What Hinders a Sacrifice?

     Several years ago, when Susie and I first married her daughters came to visit.  We all loaded into my Chevy pick up and went to get a bite to eat.  I didn’t buckle my seatbelt.  Erica noticed and after hearing my ramblings about why I didn’t, she simply said, “It’s the law.”  It requires sacrifice to wear a seatbelt.
 
     I rode my bike to the office many years ago and didn’t wear a helmet.  Ellen Balk was the secretary then and told me of several settings where the bike rider suffered for not wearing a helmet.  She finally bartered a deal with me that I would wear a helmet while riding my bike and she would wear her seatbelt while in a car.  Every now and then when I see her, I will ask her if she is still wearing her seatbelt.  She is, so I still wear my helmet.  It requires sacrifice to wear a bike helmet.
 
     What hinders you from doing a sacrifice?  The testimonies I shared — the biggest hindrance was my nature.  You can call it what you will – pride, hardheadedness (goes well with the lack of a bike helmet), selfishness, or even sin.  Sacrifice according to David in 2 Samuel 24:24 “…I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.”
 
     I heard a speaker one time say of Romans 12:1 (…to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.) “the trouble with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.”  So, what hinders you?
 
     Paul writes in Philippians 1:27-28 I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel     28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.  We are asking you to prayerfully consider above and beyond your normal giving a sacrifice.  There is no question that things will hinder your sacrifice, but our “…striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…” will become a testimony of what God is doing.

 

C U Sunday,

Bill

Mission highlights: we had toward 300 children (not counting parents, siblings and grandparents) pass through our Halloween Trunk or Treat.  We sent 95 boxes to Operation Christmas Child.  We gave out all of 200 tickets for our Friday showing of “I Can Only Imagine,” over 60 came to see it.  We shared with several shut-in veterans a visit and a gift of cookies.  We are planning to give out over 140 Thanksgiving baskets to our local community this Saturday.


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Seeking to Build Relationships with God

     The view changes depending upon where you are.  Recently, my son Andy & his wife Annie adopted a little boy who has partial vision.  His name is Luke.  While on a trip to settle several of the final adoption issues they were able to spend time with just Luke (they now have three boys).  One of the photos showed Luke feeling the leg of an elephant statute.  Annie’s comment refers to a story where the blind men were describing the elephant, “The blind man touched the elephant – and, predictably said it was a tree.”
     When we look at FCC, the view changes depending upon where you are.  Many would declare First Christian the building of steeple and stained glass.  Others would declare First Christian to be the site of their heritage because their family attended there.  Still others would see a place of generosity because of the Emmanuel baskets they received.  Much like the blind man and the elephant, these are only partial views.  What is your view?
     The view that counts most is the view coming from heaven.  Several times in the second & third chapter of Revelation Jesus declares, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  God definitely has a view of the efforts of His church.  God’s view is a complete view of who we are.  After we consider His view, then you can begin to seek and listen to those within the church.
     A view that has bearing upon the church is the leadership of the church.  It becomes the priority of church leadership to seek God’s view and build a harmonious view that leads the church through time.  1 Chronicles 12:32 briefly mentions the “…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do….”
     The view that I have formed of FCC throughout the almost fifteen years that I have served here is, we are a church body seeking to build relationships with God.  Whether you are new to the faith or have served God for a lifetime my prayer is that you can find the tools you need to draw closer to God at FCC.  My next prayer is that you are building relationships with each other while drawing near to God.  Finally, my prayer is that we help others to draw closer to God.
     I say all of this to point out a date that will soon be upon us.  December 30th is the last Sunday of this year.  Our church has a mission that has been, and will be vibrant until Jesus comes, to build relationships with God.  We have so many views of who we are and what we are doing that I hope to share a few with you over the next two months.  We as leaders call you to consider giving to an offering of miracles on December 30th, the last Sunday of this year.  It will be an offering that is the testimony of mission, to build eternal relationships with God.  I would urge you to begin praying and nurturing the thought of a gift that will test your faith.  God says in Malachi 3:10, “Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
     The power of this offering of miracles is your view.  May your view be a testimony that FCC is seeking God’s view.

C U Sunday,

Bill


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How should a Christian be involved in politics?

     Did you know that if you were born in Puerto Rico you are an American Citizen?  This is like the Apostle Paul being born in Tarsus.  He was born in a area that was not Rome, but by the time that he was born anyone born there would be a citizen of Rome.  Saul (his Jewish name) at this time chose to be a citizen of Judea.  Judea struggled with Roman rule.   Judea sought to be a country where God ruled.  Thereby they formed a group called the Sanhedrin that was a representative government of the leaders of God (Pharisees) and leaders of the community (Sadducees). Saul sought to be politically involved as a Pharisee.
 
     That being said, this tells us that Saul (Paul) sought to be politically involved.  In fact, his persecution of the church was a politically charged strike ordered by the Sanhedrin and Saul was a major force.  Then in Acts 9 Saul has a confrontation with Jesus that changes not only his name, but his priority.  Paul begins to preach Jesus at every opportunity in communities throughout the Roman empire.
 
     His citizenship becomes kingdom motivated, he is a citizen of God’s kingdom first.  He is a child of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, a bond servant (slave), Paul refers to himself in many roles but rarely a citizen of Judea or Rome.  When he does, it is only as it would serve the kingdom of God.  This is a Biblical example of someone with a priority of being involved in politics, only as it serves God and his kingdom.
 
     My last blog the point was made to be informed, to be true to the conviction of God (pray) and to vote for what God leads.  Jesus calls us to be light in darkness.  Jesus also refers to us as salt in a world needing flavor.  Salt is such a small thing, but in the first century world it had tremendous qualities that were highly esteemed.  As Christians we are the salt that flavors, preserves, medicates, purifies and it should show in our vote.  It should be heard in our voice.  It should be evident in our stand.  If the community wants to know what God thinks about it…we should be the source, God’s kingdom – the church.
 
     Some Christians will seek office and my prayer is that they are Christian politicians, not political Christians.  The difference in title declares what is at the heart of their politics.  We are Christian, citizens of God’s kingdom and this will have bearing on our politics.  I am a Christian American, not an American Christian.  How would God vote on marijuana, Bingo, or abortion?

 

“We have an immense amount of power over how we interpret the world… It’s not, ‘Oh I’m going to wish things are good and therefore they are going to be good.’ It’s knowing that we add a lot of interpretation on top of our realities.” — Ryan Holiday

 

God Bless,

Bill

 

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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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