Littleton Christian Church

Celebrating and applying the grace of Jesus

Littleton Christian Church exists to celebrate and apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we love God, love each other, and love the worldRead more...

LISTEN TO A SERMON or JOIN US at 10AM ON SUNDAY

We Asked Your Staff, featuring Stephen Newhall

Get to know a different staff member every month in a new series called "We Asked Your Staff"!   So that you can know them better, we will be featuring even more staff fun facts and their replies to some serious and not so serious questions that We Asked Your Staff.

Take it away, Stephen!

Stephen 3.jpg

Tell us a little more about yourself:

 

I am a product of the Midwest and embody most of its stereotypes. Growing up in Indiana has certainly given me something of an unhealthy obsession with basketball, and inspirational sports movies. To this day, Rudy is the only movie to have ever made me cry, and don’t get me started on the cinematic masterpiece that is Hoosiers.

 

 

 

What one word best describes your life right now?

Movement.

What is the scariest thing you've ever done?

I cliff jumped off Catalina Island into (supposedly) shark infested water. The water was covered by shadow, so I couldn’t see what was below me. The moment I hit the water, all I could think of was sharks swimming directly below me. I’m certain that was the greatest adrenaline spike of my life.

What's one thing your childhood gave you?

A mild obsession with Notre Dame football, barnyard basketball, and bonfires.

Any pets?

I am the proud owner of several fish.  

An area of unexpected expertise?

I’m actually a more than competent mini-golfer. I’ve got a tournament trophy to prove it. Anyone who knows me well has heard the story of my unexpected putt-putt triumph.

Is there a song that makes you cry?

Fourth of July by Sufjan Stevens - listen at your own risk. Your tear ducts may not be able to handle the extra workload.

A bucket list holiday destination?

Pacific northwest. I’ve dreamt of sunrise hikes north of Vancouver, and I certainly wouldn’t hate if if that was around the holidays. I’d eat a Turkey leg lake-side on any or every Thanksgiving!

What was the first bible verse you memorized?

Philippians 4:8 - “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Still one of my favorite verses to this day!

Favorite season in Colorado?

Autumn (even though it lasts approximately 18 minutes). 

If we saw you out and about in Littleton, what would you be doing?

Most likely eating. I absolutely love trying new restaurants and diving into the local flavor.

 

Thank you Stephen!

Family Update

Hello Members and Friends of Littleton Christian Church,

This last Sunday (June 4), we held a brief family meeting to inform the church about a few significant staff transitions that are taking place this summer and fall.  

  1. We celebrate with Erica Krysl, who has served as our Worship and Communications Assistant (creating incredible graphics, organizing everything we see on screen on Sundays, and preparing/sending our e-bulletin), as she begins a full time job with MOPS. 
  2. Rebecca Sahr, who has served as both our Bookkeeper and our Administrator, will be reducing her duties to focus mostly on Bookkeeping (as well as continuing to chair our Alongside Committee). 
  3. Jordan Hurst, our Director of Worship and Mission, will be moving with his wife Darby and their sons to Austin, TX, in August.  Jordan's last Sunday with LCC will be August 6th.  We deeply love the Hurst family and will miss them - and we will very much miss the leadership Jordan has provided in many areas of our church - music, missional communities, ministry partnerships, and so much more. 

We praise God for the generous gift each of these people have been in their roles, and ask you to join the leadership of LCC in prayer as we seek what's next so that the staff can continue to "facilitate gospel application and celebration in the church and implement opportunities for the church to grow in love of God, each other, and the world."  (*this is our Staff's Purpose Statement)

As we say goodbye to Jordan and Erica and as we adjust to Rebecca's reduced duties, we are specifically seeking God's plan that we can cover the following broad duties (of course each one has many details): 

  • Organization, leadership, and Implementation of musical worship
  • Support of our ministry partnership committee
  • Leading our hospitality efforts
  • Supporting our worship and ministry with graphics and effective communication. 

Humility and Contrition - an invitation

The quote was the climax of yesterday's sermon.  Taken from Shirley C. Guthrie's great book, Christian Doctrine. 

"So heaven is for sinners and hell is for 'good' people. To say this is to take seriously the consequences of Protestant insistence that salvation comes by God's freely given grace alone and not by our good works (not even by our faith considered as a good work). When we understand this, then talk about heaven and hell is no longer a pagan matter of adding up the score to decide who will be in and who will be out with God. It becomes the essence of the good news of Jesus Christ. This good news does have two sides, warning and promise. But it is warning to 'good' people and promise to sinners.

"This is the warning: Do you (with others like you) want to be autonomous, self-sufficient people who need neither God nor other people for anything except perhaps to recognize and reward your superior moral insight and integrity, your correct liberal or conservative political position, your true religion? Do you want to be able to judge, accept, or reject other people (and perhaps even God and the Word of God) according to whether they agree with your views of correct sexual, familial, and social behavior and relationships; and according to your understanding of what people must believe, say, and do if they want to be 'saved'? Do you want to live as if everyone who thinks and lives differently from you (maybe including God) needs to be forgiven, instructed, and corrected by you, whereas you have no need to be forgiven, instructed, and corrected by them? Do you want, in other words, to live as if God and other people may need your love and help but you do not need theirs? Very well, you may have what you want. You (with others like you) may live in the godless and inhuman loneliness of your moral superiority and religious self-sufficiency now and forever. You will go to hell (already live in hell) not because God 'sent' you there but because you have chosen to live there. (But you need to know that even if you 'make your bed in hell' God will still be there -- the God who is for and not against you. You will never be able to escape the relentless love of God in Jesus Christ that is for hell-bent people just like you. This relentless love longs for you to find your own true humanity in community with the God and fellow human beings you were willing to go to hell to get away from.)

"And this is the promise: Are you willing to admit that no matter how moral and religious you are, you are just as prone as the most immoral and irreligious to get lost in life, lose sight of who you are, become confused about how you (and other people) ought to live? Are you willing to admit that it is your fault - that you keep losing your own identity because in one way or another (in your immorality and lack of religious faith or precisely in your too confident morality and piety) you have cut yourself off from God and the fellow human beings who alone can enable you to find yourself? Are you willing to risk the pain of giving up your proud or anxious self-sufficiency to be reconciled with God and other people (all of them)? Do you want to be born again to be a truly free, truly human man or woman -- free to be yourself as you are free for the disturbing, demanding love of God and other human beings? Then you may enter the kingdom of God, no matter how sinful you may have been in your religious piety or lack of it, your immorality or morality. You may have eternal life not only in the future but already now. All you have to do is choose the God who in Jesus Christ has chosen just such lost sinners as you. That is, all you have to do is find yourself in surrender to the Christ who was totally with and for God, totally with and for other people, and therefore totally human."

Guthrie, Shirley C. Christian Doctrine . Louisville, KY.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994.

 

5 Worthwhile Prayers for your children

How do you pray for your kids? How do you pray for those in your care? That they'll be successful? Happy? Consider these 5 prayers that will draw them close to Christ: 

1.     Pray for conviction of sin. If Question 13 and 14 of the New City Catechism are right, the only true path to knowing, trusting, and loving God is through conviction of sin. This is the same as inviting the Spirit to come – his work is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

2.     Pray they’d be free from the need for others’ approval. When Adam and Eve stepped away from trust in God, they were immediately left evaluating one another, clinging to the other to meet needs only God can meet – this search is now hardwired into our hearts, and leads us to run from God and his best for our lives.

3.     Pray they’d experience God as rewarder. On the flip side, the best gift we can give our kids and all those who we care for is to know joy of serving and loving God. He is his own reward, and he gives himself to us fully through Jesus Christ.

4.     Pray they’ll gain love for God’s Word. In Psalm 119, David asks simply: how can a young person keep their way pure? By living according to your word. But again, our deepest love for the Word comes as we begin to see that it is fulfilled most completely in Jesus.

5.     Pray they’ll submit themselves to God. As we discover the goodness, freedom, and beauty of God in the Gospel, we begin to discover the truth that the best life possible is one submitted to him.  Again, this requires the gospel: on my own, I’ll never submit! But through the gift of the Spirit, sent by the crucified and Risen Lord Jesus, my eyes are opened and my heart is filled with life that I may turn to him. 

Glorifying God - NCC Q6

After 5 questions we've established repeatedly that God is the creator and he created for his glory - and that it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.  Okay... so, how? 

Let's start with a cliche: Live in light of God. That means, live like he's real, like he's alive, like he's aware of you, and even present with you. Like he's the one keeping you alive, the one caring for you in your trials, and more.  If all that's true, there are two critical words that guide all our connection with God for his glory.  They are: 

"Thanks" - Below. you'll see that enjoying and loving God are the first two words of guidance for those seeking to glorify him according to the catechism.  Test this out: the more you pay attention to things to be grateful about, the more you'll enjoy God and the more you'll love him. Start where you are - if you are drawing breath, thank him for it.  If you have clothes on your body.  If there is someone you'll see today who values you.  Start with what you know.  

"Help" - The next two steps the catechism gives for glorifying God are trusting him and obeying him (I can't figure a good reason to list will, commands, and law as three different things...any ideas? I digress).  But God does not leave us alone in this.  He gives us the ability to trust him.  He gives us the ability to obey him... if we ask.  God designed us to flourish when we are dependent on him.  This is not a human-to-human interaction, where love is helping someone become mature and, in some measure, "independent."  God grows us continually in our actively passive dependence on him.  

Make it simple: Thanks, and Help.  The rest follows. 

"Intentional" Relationships

A friend recently called me out: I overuse the word intentional

My wife and I like to walk around our neighborhood and critique everyone's front yard. It helps us come up with ideas for our own yard. There's one simple way to pass our yard-test: Your yard looks the way it looks because you actively decided it should look that way. It's on purpose. It's... intentional. Some styles fit our tastes more than others, but with a yard, what really matters is that each thing is where it is, in the state it's in, for a reason.

It is easier to let a yard be what it is. In my years as a homeowner, I have learned that an intentional yard is a lot of work. My yard proves this is far easier said than done. Even the simplest yards require constant upkeep. Without the proper care, it will eventually be overgrown. Junk will gather. A yard has to be maintained, and the best yards are maintained with an over-arching vision for the yard.  Intentional. 

Like an intentional yard, intentional relationships have an agreed upon, consciously chosen purpose.  But the word "intentional" is not terribly helpful because intentions can be good or bad. A man and his mistress have an "intentional relationship." An electrician and her apprentice have an "intentional relationship." 

My friend argued that every relationship is intentional.  That's where I differ. Some relationships develop over time because your desks are next to one another or you always sit in the same section at church or you go to the same bar at the same time. You may know one another's names and even be friendly acquaintances.  It's a relationship, but there's no agreed upon purpose.  It may shape your life, but minimally. 

So, Christians, let's just say what it is we're after.  What is the intention for the relationships we foster through the church? He called us his disciples. Our intention is discipleship - that more people would follow him, and that we would follow him more.  

Of course, this grand intention is at far greater risk of disarray than a yard. A yard could be generally maintained with one good day of effort each month.  But a relationship like this? My working assumption is that effort in this direction must be made at least once a week, if not many times a week.

My yard can't clean and mow itself. Nor can you disciple yourself. We learn to follow Jesus by submitting to one another.   

If you long for this kind of relationship but are having troubling making it happen, Littleton Christian Church is here to help.  

Thoughts? Testimony? Advice? Leave a comment below! 

 

Are You a Disciple?

Jesus told his disciples to make disciples. So are you one, or do you need to be made into one? Maybe the better question is... what even IS a disciple? 

He told them to do two things to make disciples: baptize them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything he commanded.  

That means "disciple" is defined by two things: 

  1. Bearing the Family Name (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), which is received through baptism, and is realized through active union with the Church (any church who submits to Jesus as revealed in the Bible). 
  2. Obeying the commands of Jesus, which conclude with the command to make more disciples. 

That's it. The first thing is who you are - you bear a family name no matter what.  The second thing is what you do.  Are you a disciple? 

Created to Know the Creator

*As we consider the New City Catechism's 4th and 5th Questions, enjoy this guest post from the brilliant Derek Resler (husband of Ashley, bearer of TWO seminary degrees, periodic professor of Church history, and member at LCC). 
 
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
 
-       Indescribable by Chris Tomlin
 
As good Coloradoans, we are reminded daily of the creative power and work of God.  Whether it is the beautiful mountain skyline or the vivid sun sets, we are witnesses to God’s goodness and power.  At times it is overwhelming and we struggle like our ancestor Job who concluded that God’s power and goodness are “too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).  Yet, God desires for us to continue to seek understanding and knowledge about His creation because when we do, we peer ever farther into the vast beauty and goodness of God.  Believers should never shrink from science as science is the great magnifier into the divine.  But creation is simply the garden in which His greatest creation lives and grows, that being you and I.
 
One of the most powerful truths in all the world is that this awe-inspiring God decided to not just create humanity, but to know humanity.  As Max Lucado says, “You weren’t an accident.  You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product.  You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.”  Each of us, both male and female, were uniquely created by God and we were uniquely created in His image (Gen. 1:27).  This means that we simply do not look like God, but we bear His attributes as well.  That means that we can love, can create beauty, can choose to be good, can forgive, and most importantly, bear life.  We were created to pro-create, to give birth to life and to fill the earth with His image bearers.  We can breathe life into each other with words of kindness, love, can care.  We can breathe life into His creation by taking care of the world around us. We can breathe life into the brokenness of our family members and neighbors who have never met Jesus.  In essence, we bear the image of Jesus to each person that we meet.
 
Ultimately, we bear His image for Him alone.  When we forget this simple truth the image of Jesus within us dims.  However, when we remember that we were created for God alone, then the Jesus image within us grows brighter and brighter.  As a husband and father, I know both the pain of focusing too much on my wife and my children and believing that God created me for them.  The results are always the same: the image of Jesus dims within me and I find myself never content, more selfish, less patient, less loving, and unable to see the beauty in the simple things.  However, when I re-align my focus back on God, and remember that I was created for God alone, the image of Jesus within me becomes vibrant and life giving again. 
 
May each of us exalt in the presence of God and in His glory, relishing the idea that we were created for Him alone, to worship and enjoy Him forever.  It is my prayer that each of us will continually seek to peer ever deeper into His presence and majesty through what He has created.

What's Ash Wednesday about?

March 1st is Ash Wednesday. At our services, one of the pastors will read the text I've copied below from the Book of Common Prayer.  How is the Lord calling you to prepare for the observance of Jesus' passion and resurrection? A fast? A discipline of devotion?  

"Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism [LCC will have a baptism class on March 26]. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church.  Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. 

"I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word." 

Do you have these gifts of the Spirit?

God is calling us to take some big steps.

Beloved church family, we can't see over the horizon, but the elders, staff, and I can sense that we are in the midst of some big steps as a church. There's a way you can help.  First, we need everyone to pray - particularly for the lost, but also for greater faith and boldness for our community.  

We have these specific needs: 

  1.  Evangelists: If you have a passion for sharing the gospel with those who don't know it, I need you to come talk to me. Email me back, find me at church, come talk to me, or call me at 720.482.1462 x3.  Your gift is an ember that God is going to use to start a bonfire here.  
  2. Event Planners: If you love organizing events and have a particular skill in helping them run smoothly, we need your help.  You can email me and our gifted Administrator, Rebecca Sahr (rebecca@littletonchristian.com). 
  3. Intercessors. If you are a prayer warrior, someone who "can't not pray" throughout the day for God's big kingdom purposes, you are carrying another ember necessary to start this bonfire. Email me, call me (720.482.1462 x3), come talk to me at church. 

I believe some of you have these gifts but don't realize it. God knows what he's given you, and he'll show us or you or both.  Perhaps right now, you could stop and ask: Lord, have you given me these gifts? If his answer is yes, come tell me. 

Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name.  LET YOUR KINGDOM COME!!!

-Pastor Mike

Thoughts on New City Catechism Questions 1 and 2

Starting on January 29, Littleton Christian Church has been learning one question of the New City Catechism each week.... which means today (February 9th), we are in the midst of Week 2/ Question 2. 

There are good pointers at www.newcitycatechism.com for memorizing the answers, but the simple trick is doing it every day and keeping it in front of you... and also, talking about it. With someone.  With anyone. With multiple people.  Erin and I have had some laughs testing and competing with each other.  

Here are some of my thoughts about the first two questions. I'm typing the questions and answers into this blog from memory... you might need to double check at newcitycatechism.com! 

1. What is our only hope in life and in death? That we are not our own, but belong, both in body and soul, in life and in death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ. 

Right out of the gates, I love that this says "OUR" and "WE," not "my" and "I." My true hope in Christ is intimately connected to the fact that he saved me into a diverse and universal family. I am more convinced with every passing year that saying "I belong to God" doesn't make as much biblical/theological/practical sense as saying "We belong to God." Something about being a community, His community, is essential to belonging to him.  

The other thing I can't shake (in a good way) is this implies hopelessness begins as soon as we (or I) believe we are our own, we control our own destiny, that our wellbeing depends on us.  It is even worse (or equally bad, at least), if we give ourselves to someone or something else. Another person can't be trusted with owning me (could you trust yourself with that? I need to believe that God owns my kids, too... otherwise, they're in trouble!). And a job, an object, a hobby... all of these are cruel and loveless owners. Only God, who sent his Son, our Savior, Jesus, is worthy of owning us. 

2. What is God? God is the Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his goodness and glory, his power and perfection, his wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will. 

I've discussed this question with three different groups in the last 2 weeks. Every group reacts the same way: shocked at the last sentence.  Wait, there are so many terrible things that happen.  Terrible things happening in the world RIGHT NOW. Are they included in "nothing happens except through him and by his will?" Last Sunday's sermon (Feb 5) attempted to address this (while referring in a way to Isaiah 32-35).  So you don't have to read forever, let me get straight to the point: if God's plan for the world involved the Father sending the Son to be ostracized, criticized, tempted, falsely accused, arrested, mocked, tortured, and finally executed in a shameful and terrible way, and if that terrible series of events is the only thing that could possibly bring about the reconciliation and beauty described by Isaiah 35 or Revelation 7 (among others), then perhaps we need a more nuanced way of thinking about the countless terrible things that happen in the world right now. You may be suffering terribly - this can give you hope, if you dare believe it, that there is a greater good on the other side of this. 

Also, if things happen outside of his will, then it's a lot harder to say, with the Bible and Christians through the ages, that God is eternal, infinite, unchangeable, and has the full measure of goodness, glory, power, perfection, wisdom, justice, and truth. 

I'd love your thoughts on all this! Please leave a comment. 

Happy Epiphany!

Ever wondered what Epiphany is??? Here's a helpful explanation from The Worship Sourcebook. 

“Often the content of our Christmas celebration is shaped by what we do with the weeks following Christmas. Churches that observe Christmas as a stand- alone event may find it difficult to get past the sentimentality of seeing a cute, mild-natured baby in the manger. But the incarnation involves much more than the drama of Christmas itself; it brings a vision of God’s glory to the nations of the world.

Our word epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation or appearance,” and in church history this word has become closely associated with the revelation of Christ in connection with the visit of the Magi. Epiphany has been observed throughout much of the Western church as occurring on January 6, but because most churches do not mark Epiphany with a midweek service, the celebration of this special day is often associated with the nearest Sunday. In recent years many churches have worked to recover a full celebration that begins at Christmas and ends at Epiphany twelve days later.

In the traditional celebration of the Christian year, the Sundays after Epiphany do not constitute a special season in the same way as do Advent and Lent. However, some congregations do celebrate this period as “Epiphany season,” focusing on the teaching and healing ministry of Christ. Some of the resources in this section are applicable for use in that extended approach to observing Epiphany. Whether or not congregations follow a traditional lectionary for the weeks after Epiphany (making use of the traditional color green), these weeks can be a time to focus on Jesus’ ministry so that, from Christmas onward, worshipers grow in awareness of the significance of Jesus’ entire life.”