Tates Creek Christian Church

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Archive for the tag “Mike Allen”

Classic Christmas

When I think about our sermon series title for the month of December called “Classic Christmas”, it reminds me of years gone by and long standing Christmas traditions. Maybe for you these traditions include a meal, Christmas caroling, certain family members, a Christmas Eve Candlelight service, or some other special person or event. For some when we think about our “Classic Christmas” or ideal Christmas, it brings about warm fuzzy feelings. For some though, when we think about Christmas, it can bring feelings of sadness and dread.

Maybe at one time in your life you had those warm fuzzy thoughts of time spent with family, your spouse, your children, and your friends. But maybe now you’ve lost a child or a parent. Maybe you lost a close friend this year, or maybe you lost your spouse. There is nothing quite as haunting as the thought of that empty space that will be like a huge elephant in the room when the holidays roll around. Maybe you dread the holidays now because of the loss of someone. Maybe this will be your first Christmas without them.

As many of you know, I have gone through a divorce this past year. I can’t even begin to describe how horribly painful it has been. Where I once had wonderful memories of years gone by, and excited expectation for the Christmas season, it has now been replaced with dread. That empty space left behind seems to scream so loudly and bring so much pain to the surface that I can hardly focus on anything else.

If you are in this boat I am praying for you. I am thinking about you this Christmas. And while I won’t be able to expect Christmas to look the same as it always has for my family, I can focus on the story that was written 2000 years ago, the story of that miraculous baby boy who came to save all of mankind. That story will never change, and it will never cease to give me that warm and fuzzy feeling. I will do my best to focus on that story this Christmas.

Mike Allen

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

How Do We Function Together?

The Church is a messy place, as it should be. It is full of imperfect and broken people and hypocrites. That would include all of us. The good news is that Jesus came for sinners. Mark 2:17 says, “And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” The fact is, there are none righteous. We know this to be true, but Romans 3:10-18 serves as a reminder:

“As it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18 ESV)

Just a few verses later we find a scripture that we are very familiar with. Romans 3:23, “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (emphasis added by me).
So there is no question that we are all sinners. We are all messed up. We are all broken. We have all been hurt, and we have all hurt others. We all have fallen short. The question is, how do we function together as the body of Christ? How do we work with each other? How do we overcome bad attitudes and differences within the church? Those are some tough questions that make life in the local church hard at times.
I didn’t grow up in church. So, in the past 20 years, I have gone from knowing nothing about the church, to working in the local church for the past 14 years. It has been an adventure to say the least! As a full-time vocational minister, I have seen the struggles and battles within the church first hand. I have received complaints, criticisms, and judgment. I have seen fights, quarrels, and other ministers treated very poorly. I have seen a place where sin and brokenness show themselves often. But more importantly, I have seen lives changed, redemption, and have been encouraged, lifted up, blessed, mentored, and guided by the church and it’s people.
When we accept who we are in Christ, what his purpose is for the church, and us as its members, we will experience much more positive than negative in the church. When we choose to serve like Jesus and not come to be served, we will gain the correct and biblical perspective.
The series that we are going through based on the book “I Am A Church Member” by Thom S. Rainer, has been such an enlightening study for me. If you haven’t read through the book, I would highly encourage you to do so. I just read through it a second time before writing this article. It took a little less than an hour to read the whole book, and I’m a pretty slow reader! This is such a valuable read. It offers great perspective and great reminders about what it means to be a functioning member of the body of Christ. It has helped me personally to identify some areas where I have fallen short as a church member, areas where I’m not pulling my weight. I really think you would gain a lot by reading it. It serves as a great reminder to me that I should not complain about other members of the church, their preferences, or their shortcomings, but rather that I should focus on what kind of church member I am. I can effect change through the kind of church member I am. And so can you!
Tates Creek Christian Church is not a perfect church. There is no such thing, because churches consist of people, and there are no perfect people. However, we do worship a God who is perfect. A God who saves and redeems. As long as we keep our focus and our mindset on God and His Kingdom, we will go a long way in functioning as the church God wants us to be.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve alongside such wonderful people! Thank you all for allowing me to serve with you! May God bless this church and may we become a church fully submitted to Him!

Mike Allen

Have You Been Changed?

Jesus changes everything. That statement is so true isn’t it? I know he has changed my life. I’d like to share a little bit of my testimony with you.
I grew up in rural Southern Indiana with my mom, dad, and younger sister. We went to church occasionally at a little Methodist church out in the country. On a good Sunday, there would be 15-20 people in attendance, the majority of which were members of my extended family. We went once or twice a month starting when I was about 8 or 9 years old. This was my first church experience.
When I got to middle school, I made some good friends who were involved in youth groups at their churches. We had “kid’s church” at the Methodist church during the sermon, but I had never been to youth group before. My friends would invite me to come to their youth groups, but I was a very shy, introverted kid, so I would always decline or say “maybe” and then come up with an excuse later as to why I couldn’t go. Well, one of my good friends kept inviting me relentlessly, and I finally decided to go with him, if only to get him off my back, haha! From the very first time I went to youth group, I loved it! I felt like I was meeting this Jesus person I had heard about in a very real way. I started attending and getting involved in two different youth groups at local churches where my friends belonged.
It was at a Sunday night service at one of these churches, Zoah Christian Church, that I was led by the Spirit to stand up and walk to the front to give my life to Jesus during the invitation. I was baptized that very night. That was November 6th, 1994. I was 14 years old. Jesus changed everything.
I would later go away to college at Butler University in Indianapolis to pursue a degree in pharmacy. While I was there for a semester, the Lord made it very clear to me that this was not the path I was to travel. Through His leading, I made my way (somehow) to Cincinnati Bible College and found my calling in the ministry of His gospel. I never, ever, expected to end up where I am today. Jesus really did change everything for me.

Mike Allen

Many Thanks, Nathan Koebcke!

Our College/Young Adult Sunday school class has really been growing lately. I would like to take a minute to appreciate a young man named Nathan Koebcke. He is involved in Kim Beckwith’s Wednesday morning Bible Study, he’s been singing in the choir lately, and he’s involved with lots of other things here at church.
Nathan took over as the main teacher for what we call the “YAC” (haha) the “Young Adult Class”. This class currently meets in room 106 at 9:30 am every Sunday morning. Nathan does such a great job teaching the class. He is an instructor at UK, so he definitely is a teacher at heart. Along with that, he has a deep knowledge of the scriptures and that really shows through in his teaching. His discussion-based style of teaching really keeps everyone engaged and involved. I really enjoy being able to participate in the class each and every week!
Our young adult ministry has lots of volunteers like Nathan that are not only involved in our ministry, but other ministries throughout the church as well. I love to see young people like Nathan that have taken leadership roles in the church and are setting an example for all of the believers here at Tates Creek Christian Church. Thank you Nathan!

Mike Allen

Freedom in Christ

When I think of summer, I think of red, white and blue!  People all over are proudly flying the American flag on their homes as they commemorate Independence Day, July 4th.  I love American history.  I am so thankful that there are men and women who are literally willing to lay down their lives for our freedoms.  Actually one of my biggest regrets in life is not serving in the military.
I love to think back and to read about the revolutionary war.  The spirit of the men who fought to win their freedom and the freedom of their friends and families is so inspiring to me.  Recently, I started doing some research on ancestry.com to find out who my ancestors are.  I was able to trace the Allen name back for many generations, all the way to the Revolutionary war period.  I discovered that one of my great, great, great, (etc.) grandfathers was a man named Isaac Allen.  Isaac fought alongside George Rogers Clark as part of the Illinois Campaign, or “The Conquest of the Illinois”.  I have always been a patriotic person who believes in the constitution and believes in the Biblical principles that our nation was founded upon.  Discovering this information only strengthened that belief.  We hear it often, but it became very real to me that our freedom is not free.  Sacrifice is the ultimate display of love.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”                                – John 15:13 (ESV)

As we reflect on the sacrifice that so many men have made on our behalf this Independence Day, we should also remember another sacrifice that was made on our behalf.  Jesus Christ laid down his life for all of mankind so that we could have freedom.  Freedom from guilt and shame.  Freedom from the bondage of sin.  Freedom from death, the grave, and hell itself.  It was, in fact, the greatest display of love the world has ever, or will ever, know.  What are you willing to lay down so that others may know Jesus and His grace?

Mike Allen

God’s Redemption

“So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 45:4-8
When we read the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, we see an amazing story of redemption. We see a man who is sold into slavery by his own brothers, betrayed, and cast aside. That wouldn’t be the last of Joseph’s suffering though. Imagine the emotional pain that Joseph must have gone through being abandoned by his own family. Maybe some of you can relate to that in some way. Joseph is imprisoned for a crime he never committed. Injustice followed him. But as most of you know, things fell into place for Joseph. In every opportunity he had, Joseph glorified God through his actions, and eventually, Joseph found himself as ruler of Egypt. God was writing an incredible redemptive story in the life of Joseph.
Joseph is a great example to us in that even through all of his suffering, he did not turn away from God. I’m sure he was mentally and emotionally tortured thinking about the “why me?” of his situations, but he never turned his back on God. Rather, he kept pursuing God and God blessed him.
How often when we experience suffering do we immediately ask God “why me?” I mean, it’s a valid question if you think about it. Things are supposed to be fair right? I’m at church every Sunday. I teach Sunday School. I volunteer in the youth ministry. Fill in the blank with whatever sacrifices you make, whatever good things you do for God’s kingdom… So why me??
The New Testament writers tell us much about why we must endure suffering. James tells us in James 1:2-4 that our trials produce in us steadfastness and when steadfastness has it’s full effect, we become mature and complete, lacking nothing (paraphrased by me). In other words, it is through our trials that we choose faithfulness to God and we allow him to carry out His plan in our lives, or we turn away from God and never experience the maturity and completeness that He has planned for us. Is there a situation in your life right now that is stretching your faith? Remain steadfast! You are being made into exactly who God wants you to be! God is writing an incredible redemptive story about you!

Mike Allen

Greater Faith

There are a couple of stories in the new testament that talk about people who have great faith. The one we are going to look at together is in Matthew 8:5-13 (NIV):

The Faith of the Centurion
“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.”

What can we learn from this story about what it means to have “great faith”? Lets try and identify a few things.

First off, the Centurion recognizes the authority of Jesus. He calls Jesus “Lord”. This man is a Gentile. He has a lot of authority himself. He is looked up to and respected. He has been entrusted as a leader. But he still has humility. The Centurion realizes that healing his servant is beyond his capacity. It is beyond his authority. He recognizes that he must appeal to an authority much higher than his own. Great faith makes decisions based on what God is capable of, not what man is capable of! Is this how we make our decisions? Do we trust in God’s authority? Do we trust in the authority of His Word?

Secondly, the Centurion was bold in his faith. He came to Jesus. Is Jesus the first person we come to when we have a problem? The Centurion came to Jesus and asked for help. He didn’t allow his own fears, “what if’s,” or doubts to hinder him from coming to Jesus. He just came because he trusted that Jesus was capable of healing his servant. He had great faith! Boldness is a characteristic of Great Faith! Do we allow our fears and doubts to stifle our faith?

Thirdly, the Centurion exhibited humility. We see that he sought out help, which in and of itself is an act of humility. He is also seeking that help on behalf of another person which tells us that he puts others before himself. Also, in verse 8 he says to Jesus, “Lord I do not deserve to have you come under my roof”, which implies his humble spirit as well. In James 4:6, James quotes Proverbs 3:34 saying, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. This is a theme that comes up over and over again in the New Testament. Great Faith consists of Humility!

There are many great examples of great faith in the Bible. Hebrews 11 outlines many characters throughout the Bible who exhibited great faith. Many, if not all, of these people were faced with tremendous trials in their relationship with God and each one overcame by having great faith in God and his authority.

My encouragement to you is to make sure that you are focused on God and what He can do. He has authority over all things. Too often we get bogged down in our fear and doubts, thinking about all the obstacles that stand in our way. We must think beyond the physical and material. We must think beyond what we can control and what we have authority over ourselves. We must humble ourselves, and boldly trust in the authority and power of Jesus and what He is capable of! He can do what He says He can do, and He will do what He says He will do!

Mike Allen

The Vine Worship

It has been about a year and a half now since we moved our contemporary worship service from the multi-ministry center down to the main worship center. The multi-ministry center had a lot of great characteristics that were great for the service. The chairs were close together and the room was smaller, so it always seemed sort of like a close-knit community.
The gym had its down sides, too. Volunteers showed up very early each week to set up the backdrop, sound system, and lighting to prepare for later in the morning. And speaking of the sound system, that room is basically a big metal box, so the acoustics were terrible! What a blessing though, to have such a nice place to meet! A roof overhead, conditioned air, and the body of Christ coming together to worship the one true King!
It has been a great blessing to be able to meet in the main worship center as well. There are still pros and cons to the space, but the main thing is still the main thing! We have a place to freely come together and glorify the King of Kings! It is a pleasure to serve and worship alongside the body of believers at Tates Creek Christian Church!

Mike Allen

Hope in Jesus

When I think of the hope that Jesus provides us, I think of Romans 8:18-25. This is one of my favorite scriptures, especially at this point in my life. In these verses, Paul outlines for us in what we have hope.
We all have hope because of Jesus Christ, what he did for us on the cross, because of His resurrection, and because He is coming back again. There are good things about this life. Family, friends, spending time with those we love, the beauty of God’s creation, and much more. But, as we all know, there are many things in this life that cause us pain. Death, abandonment, disease, rejection. It is in these times, when we experience such hurt, that our hope comes to the forefront of our mind. We long for Heaven. We long for an end to the pain and the hurt.
I find great encouragement in these verses where Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) What great hope that gives us! One day the present sufferings I am going through will seem like a distant memory. Or maybe not even a memory at all. What a day that will be!
Later in verses 24-25, Paul says, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” So there it is. Our hope is not seen. It is yet to come and we have to wait for it. Any gift worth having involves waiting. It involves patience. Paul is laying it out to us in this passage; we must be patient in our suffering. Our suffering will build our character and maturity. It will help us understand in some small way the pain that Jesus went through to save us. Our suffering will help us truly appreciate the Glory of God on that fine day when we finally see Him!
I know you are dealing with some really hard and painful things. I know that you want relief from it all. I know that you are exhausted and tired of trying to keep going. Be patient. Our hope is not seen, but it is sure.

Mike Allen

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