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A from Note the editor
Fairview Heights Campus
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Collinsville / Maryville Campus
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“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3: 14-21
Family…the word stirs up all kinds of emotions. Whether you have a so-called “normal” or dysfunctional family, or somewhere in between, the reality is, you are stuck with them. My childhood was very dysfunctional, then I married a Navy man, and we all know military life is far from normal; but, despite all of the chaos in my life, one person has remained my constant strength…my loving Heavenly Father. He never leaves my side, He calms my fears, He gives me peace when life is crazy, and He loves me no matter how dysfunctional I am. As you seek to maintain some sense of normalcy in this insane world, turn your eyes heavenward and call upon the One who will give you unspeakable joy and peace in the midst of the storm. He is there waiting to walk this journey called life with you and your family. Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day!
3. Parenting On Purpose 4. Is God Male or Female? 5. Community 6. He’s My Hero 7. Marriage: The Great... 8. Lime Green Dress Shirt And... 9. Getting To Know You 10. A Little Child Shall Lead Them 11. Is Love Alone Enough To... 12. Wee Welcome Ministry 13. Isn’t Love Enough? 15. God At Work
Senior Pastor: Rev. Shane Bishop Editor: Donna Harrison Design: Justin Aymer
Associate Pastor: Rev. Troy Benton Proof Reader: Barbara Germany Cover Photo: Mike Creagh
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Flame Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine published by Christ Church. ©2013, Christ Church. All rights reserved.
Parenting on Purpose
By Rev. Shane Bishop, Senior Pastor
n 1995 a relatively unknown pastor from California published a book called “The Purpose Driven Church.” For so many years pastors had been taught to lead a church according to property, program and people, but Warren introduced a paradigm shift when he argued that churches must center upon their purpose above all other things. In the same way that many churches go through the motions of ministry week to week with no real purpose in mind, many parents do the same. They try to give their children more material items than they possessed (property), keep them busy with activity (program) and make sure they are socially adjusted (people) but what is our purpose as parents? What is the ultimate goal of a parent concerning their children? I want to suggest that “Parents exist to equip children to become men and women of God.” Raising scholars, musicians, athletes and social lights is fine but if we do not equip our children to become men and women of God we have failed our primary God-given task in parenting. Melissa and I have raised two children and we know the task can be daunting but I believe the Bible has some great examples of godly parenting! THE STRONG-WILLED CHILD Let me tell you about Jesse in I Samuel 16. There were a brood of boys in his Bethlehem house but none compared to young David. David could go to work all day, write and perform original music all night and when push came to shove could reach his hand down a lion’s mouth and pull him inside out. David was adventurous, reckless, sensitive, lived a full life each day and wasn’t afraid of anything. One day Jesse sent him to take supplies to his brothers in the army and got in over his head. Can you imagine the rumors flying around Judah that some kid had wandered on to the front lines of the war with the Philistines and had challenged Goliath of Gath to a one on one showdown to the death? I’ll bet Jesse wanted to be sick. He had no doubt who that kid was. Consensus was that things were safer for everyone when David wasn’t around the house so when the prophet Samuel came around to anoint a king, it didn’t even occur to Jesse to bring the wild child in from the hills. When Samuel saw this strong, ruddy young man, he knew he anointed his head with oil marking him as God’s chosen. Samuel doesn’t tell us much about Jesse and doesn’t mention a mother for this boy who had a spirit too big to be contained. Yet the thing I find most fascinating is that Jesse didn’t spend a lot of time trying to press David into a mold of conformity. He recognized his son was special, loved him, utilized his gifts to the benefit of the family, equipped him spiritually and let him go to fulfill his destiny when the time came. THE UNIQUE CHILD Luke 1: 5-25 tells us about Zechariah and Elizabeth. John the Baptist was a preacher’s kid and the cousin of Jesus. He was tough as nails, no-nonsense in his approach and had courage that didn’t quit. I’ll bet his room was always a mess, he lacked social graces, he dressed poorly for school and his parents cringed every time he opened his mouth in public. John preferred a life of solitude in the wilderness and every time he
came back home from time with God he seemed a little further away from people. There were no gray areas for young John; things were either right or wrong and he called them as he saw them. Zechariah and Elizabeth had waited many years for a child but when the Lord provided a unique one, they didn’t ruin him by trying to make him like everyone else. They schooled him in the ways of the Lord, equipped him to maximize his strengths; if he wasn’t elected prom king at Galilee High School, his parents did equip him to make a way for the Christ. THE SINGLE FOCUS CHILD I Samuel one and two tell us about Elkanah and his wife Hanna from Ramah. They had prayed for a son and just about the time they gave up, God made a special delivery. Samuel was no doubt the apple of their eye but just as quickly as God had given them this child, God asked for him back. It would be like at an infant baptism if when I baptized the child and walked him through the congregation, I looked at the parents and said, “I think we are going to keep this one here.” God asked that Samuel be raised in the temple as God’s own servant by a priest named Eli. Samuel didn’t amass a trophy case full of sports awards, learn hot electric guitar riffs or become a charter member of the local “no girls allowed tree house club.” There wasn’t time for that. Samuel was much more the child of the temple than the child of his parents. In time, Samuel learned to hear the voice of God like no others of his time; he was a maker and breaker of kings. THE GIFTED CHILD Let me tell you about Mary and Joseph from Luke chapter two. God told a virgin named Mary she would bring forth His own son and told Joseph in no uncertain terms to marry her anyway and get over it. I am sure the whole story was met with more than a small amount of skepticism in the small town of Nazareth. God essentially said to this pair, “I have chosen you to raise the One who will bring salvation to the world. He will have the opportunity to succeed where Adam failed and the hope of the world will rest upon Him. Mary and Joseph, I am entrusting my Son to your care.” No pressure there! Jesus was raised firmly in the Jewish tradition and was well enough versed in the law that He sat with the teachers in the Jerusalem Temple as a twelve year old. Joseph probably died when Jesus was a late teen but Mary raised, loved, believed in and emotionally was never very far away from her son. Jesus was born to die and died to resurrect forever. It interests me that in Jesus’ time the Rabbis taught that each child in Israel should be paid special attention and taught very well for that child could be the promised messiah! Wouldn’t it be great if we saw all our children that way?
Rev. Shane Bishop, Senior Pastor facebook.com/revshane @RevShaneBishop
Is God Male or Female?
By Dave Merrill
re you kidding? Really? Everybody knows God is referred to throughout Scripture as “He” and “Him” and “His”. The triune person of God comes incarnate as Jesus; without question a male presentation of Deity. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the King of Kings. He is our Father in Heaven. Let’s not emasculate the LORD God Almighty by even suggesting a feminine gender for the sake of political correctness. Is it even appropriate to question the gender of God? Before we draw inferences about the very nature of Divinity with respect to gender, let’s first examine what Scripture itself has to say about the person of God. From the beginning, “God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27) The image of God seems to cover both female and male persons. When God speaks to the prophet Hosea, the words reflect maternal compassion: “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” (Hosea 11:3-4) A few chapters later (13:8), this same prophet describes God “like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…” Apparently, even a feminine image of God holds mighty power. Lesson: don’t mess with a Mama bear’s cubs and don’t mess with God! Even the law written in the first five books of the Bible (Torah) reflects a female allusion to Deity. Deuteronomy 32:11-12 likens God to “the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.” Later in the same chapter, verse 18 declares, “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” There is no denying God birthed us all and breathed life into us with the love and compassion of a mother. Imagery of birth and the womb comes again in Job’s discussion with God. “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb” and “From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?” (Job. 38:8, 29) Perhaps the prophet Isaiah is most direct in descriptions of God using feminine language. “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out
like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” (Isaiah 42:14). “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15) “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13) Still not convinced? The poetry of the Psalms offers more female imagery of God. Psalm 131:2 reveals a declaration of God, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” Psalm 123:2-3 provides a peek into the duality of God’s gender, “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH, until you show us your mercy!” YHWH somehow takes on the person of love who encompasses and comforts both genders. Perhaps you live under the grace of the New Testament in the times since Jesus walked the earth. Both Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 quote Jesus with matriarchal compassion saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” The apostle Peter even recognizes the need for feminine imagery in 1 Peter 2:2-3. “Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia perhaps sums up the nature of God best. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) We are all created in the image of God and we are all one in Jesus Christ. God knows us intimately and can relate in both male and female persons, experiences, and uniqueness. God manifests the male attributes of might, power, and fatherly wisdom. God also embraces the female attributes of compassion, maternal love, gentleness, kindness, and life-giving birth. The question is not whether God is male or female, the reality is God loves you and understands everything about you just as you are, no matter who you are, regardless your gender.
Dave Merrill facebook.com/davemerrill819
By Matt Rygelski
ome friends of ours recently shared a story. One evening, as they sat in their living room shortly after putting their daughter to bed, they heard a loud explosive “pop” sound that seemed to echo through the neighborhood. Unsure of the source of the sound, they glanced out their kitchen window only to discover a power line had snapped in two and started a fire in theirs and their neighbor’s backyards. In moments of panic, most people experience “tunnel vision” where their attention becomes acutely focused on the immediate danger and all sights and sounds outside of that narrow focus become a blur. I hear this razor sharp “tunnel vision” detail in their story, with the description of the bright sparks from the power line and the low crawling fire growing as it licks each blade of the dry grass. They described the short, unprotected path these flames would likely soon take before easily setting their home ablaze. Their story is told with such energy that my wife and I begin to feel the tension along with them as each part unfolded and we imagined ourselves helplessly standing beside them in this frightening experience. At first, he reached for the garden hose, but when he turned it on, there was no water flowing out of the other end. As he struggled with bits of frozen ice in the hose now preventing water from reaching the ever growing blaze, she hurried to dress their child for the chilly evening air should they all be forced to leave their home. She then told us of her indecision about what priceless memories she would want to rescue and asked us what we would save if we had the same choice to make. But just then, the speed of this breathtaking story suddenly slowed. In all of this chaos… something happened. Because of their high fence and the tunnel vision, they couldn’t see the rest of the neighborhood was outside in this bitter cold evening and attempting to help put out the blaze in the adjacent yards. The neighborhood was awake with them. So focused on their own emergency, they had initially not heard the shouts from people offering help to them until eventually the volume of their voices overflowed the top of the wooden wall. No sirens, no trained first responders, no specific shouts asking for help – just neighbors offering help without hesitation. When eventually united to form a bucket brigade, all fires were extinguished and their homes untouched. Relationships with people are often difficult things. People are complex and creatures of habit. Words are said, often misunderstood, that change the circle of friends and family members with whom you choose to closely share your life. Disagreements divide people, usually for things that seem quite serious at the time but later prove to be quite silly instead. Regular visits and phone calls become less frequent, and people are left alone and forgotten. Sometimes intentional, sometimes
accidentally, our calendars fill up so quickly with other things that we explain it away that we simply do not have the time. Feelings are hurt. But at the time of that fire, all of the neighbors united. One neighbor may have had an ongoing feud against another because of an overgrown tree, or perhaps a disagreement over their distasteful choice of siding color. A declined invitation to an afternoon BBQ may have become rumors about a lack of interest in neighborhood friendship, but instead was due to a sick spouse that would have rather stayed home that day to nurse a cold but now wonders why no other invitations have followed. All of those small little things are shown to be the small size they truly are, when an unforgiving fire is spreading faster than emergency personnel can arrive in the cold evening where no compassionate soul would choose to stand there in judgment instead of offering help. Jesus tries to teach us this lesson. In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus talked about the reward of humility saying, ““When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Great relationships require humility, but being humble is harder than it seems. Our mind–our ego–protects us from embarrassment by telling ourselves how right we are, how distinguished we are, and how stupid and wrong is our enemy. Jesus spoke of an approach to building deeper, more honest relationships that is counterintuitive to the “us vs. them” and “winner takes all” lessons that secular society tries to sell us. We all think we want to be the “us,” the “winners,” but if you remember Jesus often hung out with the “them.” Jesus offered forgiveness to those who were left alone and forgotten. Jesus asked us to do the same. Through His words and actions, Jesus always reminds us of something that is greater and more awesome than our small differences and disagreements. When you give your life to Christ, you choose to put God ahead of yourself. You promise to make an effort to listen to Him and the ways He asks you to reach out to others in His name. Christ asks us to quiet our mind and try understanding what it feels like to walk in that person’s shoes—in other words, you can’t have community without unity and you can’t have a relationship until you’re willing to relate.
Matt Rygelski facebook.com/mrygelski
He’s My Hero
By Michael Gary Harrison
s I turn around to look back over the many miles I’ve had the privilege to walk this planet, it’s amazing to see with such clarity and perspective just how profoundly God has demonstrated His unshakable love for me. It’s only now in these later years, as I find reflective moments where I can pause to consider His handiwork, that I am able to see with spiritual eyes the times He held me in trouble and uplifted me with His joy. It’s astounding for me to see how through divine wisdom He was at work in my life, one so hardwired from youth in complexity and ignorance. And it’s in this awareness of God’s hand upon me through it all that I most resonate with Jeremiah 29:11, where the Word says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In a recent message, Rev. Shane described through metaphor the life of a man attempting to make his way in adulthood without the example of a godly father. He said trying to do so was like struggling to put together a thousand-piece puzzle without the benefit of the picture on the box cover…I can truly relate to this puzzle metaphor. My mother was a capricious person who never seemed to want children. She would spend most of her time between going out with friends or fulfilling some kind of perfectionist obsession to clean house. To be in the same room was normally concluded with a dismissing order to “go outside and play” or we were sternly reminded that “children are to be seen but not heard.” It was difficult to know where the lines were drawn because in the midst of the confusion there were sudden unexplained sentimental moments where she was kind and loving. I adored my dad, especially when I was a small boy. To me he was a giant. A tough dad who I imagined could beat up any other dads who might present a danger. He worked long hours, was strong and innovative. He was the center of my security. He was my hero…my rock. And yet, even with all that going for him, my dad was also quite distant and passive. He was an enigma who carried on our British family tradition of keeping his emotions to himself; he seemed to labor to stay insulated from me by maintaining distance and remaining busy. From turning to see his empty seats when up to bat at my Little League games,
to Boy Scout promotions and school productions to forgotten appointments and promises, he was never there. Ironically, however, I was always ready to forgive and forget these things, making excuses for him, convincing myself that it just couldn’t be helped. And in it all I always seemed to bounce back with resilience and hope that next time things would work out. Then, in my early teens, the unthinkable happened; I would endure my parents’ divorce. This unravelling led to a family spiral ending with him completely out of our lives, which also created a financial disaster, abject poverty, and an emotional distance between all of us that still exists today. But through it all, God was there. Although I couldn’t see it in the midst of the whirlwind, He took great care to show His love and tenderness and acceptance to me even while I was still a sinner. Through a series of events in my teens and early 20s, the likes of which I can only attribute to His miraculous plan for me, He gave me a life and taught me to be a man. He proved that He loves me through a plan He had for me before the creation of the world. He wooed me into His kingdom through Jesus, He provided a fabulously patient and kind Christian wife, and He gave me a wonderful family and a successful career. And I deserved none of it. So as I look back over the many miles I’ve walked, I realize something grand about this God who loves me. I have learned that it’s in retrospect that I can see His marvelous hand in every aspect of my life. I have learned that this is how He has demonstrated His unimaginable love for such a sinner as me. And I have learned that He held the picture on the box of my 1000-piece puzzle all along. My Father, my God, loves me…and He’s my hero.
Michael Gary Harrison, Author of A Spark In Darkness facebook.com/asparkindarkness
The Great Balancing Act
By Emma and Troy Benton
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9 (TNIV)
wenty-two years after saying “I Do,” Troy and I sit in the midst of this wonderful opportunity to share around the subject of marriage and are amazed at the journey. We agree that we have seen blessings and challenges during our time together, but would not have wanted to experience any of these moments without each other. We agree we both are driven individually, and complement each other as a team for the unique call on each of our lives, and the corporate call we share. We agree the most important element of our lives is our individual, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and the corporate one we work to engage our children in. We agree the other could not survive, much less thrive, in the vocational fields the other is in (Troy: ministry; Emma: corporate finance). Most important to our marriage, we agree that what keeps us together is the truth that we have and continue to work at marriage… TOGETHER. Twenty-five years ago when God began us on this journey dating, Emma and I made some early covenants that we continue to maintain. We are certain that in every area of our lives, these covenants have been the bonds that keep our marriage strong, and allow us to grow and develop as both individuals and a single unit in love and life: Major money decisions are decided TOGETHER! Anything over a certain amount is an investment in our lives and must be agreed upon. Vacations are taken TOGETHER! While there are needed times for each to be away to revive themselves, significant time of renewal is done as a unit, and not as an individual. We go to bed TOGETHER! Romantic or not, we go to sleep with each other. Happy or not, we are one. We discuss, fight, or pray through TOGETHER! We don’t share our stuff with other people…EVER! We are each other’s best friend; if it can’t be shared with the other, it can’t be shared at all.
If one is taking a risk, we are taking the risk TOGETHER! Regardless what it is, if we are in, we are in it as one. No one goes alone…EVER! We work to serve each other daily: Making coffee, folding clothes, whatever it is, we work to serve each other as we would want to be served. A kiss to begin and at least a kiss to end the day: We may be Christians, but we didn’t get attracted to each other because of the size of each other’s bible. Keeping the romance alive requires working at it...TOGETHER. We pray TOGETHER! With hearts open, and in full intimacy of soul and spirit, we share together before God all in our hearts. It’s impossible for us to pray for one another if we don’t expose ourselves fully. We decided TOGETHER our first church is our home!! We decided a long time ago our first church can only sacrifice so much if it is to remain healthy. We choose our first church before the other church. We cannot be good for the other church when our first church is a mess! These and other things are the ways we balance the work of witness, worship, service and giving. Jesus set some real clear rules in Mark 10 for the family. We are by no means masters of these boundaries. At times, we slip and allow these rules to be overrun with our lives, our jobs, and our will. In these times, one of us uses holy boldness and calls us back to order. We repent TOGETHER and return to these standards. Marriage is a balance. The key is keeping Christ first, your word to each other, and remembering what is your first church. Other groups, etc., will always be around. Abusing your marriage gives way to losing something that you may not ever be able to gain again! Nothing is worth losing your first church. Follow the rules of the road and maintain balance.
Emma & Troy Benton
Lime Green Dress Shirt and Slacks
By Robin T. Smith
was an average kid…well, more like a pretty nerd. I got good grades, didn’t get into any trouble. I was ready for the school year to be over. A few more months to go and I’ll be a freshman in high school next year, then on to a driver’s license, prom, and graduation. Momma said I shouldn’t rush it, but who wants to be a teenager forever---too many rules! Anyway, I wasn’t the popular kid, but I was the nerdy-popular kid. Imagine your hair pressed and combed, wearing huge public aid glasses because your momma couldn’t afford the name brand ones, and wearing nothing but yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores on your body…as a teen? It was more than embarrassing some days. One day my stepfather decided to bring me lunch--in junior high school. I think he had a brain lapse in time. I was 14 years old. We had a small four-door sedan. The car was a beigecolored 1981 Buick which was so not in style anymore. The car had been stolen the week before and when he got it back, my dad PAINTED it brick red with a paint brush. You could literally see the brush strokes. He parked this car right in front of the school’s main entrance at lunchtime. I didn’t know he was coming. I had no clue. Right when the bell rang, hundreds of my schoolmates entered the main hallway to go to lunch and behold, there was my stepfather in a lime green dress shirt and slacks. You couldn’t miss him; he’s 6’3 and yellow-skinned like the sun. That day, he looked more like an unripened banana or the man with the yellow hat from Curious George. Ugh! I was so embarrassed. If that wasn’t enough, he looked crazy holding a brown paper bag with a lunch in it made for me...at 14 years old! I tried to ignore him and walk as fast as I could to avoid him, but everybody kept pointing my way and saying, “Hey, Robin, isn’t that your dad?” What a way to end the school year, right? My face is all twisted now, just thinking about it. I had to take you all back down memory lane to make you aware that even though that was a truly embarrassing moment for
me from a teenager’s perspective back then, as an adult, I can understand that my stepfather’s actions were of love. It was a simple act of kindness showing me he cared. Years later looking back, I know I heard, love. I heard this is how I should be treated as a young woman, a soon-to-be woman of God and future wife and to know that men are to treat women like God treats His bride, the Church…to love unconditionally. Above all, God saw a need I had as with all teens---love and attention. This isn’t all one-sided. My parents didn’t spare any rods growing up and I’m grateful for the No’s and punishments, and ‘you can’t go unless I talk to their parents’ briefings. Lord only knows how bad my attitude was of thinking I knew it all, but to have a parent in my life who cared enough to show me he loved me meant a lot even when I didn’t express it. To all the parents reading this and yes, I’m preaching to myself too--continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide you in all truth when raising your children, even when it hurts or embarrasses them. Continue to honor God by choosing to be a parent, rather than our bestie. In that moment of that awfully embarrassing day, God taught me love. In Isaiah 54:13, NKJV, the Bible says “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Mom and Dad, you are the ultimate representative of Christ to your children and through you, we’ll see God. When we see the Lord in you, the peace that surpasses all understanding fills our lives knowing that we were raised in truth and we can introduce that peace to our children. So Mom and Dad, be sensitive to your son and daughter’s spiritual and physical needs. Wrap your arms around them in word and deed, not just when the good grades are reported or a goal on the field is made. The acts of ‘I love you’ great and small are being heard.
Robin T. Smith www.perfumedletters.com www.twitter.com/perfumedletters
Getting To Know YOU
Church find a place to connect, get involved, and serve in ministry....starting the moment they walk through the door.
Name: Abbie Aymer Job Title: Connections Coordinator Job Description: My job is to help the people of Christ
What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
Have a lot of outdoor adventures at national parks across the country with my family.
What’s the best birthday gift you ever received?
What do you think delights God above everything else?
When He sees us loving another person enough to tell them about God’s great love.
My husband gave me alligator gar scale earrings from Texas. I was going to make my own, but the gar I catch in this area don’t have big enough scales.
Have you ever come face to face with a dangerous animal?
Do you feel you have a purpose or calling in life?
I have always felt that helping someone find their identity and their purpose is something I want to do. I want them to know that they are valuable and loved by God.
I was bowfishing on the bank and I shot a huge (tire size) snapping turtle on accident. When I tried to get my arrow back, he came after me and I fell backwards into a mud hole. The only reason I still have all my toes is the fact my arrow didn’t break while I was fending him off!
What advice would you offer to a newlywed couple?
Never stop learning about your spouse....what inspires them, what their dreams are and what shaped them into who they are.
What song describes your life journey?
“Just a Spoon Full of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. I love the verse that says “In the every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap.....the job’s a game!”
How did you meet your spouse?
Do you attend a small group? How has this changed your relationships?
In college, we both traveled around the country with Harvest Ministry Teams from Troy IL and of course I would fall in love with the cute guitar player with a heart for God and a passion for ministry!
I’m in MOPS, a connect group for moms and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that being brave enough to be honest about what you’re going through in life can bless others more than you know. Especially if they are going through the same life troubles.
What’s your favorite food?
I have a secret Moon Pie fetish. I know every place that has them within a 10-mile radius of my house.
If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
Are you a morning or night person?
Europe, because one of my best friends moved to England and my sister and her family are full-time missionaries in Germany. I would love to see them more!
Night owl....always reading until late at night
What is your most favorite time of the year?
Have you had a prayer answered lately? Share your story.
Summer....I love swimming, summer camp, bowfishing, picking peaches, vacations and popsicles. My daughter Pennie was a summer baby.
I had been asking God for help in a lot of areas lately where I struggle; and He has consistently put just the right people in my path to give me encouragement and help when I most needed it.
What are your hobbies?
I love to sew, embroider, quilt, paint, canoe, bowfish, bowhunt, camp, read, bake, and play with my kid. I really don’t get bored.
A Little Child Shall Lead Them
By Kelly Costello
To the outside world, I grew up in the picture perfect Christian family; married parents, (in a world where that was becoming increasingly rare), two kids, a nice house and a dog. All that was missing was the white picket fence! Very much like a “Dick and Jane” book. Starting to get the picture? There are so many wonderful memories of my childhood church. Church picnics, egg hunts, nativity plays, and I can recall the names of most of my Sunday school teachers! I would say I’ve been a Christian all my life. However, every time I felt God’s presence in my life, like a little kid trying to show their independence, I would wriggle free from His grip! When the pastor I grew up with retired, I stuck around and tried to give the new pastor a chance. However the new pastor had a lot of “pastoring” to learn and eventually my family’s attendance dwindled because we never made that much needed connection. We ended up transferring to another church where the congregation was VERY small, which didn’t bother me until I became a mother. The birth of my daughter caused me to rethink my faith. I began to teach Sunday school and found I was learning more about God’s love for me by teaching it to the kids in my class than I had in my entire life. The time had finally come for my daughter to enter Sunday school, but by this time the congregation was getting smaller. There were only two other kids her age and one of them ended up moving away. Sunday school classes were combined and the before-class worship time was one big sing along for all the Sunday school classes in the church. It wasn’t really a “fun” atmosphere for children to learn and once again, our attendance dwindled and for the next few years, we rarely went to church. My daughter was nine years old when she started asking me questions about the Bible that I knew at her age. I really thought about my childhood and how much I loved going to church; then it hit me like a semi-truck! I realized I was breaking the promise I made to God through the sacrament of her baptism, that I would nurture her in Christian faith and be an example of God’s grace 10
esus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Many Christians learn that tune early in life. I learned that tune early in life. But I don’t think I truly accepted the meaning of that song until much later.
and love!!! Her questions became more frequent and with more frequency, came more depth. I found myself knocking the dust off my bible and reading with her, rekindling my love for Christ. Later that year, my daughter was invited to a birthday party at Christ Church. I was talking with some of the mothers and said that we were thinking about looking for a new church. They invited us to church. It took a week or two before we visited but I really enjoyed the service. What really shocked me was how much my daughter enjoyed it! This curious and inquisitive child wasn’t trying to wriggle away from her Heavenly Father; she was running straight to Him at full speed! She was making new friends and we were studying the Bible together. It was incredible! Before long, God finally had a lasting grip on me! The primary excuse I had to justify not attending church on a regular basis was that I wanted to go to church as a family. My husband was Southern Baptist, while I was raised Lutheran. For him, going to church with me was like watching paint dry so he didn’t attend very often; that was until he came to Christ Church. We were looking for “middle ground” and Christ Church was just what we needed. High energy worship, sermons that didn’t make us wonder why we got out of bed so early on a Sunday morning, friendly people and being able to bring coffee with us into service—that’s a winner! All the excuses were gone! Before long, we were getting involved in ministries. We were making new and lasting friendships. We started going to Bible studies and my husband stepped out of his box and went on a No Greater Love mission trip to New Orleans! Wow! God is faithful and I’ve been fortunate enough to have Him place some strong Christian role models in my path, but I think the person who played the most significant role in leading me back to Christ would have to be my daughter. Five years ago, through her questions and longing for God, she pulled me back to a place where I was finally ready to accept His grip on my life. It took me becoming a mother to understand the love He had for me as His child. The transformation He has made in our family, once we all accepted His grip, has made our faith and our family so much stronger than I could have ever imagined! God is good! Isaiah 11:6 “….and a little child shall lead them.”
Kelly Costello, Secretary Receptionist email@example.com
Is Love Alone
Enough to Sustain a Relationship?
By Neil D. Horowitz, Ph.D.
In John 3:16, we are told that God so loved the world (that’s you and me), that He gave His only Son. Because God loved, He gave. No doubt there is someone you love almost as much as God loves you. You may be married to that person. What is the covenant you made with that person? By the way, in the Bible, covenant usually refers to a “solemn oath in the context of a relationship.” We’re not just talking “promise” here; we’re talking “solemn oath.” If you love me … In John 14:4, it is reported that Jesus said loving Him and keeping His commands are connected. Expressions of love are commitments to do the work of love. Even though we are pretty close to Missouri on one side and Kentucky on the other, I’m guessing very few of you were married in the church of the 12-gauge shotgun. That means you are married by choice, not by force or coercion; that you freely chose to take responsibility for being present and emotionally available in this relationship to do the work of love. Even though Paul wasn’t talking about marriage in Romans 12, I like what he has to say about love: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (12:9-10).” This is the clearest statement of the work of love as I have encountered. Love is honest, not simulated. Speak to the other person only what you know to be true: “I will” must mean you will. Love fights evil with the strength of hate. Do all you can to keep sin out of your love relationship and out of your own life. Love holds fast to what is right and good. Spend your time doing
or God so loved the world …
and supporting what is righteous and Godly. Love is to be warmly affectionate, devoted. Be tender and kind in your love relationship; care about the other person. Love means to put the other first. Choose to put the other person’s needs before your own. Is “love alone” enough? The answer is “no,” not as a spouse, a parent, an adult child of an elderly parent, a Christian, a friend, or in any other relationship built on a foundation of love. Love without the work of love is “just sayin’.” The work of love is about setting aside your “self” and your fears to serve the other person. Love may get you to the church. Getting married means pledging to do the work of love. Being married means doing that work. SHALOM
Neil D. Horowitz, Ph.D. www.ndhphd.com
Wee Welcome Ministry
By Debby Creagh
hrist Church has a wonderful ministry for families blessed by God with newborn and adopted children. To showcase this welcome ministry, I interviewed the Wee Welcome Ministry Leader, Nancy Weber, to capture her thoughts. What is Wee Welcome? “It is a ministry that reaches out to families to welcome new babies to their home and our church family. We bring a small gift, prayer, information, and encouragement when we see each family in their home for a brief visit. We encourage couples to let us know when they are expecting or adopting so we can plan to visit them after the baby is home.” Who will visit the families? “Pati Church and I are the members of the ministry at this time. We come to support and pray for each family. We do not expect a perfect household or family because we know how it goes with new little ones.” How and when do people let you know they will be having a baby? “You can contact me by phone or email. When the new Christ Church website is available, there will be a place to register your information, which will be kept confidential. You can let us know anytime during the pregnancy or adoption process. You will receive a card and a phone call from us prior to our visit. We want to be in prayer for you and your little one.” What experience do you and Pati bring to the ministry? “I have raised seven children and have seven grandchildren. My daughter’s pregnancies were high-risk and I helped care for our preemies born to them. I also do childcare in my home, assist the Christ Church Campuses with developing their Nurseries and serve as a Mentor Mom for the Mothers of Preschoolers ministry. Pati Church is a mother of two boys and has four grandchildren. She was a school teacher for 29 years, taught Lamaze, supported and encouraged new parents, had a grandchild who was premature, and assists with childcare for her family. We bring love, care, and compassion with us to every visit.” What do you most enjoy about the ministry? Nancy: “The privilege of getting to know each family, sharing with them, and especially praying for them… and of course, holding the babies!” 12
Pati: “Chatting with the moms, remembering God’s blessing in my own childrearing, encouraging the moms… and holding the babies! It’s wonderful!” You can contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-514-2388.
Isn’t Love Enough?
By Rachel Frazure
n February of 1994, I went on my first date with Don Frazure, but he was known as Donnie back then. We were smitten from the start and were engaged in August that same year. We were married in June of 1996, and it was true love. When you are young, in love and married, you feel like you can conquer the world - you can do anything. If I were to honestly assess our relationship from the start, I would say that we were leaning on two primary strengths--our love for one another and that we were best friends. We made that the fuel for our marriage. So, here we are, 18 years later; 2 daughters, job changes, have lived in 3 different states--and we still love each other. We are still best friends. However, our marriage requires so much more. The original fuel for our marriage; love and friendship, is at best, an octane rating of 87...maybe an 89. I am ready to start filling my love tank with a 91 rating—the good stuff. Marriage requires so much more than love. First of all, I want to point out that most married people have the whole love factor wrong. Let’s be honest, at the start, it’s a lot more lust than love and the true meaning of love gets shoved to the side. A few years ago, Don and I participated in our first marriage study at Christ Church, and it was entitled “When Sinners Say I Do.” The whole premise of this study is to bring about how empowering the Gospel can be for your marriage—how both individuals come into the marriage as sinners and therefore, the marriage is now tainted by sin, which leads to selfishness and selfishness lacks love. That true love you thought you had is only true love if sustained by the power of the Gospel and if it is focused on glorifying Christ. I am not meaning to discredit the love that Don and I felt for one another and still do today. I just think it is important for us to never forget that as believers, we must always work on that love to ensure that it is the love Christ intended. So if marriage requires much more than love, then what does it require? What can Don and I do to go into married year 18 (plus as of April we are both 40!) with the best we can give it - fill our love tank to the brim with the 91 octane rating? (I apologize immensely for the references to gasoline!) I am going to talk about what I believe are 4 elements of a good marriage. Communication - Talk to each other! I know with both of us working full time at the church and two rock star daughters who drive us crazy sometimes, Don and I are like two ships passing in the night. When we do talk, it is about the girls, the house, the bills, the dog, the cat...you get the idea. Although all those things have importance, what we have neglected to do is talk about us. Going further in our marriage, we have to work on talking to each other about each other; how we can help one another to keep the sin of selfishness from overtaking our marriage. Creative communication is also good and fun for the marriage! I love it when Don sends me a text just to tell me he loves me. Togetherness - Spend time together! I think sometimes we get bogged down in everyday life and the responsibilities that are heaped upon us. Together time is often sacrificed, but it is during
those times, when the couple needs to work harder at spending time together. For us, dating is important, whether it is an evening out at a nice restaurant (because we are foodie people), coffee together on our day off or just walking the dog together. Although I am guilty of fully imbibing in technology, I know it can negatively affect the time a couple spends together. I believe a couple has to come to a mutual decision to limit technology in the home so that the couple can have one-on-one time. Understanding - Know what makes your partner tick! We all have differences, and we should appreciate those differences. If your husband or wife has a particular hobby that in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, then don’t disparage them because of it but give them time to enjoy it. If your partner needs alone time, then let them have it. If you know that they sometimes like to talk things out just to get some things off of their chest, then let them talk and practice listening - even if you don’t particularly feel like listening. “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is an excellent book to read with your spouse and study together or with a small group. It helps you to discover what energizes you and what you should be doing to energize and encourage your spouse. Jesus Christ - I saved this for last not because I am better than anybody else and not because Don and I have it all figured out. However, I do know in my head and in my heart that dynamite marriages need Jesus Christ at the center. Couples have to strive as individuals to make their relationship with the Lord a priority. Prayer and time in the Word are important. The next step is to share that time with your spouse. I know Don and I both wished that we prayed together more than we do. I wish I would intentionally pray for him more. I believe that if our relationship with God is more intact and consistent, then all of the previous elements of a good marriage that I mentioned become easier and a more natural part of a couple’s everyday life. To sum it up, what I have laid out isn’t easy. I could spend another paragraph or two talking about things of this world that would make it extremely difficult to fill a marriage tank to the brim with the best fuel out there. However, I believe it all comes down to one word: sin. Sin is a part of this world, and we daily have to fight it with the power that only God and God alone can give. I do know that I love Don so much that I will strive to be the best wife I can be, and I realize that I cannot do it alone. My human understanding of love isn’t enough. Only my relationship with Christ can teach me what true love is; I pray that as we grow older and continue many years together, I will make it my goal to show my husband the true love of Christ and Him living in me.
Rachel Frazure facebook.com/rfrazure
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Christ Church Congregational Care
Emergency Care: If there is an emergency in your family and you need support from your church, what do you do? The answer is always the same: Call the church office number 618-277-HOPE (4659). If it is during office hours, one of our administrative staff will assist you to get to the person you need. If it is after hours, a holiday, or weekend, you will hear a cell phone number to call when you call the church number. One of our Visitation Team will respond and assist you when you call the cell phone number. We are available to you for emergencies 24/7. For non-emergencies, please contact the church office and someone will be able to assist you. Congregational Care consists of 6 ministries at this time: Faith Community Nursing Ministry has health professionals that address faith, health, and wellness concerns of our congregation. Our purpose is to connect you to the good health that God has designed for you. We do this through events, programs, resources, support, advocacy, and education. We provide monthly blood pressure clinics at the services, provide emergency coverage for services and events, and link people to the health resources they need. Visitation Team visits people who are hospitalized or in rehabilitation; they also take one night a week with the emergency phone. We would love to visit and pray with you before any surgery and anytime you might be hospitalized. Please have someone notify the church office. Shepherd Care volunteers visit with Christ Church members in assisted living, nursing homes, or are in their homes and unable to attend church. Each person is assigned 1 or 2 people to help them stay connected with the church. Wee Care visits parents who have a new baby or are adopting a child to offer prayer, support, and information once they are home. Prayer Cards are written by this team once a week from the Connection Cards that are completed at the weekend services. People are written a card once a month at this time. Prayer requests are always prayed for each week. Funeral services are supported by our coordinator, Jacque Hart. The United Methodist Women help by providing meals for the family after the service. It is our privilege and desire to serve our congregation with the love and care of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in joining one of our teams, please contact Debby Creagh at firstname.lastname@example.org
God At Work
Amber Weems Jon Weems
Denver Jean McCaskey Rob McCaskey Chris Enriquez Kim Enriquez Jody White Stephanie White John Lewis Jo Lewis Janel Angell Loucks Amanda Malter Teresa Gralewski Brian J. Huber Cindy Huber Michael Gralewski Alicia Ann Stewart John Schlemmer Saundra “Sam” Backus Alan Dow John David Chapman Jodie Leigh Chapman Dennis Graber Sherrell Graber Fonda D. Rodriguez Deborah Whitlatch Tammie Boisjoli Amy Graham Marvika Ibarra David Ibarra Kelly Rickhoff Doug Connor Christy Miller Thomas O. Pemberton Dawn Marie Pemberton Shannon Shelley Sherry Lyn Shook
Jackie Bruns Thomas Bruns Greg Clark Maureen Clark Jennifer Ferguson Michelle Kelley Darah Dodt Nicholas Dodt
-------------------------------Feb Worship Avg = 2,045 Feb Connection Avg = 549 2014 Avg Worship = 2,025
(as of 12/31/13)
-------------------------------February 2014 March 2014
Madelyn Grace Kelley Lucy LeeAnn Dodt Adelle Claire Siddle Jacoby Christian Keith Cruz Jaden Beauchamp Alicia Ann Stewart
Tithes & Offerings = $2,900,710.52 Expenses & Mortgage = $2,943,110.10 Remaining Debt = $5,382,056.63
The people of Christ Church have committed to serve our community with 100,000 hours of service.
We have served: 44,025.55 hrs
(as of 03/01/14)
Lucy LeeAnn Dodt Ainsley Grace Dodt Emmie Stanifer Taylor Phelps Robert Haynes Kyra Miller Max Miller Isabella Fister Michelle Kelley Halliey Kelley Dakota Kelley Trae Bruns
Log your hours at mychristchurch.com/100k
June 7th at Christ Church
Christ Church will also hold a food drive in May for the area food pantries.
Learn more at
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