STAFF BLOG

C3 Minister’s Blog

Forgive me for…

Forgive me for hating.
Forgive me for dressing up sin in an acceptable package and renaming it.
Forgive me for calling hatred discernment and caring for it like a pet, feeding it, giving it attention, listening to it.

Forgive me for hating those I don’t know, through my apathy, as if they aren’t carrying the image of God.

Forgive me for hating the pundits and politicians who are faced with battles that can’t possibly have a winner.

Forgive me for hating the person down the street because of the way they believe in following Jesus.

Forgive me for hating other church leaders and calling it protecting my flock.

Forgive me for hating the person who is filled with hate that I’ve had a hand in creating.

Forgive me for hating the desperate man that my pride allows me to believe I’m better than.

Forgive me for hating the newscasters for doing their job the only way they know how.

Forgive me for hating the homosexual couple and believing I’m just calling them to a higher standard.

Forgive me for hating the person who looks different than me under the cover of jokes.

Forgive me for hating those that have more than me and calling them selfish.

Forgive me for hating people who have less than me and calling them entitled.

Forgive me for hating the abusers whose shoes I’ve never walked in and calling them weak.

Forgive me for hating the pornographers and calling them predators.

Forgive me for hating people and giving them easy labels.

Forgive me for taking the easy way out instead of rolling up my sleeves and getting messy.

Forgive me for cliches and idioms that are tired and worn out.

Help me to remember…
Love the person who sins, hate your own sin.
Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14



As a Missionary…

Hugh Halter describes the way of living that we are called to as American Christians, as “missionary-ish”.
 
Well…
As a missionary, things will have to change. I’m not going to only stay in a safe and secure community that believes everything the same way I do.  I won’t segregate my children from people with different values or religions.  They might see and hear and pick up on things that trouble me, but I will trust God and His promises with that. If I avoid or ignore those things that feel dark, I lose my ability to be light in our community.

As a missionary I’m not looking for what I can get, I’m focusing on what I can give.  I don’t expect governments and culture to value the same things I do.  I might be looked at differently or even looked down upon because my values are different than the culture.  But that’s okay, because my primary motivation is not to get rich, or be safe, or build a career.  My goal is to live the good-news life.

As a missionary I am not going to be comfortable all the time.  I will choose to sacrifice comfort and my schedule and priorities for the sake of God’s kingdom. I know that there’s always a chance that I will be sled to give up everything, even the shirt on my back.  So I will not put stake or high value on things, because I truly know and live in a way that says my stay here is only for a while.

As a missionary, I work to actively and extravagantly love the people around me.  I will not accept, or approve everything they do.  But I will live with the knowledge that love is patient, kind, humble and generous.  I will love people by how I spend my time, by how I spend my money, and by the attitude I have toward the culture God has placed me in.  
 
Even when people disagree with me, I will be known as someone who loves…as a missionary.


The Importance of Timing

“Timing is everything.” I can’t believe how many times I’ve believe that statement in just the last few weeks. In everything from the trivial to the momentous, timing really is (almost) everything.
 

Timing impacts music, timing impacts sports, timing impacts communication, timing impacts decision-making. Timing can truly be one of the most important factors in our lives.

Timing was crucial in the decision last Sunday to not have services at C3. If the rain had started slightly later, or the temperature dropped slightly earlier, we could have been more prepared. If the weather would have held back for 2 more hours, we would have had a regular Sunday morning service, and it would have not impacted our day greatly. However, that is not what happened. Timing.

Timing can turn bad news into horrible news. Timing can turn the ordinary into the devastating. Timing is vastly important.

I’ve heard entire sermons and lessons based around part of a part of a verse in scripture. In the book of Esther, there is a little phrase that says “…for such a time as this…”. And while this is a principle that can be empowering, I think sometimes we have a distorted view on God’s timing.

We find scripture that can be very comforting in regards to God’s timing.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. – Romans 5:6

“I love that verse. Print it with a panorama of a meadow and hang it on the wall.”

We picture God, sweeping in on a rope and saving us from falling off the edge of a cliff. Our hero. That, however, can lead us to a place where we don’t want to be. We can start to create a god that looks like what we want him to look like, and acts like what we want him to act like, and loves us, and hates what we hate. Because we want the comfort of a god who has our back, who supports us and gives us hugs, and never lets anything “bad” happen to us, and cares for us even when we don’t deserve it.

What we don’t want to accept or understand, is that God’s timing, is something we may never understand. We don’t like the themes in scripture where we are told to “wait on the Lord”, or that we may not know the “times or hours”.

I can tell you what scripture tells us repeatedly, both thematically and directly. To trust in the Lord. Trust. Our desire to understand timing and the belief that something happened in “bad timing” ultimately says to those who are listening, that we don’t trust in the Lord.

My prayer is that we desire trust over understanding. My prayer is that we understand that God’s timing, is never wrong. My prayer is that we Show People Jesus.



What is THAT?

 
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.58.13 AM
So what’s the deal with the big green blob? What does it mean? Why am I seeing it so much?

Here’s the scoop. That is a place marker. That green teardrop shape is meant to denote where something takes place, where something is happening. That is the logo for C3.

After discussion, prayer, work, and some refining, we have decided to adopt the green “pin drop” as the logo for C3. We chose the color green because, well, this is Maryville, home of the Bearcats, and the Spoofhounds. But also because green means go, green means action, green is where things start.

You see, I have said over and over and over again that the church is not a place, which means that C3 is not a place. Sure, we meet at 24899 Icon Road on Sunday mornings, but C3 is not 24899 Icon Road. C3 is people, C3 is you and me. C3 is us. And so we need a symbol that signifies that. You see, when a group decides to go to the park and play games, that is where C3 is. That is where our pin drops. When a group is serving by raking a yard, or caroling, or working on a project, that is where C3 is. C3 is not a place. C3 is a group of people, demonstrating God’s love, and Showing People Jesus. Anywhere we go, that’s where we are.

We believe that the church is supposed to be outside of the walls of any building. We believe that we are people called to be on the move, called to be active, called to community. We want a symbol that demonstrates that to the city and communities that we call home.

We have multiple opportunities to demonstrate what this means coming up soon.
On July 16th, we are putting a float in the Nodaway County parade. We are going to be C3 in the parade. WE are going to be C3 in the community.

We also want to share this idea as we move into the community to encourage and invite people to VBS on July 18-22nd. We are people, motivated by love, called to action. Let’s get out there.
 
here to serve
This is the symbol of C3, we are ordering shirts ($8 – call or text Nick 660.254.7738 and let us know) for anyone and everyone who wants to join the mission of C3 and who wants to Show People Jesus. We believe that we will see transformed lives, families and communities through the love of God, at WORK in US. 


Practical Steps to Show People Jesus

Show People Jesus. That is our mission…as individuals and as the church.
So if we have a mission, we need to start living as missionaries.
We need to live our mission.
 
In his book, 5 Habits of Highly Missional People, Michael Frost gives very practical, very specific ways that we can live on mission and I believe we would do well to follow this strategy. Make this part of your week.

Bless – I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is not part of our church.
Ways to Bless:
Words of Kindness – if you think something nice about someone, give it life by saying it to them!
Acts of Service – Look for ways to serve and love your neighbors and those around you and do it!
Gifts – A gift can show the recipient that they are known, cared for and valued.

Eat – I will eat with three people this week, at least one who is not part of our church.
Invite three people to share a meal with you, at least one of whom isn’t a Christian. What you’ll find happening is that people will return your hospitality. This will give you real opportunities to Show People Jesus. Don’t judge the lifestyles or eating (or drinking) habits of your host. See the opportunity as a chance to Show People Jesus.

Listen – I will spend time this week in prayer, listening for the Spirit’s voice.
Practical Steps for Listening:
Set time aside – Don’t try to connect to God on the run. See it as a precious time alone, just between you and God.
Eliminate Distractions – when you eliminate distractions, you are more ready to listen
Let God Speak – Don’t start your meditation by asking questions or telling the Holy Spirit what you want.
Follow God’s Leading – Listen to what God is saying to you and act on it.

Learn – I will spend time this week learning Christ.
Ways to Learn about Christ:
Study the Gospels – Read, read, read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Read about Jesus – There are many writings about the life of Jesus. If you need suggestions, email us for a list
Commit to Fellowship – Attend church meetings, worship together, and get involved in a small group of some kind

Sent – I will journal throughout the week the ways I lived to Show People Jesus.
Journaling is a great way to keep track and remind yourself of what living to show people Jesus actually looks like. You can keep a note list on your phone, or on paper, but please try to keep yourself aware.

If you want to be a generous, hospitable, Spirit-led, Christlike missionary, don’t just try to learn those values.
Live them out and “Show People Jesus”.



What Do We Want? – Nick

Something that has been gnawing on me the last couple of days…and I thought I’d share.

 

What do you want C3 to be?
No…seriously…what do you want C3 to be?
Maybe we don’t know what we want C3 to be. Maybe we don’t realize that Jesus has told us and shown us what we should want C3 to be. Maybe we don’t want C3 to be what Jesus wants C3 to be, that would be truly disappointing.

This question is not unimportant. This question determines everything. Because what we want determines what we will do. Do we want things to be comfortable? Then everything we do will be focused on comfort. Do we want to learn? Then what we do will be in pursuit of learning. But what do we REALLY want Countryside Christian Church to be?

I hope the answer is that you really want C3 to be a place where we see lost people encounter Jesus. I really hope that you want to see broken lives restored. I really hope that you want C3 to be a place where we get to see hurting people healed.

I wonder if we got what WE wanted…would we be satisfied? If our desire is that we be comfortable, would we be satisfied if we were the most comfortable church in Maryville? If our desire is to learn, would we be satisfied if we were the most educated church in Maryville?

Ultimately, the question we need to be asking is…what does God want from Countryside? What does God want C3 to be all about? God has called us to reach people. God wants us to “seek and save” the lost.

For lack of a better way of saying it, we are in the “people business.” We are in the business of helping people find Jesus. We have to know people to reach people. We can’t be in the business of making people happy at all costs. We can’t be in the business of making political statements. We can’t be in the business of entertaining those of us who are already part of the church. We just can’t. We have to reach outside of our four walls. But then we have to really ask ourselves. If God were to send a wave of people to Countryside who didn’t know Jesus or who were far from Jesus, would what we do here inspire them to want to know more about Jesus, or push them away from Jesus? We have to be constantly situationally aware of the people and the community around us.

When a missionary goes on the mission field, they must learn the language. When they go, they must understand the culture. They must assimilate into the culture. They must walk, talk, and act like the people that they are trying to minister to. Why, do we recognize that this is extremely important for missionaries to do, in order for their ministry to be fruitful. Yet we fight the culture around us, we blast the culture around us, we dare I say…hate…the culture that God has us firmly planted in at times. And anyone who engages the culture, and attempts to make inroads for the gospel of Jesus, is seen as someone who is watering down the message, or in the business of people pleasing. We should not aspire to be people pleasers….but we need to reach the world with the love and care of Jesus Christ. And we need to start with Maryville. We need to start with Maryville High School. We need to start with Eugene Field Elementary School. We need to start with St. Francis Hospital. We need to start with Kawasaki. We need to start with Northwest Missouri State University.

We have to examine EVERYTHING that we do as Christians. We have to examine every aspect of our Sunday morning or Saturday night services. We have to ask ourselves, is this a proclamation of the gospel of Jesus, or is this a cultural relic that we are holding onto because we are too afraid to ask the tough questions. Are our gatherings pulling people into a relationship with Christ, or are they confusing people with our lack of focus, our lack of urgency, and our lack of engagement? It’s time to put our lives on the line for the sake of Christ. It’s time to put aside EVERYTHING that we are clinging so tightly to, and re-focus on what makes us who we are.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the begotten of God the Father, the Only-begotten, that is of the essence of the Father.

God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten and not made; of the very same nature of the Father, by Whom all things came into being, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.

Who for us humanity and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate, was made human, was born perfectly of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.

By whom He took body, soul, and mind, and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance.

He suffered, was crucified, was buried, rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven with the same body, [and] sat at the right hand of the Father.

He is to come with the same body and with the glory of the Father, to judge the living and the dead; of His kingdom there is no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, in the uncreated and the perfect; Who spoke through the Law, prophets, and Gospels; Who came down upon the Jordan, preached through the apostles, and lived in the saints.

We believe also in only One, Universal, Apostolic, Church; in one baptism in repentance, for the remission, and forgiveness of sins; and in the resurrection of the dead, in the everlasting judgement of souls and bodies, and the Kingdom of Heaven and in the everlasting life.

Everything else does not matter. If we are not seeking and saving lost people, we are not doing what God called us to do. So here’s my challenge. Find someone who doesn’t know Jesus, and bring them to church. Even if you don’t think there is any chance they will want anything to do with Jesus. We have to stop focusing on ourselves, on what we want, on what we desire the church look like. We have to sharpen our focus, we have to keep the main thing, the main thing.



SO…Pray

This week several of our guys had the opportunity to participate in the Area Men’s Meeting in Mound City, Missouri. It was a good time, we had great food, and we were challenged in a very specific area of our spiritual lives.

 

Jim Hardy, who is a pastor in Omaha, shared with us about our prayer lives. He challenged us to “pray simply, and pray often”.

He used some examples of Jesus from Luke 11. The thing that stuck out to me that he said though, was that “if you have a good plan, and a good prayer plan, you have the potential for miracles”. He was talking in context of the church and the leadership plans and teams around the area. Steve recently initiated a prayer ministry at C3, and we are trying to renew our focus and commitment on seeking and striving after the will of God in all situations. This starts with prayer. Plain and simple. If we are not praying, we are simply doing what we want to do. God wants us to ask him, he wants us to ask him directly, not using flowery words or poetry necessarily. God also wants us to have the audacity to ask Him repeatedly.

I thought about this in respect to my own family. If one of my kids flippantly says, “hey, can I have this?” It is really easy to pass off. But if one of my children is consumed with something, if they have a passion for something that is beneficial to them, a desire deep inside of them that can’t be quenched apart from what they are asking for, I am glad to give them the desires of their heart (within reason of course). The last part of Luke 11 talks about how God is willing to do the same for us. If we ask simply, directly, and repeatedly. I’m not saying there is a magic formula to prayer, but I am saying that in order to “follow” God, we need to make sure we are asking Him to lead us.

Please join us, your leadership teams, your pastoral staff, and many many families at C3 in praying for God’s direction and leadership to be revealed to us.

We can’t do it alone…and we definitely shouldn’t do it alone.



One Direction…no…not that one

The analogy was made on Sunday by Steve that the Christian life is more like a sailboat than it is a rowboat (where we do all the work) or a cruise ship (where we just sit and live a life of luxury waiting to get to our destination). A sailboat has to be lined up just right in order to catch the wind, and catch it in a way that it is most efficient in making sure that it stays on course. A life of service is never a life wasted.
 
Sunset with sailboat

Sunset with sailboat

There were some amazing talents and abilities on display recently in the work done in the lower level of the church building. I stood in awe at the speed, efficiency and productivity of the men and women who had a hand in accomplishing far more than any of us were expecting. The unity, direction, drive and genuine love and concern for one another was a beautiful picture of what a life with Christ looks like. These people, fueled by a common passion and vision, seeking a common goal, never seeking acclaim or selfish desires, humbly took what some would consider a waste of space, and made it beautiful. And one of the most amazing things about the whole project, was that there was no grumbling or complaining, there was no fighting or arguing, the end result was worth far more to them than any small detail or petty difference of opinion that they could’ve gotten hung up on. When everyone was focused in the same direction, eyes on the same prize, every other concern was secondary and lost focus. I pray that we as a church can say the same thing. That we as the church can keep our eyes on what we have been called to be. That we are so narrow-focused, so single-minded, so concentrated in the same direction, that our declaration is the same as that found in Ephesians 3 “…
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.”  
 
We have an amazing and unique opportunity in front of us. The next few weeks and months at Countryside are very exciting. We have been tasked with a purpose by Christ to “seek and save the lost”. March 21st is our first meeting on Saturday night. This meeting time is going to create a natural invite platform for many. In order to multiply and maximize our effectiveness in this community, we need to be certain that we are all looking in the same direction (our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith), focused on the same outcome (bringing those far from God into a place where they can begin a relationship with Him), and dedicated to the same goal (Glorifying God). God is the one who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, I just pray that we don’t get in the way. Jesus says that “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. I do pray that we are the church that Christ is building, and that we are a people moving in one direction, to him be the glory throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.


Do Not Lean on Your Own Understanding

Read part 1 first, Trust In The Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

Don't Lean on Your Understanding

The verse involves a positive–something you must do. But it also involves a negative–something you must not do. Don't lean on your own understanding. Basically, the verse is telling us that we ought not to be self-reliant. We cannot pursue a course of action, a financial decision, a business move, a relationship, or an educational choice, simply based on our own understanding. It must be founded in our trust in God.

Self-reliance is such a deceptive trap. We begin to pride ourselves in something–our savvy, our looks, our intellect, our spirituality, our family, whatever. And when we do, it takes away our trust in the Lord. It has become trust in self. The result is a dangerous compromise that will lead to destruction.

 

Instead, Acknowledge God. In Everything.

The antidote to this self-reliance is found in the first command of the verse. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Which is developed in the next verse: “In all your ways acknowledge him.” The word “acknowledge” isn't merely a polite tip of the hat to the Man Upstairs, or a few words of grace over your meal, or even perfunctory attendance at church to let Him know we're still cool with what He's doing. It's way more. It's allowing Him access, control, command, and involvement in all your ways.

What's the result of this? Will God ruin your life? Will he be a Sovereign Killjoy? Will He rob you of fun? The verse ends on a promise. What is it?

 

He will make your paths straight.

The promise is put in the form of a metaphor. What does it mean to have straight paths? Several things. First, paths lead toward an end–a destination, a goal. Thus, trusting God wholeheartedly in every area of life gives your life a sense of purpose and priority. Second, it indicates that there will be a clear understanding of where you are going and what you are doing. It makes daily decision-making an easier and less painful task. You realize you are trusting Him. He, in turn, is making your paths straight. Thus, the way ahead is more apparent. Third, “straight paths” suggests moral purity. It suggests a life that has less of sinful compromise and more of wholesome attitudes, actions, and behavior.

That's the kind of life that God promises. It's the kind of life that you can have. It begins with trust. It involves acknowledging God in every way.