“My brother, have you confessed your sins today? Have you seen the cross of Christ today?” These words are from Kefa Sempangi, a believer in Uganda. He is quoted in C. John Miller’s small-but-powerful book Repentance: A Daring Call to Real Surrender. It is a reminder of the refreshment that comes when we get to unburden ourselves before the Lord. It is a reminder of the joy and richness that is mine when grace meets me in...
“My brother, have you confessed your sins today? Have you seen the cross of Christ today?”
These words are from Kefa Sempangi, a believer in Uganda. He is quoted in C. John Miller’s small-but-powerful book Repentance: A Daring Call to Real Surrender. It is a reminder of the refreshment that comes when we get to unburden ourselves before the Lord. It is a reminder of the joy and richness that is mine when grace meets me in my specific and troubling sin.
In college, my life was changed when someone took the time to begin to teach me how to confess my sins specifically, and regularly ask for God’s help to walk in the Spirit. Before that, repentance was just a heavy religious word; a nebulous concept of weight and guilt. But after that, repentance came alive to me as a divine gift, an invitation to receive and experience God’s love in fresh and real ways.
I have been trying to practice and grow in the gift of repentance ever since!
Coming in at less than 100 pages, Repentance is the kind of book that can be read and re-read many times. It has been a continual reminder for me of the life-renewing power of this practice. When I bring my sin to the Cross, and agree with what God says, then I receive His mercy afresh each day.
Miller has helped to encourage me in this. In fact, his biblical emphases - poured through the experiences of his own life and pain - have been a treasure store of God’s truth. Miller helps us think through repentance vs. penance, the right role of conviction, and how we apply the finished work of Christ. He walks us through biblical guilt and confession, to bring us out into freeing forgiveness and the Spirit’s power.
“In the great invitational passages of Scripture, the exhortation is not to thirst, i.e., to acquire a conviction of sin. Instead, the command is for sinners to drink of Christ (Jn. 7:37, Is. 55:1-2). Scripture does not say that the way of salvation is to make yourself heavy with your sins. Instead, the invitation from the Lord is, ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden’ (Mt. 11:38).”
If you are ready to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Ptr. 3:18), and in the timeless practice of preaching the Cross to yourself regularly, than this book will be rich for you.
And if you pick up a copy, and start reading, I would love to hear about it. You can expect that I will be reading it, too!
For His glory in us,
I want to offer a well-deserved congratulations to our graduating seniors! You have achieved an important milestone in your life. Because this is such an important juncture in your life, you have probably been receiving much uninvited advice. And, I am no different, I must add my two cents. My advice is simple, pick your superhero carefully...
I want to offer a well-deserved congratulations to our graduating seniors! You have achieved an important milestone in your life. Because this is such an important juncture in your life, you have probably been receiving much uninvited advice. And, I am no different, I must add my two cents. My advice is simple, pick your superhero carefully.
Why is this so important? No matter what you are about to do (school, job, the military) you won’t be able to do it on your own. In fact, your friends and family won’t be enough. Life demands a superhero.
Fortunately, today we have many superheroes to choose from. Just a few weeks ago American’s spent a record $2.6B to see the Avengers, making it the second largest grossing movie of all time. And that is only the tip of the iceberg, as there are literally hundreds of comic book superheroes. Each have their unique super-ability to help them fight crime or intergalactic aliens. How is one to choose?
As you have probably already guessed, these are not the type of superhero that I have in mind. Obviously, my suggestion would be that you make Jesus Christ your superhero. What are his credentials? He can speak things into being; He can heal with the sound of a prayer; He knows everything, even the number of hairs on our head; He can be anywhere all at the same time; and, there is no end to his existence. If that’s not enough, he defeated our arch-nemesis on a simple cross. But maybe most amazingly, He loves each of us no matter what we do.
But wait, there is more. If we make him our superhero, He will endow us with superhuman ability. This is better known as the Holy Spirit. He makes us unstoppable—I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me (Phl 4:13). He places a force field of sorts around us—The Lord will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one (II Th 3:3). We become his personal Padawan—He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phl 1:6). We become indestructible—For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ro 6:23). And, these are only a few of the promises. These promises will come in handy in the future as they are the very answers to the challenging life that each of us have in front of us.
I realize that I am not saying anything that you don’t already know. The problem is that you know it too well and has become common-place. It is easy to fail to see the wonder, the “super hero-ness” that is our Lord Jesus Christ. My prayer for you is that you will see Jesus for who He really is, the only true answer to the questions you will face in your life. But like all good superheroes even Jesus has his “kryptonite”. You may be thinking Satan, but Jesus defeated him thousands of years ago. And it is not Jesus that has a kryptonite but our relationship with him. That is, distraction! When He truly is our superhero we will feel the need to spend time with Him. We will want to share our lives with Him through prayer and seek His plan for our lives through Bible study. So, make quiet time and protect it with all your might!
Soon, you will be on your own and be faced with who your superhero will be. It will no longer be your parent’s decision. Will you choose to serve yourself, your career, a friend, spouse, money or a million other things? Or, will you choose to serve Jesus? The decision you will make over the next few years will shape the course for the rest of your life.
Youth and High School Ministries are full of exciting opportunities, endless possibilities, and some amazing students. As a Youth Ministry leader, I am excited because I feel confident in the work God is going to do through this ministry. I know that He...
Youth and High School Ministries are full of exciting opportunities, endless possibilities, and some amazing students. As a Youth Ministry leader, I am excited because I feel confident in the work God is going to do through this ministry. I know that He has a purpose and a plan in all of it and I am ready to get to work.
High school is a transformative time in student’s lives and our goal is to serve these students as they are transformed through God in a loving community.
A few years ago, I helped run The Hang Out, MCC’s old high school youth group. Being involved in that ministry was a learning experience. I grew from leading that group to currently leading in the middle schooler ministry I love so much. While I’ve enjoyed working with ALL of the mid-school students, I have really connected with the 8th graders. I knew after hanging out with them, talking with them and even discipling two, that we have a really cool opportunity.
Having grown up at Mountain Christian, with lifelong friends and people I’ve known my whole life at this church, I can say that this particular group of 8th grade students is really something special. They are passionate, engaged, and each equipped with servant’s hearts. These kids are a large part of why we are so excited about launching our High School Ministry in July!
These eight students, and our leadership team, are providing the ministry with a solid foundation that we believe can grow into something powerful.
While the Hang Out was focused largely on outreach, we quickly found out that we didn’t have a solid enough foundation to run that type of ministry. What these older middle schoolers have taught me is that if we work inward, the outreach will come. It’s not about how many kids we can get into youth group, instead it's about how we build up the kids we already have!
Ultimately, we know that our students have the biggest impact on their peers and we are excited to see how they will reach out in God’s love to their friends and fellow students.
We are praying that the 8th graders, and whoever comes to the High School Ministry, are going to create change in the church and the community. We pray daily for these kids and know that God is going to do some powerful things in and through them. I am so grateful and blessed to get to work with them.
Will you join us in praying for these kids, that their hearts would be open and ready to be changed. Pray that they would be encouraged and have safe travels at the Christ in Youth Conference June 30-July 5. Also, would you pray for Sami, Canyon, Micaiah, and myself, that God would use us for his glory, and finally that as July 12th rolls around and we launch that God would bring who He wants there!
Please contact me at with any questions.
Ahhhh, the dreaded “H” word, for some of us. Hospitality. The idea of inviting people into our homes (and ultimately, into our lives) can create anxiety and a sense of dread in many of us. Yes, even the person you think “loves” to entertain can feel uncertainty and dread over what will be required to show hospitality. Take for example this last Monday. We had just...
Ahhhh, the dreaded “H” word, for some of us. Hospitality. The idea of inviting people into our homes (and ultimately, into our lives) can create anxiety and a sense of dread in many of us. Yes, even the person you think “loves” to entertain can feel uncertainty and dread over what will be required to show hospitality.
Take for example this last Monday. We had just finished a couple of intense weeks of cattle work, and quite honestly, I was physically exhausted. Rather than taking it easy that day, I found myself in the kitchen prepping for a bridal shower that would bring 50 women into my home this evening expecting the meal I had promised in the invitation. Let me just say that the combination of exhaustion and overload sent me over the edge. I was upset over every little thing that didn’t seem to “go right”, and finally, I just broke down in anger and frustration and started crying. My sweet daughter had been working alongside me that morning, and without missing a beat, she just commented, “It’s going to be OK, Mom. We’ve got this. We are going to get the food made and enjoy showing hospitality and blessing our friend.”
“What happened, Mom?”
“HOSPITALITY!! I was supposed to turn in an article on hospitality for the church blog……LAST WEEK!”
I just stopped and couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry at the predicament I was in. Yes….it was the dreaded “h” word.
Hospitality. Webster defines it as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers”. Hmmmm. OK. In Hebrews 13:2, we’re told, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” I love how God gave this command and immediately followed it with a blessing, the possibility of entertaining angels! Unfortunately, I can so easily focus only on the command part and completely forget about the blessing part. There have been many times when I didn’t “feel” like showing hospitality. Let’s face it. Even the most extroverted extrovert can reach their wall, but what I do know is that over and over, when I step out in obedience, whether I feel like it or not, God always comes through with some kind of blessing.
Some of you might be thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, Cathy, because you like people.” That’s true. Anyone who spends 2 seconds with me will easily figure out I’m a little on the "extraverted" side, but this verse doesn’t say anything about how this is only for extroverted people. It’s given to The Body, extroverted and introverted alike. God knew that asking us to show hospitality would require all of us, regardless of personality style, to go out on a limb and be transparent and vulnerable by opening our homes and arms to others.
So, how do you put the act of hospitality into effect? Throw away the Better Homes and Garden books and disregard everything you’ve seen on Pinterest. Simply open up a can of tomato soup and make some grilled cheese sandwiches. Not big on that? Then, mix up a batch of pancakes or waffles, grab a game, and just wait for the fun to begin.
"I didn’t entertain strangers that night, but in my
effort to show hospitality, it truly was
ME who was blessed."
Too simplistic? You bet, but look at the definition again. It doesn’t say anything about big or extravagant or fancy food. It’s just a friendly and generous reception. That is pretty simplistic. Too often, I would spend too much time focusing on how clean my house was or how fancy the food was, when in reality, it really boiled down to having a cup of coffee or tea or glass of water, a place to sit and relax, and just an atmosphere of home with a big smile, and sometimes, the smile was optional.
Think about the people you enjoy visiting with. What is it about their home that makes you want to be there? When I have asked people this question, I have never heard anyone tell me, “they have such a clean house” or “their food is so tasty” or anything else along those lines. Invariably, I hear, “they just made me feel welcome” or “I felt like I just sit back and relax and be myself”. That’s what people want – a space where they can be themselves and be accepted and loved. That’s what we are given the opportunity to do when we open our doors to strangers or neighbors or friends.
Maybe hospitality is something we fear because we forget what the end goal is. The world tries to convince us through magazines, tv shows, and marketing schemes that showing hospitality requires all kinds of fancy food and decorations and perfectly behaved children with big smiles on their faces. When in reality, most people receive hospitality in the form of welcoming arms, a cozy couch, and someone willing to sit and listen. It’s all about the relationship.
Back to my craziness. Sarah and I laughed and laughed later that afternoon about how ridiculous my response was that morning. We finished all the food with hours to spare and found ourselves with time to sit and visit with the bride-to-be and her family before the guests arrived. The house was filled that evening with many women just enjoying some time with each other and watching the young woman open each gift with excitement. When the last ones finally trickled out the door that evening, I walked away from the dishes in the sink and just plopped in a chair. As I sat there that night, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly blessed by the opportunity to laugh and cry and visit with these dear friends. I didn’t entertain strangers that night, but in my effort to show hospitality, it truly was ME who was blessed.
I loved what Jake Gray said in Emily’s post. “If you invite them, they might come and never leave”. It’s true!! They might have such a great time that they want to stay longer than you anticipated. Yet, when they do, you might also discover that YOU are the one who doesn’t want them to leave. Our efforts at showing hospitality to others in order to bless them could back fire. It might be US that receives the majority of the blessing. God likes to surprise us that way.
It was December 30, 2017, the evening before we were hosting a New Year’s celebration for a few families from my husband’s work. We have always enjoyed hosting and entertaining and were excited to have a large group of friends to celebrate with. The guests all had young kids, like ours, and even though none of us expected to actually stay up until midnight, we still wanted to celebrate the beginning of the New Year together.
Although we are normally a fairly tidy family, it being the night before we expected guests, the house was a mess. I planned to wait until the next day to get serious about house cleaning so that everything would look great when our guests arrived. After all, it was December in the mountains and we had two dogs and four kids running in and out enjoying the melting snow and inevitable mud?!? Needless to say, our floors were a special kind of East Mountains dirty that evening.
As I arrived home from the grocery store, my mind was not on guests yet. I was thinking about getting groceries put away, putting leftover lentil soup on the stove and fresh cornbread in the oven. We were busy discussing how we would prep for our friends coming ‘tomorrow’ when Dave looked up and said, “Look at that, someone’s pulling in the driveway.”
I nonchalantly said, “I sure hope they don’t want to come in!” sure that it was the mail carrier or UPS truck.
A couple from Dave’s work had showed up a day early for the New Year’s Party! And they didn’t JUST show up; they had prepared smoked salmon with caviar, drove over an hour to get to our home, and were so embarrassed that they had gotten the day wrong. I was as MORTIFIED as they were UNCOMFORTABLE. My house was a mess. All I had to offer was leftover lentil soup (which hadn’t been pretty on night one, much less a meal I wanted to serve guests as leftovers) and thank goodness hot-out-of-the-oven cornbread.
God reminded me that He works in all things,
not just the things I plan!
Dave welcomed them in; I fumbled, blushed, and apologized for the mess. Then they fumbled, blushed and apologized for being 24 hours early! They insisted that they would just drive home and we would all forget the whole thing. I wanted to agree, but God nudged my heart to invite them in, forget the messy house and give thanks for whatever He had planned for us. And let’s be honest, the promise of smoked salmon may have helped me say yes.
In the book “The Gospel Comes with a Housekey” Rosaria Butterfield says,
“God calls us to make sacrifices that hurt so that others can be served and maybe even saved. We are called to die. Nothing less. Radically ordinary hospitality serves ravioli with redemption life. It is fearless; it is faithful.”
In that moment, I was not fearless but I was faithful; my ideal of a perfect house, any notion of being completely prepared for guests and being a perfectly put-together hostess, had to die. I had to lay that at God’s feet and beg that He would make something wonderful out of my mess and inadequacy.
So, we invited them in. We set the table. I let my pride die right there on my dirty floor and we had an amazing evening. Our guests were lovely. Ami (name changed) is Japanese and spoke very little English, her husband didn’t enjoy being in a large crowd and had struggled with a number of co-workers who would be there the next night and they would not have enjoyed being with the 40+ adults and kiddos that joined us the following night. Their youngest daughter got along quickly with our own children and felt right at home. The simple truth is that Ami and I never would have had three hours to ourselves to discuss quilting, parenting as military families, the struggles of moving regularly, and the challenges her family faces as she attends a Japanese Baptist Church and her husband and children a large non-denominational church, if God had not gifted us with that time so that I could focus just on her.
What a gift that evening was. As I died to my pride, I saw God show up and open a space for us. Ami was allowed to be imperfect in her language as I was imperfect with, well, almost everything else. We laughed easily over the other’s short-comings; their timing and my house keeping. We made connections: being Christians, military spouses and quilters. God reminded me that He works in all things, not just the things I plan!
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Ami and I would have missed so much if we had allowed our perceived imperfections to become obstacles that night. As God removed the boundary I put up, He made the space for something wonderful to happen and I am so glad that He did.
The truth is, I haven’t seen Ami again and I likely never will. They moved shortly after our early New Year’s celebration and it is unlikely that we will ever live near the same base again. But I don’t think that God’s point was to form a life-long friendship that day. Instead, He was teaching me that my personal comfort, my pride over being the perfect hostess, or a fantastic cook, is not His goal. God called me to be available, regardless of my home, the perfect meal, or anything else about me ‘feeling’ prepared and He meet me and Ami right there and blessed us both.
How has God blessed you by calling you out of your comfort zone?
E-List SignUp Form
The Women’s Serving Team is hosting a Mugs & Muffins event August 10th from 9:00 – 11:00am in the Fellowship Hall. Christine Leggett will be leading us in a discussion about the spiritual battle we each have with the desires of our heart. It will be a morning of fellowship, rich discussion and encouragement as we come together to study God’s Word. Praying you can join us. Don’t forget your favorite coffee mug! Please RSVP to Christine if you need childcare.
You can go on a mission trip and never leave Albuquerque. International Students Incorporated (ISI) helps international students when they arrive in the U.S. ISI has a chapter at UNM helping pick up students as they arrive at the airport, providing temporary home stays, helping find housing, English as a second language training and friendship partners. A new school year is getting started with hundreds of international students arriving at UNM. Please consider helping in one of the ways noted above. Alternatively, we will be providing lunch for students and volunteers on Wednesday, August 7 (signup sheets will be in the foyer). If you are interested in helping or just want more information please contact Vince Tidwell.
MCC’s Shine Partnership is hosting a dessert night Wednesday, August 14 at 7:00pm at Ashley Procter’s house! Current Shine volunteers, anyone curious about what Shine is, or those interested in becoming a Shine volunteer are invited! Contact Ashley if you have questions or need directions.
Save the Date: MCC Elders are hosting a 4-week Foundations Class starting September 15 and running through the first week in October. This class is designed to better help you get to know MCC - who we are, what we believe and why, and how to get connected. Please sign up with Sarah.