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The Dig ~ Represent

TheDigHave you watched any of the 2016 Olympics?

It has been quite a year for our American athletes. They have represented our country with excellent performances in their events. Unfortunately, there have been some that have misbehaved in their off time and those folks seem to get as much attention as the ones that perform valiantly.

Isn’t that true of the Christian community?

We see lots of steadfast believers quietly going about the business of leading Godly lives, and sharing their faith by building relationships, and loving those around them. Then we see the folks that call themselves Christians, who profess hate and spew radical ideology, that are so at odds with the message of Christ. One gets ignored and the other gets all kinds of media notice.

If we have a life changing relationship with Christ, we want to move closer to Him and know Him intimately so, that when others see us, they see Him. In order to not get swept away in the kind of rhetoric that so diminishes the Gospel; we need to stay close to Christ and His Word in order not to get off course.

We each may be the only representation of Christ to the folks we meet. That is a sobering thought. That means that I better be tending to the “imperishable seed” that Christ has planted within me. 1 Peter 1:23 talks about this. When we become believers, we are given a new heart, a new “seed” of eternal life, which we must tend. If you have ever planted something from seed, you know that you don’t just plant it and walk away. You must water it, give it nutrients and ward off predators when it begins to produce fruit. Our inner life with Christ is no different. In order for others to see Christ in us, we must become like Him.

How do you become like someone?

Have you ever seen a little boy try to work beside his daddy? It is the cutest thing to observe. He will watch and try to mimic him until he can do each move perfectly on his own. If he holds the tool incorrectly or misses a step, his dad will gently correct him and show him the right way. He will work and work until he gets it right.

We need to be like little kids watching Christ so closely that His life becomes our own. If we stay close, He will gently guide and correct us so that we do not go astray.

The “seed” that grows within us is unique to each of us. It has been given to us to combine with our own talents and personality to distinctly meet the need and the purpose for which we have been created. Isn’t that exciting? To be gifted in this way is one of the most thrilling aspects of having a relationship with Christ. To have confidence in whom we are, and, in Whose we are gives life a whole new meaning and purpose.

Do you represent Christ? Have you invited Him to plant in the garden of your life?

If you have a relationship with Christ, how are you tending to the “imperishable seed”? If you haven’t said yes to a relationship with Jesus, please consider joining us as we learn more about what it is to follow him at CTK.

To watch any part of The Dig series, visit www.CtKCharlotte.org/Archive.

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The Dig – Supernatural Writings

TheDig3When have you tried to explain the unexplainable?

How do you tell your friends why your romantic interest is so special? Why you are fascinated with the hobby that you enjoy? Or, what it is like to know that you are supposed to do something that everyone else thinks is crazy?

If you have ever had to make a case for something that doesn’t have visible evidence, then you know the struggle that believers face when trying to explain why the Bible is so important.

Christians believe that the Bible is the chief way that God communicates with us. He promises that His word is living and full of power for those of us that believe in Him. (Hebrews 4:12) How do you explain that? People that are spiritual will tell you that there is all sorts of great wisdom literature and that you don’t have to put all of your trust in just one form. I get it! There are all sorts of wonderful works that impart solid principals, but that is all that they do. It is hard to explain that, while all of those other things are well and good, they just don’t hold a candle to the supernatural powerhouse that is the Word of God through the scriptures. The going is even tougher when you encounter historical accuracy arguments, or, the contention that only what man allowed made up the final work. To debate those and other similar points misses the concept entirely. The Bible is a spiritual book that, when looked at with the Holy Spirit’s help, will speak so dramatically into your life that it will not come back void of impact. Isaiah 55:11 says that very thing and no other works have ever made that kind of promise!

This month we are experiencing 21 Days of Prayer at CTK. During this time we are seeking to draw closer to God. One of the key ways to do that is to open His word and let it speak into our lives. If we pray only, then we never hear all that God wants to say. He may whisper some things in our hearts but the only way to verify what we hear is to line it up with what His written word tells us. Often, God speaks to us not only in a still small voice, but in words that literally seem to leap from the page.

Have you tried opening the scriptures and allowing God to speak to you through them?
If it is only wisdom literature, then you had a good read.

What if you find that it really is supernatural?

Powerful?

Life-giving?

Life-changing?

Is it possible that you might find the impact of this Living Word wonderfully unexplainable?

You can visit our Message Archive to watch any of the messages in The Dig series.

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The Sound of Silence

TheDigWhen is the last time you sat in silence?

When is the last time that you allowed absolute stillness to settle on your mind?

This morning, I set the timer for 10 minutes and determined to sit in the silence and focus on God.

The quiet was absolute. It was the perfect kind of silence that sets up the most ideal time for meditation and prayer. The stage was set. I anticipated entering in to a wonderful time of hearing from God.

Guess what?

I heard from every quadrant of my life instead! Thoughts flitted through my mind like bubbles being blown by a child. There were a whole stream of them, each one shimmering and bright… and fleeting until the next bubble replaced the first. Thoughts about work, parenting, marriage, friends, family and more vied for attention. It took almost the entire time just to settle my mind and get to the point where I was ready, and my mind was quiet enough to enter into a state of listening. Of course, that is when the timer buzzed and I had to get ready for the work day.

Experience has taught me that 10 minutes is not nearly enough to spend at the feet of Christ. My favorite times are when I have a whole uninterrupted hour or two to devote to really hearing from the Father. Sadly, I don’t carve out one to two hours of time very often. Sometimes, I don’t even take 10 minutes!

Most of us want to hear from God. We want His direction in our lives, or at least that is what we profess to want as Believers. The king of the Universe wants to partner with us! He longs to tell us what is on His heart but if we never shut off the world, how can we hear?

This past weekend CTK started a 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. What if we were to fast from noise? What if we dedicated time each day just to sit at the feet of our Lord and listen?

How do you think life might change?

What do you think God might say to you?

Are you willing to shut out the noise and sit in stillness?

Join us…

Watch this week’s message – Barriers to Intimacy with Christ – or any other part of The Dig message series anytime at our message archive.

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Just Passing Through – Reclaimed, Reinvented and Repurposed

JustPassingThroughA growing trend in our country is the idea of using parts and pieces of something old, re-purpose it and reinvent the way it is used. For example, there is a furniture trend that takes old factory carts and turns them into coffee tables. Pallet wood is being used to create interesting and inexpensive wall treatments. As a matter of fact, there are all sorts of DIY tips on how to reuse, reclaim and re-purpose all manner of things.

That is great for things, but what about people?

Have you ever felt like you have been cast aside?

Do you ever feel like you are used up and don’t have anything to offer?

Do you ever feel like you have little purpose or wonder why we are even here?

When we say yes to a relationship with Christ, we are saying yes to Him reaching into our lives to remedy that very thing. He reclaims our lives from darkness. He longs to give us joy that sustains our hearts in the midst of life’s toughest trials. His redemption gives us a relationship with him, a community where we can connect with other believers, and a dose of love so strong that it wipes us clean and throws our yucky stuff as far as the east is from the west.

He reinvents our lives, once we are His, to more adequately suit His purpose. It is quite something to realize that the King of the Universe wants to use us for His work in this world. It is an adventure to follow Christ and He is always very creative in how He leads us to the work that is waiting for us to do.

Have you been reclaimed?

Have you allowed Christ to reinvent you?

Have you seen how He is re-purposing your life?

If not, perhaps you need to invite Him in?

It causes unexpected delight when we recognize something that was old and derelict used in a way that gives it new life, purpose and beauty.

We are no different when shaped and transformed at the hands of the Father.

Would you like to learn more?  Visit www.CtKCharlotte.org/Archive to watch each part of the Just Passing Through series.

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The Paradox of Joy

joyWhat is your definition of joy?

Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation”

While the traditional definition explains the emotion of joy, it leaves out the key biblical aspect of the Christian’s basis and understanding of it.

When we follow Christ, His Holy Spirit fills us with a joy that is not of this world. If we experience hardships or loss, we do it with an underlying sense that our loss or circumstances are not permanent. The joy of the Lord holds us no matter what we endure. Earthly joy is based on circumstances. Christian joy is based on the person of Jesus Christ, his work on the cross, and our ability to access the Father as a result. That we can have joy in the midst of suffering is the paradox that identifies Christian joy.

Christ is our example in this. Hebrews 12:2 says “… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” When we see what Jesus suffered in order to gain heaven, it gives us an understanding of the kind of joy waits for us.

It is a hope-bearing joy.

Hope is powerful. The Bible says; “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” in Proverbs 13:12. In Romans 15:13 it says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Our hope in heaven, in Christ’s love, in His working on our behalf -no matter what our circumstances, is the foundation of our joy.

Have you experienced it?

Are you ready to have the kind of hope that brings about enduring joy, no matter what you encounter as you pass through this world?

To learn more, join us for our series “Just Passing Through”… you can also watch the messages at our Online Message Archive.

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Just passing through… The Privilege of Citizenship

JustPassingThroughAre you patriotic?

Do you feel a thrill when you hear The Star Spangled Banner and watch the flag unfurl?

There are many reasons to love our country. We have a constitution that protects our freedoms and a military that defends it. We can come and go as we please, worship as we wish, and say anything that we want to say without fearing imprisonment.

While we are still residents of the United States, once we give our allegiance to Christ, we become citizens of Heaven. While we still have to live out our social responsibilities in this world, we also get to enjoy the privileges that come from belonging to the next.

The lists of benefits that we enjoy also become a go-to reminder of how we survive this Earthly existence. At the deepest moment of feeling the alienation of living in a fallen world, the privileges of our heavenly citizenship bring hope and reassurance.

The following is just a few of the benefits of being a member of the community of believers.

  • Our Hope is sure. John 14:15-18
  • Our prayers are heard. Matt 7:7
  • We share in the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:3-4
  • We are guided into all truth. John 16:13
  • We have help when faced with temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • We can forgive others. Matt 18:21
  • We are equipped for service. Hebrews 10:25
  • We are productive in ways that will have eternal impact. John 15:5
  • We are wrapped in love. Romans 8:35

To watch this or any other part of this series, please visit our Online Message Archive at www.CtKCharlotte.org/Archive.

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Not From Around Here

NotFromAroundHereDo you ever feel as though you don’t belong?

Ever feel like a stranger on this round globe we call Earth?

If you do a Google search on “feeling like you don’t belong” you will see 2,040,000 posts that have to do with that subject. Apparently this is a very common experience among human-kind.

If you read the Bible, you will find that we were created to recognize this. There is an inward understanding that lets us know there is something more. Blaise Pascal, a famous French mathematician and philosopher, put it like this: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

Have you ever considered that God wants us to feel like aliens and strangers here so that we look to Him for relief?

In the Garden of Eden, the Earth and all that it was supposed to be, was broken and ruined because of free will. Ever since that time, God has been working out a way to restore that relationship and that potential.

In order to save us from our brokenness, He sent a representative of Himself, in the person of Jesus, to be our sacrifice so that we could gain what was lost. Once we understand what God has done for us through Christ, and accept it, we then become citizens of Heaven. Instead of having Eden on Earth, we know that we will experience that perfect existence in the afterlife. We then truly become foreigners in a strange land just passing through during our time on Earth. All of a sudden, the feeling of not belonging makes sense. We still experience that longing but it comes with a sense of hope and purpose. God has work for us to do while we are here. He longs to complete that work through us while giving us grace and peace as we go. 1 Peter 1-2 talks about this.
Have you experienced the hope of heaven? Do you know your purpose? Have you experienced the grace and peace of Christ?

Please join us to answer those questions and more in the new series Just Passing Through. If you are already walking with Christ, this series will help define our role as we live in this world while waiting for the next. You can watch any part of this series online at www.CtKCharlotte.org/Archive.