Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Written by Kevin Mains on . Posted in Church Update

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

God at WorkAs we finish 2013 and look forward towards 2014, it is a great time to reflect and to dream. As we look back over 2013, what were your greatest victories in your spiritual character? How did you see God work in your life and in your family’s life? (John 5:17, Romans 8:28, Acts 17:24-27) The Bible tells us that God is always working and that He is working for our good. The Bible also tells us that God orchestrates the coming and going of people and situations in our lives to help us seek Him and find Him. Since all of this is true, it is important for us to reflect and to be able to see God’s hand working in our lives. As we do this, our faith will grow and our appreciation for God will grow. Even as we reflect on the difficult times we will be able to see how God was molding us and rescuing us. What lessons has God taught you this past year? How have you seen God work in each of your family member’s lives? What opportunities has God opened up for you? How has God blessed you?

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Psalms 40:5

This is a wonderful Psalm of David. On one hand, David is looking back and recounting all of the wonderful things that God has done in his life in the past. As David does this, it produces in him a faithful attitude about what God will do for him in the future. As you think of all the ways that God has been with you and blessed you in 2013, it will give you great faith and anticipation as you look towards 2014. David is so full of faith about the future that he says if God would have the opportunity to sit down and tell you all that He has planned for you, you couldn’t handle it, it would be just too much. Wow, what a wonderful way to think and to feel about your past and your future.

Some of us may feel that we had a hard year in 2013 and it may be difficult to find God’s handiwork in our lives. One of the greatest examples of a faithful attitude in the Bible is the apostle Paul. As Paul writes the letter to the Philippians he is in a dark prison not knowing how long it will be before he is executed. However, as you read his letter, he is so faithful and grateful about all that God has done and all that God is doing and will do. Twice he is encouraging the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord ( Phil 3:1, Phil 4:4). How was Paul able to have such a faithful spirit when his situation was so dark and hopeless? Paul knew that God was good, that God was working and that God would take him to heaven. Because of these things he trained himself to focus on God and all He was doing and not on the situational problems he was facing. (Phil 1:6, Phil1:21, Phil 4:8)

We see Paul’s faithful attitude about the future when He says,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Encouraging next steps

  • Make a List of all the ways you have seen God bless you in 2013
  • Make a list of all that you are spiritually looking forward to in 2014

Worship in Long Beach Sunday, November 10

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Announcements, Church Update

No Services in OC on November 10

NOTICE:  There will be no worship services in Orange County on Sunday, November 10.  There will not be a worship in Irvine or Fullerton.  Instead, the church will be worshiping at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach at 10 AM.  The address of the Convention Center is 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90802.  Please make note of it!


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Youth and Family Conference Report

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Reporting

Youth and Family Conference Report

YFConferenceThe New York City Church of Christ hosted “A City On A Hill,” the 2013 International Conference for Youth & Family Ministry (ICYFM). It was September 13-14 in Brooklyn, New York. The Conference was followed by an inspirational Worship Service on Sunday, September 15, entitled “Light of the World”. Over 5000 people came together to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the NYC Church of Christ.
If you would like to listen to some of the lessons on-line, please click this link: ICYFM Messages

It was a great time of teaching about how to help our youth be connected to Christ and to their families. I’m so grateful for the lessons we can learn – especially when they are shared from the perspective experience. I know I make so many mistakes as a mom, it is encouraging to hear children share about the things their parents did that helped them fall in love with God (a big part being able to see their parents model the behavior of making mistakes, being humble and apologizing).

Guatemala Trip

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Missions, Reporting

Guatemala Trip

Guatemala1

(Note: this article was written by Sonya Leddy.  She was a part of the HOPE Brigade in Guatemala this summer. She shares about her experience in this blog post.)

My experience in Guatemala this summer exemplified the words “It is far better to give than to receive.” It was set in motion as I joined over 50 volunteers ready to give at this 3-day medical brigade. We quickly joined forces as a team of doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, teachers, students and translators all with one mission – to care for the extreme poor and those in most need. It was evident after the first day of serving that our bodies were exhausted but our hearts were fulfilled & satisfied from the work that was done.

Guatemala2Each day our team assembled with joyful, giving hearts to painstakingly administer medical and dental care, count thousands of multi-vitamins and pain relievers, fill desperately needed prescription medication and entertain the precious children. Hundreds were served daily at no cost, prescription and reading glasses provided free of charge, and three months of multi-vitamins distributed to every man, woman and child seen. Words cannot do justice to the impact and blessing brought to this community from the donations and sacrifices made from the churches across the US. It was truly an inspiring testimony of God’s love for the poor.

Guatemala3The children’s program, in which I served, bubbled with smart & creative kids. They played games, had their faces painted, made bracelets and customized their very own T-shirts. It was a pleasure to watch their faces light up as they proudly embellished their shirts with rhinestones and glitter, or colored their names artistically written in bubble letters. One mom requested that ‘God loves you.’ be written in English on her baby son’s t-shirt. While this mother was grateful for the t-shirt, I was much more grateful for her faith as a mother despite her circumstance.

Guatemala5While countless moments like this moved my heart, as I expected. One moment stood out. During a brief conversation with a brother from the Guatemala church I mentioned how my faith has been challenged in recent years. I experienced the loss of my 4 year-old, son to a tragic accident, and my 35 year-old, sister to an aggressive cancer. He said tenderly, “You were called to have passion for all, not just a few.” Wow!

 

Guatemala6My heart has been humbled and my passion transformed. I have not stopped thinking of Guatemala since I’ve left. My husband says I’ve found my calling. I believe him. When you volunteer with Hope Worldwide your mission is to bring hope and change lives. YOU return with a greater hope and a changed life. It IS, far more better to give than to receive.

 

2013 Youth Camp Report

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Events, Reporting

2013 Youth Camp Report

The following is an article written by Brian Craig about the 2013 LA Youth Camp.  You can find the original article on Disciples Today.

2013 Youth CampThe night sky was filled with thick clouds as Geo Garces began his Wednesday night message. The camp director was preaching about how we can approach God and talk to him about whatever we are going through–even if we are feeling angry, sad, or struggling with doubt. As Geo read from various Psalms, he emphasized how the writers were honest and vulnerable with God about their feelings. And then he began to share personally himself:

“Earlier tonight, I was in that field over there, calling out to God, ‘Lord, don’t you know its Wednesday night? Why all these clouds? Don’t you know we are supposed to have the Starlight Devotional tonight? I know the forecast calls for 90% cloud cover, but please, Abba!'”

He continued, “See kids, God hasn’t answered my prayer yet. But I still need to trust him, even when I doubt, and whether he answers my prayer or not. And God wants us to be honest, vulnerable, and real with him about whatever it is we are going through and how we feel about it.”

It was the third day of the annual LA Youth Camp, and the plan for the night called for the memorable “Starlight Devotional.” That was to be the special night when all the campers would be lead out into a large hidden field on the outskirts of camp where they would lie down in the silence and dark, look up at the stars and meditate. It was to be a night where the campers hearts would open up to God and they would make commitments to him. But with the current cloud cover and the forecast for the next two days, at this point it was doubtful if we would be able to proceed with the event.

This was my fourth year driving up to Idyllwild, to the annual LA Youth Camp. John Mannel and his team began the camp back in 2000 for kids going into 5th-8th grades. Every year it has just seemed to get better and better. This year we had well over 500 campers, lots of amazing counselors, and a full staff. The camp has gotten so large and successful that the decision was made to have two camp weeks next year and split the staff between the two camps. So everyone was in the mindset of learning all they could from each other so we’d be able to not miss a beat with next year’s camps.

2013 Camp 2There is something so amazing about being surrounded by hundreds of kids at this “magical” age as they are discovering who they are and how they fit in to their community. They still have so much of their innocence, and it is awesome to watch their eyes open to God and his word. They are responsive to the influence of their counselors as they are figuring out what to do with the different emotions they experience and relationship issues they go through. It’s coIMG 0743ol to wake up early in the morning and see little gatherings of campers all through the wooded areas and along the creek as their counselors lead them quiet times together. It’s the perfect time in life to teach them to begin to look to God for help in challenging circumstances and for answers to the deep questions of life.

There are so many fun things that happen at camp, with memorable activities and sporting events. The legendary “Water Wars” are a highlight of the week; Geo and the staff talk a lot of “smack” at every assembly leading up to the great battle, so by the time the war comes the kids are a frenzy of excitement to destroy the staff in a deluge of water. But for most of us, our favorite moments are the times of worship at night in the outdoor amphitheater, as the kids scream, shout, dance and sing their hearts out to God till they have no voices left. You can’t help but shed a tear at the sound of their young voices worshipping our Creator.

So, back to Wednesday night in the amphitheater. As Geo got into his final point about going to God when we are happy, praising him for good things and remembering to be grateful, murmurings began in the crowd. “Geo, look up!” someone said. Suddenly, clouds had cleared and the whole sky was full of stars. Geo told the campers to look up and to praise God for parting the clouds for the Starlight Devotional. The crowd erupted in cheer that God had heard our prayers. It was just one of those moments when God winks at you, when he reminds you of how amazing it is to belong to him. I felt a sense of awe and gratitude in my heart for this wonderful camp. And I was filled with the expectation that these young campers were on the right track towards one day devoting their whole lives to our awesome Creator.

Dr. John Oakes Teaching on the Book of Daniel, August 4 and 11

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Events, Spiritual Growth

Dr. John Oakes Teaching on the Book of Daniel, August 4 and 11

Dr John OakesThe Summer Bible Study series continues this Sunday, August 4, with a class taught by guest teacher Dr. John Oakes from the San Diego Church of Christ. Dr. Oakes is an experienced author and speaker in our fellowship of churches. He recently completed a tour through the Middle East and the Republic of Georgia, where he spoke about various Bible topics to churches in those regions.

The topic of Dr. Oakes’ class is Daniel: The Rise and Fall of Nations. This is the third class in our series on the Book of Daniel, and in it we will explore Daniel’s prophecies and the role of the book in the development of God’s plan of salvation.

Dr. Oakes will also teach our fourth and final class in the series on August 11, Daniel: The Message. Many writers have erroneously tried to apply the prophecies of Daniel to our contemporary era without regard for the historical context of the book and of Biblical prophecy in general. We will look into the issue of how to correctly apply the book’s message to our lives.

Classes meet on Sundays from 7:00-8:00 PM at 10 Goodyear, Irvine, CA 92618.

For more about Dr. John Oakes, please click here.