Thursday, February 23, 2017

Whiteboard: Guest Preacher

I'll be out of the pulpit this Sunday as I'm attending the General Board Meeting of our denomination in Indianapolis.

While I'm away Dave Groves will be our guest preacher and he'll be bringing a powerful word about the Parables of Jesus. You won't want to miss it!

Here is Dave's guiding scripture for the morning:

Matthew 13: 1-17
The Parable of the Sower

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

The Purpose of the Parables

Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

From this year's Week of Compassion Planning and Resource Guide:

It is a common, perhaps daily, experience for many of us, as we live in our technology driven age: a pin drops on a GPS map, marking a current location or indicating a destination, orienting us in space. These map pins represent where we are and where we hope to go.

The scriptures for the special offering this year provide a similar point of reference, an orientation for our lives-- God is near; love one another in truth and action; feed those who are hungry, clothe those who are naked, welcome those who are strangers. These texts help us position ourselves in relation to God and to one another by reminding us of our call to be here for one another, loving one another as God has loved us. Our destination, where our map pin sits, is near to the heart of God, is alongside our neighbors who are suffering.
FCC Scottsdale will be collecting the Week of Compassion Special Mission Offering from Sunday February 19 until Sunday February 26. Learn more at


Matthew 25:31-40 The Judgement of the Nations

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Whiteboard: Now Hear This

Jesus follows a familiar rhetorical formula in our scripture reading this Sunday: "You have heard it said...but I say unto you..."

In the fifth chapter of Matthew Jesus uses that turn of phrase five times, talking about everything from Anger to Oaths.

The distinction that he is trying to draw is that the world tells us one thing, while God demands of us something altogether different.

The trouble with our modern world (and a trouble that has grown all the more pronounced) is that we are hearing all sorts of things -- competing, often mutually exclusive claims -- and that more and more well meaning people can't even agree on the facts of an issue, much less how best to address it.

Into a confused and confusing media landscape the radical call of Jesus' words ring even more true. In a time when so much vitriol is spewed between rival political factions, Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek." When we define ourselves more and more by our antagonism of an opponent, Jesus says, "Love your enemies."

Gone are the days when we all get our news from one common source, when we can wait for the evening press to fill us in on "all that is fit to print." Nonetheless, Jesus call to us rings out clear and profound -- God demands of you more, not less. God calls you to be an ambassador for the Gospel, not another perpetrator of division.

This Sunday we'll talk about reconciliation, discipleship, and the importance of offering a different kind of witness to a world worn weary with division.


Matthew 5: 21-26, 38-48 
On Anger, Retaliation and Enemies

‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Whiteboard: Be These

They are definitive statements from Jesus.

"You are the salt of the earth."

"You are the light of the world."

These words stand as reminders and challenges to us.

Jesus is, in essence, saying, "Be these!"

So this Sunday we'll talk about exactly what it means to be salt and light.


Matthew 5:13-20 Salt and Light

‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Pictures from The Fifth With First

The Fifth With First was a tremendous success on Sunday January 29!

In the Fellowship Hall following the Worship Service we had a team of volunteers pack 48 lunch bags that have been delivered to our sister congregation at First Christian Church Glendale to support their homeless feeding program.

Meanwhile, across town our Workship Team was hard at work helping out a local neighbor in need. Once again we partnered with our friends at Operation Fix-It, and spent the morning doing yard work that otherwise would have resulted in major fines from the city. We had 32 people helping out, including our friend Deanna who comes down from Canada once a year and schedules her trips to coincide with out Workship Projects!

Here are some photos from the clean-up effort on Sunday:

Before Photo

Part of our Work Crew!

The tallest eucalyptus trees in Scottsdale, left us
lots and lots of leaves to rake up! 

Thanks to our friends at Operation Fix-It for
dropping off the supply truck!

Hard at work!

Serving the Lord!

The Kids' Team getting to work!

Trimming Trees

Welcoming first visitors and helpers

Cleaning out flower beds...

and more flower beds!

Stomping down the leaves.

After picture!

One of the giant eucalyptus trees

Our crew!

The clean-up pile, ready for our friends at the
City of Scottsdale to come and haul it away!