blog

 

PASTOR’S PEN

 
THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

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

 

 


Read more...

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


Read more...

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


Read more...

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.

Read more...

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.


Read more...

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


Read more...

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


Read more...

No Eclipse here!

     Years ago, amid my twenty somethings, I made the mistake of thinking that the livestock auction couldn’t function without me.  Imagine my surprise after being gone for a week and discovering not only did they function without me, but they did well without me. 
 
     Fall is quickly approaching and our energy demanding programs prepare to conquer another season without a youth minister presence.  (Trust me, leadership would be thrilled to announce that God has blessed us with another youth minister and the search is still ongoing.  Keep praying!)  But the power of the programs declares it priority by the team of people who continue to see it forward.  We have a powerful Little Tree season approaching and the same is true of SeekerGen.  Our Family Ministry Team is the source of this strength.  Team leaders are being recruited and several are gearing for the next season because like what I learned at the livestock auction we will function without the presence. 

 

     Why? Because the programs are blessed of God and great people are standing in the gap.  What an image for our church family!  Imagine the power of ministry driven by Christ-led people who see the vision and program as bigger than the presence of any one person.  Imagine the blessing to generations who seek not to be recognized as the individuals doing ministry, but the church of Jesus modeling his image.  We look not at the “brick” by which our building is made, but at the structure that proclaims Jesus.
 
     Thank you to the many who refuse to be the individual and loudly seek to be the church of Jesus.  You are what this dark world is looking for, light.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
 

Making a difference in 2017, c u Sunday.

Bill


Read more...

VBS, FCC’s Muscle

     This week will exercise some of FCC’s muscle.  This week has been an annual activity of FCC for decades.  This week will produce a magnified church effort that will dominate schedules, facilities, and hours of sacrifice.  It is called Vacation Bible School week.

 

     VBS has had many themes with one core thought: Jesus.  We have had dunking tanks, racing cars, cowboy hats, slings and many other things.  This week we are doing Deep Sea Discovery.  There is no place we can go, even down into the deepest reaches of the ocean and not find God is there.  

 

     We have supported many missions through the years.  The annual offering competition is Boys vs Girls.  A trophy has even been found that we can celebrate the victor by engraving the winner for the next year.  We have raised as much as $2000 in years past and most years well over $1000.  We have purchased a portable baptistry, a solar powered projector, supplied various needs at our local Community Outreach, helped with materials for a children’s home and even sorted cards for those in jail.  While doing this we have learned of varied local and world missions.

 

     The greatest part of our VBS has been the generations of students who have passed through it.  Many of them are our own children, but many more are the children of our community.  One year we celebrated with a baptism during our closing program.  This is but one of the victory stories told by our volunteers.  We have had as many as 150 students in a night in years past.  One of the newest features that goes with VBS is feeding them.  Our kitchen staff will prepare 175 to 200 meals a night.  When you consider decades of young students, FCC has touched thousands with the name of Jesus. 

 

     Thank you for being a church that believes in the power of Vacation Bible School.  When our world is broken in so many ways this is one way that FCC presents the light of Jesus to a dark setting.  Pray for the ongoing power of Vacation Bible School.

 

Working side by side for Jesus,

Bill


Read more...

A Consistent Presence

 
     A consistent presence is hard to find in a world of change.  Every four years the nation magnifies the change from one president to another.  News anchor persons seem to come and go as easy as the click of channel.  Just when you finally settle into that new restaurant in Nevada that you like, it is gone.  Change dictates so much in our lives.  A consistent presence is hard to find. 
 
     Dave and Sally Rorabaugh have been a consistent presence in our church family for fifteen years.  Fifteen years ago leadership decided to add a new staff member, a worship/associate minister.  Ask Dave or Sally what they remember about unloading the moving truck in the hot July of 2002.  They do have several memories, just ask.
 

     If you will walk with me down memory lane you may remember the old stage and pulpit.  You might remember the screen and addition of a projector (twice).  You might recall the trial effort at a third service in the basement.  On a personal basis, you may remember their son Aaron’s hair.  You may remember the graduations of their two boys.  You may remember New Year’s eve parties dating back to who knows how long ago.

     FCC has enjoyed the fruitful ministry of Dave and Sally for fifteen years.  They have shared their youth, their energy and their dreams with us.  If you get a chance, tell them “thank you.”  Ministry is burdened with so many short-term ministries and FCC has enjoyed the consistent presence of this wonderful couple. 

     Change is real part of living upon this earth, but God declares that he never changes.  In Hebrews 13:7-8 it says,
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
 

To a ministry well done, Thank you Dave and Sally.

Bill & Susie

 
     A consistent presence is hard to find in a world of change.  Every four years the nation magnifies the change from one president to another.  News anchor persons seem to come and go as easy as the click of channel.  Just when you finally settle into that new restaurant in Nevada that you like, it is gone.  Change dictates so much in our lives.  A consistent presence is hard to find. 
 
     Dave and Sally Rorabaugh have been a consistent presence in our church family for fifteen years.  Fifteen years ago leadership decided to add a new staff member, a worship/associate minister.  Ask Dave or Sally what they remember about unloading the moving truck in the hot July of 2002.  They do have several memories, just ask.
 

     If you will walk with me down memory lane you may remember the old stage and pulpit.  You might remember the screen and addition of a projector (twice).  You might recall the trial effort at a third service in the basement.  On a personal basis, you may remember their son Aaron’s hair.  You may remember the graduations of their two boys.  You may remember New Year’s eve parties dating back to who knows how long ago.

     FCC has enjoyed the fruitful ministry of Dave and Sally for fifteen years.  They have shared their youth, their energy and their dreams with us.  If you get a chance, tell them “thank you.”  Ministry is burdened with so many short-term ministries and FCC has enjoyed the consistent presence of this wonderful couple. 

     Change is real part of living upon this earth, but God declares that he never changes.  In Hebrews 13:7-8 it says,
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
 

To a ministry well done, Thank you Dave and Sally.

Bill & Susie


Read more...