FALL | 2019
THE MAGAZINE OF CHRIST CHURCH
Rev. Shane Bishop
Rev. Michael Wooton
For a complete listing of the Christ Church Staff visit: www.MyChristChurch.com/staff.
Mission Of The Flame
Be inspirational through biblical articles and devotions. Be informative in the announcement of future events that connect people in ministry.
Do you ever have one of those situations where your best-laid plans get changed and changed again? Oh, good! I’m not the only one!
After taking some time off from The Flame this summer in order to regroup and refresh, I thought, “Surely I’ve had enough time off; I’ll just sail through this Fall issue, no problem!” Best- laid plans … Since you actually have the copy in your hands, or are reading this online, thank God we have had success in publishing the issue!
Our theme this issue is Restore, Renew, Refresh, Rejoice. Any one of those words could take up pages and every one of those words is necessary in our Christian walk. I truly believe walking through being restored, renewed, and refreshed is a journey to becoming more refined in Christ’s image, more in love with Jesus, more dependent on Him, and more in need of His grace and help in our lives. Being moldable in His hands, and the progression to become more Christ-like, will cause us to rejoice as we lean into Jesus for all that we need.
Life can be one constant storm some days, months, or even years. This year has been that for many individuals (me included), for our denomination, and for our nation as a whole. Sometimes the fiery darts of the wicked one seem relentless. Our health fails, relationships waver, jobs are lost, people pass away suddenly, and then we’re left holding the proverbial baggage of shattered dreams.
In the barrage of battles, whatever they may be, not only do we need God’s constant hand on us, we need each other. We need to walk alongside each other with love and grace. We need to help one another in our restoration and renewal at times. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must remember that kindness, compassion, and being available for one another in both the practical and the prayerful ways is crucial for the health of the body of Christ. It’s the way the Church, Christ’s Bride, will be fruitful and multiply for God’s glory. The world is watching, and when we care for one another in the best ways, it not only blesses us, it also tells the world there is hope and a better way to live this life. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35, New International Version
I pray you find healing, comfort, and hope in these pages. This issue has been a labor of love by many people, using their gifts to write their stories so that people will connect with Jesus Christ through the written word. Look for our new feature, Getting to Know Our Volunteers. Our church is strong because of our standard to be involved and care for one another. We couldn’t put forth the mission of Christ Church without our collective involvement.
I love Jesus, I love my church, and it is a joy and honor to serve as editor. May we all be restored by His Spirit, renewed in His presence, refreshed by His Word and rejoice in the fact that He loves us with an everlasting love!
In His service,
The Flame Editor
FROM THE EDITOR
Fairview Heights Campus
Sundays- 8am, 9:30am, 11am & 6pm
Wednesdays- 6:30pm (Going Deeper)
Collinsville/Maryville Campus, Millstadt Campus, & Scott Campus
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The Flame Online
Get The Flame Magazine online. Sign up for email reminders of new editions.
4 Getting There...
By Rev. Shane Bishop
5 Receiving Spiritual Nutrients
By Rev. Mike Wooton
6 We Love Our Church!
By Carrie Gaxiola with Ann Farnen
8 God Will Get Your Attention!
By Kelly Costello
9 Through The Eyes Of A Child
By Amanda Cates
10 We Choose To Rejoice!
By Melissa Kiser
12 All Because Of His Presence
By Dr. Don Frazure
14 Life Imitates Art...
By Jeff Bishop
16 Ceramic Mugs & Swiffer Dust
By Donovan Hill
18 I Say It Again - Rejoice!
By Kevin Siddle
19 Psalm 51 (NLT)
20 Getting To Know Our Ministry Leaders
21 God At Work
The Flame Magazine is a quarterly magazine published by Christ Church. © Christ Church.
Learn more about Christ Church at MyChristChurch.com.
EDITOR: Carrie Gaxiola DESIGN: Justin Aymer COVER PHOTO: Christopher Bishop
Questions About The Flame?
Contact the Editor, Carrie Gaxiola, at CarrieGaxiola@MyChristChurch.com
Receiving Spiritual Nutrients
By rev. Shane bishop
Rev. Shane Bishop
By rev. Mike Wooton
I recently heard about a preacher from Texas. He moved to a new pastorate and preached one of his first sermons on John 15. In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” This is an agricultural metaphor highlighting the importance of staying connected to Jesus and the spiritual nutrients He provides. To illustrate this for his congregation, the pastor wanted to share some of his Texas vernacular. He told his new congregation, “This scripture reminds me of what we call someone in Texas who is a coward. We call them a ‘yellow bellied sapsucker.’ I think Jesus wants us to be like a ‘yellow bellied sapsucker.’” The congregation was taken aback.
What did their new pastor mean and how could this apply to being a follower of Christ? The preacher, sensing their angst, laughed and said, “I don’t mean Jesus is calling His followers to be cowards. I mean we need to be branches that work hard to get spiritual nutrients from the vine” There was something that pastor didn’t know about his new congregation, there was a member who was a botanist. After the service concluded, the botanist walked up to the pastor and told the pastor his metaphor was incorrect, “Branches never have to suck or pull nutrients; roots push the nutrients to the branches. The roots do the work, the branches just have to stay attached.” The pastor was blown away and gained a new understanding of the scripture. Instead of putting the onus on Christians working hard to suck up spiritual nutrients, they need to put themselves in position to receive the spiritual nutrients that God is pushing their way.
Our job, as followers of Jesus, is to put ourselves in position to receive spiritual nutrients season after season. There are times when it's easy to receive God’s word and times when it is difficult. The world is constantly trying to push us out of position, like a strong wind trying to rip down a branch. When we get out of position, it becomes difficult for us to enjoy living and serving God with our lives. We have cycles that we go through when we serve; we feel God’s “ping” for us to do something, we respond, we gain great energy and excitement, we see effectiveness from our serving, then we get tired. When we get tired, we can get out of position. How do we put ourselves back in position for God to push spiritual nutrients into our lives? Three steps:
Realize you’re in a normal cycle
When we serve God and volunteer at church, we always start out with great energy and enthusiasm. As time passes, our energy and enthusiasm wanes; that is as normal as being tired at the end of a work day. When you’re tired at the end of the work day, what do you do? You rest. Realize you’re in a normal cycle, and rest.
Last winter, we had a large pile of snow on top of a small pine tree by our house. The weight of the snow bent one of the limbs to where we thought we might have to get rid of the tree. Instead, we staked a steel pole into the ground, took a rope, and attached it to the limb. When spring was over, the limb gained enough strength to stand back on its own. If it wasn’t for the steel pole, the tree would be mulch somewhere.
Who are the support people in your life? Who do you have that will pray for you? If you are out of spiritual position, you need to ask people you trust to pray and support you. Find and call on your support people. They will be like a steel pole in your life.
Watch for fruit
If you get back in position to receive spiritual nutrients, you will see spiritual fruit. Often, we think we'll only see spiritual fruit during the exciting times of serving. The Bible is clear that a follower of Christ will see fruit during every season. Don’t sell God short on what he can do in a non-conventional season of your life. Get in position; serve, remain attached to the vine, and watch God produce more spiritual fruit than you ever thought possible.
Realize you’re in a normal cycle
Watch for fruit
When I was in high school, I had a buddy who lived about fifteen miles out of town and a half a mile from nowhere. When things in town got a bit complicated, and they often did, I went to his farm to hide. The problem was that I was never quite sure how to get there. One day, I was heading out that way and I was a bit “lost-er” than usual. These were the days before cell phones, Google Maps and Siri; back then you were on your own.
I finally came across an old, unshaven guy sitting in the shade in his front yard. It was summer time and he was simultaneously drinking a mason jar of iced tea and working a serious tobacco chaw (people where I come from can do that kind of thing). He was wearing a well vented pair of overalls, some old boots and a hat. When I pulled up, he walked over, spit out a brown stream of tobacco juice, and leaned into my car through the passenger side window.
I said, “You know where the Apple Dauksch place is?”
He put his hand on his chin, squinted his eyes and said, “You know Apple? Well turn around, go back to the main road and take a right where the old barn used to be. No, tell you what. Keep going straight a few miles and then turn left on the other side of the bridge. No, the bridge is out. Well, take the dirt road up three or four miles and…no, that won’t work either.”
Then he looked at me square on and said, “Son, I don’t think you can get there from here.” He turned away and was laughing so hard on the way back to his chair he could hardly stand.
I pulled away. We were done.
Often we know where we should be in our Christian life. We know we should be more engaged and passionate about praying, worshipping, giving, serving and witnessing, but just how to “get there from here” can be daunting.
Jesus offers us a process in Revelation 3:1-6 for “getting there” that is well worth applying and emulating.
To the Church at Sardis the risen Christ spoke, “I know all the things you do and that you have a reputation for being alive-but you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains; for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to me again.”
In its glory days, Sardis had been the capitol of the Lydian Empire, but at the writing of this letter Sardis lived off of its former reputation rather than its current reality. Let’s see what we can learn from Jesus’ message to them:
LEARNING FROM SARDIS
1. RESTORE Strengthen what remains. Take an honest look at your faith life right now. Even if you are not where you should be, what do you have that is solid enough to build upon? What are your core beliefs? Are those beliefs substantiated by Scripture? What can still be shored up?
2. RENEW Your deeds are far from right. Go back to what you heard and believed. Renewal has two aspects - we stop doing what we shouldn’t and we start doing what we should. I recently had an annual physical and I confessed to my doctor that I am a bit overweight and under exercised. Before he could comment, I added, “I know exactly what I have to do to get this going. I have done it a hundred times. I just need to apply what I know and get at it.” For me, renewal is far more often recovering healthy habits than developing new ones. What disciplines and spiritual practices do you need to renew? Bibles don’t read themselves, church doesn’t drive to you, and giving, serving and witnessing only happen intentionally. Ask God to forgive you for placing a low priority on your spiritual health and pray for the strength to move onward. It is a prayer God wants to answer!
3. REFRESH Turn to me again. When I was a kid, people used the word “backslider” to refer to people who were once on fire for God but weren’t anymore. People backslide for all kinds of reasons; they get their feelings hurt, become disappointed, fall out of regular attendance, go through crisis or just get cross-threaded. Regardless of the reason, they become like cell phones with no charger and after a while they just shut down. Getting back into regular church attendance, giving of your resources and time, rediscovering the joy of serving, and cracking open your Bible again will bring fresh wind and renewal into your life. It reconnects you with the charger!
Often “getting there from here” is simply a matter of deciding you are going to shift your priorities from God being a “thing among things” to God once again being your “main thing.” When we put God first, all aspects of our lives come into alignment. When we don’t put God first we are just plain lost and on our own.
Rev. Mike Wooton
By Carrie Gaxiola With Ann Farnen
An Interview With An Excited Church Member...
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Farnen, a member of Christ Church who is seriously committed to inviting people to church. She had shared with me some time ago that she has a goal of inviting 100 people to church. I was so intrigued, and with the new IMPACT initiative, I just had to hear what Ann had to say.
How did you end up at Christ Church? Well, I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic grade school and high school, but after that I was away from church for many years. It wasn’t until I was 46 years old that I realized something was missing in my life. I happened to meet Bernie Mleczko, and we got to know each other. She invited me to church. Actually, she invited me for over a year! She was so persistent, and I kept saying a firm ‘no’! After awhile, I noticed her consistent joy and her relentless invitations to Christ Church. I was intrigued, and as I said, I felt something was missing in my life. I finally came to church by myself and haven’t been away since!
What is your goal in inviting people to church? I finally came to Christ Church after a year of saying no, and I fell in love with the church! I decided that others need to know what a wonderful place this is to connect to Jesus. I have a goal of inviting 100 people to church. I keep a journal and jot down who comes after I have invited them. I am up to 34 people. So many people are not in church and just need that invitation just like I needed the invitation from Bernie.
Why is it so easy for you to invite people to church? Well, I like it so much! Why wouldn’t I invite people? I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence here, and I must share it! You have to understand, in my upbringing, I never read or studied the Bible. Now I am reading the Bible, I don’t worry as much and I have so much more peace. For me, being in church and in God’s Word gets rid of anxiety. I enjoy life so much more, and I must share what I’ve been given. If I needed to be invited to a church and needed God’s presence and Word in my life and was raised in church, how much more do people in the world need that invitation!
Why do you think it is challenging for those of us that have a difficult time inviting people to church? I think people lack confidence in sharing how good it is to be in a church like ours or just in sharing Jesus in general. I’m sure a fear of rejection comes into play. We might predict a negative outcome without even trying and that’s just trying to be in control. God’s in control; not us. We’re just supposed to be obedient to tell people about Him and His church. Become passionate about sharing the good things God does in your life through the church. When you put that passion before your fears, God produces the results in His way. Those 34 people I’ve invited? Not all of them have come--yet. Their names are in my journal, and I’m not giving up!
Can you give us some tips on inviting people that are disarming and practical? Oh yes! I have lots of ideas! Leave an invite card wherever you go. Leave your phone number on the card and a note that says, “I’m going to the 9:30 service. See you there!” Sometimes you have to hand out 50 cards to get one to come, but the cards are available at church. We need to use them! Tell people we have the BEST COFFEE EVER and you can take it in the service with you! The music is amazing and upbeat. Wear Christ Church apparel when you’re out in public places. Be aware of your audience. Do they have small children? Invite them to bring their kids to Sunday School. Do they have teens? Invite them to the Wednesday Going Deeper services and tell them you’ll meet them there and introduce their teens to kids that may go to their school. Take your cute puppies with you (that’s what I do with my Boxers). At first they are interested in my pups, and after we have started a conversation, I’ll invite them to church.
Any final thoughts to share with us? I just want to say that I have learned more in the 3 years I have been at Christ Church than my whole life growing up in the church I was a part of. I want to share what Jesus has done for me! The Bible says we are supposed to invite people to be a part of this family of God. Maybe we don’t invite people to church because we think they are doing well. That’s not our business. Remember that wonderful feeling when you met Christ or you got plugged into the church or a small group--that first love kind of feeling? EVERYONE needs to experience this! Be in a good mood when you are in public. I know life is challenging, but we have something amazing to share. Grumpiness does not place a Christian in the checkout lane in a positive light. Ask God for His joy and then go and share it!
We Love Our Church!
By Amanda Cates
There is something about seeing a child laugh or play with friends that brings a smile to most people’s face. I think it goes a long way to restore some of our own childhood memories. Life through a child’s eyes can be so beautiful. A child doesn’t have bills to pay, a daily commute that leaves them plotting how to live life off the grid, nor do they have the worries of trying to juggle a hectic household. They are simply learning life skills and trying to put them into practice. Those skills could be anywhere from learning to walk or talk to figuring out how to navigate a complex social scene. When we hear a child laugh we smile.
Life through a child’s eyes can seem pretty simple. But Jesus through a child’s eyes is even simpler. Children have the innate ability to believe just because the Bible says to. They see God’s handy work everywhere. Their faith is refreshing. They don’t question the hows and whys that we as adults tend to. Proverbs 22:6 NLT tells us to “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”. I think walking that same path with a child can renew our own faith.
Spending time with a child, regardless of their age, who is learning about Jesus and their relationship with Him renews our own understanding of our relationship as well. Every Sunday and Wednesday children all over our church are hearing Bible stories and learning Bible verses and principles and how they apply to their everyday life. When was the last time you, as an adult thought “Hmm, I wonder how Noah would handle this peer pressure”? We all know peer pressure doesn’t stop just because we become adults. When you walk a faith journey with a child you get reminded of such simple questions! Reverend Shane has been preaching his series titled “The Go in the Gospel”. This past Sunday a family brought an extra thirteen children to church with them. Church was part of their daughter’s slumber party for her birthday! Let’s break this down a little bit. This little girl enjoys church so much that she grabbed a dozen or so of her BFF’s to join her in worshiping Jesus. Can you imagine inviting that many people to church in one fell swoop?! Probably not. What a little evangelist she is! We have a particular worship song that all the kids love whether they are 2 or 12. It has a line in it that says “Dance like nobody’s watching”. I think that line is the perfect summation of what watching kids worshiping Jesus looks like! Some kids make their own dance moves to the music. Some are intent on following exactly what the worship leaders do. Others just move their arms and legs around to whatever beat and rhythm suits them. Yet others stand contemplatively still pouring over the meaning of each word. When was the last time any of us adults worshiped Jesus with such abandon? We often question such things as do I put my hand up here? Should I raise both hands? Maybe I’ll stand with my arms out to my side. Am I clapping on beat? Do we stop and question what the meaning of the line we just sang is?
When we join a child on their path when we are older, maybe we won’t stray either. Seeing Jesus through the eyes of a child can give us a reason to rejoice!
God Will Get Your Attention!
By Kelly Costello
Through The Eyes Of A Child
Looking back five years ago, I had no idea what my life would have been like today. I probably would have said that my husband and I would be pretty well settled into our “empty nest” season, we would get to spend more time with our aging parents, and we would be traveling on little weekend getaways. My prediction could not have been more wrong.
In 2015, my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. After months of treatments, and a few times where we thought we might lose him, he reached remission. Almost immediately after my dad’s health scare, my husband’s dad was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma (lung cancer). His cancer was pretty advanced by the time they found it and he passed in January of 2017. Then in March of 2017, at one of his checkups, a spot was found on my dad’s liver; a metastasis of small cell carcinoma. The cancer was very fast growing and aggressive. They told him he had about nine months; he made it to eight. Within a year’s time, both my husband and I lost our fathers and our daughter lost both of her grandpas. Talk about a gut-punch!
The next year was spent feeling sorry for myself; moping around, napping, and just going through the motions to make it look like I had it all together. I was so wrapped up in my sorrow, I was not able to see those emotions were actually symptoms. In October of 2018, I started getting some pretty bad stomach pains. I nursed it for a while, but it finally got to be too much. I firmly believe that if God wants your attention He is going to get it anyway he can. February of this year, a large mass was found in my abdomen. Final diagnosis was Stage 4 Diffuse Large B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Wait! What? How is this happening? To say I was shocked at this diagnosis would be an understatement. This was the ultimate mic-drop! I do not get sick. Before this, the only time I had ever been in the hospital was to deliver a baby. I. DON’T. GET. SICK. Especially not with cancer. Our family has already been through more than our share of cancer! (my mom is an ovarian cancer survivor of 25 years!) THIS IS NOT FAIR!!!!!
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and that is true. But, it also takes a village to fight a serious illness. During my initial hospital stay, I cannot even begin to tell you how many people came to visit me…..not just from my own family, but from my church family! My hospital room seemed like it had a revolving door. Many people want to be left alone while in the hospital but not me! I welcomed any and all visitors. I NEEDED my people, I needed to know my village was willing to stand with me and give me the will to fight! Jesus sent these angels here on earth to surround me with love, give me encouragement, and pray for me and my family through this time.
My favorite bible verse is Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” It has always been my favorite, but it took me getting sick to really understand the meaning of it. In this chapter, Moses is leading the people out of Egypt and they are not trusting the Lord’s plan. But Moses is telling them that the Lord has this, they just need to let Him do His thing. Only He can get them through this, and He did! Just as He got me through this season of my life.
I was given a sign to hang in my house at a time when I was at my lowest that is now displayed proudly in my home. It says, “God did not promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain,…but he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.” This is a constant reminder that He is always there, even in the bad times.
I was so well loved during this time by the people that mean the most to me, so I want to say a heartfelt thank you! Because of this journey, I am able to appreciate more, stress less, and really count my blessings! I have been restored, renewed, refreshed, and I continue to rejoice in my healing with those that fought with me.
By Melissa Kiser
Artwork by Wonderfully Made Students
Wonderfully Made Director
We Choose To Rejoice!
The Wonderfully Made Ministry exists to connect individuals with special needs and their families to Jesus Christ. Without the help of our team of volunteers, it would not be possible to support our families so well. Our volunteers, we call them buddies, support our kids, teens, and adults in their classrooms on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. As we partner with the families, we can provide the best learning environment for our kids. It is very important to us that everyone has the opportunity to connect with Jesus Christ wherever they are in life.
With the support of our senior staff and the generous contributions of our congregation, we are very blessed to have two sensory support rooms. In the sensory support rooms, our kids and teens will have worship, the Bible story, and lesson activities to engage in with the support of trained buddies. For our Wonderfully Made adults, they have a class during our 9:30 am service. In their class they enjoy fellowship, worship, and discussion with a weekly Bible story.
Each week there is a Bible story for us to connect to using a virtue word for each month. One of our favorite stories is about Joseph and the DreamCoat. Below you will see how a few of our kids tell the story through pictures. One of our kids, Blake, even chose the color of the clothes for a reason. He said, “Joseph is yellow because he is the star. Then his brothers are in red, black, and orange because of their anger, hostility, and jealousy.” “I think this is a favorite story in our ministry because it tells us that no matter what gets thrown at you, you can choose to rejoice in what God has given you!” (Melissa Kiser).
Romans 15:13 says, “May the God who gives hope fill you with great joy. May you have perfect peace as you trust in him. May the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.” Joseph not only chose to be joyful over and over, but he also chose to have faith and peace when he was away from his family.
As a ministry, we have core values that we try to emphasize every time we are with them. One of these core values is based on Jeremiah 29:11. It says, ”I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come.” Joseph also knew that in his life. So he again chose to rejoice in his dark days because God had a bigger plan for him. In Genesis 50:18, Joseph’s brothers threw themselves at Joseph and said they were his slaves. How does Joseph choose to respond? “But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Do you think I’m God? You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good. He planned to do what is now being done. He wanted to save many lives’.” Genesis 50:19-20. Joseph again chose joy.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
All Because Of His Presence
“All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.”
– Desert Song, Brooke Ligertwood
Ask any number of people how to define worship, and you will get just as many different responses. Biblical Christian worship at a basic, yet infinitely profound understanding, can be described as our response through the power of the Holy Spirit to God’s full revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ. Profound indeed! Worship is a supernatural rehearsal that anticipates eternity. No, not supernatural in the pop culture sense, but supernatural in that authentic worship peels back the veil of eternity so that we can be restored, renewed, refreshed and rejoice in the presence of Almighty God.
Worship is a witness to the power of Christ’s resurrection that restores us into a relationship with God. We are all born separated from God by sin, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) It is through Christ that we can have the fully restored relationship with our Creator that He designed for us to have at creation. Without Christ, worship would be pointless. Without Christ, there is no restoration. However, because of Christ, we have a reason to worship. Christ has made our restoration possible. Christ is both the reason for and the recipient of our worship. The powerful restoration that we experience in worship is not because of anything we have done, but what Christ has done for us. Yes, we must repent of our sins, but our repentance is not a key that turns on the power of restoration. The power is in what Christ has done, and we repent so that we can be restored by His glorious work. When God’s people gather to worship, our combined witness is proclaimed to all the world, and to those who don’t yet believe that God has done something supernatural in us through Christ.
As Christians, we know who has redeemed us. Even when we are focused on that truth, we can become numb to how wonderful a truth that is. We are constantly being bombarded by the noise of modern life. Our attention is often split between many things that wear us down and zap us of our energy. One thing that worship can do, if we let it, is renew our hearts and minds. Worship is a time when we draw away from the world and draw closer to God. In God’s presence we begin to focus on Him, and all the distractions of life begin to fade away. There are definitely times when it will be harder to focus on God than others. Tragedy, heartache, illness, losing a loved one – all are unfortunately part of our fallen world. Worship is not a magic pill to make all the problems and emotions of life suddenly go away. What worship can do, is help us to focus on God and His power to renew our hearts and minds as we journey through the joys and the storms of life. As the hymn-writer Helen Howarth Lemmel put it, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
I don’t know about you, but I love the feeling I get when there are fresh sheets on my bed. When there are fresh sheets on my bed, I feel so relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. I also invariably wake up refreshed and ready for the day. When we worship, we are refreshed for the days ahead. The week behind us is gone, and the next week is before us. Worship is an opportunity to “change the sheets” of our hearts and minds. It is good for us to gather, let go of the past, and look forward to the future, both as individuals and as a congregation. Singing, praying, hearing the Word, giving, and serving; all are acts of worship that can refresh us for the week if we participate fully in worship. Remember, you don’t have to be a good singer to sing in worship. You also don’t have to be a person who prays aloud well in order to pray along in your heart while someone is leading prayer. Worship is a matter of our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional engagement. We read in Mark 12:30, we must “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” When we love our God with this fullness of engagement in worship, we can be certain that the Holy Spirit will refresh us through worship.
When we take in all of the ways worship restores, renews, and refreshes us, we have every reason to rejoice whenever we get to come to worship. The Psalmist wrote in Ps. 122, “I was glad when they said to me; Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Being joyful in spite of what life gives us is a decision we must make. There is always a reason to be joyful and give praise to God. Whether it be that our hearts are overflowing with joy, or because it will take every ounce of what strength we have left to just be present in worship, we have a reason to rejoice because of what God has done through His Son Jesus Christ. In either case, we rejoice in the Holy Spirit who enables us to praise in both good and bad times. We can rejoice in the supernatural event of worship because the victory is already won. We may still be in the battle, but we can and should always rejoice that Christ has won the war.
Dr. Don Frazure
Pastor Of Worship Arts
By Dr. Don Frazure
By Jeff Bishop
Flame Volunteer Writer
In nearly every previous devotional article I’ve written for The Flame, I have reflected on my lived experiences, from the perspective of the theme of that issue and in light of the Biblical truths that I’ve discerned in my walk with our Lord. This will be different; this issue’s call for renewal—and the timing of it—Providentially coincides with when my own faith life is in need of renewal.
For the past year, and in two professional roles, my work life has dominated nearly all else. I allowed—and even fostered—a whirlwind of hustle and hard work, as I felt God’s will and presence in the call.
My current full-time position is the answer to hundreds of Heaven-sent prayers, following many years toiling for a toxic employer. By faithfully doing the right things in the right ways, I reaped the right results in His perfect timing (to borrow Rev. Shane’s paraphrase of Galatians 6:9). Called to work a major initiative has required full days, intense thought, sustained effort, and robust interpersonal engagement—and I have enjoyed every challenge I’ve faced. And yet, my spirit needs renewed.
I am also a part-time Air National Guardsman. Fast approaching the point that I could hang up my uniform, my discernment of God’s will was that I am to persist. Not just to persist, even, but to continue, such that when I was asked to take on a new position last year—one that I had never thought to aspire to—I accepted the call. While the time and responsibility required of me increased dramatically, so too did my experience and the ability to shape the direction of my unit. Yet I stand with that good work completed, but needing to be renewed in my faith.
In the clear and positive presence of the Holy Spirit, who has deeply blessed my vocational work, how can renewal be so utterly necessary?
Reflecting on the grind of the past year, I recognize that, too often, I didn’t invite the Lord to be with me in it, to help me carry the load. He was there through it all, but toward the end of the journey I was more often choosing to rely on me, than I felt that I needed to rely on Him.
I realize that I took my Lord for granted—much as one might take for granted the miracle of a beautiful sunrise or much-needed rain falling onto drought-parched lands. We need it and appreciate it, but we can also, unremarkably, just expect it. In our faith, we know that God will provide, and when we can feel the Spirit moving in our work, we know that He’s going to see His will be done through us, even if He has to do it despite us. In this way, we merely believe, when what we should instead do is Believe—or even BELIEVE!
And so I stand at a crossroads, in need of renewal. As these previous seasons’ callings conclude, new and more challenging calls have emerged in their place. The crossroads of callings coinciding with a spirit-life that needs renewal is, to my faith, no coincidence.
What does renewal look like? For me, 2 Timothy 2:20-21 offers some insights:
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
In this time between seasons, I am engaged in Spirit-guided renewal that would cleanse me and prepare me for His next holy work in and through me. As I’m emptied out through this process, I am also seeking to fill myself with Him. I am seeking, by the Spirit, a more disciplined devotional life; the details of His work are only relevant to me and my Lord.
These acts are not my callings; instead, they are Spirit-compelled actions that can empower my callings. They are not conditional; the Lord will cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). I believe He’ll bless what He will, whether I am faithful and Spirit-overfilled or not—because He did so before.
As I walk and whenever I finish, I want to find myself standing closer to my Lord, knowing that He was with me through all of it, and knowing that outside of that Holy presence, there would have been no way that I could have done any of it without Him.
All verses from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
– Psalm 51:10-12
Life Imitates Art:
A Time For Spiritual Renewal
BY Martha McFarland
By Donovan Hill
Flame Volunteer Writer
Ceramic Mugs & Swiffer Dust
I met a friend for coffee this morning. This meeting however, differed from most, in that this friend is also the father of my childhood best friend, who passed away in September 2017.
It is a tragic story; a workplace incident gone horribly wrong. My friend's father and I have grieved alongside one another for two years now, each of us separated from our children by the arms of eternity. But more on that later.
One of my key takeaways from the encounter revolves around the idea that sometimes God intervenes through miracles. And sometimes He doesn't. Sometimes He speaks to us like a roar of thunder. But many times, we only hear crickets. And while it is exciting to see His handiwork spelled out in unmistakable feats, I believe that He speaks and works most effectively through His church, when His people are willing vessels. Reflecting on our different experiences over our brown ceramic mugs of breakfast blend,this was made painfully clear to me on that morning.
You see, my friend and I have both shouldered our share of disappointments over the past two years. Insensitive friends and family members bludgeoning our fragile ears with intrusive inquiries and uninvited insights and interventions, trying to help us see our need to “move on.” And yet, as we compare stories, it's clear that the key difference between our respective experiences is that although my friend and his wife are also both active volunteers at their own local church, it is clear that his church family has notrallied around him in his time of need, as ours at Christ Church has. Instead, the well-meaning folks in his church have significantly complicated his recovery, by simply not being there for this family when they needed them the most.
I am, of all men, most thankful.
My wife and I began attending Christ Church shortly after moving to the Metro East area in 2013. At the time, we were working through significant issues in our marriage, and we had no idea if ours was going to make it. God used countless men in the church to speak tough love into my life, and to give bigger-picture context to our marriage quandaries. He also surrounded Emily with strong women of God who spoke truth and love into her broken heart. Our early church encounters fortified our marriage in more ways than we probably realize, and gave us the mental clarity to eventually face our challenges together, instead of as separate entities.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I was now serving regularly on the weekend worship team, Emily developed numerous relationships with women in the church, and Pastor Shane's messages consistently left us inspired, entertained, and more than a little uncomfortable (which is what God sometimes wants, right?). During this time, Emily decided that God was calling her to lead a small-group marriage study, and we poured our hearts into the group. After all, God had brought us through so much that we want to share His love, grace, and forgiveness with others.
And to top it all off, we found out we were expecting our first child! It was like God was ushering us into a brand new season of love, laughter, and life! Of course, I had some pre-baby jitters, but I leaned into my relationships with men at Christ Church, who selflessly guided me through what to expect as a new daddy, how to keep my wife as my top priority even after the baby arrived, and the importance of modeling to our children what it looks like to be a man of God, even in the face of the unknown.
The unknown, however, took us by complete, utter surprise and shock. On August 1, 2017, our daughter Charlotte was born. And due to complications with reasons unforeseen, she passed away the next day. Talk about a dagger into the core of our beings; nine months of preparation, seemed to be all for nothing. Instead of calling our family and friends with good news, our voices relayed the news with tear-stained trembling. Ours was now a world of crippling chaos, with shattered dreams littering the soil as far as the eye could see.
During this season of unspeakable pain, it seemed to us that God was a million miles away. Our Christ Church family, however, filled the void.
Within hours of the news, they leaped into action, coordinating a meal train, Swiffering our home from top to bottom, and assisting us as we prepared the funeral arrangements. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of all the countless unspoken blessings that poured upon us.
Granted, I couldn't tell you much of what happened in the weeks that followed, but I'll never forget the first time we mustered up the strength to attend church again. It must have been at least three months after Charlotte passed away, though it felt like an eternity. Emily and I nervously approached the front doors, to be greeted by none other than Reverend Shane. With outstretched arms and a warm, empathetic smile, he firmly embraced us, tears in his eyes, and said “It's so good to see you guys.”
Emily, her eyelids dripping with the tears of her emotion, said, “this is our first Sunday back to church.”
Reverend Shane took a step back and grinned.
“Oh, I know it is,” he said lovingly, with compassion in his eyes. “I've been looking for you both every Sunday since I heard the news, waiting for this moment. It is SO GOOD to see you.”
I don't recall what he preached on that Sunday. But that moment is burned into my mind like a cattle prod.
This church, I tell you. It's hard to put into words. My wife and I have experienced Christ's love, healing, and hope through this church and its various ministries. And when we found out that we were expecting our second daughter, our Christ Church family again surrounded us with kindness, encouragement, and support. Just as Charlotte's memory will live on forever in the walls of Scripture Hall, our daughter Penelope has brought irrepressible joy to all who have the pleasure of meeting her.
So, as I reminisce over my morning's coffee talk, I realize that everything that my wife and I have experienced points back to God's overarching goodness--even in the moments when I called His goodness into question. And I also know that our Christ Church family magnified His sweet kindness, through the good and the bad; in the moments of hope and the days of despair. All things are working together for good, and Christ Church is certainly answering the call.
I wouldn't trade this church for the world.
New Living Translation
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion,
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone,
have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—yes,
from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
Unseal my lips, O Lord that my mouth may praise you.
You do not desire a sacrifice,
or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
By Kevin Siddle
I Say It Again - Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”
When you think about what it means to rejoice, what comes to mind? Is it a situation, a place, a feeling, or a person? For me, I think of people. God so often puts others in our path to influence us. And thank God for that. We all have these influential people in our lives. Our spouse, family members, co-workers, and our church family can all have an incredible influence on our lives and our faith.
A number of years back, I was in a bit of a crisis. My professional life was all over the place and I had been struggling with a number of anxieties. My wife did everything she could to help me, but she recognized that I needed a different perspective. In that moment, she started listing off some of the wiser men of faith at Christ Church. Ultimately, my wife looked at me and said, “You need men who've been through life and who are going to help you grow in your faith.”
She was right (of course)
One of the men she recommended was Bob Nelson. If you haven't met Bob, he is a powerful man of faith, and also one of the leaders of the Feed My Sheep Ministry. Bob hosts a Connect Group each week that includes a number of very strong men of faith at Christ Church.
A bit reluctantly, I asked Bob if I could join his Connect Group, and of course he openly welcomed me. Bob, Gary, Don, and the rest of the men of that group didn't know what I was personally going through. They didn't know that I was there to glean every bit of wisdom that I possibly could. You see, I was also the youngest person in the group by a fair bit, but that was intentional. I needed wisdom, copious amounts of it, and these men all have more experience than me. Combine that with their collective faith, and it was a total win – win.
Over the course of time, as each of the men directed me through their words and actions, I began to change. The anxieties and struggles began to fade, and instead were replaced with faith, confidence, grace, and love. I was starting to mimic the men of that Connect Group.
When we are in relationship with other followers of Jesus Christ, we will be influenced and we will be transformed. Jesus transformed Peter, who then influenced millions. These men were transformed through Christ and their influence helped to guide my faith.
As a community, their influence restored, renewed, and refreshed my walk with Christ. And for that I can rejoice. I can rejoice because I didn’t have to walk that path alone. God raised up men to walk beside me, to guide me, to teach me about the Bible, and to pray for me.
That is the power of coming together in community, and specifically the power of being in a Connect Group here at Christ Church.
As you read this, ask yourself the question, how is my walk with Jesus Christ? And now a second question, what do I need?
If you need more Bible knowledge, more discipline, stronger support, or an encouraging community, then I would recommend you get involved in a Connect Group. We have groups that meet all over the Metro-East at nearly all times of day.
Moreover, groups focus on different areas of need. Some Connect Groups are more focused on accountability. They hold each other accountable to an area of struggle, support one another, pray for one another, and try to move their lives in a positive direction.
Other groups are more focused on Bible study. They have a heart and a thirst for working through scripture and unlocking the mysteries in the Bible. Bible study is a foundational part of being a Christian, and some people prefer to do this together.
Finally, some groups are more focused on fellowship. These groups still study the Bible or a book, but they also spend time on building relationships with one another. They will do this over dinner, going to a Cardinals game, or playing games at someone's home.
Of course, all groups have some level of accountability, study, and fellowship in them. That’s the beauty of discipleship. We all work together to influence each other to be more like Christ. We are one part of a larger body. And when we come together, united, we have ample reason to rejoice!
We would love for you to get involved in a Connect Group. If you would like to find a group that meets your needs, go to www.mychristchurch.com/realm, get signed up and then go to the group’s page.
We can all be restored, renewed, and refreshed, especially if we work together.
Director of Adult Discipleship
Third Grade Children’s Leader
What brought you to Christ Church?
My sister and her husband had started attending Christ Church and after some time started to bring my daughter with them. I felt like a hypocrite since I had never attended church so I thought I would give it a try.
What prompted you to get involved in ministry work as a volunteer?
I saw how much fun the kids were having and noticed the positive impact it was having on my daughter. I always felt that kids connected and listened to me and thought that I would enjoy doing this. Previously, I had started coaching youth sports at the age of 12, so it just seemed to be a natural fit for me.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love those moments when the kids or parents share something with me because they trust me. I am humbled when a kid says they come to church because of something I have done. The friendships that I have made with the parents and other volunteers here at the church are great gifts to me.
Why do you think it’s important to get involved in the ministries of Christ Church?
God has sacrificed and done so much for us. Each of us have been created so beautifully with our own unique gifts to share with others. We are setting an example for our children and every single person that we meet.
Kevin & Vicki Nowak
Kevin is our Fairview Heights Campus Food Pantry Coordinator
Kevin & Vicki are both lead ushers and greeters on the Welcome Team
What brought you to Christ Church?
We were invited by a church member. We were looking for a new church to attend and came to Christ Church as a result of that invitation. On our first visit, Reverend Shane shook our hands, introduced himself and made us feel very comfortable. He followed that with an awesome sermon and we’ve been attending ever since!
What prompted you to get involved in ministry work as a volunteer?
Kevin: I wanted to help others and give back. I wanted to help people feel as connected as I have felt since coming to Christ Church.
Vicki: I have always felt welcome at Christ Church. I wanted to step outside of my introverted comfort zone and help others feel that same comfort and welcomed feeling.
Together we decided to work on the Welcome Team as greeters and ushers as a way to share our love of God and our love for this church family.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Kevin: I get to participate in activities that help others while experiencing fellowship with other Christians and doing good for Christ Church.
Vicki: I love when a new person or family comes to church. I love that I can make them feel welcome, put them in contact with Carrie, our Welcome Minstries Coordinator, Children’s Ministry or others that can give them as sense of belonging. I enjoy being able to help them find a great place to connect with others, but most importantly, with Jesus Christ.
Why do you feel it is important to get involved in the ministries of Christ Church?
The ministries, and there are many, all have a unified purpose; to connect people with Jesus. Ministries cannot survive, nor can a church, without its volunteers. We feel we do our small part to contribute to the church and its work. We love that we can use our gifts to help connect people to Christ.
Getting To Know
Our Ministry Volunteers
Larry Robert Duncan
Willie G. Love, Jr.
Carol Kay Yee
Walter J. Yee
Jack Henry Bortz
Alexander David Head
Benjamin Arie Head
Henry Robert Lee
Ava Lynn Muelchi
Jacob Charles Muelchi
Clinton Edward McDonald
Samantha Michelle McDonald
Anne Kathryn Naylor
No Membership Class in August
Naomi G. Fulton
Gale E. Hake
Willie Love, III
Jeanette F. Mamahit
Jason A. Menningen
James Beimfohr – June 14
Wilhemina “Willie” San Diego – June 20
Jewell Todd – August 2
Daniel “Jim” Simunich – August 11
Rev. Bernard Kneale – August 26
Roger A. Beran
William Samuel Boner
Rita Lorelei Brigugulio
Riley Glenn Hamon
Alexander David Head
Henry Robert Lee
Julian D. Walker
No baptisms in May
Aiden Louis Borner
Claire Elizabeth George
Franklin Matthew George
Erik Matthew Gordon
Weston Randy Hoff
Journi M. Turmon
No baptisms in July
No baptisms in August
Sarah Michelle Grab
Derek Michael Keys
Elliott Douglas Keys
Greyson Paul Lammers
Sophia Grace McKelvie
Jacob Travis Valerius
OR CALL 618-277-4659
God At Work
April 2019 – September 2019
Sunday, December 01, 2019
Christmas Series begins
First Sunday of Advent
Millstadt Candlelight Service – 5PM
Sunday, December 08, 2019
CM Candlelight Service – 5PM
Chamber Choir Christmas Concert – 2PM – Sanctuary
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Scott Campus Candlelight Service – 5PM
Christmas Eve Schedule
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Christmas Eve #1 (Get-away) 7pm
Sunday, December 22, 2019
Sunday AM – Communion
Sunday PM - Christmas Eve #2 – 6pm
(regular Sunday evening service time)
Monday, December 23, 2019
Christmas Eve #3 – 7pm
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Christmas Eve #4 – 11am
Christmas Eve #5 – 1pm
Christmas Eve #6 – 3pm
Christmas Eve #7 – 5pm
At Christ Church