It is so important to feel like we belong somewhere. Feeling like we belong makes us more committed and helps prioritize our activities. I want Victor Valley Christian Church to be a place where each of us belongs.
There are various ways you can belong. One very important way is to belong to a Life Group. Life Groups at VVCC exist to build community within VVCC by connecting, growing and serving.
Through Life Groups we make meaningful connections with others and build trust enough to open up. It is a place to dig deeper into scripture and discover applications that are specific to our lives. It is also a safe place to experience the accountability, support and encouragement of others.
My husband and I have been a part of Life Groups for many years. They have been a place where we formed meaningful friendships. A place where we created bonds that last a lifetime. Life Groups have been a place where we have been able to care for people in the VVCC community. They have also been a place for our faith to be strengthened. We have been able to grow in our relationship with Jesus, our knowledge of the Bible and been able to assist others in their growth. Life Groups are a place to belong. It is my desire that everyone belong.
In order to belong, a commitment must be made. I have found that my relationships do not grow unless I make the commitment. The same is true for a Life Group. What kind of commitment is required in a Life Group? The first is to commit to the meeting time. Life Group needs to be a priority. It needs to be something that does not get pushed aside for something else. Relationships cannot cultivate if the time is not put into them or if other things are deemed more important.
Another is to commit to be in God’s word and open to what He is teaching you. He will use your lesson and those in your group to lead and encourage you. In return, don’t be a mere spectator. Participate in the study and the lives of those in your group. It is amazing what can happen to a group that is committed.
If you have not found a Life Group, I hope you will take advantage of this weekend's Life Group Connect Event. This will take place on Sunday, September 20th before, between and after services. This will be a great time to meet some of VVCC's Life Group leaders, and hopefully find a group and a place to belong. We want VVCC to be a place where you belong and are able to be committed and connected because you are important to us.
By Clarissa Toll
If you have been around church for any amount of time, you’ve heard about seasons.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. -Ecclesiastes 3:1
A season for birth and death
A season for planting and reaping
A season for healing
A season for building
A season for tears and laughter
A season for dancing
A season for embracing
A season for tearing down and mending
A season to be silent and to speak
There is so much to glean from these seasons. So much goodness and importance are housed within these defining portions of our lives, but what happens when they aren’t as easily defined?
What happens when you don’t know exactly which season you’re in?
These are the in between(s), as I’ve recently started calling them.
Ya know those times when a big something is ending In a short amount of time but you’re not quite there yet or you see a change not far off but you’re in a period of uncertainty? A job change, a birth of a child, the start of empty-nesting, graduating high school or college, deciding on a move… the list goes on.
Right now, I am literally in the season (summer) between graduating college and starting my big adventure into a career and my future.
The in between(s) are really hard on me, at least that's what i'm learning in this season of what feels like nothing but endings and the waiting on beginnings. I'll finish school up this coming December, "real-adult" like life will start after that, along with which will come a bunch of other big heart things to size up and settle into before the looming deadline. Its weird and uncomfortable, to be honest. I've been warring with being content, holding on, and running full speed ahead for some time now.
It’s an odd place to be in, while I may feel finished, I’m not yet done and there are still hoops to jump through. I can feel the pull to jump off and start, yet I’m in between the end and the beginning of two major chapters of my life. I don’t know the career I’ll fall into at the end of December or where I’ll be this time next year, but I’m in a-not-so definable season nonetheless.
Sure I’m building, but I’m also waiting. I’m embracing the beginning of the new, but I’m also reaping what came from the planting that is four years in college.
But y’all want to know what I’ve learned by seeking and pondering about seasons? Each season isn’t defined by one word. A lot of them are marked by these words from Ecclesiastes, but there are in between(s) to each.
It’s never wrapped up with a nice one word, easily defined bow, but even the in between(s) are just as important and chalk full with things to glean.
I’m the type of person who likes to find boarders and parameters; I like to label things and scrutinize over there definitions. But the older I get, I’ve realized the undefinable are the things we learn from the most.
No season the Lord leads us through will be completely comprehended by our human abilities, so why do I (we) limit them to simple, short worldly definitions?
We catch such sweet glimpses of what He is teaching us as we walk through them, but some of these fruits we will never fully grasp this side of heaven (Ecclesiastes 8:17).
So we’re going to reap and build and tear and laugh and cry and speak and be silent in each season of our lives, possibly with one or two playing a larger role in each, but it’s all going to add up into a season.
In each, though, I pray we choose to glean and seek where the Lord is.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord. -Psalm 27:13
Where do you feel in between? Where is it you aren’t sure how to define where you stand?
Lord, our time on this earth is a constant time of change and seasons. There is mess and stability, brokenness and joy; but in it all is where we find you. As a church, I pray we recognize the seasons and the in between(s) we’re in so we can seek you and know you better in our lives. This side of heaven is full of your brush strokes of mercy, lets us glean from them Lord.
Our youth summer conferences are a time for both students and adults to grow closer to one another and God. The students are able to hear from amazing speakers that challenge them on multiple levels. As adults, the other sponsors and I get to hear from a "campus pastor" whose responsibility is to look after the adult leaders exclusively.
This year, we were challenged by the campus pastor to ask four key questions of our students. These questions are an important part of their growth and development as Christ-followers but they are also questions that each one of us must ask to grow deeper. The amazing thing is to realize all of us have asked these questions at one time or another. They are not complex but can be very revealing when asked correctly.
The first question is, "Who is God?" Simple right? Who we believe God is has a great deal to do with our spiritual development. The primary source we have for knowing about God is His Word. God uses His Word to reveal Himself to us. If we are not willing to read God's Word, then we will not have an accurate picture of God. How many times have we all heard someone make a definitive statement regarding the nature of God that was obviously incorrect? The root of such things is almost always a lack of commitment to reading God's Word.
The second question is, "Because of who God is, what has he done?" This question not only drives us to God's Word, but we can also see what God has done and is doing in our individual lives. When we see God asking Adam and Eve in the garden, "Where are you?" It's not because God is unaware, it's because he wants us to know that He is seeking a relationship with us. Furthermore, He wants us to know where we are in our relationship with Him. In John 3:16 we read that God loves us so much that it moved Him to give His only begotten Son. Timothy Keller speaks of God as being "prodigal" in nature. That His love is lavish,even reckless, in regards to His desire for a relationship with us.
The third question is, "Because of who God is and what He has done, who am I?" The word Christian means "little Christ", thus as Christians we find our identity in Him. We see from who God is and how He has pursued us that we are wanted and loved. It is God who gives us our identity.
The final question is, "Because of who God is, what He has done, and who I am, how is it that I should live my life?" The previous three questions should bring about a result that manifests itself in our lives. The motivation of asking these questions is not about behavior modification. We may be able to change our actions without transforming our hearts but what God truly seeks is that we completely establish ourselves in him.
Here's the problem. It is easy, and even culturally fashionable, to reverse these questions. This is extremely dangerous. If we start by asking, "How am I living?" Then, "Because of how I'm living, what is my identity?" We will inevitably reach the conclusion that, "Because of my established identity, I must conclude that God intended me to be this way." This is how much of our society's view of God has skewed away from a Biblical view of God. We have created a God of our own making rather than making us a people of His creation.
Let us not be unaware, this twisted world view can easily make its way into the church and our individual minds. If we are not consciously aware of where we are suppose to start, this will be the result. We MUST start with God and never ourselves.
At the time of this writing, my wife and I just concluded an incredibly emotional week for us. During this week Tina and I began to walk a path that many parents have walked before us and many will after us. Our oldest child, Jacey, graduated from high school. Now I am not the overly sentimental type but I found myself feeling incredibly emotional leading up to, during, and after the commencement ceremony. To be honest, my feelings really caught me off guard. I fully expected my wife to be emotional. In our marriage that’s always been the way it’s gone at major family life events; she gets emotional, I am her encourager, the shoulder to cry on, the voice to assure her everything is going to be ok. That’s not how it happened this time. This time we both required encouragement, both of us were in need of that shoulder, we looked for others to tell us everything was going to be ok.
My daughter’s graduation made me appreciate the local church. Naturally, having devoted my adult, professional life to local church leadership I already possess quite the respect for the church. But this time I considered the church less as the one who participates in its leadership and more as the beneficiary of the love, community, and service contained within. In my nostalgia looking back at the past 18 years of raising my daughter I was reminded of the role the church has played in her upbringing. You see, Tina and I made the decision years ago to raise our children in the church. Church attendance was going to be the priority above all else.
In making church attendance the priority it meant that many people over the years would play incredibly important roles as our children grew up. As I reflected back on my daughter’s childhood, adolescence, and now young adulthood I could not help but become ever more emotional thinking of all those sweet saints who invested in her at key moments of her spiritual, emotional, and physical development. Yes, Tina and I raised our daughter. We put in the hard work but it was not without a wonderfully loving and supportive network of caring men and women willing to give of their time, talents, resources, and lives investing in Jacey and walking alongside Tina, me, and Jacey as she grew not only as a woman, but as a Christian.
So, to all you nursery workers who lovingly rocked Jacey and patiently introduced her to the gospel through memory verses, crafts, and coloring sheets...thank you! Your investment has paid dividends. To Tammy G., you BASECAMP MCs, teachers, and check in personnel…Tina and I are in your debt. I had the privilege of baptizing my daughter because you welcomed her and invested in her life of faith. To those who served as camp counselors and VBS volunteers, your service created priceless memories from which she draw upon for a lifetime. To all you youth workers, and Neil H. and Bryan E…my family appreciates your being there by her side, supporting us as we navigated the treacherous years of junior high and high school. You have been Christ-like examples providing a safe place for her to mature, ask difficult questions, and grapple with her faith without judging or condemning her. To those precious couples in whom Tina and I have relied and kept a close eye upon as you walked this path right before us, thank you for your allowing us into the lessons you’ve learned and sharing your hearts with utmost transparency.
Many have said that it takes a village to raise a child. I don’t really give this cliché much credence unless that village is the church. You see, Jacey is who she is today for several reasons. There are the obvious genetic and environmental reasons. She is without a doubt a product of her family of origin, but she is also the product of a host of wonderful men and women who comprise the church and who took the time to invest in her spiritual development. You will forever be a part of her spiritual legacy. You have been incredibly instrumental in the development of her faith, a faith from which I pray she never wavers. Thank you!
If you currently serve in the nursery, preschool, elementary, or youth ministries please do not lose your passion to see the children under your watch grow in their faith in Jesus. What you do on a regular basis is tiring, it can be frustrating, it is emotionally draining; but I am here to tell you, the reward is great! Please do not see what you do as a burden, time wasted, or as something you “have” to do. This is something you “get” to do. What a privilege it is to be a part of someone’s spiritual adventure. What a joy it is to see someone in whom you’ve invested much transition toward adulthood with her feet firmly planted upon God’s Word!
Perhaps, you’ve been on the fence as to whether or not you ought to get involved in one of these areas of ministry. Maybe you’re seeking that place where you can meet the Christian’s mandate to serve. Do not underestimate the importance of investing in the generation that follows.
As many of you have walked this bittersweet path before Tina and me you know what this next season of life entails. My family will learn all this soon enough. We are excited about the newness of the time. We mourn the end of what we’ve known and appreciated for so long, but welcome the challenges before us. We are so thankful that as we let our daughter go and pursue the life she desires for herself it will be with the manifold wisdom of God, a confidence in God’s Word, a strong desire to continue to serve others through the local church, and with God’s will in mind.
Thank you Victor Valley Christian Church. You’re not done. Our son has three years to go, and there are several dozen other infants, toddlers, children, and youth who need you.
Life is constantly changing, and with every transition in life comes adventure. Growing up, I never thought of myself as an adventurer, but I have found that I can be pretty adventurous, especially when my adventures include my favorite person to take adventures with, my husband. When we were newly married, I had no problem moving to Kenya with him. 21 years ago, I was excited to leave Orange County and move to the high desert. I was more than just willing to go on a mission trip to India. I eagerly left an area of ministry I had grown comfortable in to a ministry that would provide a challenge and become a growing experience for me.
Parenting is another adventure we embarked on together almost 23 years ago and I honestly did not know what an adventure that would be! I can honestly say it has been the best adventure of my life. It is also the adventure that I have struggled the most in adjusting to the natural transitions. I loved being a mom to little ones. I enjoyed being involved in their schools and classrooms through elementary school. I was honored to be an ear to bend and a safe place for my girls to turn to during their difficult Junior High days. I watched with anticipation to see where they would go to college and what paths they young lives would take. My daily prayer that they would keep Jesus first and foremost in their lives.
I was unprepared for the mixed emotions I would feel when they were ready to actually step out on the paths that were laid out before them. I was excited for their adventures, yet struggled with the knowledge that those adventures would be THEIR adventures. I had to let them go, let them experience all that lay before them. The fun. The difficult. The exciting.
My daughter's are adults now. My husband and I did our best raising them to be independent and strong women. A mama’s heart takes a little time to catch up to that reality, and I think mine is just now finally catching up. I am learning to step back and trust that Darin and I parented the best we could, confident that God has them and always will. I am so excited to see how he will use them.
As I think about all this, I'm reminded that this is the time of year when many parents must deal with transition. Their little ones getting ready to start Kindergarten. Others moving on to Junior High or High School. Some are getting ready to send their “babies” out into the world. Each is a milestone to be celebrated but still a difficult transition. Enjoy and cherish all the transitions. Having made your journey, my advice is to continue to pray for your children and trust that God “has them”!
Watch as they begin their adventures. Be their cheerleaders. Be their safe places. Be their prayer warriors. You may find it is the best adventure you ever had.
I believe that the internet can be a safe, life giving, soul encouraging place.
I believe that the internet can be a place to be transparent and honest for good.
I believe as a church we should be honest and real in all facets of our lives, including in our little corner of the internet.
I believe this is a place for honesty and reality to come together to form words and phrases for God's glory and the betterment of this church.
Because I believe these things to be true, I can be honest with you in this space and confess that I haven't been in the Word with any consistency for about six months.
I can tell you all my excuses; a busy schedule has me doing other things, that an extra half hour of sleep is a necessity, and that live is moving so much that just to sit in silence would be “nicer.”
But, none of that is worth it in the long run. None of those excuses are soul sustaining, life giving, or truth reveling.
Being busy is just a fact of life, but it is important to acknowledge its time and place. Sure, we will never not be busy in between all the school, laundry, family, work, PTA meetings and sick dogs, but I want to raise the question; are we allowing it to rob us of our time to break it all down and approach the Lord quietly and expectantly?
I'll admit it. I have let my schedule corrupt my time with the Lord. I have chosen to glorify being busy, instead of zealously fighting for and carving out time with the Lord.
I am living a busy life, but that doesn't mean I can give up my ability to choose time in the Word.
Maybe at this point you too are questioning with me where we lost our battle against letting busy encroach on our quiet time.
Listening and nodding along with Jeremy on Sunday mornings isn't enough.
Playing Air 1 on our way to work and dropping the kids at school isn't enough.
Pinning pretty pieces of scripture onto our Pinterest boards isn't enough.
We shouldn't want those things to be enough. We should crave more, want more, fight for more.
Our quiet time is sacred and not something to let busy strangle.
We need to rally as a body of believers. Through social media, on Sunday mornings, or in coffee shops and tell it like it is. Be honest and fight together for our time with the Lord. We are called to be in community, hold each other accountable and spur one another on.
But how are we supposed to spur one another on if we don't tell each other the realities?
So this is me, telling it like it is. I haven't been gleaning from the Word, i've let busy win, and I am choosing more from today on.
It's past time we hold each other accountable and fight for our time even if our lives are going 90 miles a minute. We need it. We are called to do it. We will be better off for it.
As a church we are stronger when each of us commit daily to being in the Word and seeking the Lord.
If you are already carving out time and sticking to that commitment, I commend you. If you are like me and needing to refocus, I appeal to you to stand with me.
Let's choose to put our foot down and start today fresh.
“That sounds like a first-world problem!” This statement has become a joke in our culture to point out how small our problems really are by comparing the “problems” of a materially rich society to those in a third-world existence. "First-world problems" would include Starbucks messing up our order, sitting in traffic in an air conditioned car, a long line at a restaurant with portions larger than someone living in the third-world country eats in a month, and nothing good on TV. It really does illustrate how spoiled we are in developed countries.
This has lead me to see a similar comparison to our Christian walk: fallen problems. We live in a fallen world. Sin and its decay leads to problems resulting from a world separated from God. The only difference between the comparison is that there really is no such thing as “redeemed problems.” Afterall, Jesus' death and resurrection takes care of death, eternity, salvation, restoration, and redemption. So we really only have fallen problems.
The real issue, however, is not the problem as much as it is our response to these problems. Jesus guarantees us restoration and redemption, but how often do we face fallen problems with fallen responses and fallen attitudes?
Even though our faith and salvation is in Christ, our identities are not always rooted in the Word or his teachings. It is so easy to leave church on Sunday or a life group meeting with the best intentions and desires only to fall into the traps the world sets for us.
One of my biggest traps: Bear Valley Road.
I hate Bear Valley Road. I hate traffic. And I hate drivers living in their own world completely unaware and inconsiderate of everyone around them. My blood pressure is rising while I write this. I just used the word "hate" three times! I'm not proud of that, but it is honestly what I feel.
Traffic is a fallen problem. For years in my Christian walk I have struggled to reconcile my faith and deeply held beliefs with the emotions and responses that Bear Valley Road elicits within me. I often do not feel like a Christian worthy of his grace or service while driving.
The real problem is not Bear Valley, not the traffic, not even the other drivers. I have been resorting to a "fallen response" to a fallen problem. In traffic I did not choose to put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) or actively choose to live out the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) while driving. I would slide back into my fallen identity and respond with fallen emotions and fallen actions. This just resulted in guilt, shame, and identity not rooted in Christ.
Too often, in too many of our mundane daily activities we respond to fallen problems with fallen responses. This erodes our identity in Christ and prevents growth and discipleship.
When our day-to-day, minute-to-minute identities still follow the fallen world, it causes frustration, backsliding, shame, or regret. We end up struggling with sin and existing in a world marked by its death rather than the hope in Jesus Christ. This is when unhealthy doubt creeps in and we suddenly find ourselves questioning whether we are "good enough" to serve in the church, tell others about Jesus, or even worse, start to think we are unworthy of his grace.
We will never be good enough. That's why we have the cross. This is why grace exists. Nonetheless, fallen responses and attitudes conflict with a redeemed life and we struggle.
How do we combat this reflex of fallen responses and attitudes?
It starts by realizing our entire identity is in Christ and there is nothing too small to give him, even driving. It improves through prayer, confession, and asking Jesus to work in the areas we struggle. It comes back, as always, to being in the Word. Not just reading it, but studying it, journaling about it, asking questions, praying upon it, storing it up in our hearts. (Proverbs 2:1-5)
It also begins with a conscious choice to face fallen problems with redeemed responses and attitudes. A friend showed me a prayer based on the Fruits of the Spirit by Max Lucado. It's so simple, yet so clear:
"I choose patience . . .
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray."
These are conscious choices, redeemed choices, choices I can and have to make on a daily basis. I've even reached the point where I regularly ask myself, "Is this a fallen response or a redeemed response?"
Whether we choose an identity that is alive in Christ or dead in the world, we will face struggles daily. We can continue to struggle and suffer, or align our identities completely with Christ and grow in his will, or know that we have grace when we fall short.
Neil put it perfectly at the end of his sermon a week ago ("I'm Alive" from the Identity: Who I Am in Christ series), when he asked, "What's the value of being alive if you keep acting like you're dead?" Fallen responses and attitudes are part of who we used to be when we still lived in the shadows of sin and death. Jesus Christ has redeemed us through his death, burial, and resurrection.
So let us choose an identity in Christ. Let us choose redeemed responses and attitudes to fallen problems. Let us choose the peace and hope that comes through living in obedience to the Word. And let us choose to walk daily in the light of God's love.
Technical Arts Pastor
It's easy to forget how quickly the world is changing. A few days ago I was reminded that September will mark just the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first website. Yep, before September 1994 there were no web sites to surf and no web browsers to surf them with. And even then, those first websites were nothing like what we browse today, a relatively short 20 years later. Check out for instance this image of what Yahoo looked like when it first launched in 1994 versus what it looks like today.
The technology that powers the web has come a long way in its brief existence, and in that time the Church (big "C") has continually strived to understand and effectively harness this fast-moving, ever changing technology in ways that allow those who are far from God to be exposed to the message of Jesus and to empower those who have already placed their faith in Jesus to be equipped, encouraged and connected with meaningful opportunities to transform their lives and reshape their world. Taking the things of the world and reimagining what they could do for the cause of Christ is woven into the very fabric of the Church. To take things, no matter how badly broken or perverted and transform them to be used to bring God's light and truth to broken, hurting people is to participate with Jesus in the work of redemption.
I consider myself incredibly privileged to be able to dedicate my energies to redeeming technology within the local congregation, and excited to be part of a church that is passionate about making the best use of the ever-increasing capacities made possible by those technologies currently available. So as I write, I want to share just two of the exciting things that we're doing here at Victor Valley to redeem technology in general, and the internet in particular for the cause of Christ.
The first of those things, I've shared about before, so for some of you this may be a reminder about something we introduced at the end of last year called RightNow Media. One of the more awesome aspects of RightNow Media is that it is completely FREE to everyone who calls VVCC home. RightNow Media takes the power of the internet to transmit video (ala Youtube or Netflix) and pairs it with the very best communicators and teachers of God's Word to offer a vast library of videos focused on helping believers grow at every step of their walk with God. This tool allows you and I to access a huge library of videos that spans across a huge range of topics right from home.
If you haven't been making use of this resource, you really need to check it out. Even if you commit to watching just one 10-minute video each week you will be amazed at the impact that those 10 minutes can make, both in your knowledge of God's Word and your enthusiasm to pursue Him. There are videos for your kids, videos about different books of the bible, videos about the struggles that arise in our lives. There are literally thousands of videos at your fingertips, each there to nurture your relationship with God. Check it out at rightnowmedia.org, and if for some reason you lost your invite or never received one, email me and we will get you set up.
If RightNow Media is about helping the people of VVCC connect with God's Word, then this second item is about helping the people of VVCC connect with one another. When we launched the new design for vvcc.com back in April, we had 2 goals in mind, to make the experience of finding information on the site easier, and to help those people who weren't already connected with VVCC get a better idea of what the church was about by seeing how they might find a home at VVCC. But in those early discussions about what we could do to improve the website there was a third string of ideas that at the time we didn't quite have the ability to make a reality— to create something that supported and encouraged the connection between the people who call VVCC "their church". This is exactly what our most recent work in the technology area is allowing us to do. This new system is called Church Community Builder, although around the office we just called it CCB, and I'm incredibly excited about the possibilities it allows for building community and effective communication among the VVCC community.
At its heart, CCB is an organizational tool for those folks who call VVCC home. It is by far the easiest and quickest way to:
Tammy was out running an errand and wanted to stop by the home of a member who has been dealing with some medical issues. In the past this would have meant a call into the office and dealing with taking down numbers, and then putting those numbers back into her phone to call the house, look up the address and then finally map the address. But instead Tammy was able to call the house and map the address directly from CCB running on her phone.
As much as CCB is helping the staff, it also has great features for non-staff leaders. Tammy's been meeting with LifeGroup leaders to show them CCB and the ways they will be able to use it to interact and communicate with the members of their LifeGroup, schedule events, post messages to their group, post if/when someone in the group has a need that others in the group might be able to meet. We are working to make sure that ministry leaders are able to have the information they need to best serve those they minister to while at the same time guaranteeing that people's privacy and information is protected.
On the note of privacy, we are all concerned about how much and what kind of information is available on the internet. I want you to be assured we take guarding your information seriously and without spending too much time explaining the intricacies of how CCB works, know that:
We've really just getting started with CCB, in the next couple of days we will be training our BASECAMP Check-In team on how to use CCB so that beginning Sunday, August 3rd when you go to check your child into either BASECAMP or BASECAMP jr., you will have a much quicker and easier experience using a new Check-In system, powered by CCB. Here's just a tiny sneak peak at what CCB Check-In looks like...
Much like the internet, CCB is constantly changing and adding new functionality, as it does I will be letting you know about the awesome new opportunities that it will make possible for us to connect with one another.
If the church had a current email address on file, you should have already received your invite to join CCB and begin exploring all that it allows you to do. If for some reason you didn't receive that email or if we didn't have your current email address, email me or talk to me at church on a Sunday morning and I would love to help you get started using CCB.
It's an exciting time to be part of Christ's church and I look forward to discovering what the weeks, months, and years have in store for all of us at Victor Valley as we grow together through our commitment to Christ, as we build community and as we unleash compassion!
For over 15 years Tammy Grebel has been a friendly, welcoming, and familiar face through the many manifestations of the VVCC Children’s Ministry. At the time she agreed to provide regular leadership to the ministry Tammy’s own children were well involved. She enjoyed “learning on the job,” growing in her faith and dependence upon God, and creativity while seeing her girls, as well as a host of other children, participate in BASECAMP and eventually graduate toward junior high, high school, and beyond. Tammy and her incredibly talented and committed army of BASECAMP team members have invested in many a child’s foundation of faith; a foundation from which I believe those children will never waver.
This June has seen a transition in leadership in BASECAMP. The entire month of June, Tammy has expeditiously handed the reins of a ministry she’s developed and nurtured to the more than capable hands of Shane Cottrell. Like Tammy, Shane joins the VVCC staff from within the congregation. Shane has been a member of VVCC for several years and was originally introduced to the church through former member and elder, Mike Rader. Shane met Mike while a student at Hesperia High School (graduating in 2004) where Mike served as Music/Choir Teacher.
I met Shane years ago and really got to know him as we worked on a few VVCC sermon videos together, you may remember him from our videos spoofing "The Office". I immediately found him to be confident, talented, and hilarious…occasionally all at the same time! When it came time to prayerfully consider who might take those reins from Tammy, Shane quickly came to my mind (even if he happens to root for the Angels). After months of talking and praying with staff and elders he was affirmed. June 1st Shane Cottrell joined the VVCC staff as Children’s Ministry Director on a part-time basis with the plan being to transition him to full-time in the early Spring of 2015. In the meantime he and his wife, Marissa, are getting accustomed to a new normal; that of being a church staff member and/or spouse.
This is not Shane’s first foray into educating young children. Shane has taught music and directed plays and dramas for youngsters in the high desert for years now. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in education.
I trust that those of you with children in first through sixth grade will find Shane to be a wonderful leader for our BASECAMP ministry and team. He is incredibly charismatic and creative and while he, too, will be “learning on the job” I am confident that God will lead him to continue the legacy of love, commitment, service, and fun that Tammy developed before him.
So what about Tammy, you ask? Tammy Grebel will now serve VVCC as the Connections Pastor. She will be providing vision and leadership over our Life Groups and First Impressions ministries while developing a much needed plan to get members and guests alike connected to service and one another. I can assure you Tammy is excited for and up to the new challenge before her.
With Shane’s addition to the staff and Tammy’s transition to her new ministry I believe VVCC is now well staffed to make great strides toward transforming families that are far from God. I happen to believe that although VVCC has been around for almost 45 years her best years are ahead of her. I ask you to greet Shane and welcome him aboard. I ask you to thank Tammy for all her years of dedicated leadership to BASECAMP. Finally, I also ask that you join the staff and elders alike in praying for the future of VVCC and the Victor Valley. There is such a great need for our friends in this community to know Jesus and to experience the preferred life, the life lived in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and in community with like-minded believers. As Jesus once told his followers when looking upon the needs of his community, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” There is much to do in and for our local community; join us in exhausting every measure to love the people God puts before us and leading them to Jesus.
This last Sunday evening my wife called me out to the patio to talk. Now, I knew what that meant - something was bothering her and it was probably something I had, or had not done that needed discussing.
We had just finished a busy weekend with my parents in town, a Little League baseball game and team pool party at our house, Sunday church responsibilities, and a soccer tournament that required an all afternoon trip down to Yucaipa. Needless to say it had been quite a busy weekend, but not exactly unusual for us, with three kids who each have their own activities they are involved in. I can’t imagine what we’d do if we didn’t have our synced family calendars!
What she wanted to talk about was our schedule. Not how much was on it, but rather what wasn’t - us. A quick look at our calendar last month showed only 3 days that didn’t have multiple events scheduled, and that’s because we were out of town for Memorial weekend! It’s not that the activities themselves are bad, we want our kids to be active, and we enjoy our commitments to church, but we hadn’t scheduled any time just for ourselves. We were neglecting the one thing that is most vital to the success of our family - each other. This was exactly the point Jeremy had made a few months ago during the Seasons series and his sermon on Raising Children. We are the primary example of a marriage relationship for our kids, and what are we teaching them if we’re constantly on the run, never making time for each other?
Matthew 7:26 says, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who has built his house on the sand.” That was us! We knew what we needed to build a strong foundation, but we were letting everything else on our schedule take its place. On the outside, it might have looked as if everything was “perfect”, but the foundation was starting to crack. If we continued to neglect each other, the whole thing could come toppling down.
After some tense moments and some shed tears, we agreed that we needed to schedule time together, and not just say it, but actually make a plan and carry it out. We decided to meet every morning at seven to share a cup of coffee and do a devotional together. This way we could spend time together, and grow together spiritually. Often the conversation drifts from the devotional to other areas, and includes what’s happening later in the day, but that’s okay. It’s just been nice having that time to connect with each other and with God. When we’re done, we pray together, which is actually really cool. Awhile ago, in our small group, we talked about praying with our spouses and few of us actually did, even some commenting that it would feel “weird”. Sure, we prayed for dinner, with our kids, and individually, but not together. It’s really been encouraging to lift up each other and our family together in prayer.
This stage of life is hectic, and without scheduling time for each other, the schedule can take over our lives. I'd heard the phrase from divorcing couples, “we just grew apart” and I always wondered how that could happen, but with three kids and a crazy schedule, it’s easy to see how that can happen if we don’t plan to “grow together”. It may seem odd to have to schedule time with your spouse, but what we noticed is that if it’s not on the schedule, it doesn’t get done!
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.