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Community response resulted in awesome fireworks



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July 06, 2011 - I am writing this article before the July 4th Fireworks, but I trust it didn't rain, and the fireworks were awesome in their new location from Everest Academy!

Over the last few months many people have asked us, "Why did Clarkston Community Church offer the $10,000 matching challenge?" I want to explain why.

There are three main reasons our church is getting more involved in reaching out to the community.

In case you're not aware, the matching challenge is just one of the many activities CCC is doing around Clarkston. For example, we are involved with Habitat for Humanity where we build homes for needy families.

We're involved in blood drives and tutoring and elder care homes. We support Light House and Grace Centers of Hope. The list goes on.

Why do we do these things? One reason is to simply meet needs. There are hurting people –the hungry, the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the disadvantaged.

As Christ-followers we believe it is a basic human right to have your needs met. We believe that every person is made in the image of God. The image of God is the basis for human rights.

It's easy for us to forget how radical and unique that idea is. Philosophers today are having trouble coming up with a morality code, because if all we are is evolved animals, and there is no Creator, no purpose in life –if you are not made in the image of God, why should I care about you? Why should I take my time and money to help you?

It's the Judeo-Christian teaching that gives us a reason and a motive to care about others.

But there's a second reason we do these things: to follow Jesus.

Much of Jesus' teaching has to do with justice and compassion for the poor and disadvantaged. For too long Christians have gone to church to sing their songs and pray their prayers, and not get out into the streets to really love people.

According to Scripture, faith works. The more we appreciate God's grace and love in our own lives, we will desire to pass that grace along.

A third reason our church is focusing on doing good deeds in the community is pragmatic: to correct misperceptions.

Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist who writes books against religion, says, "Religion poisons everything."

A growing number of people in our society believe that religion is what is wrong with this world.

People divide and hate and kill because of their religion. Maybe what we need to do is get rid of religion.

It's easy to point to churches that fight and crazy pastors that want to protest and burn books.

It's easy to look back in history at the crusades where Christians killed nonbelievers in the name of Jesus. Many people see Christians as arrogant, hypocritical, and narrow-minded.

What this world desperately needs to see is Christians and churches really living out the teachings of Christ.

People need to know that God is not a cruel, hateful God. In fact, justice reflects the character of God. This is a major theme of the Bible.

Psalm 146:7-9 says, "He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked."

Over and over again the Bible says that God is a just God, a compassionate God –a God who cares about the poor, the widow, the fatherless, and the hungry.

And people who claim to follow Christ are supposed to reflect the character of God to the world.

So why are we doing these things? To meet needs. To follow Jesus. And to correct misperceptions

Simply put: God wants us to DO SOMETHING for his glory. How about you? What are YOU doing?

The Rev. Greg Henneman is pastor of Clarkston Community Church.

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