Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whiteboard: Ronald McDonald House and Healthy Packs

That's right, it is The Fifth With First!

This time around our Workship Project teams us up with the Ronald McDonald House (that is their logo depicted on the left side of The Whiteboard). We'll be helping out at the Ronald McDonald House this Sunday (after our brief prayer service at the big ramada at Chaparral Park) by cleaing up the common room, making sack lunches for the families, and doing some light maintenance work outside.

For folks attending the Worship Service in the Sanctuary you'll get to learn more about the Healthy Packs program in worship and then actually pack some Healthy Packs in the Fellowship Hall during Coffee Hour!

It is going to be great either way, and both services will be tied together by our morning's scripture reading from Exodus 3:1-15.

It is a familiar scripture passage, one that we know as The Story of the Burning Bush.

But don't let its familiarity keep you from its startling lesson, namely that God needs us.

God needs us to listen.

God needs us to reach out.

God needs us to be a part of the plan of salvation, not just for ourselves but for all God's people.

Just like God invites Moses to be a part of the larger plan, God invites us to be a part of the work of salvation.

Just like God pushes Moses beyond his comfort zone, God pushes us to take up challenges that we never thought we could handle on our own. Which is the point really, because we are not on our own. God is with us -- inviting us, challenging us, pushing us, needing us to be willing participants in everything that is to come.

So come out this Sunday for Workship or Worship. Come to hear God's word, to celebrate God's love, and to live out your faith as we serve our local community.


Exodus 3:1-15 Moses at the Burning Bush

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’ God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”: This is my name for ever,and this my title for all generations.

Regional Assembly

Regional Assembly is coming! Regional Assembly is coming!

On  October 24 and 25 Disciples from all over Arizona (and beyond!) we be gathering together at First Christian Church Tucson to celebrate the good things God is doing through our congregations and discern the new things God is calling us to boldly take on.

Built around the theme "Dare to Love Boldly" the Regional Assembly is going to be incredible. Amazing guest speakers have been lined up (more on that in a second), an amazing musician is coming in to lead our worship services (yep, more on that coming up in a second too) and there are all sorts of workshops, breakout sessions, fellowship opportunities, and ministry ideas that will help us serve God in ever deeper ways.

You can learn more about the Assembly by visiting the Arizona Region's excellent new Regional Assembly Website at

While you are there, make sure to click on the "Guest Speakers" button to read all about the Rev. Rebecca Hale and the Rev. Jose Morales who will be leading us through the Assembly.

Rev. Hale serves as the National Benevelonce Association's Vice President for Mission and Ministry. She is passionate about helping local congregations develop powerful mission programs that effectively reach out to their local communities. She is an amazing preacher, a gifted leader, and true believer in the power of chruches to make a real difference in the world. Rev. Hale will be delivering Saturday morning's keynote address to the Region as well as preaching the sermon at the Closing Worship Service.

Rev. Morales recently completed his ministry as the Regional Minister of the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is beginning a Ph.D. program at Claremont School of Theology. He is a dynamic preacher (in both English and Spanish) who brings a compelling vision of multiculturalism and inclusion to the church. Rev. Morales will be preaching at the Opening Worship Service on Friday night and then delivering a special keynote address at the Regional Luncheon on Saturday.

Our guest musician for the Assembly will be Andra Moran. Andra is a songwriter, singer, author, worship designer and freelance touring musician. The daughter of two Disciples ministers, Andra quite literally spent her formative years in sanctuaries and fellowship halls, singing in the children’s choir, napping on pews, and leading music in her youth groups. Currently, Andra serves Woodmont Christian Church as the Creative Director at The Bridge an emergent worship community in Nashville, TN. Andra will bring her passion for engaging, authentic worship and music to the Assembly as our Music Director for the weekend.

Visit to learn more about the Assembly and contact us at the Church Office if you are interested in registering!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Whiteboard: Keep a Secret

One of the most most familiar passages in scripture concludes with one of the strangest endings in all of the Bible.

Jesus asks the question "Who do you say I am?" and Peter gives that blessed response, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!" and then what does Jesus...instructs them to not tell anyone about it?!?

It is a perplexing ending to an otherwise amazing piece of scripture.

Scholars call Jesus' response (where he sternly orders the Disciples not to tell anyone he is the Messiah) the Messianic Secret. It happens over and over and over again in scripture. So what does it mean? Well, we'll be talking about that in worship this Sunday!


Matthew 16:13-20
Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 

And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 

He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 

And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 

Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Fifth with First on August 31

Plans are coming together for “The Fifth With First”  at the end of August. 

Since the summer temperatures are still too hot for us work with Operation Fix-It (don’t worry, we’ll get back with them in November, I promise!) we’ve reached out to another terrific partner of ours here in the Valley – The Ronald McDonald House! 

For years and years we’ve collected pop tops for Ronald McDonald House, and on “The Fifth With First” on August 31 our Workship Project will have us doing direct hands on service at the Ronald McDonald House in Phoenix. This will include packing lunches for the families that are staying there as well as cleaning up the community room to make it a neat, tidy, beautiful place for the families. 

More details will be forthcoming, but I want to make sure that invitation gets out to everyone! 

For folks who are planning on being a part of the Worship Service here at the church that day we are arranging to have another “Healthy Packs Assembly Line” set up in the Fellowship Hall after worship so that you can be a part of the Outreach Efforts on “The Fifth With First” on August 31 as well.

Whiteboard: More than Crumbs

So that it is a piece of bread with crumbs coming off the bottom corner.

Anytime I have to explain what is drawn on The Whiteboard I feel like I've failed in the endeavor, but to be honest drawing a piece of bread is surprisingly difficult a whiteboard -- the colors are just all wrong!

Anyway, it isn't the bread that it is the important part this week. No, it is the crumbs. The crumbs are the place we need to focus, because the crumbs is where the story (and possibly even Jesus' ministry) takes a significant turn.

To set the stage, Jesus has fed the 5,000, has walked on water, and argued with the Pharisees about their harsh legalism. All of which is to say, now he is on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is to say the Gentile side (remember that "Gentile" is the New Testament way of saying "other" or "different" or "not our people"). So it is no surprise that Jesus encounters a Gentile woman; a Canaanite woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon.

It would appear that word of Jesus (and his miraculous powers and particularly his healing ministry) has spread across the Sea of Galilee into Gentile territory too. The Canaanite woman has a sick daughter, or as they said that back in the ancient world: her daughter is "tormented by a demon."

The Canaanite woman approaches Jesus and even tries calling him by his proper title when she says, "Lord, Son of David." But Jesus ignores her.

Did I mention this was a strange story?

Yes, Jesus ignores her cries at first. And so she keeps crying out to him. In fact she keeps crying out to such an extent that the Disciples pleaded with Jesus to make this woman go away. So Jesus says to her, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

Strange story, right? Not what you were expecting Jesus to say. Well, it is about to get stranger.

The Canaanite woman and Jesus start to argue. Jesus talks about why you wouldn't take the children's bread and throw it out to the dogs (which is basically calling this woman and he sick child dogs, right?) and then she counters "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table."

Then something amazing happens. Jesus concedes the point. He recognizes the strength of this woman's faith and commitment and he grants her request.

I've always joked that the easy comeback is sitting right there for Jesus. The Woman says, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table," and Jesus could have quickly retorted, "Well then the dogs need to stay outside where they belong."

But the point of the story isn't that Jesus is quick with a one-liner, or even that he respects a good comeback when he hears it (plenty of folks make a big deal out of the fact that this is really the only time in the Gospels when someone is able to change Jesus' mind). No, the point of the story is that the kingdom of God is expanding. That this religious movement Jesus is spearheading is getting bigger. That it isn't simply about one religious community hearing the power of the good news of the Gospel, but that it is about sharing it with the world, and particularly sharing it with the outsiders, the foreigners, the people that society tells us aren't worth wasting our time on.

And it isn't just about this one woman, either. The way Matthew tells the story, right after this encounter with the Canaanite woman Jesus continues along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (still on the Gentile side). Soon huge crowds surround him (sound familiar), and Jesus starts to teach and to heal (sound familiar), and with thousands of people around him he tells his disciples to take a few small loaves of bread and a handful of fish to feed the multitudes (no really, this should sound VERY familiar!). It is a mirror image of what Jesus has just done on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, on the more familiar, more comfortable, Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee -- and not his ministry is continuing on the Gentile side, on the foreign side, on the different side, on the side that is filled with people who are "not our people." It is not just crumbs that Jesus offers, it is the fullness of the good news of the gospel, and he offers it to everyone.

So we do too.


Matthew 15:10-28
Things That DefileThen he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding?Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith
Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Whiteboard: Risky Business

Peter takes a risk.

He gets scared by the wind and that is what we remember and that is what we make fun of him for, but lets give credit where credit is due: Peter takes a risk.

And that is not easy. In fact, it is the very definition of risk -- doing something that is not easy where the outcome is less than certain.

The disciples are in a boat and after being battered about by the waves they have drifted far away from the shore. So Jesus comes out to them, walking on the water to do so. It is a spectacular scene. One that reminds us that Jesus really does come and find us just as we are, which is a miracle in its own regard. 

Jesus speaks to the distress disciples (who have mistaken him for a ghost) and says, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

Then Peter, blessed impetuous Peter, responds, "Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." And Jesus does. And Peter steps out of the boat and if you read really closely you'll see that Peter in fact walks on the water too.

Even if only for a moment, even if only until the wind kicks up and Peter gets scared and then he starts sinking and needs saving all over again from Jesus his Lord. 

But Peter takes a risk. He trusts that Jesus is who he says that he is. He believes that he too can follow, and he has faith that Jesus will empower him to do something that he couldn't ordinarily do by himself. 

Which sounds like the challenge of faith, doesn't it? That we are challenged to trust that Jesus is how he says he is, to believe that we too can follow him, and to have the faith that Jesus will empower us to do things that we simply couldn't do ordinarily on our own. 

Faith, it turns out, is risky business. And that is what we'll be talking about this coming Sunday in worship. Step on out of the boat, come encounter the living Christ, and worship with us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale. 


Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.
25 And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’
29 He said, ‘Come.’
So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

2015 General Assembly

General Assembly (the big old national/international meeting of our denomination) is less that a year away! The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will be July 18-22, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. 

Check out this great introductory video and then scroll down for a whole slew of links!

You can register now for General Assembly and save nearly 20 percent off the full registration price. It also spreads the cost over two fiscal years and gives you a chance to make other plans for enjoying Ohio before and after the event. 

If you have never been to an assembly, there is a page just for you. 

Peruse the first bits of information on the website now to see the learning opportunities and scheduled worship speakers.

Youth information is also beginning to be added. 

See you in Columbus!