As we were going through our sermon series on idols and how to discern, expose and destroy them, one of the points made that stuck out to me was we, as believers and followers of the Way of Jesus, see, feel and do things differently than the rest of the world.  One of the analogies given by Tim Keller was that it's like you're at a party and you're having the best of times because you now see, feel, hear and know things that you hadn't seen, felt, heard or known before.  It's like you've been born all over again!  We are looking at a couple of weeks now of being in the family and expanding family ties as our youth embark on a couple of trips.

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A Mother's Love

May 14 has been Denise's and my anniversary for the past 21 years.  And it will continue to be our anniversary for the next however many years God gives us together.  This year on our anniversary we experienced another event that would remind us again of the precious life we've been given.  My Mother, Martha Ann Overton Wilson, passed from this life into the Life Eternal on May 14.  So this article is going to be one that takes a few different trails but will hopefully point us all to the goodness of God even in the midst of death.

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A Tribute to Our Seniors

May is always a busy month for those around our schools, be it teachers, students, parents or those connected in some other way.  It's a time when kids are counting down to summer.  Unfortunately for our schools, the summer break begins in June this year which shortens summer a bit.  But for a few students this will be the end of their journey that started way back in 1st grade, and we have the privilege of celebrating that major accomplishment with them!  Our four graduates, Leah Crawford, Madison Duncan, Hannah Littlepage and Ross Thomas, have had connections with this church as long or longer than they've been in school.  From VBS to Mission Trips and everything in between they've been a vital part of the life of our church, and we want to take a moment to tell them just how very proud of them we are and thankful for all the memories we've made together.

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First the Passion, Then the Celebration

Yes we're nearly there!  That day when we celebrate the risen Lord and His defeat of sin's power over us!  Leading up to the celebration, though, we sometimes lose sight of the brutality that our Savior endured for us.  At an annual gathering of area church youth groups we watch the "Passion of the Christ".  It's not a movie you sit down with a bowl of popcorn and watch for entertainment, but it is a movie that we feel should be watched over and over, especially around Easter due to the importance of its content.  As graphic as it may be, it likely depicts the most accurate account of Jesus' Passion.  It is very hard to watch, though; I agree.

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Yes, that is a new word that has yet to find its way into Webster’s dictionary, but is being used as a defense by some who find themselves beyond the realm of boundaries.  "Affluenza" is a term used for those that suffer from being extremely affluent, wealthy beyond just rich I guess, to the point of not following what we would call common sense guidelines.  If you haven’t heard of this yet then read about the defense team for a 16 year old who had killed four people and left two others seriously injured in Texas while driving drunk: Prior to sentencing, a psychologist called by the defense, Dr. G. Dick Miller,  testified that [Ethan] Couch's life could be salvaged with one to two years' treatment and no contact with his parents.  Miller said Couch's parents gave him "freedoms no young person should have.”  He called Couch a product of "affluenza”, where his family felt that wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.  He said Couch got whatever he wanted.  As an example, Miller said Couch's parents gave no punishment after police ticketed the then 15-year-old when he was found in a parked pickup with a passed out, undressed, 14-year-old girl.  Miller also pointed out that Couch was allowed to drive at age 13.  He said the teen was emotionally flat and needed years of therapy.”

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Know God

"This is what the Lord says: "Don't let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches.  But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!"  (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 "The heart cannot exult in what the mind rejects."  This quote by Dr. Stephen Myers pretty much sums up what the prophet Jeremiah said.  Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, will find our worth in one of  three world views: wisdom, intelligence or education; athletics, art or politics; or security in career and position.  As I finish writing I know I've left out other good descriptions that you may have too, but for space constraints let's just look at these.  And let's remember that God has fashioned us to have intellect and wisdom, given us other special gifts to accomplish amazing things, and given us an abundance of resources to bless and be a blessing monetarily and with our time and talents.  All of these are good things as long as we remember that they're not the ultimate things that define us or give us worth.

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Looking Forward to a New Year

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him"  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

As we start into 2014 we are reminded that with Christ, people are continually becoming new.  Regardless of date or time or any of those things we gauge our existence by, we see in Jesus a fresh beginning each and every day.  What an awesome new year we have because any year, month, day or moment is exceptional and amazing as long as we are in Christ and He in us!  I hope and pray that during this year you'll see the potential to touch as many lives as possible in bringing the hope and love of Christ to a hurting and lost world!  He is blessing us so we can bless others - a never ending stream of Grace that is continually poured into us so we can in turn pour into the lives of others.

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