently, of my carefree childhood and wishing every kid could grow up in the 40s and 50s in middle America. I was fortunate to grow up in a Norman Rockwell painting. My hometown must have been the model for Mayberry, Sheriff Andy Taylor, and Opie. There was a barbershop just like Floyds. There was one city cop. There were band concerts in the courthouse square during the summer. The cars parked on the streets had ignition keys in them. Growing up there has made me what I am today. I was part of a village that raised the children. The Memorial Day parades taught me to love my country. I carried a hand-picked bouquet of flowers in the parade headed by the school band. At the Civil War monument, a child was selected to place his bouquet as the honor guard fired a salute in honor of the Civil War vets. Then to the bridge where another child threw his bouquet into the creek with another salvo to honor those who died at sea. We ended at the cemetery where we found a grave of a veteran and waited for Taps to be played before we placed our flowers. I cannot begin to tell you all the things of my hometown that formed my character. My father headed the art department of the girls finishing school in town. As a young boy at a girls school I learned how to hold a chair for a lady. I sat at tables in the formal dining room where we all sang the doxology. I learned how to hold silverware and to wait until all were served before I dug in. I stood in formal reception lines and learned to greet people. I could regale you with story after story of how my character was developed by little inconsequential

things. I travelled all over the world, in my imagination, because the used car lot cars were never locked. I sat in them and drove to China and Paris. I learned the value of work with the responsibility of chores on the farm. (My best friend was a farmers son; I spent more time out there than I did at home, especially during the summer.) I learned to love Jesus while attending Sunday School, nurtured by my grandparents who were always there. But it was Thanksgiving and Christmas that were the most Rockwellian. Thanksgiving almost always marked the first snowfall of the winter. We walked to my grandparents house in that crisp air--we did not own a car. Then the wonderful aromas teased our senses as we entered. Then all of us were seated around the table, giving thanks and partaking of one sumptuous feast. Christmas was even more like those paintings. We decorated the tree just days before Christmas. We were angels or shepherds in the Christmas story at church with lines carefully memorized. And, yes, I desperately wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. You know the rest--the smells, the cold outside and the warm inside, Santa, and the treasure that would be beneath the tree in the morning. It was wonderful growing up there; how I wish every child could grow up under the same circumstances. It was certainly an era of good feelings, with no fears of a criminal element, where the air was clean and the skies blue, and the men worked for the same employer their entire career. I was reminded of all this as I was preparing to lead a study on Job. In chapter 24 Job talks about the groans of the dying rising from the city, wicked people rebel against the light, thieves break into houses at night, the poor are pushed off the path, etc. It breaks my heart as I think about this current age in contrast to my formative years. My Thanksgiving and Christmas wish is not to return to the glory of yesteryear as described above, but to cling ever so tightly to these words:

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NLT)

Rev. Bernie Kneale Email: bkneale@accessus.net

How Do You Say Thank You to a Silent Hero?


e all have one: a silent hero. The person who led us to the Lord. Who prayed without ceasing for our conversion. Who said or did something that changed our life--but who, for one reason or another, are no longer part of our lives. It couldve been somebody we met in another part of the country or world. And it could be their impact on you might not have been immediate. I have such a silent hero. She was a casual friend I had when I lived in North Carolina. After I returned to Illinois, we kept in touch through letters or the phone. There was nothing romantic. Just something to do. Several months later she offered to fly me out to her home. No strings attached. She needed to see me. And she said she would take care of everything. The flight, the food and the sleeping arrangements. I, of course, accepted immediately. I was broke and bored. She picked me up at the airport; we ate fried chicken for dinner at a diner, and then drove to her grandmothers house. It was dusk; she lived out in the country with long highways, stretches of farmland, isolated houses and giant trees punctuating the horizon. Her grandmother lived on a hill in a mobile home just off the road. She smiled when she saw me, hugged me, and eyed me. This was the young man her granddaughter had told her about. Long, tangled blonde hair, tiny t-shirt, massive denim jeans and black suede sneakers. Over my shoulder I slung my backpack. Thats all you brought? she said. I nodded. Yes, maam. Dont need much. Then, after a short stint of nervous small talk, the girl said goodbye to her grandmother. It was getting late and she had to be up at 3:30 in the morning. Work started at 4:30. The grandmother ushered me through the door and into her house, which was full of glass shelves loaded with glass animals, angels and children. The living room was crowded with fuzzy furniture. She showed me my room. It was small, but it had a bed, a night table, a lamp and closet. Next, she showed me the breakfast cereal, the milk, the cans of soup. This is for you to eat. Thank you, I said. This is all really very kind of you. She turned and looked at me. Dont thank me. Thank Nicole. She was smiling. She bought all of this with her own money.

By Demian Farnworth

The next day I killed time waiting for Nicole by showering, reading and roaming around the countryside. Near five Nicole arrived and we took a trip to visit her brother. He lived on a dirt road with potholes deeper than tires. His house slumped, and the busted screen door creaked every time it was opened. Her brother trotted out. He was short, skinny, dark hair and thin goatee. He didnt wear a shirt but he did wear a smile. He spoke with a heavy southern accent. His children and friends came in and out of the house. There was a wild pig they were going to hunt. He asked if I was interested. Sorry. Didnt bring the right shoes. Then Nicole, Grandmother is expecting us for dinner. We arrived at grandmothers house. We ate spaghetti, and then Nicole and I went to sit outside to look at up the stars. In that theater of clear skies Nicole told me why I was there. She was a born-again Christian. She had surrendered her life shortly after I had left for Illinois. Ever since then she had a burning desire to share the gospel with me. Her kindness touched me. I told her so. But I wasnt ready to be a Christian. I wasnt ready to know the Lord. I had too much life to live. But even in that dead, self-absorbed state, I could recognize genuine devotion, joy and peace. I could recognize selflessness. Over the next couple days we visited old friends, drove around the country and talked. I eventually boarded my plane and flew home, still a heathen. She and I traded a phone call here, a letter there. Then I never heard from her again. Im sure it was my fault. I probably stopped returning her letters. I did that a lot. It would be nearly three years later that I would finally surrender to Jesus Christ. And another ten before I thought of Nicole. Before I understood her conviction and her sacrifice. I wanted to thank her for being my silent hero. I still do want to thank her. But I havent a clue where to start. I dont even remember her real name. The Christian in me doesnt think it matters that much. At least not compared to the reward the Lord will hand her when He says, Well done, good and faithful servant. In my own Christian walk I could only hope to do half as well. Thank you, my silent hero, wherever you are.
Demian Farnworth facebook.com/demian.farnworth @demianfarnworth

God Is With Us
By Rev. Troy Benton, Associate Pastor

ecently I engaged one of our denominations younger clergy who Im honored to mentor. Bottom line: the challenges of their first appointment are exasperating them! During our recent time together, I shared both learning from previous days, and prayers for both their present and future leadership and life. Near the end of our time, this young clergy person asked a profound question: why do we do all this? The question is profound not because of its open witness of the challenge we face as people of faith; nor is it important because it speaks to the station all human beings find themselves in. The reason the question has strength is due to the way it provides opportunity for God to expose us to one of the hidden treasures in the Christmas story that is often overlooked in this season that often brings with it sudden joys and lows. Its that season where we are filled with faith, full of hope, and longing for meaning and celebration. Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012 come to us as we have experienced some of the most challenging times for person-community and nation we have ever seen. Many persons who are looking for a reason to hold out hope have asked me the question my young mentee asked. As Ive prayed for an answer, the scriptures have informed my heart and provided the response. As Joseph and Mary prepare for the physical entrance to the world of Jesus Christ, the disciple Matthew records the angel telling them not to be afraid of what lies ahead in their future, because God is with us. My offering to all who read this is to realize this annual celebration is given to us by God for the purpose of reminding us that regardless of what we will face, God is with us! Someone will ask, how is this good news? The answer is simple, but powerful: In the birth of Christ we were provided salvation from our errors and empowerment to fulfill our destined purpose for living; remembering the gift that is Christ, we are given sustaining grace to continue on regardless of any challenge that we might be victors in this life! God is with us! During this season of sharing and sufficiency, be encouraged to know, God is with you and will remain your source of strength.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel (which means God with us).
(Matthew 1:22-23 TNIV)

Rev. Troy Benton, Associate Pastor facebook.com/tmbenton @revtroy

Getting To Know YOU

Name: Amanda Cates Job Title: Director Of Elementary Ministries Job Description: As the Director of Elementary Ministries

it is my joy to oversee programming, policies and procedures, and education for children in 1st through 5th grades. I also get to search for mission and outreach opportunities for our extraordinary children of Christ Church. In addition to ministry responsibilities I also serve as main supervisor for Kid Connection Coordinator, AWANA Commander, Multi-Site Childrens Ministry Coordinators and Summer Childrens Ministry Intern.

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

Would you bungee jump?


Absolutely!

I would live in a South American coastal community working with under-resourced kids.

Are you a Cubs or Cards fan?


Go Cards!

What super-power would you most like to have, and why?

Healing! Im not much in to super heroes and such, but if I could walk around all day healing people, I think it would be awesome.

Would you rather visit the zoo or tour a museum?


The zoo. Im a total animal lover!

What countries have you visited?


Canada and Mexico. I love Mexico!

What morning drink do you prefer, coffee, tea, or soda?

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?


Nope! I prefer to be barefoot or in flip flops. The quicker I can get my shoes off the better!

Who says coffee is just for mornings? I drink it all day. Im a caffeine addict!

Have you ever come face to face with a dangerous animal?

Were you named after anyone?

Yes, my great great grandmother Magdalena Kathryn. Im Amanda Kathryn.

That depends on how one defines dangerous. We have 2 rescued pit bulls. They are total babies though. The most dangerous thing I have come into contact with is my 13 year old cat when she hasnt been fed!

Which sport do you like?

Baseball and softball. My husband plays on our Christ Church tournament team and both my boys play baseball. Growing up my oldest step-brother played in the Detroit Tigers organization. Baseball is something I have always been around.

What are you best at?


Being a mom.

Would your spouse say you are funny or serious?


He laughed and said I am serious.

Are you a beach, country, or city person?


Beach!!

What attracted you to your spouse?


His biceps!

How many cities have you lived in?

6Madison IL; Granite City IL; Clayton MO; Las Vegas NV; OFallon IL; Rancho Santa Margarita CA 9

Its Your Choice


I
dont have time for that! Does that line sound familiar? We are so prone to getting ourselves overcommitted, over-tired, and under-nourished. Still, God hasnt changed His mind about there only being 24 hours in a day! Humph! We wonder why we get ill, crabby, depressed, and overweight. Who is in charge of this mess anyway? OhUs? Yikes! Jesus lived His life in balance: He slept, He worked, He prayed, He spent time with family and friends, He studied, He preached, He ate. He tells us that He always did the will of the Father, and He did what the Father showed Him to do. (John 5:19 and 6:38) That means He took the time to see, to listen, and to obey. Some benefits of living in balance are positive attitudes, more energy, longer life, less physical health problems, and an intimate relationship with God. Often our priorities get pushed aside in the busyness of life. It does take decision, effort, and time to care for ourselves. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us: Didnt you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Dont you see that you cant live however you please; squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. The Message: It is worth our TIME to become all that God has called us to be! Only you can take the initiative to get priorities to good health in place: body, mind, and spirit! God is honored when you take care of the physical body that He has given you, just as He is also vitally concerned with your mind and your spirit. Its up to you! The Faith Community Nursing Ministry and Congregational Care Team are encouraging everyone to take a positive step in their health. This fall we began the Healthy Church Initiative to help our congregation to move together into healthier habits and choices for our lives. Micki Classen, Manager of Belleville Sports and Fitness, helped us kick it off with a great event to Get Moving in September. She helped show us ways to incorporate exercise into our busy lives. We offered a Healthy Breakfast Bake Sale in October. In November, a Diabetes Nutritionist will talk to us about healthy food choices to help prevent diabetes and for diabetics health. For December, Dr. Neil Horowitz will provide a workshop on Handling the Holidays for those that have lost a loved one. We are excited to announce The Walk to Jerusalem starting in January. Everyone is invited to participate; individuals, families, groups, etc. Our goal is to walk, run, or ride the distance from St. Louis to Jerusalem by Easter: 6,459 miles! We will be adding up everyones miles weekly and reporting the distance we have collectively accomplished. As Rev. Shane will be preaching on the life of Jesus, we will be walking toward Easter! Hallelujah!

By Debby Creagh

Here are some ideas you can do to encourage our church choose a balanced, low fat/low salt meal to share with someone; provide healthy snacks or food at meetings; offer healthy options like fruit, yogurt, granola, protein bars at ministry bake sales. You can invite your small group on a hike or a walk. Maybe some friends would join you for an exercise or weight loss group. Be creative in encouraging one another toward good health. What is it that you need to do personally? Move a little more? Eat a little less? See your doctor? Turn off the screens in your life to make time to exercise, rest, study, or pray? Get on a bike with your kids to go for a ride or play ball with them? If you say you dont have time to spend time on your health is that indicating you are out of balance? Is the life you are living pleasing to God? Lets all move toward a healthier life and make the good choices to take us there!

Here are some website titles that can help you get ideas:

From Couch Potato to 5K Fit Fitness into Your Busy Schedule 99 Tips for Family Fitness Fun Daily Fitness Tips Weight Watchers (they have apps!) Weight Loss Tips Daily Devotional (there are apps for that!) Stress Busters 24 Tips on How to Exercise Your Brain
Debby Creagh, Parish Nurse Coordinator debbycreagh@mychristchurch.com

10

Thankful
E
ach year as Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the unanticipated chain of events that led to a revival in my boyhood UMC, and am thankful for and humbled by the hand of God on my and others lives, leading to redemption. My family attended a small United Methodist Church in Cambridge, Minnesota. When I was 7, we moved next door only a vacant lot separated our house from the church. I loved going. My Dad worked every other Sunday, and even if my mom didnt take my younger brothers, I could go by myself, which I often did. In third grade, I received my Young Readers Bible which I still have, and in eighth grade I was confirmed. I went to Sunday school and youth group, and sang in the church choir with my parents and younger brother. It was safe religion and comfortable; I was strangely drawnbut something was missing. When I was a sophomore in high school, our church hired an associate pastor, who had teenagers of his own. This man talked about Jesus and being born againsomething that had never been preached in our church with conviction. All the Jesus talk shook up our comfortable church. My parents didnt like it, didnt fit in with their good thoughts and positive thinking. People began accepting Christ, acknowledging their sin and a need for a Savior. One of the young family men became a convert, and began leading the youth group, bringing excitement and intensity to the meetings. I had never really read my bibleand now the bible was the center of all our gatherings! It was an exciting time. The youth group traveled to other churches and youth rallies, events filled with music, preaching and togetherness. Although a frequent participant, I was still on the outside. I attended a movie, Time to Run, featuring Billy Graham and others. I cant remember anything about the movie, except sitting alone in the theater afterwards; I knew I had not

I am thankful that Im incapable, of doing any good on my own Im so thankful that Im incapable, of doing any good on my own Cause were all stillborn and dead in our transgressions Were shackled up to the sin we hold so dear So what part can I play in the work of redemption I cant refuse, I cannot add a thing... Im so thankful... From Thankful, by Caedmons Call
yet experienced the peace with God which Graham described. The Spirit of God was beginning to expose my sinand bring an understanding of the love of God, revealed in Christ, His life, death and resurrection! The following week, at a youth group Halloween party, I gave my life to Christ. It was October 1973. A long journey had just begun. The long-ignored bible came off the shelf. I couldnt get enough of it, staying up late, holding a flashlight under the covers, just to read more. Life did not get easier. Friendships and relationships changed. My parents were hurt and upset; insulted I had chosen something that hadnt come from them. It would be years before I had earned their respect. The early years were hard, truly learning what it meant to be in the world, but not of it, to overcome my fears, experience and accept Gods love personally. I had to make continual choices to trust God and to move forward in my faith journey. Since then, there have been many transitions: college, marriage, children, professional changes, moves and separations. But the central truths surrounding my conversion remain the same. God is the initiator, going before me in my salvation and sanctification. He has always gone before, asking me to follow Himand get in on what He was already doing! The Holy Spirit often moves in unexpected ways, and with unexpected timing. The older I get, the better perspective I have on past events in my lifeand I can see with greater clarity the hand of God movingin my own life and the lives of my family. The wind blows where it willso it is with the Spirit (John 3:8) And--why me? I am constantly thankful for and humbled by the love of God in Christ. Its best summed up in Psalm 71: For you have been my hope O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youthsince my youth you have taught memy mouth will tell of your righteousnessthough I know not its measureYou who have done great things, who, O God is like you?

By Chuck Phillips

Chuck Phillips facebook.com/chuck.phillips.796

11

Dreaming Of A Perfect Christmas


C
hristmas is a quiet season - a time to gather with our treasured loved ones around the hearth to celebrate the miracle of Christs birth. A time to put aside family differences and gather in the name of peace, love and goodwill toward men. The sound of childrens laughter and the glow of soft, warm light pour from the windows of every house onto the blanket of freshly fallen snow outside. All is peaceful and right with the world at Christmas; of course, its all focused on the blessed baby in the manger. If your Christmas season is really like this, stop reading now. You may even want to have someone pinch you, or throw some cold water in your face because you, my friend, are living in a fantasy. Lets face it - Christmas is STRESSFUL!! Between kids Christmas programs, parties for every group you are remotely affiliated with, and shopping for that one gift that will be even more perfect than the perfect gift last year, many of us wake up the morning of Christmas Eve feeling exhausted and ready to get it over with already! Then, in addition to all the running around,

By Erin Hanson

many of us have issues that are just magnified at Christmas. Just add family and POOF! It can be like adding a few Mentos to a bottle of diet Coke. I admit - I am guilty of this. With Christmas decorations appearing in the stores while Im still wearing flip-flops, by the time I get to December 25th, Im a little sick of looking at it. Im ready to move on. Its then I realize Ive forgotten to enjoy the season; Ive forgotten to stop and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. I get focused on the fact that I didnt bake enough cookies, visit enough relatives, or buy enough perfect gifts and I find myself embracing the image of what my Christmas should have been, instead of what God intended it to be. The other thing is that I need to realize that I can and should have the peace and joy God intended in the midst of the holiday chaos, and that Christ Himself is the one who makes that possible. So whether Im looking at that empty chair at the table, or watching my child make shadow puppets during the Christmas program, this year I will remember that God sees me where I am, and He loved me enough to send his Son. My Christmas doesnt have to be picture perfect to celebrate a perfect Savior. Neither does yours.

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Erin Hanson, Volunteer Coordinator erinhanson@mychristchurch.com

Until We See Your Holy Face


By Michael Gary Harrison

Clothe us, Jesus, in peace and love Tenderness and grace O fill us, Lord, with songs of life Until we see your Holy face O make us holy, Lord, we pray In overflowing power this day Let our works and songs and love Glorify Your Holy Name Bind us, Jesus, in joy and strength Blessed to walk Your ways O fill us, Lord, with songs of life Until we see Your Holy face
Michael Gary Harrison, Author of A Spark In Darkness facebook.com/asparkindarkness

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Project Christmas Cheer


We will be supporting the local nursing homes again this Christmas by providing gifts to their needy residents and we need your help. Envelopes containing a name, nursing home and gift ideas will be available on December 2 and 9 at all Sunday services. Simply buy, wrap a gift and return it to the church no later than December 16. Many of these residents will not have a Christmas gift if we do not help. You have been so generous in the past and we do appreciate your interest in this worthwhile cause.

Angel Tree
Angel Tree is a Ministry of Prison Fellowship, providing Christmas gifts to children of prisoners who cannot be there themselves. If it were not for the giving spirit of those who lovingly support Angel Tree some children would have had no Christmas gifts at all. Upon receiving the Angel Tree form, you will be provided a childs name and age along with their phone number. You may contact the childs guardian for additional ideas before purchasing gifts. Prison Ministry recommends that you purchase one clothing item and one toy, spending no more than $25. If you wish, you may also provide a gift for the childs guardian, which is optional. Please bring your wrapped gift with the Angel Tree tag on it to Christ Methodist Church before December 8, or you may deliver the gift yourself to the child sponsored. Persons may also choose to offer financial donation without direct contact of child/children in program. Participants of Prison Fellowship will process financial contribution to provide gift, and ensure items arrive to child/children. Look for an Angel Tree Display in Scripture Hall in November. *Persons who choose to engage /families themselves do so independent of Christ Church. **Waiver for off-campus activity must be signed by each participant. Thank you!

Cookies
Christmas time is cookie time! The Prison Fellowship Ministry needs about 750 dozen cookies to be given out to inmates of the St. Clair County Jail and the Belleville Detention Center. We also need 750 quart-size zipperlock bags. Please do not stack cookies while still warm. Also, please do not include nuts in the cookies because of allergies. Cookies should be delivered to Christ Church Sunday, December 16th or Monday the 17th. Cookies will be bagged for delivery at 6:00 pm, Monday the 17th; anyone wishing to help is welcome. On December 20th the annual Christmas caroling takes place at the County Jail at 6:00 pm. As we walk through the facility, inmates eagerly await the joyful sounds of Christmas cheer. The cookies, including a gospel tract, will be handed out to the inmates. We welcome carolers and those who can play acoustic guitars to join us. The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

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God At Work
New Members
August

-------------------------------Karen M. Knight, Gregory Vaupel, Thelma Vaupel

Baptisms
August

-------------------------------Ciara L. Bone, Damian M. Bone, Nicholas C. Groves, Carole M. Piontkowsky. Beth A. Staley, Morgan L. Weeks

Member Passings
-------------------------------Debbie Johnson August 12 Mildred Heitman August 26

September

Brent Phelps, Morgan Phelps, Andy Parker, Stacy W. Parker, Kevin Kohler, Kristy Kohler Brad Lawrence, AJ Gass, Whitney Walker, Morgan Weeks, Andrew & Jennifer Kirchhoefer, Cynthia Huff, Bryan W. Edgar, Kala S. Edgar, Martel L. Mann, Kacee N. Aldridge, Mark J. Miller, Francisco J. Sanchez, Nancy R. Sanchez, Dusty Burch, Monica Burch, Shalen Burch, Colten Burch, Daniel Saeger, Rich Salcido, Staci Salcido, Sienna Salcido, Michael Guiette, Christina P. Lawrence, Brian Combs, Andrea Combs

September

Martel Lavi Mann

Weddings

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100,000 Hours

John Moore & Kristie Sheppard Aug 4 Thomas Dunn & Hannah Bischan Sep 15 Joseph Mueller & Mindy Wideman Sep 29 Jacob Knigge & Audrey Jean Glueck Sep 29 Adam Thies & Catherine Rutkowski Sep 29

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The people of Christ Church have committed to serve our community with 100,000 hours of service.

We have served: 12,064.3 hrs


(as of 10/08/12)

Log your hours at mychristchurch.com/100k

Attendance

-------------------------------Sep. Worship avg. = 1615 Sep. Connection Classes avg. = 387 Year Avg. Worship = 1638

Finances (as of 10/08/12)

-------------------------------General Budget YTD Giving = $2,418,080.37 YTD Expenses = $2,183,544.58 Annual Budget = $2,415,165.00

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Are you moving closer to the bullseye? Loving God Loving Neighbor Worship Tithe