Monday, July 30, 2012

Outdoor Worship Service and Picnic

On August 12 all of New Life Church will meet together for an outdoor worship service at Willamette Park in West Linn.  The service begins at 10:00 a.m. and a picnic will follow.  Please bring a main dish plus a salad or dessert.  We hope to see you there! (No worship services will be held at any of the campus locations on August 12 so we can meet together.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Czech Republic Mission Trip Update

The following update came from Justin Schroeder who was on a mission trip with Karen Hellweg and several others from the Portland area. They were in the Czech Republic serving in an English Camp with Josiah Venture.

Camp was amazing! Such a great week, despite the illness. Zach and Caro were the only ones of our team to make it through the week without vomiting. Gracey and Sean, fortunately, got much better as quickly as they became sick, and were up and running within hours. I was #26 to come down with the vomiting/fever bug on the very last night of camp, which meant I spent the last night (which are always epic) laying in bed. I believe about 36 people total had the virus during camp.

The thing is, though, that none of that stopped the energy of camp, and it was probably meant to be. No one was sent home, and those who weren't sick were full of life and energy that made this one of the sweetest camps ever. We had a super fun and crazy time, and got to make some great friends with the students there. At the end of the week, many had intense spiritual conversations with the Czech youth group members, and one girl accepted Christ right there at camp!

After camp was follow-up. Half the team went to Trebic, and a few of us went to Jihlova (YEE-hlo-va), the other town involved with the camp. It was a great chance to hang out with the students in their element, to relax and adventure as peers and to get those who had formerly not seen the local youth group a really good intro/plug-in to their respective churches. I think most of our team found the follow-up to be the most precious time of the whole trip.

After we said goodbye, we went to Prague! The last couple days were spent in the chaos of this beautiful city. First was the debrief, where Nate and Rob (of JV) essentially commissioned us BACK to carry on the spreading of the gospel in the places we live, not just for a couple emotional weeks in a foreign country. After debrief, we walked, shopped, toured, got lost, hit up all the major must-see points, got lost, and had a great time bonding as a team one last time. It was a magical time but also I'm still sore from all the walking.

I am so so extremely proud of this team and everything they accomplished this past week. It was truly incredible to see the way God worked through each member in a unique and powerful way. Not only did many people in various leadership roles express how impressed they were, but the students took to these Americans in a rich and beautiful manner.

So Gracey and Karen made it home safely to Portland! I immediately began the whole process over with another team and am back in eastern Czech ready to start camp tomorrow. Well sort of ready. Mostly just exhausted. And Caro, Zach and Sean are on a plane back to America as we speak!

Side note: as I am here at this new training, I'm seeing SO many people I've met in the past and have been catching up right and left with all sorts of individuals from all different towns and places in the country I've worked with. It is incredible to hear stories of people I knew back in those towns who have become Christians or are growing in their faith, leadership, and lives from the catalyzing effect camp had on them. Often times our job here is only planting a seed, but four years in and I can personally testify that God is bearing TONS of fruit in this country.

Ok back to the not-side-note. The middle note, if you will. Or whatever:

So thank you for helping make this journey possible through your prayers and loving support of each member. Please pray that the Denver team makes it home safely. Also please pray for each of these Americans, that this experience will not be lost in their personal lives and walks and that their growth will be evident from this point forward. Finally, pray for all the students, Christian and non-Christian alike, that God will continue his powerful movement through this atheistic nation, and that His light will once again shine from the Czech Republic.

God bless.

Peace, Love, and Kouzelné Hroch,


Monday, July 16, 2012

A New Sermon Series: Gospel Lens

This week we began a new sermon series on looking at life through a gospel lens. This series is intended to help you understand your own life, and speak with others, from a gospel perspective. Here is a quick summary of the differences between a gospel lens and a Christless lens.

If we view life through a gospel lens, we believe God’s story…

  • Creation – God is the Creator and Originator of all things. This means that I exist because of Him and for Him. It also means that my value and identity are defined by Him.
  • Fall – We rebelled against God and His word. This is sin. We die, through our rejection of God, because we are separated from the only life giving source. This rejection of God results in a broken world consisting of shame, suffering, death, inequality, and injustice.
  • Redemption – God brings us into righteous relationship with Him by His work through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We put our faith in Him to accept this salvation by grace.
  • Restoration – God has made us to be a new creation in Christ and continues to work in us through the work of the Holy Spirit. This means that He has prepared and enabled us for a new way to live, a new way to relate to others, and a new way to work. We anticipate that one day He will make all things new, resulting in a perfect relationship with him and an end to sin, shame, suffering, and death.
If we view life through a Christless lens, we believe our story…
  • Creation – I am what I determine myself to be. This means my value and identity are determined by someone else’s or my own opinion of me. I thereby establish myself or someone else as god.
  • Fall – My problem is that I am not what I or someone else would like me to be. This results in my shame. Alternatively, I may believe that I am already perfect and acceptable in my own eyes. In this I deceive myself with pride. Beyond me, the world is broken and needs to be fixed because of suffering, death, inequality, or injustice.
  • Redemption – It is through my work that I am saved, healed, or made acceptable by making up for my problem. Alternatively, I may hope that someone else will change my circumstances so that I will no longer have a problem. In this case I, or someone I determine, is savior.
  • Restoration – I or something else can fix me and this place if I will just work harder and more effectively. My future hope is dependent upon my circumstances, resources, and abilities.
You may notice that the components of these stories relate to one another. The outline for the Gospel Lens series will address each component in turn: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.

  • Creation addresses our identity. This is how we answer the questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why do I exist?
  • Fall addresses where things are broken. This is how we answer the questions: What is the trouble or pain? Where did it come from? Whose fault is it?
  • Redemption addresses how we hope to fix our brokenness. This is how we answer the questions: What has to be fixed? What is the solution to my problems? Who will be able to fix this?
  • Restoration addresses what our future hope is. This is how we answer the questions: What do I hope will be? How will it become that way? Who will make it so?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Travis Team in the Paper!

The Travis Air Force Base Mission Team from New Life Church came home last weekend, but not before their work and the work of the Travis Hospitality House made it into the newspaper. You can check out the article in the Fairfield, CA Daily Republic by clicking here.

The article gives a great testimony to the work of Sandy and Sue Nafziger and the ministry of the Hospitality House to airmen at Travis Air Force base. The two airmen whose stories are featured in the article became our good friends while we were there. It is so cool to see the work God is doing in changing lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Utah Mission Trip Update

The Utah Team is back, but here is the update from the last few days of their trip:

"Introverts make the best of friends because the social people are all about themselves"--Andrew Madsen

No sooner had the words left my mouth than I realized that I was testifying about myself; part of my big problem is self-glorification. Though Milton Vincent hits the nail on the head in his book, A Gospel Primer, when he writes:

"Compared to greater endeavors, self-love is mundane and tiresome. Consequently, the more thoroughly I can be done with such tedium, the freer my soul will be to soar at its God-intended heights."

Oh how this breathes so much truth in my own life. Here am I, broken by my sins before you and before God, more joyful than I have ever been. Because the lights turned on and I realized everyone was crying, so I stopped pretending i wasn't. God exposed me of my sin and I looked around to see us all broken--how beautiful. Simply the fact that God knew my wicked ways when he formed me but did it anyways... agape.

So instead of trying to love myself all of the time--God has helped refocus my all on Him. Instead of trying to be perfect enough to share Him with the world--I stand before you lavished with grace only wishing to give to others what has been given to me. And instead of worrying about what has yet to come--I am so in Love with the Lord our God.

Yesterday was our final day of Sports Camp. God demonstrated to us all how mighty he is as some of the rowdiest kids at the camp on Monday were the same ones asking how they could make Jesus the king of their hearts. He had taken some of the most selfish children at the camp and conquered their hearts with his love. Among all of the joyous stories was one of Jordan. His dad is the campus pastor at Alpine Church: Layton and his head was already full of the Gospel story; so when he asked me to pray with him I thought, awesome! perhaps he wants to pray for his fellow huddle-members or is learning more. It had not occurred to me that he was asking me to pray with him for his salvation. I opened the prayer and thanked The Lord for him and how much of a blessing it was to have him in my group, then he prayed silently to himself. When he said amen he told me of how he had thanked God for his loving family, for the Sports Camp, and all of the fun he had been having. But even more so how he thanked God for being a Big God and that his own problem wasn't too much for God to handle. When I heard this I rejoiced that an 8 year old was learning more about his faith. Little did I know that he also asked God to forgive him and be his King... I thought that that had already occurred. It wasn't until we went to the Layton campus last night for a worship service, and the pastor told us all--with true joy glowing-- that his son had accepted the Lord that day at Sports Camp. He told the congregation that Jordan was soooo excited when he got home to tell his dad that he wanted King Jesus to be the Lord of his life. I was struck by this with even more joy than before knowing that Jordan had come to faith; I couldn't hold back my tears--it was beautiful. Seeing how God worked even in my ignorance, my assumption was destroyed and my heart was filled.

I could hardly call my lack of current self-love loss, but instead liberating, to simply know that I don't have to waste my time building myself up for I stand on the Solid Rock. Now freed from such a burden I can spend my time praising and worshiping and glorifying and sharing the love of God. I am eager to see all of you soon and hear of how God is working in your life also but until that day...

Listen for Him

-Andrew Madsen