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Studying Scripture Together: Favorite Verse

We are continuing this week with posting our Members' favorite bible verses as well as a random fact about them. Our hope is that this will not only help us read & learn scripture together, but allow us to connect with each other. If you would like to participate, please email Stephen Terry atsterry@missionathens.com.

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Name: Jonathan Irby

Random Fact: I have played the trombone in front of 20,000 people in China.

Favorite verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

I love this verse because it says that I always have enough. God's grace is enough, and will provide all that I need in every situation, whether that be saving grace or just the patience to deal with a difficult task or person. I don't need anything else.

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Studying Scripture Together: Favorite Verses

Since life is a little slower during the summer, we are starting something new. Each week, we will be posting a member's favorite bible verse along with a random fact about them. Our hope is that this will not only help us read & learn scripture together, but allow us to connect with each other. If you would like to participate, please email Stephen Terry at sterry@missionathens.com.

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Name: Brian Berger

Random Fact: Took gymnastics 7 years as a kid

Favorite verse: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5

This verse provides freedom from the things which enslave the human mind.

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Living Great Stories at the Movies and in Jesus

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef6vQBGqLW8] I’m a sucker for summer blockbusters. As in, I paid to see all the Transformers movies in theaters, with real money. I’ve already seen Iron Man 3, and it’s absolutely killing me that I have to wait another day to go see the new Star Trek, which means I have to wait at least another week to watch the newest Fast & Furious movie. But right now, the number one film on my to-see list is Pacific Rim, which has – get this – not only giant robots, but giant robots fighting giant monsters. A 2,500-ton robot using an oil tanker to paste a giant monster in the middle of Hong Kong? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Blockbuster movies like Transformers, Star Trek, and Iron Man hook viewers (like me) with flashy trailers packed full of special effects, dramatic slow-motion shots, and Inception-style “BLAAARM” sound effects (it’s everywhere). It’s easy to construct cheap drama in a trailer, but it’s a lot harder to deliver in a film. Most of the time, I walk away from big-budget action movie feeling disappointed, because all the spectacular set pieces and expertly-choreographed fight scenes and breathtaking visual sequences in the world can’t make up for a bad story. All the whiz-bang stuff is great, but without characters that you can connect with and a visceral conflict that you can feel, there's no substance.

The concept of “story” and “narrative” has been tossed around a lot in Christian circles over recent years, to the point where it feels cliché to even talk about it. However, in his book The Faith of Jesus Christ, Richard B. Hays introduces an interesting suggestion on how the idea of story can help us understand what it means to be “in Christ.” He writes:

If Paul’s gospel is the story of Jesus Christ, then we might participate in Christ in somewhat the same way that we participate in (or identify with) the protagonist of any story. We find that the story lays a claim upon us and draws us into its world; we recognize ourselves in the protagonist and feel that our own destinies are somehow figured in his story (214).

The best stories – film, books, TV shows -- draw you into another world. The hero or heroine’s conflict becomes your conflict; their struggle becomes your struggle; their victory becomes your victory. Hays is suggesting that is, at least in part, what Paul is hinting at in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Just because it’s a “story” doesn’t make it untrue. A narrative is a way to organize events in a way that makes sense; in this passage, Paul has organized the story of his life according to the story of Jesus.

The point is that Jesus did something real, and we are “in Christ” when we follow the same pattern he did. We can’t repeat Jesus’ specific work on our behalf, but we can emulate his attitude, and his faith in the Father and his promises. Reading the Gospels and encountering the gospel story in the New Testament letters is a vastly different experience from going to a blockbuster summer movie, but God’s Word promises something that no movie experience ever can. We don’t have to just watch; by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can act out the same story as Jesus right now, wherever we are. As we read God’s Word together this summer, let’s remember that we’re not just reading past history. We’re reading the blueprint for a different present.

Grace, truth, peace

Ben

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New Member: Mollie Kate Harris

Another addition to introducing our new members through sharing a little of their story. Our hope is that these stories will allow us to grow closer as a family as well as an avenue to share the story of our city.

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I was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia where I attended a small private, Christian school, Calvary. My family is very close and continues to play a large role in my life. I am the youngest of three sisters. I just graduated from the University of Georgia majoring in Middle Grades Education with specializations in math and social studies. Throughout the past four years, I've lived in Athens and have been a Young Life leader for middle schoolers at Prince Avenue Christian School. I hope to stay in Athens and obtain a job teaching in the surrounding area.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-9) The Gospel is a story of unconditional love and undeserved grace.

Throughout my life, these verses have served as a reminder of what God has done for me. In addition, His grace extends to me through my family. Growing up in a Christian home, my parents and sisters taught me of Christ's glory. Not a day went by where I was not reminded of Jesus' sovereign love for me. Also, I had the incredible gift of attending Calvary Christian School from preschool to graduation. During this time, I learned more of Christ' Word and its precious message. At the young age of seven, Christ began to move in my heart. My older sister, Micah, prayed with me for forgiveness and for the start of my devotion to Christ. From that moment on, I have grown and my faith has deepened. God's faithfulness and graces have never wavered. Christ has remained my hope, my strength, and my life. Bringing Him glory brings me the ultimate joy.

Throughout the past year and a half, I have been attending Christ Community Church. Not only have I grown through the Sunday morning gathering as well as community group, but I also appreciate its devotion to recognizing God's grace and serving Athens through outreach. Christ Community has become my church home and family. I want to follow Christ's call and join Christ Community in the mission of bringing God glory and displaying His sovereignty to the people around us.

As a member of Christ Community Church, I want to be a part of this family. I want to serve where there is a need. I want to take part in the outreach to our community. I want to bring and welcome visitors to our church. As well, I expect wisdom and discipleship through fellowship with members, community group, and at Sunday morning gathering.

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Easter Offering Update

In some parts of the Christian world, it's traditional for a church or a community to stage a "passion play," a kind of pageant that reenacts the last week of Jesus' life. The little village of Oberammergau in southeastern Germany has produced a passion play every ten years since 1634; municipal law states that male residents are forbidden to shave during play years so they can better approximate first century Jewish men. We don't have a passion play or a pageant or an interpretive dance. Those things are all good, but there's a different kind of "play" we're interested in for Easter. We want to act out the drama of Good Friday and Easter, not by trying to depict the historical events, but by following the pattern God set. He wrote the original "script" by giving up Jesus to death for our trespasses and raising him for our justification (Romans 4:25). In the same way that the Father gave us new life by sending his Son for us, we give hope to our world by giving up what we have for their sake.

The final amount we gathered for Out of Darkness was $4,606. The money we gave will go toward freeing a woman in Atlanta from sexual slavery. Thank you for your generosity. Please continue to pray that God would bless and multiply what we've given to bring hope to women in Atlanta.

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New Member: Michael Clarke

Another addition to introducing our new members through sharing a little of their story. Our hope is that these stories will allow us to grow closer as a family as well as an avenue to share the story of our city.

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I became a born again believer over a year ago because of the mercy of The Lord in my life. I came to know Christ through a guy at work who was living missionally within the workplace and was taking time to care for me by getting to know me. I was raised in a catholic family up till the divorce of my parents when I was a sophomore in high school. Growing up I would claim to be a Christian because that was the socially acceptable thing to do in the area I lived in. I played soccer at Georgia state for two years before I transferred to UGA where my life was radically changed eternally.

I became a believer in Christ while working at chickfila because of one guy putting his faith in The Lord and taking that initial step of faith of reaching out to me and getting to know me and to show that he truly cares about people. It was through his persistence to share the gospel with me and to pour into me and to devot time from his week every Friday that I came to truly hear what the gospel is and how Christ's death on the cross has given me eternal life if I truly put my faith in Christ and believe that He died for my sins, every one of my sins past, present and yet to come.

In my life, I am living missionally at chickfila using my job as the platform that God has given me to share the gospel with my coworkers. Rather than seeing my job as a way of making money, I am seeing it as a means to care for people and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone I work with. The desires of my heart have radically changed. My motives behind my actions have changed and my perspective on life has changed from being one focused on me and my life to that of eternity and for the sake of others around me.

I wanted to become a part of the body of Christ that lives on mission within our city of Athens with the one desire to proclaim the gospel to every corner of this city. The way the church is being lead by Matt and the missional mindset of the church make it very desirable to want to be a part of this community.

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New Member: Courtney Hicks

Another addition to introducing our new members through sharing a little of their story. Our hope is that these stories will allow us to grow closer as a family as well as an avenue to share the story of our city.

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I am a rising junior at UGA from Richmond Hill, GA, a town south of Savannah. My father was in the air force growing up so I moved around a lot every couple of years, but he eventually retired in Richmond Hill upon my entrance into high school. I have a younger brother and sister. I grew up in a Christian home with wonderful, godly parents but God really began to reveal what the gospel truly meant for me in high school with my involvement in my church's youth group.

I was baptized in a Baptist church when I was 10 or 11, but my faith never really became my own until high school. In fact, I am still learning even into college; last year I wrestled a lot with my faith, which ended up being a huge growth period in my walk with Christ and I learned so much more about my Father in heaven and about myself during that time. This isn't to say that I have stopped growing; I just grew more than I ever have before due to my new independence and the diversity of people that I met freshman year.

I have never been a member of a church before, and now that I am much more independent in college and away from home I want to find a church that I can call my family. I have found that in Christ Community Church.

I am in a sorority, and God has provided opportunities for me to invite my sisters to church and talk with them about their struggles and life in general. Being able to live alongside them has been really cool. I also have other friends around campus and from home that I have been able to have cool conversations with recently about what it means to be a follower of Christ.

I am excited to become a member of Christ Community!

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Is That Real Forgiveness?

Frank McKinley likes to spend his time reading, writing, drinking coffee, and taking photographs. He and his family have been members of Christ Community over ten years and in three locations. If you’d like to read more, his blog is http://frank-speakingfrankly.blogspot.com/ If you've watched commercial TV for more than an hour lately, you've probably seen an auto insurance ad.

The latest marketing gimmick is "accident forgiveness". It sounds really nice, but honestly how much do you really know about it?

I had an accident not long after I started driving. Like a fool, I didn't pay attention to my surroundings and plowed into a parked car. I don't remember the details. What I do remember was the embarrassment and fear that filled my brain so full that all reason was pushed out.

I wasn't concerned with whether the insurance company would forgive me. I was just hoping my dad would.

The premise behind accident forgiveness is that regardless of fault, you're first accident will not increase your insurance premiums. So, don't worry. Drive as if you don't have a care. The friendly insurance company has got your back.

But then there's always the truth behind the pitch.

According to an article in Forbes, insurance companies are in business to make a profit. But then, so is any other successful business. Since auto insurers know that people generally hate them, they've decided to present a warmer personality through hip commercials with funny, quirky, and compassionate characters who become our friends and even get their own websites. Remember the tour you could take of the Geico Cave Man's apartment? Now there's a site where you can learn to dress like Flo, the Progressive pitch girl.

While the insurer promises not to raise your premium, that is all they deliver. You can still be assessed an "accident surcharge". If they decide your accident is big enough, they can still drop you. You'll find the accident still counts against your good driver record and into other charges in your policy.

What if people forgave that way?

We all want forgiveness when we screw up. The reality of being human in a sinful world is that we are sinful too. We will say and do things that offend those closest to us. We will break things that we are responsible for. There will be times when we will forget promises we spoken and appointments we've made. If there were no second chances, we'd all be suicidal.

Just as we all want to be forgiven when we blow it, others do too. If you want to keep your friends, forgive them when they fail you. If you want to minimize your tendency to worry, remember that no one else is perfect, and you aren't either.

The beauty of the Gospel is that God is the ultimate Forgiver. He gives endless second chances to the ones He loves. Jesus' death and resurrection really does free you from all the guilt your sin brings, from the daily blunder to that general sense of your own unworthiness.

Now that's accident forgiveness that's good for a lifetime.

You take it to heart.

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New Member: Ryan Slauer

Another addition to introducing our new members through sharing a little of their story. Our hope is that these stories will allow us to grow closer as a family as well as an avenue to share the story of our city.

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I was born in Dallas to loving, Christian parents who started taking me to church and having quiet times with me at a very young age. We moved around a lot when I was younger, living in places scattered around the south. Constantly being the new kid and having a severe speech impediment (and later on, a severe case of acne) didn’t do wonders for my self-confidence. I moved to Johns Creek, Ga just before I started high school (Northview High School). Throughout my high school years I attended Perimeter Church and I swam for Swim Atlanta. Currently, I am a third-year Economics and Latin major planning on going to medical school.

Being raised in a Christian home and having gone to church my whole life, I have been surrounded by God’s truth for as long as I can remember. I “prayed a prayer” and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 7, but I’m sure I didn’t fully understand the Gospel at that point. But I don’t really know when I actually became a Christian. I suspect that it was a gradual process that began at a very young age. Perhaps, even though I did not fully understand it, God did give me the Holy Spirit at age 7. This detail, however, is much less important to me than the reality of God’s presence in my life and His faithfulness to me.

For the reason of grace alone, God has been with me for as long as I can remember. He has loved me and has taken care of me, and he has protected me from many sins and pitfalls along the way. What evidence is there that shows that I am a Christian? Well I certainly desire to walk as Jesus walked every day, and to love as Jesus loved, and to make Christ the center of every thought, action, and word. But these things come second to what really, for me, proves my status as a child of God: that over the years God has impressed upon me in a remarkable way the nature of my sinfulness and my brokenness.

Despite having been a Christian for so long and having avoided the big “visible” sins that are often talked about in testimonies as the wake-up call for Christ, God has not let me forget my depravity and my need for Jesus. He reveals depths of my sin that shock me and, were it not for Christ, would put me in despair. But I don’t have to despair, because Jesus has saved me from my sin and shame.

My mission field is primarily my fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. My closest friends are my fraternity brothers, and most of them are not Christians. It is they whom I primarily hope to witness to through my words and my actions. God has also given me the opportunity to talk about Him in some of my campus involvements, such as the Student Government Association. I also hope to make my Latin major more of a mission field. It is a small major, where many of the students are close-knit and I hope God will use me there in some way.

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A Rock to Stand On

Frank McKinley likes to spend his time reading, writing, drinking coffee, and taking photographs. He and his family have been members of Christ Community over ten years and in three locations. If you’d like to read more, his blog is http://frank-speakingfrankly.blogspot.com/

It was a typically steamy summer day in 2005. My son and I decided to seek relief in the dark, refrigerated atmosphere of the Carmike.

The movie was a momentous one. It was the end of an epic saga that had begun in my own youth and was finishing in my son's. We watched with rapt attention as the main character of the story went from a noble and idealistic hero to a dark and sinister villain.

With each passing moment, we drank more Coke and ate more popcorn. I fought the urge to leave and go to the bathroom with all my might. But the pain of not going won and I set a new world speed record for relief that still stands in my memory today.

If you haven't guessed by now, the movie we saw was Revenge of the Sith. At the time it was to be the last of the Star Wars movies.

And it was, until last October.

That was when George Lucas sold the rights to the franchise to Disney.

You'd have to be a fool to think they wouldn't make more movies. After all, they have to make money on their purchase, right? The sure way to keep Star Wars in our minds is not solely through merchandise sales. If you want a new crowd of followers, you have to keep telling stories.

The next one comes out in 2015.

If you're an introvert like me, you don't like change. Combine that with being older and it's a double threat. But life doesn't care about those things. The world out there will do what it will. You can either keep up or check out.

Sometimes you feel like you're standing on a rock with waves crashing all around you. You'll get soaked, but if you keep your balance, you won't get knocked off.

Life is a lot like that.

If you know Jesus, life can still feel like that. Here's the story behind the analogy. The waves that splash and crash around you is the reality of living in a sin-soaked world. The rock you stand on that gives you balance is your total trust in an unchanging God who will hold on to you no matter how hard or high the waves crash.

Stand on that and you'll stay afloat in the strongest storms.

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