Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dancing for Jesus

Seven years ago, an 11 year old girl arrived late to her first dance rehearsal.  She felt awkward and didn’t enjoy it much.  But she stuck with it.  Over time, through the consistent love and support of her teacher, Rachel Hanna, along with the effort it takes to learn any discipline, her enjoyment grew into a love for ballet. 

Last year, as a senior in high school and under the leadership of Rachel, Hannah Calkins took on teaching 2 classes of her own in the Ballet a la Croix ministry at SFB.  As she was mentored by Rachel, Hannah instructed and taught 24 young children in the areas of worship, dance, discipline and discipleship.  Hannah says, “Seeing the growth of the kids as they come together in a recital and worshiping God through the unique expression of dance are highlights of teaching them.” 

She hopes to continue teaching this next year, depending on her college schedule.  Regardless of how long she continues to dance or teach dance, Hannah is thankful that she has grown significantly in being more coachable and teachable.  Learning to practice the art of worship has meant a lot to her as well.  In her words, “It takes practice to worship well.” 

Hannah is only one story of multitudes of young women who have come through Rachel’s dance studio over the past 7 years.  But Hannah’s story is not unique. 

According to Rachel, "The goal of Ballet a La Croix ministry is to disciple and share the love of Christ with students.  We strive to take scriptural truths and eventually translate them into dance.  Students are taught that everything they do is for God's glory.  Ballet is no exception.  Classes pray regularly and talk weekly about what it means to be used as a tool of God to reach the hearts of the audience through music, dance, and scripture." 

Rachel and Hannah are exceptional examples of our core values of worship and discipleship through their unique ministry with Ballet a La Croix.  Thank God for their faithfulness and continue to pray for the future of this ministry. 

Questions to ponder: 

Hannah mentioned that it takes practice to worship well.  Where are you currently working on practicing worship and building your worship muscle? 

Rachel teaches her students that everything they do is for God’s glory.  What is one area in your life that you would like to begin to dedicate and yield to God? 
Pastor Nate

Friday, July 22, 2016

God Leads

God has done some amazing things in my life. He has set stepping stones before me even when I didn’t understand.  I have always heard stories about missionaries in Good News and 5-Day Clubs with Child Evangelism Fellowship. When I was five, God told me He wanted me to be a missionary. I thought that meant that I would become a missionary when I grow up, but that isn’t what He had in mind. My family is moving to Cambodia as missionaries in a few weeks! 
In 5th grade my parents told me they felt led by God to go on a short term mission trip to Africa for a year. I was honestly surprised, but I was ready for God to do whatever He had planned.  I went through many hard things, like culture stress and homesickness.  I was able to learn about a new culture and talk to other missionaries. I also learned that being a missionary is harder than I expected.  Missionaries have to do some scary things and they say “good-bye” often.  God taught me that I have to be willing to give 100% of my life to Him and that He will use it, not in the way I thought, but in a way so much better.  
This summer God brought me to Christian Youth in Action (CYIA) training camp and I have been teaching 5-Day Clubs.  I have been waiting for this since I was eight, and God definitely worked in me and taught me more than I expected. At CYIA I experienced some spiritual warfare, and as I prayed with my friends we were able to feel God’s presence and love as He brought us out of Satan’s attacks. We learned that we all fight together for God’s will on earth, and in the end we will have victory. I am thankful for the things I learned during CYIA.  My teaching skills were improved, but I also learned about the power of prayer and reliance on Him for help to do hard things.
I have been thinking about everything that I learned in Africa and at CYIA and I have come to a conclusion. I realize that I truly exist for a sole purpose:  to serve God.  I don’t have to worry about anything else; He is in control.  This month my family will say “good-bye” and move to a place where my school, church, and everyday life will be very different. I will need to learn to speak the Khmer language and then I hope to teach Bible clubs.  I know I can’t possibly do it on my own, but that with God, all things are possible.  I trust that He will work through me in Cambodia just as He did in Africa and at CYIA. I am ready for whatever He has in store, and Iwill keep my eyes focused on Him.
--Megan Brand

Friday, July 15, 2016


I had the privilege of volunteering for the Decision America Tour and was keeping busy with the preparations.  Joy Scott and I called 123 churches, snail-mailed and canvassed churches and our neighborhoods, and passed out information at church regarding the tour.  I also met with a prayer group every week to pray for the tour and our nation. Yet I was feeling pretty down and discouraged, but didn’t know why.  Every time I turned on the news, or saw the result of sin in family’s and friend’s lives, I would vacillate from anger to depression. I felt like I was running on empty, because I was focusing on these things. 

Finally DAT came to Salem.  Franklin Graham gave encouraging statistics: some drove 150 miles with 7 children to attend the rally; others are now planning to vote; others are considering running for office; one woman flew 200 miles in a private airplane to be there.  “Prayer is the mystery of God’s sovereign plan” and it impacted me that all these people were coming because they believed in the power of prayer and they trusted God to use their prayers.  While attending the rally, everyone was intently listening and then Franklin Graham asked us to join hands and pray to confess our sins, and the sins of our country.  Even though I was holding the hand of a stranger, I felt an instant bonding with the body of Christ.  There was a strong presence of God’s grace, strength and peace.  And I felt forgiveness.  I had been focusing on the wrong things and my lack of faith shamed me.  Franklin Graham then gave an invitation to receive Christ as Savior and again, I heard people all around me praying to receive God’s gift.  That day, 216 people in the crowd received the gift of salvation. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so powerful, that at the end of the rally when we sang “God Bless America,” all I could do was mouth the words, because my tears were flowing so much.

Many years ago, God used 12 disciples to change the world and build His kingdom.  That day in Salem, almost 4,000 came to pray and trust that God would use their prayers.  Almost 154,000 people have come to the rallies, and it’s not over.  Our job is to persevere, trust and focus on God, continue to pray and wait expectantly to see how He’ll answer.  It’s going to be amazing.

--Janelle Coakley



Pastor's Pick:  Book Recommendations


The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert  by Rosaria Butterfied. 
Rosaria Butterfield was once a tenured professor of English who identified as a lesbian and worked to advance the cause of LGBT equality. After her conversion to Christ in 1999, she came to see the sinfulness of having any identity apart from Him.

Rosaria is married to Kent Butterfield, pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Durham, and is a home-school mother, pastor's wife, author, and speaker. She is helping Christians to better understand their LGBT neighbors and loved ones so that we can lovingly share the gospel effectively.