by Faith Parker
“Joy to the world the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing”
This beloved Christmas carol, by Isaac Watts, is based on Psalm 98. It is an exuberant, all creation rollicking Hallelujah for the coming salvation of the LORD. God has remembered us and the world is rocking with delight!
As delightful as the carol is, the joyful words can feel distant to our experience. There is often energy in the holidays, but not necessarily joy. Life spins into lists of must dos with not a space to spare. Perhaps that is why the third line in the stanza stands out. “Let every heart prepare Him room.” This is the one thing, which necessarily precedes singing with joy.
How does one make room for Christ? How can a space be made where there is not space for one more thing? Humbly. There can be no joyous reception if the room is already occupied. Pride has no room for another. It is too busy with its own inflated concerns, but humility gives way.
We're all familiar with that age-old question, "What do I get so-and-so for Christmas"? Do they really need another toy, or book, or novelty coffee mug? While there is a certain amount of joy and cheer to be found in getting that "perfect gift", it also easy to look at our tendency to turn our own sacred holidays into consumeristic blitzes.
Don't fear, I'm not here to say we should do without, or do with less (although it's always worth considering). But I do want to offer some alternative gifts that might stand for something bigger, that in and of themselves are worth celebrating. So here are three gifts to consider giving to help extend and deepen the joy of giving this year.
1. Compassion International Gifts
You may be familiar with Compassion International and the incredible child sponsoring program they operate around the world. But did you know you can also give one time gifts to meet specific needs. It runs the full gamut from delivering bibles in the native language, to sponsoring hygiene classes and supplies, to sending food, providing chickens, goats or cows for a family or digging wells. Gifts of all dollar values can be put to great use, and you can give a gift on someone's behalf, and then give them a nice card that fully explains what the money went to support. I would also say that this is a great way for a family or community group to each contribute something and then see how far your money can go by all being generous together.
by Pastor Jim
Down through the years many people have described our involvement in worldwide missions in three simple words. Pray. Give. Go. There is something about this that rings true, simple as it is. As we read the Bible it is easy to discover that God has a desire to reach all people of the world with the message of the Gospel. From the Old Testament through the New Testament we read where God moves people to declare who He is. He told Jonah to proclaim Him to the Ninevites. Jeremiah’s instruction was to stand strong in declaring the majesty and truth of God to a people who only wanted things for themselves. And Daniel was pulled from his country as a youth and spent the rest of his life in a pagan nation strongly standing for and proclaiming the truth of a God greater than any king.
When Peter was told to go visit the Roman Cornelius he was fulfilling the commission to “go and tell all the world”. Paul sacrificed much of his life and personal resources in proclaiming the saving grace of Jesus to all the known world. And John, the apostle, stood firm even in exile and persecution as he declared the majesty and glory of a loving Savior.
Here at FCC we have continued to give people the opportunity to be involved in worldwide missions. Down through the years we have gone to at least 18 different places in the US and around the world on short term mission’s trips. We have given opportunity for people to invest in the lives of missionaries and various groups so that the Gospel can be spread and we continue to try to keep the congregation up to date on ways to pray for our missionaries.
We have several ways you can get involved in Praying, Giving and even Going over the next few months.
by Mark Willey
I am really excited about a new sermon series on the promises of God , that will run most Sundays from October thru January.
Called “The Key of Promise”, the series takes its name from an event in Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian and Hopeful are thrown into the dungeon of Doubting Castle. For four days they are brutally beaten by the cruel lord of the castle, Giant Despair.
On the eve of their execution, Christian remembers a key. In his exhausted weakness he exclaims, “What a fool I am, to lie in a stinking Dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty. I have a Key in my pocket called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any Lock in Doubting Castle.” The key works! And the two pilgrims escape the horrors of imprisonment to Doubting Castle and Giant Despair.
God’s promises are His means of delivering us from the darkness of our fear, worry, self hatred, rejection, and a multitude of other struggles that land us in the prison cell of despair and doubt.
This series focuses on some of the great promises of God to his people. They bring us hope and inspire our faith. We will repeatedly see two things that enable you to endorse these promises in your life.
About a year ago we launched into a series on the book of Romans together and with it we began a "Common Life" series of devotional books. In the introduction of the first book it says " this small book offers a way for our whole church family to reflect on Christ together during the ordinary rhythm of our weekdays".
So what I'm posing to you now is, maybe it's a good time for you to revisit this series. I don't know where you were in life a year ago or how closely you were able to follow along throughout the Romans sermons. But I do know that our need for reminders of who Christ is and daily reflection is just as relevant now as it was a year ago. And a slow walk through the book of Romans and all the related passages may be just what you need this Fall.
You may also find value in revisiting the Common Life Book if you were able to follow along with the readings and questions originally. If you think about it like journaling, there is a lot gained through the process of writing, but even more can be learned and appreciated if you look back to see what God was teaching you in the past. And I think that looking back will fill you with gratitude and a renewed perspective on where and how God has been leading you and answering prayers.
So, if you still have your book, pull it out and start working through the readings one week at a time. And if you don't have it anymore or never had one, you can use a digital copy that is available for download here. I hope you find the daily practices and readings to be rich and fulfilling.
by Lisa Meyers
Wouldn’t you love to be called “irresistible?” Any person would. We often call desserts or babies “irresistible.” What would it be like if our church was called “irresistible?” That’s the word that Sib Charles of Joni and Friends uses to describe a church where every individual is loved, honored and celebrated… even those with disabilities. An “Irresistible Church” is an authentic church built on the HOPE of Christ and one which compels people to come and join in. It’s a place where people feel they truly belong.
At FCC we work to be a place where people belong. We have a volunteer team who welcomes and greets visitors each Sunday. We host a monthly Welcome Party to introduce newcomers to the pastoral staff. We periodically hold classes for new attendees to share with them our church convictions and programs. But do we embrace disability universally across the congregation? It’s a question our kids’ ministry staff has been asking now for a few years. And the answer we keep coming back to is, “we want to be like that. We want to offer the HOPE of Jesus to all children, including those with special needs.”
This past summer FCC hosted a seminar on Autism, one of the prominent diagnoses for children with disabilities today. Our speaker dispelled some myths about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
The Word of Life Camp in Belize included all the things you expect a camp to have; games, swimming, fun, food and lots of action. But the best part is spending time with campers and camp staff as we get to share Christ with them.
“Jesus had power over the storm because He didn’t let the storm inside of Him.” Joyce Meyer
It has been 1,105 days since we first got, the call. Baby Girl with no home to go home to. In the NICU. Micro-preemie. Born at twenty-five weeks, weighing one and a half pounds at birth. On a breathing machine and caffeine. Likely to go to adoption. That’s all the information we had. My heart said YES before I even had a chance to call my husband. As we drove to the hospital, I remember the reality starting to hit me. Panic set in. Wait a minute! I didn’t know how to work a breathing machine. What kind of issues would this child have? How would our three other children get the attention they needed? What would she look like? Could I do this? I also remember the immediate peace I felt with each question. It was like waves of emotions, followed by calm. It was like God just kept whispering in my ear, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. You got this. We got this. With each question, I’d pray… then the peace would come. Storm. Deep breaths. Prayer. Peace.
It had taken us nine months to get approved as foster parents and about nine seconds for me to fall in love with this little bitty. The second I saw her face, my heart ached. It was like my heart jumped out of my chest. It was her. It was the vision I had been given as a little girl. She was tinier than my vision but just as beautiful. I always knew I’d have a lot of kids. I used to say, “I want a shoe full,” when people asked. I also knew I’d have a daughter. So, having three boys was confusing to me. I felt blessed but always left with the feeling that our family wasn’t complete. Then seeing her, even amidst the anxiety and unknown, I felt peace. There she was this little baby doll in what appeared to be a huge car seat with cords hanging out from her jammies. The nurse asked if we’d like to hold her and I snapped right back into reality. I remember hearing a fellow foster moms’ words in my head,” Ask the nurse as many questions as you can.” So, I began asking questions. I completely forgot what I was supposed to ask so I just asked anyway. I found out as much information as I could. The nurse had been told that I was a nurse, wrong. So, she then trained us on the machine and we learned all about baby girl’s history. This was a gift. This part I will leave out as I truly believe it is her story to tell, if and when she wants to. Then they let us take her home. Just like that. Well, nine months of paperwork and training then, just like that. Storm. Deep breaths. Prayer. Peace.
Dear friends, If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11
The simple truth stated in 1 John is one that Be The Church has tried to adopted as its core mission. But as always, it’s easier said than done. It begs the question, what is love? What does love for others look like? How could I ever, even for a moment, love others the way God loves me? At times we see glimpses of this love through the kindness of those around us. Communities coming together following a natural disaster, outpouring of support to a family in need, the care a parent gives to their child. Though love is not always displayed as a grand gesture, it is almost always intentional. Thinking back, I can’t remember ever feeling accidentally loved by the people around me. When we show love, especially the kind of love that God calls us to, we do so with intentionality. We love our spouse intentionally, we raise our children intentionally, we better our communities intentionally. Self-serving desires are easy to default to, its loving others that takes work.