Telling Your Story

by Nate Powell
 
We were in the middle of your typical Monday morning staff meeting the other day: Emily, Janell and myself. We were reflecting on the past week’s happenings, when we suddenly had some unusual visitors. A retired gentleman followed by four teenagers walked in. The teens seemed a bit on the shy side, but the older gentleman piped right up: “Hi, my name is Paul, and my dad used to be the pastor at the Auburn Christian Church.” I looked at Janell and we both knew we were going to need to take a recess from our meeting for me to talk with this gentleman.
 
His name was Paul Platt, and his father, Harold D. Platt, was the pastor at ACC from 1950-52. Paul spoke of remembering attending church in our building as a young boy, and attending elementary school at the old brick school by highway 136. His family had moved to Auburn in his younger years from a ministry with the Missouri Valley Church of Christ. Following their time here, his father would take a pastorate in Kansas, before eventually becoming a professor at Dallas Christian College.

 

While his story was interesting enough, I loved even more to hear why he had four teenagers following him to Auburn, Nebraska. Paul introduced me to his four grandsons. It turns out that they were on a long 2 ½ week road trip. Paul had left his home out east (Virginia, I think), picked up 2 grandsons in South Carolina, picked up 2 more in Texas. They then proceeded on a long road trip to explore the roots of their grandfather and great grandfather. It was so great to hand each of those teens a copy of our centennial church history book and hear them immediately exclaim “There he is!” as they found a picture of their great-grandfather. “We have that picture at home!”
 

What Paul was doing is something that is so important and is perhaps even a lost art among the young and old today: the art of testimony. It’s the art of storytelling and passing on the tales of how you have seen God work in your life.

Asaph, one of the psalmists, reminded us that this is our important duty: to remember what God has done and pass on those tales to the next generation. Hear his words in Psalm 78:1-7:

“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;     incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable;     I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known,     that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children,     but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,     and the wonders that he has done.

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers     to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,     so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

For all who call themselves Christian: Every one of us have a story, a testimony, to share with all who come after us, to remind them of the goodness of our God. These stories remind them that God wasn’t just good or moving in lives during Bible times; He does those things now.

So what is your story? You might not get to take a long trip like Paul and his grandsons; but you can make plans to tell your family of God’s goodness to you. We ALL have a story. Let’s not let them go to waste.

 

 



The Scrolls Affirm (The Cutting Floor)

by Nate Powell

You’ll be seeing a posts in the coming weeks called “The Cutting Floor”. It’s basically a spot to put stuff that I thought was really good, but certainly didn’t have time to cover in this week’s sermon

In this past week’s sermon, I said the following:

“This book is not going away. There are some in the current Christian community that question the helpfulness or the use of this OT text we were given. We must stand on Jesus’ words here and believe him firmly. We will treasure all of God’s words. They stand forever (Isaiah 40:8).”

I wish we had more time to examine in the sermon last week about what we know of the trustworthiness of the text of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus said it best last week: “Neither the smallest letter, nor the smallest stroke of a letter will pass away.” (Matt 5:18) As we said, neither the Iota or the Yod (the two smallest letters in Greek and Hebrew) will pass away.

The question can come: How do we know this is true? How do we know that the biblical text didn’t get doctored up over time? I’d love for you to read this great article on the Dead Sea scrolls and how their discovery points us toward the truth of what Jesus said … This Word endures. Check out this excerpt:

“One of the most important Dead Sea documents is the Isaiah Scroll. This twenty-four foot long scroll is well preserved and contains the complete book of Isaiah. The scroll is dated 100 B.C. and contains one of the clearest and most detailed prophecies of the Messiah in chapter fifty-three, called the “Suffering Servant.” Although some Jewish scholars teach that this refers to Israel, a careful reading shows that this prophecy can only refer to Christ.

Here are just a few reasons. The suffering servant is called sinless (53:9), he dies and rises from the dead (53:8-10), and he suffers and dies for the sins of the people (53:4-6). These characteristics are not true of the nation of Israel. The Isaiah Scroll gives us a manuscript that predates the birth of Christ by a century and contains many of the most important messianic prophecies about Jesus. Skeptics could no longer contend that portions of the book were written after Christ or that first century insertions were added to the text.

Thus, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide further proof that the Old Testament canon was completed by the third century B.C., and that the prophecies foretold of Christ in the Old Testament predated the birth of Christ.”

Click here to read the whole article. The Dead Sea Scroll discovery was certainly a monumental find in assuring us that was the Bible says is true. It is God’s word, and as Jesus told us, it is unbreakable. (John 10:35) 



Service Changes Again? You Bet!

By Nate Powell

When we made some changes to the worship service at the beginning of 2019, the church was informed that we would make several changes to the service, and that we would solicit feedback, and then evaluate what we should do moving forward toward a service that includes more prayer, rearranged order, and streamlined timing to fit everything into the service.

We asked for feedback, and there was one consistent thing we heard, time and time again: Communion time needs work. We need more quiet music for meditation. Less singing while we are taking communion. And so, we have heard you, and now that we are through with staff transitions, we are ready to make some changes that I believe we will all be on board with.

Starting this Sunday, communion time will be moved back to the time proceeding the sermon. The bread and juice will continue to be passed from the back, as the deacons have been doing. But we will sing a song focused on the cross leading into that time, an elder will prepare our hearts to take communion and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice, and we will have quiet music playing so we can pray and meditate while the bread and juice are passed. But we will do one thing different: we will hold that meal individually until everyone has it, and we will then take, eat and drink together.

Why make this change? I do want you to know that it does have a scriptural purpose and is not simply change for the sake of change. When we read Paul’s reflections on communion in 1 Cor 11, we see him helping a church move from a trivial serving of the meal to a significantly deep demonstration of communal faith in Christ. How did they do this? 1 Cor 11:33: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s supper, wait for each other.” Four key words: wait for each other. In doing this, we don’t just take and eat. We stop and reflect on what he did and why our sin put him there. Our few minutes to take a pause before makes us reflect more deeply on His greatness & our sin problem. The taking in unity reminds us that he didn’t just do it for me, but he sacrificed himself for all of us. I would encourage you to reflect on this 1 Cor 11 passage.

It will take a bit of time to adjust to this change. But in the end, it will help the believers here at ACC reflect deeply on the love displayed on the cross and sin that nailed Jesus there. I have been at and served at churches that do communion this way. I will be leading us through this change in the month of July, and then some of the other elders will join me in August. I’m looking forward to experiencing the Lord’s Supper over the course of the next few weeks with all of you.



The Mountainous Effect of Scheduled Prayer

By Nate Powell
 

The other day, I was doing my reading in Acts, and I noticed a detail about Acts 10 that I’d not seen before.

If you’re not familiar with it, Acts 10 is a ground breaking chapter of the Bible. It is groundbreaking, because it is the moment at which Peter and Cornelius both have the same vision and revelation: The church and new covenant are not just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it should. Why? Because most of us are Gentiles! If the Good News of Jesus isn’t for me, then the gift of eternal life isn’t for me. Acts 10 is great news, because now the Kingdom of God is for both the Jews and the Gentiles.
 
But that’s not the detail I noticed. The detail I noticed is this one. First stated in Acts 10:2-3: “[Cornelius] prayed regularly to God. One afternoon at three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him.” As well, we see down in verse 9: “Peter went up on a flat roof to pray. It was about noon …” It is from there that Peter has his vision and heaven is opened toward all of mankind. Why did this happen? There are many reasons toward God’s purposes, but a glaring reality stood out to me. The doors of heaven were opened to the Gentiles because two men scheduled time for prayer.
 
Wow! What a testimony! So often, we give lip service to prayer. But how often do we actually schedule time to come before the Lord in prayer? How will prayer be something more than a small sentence uttered in our mind or under our breath. This is convicting and powerful. You are a Christian and I am a Christian because two men made prayer a priority.
 
It is in this regard that we put a challenge forward to the church. Is it possible that we can be known as a people of prayer? That we would be people who regularly schedule time to pray. I do that personally. And I want to challenge our church to do it more as a church family.
 
That’s why I’ve started the prayer initiative. Each Monday morning, I will be here at the church at 8 AM. I would love to have you join us, either at the church or from your home. Today was the first day, and it was awesome. We are devoting a full hour to prayer for our church, school, workplaces and community. Would you make prayer a priority and give an hour toward this purpose?


Appropriately Dressed

By Pastor Nate Powell
 
I continue to be reminded about a certain truth since I moved roles at our church. I moved from being a secondary pastor (youth/worship/etc.) to the primary role of pastor at the beginning of this month. That truth is this: I am not ready for this.
 
Pastor Corey said as much in his last Sunday with us as he handed me that baton. But he’s not the only one. My wife reminded me of this the other day as I was about to leave the house. We had friends over that morning, and our friend questioned the fact that I was leaving the house in a Cardinals jersey, shorts and a ballcap. He said, “You wear that to work?” My wife responded: “It’s OK. He’s still getting used to being a senior pastor and being professional.” Literally 2 days later, I went to make a pastoral visit at the prison in Tecumseh. I thought I had all my ducks in a row, until I walked in the door and the guard let me know: “Sir, you won’t be able to make a visit because your shorts do not meet the dress code.” I felt pretty stupid.
 
When we wear different hats, we have different responsibilities. Needless to say, my desire to wear a baseball hat every day is going to need to end, and I’m going to have to get more longer pants and slacks. So I say all that to say this: thanks for your patience with me. I’m sure there will be several more times when I wear or say the wrong things at the wrong times. I’ll be grateful for your patience as I transition from being the “Youth guy”, a role I’ve had for nearly 20 years.
 
In the process of thinking about appropriate clothing, I was reminded of Jesus’ message to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. In that message, Jesus chastises a church that appears to be alive, but is actually dead. But he says, there are some who walk victorious with Christ, clothed in white because they have been faithful and not succumbed to the world and to sin. When Disciples remember their faith and to follow Christ faithfully daily, they are clothed in white robes of victory. When we meet Christ, I want to be appropriately clothed in the righteousness of Christ. I want to be found faithful.
 
To be faithful is what it truly means to be well dressed. This is how we will be ready.


Owning Your Worship

By Nate Powell
 
Last week, I ended one of my articles talking about the importance of your own personal times of worship. I hope that as a Christian disciple, we do not simply have a Lord’s day. Our entire lives are His. (Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:17) There is no small portion that he can have of me. If we are surrendered to Christ, then we have said to him that he has an all-access pass to every part of our week, every part of our day, every part of our lives and hearts.
 
When we were at Passion conference a few weeks ago, speaker Francis Chan reminded us of this privilege that we have with God: the privilege to meet with Him. This is why our view of our worship must be so much bigger than our Sunday morning gatherings … because our God is much bigger than our Sunday morning gatherings!
 
Exodus 33:7-11 reminds us that Moses had this privilege that he alone enjoyed. He had set up a tent outside of the Israelite camp and he would go there to meet and talk with God directly. The text speaks of how Moses would enter the tent, and the pillar of cloud would come down, and Moses would speak face to face with the Lord as one speaks to a friend.
 
Wow! To imagine what that must have been like! Moses speaking with Almighty God, Creator of the Universe! We can hardly wrap our minds around it. And yet, because of Jesus, we have been purified and sanctified to stand in God’s presence, just as Moses did. Understand, this is not a Sunday morning thing; this is a God and you everyday thing. Moses met with God regularly, and so can you, because of what Jesus has done! (Hebrews 10:19-22)
 
This brings me back for a moment to our music as worship. How do you speak to God in this time that you have with him? Are you praying? Are you meditating on His Word? Are you silent? Are you singing? Those times with God for me tend to be a combination of all of these things. And it is then that I sing the songs that are nearest and dearest to my heart. Those are my best times of worship in song … when it is just God and me and I’m declaring my love for him. Those are the best worship services that you will ever be a part of.
 
But you can make it your own. Even in times that you wouldn’t consider “quiet time”. Working on the car? Drop in a worship CD that you love and sing along. Washing the dishes? Use your phone’s bible app to pull up an audio Bible and have the Bible read to you. Exercising? Pull up a podcast of your favorite preacher. In our day and age, the opportunities to have time with the Lord are more abundant than ever. Take time today to spend time with God. You’ll find that everyday can become an amazing worship service


How We Breathe

By Nate Powell

In the Summer of 2011, my family and I moved to Auburn, and I came on staff at ACC as the Associate Minister of Youth and Worship. There were many reasons we were excited to come to this church and be a part of this ministry, one of which was having a church family that invests in its students and their growth and development. So during that first Summer, we went to Joplin with students to help with Tornado Relief, and we took some of our worship students to Kansas City for the National Worship Leaders Conference, to invest in their development as musicians and future worship leaders.
 
While we were in Kansas City, we got to hear from some of the best worship leaders in the world: p2011-07-19_12-32-14_844eople who are writing and recording worship songs that churches around the world sing every Sunday. One of those worship leaders who invested in us was Matt Redman (the guy in the middle in the picture above). I’ve always admired Matt as a songwriter. He’s written songs like The Heart of Worship, Blessed Be Your Name, Better is One Day, 10,000 Reasons, and many more. I also love Matt’s heart as a worship leader. He never comes across as the most talented musician in the room when he is leading; there are always much better singers than him at conferences like these. But Matt has a pastoral heart for the church, and he has a manner of coaxing the Christians gathered to focus singularly on the message they are singing and the One they are singing those lyrics to, and to do so loudly.
 
When we got to sit in on Matt’s seminar, he talked about his view of worship: that it is all about breathing in and breathing out.
 
Worship is breathing in when we read the Word. Breathing in is the preaching of the word and us hearing it. Breathing in is meditating on the truth that God is speaking to us. Breathing in is coming to a greater understanding of the love or grace God has for us. When we take time to receive and think about God’s truth, we are breathing in.
 
Worship is also breathing out. We breathe out when we respond to the grace and truth we have been given by the Lord. We breathe out when we sing songs to God, when we pray, and when we live, love and serve as God wants us to.
One good example of this from the Bible is Psalm 136. There we continue to see a truth preached that we should breathe in: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good (Ps. 136:1); give thanks to Him who does mighty miracles (v. 4); He brought Israel out of Egypt (v. 11). And after each of those breathing in lines, the church is urged to breath out together “His faithful love endures forever.” This is just one example of our worship being like breathing, and it is what our times of corporate worship should do and be: Lessons in breathing praise to God.


The Must-go Moment

By Corey Miller
 
Do you remember where you were last Wednesday? I will never forget.
 
Williams BaptismNate and I went to Peru to visit Keith and Jackie Williams. I’ve watched the corn through their living room window harvested and now I’m watching it prepare for another harvest. When it was cold outside, their living room was plenty warm and now even in the August heat  it’s plenty comfortable. Keith’s hot coffee felt good in my cold hands last February and the bowl of homemade ice cream topped off with fresh Kimmel’s Orchard peaches left me very satisfied yesterday. I feel like family when I walk in the garage door without hardly knocking. We sit, talk, read the Bible, pray, embrace and then when I must, I go.
 
Wednesday I learned the joy of “Mustgoes” as the family insisted Nate and I join them for some Mustgoes. Ever eaten Mustgoes? In the South they open the fridge and pull out anything that must go, warm it up and put it on the table. Taco Soup? Must go. Stewed tomatoes? Must go. Cucumbers and onions? Pulled pork? Must go. You name it, a scoop of it went with me. Wow, it went well.
 
Must go. I will never forget Mustgoes. The truth is Mustgoes is what brought me to Peru that day. One day we all must go. The day draws near for all of us and we need to prepare for that moment when we must go, Keith and Jackie know that all to well. Keith has been fighting Pancreatic Cancer this past year, and he has fought hard. He also knows his fight will soon end and he must go to the place prepared for him.
 
While at the hospital a couple weeks ago, Keith and Jackie made the decision to prepare for their must-go-moment. Keith and his brother Danny had been reading the Bible and as they were talking Keith mentioned he really didn’t remember his baptism. They studied the Scriptures and talked some more with Jackie. Jackie called me and we made arrangements. Last Wednesday in a Kiddie Pool on their patio, Keith and Jackie were buried with Jesus in baptism and raised to live a new life with Jesus. When their must-go-moment comes, they will be ready. How about you and yours? Are you ready for when you must go?
 
Fun Fact: 3,954. Unless you’re an economist for the Federal Government, that’s a big number. Keith and Jackie Williams shared their faith with at least 3,954 people in the last 7 days. Someone every two minutes for the last seven days has looked at the picture you have in front of you. We posted the picture on our Facebook page and it went viral. As far as I know, Keith and Jackie don’t Facebook. Our next most popular post announced C4J Registration and was seen by 457 people. An average sermon post our announcement might hit closer to 100 people. When I asked Keith if he was ok with it he said, “I’m not ashamed of Jesus.” When you know you must go soon, you know you must go and tell now.
 
I hope this church soon knows the joy of Mustgoes.
 
We must go…now.
 
(Click on the videos below to watch Keith and Jackie’s Baptisms.)
 

 

 

 
 
 


Our Leadership Speaks

Matthew 6:33-34 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Last year, we as an eldership stood before this congregation to address the state of our general budget.  At the time, we felt compelled to tell you that we just were not gathering enough in tithes and offerings every month to meet our budget. A big part of the discussion was explaining that we had already trimmed the budget waste and still could not meet our monthly obligations without removing money from the interest bearing accounts and that was not a sustainable way to operate.

Today, we are definitely doing better, narrowing the gap quite a ways, but we are still running short each month.  If we were a business, this would not be a sustainable model for the future.  However, we are not a business, we are a church.  Even your leadership has needed some time to realize what that means exactly. We love Jesus, and desire a love relationship with him, yet it has taken a while for the leadership to realize that this budget issue and the money in the bank equate to a crisis of faith.

How can we shepherd God’s flock in a manner that encourages and inspires His congregation here to grow in that relationship for themselves if we are struggling in this crisis of faith ourselves? We are going to respond together.   We are speaking to you now to explain our vision, and how we are planning to respond to this.

What is most important for this church to achieve in our community and the world?  Is it to use the money and properties that faithful servants have left us so that we have a false sense of security in this church building?  What I mean by that is; do we further the kingdom if we never do anything great with the money we have, because of fear that we may not be able to pay our monthly bills 20 years from now?  Is that what we truly believe God wants?   In conducting ourselves in this manner, it appears that we value Sunday service in this congregation 20 years from now more than we value bringing people to Christ today!   Why! We must have faith that if we do what God wants now, he will provide for our future.

Consider what Christ said in Luke 12: 22-31.

 

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all hissplendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

There is futility in worrying about things of tomorrow.  If the church will not faithfully use the resources it has been given for the Lord, then who will we use them for?  Are we the servant who buried our masters talent because we were afraid we were going to lose it, or are we the servant who doubles our masters talent because we know that is what he wants?

Your leadership has prayerfully decided that the most important thing for this church to achieve is what is on our walls of the sanctuary, “A family of believers joined together to bring people to Christ”.  Working in earnest toward that goal is the best way to ensure God’s blessings for our future, not fearfully hoarding a reserve of tender from the US  government.

The way we live our lives is our biggest testimony of what we believe about God.  In 2012 the congregation voted to sell the Frans farm, suggesting that the money could be used to add on to the church to fill the needs we have today.  The sale was a success and the money has been in banks around town since.  The trustees remodeled the sanctuary, getting its first face lift in decades and now we feel it is time to take the next step.

The next step is finishing the update of this church building.  The property team has been busy planning for the rebuilding of the roof and repairing of the stained glass windows.  The furnace may be on its last legs as well and plans are in the works to address that.  When finished this century old building should be ready for the big project that follows. A team has been assembled and we are actively pursuing plans to follow through with the promise made in 2011.  We plan to build the addition and leap forward in faith.  This is happening.   God has blessed this congregation with the funds to fulfill our needs and let us impact southeast Nebraska, and the world.

After the project is complete we plan to use what is left for investing in missions here and abroad as long as we can. It will be at that time, when our cushion of cash has being used that we will decide, for ourselves, what kind of church we will be. We worry and fret about money and our future all the time, yet there are many churches and people working in mission fields that can’t even begin to fathom the financial blessing the Lord has given us to use for his work.   The world is watching us, it’s time to faithfully respond.

The Christian Church Eldership

 



David’s Warts

by Nate Powell

So I’ve been doing a series at ACCYG on Wednesday nights on David.  You can access and listen to all of the past talks on the sermon audio page here on our website.  So far in our series, we have explored David as a young man and his love for God’s Word.  We’ve seen him as God’s anointed, defeating a Giant.  We’ve seen his great friendship with Johnathan and we have seen him run for his life from Saul.

But tonight, we are going to talk for a few weeks about some difficulties with David.  David was a man after God’s own heart, but his life during his time as king (and some of the things in his life earlier) raise some serious questions.  And I think these questions are the reasons that you don’t hear many preachers talk about the whole life of David.

If David was a man after God’s own heart, then why did he:

  • live such a violent lifestyle, going to war and killing so many people?  Doesn’t God command us not to kill?
  • take multiple wives?  Isn’t marriage intended to be between one man and one woman, rather than multiple women?
  • have such crumby kids?  If the New Testament holds up leaders of the church who raise and manage their children well, why are David’s kids so out of control?
  • commit such atrocious sins as the adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah to cover for his sin?  How could God let such a man, let alone a king, get away with such a thing?

I think that our lack of willingness to answer such questions has sometimes led skeptics and doubters to a distrust of God and His word.  But we are going to be meeting these questions head on.

And I believe we will see, at the end of the day, that scripture is justified to hold a high view of David and an even higher view of his God, whom David had such a heart of worship, service and gratitude for.