I think a lot of us struggle with this matter of confidence. Even those of us who give off an air of being totally “together” probably struggle on some level with self-doubt. Nothing to be ashamed of there.
But I believe that the Christian walk of life offers us the best possible basis for living a truly confident life. It all boils down to this: We’re not self-confident, but we are God-confident. “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power…” (II Timothy 1:7). “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
In this week’s message, I talked about some contrasts between a “religion” approach to the Christian life and a “relationship” approach (relationship with God through Christ, that is). They’re contrasts that have a profound effect on our identity. Here they are again. I hope you find them helpful.
RELIGION: My identity swings between two extremes. When I’m living up to my personal moral standards, I feel confident; but I’m likely to be proud, and unsympathetic toward “failing” people. When I’m not living up to my standards, I feel like a failure.
RELATIONSHIP: My identity is not based on my moral achievement. I understand that I’m simultaneously sinful and saved. I’m so bad that Jesus had to die for me, but I’m so loved that He was willing to die for me. This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.
RELIGION: When I get criticized, I’m angry or even devastated, because it’s essential that I think of myself as a “good person”. Threats to that identity must be destroyed or explained away at all costs.
RELATIONSHIP: When I get criticized, it hurts; but it isn’t essential for me to think of myself as a good person. My identity isn’t built on my record or my performance, but on my confidence in God’s love for me in Christ.
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how morally good I am. So I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
RELATIONSHIP: My identity and self-worth are centered on the One who died and rose again for me. I’m saved by divine grace, so I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.
“May I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Galatians 6:14) I am confident, in God!
Not surprisingly, I got a lot of feedback on Sunday’s message. Also not surprisingly, most of it was very positive.
I don’t mean it was positive about the great job I did. That’s highly questionable! I only mean that people seemed to love the positive subject matter, about affirmation. This is another confirmation to me that we all feel the need to be affirmed, encouraged, fortified — frequently — in our Christian identity and faith.
One part that seemed to ring a bell with many of you is the “position/condition” distinction I talked about. So here’s the essence of that again:
The Christ-follower’s position is “in Christ” (Romans 8:1-2; Ephesians 2:10; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). This is his/her actual secure spiritual status in the eyes of God, by divine grace and through personal faith. The Christ-follower’s condition is his/her imperfect expression of that spiritual status. Clearly, our behavioral condition often doesn’t accurately reflect our true position in Christ. But — again by God’s grace — my flawed condition doesn’t negate the fantastic reality of my secure position!
|In Christ||A work in progress|
And here’s the key point: My true identity is firmly attached to that “Position” column. Though there are flaws aplenty in my character and behavior, I must not allow myself to be defined by them. “I am” first and foremost a Christian. God Himself states that I am His child, and that’s ultimately all that matters. His acceptance of me isn’t based on my performance, but on Jesus’ performance.
Take that, Satan! I am . . .affirmed by God!
To listen to messages from the “I Am” worship series, click here.
Day 3 in the Dominican Republic was humbling!
Our guide, Tim, introduced us to the founder of Go Ministries, Brook Brotzman. We toured the present clinic, a small house structure. And then walked to the site of the future four-story med clinic, currently under construction.
It was exciting to see 100s of children playing and learning at the school!
Breakfast was with the Lincoln Christian University baseball team, who are in the DR helping with baseball clinics for children, helping stabilize a church building and playing a few teams along the way. GO LIONS!
At the end of our day, the only thing we could talk about was The Hole — a place where the people live beside a river. There are only two words we can use to describe our experience: humbling and convicting.
Only hours from now we’ll climb on the plane and say goodbye to the physical DR. For myself, a piece of it will always be with me.
We are in day 3 in the Dominican Republic, and the weather has been amazing. But what is more amazing is what we have seen and experienced! GO Ministries is a multifaceted endeavor to share the love of Jesus with the people of the DR.
We have stepped into a clinic, churches, nutrition program, seminary and a huge sports program that’s meant to focus on developing character first. Unfortunately, though, there is no hockey!
We hugged a lot of people! And we’ve seen some life changing places. I wish you could be walking beside us! Kathy, Mike and I wish you all well! Thanks for your prayers! And we can’t wait to have a chance to sit with you to tell our story!
Hey, all you 5-12th graders and parents! Here we are again with our monthly blog explaining what’s coming up in the world of RCC Student Ministries. We’ll cover the teaching series we’re doing for each program and upcoming events.
Game Night at The Middle (March 1)
New Hampshire students are on school vacation this week, so on Wednesday, March 1, we’re taking a break from our usual teaching and small groups at The Middle for a game night. Feel free to bring a snack to share and a game to play. We’ll have some time for you to play board/card games, but we’ll also have some large-group games. Be sure to invite your friends!
workcampNE Deadline extended to March 5
Officially, the deadline to sign up for workcampNE is today, February 28. However, a huge internet server issue has taken down the site we use for online registration. So, we’re extending the deadline (again) until March 5. Please sign up right as soon as you can. All current eighth graders through college students can sign up. The dates for this year’s trip are July 9-15, and we’ll be serving the community of Springfield, VT. If you have any questions, check out workcampNE’s website and last year’s recap video.
“Escape Room” Series at The Middle (March 8, 15, 22)
You’ve probably heard of escape rooms—you know, those places where you get locked in a room with your friends and then try to escape by solving puzzles and secret codes? Some people love them and can’t wait to solve the puzzles, while others count down the minutes until they’re over. Just like an escape room, we all handle difficult and painful situations differently… but often we look for some type of relief. Whatever it is, we all have a favorite distraction— something we get lost in. But the trouble is, these good and fun distractions sometimes lead to hurting others, hurting ourselves, or damaging our relationship with God. In this series, we’ll look at how to deal with difficult situations in our lives. As we do, we just might find that God’s inviting us to stop avoiding and escaping hard times, and instead, face our troubles head-on. And maybe we’ll see that through our struggles, God builds our character, provides us with comfort, and calls us to share that comfort with others.
“Lenses” Series at High School (February 19, 26, March 5, 12, 19, 26, & April 2)
Our high school students are currently in a series called Lenses, which is all about worldviews. We all have a worldview, whether we have really thought about it or not. The real question is how do those views cause us to act? Specifically, we’re talking about how Christ-followers should view the world around them. Throughout the series, we’re going to tackle some pretty deep topics (things like college, dating, sexuality, abortion, stress, and terrorism) and discuss how Jesus wants us to approach them. We won’t always come away with exact answers, but we will provide a safe environment for healthy discussion to take place. This will take us right up to Palm Sunday, when we will head over to the bowling alley for a really fun night!
That’s it for this month. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
In our Sunday worship gatherings, we commissioned three RCC servants — Kathy Peters, Michael Peters, and Andy Glass — to represent us on a short exploratory trip to the mission field of the Dominican Republic. They’ll leave early this Tuesday morning and return Friday night.
They’ll be investigating the work of GO Ministries in that island country. From the research our Global Outreach Team has done, this looks like it could be an excellent recurring mission trip destination for individuals and families who are seeking a quality cross-cultural ministry experience, but for whom a trip to one of our established partners in Poland (Graceland Ministries), Kenya (Missions of Hope), or Indonesia (Asia-Pacific International) would be too much of a stretch.
One aspect that especially excites us is that this could be a great multi-generational opportunity (parents and children, even grandparents and grandchildren, travelling and serving together); but we won’t know until we check it out more completely. That’s what this week is about.
Please pray for our friends, and ask God to use their experience as a source of wise guidance for future decisions!
This past weekend, RCC took 31 students and six adult leaders to Berea for our tenth Deep Freeze winter retreat. As always, it was a great time of fun, worship, bonding, and growing in our relationship with God. The main speaker this year was Lucas Ramirez, who is the Executive Director for The Gathering Place, a Christian leadership development organization that impacts over 12,000 students each year. The music was led by The Great Romance, a worship/rock band from the St. Louis, MO, area.
Throughout the weekend, our students engaged in four large group main sessions, where Lucas spoke on the weekend’s theme — Horizons. After an quick introduction on Friday night’s session, the other three covered internal, eternal, and visible horizons. Internal was all about who we follow determines who we are. Eternal was all about how the choices we make now impact eternity. Visible was all about how following Christ isn’t just about the exciting promise of heaven, but it’s about an adventure God wants us to live now.
Saturday also had a ton of games, free time, workshops, and food to fill out the time between the main sessions. Many of our students played paintball, went snow-tubing, met students from other churches, and played with some gl0w-in-the-dark paint. A group of our high schoolers even won the volleyball camp tournament! The workshops included topics from how to surround yourself with encouraging people to how to lead in your church, ministry, and school.
Of our 31 students, we had at least three who are considering baptism and many others who said they are ready to take their next steps with Jesus. It has also been great to watch our middle school students after Deep Freeze. They especially had a wonderful time bonding over the weekend, and you can clearly see its impact on our Wednesday night ministry!
Thanks to everyone who prayed for us and the many who helped make this weekend happen!!
Here is a quick video recap from the weekend. Enjoy!
“Who am I?”
“Why am I here?”
“Where am I going?”
These are three of the most important questions we could ask. The third one concerns the issue of destiny. The second: Origin. But the first is the most foundational of all. It addresses the matter of identity. A sense of self. I might assess you according to your outward appearance or behavior; God knows the real you. What is the “real you?” Who are you, at your very core?
As with everything else, Jesus of Nazareth is our perfect example of what it means to establish and maintain a healthy identity. Always confident, but never arrogant. Calm, but not passive. Self-assured, but not self-sufficient. Boy, do we have a lot to learn from Him!
Join us as we observe Him in ten widely-varying life situations, in this worship series titled, “I Am.”
I hope our “I’m In” worship series has challenged you to think more deeply about your commitment, or potential commitment, to be all in with Jesus.
In Sunday’s fourth and last installment, we considered Matthew’s good example of starting with a step. I think some of us tend to get overwhelmed, thinking about all the good things God wants us to. We kind of take the world on our shoulders and wonder how we can possibly do it all. It would be good for each of us to think more along the lines of “one step at a time”. What’s the next right thing that He wants me to do? Once I’ve identified that thing, however simple it may be, I proceed to do it. Then I start looking for the next step in the process.
With that in mind, here are some possibilities for you to consider. Again, please don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the list. Just search for one item that’s perfectly timed for you, and humbly take that step. God will meet you there, and bless you.
Christian baptism – I start the list with this one because it’s what we emphasized most on Sunday, and because our next Baptism Celebration is coming up on February 19. If you truly have faith in Jesus and want to live for Him, and haven’t been baptized, you need to be. Here’s a great opportunity!
workcampNE – This is a great way to experience a real mission trip close to home (this year it’s in Vermont). Adults and high school students can participate. Sign up by February 14 for our week of service, which will be July 9-15.
Starting Point – This informal group meets every Sunday at 11:30 A.M. It’s a safe place to ask any question about Jesus, the Bible, the church, or RCC in particular. I know you’ll enjoy it and benefit from it.
A Matthew Party – As I suggested, this Sunday is a great opportunity to invite some church-going friends and non-church-going friends to gather for the Super Bowl, and see what God can do with those new friendships.
Pray for One – Have you made this a way of life yet? If not, there’s no time like the present!
Join a Grow Group Each of us needs a small group of believing friends that we see regularly and who “have our back” in this daily challenge of pursuing a relationship with God. What I just described is a Grow Group. Email Andy to explore the possibilities.
Find a place of regular service. This church offers a broad range of service options — some that are weekly, some monthly; some short-term, some long-term. Ask any staff member or elder to help you explore the possibilities. And if you haven’t completed the S.H.A.P.E. assessment, I strongly encourage you to do so. You might be surprised at what you discover about yourself!
Simply come more often. If you’re in the habit of attending Sunday worship gatherings once in a while, start coming once a month. If you come once a month, start coming every week. I think you’ll notice an uptick in the quality of your life “in the Lord.”
“Children are the church of the future.” That’s something you might have heard a few time, maybe not, but it’s quite accurate. If you’ve hung out around Rockingham Christian Church long enough, you’ll know that’s a belief we try to debunk and encourage those in our children and student ministries to be active servants.
Tyler VanDeventer has grown up in ministry, a part of my brother’s team at a neighboring church. He decided from a young age that serving in ministry was going to be part of his life. He’s taken a more firm stance on that calling and has accepted the call to be the Worship Arts Resident Minister at RCC. He’s living with a church family, doing his own fundraising, and committing the next year to learn more about worship ministry.
You’ll see him up on stage and around the facility in various roles including leading our student band. Take a point to introduce yourself to him and take him out for a meal to let him know how much we appreciate him and want to share life with him.