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Discipleship in Action

James 2: 14-26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (NIV)

Disciple:  a student of a teacher (Merriam-Webster).

Discipleship progresses way beyond simply a school classroom; students being taught academic content from a professional educator.  The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible terms Christian service in faith as a “deed”.  Most dictionary references define a deed as, “An action that is performed intentionally and consciously” (www.dictionary.com).  Some deeds are sin (Proverbs 5:22).  Many deeds are loving, kind acts at least accomplished with caring for others as the motivator and, hopefully, out of faith in Jesus as this is a sign of spiritual maturity (Hebrews 6:1). 

In our personal relationships some of us would admit we commit more unloving deeds than loving deeds in a month’s time even though we know Jesus and His teachings and so we know better (Romans 7:15).  Maintain perspective and focus on the reality that this too is a vital portion of the discipleship process.  To live in the world but not of the world translates into the fruit of a depth of knowledge and eventual wisdom which is soundly grounded in the Word of God and is manifested in our actions and words; our deeds (John 17:14). 

On the church side of the ministry in which Shellie, Anthony and I have been privileged to participate there have been many blessed, memorable opportunities to manifest our faith by serving through loving deeds.  Some of these are represented in simply how we respond to those around us.  We’ve attempted to worship, pray and live alongside our fellow church members while honoring them with Christ’s Love and truly appreciating who they each are as individual creations of the Most High God.  As well, we’ve ministered beside many wonderful fellow church goers who have fed the poor, comforted the widow, provided homes for the homeless, cared for children and prayed with the downtrodden (James 1:27).  We are continually encouraged, challenged and empowered by witnessing the deep compassion of Christ in the hearts of God’s people as they obey and live their faith in action through loving deeds.

On the school side of the ministry in which we are honored to serve it is a constant strength to us to watch school students serve in faith through deeds of love.  Including here at CCS, we have seen students touch the lives of residents in nursing homes, those in need in the central city, single mothers, children, families in crisis, their communities and their churches.  

When one is truly discipled for Jesus Christ it will manifest faith through proactive, loving deeds.  This is a primary instilling which occurs at CCS daily.  Every student will be a more consistent, stronger disciple of The Lord.  Thank you for the support you provide so that this discipleship training can happen.  We appreciate and honor all of you!

 

James 2: 14-26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (NIV)   Disciple: a student of a teacher (Merriam-Webster).   Discipleship progresses way beyond simply a school classroom; students being taught   academic content from a professional educator. The New International Version (NIV) of the   Bible terms Christian service in faith as a “deed”. Most dictionary references define a deed as,   “An action that is performed intentionally and consciously” (www.dictionary.com). Some deeds   are sin (Proverbs 5:22). Many deeds are loving, kind acts at least accomplished with caring for   others as the motivator and, hopefully, out of faith in Jesus as this is a sign of spiritual maturity   (Hebrews 6:1).   In our personal relationships some of us would admit we commit more unloving deeds than   loving deeds in a month’s time even though we know Jesus and His teachings and so we know   better (Romans 7:15). Maintain perspective and focus on the reality that this too is a vital   portion of the discipleship process. To live in the world but not of the world translates into the   fruit of a depth of knowledge and eventual wisdom which is soundly grounded in the Word of   God and is manifested in our actions and words; our deeds (John 17:14).   On the church side of the ministry in which Shellie, Anthony and I have been privileged to   participate there have been many blessed, memorable opportunities to manifest our faith by   serving through loving deeds. Some of these are represented in simply how we respond to those   around us. We’ve attempted to worship, pray and live alongside our fellow church members   while honoring them with Christ’s Love and truly appreciating who they each are as individual   creations of the Most High God. As well, we’ve ministered beside many wonderful fellow   church goers who have fed the poor, comforted the widow, provided homes for the homeless,   cared for children and prayed with the downtrodden (James 1:27). We are continually   encouraged, challenged and empowered by witnessing the deep compassion of Christ in the   hearts of God’s people as they obey and live their faith in action through loving deeds.   On the school side of the ministry in which we are honored to serve it is a constant strength to   us to watch school students serve in faith through deeds of love. Including here at CCS, we have   seen students touch the lives of residents in nursing homes, those in need in the central city,   single mothers, children, families in crisis, their communities and their churches.   When one is truly discipled for Jesus Christ it will manifest faith through proactive, loving   deeds. This is a primary instilling which occurs at CCS daily. Every student will be a more   consistent, stronger disciple of The Lord. Thank you for the support you provide so that this   discipleship training can happen. We appreciate and honor all of you!

Choir Tour 2017

On Friday, January 13th, Choir students in grades 6 through 12 departed on a three day missions trip to various Ohio schools, churches, and nursing homes.  

Under the direction of Choir Director, Brian Smith, the students ministered to many different people, spreading God's love through worship and prayer.  Please enjoy the following video, as you listen to the students reflect on what God has accomplished through this choir tour and what it has meant to them.

True Freedom

2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

This is an example from today as to how the world defines freedom from Freedomhouse.org, the primary government sponsored source for annual growth in world freedom: “The world was battered by crises that fueled broad fearful sentiment in democratic countries, undermined the economies of states dependent on the sale of natural resources and lead authoritarian regimes to crack down harder on dissent. These developments contributed to the 10th consecutive year of decline in global freedom (in 2016).” 72 countries declined in average global freedom. 43 countries made gains in average global freedom. “Over the last decade, the most significant global reversals have been freedom of expression versus the rule of the law.”

So, according to our international governments, freedom is primarily defined according to how often, and concerning what topics, we may express ourselves.

Conversely, this is an example of how the Lord defines freedom according to Chris Shipley and Power to Change Ministries: “We can view freedom in many ways. For some it’s political freedom. Closely tied to this is freedom of speech. Some will self interpret or ignore the rule of the law to sustain their freedom to express themselves. Others define freedom financially primarily. They believe money and the riches of this world bring freedom. Sometimes in seeking freedom, we put ourselves in a worse situation. Running away from our problems being one of the most obvious examples. The reason this never works is because true freedom resides in our hearts. We can’t run away from our problems because our hearts go with us wherever we go. True freedom is only found in Christ.”

In the Gospels we read, “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him. The evil man brings evil…” (Matthew 7:17-18) Evil results in sin. Sin results in bondage (slavery), the opposite of freedom. True freedom only happens when our hearts change.

This is true freedom: Jesus Christ. God changes our heart by His Holy spirit. God makes us spiritually alive by giving us a new heart. The saved heart; the changed heart desires to love God; to do His will.  The changed heart puts Jesus first and sees Him as beautiful and always the priority. The changed heart desires to be close to Jesus always and love Him above all else. 

We were created to do one thing primarily, to love and honor our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. A huge portion of this is loving others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Living out this singular, daily purpose brings us joy and peace. Loving Jesus primarily every day in our lives and in our hearts brings true freedom.

Honor Everyone Above Yourself!

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:1-7, NIV)

“While they were in Bethlehem, the City of David, the time came for Mary to give birth. She gave birth to a son; wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger as there was no room for them in the hostel.” (Luke 2:6-7)

“And they nailed Jesus to the cross. They divided up his clothes and threw dice to see who would get them.” (Mark 15:24)

“Jesus literally sliced through years of rabbinical law and cultural norms with the extreme love of God that sees the treasure in every human heart.” (Danny Silk, Culture Of Honor)

There is an extremely powerful meaning in front of the reality that Jesus was born into this world seemingly impoverished. He was born in a dirty stable in a feeding trough as there was no room for them in the hostel. Mary and Joseph did not partake of the inside accommodations of the hostel; there was no room. Instead they were regulated to the barn. Jesus, the Son of Man, the Messiah, Emmanuel, God With Us, was born in a barn with stinky animals. Perfect love was born.

Jesus lived His life faithfully trying to serve His Father’s will and desire. He obeyed His Father even unto death; death on a cross. Jesus did not seek fame, power or position as the world understands it. In the end, Jesus gave up everything. He gave the greatest gift anyone can give another, His life. It was one of the most brutal death methods in His day; to have His hands and feet pounded through blow by blow as the iron cast hammer forced the large metal nails inward. Jesus, The Lamb of God, The Only Necessary Sacrifice, Our Savior, Our Lord, Our God, was cruelly, physically murdered amidst ridicule, hate and revile. Yet, Jesus lives on forever through His perfect love.

If the Son of God was able to humble Himself to be born an impoverished human, like us, one of us and then be sent to a horrific slaughter like a criminal guilty only of proclaiming His Father’s Name and loving others unconditionally, our response should be to humbly honor others above ourselves through the perfect love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our value is never in question. We are creations of the Most High God. The challenge before us is, while recognizing our own value in Christ, see everyone through the perfect, loving eyes of Jesus. See others always more valuable than ourselves. That is honor at its highest level. That is the perfect love of Jesus.

Love Can Hurt, What a Blessing!

1 Peter 3:8-18, 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Growing up I was surrounded by people who would love through service, sympathy, empathy and humility, yet be hurt by others. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famous author of The Great Gatsby and other literary works, wrote this: “You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest and most beautiful person I have ever known---and even that is an understatement.” We’ve all known those people in our lives who are simply easy to love due to the love they pour into others and yet these people are vulnerable to hurt.

Today I have people in my life who truly love others even though they know it is going to hurt eventually. Shellie, my wife, prays daily earnestly, endlessly for others. Often, she does not know if the prayer was answered because she prays for people all over the country; the world. It is not that this intercessory prayer process is not difficult. Shellie considers it her call, her mission from the Lord out of love. So, she continues. Anthony, my son, a Senior at the University of South Carolina, is one of those rare people who really, really believes Jesus’ tenet, “We should love everyone.” We have family and friends who are moms, dads, pastors, factory workers, teachers, office workers; from every line of work. Each morning when they wake and their feet hit the floor, it is their daily call to love above all else, no matter what. These people are an inspiration to me.

The movie “I’m Not Ashamed” opens this weekend. It is the story of Rachel Scott, the first to give her life during the Columbine School tragedy on April 20, 1999. At the very end of her life, Rachel was asked one more time if she still loved her God. She gave one more “yes” before she gave her last breath. The ultimate love and sacrifice she gave; the pain is caused but the blessing it has given continues to resound today.

So, the next time we are insulted and hurt; treated in an unloving manner, remember, Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth and was wrongfully accused, publicly humiliated, scorned, beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a cross and then gave us the greatest gift of Love He could possibly give, His Life for Eternal Life! What a blessing!

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