C3 DEVOTIONALS

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Two

Joanna Mikac   |   December 15, 2017
There’s a funny little word we used in England – “baffled.” (I’ve tried using that word here in Malaysia but people usually don’t understand me, giving me that ‘you’re-not-from-around-here’ look on their face). “Baffled” describes how we feel when something is beyond understanding, like a puzzle we can’t solve or a problem we don’t understand.
Baffled pretty much sums up the feeling I get about Matthew 2. I know the story well. I can even sing you a song all about ‘following the star’ (from the time I wore a cotton-wool beard with Dad’s leather sandals for the wise man role in my school nativity). Yet the moment I really try to explain ‘follow the star’ to you, I’m baffled.
How can you follow a star? How does a star go ‘from the east’ to ‘Jerusalem’? How does a star ‘stop’ over the place where the child was? The bible doesn’t tell us. And I think even the Magi, in all their wisdom and understanding, found themselves on this journey, baffled. It’s clear that this star is doing something it can’t do on its own. There’s something or someone playing around with the appearance of the entire night sky – someone who must hold universal power and influence.
Even more baffling is the reason this star is moving; it’s realigning to point to a baby. This star, moved by what can only be some cosmic power, pointing to one so seemingly powerless. Have you seen how fragile a newborn baby is? I saw it this year with the birth of our first child Henry – his tiny fingers curled around my hand, he barely had the strength to open his eyes (I was scared I’d break him!). And around a delicate baby, the universe is reshaping and realigning itself to point towards him. There’s something extraordinary about this child. I think the wise men are baffled, and I think that’s why worship is on their minds.
Wonder leads us to worship. The Christmas story is one of those familiar-yet-puzzling mysteries that provokes our curiosity in a such a way that we can only respond in worship. The wonder of a God whose “goings are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2) who stepped into the world he created, the wonder of the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. (John 1:14)
The more we allow the wonder of Christmas to astound us, the more I think we’ll overflow with worship. Like the wise men who “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” as they laid their treasures before him, I pray this Christmas season would represent the joyful laying down of our time, treasure and talent, before the one around whom the whole universe realigns to glorify.
______
Joel Burden
Following Bible College, and two years as
the University Pastor at Hope City Church
in Sheffield, England, Pastor Joel along
with his wife Emma, were sent out by their
Senior Pastors to Kuala Lumpur to pioneer
Hope City Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. His
Grandparents had been OMF missionaries
in South East Asia in the 1950’s and 1960’s,
so he and his family have followed in their
footsteps.
Hope City KL turned two-years-old in April
2017 and has become a vibrant, growing
community of young adults and families
gathering across two services in the city
centre of Kuala Lumpur.
Joel has a gift to raise and release leaders,
and is passionate about establishing
congregations across South East Asia,
having grown up with family who planted
churches around the United Kingdom.
He hasn’t mastered the Mandarin language
yet but is doing well with spicy food and loves
the hot climate. Ps Joel and Emma had their
first child Henry in May 2017.

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day One

Joanna Mikac   |   December 13, 2017

As we contemplate the Nativity this Christmas, we can so easily read so much meaning back into the story, as we know how it ends. (This is called iesegeting for the Biblical Scholars amongst us) . For just a moment lets try to imagine watching the story unfold.

Imagine being a Magi bringing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Gifts in the tradition of the Ancient Near East, that were fitting for a king. How surprised they must have been when they arrived and saw the humble place of his birth, and yet despite any confusion they may have felt, they continued on their mission to give honour to a King.

In Jesus’s birth, we see the seeds of his destiny, gifts that foreshadow his place in eternity.

Again in Jesus’s death, we see the Roman guards placing a sign above Jesus’s that proclaimed his Kingship, despite protests from the Jewish Leaders. If we see it from the Roman perspective, did they really have any concept of the truth they were proclaiming?

In Jesus’s death, we see his eternal position being foreshadowed again.

The seeds that were sown in his birth and death are revealed fully in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus – resurrected in an eternal body, ascended to the right hand of the Father – King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

This Christmas as you contemplate the miracle beyond comprehension of the incarnation, the Christ Child born in a manger, remember we DO know the end of the story. We know that we do not worship a baby but a Risen King. We know that the great plan of God is not wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger anymore!

It is not only at Easter that we need to proclaim He is Risen!! In that baby we remember at Christmas, is concealed the King of Kings – the Resurrected Jesus – our Lord and Saviour.

________

Pam Borrow is the new Principal of C3 College. She has been on staff at C3 College for 14 years, working with the greatest team there is. Before this she was the Assistant Pastor in Long Island NY where she lived for nearly 14 years. She has a Masters in Theology but doesn’t know how she spent enough time alone to complete this as she is an extrovert who loves to be around family and friends. She loves to explore new ideas, hence the theology masters- and new places- so will be in Cameroon, West Africa on the Mercy Ship this Christmas. She is passionate about raising and equipping the next generation of leaders and church builders.

C3 Devotionals – Josh & Morgan Scheib Part 4

Joanna Mikac   |   November 10, 2017

Part IV. End Game

Key Passage: Ephesians 4:15-16

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This passage is one that we come back to time and time again as a couple. It reminds us that growth is central to our faith and that our growth isn’t just about us, but for the building up of the body of Christ. We cannot become stagnant, but must become comfortable in the stretch–to know the truth and to speak it in love, growing up in every way in Christ.

Sometimes the most difficult part of walking through the meantime is to allow it to take its full effect. We often want to get through it as quickly as possible, but God is in the business of seeing us grow to maturity in Christ. Our encouragement to you is to let God do His work in your life, the life of your family and the life of your church. Do not fear letting go of the old, or stepping into new waters.

Thankfully, following Christ isn’t meant to be an isolated endeavor. The body is meant to build itself up in love. It’s about all the parts working properly and as they were designed. The challenges and encouragement from those in our life have been crucial–they’ve called us to a more mature place in our faith as a couple, parents and as pastors. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).

At the end of every day, our heart should be to look more like Him than we did the day before. No matter our age, no matter the season that we are walking through–let’s keep our eyes up to see what God is doing, prepare in our meantime, stand firm and believe the report that God always fulfills His promises.

Blessings,

Josh + Morgan

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Josh and Morgan Scheib @jdscheib @mdscheib

C3 Kansas City @c3kansascity

C3 Devotionals – Josh & Morgan Scheib Part 3

Joanna Mikac   |   November 3, 2017

Part III. Steadfast in the Meantime

Key Passage: Ephesians 6:13-18

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

This passage in Ephesians is one that many of us are familiar with, but the encouragement and instruction that it brings never gets old. Whether we are in a wait time and lay down our armor because we feel that we don’t need it, or if we forget that we have it when trouble comes, it is indeed available each day to us. However, each part of Paul’s instruction to the church requires action. Stand. Fasten. Take up.

And while the enemy has schemes that would work to disable and destroy the call on our lives, God has plans. He has a plan and purpose for our lives, a destiny that is wrapped up in Him. He is fully involved in our present time and has invested in it by equipping us with His Word and the Holy Spirit as we walk out our faith. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

What’s incredible about this passage is that it doesn’t apply to just one solitary soldier; it is for the entire church. The whole armor of God is fully realized in the context of community. We can spur each other on when we see that a brother or sister has dropped their sword. We can show one another how to hold the shield of faith in all circumstances! We are better together and can stand with each other when the arrows of the enemy come, aiming to throw us off our purpose and to see us set our calling aside.

Remember that you are not alone, and that God sees you in your present! Jesus has seen to our past, our present and our future. We have the Holy Spirit as we walk through our wait times and times of breakthrough, empowered and firm in the midst of anything that comes our way. Let’s be active today as we choose to suit up and stand firm with one another in Christ!

Blessings,

Josh + Morgan

________

Josh and Morgan Scheib @jdscheib @mdscheib

C3 Kansas City @c3kansascity

C3 Devotionals – Josh & Morgan Scheib Part 2

Joanna Mikac   |   October 27, 2017

Part II. Preparation in the Meantime

Key Passage: 1 Samuel 17:36-37

Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.

We love looking at David in 1 Samuel. He has come to Saul, ready to do battle with Goliath–even though he was not a soldier and Goliath had been fighting since his youth. David gives an account of what he had been doing during his “meantime.” David was responsible for his father’s sheep, fighting tooth and nail to do his job well to preserve his father’s flock. He took his work seriously. He was diligent in the daily grind of what it meant to be a shepherd. His context and very training ground had been what would have seemed menial to many, but it preserved his entire nation when the time came. We must put our hands diligently to whatever is in them currently.

How are we preparing during our “meantimes”? Are we taking our current context seriously, as David did? Are we operating out of a place of bitterness or despair, rather than a place of dedication to the context that we are in at present? Are we allowing God to move in us and reveal to us the worth of the people surrounding us, the work setting we are in, or the neighborhood in which we live? We are all the time being prepared for weightier things, so let’s be intentional in our actions and dedicated to where God has us this very moment.

Allow God to use your current context to shape you, mold you and prepare you for what you may be called to down the road. Praise Him in your current posting! Put your hands to things with a joyful heart! Be faithful in the seemingly “little things” while you are being prepared for the “big things.” David was able to stand confidently as he approached Goliath; he knew that God would deliver His people because he had seen God’s hand in his preparation all along. He was ready when the time came for him to face Goliath.

Our meantime does not have to be wasted time, friends. It can be our most valuable time. Stay alert. Stay focused. Let’s establish a pattern of preparation in our lives.

Blessings,

Josh + Morgan

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Josh and Morgan Scheib @jdscheib @mdscheib

C3 Kansas City @c3kansascity

C3 Devotionals – Josh & Morgan Scheib Part 1

Joanna Mikac   |   October 15, 2017

Part I. The New Thing

Key Passage: Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!

   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

   and streams in the wasteland.

The time in between the “big things” that happen in our lives, the meantime or present time, is not always an easy time. We can find ourselves wishing away the time that we have in the present, or looking to the past and becoming disheartened that God isn’t moving in the same way that He did before. Maybe things aren’t happening in the timeframe that we desire. Although most of us would love to live only in the moment of breakthrough or when the new thing comes to fruition, we live mostly in the meantime. The “yes” that we say to God when He calls us into something is also our “yes” to living in the time between.

We heard God speak to us very early in our marriage that He was going to call us out of our city for a season, but it took time. It actually 7 took years before we had the amazing opportunity to help launch C3 Brooklyn with our pastors and friends, Josh and Georgie Kelsey. When our house went on the market and sold in Kansas City in less than two weeks during a time when houses weren’t selling, everyone kept commenting on how quickly it was happening. However, we knew that us moving across the country with our two small children had been years in the making. We know that God can move in an instant and we’ve seen Him do it. But oftentimes, there have been many steps that have led to the new thing happening in our lives. What appeared to happen incredibly fast was actually what God had spoken to us years earlier and was coming to pass. We had just continued serving and living in the meantime.

Our character was being crafted in the meantime. Our stamina was being increased in the meantime. Our testimony was being written in the meantime.

God is moving in your meantime, so keep your eyes up. God is speaking in your meantime, so listen closely. It will take grit. It will most certainly take commitment. Rest assured that God is faithful and He always makes good on His promises.

Wherever you are right now, we pray that you will hold firmly to the Word of God and to what He has spoken to you. He is making a way. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t lose hope. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; Do you not perceive it?”

Blessings,

Josh + Morgan

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Josh and Morgan Scheib @jdscheib @mdscheib

C3 Kansas City @c3kansascity

C3 Devotionals – Erika Croxford Part 4

Joanna Mikac   |   September 18, 2017

ACCEPTANCE WITH JOY

Shivers – what a big lesson to learn. For a long time, I wore it around my neck, literally daily in the form of a giving key.

Tearing down some preconceived ideas don’t concern me. On that note, I tell you, without reservation, that I have a mentor, a coach and a therapist. They found me in the same way I found them.  Their voices have guided me along the path of acceptance….I encourage you to pray you find the same, wise counsel is a gift and it keeps us away from the cliff’s edge.

So, the heavy question I want to ask is how circumstantial is our blessing?

if I am blessed, does that mean that everything I have hoped for and believed for all come to pass? Eventually at some point… right?!

I get that some things will not make sense and equate this side of eternity.  Is there such a thing as Holy entitlement? YES but on His terms… Not my perceived entitlement but His.

Genuinely accepting God on His own terms and not worshiping a God of my own making.

I am wired to learn from my experience then we make a heretical view on God.  The key is not to be doing it so much. The key is ACCEPTANCE. He is not the God of my making.

In the midst of this, there is choice – we grow or we crumble.

We accept and we manage- a management with a view not to control everything that is going on. I have found there is pure joy in acceptance.  Hear what I am saying clearly; acceptance is not settling- it’s a walk of freedom and choice.

There is my heart

Lain at your feet

Overwhelming peace

Indescribable joy

Found in my love

Every day I rise

Every day I choose

I want to be more like you

Covered by you

There is my heart

Lain at your feet

I leave it there as an offering

A sacrifice of praise

From life held ransom by you

Only you can have it

Only you deserve it

With love and fury

E xxx

____

Erika Croxford
Senior Pastor, C3 Newcastle City
@erikacroxford

 

 

C3 Devotionals – Erika Croxford Part 3

Joanna Mikac   |   September 18, 2017

OBLIGATIONS TO MY HEART

I was down in the valley.

‘This delay is not unto death – but for the glory of God’

Hinds’ Feet on High Places, was written by Hannah Hurnard and it’s a great book; a cool allegory.  I read it a bunch of times, growing up and now I’m reading it to my sons (Judah 8, Jensen 11)- and.. they don’t really get it, ha!

They are mildly confused as to why “Sorrow” and “Suffering” are helpful companions to maturity and they are super confused as to why I cry every time the Shepherd comes onto the scene. I hope they will get it one day and read it to their children.

As much as I like to read, I like to write – especially when I have things weighing on my heart…

Come bounding toward me my love

Leaping across the mountainside

You are the only one, the only one

I need a higher view

Don’t break me before the threshing is done

My poor little heart can barely take another round

Not for trouble but for honour

Not for trouble but for honour

Sometimes, I don’t have the eyes to see past my kids behaviour – that awful thought- “you are a good person right?” “this is going to turn out ok right?” circles my head.

‘This delay is not into death- but for the glory of God.’

This line comes from Hind’s Feet and it became a mantra to me, a hopeful prayer.

If you are in a valley, if you are experiencing delays, then I would say to you; tell your heart to take courage! Your words build worlds. Offer up your will and accept.

The thing about altars; they make possibilities out of apparent impossibilities.

Some nights are too chaotic to read together but when my boys sit and settle I always steal a quick glance in between a turning page. They are so handsome and kind, and they are growing into very very good people.

With love and fury

E xxx

_____

Erika Croxford
Senior Pastor, C3 Newcastle City
@erikacroxford

C3 Devotionals – Ryan Croxford Part 2

Joanna Mikac   |   September 11, 2017

Their profit is your gain…

One of the greatest tests of leadership is to be someone others want to follow, while at the same time raising and releasing leaders. The challenge is to maintain authority and receive the honor due, while at the same time reproducing more leaders.

This isn’t an easy process.  For next level leaders to attain altitudes they didn’t know they could achieve, they need strong leaders to follow.  Those leaders must encourage, motivate and correct, giving every opportunity for the follower to accomplish things they couldn’t do without such leadership.  Leadership is about believing in others while managing belief in yourself.

Building others can leave you a victim to your own insecurities.  Even handing over tasks and roles you can do well may leave you questioning your leadership.  Alternatively, you may delegate tasks but then micro-manage the person you delegated to in order to maintain your leadership status.  It’s easy to become critical or withhold praise in an effort to build yourself up.  Such actions cause breakdown in the leader’s soul and character, affecting everyone’s productivity and effectiveness.

It seems that the only long-term strategy to maintain fruitfulness is to get over yourself.  Christ is the perfect example of this as He strove to raise and release others even though they all fell completely short of His infinite knowledge and wisdom.  He had succession in His plans from day one of His ministry.  He chose an unlikely group of people, spent intentional time developing them and then sent them out to minister.

In today’s world where we are elevated on platforms and social media, we must be completely determined to elevate others.  Our main objective as leaders should be the raising and releasing others to fulfill God’s plan for their life, rather than our own.  We each will stand before God at the end of time and give an account for our lives.  If we have been set apart to lead, I believe we will be asked how we released others to serve God’s purpose.

A phrase that strengthens me personally and keeps me focused on the task of leading others is:  “Their profit is my gain”.  Every time they win, I win!

____

Ryan Croxford
Senior Pastor, C3 Newcastle City
@ryan_croxford

C3 Devotionals – Ryan Croxford Week 1

Joanna Mikac   |   August 29, 2017

We face many challenges and trials in life but the one that seems most sinister is rejection. We experience no sharper pain than rejection. One of the saddest things is that so often, Christians who suffer rejection attach it to the Church, rather than those who rejected them, pleasing the enemy who is always looking for ways to divide the body of Christ.

Whenever the source of rejection and offense is seen to be the Church rather than individuals, there is no way to be reconciled.  Breakthrough can only come by knowing WHO has offended you. Once this is established, the path to freedom opens.

After Christ was despised and killed by those who rejected Him, He made a way for us to overcome all offense and rejection. He made this clear when He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. John 20 records that following Christ’s death, the disciples were found hiding behind locked doors, fearful, angry, feeling rejected and abandoned. In this moment, while they are in the middle of their pain and discouragement, that Christ appears.  Before they can get any answers or share their hurt, frustration, and fears, Christ reveals His wounds and speaks to them.

He doesn’t share any explanations for His death but simply says “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” In this moment of pain and disillusionment, He addresses the issue of highest importance. In the original Greek, forgiveness could be translated as ‘send it away’ or ‘let it flow’. The truth is that forgiveness is always in motion. It has no boundaries and holds no prejudice. Whenever we try to choose who, how or when forgiveness can flow, it only causes us pain. Unforgiveness is an obstruction that limits the power and effectiveness of our own freedom.

Whatever pain or suffering we experience, there is a way to be free, to liberate our soul so that we can walk unencumbered. We can walk out of a locked, darkened environment…

____

Ryan Croxford

Senior Pastor C3 Newcastle City

@c3nc @ryancroxford