Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Whiteboard: Freedom Sunday

{Click on the picture for a larger version of the image}

This coming Sunday we will prepare our hearts for the 4th of July in our time of worship (I know it is still June this Sunday, but it is the Sunday before July 4th!).

And what better scripture passage could we have than Galatians 5!

Galatians 5 begins, "For freedom Christ has set us free."

On the 4th of July we celebrate the dreams, aspirations, and very best of our country and on the Sunday right before the July 4 we celebrate Freedom Sunday by lifting up the very best of who we are as believers who have been set free by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Even though that first line from Galatians 5 inspires our worship service this week, for the Whiteboard I was particularly inspired by one of the last line of our sermon scripture. That line reads, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

I don't know about you, but I certainly know that I am in need of those gifts of the spirit. Thus the picture this week!


Galatians 5:1, 13-25 -- Freedom in Christ

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Rev. Dr. Bob Howard and FCC Globe

Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Bob Howard and the good people of First Christian Church in Globe!

This past Sunday Bob was installed as the settled pastor at FCC Globe, and several of the good folks from FCC Scottsdale were there to witness it and celebrate this blessed event.

You'll remember that Bob was the Interim Minister here at FCC Scottsdale in 2009-2010, and that his son R.J. has been active part of our Youth Group and his wife Marilyn still joins us in worship some Sunday mornings.

Installations are a wonderful time where a church a pastor publicly affirm their covenant promises to walk with each other in the mutual mission and ministry that the Lord gives them. Oh, and as you can tell from the photo above, there is cake afterward!

We had a dozen members from FCC Scottsdale in attendance for the event.

Congratulations Rev. Dr. Howard and FCC Globe! Blessings on your ministry together!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Whiteboard: Gerasene Demoniac

Luke 8:26-39 -- Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.
When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day Chorus

On Father's Day the fathers and sons of FCC Scottsdale helped us to open worship by singing "Rise Up, O Men of God" at the beginning of our worship service.

(Don't miss my own son Henry right there in the middle of the chorus!)

Thank you men! You all sounded great, and I look forward to welcoming each of you into the choir when we start back up in the fall!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Global Ministries: Prayers for Mexico

Through Global Ministries, the Arizona Region is partnered with our Disciples Missionaries at work in Mexico. This week our Mexico Mission Partners are the subject of the Global Ministries Weekly Prayers.

Read on to learn more!

 Pray for Mexico on Sunday, June 16, 2013
June 16, 2013
Prayers for Mexico:
God our Rock, our Refuge in times of trouble, and the One who has brought us to this day , we give thanks for the continuing signs of your presence in our world.  Help us respond in gratitude that we may love our neighbor, be they next door, in Mexico, or elsewhere in  your world.  Help us to make your beloved people and relationships with people our priority in every realm of our lives.

Teach us to live our lives in the wholeness of your eternal values.  We need your guidance to be able to live in harmony with one another, show hospitality to the strangers among us, and to minister to the needy wherever they may be.

In times of setback, in times of distress, help us to recognize the opportunity for your grace to be at work as it is working in your church at Maravillas.  Strengthen our faith and guide us that we might respond in such times in a manner that will enhance the gifts you have given us and share them extravagantly with your world.

We pray in the name of Christ, Amen

Mission Stewardship Moment from Mexico:
“No hay mal que por bien no venga” (There is nothing bad that something good cannot come out of it) is a widely quoted Mexican proverb which the Maravillas Disciples Church on the outskirts of San Luis Potosi, Mexico is now living out.  Since the collapse of their sanctuary roof on December 29 and subsequent demolition of the building, the congregation has been blessed with the prayers, offerings and presence of fellow church members in the area and beyond.

Last month representatives of the two largest congregations in San Luis Potosi brought $2500 to the afternoon worship service at Maravillas.  And Pastor Josue Martinez Cisneros, President of the C.I.C.E. Disciples churches assured the members more would be contributed.  Global Ministries arranged for a construction advisor Jim Piper to spend four weeks helping with the design and planning of the new sanctuary.  Jim has now returned to Maravillas to assist with laying the foundation and putting up the new sanctuary’s walls.

These early signs of solidarity, fraternal love and support have enabled the congregation to make fast progress in the construction project.  “I am so grateful for this unexpected, new opportunity to show our love for our Church and our God” Building Committee Chair Ramiro ­­Ortiz Pardo states.  And other expect the project to result in deepening the congregation’s faith and commitment to serve.

When he was leaving for home in Idaho, Jim Piper was determined to return soon.  In addition to his satisfaction in helping the congregation plan the new construction, he expressed gratitude for the good care and tasty meals provided daily by church members.  “Their hospitality has been amazing” Jim declared.  “I have the time and I love it here.  How could I not come back?” he adds with a big smile.

(Prayer and Mission Moment by Doug Smith and Kate Moyer)

Mission Partners in Mexico:
Video Resources about Mexico:

HEPAC video -

More information on Mexico:

Global Ministries Missionaries in Mexico:
Douglas Smith and Kathleen Moyer, members of Delhaven Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), La Puente, California, serve with the Joint Table for Mission Development formed by the Christian Congregational Churches of Mexico, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Mexico (ICDCM - Iglesia Cristiana Discípulos de Cristo de Mexico), and the Fraternity of Evangelical Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) of Mexico (CICEDCM – Confraternidad de Iglesias Cristianas Evangélicas (Discípulos de Cristo). Doug serves as a consultant for Mission Development, with emphasis in stewardship and resource development. Kate serves as a consultant for Mission Development, with emphasis on women’s development and theological education. 
You can learn more about their work through photos and words on their blog, Erasing Borders.

Whiteboard: Father's Day

This coming Sunday is Father's Day and we'll be using Luke 11:1-13 as our scripture text. It is Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer, which means that on Father's Day we'll be talking about how Jesus taught us to pray by saying "Our Father..."

And that gives me a chance to tell the story about a church sign that I drove past hundreds of times on my way back and forth to the church I served in Northeast Ohio. No, it wasn't the church sign for the congregation I served, but rather the church sign for a congregation right up the street from where I lived.

This particular church had one of those signs with the moveable type, so they could write a different message every week to try and get the attention of drivers going by. And to be honest, I didn't always like what they written up on the church sign. The underlying theology of each message usually was, lets say, lacking.

Anyway, this week on the Whiteboard I have a rendering of one of those messages on a makeshift church sign that it might serve as a reminder to me and a teaser to you about what I'll be preaching on this Sunday.

So join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale as we lift up our Father's at the church and celebrate Our Father whom we worship. We'll have a special rendition of "Rise Up O Men of God" sung by our Fathers and Sons Chorus and we'll be awarding the Man of the Year Award as well. I'll see you Sunday!


Luke 11:1-13 The Lord’s Prayer

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.”And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Whiteboard: Praise the Lord

Drawing on the words of Psalm 146, our theme this Sunday in worship will be "Praise the Lord!" 

I know. To a certain extent that is our theme every Sunday in worship. But this Sunday we'll consider the question, "What does it mean to praise the Lord?" and the follow-up question, "And how do I do it?"

When we wrestle with such foundational questions I like to turn to the works of Frederick Buechner. Author, pastor, humorist, and theologian here is what Buechner has to say about praise from his masterwork "Wishful Thinking."

You praise the heartbreaking beauty of Jessye Norman singing the Vier Letzte Lieder of Richard Strauss. You praise the new puppy for making its offering on the lawn for once instead of on the living-room rug. Maybe you yourself are praised for some generous thing you have done. In each case, the praise that is handed out is a measured response. It is a matter of saying something to one degree or another complimentary, with the implication that if Jessye Norman's voice had sprung a leak or the puppy hadn't made it outside in time or your generous deed turned out to be secretly self-serving, a different sort of response altogether would have been called for.
The way the [Psalmist] describes it, praising God is another kettle of fish altogether. It is about as measured as a volcanic eruption, and there is no implication that under any conceivable circumstances it could be anything other than what it is.  The whole of creation is in on the act -- the sun and moon, the sea, fire and snow, Holstein cows and white-throated sparrows, old men in walkers and children who still haven't taken their first step. Their praise is not chiefly a matter of saying anything because most of creation doesn't deal in words. Instead the snow whirls, the fire roars, the Holstein bellows, the old man watches the moon rise. Their praise is not something that at their most complimentary they say but something that at the their truest they are.
 We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention. Watch how the trees exult when the wind is in them. Mark the utter stillness of the great blue heron in the swamp. Listen to the sound of the rain. Learn how to say Hallelujah from the ones who say it right. 
I'll see you on Sunday as we praise the Lord!


Psalm 146 -- Praise for God’s Help

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!