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FCC Family Values

When I am asked to officiate a wedding for a young couple, I set up several meetings prior to the ceremony. These conversations are to help us get to know each other, but also to talk through some of the issues they will encounter in their marriage.  One of the areas I am very intentional about exploring is the values of their family of origin.  I have found that more than anything else a person’s reactions and expectations are formed by the values they received from their family.  A person doesn’t just marry their spouse.  A person marries the culture and values of their family as well.

We are a church family.  And we have values too.  These are values that we marinate in.  We pass these on to the sons and daughters of the church.  They are the reason why you feel a little out of place when you visit another church.  Their values are different.  It can feel a little odd.  Over the next several weeks, I will use this space to explain and highlight a series of core values at FCC.  These values consciously and unconsciously guide our decisions.  They help us change, or make change a very difficult undertaking.  They give us our unique flavor and identity.  There are seven of them, and we’ll start next week by looking at the first.

A Year of Growing Louder

Our vision and goal as a church is to be a community where all kinds of people are becoming like Jesus.  Everything we do is aimed at that outcome – making us a little more like Jesus.  We’ve identified a pattern in Jesus’ life.  There are three different dimension that he moved in.  He moved toward his Father.  He invested in a spiritual family, his disciples.  He announced God’s kingdom to the world.  At FCC, the way we become more like Jesus is by following that pattern.  We say it this way: “Growing closer to God, growing deeper in God’s family, and growing louder in God’s world.”

Each year we discern one of those dimensions to focus on.  Two years ago we invested a lot of time and energy into growing deeper in God’s family.  This past year we focused on growing closer to God.  This next year our focus will be on growing louder in God’s world.  We will explore all kinds of ways to announce and demonstrate God’s kingdom to the world around us.  Jesus did it by teaching, healing, and forgiving.  We will find ways to do those same things in our context and setting.  So get ready to turn up the volume!  You are a microphone.  The good news comes through you and gets amplified to our neighborhoods, our schools, our community, and our world.

Fall Programs Begin Soon

Youth programs and adult education begin this Sunday, September 10, at 9:15 a.m. Plan to join us after worship for a Celebration Luncheon as well!

Rooted at FCC

Over the past months, our education wing has been undergoing a metamorphosis to better serve our younger “understory” population at Ferrysburg Community Church. I am excited about the enhanced opportunities to nurture the faith of our children and students through our Rooted education ministries as we step into a new season on September 10.

Our culture changes. Some of the changes in our educational areas reflect that change. We want to show that our faith is relevant to everyday living. We want to connect with a generation of digital natives; we want to utilize technology for God’s glory. As you walk through some of our educational areas, you will see updated technology with new monitors. Our new check in system enhances safety and communication. Praise God for these new ways to announce His kingdom and protect His children.

Yet God never changes. He still wants us to live in close relationship with Him. He desires to see his people flourish “like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up” (GNT, Psalm 1:3). Through our educational ministries, we will use both new and old ways to help nurture children in a strong, growing, personal relationship with Jesus. Our prayer is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (NIV, Ephesians 3:17-19).

We encourage you to partner with our Rooted ministries this year through your participation and prayers.

What You Can Do

When was the last time you set out to do something that you knew you couldn’t do?  Ever attempted something that, in order for it to happen, would require miraculous outside intervention?  In business this happens all the time.  There are risks because no business plan, no matter how good, can account for or control every variable.  Even sporting events are often decided by a funny bounce, a lucky roll, or a highly unlikely combination of events.

What about church?  What risky things do churches do?  When do churches make leaps of faith that require God’s miraculous intervention for success?  Perhaps capital campaigns are an example.  But I would contend that most things that churches do can be done without God.  Of course, we need God for our every breath.  But most of the goals we set, the plans we make, are well within our power to accomplish.  We don’t need God to achieve them.  Does that sound right to you?  We are people with the power that created the universe and raised the dead available to us.  And we set goals and make plans that require none of it.  Think about that.

A Prayer for Charlottseville

Father, how it must grieve you when the children you have created attack each other. When skin pigmentation, a part of your creative and beautiful design, leads one group to hate another, it must break your heart. As your people we are dismayed by the bigotry on display in Charlottesville this weekend. As your people we denounce the hatred that has no place in your kingdom. We pray for healing in that city. We pray for healing in our nation. We ask that you would bring a forgiveness and a reconciliation that is born of truth and justice.
We pray for the families of those who were killed. Comfort them as they try to make sense of the senseless. Work in the hearts of the perpetrators of violence. May they repent of their agenda and the violent means by which they carry it out. And Father, we repent of the Charlottesville that exists in our own hearts. We acknowledge our own fears, our own desire for privilege at the expense of others, and conflict that is created within us. We pray that your kingdom would come and that it would come within us. We pray this in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  Amen.

Tuesday Night with Shelly Boer

Throughout the summer our Youth Director, Samantha Francart, has been gathering with students for worship on the church patio on Wednesday nights.  They sing around the fire and enjoy s’mores.  This week we are moving it to Tuesday night and inviting all of us to experience this.  This week is special in that Shelly Boer will be sharing an update on her work in global mission.  Shelly has seen God do some amazing things.  You will be encouraged to hear about them.  You’ll also get to worship around a campfire.  And maybe even some s’mores!  We hope to see you Tuesday night at 7:00PM.

Plan A

Yesterday at our service, we had to implement Plan B.  The Erwins were supposed to come and participate in our service with beautiful singing and powerful songs.  An accident stranded them in Arkansas.  Plan A was no longer an option.  So we went with Plan B.  Life is like that.  Things don’t always turn out the way we plan. Disease strikes, accidents happen, relationships break.  So we resign ourselves to make the best of Plan B (or sometimes Plan C or D).

God’s Plan A never gets derailed.  God’s original plan was to redeem a broken world and put it back together better than ever.  His plan is to gather for himself a people who will worship and serve and co-create in a renewed creation.  His plan is for you to be completely whole, restored, and made new.  That plan cannot fail. No matter how many Plan Bs you and I need to settle for, God never needs plan B.  His Plan A is guaranteed.  In fact, all of our Plan Bs are somehow woven into his Plan A.

Frederick Buechner on Worship

Phrases like “Worship Service” or “Service of Worship” are tautologies. To worship God means to serve him. Basically there are two ways to do it. One way is to do things for him that he needs to have done—run errands for him, carry messages for him, fight on his side, feed his lambs, and so on. The other way is to do things for him that you need to do—sing songs for him, create beautiful things for him, give things up for him, tell him what’s on your mind and in your heart, in general rejoice in him and make a fool of yourself for him the way lovers have always made fools of themselves for the one they love.

A Quaker Meeting, a Pontifical High Mass, the Family Service at First Presbyterian, a Holy Roller Happening—unless there is an element of joy and foolishness in the proceedings, the time would be better spent doing something useful.

The Most Important Peace

 

Yesterday we talked about peace as a fruit of the Spirit.  It occurs naturally in the lives of those who belong to Jesus.  This kind of peace protects us from the devastating effects of life in a broken world.  But even before we experience peace as a fruit of the Spirit, we experience an even more important peace: peace with God.  Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The first and most important peace is a right relationship with our Creator.  We always talk about world peace in terms of foreign relations.  The most urgent world peace is a peace between this world and its Creator.  Through Jesus this peace is available to our world and given to those who belong to God. Jesus has removed the obstacles (sin) between us and God. There is no more enmity between us.  You are at peace with God.