Directions – New Direction 2.26.2015

In October 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of the bustling city of Chicago. But, surprisingly, the flames actually started on the other side of the Chicago River. So how did the fire cross over the river and reach Chicago?

The river-jumping fire is partially explained by the high winds that spread the fire to wooden ships moored in the river. But there was also another even more important factor in the spread of the fire. In those days, the Chicago River was a shallow, sluggish sewer for the entire city. The Union Stock Yards in Chicago dumped all their animal waste into the river. People called it “The Stinking River” or “Bubbly Creek.” It was so bad that the waste was actually combustible.

All of this putrefaction flowed into Lake Michigan, where there were drinking-water intakes for the city. Waterborne diseases broke out. Every year through the 1880s and 1890s, at least 10,000 people died from cholera and typhoid fever. In 1885, fourteen years after the Great Chicago Fire, nearly 100,000 people died from illnesses carried by the river’s putrid waters.

Finally, city engineers took action. First, they started digging 28 miles of canal. They moved more earth and rocks than were moved building the Panama Canal. They set in locks and gates. Then, on January 2, 1900, a worker opened a sluice gate at Lake Michigan, and the entire Great Lakes flowed into the Chicago River, pushing it a direction it had never flowed. They reversed the flow of the Chicago River. It now flowed the opposite way—into the canal, into the Des Plaines River, into the Illinois River, and into the Mississippi.

This brought a huge flow of fresh water. Instead of shallow, sluggish, diseased water, making the community sick, the river now brought the city life. Some writers argue that Chicago would not even be around today, had the flow of the Chicago River not been reversed. The American Society of Civil Engineers named it one of the engineering projects of the millennium.[i]

This is what Jesus does.  The deep channel of His grace reverses the flow of our souls.  Everything that causes death is washed away.  Our souls are cleansed.

Thank God for His grace – and daily decide to live in this clean grace instead of the toxic waste of sin.

Grace

Clay

[i] Kevin Miller, Wheaton, Illinois; sources: “The Reversal of the Chicago River in 1900“; “January 2, 1900: Reversing the Chicago River” by John R. Schmidt; “The Reversal of the Chicago River,” American Public Works Association

Tuesday Celebrations 2/24/15

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  Don’t live in the Land of the Dead; live alive in Jesus.

Rejoice – 46 people accepted Christ through the ministry of Honduras Mission Team!

This Sunday/Monday – the Lord’s Supper and the launch of the Open Door Offering.

Smile:

The problem with trouble shooting is that trouble shoots back.

Directions 2.19.15

Updates…

Some quick updates about things happening at Alice Drive:

  • We’re celebrating the unanimous call for Delmar Peet to serve as our Pastor to Students and Families.
  • We continue to seek the right people to serve as our Worship Pastor and Children’s Pastor.  To date, we have reviewed 261 candidates for the Worship Pastor position and have done more than 20 interviews.  We are using a different process for the Children’s Pastor search, but have done 20+ interviews there as well.  Keep praying for God to show us the right person!
  • Thanks to Sarah Lee, Bobby Huguley, and the all the worship leaders for making sure that worship continues to be great here at ADBC.  Thanks also to Mandy Easton and Ashleigh Sease for providing great leadership in Children’s Ministry.
  • Renovations will begin in the next two weeks!  You will see the lobby painted (we need volunteers!); the curtaining in the worship center come down; the worship walls painted; and the flooring in both areas replaced.  We will also need volunteers to help us rip up carpet – destructive teenagers are welcomed!  This will provide a welcoming space for those seeking to take a next step toward Jesus.  We hope to have all this done by Easter.
  • Jock Hendricks has done a great job getting our parking lot team going!  This is helping us be welcoming to first time guests and creating a warm atmosphere for all who attend.  Be part of this ministry!
  • Monday night worship continues to be great!  We are averaging just under 150 per service – about 10% of Sunday morning worship attendance.  We see a bright future for this service and want it to grow.
  • During this season of being short staffed, I want to thank our entire staff team for pitching in and doing extra.  We are doing our best to make sure ministry moves forward for God’s Kingdom.  When you see a staff member, be sure and thank them for their hard work.
  • This year, we are sending mission teams to Honduras, Haiti, and New York.  It wasn’t that long ago, we weren’t sending any teams anywhere.  Thanks for being a mission minded people.
  • The Open Door Offering emphasis will begin soon.  To those of you new to ADBC, this is an opportunity to give over and above our regular offerings so doors can be opened for the gospel here in Sumter and around the world.  Give so others can know Jesus.
  • You may not know this, but Mark Partin and I have been leading Leadership Sumter for the Sumter Chamber of Commerce.  This is a way we are giving back to our community, by sharing what we have learned about leadership in this community.

Thanks for being a church where things are happening!  As always, email me at wcsmith@adbc.org if you have any questions.

Grace

Clay

Tuesday Celebrations 2/17/15

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  Until you understand your soul, you can’t fix your life

Rejoice – the church affirmed the call of Delmar Peet to serve as Pastor of Students and Families!

This at ADBC:  Ladies Night Out tonight; Honduras Mission Team is on the ground sharing Jesus; Students on Wednesday night will be having experiential worship time; and much more!

Smile:

In honor of President’s Day yesterday:

‘You should be ashamed,’ the father told his son, Andy, ‘When Abraham Lincoln was your age, he used to walk ten miles every day to get to school.’

‘Really?’ Andy responded. ‘Well, when he was your age, he was president.’

Directions 2/12/15

How It’s Made…

I confess I watch “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel.  I know this makes me a bit of a nerd, but it is fascinating to see how raw materials are formed into candy, helicopters, and vacuum cleaners.  Through pressure, heat, and assembly, something comes into existence that did not exist before.

How did your soul get made?  This is the question Darwin never tackled.  We all have a soul and we all understand our soul makes us who we are.  The soul is more than the sum of our parts; it is the combination of our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our relationships, and our eternity intersecting and playing out across the moments of each day.  Our souls are shaped by pressure, our souls experience the heat of emotion, our souls are assembled by the hand of God, each of unique yet holding much in common.

Everyone’s soul is broken.  Everyone’s.  From President Obama to Brian Williams, from Lebron James to Adrian Peterson, from Billy Graham to Bernie Madoff, everyone’s soul is broken.  The theological word for this is sin.  The results can be seen everywhere.

How do you fix a broken soul?  How do you fix your broken soul?  You must understand how it is made.

God gave you a heart so you can decide.  If this is broken, you will make poor decisions.  Check your decisions; is your heart broken?

God gave you a mind so you could think and feel.  If this is broken you will think wrong thoughts and be trapped by destructive feelings.  Check your thoughts and feelings:  is your mind broken?

God gave you a body so you could have energy, strength, and health.  If this is broken, your body is enslaved by something that controls you.  Check your body: is it enslaved?

God gave you relationships so you could find community, intimacy, and grace.  If these are broken, you will be lonely, disconnected, and striving.  Check your relationships: are they healthy?

God gave you eternity so you could live beyond this world and its heartache.  If your eternity is broken you live hopeless and defeated.  Check your eternity:  is it broken?

All this is fixable through the grace of Jesus.  He understands your soul.  He knows which part to work on first.  You can try to fix it yourself, but no one in human history has been able to fix all that is broken in their soul.  It takes the Maker to fix what He made.  He understands how He made you.

I wonder if God is inviting you and me to sit down and watch “How It’s Made:  Your Soul.”  We might learn not only what’s broken, but also how Jesus will fix it.

Grace

Clay

Tuesday Celebrations 2/10/15

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  You know you can trust God’s answers to big questions by seeing how those answers stand up in the storm.

This Sunday/Monday:  We present our New Student Pastor for your affirmation!  PLUS we start a new series:  Change.  You don’t want to miss this message on the Anatomy of Your Soul.

Smile:

Dear John,

I have been unable to sleep since I broke off our engagement.

Won’t you forgive and forget? Your absence is breaking my heart.

I was a fool, nobody can take your place. I love you.

All my love, Belinda. xxxxoooxxxx P.S. Congratulations on winning this week’s lottery.

Directions 2.05.15

His Goodness Wins

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about “Who is a Good Person?”.  In that message, I used the story of Chris Kyle, the subject of the book and movie American Sniper.  Chris Kyle is credited with 160 kills in his four tours of duty in the Middle East.  He was killed after he left the service, by a veteran he was trying to help.

In the message I posed the question, “Was Chris Kyle a good person?”.  I didn’t answer the question.

In the rest of the message, I shared the teaching of Jesus: “You have heard it said, ‘Do not murder.’  But I say to you anyone who is angry will be subject to judgment.”  Jesus shares seven more teachings, telling us that acting good is not the same as being good.

Was Chris Kyle a good person?  No.  Neither are you.  I am not a good person.  “There is no one who does good; no, not one (Proverbs 14:1).”  Being a hero, being an American, or even being a pastor doesn’t make you a good person.

After that message, a man came up to me with a true burden.  He had called in airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of both the guilty and the innocent.  Another man talked to me about being embedded in Afghanistan facing life and death choices to kill or be killed.  Another person told me about their struggle with PTSD and the guilt they live with.

God understands war.  He understands the ambiguity of combat.  He understands in battle both the guilty and the innocent die.  The record of the wars in the Old Testament at the very least gives us the promise that God understands how the brokenness of this world explodes into war.  God himself has been part of the epic struggle between good and evil since the conflict began.

Take seriously Revelation 19 and the description of the last great epic battle, when Jesus is mounted on horseback and charges against the forces of evil.   This great war will end and Jesus – the perfect one – will win.

To all of you who have known and grappled with the horrors of war, the goodness of your soul comes not from your execution of orders.  The goodness of your soul comes because your heart is changed by Jesus.  There is grace, great grace that covers all you have seen, all you have done, and all that haunts your soul.

None of us are good.  Only Jesus. His goodness, however, is so pure, so powerful, it fills all the gaps.

Let His goodness change your heart.

Grace,

Clay

Tuesday Celebrations 2.03.15

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  How do you become a good person?  You focus first on being in God’s kingdom – letting Jesus change your heart and learning to live by God’s ways.

Coming up this month: Honduras Mission Trip, New message series “Change,” Lobby renovations begin, and sold out Ladies Night out!

Smile:

Had some friends over for the Super Bowl.  One was a New England fan.  He brought meatballs.  I thought they tasted a little flat.