Answered Prayers and a Noble Task!

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” — John 15:6-8

The brothers rejoice after King is baptized into Christ!

The brothers rejoice after King is baptized into Christ!

What an incredible week it has been in the Phoenix International Christian Church! Last week’s “Blue Jean” Bring Your Neighbor Day (BYND) was amazing! God blessed us with 184 in attendance with only 70 disciples! We were also very encouraged to have our dear sister Kelsey Campbell place membership! She will be a powerful addition to our campus ministry! Additionally, God blessed us with fruit (to his glory) in an amazing young man named King Solomon Burke who was baptized at the end of our BYND service. Of course we are very grateful for the brothers and sisters who worked very hard to put-together the amazing barbeque we had after church! The fellowship was joyful, sweet and effective because many who visited us were set up to study the bible and begin the real adventure – to seek God with all their hearts and get into the vine!

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1 Tim 3:1)

On the heels of an inspiring week, we are witnessing our God raise up disciples to strengthen and shepherd our growing minis-try. The Word of God teaches us here that if anyone has the heart to become an overseer, the task is a noble one. The scripture here continues to map out the qualifications step by step for those that are called to this kind of role in God’s kingdom:

“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” (1 Tim 3:2-7)

The sisters rejoice as they welcome Kelsey into the family here in Phoenix.

The sisters rejoice as they welcome Kelsey into the family here in Phoenix.

Today is a glorious day, as more of our prayer goals for this year are being answered by our Father in heaven! God has been working in the hearts and lives of Chris and Darby Schultz by molding, training, and helping them mature into the role of Shepherds in the Kingdom of God. It is their custom to gratefully serve many in their home with outstanding hospitality not just during the holidays, but all year round. They consistently demonstrate temperance, and sacrifice of both time and money for God. They have been seasoned with their own deep challenges and changes, and have become dear friends and partners in the gospel contenting alongside Amy and me for the cause of our God. We are so grateful for their humility, their desire to lay their lives down, and their consistent determination to strengthen God’s church.

We are so grateful for the CR Ministry and the labor of love by Scott and Sandy.  Thanks be to God for the graduation of Laura and Dan Barrett, Doug Hunt, and Tommy Quintinilla!

We are so grateful for the CR Ministry and the labor of love by Scott and Sandy. Thanks be to God for the graduation of Laura and Dan Barrett, Doug Hunt, and Tommy Quintanilla!

It is with great encouragement and gratitude that we have the privilege of appointing Chris and Darby Schultz as Shepherds today in the Kingdom of God. I chose to pre-sent Chris with a specific sword for his appointment as a gift. In what is one of the most epic moments in “The Lord of The Rings” Gandalf stands alone on a bridge facing an ancient evil, a demon of fire and flame – the Balrog. Gan-dalf’s friends are fleeing for their lives, but he knows this is an enemy he must face alone. He stands in the gap, his hand gripping Glamdring (the Sword) and challenges the demon with, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” They were not mere words, as his bravery and willingness to face the ancient darkness with the sword in hand, is what saves the lives of his friends…even though it meant he went tumbling into the abyss to face the enemy.

Chris and Darby and their beautiful two children!

Chris and Darby and their beautiful two children!

I believe with all my heart a profound principle of spiritual leadership is captured at this moment. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The heart every disciple should have to step in front of any evil, to turn and face any dark-ness that threatens the family of God. Shepherds and deacons should exemplify this heart for all the disciples around them. They should all grip the “Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Ephesian 6:17) firmly and challenge the darkness with the light of truth – from a deep love of God, thus loving their brothers and sisters. I have the firm conviction that this is the heart of both Chris and Darby.  Another great example of this heart to “lay down his life for his friends” in the fellowship is our brother Rick, who has diligently given his heart to the teens with genuine love. He is always watching over the teens, serving them, and looking out for their best interests.

Today we have the honor of recognizing his heart and appointing him as a Deacon of the Teen Ministry! We are so grateful for his consistent contribution, giving the teens car rides and wise council. Amy and I are grateful for the friendship we share with him and his amazing wife Heather as well as their two children (Noah and Jaci), who are a great presence in our teen ministry. It’s been a great time of growing and working together the past couple of years with Rick volunteering on staff, we’re looking for-ward to what God is going to do even more so in the near future as he blesses the teen ministry with workers like Rick in the harvest field.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. (1 Tim 3:8-10)

I have asked the Schultz’s and Rick to share a few words about what these new roles that God has called them to means to them. You can hear Rick, Darby, and Chris’ hearts in their own words:

Rick

“…A couple of teens from [our ministry] have already chosen to begin studying the Bible, in order to learn about GOD and his purpose for us all….My initial intentions are to serve in [the teen ministry], humbly asking GOD for his guidance, through HIS WORD and Prayer. I will definitely need a lot of help and advice from my brothers and sisters, in the faith. The corner stone from which I will build from will be found in Matthew 22:37-40 (Love The Lord our God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our mind! And, to love our neighbors as ourselves!) I have a strong feeling that I will be humbled by these Teens and their growing Love for The Lord! And called “higher!” Oh, and if I look confused, I probably am! Please pray for our success!”

Darby

“Growing up my family was always hospitable. We had a house that hosted many get-togethers and eventually campus events. My parents taught me the importance of opening my home and never showing up at someone’s house without something to share. Hospitality was something I was raised to be excellent at. …My Ohana (family) taught me a lot about love and entertaining anyone who needed a family to belong to. In elementary school I enjoyed serving the students in the Special Education classroom feeding them and playing with them. My love for people who had life challenges grew from friends into a career in which I do a small part of influencing their lives.

I had the privilege of having women who love God and have spoken the truth in love from his word in my life. Mary Santos in the Honolulu International Christian Church is one of the women who was instrumental in my walk with God. Other women include Sonja Chloupek, Rae Lynn Willson, Susan Bond, Keri Garrido, and Amy Ciaramella. Through their teachings I have been able to grow into my role as a Shepherdess. I will be forever grateful for how God has used each one of these women to make me into a better servant of God.”

Weapon Sword Hobbit Unexpected Journey Glamdring 2013Chris

“Throughout my life, I have respected men who desire to make the world better by living out this example. As a disciple, these types of men have been instrumental in helping me follow God closely and helping me through different stages of my life. Like all men, I hope to leave a positive impact on the world. I do not consider myself to be overly gifted as I do others. However, as I have learned and come to appreciate, is that God has greater designs for me and my family. In fact, I would say that we are chosen to become greater for his glory. As my wife and I undertake this new role, we enter into it with faith and hope that we will please God through our service to our church family and always have a heart of humility in this life. Here are a couple of points that I hope we, all of us, strive to live out every day. I also strongly believe that these points are necessary for one to enter into any leadership role.

1 – Have the same attitude as Jesus.
Phil 2:3-5 (NLT)
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than your selves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

This is my favorite scripture for a reason. If I strive to be like Jesus, then I MUST have the same attitude as he did. I am eternally grateful for men such as Jeremy Ciaramella, Chris Choulpek, Jason Bond, Chris Teves and Tony Untalan. These are men who have proven themselves worthy of respect because they changed my life and helped me in varying ways. I also hope that I can exhibit this attitude towards my brothers and sisters. They are so precious to Darby and I. Without our church, our lives and marriage simply would have been nothing more than another tragic story.

2 – Have a heart of Temperance
Titus 2:1-2
You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

This is something that I have had to learn over the 15 years of being a disciple. There have been times that a brash, harsh word has caused friction or hurt towards others. I greatly respect Tony Untalan in this way. He is a man who has demonstrated this quality in many circumstances. I strive to follow his example so I can be a peacemaker for my brothers and sisters.

3- Seek god in all circumstances
Deuteronomy 4:29,
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

In all circumstances, I, we, must seek God. Too many times have I relied on my own strength to get me through things. In most, if not all of these situations, when I seek understanding from God and from those he has put in my life, I am at peace whatever the outcome has been. There have been many times that I don’t understand what God has planned for me or his rationale for his decisions. However, I recognize that he is wiser, and his divine plan is always to my benefit. This outlook always gives me peace that he is in control and not I.

As Darby and are appointed today, I can only promise one thing. At some point I will make mistakes. While it will never be our intention to do so, I recognize that I am a sinful man trying to love my God and his people the best I can. Our hope is that God will continue to teach us, that we will serve our family as is best to their needs, and that in all things, we give God glory at all times. Thank you for letting us serve you and our God! We love you all.”

How encouraged we can be today because our God is answering our prayer goals and we are seeing his working in the lives of these disciples! For he has put them in the exact role he needs them in, as “…in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Cor 12:18)

Jeremy Mark Ciaramella

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