By Allen Allnoch
Ten years ago, bluegrass music legend Ricky Skaggs released an album, “Salt of the Earth,” with his wife, Sharon White, and her family band, The Whites.
The title song described the honest, selfless, genuine people who embody that phrase:
They’ll all come runnin’ if there’s someone in need
They’ll reach out if someone’s hurt
Diamonds and gold could not match what they’re worth
Good people are the salt of the earth
Shane Clark is one of those salt-of-the-earth kind of people. It’s telling that he was reluctant to have photos of himself made for his new Shane Clark Music Facebook page. Actually, he was reluctant to have a Facebook page, period. For this humble servant of God, life is not about drawing attention to himself, but rather about fulfilling Jesus' Great Commandment – love God, love your neighbors.
On his newest CD, “The Hymn Awakening,” Shane has surrounded himself with a whole company of salt-of-the-earth folks – including Skaggs himself – who also happen to be world-class musicians and vocalists. The result bears out his purpose of using his gifts to serve God and other people.
Shane, a Columbus native with close ties to Christ Community Church, leads Camp Laughing Child, a Christ-centered therapeutic adventure camp for institutionalized children living with terminal illnesses in southern Mexico. Sales of the CD benefit the camp, which provides creative nature-based and animal-assisted therapies on seven acres of beautiful mountain surroundings.
“The Hymn Awakening” is a collection of traditional hymns anchored by Clark’s rich vocals and flavored by a diversity of guest artists. It features a lineup of contemporary bluegrass all-stars, including fiddle virtuoso Andy Leftwich, singers Sonya Isaacs and Claire Lynch, guitarist Ron Block (a member of Alison Krauss’s band, Union Station), five-time Grammy winner Rhonda Vincent, and rising star Sierra Hull.
From Leftwich’s elegant opening notes on “Lead Me to Calvary,” to the toe-tapping rendition of “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” with Skaggs and Jimmy Fortune (formerly of the Statler Brothers), to Shane’s chill-bump harmonies with Vincent on “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” the CD is a delightful new take on a timeless set of familiar church songs.
Just as Shane and his guests have poured their hearts into these songs, he’s pouring his life into the lives of sick children 2,000 miles across the continent.
Those kids – and we, too – are richer because of these good, salt-of-the-earth people.
Copies of “The Hymn Awakening” (along with Shane Clark's first CD, “Deep Blue Hymns”) are available in the CCC Resource Center for a suggested donation of $15 apiece. All proceeds benefit Camp Laughing Child. Follow Shane on his new Facebook page at facebook.com/ShaneClarkMusic.
Almost three years ago, in September 2014, Christ Community Church launched its first satellite campus. Since then, what God has done in and through that local church body is nothing short of amazing.
What once was known as CCC-Phenix City now is called Village Church. It now is a standalone Free Methodist body, and on Sunday, June 18 it began meeting in a debt-free home of its own.
“We’re stepping out in faith, embracing our new name and our new location that God has gifted to us,” Pastor Jonathan Taylor writes on Village Church’s website. “We are so thankful for the love and support we’ve received from our Free Methodist denomination and also from our parent church, Christ Community Church in Columbus. We’ve been blessed to be able to see God clearly, and grow stronger in our community of believers, through this adventure.”
Click here to read more of Village Church’s story, and here to visit their homepage. Want to visit? They meet each Sunday at 11 a.m. at 1608 14th Court in Phenix City.
A look at what CCC kids and adults are doing out in the community during our June 4-8 Week of Hope outreach.
Why are we designating this particular week a “Week of Hope?” Shouldn’t we be putting our faith into action and taking hope to the world every day?
Yes we should. Loving our neighbor is a 24/7 biblical mandate, to be sure. And it’s fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, as Pastor Keith taught in this week's Sunday message.
But just as with our Church Has Left the Building outreach last year, a ready-made outreach sometimes can be the nudge we need to get “out there” and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And certainly any time we help “the least of these,” we are blessing someone and serving Christ himself.
Week of Hope also is a great opportunity to get to know some of our local ministry partners and get involved on an ongoing basis – organizations such as International Friendship Ministries, Heal the World Thrift Store, Open Door Community House and Sound Choices Pregnancy Clinic.
We’re working with eight ministry partners in all this week, but that’s only a small segment of the organizations we link arms with throughout the year. Visit our Around the City page for a look at all of our area partners, and click the "Contact" link if one of them stirs your heart to help.
As for Week of Hope, we’ve been comparing it to a mission trip, with a few key differences to make participation easier: 1) It’s right here in Columbus; 2) It doesn’t require hundreds of dollars in expenses; and 3) You can do it in two-hour increments – shifts at 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. each day (Monday-Thursday).
You can find all the details, including information on each partner/work project, right here. Pick a shift – or two, or more, even – and get out there!
It’s never too early to start instilling leadership lessons in young people. At Reese Road Leadership Academy, such lessons are implied in the school’s very name, and carried out on a daily basis.
Teachers make prodigious use of the Steven Covey book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The Leader in Me,” Franklin Covey’s whole-school transformation process, to foster principles and skills for living a fulfilled, productive life.
For the past three years, Christ Community Church has helped RRLA recognize those high-achieving students with the quarterly S.O.U.L. (Spirit of Uncommon Leadership) Awards.
Two students from each level of the K-5 school are recommended for the award by RRLA teachers and other adult leaders. The CCC staff typically hosts a ceremony for the students and their parents, with each student receiving a certificate, a written commendation from their teacher explaining why they were chosen for the award, and a framed photo.
The most recent ceremony, on Thursday, May 11, took place on campus at RRLA and followed the same format.
“We teach students the right way – the Roadrunner way – of doing things,” said Principal Katrina Collier-Long, alluding to the Reese Road mascot. “We love being able to honor them [with the S.O.U.L. Awards].”
CCC and Reese Road are part of the Greater Columbus Partners in Education (PIE) program, a joint venture of the Muscogee County School District and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Through individual partnerships with businesses, churches and other local organizations, PIE enables schools to tap resources to meet unique needs in a student body, provide excellent educational programming, and recognize achievement.
As RRLA's Partner in Education, CCC encourages volunteer engagement from within our congregation. One upcoming opportunity is during our upcoming Week of Hope – RRLA is one of our ministry partners for this "local mission trip" initiative. But the possibilities to serve don’t stop there – the partnership is year-round, and RRLA Media Specialist Ruthie Hite says the school welcomes volunteers for one-on-one tutoring and reading to classes, as well as donations to fulfill certain material needs.
If you would like to serve with Reese Road, or for more information, email Karla Curran, CCC’s volunteer liason with the school.
Today's devotional again comes courtesy of Mark Nysewander. In an April 1 blog post, "Revival Hope is about Tasting the Future," Mark wrote: "Revival hope is ... not a fact you learn. It’s living! You actually taste what’s ahead." He then provided some examples of what we have to look forward to in the coming age.
Click here to read the entire post, and consider the following as you spend time with the Lord:
Our guest speaker next week, Mark Nysewander, recently penned a blog post, "What Humility Has to Do with Revival," that fits right in with where we're headed for A Call to AWAKEN.
“Revival comes to humble places," Mark wrote, "because they house humble people. Humility is the best conductor for God’s power. To be an instrument of revival, seek the posture that conveys such power."
Click here to read the full text of Mark's post, and consider these questions in your prayer time:
If you’re interested in going deeper into this topic, check out Mark's book, "Revival Rising: Preparing for the Next Great Wave of Awakening," available here.
Scripture: Isaiah 58:6-8
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."
Earlier this year, we said that one of the fruits of a genuine move of God’s Spirit is holiness – a growing hatred of sin and longing for righteousness. While the work of sanctification is clearly the work of the Holy Spirit, He will not do it against our will. We must desire to be transformed and be willing to yield to His work. Fasting can play an important role in preparing us for that work in two ways.
First, fasting has a way of intensifying the power of prayer. Mark Nysewander explains:
Isaiah says that if you fast, “then your righteousness will go before you” (Isaiah 58:8). Righteousness will work itself out in your life so that people see holiness. But fasting doesn’t make you holy. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fire of God transforms your human will so that you can consistently and passionately choose for God. The Holy Spirit begins to manifest within you the character of Jesus.
If only the Holy Spirit makes you holy, how is fasting a key to holiness? When you couple fasting with another spiritual dynamic, whether it is prayer, worship or brokenness, that spiritual dynamic moves into a deeper dimension. Couple fasting with the baptism in the Holy Spirit and it intensifies the work of the Spirit in your life. Fasting becomes the fuel infector for the fire of the Holy Spirit! (The Fasting Key, p. 51)
Second, fasting has a way of exposing sin or areas in my life where I am resisting God. Richard Foster writes,
More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. (Celebration of Discipline, p. 55)
Scripture: Hosea 10:12
"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."
From Pastor Keith
I’m going to throw you a change-up this morning. I was reading from "The Best of A.W. Tozer" (pp. 239-240, edited) and felt moved to share a portion of it in place of Mark’s article as we continue to pray and fast for a fresh move of God.
There are two kinds of ground: Fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow.
The fallow ground is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment. But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility: Never does it see the miracle of growth; never does it feel the motions of mounting life nor see the wonders of bursting seed nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.
In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life. All over the field the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consummate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.
There are two kinds of lives also: The fallow and the plowed. For examples of the fallow life we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among us. The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant superiority at revivals, fasting, self-searchings, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him. The curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size and content. To be has taken the place of to become. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act, he has fenced out God and the miracle.
The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance, thrown open the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the distress of fruitless living have combined to humble the heart. Such a life has put away defense, and has forsaken the safety of death to the peril of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And as always, fruit follows the plow. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.” Such a one can testify, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there.”
Throughout this week of preparation for our second Call to AWAKEN, Pastor Keith will provide a daily devotional to encourage you in your times of prayer and fasting for a fresh move of God’s Spirit. Included in the devotional is a brief daily word from "The Fasting Key," a book by Mark Nysewander, who will be our guest speaker during A Call to AWAKEN 2. Keith will add a focal scripture and a few application questions. Don’t forget, we are gathering at 6:30 a.m. and noon each day in the Prayer Room, and would love for you to join us!
Scripture: Hebrews 4:12-13
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."
Today’s Fasting Encouragement: Revelation
From Mark Nysewander, "The Fasting Key" (London, Sovereign World Ltd., 2015)
So how should you read the Bible to get revelation? Read it in faith, expecting God to speak. And one way to turn up the light of revelation is through fasting. In my life the Bible never seems as alive as when I fast. One couple saw an immediate difference in their ability to receive revelation through the Bible when they started fasting one day a week. “God has opened our eyes to things that we have read before,” they reported, “but have never seen specifically – it’s as though ideas are just jumping out at us!”
Fasting played an important role in giving us the inspired word of God. Moses fasted for forty days before he received the illumination of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). Daniel fasted when he got inspired words of the end-times (Daniel 9:3). Paul, who wrote a significant part of the New Testament, said he fasted often (2 Corinthians 11:27). If fasting helped these men receive so much of the original inspiration of God’s Word could it not release in you a present illumination from His Word? (Page 37)
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.