Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Enjoy a Breath of Heaven

Today we bring you a blast from the past. Acts 2 Dancers performed this lovely piece to "Breath of Heaven" back in 2010. This is in our old building and several of the dancers have moved on, but the message still stands strong.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back to Church

 by Dina Sleiman

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25

 National Back to Church Sunday was celebrated not long ago. What does back to church mean to you? How does it feel deep inside when you hear those words: back to church? Most of us know people who claim to love God, to even have accepted Jesus as their savior, but who want nothing to do with church. Maybe you are one of those people. Maybe the idea of church fills you with latent pain. Maybe with anxiety. Maybe you picture walking in the door and being judged. Maybe bitterness wells up inside of you as you recall all the hypocrites you've dealt with at church. Maybe you just want to lay low and avoid the drama.

 And little wonder. The church is full of wounded, messed-up people. 

People not so different from you and me.

But the church is also the expression on earth of the body of Christ. And it is through that body that we can experience the fullness of Christ. The church helps us grow in maturity, in the Word, and in relationship with God. The church gives us a place to minister and be ministered to. It joins us together with a group believers so that we can increase our impact in outreach to others. And it gives us a place where we can worship in a group and experience God in different ways than we do when we are alone.

One big happy family on our Acts 2 Mission Trip
So how do we find a good church? Not a perfect church of course, because that doesn't exist. But a relatively healthy church where we can grow and thrive. Here are my top tips.
1) Find a church that exudes love and acceptance
2) Find a church that focuses on Biblical teaching
3) Find a church with a culture that fits you

A culture? Aren't we talking about church? Didn't I already define the "culture" in the word "Biblical?" Actually, no. Not at all. Much of what legalistic churches try to promote as scriptural requirements for worship are really more about culture and personality than holiness. The truth is, healthy Bible-based churches come in all shapes and sizes.
Acts 2 Contemporary Worship Band
There are big churches, small churches, contemporary churches, traditional churches, casual churches, and fancy churches. There are simple, cozy churches and flashy, high-tech churches. There are biker churches and cowboy churches. Messianic and Mennonite churches. And don't even get me started on music. Church music comes in about every style. Chants, hymns, gospel, country, pop, and heavy-metal, just to name a few.

My guess is, if you don't like church, you just haven't met the right one.

So what kind of church is Acts 2? We're small, Bible-based, family-friendly, casual, contemporary, and spirit-filled. Our music is mostly typical contemporary with occasional hymns, oldies but goodies, folk songs, and even rock style moments mixed in. We're a close knit family who also reaches out to the world around us.
Ministering to others on our Mission Trip to West Virginia
It's simple really. We encourage and uplift each other. We support one another in this Christian walk. And when you think of it that way, "Back to Church" sounds pretty appealing. If you don't currently have a church, we invite you to visit Acts 2 Church and see if we might be a good fit for you. You won't know until you try.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Father and Son

by Pastor Bill Heffelfinger

 “Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.” ~ James 4:8

This isn’t a blog about sports. This is a story about a father and a son. Of course, you would be right if you are expecting sports to make an appearance.  Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com wrote a really good story about the new General Manager of the Cleveland Indians and his father who works for a sports radio station in New York.  You can read the whole story here

Unsurprisingly, this father (Mark) and son (Mike) bonded for many years over their love for baseball. In particular, they spent countless hours playing catch as the son grew from just a young boy in love with baseball to a young man who found himself working for a professional baseball team. Mark and Mike have taken the tradition of “having a catch” that so many fathers and sons (or daughters) have enjoyed through the years and have taken it to the next level.

As Rosenthal’s story tells, it began innocently enough, but Mark and Mike Chernoff have had a catch together at least once in every calendar month for nearly 30 years.  As their lives have become busier, it hasn’t always been easy. They’ve gone to some extreme measures to keep their tradition alive. But, they’ve prioritized it, and remain loyal to this special time together.

So, why am I writing about it here? Seemingly, this is a nice tradition, but what does this have to do with our faith?

It’s not an accident that God, the Father, refers to us as his sons and daughters. I think he allows us to fulfill the role of parent so that we could have a small glimpse into his heart. You see, Mark and Mike Chernoff have prioritized their time together. They’ve been willing to spend thousands of dollars on airfare, rearrange schedules, and suffer through having catches in the cold, all to have that special time together.

So, here’s the question. Do you prioritize a special time with your Heavenly Father? Are you willing to go out of your way, to be inconvenienced, to give up your own comforts to spend time with Him? How much does he mean to you? How much does your time with him mean? Is it a real priority or does it happen only at your convenience?  Your Father God is always ready for a catch. Grab your glove and head to the backyard. I promise, you’ll find Him there.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lessons from Potiphar's Wife

 by Bryan Stevenson

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age - Titus 2:11-1

I was in high school when I had an epiphany about the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife from Genesis 39. I even wrote a song about it. The song wasn’t any good, but I remember that Dad was predictably impressed. (He was always impressed by his kids and grand kids, and he wasn’t shy about praising them.) The story spoke to me because Potiphar’s wife represented any sin or temptation that I was struggling with, and Joseph’s response illustrated one way to deal with that temptation. He fled. That isn’t a very manly thing to do, to run away and not even face down your enemy. It seems to show weakness in the face of temptation. However, throughout my adult life I’ve applied the tactic multiple times.

Ideally, we’d all have the self control necessary to stand firm in our convictions, but sometimes avoidance is an act of self control itself. As an example, instead of buying ice cream and disciplining myself to only have small servings on rare occasions, I will not buy the ice cream in the first place. It is much easier to decide once, at the grocery store, to avoid temptation, than it is to face it down every single time I open the freezer. It turns out that science supports this technique. In fact, your willpower is finite. It depletes itself every time you use it, and needs to be rested and restored periodically.

Self control isn’t only about continually denying yourself, or continually choosing to do what is right. Self control also requires the wisdom to know how to most efficiently and effectively use it. For example, if you struggle to set aside time to exercise, schedule to work out with someone who will hold you accountable to be there. If you waste time or watch things you shouldn’t on the internet, put up internet filters to protect your home and your mind. If you abuse your credit cards, get rid of them. All of these techniques require some self control to implement, but end up helping you make the right decisions going forward. Like Joseph, you run away once, and in this way don’t drain your pool of available willpower unnecessarily.

So, I guess Joseph was onto something when he split, leaving his coat behind in the hands of the seductress. Of course, it didn’t turn out perfectly for him at first. He ended up being accused of rape and thrown in jail. However, he did successfully resist temptation. That set the stage for even greater things in his life going forward, and the same will be true for us as we exercise good judgement and self control.