Friday, November 28, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for November 30, 2014

You may have fallen into a blissful afternoon snooze on Thanksgiving after going back for seconds of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and maybe one or two passes by the pie sampler station.

Time to wake up!

Jesus teaches his disciples about the importance of spiritual alertness in Mark 13. And as we enter the season of Advent, we will consider what it means to live our lives wide awake for his return.

See you Sunday.

Awake and Ready,

Readings for Sunday: Isaiah 64:1-9 and Mark 13:24-37

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Athletes in Action - Fall Update

What a fall so far!
We have the privilege to have a very diverse group of players come to Raleigh to learn what it means to be like Jesus.
Ebi, from Mongolia, is here doing an AIA internship. He plays professionally back in his home country and is motivated to learn English so he can communicate better with his American girl-friend. He loves Jesus and exudes humility and kindness. He will be an influencer when he goes back home.
Oday is a young man who we know well from our time in Israel. He has taken us in as his own when we live there and now it is our turn. It is a joy to spend time with him and watch him grow on and off the court.
Mike plays on the Jamaican national team and played college basketball at Valpo. His story is filled with painful events which have shaped him with a desire to protect himself. We are gently walking into areas of hurt, which all present themselves on the basketball court. You can’t hide your heart in the heat of competition. 
Yinon is a coach from a small village in the desert of Israel. We had the joy to spend time with him and his family. He is coming to us after the passing of his father who suffered from mental deteriation at a very young age. He just shaved off his beard yesterday which a Jew grows for 30 days as a sign of respect and mourning. 
The guys are going through our program which is intense. We are walking through the high peaks of the bible to better understand the story as a whole. In addition to our staple of Men’s Fraternity, the guys are also engaging a biblically based jobs placement program called Jobs For Life, which started here in Raleigh. It is a 16 week course that helps them explore vocations, take personality and temperament assessments as well as leave with a polished resume and a 60 second commercial. We are arranging for the guys to shadow business professionals as well and being to network for the future. God has done amazing things to get us to this place and brought people into the equation that I never would have imagined. Blessings abound. 

In the midst of practice and bible study, the guys are volunteering at the Y with the after school program and doing a service project at New Life Camp, the site of our beautiful gym we are able to use. They are being stretched in lots of ways. I’m asking them to trust me that everything they are doing is preparatory for their end goal which is to be overseas somewhere in the very near future.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Time in Raleigh

by Nate Nielsen
Nate with his fiancee, Katie

"Did we tick him off by wasting all these ticks on this clock?
Or is he graciously giving me time to give him my heart?
I'm sure it’s the latter, sure that it matters
And I believe
I've been given all this time so that I can try and redeem it." - Timepiece, Lecrae

When I first arrived at Church of the Apostles, I honestly did not know quite what to expect. Conversations with Ashley Crutchfield, Curt Solomon, and Marion Dewar could only go so far as to describe what exactly I was jumping into. And here I am 3 years later on the threshold of another change to a new place, new people, and new experiences.

For those of you that do not know, I will be moving to Richmond in the spring to begin a new life as husband to the beautiful Katie Hemp. We will be at HOPE church where Katie is the Director of Middle School Ministries. It is altogether exciting, encouraging, and humbling. In turn, Curt hit me up to write something about my experience here at Apostles, and I could not turn it down. So here I am. These are some thoughts on what I have experienced during my time with the beloved people at Apostles.

1. The Fellows year is transforming beyond the Fellows year.
Raleigh. In all my time growing up I never thought I would end up in Raleigh (and still trying to understand this whole college basketball deal over here). Yet, God brought me into a community that facilitated growth a thousand times over during a time that I desperately needed it. After studying Biology in Grove City, I discovered the microscope on myself as a fellow - learning about my personality, how I work with others, and how all of it fits into my worldview. My focus was completely turned upside down as I learned how it felt like to ask for money, to serve my host family (God bless the Bergers!), and to work with others in a new environment. The relationships forged in that year I hope will last a lifetime even though there will be a little distance between us. This provided a foundation to which God built on the next couple years, in which I am still changing and learning what it means to be like Christ.

2. Student ministry serves as a catalyst for growth like I have never known.
Growing up, I did not go to youth group because I was always had something going on - whether it was swim practice, Boy Scouts, or just plain old homework. Being involved with the student ministry at Apostles allowed me to see how imperative and life changing that bit of time can have on a student. I've seen 6th graders grow now into freshmen in High School, and it is a critical period in which students establish their faith and live it out in their day to day lives. Middle School really opened my eyes to how great ministry can be: at one moment you are throwing cheese balls on a face covered with whipped cream, and the next moment I'm getting stumped by really great, thought provoking questions. It's insane. The students here have continuously challenged me to seek Christ more and live for his glory alone. I am continuously reminded of Paul's words to 1 Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity”.

4. Work does not define who you are.
I can still remember Ray Seigler conducting a seminar for my Fellows class, and him telling us that whenever he hears the question, "What do you do?" he responds (sometimes), "About what?" I share that sentiment and discover myself holding my tongue back whenever someone asks me that question....some of the time I ask it because I'm not sure how else to start a conversation - and I don't want to feel too awkward while talking with somebody.
As a kid, I wanted to be what any other kid living is Space City wanted to be: an astronaut. Now, knowing that that occupation is not the right fit, I have ventured and checked out other avenues. We talked about calling a lot in the Fellows, and I have to remind myself that whatever it is I do in this life, it will not be completed until I reach eternity with my Father in heaven - and oh my, how glorious that will be!

For the time being, I am here in Raleigh living out these moments that have been graciously given to me. I’m thankful to be a part of this body of believers that have impacted my life--impacted me beyond the thoughts that I had when I first considered coming into this community.

I will still be around Apostles the next couple months as wedding plans get ironed out and as Katie and I find a place in Richmond together. It will be a crazy transition, but a fun one and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store in the next adventure.

With grace and peace,

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for November 16, 2014

In his letter to the church in Ephesus Paul writes:
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

He places major emphasis on the need for Christians to know how lavishly they are loved. In this week’s sermon we have the privilege of considering the account of a “sinful woman” who came to know this amazing love of God and as a result poured out her love towards Jesus. 

I hope you will join us as we seek to know Christ more deeply and to experience this lavish love of God in such a way that our lives overflow with grateful love towards him and towards others…even “sinners.”

Reading: Luke 7:36-50

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Experience With Confirmation

by Maggie Lee

Personally, I believe to go through confirmation means to announce your faith in the Lord in front of the church. This is a difficult task for some people to do because the faith they have in the Lord isn’t theirs. This “false faith”, if you will, could be from their parents, friends, people they look up to, but it isn’t theirs. This is especially common in teens and children still learning what to decide. However, to fully accept the Lord the faith has to first be yours. 

There is a great quote in the book, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel which happens to be the book we were assigned to read with our mentor this year. “So what about you? You’ve heard my experience, but your own conclusion is up to you. No one can make up your mind for you”. Confirmation, for me, has helped me in assuring my faith in the Lord as my own and no one else’s. This is what I loved about Church of the Apostles’ confirmation: the environment that made the service so awesome. During the classes and throughout the eight months that confirmation extended over, all of us became a family. When you stand up at the front of the church watching your family get confirmed you don’t feel weird waiting up there, you feel proud and beyond happy. 

Lastly, the day before confirmation we met with the Bishop to prepare and talk about what to do after confirmation. He asked us what we expected to get out of this whole thing. After several minutes of thinking we finally started to spit out our ideas. We all basically stayed within these several ideas: a more deeply rooted relationship with the Lord, to have a better sense of the Lord’s plan, to serve through the Lord more, to be a light to others who do not know the Lord, and to focus on Him more. All in all confirmation at Church of the Apostles was so amazing and I definitely recommend it if you are reading this and thinking you want to do this awesome endeavor.

2014 Confirmation Class
 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” –Psalm 139:14

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Sunday Set-Up for November 9, 2014

"…and deliver us from evil.”

Have you ever considered how much the Lord has done for you by delivering you from evil? This week, we are examining a direct encounter that Jesus has with a man possessed by an army of evil spirits. The confrontation is bold, decisive, and dramatically transformative. What’s more, it teaches us something about the mission of the church as we follow Jesus. 

Maybe you don’t see yourself as a warrior, battling evil in this world, but maybe it’s time that you do. Jesus proclaimed that the very gates of hell would not be able to withstand the onslaught of his church, a church that includes you! Join us this week as we continue in our series: Crossing Paths with Jesus. Pray that we would encounter him and be open to however he might shape us for his mission in the world.

With you in his adventure,

Reading: Mark 5:1-20
Bulletin: November 9, 2014