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Spare Change - August 2022

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The theme for Kids Camp this year is Park It! It's based on the concept of abiding in Christ. So many times we get busy with life, and we forget to slow down and park it with Jesus. The key verse that we talked about is John 15:5 where Jesus uses the example of a vine to teach us about abiding.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Jesus explains our relationship to Himself as a fruit bearing vine, like grapes. When the branches are connected to the vine, they will grow strong and bear much fruit. If a branch becomes disconnected from the main vine then there is no way for it to bear fruit. It is the same with Christians, apart from Christ we can do nothing. We will not bear spiritual fruit if we are not connected to Jesus Christ.  To stay connected to Christ we must abide in Him.

Abide is not a word that we use in modern-day language very often; however, it is a very important spiritual concept. Abide means to remain in a place and dwell or live there. Think about your home, that is where you abide. When we translate this concept to our relationship with Jesus it means we must remain in Jesus. We cannot depart from Him and we cannot move past Him.  Everything the Christian does is marked by their relationship to Jesus. If we hope to bear spiritual fruit, we must remain in Him.

The Bible speaks about different types of spiritual fruits, some are internal and some are external. Growing in our faith as a disciple is bearing internal spiritual fruit. When we walk in the spirit, Galatians 5 tells us that we will bear the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These spiritual fruits are so important in how we relate to Jesus on a personal level and how we live out our faith.

External fruits are things like serving others, telling others about Jesus, using our resources for the Lord, etc. This is where we live out our faith in a very practical way. Both types of fruit are important for a Christian to bear. 

We must remember that we cannot bear either type of fruit apart from Jesus. Through the power of the gospel, we are saved into new life. That new life is only found in those that remain in Jesus Christ. This is why we think of Christianity as a relationship and not just a religion. We don't just follow a set of rules. Our Savior lives in us, and we live in Him.

The Kids' Camp pastor used the story of Mary and Martha found in John 10:38-42 as an example. Martha was the one who was distracted with serving and anxious about all that needed to be done. Mary was the one that was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching. When Martha tries to get Jesus to rebuke Mary, He tells her that she is doing the necessary thing. 

Mary is abiding with Jesus; she is doing the spiritual thing before engaging in the practical. So many times we run past the spiritually important things in our lives and miss what Jesus wants to teach us. Abiding in Jesus means taking time to know Him. We do that through spending time in God's Word and in prayer.

I know that seems so simple, but it makes such a large difference in our lives. We are all so busy, but we must remember to spend time with Jesus. Martin Luther said, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." He knew how important it was to prioritize the spiritual things before everything else. 

The challenge to you today is to abide in Christ by remembering to put your relationship with Him first. The only way to see God work in your life is to focus on Jesus!  Will you seek to abide in Christ so you can bear much fruit for His glory?

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Student Ministry - August 2022

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This summer has been a great time for our Student Ministry! We have seen people come to faith in Christ, lives changed, relationships strengthened, new friendships made, and people in need be served. I’m so thankful for the many ways our church has supported and encouraged our students to be intentional Christians who look for ways to live out their faith in obedience to Jesus. Many of these students will take the lessons they learn through these activities and apply them to their lives for years to come. And one day they will be the ones encouraging and supporting the discipleship of the younger generation behind them just as you are doing now.

Isn’t growing in our love for God and helping make disciples what being a Christian is all about? The thing about it is that we don’t just grow in love and disciple making on accident. It takes intentionality. We have to be Christians who are looking and planning, thinking and praying about ways we can love God and share the gospel. We cannot coast in our walk with the Lord. But if we are honest, we would all have to admit that it would be nice if we could coast a little. Maybe just put life on cruise control a little bit and just relax for a second. It can be exhausting constantly peddling the bicycle of life and always feeling like we are pressing uphill endlessly.

When life starts to feel this way, there are at least two things we need to remember so we can continue to grow. The first is that we are not alone. Just like the best bike rides, we are with others on this journey. We have our church family along for the ride, and we can encourage each other not to lose heart. But more importantly than that, we have the Lord with us constantly helping us along the way. Sometimes we can get so focused on the difficulty of life that we forget that we are on an awesome journey with our heavenly Father who loves us and will  never leave us. Just like a child on a bike ride with his dad, we can go anywhere our Father takes us. 

And secondly, we have to remember that just as cars and bicycles have different gears to handle the ups and downs on the road, we must have different “gears” to handle the ups and downs in life. The important part is that we have to make sure we “switch gears.” If we try to live every season of life with the exact same expectations and energy, we will find ourselves disappointed and overwhelmed. Sometimes life is easier and we can give less energy and effort. That surely is a blessing. But other times, life takes a lot more energy and effort. If we do not “switch gears” and have the right expectations and put forth energy, then we will stall out.

That is why we must always be prayerfully looking ahead. If you take a bicycle downhill, that can be a lot of fun. But if you don’t look ahead to the hill you will have to ride up, and if you don’t switch gears before you start your ascent, then you will feel utterly unprepared. In the same way, we must prayerfully look ahead and ask the Lord what “gear” we need to be in. Some seasons will be easy and delightful. Other seasons will be harder. But if we are in the right “gear” (meaning we have the right expectations), and if we trust in the Lord who is always with us, encouraging us all along the way, then we know we will be able to overcome every obstacle in life that tries to keep us from loving God and helping others know and love God too. 

I hope we will all remember that God is with us on our journey, so we do not need to lose heart. Also, we need to look at each season of life with the right expectations and give the appropriate energy and intentionality to each so we will not be overwhelmed. Let’s continue to grow in our love for God and encourage each other as disciples of Christ.

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

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