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Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Love My Church

Last Sunday I posted, I Love My Church, on my Facebook status.

What is very comical is the fact that the way we have to 'do' church can be very stressful, hard and extremely time consuming.

Each week we spend hours in setting up just to have one service.  Then we have the tear everything down following service. Every mic, every speaker, every wire, every chair, every playpen, every table, every projector, every screen, every banner, and every road sign has to be set up and taken down each week.

And... I Love My Church?

YES!!! I DO.

Not necessarily because of all the hard work involved (and let me just say, CCA has the best volunteers in the WORLD!). 

I love it because sinners feel comfortable here.

Why?  Because they feel the love of Jesus here.

In our Chronological reading today, Matthew (the tax collector and new found disciple of Jesus) held a banquet with all of his sinner friends and invited Jesus as the guest of honor  (Matthew 9:10). 

Mark's account in chapter 2 says, "Later, Levi [Matthew] invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)"

Did you get that last part?  Jesus had disreputable people that followed Him and spent time with Him.

In other words, they felt comfortable around Him!!

Oh but if you read on, the Pharisees (aka, the 'church leaders' of the day) condemned Jesus for this.

Jesus said Himself that He did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:17).

That is our goal at CCA.  We will not condemn, we will love.  We will not exclude, we will include.  We will not withhold Christ, we will freely give Him. 

We are called to lift Jesus up, and when we do our part then He will draw all men unto Himself.  He will heal the hurts.  He will forgive the sins.  And he will change the lives.

CCA is not a perfect church because it is full of imperfect people... including me. 

But together we serve a perfect Savior.

And when we do our part, Love God, Love People and Serve Others, then He will take all us sinners and heal, forgive and change us into the disciples He has called us to be.

Yep, I Love My Church...

The perfect place, for imperfect people.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Found People Find People

If you are new to this blog, please know that some of the postings are regarding the daily reading from the One Year Chronological Bible.  Collectively there are about 80 people reading through the Bible this year.  If you would like to join in we just started the New Testament.  You can get the daily readings on my Facebook page where they are posted each morning.  Would love for you to jump in with us!!

I am so excited we have moved into the New Testament and even though the scriptures we read over the weekend were ones we have read countless times, it still never gets old to read about the foretelling and birth of Jesus. 

Today our reading started off with Jesus' 40 days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness followed by the gathering of His first disciples.

Can you imagine with me for a moment?  Their whole lives these guys knew one day a man was coming, a Messiah, that would take away the sins of the world... take away their sins.

It was a story that had been told for many generations before them, but could they have ever believed that the one day would have ever been in their day?

AND, this Savior... is now standing before them... choosing them... to come and follow Him?

What a moment!  A moment that changed the rest of their lives... forever. 

He enlisted Andrew then Simon, whom He changed his name to Peter, and in verse 43 of John chapter 1 it said, The next day... He [Jesus] found Philip...

Two verses later, Philip went and found Nathanael.

Found People Find People!

Philip knew Nathanael needed to come and see Jesus for himself (verse 46).

Who do you know that needs to see Him?

Who do you know that desperately needs a relationship with Jesus Christ?

We too once were lost, but now we are... found.

If we care about Jesus Christ then we will care about the people who are far from Jesus Christ and the only problem with those that don't know Christ is that they don't know Christ.

How will they know the answer... to EVERYTHING... is Jesus unless we (the found) find them, and then tell them?

Jesus found Philip.  Philip found Nathanael.  Someone found you. 

Now, who will you go and find?

It may be the moment that changes the rest of their lives... forever!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moments in Time

God never ceases to amaze me!

Never.

Yesterday there was something weighing on my heart, nothing too major, but still something that was a concern.  When I got home late yesterday afternoon the first thing I did was make a pot of coffee (gotta have your priorities), grabbed a great book, and went to spend some quiet time with God.

As God had preordained, the chapter I was on spoke directly to my concern... spoke directly to me.

I love how He does that.  Before time began, God knew on September 21, 2010 Tina Johns would need a little encouragement so He preplanned this moment just for me

I'm so glad I did not miss it.  I pray I don't miss the next moment He has planned out for me long before time began.

I'm sure I would be sad if I knew just how many of those moments I have missed in the past because I did not take time to stop, rest and listen to the voice of the One who made time. 

These moments are important because it is the time where God wants to help us, calm us, and heal us.  But too often we can get so busy doing life instead of spending time with the One who gave us life.

So today I pray that God will allow us to desire these moments in time with Him.  Moments where He changes us from the inside out so we can live from a well ordered heart.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Well Balanced

I usually don't blog on the weekend but my spirit is so FULL this Saturday morning because I am so excited about CCA's P31 Ladies Meeting this upcoming Monday night.

I have been spending time with the Lord and in His Word studying how we can Live a Well Balanced Life- the topic of our meeting.  I am soooo tempted to share with you today my findings but I don't want to give it all away too prematurely.

The answer to the delima of balancing our often out of balance lives is profound, yet so simple. 

I'm someone who is learning how to do simple because my tendency is to do hard.  Anyone relate? 

So if you are a Jesus girl like me who can get easily overwhelmed with the pressure that comes from life issues, life responsibilities and life conflicts then I want to encourage you to come.

We are meeting this Monday night at the Epicenter (14906 Main Street, Alachua) at 6:30.  Bring your favorite finger food and your Bible. 

Any and every lady is welcome to attend!!   I just would like to ask that you please email Kim Chewning and let her know you will be there so we can be well prepared for you 4given@unreasonablegrace.net.

I love you ladies so much and pray you are having a blessed weekend!!

See ya Monday night,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finally, It's Almost Here

The Johns house is in full swing.  This weekend is THE most anticipated weekend of all the year.  It even beats out Christmas. 

Company is coming in.  Groceries are bought.  Pole barn cleaned out.  And bows have been fine tuned.

Yep it's the most wonderful time of the year when hunting season rolls around.  And my man and man cub are R-E-A-D-Y.

My menus are all planned out just as if it was Thanksgiving week. And I thought I would share with you tonight's meal as we are snuggling in like it was the night before Christmas Eve.

Crispy Ranch Chicken

2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
2 egg whites, beaten
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I am using chicken breast)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine cereal, cheese and ranch salad dressing mix in a large bowl.

Place beaten egg whites in a medium bowl.  Dip each chicken piece in the egg whites and then in the cereal mixture to coat evenly.

Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife, 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.

I am serving this with sauteed okra, cream corn, and corn bread. 

I love to give great recipes to help you on those nights when no one has any idea what to cook. You know, the nights when you just stand staring into your pantry and fridge... wondering... hoping... something will jump out and say Cook Me!  Yeah, we have those nights too.

So if you too have a great and easy recipe you would like to share please leave it in the comment section and I will post one in the next couple days. 

I can't wait to try them!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Giving and Trusting

Let's pick back up on last Thursday's post.  I wanted to dive into the giving and trusting thing on Friday but time did not permit so instead I shared with you a great book I just finished.

So now that my company is gone and the house is clean (well, was clean) I want to continue our thoughts on this matter.

I shared Thursday that our giving really comes down to our trusting.  Trusting God.  

Trusting that when I give, God will give back.

This is one thing I have never had a hard time doing in my life.  I have always found it easy to trust God and take Him at His Word.

I contribute a lot of this to the fact that I have an earthly father I trusted completely growing up.  And how you view your earthly father is usually the way you view your heavenly father.  And my earthly father is someone that I never doubted, always trusted, never worried that I would go without or felt I would be left unprotected.

But I do know not everyone had the same experience I did.  If your father left your family, was not the provider he should have been or worse took advantage of you in the most detestable way, then I am sure you have a hard time with trust.

But your heavenly Father, the one who created you and gave life to you, will never leave you nor take advantage of you. 

Because of that I trust... Trust that when I give it will come back to me (Luke 6:38).

And I know... That if I trust in the Lord with all my heart, He will show me which path to take (Proverbs 3:5 & 6).

And I have seen... When I am concerned with God's kingdom and righteousness first, then everything else is added to my life (Matthew 6:33).

CCA is not in the middle of a fund raising campaign, but a faith raising campaign.  Hebrews says that without faith it is impossible to please God. 

I want to please my God.  And I please Him when I trust Him. When I trust Him I am having complete faith in His ability to meet my needs when I first give away that which I have.

If you want to trust God with all your heart as Proverbs instructs but find it very challenging, let me give you this mental picture.

The complete verse says to trust in the Lord with all your heart and to lean not on your own understanding.  Our own understanding is like a broken reed, that when leaned upon will fail (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary).  

God is the only one, who when leaned upon, will never fail.  But it will require us to trust Him.

Mark and I could write a book on our giving.  Since the day we rededicated our lives back to Christ we have always put God first when it came to our finances.  We pay our tithe as well as give offerings, and sometimes they have been very sacrificial offerings because one thing we strongly believe in is sowing and reaping. 

Ten years ago we gave a financial seed to a Christian school's building program.  We had been looking for two years for the right house to purchase for our family and could find nothing.  We designated that seed to the school for the harvest of a home and today we live in the fruit that seed produced.

If you have read my blogs for long you know we are back in the same place needing to build on 5 acres we purchased to get closer to our church.  And again, we have planted some seeds toward CCA's first building.  And I trust God that even in this economy our current home will sell and we will be able to move closer to our new family.

But first we are giving to God's building. 

We are giving and trusting.  And when we put God's kingdom first, He will add all these other things to our life.

I dare you to give, for when you do you will see that God will give back to you, good measure, shaken together and running over (Luke 6:38).

Test me in this and see if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams (Malachi 3:10 MSG).

He is the Lord of the Harvest!!

Happy Monday,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Choosing to SEE

I really wanted to extend yesterday's post today and dive into giving and trusting with you, but my time is a little bit cut short this morning.  We are heading out to our Life Group Leader Retreat today and company will be waiting on me tomorrow afternoon when I arrive back home.

So to keep them from seeing how we really live I am cleaning house this morning.

But... we did talk yesterday about seeing so I want to share with you real quick about a great book I read over Labor Day weekend.

Choosing to SEE was authored by Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Steven Curtis Chapman, about her journey of struggle and hope after the tragic death of their 5 year old daughter.  Their teenage son did not see Maria running toward him as he rounded the driveway of their home on March 21, 2008, and that event has changed the course of all their lives, forever.













It is a great story of death and life, tragedy and triumph, evil turned for good.

As you will see, Mary Beth is like any other wife and mom, with the same struggles we all face.  Fame does not make us perfect or take away hardships or wipe away our past by no means.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend this read.

Now off to scrub a few toilets.  

Happy Friday!!

 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Do You See What I See

For those of you who are going through the One Year Chronological Bible with me, you know that today's reading started off with some pretty boring stuff.  Actually, as we have been reading through the entire Bible this year we have come across many boring areas- places where there are lists... after lists... to read through.  With names of people and places I cannot even begin to pronounce I might add.

Bor... ing.

But if you are like me you wonder, Why place a detailed list of the names of the families returning to Israel from exile?   Is there really a need for this? 

Yes.  You see, everything in the Bible has a purpose.  And if that is true, the next question is, How is my life better off because of reading this detailed list?

Because, have you ever felt like you have been living in exile?  Like your life was imprisoned by some evil ruler and you could not break those chains of bondage?

I for sure have.

The list of those returning home was not only to show the historical importance of this event, but to show us that God keeps track of the activities of His people – then and today. God knew all about them, all they were going through, what they were doing, and the same is true today for you and for me.

God does keep records. He knows where you are at all times. This should be both a great comfort to us, and a warning to us to live our lives for Him.

One more thing that struck me in today's reading was Ezra 2:68 that said, They came to the Temple of the Lord.

This temple had been destroyed, but the verse does not say that the people returned to the ruins of the temple, but rather to the Temple of the Lord

It was still the house of the Lord in the mind of God and in the minds of His people.

What a great attitude!

How do you look at things?  Do you see a mess or do you look at them as already being accomplished for God?

I know every time I drive down Hwy 441 in Alachua, I look over at our 15.4 acres and I do not see a bare piece of property.  I see buildings after buildings.  I see a parking lot filled with cars that have brought people- broken people, to hear about a Savior- a Savior that heals broken and exiled lives. 















A Temple of the Lord... that's what I see.

Verse 68 & 69 goes on to say that they all made voluntary offerings toward the rebuilding and each gave as much as they could.

CCA began a capital raising campaign two Sundays ago.  Each family that can has pledged to give as much as they can in the next 5 months to the building of those buildings off 441. 

The Bible says that when people are unified for a common cause, together there is nothing we can't do!  I am excited to see how God is going to use His people to further His Kingdom.

Tomorrow I want to dive a little deeper into giving, because what it really comes down to is... trusting.

More on that tomorrow.

Until then... in my singing voice... Do you see what I see?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Needing some Mommy Advice

Last night Mark and I watched Home Alone 2, Lost in New York.  NYC is one of our most favorite places to visit so we always enjoy watching movies filmed there, even the ones we've seen a gazillion times.

I also love Christmas and can watch a holiday movie any time of the year.  (I still have a Christmas CD in my CD changer from like 3 years ago that I listened to last week.  Guess I'm trying to get geared up, because ready or not, we are on the brink of the most wonderful time of the year.  Love it.)

Anyway, the mom in me has been struggling a little bit lately.  I NEVER thought I was going to be one of those who would be broken hearted, upset or even cry when my kids left the nest but seeing as they are on the brink of adulthood, this reality is becoming very real.

At the end of the movie last night, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) and all his brothers, sisters and cousins wake up in their posh Plaza Hotel suite and run into the living room to find presents mysteriously placed under their tree.

The mushy gushy side of me quickly rehearsed the past 19 years of waking up my husband and kids to the magic of Christmas morning.  Then, once again, reality brought me back to the fact that before long, my kids will have families of their own to share the magic with.  

Yes it will be a few more years (at least I hope).  But it will happen one day (at least I hope, *grin*).

So, seeing as I am nearing this new phase of motherhood (aka, letting-go-hood), I am looking for some great advice. 

To any moms out there that have made it through this transition, PLEASE help this mother out.  How have you gracefully let go, moved on, cut the apron string, or whatever it is we are supposed to do?

Please hit comments below to share your thoughts.  And from the bottom of my aching heart, thanks. :)

And now, let's move on to the fun stuff...

Thanks to my hubs for drawing the name out of the hat for our little give-a-way from this past weekend.  And the winner is... Melanie!!

This was her comment:

I love my husband now more than ever...even in the early days of love. Having watched him so tenderly care for our youngest son, Andrew (12), while going through brain cancer, I fell in love with my man all over again.

Our son is in Heaven now and I often think how no one loves our children like WE do...and even God has the capacity to love them more.

A shared love...a shared "mission" often draws husband and wife together in a way they may have never known.

Melanie, please send me your mailing address to tina@ccalachua.com and I will get it to you asap.  And thank you for your comment.  It is so true that when a husband and wife are working together toward a common goal, it not only brings the end result closer, it brings the couple closer too.  Blessings to you and your family.

I pray you all have a great Labor Day and moms don't forget to leave your comments for me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Date Night

Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from my hubs asking me out on a date.  My heart actually skipped a beat... seriously.

He was asking me to still away for a few hours for some Mark-and-Tina-time. 

Now, if you know us well, you know that we are pretty much together 24/7.  We work together, commute together and have almost every meal together.  So you would think we get in plenty of time together.

But do you know your life can be spent daily with someone and not be in tune with them? The static of life can easily interfere and we become unable to dial into the heart of those we once desired to spend time with more than anyone else.  

To keep your relationships strong it requires a conscience effort to cultivate them and remove all distractions in order to focus solely on each other.

Being in ministry, I see way too often what happens when a couple's focus shifts to other things in life.  And how easily they can shift, I know. 

The Bible reminds us, Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste... (Revelation 2)

God is speaking to the church at Ephesus.  Verses 2-3 says, I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can't stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.

They were so busy doing good for God that they forgot to cultivate their love and relationship with God.  

But I love that it may be late, but it is never too late to, Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste...

No matter where your marriage is right now, it is never not too late to have the one you always dreamed of.  It will require you setting some time a side, though, removing the static of life, and doing those first works over again... and a date night is a great place to start!

I have a great book that has helped me that I would love to give to one of you called For Women Only, What you need to know about the inner lives of men, by Shaunti Feldhahn.













Please leave your name in the comment section below along with some thoughts or advice on how to recover your dear early love and  I will draw from those names and announce the winner on Monday. 

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Weekly Updates

Here are some of our upcoming events here are CCA

Sunday’s Service
Have you ever done everything right, followed God, obeyed His instructions and still found yourself on the losing side of life? Then you need to be in service this Sunday at Alachua Elementary. God has given Pastor Mark a word that will encourage you as you go throughout this season in your life. And if you know of someone who needs this word, get them there Sunday at 10am. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in our lives this week!! Come expecting. Come believing. Come be changed.

Back to School 2010
If you are volunteering this Friday, please wear your black CCA shirts or your name tag. There is a checklist on Pastor Jay's blog to help promote the event. We encourage you to check it out.
Click here to go to Blog.

We are VERY excited about this major event. Our goal and purpose is to reach the youth of our community in a fun and exciting way. This night we have the opportunity to minister to teens, who may never attend a church/youth service, and share Jesus with them. And as a result of this, we have the potential to take part in changing the course of their lives, and eternal lives… forever.

We have received confirmations that Police Chief Joel DeCoursey will be attending, as well as teachers from Mebane and Ft White schools. We know that this is just the first year of an amazing outreach that our community will look forward to for years to come. If you have any questions please email Caley at info@ccalachua.com.

Wednesday Night Service
Our four week semester begins September 8th. All adults and children will meet at the Alachua Elementary School and Verge (our youth) will meet at the Epicenter. Service times begin at 7pm. Pastor Mark will be sharing this Sunday our focus and topics for the 4 weeks.

Growth Track
Begins Sunday, Sept 5th at the Epicenter at 8:30am. To register for this class please email info@ccalachua.com.

P31 Ladies Meeting
Ladies, the Lord has really been impressing on my spirit a word of warning and encouragement along with some helps for us as we enter into this “busy” season of the year. I will be answering the question so many of us really wonder about, “Is it possible to really live a balanced life in this crazy world we live in?” Mark your calendars for September 20th . The meeting at the Epicenter will begin at 6:45. Please bring your favorite finger food. You can RSVP by emailing Kim Chewning at 4given@unreasonablegrace.net.

Praying you have a great rest of the week!!!