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PASTOR’S PEN

 
THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

The Age of Illusion

     We live in an age of the illusion.  Many of us will post a special connection on FB in hopes that our volumes of FB family will see it and respond.  We savor these connections that at most may make a comment.  But as to the sacrifices that come of relationships – comments come easy.  Relationships require far more than a post.
 
     The illusion shows itself in other ways too.  Our desire for things leads us to think that all will be well if I have this.  For instance the newlyweds that want to have all the things that mom & dad have.  It is the career shift that will make my world better.  It is driving the latest and most colorful vehicle.  It is the college degree at all cost that will set the stage for my tomorrow.  It is the healthy gimmicks that will build my form or vanquish death.  Many of us will build our world upon these illusions.
 
     Hollywood attracts us to the glitter of experiences.  Afterall what can be sweeter than an overnight fling.  Or more rewarding than the delight of a child.  My favorite illusion of glitter is that all of life’s problems can be solved in 30 minutes or at the longest 2 hours (or three hours if you’ve been to the new Avenger’s movie).  All that glitter will disappear with the daylight of reality, an illusion.
 
     Illusions even show themselves in our spiritual beliefs.  Most funerals talk of reunions in heaven when Jesus is very clear that the “way is narrow …and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).”  Grace has become the “Get out of hell free” card.  Illusion shows itself in the numbers that attend church on Sunday and live as if Jesus has no place in their life Monday thru Saturday.
 
     So how do we see through the mist called illusion?  Focus on knowing Jesus.  He is truth.  John 18:37 shares, …Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
 
     Next, realize that prayer and Bible time are a priority not a backup.  Finally, spend time with people of truth – the church, because we are all wrestling our ways through illusion.  What one of us has tackled may help another of us.
 

Gather with us Sunday and lay your illusions aside.

Bill

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Growing Grass

We are always looking for talent in the church.  There are many talents that I do, but there are only a few that I do well.  I can dig.  I can grow grass (if God does his part).  And I can wash dishes.  What can you do well?

Digging tends to work against growing grass.  Recently we had to have new clean outs put in our sewer line.  The small back hoe came and when done I had a great opportunity to grow grass.  Grass growing has not really been an easy learn.  I have been trying to grow grass for most of the years that I have lived in Nevada.  It has only been in the last couple of years that I can get excited about it growing.  Because I have learned a few things and I have been willing to make the sacrifices required to grow grass.

Relationships sometimes dig into our hearts and leave some horribly bare spots.  Over time and obvious neglect these bare spots can begin to dominate us and effect the relationship.  This will lead to breaking off the relationship.  It will lead to bitterness ruling our life.  Then we may even experience physical discomfort and death eventually because of the bare spots.  Historically our nation in the 1930’s suffered what was called the dust bowl because bare spots dominated the landscape.

Jesus revealed the answer to the bare spots in our relationships.  It’s like grass in the yard.  If you grow forgiveness you can overcome the bare spots.  There are a few things in the model prayer of Jesus and forgiveness is one of them, “…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Jesus reiterates right after the prayer in Matthew 6, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Just a few things that I would highlight about growing grass.  First, it only grows if God does his part.  Second, you can throw out a little seed, but it makes the difference when you make the sacrifices needed.  Finally, it requires further care.  Forgiveness works the same way.

If you are going to forgive remember what God did for you and pass it along.  Next, it takes more than lip service, “Forgive me” to change the bare spots.  It will require a great deal of sacrifice.  Finally, real forgiveness will need to be looked after everyday to follow.  Can you do it?

My prayer is that you look after the “bare spots” in your relationships today.

C U Sunday,

Bill

P.S. – I want to say thank you to so many that made our Easter Sunday the great day of worship that it was.  Thank you.

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If Death were a Sound

If death were a sound.  It would be loud and abrasive.  It would be uncomfortable to our ears.  It would be forced upon us continually.  It would be annoying and insensitive.  It would be a non-respecter of everybody.  It would invade our days and awake our nights.  It would be ongoing and never ending.  It would be so obnoxiously present that being mankind we would try to find ways to work with the ongoing sound.

If death were a sound.  Whole businesses would develop to help with the annoying sound.  People would speak of the sound as if to accept it.  Others would speak in ways to object and yet accept its force in our world.  There would be those who would preach explaining its presence.  Still others would try to dress it up by harmonizing with it.  The world would try to exist despite the sound afterall it is who we are.  It may be such a loud and annoying sound but with a little medication we can ignore it.  Others of us would find phony silence in addictions.  We would constantly be seeking the plugs that would grant us relief. 

If death were a sound.  It would be the dominating force within our world and sadly for most of us we would find ways to ignore and exist around it.  No one could do anything about it.  Medical science would try to expire it.  Social science would try to solve it.  Governments would blow it off with policies that appease people, but no permanent answers.  Nations would throw dollars at it, and several would find ways to make dollars off of it.

The ultimate sadness is that death would still be sound that rules all mankind.  The eternal sadness is that many would deny the only presence that could make a difference-God.  The sound shapes mankind but has no bearing upon God.  God is not ruled by the sound.  Nor is He captive of the sound.  In fact, God knows more about the sound than anyone.  And what is in character for God, He could totally walk away and never bother with the sound.  What is also in character for God is out of love for mankind He chose not to walk away.  Jesus brought silence to the grave and by living beyond death gave us an eternal sound of beauty.  Why would you deny this?

C U on this “Silent” Sunday – Let’s blow off death

Bill

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A Humble Thank You

     Several times throughout the years I have felt slighted.  For instance, I have been a loyal member of their credit card for decades and they offer their great interest rates to the new guy.  Where is the reward for my years?  I have been a part of their workout program for over 15 years and they offer the new member first opportunities to use the new equipment.  My dues paid for that new equipment.  I have worked program after program for the club that I have been a member at for over 30 years and what do they do for me vs the new member gets all the attention.
 
     My first intention and still an important intention of this writing was to say thank you to many of you for your loyalty and sacrifice to the FCC family.  You have made sacrifices that God will see and my heart aches that many times we the family of FCC will not see.  I want to say thank you for your ongoing and unnoticed efforts.  Again, I would say that God sees!  Many of you have moved furniture and set up varied sites without any appreciation for your efforts.  Others of you have worked dozens of hours to make a program successful.  Also, to mention the giving that supplies our bank balance so that we can continue doing what we do.  Again, I would say that God sees!
 
     When 9-1-1 happened, a nation noticed the sacrifice of first responders.  The ache is that we noticed with tragedy.  We at times are guilty of the same thing – we notice with tragedy the sacrifice of so many.  I want to echo again how much you mean to us at FCC.  Thank you for your ongoing efforts. Then as is with so many things, my intentions were to say thank you to so many for your sacrifice.  But while I wrote the first paragraph, I felt convicted that the paragraph reeked of near-sightedness.  It smelled of selfishness.  Much like the Pharisee in Luke 18 my comments centered around me.  It was then I realized the humble nature of Jesus in Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
     So, I would finish with saying thank you, thank you, thank you for your unnoticed efforts and sacrifice.  We at FCC do appreciate you.  But then I must finish with humility and recognition that it is so simple to abuse the servanthood that Jesus modeled and the servanthood that he calls us to live-a service un-noticed even to the point of sacrifice of our life.
 
C U Sunday,
Bill
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The Dynamic Thirty

A few weeks back I would write of the dozen that were driven to make a difference.  This article let me tell you about the dynamic thirty who gathered in February.  They are just as driven to make a difference for FCC. 

Prayer is the leading dynamic.  As our meeting of February finished, we broke into groups to pray for the varied aspects troubling our church family.  The dynamic of prayer has shown itself on Sunday mornings as many have gathered to pray at 7:30 and 10:15. The Sunday following the third Wednesday meeting over a dozen gathered in my office to pray for Sunday services at 7:30.  Our elders prayed at the beginning of March on Saturday and eight of us were there.  We want God in this, we are calling to God, [Maranatha] come Lord Jesus, come!

Another dynamic that showed itself was the continued desire to shape and reshape small groups.  A team with purpose and desire was shaped to meet this Thursday (at 5:30) to dialogue and build a plan for developing small groups.  Their plan will be shared at the next third Wednesday meeting (20th of March).

Still another dynamic was to shape a mission statement that could be easily given and re-given that would shape minds and hearts at FCC.  This small group met last week to shape this statement.  What a clever idea it is and yet so simple.  It will be shared at the third Wednesday meeting.  The fun part of this task group was that it was done in 15 minutes.

Thirty dynamic individuals came to February’s third Wednesday gathering.  Many others have taken it to the next level by committing to help FCC in these vital times.  Commitment is a dynamic that has shaped nations.  Commitment will not come easily but it is vital if we are to shape the future of FCC.  We would love to see more people come to our third Wednesday gathering, but we would ask that you be committed to the task.  What is the task you may ask?  We want to overcome FCC’s current struggles and be viable for our Jesus in today’s world setting and hopefully on into tomorrow.

What I love about the word “dynamic” is found within its derivatives – the word dynamite.  We are aware that dynamite is an explosive force used to move mountains.  Jesus says that faith can move mountains (Matthew 21:21).  Thirty faithful people came to our last third Wednesday gathering.  Their intent through prayer and faith is to move the mountains in our way to serving Jesus more fully.

You are welcome to join us this next meeting,

Bill

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Sacrificing what is Necessary

How seriously do I take the words of Jesus?  I would be lying if I said that I seriously applied all of Jesus’ words to my life all of the time.  Yes, I am just a young, imperfect person living in a dark and sinful world, but at what point does that become a justification and an excuse instead of a circumstance, and one that I have already been set free from at that?  Jesus didn’t die one the cross so that I could go on sinning with the comfort of grace and that requires serious consideration on my part.
 
I really started thinking about this a few weeks ago during the senior high Sunday school class when we were talking about the Sermon on the mount.  In this sermon, which is the first major sermon recorded in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus doesn’t really hold anything back. Jesus calls those listening to be more righteous than the Pharisees (which would not have been an easy task, the Pharisees were all about righteousness), He turns the worldly value system on its head in the Beatitudes, and He tells everyone to cut off their arm if it causes them to sin.
 
In Matthew 5:29-30 Jesus says this: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.  For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”  Now, I don’t necessarily believe this to be literal, but that doesn’t take away from the weight of what Jesus is saying.  Jesus is saying that sin is so serious that we need to cut off anything that causes us to sin, even if it seems like it is necessary.
 
I am reminded of a scene from the movie Fireproof.  This movie follows a firefighter and his wife as they are on the verge of getting a divorce.  Before this happens, the man’s father challenges him to do a 40-day Love Dare before he finalizes anything.  The main character struggles with an addiction to pornography throughout the movie, and at one point, in order to rid himself of the temptation, he takes his computer out and smashes it with a baseball bat.  The scene is a comical take on a very serious subject, but when I see this scene I can’t help but feel like that is what it looks like to cut off a hand or gouge out an eye.
 
So my challenge to you, and to myself, is that we would be able to find those things that keep us trapped in our sins and cut them out of our lives.  Maybe that means getting rid of a phone or computer like in the movie.  Maybe that means shining light on something that has been hidden in the dark for far too long.  Maybe that means distancing yourself from, or even ending, relationships that have caused you much more harm and heartache than good.  Whatever this may mean for you, I hope and pray that Christ will give you the strength to cut whatever is holding you down in sin our of your life.  No matter how essential it may seem, losing something temporary far outweighs burning with them in the end.
 
Until He Returns,
Gage Addington

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The Basics

If you had never learned the basic alphabet and revisited that every now and then, your ability to read would be hindered.  If you had never learned basic math and failed to revisit it every now and then, your ability to count change would be hindered.  Our walk with God will begin with a steady dose of the basics.  Then as the years pass, we will find many are the times that we will return to the basics to strengthen our walk with God. 

The basics of faith amount to the strength and validity of the Bible; the existence of God; the trinity that unfolds into the Father, Son & Holy Spirit; the enslavement of sin among created mankind; the wondrous plan of God to redeem man from sin through Jesus Christ & the cross; the grave of Jesus that is no longer occupied; and your choice that will determine your acceptance of God’s wonderful plan.  The basic list could vary a little, but the priorities are here.  These basics become the beacon that guides us throughout this life.

The challenge becomes when to teach these basics.  On March 30th (Saturday and three Saturdays after), we will revisit the basics in Pastor’s Class (again for 2019).  The few things that I ask of those who attend is that they can read, find their way to class (parents – I need you involved), and they do the work (there is some memory work, and in class studies).  A few of those attending will bring treats for our class attenders.

The next question becomes who can attend?  The class is aimed at early school age children, but through the years I have been blessed with older siblings, and older ones asking questions (this has included some adults).  So, my response is if you want to know – come.

Our studies will consist of memory work, writing definitions and filling in the blanks in the our workbook.  Our class time will be at 10:00 am in the church parlor and we will be done approximately at 11:15.  If you have attended before, it is a repeat, but the greatest of tool for learning is repeat, so come again.

The goal is to give you the basics of faith that will encourage you throughout this life.  Plan your calendars now.

Pray for those in attendance and remember the basics,

Bill

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What can a dozen do?

What can a dozen do?  A dozen eggs can make several cakes, or cookies, or omelets.  A dozen doughnuts can be cut and feed a parlor breakfast.  A dozen roses will “wow” your valentine.  Think on it, what can you imagine a dozen doing?

While you think, let me share with you another dozen.  This dozen gathered for our leadership workshop with Steve Russ.  The discussion started and the imaginations kicked in.  While dwelling on several of the FCC struggles a solution was presented – we will pray.  Our elders will pray the first Saturday of the month starting at 7:00 am.  Those interested will gather to pray on Sunday before worship at 7:30 and 10:15. Prayer will be the sought-after answer as we want to involve God.  We invite you to come and join us to pray.

Next, the dozen thought the best way to continue the path-of-working-our-way-through-the-struggles was to meet regularly and openly.  So, a date was set that will become a regular gathering of the dozen and (our prayers are) more.  This meeting time will be the third Wednesday of each month following our Wednesday Bible Study (7:30).  You are invited to come be part of the team that seeks to overcome.  

What are the struggles?  We are praying about finances, attendance, programming that is dated, and ministry development that is tuned to scripture.  The limits (we are facing) are available resources, overburdened volunteers, and imaginations that may take courage to perform. 

What is required?  Men and women committed to the cause of Jesus under the leadership of FCC.  Your commitment will have moments of victory, but it will require boldness, stamina and partnering with others.  There will also be criticism, failures and change.  So, what can a dozen do?  Only time will tell.  You are invited to come and be part of what is to come.

Matthew 10 in the first few verses names a dozen men that followed Jesus.  After being named the next few words written were, “These twelve Jesus sent out…”  If this dozen is the image for us – They changed the world.

What can a dozen do?  Come and See,

Bill

 

P.S. – Between great nieces, nephews and grandchildren, Susie and I enjoy a very special dozen.

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A Persecuting World

 

One of the reasons I stopped paying much attention to Facebook is all of the ill-informed arguing.  A few years ago, I was scrolling through my news feed when I saw a status talking about the persecuted church.  The status was well-informed and very eye-opening, but there was a comment thread of people arguing that Christians aren’t persecuted.  Being well ingrained in the church at that point, it had never crossed my mind that people who aren’t in the church have no clue that there are thousands of Christians killed every year on the basis of their faith.  

According to Open Doors USA, every month there are 255 Christians killed, 104 abducted, 160 are imprisoned without trial, and 66 churches are attacked.  1 in 12 Christians in the world lives under intense persecution, and there are at least 50 countries where it is either illegal to follow Jesus, or where those in power will treat Christians poorly.  Now, this is not a new concept, in fact, this is something that has been happening since the literal beginning of Christianity.  The book of Acts is filled with different acts of persecution against those who follow Christ.  Church history, for the majority of it, details different organizations, governments, and people groups who detest, and sometimes even kill, Christians.  

So should we be praying for our brothers and sisters to rise up and fight for their freedom?  Should we encourage them to rally against these powers?  Actually, I don’t think so.  Jesus, on a few occasions, warns His disciples of their coming persecution.  He warns that He will be killed and that the very same fate lies in store for many of them.  So what does Jesus tell them to do?  Does He tell them to fight back?  To stand up for themselves?  Not quite.  Jesus tells them, in Matthew 10:26-28, “have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  The disciples even live this out, as we find in Acts 4:29 when they share this prayer: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”  

Now, I don’t believe we should ask for or seek out persecution.  But I do think we should stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, and pray that they would be able to stand up under the weight of the persecution they live with.  So I would like to challenge you to think and pray outward this month.  Pray for those who are persecuted, and speak light into the dark world we live in with boldness.   

Until He Returns,

Gage Addington


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A Persecuting World

One of the reasons I stopped paying much attention to Facebook is all of the ill-informed arguing.A few years ago, I was scrolling through my news feed when I saw a status talking about the persecuted church.The status was well-informed and very eye-opening, but there was a comment thread of people arguing that Christians aren’t persecuted.Being well ingrained in the church at that point, it had never crossed my mind that people who aren’t in the church have no clue that there are thousands of Christians killed every year on the basis of their faith.

According to Open Doors USA, every month there are 255 Christians killed, 104 abducted, 160 are imprisoned without trial, and 66 churches are attacked.  1 in 12 Christians in the world lives under intense persecution, and there are at least 50 countries where it is either illegal to follow Jesus, or where those in power will treat Christians poorly.  Now, this is not a new concept, in fact, this is something that has been happening since the literal beginning of Christianity.  The book of Acts is filled with different acts of persecution against those who follow Christ.  Church history, for the majority of it, details different organizations, governments, and people groups who detest, and sometimes even kill, Christians.  

Jesus, on a few occasions, warns His disciples of the coming persecution.  He warns that He will be killed and that the very same fate lies in store for many of them.  So what does Jesus tell them to do?  Does He tell them to fight back?  To stand up for themselves?  Not quite.  Jesus tells them, in Matthew 10:26-28, “have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot oil the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  The disciples even live this out, as we find in Acts 4:29 when they share this prayer: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”  

Now, I don’t believe we should ask for or seek out persecution.  But I do think we should stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted, and pray that they would be able to stand up under the weight of the persecution they live with.  So I would like to challenge you to think and pray outward this month.  Pray for those who are persecuted, and speak light into the dark world we live in with boldness.   

Until He Returns,

Gage Addington


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