Thursday, September 25, 2014

Whiteboard: Gifts of the Spirit

This Sunday we are talking about Spiritual Gifts.

In fact, we are doing more than talking about them!

Immediately following worship this Sunday we'll have a Spiritual Gifts Potluck Luncheon. Please bring your favorite potluck dinner item to share with the church, and come and enjoy some world-class eats as well as the kind of warm, loving fellowship that defines our congregation.

During that luncheon you'll have an opportunity to take a short Spiritual Gifts Assessment. This one-page, front-and-back assessment will allow you to learn a little bit more about the Spiritual Gifts that God has blessed you with.

You see, as people of faith we wholehearted believe that God has given each Christian one or more special abilities, which are to be used for the purpose of unifying the body of Christ and for the growth of God's Kingdom. These abilities are called spiritual gifts.Like other presents, it is impossible to fully appreciate and make use of our spiritual gifts until they have been opened. The self-assessment inventory will help us to begin doing just that!

Our worship service will be built around 1 Corinthians 12, where the Apostle Paul tells us about the variety of Spiritual Gifts that God can bless us with, and also details how each of us have unique gifts and unique roles to play. We do not all have the same gifts, but rather God has blessed us with a wide diversity and broad variety of Spiritual Gifts, each one of which can be used to further God's Kingdom.

Oh, and if you can't make it to worship this week, or if you can't stick around for the Potluck Luncheon we have plenty of extra Spiritual Gift Assessments that you can pick up from the church office so that you can be a part of the fun!


1 Corinthians 12 Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 

If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? 

If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council held their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday September 21 immediately
following the Pumpkin Patch Information Session that immediately followed the Worship Service. As always, here are "The Three Things" you need to know from that meeting:

  1. Calendar Stuff!The Calendar is getting quite full at FCC Scottsdale. In the coming weeks we have:
    -- The Spiritual Gifts Potluck Luncheon on Sunday 9/28 in the Fellowship
    -- The Disciples 101 Class in the on 9/28 (immediately following the luncheon) in the Sanctuary.
    -- The first Keenagers Luncheon of the Season on 10/1 in the Fellowship Hall (featuring the music of the Rags Allen Band!)
    -- Girl's Nite Out on 10/7 in the Fellowship with special guest speaker, our very own Katie Ballentine!
    -- The Pumpkin Patch Delivery on 10/11
    -- The Membership Appreciation Luncheon on 10/19 (which will be feature the 2014 Chili Cook Off!)
  2. The Budget
    In advance of our upcoming Stewardship Campaign, Administrative Council reviewed the 2015 Budget Proposal. Our Finance Team (and particularly our Treasurer) has been working tirelessly to put all of our budget line items together to help us further our mission and ministry and continue our work of reaching out into our community with the good news of God's love!
  3. Regional AssemblyThe Arizona Regional Assembly will be held at First Christian Church Tucson on October 24 and 25. If you are interested in attending then come and talk to us in the Church Office and we'll get you all signed up. You can learn more about the Arizona Regional Assembly by visiting the website --

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Whiteboard: In the Vineyard

Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God and he tells this story about the eccentric hiring practices of a particular vineyard owner.

The owner goes out early in the morning when the harvest is ready and he hires a whole bunch of people offering to pay them a fair days wage for a fair days work. The workers gladly accept and get right to it.

Then the owner goes back out at 9AM and hires a bunch of other people offering to pay them "whatever is right." These workers gladly accept and get right to it.

He goes out and repeats the whole thing again at Noon, then at 3PM, and then one last time at 5PM.

When the day is done and it is time to pay out the owner gives the full daily wage to each and every person who came to work. It doesn't matter if you got there at 5PM, 3PM, Noon, 9AM, or so stinking early that you don't even know what time it is -- everybody gets the same wage.

Which is a delight to the people who came into the vineyard at 5PM, and apparently an affront to the folks who have been then since o-dark-early.

It is a kindergartners favorite complaint: It is not fair!

It is the most basic sense of justice in this world -- fairness. I had to work longer and harder than that guy for the same amount of money and it is not fair!

And here is the thing about the Kingdom of God: It is not fair. It is grace.

If our salvation had anything to do with us getting a fair treatment for the things we've done, well, then we'd all be in trouble. So our entry into the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with the work we put in. Instead, it has everything to do with God's lavish, extravagant welcome. That is, with God's grace.

And if we really get it, and are really a part of that Kingdom work, well, then our response to somebody else who has come in to work on the Lord's behalf wouldn't be to complain. No, our response would be to celebrate! That is the Kingdom of God. A Kindgom of grace, extravagance, and welcome.


Matthew 20:1-16
The Labourers in the Vineyard

‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 

When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. 

When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 

And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” 

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” 

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 

And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” 

But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” 

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Unity in Community

We have this way of confusing unity with uniformity.

Uniformity means that everything is exactly the same in every detail. Uniformity means that every widget that comes off the line at the factory is identical in every technical specification.

That is not unity.

Unity is about purpose. It is about calling. It is about volition. Unity is about working together to achieve one common aim, despite the differences we have and the diversity of gifts we bring.

You know, "despite" is probably the wrong word there. We might be better off saying "regardless of" or even "because of". In fact, lets try that: Unity is about working together to achieve one common aim, because of the differences we have and the diversity of gifts we bring.

That probably still needs some polish, but that it why it is a good thing that we have a few days between The Whiteboard post and the sermon I'll preach on Sunday! But I hope you take my point -- Unity and diversity are not polar opposites. We can be a diverse community (one that is blessed with many differences, with a variety of gifts, with a panoply of blessings) and still be united (in Christ Jesus our Lord, in serving God, in faithfully reaching out).

So this Sunday, as we continue our Community Sermon Series we'll talk about diversity and unity, and how having both of those things present at the exact same time is truly a blessing!


Romans 14:1-12 Do Not Judge Another

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Three Things from the Elders

The Elders had their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday September 7 after the worship service. Here are The Three Things you should know from that meeting!
  1. We spent a good portion of the meeting prayerfully discerning who should be nominated to serve as Elders beginning in 2015. It was a fruitful, spirit led conversation that will lead to good things for the spiritual leadership of FCC Scottsdale. In the coming days and weeks individual Elders will be approaching members of the congregation to ask them to consider serving as an Elder at FCC Scottsdale.
  2. Regional Assembly is coming October 23-24 at First Christian Church in Tucson. You can read more about Regional Assembly on the Blog by clicking here, or you can go straight to the source and visit the Regional Assembly Website by clicking here.
  3. Speaking of Regional Assembly, I have been nominated to serve as Vice Moderator for the Arizona Region! I spoke with the Elders about the responsibilities and opportunities that come with this position, and they enthusiastically offered their support. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

August 31 The Fifth With First

For "The Fifth With First" last Sunday our Workship Team partnered with The Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix and folks participating in the Worship Service on the church campus took part in packing 30 bags for Healthy Packs!

It was a terrific day that surprisingly included media coverage from two different local news affiliates!

Below you will find the clips that aired on Fox News 10 and Channel 3 News this past weekend as well as some photos of the work we did to help our local community and give glory to God!

After a brief prayer service at Chaparral Park, our Workship Team headed to the Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix for a morning of serving our community. Here are some photos of the hard work our team put in. 

Henry cleaning up the Kid's Playroom. 

Carolanne and Carol prepping lunch for the families. 

Shirley cleaning up the fridge.  

Brooke washing windows. 

 Michelle washing windows. 

 Carrie and Kevin washing windows...did I mention
there were a lot of windows?

Bob spraying weeds.  

Brian sweeping up.  

Bob using the leaf blower to clean up the entry way... 

...and harass Henry! 

A fully stocked fridge with sandwiches, fruits, and veggies
for the families.  

More sandwiches.  

Our Workship Team...and Ronald McDonald, of course.  

Rev. Brian with Ryan (site manager of the Ronald McDonald House)
...and Ronald McDonald, of course! 

The note we left for the familes of the Ronald McDonald House.  

Healthy snacks that we brought for the families
staying at the Ronald McDonald House. 

Henry and Ronald McDonald, of course!

Meanwhile back at the church after the Worship Service in the Sanctuary our church members went over to the Fellowship Hall for an outreach project that included...

...THIRTY Healthy Packs being assembled as part of...

...the Healthy Packs Assembly Line!

Thank you to everyone who participated in The Fifth with First. We will continue with our blend of Workship Projects and Worship Services on the fifth Sunday of each month that has five Sundays. Our next celebration of The Fifth With First will be on November 30!

Whiteboard: Kick Off Sunday

It is Kick Off Sunday this weekend at FCC Scottsdale!

Even though the Whiteboard took a distinctly Football feel this week, Kick Off Sunday means that we are kicking off the Fall Program Year here at the church. After so many of our ministry groups and fellowship groups took a nice summer hiatus to recharge our batteries and get away from the summer heat for a little while, with the start of September things are rolling again here at the church.

So this Sunday morning our Sunday School classes will be back in full swing. In fact, I'm thrilled to announce that we have added another Elementary-aged Sunday School Class this fall! We'll have a 4th Grade through 6th Grade Class and a 1st Grade through 3rd Grade Class, along with the Kindergarten and younger class in the Nursery. The Adult Sunday School Class will be starting back up this week with their regular weekly meetings in the Arizona Room.

In fact, some groups are even getting started ahead of Kick-Off Sunday. The Workday Crew (weather permitting) is planning on being out Saturday morning to make the church grounds beautiful. The Chancel Choir has already started back up, and would be more than happy to have your lovely voice join them!

In the coming days and weeks the DWM Circle Groups will get started, our Youth Group Programs will kick off again, and at the beginning of October the Keenagers will have their first meeting.

Oh, and we'll be Kicking Off a new Sermon Series this Sunday as well. All throughout the month of September we'll be talking about Community -- What it means to be a community, how we best live in community with one another, how we welcome new people into our community, and what it means to be a community build on forgiveness.

So join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale for Kick Off Sunday!

Matthew 18:15-22 
Reproving Another Who Sins

‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the churchsins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

From Week of Compassion's New Executive Director

A friend of our congregation, the Rev. Vy Nguyen started this week in a new job -- Executive Director of Week of Compassion.

We know Vy here at the church through his years working for Church World Services helping to organize the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk. In fact, Vy was the very first guest preacher who ever filled the pulpit for me when I was out town!

And of course we know Week of Compassion. As a church family we have been supporting Week of Copmassion for years with our special offering every February.

So I am delighted to share with you Vy's first communication as Executive Director of Week of Compassion! Here it is:

From Week of Compassion's New Executive Director

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your new Executive Director of Week of Compassion. 

During these first months of transition, it has been common for people to ask me how I pronounce my
name, Vy Nguyen.  The easiest way I can explain its pronunciation is, "Vee" and "Nwin."  While I am new as a staff person to Week of Compassion, I am very familiar with this life-saving ministry and its many decades long history of offering hope and healing both to individuals and communities. 
I am one of the many individuals who received this life-saving gift over three decades ago.

Week of Compassion's partnerships with Disciples' Refugee and Immigration Ministries and Church World Service made it possible for me, as a child refugee, to come to the United States after the war ended in Vietnam in the 1970s.  Because I received this life-giving gift so long ago, it's an honor and a privilege today to come full circle with Week of Compassion and now be part of this life-saving, world-changing work.

Exciting Changes...

There is much change happening within the life of our church, and it is an exciting time to be church.  This week, Week of Compassion, along with other various general unit ministries in Indianapolis, moved into a new office location about half a mile from the old office space.  We have also had some significant staff changes in the last nine months: Rev. Amy Gopp stepped down as Executive Director of Week of Compassion at the end of last December and is now working with our partner at Church World Service, and Rev. Johnny Wray came back as our full- time Interim Executive Director.  During this transition period, Week of Compassion has continued to respond to many dire situations on the church's behalf.  I am grateful to Rev. Johnny Wray, Rev. Brandon Gilvin and Rev. Dawn Barnes, who worked tirelessly by taking up more responsibilities and ensuring that Week of Compassion could continue its work seamlessly. Because of their leadership and guidance, Week of Compassion continues to respond effectively and quickly to the many situations calling for Disciples to respond.

While change is always happening around us, the one thing that will always remain the same is the mission of Week of Compassion.

As the relief, refugee, and development mission fund for our church, we have always and will continue to respond to natural and human-caused disasters with our sisters and brothers during their time of greatest need.  Together as a church and with our resources, we are able to provide hope and healing to vulnerable communities whom we might have never met otherwise, and we will continue to walk and journey with them along their struggles.  This is our work as a church: we are the presence of hope and comfort when hope seems lost.  This has always been our mission and will continue to be our guide as we move forward.
Week of Compassion is a leader and strong partner in emergency response and long-term development work.  We are one of the first to reach out to our Regional Ministers when a crisis occurs so we can find creative ways to respond with sensitivity and compassion.  As children fled their homes in Central America to search for safety, we reached out to our partners at Church World Service and Refugee & Immigration Ministries to make sure that the children were protected and safe.  As these situations continue to unfold, we are committed to staying and deepening our work of providing relief and comfort by doing real, sustainable work on the ground.  We will be there for the long-term, even after the media is no longer talking about these situations.

We respond with partnership.  We do the work ecumenically. We represent wholeness when the world seems to fragment. 
We serve a God who is compassionate, a God of Immanuel, a God who is always with us no matter what.  We serve a God who was present with the Israelites when they were walking through the desert and provided comfort and guidance, a God who broke down cultural barriers and walked up to a woman at the well to ask her for a cup of holy water. Our God is a God of life.  This is our compassionate God.  This is who we are called to be as Christ's followers.  Through Week of Compassion, we offer the presence of God in times of need in the same way that God offers God's self to us in our needs.

We respond.  We give.  We turn our compassion into action.
As I begin serving as your Executive Director of Week of Compassion, I am grateful for your partnership. 

Week of Compassion is able to do its work because of your kindness and your continued sharing of resources.  It is because of your generosity that we are able to more fully embody the reign and rule of God in our community, our nation, and our world.
I look forward to getting to know you and working with you in the upcoming weeks and months as we continue the important work and mission of Week of Compassion.

Grateful for our partnership,