blog

 

PASTOR’S PEN

 
THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

Politics & Prayer

Politics seem to raise feelings for most everyone.  The feelings cover a vast range of emotions.  They may be frustration, anger, injustice, or just plain withdrawal from it all.  Politics seems to build dividing lines among us whereby we say, “we don’t discuss politics.”  Then we use the visual of politics to describe other elements of leadership that we see.  For instance, we say of the schools, “they are just too political.” Or we declare of the church leadership team, “I just couldn’t support them because they are too political.”  So, the very idea of politics tends to turn us off quickly and we have no tolerance for any of it.

The Bible is full of politics.  It was political differences that led to the first sin.  Satan’s temptation was voiced with politics, “…God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Webster’s dictionary says that politics is the art or science of government.  It would appear that Satan is tempting man to challenge God for governing this creation.  This is one event.  In Hebrews it says the angels will serve us.  This is another picture of politics even into eternity.  Paul tells us that no government rises into position unless God is involved (Romans 13).  What of David, Solomon and even the messianic text?  Politics radiate throughout the pages of the Bible.

So, what should be the mindset of the Christian during these times?  First, remember that God is in it.  Romans 13 is clear that government does not exist without God’s presence.  Next, pray for politics.  In 1 Timothy 2, Paul declares that we should pray in several ways “…petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made…for kings and all those in authority,…”  Also realize you have a gift that guides government from the lowest levels, your vote.  Pray and study as to your vote.  The voting booth should not be entered by the saint without surrounding it in prayer.  Your vote becomes a part of the political system at the roots of government.  Abraham Lincoln mentioned this in the Gettysburg Address, “…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Pray, study upon it and prepare to vote.

Bill


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Impressions

     Claude Monet was a French artist in the 1800’s. His painting style is called “Impressionism” because you can make out the features of the objects in his paintings and perceive what they are, but the edges are fuzzy and the colors are different than expected.  The popular style of the 1800’s was more detailed and exact. When asked by his manager what to call his painting style, Monet responded, “it is my impressions.”
 
     The apostle Paul states something similar about our impressions of God, love, and what is to come when he says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
 
     Many try to declare that they know fully and well the mind of God.  What we know of the nature and mind of God is found in the scripture that God gave us.  Sadly, this scripture gives us only a portion of who God is. A popular trend today is to take a “selfie” in varied settings. Then, after taking this self-made photo on your phone, it is passed along through Facebook, Twitter or some other social media. The image may look like you, but who you are is so much more. Maybe in some faint way it is your impression of who you are.
 
     Scripture then becomes a portrait of God (Maybe you could call it a selfie, but the word “selfie” is too close to the word “selfish” and I wrestle with saying that of God.).  But, like the selfie in nature, the Bible is very limited as to the totality of who God is. He has given us just a little view and He is so much more. God states in Isaiah 55:8-9, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
 
     So, we may have impressions of God, but we need to be careful of stating what is not in scripture. When Paul wrote his text in 1 Corinthians 13:12, he was so excited about one day knowing the fullness of God and what is to come. My prayer is that you enjoy the impressions and also seek to know the fullness of God.
 
See you in the Park next Sunday (Gage is preaching – come and hear).
Bill

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FCC Services

     The FCC family has the blessing of four services. The services are known primarily by their times, but each has its own personality. We have our 8:00, 10:30, 10:32 services, as well as, for many, the overlooked one; our radio service. It has been my ongoing experience to think of them as children.
 
     Our 8:00 service is the early riser. It is filled with many who do likewise. Most who attend this service have already done several chores and have taken a moment to worship. Many of them are going on from there to continue with doing a number of things. That is a portion of the personality of this service, but we also have those who leave and practice a sense of Sabbath as they enjoy a day of rest which started with worship.
 
     Our 10:30 service has been in many ways the backbone of our church family. It has been the worship hour since — who knows? It has a sense of dominance just like an older child (I should know. Afterall, I am an oldest child.). It has boasted being the financial one. It is considered by many of our older church family to be the standard for FCC, as well it should. But, like many of us, its age shows. So many of our grassroots brothers and sisters are no longer present and we feel it on Sundays.
 
     Then we have our newest service, the 10:32. There is no other service in our area quite like the 10:32 setting. The folks who attend enjoy a coffeeshop style with many of the K-LOVE radio station tunes. They sit at tables and sip coffee while eating morning treats, but worship is highlighted with brothers and sisters of all ages seeking to focus upon Jesus. Its very nature appeals to a younger mindset and it strength is its youth.
 
     Finally, we have our stable and ever-present radio service. It highlights the 10:30 hour by putting it over the air waves for our community to hear. It influenced the nature of the 10:30 hour’s music because the radio required music that is easier to hear. So, you might call it a twin of the 10:30 setting, but it is distinctly, just like a twin, its own being (I should know). Many of those who listen are the aging element of our 10:30 setting. Several in our community have shared with me varied things they heard in our radio hour.  It reaches out to lots of folks who have never been inside the buildings.
 
     FCC has four different personalities we may call the FCC children. They all have FCC in their veins, but each is unique. This is our strength. We are bound by the FCC being and share the FCC leadership direction.  The greatest truth is that we are able to reach out for Jesus even more by our diversity. Pray for the services and seek to support all of them.
C U Sunday
Bill

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The Blessing of Growing Youth

     As the school season starts, it is always a time of excitement and growing up. Last year’s seniors leave for college. Babies that were in yesterday’s nursery are now our Kindergarteners. Our youth programming is an ongoing view of memories filled with babies that are now young men and women serving God’s kingdom. Pray for the efforts and ministry of FCC while we continue raising up new Christians for Jesus.
     Our Vacation Bible School & camps were the primer for several of our young people to make decisions for Jesus. Over the last few weeks we have had six baptisms, one baptism was at the VBS pool party. Now with school starting, our fall programming is gearing up. Sunday, August 26th it is our plan to have Youth Sunday and to show off several of our young campers and more during our worship services. In September our Little Tree Ministry and SeekerGen youth will resume. SeekerGen is our Jr & Sr high youth. During our VBS the largest group attending was the Jr High which had approximately 30 youth each night. Pray that we will many of them in SeekerGen.
     Next month is full of many things so plan accordingly. Many of our families might like to take in the Ultimate Family Plan workshop being offered on the 16th of September. It is simply a Christian counselor helping people deal with planning for life and death. It is good to have counsel that you can trust.
     The following Sunday (23rd) will be Church in the Park. A great deal of effort goes into this wonderful worship and fellowship. Plan to join us as we have worship outdoors with a potluck meal to follow. Gage will be the preacher for that day.
C U Sunday,
Bill

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Aging Gracefully

     Most of us are uneasy about growing older.  My theme for aging is hammering its way into being, “To grow old gracefully.”  In other words, I will show people aging well by being full of grace and the image of Jesus.  I blew it the other day.  With this ongoing battle of gall stones and impatiently waiting for the medical scene to get its act together, I blew my stack.  My pain is that I blew it at innocent people who only worked within the system.  Instead of being the grace filled old man, I became what many declare as the grumpy old man.  My daddy described his grandpa as, “a mean old man.”  The truth is we are all getting older and the question becomes — what are you doing about aging gracefully?

     We are building a Sunday, September 16th when we will have David Duncan of Co:Mission Foundation with us to share a few things about aging.  It is called Estate Planning.  No one wants to think about it, but not doing it sets you up to drop the ball as to your wishes and God’s will.  David will share about The Ultimate Family Plan over lunch (after worship) at Buzz’s.  You will be able to order what you want but the cost will be yours.  (If you are unable to pay and yet want to attend talk to me, we want you there.  We will take care of it.)  Also, because this is a family plan we will provide child care and lunch here at the building.

     That evening David will share with many who want to know Turning Taxes into Treasure.  It will be in our parlor or potentially our fellowship hall depending on numbers at 6:00 in the eve.  The cost for David’s presence will be provided by Good News Productions.  It will cost you a couple of hours, but it will inform you for eternity.

    There will be sign up list in each of the services over the next several Sundays.  Sign up, plan your calendars, pray about where God will lead you.  Take my admonitions and grow old gracefully with me.  Afterall, who really wants to be “a mean old person.” 

C U Sunday,

Bill


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Ninety-nine vs the one

     Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:4-7

     The ministry of reaching the one is a priority among us.  Letting them know that they are missed when absent is a primer for reaching out.  If you notice someone not here for a week or two give them a call, let them know that you have missed them.  This may be an opportunity to become aware of their story and pray with them.  Shepherding isn’t confined to just the leadership, please help – make a call. 

     During services if you notice someone listing the ones who are present, thank them for their efforts.  If you are looking for a way to help, talk with one of them about helping.  It is our struggle to be aware of who is missing among us and it is our desire to reach out to them when they are missing for any length of time.  Jesus notes the ministry of the one and how precious it is – pray that we do likewise.

    Thank you for so many of you coming out to support the Woods as they are transitioning to stateside living.  If you are interested their home address is 11245 SW Davies #901, Beaverton, OR 97007.  Thank you to the several that brought ice cream and cake.  Thank you to Becky & Susie for looking after our ice cream social.

     Pray for our Vacation Bible School – it is coming July 29th thru August 3rd.  Invite your neighborhood children to come.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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A Partnership made for Heaven

     “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

     In the late 1980’s it was a mission partnership born of desire.  A family was seeking support to go to eastern Africa and this church family was following the call of Christ to “Go and make disciples.”  Both grounded in the desire to do God’s will.  The Woods family made it to Kenya and through the years their ministry expanded to several other countries in eastern Africa.  This church family continued to support them even through the history changing events that happened here.  Still grounded in desire to do God’s will.

     This partnership was fueled with the desire to do God’s will.  Many are the times we as church family would pray for the varied needs and events happening in Africa.  Many are the times that Gary and Judy would stop and share of the work or reach out asking us to think of them.  Our partnership has spanned decades and truly is a symbol of our ongoing desire to serve the will of God.

     Now the Woods children have scattered to other corners of the globe and ministry desires that answers God’s call.  While the younger generation responds, the older generation Gary and Judy have returned to Oregon.  Ministry takes on a new dimension in several ways this 30 plus years later. 

     We will celebrate the ministry partnership with Gary and Judy on July 7th at 6:00 pm over ice cream and cake.  We will celebrate their devotion and this new direction.  They will be here, and they asked to share this celebration of life with us.  I would urge you to come and hear the details.  Come and talk with them of memories, family, and our ongoing desire to serve God.  I would also ask you to bring a card or stop it by the office saying thank you for your devotion to Jesus.

 

C U Sunday

 

Bill


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Lack of Absent

     He was not well-educated and rather rough and crude around the edges, but he was recently converted and now on fire for the Lord.

     He was constantly pestering the pastor to give him some work that would be helpful to the church. Finally, the pastor agreed. He gave the man a list of ten people who hadn’t been in church for years nor made any financial contribution. Some of these were quite prominent in the community.

     The pastor said, “What I want you to do is get these people back to church, however you can. You can use church stationery if you want but get these people back to church.”

     Three weeks later the pastor got an envelope in the mail from a prominent doctor whose name had been on the list, along with a check for $1,000 and a note that read,

Dear Pastor,

Please excuse my inactivity at church. I really have no excuse. Accept this check as a partial contribution for all the Sundays I’ve missed, and be assured I will never, by choice, miss worship again. 

Sincerely, J. B. Jones, M.D.

P.S. – Will you kindly tell your secretary that there is only one “t” in dirty and no “c” in skunk?

     Many of you may think that absence makes the heart grow fonder but try that with an absent fish from the hook or a ski boat with an absent family.  Can you imagine the sports of summer with absent player?  Or catching the rays with an absent body in the lawn chair.  Ask Dave how the garden does with an absent gardener.  Why is it that many of us will settle for growing with God while being absent?

     The summer season is upon us.  It is easy with the varied activities to overlook spending time with God.  Schedule time with God throughout the season.  Grab a few minutes in morning or evening to pray and read your scripture.  When away take time to attend a church family along the way or take a few moments and create a family worship time.  Bring some of the new and varied ideas back and share them with us.

     Also, I would ask that you begin praying for our Vacation Bible School.  This is an outreach to so many within our community.  Let’s create a lack of absence during VBS.  The dates are July 29th thru August 3rd.  Pray also for our summer campers while attending camps right now.  The summer season tends to magnify many of our youth activities.  Lift Gage up while he is present (not absent) with many of the camp sessions.

Imagine an absent preacher in the pulpit (hopefully only imagine),

C U Sunday

Bill


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Leadership & Driving

     We are setting forth into a new leadership year.  This leadership team will be voted upon Sunday, May 20th.  Amid the vote, we will be voting upon the full-time ministry of Gage as our Youth Minister.  We will also be celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates and sending them forward into life.  Among our graduates are several of our young leaders.  This provides the opportunity for new young leaders to step up.  We are setting forth into a new leadership year.

     Leadership is practiced daily when you simply drive your car.  You give direction to the car by deciding where you are going.  You steer the car in that direction that you have decided to go.  Many times, your leadership will be challenged by detours, schedules and other people.  One important leadership quality is knowing when to stop for fuel or possibly other budgetary things.  You all practice leadership in varied ways throughout your day.

     Church leadership leans on many of the same features.  Our direction comes from God.  We may read it in his word, wrestle with it in our prayers and several times it will come of dialogue in the meetings.  Then becomes the next thing to steer all church energy into the direction we feel that God wants us to go.  Remember that this direction will be challenged by detours (unplanned or urgent).  When dealing with multiple groups, services and schedules you can only imagine how easy it would be to lose direction.  Communication becomes a priority.  Leadership must be disciplined and at times appear harsh.  Planning in fuel, stops and varied other budgetary concerns can easily redirect us.  Pray we keep God’s direction.

     All of this leads me to say pray for leadership as they settle into this next year.  Pray for your vote of endorsement.  Pray for their humility and following the path that God has laid out for us.  Pray for your followership, Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).  Pray, and plan to be attendance when we join for one service on June 10th to ordain these men and women to the task of leadership.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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An Opportunity of Faith

     A wall hanging in my office is a map of the Pony Express route of the early 1860’s.  The Pony Express was made of several stopping stations along the route from St Joseph, MO to San Francisco, CA.  Young men rode a horse all out for fifteen to twenty miles and then switched out for a new mount at the next station.  The purpose to get the mail from St Joe to San Francisco in the record time of ten days.  Several of our western heroes were riders for the Pony Express.
 

     When visiting one of the stations that is still in existence, I had just started a new ministry and felt a little overwhelmed by the task.  As I looked at the map seeing all the stations, God led me to realize that the way to tackle the ministry setting was by one station at a time.  In fact, I had the map mounted and framed to hang in my office with these words, “Every big success is only achieved in well planned stepping stones.”

     We at FCC are approaching a potential success.  Many of you are aware of our struggle to find and maintain a youth minister presence after Jeremiah resigned in 2016.  God provided at the end of the last summer Gage Addington to be our part-time youth minister.  He was finishing his last year in college and leadership wanted him to apply himself fully to his education.  On May 12th Gage will graduate from OCC.  He has done well in school and juggling a part-time position with us.

     Leadership is prepping to present Gage as our full-time youth minister.  We will present Gage for congregational vote as a part of our annual leadership vote in May (20th).  Leadership feels confident with Gage as our full-time youth minister.  This is the place for our potential success. 

     We are in a financial squeeze.  We have cut our budget for several years and this last year gave our staff a raise despite the squeeze.  We can do this because of savings (much of it from inheritances).  But it is only a temporary fix.  Our savings will run out.  The potential success is the opportunity for us to rise to the occasion and over the course of the next year paying Gage’s full-time salary with our regular giving.  Doing the math this would amount to $3-5 a week (200 people) giving.  The reality is that only about 2/3’s of that 200 are adults and many of them married.  So, a better number would be $6-10 a week.  Would you consider this?

     Our prayer is that this opportunity will be a testimony of faith and stewardship.  The testimony is that God will take care of us while leading us to call Gage to full-time ministry.  God ask us to be a people of faith.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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