Tates Creek Christian Church

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Archive for the tag “Children”

Everyone Has a Job

Growing up in rural Indiana had a lot of great benefits such as, space between you and your neighbor’s house, being as loud as we want all the time, a slower pace in life, yard with no fences, bike rides around the neighborhood, and beautiful sunsets. One of the biggest benefits was being a farm kid. While I didn’t always love the chores and challenges on the farm, I always knew there was a reason bigger than me. Our farm was more of a recreational activity with horses, a couple cows, and a random goat. For my family, the farm was a method for ministry and a retreat from ministry. Our farms were always used for church gatherings and family events, but our farms were also our own place to retreat when we needed to unplug. Everyone loved going horseback riding, hiking trails, riding the 4-wheelers, and fishing in the pond.
Unless you grew up on a farm or helped at some point, it is not a challenge to think a farm stays beautiful on it’s own. When people met our new baby foals they probably didn’t think about the hours invested in waiting for the mare to deliver or sleeping in the back of a truck bed on a school night to make sure she was ok. It may even cross a person’s mind to think silly things like, “How did 600 square bales of hay find their way from the field where they magically grew in square shapes with wires into that loft 12 feet off the ground?” While all of these things were lots of hard work, and I really miss it now, we learned some great lessons. When it was bailing time we all had a role to play. Mom drove the tractor, dad kept things working, my brothers and I shared the duties of working the wagon and the loft. My sister made sure we survived by bringing lunch, drinks, and homemade cookies. In order to get the job done it required all hands on deck. As we graduated and moved away, the job became more challenging for those still behind. Same amount of work, but less workers to do it.
As we study together about being a church member and what is expected of us, I think back to the lessons I learned on the farm. At the end of the day, when the job was done, I knew I had done everything I could with the strength I had to help my family feed the horses and keep things going. Farm work and being part of the team wasn’t really about talents, skills, and passions God gave you. It was about bringing your best, pitching in, and getting the job done. This is my prayer for you and me as we grow together. Maybe it’s time for each of us to bring our best and let God take care of the rest!

Matt Lee

Does He Really?

If Jesus changes everything, does our life truly reflect this? Take a look at the people in the Bible who really reflected this truth. When Zacchaeus met Jesus he chose to repay anyone from whom he had taken money. When Peter, James, John, and Andrew met Jesus they left all they owned, their fishing business, their schedule, their comfort, and they followed him. Matthew left his tax collecting business. When Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus he literally did a spiritual 180 and went from persecuting Christians to leading people to Jesus. These are spiritual giants though. Clearly they possessed some supernatural ability to run with reckless abandon.

Would it help if we looked at more “normal” people with whom Jesus crossed paths? Consider the lepers that were outcast from their society. They were forced to live outside of town, wear a bell around their neck, and couldn’t come home until they were clean. Jesus passes by one day and heals them. Another time a leading officer had a dying child and Jesus healed her! Finally, his friend, Lazarus, met Jesus after he came back to life. Just think about that for a moment… Jesus brought him back to life! If those were the only lives he changed, people would still be telling stories, but he wasn’t finished. He made lame people walk, blind people see, and deaf people hear. Jesus could have kept healing and changing lives 2000 years ago, and as John stated, we wouldn’t be able to tell all the stories. Instead He did something only HE could do! He focused his ENTIRE LIFE on you and me. He left the comforts of friendships, He turned the reigns over to the disciples, and He allowed himself to be hung on a cross for you! Again, you could stop the story there and it would have been enough, but Jesus still wasn’t finished. You know how the story goes… he came back to life, ascended into heaven, and soon after, gave the Holy Spirit willingly to guide us through this thing called life.

What if our focus has been wrong this entire time? For so many years, we have been asking Jesus to step into our lives and clean up the messes we have made. We ask him to protect our families, to bring healing in desperate situations, and change us from the inside out. Then, when He does what we have been asking him to do, how do we respond. Does anything truly change? Typically not, because many times we are focused on ourselves and our situations being the end of our prayers! Not that this focus is bad or even unbiblical, because it isn’t. It’s just too small! Stop and think about it for a second… In any of the stories above, were any of their lives changed so that one particular person or family could be the sole benefactors?

Here’s the point… If Jesus changes everything then our witness should impact like it. If Jesus changes everything then our worship should sound like it. If Jesus changes everything then our hands should feel like it. If Jesus really changes everything then our church should reflect it. But how? The answer is simple… think bigger than ourselves. Think God’s Kingdom big!

Let’s try a simple mathematical equation to see if this makes sense. In simple terms 1+1=2, right? When I add Jesus into the equation something radical happens. 1+Jesus = Changed Family, workplace, and the list goes on!

Let’s keep going…
My Family + Jesus = A changed neighborhood!
My Church + Jesus = A changed city!
My City + Jesus = A changed state!
My State + Jesus = A changed country!
My Country + Jesus = A changed WORLD! (can I get an amen?)

The first step is personally answering the question, does Jesus really change everything? Then, take a look at your life and see if it is different since you met Him! If He hasn’t changed everything, is there something you are holding onto that keeps your life from being changed? Dream big and let Jesus change you!

Matt Lee

Liberia Mission Trip

The most difficult question to respond to after a mission trip is, “How was your trip?” It’s easy to give one word answers like good, great, or heartbreaking. To be honest, in our fast paced world of coming and going it almost seems like those are the answers we have time to give. I know that feeling all too well. We want to stop and listen, and I really want to stop and share, but how can I? I have to jump right back in to being an American on a hamster wheel racing through life.
After returning, for the 5th time, from visiting our orphanage in Liberia, I can’t bring myself to give this answer anymore. Instead, I have to put you into the story and try to allow you to see it for yourself. Imagine that you played with a little boy, named Shadrick, who is blind and his favorite thing to do is get scared? When you scared him he would laugh so hard his entire body shook. Imagine telling the story of your little buddy, John. Last time he would barely look at you and the seizures he was having were uncontrollable. When you last held him in your arms, 2 years ago, you prayed that his little skin and bones body would just survive the ebola storm. Now he is sitting up in a wheelchair and when you tickled him he actually smiled so big that he began to laugh. Now imagine describing to others about one of your older girls leading worship with 400 children. When she sang, she didn’t stand up in front of the kids afraid and timid, but instead used every muscle in her body to proclaim that GOD IS GOOD! Describe to those listening about the emotions you felt as a parent when you watched your oldest child connect with kids as a celebrity. Then, finally it is time to leave and you are surrounded by 23 sobbing kids, 14 broken team members, and friends that don’t want to see you go. Imagine the pain being so bad and so difficult that you walk quickly to the car to leave just to keep yourself from falling apart as the team leader.
So here’s my answer to the most difficult question… “Imagine going to live with your nieces and nephews for 10 days in the most desperate situation. Yet, instead of complaining about where they live, your relatives are grateful for everything they get and more. In fact, throughout the day you are often reminded that GOD IS GOOD… ALL THE TIME! Then at the end of the week you have to come back home and do life in America and for the most part act like you haven’t been changed by what you experienced.”
These are real lives that we touched and the lives that touched our hearts. Please follow our team on Facebook or visit psalm823.org to find out how you can be involved. Let their lives cross with your lives and have your life changed for the better!

Matt Lee

Greater Faith

What is the last movie you have watched? Are you a fan of action, sci-fi, romance, comedy, or possibly even animation? For Onah’s eighth birthday, he requested a date with mom and dad instead of a big birthday party. After a dinner out and a short shopping spree, it is time for the movie. The newest movie out for kids is “Zootopia.” In this movie, a small country rabbit dreams of leaving the carrot farm and being a police officer in the big city. While everyone doubts the skills, talents, and even size of the little female rabbit, we eventually find that it isn’t the size of the rabbit that makes the difference. Instead, it is the heart, focus, and determination that leads her to make a huge difference.
I am typically not a very good movie watcher, because half way through the story I lose focus and doze off. However, through this entire movie I found myself connecting with and cheering for the little rabbit. Something inside of her convinced her that she had a much greater purpose.
As we prepare on Sundays to look at the life of Joseph, I find a similar drive behind him. In fact, his story, I believe, is one that would make an incredible big screen movie. The storyline could go something like this… ‘A young dreamer betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused and thrown in prison, who becomes the very person to save the lives of his entire family and the nation!’
Joseph was known by his brothers as a dreamer and the favorite son of their father. In the beginning of his story, I think Joseph was trying to find his way. He clearly had dreams that God had given him, and he knew the dreams were greater than he was. He simply shared them in a way that didn’t please his brothers. A difficult challenge as the youngest brother.
As the youngest of three brothers, I think Joseph did the best with sharing his dreams that he could. Unfortunately, brothers don’t like it very much when you say things like you are going to bow down to me one day. When you are smaller than they are and you talk too much, they see it as their responsibility to keep you in your place. I can relate with his story, though I never had dreams like Joseph. My dreams were more like, one day I am going to be bigger than you and then I will put this same whoopin’ on you. A couple years ago I finally beat one of my brothers in arm wrestling! Two years later in Water Basketball (more like drown Matt to get the ball), I dunked the ball with both older brothers hanging on my back. Their faces afterward were priceless. They were stumped that the younger brother just lifted them both out of the pool. If they read this, they will make sure it never happens again, but it happened once! If you are the younger brother, I know you can relate with me. If you can relate with me then you can also relate with Joseph.
Joseph’s story continues, and at each turn we find ourselves cheering for him. We cheer for him because no matter what the situation, Joseph chose the high road. Throughout his story, Joseph finds himself in different situations. He quickly becomes loved by the boss, but when the boss’ wife tries to make a move on him, Joseph is sent to prison. In prison, Joseph interprets a couple dreams. This eventually leads not only to his release, but to Joseph becoming the right hand man of Pharaoh. As you read his story, can you find a place where he shakes his hand at Heaven? Can you find the part of his story where he becomes entitled like he deserves something better? What about the time he could have really made a mess by sharing a bed with Potiphar’s wife? Did you read the time he manipulated the Cup Bearer or Baker’s dreams to include something about himself? Not once. In fact, with the exception of talking too much as a little brother, it is a challenge to find any wrong in Joseph. How is this possible? How does he stay so focused in spite of betrayal, lies, deceit, pride, selfishness, bitterness, and so much more?
Joseph didn’t have any secret over what we as Christians should already know! In Genesis 45:7 Joseph says, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by great deliverance.”
At the end of this amazing story, Joseph tells his brothers something that changed their perspective! He told them that GOD IS GREATER! That means His plans will reign in the end. Shouldn’t our stories look similar to Joseph’s too, or do we really not believe that God is greater?
We know that God has plans for you that are greater than you are! That He dreams of eternity with you, your friends, and your family! He provided a way for you through Jesus! He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us. Have you fallen asleep in the middle of your story, before you were able to see God use you in a GREATER way? Leave the popcorn, grab your Bibles, and get back in the story!

Matt Lee

Busy Summer in Children’s Ministry

Each year we hope to engage, love, challenge, and draw in more kids than the year before. We hope to serve more people locally and globally through the kind and generous hearts of the children. This is what’s happening this summer in the Children’s Ministry!
Technically we will kick off the summer with our graduations from pre-K and 5th grade on May 22nd. Graduating from elementary will be 15 incredible kids, many of whom are ready to share Jesus with their neighbors. At the same time, Critterland will be celebrating their graduates as well. Uptown will welcome 15 new, soon to be, Kindergartners on May 29th. This will also be a FUN family Sunday! Then, later in June is our annual young elementary adventure at Power Kids Day Camp at BGCC.
Next will be VBS, “Deep Sea Discovery,” June 11-14, 9 am-Noon! Sign up now at tatescreek.org to register your child AND/OR to sign up as one of our elite team members!
Following VBS we will have a week off before heading to BGCC again for an awesome week of 7-11 camp. Then we will end with packing backpacks, and PARTY IN THE PARK!
For some people this might make you exhausted just reading, but for me I get excited to experience all the things God has in store for your TCCC kids this summer and beyond!
If you are reading this and wondering how you can serve, send me an email or text 859-537-2634 and I will be happy to get you plugged in to a special event OR into our Sunday morning Summer Team!

Matt Lee

Multi-Generation Serving

It probably doesn’t take you long when visiting TCCC to realize we have a wide variety of ages. From the youngest attendee being only a few days old to our eldest member breaking the 100 year barrier and every age in between. We are a very blessed congregation! So, what does a church with every generation do to build community? We serve! In fact, it’s what we have learned is the best method to breaking down walls that people put up about personal preferences. When we serve, the focus is no longer about what we want. Instead, it’s about being part of something bigger than each of us.
In the children’s ministry alone we have a wide variety of folks serving each week and month! From middle schoolers to college, young marrieds to young families, and empty nesters to retirees. These people don’t just give up a week at a time to serve the children and young families, but they also give up their seat in classes and pews for others to be fed. They are consistent and committed to making a difference and planting seeds for the next generation. In total, there are more than 150 people serving the birth to college age groups, but there is always room for you to come check it out.
Children’s and Youth Ministry isn’t the only place for multi-generational serving. Andrew Lin and Kent Mason are working together to make a memorial garden at Julius Marks for two children that passed away last fall. This serving has already made a HUGE impression on the children’s mom and grandmother. Each week at Julius Marks and Pit Crew, several adults of all ages (and a couple youth) are involved with Pit Crew and JME tutoring! Recently a group of children partnered with the Hands and Feet Ministry to serve the homeless by delivering scarves to Thoroughbred Park. In the middle of February, a group of young parents mixed with lots of youth, served the seniors at the Pairs and Spares Banquet. Together, each group has shared memories, laughter, and made an impact for the Kingdom!
It is an honor to serve at a church that understands the importance of multi-generational ministry! It leads me to often wonder where God will lead us as all parts of His church body at TCCC join together… TO SERVE!

Matt Lee

What is Your Greatest Hope?

We all go through our lives hoping for something. When you were a child, you had hopes that one day you would go to school. In the middle of the school year you hoped that summer was coming soon. When you moved into middle school you hoped that no one would notice the giant pimple on your face or that your hair didn’t match your outfit. In High School you hoped that you would make the sports team, join the choir, be invited out with friends, and even get your driver’s license. Toward the end of high school your hope was focused on things like college, career choices, or maybe a special someone. The next phase of life was being a young adult and hoping that your career would provide financial stability. You hoped when you took a risk that it might even pay off. You hoped that your spouse would love you for you and the way that God loves you. You hoped that your children would grow up to make good choices and to fall deeper in love with Jesus. During your career you began to put your hope in the stock market or 401 K, so that one day you could retire. Maybe during retirement you hoped you wouldn’t run out of money, and could soak up every last morsel and live your life to the fullest. We have all lived our lives hoping for something. Hope isn’t limited by your goals and dreams. Hope is limitless.
Nearly 7 years ago, Terah and I were standing for worship at a conference when the emcee of the night introduced the Daraja Children’s Choir. This choir was a group of orphan children from Kenya that traveled the globe sharing joy and Jesus with all they could meet! After the children had sung a song the crowd was instructed to sit down. Then, one child at a time, they came to the front of the stage with 11,000 church leader’s eyes fixed on them. With boldness and deep conviction the children stated these words and their message from God’s Word rocked my heart strings… Read these words slowly…
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

Maybe the question to ask isn’t what you are hoping for, but instead, into what are you putting your hope?

Matt Lee

Preparing for Battle

What will you do when the devil shows up when you least expect it? Will you be ready? Will you run and hide or beg him to leave you alone? Do have the scriptural depth to stand firm against his schemes as he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy? Throughout the last few years the devil has shown his evil face. Through tragedies on the global front, wars, murders, and divorce. He has roared like a lion and dared anyone in any place to come and face him. Will the church respond with one voice, “We won’t go away quietly! We have the Spirit to fight for us! Our God will win every battle! While your weapon is hate, we have LOVE! Bring it on devil, THE CHURCH doesn’t fear you! It is the bride of Christ!!!”
Since the beginning of the school year the elementary kids have been preparing for battle in the Uptown Castle! Together we are learning about the devil’s schemes and the tricks up his sleeve. We have learned that we aren’t challenged to tuck our tails and run, but that we should stand firm. With God on our side and a life of dependence on HIS strength, we can overcome. So far, we have learned that God has provided us with the equipment of Truth, Righteousness, and the Gospel of Peace. These tools can defend, protect, and be used to defeat our opponent. Over the next few months we will continue to learn the other parts of our Armor from Ephesians 6:10-18! Join with us and prepare for battle. The question isn’t will the devil attack, but when. He won’t wait for you to be ready, but our scripture provides us with two secrets. Depend on God’s strength (Ephesians 6:10) and PRAY for one another (Ephesians 6:18)!

SPECIAL THANKS!!!
I LOVE serving with people that desire to Love the church and serve willingly! When the format for services changed, our team of volunteers in Uptown and Critterland sacrificed and served with flexibility. Thanks to all who serve our kids each week which is more than 100 people on rotation! Instead of losing team members we gained a stronger team and greeters for our youngest families in Critterland!
Thanks to Steve and Tara Waters, Lucas and Jaime Moore, and others that cared enough about the church to put together last month’s Family Friday Movies! Thanks to Jim and Mary Furnish for loving their neighbors and helping us deliver Christmas baskets to 6 families before Christmas! Each of you, and many others are Making a Difference!!!

Matt Lee

What Does God Have in Store for 2016?

There comes a time each year, typically after the holidays, that we pause for a moment and give God thanks for the past year. We thank him for the victories and the trials in our lives. We thank him for the lives he allowed us to touch. For some of us, the past year was one of the most difficult. We moved to a new place, started a new phase of life, or said our final earthly goodbyes to someone we loved. To others, the past year has been about fresh beginnings and new starts. The birth of a new baby, joining our lives together with the one we fell in love with, a new job, or a new opportunity that we never dreamed possible. Before I look toward the excitement of 2016, I think it’s important to pause and praise God for 2015. In 2015, our church family again served more than 225 children with a new backpack full of school supplies. A young family was given a nice car to drive by another family in our church. Several children made the decision to follow Jesus with their lives. A few young couples were united in marriage. A young family group was started, and was quickly supported by our Servants for Christ class to meet the needs for childcare. New tutors joined the team to share Jesus’ love with at-risk children at Julius Marks Elementary. At least 2 opportunities were given at the Egg Hunt and Party in the Park for our church to be a light in the community. A team of people worked tirelessly to redecorate the elementary space into a castle. Nearly 100 children attended our first daytime Vacation Bible School along with so many incredible team members. Together our church worshipped and fellowshipped as One Church, One Body. Many new people joined the ministry teams in Elementary and Preschool. Each week 18 preteen boys and 5 preteen girls gather together to study God’s word and grow in their faith. In 2015, God rescued several marriages from divorce. A new ministry was begun through We Care to serve the needs of more families in our community. Finally, many individuals and a few groups gave generously to support an orphanage filled with 18 beautiful children for the past year. These are only the things I know about. Life experiences I have witnessed first hand alongside many of you. Beyond this list are probably thousands of other ways we can stand in awe of how God has used our church family for His Kingdom!
Each of the stories above came with opportunities to be a light, to love others, and to deepen our faith. These stories showed us God in a bigger way, but they are only just the beginning. When I am asked what I look forward to in 2016, I can’t really give a direct answer. I know that our children’s ministry team is excited about new ideas to serve young families and reach more children for Jesus. I know several volunteers are excited about outreach immediately in January through Family Movie Nights on January 8, 15, 22, and 29. I know that our Egg Hunt team is looking forward to some new ideas to excite more Preschool kids. I know that our VBS team will soon gear up for an exciting Day Time VBS, July 10-15! At the same time we will also be planning a redecoration of both the elementary and preschool area to prepare for 2016-2017 school year. We will also spend a summer with awesome kids at Blue Grass Christian Camp for Day Camps and 7/11! I know that our Psalm 82:3 Mission team is returning to Liberia, June 6-16, to serve the orphans of Liberia, to lead a Vacation Bible School for a community filled with children, and more! I know that the JME team and Party in the Park team are excited to serve our community through backpacks and an evening of fun with food and inflatables. I know that a team of children’s ministry leaders in Fayette County will lead the children’s team for the International Conference on Missions and that they will soon be planning a very exciting multi-cultural worship experience for many children to attend next November. These are the things I know are on schedule to happen in 2016. The opportunities for you to serve widows, orphans, the community, or our church family are endless. However, the most exciting thing in 2016 to me isn’t what is written down. It’s to look at a verse like Jeremiah 29:11 “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 this verse, I am reminded that God’s plans are always better than my plans. I hope and pray that 2016 is a year our church will be fully dedicated to reaching young families. I hope and pray that each of us dig deeper roots in our faith. Ultimately, I hope, that at the end of 2016, we can look back on our year and praise God for the opportunities he allowed us to be His hands and His feet for His Kingdom to reach His lost children. I pray you see the opportunities and allow yourself to be used by Him for His plans!

Matt Lee

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions– Can they change with time?
I love the Spring!  I love the new life around the world from baby horses being born to new flowers and green grass.  I love the summer!  The heat, the sweat, the swimming pools, camps, and so much more.  I love the fall and the reminder to slow down and see God’s beauty in everything.  Winter and I get along ok.  The kids and I enjoy the snow together, but the shorter days aren’t my favorite.  That’s one reason that I REALLY LOVE CHRISTMAS!!  It’s this moment tucked in the middle of a long season.  Christmas is a time wrapped in traditions from growing up and making new traditions with our young children.  When I was growing up, Christmas meant making gifts for my siblings like IOU booklets to serve them for the next year.  It meant traveling from grandparents to grandparents after we opened presents at our house on Christmas morning.  For a few years, through college and before children, Christmas was a time of craziness for Terah and me to get everywhere we could to keep people happy in our family.  Then, when Colten was born, the traditions started to become our traditions.  We always woke up at our house on Christmas morning.  We always read the Christmas story before we opened presents.  For the past few years in Lexington though, our Christmas has looked a little different.  We love to cut down a tree together and fill our house with its fresh smell.  The kids love to decorate the tree.  One night each year we take a Christmas light tour around Lexington.  Each year we have the honor of delivering Christmas presents and food to families in need through Julius Marks Elementary.  The Christmas musical is always a highlight for us, but we probably get a little more excited about the after party.  It’s after the musical that we  (along with all of the family that came for the program) load into a van and travel to see the Southern Lights.  It fills my heart with so much joy to watch our kids pointing at lights, laughing, singing songs, dancing, petting strange animals, and waiting to sit on Santa’s lap.
All of these stories bring back special memories, and special emotions are attached to each one.  Each year I hope for the same thing, but it makes me wonder… is it ok if traditions change?  To me, from the lessons I have learned, from the life God has allowed me to experience thus far… the answer is YES!   Every Christmas still has one main thing in common… Jesus!
I love Christmas, because the focus isn’t around what I want or don’t want.  It’s not on traditions and things that have to be… Christmas is about Jesus.  The birth of my savior.  A time to celebrate God’s love for ALL of us.  Jesus brings us together and He is really what we need at Christmas.  In fact He is ALL we need every second of every day.  I REALLY LOVE CHRISTMAS!

~ Matt Lee

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