Every Life Matters

By Pastor Nate Powell
 
The past three days have been some interesting days. This past Friday, the United States Supreme Court upheld the case of Dobbs v. Jackson regarding the Mississippi abortion law that banned the procedure at 16 weeks of pregnancy in that state. But the court did not stop there. They went on to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two decisions that (for 49 years) found a right to abortion for women in the constitution. It is not an outright ban of abortion in the country but places the legislation of abortion regulation back on the states. I will not deal with the legal arguments here, but would simply ask those who thought the courts findings in the Roe or Casey cases were legal and just: Where in the original text of the constitution is there a “right to abortion”? (Hint: You won’t find it. It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to get there.)
 
From 1973, the church gradually awakened to understand what abortion actually was, especially as ultrasound technology has enabled us to look inside the womb and find that this organism is much more that a clump of cells, it is a human being worthy of dignity and respect. Abortion is the taking of a human life, an innocent human life. From 1973, the church prayed for and petitioned for an end to this unjust court decision. From 1973, the church promoted crisis pregnancy centers, adoption agencies and other means to support women in choosing life.
 
On June 24, 2022, Roe was overturned. This is what Christians who love life had prayed and hoped for over several decades. I believe it needs to be said today that it is both allowable and acceptable for Christians and for the church to express joy because a wrong has been righted and because justice is being done. We should not gloat or be proud, but simply be thankful that God has granted on request. The work is not over for life, but this is certainly a victory.
 
That said, it has been a taboo subject in the pastoral community as to whether or not to speak up on this subject. Sadly, some presume that to remain evangelistic and winsome to our communities, we must not speak up on issues by which others would judge us and consider us unloving.
 
To the contrary, I believe that a church and a pastor must speak for truth, defining sin, calling all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
For the benefit of our church family, I am writing this short article today simply to remind you where I stand and where our church stands with regard to abortion and with regard to life. Our church’s bylaws, which we have voted to approve and which we agree to upon our placing of membership, address the issue this way: “The sanctity of life – We believe in the sanctity of life which begins from the moment of conception. We believe there is a Christian alternative to abortion. Instead of terminating the life of the unborn child, the newborn can be placed for adoption by loving Christians. Adoption is a concept authored by God, for all Christian believers have been adopted into the family of God. By choosing to give birth to her baby rather than having an abortion, the birth mother spares the life of a child created in the image of God.”
 
So is this just an opinion of man? Or does this have deeper roots in the scripture? After all, the word “abortion” is not in the Bible. Does this mean the Bible is silent on the issue? Not at all. What does the Bible say? The basic biblical argument looks like this
 
  • Humans are image bearers // Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” When God creates humans, he says they are his special creations. To take a human life is much different that simply a decision to put a cat to sleep or to take the life of livestock for food. The human life is distinct, with God-given dignity and worth. We are the pinnacle of his creation and should be treated as such.
  • Man and Woman’s gift of sexuality are intended for marriage and family // Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed [man & woman, created in His image]. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” From the beginning, God’s plan was for mankind to form families as husband & wife. Their calling is to live in covenant as one flesh, “til death do us part”, and to reproduce as God blesses and allows. This is God’s intention for our sexuality, our marriages and his design for the safe upbringing of our children.
  • Children are a blessing // Psalm 127:3: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Mark 10:14: [Jesus said] “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Children are to be viewed by all people as a blessing, not a burden. They are his beautiful creations, and He loves them.
  • Murder is the taking of innocent life // Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.” The sixth commandment of the 10 commandments is quite clear: Murder goes against God’s law. All the rest of biblical morality falls in line with this command. To murder in the biblical sense is to put to death improperly; that is selfishly for selfish reasons. Specifically, this has to do with the taking of innocent human life. By all means and definitions, a baby or child is the most innocent and defenseless among us.
  • Children in the womb are people // Psalm 139:13: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Jeremiah 1:5: [The Lord says to Jeremiah] “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” As well in Luke 1:41, when Mary and Elizabeth meet, each pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist respectively, the text says that the “baby leaped in [Elizabeth’s] womb.” John has an awareness of being in the presence of Jesus. In all these cases, the scripture clearly treats the child in the womb with personhood and respect. They are worthy of being called a person, and are worthy of life.

 

To be clear, we as a church want to be unambiguous and full-throated in our support for life & the family. This is why we are investing heavily in the future of our church. Our children matter to God. Our families matter to God. We will not back down from that position or apologize for it. Children and life matter to God, and they must matter to us!

 

In conclusion, I will readily admit that I understand the reasons why churches are negligent to address this issue at points. There are women in their church or community who have had abortions. They have family members who have had abortions. We all know someone who has had one. What we, as a church, must preach and teach is that there is forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ for all who murder, for the cold-blooded killer, for the abortion doctor, and for the woman who has made this choice. When you repent and turn to Jesus Christ, you can know forgiveness and new life. In all things, we as a church call all people to see that they have sinned, to turn from their sin, and embrace Jesus as Savior & Lord.

 

In all things, Jesus has called us the light of the world. (Matt 5:14-16) We bring light to the darkness, exposing it for what it is (Eph 5:11), and we call people to step into the light of Jesus. (John 8:12)

 

Walking in His Life and Light,
Pastor Nate


Desensitized

By Pastor Nate Powell
 
I’m not sure if we often pause to consider the effect that is being felt in our everyday lives regarding what is taking place in the world around us: both in what we are exposed to, and what we are being desensitized to. Once I’m up and around for the morning, the shower has run, the prayers are prayed, the coffee is on … that’s when the news starts. Of late, my eyes just start to gloss over and it become hard to feel anything, when you hear of:
 
• Another shooting at a school or business.
• Another crime spree or riot in another city.
• More bad news on the economy front, from gas prices to grocery prices, which gets felt in the pockets of all the poorest among us.
• Another means of sexual deviancy and degeneracy being foisted on our country in the name of “pride” or “choice”.
 
This steady drip everyday on all of these fronts add up to the point where I turn on the news podcast out of habit, but I tune out half of it because it’s just the same bad news coming over and over. Maybe I’m not alone in this, and some of you are struggling in the same way.
Last week’s message from John 11 reminded us that when Jesus comes into our pain and grief with us, he is not unfeeling or uncaring. He is not desensitized to the pain of his friends. He weeps with us, he reacts, he feels. In that moment, Jesus is very present with his friends Mary and Martha. He is, as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:32, being “kind to one another, tenderhearted.”
When it comes to our tears as believers, we must let them flow. No excuses and no apologies. And we must be ready to cry them with other believers. I actively and pastorally cried last week with several family members who lost or were losing loved ones last week. But those tears came in spite of all that the world is trying to do to desensitize me to the suffering I see around me, that is very present in each of our lives.
 
I mention this about desensitization, because the world has become a different place than it was two years ago. We stay apart from each other more. We stay at home. We binge stream more shows. We consume more news & social media. And our online lives give a false sense that we are actually with or caring for people. It might be good for us to prioritize a few things to help with the desensitization of all that the world throws at us daily.
  • Prioritize Prayer Daily: Set timers if you have to. Keep a list. Let the news you receive from the media or from others impact your heart enough to bring it before The Lord in prayer. We are called as believers to never cease in praying (1 Thess 5:17). It is our first ministry. Let’s give it our first priority and not be desensitized to what is happening in the world or in the lives of those around us.
  • Turn Off the News: Your pastor is giving you permission. If your TV gets tuned to the news each evening for an entire evening of learning what’s wrong with the world, you have my permission to change the channel or turn the device off. Bad news filling all your free time does nothing to help your attitude in terms of loving your neighbor or doing something to address the issues the world is facing.
  • Give Social Media a Break: Your pastor is giving you permission on this one as well. Social media is a powerful tool, but without limits, social media can fill all the other free time that you TV can’t. Those news feeds are meant to monopolize your time, feed off of your fears and the things that fire you up, and like many things in life, are not healthy if they are not used in moderation. So, commit to a break, set limits, delete the app if you need to.
  • Connect with People and Needs around you: Who are you connecting with to help grow in their faith? Who is helping yours to grow? Your first impact is to be with your family, then with your neighbor. So go to coffee, connect with others, share the love of God and study His word. Serve at your church. When you see the needs around you in the world, let them stir you to action. Attend a school board meeting. Write a congressman/woman. Give time or money to a charity that helps meet the needs. We are to be the people living out Micah 6:8 every day and every week: doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God.
 
Will you continue to live a desensitized life under the slow drip of bad news every day? Or will your senses be awakened to turn to the one with the power to do something about it … turning to the Lord and both prayer and service? Let’s be growing in the kindness and tenderheartedness that Paul spoke of every day.
 
Have any good tips you’ve noted to remain sensitive to the needs of people and the world around you? Email me: nate@auburnchristian.org.
 
Pressing Onward and Upward with you,
Pastor Nate


Preaching Thru John and What I’m Learning

By Pastor Nate Powell

              I don’t just wing it to come up with what I’m going to preach each week. I pray about it over the long term. I come to rest in a portion or book of scripture. Then we preach tactically and fully thru it.  In doing so, we try to make sure we preach thru the whole thing, especially the parts that may spark lots of questions.

Currently, we’ve been preaching thru the Gospel of John, and all I can say is “WOW!” I knew John, and I have loved John as a gospel, but studying it in depth has been both a true challenge and a blessing to me. It’s challenging in that the messages and patterns of the book are very clear, purposeful and repetitive. The purpose is to call you to belief in Jesus! (John 20:31) The book is laser focused on that purpose. But within that purpose, it really challenges me in my preaching. Is what I am saying fresh bread from God’s Word for his church today? Pray for me as I handle God’s word to handle it rightly, and to bring it to bear on our day and age in a contextualized and engaging way.

That being said, we are almost thru the Book of Signs (Chapters 1-12). In fact, I’m currently prepping this week’s message on the 7th Sign, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It’s been eye-opening to see just how systematically John builds his case for who Jesus is, and I am hopeful that this series has been not only convincing for the church (as to who Jesus is), but convicting as well. Jesus calls the church to be the agents of his message of salvation and his call to belief for the world. Will you answer that call to give the call to salvation to your unbelieving family and friends?

As with any comprehensive book study, there are things which you notice, come to believe or become more convinced of in the process of your study. It is in that spirit that I share with you 3 things that I have become more convinced of as I’ve studied this great gospel.

  • John is the Author: I had already thought that I believed this before this study, but you would be surprised at the number of scholars (even pastors) who at times come to a study with certain presuppositions, deconstructing what has been written, and become less convinced that the scripture is authoritative and has authoritative sources. But I am more convinced than ever that this book is written by John. Kostenberger’s excellent book, “Signs of the Messiah”, outlines three internal criteria of identifying the author. The author “a disciple who (1) was at Jesus’ side at the Last Supper (hence one of the twelve) (2) who was at the scene of Jesus’ arrest and trial; and (3) who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and saw Jesus following his resurrection.” This limits the field of candidates to a VERY small number. On top of that, the author always refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, and he is closely associated with the apostle Peter. This seems to be some authorial modesty on the part of the author candidate. The other item that has stood out to me regarding knowing the Author is that it closely aligns with the other books that are commonly attributed to the Apostle John. John’s gospel has all the closeness & tenderness of John’s letters, someone who knew well of the deep love, compassion and forgiveness of Jesus. John’s gospel also shares a great fascination with signs and numbers, which are greatly emphasized in Revelation. As well, both John and Revelation emphasize the identity and Lordship of Jesus. In my own mind, I have no doubt: John is the author of John, and this increases my trust in the eyewitness testimony of this book.
  • You can’t separate the OT from Jesus: An argument could be made that all of the gospels show us this truth, but it’s been clear to me throughout the book that Jesus is not throwing the Old Testament scriptures under the bus. When he goes into clean house in the temple (in John 2), he doesn’t criticize or crush the worship taking place there but crushes the immoral money-changing practices taking place there. When Jesus is confronted about the Sabbath actions, he is taking concerning healing (as in John 5), he does not crush the Sabbath command, but confronts the legalistic tendencies of the Pharisees to pile their opinions on top of God’s words. When it comes to the celebration of the Jewish festivals (in several passages in John), Jesus celebrates and worships with everyone else, rather than tearing their holy days down. We must remember that Jesus was a Jew who came to and for the Jews. The modern tendency and call to unhitch from the Old Testament is not something that Jesus would have either recognized or blessed. As Jesus taught on, honored, and upheld the Old Testament scriptures, so should we. He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) As Jesus said: “Scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35)
  • Modern Pharisees aren’t just Legalistic Christians: Often, when Jesus is facing criticism from the people in the book of John, they are referred to as “The Jews.” But Jesus is not simply being criticized by the Jews as a whole, but by the Jewish leaders and those that they influence. They are the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Teachers of the Law. They are the ones who are supposed to be the closest to God and know His Word the best. They are the ones who should recognize Jesus, but they don’t. Each time Jesus heals in this gospel, each time he does another miracle, there they are to criticize and condemn. One of the things we do in preaching or teaching (and we must do this work) is that we must cross a contextual bridge from then until now. Often, when you hear the Pharisees talked about, they are always likened to religious hypocrites, Christians who say one thing and do another. Certainly, that tendency is there in the church and must be fought against at every turn. But what has struck me in our current cultural moment is that there are Pharisees on every corner, not just “church” pharisees, but “irreligious” or even “atheistic” pharisees. Don’t believe me? Try speaking either on social media or publicly about a moral position that is formed by your biblical worldview. Whether that be a position regarding abortion, sex, marriage, race, expect to be chastised by the irreligious pharisees, because you have broken their manmade rules. There are even whole companies that are cancelling employees for taking a stand, or social media giants that have been locking down voices they’ve selected for cancelling. You see, you don’t have to be a Jew or a Christian to be a pharisee, you just have to be someone who values man’s rules and opinions over God’s law and objective truth. There is a Pharisaic tendency in every human heart. But Jesus calls us away from these thoughts and attitudes to come and follow Him.

These are just some thoughts that I’ve had in studying John. What have you been learning? What questions have you had? My inbox is always open: nate@auburnchristian.org.

Keep growing in God’s Grace and the knowledge of His Word,

Pastor Nate



A New Year, An Old Psalm

by Pastor Nate Powell

Welcome to the year 2022! Again, probably not enough posts from me on the website of late. But which of us doesn’t fall down on some of our New Year resolutions and goals, right? It’s funny to think of the calendar turning over again, since the last 2 years seem to have caused many of us to lose our sense of time. In some ways, it has felt like the longest 2 years of my life. In others, it seems like it’s happened in a blink. I guess that’s what these pandemic years can do to a person
 
In case we haven’t seen one another lately, I want you to know directly that I am thankful to serve here as your pastor for another year, and I’m eager to see what the Lord has in store for us. On December 26, I preached what I call my State of the Church sermon. I preach it after Christmas every year, looking back at the past year, and looking at what is ahead in the next. (If you didn’t get to hear it, you can listen to the sermon audio here.)
 
The point of that sermon was that I want to see our church seeking & following the Good Shepherd Jesus together this year, and learning to pray the 23rd Psalm together each day and/or week. That famous prayer and psalm teach us and mold us in many ways. It teaches us to be content in the guidance and care of our shepherd. It teaches us that the shepherd’s path will wind thru both times of blessing and times of difficulty. It teaches us that our shepherd guides us and disciplines us. Our shepherd protects us and gives us victory.
 
I do not know if this will be a good or a bad year, but I do know that it will be the Lord’s year. May God bless and grow us. May God bless and grow his church.


A Harvest Campaign Update // Summer 2021

Dear Church Family,

I truly hope that this post finds you and your family well. It’s been some time since we’ve had a “formal” update on the front of the Harvest campaign and our Family Life Center that we’ve been hoping and praying about building for some time. It was just a year ago that I was making the rounds to visit with 70+ families. You’ll remember that our church family committed together to give over $350,000 over the next 3 years to this project! It was this past April that we displayed the Harvest/FLC plans, and made the announcement that we were working to get bids. In January, our leaders announced at the annual meeting that it was our hope to be breaking ground on the FLC in July.

Well, it is August, and ground has obviously not been broken. We want to give an update as to where things sit. We did put out for bids from two different contractors to get solid numbers to move forward with in the Spring. What we heard from both contractors was disappointing, but not totally unexpected. Neither contractor could give us a full bid. There are two reasons that they could not do that. First, the prices of construction, and especially the price of steel, are currently VERY high. Most who know construction expect these prices to correct eventually, but they are currently at too high a cost for us to consider construction reasonable or affordable. Secondly, we were informed that even if we ordered the steel at these high prices, we would still not be able to construct until next Spring. That is how backlogged the steel mills are. So, because of these issues, we have been forced to wait on construction. The contractors we have visited with would like to re-approach the bids around the end of the year, so that is our current timetable.

While this is a bit disappointing, it is also wise for us to be patient and wait, both as a leadership and as a church. If we were to force the project thru now, we would certainly be paying too much for the building and we would not be good stewards with the Lord’s money and resources he has provided. The elders of our church are in full alignment and stand fully confident that the Lord wants us to wait on His timing to move forward.

So, what can you do in the meantime? Certainly, the work of the church continues. We are continuing to move forward with youth groups, new kids programming in our new kids ministry/nursery space, and new ideas for bible studies and small groups. The work of the church continues. Toward the ends of the Harvest campaign, I would encourage two things. First, please pray. Pray for costs to come down. Pray for the contractors/financing to fall into place. Pray for us to have patience as a church for the Lord’s timing to be clear and right. And secondly, it is a great time to continue to give. We have been doing very well at following thru on our pledges. In fact, we are ahead of schedule! And if you’ve not joined us, there’s no time like the present to consider joining us with either a one-time gift or a three-year commitment to equip this church family for the next 50+ years of ministry. Feel free to click here for more info. As well, I’m always glad to visit with you and your family on an individual basis on any questions you may have about the project or any other needs or questions you may have. I’m here to serve.

Let’s continue to move forward as a church: patient and persistent in prayer, continually growing in love, generosity and service!

Pastor Nate // Joshua 1:9



On Standing & Falling

Pastor Nate here. Back from blogging exile to once again post on the site. It’s not that I don’t write anything. I write a sermon every week. I write to our church leaders to encourage and grow them frequently, but I don’t post as often here as I should. Today, I just wanted to share a few words that I wrote to our church elders in my weekly briefing to them. When we see the fall of leaders, it is important to take heed. It is a lesson to all of us. Here’s what I wrote to the ACC Elders: 
 
————————-
 
Today I simply want to encourage your reading and meditation on this one verse from 1 Corinthians 10:12. There Paul writes: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

These haunting words remind me of revelations that have come to light in the past weeks and months regarding a speaker, apologist & evangelist by the name of Ravi Zacharias. Ravi’s writings, talks, debates, radio broadcasts & podcasts have been incredibly helpful to many believers. In fact, the college groups that I have taken to Passion conferences have been able to hear Ravi speak twice, the latest time being last January for Passion 2020. This was just a few months before he passed away from cancer.

In the 9 months since he died, terrible things have come to light about Ravi’s ministry and his sexual sins that have come into the light. You can read many of the details that investigations found in a variety of media outlets. (For examples, check out Christianity Today’s report or The Dispatch). A man who said and wrote incredible things, was (behind the scenes) guilty of saying and doing horrible and deplorable things to women. If you think you stand … take heed.

It is important for us as leaders (and as a church) to take heed that we feed a culture of transparency & accountability, rather than one of assumption, power-plays or duplicity. It is important that you hold me accountable and I hold you accountable. It is important that we ask hard questions. One thing that is abundantly clear from Ravi’s ministry is that there was no accountability structure to hold Mr. Zacharias accountable for his time and habits in the midst of all his travels and schedule.

Some of you are probably thinking “What the heck is he going on about? Does any of this actually affect us at all?” Granted, I wonder that at times too, but not this time. I have seen affairs and sexual abuse wreck churches both bigger and smaller than us. We are not above it.

Take heed if you think you’re standing. Your fall could be around the corner. Ravi’s example reminds me that no leader (or Christian) is above it. Which is why we must be ready. We must support one another. We must be accountable to one another. We must pray for each other. 1 Peter 4:8-9: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith …”



Harvest, Sunday School, and more updates from Pastor Nate

Good day ACC Family!

Pastor Nate here with an update on all things church related. We are in strange times in the midst of COVID, but we know that God is in control and he is our Rock and Fortress. We will trust him in the midst of all these things, and we will get thru this together!

HARVEST

I hope you can join us at church in person or online on August 30. On that Sunday, we will be kicking off our HARVEST Campaign. You may have noticed this graphic in church or sign on our property. In the coming month, we are going to be talking, thinking and praying about the future of Auburn Christian Church and setting our minds on the Harvest. In Luke 10:2, Jesus reminds all believers that “The Harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” His request is a call to prayer that has guided the church for centuries. We are to be praying for workers to carry the good news of Jesus, and we are to be praying for the harvest of people coming to faith in Christ for generations to come.

So, I have been meeting with many individuals and families to share this vision for our church that has been on the hearts and minds of many in our church for years. I’m finishing up my meetings in the next week. If you’d still like to schedule a meeting with me, please drop an email to Janell at: janell@auburnchristian.org. She has access to my schedule and will get you set up. Please stay tuned for more details in the coming days, both on our website and our Facebook page. I hope you can join us for these important messages, starting August 30. And in all of these coming days, please be praying for the Harvest to come!

A Youth Pastor?

We shared this a couple months ago with the whole church, but you may have missed it. We are currently seeking to hire a part-time youth pastor! We are looking to hire someone that will also fill the role of male campus pastor for Christian Student Fellowship at Peru State College. So it will be one person filling two part-time jobs! It is a great fit for where we are at and what we are able to do in terms of our staffing currently. Would you please join me in praying for the right person for this position, so that we can have this role filled by the end of the year? Let’s pray together as a church toward these ends! If you’d like to read the job description for the combined roles, click here.

Shuffling Some Property

In times past, many of you know that for the last 10+ years, our church has owned a bus. We have used it for youth events and other trips. It has served us well. However, our leaders determined recently that the costs of maintaining the bus outweigh our needs and uses for the bus. So our elders decided to sell it. The good news is that we found a buyer in Christian Student Fellowship, and they purchased our church bus. They hope to use the bus to transport students back and forth for the meetings of their UNL campus ministry this fall. We are thankful that God provided a way that our church could bless another ministry with our bus. In the future, as we take trips (and our youth group will still take trips), we will look to use rentals to our advantage.

In the meantime, we are also looking to sell the garage that the bus was parked in, that sits in our East parking lot. There is currently a silent auction going on for this building. Here are the details that our elders put together, in case you are interested in making a bid: “The Auburn Christian Church will be accepting seal bid for the metal garage in the gravel parking lot east of the church located at 1100 15th street Auburn, Ne. The garage is 14’ 2” W x 36’ 1” L. It has 12’ side wall and is 14’ at peak of the roof. It has one garage door. Door opening is 9’ 11” W x 10’ H. Bids will be accepted until 8/31/2020. Winning bid will be notified 9/1/2020. Winning bid will have until 9/30/2020 to remove garage from church property. If not removed by 9/30/2020 bid will be forfeited, and offer will go to next highest bid. Please submit bids to Auburn Christian Church Atten: Garage Bid. 1100 15th street Auburn, NE 68305 with Bid and contact information.”

And Sunday School starts …???

These last few months have been difficult to navigate. Between meeting online, meeting outdoors and now meeting indoors, the people of our church have been great at rolling with all the punches that COVID has thrown at us. Many have been asking when we are going to start back to Sunday School. We were hoping to do this soon. But …

In light of the current rise in cases in our part of the state, and in light of the changing status of COVID listed by our health department and school, the leaders of our church still feel it is in the best interest of health not to start Sunday School yet. Not having Sunday School helps us to fully social distance, avoiding much foot traffic crossover and shared space, as well as fully sanitize our worship space between services. We still continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments in the coming weeks and months accordingly.

And Finally … A Word on Facemasks

As I’ve stated, these are challenging times to navigate. It has not always been easy to figure out how to meet or when to meet as a church. One of the most difficult things that we wrestled with as a leadership was “When can we meet back indoors?” The reason we spent so long meeting outdoors was because we knew the risks of singing indoors, and we wanted to have adequate equipment to clean and sanitize between services due to the elevated risk. In case you aren’t aware, singing indoors is one of the ways that the virus can spread thru the air, which is why at points churches having been listed as higher risk (here’s one of many articles that speaks to the science behind this … there are many more articles out there that speak to these risks). So we have been cautious in a few ways: we have kept singing times short, we have maintained social distance, we keep doors open for a time at beginning and end of service for better ventilation, and we sanitize well between the services.

I, like you, love being with our church and praising God. Singing is integral to that. We want to keep doing it. However, we do know that cases are on the rise and we are seeking to control the spread as much as we can. Here’s how I want to encourage you: please wear a facemask. We are not making it mandatory, but we are STRONGLY ENCOURAGING you. We want to keep meeting indoors, and to keep doing so regularly. The masks that we wear will help catch those particles that we breathe out when we sing. You will see me now in the coming weeks, when I lead singing, wearing a facemask. Our elders will be wearing a mask when they share. I’m dwelling very strongly on preaching in a facemask, because I want to be an example in this. And we want to encourage people to wear them for the whole service, only removing them when we take communion together. Thanks for considering this, both to help slow the spread and to help keep us meeting in person.

Finally …

A reminder from the word, for all these challenging times: “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Stand Strong and Look Ahead,
Pastor Nate



COVID-19 Update for May 31 Reopening!

Another week, another service announcement, and changes to our reopening plan! But that is OK. Our church leaders are doing their very best to tackle every issue possible in getting back to services, and doing so in the safest way we can manage!

So here are some basic details you will need to know ahead of that day:

 

·       If you are ill or showing symptoms, please stay home! You will still be able to watch the live stream!

 

·       We will be having our in-person services starting on May 31. We will go back to having services at our regular times: 8:30 & 10:45 AM. All services will be held outside on the lawn west of the church. Both services will be the same. These services will be weather pending. If we have wet/bad weather, we will not have the outdoor, in-person service.

 

·       These services will have chairs you can use, or you can bring your own lawn chairs for seating.  We will place our chairs together in family units, socially distanced from one another, but together. Face masks are also recommended. Communion will be served prepackaged. The church restrooms will be open for use if needed.

 

·       To our at-risk attenders: we encourage you to seriously evaluate your risk in attending. We will continue to offer an online service each Sunday at 9 AM. For those who want to attend but be more distant/protected, we will leave the parking lot on the west side of the church open for those who want to watch and listen to the service from their car. As well, if you choose to worship from home but would like to take communion, we will offer drive-thru communion from 1-2 PM on Sunday afternoons on the east side of the church building.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email or call the church office. We are here to serve!



Exodus Apologetics Resources

By Nate Powell
 
During my April 26 sermon, The Guiding Miracle, I mentioned several resources regarding the Historic Exodus and I wanted to quickly note them and post the appropriate links here.
 
The book I mentioned was regarding the exodus route and location was “The Exodus Case” by Dr. Lennart Möller. This book is full of photos, charts and helpful side studies on the timetables and logistics of the Exodus. It also contains information that is difficult to come by, because of the inaccessibility or sensitive nature of the evidence found in modern Muslim nations. Click here to visit the website for this book.
 
On the other source and reading material connected to Joseph and the Pyramid Tomb at Avaris, I’d commend the documentary, Exodus: Patterns of Evidence. It deals with multiple topics related to the dating and historicity of the Exodus. You can watch it for free on RightNow Media, which is a service you can sign up for free by clicking here.
 
Along with that, You can read a scholarly write-up with more detail on the Tomb’s contents written by Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron by clicking here. You can also read a shorter writeup on the Pyramid Tomb on the Truthwatchers website.
 
In all things, I hope your faith will be strengthened by reading or watching these resources. God’s Word is sure, and we can trust it!


Nebraska Christian College: A Eulogy

by Nate Powell
 
As was noted a few weeks ago, Nebraska Christian College announced that they would be closing their doors at the end of the current Spring semester of 2020. We received word of this via calls from their trustees and staff, thru letters, and on their website. You can read more directly from Hope International University President Paul Alexander by clicking here.

As well, in light of the closing, Christian Standard wrote a very good review of the history and recent events that led up to the closure. You can read that article at this link.

This is not news we take lightly. In fact, it pains me greatly that we can’t share about this in a more personal way. The vast majority of my interactions with others on this topic have been on the phone or in Zoom meetings. There are some of you who are alumni, some of your who have given very generous support, some of you who have sent and prayed for students who studied for ministry and other occupations thru NCC’s educational opportunities that they provided. Honestly, it does hurt on a variety of levels, and there are some of you I would simply like to give a warm handshake or hug, to remind you that we will support each other in this, and it will all be OK.

The History of the Auburn Christian Church and Nebraska Christian College’s partnership goes back the full 75 years of the school’s history. NCC was born from the cooperative spirit between a few ministers, Roy Coup, Robert Hanson, Harold Milliken, and Auburn’s own pastor Guy B. Dunning, who served as the first president of NCC. The annual Dunning Lectures have been a longstanding tradition on the NCC campus. Their campus in Norfolk knew 3 locations, before the schools move to Papillion in 2006. Toward the campuses at Norfolk & Papillion, this church was very generous to the work of the college. As well, we remember that 40 years, ACC benefitted from the ministry and partnership of NCC Alums Frank Zimmerman and his wife Margie. Since Frank served here as our pastor, all of the years since 1962, almost all of the pastors or youth pastors who have served our church have been NCC alumni.

For me as well, NCC has been a long running partner in the history of my life. My home church, Skidmore Christian Church, had sent more than 40 students to NCC over the years, and had raised up many pastors and teachers. Upon being called into ministry around 1989, I benefitted from the summer mission trips that NCC led, called Crosswinds. I took two trips with professor Dan Cravatt, which solidified my desire to serve and grow the church. I also spent a summer after graduation alongside NCC alum Tim Guerino, serving the inner city of Syracuse, New York.

I arrived to study on the NCC campus in 1992, in the midst of a boom in admissions. I studied under some of the best professors: Dr. Bill Weber, Dr. Richard Brown, Chuck McCoy to name a few. I met Jodi in the fall of 1993 at NCC, and we were married a year later. Jodi and I graduated from there in 1996.

When I struggled in my faith, NCC Alumni like Corey Miller, Bob Milliken & Rich Milliken were there to pick me up. When I needed partners in my ministry, NCC Alumni like Andy Turner, Tim Boyd & Justin Raulston were there to support me. When I sent students into ministry, NCC Alumni like Austin Ettleman, Joey Norton & Kris Kirby were produced as fruitful servants for future ministry. When I needed a best friend, NCC Alumni Kelly Turney was there for me. There are more people than I can mention here, each of whom mean the world to me and have a connection to NCC. I would not have the beautiful family I have or the pastoral role I currently serve in without NCC.

I was thankful for four years to have the opportunity to sit as a Trustee. In those years, I received much perspective on the difficulty of Christian higher education in this century. Certainly, even when the trustees voted to merge with Hope International University in 2016, we understood that there were many challenges that NCC would have to face in order to remain viable. Sadly, our alma mater could not compete with the many other challenges that colleges of her size and stature would face in these days. Also sadly, I fear that she is not the last of schools that may close in the current economic climate.

But, we should not let this lead us to despair. It is not that pastoral training will not take place, it is simply taking place in different ways. There are still good schools that are training pastors in our movement. I’m very pleased that one of our own, Preston Vaughn, is headed to Ozark Christian College this fall to study youth ministry. (Make sure you are praying for him and our other graduating seniors!) As well, churches are doing better and better at hosting training programs and residencies that guide called individuals toward ministry.

So, while I know that we are sad, I think the place where we need to land as a church is a place of thanksgiving. Thankful for 75 years of ministry partnership. 75 Years of 1000+ pastors and ministry professionals that have served churches. 75 years of NCC’s support for ACC, and of ACC’s investment in NCC. And because we have trained disciples who have borne fruit, it is not an investment without a payoff. As the Apostle Paul spoke tenderly of the Ephesian church, so we note our affection for our NCC brothers and sisters: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” (Ephesians 1:16-19)

Let’s continue praying for the school as she winds down. Let’s pray for the faculty and staff that are seeking jobs. Let’s pray for the students who are making educational decisions for their futures and ministries.

Thank God for Nebraska Christian College.