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Education Hour - 9:15am

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GEMS

Tonight our GEMS will be singing “I want to be like Jesus.” We sing this year’s theme song at each GEMS meeting and dig into lessons that share Jesus’ love and his ways with the girls. Through all our fun and fellowship, we strive to model a relationship with Jesus and inspire girls to follow In His Steps.

This Sunday we will celebrate the GEMS ministry. On Sunday we will have the opportunity to warmly welcome some visiting GEMS families and offer support and encouragement to the GEMS as the girls participate in the service and develop their gifts.

Immediately following the service you can look forward to a potato/chili bar with all the fixings plus salad and a variety of desserts provided by our GEMS.  Please plan to stay for an easy meal, fellowship, and to support our local GEMS club! 

— Lori Houskamp

Lent Fasting

Many Christians observe fasting or self-denial during the season of Lent as a preparation for Easter. The intention is to use the time gained for reflecting on Jesus and His suffering for us.  So don’t just give something up, be intentional in spending time with Jesus.  After all … fasting or giving up chocolate or soda without spending time with Jesus and contemplating His sacrifice is… a diet.  This Easter Season, why not try it?  Along with the typical things to give up, you could also consider:

  • Worry – Whenever you start to worry, remember that God is in control and give your worry to Him.
  • Secular Music – Listen to a Christian Radio Station instead during Lent.
  • Gossip – Tell the person you are considering gossiping with that you’ve given it up for Lent.  It will help you both reconsider.
  • Envy – When the green-eyed monster strikes, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings you have received.
  • Negativity – Look at the positive side of the situation – Your friends and family will notice!
  • Social Media – Give up Facebook or Twitter and use the time saved in prayer and with your family.

Consider Adding In …

  • Devotions – Get up a half an hour earlier and start your day in prayer.
  • Family Time – Make a concerted effort to spend one on one time with your family.
  • Act of Kindness – Plan to do a small act of kindness for someone every day of Lent.
  • Praying for others – Pray for people you do not normally think to pray for – the shut in list, people at work, local government, etc.

Lukewarm

As I’ve been digging into the Book of Revelation over the last week, I’ve been struck by the message to the seven churches. Much of what the churches struggled with two thousand years ago is what we still struggle with today. There are passages I could reflect on from each church, but the church I want to focus on is the last one: the church in Laodicea.

Jesus says that this church is neither hot nor cold – He calls them lukewarm. This idea of being lukewarm would resonate with the Christians of Laodicea, because the water they drank every day was lukewarm. The city had no water system of its own; cold water had to be pumped in from Colossae, which was about seven miles away. By the time the cold water arrived to Laodicea, it was lukewarm and disgusting. 

He’s essentially calling the way these Christians are living disgusting.  

Being lukewarm, in a spiritual sense, is a picture of indifference and compromise; it’s a life of playing in the middle and sitting on the fence: trying to please both the world and Jesus. I can’t think of a more miserable way to live: having too much of the world to be happy in Jesus, but too much of Jesus to be happy in the world.  

God doesn’t want lukewarm Christians. He doesn’t want empty religion. He desires relationship.  

To not look like the church in Laodicea, we must battle against indifference, compromise, and self-reliance.Charles 

Spurgeon said this of the church in Laodicea, “They are neither hot for the truth, nor hot for conversions, nor hot for holiness, they are not fiery enough to burn the stubble of sin, nor zealous enough to make Satan angry, nor fervent  enough to make a living sacrifice of themselves upon the altar of their God. They are ‘neither cold nor hot.’ ”  

Let what Spurgeon said not be true of us. Let’s be on fire for truth, conversions, and holiness. Let’s be Christians who makes Satan angry.

–Samantha Francart

 

Super Bowl Religion

Each year it seems the Super Bowl gets bigger.  It has become more of an event than a football game.  And not just in Minneapolis or whatever city it is played in. There is a Super Bowl party in every tenth household.  For many people, this is the only football game they watch all year. Except that they aren’t really watching the game.  Mostly, people are catching up with old friends or making new ones.  Perhaps the only times they bother to look at the TV is for the commercials and the halftime show.  More than a football game, it’s a chance to make the weekend last one more night.

I recognize that a life of faith can deteriorate into a Super Bowl Sunday.  Instead of making a relationship with Christ the main thing, we can get caught up in the fellowship, the music, or the positive environment.  In a free society like ours, there is a lot of icing on the cake of faith.  We are free to enjoy the fringe benefits.  But we must never mistake the commercials for the game. The best parts of religion can never replace the new life we have in Jesus and the relationship we have with him.

A New Logo

For any organization, business, or church, a logo is a simple, visual way to tell a story.  It’s a story of who you are and who you are becoming.  For nearly 20 years we have had a logo that has served us well.  However, FCC has changed during that time.  The world we are reaching out to has changed as well.  After seven months of conversations, research, and many trips back to the drawing board, we have a new logo design that we are very excited about.  Created by an artist within our FCC family, this new logo tells our story in the following ways:

 

The leaf shape is hand drawn and is intended to capture FCC’s casualness and warmth. The different colors also represent “all kinds of people” who make up and are welcomed into our church family.

The cross is made visible when the family of believers gathers around it.

The font was chosen as another nod to the casual warmth and genuine welcome of walking into FCC. It’s almost like someone has hand-written a friendly greeting!

The tagline, “Grow,” comes from our vision of growing to become like Jesus and being a place where all kinds of people can experience this growth.

Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

He Reigns

One of the most beloved and beautiful statements of comfort and peace is the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism.  The question is, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”  The answer is that I belong, body and soul… to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.  Far be it from me to be critical of this wonderful formulation of faith.  But I think that this question and answer makes an assumption that we need to acknowledge.  It assumes correctly that Jesus is the best person to belong to.

He is.  Here’s why.  Jesus reigns.  Jesus is Lord over all things.  He is Lord of all places.  Jesus reigns in the darkest night.  He reigns in the midst of pain and in the midst of joy.  Therefore (and the catechism goes on to say this) Jesus is capable of making all things work together for my salvation.  It isn’t just that we belong to Jesus.  We belong to the Lord of the universe.  He reigns.  And that it why it is so awesome to belong to Him.

The Light of Love and the Darkness of Fear

This coming Sunday we will begin our service by lighting the fourth candle of Advent – the candle of love.  Love is the most written about, sung about, talked about thing in the world.  The word itself could refer to hundreds of different realities, feelings, or actions.  Even the Bible talks about love from several different perspectives.  One biblical angle that has struck me recently is from 1 John 4: 18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I think what John is saying is that when we live in God’s love, there is really nothing to be afraid of.  If you are fired from your job, you don’t have to be afraid of losing your job anymore.  If you’ve died to yourself and Christ lives in you, you don’t have to be afraid of dying anymore. When you’ve got all the love you need in Christ, you don’t have to fear losing it in your relationships with others.  It’s hard for us to understand how perfectly and completely Jesus loves us.  The more we understand it, the less afraid we become.

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

You know the Andy Williams song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  It’s about Christmastime.  There is something special about this season.  Even I, though given to bouts of “grinchy-ness”, feel the excitement of celebration and cheer.  We enjoy the time with family and friends.  We cherish a few days off to eat and rest and give and receive gifts.  For those of us who belong to Jesus, Christmas has an even deeper reason for joy.  We celebrate the birth of a savior.

At the same time, I think we should recognize that for many this is not the “hap-happiest season of all.”  At the holidays many are confronted with loneliness, dysfunction, grief, and pain.  It brings hurtful family dynamics to the forefront.  Losses are magnified at Christmas.  If you struggle at Christmastime, I want to direct you to a much greater promise than presents and family and shopping.  It’s the promise of a returning Savior who will wipe every tear from your eye and make all things new.  And for those who are blessed to be able to enjoy this season, say a prayer for those who struggle.  When you pray before a family meal, remember those who will not be gathering with family for various painful reasons.

Untainted

For many people, Christmas is the best time of the year.  The whole season is full of good tidings and cheer.  We seem to rise above the doldrums and embrace our better selves and the better parts of those around us.  It’s a time of hope, if only because we choose to believe that people are still good and, for a day or two, can channel their generous side.  But it’s not that way for everyone.  For some, Christmas is a miserable time.  Whether it’s because of loss or strained relationships or an aversion to crowds and chaos, some people dread December.  For them, Christmas is far from the best time of year.  It is the worst.

I’d like to suggest that both parties have got it wrong.  Both the “Whos down in Who-ville” and the “Grinches” are wrong for the same reason: they see Christmas from their own perspective.  They evaluate it based on how it affects themselves.  It’s the idea that Christmas is what we make of it.  Sort of like a baked potato.  The potato is just a platform for butter and cheese and sour cream.  The potato itself is rather tasteless and unremarkable. While we may think that Christmas is what we make of it, we are very wrong.  Christmas is not simply a platform we decorate with generosity and gifts, family and food.  Christmas is the defining event in history. It requires neither presents nor carols, neither relatives nor eggnog to be remarkable.  We don’t decorate the birth of Christ. It decorates us.  We don’t make it good. It makes us good.  Christmas is unenhanced by our revelry and untainted by our humbugs.  So don’t let yourself try to make the best of Christmas this year.  Let it make the best of you.