Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Fifth With First T-Shirts

The Fifth With First is right around the corner.

Here is a sneak preview of our Fifth With First t-shirts, which should be arriving any day now!

Pricing details, sizes, and availability will be forthcoming. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Whiteboard: Christmas Sunday

Our fourth Advent candle is lit, which means that we are almost to Christmas.

As is our tradition, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Love we will be celebrating Christmas Sunday at First Christian Church Scottsdale. And this year are we in for a treat!

The Music Ministries at FCC Scottsdale have taken the lead in the service and have prepared a wonderful featuring all sorts of special music.

The service will feature portions of Handel's Messiah, guest musicians, guest vocalists, a youth trio, the Children's Choir, and more!

It is going to be a wonderful service as we sing out our praises to God and ready our hearts once more to celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Whiteboard: Expecting Joy

With the third Sunday of Advent we add Mary's voice to the litany of stories in our season of anticipation and expectation.

In fact, "expecting" takes on a whole new meaning this Sunday with Mary's story. After all, she is the one who is "expecting" (literally) with the Christ child.

It makes her song of joy (known as the Magnificat) all that more remarkable, and even stronger testimony of faith.


Luke 1:46-55 Mary’s Song of Praise

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hanging of the Greens

You are in for a pleasant surprise when you step into the Sanctuary this Sunday!

Thanks to our wonderful Hanging of the Greens Crew the Sanctuary (as well as other spots all over the church campus) have been thoroughly transformed for the Advent and Christmas Season here in the life of the church.

Honestly, I can’t thank the Hanging of the Greens Crew enough for their hard work. Last Sunday we had 30+ people stick around after Worship and Fellowship Hour. They made quick work of all the projects and have truly turned our sanctuary into something special.

We did things a little bit differently this year, and I dare say that it really worked. Usually we do all of our decorating on the Saturday before the First Sunday in Advent, but this year the Worship Team decided that we would help folks embody the spirit of anticipation and preparation that mark the Season of Advent. So we purposefully stripped the sanctuary bare (did you notice that we didn’t have any cloths on the pulpit or lectern and that I wasn't wearing a stole last week?) so that the explosion of colors, wreaths, lights, and flowers really would be a physical transformation emblematic of the spiritual transformation we are undergoing.

An extra word of thanks to Dorothy and Carrie (our Worship Team Co-Chairs) for getting everything to ready, to our “behind the scenes workers” who came in midweek to get out all the right boxes, and to Don and Kay for coming early to set up the Fellowship Hall.

Whiteboard: Sunday of Peace

This week in worship we will celebrate The Second Sunday of Advent, which is the Sunday of Peace.

Our assigned scripture readings this week are interesting pair.

Isaiah 11:1-10 makes perfect sense. This is the prophet's foretelling of the Peaceful Kingdom where the wolf will lay down with the lamb, the lion will eat straw like the ox, and a little child shall lead us. It contains the promise that there will be no more war or fighting and that our lives will be defined by righteousness and knowledge of the Lord. For the Sunday of Peace there couldn't be a better text to guide us.

Our second text is a bit trickier of a fit. But I suppose that was always the case with John the Baptist.

Matthew 3:1-12 introduces us to John the Baptist. Throughout the Season of Advent we are introduced to these important characters who helped set the stage for the mission and ministry of Jesus. That is certainly John the Baptist's role. While he might not have the most peace-filled tactics for sharing the message (calling people a "brood of vipers" and warning of an "unquenchable fire"), sometimes you have to mix things up so that they can be made ready for the coming of the Prince of Peace.


Isaiah 11:1-10 The Peaceful Kingdom

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Matthew 3:1-12 The Proclamation of John the Baptist

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.” ’
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2014 CROP Walk

We had 22 members and friends from FCC Scottsdale walk in the 2014 CROP Hunger Walk at El Camino Park! We were able to raise over $500 to help Church World Services work to put an end to global hunger. 

Here are some photos of the day!

Our youngest CROP Walkers

The Rev. Al Beasley leading "The CROP Walk Song" right before
the walk. 

A dozen of our CROP Walkers posing for a photo after the Walk.
If you would like to make a donation to the CROP Hunger Walk and support the work of Church World Services click here.

Whiteboard: Give Thanks

Wait...what is a turkey doing on the Whiteboard of a vegetarian?

Well, it must be Thanksgiving Sunday!

Come join us this Sunday for stories about gathering around the family, as community, as a people of faith!

Plus, you'll get to hear about this vegetarian's first Thanksgiving Dinner with my in-laws...who are Atkins diet people.

Come celebrating the centrality of the table, the challenges of diversity, and the ways we build community one relationship at a time.


John 6:25-35

 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.’Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’
 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Operation Fix It

This past Sunday we formally announced "The Fifth with First" our new outreach opportunity at FCC Scottsdale. If you missed the sermon (or just want to hear it again) then you can listen to it on our website by clicking here.

"The Fifth with First" is our shorthand for "The Fifth Sunday with First Christian Church". On those months that have five Sundays (it happens four times a year) we'll worship God by being out in our community working on service projects in our neighborhood.

We have partnered with an amazing group in our community called Operation Fix It. Operation Fix It teams up volunteers and local businesses to provide labor and materials to help eligible residents maintain their properties. Click here to learn more about Operation Fix It, or you can watch the embedded video below.

Neighbors helping neighbors. Coming to FCC Scottsdale as a part of "The Fifth with First" starting on December 29, 2013!

Three Things: Administrative Council

Administrative Council had their last regularly scheduled meeting of 2013 this past Sunday after worship. As
always, here are the "Three Things" from that meeting...including an extra special bonus fourth thing!

  1. Thanks to the success of the Matching Fund, Dinner with the Stars, and our other Nehemiah Project Fundraisers this year I am happy to report that our finances are in good shape and that (if your faithful stewardship keeps up!) the Nehemiah Fund  should end the year with a positive balance! After celebrating this fact, the Administrative Council decided to carry over any remaining balance from the Nehemiah Fund into 2014 to help support and underwrite next year's budget.
  2. Nominating Committee gave a full report of the slate of slate of Ministry Team Leaders who have accepted nominations to serve in 2014. That full list will be released to the congregation shortly. In the meantime, please know that we are still seeking faithful, servant-minded folks to fill out our Elders for the coming year. If you have any ideas for folks to nominate please speak to our Vice Moderator Bob Stall.
  3. Our Congregational Meeting is scheduled for December 15 with two formal items on the agenda: Approving the 2014 Budget and Approving our 2014 Slate of Ministry Team Leaders. More details to follow.
  4. Bonus Thing! The Outreach Team passed out all 51 of their Christmas Bags! The generosity and spirit of outreach in our church is simply amazing. Please remember to fill up your Christmas Bag and return it to the church by Sunday December 8!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Whiteboard: New

We've been journeying with the Hope Partnership for some time.

Click that link above and you'll see eight articles (nine, now counting this one) from the Blog about the Hope Partnership...and that's without even mentioning the sermon illustrations, newsletter articles, Administrative Council Reports, and casual conversations where we've been talking about Hope Partnership.

Hope Partnership is helping us to boldly step into the future that God is preparing for us here at FCC Scottsdale. And our scriptures this Sunday remind that ours is a God willing to "do something new".

So this Sunday you'll be hearing from the Hope Partnership Team about the big dreams that they have been dreaming, and about the tangible steps we'll be taking start making them come true.

I'd tell you more but, well, then there wouldn't be much left for the sermon!

I'll see you this Sunday as we talk about our big dreams for the future, and celebrate a God who makes all things new!

Rev. Brian


Isaiah 65:17-25 The Glorious New Creation

For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Responding to Typhoon Haiyan

From our friends at Week of Compassion, in response to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan:

Typhoon Haiyan Shocks the Philippines

Your gifts of compassion are already at work. Week of Compassion immediately responded to the news of the horrific typhoon that swept through the Philippines last Friday morning, thanks to you. Funds were sent to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, through Global Ministries. Typhoon Haiyan is one of the worst recorded typhoons in history. It has already killed at least 1,200 people, but unconfirmed sources estimate over 10,000 deaths. 4.5 million people have been affected. Death toll in the typhoon-hit areas is rising as areas currently out of contact are reached. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced. Hardest hit is the central Philippine city of Tacloban, which is said to be flattened and where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The damage to airports and roads is hampering initial relief efforts, the BBC said.

The scene across the Philippines is one of severe destruction with fallen trees, damaged roads and buildings, downed power lines and telecommunications. Even though the Typhoon has now passed the Philippines, flash floods and landslides which cause additional danger can be expected. The areas hit cover already poverty-stricken communities, which have suffered from successive and simultaneous emergencies. On October 15, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol province in central Philippines. As a result of that emergency alone, over 344,300 people are displaced and living in makeshift shelters built in open spaces near their homes. These people are in dire need of food, non-food items and other emergency relief materials.

The Typhoon continues its journey to Vietnam where it has been downgraded to a tropical storm. There are already hundreds of thousands homeless in Vietnam due to previous storms this year. Last month Typhoon Nari caused the evacuation of over 122,000 people in Vietnam.

The ACT Alliance, through whom Week of Compassion also responds, is preparing for a major humanitarian operation as its members head into the Philippines disaster area today. ACT Members are now in one of the worst hit areas to identify immediate needs. ACT member Lutheran World Relief (LWR) will lead the humanitarian assistance team to the Eastern Visayas city of Tacloban and surrounding areas of northern Leyte, with a representative from fellow ACT member Christian Aid.

Gifts to Week of Compassion are being used to provide immediate effective lifesaving assistance. Thank you for your generosity during this devastating disaster; it is your compassion that allows Week of Compassion to take action.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Whiteboard: Praise the Lord!

What better sentiment could there be?

What more faithful declaration could we make?

This week the Psalmist reminds us to "Praise the Lord!"

And so we'll do just that this Sunday in worship.

We'll Praise the Lord! with singing. We'll Praise the Lord! in prayer. We'll Praise the Lord! through reading scripture. We'll Praise the Lord! in fellowship and faith and in all that we do.

I'll see you this Sunday in worship!


Psalm 145: 1-5, 17-21
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfils the desire of all who fear him;
he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh will bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Special Invitation

A Special Invitation from our Regional Minister, Rev. Denny Williams:

Our Regional Hispanic Assembly is this weekend. 

 A special invitation has been extended to all Arizona Disciples for the Friday evening "Kermes". Come and stay as long as you like. 4-8pm. The parking lot of First Christian Glendale will be completely transformed into a street fair type of event! When you arrive, you buy tickets, $1 each, that will get you a variety of different Mexican food treats!

Each Hispanic congregation will offer some food item -- prepared right there on the spot! A concert follows at 8pm. The atmosphere is festive and fun! The food is the best!

I hope you will join me there in this time of celebration and fellowship!

Regional Hispanic Assembly This Weekend!
FCC Glendale

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whiteboard: Stewardship Sunday

This Sunday we are going to celebrate for a whole bunch of reasons!

We’ll celebrate because it is All Saints Sunday! This is our opportunity to honor those saints who have come before us – those pillars of Christian virtue who loved the faith so much that they handed it to you and to me.

But notice how I worded that. You see, All Saints isn’t just about recognizing that particular group of folks who have been officially canonized by the church (although that list is important too). No, saints are those folks who have passed the faith down to us. They are Sunday School teachers and prayer partners, Shepherding Group Leaders and youth group sponsors and sometimes they are even pastors. This Sunday we’ll recognize those saints who have gone on before us (we’ll have a special prayer for the members of FCC Scottsdale who have died in the past 12 months) and we’ll recognize the saints that are still hard at work all around us in the hope that we can recognize the saint that is inside of each and every one of us.

Which leads me to the other reason we’re celebrating this Sunday: It is Dedication Sunday! This Sunday we’ll wrap up our Stewardship Season by collecting and blessing our 2014 Pledge Cards. We’ve been using the theme Saints Alive! Living Generously! this Stewardship Season, and this Sunday will be our opportunity to do just that – to celebrate the saints at FCC Scottsdale, to celebrate the wonderful things that we are doing together to help further God’s kingdom by being the hands of Jesus at work in our community, and to give generously to support our church.

Oh, and if you forget your pledge card (and I’ll confess, I leave mine on the kitchen table just about every single year!) then don’t worry…we’ll have plenty of extras on Sunday morning.

Your generosity helps makes our ministries possible at FCC Scottsdale. So come join us this Sunday and help us celebrate Saints Alive! Living Generously!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whiteboard: Children's Sabbath

During our Stewardship Campaign the Whiteboard will be displaying our Stewardship Theme...

...Saints Alive! Living Generously!

Two Sundays ago we kicked off our Stewardship Season by talking about generosity. Last Sunday we continued our theme by celebrating Reformation Sunday and talking about the great saints of history and the way their influence is still felt among us today. This Sunday we'll be focused in on our youngest saints as celebrate the Children's Sabbath at FCC Scottsdale. 

"Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Celebration is a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect and advocate for all children."

Our youth will be leading us in worship this Sunday with several, special musical numbers. They have been working hard to get ready for this Sunday and you won't want to miss it!

Psalm 119:97-104
Oh, how I love your law!
It is my meditation all day long.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your decrees are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn away from your ordinances,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Our New Website

It's launched!

Check out our NEW website at!

Make sure and reset your bookmarks and enjoy the new design and interactivity of our new church website!

Whiteboard: World Communion Sunday

This coming Sunday we'll celebrate World Communion Sunday!

It really is one of my favorite Sundays of the year, and I've often said that it should be THE major high holy day for us as Disciples of Christ. 

You see, on World Communion Sunday we  celebrate the Unity of Christ that dwells at the very heart of our Christian Faith and lift up the Communion Table as the central place for our worship. World Communion Sunday resounds with the theological themes that are so close to our hearts as part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – unity, diversity, the celebration of Communion at an open table!

This year we'll be combining our observation of World Communion Sunday with a celebration of Global Ministries Sunday as well. Global Ministries is the worldwide missions arm of our denomination. They work to "receive and share the Good News of Jesus Christ by joining with global and local partners to work for justice, reconciliation and peace."

What better way to celebrate the unity of Christ that exists among the diversity of his people all over the world than to lift up our common global missions where Disciples are serving our brothers and sisters in faith throughout the globe!

Our worship service was written (almost entirely) by different Disciples missionaries serving all over the world. You'll hear stories of their work, we'll share prayers that they have written, and we will celebrate at the Lord's table with a special Communion Meditation put together by our missionaries. It will be an extraordinary Sunday...a true high holy day for the church!


1 Corinthians 11:23-26 -- The Lord’s Supper

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Whiteboard: Heaven Knows

For the next two Sundays we'll be receiving our Special Reconciliation Offering at the church.

The Special Offering is used to fund our Church’s mission priority to become an pro-reconciling/ anti-racist church through experiential education, inclusive worship and intentional dialogue across racial/ethnic difference. Funds from this offering are providing for leadership development in our camps, our communities and our congregations as well as providing resources to promote small group study and community-action. Your giving is changing lives and building hope for realm of God for our children and for Christ's Church!

I've adapted this year's Special Reconciliation Offering Logo for the Whiteboard this week.

I'll be drawing on Luke 16:19-31 (the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus) to talk about how the work of reconciliation is something that we can embody right here, right now. I'll see you on Sunday!

For more information about the church's Special Reconciliation Offering, click here


Luke 16:19-31 The Rich Man and Lazarus
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Whiteboard: Commissioned for Ministry

So what advice does 1 Timothy 2:1-7 have to say to us on a Sunday when we'll be commissioning our very own Al Beasley as the Minister of Visitation at First Christian Church Scottsdale? 

Well, by way of instructions you could certainly do worse than the first line of this Sunday's scripture passage "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone."

I condensed that opening verse into three simple words that fill the Whiteboard this week...

"Pray for everyone." What a wonderful charge, particularly on a Sunday when we will be blessing the ministry of the Rev. Al Beasley and his work as our Minister of Visitation. Not only are we praying for him this Sunday, we'll be sending him forth to share the good news of Jesus Christ through sharing visits, communion, and yes prayers with others.

It will be a wonderful worship this Sunday. An opportunity to affirm one of our very own and bless his ministry. I'll see you Sunday.


1 Timothy 2:1-7 Instructions concerning Prayer

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.  

3This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 4who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6 who gave himself a ransom for all — this was attested at the right time.  

7For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council had their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday September 15, 2013 immediately following worship. As is our practice, at the end of the meeting we identified three items that were the most important things from our meeting that we wanted to make sure and share with the congregation. We like to call them the "Three Things You Should Know"and here they are for September 15th's meeting.

  1. Members of our Hope Partnership Team met with the Administrative Council to share their reflections on the Hope Partnership experience so far. We heard words like "innovation and energy", "being the hands and feet of Jesus", "renewed enthusiasm", and "embrace the future." The Hope Team also shared their three page Whitepaper Report that includes important demographic studies of our congregation, our neighborhood community, and the mission opportunities that exist for us.
  2. Pictorial Directories are coming! Our Membership Team reported that things are coming together for our new Pictorial Directory. For right now we just need you to mark your calendars (Lifetouch will be on the church campus November 14-16 taking pictures), know that the team is in place (Bob and Shirley Bruns are leading our efforts), and that we'll be sharing more information with you in all sorts of ways.
  3. We'll be Commissioning Al Beasley as our Minister of Visitation on Sunday September 22 as part of our Sunday morning worship service. You won't want to miss this special worship as we affirm and bless Al's ministry here at FCC Scottsdale. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Whiteboard: Lost and Found

Have you ever lost your car keys?

Or your wallet?

Or your sunglasses?

Well, this Sunday we're talking about mercy because Jesus used illustrations about "lost" things (sheep and coins) to demonstrate the abundance of God's grace, mercy, and love for us.

It is a surprising story, really, and one that you won't want to miss.

So do me a favor, put those car keys in a familiar place this weekend so that on Sunday morning you can find them without a problem and then join us for worship as we celebrate the God who shows us grace, mercy, and love.

Sneak Peek

We have a new website coming!

We had hoped it would launch by Kickoff Sunday, but we are waiting on the very last technical pieces to come together.

So here are some Sneak Peak images of the forthcoming website. Once it has "gone live" we'll make sure and share that word too. But for now, enjoy these little teaser glimpses of the totally redesigned, fully interactive, visitor friendly, FCC Scottsdale Website!

The new homepage has all sorts of features. A sliding image bar up at the top that
will change and update. Live tiles at the bottom that include active links (and images)
from the most recent sermon, and a constantly update "Upcoming Events" section that
list all, well, upcoming events from our calendar!

 Speaking of the Calendar, the new website will have native integration of our
church's Google Calendar, which will allow folks to see all of our events
one month at a time, and click on individual programs to learn more information.

We'll also have an interactive map for visitors so that they can plug in their
own address and get turn by turn directions to our church!

The new website also has a built in media player that will integrate
our Recorded Sermons in a much more user-friendly way.
Plus, for the first time folks will be able to listen to recorded sermons
directly from their smart phones and tablets!

The website will be launching soon! Keep a look out for more details!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Whiteboard: KickOff Sunday

At long last the Summer is over and it is time for...

Yep, that's right. It is KICKOFF SUNDAY here at the church. We'll celebrate the beginning of our Fall Program Year (which marks the return of our Sunday School Classes, our DWM Circle Groups, the Chancel Choir, the Youth Group, the Workday Crew, etc...) with a festive worship service and a special time of blessing for everything that is getting started again this fall!

See you this Sunday!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Whiteboard: 50

I'm out of the pulpit for one final time this summer, as my wife, son, and I head to St. Louis this weekend to celebrate Susan's parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary.

 Thus the big 5-0 on the Whiteboard this week.

While I am away our newest member the Rev. Kevin Adams will fill the pulpit and deliver a sermon on the nature and importance of the Lord's Supper for us as Disciples of Christ. With the evocative title "What is the definition of 'Is'?" he'll be drawing from Matthew 26:26-29 where Jesus says, "This is my body, broken for you."


The 5-0 on the Whiteboard could just as easily signify the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, which happened half-a-century ago today. In commemoration of this historic event, here are a handful of resources about the March that I've been touched by:

Hopeful Thoughts on Hope Video

We had a hiccup with our computer system on Sunday which prevented me from being able to show this video at the tail end of my sermon.

It rather perfectly captures the point of our journey with the Hope Partnership -- to be the hands and feet of Jesus alive and at work in the world by faithfully engaging with our neighborhood community. As we are learning to "dream those big dreams" this seems like a perfect place to start.

To hear the entire sermon, click here. To watch the video simply hit the play button below.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pics from Hope Partnership Experience 2

This past weekend I was in Globe, Arizona with about 70 other Disciples from across Arizona for our second Retreat Weekend with Hope Partnership. That gathered body included folks from 7 congregations (FCC Scottsdale, Foothills Christian Church, FCC Mesa, FCC Tucson, Saguaro Christian Church, Capilla del Sol, and Community Christian in Marana) and nine members of our church.

Here are a few photos (and a few short reflections) on what we were up to!

Our wonderful Hope Partnership Team: Monica, Al, Bob,
Shirley, Bob, Judy, Carol, and Nancy.
Not pictured: Me!
Our retreat site: The Dream Manor Inn
Who knew there was such a terrific facility in Globe, Arizona!
(Please Note: I was on the organizing committee for the event
and didn't realize the "bed and breakfast" that was hosting
our Retreat Weekend would be anything like this). The
Dream Manor Inn is a wonderful facility, situated on the top of
high hill in Globe, AZ and proudly owned and operated
by members of FCC Globe. 

A major theme of the Retreat Weekend was creativity -- finding
creative ways to engage our community, push past our obstacles,
and be "the hands and feet of Jesus" at work in our world.
The First Night we tackled the "Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge"
where we had to build the tallest tower we could out of 20 pieces
of spaghetti, a small selection of tape, and a marshmallow.
After prototyping, rearranging, and jumping right in, here is our creation.
Our table came in second!

The Weekend was filled with presentations, conversations, and
interactive sessions. This picture (though hard to see; don't worry
look below for clearer images) comes from the "High-Road Church vs.
Naughty Church" session. Each of the Post-It Notes in this pic contains
a word, phrase, or description that captures our dreams of the
church at its very best (i.e. The High-Road Church). 

High-Road Church
Pictured here are some of the dozens of Post-It Note Responses
such as "The Presence of God", "Justice" and "Discipleship Classes.
If you look closely you'll also see a cartoon depiction of a
Community Garden. The List also included words like "Going to Serve",
"Love", "Joy", "Diversity", "Purpose", "Open" and "Enthusiastic".

Naughty Church
And here is the opposite list. The words and phrases that describe
what we identified as "The Naughty Church". The picture includes
words and phrases like "Burnt Out Lightbulbs", "Sorry, we are closed",
and "Country Club Church". Other descriptors were "Judgmental",
"Complacency" and "Boring".
 We took those evocative words and phrases that describe the High-Road Church and then we started to dream together. What would the ideal church look like? How would it act? What would it do? What makes it different or distinct or unique? And instead of simply discussing those questions we engaged our creative minds through some hands-on, arts and crafts time! You want to know just how creative our Hope Team is here at FCC Scottsdale? Here are just a few of the art projects that members of our team created to represent the Dream Church God is calling us to be.

 First thing is first. We have some amazing artists in our church!

Second thing, the nine members from our church sat down together to talk about our art and then we created a written list of the themes that we saw occurring over and over again. That list included "Christ-Centered", "Open Doors", "Spiritual Growth", "Diversity", "Community", "Service", "Joy", "Loving Others", and "Acceptance."

We were supposed to simply list those words on a great big sheet of paper, but instead our team (feeling inspired and creative) did an impromptu artistic rendering that put Christ right at the center of our piece of paper and then the other words radiating out like rays from the sun.

We left the Hope Partnership Weekend Retreat inspired, excited, hope-filled, and...with homework! We are doing a 21-Day Challenge (more on that later) which means we have already had a follow-up meeting in the few days since our retreat, and at that meeting I put up our impromptu, artistic, list-like description of our Dream Church. The Hope Partnership and the 21-Day Challenge are going to help us get closer to being that "Dream Church" right here at FCC Scottsdale. You can look forward to hearing more about it and about how you can plug in and dream with us in the coming days, weeks, and months!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whiteboard: There is always hope

My Whiteboard picture this week is my hack-kneed version of one of the most famous pieces of graffiti in the world. 

Here is my version...

And here is the real version...

The real version is in the Southbank of London, and it was created by renowned artist Banksy. The art is known by many names. Some call it "The Balloon Girl" others call it "Red Heart" and still others call it "The Girl with the Red Balloon." But my favorite quasi-title for it is taken directly from the words that are stenciled in at the right edge of the piece -- "There is always hope".

Many have observed that the imagery itself feels sad -- a little girl has lost her balloon, that drifts away just out of reach -- and yet that stenciled text calls us back to a different place. After all, there is always hope. In fact, a keen observer might even note "It can symbolize loss, childhood floating away, the drifting away of dreams, or losing heart. But there is always hope. She can move forward just a bit and recapture it."

This week I'm thinking about hope.

Maybe it is because I am fresh off of the Hope Partnership Leadership Retreat that members of our church took part in. That bit of wordplay "Hope Partnership has me thinking about hope" is certainly working on me (and the sermon) this week.

But I think it is more.

It has to do with the sermon scripture that is waiting for us this week as well. The Psalmist tells us "You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth," and then continues "Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you."

So this Sunday we'll be talking about hope. About a powerful weekend retreat that will help shape the future story of our congregation. About a little girl reaching up for her balloon. About the Psalmist's powerful testimony. About the faithful refrain, "There is always hope." 


Psalm 71:1-6 Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Three Things from the Special Congregational Meeting

We had a Special Congregational Meeting (over lunch) in the Fellowship Hall following worship on Sunday.
Here are "The Three Things You Need to Know" from that meeting:

  1. We formally approved our very own Al Beasley as our Commissioned Minister of Visitation! After literally years of preparation including special coursework, regular meetings with the Arizona Commission on Ministry, prayerful consideration with myself (and several other ministers as they served this congregation), and in response to a true calling our unanimous congregational vote officially designates Rev. Al as our Commissioned Minister of Visitation. More details to follow about the Commissioning Service that will happen later this fall...
  2. The 2013 Matching Fund is underway! In response to the "Faith Budget" we passed for 2013 we have a $30,000 deficit to make up. We are blessed to have an anonymous donor who has offered to match any funds that come in over and above individuals regular pledges up to $10,000. It is a tremendous opportunity that God has given us! Letters went out in the mail earlier this week to let members and friends know about the 2013 Matching Fund. We'll be receiving pledges for the next 4 Sundays and will accept donations to the Matching Fund up to the middle of December.
  3. We have a marvelous leadership here at FCC Scottsdale! I am ever thankful for the steady, determined, faithful leadership of Sandi DeFeo, Bob Stall, and Carol Tidrow. As our Executive Team they not only planned an excellent Special Congregational Meeting, but they made their presentations with care and hope. They have put in countless volunteer hours serving our congregation, and we are blessed to have them as leaders of our congregation. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Whiteboard: Hope Partnership

Well, that is Hope Partnership's Logo up on the Whiteboard this week.

Which can mean only one thing...our second Hope Partnership Retreat Weekend is coming up!

This weekend I'll be away with the eight members of our Hope Partnership Team. We will be gathering with members from the six other Hope Partnership Churches in Arizona (Foothills, FCC Mesa, FCC Tucson, Saguaro, Community Christian in Marana, and Capilla del Sol) as well as leaders from Indianapolis (home of our Denominational Headquarters) for the second round of Hope Partnership Training.

It will be an amazing weekend with opportunities to worship, learn, sing, celebrate, grow in faith, and deepen our understanding of what it means to be the church in the world today.

Our Hope Partnership Team has been working hard to get our homework assignment ready for the weekend. We completed a 3-page Whitepaper Report on our church that includes information about our history, our church campus, our budget, how we spend our time, and the demographics of the community around us. It is a fascinating study that will be the key to our Hope Partnership Weekend.

When we return we'll have the opportunity to share that Whitepaper with different leadership groups in the life of our church (Administrative Council and the Membership Team are already planning on reviewing the materials; other groups will follow!).

While I am away this weekend, Sandi DeFeo will be filling the pulpit in order to bring a powerful message about Mary and Martha. You are going to love it!

So this weekend please keep our Hope Partnership Team in your prayers. In fact, please pray for all the Hope Partnership teams that will be gathering in Globe, Arizona this weekend, and pray for the leaders and facilitators who will be journeying with us as well!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Whiteboard: True Treasure

After a several week break from the Blog (I was in Spain for vacation over the last two weeks visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew) we are back in business!

This week scripture happens to overlap perfectly with the work of the church.

You see, this week's assigned scripture reading comes from Luke 12:32-40 and includes the well known line, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." That biblical admonition lines up with our Special Congregational Meeting for this Sunday where will be talking about fundraisers and revenue streams for the church. (Please Note: We'll also be affirming our very own Al Beasley as the Commissioned Minister of Visitation for our congregation! Please plan on attending this Special Congregational Meeting.)

So I couldn't help but put up a simple little something on the Whiteboard about our treasure and our hearts.


Luke 12:32-40

 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
 ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
 ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’