So much and so much more
3/23/2012 11:55:56 AM
Posted by PJ
Yesterday the elders prayer walked around the church. We walked in pairs and prayed for the welfare of the people in the immediate vicinity of the church. This is an amazing exercise. We need to do it more.
One of our pairs walked to McCarty Park, sat on a bench and prayed for the people around them. They struck up a conversation with a young man who, they learned, has children who are part of our Kingdom Kids Club. As they talked further, he shared that he and his wife have been going through some rough times. They are separated, but he wants to do the right thing-- he wants to reconcile and be a family again. Our elders had the chance to pray for him and to invite him to come to worship at FPC. They said they hoped he could get connected to other believers who could come around him, his wife and family. Maybe he'll come. We can pray.
WOW! 45 minutes of prayer walking and God put a broken man in the path of 2 of our elders. So much need. So much hurt. So much more grace! Praise God for divine appointments!
Cross the “I”
3/23/2012 11:47:09 AM
Posted by PJ
“But seek the welfare of
the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf,
for in its welfare your will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7
“And he said to all, ‘If
anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily
and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses
his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
Recently, I attended a conference at Wheaton Bible Church
which dealt with ministry to our urban communities. Many years ago, D.L. Moody declared that if
you can reach the cities, you can reach the world. Its true!
The nations have come to the cities—a quick look at the City of Aurora
will confirm that. Aurora is a hub for
immigration. Immigrants from all over
the world are settling in our fair city.
They come from Asia, India and Sierra Leon. They come from Somalia, Puerto Rico and
As the nations come to the city, the Church has an
amazing opportunity to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth without
even leaving home. The world is at our
doorstep. People are hungry for
truth. God, in His amazing sovereignty,
has brought every tribe and language and people and nation right into our
backyard! The Great Commission—to make
disciples of all nations—has never been more accessible or immediately
applicable. The people are here. The question is, is the Church willing to
reach out in love to the nations and share the Gospel of Grace? Is the Church willing to welcome the nations
who are on our doorsteps?
Jesus says that if anyone would follow him, we must deny
ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.
We must deny ourselves. Hmm…I
don’t like that. Specifically, my sin
nature that is at war with the Holy Spirit in me, doesn’t like that, because it
means that I won’t get my way. To reach
out always means that I am putting another person ahead of myself. Anytime we serve another in love, we show
that they have the priority in our personal hierarchy of fulfillment. This is the way of Jesus. Sin is the obstacle to this Way. I must deal with sin, if I am to follow
Jesus—that’s the point of denying oneself and following him.
Have you ever noticed that in the middle of the word
“sin” is the vowel “I”? “I” is at the
center of sin! I am at the center of my
sin! WOW! Upon one little letter, so much turns. If we are to love anyone as Jesus taught
us—immigrant or not—we must learn to cross our “I.” We must cross out the “I” in sin. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross and
follow Jesus. That’s what the Cross is
all about. The Cross of Christ blots out
our selfish, prideful sin. The cross
kills our sin. The cross covers it
When the “I” is crossed, then we are set free to serve
others without strings attached. We are
free to love the least, the last, the lost—even the nations who have come to
May we cross the “I.”
May we reach out in love to all peoples.
May we serve all whom the Lord puts in front of us. May we be willing to deny ourselves and follow
him—individually and as a congregation.
May we know his amazing Presence and unmistakable Joy as we winsomely
walk in the footsteps of Jesus. And may
He receive all the glory and the honor and the praise!
Wednesday at Camp
7/6/2011 12:00:00 AM
Posted by Rebecca Luginbill
Just after lunch today, the kids and I headed to the beach front here at Green Lake. The weather this week has been wonderful... and the kids have loved spending time in the water. As we approached the beach, we noticed a large crowd of Senior High watching as their teams competed to stay afloat in creations made of cardboard and plastic bottles.
A little later, after our swim - we saw the Jr. High students washing cars in front of the Roger Williams building. I'm not sure what had more soap and water, the kids or the cars?? After the evening sessions, there was a 'rock'n concert' where many enjoyed bouncing, dancing, singing and joyfully worshiping our Lord in music......energetic, fun music.
Oh - and a little bird told me some fun news. Apparently there are certain leaders who recently heard their next grandchildren will actually be twins! Please continue to pray for the youth, leaders, and all attending camp. Thank you for lifting us up as we focus on the Lord.
Monday at Camp
7/5/2011 12:00:00 AM
Posted by Rebecca Luginbill
Monday brought a flurry of activity as all of our dedicated Camp Staff prepared for campers. As the campers came and settled in, the tech and lighting crew prepared and soon all had an awesome evening of worship and the excited youth began their programs.
Tuesday Fun At Camp
7/5/2011 12:00:00 AM
Posted by Rebecca Luginbill
The Weather has been beautiful for most of the day, except for a sudden downpour that was like a bucket of water. Thankfully, most campers managed to stay dry.
Kindercamp had a bonfire complete with smores and a sing along while the adults had a murder mystery night... I'm still not sure who did it - but Steve Brown was the victim. Tim Gregson did a masterful job of outlining the victim with masking tape and everyone had a fun time checking out the clues.
Tomorrow promises to be another fun filled day.... I will update more later.
Clean Up Your Soul
10/15/2009 4:04:00 PM
Posted by PJ
Cleaning Up Your Soul
I was sick a lot as a kid. I don’t know why. I just was.
In her frustration, my mom finally asked her wise old doctor, Dr. Hipps, about what could be done for her child. Dr. Hipps, who’d been around for a long time, said to my mom, “Slivers (his nickname for my mom), let the boy play in the dirt. I don’t know what there is about it, but kids who play in the dirt are just healthier kids.”
What a dream for a 4 year old boy! Play on the dirt I did.
I had a specific place at the bottom of the back steps where Billy—my next door neighbor—and I would dig and heap and tunnel and play. We lost so many matchbox cars. We were in our glory!
Did you know that it takes less than an hour to separate and average soup spoon from its handle?
We played all day, everyday, in the dirt.
Inevitably, at the end of the day, mom would call to us out the back screen door: “Boys, its time for Billy to go home. It’s dinner time. Jeff, come in and wash your hands.”
Wash my hands? Talk about drudgery for a four year old.
“Why do I need to wash my hands?” I’d complain.
“Because in this house we wash our hands for dinner. If you don’t wash your hands, you’ll soil the table setting. You’ll get our hands dirty when we hold hands to pray. You might even get dirt in your mouth when you eat. You must wash your hands for dinner.”
Here’s the thing. Whether or not I washed my hands, I was still my mother’s son. Dirt and all, I was accepted and included because I belonged to her. Billy wasn’t hers—that’s why he had to go home for dinner. I was hers. If I refused to wash my hands, she’d probably eventually feed me, because I was hers. No amount of dirt could change that!
I still needed to wash up. As her son, living in her house, I needed to wash. House rules.
Jesus accepts us as we are, dirt and all. He includes us in His love and grace as we come to trust Him as Savior and Lord. Dirt or not, through Jesus we belong to God. We are His.
He still calls us to get cleaned up. House rules.
Getting clean might include confessing those things for which you are ashamed.
Getting clean might look like repairing a broken relationship, getting right, saying you’re sorry.
Getting clean might include paying restitution of some sort.
Getting clean might look like giving up and unhealthy habit or lifestyle.
Getting clean might look like holding yourself accountable to a mature friend, pastor or therapist.
Getting clean is hard work, but it is great and rewarding work, too. To be clean is to live without shame, guilt and fear. To be clean is to be truly free. Jesus can make you clean. Go to Him and ask Him. He’ll wash your soul with His cleansing flood.
So what about you? After a day of getting dirty, can you hear the Father at the back door? He’s calling you. He knows you’re dirty. It’s OK. You’re His. It’s time for dinner, so wash the hands of your soul. House rules.
The Place for Kids
10/5/2009 12:00:00 AM
Posted by PJ
I found out something about our church a while ago that I thought was interesting. Did you know that most people in our neighborhood have no idea what our church’s name is? Now don’t get all worked up—they know something about us that’s better than our name. The people in our neighborhood know our heart. We are known as “the place for kids”! Isn’t that cool? I’ll give up our name any day in exchange for that designation!
Our vision statement declares that we are sent to Aurora so that hundreds of families will KNOW Jesus Christ, GROW is faith, CARE in love and SHARE His hope. Put simply, we want people to know Jesus. We want kids to know Jesus. We want moms and dads to know Jesus. We want singles to know Jesus. We want all people to know the Savior—that’s why we do what we do! There are some things that we are doing to prepare for those folks who aren’t even part of our family, yet.
A major project that is in the beginning stages is the creation of Kingdom Kids Castle—“Where every kid is a child of the King!” Kingdom Kids Castle will be on the second floor of our main building for all kids, ages 2 through elementary school. We want to create a place, just for kids, where they will be welcomed, nurtured in faith and included in God’s family. Kingdom Kids Castle is that place!
There are three reasons for re-arranging our physical–plant in such a way as to make this new place for kids:
It is user-friendly. Back in January of 2007, when I began my tenure as your Senior Pastor (let me be completely honest with you) I had know idea how to find the three different places my three children needed to be for Sunday School! They were in three different places—two different wings of our building on two different floors. WOW, was I lost…and I was the pastor!! We want a brand-new family who is visiting us for the first time to have a “one-stop-shop” for their elementary school aged children—one place that is easily to find. Kingdom Kids Castle is that place!
It is secure. Families, especially first-time visitors, want to know that their children will be secure and safe when they leave them. In a “one-stop-shop” we would have the capability to heighten our security for all our children. I’m not saying that our children are currently in any danger!! I’m saying that we could have a place for our children with one main entrance and exit where everyone is safe and secure. Kingdom Kids Castle is that place!
It displays our conviction that children and families matter. OK, so if our vision is about reaching families, what are we willing to do (or risk) to bring about that vision? Making a kid’s place shows that we are serious about our commitment to children and families. Kingdom Kids Castle is that place!
We are excited about the creation of Kingdom Kids Castle! We’ve got a lot of work before us. We realize that a kid’s place doesn’t replace great programs and teaching. We will continue to offer our very best for the littlest among us—and we’ll do it in a special place for kids!
Yours for the Kingdom (and a big kid),
8/18/2009 12:00:00 AM
Posted by PJ
Fall is my favorite season. Always has been. The turning of the leaves, the beginning of another school year, Friday night football, band practice—after a long summer, all these things bring routine back into our lives. Recently, someone said to me that the summer is like an acrobatic plane, whirling around the sky in quick loop-the-loops, while fall is like a 747 that steadily cruises along. Yes, there is a comfortable consistency with fall.
Routine brings consistency, productivity, and a sense of progress. Routine brings rhythm, and rhythm is good. Rhythm keeps us moving to a steady beat.
Are you in rhythm in your relationship with Jesus? Is your routine paced by the steady heartbeat of the Savior?
Fall is a great time to re-evaluate your walk with Jesus, your practices of devotion and your routine of service in his name.
God gave the following routine to the Jewish captives in Babylon through the prophet Jeremiah:
“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare….For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7, 11-12)
Out of the irregular schedules and rhythms of losing their homeland, experiencing slavery, and surviving the chaos of exile, the Lord instructs His people to find their rhythm. Notice the verbs—build, live, plant, eat, multiply. These are things we all do. These are everyday things, even mundane things. But we are to do them before the face of God! Do them to His glory! But there is more than that. Look again.
First, the people of God are to seek the welfare of the city where they have been sent. Sent. Do you see yourself as living in the Aurora area, or do you see yourself as sent to the Aurora area? The way you answer that question has a huge bearing on how you understand your mission as a follower of Jesus. We don’t just live here, we are sent here by a God who desires to reach this city through us. God desires that all may know His life and grace through our witness. Our witness extends everywhere we go—to school, to work, to the store, to the field, to the street, to our gym. If you are looking for a place to be sent this fall, stop by the family center on Monday or Tuesday night. During God’s Gym (Monday) and open gym (Tuesday) you will find large groups of neighborhood kids who are looking for purpose, love and friendship. I know you’ve got what they’re looking for. (Call or email church office for info.)
Second, the people of God are to call upon God. We are to seek him, and that is exactly what our all-church focus is this fall—Seeking Him. Have you been in a rhythm of devotion? Do you feel the heartbeat of the Savior? There is still time to be a part of a group that will seek the Lord together this fall. (Again, contact the office.)
Friends, we are a people who are seeking and sent. May each of us include both in the routines and rhythms of our lives this fall.
And to God be the Glory!
God is God!
8/13/2009 12:00:00 AM
Posted by PJ
Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about things of faith. We were rigorously searching out God's sovereignty. We wanted to know Him, not only better and more, but in His true nature. As we pondered the scriptures that have to God with God's infinite nature and vast eternal existence, my friend cried out: "I've been living a lie! I've thought of God as MY God-- but He isn't. God is God! I don't own Him."
My friend's epiphany is true. God isn't "MY" God to be ordered around or leveraged for fulfillment or success. He isn't even MY God is the sense that He must answer my prayers, as unselfish as they may be. God is God.
God is outside of me, my existance, my world. God is totally not dependant on anything or anyone. God is God.
I can't make him sad. I can't make Him happy. I can't twist God's arm to answer me. I can't bargain with Him to get what I want. If these things sound strange to you, I would humbly say that YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL (or you are too big).
God doesn't need me. He doesn't need you. God is God.
God is eternally perfect, inifinitely holy, immeasurably powerful and totally God!!!!!