Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PIP Progress

The painters, contractors, and work crews are hard at work on the Property Improvement Project here at First Christian Church Scottsdale!

As the work continues and the church campus evolves we'll be sharing new "progress" photos each Sunday during the slide presentation before worship. I'll also be keeping a running catalog of all of those photos (and all that work!) right here on the blog as well as on the Church's Facebook Page.

You can click on any of the thumbnail photos below to see a full sized image.


If you have not turned in your PIP Pledge Card yet, don't worry there is still time! To everyone who has filled out a Pledge Card, is making regular PIP Donations, or has already paid your PIP Pledge in full we thank you! Your generosity is helping us make all things new again at First Christian Church Scottsdale and helping us to be ready for the mission and ministry God has in store for us.

If you are a Facebook user you can also see these photos (with captions!) on FCC Scottsdale's Facebook Page. Just click on the "Like" button below.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Whiteboard: On Interruptions

My work week starts on Tuesday.

I come into the church office, Janie and I sit down to go over things at our weekly staff meeting, and then I start formally compilingeverything I'll need for the coming Sunday's worship service. This includes writing the Call to Worship and Offertory Prayer, finding/creating the image for the bulletin cover, tracking down resource materials, reading up on this Sunday's sermon scriptures, and of course drawing on the Whiteboard.

This Tuesday I was absolutely sure where I was headed with the sermon (which, let me assure you, is not always the case!). I had tracked down the piece of artwork (a sculpture from the entryway of Christopher House in Austin) that would serve as the central image for the worship service and had even sketched out a more abstract version of it for the Whiteboard this week, and then...

...a new idea. A completely different direction for the sermon. One that isn't based on the image of the woman with the hemmorrhage reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus' garment in order to be healed but rather a sermon built around the Holy Interruptions that God uses to get our attention and get us back on the right track. After all, the story of the woman with the hemmorrhage in Mark 5:21-43 is in itself a Holy Interruption that happens when Jesus is on his way to perform a miracle for someone else.

I remembered this quote from Henri Nouwen's book Out of Solitude:
A few years ago I met an old professor at the University of Notre Dame. Looking back on his long life of teaching, he said with a funny twinkle in his eyes: ‘I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work.’ This is the great conversion in life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for his return. 
I spent a longer chunk of time than I care to confess trying to come up with a better image for the Whiteboard that would illustrate "interruption" as the theme for the week...when I finally realized that keeping the same "pre-interruption" image on the Whiteboard would help keep the point even clearer in my mind for the week!

So my plans for this week's picture might not end up having a whole lot to do with where the sermon actually goes...and somehow that feels exactly right.


Mark 5:21-43
A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years.She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Newsbrief: Facebook Page

I am happy to announce: We are on Facebook!

Last night First Christian Church Scottsdale’s Facebook page went live.
If you use Facebook you can find us at or you can just click on that above!

When you are redirected to our Facebook page make sure and click the “Like” Button in the upper right hard corner (just below the big banner picture of our cross). When you “Like” our Facebook page it means that you’ll see updates from FCC Scottsdale in your Facebook stream, and have an easy way of keeping up with the comings and goings at the church!

We have lots of big plans for the Facebook page – sharing announcements, posting photos, embedding videos, linking to articles, and building to each Sunday’s worship service – and if you are a Facebook user I don’t want you to miss it!

For our church members who are not on Facebook, no worries. We will continue using all of the other communication tools at our disposal to make sure that everyone is kept in the know on upcoming news and events at FCC Scottsdale. The monthly Newsletter, weekly Newsbrief, and Sunday morning announcements will all continue. I will still be posting articles to the church blog and we’ll be continue with regular updates on the church website as well.

FCC Scottsdale’s Facebook page simply gives us another avenue to communicate with each other and reach out to folks who want to learn more about our church. The Facebook page will be interactive, lively, and purposefully invitational.

The hope is that members will enjoy connecting with each other on the page and that visitors will catch enough of a glimpse of who we are that they can’t wait to come and see us on Sunday morning!

So what are you waiting for? Check it out at!

Yours in the Journey, Rev. Brian

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whiteboard: Calm the Storm

After a long day of preaching and teaching, Christ Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them it is time to move on. 

"Let us go over to the other side."

They leave the crowd behind, climb aboard a boat, and head to the other side of the sea. 

As they are traveling a massive storm blows in. The winds and the waves that the storm kick up threaten to sink the ship and drown everyone aboard. 

The disciples are freaking out. 

And Jesus, well, he's sleeping.

Panic-stricken the disciples wake Jesus up and in their hysteria they don't ask Jesus for help, they don't plead for a miracle, they don't even tell him what is going on. No, they wake Jesus up and then they accuse him! 

"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

Without a word to the disciples Jesus gets up, he shouts down the wind and instructs the waves to be still...and the storm is over. Jesus turns to the disciples and asks, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Which is his way of hammering home the answer to their accusatory question: "Of course I care."

Maybe you've been aboard a boat like that before. Or maybe not. But I'm willing to bet that you've been in a storm like that. That there have been times when the waves have come crashing down and the wind is whipping all around and you are panic-stricken that you won't be able to keep your head above water. 

This Sunday in worship we will celebrate that through Christ Jesus we know a God who is with us even in the midst of the storm. We worship a God who is mighty and powerful, who can command the wind and the waves, and yet cares so deeply for you and for me!


Mark 4:35-41 -- Jesus Stills a Storm
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Newsbrief: PIP Work Underway

It is happening.

The first round of contracted work for the Property Improvement Project is underway!

I am hesitant to mention too much more…because I wanna see if you’ll notice what is different!

I am willing to bet that you will, in part because the new work is so striking – I really love it! – and in part because it will most likely still be in the middle of the process on Sunday morning. So you’ll get to see the old and the new contrasting each other. Either way, it is terribly exciting to have the work crews here on the church campus and to watch our Property Improvement Project unfolding day by day.

This coming Sunday will mark the first Sunday when the Fellowship Hall is off limits for us. As construction is ongoing there we’ve shuffled some things around. Fellowship Hour after Worship will be in the Arizona Room for the next several Sundays, which means that the Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study has moved in to the Library. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but it makes life easier for our work crews, and gives us a reason to have a great big celebration when the work is complete and we get to move back in to a newly renovated Fellowship Hall!

Thanks for your patience during this process. Thanks for your enthusiasm as all things become new again here on the church campus. Thanks for your support of the Property Improvement Project!

Can we fix it? YES WE CAN!

Yours in the Journey,
Rev. Brian

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Whiteboard: Kingdom of God

During my days in Northeast Ohio I used to drive past a particular church every day on my way back and forth to the congregation that I served.

This particular church had a great big sign out front. It was the kind that lit up at night and had a spot for messages to be written up to passersby. They always tried to be catchy with that changeable message. I guess they thought if their sign captivated you then you would be more likely to join their church. 

I always thought their messages were a little silly and occasionally theologically confusing.

There was the time when their signboard message read "Call 911! This church is on fire!" I'm sure they meant that they were "on fire for Jesus" or filled with the Holy Spirit or even just really enthusiastic about their congregation. But all the sign made me want to do was actually call 911 just to see what would happen (please note: I never prank called the authorities, but I did think about twice a day when I saw that sign).

There was another time, right around this time of year, when their signboard message read "Every Sunday is Our Father's Day!" Clearly they were playing off of Father's Day and what it means to call God "Our Father" as Christ taught us. But I couldn't help but wonder...why only Sunday's? Why was it "every Sunday" and not "Every Day is Our Father's Day!" 

It was enough to make me want to call 911 and see what they thought about the matter...


This coming Sunday is Father's Day and we will have a small gift for every father who comes to worship with us. This Sunday we will celebrate God's dream, God's deepest desire for creation, the central tenet of Christ's teachings during his earthly ministry -- the Kingdom of God. 

Our scripture reading from Mark gives us two powerful examples of what the Kingdom of God is like. Each one draws from the natural order of things and reveals truths to us about God's abiding love, care, grace and power. Each one also shares with us the remarkable truth that faith is something that grows. Not something static. Not something that you receive once and then you are done with it. Rather something that grows and develops, that blossoms and blooms, that grows each and every day.

Come and join us this Sunday at First Christian Church to celebrate Our Father's Day...this day and every day!


Mark 4:26-34

The Parable of the Growing Seed

He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’

The Use of Parables

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Newsbrief: YAMS

Have you heard about YAMS?

No, I don’t mean the starchy tubor that is often confused with the sweet potato. That is a yam.

I mean YAMS – Young Adult Ministry Scottsdale!

YAMS is just getting up and going here at FCC Scottsdale. Michelle Landreville and Jessie Jones of the Education Committee get all the credit for getting YAMS up and running.

We are heading to Lake Powell this morning. Can you make an announcement about YAMS on Sunday? YAMS is for anyone that has graduated high school in the last 10 years or so. If you fit that criteria please join our YAMS Facebook Page and come be a part of our YAMS activities.

The first official YAMS Activity is coming up next Friday (June 15) when the group heads out to Feed My Starving Children in Tempe from 8:00-9:30 pm. 

Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and we ship the meals to nearly 70 countries around the world. Feed My Starving Children is an amazing program and I am thrilled that YAMS first activity will be a service project with such a worthy cause.

Yours in the Journey,

Rev. Brian

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Whiteboard: Family of Faith

This Sunday we will be talking about family.

Not biological family, mind you, but rather what it means to be a family of faith.

Scripture tells us that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. What's more, in the Gospel of Mark Christ Jesus says (right in front of his own biological family) "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Which means this "family of faith" thing is pretty important.

I'll have a story about my own family -- and the way that my son gets expanding it through his ever growing stuffed animal collection -- to help us understand what it means to be brothers and sisters and Christ, a family of faith united in service to the Lord.

I'll see you on Sunday!
Rev. Brian


Mark 3:20-35

The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
 ‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’

The True Kindred of Jesus

 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’ 

Newsbrief: Summer Reading List

At our weekly trip to the library to this week I signed Henry up for the Summer Reading Program.

It is an annual tradition at our house, made all the more special by the fact that this year Henry has decided that he’ll be the one who reads the books. He has just finished Kindergarten after all and he’s gotten quite good at this reading thing. For every five books he finishes he gets to go back to the library to have his Reading List stamped with the official library stamper and then he can pick out his prize. He got so excited about the whole thing that he tried to read 20 books on the first day just so that he could go back and get four prizes – he’s getting pretty good with the math thing too, I guess!

I grew up taking part in the Summer Reading Program at my home library in Round Rock, Texas and in fact it is something that I still do. When the summer months come I put together my reading list and then spend part of those June, July, and August days working through my stack of books.

This year my list includes: Thomas Long’s Preaching from Memory to Hope; John McClure’s The Four Codes of Preaching; Alex Roxburgh’s Missional Map-Making; J. Wimberly’s The Business of Church; and Dan Hotchkiss’ Governance and Ministry.

I’d like to invite you to join me this summer in reading something beneficial for the life of our church…but I’m relatively sure academic tomes on theories of preaching or an experts take on congregational policy and polity probably aren’t what you had in mind!

So let me recommend one other: Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works. It is an “engaging study of creativity. Lehrer uses case studies like 3M’s and Pixar’s innovative corporate cultures and Bob Dylan’s songwriting habits to frame scientific findings about the brain and where creativity comes from” (from The Amazon Review of Books).

If you are looking for something to do this summer, check out Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine. I might not be able to entice you with a prize from the treasure chest or a voucher good for “One Free Donut” from the bakery down the street, but I can guarantee that it will get your creative juices flowing. And that is a pretty great gift in its own right!

Yours in the Journey,

Rev. Brian