Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whiteboard: Father Abraham

This Sunday we'll continue our Lenten Series on the Covenant Promises of God by talking about Father Abraham!

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
The Sign of the Covenant

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him,‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’

Feed My Starving Children

We received this lovely "Thank You" letter from our good friends at Feed My Starving Children after a team of volunteers from FCC Scottsdale went down to their Tempe facility to help combat global hunger:

First Christian Church,

Thank you so much for the generous donation! Because of you 6 children will receive a nutritious meal every day for an entire year! Thank you for sharing our mission again this year and for helping us bring HOPE to so many kids!

I also wanted to let you know that we are expanding and moving to Mesa this Spring! Our new packing site will nearly triple our capacity, allowing us to pack 50 million meals per year. It will take 150,000 volunteers to help us pack those meals so we would LOVE to have you join us at the new site once it’s opened. I’d love to talk with you about it more if you are interested.

You are a blessing,

Janine Skinner, Development Advisor
Feed My Starving Children

And here is the team at work:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Whiteboard: Lent

We are now in the Season of Lent. 

Lent is a time of deep introspection. It is a time of finding the courage to look into our very own hearts and see what we find there. It is a time of daring to notice the places where we are grateful for the good and beauty that exists inside each and every one of us, as well as to identify those places where we all fall short.

We would, of course, much rather skip over the season of Lent.

We would rather avoid Ash Wednesday entirely and jump from the Light Shining Glory of Epiphany straight to the cosmos altering victory of Easter. We would like to oversimplify things and simply say that some people are good and some people are bad, and all to readily settle ourselves into the first camp without even bothering to examine our motives, our actions, our inner critic that noisily and nastily seeks to tear everything to pieces.

Lent reminds us that life is not as black and white as our reductionistic, over-simplifications would make it. Things are not as clear cut as people being all good or all bad all the time...if ever. 

Lent reminds us that there are subtle shades in each and every one of us. Lent reminds us that there is good and bad in each and every one of us. Lent reminds us that we have a role to play in God’s salvation narrative for ourselves and for our world.

During the Sunday's of Lent this year we'll be focusing on the promises of God. As we look deeply into our selves and our motivations, seeking to grow in faith this Lenten Season, what better place to focus on worship services then on the promises of God. More specifically we'll be focusing on the great covenants of God as revealed in the Bible. We'll be talking about God's covenant with Abraham ("your descendants will outnumber the stars"), about the covenant promises of the Ten Commandments ("I am your God."), about the covenant promises of God's love ("For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..."), about Jeremiah's prophecy of a new covenant, and then how that new covenant came to fruition through Jesus Christ. 

This Sunday, we'll get started with the most well known of the biblical covenants -- God's rainbow promise to Noah after he got off the ark ("Never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.")

Come join us this Sunday at FCC Scottsdale as we take on the important work of the Lenten season, ad focus on the covenant promises of God!

Oh, and don't forget that we have a special Lenten Study Series on "Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism" that is starting up today. We'll meet in the Alpha/Omega Room at 6PM this evening to get started, or you can join Sandi on Saturday mornings in the East Office starting on 2/28. 


Genesis 9:8-17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’

God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Whiteboard: Love and Live

"God is love!" - 1 John 4:16

What better text could there be for the day after Valentine's Day?

And what better text could there for the first day of Week of Compassion?

So this Sunday we will celebrate the love of God!

1 John 4:7-16 God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Whiteboard: Eagles and Grasshoppers

This Sunday in worship we'll be talking about Isaiah 30:21-31, which contains some of the most familiar lines in scripture.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard?"
"The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth."

"Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles."

They shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

But the more I read through the scripture passage, the more I kept coming back to one particular image that we rarely focus on at all.

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

Yeah, grasshoppers. I haven't been able to stop thinking about grasshoppers this week, and why exactly Isaiah choose that specific image.

I mean, the eagle imagery we get. "They shall mount up with wings like eagles" is crystal clear. We think of those majestic, beautiful birds soaring high, seemingly effortlessly through the sky...

But grasshoppers? Not so much. 

Then I found this excellent blog post from Todd Weir. Then I read this incredible feature on the science behind grasshoppers' eyes. Then I decided to borrow Todd Weir's blog post title and use it as my sermon title! And suddenly we are talking about "Grasshopper Eyes and Eagle's Wings" on Sunday. And let me tell you, each one of them tells us something important about God, and lifts up to us a powerful image of how we can respond to the awesome wonder that is the Lord our God.

The only problem is, I'm not so good at drawing Grasshoppers. They are surprisingly complex! But eagles' wings? Those I can draw. Thus we ended up with this on The Whiteboard this week:

I'll see you on Sunday, where we will learn what it means to soar like eagle and look like a grasshopper!


Isaiah 40:21-31

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
mighty in power,
not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God’?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.


The Outreach Team sponsored a a work trip to Streetlight USA last weekend.

Streetlight USA helps young girls who have been victims of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Our sister churches Foothills Christian Church in Glendale and First Christian Church in Mesa have been active supporters of Streetlight USA, and I am grateful that our Outreach Team has started working with this crucially important ministry as well.

StreetLightUSA's mission is "To transition adolescent girls from trauma to triumph." and they implement that mission through a three-tier strategy of Awareness, Prevention, and Direct Care. By partnering with private corporations, public law makers, law enforcement, human services, and faith-based organizations they have created a collective impact that is interrupting the victimization of adolescent girls by the sex trade. They are helping girls find a new way forward so they can become independent, confident and successful young women.

Our Outreach Volunteers from FCC Scottsdale visited the residential campus where StreetLightUSA provides a healing and safe environment for adolescent girls age 11-17, who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Our volunteers met with the girls, played games with them, worked on art projects with them, prayed with them, and spent valuable time together. It was a sucessful, touching project and the Outreach Team is already planning the next trip. 

For More Information about StreetLightUSA: