An afternoon by the pool .. a weekend at the cabin .. a lazy day in your hammock, or an evening out on the porch swing .. these are the essence of leisure, of rest, of summer. And while I hold firmly to the maxim that “the only two things in life that are not overrated are God, and rest”, I also believe that...
An afternoon by the pool .. a weekend at the cabin .. a lazy day in your hammock, or an evening out on the porch swing .. these are the essence of leisure, of rest, of summer. And while I hold firmly to the maxim that “the only two things in life that are not overrated are God, and rest”, I also believe that leisure is most delightfully life-giving when it is nourished by a good book.
As you enjoy your summer, here are three books that you might consider making a part of your plans. They will give an outsized spiritual return on your investment. They are short books - easy to pack for travel - with chapters that can typically be read in one sitting. And yet, they get to the heart of spiritual matters quickly, and invite you deeper into the springs of God’s refreshment.
Tozer thunders like a modern-day prophet, rousing us from the midst of our sleepy evangelical world. Several of his works are rightly seen as classics. The Root of the Righteous is one of these. May it be well-used of God to stir you, with chapters like “The Great God Entertainment”, and “Faith Is a Perturbing Thing”. Hear his incisive diagnoses, written in 1955(!), and see if they don’t ring true: “The present inordinate attachment to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline. The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no spring within his own breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.” May you be drawn to seek Him more, with “Love of the Unseen Is Possible”, and “Something Beyond Song”.
It is Piper’s sub-title that really orients you to his approach right away: “Making the most of three dangerous opportunities.” This is no glum recital of shame-inducing regulations. In typical Piper fashion, he grounds everything in the glory of God, and in our soul’s search for it’s deepest satisfaction. He begins with a foundation of what money, sex, and power are all about. They are gifts from God, meant to be used for His glory and our joy. Then he addresses the dangers and opportunities of each one, in turn. In the end, he encourages us in how we can deploy the potentials that are latent in each of these three temptations. “Money, sex, and power exist ultimately to show that God is more to be desired than money, sex, and power. That is, paradoxically, how they become most satisfying in themselves.”
If you’ve ever felt like you’re completely tapped-out after 5 minutes in prayer, than this may be the book for you. If you’ve ever felt like your time in the Word was dull, than this will open the door to a new approach. As Whitney says in diagnosing our prayer doldrums, “The problem is not that we pray about the same things; rather, it’s that we say the same old things about the same old things.” And really, the remedy is obvious, right? Where else should we turn, to learn to pray, than to the Bible?! And whose words and thoughts ought to fill our minds, and guide our petitions, more than God’s?! In the end, this little book is simple, yet profound. I find that Whitney’s approach spurs me on with the freedom to follow the Spirit in prayer, while also guiding me by the wings of God’s Word. It is brilliantly dependent upon both.
What are your favorite Biblical summer reads? Share in the comments!
We love to talk about transformation here at Mountain Christian Church, and truly, it is one of the best, most faith-building parts of Christianity, watching God transform the people around you. But, to be transformed, we first must be offered up. This year...
We love to talk about transformation here at Mountain Christian Church, and truly, it is one of the best, most faith-building parts of Christianity, watching God transform the people around you.
But, to be transformed, we first must be offered up.
This year for the AMPED UP VBS program, I was asked to head up the crafts area, so it was my responsibility to choose which crafts to do, (from a list of suggestions the creator of our VBS program offered), get the supplies either through donations or purchasing, oversee the volunteers, and run one of the craft rooms.
We received several donations, and amongst those was this oddball plastic container of pony beads. Pony beads were on the list of items needed, but these were too few and only three colors. We needed many colors and many, many beads to make the craft work. But everyone has made pony bead bracelets before and we were making bracelets based on binary code, so I decided to purchase some that looked more hi-tech and unique so the kids wouldn’t see it as the same old thing.
I then set aside the oddball container of beads, thinking they were useless.
Day One came and went, everyone made bracelets with the purchased beads. Success!
And in my pile of miscellaneous craft supplies, there still sat the oddball beads.
The craft team got together at the end of Day One, so we could all practice making the craft for Day Two. It was one we knew everyone would love. The kids got to make rock climbers.
By taping straws and a penny to the backside of a paper man, and then running yarn through the straws, they were actually able to make him climb by pulling the yarn in a certain way. Too fun!
While we were reading through the directions - more carefully and thoroughly now that we actually got to make the things - we realized we were going to need some PONY BEADS for that day. We needed to tie them to the ends of the yarn so it didn’t feed itself back through the straws.
Immediately, my mind went to the oddball container. Colors don’t matter here, and each kid only needs two of them, so of course there were plenty, and the smaller beads I purchased would never have worked.
God provided just what we needed.
Thank goodness the person who donated them did, and thank goodness we didn’t just throw them out. So, that “oddball container of pony beads” actually became a lifesaver for our Day Two craft.
Don’t discount those oddballs who volunteer, and don’t stay home because you perceive YOURSELF to be the oddball who just doesn't fit. God has a plan for you! A special place for you to fill. Offer yourself up and watch God transform you, or even better, use you to transform those around you.
(Photo credit to Jasmine Mostrom. Thank you for your amazing contribution to VBS Jasmine!)
We never know who will come to Vacation Bible School each year. This year’s Vacation Bible School touched the lives of 137 children; 41% (LESS than half!) of the children were from MCC families; and 18% did not have a home church listed. Some of the children...
We never know who will come to Vacation Bible School each year.
This year’s Vacation Bible School touched the lives of 137 children; 41% (LESS than half!) of the children were from MCC families; and 18% did not have a home church listed.
Some of the children are really hurting. I heard about one child whose dad is not allowed to come home due to a judge’s order. Another child kept asking to take extra snacks home to his little brother. Initially we found him putting carrots in his pockets to share with his brother so our sweet VBS snack team decided to pack a bag of food for his little brother daily! Yet another family was packing to move to another state! The needs were great this year, but God is bigger and we know He has a plan for each of these children.
Especially the last family I want to tell you about. We had two children who were visiting from Texas. What we didn’t know until later in the week was that they lost both of their parents in a horrific car accident in April. With all they had been through, what a blessing it must have been to them to be loved on without being treated differently than any other child. Of all the VBS's in the country, and of all the leaders in our VBS, one of these children was placed in a group whose leader grew up in the same area that she is from. Wow. The 'coincidence' brings me to tears because it wasn't a coincidence at all. GOD placed them right where HE wanted them to be.
Thank you for supporting VBS. For allowing us to be God's hands and feet to the children HE brought to Mountain Christian Church VBS this year!
At MCC we love to see God using people to “bring change and be changed”.
We revel in how comprehensive God’s power and desire for change is: transforming everything and anybody, usually in the context of a community of individuals being changed together in unexpected and unforeseen ways...
At MCC we love to see God using people to “bring change and be changed”.
We revel in how comprehensive God’s power and desire for change is: transforming everything and anybody, usually in the context of a community of individuals being changed together in unexpected and unforeseen ways.
Romans 12:2 teaches us not to conform to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may test and approve the perfect will of God.
In the Old Testament scriptures, God’s people are commanded:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5 NASB).
Jesus Himself renders this “greatest commandment” in all the Old Testament as:
“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND” (Mt 22:37).
Since the Old Testament concept of heart included the idea of “mind” or “intellect” already, Jesus is doubly emphasizing the importance of cultivating our minds to the glory of God and the benefit of His people.
So, here alone, we are repeatedly and unambiguously commanded to love God with all of our minds, along with every other aspect of our being. Doing our best to think correctly about God and spiritual matters is therefore not an option, nor is it reserved for pastors, elders, teachers, ministry leaders, or the academically inclined. AW Tozer was not the first to point out that “what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us”.
Likewise, RC Sproul was not the first to point out that “everyone is a theologian”, the only question is whether we are going to be good ones or not. I think it’s safe to say that many, maybe even most, American churchgoers fall into the latter category, and are more susceptible to deception, manipulation, and being unnecessarily conformed to the world as a result.
Theology matters. People, families, churches, communities, and entire civilizations rise or fall based on their individual and corporate ideas and beliefs about God.
What we believe about God, and how well we understand why we believe what we believe will affect every relationship with have (God, fellow persons, and the rest of the created Universe).
Becoming better theologians need not be a dry, abstract, or divisive academic exercise in splitting hairs over scriptural or doctrinal minutia. We can and should engage together – in community -- in the pursuit of being better theologians as we seek to know and love God and each other to the best (and even beyond) our abilities. All this, without sacrificing any of the clear truths of God’s revelation or quenching the Spirit’s movements among us.
Studying theology in a systematic way does not replace individual or corporate Bible study, worship, or standing under the authority of Spirit-led and biblically informed teaching ministries in the local church God has called us to - but it should certainly be a part of it.
I’m convicted that we need more opportunities to become better theologians together.
With that in mind, I’m proposing a new adult small group focused on cultivating this easily and often neglected aspect of the Christian life and calling. Vince Tidwell has graciously agreed to co-lead such a group. We have a potential curriculum that begins with ten introductory lessons where we will ask, study, and discuss questions such as: What is “Systematic Theology” anyway? How/when does it differ from Bible study? How can theology and doctrine be loving, non-divisive, and peace-seeking without compromising truth? What are the appropriate sources and norms of Christian doctrine? How can/should we define essentials and non-essentials? Why and how does the Christian church seem so divided on theological and doctrinal issues? What is Epistemology, and what does a distinctly Christian one look like? Does God still speak to us today as directly as He did in the past? We have videos, workbooks, discussion questions, and reading assignments already in mind, and will hold each other accountable for coming to our discussion groups prepared.
Optional follow-on material includes: Bibliogy & Hermeneutics, Trinitarianism, Humanity & Sin, Soteriology, and Ecclesiology & Eschatology (8-10 lessons each). We could take or leave any aspect of this curriculum, or use it as a springboard into specific theological/doctrinal studies based on the needs and interests of the group as we seek the Lord’s leading.
If you are potentially interested in being part of such a group and willing to consider committing to a study/discussion group beginning sometime in September, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am starting an email list to gauge interest and availability before picking specific dates, times, meeting location (our home?), meeting frequency (weekly, bi-weekly?) and any other logistics required to get this new group off the ground!
On Monday, our first day of VBS this year, we learned the “home verse” which is the hub for all 5 days’ lessons of heroes from the Bible who did live fully alive for God through impossible circumstances -- for them, not for Him. Our verse: “I have come so they may have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.” (John 10:10b) Our heroes so far...
On Monday, our first day of VBS this year, we learned the “home verse” which is the hub for all 5 days’ lessons of heroes from the Bible who did live fully alive for God through impossible circumstances -- for them, not for Him. Our verse: “I have come so they may have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.” John 10:10b
Our heroes so far - Joseph and Esther - vibrantly brought to life for the children by Molly during opening activity, have elicited a range of emotion around the room.
I have been particularly conscious of my kiddos - 4th-6th graders in our group the Flynnstone Flips! From the first minutes we spent together, quickly discovering their amazing pretzel-like contortion capabilities, have became the Flexible Flips! As an added bonus, two of my boys are returnees from last year.
One of these boys I remembered as a dark-eyed, kind, quiet soul -- so shy. Last year my group had an odd number of kiddos so in the partnered song/dance moves, I pulled him in to perform with me. When we successfully got the claps, steps, spins right, he just lit up. That was then.
This year, when I found him on my list, I recalled his still, thoughtful observation of the goings-on and when he arrived he seemed the shy, delightful child of last year. But during these first few days of VBS, I have observed him interact and befriend boys and girls in our group, jump right in and partner up for games, answer questions - hand shooting into the air.
In our last activity before closing on Tuesday, a game was put forth in which small groups were given a pile of 12 cards to put in chronological order re-telling the story of Esther. We leaders held back. I was thrilled to see him arise as a gentle, emergent leader, respectful of group members, logical in explanation, listening to others’ reasonings. The solution was rapid and sure, the group finishing far ahead of others.
It is amazing how God has changed this beautiful young person and is moving him along a life path that only God can see in its entirety.
As we learned today, the path is circuitous, sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth. God reveals to each of us as much as is necessary for the moment/day/week. He knows the rest of the story. We can trust Him to put all the pieces of our journey together to complete the road to Heaven. Sure enough, Tuesday’s verse was, “I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you a hope for the years to come.” Jeremiah 29:11
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The Military Bible Stick is designed specifically to bring God’s Word to men and women deployed in the U.S. Military. It’s a small digital player pre-loaded with the New Testament and Psalms specifically selected for our troops. If you would like to support this opportunity beyond your regular giving, make a separate check to MCC, with “Military Bible Stick” in the memo. Contact Chris Willadsen for more information.
We have a terrific opportunity to spread God’s love and his Word to the international students attending UNM. MCC has been working with ISI for many years helping international students as they arrive in town for the new academic year.
Volunteers are needed in several capacities:
Picking students up at airport, temporary homestays, or helping with apartment hunting
Help at welcome center
Furniture movers, pickup and distribution
Prepare dish for volunteer/student lunches (sign-up sheets will be in the foyer)
These activities will run July 31-August 17, pick the times that work best for you. There are also opportunities that span the entire school year as well:
Assist with English program
Student friendship partners (meet monthly with student)
Please contact Vince Tidwell or Stan Schug for
more information or to get involved.
The door is open to share the Gospel in our public schools! Come and be a part of Bible Club! The trainings are from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. either
August 4th at Mountain Valley Church
August 11th at Monterey Baptist in Albuquerque.
Contact Gail Salazar at 980-6890 or email at
email@example.com to RSVP.