Sunday, March 29, 2015

May 29, 2015 The Fifth With First

On Palm Sunday (May 29, 2015) members and friends from First Christian Church Scottsdale partnered with Operation Fix-It to put our faith into action and make a difference in the lives of our neighbors as part of The Fifth With First.

Here are some photos from the Workship Project that morning.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council had their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday March 15 after the worship service. Here are "The Three Things" you need to know from that meeting:

1) The Dream Fund Task Force brought an update of their work (they are meeting regularly, reviewing the dreams from the Dream Fund Suggestion Box, and moving ahead to receive bids on certain items) and also three formal motions for Administrative's Council's approval. Those motions were:

  • To use $2500 from the Dream Fund to seed a Long Term Maintenance Fund for the church, with the intention that putting money aside into the Long Term Maintenance Fund would become a regular part of our Annual Budgeting Process. Further, at year's end we will examine putting additional Dream Fund monies into the Long Term Maintenance Fund.
  • To increase our giving to the Disciples Mission Fund from 9.75% of our total pledges to a full 10%. This percentage increase means will no longer need to split hairs about being a congregation that tithes to the wider church (if you combine the 9.75% with the donations to Special Day Funds you get a full tithe) and from now forward we will be able to affirm that our 10% pledge to the wider church is the baseline for our giving with other gifts and donations going above and beyond.
  • To authorize a financial threshold for the Dream Fund Task Force. The Dream Fund Task Force will be permitted to spend up to $1500 to fully complete Dream Fund Projects without seeking Administrative Council approval. There are several Dream Fund Projects that will only require a small expenditure (like say buying a new handheld recording device to record the entirety of the worship service so that we can share it -- sermons, songs, prayers and all -- with out homebound members) and it did not make sense to hold up those projects pending a full formal vote from the Council. At the same time, for those larger projects that require bigger expenditures (i.e. anything over $1500, like say hiring a guitarist/bass player for the Praise Team or replacing the playground equipment) those expenditures will need to be formally approved by the Administrative Council.
2) The Planned Giving Task Force is having regular meetings and will have formal motions for the Administrative Council in the coming days. These motions will address creating a Gift Policy and re-designating our Endowment Fund as a Foundation for First Christian Church Scottsdale. The Planned Giving Task Force is also discussing ways of recognizing estate gifts, encouraging non-budget gifts to the church, and furthering the culture of generosity here at FCC Scottsdale.

3) We discussed the Holy Week Schedule. This will include:
  • Palm Sunday/"The Fifth With First" March 29, 2015 at 8AM and 10:15AM
    Our Workship Crew will gather an hour early, meeting at Chaparral Park at 8AM for a brief service before going to a worksite organized by our partners at Operation Fix-It. This way folks wanting to partipate in both the Workship Service and the special Palm Sunday Worship Service in the Sanctuary (including a Palm Processional, special music, and a dramatic retelling of the Crucifixion story) will be able to do both. Following the Worship Service the "Healthy Packs Assembly Line" will be set up in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Maunday Thursday April 2 at 7PM
    We will celebrate the blessed gift of Christ establishing The Lord's Supper during this worship service (consistently my favorite one each and every year) while also taking part in a traditional service of Tennabrae (sharing the holy words of scripture detailing Christ's final hours, while extinguishing candles).
  • Easter Sunday April 4 beginning at 8AM
    We will celebrate Christ's resurrection and the gift of new life! The morning will begin with an Easter Breakfast in the Fellowship Hall provided by DWM. The Children and Youth Ministries Team will provide an Easter Egg Hunt for our youngest members and friends. The worship service will feature special music, guest musicians, a powerful sermon, and a church filled with people eager to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Whiteboard: On Their Hearts

From a favorite old devotion book of mine:
"The heart would make a lousy bulletin board. It is, after all, a muscle, an organ in our bodies, not something to write on like paper. When Jeremiah tells us to write on our hearts, we know what he means – not the cardiac muscle itself but something else, though we can’t exactly locate it. But oh, to take this promise literally…what it could mean! That the word of God – God’s promises and commandments – be written literally on the walls of our hearts. And, as our hearts pump blood, the word is taken with that blood to every sinew, ever cell, every corpuscle, every nerve, every marrow. That our very bodies might be so infused with the word of God that to say “Know the Lord” would sound as silly as telling someone to breathe! Imagine that!"

This Sunday we continue our Advent Sermon Series on the Covenant Promises of God by turning our attention to the prophet Jeremiah -- to the promise of a new covenant that will be written on the very fabric of our being.


Jeremiah 31:31-34 A New Covenant

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Whiteboard: So Loved

As we continue our Lenten Sermon Series on the Covenant Promises of God, this Sunday we come to the most familiar passage in all of the Bible: John 3:16 and the Promise of God's Love.

This Sunday we come to see that it is not just that God promises to be with us (last Sunday's sermon on The Ten Commandments) and count us among the family of the faithful (two weeks ago's sermon on Father Abraham) and extend his grace to us (three weeks ago's sermon on Noah and the promise of the rainbow). This Sunday we see that the promise of God is the promise of unconditional love.


John 3:14-21 The Love of God

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

Fred Craddock

The Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock ("the Patron Saint of Disciples Preachers" and widely regarded as one of the greatest preachers of the last 100 years) died on Saturday March 7.

His official biography lists his accomplishments as follows: "Dr. Fred B. Craddock was the founding minister of Cherry Log Christian Church in Cherry Log Georgia. He is the Bandy Distinguished Professor of Preaching and New Testament, Emeritus, in the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Much sought after as a lecturer, he has delivered the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale, the Scott Lectures at Clarmeont School of Theology, the Adams Lectures at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, The Schaff Lectures at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the Cole Lectures at Vanderbilt, the Westervelt Lectures at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, the Mullins Lectures at Southern Seminary and Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion. Dr. Craddock has traveled the World giving lectures in many Countries."

His life, legacy, and powerful witness were so much more than any single list of accomplishments. Our own Rev. Lloyd Howard testified this past Sunday morning that, "What Billy Graham is for the Baptists, Fred Craddock is to the Disciples." Newsweek named him "One of the Twelve Best Living Preachers" and his book "Preaching" is one of the single most influential books in sermon preparation in print today.

Many obituaries and remembrances of Fred Craddock have been written and shared. Here are links and clips from some of them:

You can learn more about Dr. Craddock and order copies of his books and sermons at

Three Things from the Elders Meeting

The Elders had their regularly scheduled meeting this past Sunday immediately following the Worship Service. Here are "The Three Things" you should know from that meeting:

  1. New Responsibilities
    On Sunday mornings the Elder of the Day (i.e. that Elder who presides at the Lord's Table with me) will have some additional responsibilities. For starters, the Elder of the Day will also attend to one of the side doors leaving our sanctuary in order to offer greetings and blessings to folks on the way out. And on the First Sunday of the Month, the Elder of Day will attend our regular FCC Q&A Sessions to help welcome prospective new members and be available to answer any questions about who the Elders are and what they do.
  2. Shepherding Letters Going Out
    At our Elders Retreat in February our Elders received their Shepherding Lists. The Elders discussed how best to notify folks that they are the assigned Elder for their Shepherding Group, and in the days and weeks to come the Elders will be reaching out to the members of their Shepherding Group via cards, emails, letters, or phone calls.
  3. Fellowship Luncheon on May 24
    The Elders will be sponsoring a Fellowship Luncheon after church in the Fellowship Hall on May 24. More details to come!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Whiteboard: The Living Commandments

Our Lenten "Covenant Sermon Series" continues this week with the story of the 10 Commandments.

We don't tend to think of the 10 Commandments as a covenant (a sacred promise between God and humanity). We tend to think of the 10 Commandments as a set of rules we are honor bound to live by. But take a closer look at those first dozen words.
Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God.
The 10 Commandments are rooted in that divine promise.

God says, "I am the Lord" as in the almighty, as in the creator of heaven and Earth, as in the one who sets us free, as in the ultimate force of all the universe.

But God doesn't stop here. "I am the Lord your God."

That is a covenant.

That is a sacred promise.

That is God reminding us that not only is he the Lord the creator of heaven and earth, the ultimate force of all the universe but he is our God. God is the one who sets us free. God is the one who cares for us, who leads us and guides.

Those first dozen words in the 10 Commandments are autobiography from God, to us. The rest of the words then are how we are supposed to respond to that awesome, almighty promise. If God is with us, then we will have no other gods before him. We'll only use God's name for blessings, not for curses. We'll remember the Sabbath. We'll honor our parents, preserve life, and respect one another.

All of those things come as a response to the holy promise from the Lord -- that he is our God, which us his people. And as such, we're going to live like it. Each and every day.


Exodus 20:1-17 The Ten Commandments

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.