Loving God and People with All!

"Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 'This is the first and greatest commandment.   A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."  Matthew 22:36-40

This summer has so far been one where I've had the opportunity to see pre-teens and teenagers live this out.  At the "Great Escape", a middle school camp, I watched as hundreds of youth praised God in music, in games, in discussions, and in solitude.  As I've said the last few Sundays since our return, you should be very proud of the youth we have at this church.  Even when they were covering me in shaving cream and water and a substance called "yuck," I felt their love, their joy, and their peace in just being able to be kids and not worrying about anything.  I saw God shine through them and them love Him with all of themselves, and that is an awesome and humbling part of my ministry here at FPC, one that I am so thankful to have and experience.

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Let's Clarify

Clarification – making something clearer by explaining it in greater detail.  At the end of April and on the first Sunday of May I had the opportunity to share 3 messages on Matthew 6:19-34, a portion of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount where Jesus made things clearer for those who were hearing His message.  We looked specifically at money, or more clearly what we treasure.  Matthew 6:21, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."  Our focus during those three Sundays was on where our treasure lies, and not just our money.  Our attitude toward money should reflect what our attitude is about everything really.  Does it control us or do we control it?  Are we working for the money or is the money working for us?

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A Time of Transition

May is the time when we normally begin to anticipate the arrival of so many things.· The grass is growing, flowers are blooming, vegetable gardens are being planted, and pools are being opened.· And of course this is the time when we celebrate with those who are graduating from high school and other schools.· So with this article I want to express encouragement and gratitude for knowing and being blessed by our two graduating seniors, Cierra Brown and Corey Goodwin.

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The Power of the Gospel

"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.  It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.  This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.  As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life.'"  Romans 1:16-17

Easter is a time when we celebrate and remember the life, sacrifice and resurrection of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  For we know that it is the power that sustains us and gives us hope, a hope so strong that we can't help but share it.  I love how Ilumnia's Life Application Commentary explains the power and purpose of the Gospel.  It says, "Paul was not intimidated by the intellect of Greece nor the power of Rome.  Paul was not ashamed, because he knew from experience that the gospel had the power to save everyone who believes and then to transform their lives.  The Greek word for power (dunamis) is the source for our words dynamite and dynamic.  Dynamite was not invented by Nobel until 1867, so it is obvious that Paul did not have that specific picture in mind.  Instead, the inventor of the explosive took its name from the Greek, but the parallel is instructive.  The Good News, as the power of God, can be like spiritual dynamite.  Under certain circumstances it has a devastating, even destructive effect, demolishing world views and traditions—paving the way for new construction.  Placed inside a stone-hard heart that is resistant to God, it can shatter the barrier.  God's power in the gospel is not only explosive; it also overcomes evil."  "However, Paul also knew that there is a delicate balance between truth and grace: 'Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.'  Colossians 4:6" (taken from "My Journal" by Dr. Michael Youssef)

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THE Good News

"I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me.  Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.   He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said."  1 Corinthians 15:3-4

We have some good news that we stand on here at our church.  It is the good news that God has not given up on us, but rather has sought after us.  Hopefully you all know that, but if you're reading this and you aren't sure what your fate may be, would you please say an honest prayer to God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Now let me tell you what Good News looks like.  It is a plan that was set in motion before we ever were created.  God, who knows all, knew that we would need saving.  We read this in the Gospel according to John.

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Can You Believe It?

As we enter into the middle of winter and anticipate the arrival of spring, I just can't help but think, "Wow, it's going to be Christmas again before we know it!"  I don't know if it's a scientifically proven phenomenon or not, but time seems to be moving faster and faster.  We've gotten faster with how we get our data too; 3G is now giving way to 4G, and "that was so 40 seconds ago" is the new tag line.  The pace of life can become so fast that we can't even live in the moment; we sometimes have to be thinking way ahead because we've seen just how quickly things happen.  With that experience, let me share a nugget of wisdom; December 25th comes on the same day every year, it's just that we get so busy that we assume it has somehow snuck up on us.

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Reflections of 2011

Some of the TV specials that interest me the most are those programs that give an overview or the highlights of the past year.  The biggies of 2011 are probably debatable, as all things are, but most of the time they center around sports, politics, natural phenomena or disasters, and entertainment.  From the Packers to the Mavericks to the Cardinals as world champs, to the Occupy movement, and let's not forget the Wildcats making it to another Final 4.  And of course there is always the entertainment industry with actors and actresses and musicians and the crazy life styles they lead.  All that's happened is now history and will leave a mark for us to reflect on and hopefully learn from.

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