blog

 

PASTOR’S PEN

 
THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

Thank you

    The year is moving forward so quickly.  So, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the many Christmas goodies and the church gift to Susie and me.  Christmas at our house was a full blown family gathered treat.  Andy and his family were here from China and the girls with their families were able to come.  Our house was full and thankfully the neighbor next door let us use her’s too.

     I would remind you of “Without me” (sermon on January 7th) that Joseph said to Pharaoh in Young’s Literal Translation.  Many of you made new year’s commitments as to “without me”.  I would urge you to keep it up.  Keep praying, keep hungering for God’s word, keep thriving to love the unlovable, and remember that God doesn’t need us – He chose us so tell him thank you.

     This next few months the sermons will be spent walking through the book of Hebrews.  Take time to read the book over the next few months a time or two.

     A visitor was headed toward the informal service at 10:32.   She commented that she would prefer the more formal service and they directed her to the main building and the more formal setting.  We at FCC have a variety of service opportunities that appeal to several, yet we are one church family.  Many comments are made regarding our radio hour.  Many love the ability to tune in and follow the worship of the day.  Celebrate our variety of settings and pray for our oneness.

     Thank you for being the wonderful church family that you are.  This March will mark my fourteenth year that I have served with you.  This will open a new page in my life.  Every day from here on will be longest that I have lived anywhere.  Thank you for your continued efforts to follow after Jesus.  Thank you for including me in your walk.

God Bless and c u Sunday.

Bill


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God Sees it all

     Daily I see the news which is full of the injustices of our world and pain fills my being.  The pain is so full and deep within me.  Compassion wells from deep within me as I see the man on the corner and realize that he is only one in several that I have seen today.  I feel so small and helpless.  As I go to make a visit at the hospital my heart aches with the family for all that they are enduring.  Then I cry as I leave because my presence is all that I have to give.  I stand in the line of bereavement just to express my wordlessness as we hurt over death.  I understand from a young age the experience of a loved one’s absence.  All I can really give is my fragile understanding in their pain. 
 

     Then the thought begins to illuminate how does God feel?  If I hurt who sees only a tidbit of this world’s pain, how does God feel who sees it all. 

     Sometimes we are selfishly blinded by the deceitful whispers of Satan, that God could do something about it.  The lie that surely our creator whose universal, omnipotent ability could solve all the world’s pain.  We buy into the lie and forget the Bible’s truth that God made us in his image (Genesis 1:27).  Part of the image is our ability to choose and with choice comes consequence.  Even God knows this.  After all he feels every pain of this world for choosing to make man in his image.  God bears that consequence.  Listen as John 1:12-13 describes God’s desire, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

     Then my day is made when I see a small happening of kindness.  Maybe it is my old age, but I find that I am stirred, and my eyes begin to water at this small deed of kindness.  It may be as simple as a little one sharing their food with someone who has none.  Or it could be a dear one kissing a broken being while they hurt.  Or a stranger holding a dying patient’s hand because they shouldn’t be alone right now.  Then, I realize that I see only a small tidbit, but God sees it all.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

John 3:16

May your Christmas be full of God’s love.

Bill


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The Christmas Priority

     The prophetic voice of our today seems to come through a lighted monitor.  It may be held in a hand or started by a remote, but it calls to us much like the outspoken false prophets of the scripture.  Its manipulative glow lights up our nights and fights for our attention during the light of day.  Many think it is the voice we should hear. 
 

     The message that it proclaims is so diverse and compelling.  Everyone can find a message that they seek to hear.  The only thing you must do if you don’t want to hear it is change it or tune in to another voice.  The voice of this prophet calls us to want only the best, or seek the thing that will grant us happiness.  The voice of this prophet will inform us of anything we want to know.  The voice of this prophet says that your will reigns.  During some seasons the voice of this prophet even gets louder.  The voice of this prophet will even pick up on your moods and desires so that it can shape itself to appeal to you more.

     The Apostle Paul would write to his young protégé, Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3-4), For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”  Who knew that our faceless prophet (teacher) would even have the blueish halo of electronics.
 

     So, what do we do?  The techie stuff isn’t bad.  But what do you tune into on the techie stuff?  During this season of Christmas, what plies for your attention?  The prophets are many and the desires they reach out too are beyond our imagination.  I would urge you to read the stories of Christmas from Matthew 2, Luke 1 & 2, John 1.  I would urge you to read them daily to remind you of the Christmas priority.  Dwell on the call of Jesus to love God and love your neighbors found in Mark 12:28-31.  You can even read these scriptures on the techie stuff.  Then pass these thoughts along to family, friends and others.

     In the Old Testament, the people of the day would seek out the prophets that told them the news they wanted to hear.  Several occasions these people would testify to the fact they didn’t want to hear certain prophets who told truth because people didn’t like it.  Don’t let your Christmas belong to the false prophets.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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Your Second Wind

     While counseling, the question was asked, “Do you have any suggestions as to how to deal with change?”

     I shared a few thoughts calling them core beliefs: first know that God is present and loves you.  Next your commitment in marriage to the one you share your world with is vital in dealing with change.  Another is the children that your marriage relationship brings into this world.  These core beliefs are tools to deal with change because you know that no matter what they love you.  Family loves you.  Then I mentioned that scripture has a little known character trait that it declares so loudly and yet so overlooked  — endurance. 

     Randy Gariss in A Lifetime Love calls it “Gut it out.”  We have in our church family several young people that run cross country competitions.  If you ask they will tell of a time in the run that my coach used to call, “your second wind.”  When you feel as if you are about to collapse and can’t run another step you will get a second wind and new energy to run further.
 
     In the book God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis is asked the question by an inquisitor of Christianity which of the world’s religions gives the greatest happiness. He answers with honesty, but with his signature wit, about the reality of Christian discipleship.
     “While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best. I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.
     Christianity certainly gives us peace in Christ, but it is not always an easy discipleship. Our Lord Himself taught and demonstrated that to us on the cross.”

 

     Endurance isn’t an easy quality in a culture that calls us to a life of ease and comfort.  A choice will need to be made.  God’s word in James 1:2-4 calls it perseverance.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
     Hebrews 12:1b-3 let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

     Scripture is loud about endurance.  We are called to express “joy” in our trials.  During this season of gratefulness let God know that you are grateful for your trials and find strength in God, your spouse and your family.  Endure for the faith.

 

C U Sunday,

Bill

 

 


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The Roar of our Times

     Susie and I are excited about our newest grandchild, her name is Madeline Amelia.  She arrived very early on October 18th.  Both mother and baby are doing well.  While on the phone with Abi a day or so after in the background I could hear little Maddie.  Many newborns have that wonderful little cry that sounds quietly like a purr not so with little Maddie.  She was roaring like a lion.  She was demanding attention.  Life tends to come on like that.  It tends to roar for our attention and many of us miss out on some of the greatest time with God because of it.
 
“People don’t always follow the best leaders. They follow the ones who communicate the best.”
Donald MillerCEO, StoryBrand
 

      This quote is a tribute to good communication and leadership, but it also declares the truth with an edge.  We tend to follow after the well-done roar.  Our time with God is only done in the midst of rush because the roar is so inviting, demanding and at times satisfying.  We may live in fear of the roar, but it determines our schedules.  The roar fulfills our need to feel as if something is finished.  The roar satisfies the predictable within us.  The roar makes life controllable.

     Peter warns of the roaring lion that roams to and fro (1 Peter 5:8).  A bit of trivia from a wildlife expert, is that you don’t need to fear the roaring lion.  Because the roaring lion, is usually a job given to the old and toothless lion.  The roaring lion is used to herd the prey towards the hunter lions who are quietly creeping up on you.  Life does that.  We are so focused on the roar meanwhile life is surrounding us with the hunters.

     I ran on to this piece by Eugene Peterson.  I want to be a pastor who prays.  I want to cultivate and deepen my relationship with God. I want all life to be intimate–sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously–with the God who made, directs, and loves me. And I want to waken others to the nature and centrality of prayer. I want to be a person in this community to whom others can come without hesitation, without wondering if it is appropriate, to get direction in prayer and praying. I want to do the original work of being in deepening conversation with the God who reveals himself to me and addresses me by name. I don’t want to dispense mimeographed hand-outs that describe God’s business; I want to report and witness out of my own experience. I don’t want to live as a parasite on the first-hand spiritual life of others, but to be personally involved with all my senses, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.  (The Unbusy Pastor)
 

     In order to pray, I have to spend time with God.  This would be time that God is the focus not the on-the-run moment stolen while attending the roar.  Because knowing from experience, life can be overwhelming when time with God is anemic. 

Meanwhile I know that Abi & Kevin are dealing with Mattie in the best ways.

This is one of those times I am tickled to be a grandpa.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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The Church in Troubling Times

     The crowd was in a panic and riots ruled the social encounter.  Weapons were easily available.  When the motive is hatred and retaliation the weapon is anything within reach.  In this case it was clubs, stones, knifes and just about anything that could brutalize or emphasize.  The community was overrun with fear and anger.  To dramatize the riot even more they gathered in a stadium and began to chant vulgarities and threats.  Good people ran the other way.  Angry people just flowed among the streets attracting other members of anger and frustration toward the stadium.  Repeatedly they were warned to break up and disperse or the federal government would get involved.  That would mean soldiers.  All of this was aimed at one man and his threat to business as they knew it. 

 

     Heroes stepped in trying to settle the crowd and many of them were brutalized.  Still others tried to redirect the one man they were calling for because they feared for his life.  This man was wanting to “face the crowd” but under these circumstances it would cost him his life.  Finally, this man settled for staying away.  Eventually the crowd dispersed.  What did the early church do with this encounter?

 

     The City was Ephesus in Acts 19.  The riots were the result of anger stirred by businesses threatened by the worship of this new God and the man who dared to preach of him named Paul.  One city leader was quoted as saying, “…there is no real cause for it….”  This seems to be the answer for politics of any day.
 
     We live in some troubling times.  This latest shooting has us struggling with what to do?  How do we fix it?  What else could happen?  Are we safe?  This moment in Bible reveals a few answers as to how the early church responded to troubling times.

First, church family looked after church family.

     There were a couple of instances in chapter 19 where the disciples stopped Paul from confronting the riots.  There was another where Apollos tried to face the crowd.  Scripture even implies that Paul’s traveling companions may have taken some punches on Paul’s account.  My favorite is after the riot, Paul gathers with the church to encourage them.

Next, notice what is obvious, but not so emphatic.  The church never gave up it beliefs in Jesus.

     The riots were all about the figureless worship of Jesus that took business away from idols worshipped in Ephesus.  The idol makers were threatened and will continue to be threatened.  But a little side note in history the church in Ephesus came to be one of the strongest in the first century.  So, implication is that in troubled times the church has opportunities that declare Jesus loudly.

Finally, another obvious practice not mentioned is they prayed.  The apostles prayed when they had been beaten for Jesus (Acts 4), the apostles declared that we must be about prayer and study in God’s word (Acts 6), they prayed when Peter was taken captive (Acts 12), they prayed and fasted as they sent the missionaries (Acts 13).  We know that they were praying amid the riots of Acts 19.

     So, when the shootings happen that rob us of our peace.  When the latest FB post anger you and unsettle you. When injustice seems to be winning and we fear where this may go.  Remember what the early church did: they looked after each other after all they will know us by our love (John 13:35).  Next, they persistently declared and lived their beliefs in Jesus.  Finally, they prayed.  Seek out your prayer closets and tell God these things, while seeking his guidance.
 
May we shape the 21st century just like the church did in the 1st century.

Bill


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There is no dust here.

     Church in the Park is always a delight.  The worship is all inclusive.  The feast is a small view of the celebration in heaven.  The fellowship is so much fun.  The biggest delight of the day is that church is doing what she is supposed to do, she has left the building.

     We don’t mean to do it, it happens so easily and then it captivates our thinking.  When asked where the church is we declare on the corner of Washington and Austin.  The reality is this is merely the location of the building and usually on Sunday you will find us there, but the church, the bride of Jesus, the Way (as it stated in Acts a few times) is scattered throughout the county. 

     Historically, it was October 30th, 1948 lightning struck the building and it burned down.  The Church gathered on Sunday just as always except this time in the high school building across the street.  When we meet in the park, we are the church.  When we gather at the flag pole as many of our youth will this week, we are the church.  When we meet with the saints of Moore-Few every second Sunday of the month, we are the church.  Who we are shouldn’t be defined by the buildings that we reside in.  It should be the practice of gathering as the saints anywhere and everywhere that defines us.  So therefore, you won’t find any dust on us.  The church is mobile and passionate in her desire to serve Jesus wherever that may be.

 

But thank you so much God for the wonderful facilities we have, C U there next Sunday.

 

Bill

 

P.S. – I always feel so limited when I say thank you to the many who were involved in our Church in the Park.  It stirs great emotion in me when I see the success of the day and know that it is because of you.  You all made the difference in our successful day.  Thank you.

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Looking for Eagles

     The fun of a blog is that I can do it more than an article for the newsletter (our newsletter is bi-monthly).  So here it is, bugging you and reminding you of the next few days. 

     Remember our church service in the (Marmaduke) park at 10:30 on Sunday.  We are going to be watching for eagles.  Next, after the service will be a potluck with the meat provided.  The fellowship that surrounds a potluck is truly made in heaven.  Bring your favorite salads, desserts, and more, enjoy the buzz of heaven with all the conversations that will be going on.  You can’t beat a little heavenly nourishment in more ways than one.  Don’t forget your lawn chairs and your shades as it promises to be a bright day.

     Finally, I would remind you to prepare for this day with prayer and fasting.  Remember the aim of our prayer and fast is that God will guide us in our individual stewardship and guide our leaders in our church stewardship.  On Friday, I would urge you to bring emphasis to your prayer by giving up (fasting) something that makes up your Friday routine.  For many of you it may be a day without solid food.  Listen to Elmer Towns as he shares the results of fasting: “Two things happen when you take time to fast. First, you slow down your system and become quieter so that you can hear God. Second, you take time away from your daily routine so that you can focus your attention on Him.  Quiet and focus. Those are the results of fasting.”[1]
 

     Many of you will be helping with the community wide “Big Serve” on Saturday.  Others of you will be helping to prepare on Sunday for the Church in the Park.  What a weekend to look for eagles. 

C U on Sunday,

Bill

[1] Towns, E. L. (2009). The Beginner’s Guide to Fasting, (Second Edition, p. 107). Ventura, CA: Regal; Gospel Light.


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Fast & Pray

      As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.

      My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When may I come to see God’s face? Psalm 42:1-2

     We are approaching our church in the park & picnic.  This last Sunday or two we have wrestled with church truths that have revealed our financial struggle and our personal stewardship.  The question becomes what can I do about it? 
 
     Just the fact that you are even considering the question is a statement in growth and your potential growth in Jesus.  It drives home the beauty of the Psalm above, you are longing for God.  Stewardship becomes an opportunity for you to experience God. 

So, then the next question becomes, How?

     First, I would urge you to pray.  David writes and says in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, these, O God, You will not despise.”  Our prayers reveal our struggle which is the “broken spirit” that we seek.  Next revelation of our spirit is to realize our own limitations.  One way this can be done is through a day of fasting.  Fasting drives home the realities of my limitations.  I am a creature of God’s making and it is contrite (repentance) when I fast to see my limits.  My pride stands revealed when my body calls for fuel that I seek to withhold as a recognition of God’s role in my life.  He is the provider and sustainer of who I am.  So, I invite you to fast for one day (Friday, September 22nd) and to pray as to God’s guidance in your stewardship and the stewardship of our church leaders.
 

     Finally, come and celebrate what God is doing through our FCC family at our church in the park and the fellowship picnic after.  We will celebrate God’s victory through us.  It will be a victory celebration that we all have prayed, fasted and seek to be good stewards of God has granted us.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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August makes way for September

     August has followed the way of July, it has passed.  School has started and for many of our families, their routines are in flex.  September is upon us and so many things are starting up.  It is no different with our church family.
 
     Little Tree is starting up and many of our volunteers are keying up for the first night (August 30th).  Then our SeekerGen will host the FUSE worship setting for several different church youths on the 10th of September.  That same Sunday during the Sunday School hour a former Cottey student, Kelley Copley will be telling us about her missionary future.
 
     Sunday, September 24th will be our Church in the Park (Marmaduke Park).  We will have worship at 10:30 and a picnic lunch to follow.  We will have the nursery in the enclosed shelter and children’s church at a nearby shelter.  Our intent is that this will be a united service and fellowship.
 

     A new thing we will do this year (for those unable to come to our church in the park) is an 8:00 am devotional service.  Please be aware the intent is to provide communion and a brief devotional thought for those in attendance in the FCC auditorium.  Dave will be setting up for our worship in the park and unable to lead in singing, so our hope is to provide a worship setting that looks after this special need.

     These are a few things that will be happening throughout September, so please take time to note these things on your calendars, in your phones, etc.

C U N September – God bless,

Bill


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