Our Spring Small Group season begin January 14th! Small group Bible studies are a vital part of fulfilling our mission of "leading people everywhere to a devoted relationship with Jesus." At Creekside, the two main goals are to connect and change. We want to build relationships, and we want to grow our faith in knowledge and fruitful service. All study groups meet Sunday evenings with 5 groups meeting in various homes and one meeting at Creekside. If you've already signed up, here are the groups' leaders and host locations. If you haven't, we probably still have room for you! Contact Doug Elrick to find out more.
• JR Kepple's group meets at Mike & Kristine Nicewarner's in Johnston.
• Bob Short's group meets at Creekside.
• Tom Baird's group meets at Ken & Nancy Taylor's in Urbandale.
• Kyle Clarkson's groups meets at Alan & Lauren Crim's in Johnston.
• Norb Metzler's groups meets at Norb & Karen's in Johnston.
Please consider signing up and meeting someone new in our congregation!
TUESDAY MORNINGS (EVERY OTHER WEEK)
Men meet 6:30-7:30am every other Tuesday at Cozy Cafe in Johnston for breakfast, sharing prayer requests, and reading through the book of Romans together. Check our Events calendar for the dates, and contact Mike Johnson with any questions.
Men's Group at Creekside, Wednesday night 6:30-7:45, studying the book of Proverbs (meets in the prayer room).
Women's Group at Creekside, Wednesday night 6:30-7:45, studying "Breaking Free" by Beth Moore.
If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Romans 12:12-13 you are a member of the universal church, the body of Christ. But the Bible does not envision the Christian life as one lived apart from other believers. The Bible is clear that members of the universal church are to be actively and intimately involved in local churches. Acts 2:42 says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Formal membership enables you to nail down a relationship to a group of believers with whom you can fellowship, serve, and be accountable to. Church membership says, "I'm committed to a people, a people who hear the word of God preached, a people who perform the ordinances that Jesus gave to his church (baptism and the Lord's Supper), and a people who commit to the 'one another' commandments (love each other, exhort each other, admonish each other, hold each other accountable)."
When you commit to a local church in church membership, you are committing to not only attending there and participating in the Sunday morning services, but you are committing to a church body: to using your spiritual gifts to build God’s kingdom there, to being involved in church activities, and experiencing fellowship at a deeper level.
When you commit to a church in church membership, you place yourself under the authority and teaching of the leadership of that church. You also enter into relationships with other believers who will help hold you accountable in areas you may struggle. Accountability also allows for the Biblical practice of Church Discipline, spelled out in Matthew 18:15-17, where Jesus gives a detailed process for dealing with a sinning brother.
How do I become a member at Creekside?
Becoming a member at Creekside involves five things:
1. Be a born again Christian who has trusted in Christ alone for your salvation (John 3:3).
2. Attend a newcomers class
3. Be willing to embrace the overall direction and essential beliefs of Creekside and be willing to submit to the Elders (Hebrews 13:17).
4. Meet briefly with a couple elders/deacons for a personal interview.
5. Be formally recognized before the congregation during a Sunday morning service.
Expectations of members:
1. Regularly attend one of our Sunday morning services and participate in our small group ministry (Hebrews 10:25-26).
2. Give financially regularly to Creekside Church (2 Corinthians 8-9).
3. Seek to honor God by living a godly lifestyle as outlined by Scripture (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Peter 3:18). Members can be subject to church discipline as outlined in Matt. 18:15-18 for major, unrepentant sins that hurt the body of Christ.
4. You must promote unity in the church and not division through gossip, slander, back biting etc. If you have a grievance or concern that you cannot resolve on your own or with the help of another believer, please approach one of the leaders for help to resolve it.
5. Seek to win others to Christ through personal relationships.
To discuss membership at Creekside, talk to any of our elders.
Eschatology and Apologetics
Creekside U is an informal teaching series conducted in 2015 designed to cover a variety of topics. Our first class on Eschatology from April and our latest class on Christian Apologetics taught by Mike Johnson and Mark Kline is available below.
Each night of Creekside U is a two hour session split by a break for refreshments, and we have activities and snacks for kids as well. Audio from each class is provided in 4 sessions that are 45 minutes to an hour each, and we'll do our best to make class handouts available for download as well. Have suggestions for future topics you'd like to explore? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEFENDING YOUR FAITH: A BASIC COURSE IN CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS
Mike Johnson and Mark Kline co-teach this overview of apologetics by defining the practice of defending Christianity, the role of faith, arguments for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, Creation and Flood debates, and the problem of evil. (Download corresponding PDFs below to view slides while you listen).
• The what, why, who and how of apologetics
• The role of faith and reason
• The argument from reason for God's existence
• The argument from morality for God's existence
• What are the different forms of the Word of God?
• How do we know the Bible is God's word?
• How did we get our Bible?
• Are there any errors in it?
• Are there ay errors in the Bible?
• God's publishing process
- Manuscript evidence
- Archaeological evidence
- Prophetic evidence
- Statistical evidence
• How old is the Earth? How big was the Flood? How much does it matter?
• Too much evil and suffering in the world?
• Unanswered questions lead to atheism
ESCHATOLOGY: THE END TIMES AND WHY THEY MATTER
A Biblical teaching series on Eschatology, the study of end times, presented by Mark Kline, presented April 19th and 26th, 2015 at Creekside, Mark presents eschatological charts and views on the millennial reign of Christ (Download corresponding PDFs below to view slides while you listen). The 20-page booklet by John MacArthur, A Jet Tour Through Revelation, was also distributed in class and is available to read online or download here.
• Why Eschatology matters
• How and when Christ will return
• Building your own Eschatology chart
• The Millennium: 3 main views, interactive with charts and practical implications with each view
• Wrap up and final questions
SESSION 3 (COMING SOON)
• Overview of Revelation
• Will the Church go through the Tribulation?
- Post-Trib, Mid-Trib, summary of arguments and rebuttals
- Top 10 Pre-Trib arguments, answers to rebuttals
SESSION 4 (COMING SOON)
• Judgment and eternal punishment, a sobering reality
• Eternal life: What will Heaven be like?
• Wrap up and final questions
By Mike Johnson
(Published in April 2017 Urbandale Living Magazine)
Ralph Waldo Emerson mused, “Life is not measured by its length, but by its depth.” Still, death eventually knocks, and our standing before God determines how we answer.
THE DOORWAY OF DEATH
“No tabloid will ever print the startling news that the mummified body of Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered in old Jerusalem. Christians have no carefully embalmed body enclosed in a glass case to worship. Thank God, we have an empty tomb. The glorified fact that the empty tomb proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes. Death is not a wall, but a door.”
THE DOORWAY OF THE TOMB
The above words of the late chaplain of the US Senate Peter Marshall are of particular relevance as Easter nears and the empty tomb is in view. A large stone sealed the tomb’s opening, but it did not seal the deal for death. Christ arose, that door was opened, the threshold was crossed from the inside out, and death lost. How can we lose the fear of death and gain the same victory the empty tomb represents?
THE DOORWAY THAT IS JESUS
“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…”, Jesus said in John 10:9. He, our living Redeemer and Lord, is the only way to salvation. Through repentance and faith in the finished work of God’s Son on the cross, we can have forgiveness, grace and eternal life. Life for the Christian is much more about the destination than the journey as we look forward to the face of God and living forever in His presence. Meanwhile, what do we do?
THE DOORWAY THAT IS US
Both my parents are in heaven, which will be a reunion hall for many because my mom, too, was a door. Through her trusting Christ in 1976 and her faithful witness, my dad followed. That seed took root in me, my siblings, their children, and will prayerfully continue in the next generation. Mom was a doorway through which truth entered from the outside in. Something eternal and life-giving came into our family, and mom continued to open up the gospel for many others until a stroke took her Home at 91. Her legacy will join her as a throng one day.
Inevitably, death’s door opens for us, but Jesus’ resurrection means those who trust in Him will have their own resurrection and can enter without fear. Until then, God calls every Christian to a legacy of opening doors for others.
Who We Are Instead
The Bible’s Antidote for Racism, and Other Bad Ideas
by Mike Johnson
The defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 signaled the end of Adolf Hitler’s poisonous ideas about “superior” and “inferior races” of humanity. But the recent displays of white nationalism resurging from relative dormancy in Charlottesville, Virginia remind us that evil persists in a fallen world. In America, we can’t put our own racist history to rest when it’s still so pervasive in our culture.
In the Bible we read about divisions of race and ethnicity, Jews and Gentiles, about women and children often viewed as property, and the enslavement of foreigners and those viewed as inferior. None of this was part of God’s good creation. While Scripture describes racism, sexism, and supremacism, it prescribes a solution through understanding who we really are.
First, we are all one race: mankind. All human beings are descendants of Adam and Eve (who, contrary to popular depictions, were likely not white). Genetically or taxonomically, there are no differences that provide a rational basis for ranking people by physical characteristics like skin color.
Secondly, we are all image-bearers of our Creator. As descendants of Adam and Eve, every human being—man, woman, child—is made “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) and therefore equal in inherent dignity and value. By Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had sinned, and it wasn’t long before racial discrimination was conceived as sin spread to all mankind.
Thirdly, and consequently, we are all sinners for whom Christ died. Because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we have more in common than we like to admit. But the good news is that God loves us all so much that He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin, so that through faith in Christ we are saved (John 3:16). This offer is available to everyone. From God’s perspective, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Far from condoning racism, the Bible is an invitation to freedom for those Romans 6 describes as “slaves to sin.” From liberating Israel from Egyptian bondage (Exodus) to Paul’s message that it is “for freedom that Christ has set us free…” (Galatians 5:1), God is clearly for freedom and equality and against sinful notions of human superiority and inferiority.
“Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.” (Malcolm de Chazal)
Racial differences are artificial, idealized by people seeking to control other people. If we choose to see ourselves and our neighbors as God sees us—one beloved yet fallen race of God’s image-bearers for whom Christ died to redeem—we can see there is no room for racism and a lot more room for love.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14)
The Perfect Gift
The Perfect Giftby Steve Smith(Dec. 2017 Urbandale Living Faith article) Does the thought of Christmas bring peace or panic into your spirit? Unfortunately, the advent of Advent causes many of us anxiety. We have parties to attend, programs to go to, preparations to make, and the daunting pursuit of the “perfect gift.” Some folks seem to naturally choose the perfect gifts to give. I’m not one of them. I can’t seem to give the right gift in everyday life. While on vacation recently I was in a pastry shop and purchased a surprise for my dear wife. It turns out she doesn’t really like apple turnovers. That’s not and indictment of her, but a reflection of my incompetence. As a “gift giving impaired” person gift cards are an option. But, honestly, I don’t really like receiving gift cards, so why would I give them? As Christmas approaches it’s easy to let our activity and the acquisition of the “perfect gift” blind us to God’s “indescribable gift” already given for us to receive. Paul declared, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). This indescribable gift is a reference to Jesus Christ. Christmas is, after all, the celebration of the gift of Jesus—“For God so loved the World that He gave His one and only Son…” (John 3:16a). But I’m concerned that us “churched folks” are like the little boy in Sunday School. The teacher asked the class, “What is gray, buries nuts in our yard, and has a long, fuzzy tail?” One bright student’s response: “It sounds like a grey squirrel, but I’m going to say ‘Jesus’.” We at least intuitively acknowledge the reality of Jesus at Christmas. Increasingly many people in our society ignore Him altogether. Tolerance or total rejection of Jesus leaves people in the same place—resisting rather than personally receiving the “indescribable gift” of God’s Son who offers us pardon, peace with God, purpose and permanent life starting now. God gave His Son, “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16b). Receiving God’s gift means recognizing that we are rebellious and deserve His wrath, and that only through believing that Jesus died and rose again to pay the debt we owe will we not perish, but live eternally. The “perfect gift” is not one we give, but one that God has already given. He invites us to receive and not reject Jesus. “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest... rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28). Merry Christmas, and may we not wait to receive and share the perfect gift.
Destination Sickness (and the Cure)
Destination Sickness (and the Cure)
by Pastor Steve Smith
My Great Grandfather use to say, "As a rule a man's a fool; when it's hot he wants it cool and when it's cool he wants it hot, never satisfied with what he's got." A catchy way of describing the pervasive malady of "destination sickness."
We are routinely dissatisfied with where we are, who we are, what we have, what we are doing, and where we are going. We want the latest, the greatest, the fastest, the newest, the biggest, and the fanciest. We obtain or achieve what we have been striving for only to realize that we are still unfulfilled and we want more. A newer car, getting married, a promotion at work, completing our education, a sculpted body, and/or owning the hottest new video game, all leave us with a sense of lacking. We believe that the answer is something "more." What is the cause and cure of our condition?
Saint Augustine of Hippo got it right when he said, "...our heart is restless until it rests in You." God made us to be in relationship with Himself, but because we are sinners by nature and by choice we are separated from Him and not at rest. "But your sins have made a separation between you and your God..." (Isaiah 59:2a) The cause of destination sickness is our rebellious hearts seeking satisfaction in our own strength and on our own terms apart from God. We look everywhere but to the only place that provides the cure. Jesus declares, "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest" (Mat. 11:28). The apostle Paul declares, "…in Him (Christ Jesus) you have been made complete/full" (Col. 2:10a). Only in relationship with God through personal faith in Christ were the folks at the church in Colossae complete/fulfilled/satisfied.
That is true for us as well. If sin separates then something or someone must reunite. Jesus Christ is the someone. Through Christ, God the Father "reconciled all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross…" Christ's death satisfied God's wrath against sin for all who believe so that they are "reconciled" to God. We find our rest in God through personal trust in His Son to save us from the power and penalty of our sin.
Those who rest in the Lord through faith in the Son are not exempt from the symptoms of destination sickness but the prognosis is no longer terminal. They are moving closer in their experience to what the Psalmist expressed: "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You I desire nothing on earth."
by Pastor Steve Smith
I was shocked about a month ago when I saw robins huddled in a tree outside my study with 6 inches of snow on the ground. I thought they must be “seasonally challenged”—confused about what they are supposed to do. Mid-way through Lent I wonder if any of us who profess to be Christians are “seasonally challenged”—a bit confused by what we are doing in this season. Confusion can dampen our enthusiasm so as we approach Easter I want to clarify two possible areas of confusion.
Do we understand the purpose of voluntary sacrifice? For many people Lent is a time for reflection, repentance, and restriction—Fasting, fish on Fridays, and forsaking delicacies. Why? I knew a man who praised his new diet that restricted his intake of certain foods. His goal was to lose weight. Are we giving up something hoping to gain God’s approval or out of appreciation for His approval already gained through our faith in Christ’s death on the cross as the payment we deserve for our sins? Are we just going through the religious motions during this “season” or truly manifesting our devotion in light of God’s mercy? Jesus condemns external ritual—“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me..." Mark 7:6b. He commends devotion—“I desire compassion, and not sacrifice…” Matthew 12:7. Proper Lenten sacrifice is an expression of humility and desire for intimacy in light of God’s mercy personally applied through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection.
Do we understand the place of the resurrection? “…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” 1Cor.15:17. Without the resurrection the power and penalty of sin (eternal death) remain unbroken. “But now, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Historical and Biblical evidence confirms the reality of Jesus’ resurrection providing a firm foundation for our faith. “He (Jesus) who was delivered up on account of our transgressions, and was raised to bring about our justification” (Rom. 4:25). For all who believe, Christ’s death paid their debt of sin and His resurrection made them right with God. Faith in the facts of Christ’s death and resurrection brings eternal life (Jn. 11:25-26).
I get excited about Easter because Resurrection reality proves Christ’s victory over sin and death and provides the same to me and all who believe. Recipients of His mercy delightfully “not dutifully” sacrifice to promote intimacy.
Whether you are a life-long follower of Christ or a brand new Christian, we invite you to challenge yourself and deepen your relationship with God and study His word.