JUL / AUG 2013 EDITION

A from Note the editor
Fairview Heights Campus
Sunday - 8:30am, 10:30am, 6:00pm Saturday - 5:00pm

Collinsville / Maryville Campus
Sunday - 10:00am Sunday - 10:00am

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:24-25
I am a people person; I very much enjoy having a house full of company and being surrounded by friends. I look forward to Sunday mornings when a group of us from Rick Reed’s Sunday school class have some informal fellowship time in the Coffee Café. We laugh, joke, drink coffee, snack and do life together. Those few minutes sitting next to my Christ Church brothers and sisters mean the world to me. This time before Sunday school allows our group to really get to know one another and makes sharing in class feel safe. In Hebrews 10, we are encouraged to meet together, share life, hear the word and show love to each other. Join us on Sunday mornings at 8:30; we have plenty of room around the table for you. In His Name,

Millstadt Campus

Contents

3 - Finding God’s Will... 4 - Making It Work... 6 - Sole Desire, Soul Desire 7 - God’s Will; What’s in it for me? 8 - Nick Sparks, Dragonball Z... 9 - Getting To Know You 10 - Garden Of Life 11 - P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E. 12 - When I Wasn’t Looking 13 - Losing Me To Gain Him 14 - Backpack Attack 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

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. ©2013, Christ Church. All rights reserved.

For a complete listing of the Christ Curch Staff and to learn more about Christ Church please visit: www.mychristchurch.com

inding God’s will is what makes life exciting and worth living. Every day is to be lived for the Lord and enjoyed. “This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” I found a three-step plan Jeremiah used thousands of years ago that still works today. Jeremiah 32:1-8

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GOD’s Will
Here at Christ Church
By Fred Bishop
Fred Bishop www.nogreaterlove.org

Finding

DESIRE

The first part of the plan was that Jeremiah had a DESIRE to do something. He wanted to buy a field. That didn’t sound like too difficult a desire for the Lord to fulfill. The problem was that Jeremiah was in prison. He couldn’t even go look at the field. Psalms 37:4 reminds us that God puts desires in our hearts. Maybe you want to do something for the Lord, but you don’t know what to do. No place is easier to fulfill that desire than here at Christ Church because it offers such a broad selection of ministry opportunities. Christ Church reminds me of going to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. They have 31 flavors!!!! They have little spoons and invite you to look at the selection and give you a free taste of the ones that look or sound good to you. There is no commitment at this stage. You are just window shopping.

DISCOVER

The second part of the plan is to DISCOVER what it would take to make the plan happen. For Jeremiah, it was to research the rules for buying this field. If his cousin sold the field, Jeremiah was next in line to buy it. We need to find out what it would take to do what we desire. For example, I wanted to play the guitar only to find out that I didn’t have musical talent in that direction. My teacher quit!!! WAH! I took singing lessons, but my teacher thought I wanted to get in my house or car. He kept talking about “keys.” He finally said the singing lessons might help my preaching. Those were clear signs to take another direction.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL

The third part of the plan is CIRCUMSTANTIAL. Since Jeremiah couldn’t go to his cousin, his cousin came to him. His cousin came to the prison and asked Jeremiah to buy the field. Jeremiah 32:8 says “Then I knew this was the Word of the Lord.” Sometimes things just fall into place without us manipulating them. The best illustration of this for me is about a sea captain who was one of the few who could steer a ship through a narrow channel. He said the secret is that I come into the harbor and see a light at the entrance of the channel, then I see a light at the middle of the channel then I see a light at the end of the channel. When the “three” lights line up, I simply go through the channel. That is how I see finding God’s will. I believe it will work for you, too. Enjoy the journey!!!

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Making it Work... (For the Long Run)
By Rev. Shane Bishop, Senior Pastor

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introduced my third grandson (and fourth grandchild) Isaac Joseph Bishop to the Christ Church family on April 21. In this photograph, my vocation and my family come together in a beautiful and harmonious way that is more easily caught in a single snapshot than in a full length video. For the serious disciple of Jesus Christ, keeping balance between worship, service, family, work and play is a tension to be managed, not a problem to be solved. It has been my practice in ministry to cultivate a life that holds these tensions in balance for the long run because I believe it to be impossible in the short run. I know many Christian leaders who look to live life at a “sustainable pace” but for me the realities of leadership have never allowed for such luxuries. My year does not consist

of 52 identical week slices from which I can routinely parcel out my time in 1/52 windows. For my life to work these days, I have to keep it real. When Christ Church was much smaller and we would have a hectic period in the office, I would often say, “I can’t wait to get things back to normal.” Today with almost 1,800 a weekend in attendance in six services in three locations, hectic is normal. There are times during our church year (Christmas, Easter, back to school) when 70-hour weeks are necessary to accomplish our mission of connecting people with Jesus Christ. In addition, there can be weeks when I have two funerals, a wedding and an outside speaking engagement, all in addition to my “routine” responsibilities of preparing messages, Thursday campus filming, writing articles, leading the staff, scouting potential campus sites and providing long-term leadership for this congregation. In these “dashes,” it seems as if I am at church all the time (partially because I am) and a full day off can elude me for weeks on end. However, I fully realize that 70-hour work weeks without a day off are not sustainable in the long run if I plan to stay healthy, spiritually nourished and have a rich family life. Because of such realities, I tend to think of life in terms of seasons that extend over years and not months. For example, every five years or so, I take an extended vacation. These are six-week seasons with my family apart from the demands of my vocational office. I am taking such a vacation in May and early June that will give me a few weeks to rest, recover, refocus, prioritize my family and hang out with Melissa with other matters not vying for my attention and time. During these weeks away from the office, I fall off the Social Media grid, catch up on a mountain of things around the house, do lots of reading and dedicate the time to my extended family I wish I could offer all the time. I find that I return renewed, refreshed and revived! Senior Pastors are not the only people who have to find a rhythm of life that negotiates some sense of macro balance. When I talk to people regardless of vocation, age or stage, a common life stress is simply trying to “make it all work.”

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Here are my thoughts on holding things together for the long run:

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Be where you are.
If I am at work, I strive to give 100% of my attention and energy to work. When I am home, I strive to give 100% of my attention and energy to home. If I am on the road speaking, I strive to give 100% of my attention and energy to those who have invited me to speak in their churches and into their lives. Balance is an illusion. Be where you are. For me, it has become a core value.

Remember you are not super-human.
This is a tough one for me but as I nudge into my fifties, I find that it is getting easier. My energy is no longer a limitless commodity. I need time to rest. I need time with Melissa. I need time to exercise…and then time to recover. Keeping my own mortality in front of me is essential if I am to stay effective within the competing facets of my life.

Find a sustainable rhythm.
If you can’t make a micro-rhythm work (a stable weekly schedule), find a macro-rhythm. Are there 70-hour weeks? Then make sure there are seasons of 40-hour weeks as well. Do you have to make a withdrawal from family time during certain times of the year? Then make sure you make some intentional deposits at other times. Finding a rhythm to which you can dance is critical to staying effective and renewed.

Make time for you.
It is perfectly okay to prioritize time to do what you love to do without the pressure of production or performance. Simply watching a Cardinal game on television, going to the movies or buying a 1950’s baseball card of one of my favorite players is not only permissible, it is essential!

Stay connected to God all the time.
The one thing you can never afford to put on the side is your relationship with God. This is the life-spring of selfcare, family, vocation and every other good thing in life. When our relationship with God is where it should be, all other relationships find their proper place.

truly miss the Christ Church family during my mini-sabbaticals, but I have learned over the years that I best serve Christ Church when I am spiritually engaged, emotionally resilient and relationally and physically healthy. Maintaining a necessary balance tends to elude me on a day-to-day (or even week-to-week) basis, so I have to find ways to make it work…over the long run.

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

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Sole Desire Soul Desire

By Rev. Troy Benton, Associate Pastor

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”
Psalm 27:4 TNIV
ne of my favorite sayings is, “you can spend so much time doing the work of the Lord, you can fail to spend time with the Lord of the work!” My appreciation for the value of this truth came years ago while observing people I held personal and professional ties with chase status, money, notoriety and fame through the successes they sought in their work. Some achieved this goal, others did not. For almost all of those who had not achieved this quest, the search goes on. For those that have reached this goal, they were able to check the box of success. What draws my attention from both of these groups is the reflection they offer now after years gone by since those conversations and planning sessions in high school and college for dreamed-of accomplishment. With few exceptions, those seeking their early definition of success have lived with emptiness as they struggle to reach their goals. What is really amazing is the emptiness they felt as they pursued “success” whether they had achieved it or not. These friends had jobs, spouses, children, friends, homes, and other basics that we have been taught to believe are at the core of life. What is most poignant, however, is the realization that so many men and women spend their existence pursuing things...only to forfeit a life of meaning. When I’m asked to answer my status around this pursuit, I refuse to answer with a personal summary of journey, instead I share Psalm 27. Rather than share my story, I let God change their heart and walk; David says it all. David, who had experienced the worst of times, and had found triumph in the best of times, reveals his one central desire...to dwell with God every day of his life. Easy to miss due to our indoctrination with this text

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around funeral services, David here is NOT asking about time after death only! Before the priest David asks for his place to gaze at God in eternity, the worshipper David, who is still living, requests that he gain continual access to God (note the word, ‘dwell’). When describing this to my friends in greater detail, they embraced the notion of discovering peace-wholeness-strengthrenewal through spending time with God. What was even more telling was the mathematician who noted that more time with God = more peace-wholeness-strength-renewal, etc.! Many who wrestle with faith want to know how to apprehend this desire of desires. In one of the true gifts in my life, I had the precious privilege of jointly leading a group into a confessional relationship with Jesus Christ, then serving them the first communion ritual they hungered for. This humbling gift made me see that I was unworthy to walk anyone toward the only God and King, Jesus Christ. However, in spite of my incompleteness, God trusted me in that moment. There are simply no words to express the gratitude of my heart. Do you have a desire due to the incompleteness of your soul? Are you at all like my friends? Are you empty of the passion you once had when you first encountered the Savior? Have you never had intimate relationship with Jesus? Whatever your situation may be, begin by finding time alone in quiet and calm thinking of Jesus. In the days that follow, try spending even just a minute reading scripture, prayer and/or a devotional tool. Work to add a minute or two each day or time you engage in this time with God. In other words, try it, do it, stay with it! Your whole world will change, and your soul will find its true desire. Spend some time with God!

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

GOD’S WILL
- What’s in it For Me?
By Dave Merrill

How will we get it?

Revelation 22:17 bids us to “Come! Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Micah 6:8 asks, “What does the Lord require of you?” and answers, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 implores us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Hmmm, this all seems pretty straightforward. As heirs we inherit the free gift of God as one who is thirsty for life in relationship with God. The LORD holds some expectations of us to be just, merciful, and humble once we have these gifts. His Will is designed to give us the ability to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. I’m not sure how to do that in my own power, but that would be way cool, too!

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was thinking (yes, be very afraid) about the topic of God’s will for our lives. It occurred to me we might be thinking about this all wrong. What if “God’s will” is not about what He wants us to do to follow His ways, but instead is about what He wants to give us? You know, like God’s Will (capital “W”); a legal document, a Last Will and (New) Testament, a designation of how He wants to distribute His estate after His son dies. Please understand I am not a lawyer and I don’t want to get all “Old Testament” legal on you, but even Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” In that context, Scripture has opened up a whole new window for the way I consider God’s Will. Consider for a moment the next time you pick up your Bible you may actually be reading a Will. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that someone, called the testator (Jesus’s testimony, in this case), uses to put down in writing what will happen to their estate (or Kingdom) after they die. This Will includes who (called the beneficiary, you) will get what, how the beneficiary will get it, and when the beneficiary will get it. Hey, this sounds like good news to me. God wants to give me something and His Will (His Word) tells us something about what we get, how we get it, and when we get it.

When will we get it?

Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 Our benefactor also promises, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:24-25 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13 Apparently, if we have faith, and do not doubt, and ask for the gift in prayer, and believe that you have already received the gift promised in God’s Will, it will be yours. Jesus calls us to receive Him and believe in His Name. That seems to be the secret of receiving the benefits of God’s Will. There is so much more contained in God’s Will. I can’t begin to tell you how investing time in His Word will bring myriad unforeseen benefits. God wants you to have the keys to His Kingdom. God wants you to have a full life in all its abundance. The really great thing about God’s Will is that this is a Living Will. He is risen, He is alive, and He is freely giving.

What will we get?

Romans 8:17 says, “We are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Titus 3:7 claims, “We become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Romans 15:32-33 promises, “That I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” Whoa, we are heirs? We get to share in His glory? We get eternal life? We get to be joyful, refreshed, and at peace? Where do I sign up? How do I get that? I am inspired to read more.

Dave Merrill facebook.com/davemerrill819

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Nick Sparks, Dragonball Z, and the New Birth
By Matthew Denny

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was a child of the 80’s. As such, I was blessed to grow up watching some of the greatest cartoons ever created. My afternoons and Saturday mornings were spent with good friends like He-Man, Darkwing Duck, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would like to say I stopped watching cartoons once I got to college, but instead I will follow Ephesians 4:25 and tell the truth. One of my favorite cartoons in college was Dragonball Z, a Japanese import that was redubbed in English. It ran successfully for several seasons, even though it had only one storyline: A group of warriors train and defend earth; an enemy from outer space appears and easily defeats them; one (or more) of the characters gains new powers by undergoing a powerful transformation; and the transformed character defeats the enemy. My friends and I always found the heroes’ metamorphoses the most fascinating aspect of the show. We would sit through hours of horrible jokes, pointless quests, and seemingly endless grunting (if you’ve seen the show, you know what I mean!) just to see which character would change next and what they would become.

greatness inside of him/her and defeats the enemy? It is a story that resonates within all of us. Nicholas Sparks understands the power of a resonating story. That is why he has been able to make a career out of telling Romeo and Juliet over and over. So what is it about the “new birth” story that captivates us? Why are we so drawn to it? I think it is because God has written it on our hearts. We are drawn to the story because somehow we know it is meant to be our story. We cheer for those who experience it because we intuitively grasp its significance. C.S. Lewis once noted that the plot device of “death and rebirth” was found in an unexpectedly large number of world religions and great stories. His explanation for this was simple. God knew that Christ was going to come, die, and rise again. Death and rebirth is a part of God’s story. Thus, God wove it into nature. One example of this comes to us from the botanical world. Plants create hard, dead seeds which are buried in the ground. Those seeds rise from their burial and produce a fullness that no one could have predicted. Lewis argued that God painted death and rebirth all over the canvas of nature so we would recognize it in the story of Christ. I think the same holds true when it comes to mankind and new birth. Just as God knew that Christ would come, die, and rise again, He also knew we were destined to experience new birth and be radically transformed by it. To help us recognize the import of that story, He wrote it on our hearts so that something inside of us responds powerfully when we hear it. At times it produces a holy dissatisfaction with the status quo in us. (I mean seriously, how many of us told our parents we wanted to take karate lessons after we saw Daniel Larusso crane-kick some manners into Johnny?) It also provides a powerful reminder to us of how we have been remade by the power of Christ. We are drawn to these stories because they are meant to be a magnet for a part of our souls. God has wired us to stop and respond when we hear a story that echoes the story He has crafted for us. Let me be clear; I am not giving you permission to watch cartoons for the rest of your life. However, the next time you are inexplicably engrossed or inspired by a book, movie, or TV show and cannot tell why, see if any of the plot points echo a theme from the gospel. Paul tells us in Romans 1 that God has given mankind evidence of Himself in what He has made. We are drawn to His story because we are a part of it.

As I was reflecting on “new birth” and transformation, I began to notice how often the concept works its way into popular stories. In the movie Stardust, the poor shop-boy, Tristan, transforms into a heroic swashbuckler who saves his beloved Yvaine. Edmond Dantès grows from an illiterate sailor into a shrewd and calculating nobleman in the classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo. And who could forget the uplifting story of Daniel Larusso, the original Karate Kid? With a little mentoring and encouragement, he progressed from misunderstood outcast to karate master. This led me to an important question. Why do so many storytellers, across such a wide variety of genres, use this storyline so often? What is it about “new birth” that makes it such a popular plot device? The obvious answer is that it sells. People are fascinated by it. Who doesn’t love the story of the underdog who unleashes the 8

Matthew Denny facebook.com/mattmistie.denny

Getting To Know YOU
Name: Sheila Pride Job Title: Administrative Assistant Job Description: The Administrative Assistant is
responsible for administrating those tasks and functions relevant to the Administration Staffs’ duties on a day-to-day basis.

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

caramel syrup OR a slice of pecan pie with cool whip topping… man that‘s hard to pick a favorite ONE!

Have you ever met a famous person?

If you knew you could you try anything and not fail, what dream would you attempt?
I would attempt to own a print shop, beauty shop, and catering service. Do some event planning and mentoring troubled teenage girls.

OH MY GOSH….YES, Queen Latifah; and Thelma & Mike from the TV sitcom “Good Times” and Idris Elba.

What could you do as a child that you can’t do now?
LOL….cartwheels! No, that’s not happening!

Which languages do you speak?

Funny, a little of this and a little of that…Japanese, Spanish and oh yeah English!

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are watching movies, scrapbooking and dancing.

Were you named after anyone?

Mom was sleeping when the nurse asked for my name. My father could not pronounce the name “Saudivongel” (the name my mom had picked), so my father said “name her after my mother, Sheila Marie.”

Would you rather visit the zoo or tour a museum?

I would enjoy the tour of the museum. I like that it gives a unique learning experience.

Have you ever appeared on television?

How did you come to know God?

Well, He’s known me longer…but we got closer back in 2009.

I did some years ago, as a spokesperson for the daycare my kids were attending….I wish I could find a copy of that.

What advice do you have for the young people at church?

Would you rather fly a jet or drive a race car?
Give me the RACE CAR Pretty PLEASE!!!!

Always do your best! Be honest and communicate your feelings. If you have problems talk to an adult that you can trust. Respect your parents… know that they are doing their best and they are not your enemies. Don’t rush to grow up; just enjoy being the age you are!

What’s the tallest building you’ve been in? Are you an amusement park thrill-seeker?

Just this past winter I went to the top of the St. Louis Arch. Yes, and I think Busch Gardens is the best amusement park ever. I can’t wait to go to one again.

Do you have a nickname?

Yes and I still get called it today…She-She

What advice would you offer to a newlywed couple?
Love hard, chase and date each other. Don’t tell your friends your problems, communicate that with each other. If it gets too hard to handle, pray about it and give it to God.

What is your favorite dessert?

A warm brownie with butter pecan ice-cream and a little bit of

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Garden of Life
ardening is one of my favorite hobbies for a variety of reasons. It is wonderful to be outside in God’s creation at any time, but when planning and developing a garden you get to participate in creating something beautiful and/or nourishing. A garden is one of the places I feel closest to God, our Creator. The beauty reminds me of His presence in my life and the joy He takes in all of His creation. What kind of garden we create depends on what its purpose is. Will it be for food, for beauty, for prayer, for exercise? The type of seeds we choose determines the crops or flowers that will grow. Whether the plants flourish depends on the climate and the soil they are planted in. We have to take into account how much care will be required. Gardening reminds me of the parable Jesus told of scattering seeds. I love it because the story is a great illustration of what happens in the garden of our lives. If seed lands on a rock, it dies. If it lands in the weeds, it gets choked out. If it falls on good soil, it takes root and produces much fruit. (Luke 8:1-15) When we read or listen to God’s Word, how do we nurture it in our hearts and minds? Do we ignore it so that its meaning dies to us? Are we so busy that we don’t spend time letting it form and shape us? Will we chew on the meat of the Word, letting it marinate, season, and change us to bring forth something brand new within us that glorifies God and helps us become more like Jesus? As I have experienced in my own life, an untended garden or life will get weedy and out of control. Fortunately, God is a better Gardener than I am and is continually teaching me. This principle applies to our physical lives as well. What are we planting in ourselves with what we choose to eat, drink, exercise, or pray? You put the good stuff in, you get the good stuff out-health, energy, and a mind trained on God’s principles! God is the designer of our bodies and they are intricate balanced creations, but it is up to us to care for them so they can operate at optimum capacity. It takes intentional time and effort to accomplish this.

By Debby Creagh

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Romans 12:1-2 tells us “Therefore (based on Romans 1-11), I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies (every part of you) as living sacrifices which is your spiritual (logical) act of worship. Do not conform (be pushed into a mold) any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed (metamorphosis - like caterpillar to butterfly) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good pleasing, and perfect will.” Change in our actions begins with our thinking. Positive words are powerful, especially when we speak them to ourselves. “It’s great going to the gym. I feel so much stronger, or flexible, or energized. Eating foods that help my body gives me more energy and clear thinking. These size portions are exactly right for what my body needs.” You get the idea. Memorizing scriptures that are encouraging help us achieve our goals. (Proverbs 3:8, 4:20-22, 26-27, Romans 6:13, I Corinthians 6:1920, 10:13, I Peter 1:13) God is Faithful! When we are negative in our thinking, it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and Satan wins. Grrrrrrr! Catch those negative thoughts and throw them out! Take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Setting small goals that you can achieve is also encouraging. Whether it is weight loss, exercise, or getting the Word into your mind, you can celebrate every victory. Give yourself a reward to work toward – a massage, a shopping trip, a good book, a night together with friends, a walk in the woods. Use things that will motivate you to stay on track. Inviting your family, a friend, or small group to join you makes the journey to health that much more fun. So, weed your garden of negativity and plant the good seeds of health and growing with God.

As you tend the garden of your life, may it bloom with the blessings of God. Amen.
Debby Creagh, Parish Nurse debbycreagh@mychristchurch.com

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P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E
irst of all, as a testimony, I have to say how awesome it is when the Lord speaks to me personally as I minister in Children’s Ministry at Christ Church. Patience spelled out letter by letter was the theme song for the month of May in Kid Connection and the theme for the month. Patience is described as waiting until later for what you want now. It reminds me of scripture that grabbed my attention recently:

By Rachel Frazure

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Him and His will for my life. As I focus on God through prayer, spending time in the Word and being still before Him, the Holy Spirit – in His time - begins to do the necessary cutting of my bad branches and the necessary pruning of those branches that can be even better. I have found that when my eyes are focused on God, the true Gardener, and when I trust His timing, I begin to learn God’s will for my life. In Kid Connection, we taught kids Bible stories that focused on the virtue of patience, such as Esau trading his birthright with Jacob and in exchange got a simple bowl of stew. We also gave them examples of when to use patience, such as waiting in line for a ride at an amusement park, to waiting to see if their sick relative will get better. It is an important virtue to teach kids now, because as adults, patience will continue to be a daily part of life. Trust in the Lord and wait as He does the necessary cutting and pruning in our lives to bring about the best of what He created.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
John 15:1-2 NLT Plants are entrusted to a gardener, and the gardener wants to make sure the vine is growing for the purpose it was created. A necessary part of tending the vine is to cut off unproductive branches, not producing fruit, and to cut back or prune those branches that are producing good fruit in order to produce even more. For a believer in Christ, this cutting and pruning process can sometimes be the most uncomfortable seasons of life we go through, often because we lack patience (P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E). One of the first mistakes I make as I seek God’s will for my life is that I depend too much on “I.” I often lose focus of the Vine that is sustaining me and giving me life. God wants me to focus on

Rachel Frazure facebook.com/rfrazure

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When I Wasn’t Looking
By Matt Rygelski sing such a term as “motor vehicle accident” seems to ignore the human element from the event, suggesting that somehow the vehicles were to blame instead of the drivers. I was not a stranger to car accidents. I failed my first driving exam due to my inability to listen to the instructor, almost causing an accident and swerving us onto the shoulder of the road to avoid it. He did not think it was funny when I asked if parallel parking was the next part of the exam that day. I was young and reckless. I knew everything and I had no time to be quizzed by anyone. I thought I had it all figured out. Some would say I was arrogant and thick headed, but I had too many important places to go and people to see to argue with them. But a funny thing occurred at every car accident. After repeated vehicular damage (and higher insurance premiums), I noticed something: random people would always surround me seconds after the accident, as if they appeared from nowhere. They would come up to my car and the other’s immediately after the impact, looking in to ask if we were all okay. In the blink of an eye, my car would seem to be instantly surrounded by 3 or 4 people trying to assist in pulling open the distorted car door or help orient me back from the startle...and then they would all seem to disappear just as quickly. Each event began as an average day of blurred faces as I set forth my plans to conquer the world with my juvenile brilliance, yet I was becoming suspicious of these saintly people who would always appear as if from nowhere at the moment of catastrophe. I wondered if I would be as considerate if the role was reversed. Would I stop and care, or simply walk past and avoid involvement? In 2000, I was involved in my eighth motor vehicle accident. Broken glass fragments were scattered on my lap while the engine was now resting beside me where the passenger seat used to be. The driver’s door was wedged shut and the cabin was filling with white smoke. The airbag didn’t deploy. Strangers stopped, helped me pry open the door, asked if I was okay and then disappeared. As I stood by the side of the road, the paramedics seemed confused when they arrived. Looking at the destroyed vehicle, they did not believe I was the driver and walked away on my own. My back was injured to the point that I required surgery to eliminate the constant pain I experienced with almost every movement. Three back surgeries, actually. From one doctor appointment to the next, there was not much else to do during the five years it took to finally get 99% pain-free. On long-term disability, my world began to shrink as the friends and family visits occurred less frequently and I had exhausted every cable TV channel available. Loneliness creates two options: hatred for the world that has abandoned you, or hatred of yourself for making the choices in life that has disconnected you from it. Within five years, I experienced both. I suddenly realized I was 12

U

chasing the wrong dream in life. I had to slow down to realize it. The fancy car in the driveway didn’t matter if there was no one around to impress. I had lived my life doing nothing for anyone but myself and couldn’t care less about the people I had swept aside as I pressed toward this ideal I thought would make it all worth it. The more stuff I accumulated, the less happiness I gained. I was hanging out with the wrong crowd who were using me just as I was using them. When I no longer served their useful purposes, I was discarded or forgotten. It was the same way I had treated them over the years. The few friends that continued to care were the ones I used to laugh about when I believed money, fame, and career were so important, all they cared about was how they could help and if I was okay. I questioned my faith. I questioned my church, my friendships, and my character. I realized that God, or at least the idea of God, was just another thing I wanted to “own.” I wanted God in my pocket next to my cell phone and wallet--”my” God, the way I wanted and only when I wanted Him. I thought my God should demand extreme consequences for everyone who did not follow the rules, while extending great mercy and forgiveness to myself when I violated those rules of course. It took eight car accidents to notice I might have skated by all this time, but “nine lives” I did not care to test. My idea of God was all-wrong. My eyes were not open enough to see before. God was there all along, but His gift of free will required that He patiently watch my mistakes and be there to offer help. I rejected Him seven times, so on the eighth He spoke louder. Those Christians had asked for no recognition or award, I have no way of thanking them. They stopped to help because Jesus would have. Jesus did not seek fame or fortune, expensive cars to impress others. I had wasted so much energy to oppress God--letting Him “out of His box” for one hour every Sunday only for the purpose of showing others that I had Him in my “collection” like my other latest materialistic technology gadgets. But God held me so much more than I realized. I wasn’t holding God in my pocket; He was holding me in His. Every time I witnessed those modern-day Samaritans sacrificing their time to approach this twisted metal wreckage I helped to create, they never rebuked me for how fast I was going or mentioned that my music may have been too loud. Every time, they simply asked, “Are you okay?” I didn’t really understand the question before, but now I am ready to understand the answer. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1

Matt Rygelski facebook.com/mrygelski

Losing Me to
hat a wonder God is to me! This is the 3rd attempt at writing this article on loss and gain. Guess what? I wrote the article, saved it, finished it, and was highlighting it to change the font and BOOM! I lost the article not once, but twice, never to be retrieved no matter what my attempts were at figuring out the computer program. So I figured the goal was either, give up and tell the editor forget it, or realize that God had something to say, and I just needed to press through and write again. Since you’re reading the article, you see the decision. So here’s my point. It is downright frustrating to lose something. It is sometimes painful and without mercy. It can be disappointing and, at its worst, a loss can be devastating. Recently I lost my sweet Grandma Isy after a long and productive life. Grandma had four children that gave her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved Jesus in a simple childlike way and left a legacy of gentleness and joy for everyone that knew her. To say I am terribly grieved to lose her is an understatement. But as death will do, it has made me take account of what is really important in life. I will miss our phone chats and the dynamic relationship I had with her, but in a sense, I am thankful she is gone because she is now free of pain and the sorrows of life. I am thankful, for her sake, that her death is her gain to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and worship Him! Her death has reminded me of what a great gift I have in my salvation through Jesus. It also reminds me of what loss I would have if I had not turned my heart to Him and received His gift of love and forgiveness. I know I lost a lot when I became a believer at 25 years old. Let me share with you what I mean… I lost fears that had plagued me for years, but He gave me power, love and a sound mind…that’s what I gained!

Gain Him
By Carrie Gaxiola I lost guilt and shame, but God gave me a pure heart and a release from my sins…that’s what I gained! I lost bitterness and regret, but I learned to forgive and have hope in a restored heart and restored relationships…that’s what I gained! I lost deep depression and a sense of utter rejection that burdened me for years, but God gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness…that’s what I gained! I lost the feeling of constantly being unloved and unlovable, but now His banner over me is LOVE, and I am accepted in the Beloved because of Jesus…that’s what I gained! I lost the emptiness and darkness of separation from God, and now I have a Father that SINGS over me and gives me new mercy every morning…that’s what I gained! The final praise, the final loss is that I lost ME, the broken, sinful and selfish ME and I gained Jesus Christ, my Friend, the Lover of my soul, my Comforter and my Counselor. My chains are gone! They are lost and I have freedom that without Him, I would never have gained! The apostle Paul so aptly said it for us that “yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may GAIN CHRIST.” Phil. 3:8 What have you lost that you might gain Him, His love and His forgiveness? All you have to do is lose your heart to Jesus, the One who gave it all, and you gain eternity! I can retype an article and have fond memories of my grandma, but to lose my life to gain Christ is the greatest freedom any of us can attain. Amazing grace, I once was lost, but now I’m found…how sweet the sound!

W

Carrie Gaxiola facebook.com/carrie.bushgaxiola

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“Back to School Days” is coming again this summer at the Christian Activity Center (CAC) in East St. Louis. The CAC is a comprehensive after school program engaging 600+ children a year (ages 6-18) in education, recreation, and life enhancement. The center is a safe place for the kids to go from 3:30-8:00 pm, Monday-Friday, and offers church services on Sunday. Most of all, the kids who attend the Christian Activity Center are offered something they crave: LOVE and HOPE! Last year at the CAC, I witnessed parents waiting in long lines with their children while a mission team from North Carolina and many other volunteers, happily distributed backpacks and school supplies amidst the sweltering August heat and swarms of

people. Because of Christ Church’s generosity, along with other contributing churches, almost 900 excited kids left with a fully supplied backpack ready to start their school year. We would love to go above and beyond the number of backpacks and school supplies collected last year, so even more children can have the supplies they need to have a successful school year. Here’s how you can help! Summer Sunday collection dates are: July 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th. July 28th will be the last Sunday you will be able to bring items to the church. That is also the Sunday we will caravan over and deliver all supplies to the Christian Activity Center.

WHAT TO BRING? BE A VOLUNTEER
Back packs, pencil sharpeners, spiral notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, colored pencils, 3-ring binders, loose-leaf paper, crayons, markers and uniforms, size 6-18 pale blue and white collared shirts, long and short sleeve, navy or black khaki pants. Please bring backpacks, school supplies and uniforms to Scripture Hall and place them near the Christian Activity Center display.

If you would like to volunteer with delivering on July 28th or packing supplies, contact Peggy Hutchison at hutchhaus@charter.net. We will need some adult drivers on Sunday, July 28th, to bring the supplies to the CAC. Other volunteer possibilities at the CAC include tutoring in the homework center, helping with recreation or Kids For Christ from 3:30-8:00pm, Monday-Friday. If you would like to learn more about the CAC, go to www.cacesl.org. It is located at 540 North 6th Street in East St. Louis. Thank you in advance for your backpacks and school supplies for the kids at the Christian Activity Center. The kids appreciate YOU! Peggy Hutchison POC Christian Activity Center

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God At Work
New Members
April

-------------------------------Eric Fister, Becky Fister, Rachel Garlinghouse, Steve Garlinghouse, Michael McCallister, Kirsten Dewey, Chuck Rak III, Marcy Rak, Kaye Snyder, Kathleen Johnson, Dorothy Kistler, Thomas Kistler, Erik Rynkowski

Baptisms
April

-------------------------------Debra Altman, Johnny Arneson, Grace Baty, Darin Berndt, Sara Brewer, John Carlson, Shannon Cox, Dylan DeProw, Emily Givens, Cindy Guiette, Travis Heuiser, Andrew Hoelscher, Misty King, Grace Kowalski, Brianna Lindsey, Aimee Manly, Ashley Manly, Emma Martin, Nick Ottinger, Ryan Potter, Erik Rynkowski, Derrick Tyra, Emily Vogt, E. J. Kohler, Samuel Kohler, Thomas Kohler, Michael McCallister, Kirsten Dewey, Chuck Rak, Rebecca Belvin, Denver Lettie, Lincoln Lennon, Kenzleigh Hazzard, Morgan Midgett, Tayana Mills, Morgyn Rolph, Landon Procko

Member Passings
-------------------------------Roger Krummrich – April 19 Myrtle L. “Gerry” Friederich – May 27

May

100,000 Hours

Barbara Cox, Shannon Cox, Misty King, Ryan Potter, Michael Lymberopoulos, Joyce Grice, Amber Winters, Derek Tracey, Kirk Grice, Charles Procko, Allison Procko, Caleb Procko

--------------------------------

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

Confirmation Members
April

We have served: 35,949.4 hrs
(as of 06/02/13)

-------------------------------Cameron Cagas, Ethan Christopher, Gabrielle Gebhardt, Zechariah Georgian, Nathaniel Luecking, Haley Middleton, Morgan Midgett, Tayana Mills, Ty Muckensturm, Zach Oliver, Jace Roach, Morgyn Rolph, Mackenzie Roskowski, Alexander Smith

Log your hours at mychristchurch.com/100k

Attendance

-------------------------------May Worship avg. = 1740 May Connection Classes avg. = 340 Year Avg. Worship = 1793

Finances (as of 06/02/13)

--------------------------------

Tithes & Offerings = $1,157,086.11 Expenses & Mortgage Payment = $1,163,387.42 Remaining Debt - $4,961,143.45

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Vacation Bible School
FH Campus • July 15 - 19 // CM Campus • July 24 - 26 // Millstadt Campus • july 22 - 23

Ages 3yrs - Rising 6th Grader

Every kid loves a good story, whether it’s a book, a movie, or a video game. Bring your kids and their friends and let them get excited about the most incredible true story of all - God’s loving pursuit of us through time! The Turn It Up Summer VBS takes kids on a journey through the Bible, giving them context for God’s Big Story. Help your kids discover how they can be a part of the story when they turn up the power of God’s love in their life!

REGISTER YOUR KIDS AT mychristchurch.com/events

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