Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Fifth With First

August has an extra Sunday, which could mean only one thing…


That is right, August has five Sundays which means our next opportunity to put our faith into action is coming up on Sunday August 30.

A quick refresher: The Fifth With First is our church-wide shorthand for “The Fifth Sunday with First Christian Church” and on those months with an extra Sunday (it happens four times a year) we use that additional Sunday to put our faith into action in our local community. We do it by having two services. We have a Worship Service in the Sanctuary that is followed by a Mission Project opportunity in our Fellowship Hall and we have a Workship Service (see what we did there!) where I lead a team of volunteers from the church in a brief prayer service at Chaparral Park before we head out to do direct service with one of our ministry partners.

On August 30 we have special things lined up for both services!

For the Workship Team: We’ll meet at Chaparral Park at 9AM for our prayer service and then we’ll head over to Vista Del Camino (one of our longest standing mission partners) to pack Healthy Packs for local school children who do not have enough food to eat on the weekends (a growing mission project that was started right here at FCC Scottsdale by Rev. Judy). It is a great project being hosted by a great partner…and it is air conditioned! Learn more about Vista Del Camino by clicking here and learn more about Healthy Packs by clicking here.

For the Worship Folks: I’m happy to announce that our Pastor Emeritus the Rev. Don Jones will be leading the worship service in the sanctuary at 10:15AM and preaching the sermon. Then after worship you’ll learn how to make Plarn. Plarn stands for “plastic yarn” and is a remarkably resilient knitting material made from old plastic grocery bags. Once the bags are transformed into the Plarn (and it is a quick and easy process) it can be knit together into bedrolls for local homeless men and women. These Plarn bedrolls are soft, lightweight, practically indestructible and can be used to provide shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Learn more about Plarn by clicking here.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Whiteboard: What to Wear

Alright, this is one is my favorite picture in some time.

You are going to want to look closely at this one...or perhaps the more apt word choice is: You are going to want to read closely.

If you still don't see it, then this Sunday's sermon scripture should help.


Ephesians 6:10-20 The Whole Armour of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Whiteboard: Thank You

I knew that I would be preaching about the power of the words "Thank You!" this week. After all, our guiding text this Sunday is Ephesians 5:15-20 which reminds us to "Give thanks to God at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

What I didn't know was that my Facebook feed would be flooded this week with links to videos, articles, and talks about...the power of saying "Thank You!"

It is great when the Spirit works like that.

Here are some of my favorite links so far, and don't be surprised if a story, a quip, or an anecdote from one of these excellent resources works its way into my sermon on Sunday:

Growing and Changing the World One Thank You at a Time
In this deeply insightful talk, Rajesh Setty showcases his research on gratitude, the REAL cost of forgetting people, and most simple and effective ways to maintain a gratitude practice. The video is a bit long (21-minutes) but it is well worth watching.

Are Ted Talks more of your thing? Well it turns out they have collected seven different segments on gratitude into a "Giving Thanks Playlist." I particularly recommend "Remember to say Thank You" by Laura Trice.

The Importance of Saying Thank You
Even the business world is recognizing the importance of saying "Thank you." This article from explains how "these two simple words can help you in many different professional and personal situations."

The Two Most Important Words
Need further proof that the business world is getting into this? Well, The Harvard Business Review ran an article from recently retired Mattel CEO Robert Eckert that gives five handy tips for saying "Thank you."

Claim the Power of Thank You
Our friend Bruce Barkhauer over at the Center for Faith and Giving penned this excellent Five Step Guide for churches to get better at saying thank you and fostering communities of gratitude.

Research Shows Importance of Saying Thank You
About a year ago Professors Monica Bartlett and Lisa Williams released a study with the first known evidence demonstrative that gratitude leads to perceptions of interpersonal warmth, and creates fertile ground for relationships to bloom. 

More SAIL Pics!

Carol dropped off a memory card full of photos from the S.A.I.L. Program!

I've uploaded the whole collection to the Church's Facebook Page, but I wanted to share some of them here too. Enjoy!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Whiteboard: Imitation

I put The Whiteboard to use in a new way this week.

Typically I have some sort of sketch, logo, or drawing on filling up The Whiteboard.

But this week that didn't happen because, frankly, drawing "imitate" is beyond my limited artistic abilities!

So instead, something new: A dictionary definition!

Imitate can mean "to copy or simulate." Although it didn't make it onto the board, imitate can also mean "to copy (a person's speech or mannerisms), especially for comic effect." But that is not what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Ephesians 5. He didn't want us to simply copy what God was doing or to talk in a way that we sound like God.

No, it is that last definition on The Whiteboard that really fits the bill. When Paul says 'imitate'  what he means is "take or follow as a model." That is to say, "imitate God" is like saying "take God as your model" or more simply "follow God."

So this Sunday we'll be talking about what that looks like. What does it look like to follow God? How can we be imitators of God who "live in love"? How do we move past empty mimicry and toward a life of genuine faithfulness?


Ephesians 4:25-5:2 Rules for the New Life

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another. 

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. 

Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.

 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Three Things: Administrative Council

Administrative Council held their regular meeting after worship on July 26, 2015, and here are "The Three Things You Should Know" from that meeting!
  1. Multiple Dream Fund Projects Approved!At July’s Admin. Council Meeting the following projects were also approved:
    -- Hired Max Beckman as the newest member of the Praise Team!
    -- New Playground Equipment will be going in for our youth!
    -- New screens and projectors will be going in to the sanctuary!
    -- An upgraded soundboard with the ability to fully record the entire worship service will be installed!
    -- We will be hosting a "Thank You...Now Let's Keep Dreaming!" Event on September 19!
  2. Budget Numbers Look Great!Our Treasurer did a happy dance in reporting that we are ahead of budget through the midway point of the year and that we are on track for the rest of the year!
  3. Celebrating the S.A.I.L. Program We celebrated the good news that the S.A.I.L. Program (a project that grew out of the Dream Fund, by the way) was such an overwhelming success! Thank you to Julie and Carol for organizing it, to our church members from volunteering and participating, and our youth and families for taking part in the Summer Adventures In Learning!