Guest Posts

Guilt, Grace, Gratitude

John Evans has been part of Christ Church for several years, most recently as a community group leader and office manager, before moving to Atlanta this week to pursue job opportunities. He asked to share this with you about his time in our church:

I started coming to Christ Community Church in the summer of 2008. It was a long road that led me there. Growing up, religion got me what I wanted – but when I got to college, it didn’t. I memorized scripture, I read the books, I even listened to John Piper sermons. Some of it was seeking, but lots of it was stiffness and about halfway through college, I felt the depth of my failure. I sensed the ways I had turned my God into a vending machine – I felt my heart grow hard and eventually my behavior reflected the emptiness inside. I realized, if my relationship with God relied on me living and loving like Jesus I was in big trouble. Mainly because, even if I could control my behavior, I knew I could never control my heart. I hated God’s righteousness and I thought He was angry with me because I could never measure up to the Christian life. I had quietly bought into the idea that Jesus gets us a second chance with God, but it’s up to me the second time around – the noise of life had drowned out the melody of the gospel.

It was about that time I started going to our Church. I went to one Community Group before I decided to join. I found family. I found a worldview called Grace. I began to tap my foot to the phrase, “gospel, community, mission.” As I sat under Matt’s preaching, I heard the power of the gospel – “We are not defined by our performance, we are defined by the performance of Jesus.” Our sin does not write our story, the gospel does. And the gospel is not just for evangelism – the gospel is for Christians! Over and over, I had been asking, “what do I do so that God will love me?” I got my answer, there is nothing I can do – and there is nothing left for me to do. Everything God requires of us, Jesus finished for us. There is daily grace for those who have tried and failed – the ability to succeed AND the freedom to fall short as we strive to follow the God we love!

I wonder how many Christians, like me, still think God is angry at them? Living like a gun is pointed at our head, expecting God to pull the trigger when we mess up. How quickly we forget that all the divine justice that was aimed at us, was emptied on Christ at the cross. We have to continually reaffirm this: Jesus stood in our place condemned, now we stand in His place perfectly loved and accepted by God forever. It is the best deal in the universe, it is a gospel for real life and it is a gospel for real sinners.

Our church has helped open my eyes to the nature of the Christian life, a life spent repenting over my sin and rejoicing over my Savior – resting in undeserved mercy and then fighting to live for the smile of God and the good of others. Today, there is no greater relief than my belief – Jesus died, He rose, He will come again. And I have no greater gift than my relationship with a God who is so good, great, gracious and glorious that… even I cannot help but love Him.

You’re supposed to post these when you join, I’m posting mine after three years of being stunned by God’s relentless pursuit of me through our gospel community. I am unbelievably thankful for Christ Church, my community group, the ministry of Frank Beedle and David Melton, and so many in our family… thank you Matt and Aaron, and most of all, Jesus. Love y’all.

 

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Our Family Is Growing-Andy and Amy Tucker

Amy and I met in Athens, GA twelve years ago and upon marrying lived in Augusta, GA for several years before making our way back to Athens and into the Watkinsville area.  We took our time and visited many churches in the area before meeting Aaron and Camille Slaten and visiting Christ Community Church.   We felt an instant connection and continued visiting for year before coming members.  We have been so blessed to be back into the area we call home and are even more blessed with the family and friends we have made at Christ Community.  Joining a community group with other couples with young children has really made us feel more of a part of the church. We are looking forward to growing friendships with families and watching our children grow as part of Christ Community. Andy works as a photographer for UGA and Amy works as a Social Worker for the Area Agency on Aging.  We have 2 small children, Jackson, age 5 and Ellie, age 2.

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Adopted By Grace - Alice Woodard

At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that God has adopted us into his family. As one man writes:

Our acceptance by the Father is therefore the foundation of our Christian lives. Before we do anything for God, we know that we are beloved by God. By grace, we have brand new identities as sons and daughters, and we are brand new creatures. Being loved by the Father becomes the very core of our existence. This is both our legal and actual status before God.

One of the ways this doctrine has been made evident in the life of our church is in the story of Alice Woodard:

One day when I was 10, I abruptly asked my mom “was the baby you lost a boy or a girl?  Quietly, she responded, “a girl”.  Very matter of factly I replied, “Now I know why God gave me to you.  He knew you needed a little girl and I needed a mommy.”

I didn't know much scripture, but from that day on, I knew God had a plan and purpose for me being adopted.  When I did learn scripture, Romans 8:28 became my life verse, “all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.”  I had no idea why I couldn't  grow up with my biological parents, but it was clear God meant it for my good and His glory.

As an adult, I began to see the importance of knowing and understanding your story.  My story was like a huge puzzle... the picture was beautiful, but a piece was missing.  After receiving my father and brother's blessing, I decided to search for my biological mother.  What unfolded was an amazing story of God's grace and provision.

My biological mother died 2 years prior to my search, so unfortunately I never met her. Nancy Neal's story is a tangled web of struggle.  She was plagued with bad health, loved multiple men and regularly took drugs.  Substance abuse is a recurring theme in many of my siblings lives.  In fact, it's been reported that the family Christmas Celebrations included most everyone on the front lawn getting high together.  Depression, anxiety and bad choices abound.  Jail time, living on welfare, abortions, beer in baby bottles, acting in porn movies, taking drugs, dealing drugs, are all so much a part of their lives.  School wasn't important and college never an option.  It's almost too overwhelming to put on paper ~ it takes my breath away to type these words.

The only reason I didn't grow up in the same environment, is that I was born first.  Nancy wasn't married, so her parents made her give me away.  I didn't do anything to earn or deserve a better life.  I was plucked out of much sadness and turmoil, because God simply called me out.

No one knows who my biological father could be.  At first I was sad I would never know him and then it occurred to me that often God gives us substitutes.  Ken Rockey has been more than a father.  He's been my daddy; I couldn't ask for more.  God gave him to me as a substitute, just as He gave us Christ as a substitute on the cross for our sins.  We don't have to pay the price of our sin; Jesus already took care of it.

At my adoption agency, a baby is placed into THE Cradle for Adoptive Parents to view and see if they want the baby.  My parents walked in, saw me and began to dress me to take me home.  The case worker questioned, “oh you want her?” Immediately they responded, “yes, we want her.”  I didn't promise to love them well, always behave or keep my room clean; in spite of myself, they picked me up and made me their own.  Isn't that much like when we reach heaven?  Just when we expect the gavel to fall and proclaim us unwanted, Jesus steps in and says, “She's mine.  I want to take her home.”

I can not grasp why I've experienced so much GRACE in my life.  I continue to rest in Romans 8:28, that “all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.”  I continue to trust that He knows best, that HE is the Author and Sovereign Creator of my life.

“Jesus you are mercy, Jesus you are justice, Jesus you are worthy, that is what you are. You died alone to save me, you rose so you could raise me You did this all to make me a chosen child of God.”

 

 

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