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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today marks the official start of summer vacation for students throughout the tri-cities. I can remember back to those days from my childhood. There was always an irrepressible joy within me as I celebrated the end of nine months of school and considered what the summer might hold. The next three months would be filled with camping, fort-building, baseball cards, and a little mischief. Specifically, I can remember going to bed after the last day of school, the whole summer before me. It seemed too good to be true. I rejoiced at simply being alive to all the possibilities.
Thirty years later I really don’t have a parallel for that feeling. Joy is still present, but served in smaller doses these days. Maybe I’ve just learned to govern my reactions a bit more. Still, there is one way that this “last day of school” experience seems appropriate: when we think about reigning forever with Jesus. I think the kind of joy associated with summer vacation will be a daily reality for us when Jesus brings His kingdom to earth. I’m not sure if we’ll need to sleep in the age to come. Actually, I wonder if we’ll even be able to sleep as we ponder all the possibilities of God’s presence and the new earth.
One week from today we will kick off four days of Maker Fun Factory VBS. The church is already beginning to look like a fun factory! On the surface it appears the point of VBS is to share Christ’s love with children. That certainly is the stated purpose of this week. But VBS does some other very wonderful things for kids and our entire church family. First, it builds lasting relationships between kids, teens, and adults. When we ask incoming freshmen to identify possible mentors, many of them identify people they got to know through VBS. Second, we’ve found it builds excitement as our church family comes together to accomplish something significant. It’s fun to be a part of something that has been successful. It’s meaningful to have a role.
Our FCC kids grow closer to God. We all grow deeper in God’s family. By announcing Christ’s love with kids from the community, we grow louder in God’s world. It’s a perfect way to pursue our vision. So please keep this event in your prayers. Pray for kids who need to hear the good news. Pray for volunteers who will be working with kids throughout the week. And help us spread the word. Send people to www.ferrysburgchurch.com/vbs to register kids for an outstanding, life-changing week!