By Jace Biendara
I didn’t write last week’s post... but it goes along perfectly with what I had been preparing to say this week. Not only is it about time, but it’s about “what time?”-- where in your day are you making time for God?
For most of my life, time with God was never a planned part of my day, instead relegated to whatever spare moments were left, which often meant time with God never actually happened. I always had good intentions, but somehow the day would be done and I had forgotten once again to carve out time with Him.
This changed in January as our Life Group began a series about time by Andy Stanley where we were challenged to start each and every day by spending time with God. Yes, I know that requires getting up even earlier than we already do, but spending 15 minutes fewer online in the evening gets you to bed earlier and you won’t lose any sleep!
Mornings are quiet. The events of the day have yet to play out, the kids are still asleep, and all the other distractions are still on the horizon. Starting your day focused on God and His Word transforms the rest of the days’ events to be viewed through that lens. While the verses may not always fit your exact situation, the fact that your day started with God puts Him at the forefront of everything you will do throughout the day. I’ve found that I can't help but look at the events of my day differently when I’ve done my devotion in the morning.
In many ways this is similar to what God say’s about the tithe. Before my family began to actually tithe the way the Bible instructs us to, we would give based on whatever was left in the checking account at the end of the month. If your account is like ours, that’s usually not very much, but when we decided to give 10% we knew we had to give that first 10%, before anything else had been spent. The math shouldn't have worked, because how could we give 10% when we’d rarely had 1% left at the end of the month, yet God is faithful when we trust Him, and we’ve never run short!
God wants us first, before the day has taken hold and worn us down. He wants to be part of everything we go through, to be the one we seek for comfort, support and strength. The days’ events will come as sure as the sun rises--but who better to start them with, than the One who created the day and knows exactly what lies in store for us.
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.
Where we have plans, God has timing. I first came across this notion while reading John 7. As the Feast of Tabernacles was about to take place but Jesus was staying where he was and not going into Judea despite his brothers urging him to go. They repeatedly told him he must go to Judea and yet Jesus resisted. They appealed to him with a strategy, a plan that they had devised for his ministry.
They said to Him, “No one who wants to be a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world”. (Jn 7:4) They had come up with a plan.
But, Jesus’ response pointed them back to God’s timing. He told them more than once that his time had not yet come and that while any time was good for them (after all they had a plan), he was waiting for “HIS TIME”.
You see? People have a plan but God has timing. The timing of God is always perfect and always serves a purpose to have the greatest impact for His Kingdom. We are impatient, wanting things according to our own plans. Yet when God acts we see the depth of his impact upon our lives and in the life of the church body.
Recently, I experienced “God Timing” and the impact that it had not only at home, and amongst Victor Valley Christian Church but also across the country and as far away as Australia.
“Have you got Greg?”
“Is Greg with you?’
“No. I’m in the middle of a meeting.”
“Well, he didn’t come home after school today!”
That conversation between my daughter and I began a day of trouble for our family. Eighteen grueling hours of dismay, anguish and bewilderment; of waiting, waiting, praying, and more waiting. Eighteen of the worst hours of my life. Greg had gotten off the bus but hadn’t made it through the front door of their home. Our 12 year old grandson, with Asperger’s, went missing in the 3½ blocks between the bus-stop and his the house.
So we began to pray. And time ticked away. We put out the call to the Church; pray for us, and for Greg’s safe return. And the time ticked away. But, the LORD began to work.
How I wanted Jesus to answer my prayer immediately. How I wanted Him to follow my plan for a quick resolution. But God has timing and he wanted something more for us.
The hours passed and more people prayed. Our beautiful congregation and others across the nation and around the world rallied to their knees for us. Old friends, new friends and people we don’t even know became our prayer warriors. They lifted us up as they drove. They knelt beside their beds. They paused at their desks during work. They ceased their labor to raise a hand to God and ask for his intervention. They cried out to Jesus, our blessed savior, continuously. Through the night they agonized in prayer on our behalf. The hours crept along with no answer. All the leads went cold. The police were stumped but persisted.
Prayer Changes Us
Something happens to a person as they pray for someone else. As we pray we draw close to God asking Him to take control and intervene. In prayer we surrender to the will of the Father. We cry out to Him and he puts his arms around us, pulls us in and whispers, “Come close, let me tell you how much I love you.”
The hours went by and God’s people drew close to him, hour upon hour. Hundreds of God’s chosen were pulled a little closer than before. Even some who we were “far from God” drew a little closer to the Savior. Something I know to be true is that when we draw close to the LORD, He changes us; and when the Savior changes us, we stay changed.
We faced trouble that night and Jesus never left our side. He drew us close. He drew His Church close and we are better for it. Our relationship with the LORD is stronger and more surrendered. We are changed.
Joy comes in the morning
We have plans, God has timing. Morning came. An army of volunteers was needed to do a grid search of the area. We picked up our cell phones and began texting: “Anyone who is available please meet us to help search.” The moment I pushed the SEND button, my phone rang. Greg had just walked into the school’s office. He was safe.
In the next few minutes, the Glory of the LORD exploded in the Victor Valley, across the country and around the world prayer turned into praise. For us the praise continues; for not only did we get our boy back but we also are still hearing the stories of prayer and how God worked. We rejoice for our family and for those who drew close to the LORD and heard Him whisper.
Weeping may stay
for the night,
But Rejoicing comes
in the morning.
HfM Report: Peres Adhiambo's Story
Peres (age 10) developed numerous illnesses almost immediately after her parents death. Her guardian tried to treat her locally but yielded poor results. At the advice of others in the community she was tested for HIV and found to be positive.
Before HfM this would have been a terminal diagnosis, but through the support of HfM, there are funds available to cover her doctors visits and the pediatric antiretroviral medicines needed to treat the disease.
The support of HfM has literally saved this young girl's life.
By Jason Kleber
As we have continued to pursue a defined vision for VVCC (transforming families by committing to Christ, unleashing compassion, and building community), we have also focused on becoming more intentional about everything we do. This challenged the status quo of many aspects of VVCC over the last three years as we began to hold everything to the call of the biblical models of the New Testament Church and the stated mission of VVCC. In an honest attempt to position VVCC to move forward and thrive for Christ into her next 40 years of existence, we have undertaken some difficult self-evaluation that has prompted difficult change to some of the traditional ways of VVCC. The first place this critical lens pointed three years ago was at the church leadership when we began to ask ourselves some difficult and challenging questions.
I remember Jeremy recommending the book Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership by Alexander Strauch. My first thought was, "are we going to spend our time reading or are we going to spend our time doing?" I was more than reluctant, I was a bit standoffish. I was also wrong. This book isn’t just empty philosophy, and it doesn't rewrite eldership; it refocuses it back to the Bible and the call of God. In short, it shifted the focus from an elder as a member of a business, governmental, or bureaucratic board to that of an elder who is a pastor, teacher, and shepherd.
This definition of pastor, teacher, shepherd, is far more biblical, but difficult to transform into. I had long been a servant of the church, but now I was being called to become a spiritual leader. The transformation to this new role did not come over night. Over the next three years I wrestled with God, Jeremy, the other elders, and even members of the church trying to discover what true spiritual leadership means. I have made mistakes, I have stepped on toes, and I have stressed friendships trying to understand what God’s vision for VVC is and my place in serving that vision as an elder. These difficult lessons were not in vain as I am constantly learning what spiritual leadership means.
I knew this would happen though. I didn’t sign up for business as usual. I realized that I had become comfortable and complacent in my walk, and I felt VVCC becoming comfortable and complacent with her place in the community. With a great burden on my heart, and the hearts of others in leadership, I knew it was time to transform personally, spiritually, as a leadership body, and as a church body if we were going to impact the High Desert for Christ.
Change starts in Leadership
What does it mean to be an elder at VVCC? It means we are to be shepherd in the pen, not shepherds on the hill. We are to be connected and involved, but also leading, teaching, and protecting. It means I need to be on my knees in prayer and service. I have been in relentless pursuit of dying to self and putting Jesus and the congregation before myself. I have laid my time, my finances, my sin, my talents, my sexuality, and anything else I could at the feet of my brothers and sisters in order to serve in humility and accountability. Whether I'm on stage or shoveling horse poop in the parking lot, I must be constantly pursuing what is good for the mission of VVCC regardless of my taste, my preferences, my comfort, or my personal opinion of how things should be. As I gave up my white knuckle grip on the things I held dear, church became difficult at times. However, in my surrender, I started to discover real transformation in the lives of people at VVCC. I began to see men, women, children, and families increasingly transformed by God through VVCC. With every subsequent surrender, I see more transformation for Christ.
To me being an elder is a lesson in complete sacrifice, humility, and obedience. It is only from this position that decisive moves in the name of Jesus can be made. I cannot act as his representative to the church if I am not relentlessly pursuing his will for my life. This pursuit has lead to immense personal transformation in my life, my walk with God, my marriage, my family, and my work. I cannot expect VVCC to transform families far from God if I’m not letting it transform me first.
It is through this personal transformation that I now truly understand the description we have laid out for our elders:
"Elders in the Christian church are pastoral overseers or shepherds who are called to care for, protect, teach, lead, and pray for the flock to which God has entrusted them. The apostle Peter wrote to elders that they are to oversee with a willing heart of service as an example of Christlikeness (1 Peter 5:2)...The elders of VVCC are men who embody the biblical characteristics in the New Testament, who are accountable to God the Father, Jesus the head of the church, and to the leadership family, and are committed to the protection, unity, and teaching of the congregation as servant leaders."
I have wept for this church. I ache for this church. I fear for this church. I celebrate with this church. I love this church. But we are still at a tipping point of difficult transition with so much still left to do. We can easily slide back into a comfort zone and become pleasant, or we can keep struggling together for what is unsettling yet deeply transformative for ourselves, our church, and our community.
What is Needed Moving Forward?
It has been a blessing to serve you. In my personal challenge and sacrifice, God has brought about joyous change in my life. I have been transformed. My family has been transformed. The ministries I am part of have been transformed. I learned that being an elder is more than just leading others at VVCC to the preferred life committed to following Jesus, it's being the first one on his knees before our Father admitting I am the least among us and embracing all my unworthiness and weakness so that God will be glorified and the power of Jesus Christ made evident to all. I am broken. I am deeply flawed. I am humbled before you. But I belong to Jesus Christ, and he has work for me to do. He has work for all of us to do.
Brothers and sisters together we can impact this fallen world. Together we can transform families who are far from God. Together, focused on God's will for VVCC, we too can be transformed in this work and by this work. Ultimately being an elder is not about me at all, but all of us together becoming what God has called us too, his transformative light in a dark and desperate world.
Children's Ministry Director
Last Wednesday was our annual Trunk or Treat event, and we had an incredible night! A huge "Thank You" to the many people who helped make the night a tremendous success. For many of you this was not your first time at Trunk or Treat as I know some have adopted Trunk or Treat as a tradition that you look forward to every Halloween. I know many of you look forward to passing out candy from your decorated vehicle, while others like to walk through the candy maze, and some families love the games and prizes. This year in my new roles as Children’s Director, I had the rare opportunity to see Trunk or Treat from a whole new perspective.
In June when Tammy graciously passed me the torch of Children’s Ministry she also handed over the responsibility of planning Trunk or Treat. Planning this particular event was completely new for me because I had never been to Trunk or Treat before; as you could imagine this added a fun wrinkle to the process. What should I plan for? Who is going to attend the event? How much candy should I buy? (The answer to that I discovered is “ALL OF IT!”) Fortunately for me I had a team of volunteers and staff members that knew the answers to many of those questions and were there to help me along the way.
When the night of Trunk or Treat came, after all the planning and coordinating was done, I had the opportunity to walk around, to watch and observe our church community reaching the local community in an impactful way. There were 42 vehicles in our parking lot, and at each one of those vehicles were representatives of the VVCC community passing out candy with smiles on their faces and kind words for the endless hoards of Trick or Treaters. There were over 60 volunteers helping create a safe and fun environment for children to experience the thrills of being a kid. Because of your willingness to invite your friends, family, and neighbors we had about 1,500 people that visited our campus on Wednesday night! Being new to my role as a ministry director at VVCC it was encouraging and invigorating to see our church loving the local community in such a Christ-like way. Well done to all involved and thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.
If you consider yourself a part of the VVCC community, I hope you are celebrating with me the impact we made by inviting the people we see everyday to come spend an evening experiencing what the church can be when it chooses to reach out and impact the community!
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a post about Football... If you don't care about Football please don't let the picture below keep you from experiencing the thoughts offered here, please hang in there through the first paragraph. -Neil
A couple weekends ago was opening day for the NFL, and for another year there was as much talk about the players who weren't on the field as there was about the one's who were. Over 30 active players and even a team owner are currently serving league issued suspensions. All but one of these suspensions stemming from issues having nothing to do with Football. For instance, that suspended team owner I mentioned just a moment ago, he is serving a 6 week suspension for driving under the influence of prescription pain meds. Or take Ray Rice (pictured above) who was suspended indefinitely (the latest rumors indicating permanently) when 8 month old video footage came to light showing a physical altercation between he and his then-fiance.
So what does this have to do with Christian living? I'm continually amazed that it surprises people when they discover that events in one part of their life cause serious ramifications in other, seemingly unrelated arena's of their life. The NFL just offers up further evidence that it is impossible to insulate the various aspects of your life from others. You may be able to keep it bottled up for a little while, but eventually what is going on in one corner of your life ripples across and impacts other aspects of your life. I didn't think that would be such a surprise to people, but I guess it is.
Too often we talk about "this part of my life" and "that part of my life". We discuss things like "my work life", "my social life" and "my family life" like we have multiple lives taking place simultaneously, but we don't.
But this isn't anything new, when we look at the bible we see people trying to do the same thing. For instance, Sampson, even before his run in with Delilah he was acting as though he could create a separation between the sacred and the profane, his role as God's champion and his companionship choices. Sampson was deceived into thinking that his romantic decisions wouldn't impact his ability to honor God and eventually that deception caught up with him. Or look at Ananias and Sapphira who thought they could separate their business dealings from their commitment to God, that didn't go so well for them.
When we stop and think it should be clear that we have a singular/unified life in which a multitude of interrelated events are unfolding. Are there different arenas in our life where expectations are going to vary. Absolutely. It probably isn't the best idea to treat our office environment the same way we treat our living room (which is probably the only reason why my shoes are on and my feet aren't up on the desk while I write this post at the office), but do the wins and losses, stresses and celebrations of the time spent in the office have an impact on me when I finally make it to the living room? You bet. And if I'm being incredibly foolish or rebellious in one area of my life is it likely that eventually that creeps into or unsettles an area of my life that I don't want it to? Absolutely. Even if we are mindful of all that, is it still incredibly tough to resist the temptation to claim small pockets of life for "doing what I want to do"? Absolutely.
I've been thinking a lot about the many ways that we are deceived into thinking about life as though it is made up of these smaller, distinct compartments. Places where we can indulge sin and quarantine it. This was the topic of my message last week as we continued our "Under Attack" series by talking about the danger of compartmentalization. If you missed it you can check out the video from Sunday here. Hopefully, you were with us over the weekend to be challenged to consider the idea that we are holistic beings whose spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, financial, vocational, social, and personal selves are all wrapped up together to make up this thing we call "life". Hopefully you were challenged to examine how easily we are deceived by this scheme of the enemy. And hopefully you were encouraged to examine your life and to give God authority in every aspect and arena of your life.
It would be awesome to hear your thoughts about the attack of compartmentalization and how you have experienced it and responded to it in your life. Please take a moment and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“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.
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.