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.
By Jim Panter
We are able to support various missionaries, teachers and national workers as they seek to learn languages and then translate the Scriptures into the heart language of the people they live among. It is a hard, often long, process. The end result is well worth it, but there are learning bumps along the way. For instance, you might possibly smile as you read this story by Ely Johnson from Bangladesh from a recent AOB newsletter.
You may have seen the recent Women's Summer Events video both in the service and online. But what you didn't see were the bloopers. That's right, with every video we throw together there's a handful of moments that don't make it to the final cut, but are too good to not show. So, here they are:
Ok, so hopefully that gives you a good laugh, but there's also another point. They're willing to go through the torture of public speaking in front of a camera, just to help you stay connected this summer (they did this during the winter too, and there was another blooper video). Our ministry leaders are just flat out awesome!
by Ben Panter
This spring we hosted our first Generosity Principles class, a 4-week book and video study from Andy Stanley’s book, How to Be Rich. That name may make you do a double take, but it makes sense from the primary passage of the study, 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
To give you a quick summary of the big idea, it’s Andy Stanley’s premise that this passage applies to pretty much all of us in our North American context. But the fact that most of us (including myself) tend to read “those who are rich” and then skip on down the page because that clearly doesn’t apply to us, means that even though we are rich (check the stats), we don’t feel rich. And since we don’t feel rich, then we often aren't good at being rich. And Andy clearly doesn’t mean “be rich” as in, drive fancy expensive cars, take luxurious vacations, etc. “Be Rich” simply means living according to God’s specific commands for the wealthy. And also, this is not just about giving more money to the church. Certainly tithing is a part of spiritual growth and obedience (and the book covers that), but the focus of this book is a much broader focus on a lifestyle of generosity, and how God’s commands on generosity to us are centered in making sure our hearts do not enshrine our finances. The book is very inspiring, and it’s hard to imagine anyone reading it and not coming away without a bigger picture of God and His purposes for His money through each of us.
Ok, obviously there’s a lot more in there than that, and I would highly recommend the book, but that’s not what this post is all about. Really I just wanted to share some of the challenging thoughts and fun we had in the group of about 10 households that went through the class.
by Joanne Sharp
Here's what happened at the Women's Retreat
A few weeks ago, two hundred and forty women gathered at Fellowship to retreat. We gathered to connect. We gathered to grow. We gathered to laugh and cry. We gathered well, to gather! Women long for connection, conversation and time to process things together. Our annual retreat is an awesome opportunity way for women to do just that. The last few years we’ve purposely chosen to host this event at FCC because it allows the affordability and flexibility we desire. Each year, we are amazed at how God grows and uses this event. We have seen Him connect women in a deep and meaningful way, learn about His character, His word and ultimately grow closer to Him. We are incredibly grateful to watch as he unfolds His plan each and every year.