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Centered on the Gospel

Posted on August 5th, 2015 by factor1admin

 

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Grounded In The Word

Posted on July 26th, 2015 by factor1admin

 

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It’s almost here!

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by Travis Pauley

It is that time of year again and I am excited! What time is it you ask? Let me tell you; it is VBS time! That’s right, the time of year with the days are long and that means plenty of time to prepare for FUN!

Fun learning, fun playing, fun singing songs, and mostly – fun times with friends both familiar and new.
At Vacation Bible School children will “Journey Off The Map” this year at The Refuge Church. We will learn about the life of Daniel from the Bible and how God has a journey for each of us and it just might take us “Off The Map”. Ever feel lost? Whether in your neighborhood or on a road trip, sometimes getting lost or taking the wrong turn leads to a wonderful adventure and new treasures. In those moments of “lost-ness” there is a sense of danger mixed with eagerness to find your way. Most of us say a prayer for help to God while we keep moving forward until we have found our way. Our bible verse for VBS helps us know that God hears our prayer for direction and answers!

VBS Scripture:
Isaiah 30:21
And whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.” (HCSB)

So no need to worry about being off the map, because our VBS motto is:

This is the way. Walk in it.

Come join us as we have mega fun learning about God, the journey He had for Daniel, and how we can follow God even on a “Journey Off The Map!”

The dates are July 27-31, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
Click here to register!
To learn more, visit this Lifeway VBS page.

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All praise to God, even in our trials.

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by Travis Pauley

What trials have come your way and are you staying focused on the truth of God’s word in the midst of those trials? 1 Peter 1:3-6 reminds us of an amazing truth that we should keep in mind daily to help us maintain peace, hope and joy no matter the circumstances of our lives; it says…

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. SO BE TRULY GLAD. THERE IS WONDERFUL JOY AHEAD, EVEN THOUGH YOU MUST ENDURE MANY TRIALS FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
1 Peter 1:3-6 NLT

Remember that our trials are temporary, and because of Jesus we as followers of Christ can maintain our joy knowing that God is working in us and through us in the trials that we face, and that there is a future secured for us in Christ that is free from trials. ALL PRAISE TO GOD, EVEN IN OUR TRIALS! May our lives broadcast that kind of faith and may God use that attitude in us to to reach people for Christ!

 

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Praise God for New Beginnings

Posted on December 31st, 2014 by Bob Bock

A short word from our Interim Student Ministry Pastor, Bob Bock:

I just wanted to take a moment and praise God for the amazing things that He does. We’re spending the next few weeks examining this idea of New Beginnings. If you weren’t with us on Sunday, we looked at the miracle of the New Beginning that Christ offers to all of us.

This morning, I had an awesome conversation on the phone with a young lady who ended up giving her life to Christ! We got to look at how God has been revealing Himself to her, and she was finally ready to turn her life over to Him!

As we head into this next year, take this chance for a new beginning. Talk to that family member you’ve been scared to share the gospel with. Step up your involvement in the church by volunteering, being a part of a Life Group. God is moving and people are coming to know Him as their savior. We saw it happen this morning. Remember, REACH, LOVE, LEAD!

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Engage

Posted on July 30th, 2014 by Travis Pauley

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
EPHESIANS 2:8-10 NIV

We have received the most amazing gift from God that anyone could ever give us, our salvation through Christ, and it should create a fire and passion in us to go out and to allow God to write His story in us and through us. We are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, the good works God has planned specifically for each of us. God has created each of you uniquely and specifically to accomplish work for Him and His Kingdom that only you can do, the question is are you ENGAGED in it?

Each and every one of us should be focused on how we can accomplish the mission of reaching out to people, loving them and leading them to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Are you focused on this? Are you praying for God to open up opportunities for you to share Christ or to invite people to church? Are you exploring the opportunities at church to serve consistently on a team to help us reach people or make disciples? Are you using your resources consistently to further the gospel; your time, talent and treasure? Are you engaged in a Life Group at The Refuge Church to help shape and grow our community? The answer as a follower of Christ should be yes to each one of those questions.

If the answer isn’t yes then step out in faith and respond to what Christ has done for you by putting God’s Kingdom first and take a next step in allowing God to write His story in your life; step forward and help allow God to accomplish His work through you. What will you commit to this week? How will you commit to serve through The Refuge Church consistently? What Life Group will you commit to engage in and attend consistently? What will you and your family commit to give financially on a consistent basis to the work of God through The Refuge Church? Who will you commit to reach out to in order to invite them to church or to share the gospel with this week?

We are God’s handiwork created anew in Christ Jesus, let’s not just sit and do nothing, let’s respond to our gift of salvation by stepping out to REACH, LOVE and LEAD!

 

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Idols

Posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Bob Bock

Today we bring you a blog post from one of The Refuge Church’s own!  Sam Law has served as one of the middle school girls leaders in our Rush Hour student ministry for many years.  Check out her thoughts on the issue of idols.

A couple months ago I was lying in bed, tears streaming down my face, calling out to God asking him to wrap me up and make me whole. Hang with me as I stop there for a hot second and fast forward to my current consideration! The golden calf.

In Exodus most of us are probably familiar with the story of the “Golden Calf”. The Hebrews are led out of slavery in Egypt and constantly we see them gripe about their conditions of now freedom. When Moses heads up Mt Sinai to speak with the Lord and receive the Ten Commandments, Aaron and the rest of the Hebrews decide that Moses is taking just too long and they needed to make a god for themselves. They melt all the gold they have to make something new, something tangible, something to distract their present dismay.

“When the people saw that Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’

Then Aaron replied to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the gold rings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from their hands, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf.

Then they said, ‘Israel, this is your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; then he made an announcement: ‘There will be a festival to the Lord tomorrow.’ Early the next morning they arose, offered burnt offerings, and presented fellowship offerings. The people sat down to eat and drink, then got up to play.”

Exodus 32:1-6

It’s so easy for me to watch/read this from the sidelines and think, “Wow guys, really”, these are the Hebrews who walked through a sea, right? I feel justified in pointing out their stupidity in creating a manmade god that never once did anything supernatural to reveal power and majesty like they had so much experienced with our Lord. How could they be so quick to fall into this trap? How could they be so tempted?

Fast forward again to that night of tears. As a single girl who loves everything inclusive to snuggles, hugs, and touch, I will honestly admit that most of my prayers to the Lord have been about asking Him to hold me and to let me feel it. And when I say feel it, I mean physically. I want to feel wrapped up tight, a hand at my back. I want him to brush away my tears and I plead to see reassurance in His eyes.

How can I be surprised than, that just like me there was something in the Hebrews that also desired something tangible. We want things we can see, touch, and become familiar with. There is comfort with it.

I am thrown into a memory of tears sliding down my face as I watched Tom Hanks sob over the loss of his Wilson in Cast Away. Who is Wilson? Rather, what is Wilson? A volleyball, extraordinarily personified! He never spoke words of comfort, never listened though words were spoken to him, and never returned the love that was bestowed upon him. Yet did not most of us (all of us) come to adore Wilson, as well? He filled a void.

Didn’t the golden calf do the same? Fill a void, comfort an emptiness or loss. Can we accept that the Hebrews are more like us than maybe we care to admit?

So what exactly are we supposed to do? How do we combat that desire we have and let him fill us 100%; even the places that we imagine he can’t fill because we can’t physically see Him. He made us; he knows our frailty more than we do.

Our direction in scripture is always to look up. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Keep your mind on the things that have way more weight, our salvation and the grace given to us and our brothers and sisters!

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit”. (Romans 8:5) Is it wrong to desire physical touch? Absolutely not, but which gap is bigger in our hearts? The gap of needing physical touch or the gap of needing God? I had to ask myself. Which lifestyle do I give more weight to? My flesh or His spirit? He will give us everything we need to survive and do good things for His kingdom. Even though he may not have the physical qualities we often desire, let us not forget or underestimate the power of His invisible qualities!

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in ALL our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

He will not leave us stranded, but WILL comfort us in ways that we may not expect. Are you willing to put your faith on it? The Lord says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”( Jeremiah 29:13)

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6) I believe that in time as we continually walk in Him and build His kingdom in our hearts they begin to take the shape he intended. That need to see and feel Him physically, grows smaller and smaller, and the sight of Him working in our communities, saving lives, and providing miracles fills us deeper and deeper.

One more additional thought for you. “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12) So smile today, hug someone, let His light come shining through you. Maybe, just maybe, someone will get a glimpse of Him.

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Mexico Mission Post #6 (Jessica Hathaway)

Posted on April 26th, 2014 by Bob Bock

This morning breakfast began at 7:30am, and was followed by devotion which was lead by Greg and Eric. Rachel and Matt played worship songs, and it was a great start to the day. Knowing that it was going to be a long and emotional day for all of us, Greg encouraged us to read Colossians 2:1-3:

“I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Afterwards, we split up into two groups. Penny and Rebecca stayed and prepared the lunches for us and the children at VBS while the rest of us went to the building that will be used tomorrow to promote Casa de Eli. We finished painting, cleaned all of the chairs, swept and washed the floors in the inside, and picked up the rest of the glass in the sand surrounding the building. I desperately wish that we had more time here so that I could attend the event tomorrow.

Once we finished with the building, we went back for lunch. YUM! We have been so blessed here this week with so much food.

We then divided into our two groups for VBS, and for me that was going to Nardos to teach VBS. The lesson today was about Noah, and they were given word puzzles and crafts to color on. It was so good to see the children today. I have been trying to connect with this one six year old girl named Emily all week, and finally yesterday she started to open up to me a bit. And then today she came and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and it was so sweet. These children here just want so much love, and unfortunately aren’t given very much one on one attention like we are given back home. I told her that I would see her in one year, and I will definitely be keeping that promise. I am so anxious to get back here with the mission team. If we were to come back tomorrow, it would not be soon enough. My heart is here.

After the children at Nardos left, we drove back to Eli House where the other group was having VBS to say our goodbyes to those children as well. It broke my heart to say goodbye to the children, and especially to a very special young girl that stole my heart whose name was Antonia. Words can’t explain the connection that she and I had. I ended up giving her my cross necklace that I wore on this trip Thursday evening after spending time with her, and told her that it was very important and that I would pray for her every night. At 5pm, a small group of us walked some of the children to their houses, and Antonia and her siblings were some of them. When we came to their house to see where they lived, it was so heartbreaking. They lived in little shacks made of wood and had nothing but sheets to cover the front of the house. There was a chalkboard on the front of one of the shacks and there was a heart drawn on it with chalk. Saying our goodbyes and telling them that we would see them next year was so hard. But I will see them again, in one year, and it will be so wonderful to see them. I can’t wait!

I have felt so much peace while being here, and it’s incredible. These children and families don’t have much at all, but they have family and God and that is all that they need. It’s amazing. Que dios te bendiga!!

Jessica

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Mexico Mission Post #5 (Rachel Simpson)

Posted on April 26th, 2014 by Bob Bock

I really can’t believe this is our final day here in Mexico.  Time usually flies on trips like this but this one was very different.  Mexico has really grabbed all our hearts and we all are going to leave a big piece of our hearts here when we go.  The people are so welcoming and they honestly just want to get to know us and do life together (as one woman told us).

Every day has presented us with so many blessings that I feel like I should write a book on everything God has done in us and through us while we have been here.  Yesterday we got up early as usual and had an amazing breakfast.  Matt and I got to lead another worship set, which I loved so much, then it was off to work.  I was on the team that went to the building and land that was donated to Dave and Eli House.  We have been cleaning it up as much as possible for an event that is happening this Saturday.  We are cleaning up all the trash and glass around (there is A LOT) and painting the outside.  It’s amazing to see what we have accomplished in only a few days and only a few hours each of those days.  Today is the last day we get to work on it, but I have no doubt we are going to accomplish all we wanted to and more.

Yesterday’s VBS was wonderful.  The children here are so eager to work and lear,n and they love what they get to do with us.  Every day the people who come stay later and later.  Matt and I started a soccer game with the little ones and we just played.  We didn’t care about the time, we just loved being with them.  When it was time for them to go home we walked some of the children home.  Two woman we have really gotten to know well are Carmin and Alma, they are sisters. Their children are so beautiful and I hate that I have to leave them tomorrow.  Alexia is one of Alma’s daughters.  She is really quite and shy but from the beginning all she wanted to do was be around me.  God has blessed me so much through this young lady.  I can barley talk to her and yet she has just fallen in love with me.  It blows my mind.  When we walked them all home yesterday she had a letter for me with a picture she drew on the back of us.  Oh my goodness my heart melted!  They call me Barbie lol, and that’s what I look like in her picture.  She see’s something in me I didn’t think existed, and as I think on it more and more it makes me want to fall to my knees.

I could really go on and on about things that we have done and experienced and the people we have met.  It’s going to take a long time for me to get it all down on paper but I want to remember all of it forever.

This trip has been unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Our team is amazing, I love them all.  The people here are so refreshing, and Eli House Mission is something that was clearly blessed by God.  I am so so happy I went on this trip, and I am not looking forward to goodbyes today.  But Jonathan reminded us today that it’s not a period, it’s only a comma.  We are only saying goodbye for a short time, and I cannot wait to see them again.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.  We will see you all very soon!  Good Bless!

Rachel

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Mexico Mission Post #4 (James Jarman)

Posted on April 24th, 2014 by Bob Bock

Today was an early day for some but still busy for everyone as a whole.  Of course like each day we started with a devotion.  Today was led by Olivia.  She spoke on the subject of relationships and reminded us how important relationship is in all aspects of our lives especially our relationship with Jesus which determines how we share His message to the world.  After the devotion we had a quick bite to eat and went on to our tasks.

Four members of the group went with Dave to finish painting the house of our dear friends Art and Heather to bless them with a fresh coat of paint, fellowship, and love.  The rest of us stayed at Eli House where we prepared bags of beans and rice to pass out  to the local families near the canal a little ways from where we were. We also prepared donated clothing, shoes, and toys for all the people coming for the service tonight.  We met the rest of the group at Art and Heather’s and left on foot to go door to door and bless the families with the food and news of the service “Ismaschias” (the church) was having tonight.

As we began our walk we saw the shapeless homes made of cardboard and plywood and were immediately heart broken from it all.  We encountered many families with big smiles who joyfully accepted the gift of food. The smiles were  exceptionally big from the children when we gave them candy.  We continued until we were out of beans and rice but as much as we were blessing them they were blessing us by their stories and kindness.  The group I was in met this man, Antonio, who old in age told us that when he was young his parents abandoned him.  He eventually grew up learning how to work but never to read or write.  Through it all he found God.  He was explaining to the group he found a rock one day that appeared to have a making of an eye.  He believed that was God’s way of saying He’s watching over him and carried it with him for over a year. He joyfully gave it to Greg as symbol of God’s love for us.  His story made us weep and for most of the group that was the breaking point of knowing why we are here.

After we finished we went for lunch and to enjoy a little shopping in Los Algodones which is about 45 minutes away.  The atmosphere was amazing along with the food.  Vendors and activity everywhere.  Each of us came away with a little of Mexico to take home.

After a few hours there we returned to Eli House to prepare for the big service.   Tables were set with food because in Mexico if you are invited somewhere you are going to eat.  Delicious tacos carne asada made by Dave’s neighbors, Russ and Lety, were served.  A grand feast was enjoyed by all the visitors leading up to a time of praise and worship and a message by the church’s pastor.  The time with the children is unforgettable seeing the light shine in their eyes while the love of Jesus is shared.

Finally the service is completed with a little surprise dessert of ice cream for all to enjoy.  The children ran as fast as they could with eyes wide for what they were about to devour.  Everyone had a great time and memories were made which would last a lifetime.

We ended our night the same way we began with a moment to reflect on how God is preparing our hearts and how He has already blessed us.  The group assembled in the same place to have a debrief on the day which brought out numerous accounts of how God works in the most unexpected ways.  We shared experiences of enounters with families and individuals and the wondrous love from the local community.  Each day I have found that everyday for us is different spiritually. As each day passes we seem to get closer to God.  The closer we get to Him, the clearer we see His purpose in our lives.

James

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