Staff Blogs

Whispers

6/25/2019

Scrolling through my Facebook feed recently, I have been
seeing a lot of people saying that God is trying to give us a sign through
natural disaster. That God is using all of these severe storms to send us some
sort of message along the lines that we have strayed too far from the way God
ordained when we were created and when the Commandments were carved into stone.

 

I do not believe that.

 

Here’s why.

 

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is fleeing to Sinai to escape an
eminent death at the hands of Ahab. After a long journey, where at one point he
begged God to kill him, he came upon a cave and found rest inside of it. God,
being a little disappointed in Elijah, tells Elijah to exit the cave and to
stand before God.

 

Here is what scripture says:

“And as Elijah stood there…a mighty windstorm hit the
mountain…but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an
earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake
there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there
was the sound of a gentle whisper.” - 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

 

Guess who the Gentle whisper was?

 

I believe this is still the way God would communicate with
us today. We are just far too distracted to hear it. The time of God destroying
everything to make a point has passed. Even more so now that Christ has come
than when Elijah was a prophet.

 

You see, we are no longer bound to the law of the Old
Testament. Paul writes in Galatians 6:23, “Before the way of faith in Christ
was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in
protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed…” and in
verse 25, “…And now that the way of faith has come [Christ], we no longer need
the law as our guardian.”

 

The law was a very important and integral part in the
development of our faith. It was created to show us how to live as well as just
how far we had strayed from it.

 

However, a new law showed up.

 

Jesus.

 

And his only law was to love God and love neighbor.

 

As long as we keep doing that in our lives every day, I
don’t think we have to worry about the severe storms being a sign from God that
the end is near.

 

A new covenant has been established in Christ. Let us
rejoice in the fact that Christ has taught us the way of faith: To love God and
our neighbor.

 

God who whispers in
our ears, teach us your ways, that we may love you and all those we meet. Thank
you for the faith that we have developed and the hope we have in Christ. AMEN.

















































































P.S. This blog is not to say that we shouldn’t take
precautions when these storms role through (they are still severe storms and we
need to be weather aware). I would just say that the storms are a bi-product of
the weather patterns and not the wrath of God. #TurnAroundDontDrown


Blog Date Authored By Blog Title Blog
06/25/2019 Rev. Marshall Whispers

Scrolling through my Facebook feed recently, I have been seeing a lot of people saying that God is trying to give us a sign through natural disaster. That God is using all of these severe storms to send us some sort of message along the lines that we have strayed too far from the way God ordained when we were created and when the Commandments were carved into stone.

 

I do not believe that.

 

Here’s why.

 

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is fleeing to Sinai to escape an eminent death at the hands of Ahab. After a long journey, where at one point he begged God to kill him, he came upon a cave and found rest inside of it. God, being a little disappointed in Elijah, tells Elijah to exit the cave and to stand before God.

 

Here is what scripture says:

“And as Elijah stood there…a mighty windstorm hit the mountain…but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” - 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)

 

Guess who the Gentle whisper was?

 

I believe this is still the way God would communicate with us today. We are just far too distracted to hear it. The time of God destroying everything to make a point has passed. Even more so now that Christ has come than when Elijah was a prophet.

 

You see, we are no longer bound to the law of the Old Testament. Paul writes in Galatians 6:23, “Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed…” and in verse 25, “…And now that the way of faith has come [Christ], we no longer need the law as our guardian.”

 

The law was a very important and integral part in the development of our faith. It was created to show us how to live as well as just how far we had strayed from it.

 

However, a new law showed up.

 

Jesus.

 

And his only law was to love God and love neighbor.

 

As long as we keep doing that in our lives every day, I don’t think we have to worry about the severe storms being a sign from God that the end is near.

 

A new covenant has been established in Christ. Let us rejoice in the fact that Christ has taught us the way of faith: To love God and our neighbor.

 

God who whispers in our ears, teach us your ways, that we may love you and all those we meet. Thank you for the faith that we have developed and the hope we have in Christ. AMEN.

P.S. This blog is not to say that we shouldn’t take precautions when these storms role through (they are still severe storms and we need to be weather aware). I would just say that the storms are a bi-product of the weather patterns and not the wrath of God. #TurnAroundDontDrown

04/16/2019 Michele Sargent From The Organ Bench

When the trumpeters and singers were as one, ... the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

2 Chronicles 5:13-14

Music plays a big part in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, God enlists musicians to work on His behalf. He uses music to call people to worship and lead them into war, to soothe ragged emotions and to ignite spiritual passion, to celebrate victories and to mourn losses. Music is an all-occasion, all-inclusive art form.

This Easter season is a perfect example of how we are First Christian celebrate with music. On Palm Sunday, the Sanctuary Choir offered their voices to portray the dramatic events of Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday at 7pm, we will experience an intimate serve of Tenebrae in the Fellowship Hall which will include the simple beauty of acapella singing. On Easter Sunday, the Praise Band, the Sanctuary Choir, and soloist Debbie Johnson will lend their talents to an Easter in the Park serve at 8:30am as we share the Lord's Resurrection with our neighbors. Then at 11:15am, Easter in the Sanctuary will feature a traditional service with sanctuary, brass quintet, and organ as we "pull our all the stops" in celebration of this special day. The FCC Ringers handbell choir will then share their talents with a beautiful rendition of the communion hymn When You Do This, Remember Me on April 28th.

Music is a wonderful metaphor for the church because everyone participates by doing what he or she does best. We ma sing or play different notes at different times, but we all perform the same song whether is be in a vocal choir, handbell choir, praise band, or as a parishioner singing along in the pews.

Thanks be to God for beautiful music, for it's like a preview of heaven, where the glory of God will dwell forever and where praise for Him will never cease!

Peace be to you,

Michele




04/09/2019 Casey Matthews Casey's Corner

This last week a friend sent a group message to a few of us that said this:

“If you found these in your church, would you keep them?”

“I forgot to mention they talk.”  Then she sent a video of them talking – Jesus telling the story of feeding the 5000 and Mary telling of how God asked her to be a mother.

I think we were all laughing hysterically. One writing “this just made my day,” and another person suggesting she might move the figures around the church for fun – kind of like elf on a shelf magically appearing in your midst.

After a pretty good laugh, I somehow find myself torn on what to think of these fascinating figures. On one hand, I am so impressed at the lengths people have gone and will go to in order to make faith accessible, to teach our children about Jesus, and to make learning Bible stories fun and hands on. On the other hand, I’m blown away at how easy the faith can be simplified into some neat and tidy stories with predictable characters, which can literally be contained in a box.

On most days, good and even mediocre days, I think we would each prefer the simple Jesus in a box over the complex Jesus that we can’t seem to wrap our hands around. We prefer to learn the stories, hold the characters close, and know that they are there if we ever want them. That is much easier than digging in deep to find out what they meant then and what they might mean now. Its much simpler to learn and recite the story than it is to try to apply it to the grey situations of today. Its much less demanding to simply accept a clean cut Jesus as a good story teller and teacher than it is to follow him to the garden, dwell in the darkness, and wrestle with uncertainty of suffering and death.

You see when life is hard – really hard, the scriptures are no longer neat and tidy and the hope of God’s promises are not quite as reassuring. Whether we intend to or not, in these life altering moments and circumstances, we instinctively start to pick apart the stories and promises wondering where God is and why God isn’t doing the thing we thought or expected. I bet the disciples would have preferred Jesus preaching from a mountain top offering blessings almost any day over Jesus speaking from the cross offering forgiveness for the unjust death which was descending upon him. Unmerited forgiveness alongside seemingly divine silence in Jesus suffering is complex, messy, and the reality of it can’t be contained in a tidy little box.

A God who chooses to enter humanity from heaven above is startling. A God who lives among the poor here on earth and yet reigns with all authority of heaven makes no logical sense.  A God who chooses to let go of God’s own Son rather than retaliate against those persecuting Him, a God who chooses to redeem death and us rather than letting it have the last word, and a God who chooses to pour out forgiveness rather than judgment is absolutely inconceivable.

Our God cannot be contained in a box. Most days, I might prefer one that could be… because its what’s easiest for me to understand. But on all days, I am absolutely grateful that I worship a God that cannot be contained… because the One I could never fully understand is the One that fully understands us and loves us enough to offer life, hope, and relationship over and over again.

This Lenten season, may you be willing to let go of your neat and tidy Jesus, and be brave enough to follow the real One. It might be a startling experience, but I have no doubt that it will lead you to life, hope, and love.

03/26/2019 Marshall Breedlove A Message from Marshall: Cotton Candy
I don’t think I need to go into great detail that we live in a materialistic society. A society of nationalism and competition. A society where we spend our weeks working our tails off so we can please our boss’s and make our quotas that are unrealistic and unattainable. A society where we end the work week feeling like we have failed our companies and are just physically and emotionally drained and we are left longing for recharge. 

So what do we do?

We go out with friends. We spend money on things that give us immediate satisfaction. We eat junk food and say that we have earned it because we have worked so hard.

What does God offer us as an alternative?

Isaiah 55:1 says, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” 

God offers us something that is completely free. We find this gift in scriptures. We can find our story in the Old Testament; our anger and joy in the Poetry; our promises in the Prophets; our hope in the ministry of Jesus and his Disciples; and our goals in the Epistles. 

“But Marshall, Bibles cost money.” 

Go to your local library. Download the free Bible app onto your smart phone. Ask a church if you could have one. There are plenty of ways that you can get a free Bible. 

Another option, instead of getting coffee every day at Starbucks, make your own coffee for a day or two or drink the coffee at your office and use that money saved to buy a Bible.

There are all kinds of things that we spend our money on daily that are not necessary and, quite frankly, are a waste of money. I know for a fact I fall under this. I always “need” the newest form of a gadget. As if I live by the code, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it; but if there is a new one, replace it.”

I like the way that the Message writes Isaiah 55:2a, “Why do you sped your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?”

At first, I hated the fact that Peterson chose cotton candy; but it has grown on me. You go to a State Fair, a sporting event, or the corner store and spends upwards of 5 dollars on a snack that literally dissolves away. It only satisfies your craving for 3-5 seconds. Then it’s gone. 

Why do we waste our money on things that only satisfy us for a moment, when we could be saving our time and money and putting it to better use? We could be serving in our churches, helping those in need, studying scripture, or praying for our friends and families. 

“Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.” Isaiah 55:3a.

And live a full and meaningful life we will.

God of our hope and promise, thank you for offering us a way to recharge our batteries that is not unhealthy. You are the source of all things true and everlasting. Help us to not waste our time and money on things that are temporary and to invest in that which is eternal. AMEN.
03/20/2019 Kelley From the pages of Kelley’s heart... We talk positively to plants and encourage them to grow. Just think what would happen if we did the same for all the people we come in contact with everyday. So many today are quick to criticize and judge, to point out the flaws and mistakes in everything and everyone. These judgments leave lasting “negative tapes” that play in our minds throughout our lives creating a low self esteem, low confidence or stop our personal growth. Hebrews 10:24 — "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Imagine the growth that would take place in our children, grandchildren and all those around us if we told them the “gifts” (i.e. love, compassion, bravery, strength, etc) we see in them. Feeding them with the positive words that can drown out the negative the world today has whispered to them. Let’s help them grow their Faith in God, humanity and themselves. Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Let’s start being the iron for one another. Find that positive “gift” in someone and tell them. Encourage them to use their “gift” to help and encourage others. Start with one person a day your neighbor, your spouse, your coworker, your children, your grandchildren…..start erasing those negative tapes in their minds and replace them with the positive ‘gifts’ that make them who they truly are. Think of what a better place this world would be if we built each other up with our words and actions. Not only would we be helping others to grow and become who God intended them to be, we would become who God intended us to be. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 — "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." Yes, we are all just like those plants we encourage to grow. We all need the loving encouragement to continue to grow in our daily lives. Let’s be the ones to plant the seeds of positivity and watch how we grow in our daily lives, in our faith and as a church. The gifts I see in this congregation are unlimited Faith, Servant’s Hearts, Acceptance and Grace.