Archive for January, 2011

January 28, 2011

Awesome Works & Great Deeds of 2010

This was posted in a church planting blog to encourage other churches. Hope it encourages you too! God is working in and through us!! I know this list only covers a smidgen of what we have seen him do in 1 year. What will you do this year, God? We want it all!

The Faithfulness of God

By Steve Sudworth

Steve and Debra Sudworth, along with their 2 girls, Rebecca and Hannah, arrived in Chicago in May 2004 in obedience to God’s call to church plant. They have been leading Church in the City (www.churchinthecity.us) since then. Their son – Cade – was born 2 years into the plant.

God wants us to remember His faithfulness in fulfilling smaller promises so that we are encouraged to go after bigger promises with “faith and patience” (Heb 6:12). As David reflected on the faithfulness of God in delivering him from the lion and bear when shepherding his father’s sheep, he was filled with faith that God would, in the same way, deliver Goliath into his hands (1 Sam 17:36).

Ps 145 picks up on this theme of reflecting on God’s faithfulness…

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, his greatness no one can fathom. One church planter (my addition) will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”

Notice the transition in the above passage…“they speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will meditate on your wonderful works”…“they will tell of the power of your awesome works and I will proclaim your great deeds.” My purpose in writing this blog post is to humbly fulfill the roll of “they” – I want to commend the works of the Lord at Church in the City to you; I want to speak of the glorious splendor of His majesty; I want to tell of the power of His awesome works. As you read of what God has done in us I trust you will fulfill the roll of “I” – firstly meditating on God’s “wonderful works” but then transitioning to “proclaim God’s great deeds” in your church and in your city. Hebrews teaches that being a people of faith, a people who go after the promises of God – a people who are sure of what we hoped for and certain of what we do not see, a people who have faith in the faithfulness of God – is something we do together; “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24)

These are the highlights of what God did in us and through us at Church in the City in 2010…

.     over 20 teams ministered into the city, nation and nations (we’re working with 3 churches in our city and with churches in 6 nations around the world)

.     taking our prayer meeting on the road to other churches in the city gave birth to “Together 4 the City” – a quarterly prayer and worship gathering of over 15 Chicago churches

.     hosting RT Kendall for a weekend of ministry; attended by people from more than 10 churches

.     our elder & deacon team both doubled as the church grew

.     finances increased more than 25% in the midst of a recession

.     we moved location to a facility with double the capacity, in heart of arguably the most culturally influential area in Chicago

.     because of the impact and success of an outreach initiative into our church’s neighborhood (Wicker Mic – an open air open mic for local artists) the city invited us to host the event 3 times through the summer of 2011

.     business deals, breakthroughs and start-ups as well as new jobs and testimonies of His favor all in response to a word of knowledge of what God wanted to do in people’s lives

.     many salvations, healings, marriages, engagements and babies born

I am continually reminded that God can move upon a city through the availability, faithfulness and obedience of just one flawed man – that was Jonah’s testimony. May our families and churches be that “man” whom God can use in our cities and nations.

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January 26, 2011

A Renewed and Healed Mind

Read this testimony Derek sent, and be encouraged: God is not finished with you! He has so much more freedom for each of us to realize.

 

This is a testimony of God healing me of panic disorder and agoraphobia. For nearly 20 years of my life I had been on medications and other treatment for the irrational and debilitating fear associated with these sicknesses. For the past 15 months I have not needed medication or treatment. My healing has not been an instant one, instead it has been a journey as my mind continues to be renewed and I believe the report of Isaiah 53 and 54. As the fiery darts of the enemy come, Holy Spirit continues to lead me to refreshing places that quench them.

A significant part of my journey has been and continues to be understanding, believing, and acknowledging the report of how good God really is. God has used many scriptures and people in the church to bring about this healing, so many that I can’t mention them all here. Certainly, the most significant thing that God taught me through others at church is the truth that it is not God’s will for us to be sick. As I look back before God healed me, there were two errors in my thinking that kept me in sickness. They were that God was using my sickness to “teach me a lesson” or that my sickness was a “punishment” for sin in my life.

I’ve listed below a few of the most significant scriptures to me for the release of healing in my life. I trust as you read them in context that healing and freedom will come to you. Through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ be healed!

Isaiah 53:4-5 At the cross, Jesus took our grief, sorrow, sickness and pain and was wounded so that we may have peace and healing.

Isaiah 54:9-10 In the same prophecy announcing the coming of Jesus, God takes an oath to never be angry with us again, instead He promises lovingkindness, peace and compassion.

James 1:17 and throughout gospels: Every good and perfect gift (including healing) comes from Him. Every bad thing (opposite of a gift, a curse I guess) comes from the devil. Jesus’ example on this one is super encouraging. He knew the will of the Father and He never gave anyone sickness or cursed them to teach a lesson, train or punish, but He always exercised authority to bring healing and wholeness.

Acts 3:6 and others: The apostles didn’t ask God to heal someone, they exercised their authority (the authority given to them and us by Jesus) to bring healing and wholeness.

1John 4:18 God’s love casts out fear, and fear exists where there is a possibility for punishment. God is not counting our sins against us (2Cor 3:19) to punish us, instead he already counted our sins against Jesus.

Colossians 1:23 and 2:6 The instruction here is to carry on believing just as you first believed (when I first believed, I hadn’t done anything to earn God’s favor or reward, no prayer-other than my first, no quiet time, no reading of the Bible, fully sinful, unable to stop sinning, yet because I responded to the free gift He gave with His belief I was reborn). It is this same simple belief that we are encouraged to continue today.

John 15:27 Jesus gives His peace to us and commands us to “not let our hearts be troubled or afraid.” Where Jesus seems to give a difficult command (don’t be troubled or afraid) He actually provides the resource, “peace” so that we can exercise our authority to “not let our hearts be troubled or afraid”. He doesn’t give the command unless He has already provided the resources.

I have also been encouraged considering the powerful original Greek words used and translated most often into English as “save” and “salvation” in the books of the new testament. “Sozo” (Strong’s G4982) – to save, preserve, or heal and “soteria” (Strong’s G4991) – rescue, deliver, and health.

There are many more specifics of prophecies and prayer for me. If you are sick, I don’t intend for my experience to be a “secret sauce” formula for you. Holy Spirit is the “secret sauce” and He will teach us the truth about healing because He already knows how it works. My journey receiving healing from God did not happen overnight, I was not immediately convinced of these truths, it took time to process these scriptures.  I trust that your journey will be much shorter.

It is truly amazing how much my life changed when I really believed the report of God’s goodness and favor that never run out. As thankful as I am for my healing, I am even more thankful to be blessed with a greater understanding that God is for me and with me all the time and nothing will ever separate us. Glory to God, freedom for all who believe!

Derek

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January 21, 2011

Haiti: Finding Joy in the Midst of Tragedy

This testimony blog is dusty! Send some good news to jamie@churchinthecity.us.

God is always bringing life from death. Can you even begin to imagine the life He is creating all over the world that we don’t even know about? Neil wrote about his experience seeing God in action in Haiti:

Haiti: Finding Joy in the Midst of Tragedy

When I first heard the news of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, little did I know that this tragedy would radically change my life as well.  I had the opportunity to participate in two relief trips to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake to serve with a local ministry, Hope Outreach International.  The first trip was in March, a mere 8 weeks after the quake.  I arrived to a country filled with chaos and desperation for the basic necessities of life.  The focus of the trip was distribution of food and shelter supplies, medical care and a water reservoir/purification project.

In preparation for this trip I asked God what I should focus on beyond serving where needed.  I had a strong impression that I should work on developing relationships and loving people.  I met many local Haitians on the trip and made many new friends.  Upon my return to Chicago, I realized that I had a new found love for this country and its people primarily due to the many new friendships that I made.  I knew that I would be going back to Haiti in the near future.

My second trip to Haiti was in August.  The focus of this trip was a medical clinic, a Vacation Bible School for kids, pastor training and completion of the water reservoir/purification project that was started in March.  This trip I focused on the 600 kids that attended the VBS program.  My goal at VBS was to encourage and love on as many of the kids as I could.

Mid way through the week, a couple of team members separately commented on how happy I was.  I instantly thought of Jesus’s words that “he who seeks to save his life will lose it but he who loses his life will find it”.  I realized that I was experiencing much joy in the midst of massive human tragedy.  As we love and serve others in the name of Jesus, we experience the kingdom of God in our lives, namely righteousness, peace and joy.

Going forward, I know that Haiti will continue to be on my heart.  Since August, I have been active in spreading news of the needs in Haiti and have assisted in fundraising programs.  I am eagerly looking forward to a return trip in 2011 to serve and reconnect with friends.