Tates Creek Christian Church

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Archive for the tag “Greater Story”

The Joy of Eating

I think it is no secret that I enjoy eating and it is an activity I share with many others in our church. Of course, churches are known for their fellowship dinners when people bring their “specialty” dishes for all to share. Many of us want those recipes.
Being single, I eat out more than most, although I am finding that eating at home is becoming more of a norm for me. When I do eat out, I quite often sit at the counter since I don’t want to take an entire table that might be needed for a larger group, and usually I can be seated quickly. I enjoy meeting people and sitting at a counter, since one can easily meet and chat with others sitting there. A typical conversation may start with a question such as, “Are you from Lexington?” When it comes to the question, “What do you do for a living?”, then it can get interesting. For instance, most people are surprised when I tell them that I am a worship minister and where I serve. Most people know where our building is located, but have not visited a worship service. If they are using foul language that usually stops when I say the word “minister”! It can also open the door to conversations about the church and if they are members of another church. Most people are kind and appear interested in what I do and I try to inquire about their interests as well.
Taking the risk of sharing what I do can open doors! I remember when I was young and was afraid that someone might ask what I do. How would I answer them? Would I be embarrassed? But, as I grew older, my willingness to be open also grew to the point of being able to openly share that I enjoyed being a worship minister. Getting to know people casually in that environment also gives me the opportunity to invite them to worship with us.
As we approach these messages on the topic, “Eats with Sinners” we must realize that we are all sinners. Jesus is the only One who was not a sinner. So, all of our encounters are with sinners, even though most may be with Christians. We have all sinned, but we also have a wonderful story to share with other sinners as to how our lives were changed when we encountered the Sinless One. What is your story?

Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.

I love to tell the story! ‘Twill be my theme in glory —
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

Don Seevers

Sharing the Greater Story

I remember when I first started in Student Ministry several years ago, I sat down with a mentor who was a veteran in Student Ministry. We met regularly and I always listened intently when he spoke because he was full of wisdom and knowledge. One day, he shared a helpful tidbit that has stuck out in my mind ever since. “People don’t know how much you care until you show them.” It’s a simple thought but also so profound. That very pattern was modeled by Jesus to his disciples and eventually a world of people hungering and thirsting for something far greater. He was more worried about saving souls than saving face. You see, for far too long we’ve been drawn into this world that says there is a right and a wrong way to share this “Greater Story.” There is nothing wrong with being strategic in our approach to evangelism. I simply believe the best strategy is to meet people where they are and connect them with your own changed and revolutionized life! When a person is consumed with and in love with Jesus, it doesn’t take long for that person to start talking about the One they are so committed to.
As Tommy begins this new series, I am excited to see how students and adults can connect this “Greater Story” to the events of their lives. I am excited to see what happens when we choose to carry out our mission to lead people towards this “Greater story.” As I begin my time here at Tates Creek, I am excited to be part of a movement of students who are willing to invite their un-churched friends to things we are doing (events, regular gatherings, etc.). It doesn’t stop there though, we must be willing to engage people where they are and build relationships so they know we care! My primary “strategy” is pretty simple for the Student Ministry: I help my students discover who Jesus is, and to fall in love with Him and His message through building intentional relationships that plant seeds. I am connecting them to a greater story.

Geoff Lawson

God’s Story for You

Stories have a very powerful effect on the human brain. Neuroscientists have studied the effects that stories have on the brain verses just raw information. Scientists say that raw information activates only small parts of our brain, while stories activate nearly all of it.
We all love a good story. Maybe you like to read books or watch TV shows or movies. They draw our attention because we get involved mentally and emotionally in the story they tell. You may not realize it, but we are being told different stories all day every day. Often we make up stories in our head. We attach a story to every event that happens in our day. For example, maybe someone cut you off in traffic on your way to work this morning. Our response is usually to make up a story that explains why it happened. Maybe that person is just a plain jerk. Or maybe they weren’t paying any attention because they are going through something really hard and their mind is somewhere else. We make up these stories in our head to try and understand and make sense of the world around us.
God knows that stories are very powerful. He created us in such a way that we are able to connect with stories. Jesus obviously knew how well we connect with stories and that’s why he told parables.
I want to bring something to your attention today. Maybe you’ve thought about this before, and this will just serve as a reminder. Satan knows how we connect with stories as well. Therefore, he will do his level best to influence the story we make up in our heads about ourselves. For example, maybe someone says something negative about you and you begin to write a story in your head that echoes that statement. I am a terrible person, I am worthless, no one loves me. Ever made up these kinds of stories in your head? Do you think it is Christ who is influencing those stories in your life? NO! Absolutely not! The story that He tells us is: I am loved, I am adopted, I am cherished, I am forgiven, I have value.
Satan knows that if he can influence us to tell these negative stories about ourselves, he can separate us even further from God. He wants us to lose heart; to lose hope. This happens to people of all ages, even children. So, my challenge to you is to not only speak the truth to yourself, but also your children and your friends. When they are making up false stories about who they really are, speak God’s love and help them re-write the stories in their heads. The story of grace and redemption is so much more hopeful and powerful than the stories of death and despair that we are so used to telling ourselves.

Mike Allen

Simmered with Patience – I Thessalonians 5:14

Patience is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Something that strikes me about this definition is the fact that it does not say “without outwardly showing that you’re angry or upset.” It simply says “without getting angry or upset.” That’s the hard part about patience to me. I can make people think I’m a patient person. I can put on a face that makes others believe that nothing can upset me, that nothing can “get my goat”, that I have “the patience of Job.” For most of my 30 years, patience has meant not honking my car horn at another driver that is slow to pull away at a green light, not being rude at a restaurant when the service is slow, not getting short with a coworker when they don’t understand what I’m explaining to them. The problem is if I am simply masking my impatience and anger inside with an outward smile, I am not actually fitting the dictionary definition of being a patient person. True patience is an attribute that actually comes from inside and genuinely manifests in outward expressions of love and kindness towards others.
There is a problem that exists with believing that it’s enough to fool other people into believing I am a patient person. While those people only know me by what is on my face and what comes out of my mouth, God knows me by what is in my heart. I can’t fool God. God hears the grumbling in my mind when someone cuts me off in traffic. God hears me complaining to myself about someone at work that annoys me. God sees me boiling over inside when another believer wrongs me.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul instructs us to be patient with all believers. Paul gives us this command because it is part of “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (verse 18). If we believe this to be true, we should all examine our hearts and make sure the patience we pride ourselves in showing on the outside is actually coming from within.

Cory Wilson

The Greater Story is One Worth Sharing

God’s greater story is the gospel. It’s the story of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Just like other stories, it captivates our imaginations and gives us a sense of something bigger than ourselves. But unlike all other stories, this story reaches into our hearts, convicts us, changes us, and frees us. The place where each one of us will spend eternity hinges on this story. This story matters.
As Christians we love to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love. But do we really? Do we love to tell the story? Do we love to share the gospel with those who are lost?
Deep within our hearts, in our most brutally honest moments, we often have to admit we don’t. We shy away from it because it might make things awkward between us and a co-worker. We don’t want to risk those already shaky relationships with family members. It’s so much easier to keep talking about the weather, last night’s game, or even politics. But you see, the thing about this Greater Story – the gospel – is that it’s a story worth sharing. It’s worth it to share the gospel because eternity is at stake.
Might having a conversation about Jesus with your non-Christian
co-worker make things awkward between you two? Yes. But what do you value more… a cordial relationship with no tension, or their escape from an eternity in hell?
Might sharing Christ with that non-Christian family member at Thanksgiving this year cause a rift in your relationship? Sure, it might. Most people won’t like hearing they are a condemned sinner in need of salvation. But what do you value more? Cozy and happy holidays or the soul of your loved one?
The key is having our hearts and our minds set on eternity so that we keep earthly things in the proper perspective. Satan would like nothing more than to keep you focused on the here and now. Don’t look above. Keep your eyes on the ground, right in front of you. It’s like putting blinders on a racehorse. But God knows that when you focus your mind on eternity, many of the things that we think are so big are revealed to be quite small and inconsequential. And many of the things we often brush aside as no big deal are revealed to be the most important of all.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1–2, ESV
Consider the example of Peter and John in Acts 4. After being arrested for sharing the gospel they are brought before the Jewish authorities. Here we read the following: “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’”
Acts 4:18–20, ESV
To Peter and John, the Greater Story was worth sharing. It was worth getting arrested and even flogged or killed if it meant sharing this Greater Story. Why was it worth it? Because they had their minds set on eternal things. They weren’t concerned with what the crowds, or even the authorities, thought of them. God’s opinion mattered much more. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge.” When you put it like that, it seems pretty obvious. They knew, after all, the consequences of not listening to God would be much greater than the short, temporary consequences of not listening to the Jewish council.
On July 7 of this year Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law an amendment that forbids Christians to evangelize outside churches or invite non-believers to in-home Bible studies. Russia essentially outlawed sharing the gospel. Rest assured, this will not be the last time we see a law of this kind enforced in our modern world. So the question comes to us all… when the time comes, what will be worth more to us: sharing God’s Great Story, or staying comfortable?

John Davis

Saturated with Grace – John 8:1-11

God’s Word is full of examples of His grace, like the grace displayed in this story of a woman caught in adultery. In love, Jesus chooses to show grace to her, asking those without sin to cast the first stone. Of course we all know, we have all fallen short of the glory of God and therefore no one could cast a stone. She stood in front of the Son of God, the one without sin and full of Grace, who tells her, “neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. I wish the Bible had some “where are they now” follow-ups. Wouldn’t you love to know how this meeting with grace changed this woman, and not only her but those who would come to know of her story later? I don’t believe you can come face to face with grace and not be changed.
Sally was 52 when I met her. She was quiet and didn’t talk much but she didn’t have to. The lines on her face told a story of a woman who was weary. Sally had spent 52 years trapped in a life of abuse. As a child she was abused by her father. Finally of age to leave her torturous life, she left home. Abuse would become apart of every relationship she would ever know, after all, that’s the only kind of love she knew. Until the day she stepped through those doors of a church building in 2005 and came face to face with her Heavenly Father. She learned of God’s love for her. As she grew in God’s love and learned of His grace, she accepted Him as her Savior. She was a changed woman, full of love, and full of the grace that was given to her. She was saturated in God’s grace. If we are saturated in God’s grace that means His grace is flowing out of us. Like a cloud full of rain, we can’t hold back the flood gates, His grace pours out. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Sally’s life reflected Christ’s example of grace. Her father became very ill a few years later. Sally took on the responsibility of caring for her father who had hurt her all those years. She was by his bedside as he took his last breath. She never heard “I’m sorry”, but she didn’t have to. She understood true Grace, an undeserved gift from God her Heavenly Father. She offered that same grace to her earthly father through the forgiveness she offered him. Much like the woman in John 8, she freed her father from a life of guilt.
Grace is so much more than our sins forgiven. It brings us joy, healing, hope, peace, and freedom. It strips us of ourselves, fills us with God’s love, and gives us a life with God our Father. Soak it up and bring change!

Terah Lee

God’s Grace

One of my favorite things to do in ministry is a teaching call. A teaching call is where we take the Bible and learn what the Bible says about becoming a Christian. One of my favorite parts of the teaching call takes place when we talk about God’s grace. I like to ask the question, “What is grace?” I have received many responses to this question. One of the most prominent responses is, “I don’t know.” I appreciate the person’s honesty when they say that they do not know what grace is. I love explaining grace with the following illustration. If a state trooper pulls us over on the interstate because we were speeding, the state trooper has three options. At this point, the person I am sharing with looks at me suspiciously because he has only heard of two options. The first option is a speeding ticket. A speeding ticket represents justice. We broke the law, therefore, we deserve to pay the penalty for breaking the law. The second option a state trooper may choose is a warning. We really like that option. We call that option mercy. Although the law was broken, the penalty for breaking the law was not paid. Then, I share with the person that there is a third option. He looks at me like, “What kind of trick do you have up your sleeve?” I share that the third option is grace. This happens when the state trooper looks at you and says, “Here is a ticket for breaking the speeding law. However, I will pay the ticket for you.” The person always looks at me like, “Yeah! Right! Sure!” I love this look on the person’s face because there is a look of a pleasant surprise with a smile.
Then, I make the correlation stating this is what Jesus did for us. We broke the law of God when we sinned. Therefore, we deserve justice. We deserve to be punished for breaking the law of God by spending eternity in hell. However, in God’s grace, Jesus Christ took our place; He paid the penalty that we owed. Therefore, grace is where God gives us what we need, not what we deserve.
I remember sharing this with a lady in a teaching call whose past was very rough and hard. When I said to her that Jesus took our penalty so that we could have eternal life, big tears streamed down her cheeks. She was so overcome with emotion that she could not talk. Sin is sin. We are all guilty. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. But thanks be to God for His immeasurable grace extended to us through Christ Jesus! The Gospel is the greatest story! May our speechlessness turn to praise!

Tommy Simpson

Seasoned with Integrity – Mark 12:14

Have you ever done the right thing for the wrong reason? You did the right thing, but it was to make your children or your spouse proud; or maybe it was to impress a coworker or maybe even a fellow church member. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, made it clear. Motives matter. If you give alms to receive the praise of men, you have already received your reward.
Our motive should be the desire to be like Jesus. That is such a lofty goal and we are so far from obtaining it, we could become discouraged. But there is hope to be found in Jeremiah 9:23-24. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight says the Lord.”
That’s the goal and yes it is certainly lofty, but there are some hints there as to how to obtain it. If we concentrate less on what we know, who we are, and what we have and concentrate more on who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do, just maybe we can “press on toward the goal of the call of God in Christ Jesus.”
There is a secondary motive worth remembering. We do not want to bring shame on our Lord or His church. There are two indisputable facts. The first fact is that everything Christians do reflects on our Lord and His church. Have you ever watched a particularly obnoxious driver in traffic and thought, “If he is going to drive like that I wish he would remove the fish sign from the back of his car”? The second fact is that the world is watching and for the most part wants us to fail. The news media loves to report the failures of Christian leaders. We must live our lives recognizing the fact that we represent our Lord and His church. Peter tells us in his first letter: “Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” I Peter 2:12
Certainly our primary goal is to know and understand God. To know His perfect will and do it perfectly. But as we struggle on the path to that level of perfection, let us strive to never dishonor the Lord whose name we wear.

Bill Clem

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