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The arts and the Gospel

Posted in Worship  |  By Michael Adler  |  Posted on Mon Nov 28, 2016

The arts and the Gospel

All of my adult life I have loved the mission of helping to creatively set the stage to tell the Gospel story. 

On many occasions I’ve gotten to work with brilliant, highly gifted people; artists whose virtuosity was heads above the rest. 

I’ve worked with those who aspired to be great, giving their all and working at every opportunity to refine and develop their gifts. 

I’ve worked with folks who were just hard working, devoted saints without a lot of flourish or flair. They could swing a hammer or paint a flat or sew a tunic. 

But collectively, when this group comes together and -- shoulder-to-shoulder -- they lean into their one big thing, something wonderful is about to bloom and flourish and find its place in one whose heart is ready to hear. 

Telling the Gospel story has been a part of the life and calling of believers since Jesus gave us the definitive “go” in Matthew 28. But Jesus didn’t just hang this centuries old command around our necks without an instruction manual. 

His methods for explaining this new life to the people of His time were simple. He could take something as common as a seed, or a pearl, or some yeast, or even a child to stimulate the mind and the imaginations of His listeners. He knew his audience, and He knew how to creatively use tools that were familiar to them in order to bring clarity to his message. He used every prop that was available to Him whether it was a fisherman’s net or a stick etching a compelling message in the sand. 

His storytelling, and the visuals He added to them, drew audiences from miles around. More often than not, He left those audiences with transformative questions and new tools for living life based on His Kingdom perspective. 

Time moved on, and His story was not only the subject of the preacher in the city square. 

His story was the subject of oratorios and dance, of painting and sculpture. Stories written to deftly intertwine Christian themes began to populate the landscape of both literature and entertainment. Writers such as Tolkein and C.S. Lewis brought God’s redemptive story to the populace through brilliant allegories and captivating storytelling.

And today a new generation of believers rises up to bring light to this world and life to those who will listen. Today, our calling remains the same.  

The ultimate Creator has called us, His creation, to declare His greatness to all the nations. While a bullhorn and soapbox might create the most volume, the creative gifts found within the body of Christ have proven far more effective in finding their way to a listening heart. Our message remains the same, and we are compelled to craft new ways to repeat the sounding joy.  

Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!

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Why it's important to be thankful as a family

Posted in Adults  |  By Stephanie Hartsell  |  Posted on Mon Nov 21, 2016

Why it's important to be thankful as a family

As we look forward to Thanksgiving this week, we are all more aware of the need to be thankful. As parents we desire for our children to say thank you and to be grateful for the many blessings they have such as nice homes, more than enough clothes to wear, food on the table, and so on. In our give me, give me world, helping our children (and ourselves for that matter) have an attitude of gratitude can be a challenge. 

So what does the Bible say about being thankful?

1 Thessalonians 5:18-  “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Having an attitude of gratitude is God’s will for us. 
Ephesians 5:20- “ giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” We are to give thanks always and for everything.
Colossians 3:15- “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  We are to let peace rule in our hearts and be thankful. 

What does a thankful heart look like? It is a heart that counts blessings, is happy with simple pleasures of life, and expresses gratitude for everything given, both to God and to man. 

A scientific experiment done at the University of California showed that those who spent ten weeks journaling things they were grateful for had higher levels of well-being, had more optimistic expectations, felt they had more connectedness to others, and were more willing to help others compared to the other groups who either journaled about things that annoyed or irritated them or journaled about things that had a major impact on them. 

How can you practice thankful more in your home?

  • Model being thankful.
  • Pray asking God to help your family have an attitude of gratitude.
  • Initiate conversation around the dinner table by having everyone name one thing they were thankful for that day.
  • Once a month, have family members go around and say, “I am thankful for ________ because _________.” Everyone must say one thing they are thankful for about each person.
  • Volunteer with Urban Purpose or Jimmie Hale Mission and serve those less fortunate.
  •  Have a “no complaining” day.

It is God’s will for us to be thankful in all things, all the time. When we teach and model an attitude of gratitude to our children, it helps strengthen our families as well as our relationship with God.


Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389

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2016 Party Platform Comparison

Posted in Uncategorized  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Mon Sep 26, 2016

2016 Party Platform Comparison

"I don't prefer either candidate, so I'm just not going to vote."

Hold that thought.

Last weekend, we embarked on a journey during which we'll hear sermons on each of our six measures of personal spiritual growth. Part of these next two months, parallel to a study of our measures, will be a time of concentrated fasting and prayer for our nation and November's presidential election.

This is a not a post to tell you for whom you should vote. It's not a post to spell out any specific political leanings we have as a church. (Hint: There are none.)

What we're challenging is that we all spend intentional time praying for our country. Praying for the person that will lead it through much of the next decade. Praying for the men and women who serve to protect the freedoms we have to vote and also to worship freely.

Our own Cameron Smith put together an incredibly useful guide for the platforms of both major political parties. It's not editorialized, nor does it have the opinions of Cameron or our pastor. This guide examines 22 major issues and summarizes with bullet points where each party falls on each issue.

Read it. Study it. Pray. Be an informed citizen, and vote for whomever you feel would be most loyal to their party's platform and which platform you feel most honors God.

View 2016 Party Platform Comparison

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Marriage Conference | What Did You Expect?

Posted in Adults  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Wed Aug 24, 2016

Marriage Conference | What Did You Expect?

Expectations can be burdensome. We face expectations of ourselves and others at work, in our free time, and even at home.

Perhaps where expectations project the most burden and stress is in our marriages. Viewing ourselves and marriage through the incorrect lens can create crippling circumstances, but even when all is right within our marriages and life can't seem to get any better, it's beneficial to be reminded that our marriages are not for our personal satisfaction. Marriage is an act of worship of a holy God.

We were honored to host pastor and author Paul David Tripp in August for Marriage Conference: What Did You Expect? During our four sessions together, Paul cemented the Gospel in our hearts and minds. He didn't preach marriage; he preached the Cross of Christ.

If you missed one of the sessions, or were unable to be with us, associate pastor Chad Cossiboom sat down with Paul for a conversation. Parts one, two, and three are below.

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Shades Stories

Posted in Worship  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Sun Jul 31, 2016

Shades Stories

We're proud to announce Shades Stories, a campaign telling the stories of 50 people whose lives have been sent, transformed, and influenced.

The men, women, children, and families we will introduce to you during the coming months aren't special. They've been obedient to the work God has done and is doing in their lives. For some, it's been through tragedy. For others, triumph. Some may seem completely normal, but God is in the midst of each story.

As you'll see in the promotional film above, these stories will take place in a variety of different mediums: from print to film, art installations to posters.

No person is the hero. Shades isn't the hero. Our prayer through these stories is that you'll sit back and say, "Only God."

In a couple weeks, Shades Stories will have a new home on this website. There, you'll find a form through which you can submit your story or the story of someone you know. We'd love to tell yours or theirs.

You have a story. Every story matters.

Shades Stories.

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Several ways to be a thoughtful neighbor on the Fourth of July

Posted in Uncategorized  |  By Bradley Patton  |  Posted on Thu Jun 30, 2016

Several ways to be a thoughtful neighbor on the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July weekend is upon us. This calls for charcoal, meat, ice cream, lemonade, friends, family, fireworks, and America. Put on your red, white, and blue, and get ready to celebrate the long weekend!

Celebrations are good. There is value in gathering together with other people to celebrate a common interest. The Fourth of July is especially unique because almost every American citizen can appreciate this holiday. For this reason, Christians should be especially thoughtful in how they celebrate this weekend. As followers of Christ, we should let him be our guide for thoughtful celebrations (consider: the Lord’s Supper and Baptism for starters, alongside many other celebrations in Scripture like the wedding where he turned water to wine in John 2). That said, here are several ways to be a thoughtful neighbor over the July Fourth weekend:

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Summer Missions at Shades

Posted in Missions  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Mon Jun 20, 2016

Summer Missions at Shades

If you’ve been a part of the Shades family, you likely know this. If you’re new to Shades, you’ll find out quickly:

Living a life on mission is the core of who we are.

Summer is a great time to leverage our resources and gifts for the Kingdom of God. We send out more teams during the summer months than at any time during the year. We also see generations spanning one another to impact our world for Christ.

Through mid-June, we’ve sent out eight teams. We’ll commission and send out five more through August. 13 teams in the span of four months. Missions isn’t a value or call we’ve had to buy and sell; as a church family we’ve heeded the importance God placed in Scripture of taking the gospel to the nations.

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Adopted Women's Conference

Posted in Adults, Caring  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Tue Apr 19, 2016

Adopted Women's Conference

“What I say won’t get you through the next week, but the stories of the ladies around you can get you through seasons.”

That’s a profoundly humble, startlingly self-aware statement from a guest speaker.

It’s what Lisa Harper told a room of 300-plus women last weekend during Adopted, Women’s Conference 2016.

One of those stories is Holli Parker.

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Advancing the Kingdom

Posted in Missions  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Sun Feb 28, 2016

Advancing the Kingdom

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post for our Global Impact Celebration 2016. Due to security purposes, the author must remain anonymous.

I have a passion.

I love to fly. I especially, like to take people flying that have never flown in a small plane before.

Normally, I will take them with me as I walk around the plane and do the pre-flight checks showing them all the things I am doing to make sure the plane is in good shape to fly.

Next, as we get into the cockpit, I describe to them the sequence of events that are about to unfold as we take flight.

I will be talking on the radio to make sure that other traffic know what we are doing and to keep aware of other traffic around the airport. We will then taxi to the end of the runway and I will point the plan into the grass and give it power.

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Mr. Jesse Martin | Two Cameras

Posted in Caring  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Mon Jan 18, 2016

Mr. Jesse Martin | Two Cameras

Last weekend at Shades brought the introduction of a new vision; the early writings of the next chapter at Shades.

Pastor Danny introduced our new mission statement:

Sending transformed people to influence their world for Christ.

This statement embodies what we love and who we want to be.

Perhaps no man lived this mission more than Jesse Martin. Never married, Martin invested in the lives of numerous people at Shades; the net of his influence casting wider as those whom he discipled began creating disciples themselves.

Click the photo above to hear how Martin touched the lives of two people. Click here to watch Pastor Danny's sermon.

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