Worship Service - 10:30am
Education Hour - 9:15am

Blog

Veterans Day

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 Armistice Day. It was one year to the day that fighting ended in World War I and an armistice was established. Today we call this day Veterans Day. World War I was considered “the war to end all wars.” It was the first time in history that so many nations joined together or opposed each other in a great war.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of other wars since that first Armistice Day. The enemies of peace are not just other nations. Just as often they are clandestine organizations. Yet then, just as now, we are deeply grateful for the men and women who have stood ready to defend our country. Until the day Jesus returns, there will be violence and military conflicts. We look forward to the day when a military force won’t be necessary. Until that day, we are grateful for those who have served.

An Extra Hour

Saturday night we gain an extra hour by setting the clocks back. This got me to thinking about having an extra sixty minutes and what we do with them. I’ve used this extra hour differently over the course of my life. A few times I’ve used it in ways I’d rather not get into. But mostly I’ve either stayed up later or cashed in on an extra hour of sleep.

What’s interesting is that we can be pretty specific about how we would spend extra money. If I gave you $100 and asked you how you planned to spend it, you could give me a pretty concrete answer. But if you were given an extra hour one day, how would you use it? Can you answer that question in specific ways? I’m guessing that’s a harder question. Hopefully most of us have some idea about budgeting our money. But time is a very valuable commodity too. It is well worth budgeting the resource of time. As we move toward the holidays, it might be worth a look at how you budget your time. Are you in the red? Are you being generous with your time? Are you making wise investments? Each of us has a different level of income. But when it comes to time, our “income” is the same – 24 hours a day for each of us.

Cutting Room Floor – Pivotal Circumstances

Yesterday I stood in front of our congregation and proclaimed that a deep, robust faith is more valuable than anything else. I said that it’s worth the pain associated with pivotal circumstance. But as I looked out over the congregation and saw people who have suffered unthinkable tragedies in their lives, I honestly wondered how that can be. Is the pain of powerful loss really worth a stronger faith in God?

I think the only way it can be worth it is if we look at life in the scope of eternity. If all we live is this life, I really don’t think it would ever be worth it. But when we place our lives against the backdrop of eternity, our losses are not final. Tragedy does not have the last word. The pain we bear has an end point. One day we will regain everything we’ve lost. It’s sort of like investing money. It’s unavailable to us while it’s tied up in an investment. But down the road we will get it back with interest. That interest is a deeper faith.

Cutting Room Floor – Personal Ministry

When it comes to making a purchase, there are some things that you can order online. You don’t need to see them for yourself or try them on. Certain electronic devices fall into this category. Some kinds of clothing – socks, for instance – doesn’t require you to try it on. But what I’ve discovered is that the more important the purchase is, the more invested a person will be come in making sure it’s right for them.

I think following Jesus is like this. It’s not something you can really decide on from casual, outside observation. To really understand what life with Jesus is like, you have to live life with Jesus. And there is no better way to do that than through personal ministry. When you partner with Jesus to make a difference, you get the best taste of who He is and what following Him will be like. After all, Jesus didn’t call His disciples and only do seminars and lectures. Neither did He just wander around the countryside having fun. He worked with them. Perhaps our best opportunity to really know Jesus is by serving with Him.

Cutting Room Floor – Private Disciplines

The theme of this Sunday’s service was how God uses our private disciplines to grow our faith. We talked about financial giving, prayer, and Bible reading specifically. One of the biggest causes of inconsistency in these areas is a lack of accountability. God designed us to be relational being and this extends to our spirituality as well. Even monks and nuns who go long stretches in silence have each other to help with accountability. Below are a few more simple ways to add accountability to your private disciplines.

  • Find someone to read through the Bible with you in a year (or two). Find a Bible reading plan and commit to doing it together.
  • Get a prayer partner – someone who will pray for you and you for them. Touch base each week and share prayer requests.
  • Use your small group as a source of accountability by committing to reading a specific book of the Bible between meetings.
  • Listen each day to the Daily Audio Bible (click for more info).

Building Project Update

As you can see, work is underway on our church building. Several things have come together to allow Clifford-Buck Construction to get started on the clerestory repairs. They have ordered the windows and siding and are preparing the exterior of the building for their installation. Clifford-Buck is also working with Sheriff-Goslin Roofing to coordinate the shingling of the rear exterior of the sanctuary. We feel very good about getting these urgent repairs finished before winter.

Things are also progressing with the refinancing of our church mortgage. Rates have been rising and fluctuating over the last month. However, we are confident of a good rate for the refinance. We’re grateful for those who have given financially toward this project. The more we receive in special donations, the less we have to refinance. If you have made a commitment or are considering a financial gift toward this project, please follow through on that in the next week or two. We hope to be finalizing the refinance in that time frame. Thanks for all the support you’ve shown throughout this process. If you have any questions, please talk to me (Tom TenCate) or Chuck Holman.

Cutting Room Floor – Providential Relationships

I’ve been using this space to share some thought on Sunday’s message that didn’t make the final cut. I’ve done a lot of thinking about the Church and how we can show the Gospel to the world. We can try to show the Gospel by putting on amazing worship services. However, it’s tough for us to compete with laser light shows and million dollar movie budgets the world is capable of. Sometimes we’ve tried using the fear of hell or playing on peoples’ guilt. This hasn’t been a great long-term strategy. We’ve offered people the promise of a better life, but the better life Jesus offers doesn’t always seem immediately better to many people.

The thing that I believe we can do better than the world around us is community. In fact, this has always been the calling card of Christians. Read the end of Acts 2. It is a beautiful picture of people in community. That’s who God has called us to be – a network of providential relationships. In our tradition we’ve placed great emphasis on this. In baptism we commit to being providential in the life of an infant or new believer. If we can only do one thing well, let it be community. Let us create a safe place where people can belong and grow.

Cutting Room Floor – Purposeful Obedience

Yesterday we looked at the first of Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith: Purposeful Obedience. When we say yes to God even when it is difficult or inconvenient or embarrassing, God uses that obedience to expand our trust in Him. Here’s something from the margins of yesterday’s message that didn’t make the final edition.

I worry a little that some people might feel like they missed their chance to obey God and be rewarded with stronger faith. There may have been a time years ago when you knew God was calling you to do something for Him. For a number of reasons you just couldn’t say yes. And now you’ve heard me imply that you blew your big chance to gain more faith. Don’t despair. God never stops working in the lives of His children. Perhaps that missed opportunity years ago was an inoculation against missing an even greater opportunity that God brought (or will bring) later in your life. These things keep coming around. Opportunities abound. And God works in a number of different ways to grow our faith… as we’ll see over the course of the series.

Cutting Room Floor – Prescription for Faith

With almost any sermon I am not at a loss for material. It’s usually a matter of subtraction and paring it back. So I’d like to use this space to share some thoughts or ideas that didn’t make the final edition of the Sunday message. This week I spoke about the importance of having big faith. I talked about how it created an environment when God could work in us and through us. I spoke about how life is just easier with big faith. But there are still other benefits that I didn’t have time to mention. Here are a few.

  1. The ability to forgive. If you believe that God has it all under control, then even those who hurt you can’t thwart God’s plan. You don’t have to be bitter because God will work it for your good.
  2. Life without regrets. If you trust that God can work all things for your good, then that even includes your failures and mistakes. Faith allows you to move past your mistakes because God can redeem them.
  3. Patience. It can be hard to see your prayers go unanswered for many years. But people of faith trust in God’s timing. They wouldn’t want God to answer their prayers a second before He intends. His timing is perfect.

Education Ministries This Fall

In less than two weeks we will kick off a new season of educational ministries at FCC.  While I love summer, I deeply value the faith nurture opportunities we provide at FCC from September through May.

Our Sunday school is awesome!  Each week our kids have the opportunity to hear part of The Big God Story from another member of our congregation.  The high school student, parent or retiree who shares the story usually also shares a personal story from his/her own faith journey.  Every week we have caring small group leaders who get to really know our kids and build relationships with them. Each week we invite the Holy Spirit to teach and transform us during our times of stillness, listening, worship, prayer and creativity.  We also have a lot of fun as we celebrate together with games and active challenges.

At 9:15 on Sunday mornings we have wonderful opportunities for faith nurture for other ages too!  Our 7th-8th graders are fed physically and spiritually in catechism with Mr. Aardema.  Twenty-seven mentors and their high school students often meet for a video session and discussion.  Every Sunday our adult education class meets to explore topics that matter to Christians.  (You can access the fall schedule by clicking here.)  We even have nursery available for those too young for Sunday school.

Please commit to joining us on Sunday mornings at 9:15 and pray for God to bless us with a great year of spiritual growth.