I am super excited about this Sunday at Clinton FCC. Now, if you read this weekly blog, you will hear me utter this phrase on a regular basis and you might be tempted to think this is just another "super exciting" opportunity in front of us. However, this Sunday is a different kind of "super excited."
Way back in March of 2016, the Elders and staff of our church gathered at the Chiara Center near Riverton, IL to begin the process of defining vision, mission and core values for our church.
The mission and core values were drafted and adopted fairly quickly over the next three months of 2016 – they are as follows:
The mission statement: Clinton FCC exists to:
LOVE God, BUILD the Church, and REACH the World.
The ten core values of Clinton FCC:
WORD; WORSHIP; PRAYER; GROWTH; GATHERING;
GENEROSITY; STORIES; SERVICE; INVITATION; HOPE
The vision process was much more challenging and time consuming, and yet, late fall of 2017, the leadership of Clinton FCC adopted the following vision for our church:
“A Passionate Community of Disciple Makers”
This Sunday, we begin the process of "rolling out" what we believe is God's vision for our church - for YOUR church. We are "super excited" about becoming a PASSIONATE COMMUNITY of DISCIPLE MAKERS. Over the next five Sundays, you will hear much about VISION. But this is really just the beginning. We are dreaming of going as a church where we never previously thought we could go. I hope you are ready - I can't wait! See you Sunday!
Sunday was a great day at FCC for a couple of reasons:
First - the ministry ordination of Allison Hitchings at 9:30am was such a blessing! I am really thankful for our entire staff - we are really blessed to have each and every person on staff at FCC - and it was great to "set apart" Allison for difference-making ministry with our children - our future! Allison has been on staff since June of 2015 and is doing a great job in FIRST KIDS - I really enjoyed the 9:30am service!
Second - it was so good to see Adam Brucker back at FCC, and hear him bring the truth of God's word! Adam did a great job telling the story of his first year of ministry in Ohio and specifically, multiple blessings that have flowed from the Rooted program. We have talked a lot about Rooted and on March 18, you will hear an entire message on what is is and why you should join a Rooted group. So thankful for Adam and how the Lord is working in his life - great job my friend!
I love our church and days like Sunday remind me how really blessed I am to serve at Clinton FCC!
I hope you have a great week and I really hope you to see you Sunday as our ViSION roll out begins.
By the way, I'm typing tonight from the Wooded Glen Retreat Center near Henryville, Indiana as I prepare for a couple of days of meetings with several fellow large church/small town Ministers. My friend Randy Kirk dreamed up this idea a couple of years ago, and I'm thankful for time w/ Randy, Ed Plumier, Jeff Stone, Shane Bopp, Mike McElyea, Doug Martin, Matt Merold, Luke Bean, Solomon David, Sammy Harris, and Tyson Graber. I really enjoy this "band of brothers!" I'll be back in central Illinois Tuesday evening.
Yesterday was an interesting day at FCC to say the least - let me recap: We awoke to ice, ice and more ice - the trip in from Chestnut early Sunday morning took more than double the usual time - not fun! The morning was really a blessing - I truly enjoyed sharing a sermon inspired by longtime Lincoln Christian Seminary Dean, the late Enos Dowling - a message entitled "Love is like that." So thankful for Mr. Dowling and so blessed to share my own compilation of "love" stories that move and motivate.
Attendance ended up being stronger than I anticipated and it was an honor to be able to pray with multiple members throughout the day. Then, on the way home from church about 2pm, one of our staff told me to check out Facebook - our church was being criticized and by former and current members and/or attenders - the social media "pile on" was in full force. What a kick in the gut! I thought about this all day - certainly not the first time this happened to our church or to me personally and it will not be the last (especially after this blog post) - but painful none the less. As a result, I want to share several reflections:
#1 - I am reminded this world is not my home - bottom line. I am reminded we have to keep the main thing the main thing - bottom line. I am reminded I cannot control what others think, feel, type or share - bottom line. All I can do - and all you can do - is your very best to love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength and love others with passion and priority.
#2 - I am reminded we are in a spiritual battle and the enemy doesn't want peace and unity to reign.
#3 - I am reminded the church is made up of imperfect people - and I am at the top of that list! Sadly, people fail one another and sometimes it is not pretty! We must make the most of every opportunity to be the salt of the earth and be the light of the world and to love others in the name of Jesus.
#4 - I am reminded of the very negative side of social media - Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. Social media has been such a blessing - we are able to communicate with hundreds, even thousands, quickly and effectively - in minutes. On a personal, level, I have been able to stay connected with folks from all over our state, the country and our world!
But social media can be ugly and awful and really do damage to the church and faith. Nothing is more heartbreaking than when a church is trashed on social media. I can promise you God is NOT honored by such behavior. Followers of Jesus don't stop being followers of Jesus when they log in to Facebook or other social media.
Here are a couple of suggestions to keep in mind before posting on social media or responding to someone's post - no matter the topic at hand:
** Is what am I typing/sharing God honoring? Would God be pleased with what I am about to type?
** Would I have the courage to say this to a person's face? Or am I hiding behind the social media platform?
** Does this bring about unity and peace and build up the body or am I creating division and pain for others?
** What would Jesus think about my words? Would He give me an Amen or would he shake his head in disappointment?
Let's be the very best we can be when it comes to our words. Our words matter - bottom line!
Keep the following in mind:
TONIGHT - Wild Game Feed - 6pm in the Family Life Center - all are welcome!
RELOAD for Men - 6am TOMORROW - Family Life Center - all Men are welcome to study and eat breakfast w/ us!
MOBILE FOOD PANTRY - Saturday at the American Legion - 9am - noon - FCC is in charge of volunteers - can you help?
ALLISON HITCHINGS ordination - next Sunday February 18 at 9:30am in the Sanctuary!
ADAM BRUCKER returns - Adam will be back w/ us next Sunday - preaching during both morning worship services and also preaching the ordination sermon at 9:30am!
Finally, I am asking for YOU to pray for my friend Derek Ried and his family during a most difficult season of life. Derek and I have a shared passion - cycling. In fact, he has started a ministry entitled End of the Earth Cycling - raising money for cross-cultural youth ministry by sponsoring various rides all over the USA. In May of 2016, Derek lost his father tragically - he was killed while cycling and preparing for a multi-day ride. Then, last week, his mother Denise was killed tragically in a head-on accident near Hoopeston, IL, not far from her home. Derek has lost both of his parents in accidents over the span of just 21 months - I cannot even imagine. So will you pray for Derek and his family?
Blessings to each of you,
Confession: I watched less NFL football this season than any other in the past three decades. Due to a variety of circumstances and stances, I spent most of my free Sunday afternoons hiking and enjoying the beauty of God's creation. Or sometimes I just took a nap. And to be totally honest, I didn't really miss it. Let me be clear - this was not a boycott. But it was one of the best "time" decisions I have made in my adult life. So why am I sharing this?
Last evening's Super Bowl was the first NFL game I have really looked forward to in 2017-2018 and yet I really wasn't engaged on a typical "Greg Taylor" level. I wasn't really up to speed on the season that led to the big game or the story lines that were unfolding. And what a game it turned out to be! Maybe the best Super Bowl of all time? Here are 5 quick thoughts:
** It was really neat to see the powerful faith on display of several Philadelphia Eagles, including head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles. The line of the night? The Eagles head coach, with millions of people watching, shared the following during his live interview: "I can only give the praise to my lord and savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity." Amen!
** I can proudly say I have zero Justin Timberlake songs on my iPhone, but I actually somewhat enjoyed the halftime show (somewhat) and was actually moved to tears (this seems to be a thing with me lately) at the tribute JT paid to the late Prince, a twin-city native who died of an opioid overdose in 2016. Very classy and moving.
** Several of the commercials were pretty good, but my favorite was the Eli Manning-Odell Beckham spoof on the song/movie "Dirty Dancing" - I loved it! Believe it or not, my first "date" with Marla was watching the movie Dirty Dancing at her house in Latham back in May of 1988!
** The game itself was super entertaining and once again this whole "what is a catch and what is not" thing reared its ugly head at the most crucial point of the game. The NFL MUST get this fixed.
** Sadly, what should be a night and even week of celebrations and parties turned violent and destructive in the city of Philadelphia following their first Super Bowl title. This makes me sick and is something I've never figured out - why are you rioting after your team WON? #headscratcher
Well, you probably didn't plan to get Super Bowl stuff this morning, so let's get down to business - keep the following in mind:
#1 - WILD GAME Feed - next Monday night February 12 at 6pm in the Family Life Center. All are welcome - bring a dish to pass.
#2 - RELOAD for Men - we gather next on TUESDAY FEBRUARY 13 - not tomorrow - at 6am in the Family Life Center Alcove.
#3 - Ministry Ordination of Allison Hitchings - 9:30am on Sunday February 18 - Allison has done a great job serving as our Children's Minister since June of 2015 - don't miss this special service where she will be "set apart" in vocational ministry to children!
#4 - IF Gathering - Saturday March 10 in the Family Life Center - ALL women are welcome!
#5- Men's Mission Trip to Mexico - this August - our third straight year working w/ Casas por Cristo - info meeting for men interested THIS Wednesday evening February 7 at 7:30pm.
#6 - Adam Brucker returns! We welcome back Adam on Sunday morning February 18 - he will be preaching during both morning services, and also preaching the sermon during Allison's ordination.
#7 - Nehemiah elective class is off and running - join Cody Monkman and Tori Moore in the Family Life Center on Sunday mornings at 9:30am to learn about this great O.T. book.
#8 - Proposed By-Laws changes - get your copy of the proposed by-laws at the welcome center or in the office. Information meeting - Thursday March 1 at 6:30pm. Congregational vote will take place on Sunday March 11.
One point of clarification: I mentioned during church on January 28 that we had consulted with Rick Hobler, a Christian lawyer in Logan County who also works for Lincoln Christian University. Clinton FCC has used Rick multiple times in the past three years for a variety of purposes. When we use Rick, we are hiring him NOT as an employee of LCU, but as a private attorney who specializes in the area of churches and non-profits. LCU is in no way endorsing or promoting this proposed set of by-laws or any other legal issue involving our church.
#9 - "Change for Life" baby bottle campaign - it's not too late to participate - we are wanting to bless New Life Pregnancy Center with at least $5,000.00 as a church! Let's make it happen!
#10 - Fan the Flame will be returning to FCC! Save the date: Sunday evening April 22 - Jason Gray and Chris August are coming back - you won't want to miss it!
Finally this week, I share during our sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 about the Greek word AGAPE, and how it came into existence - here is verbatim what The Message of 1 Corinthians teaches about this Greek word (pages 226-227):
It is well known that the Greek word for love in the New Testament, agape`, was not previously in common use. It was taken into the Greek of the New Testament specifically because the love of God, seen in Jesus of Nazareth, required a new word.
God’s love completely transcends all human ideas or expression of love. ‘It is a love for the utterly unworthy, a love which proceeds from a God who is love. It is a love lavished on others without a thought of whether they are worthy to receive it or not. It proceeds rather from the nature of the lover, than from any merit in the beloved’.
This is the love which, according to Jesus, has to characterize and control the Christian community, if it is in any sense to be recognized as Christian and if he is to be recognized as God’s Son and the world’s Saviour.
May this be the kind of LOVE we are known by! May they know we are Christians by our LOVE! I cannot wait for this Sunday's sermon - "Love is like that" - a message inspired by the late Dr. Enos Dowling from Lincoln Bible Institute/Lincoln Christian College and Seminary.
Blessings to each of you!
Sunday brought our fourth and final message in our Radical series to start 2018 - great job Cody Monkman for reminding us what it really means to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. What a powerful call we have on our lives - to make a difference in our Jersusalem, our Judea and Samaria and our ends of the earth! If you missed the message, please take time to listen to the audio - well done Cody!
I have several things on my heart that I want to share this morning:
#1 - Great job by Amy Joy Tofte and her team that ran the three day Illinois Speech and Debate qualifier at FCC! I personally am honored we were asked to host, and I was blessed by what I witnessed over the three days. 150 students from a six-state region - I had the opportunity to judge both speech and debate and I was impressed beyond words - the NCFCA, an organization I knew nothing about this time last year, is doing a great job preparing students to make a difference for Christ in their world! Thanks to all from FCC and the community for serving as judges - well done!
#2 - WILD GAME Feed - Monday February 12 at 6pm - plan to come on out to the Family Life Center and enjoy a bounty of food not typically found on your plate or in your local diner! Good stuff! All are welcome!
#3 - Proposed By-Laws changes for FCC: On Thursday evening January 25 at our January Elder’s meeting, the Elders unanimously recommended changes to our By-Laws – these changes are available for you to view – we have hard copies at the welcome center and in the office, and the document is also available electronically. It has been 16 years since changes were made to our By-Laws.You are welcome to connect with any of our eight elders if you have questions about the proposed changes.An informational meeting is scheduled for Thursday March 1 at 6:30pm in the Family Life Center. The proposed changes will be voted on at the conclusion of both morning worship services on Sunday March 11.
#4 - Allison Hitchings ordination - Sunday February 18 at 9:30am - Allison has served as Children's Minister at FCC since the summer of 2015, and will be ordained into Christian Ministry in less than three weeks. Adam Brucker will be back on this Sunday, and will preach during the ordination, as well as during Sunday morning services! Please make every effort to attend and encourage Allison - she is doing a great job! In fact, our entire staff is doing a great job, so take time and thank each of them for their hard work for the Kingdom and FCC!
#5 - Coffee at the Crossing - Emilee Monkman has taken one of my true passions - a cup of coffee - and allowed our church to both indulge and invest in the Kingdom! Through the Coffee at the Crossing ministry, over $3000 was raised last year for both domestic and international missions! Praise the Lord - here are some of the ministries blessed the last half of 2017:
God's Shelter of Love- $222.71
Little Galilee- $480.11
Pioneer Bible Translators- $833.38
The current mission is the Kuki Christian Mission in Northeast India.
#6 - Nehemiah - have you ever wanted to study the book of Nehemiah? If so, join us beginning this Sunday for a five part study on the book of Nehemiah in the Family Life Center, hosted by the Faith Builders class. This elective class will meet on Feb. 4 and 11, Feb. 25 and March 4 and 11.
#7 - LIFE - remember there is still plenty of time to get your baby bottle and help raise $ for the New Life Pregnancy Center in Decatur! Several bottles have already been returned as we participate in their "change for life" campaign - FCC's goal? $5,000.00! Let's make it happen!
#8 - Men's Mission Trips to Casas - Ryan and Gage are once again planning a men's mission trip for August to Mexico to build a couple of houses and we would love to have up to 20 men go w/ us! Info meeting will take place on Wednesday February 7 at 7:30am.
#9 - Mobile Food Pantry's for 2018 - thanks to the American Legion for agreeing to host the monthly Mobile Food pantry each month of 2018 on the 3rd Saturday of each month. For February, FCC is in charge of providing volunteers on Saturday the 17th from 9am until noon.
#10 - Dates for your calendar - looking ahead:
Saturday March 10 - IF Gathering for women at FCC
Sunday April 1 - Easter services at FCC
Saturday April 21 - Intentional Church Conference at Decatur (sponsored by FCC)
ONE service Sundays in 2018: May 27, September 30 and December 30.
Have a great week - see you Sunday!
45 years ago today, the US Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal during the first three months of a pregnancy. So what has happened on the issue of LIFE over the past four and a half decades? Over 60 million legal abortions have taken place in the US, with a peak in 1990 of over 1.6 million abortions. 60 million - that is a sobering number. The number of abortions in the US each year is down substantially from 1990, to under 1 million each year. That is still an unbelievably large number, but much better than 1.6 million. I can't help but continue to pray that more and more hearts will be open to abortion alternatives, like adoption. I can't help but hope that more and more women (and men) will choose LIFE even during complex crisis situations.
One ministry on the front lines of the fight for LIFE is the New Life Pregnancy Center in Decatur, led by Penny Weaver. We were blessed yesterday to hear a testimony from Megan Rhoades, a staff member at New Life who works with the Restore program, ministering to women who are victims of abortion. Megan's testimony was powerful - she was very transparent and unafraid to speak truth. If you missed yesterday's message, please take time to listen to the sermon on our website - call the FCC office if you need help navigating www.clintonfcc.com. Bottom line? Every. Life. Matters. Every single life matters to God and these lives should matter to us!
One way you can help New Life is by participating in their annual change for life baby bottle campaign. Our church liaison, Ann Marie Hubbell, secured a couple hundred baby bottles and we are asking everyone to take a bottle, and over the next 6 weeks, fill the bottle with your spare change, paper money or even a check. My goal for our church is to raise at least $5,000.00 for this difference-making ministry. Let's do it!
This week, FCC is hosting students from a six state region for a Speech and Debate conference on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I am serving as a judge for the competition each day, and they are still looking for judges - no previous experience needed - you can sign up by calling the church office or contacting Cody Monkman. Amy Joy Tofte and Karley Houchin are leading this effort and I'm so thankful our church is able to host this event!
Please keep the following in mind:
Tuesday January 23 - Reload for Men at 6am in the Family Life Center
Thursday - Saturday January 25-27 - Illinois Regional Qualifying Speech and Debate Tournament sponsored by the NCFCA, held at Clinton FCC
Sunday January 28 - "The Hands and Feet of jesus" - Cody Monkman bringing the morning message. Also on Sunday, Barb O'Donohue of COPE will be with us during morning worship and will share in the Family Life Center at 9:30am about all the Lord is doing in East Africa.
Sunday February 18 - Ministry ordination of Allison Hitchings at 9:30am in the Sanctuary - also that morning, former FCC minister Adam Brucker will preach during both services and also bring the message during the ordination.
Saturday March 10 - the 3rd annual IF: Gathering for women at FCC.
Don't miss these regular ministry opportunities:
Daily Bible readings continued to be published and handed out each Sunday - let's read God's word together as a church every day! We start the book of Acts on Wednesday!
Sunday evenings at FCC - REVEAL for Jr High (5pm) and Sr High (6:30pm)
Wednesday evenings at FCC - FIRST KIDS for preschool and grade school (6pm)
Friday mornings in the Underground - Breakfast Club - ** Please note THIS FRIDAY Breakfast Club will meet at the Y due to the Speech and Debate conference.
Returning in April - on the first Friday of each month - YOUNG at HEART in the Family Life Center.
2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 6am - RELOAD for men.
Beginning in February - Tuesday morning Ladies Bible Study at 10am in room 2221
Tuesday evenings in the Family Life Center at 6:30pm - Bible Study Fellowship (for women)
1st Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm - Area Men's Fellowship - February travels to Heyworth
1st Friday of each month - Mom and Tots Play Day - 10:30am
3rd Friday of each month in the Underground - Women's Coffee Break at 10am
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 1-3pm - Food Pantry is open at the Neighborhood Care Center. On the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, the food pantry is open from 4:30-6pm as well.
3rd Saturday of each month - MOBILE Food Pantry at the American Legion. FCC is in charge of volunteers for February 17.
Have a great week - see you Sunday!
The third Monday of January each year brings a day to honor one of the great leaders and difference makers of the 20th century - Dr Martin Luther King Jr. This Baptist preacher from Georgia had a dream, and this dream is still being pursued in 2018. Dr. King made an impact in so many ways - too much to share in a simple blog entry - but don't miss this lifelong passion of the civil rights leader: we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. There is no white or black or brown in the eyes of the Lord.
I would add my own personal perspective: Racism is ALWAYS wrong and is NEVER the answer, no matter the question. The book of Revelation reminds us that eternity with the Lord will consist of people from every nation, tribe, people and language (7:9) - how I long for that day! The words of Paul in Galatians 3 are helpful in this discussion: "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ jesus." Amen and Amen! Thank you Dr. King for your courage to speak truth and your legacy that lives on!
Yesterday brought the 2nd of 4 sermons this month in our Radical series, a message entitled It. Must . Stop. The #metoo crisis that continues to unfold is both unacceptable and also an opportunity for the church to make a difference. Christ Followers must be different - we must be distinctive - we must be declarative! It. Must. Stop. I won't preach the sermon again this morning via the blog, but I would encourage you to listen the audio on our website if you missed yesterday. Also, do not forget this from the message: Clinton FCC WILL BE a Safe Zone! If you are a victim of sexual misconduct, our doors are open - we are here for you! Do not "go it alone" any longer!
This Sunday is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and at FCC will have look at the issue of LIFE, a message entitled Every. Life. Matters. Once again this winter, we will be participating in the New Life Pregnancy Center's "Change for Life" campaign. You will be invited to take a baby bottle this Sunday and collect spare change over the next 6 weeks for NLPC - all money given is tax deductible and impacts one of the most important para-church ministries in central Illinois in my humble opinion. We will also have a special guest from New Life who will share with us as a congregation as part of the morning message - you will NOT want to miss this Sunday!
Thanks to Sheriff Jered Shofner and Police Chief Ben Lowers for putting together a Safety and Security Seminar last Tuesday evening, hosted by our church. 252 attended - what a turnout! Look for information in the weeks that follow related to changes we will be making as a church to create the most safe and secure environment possible! So thankful for our local law enforcement leadership and their desire to see our church - and all county churches - safe and secure places of worship!
Upcoming Opportunities at Clinton FCC:
Friday January 19 - Breakfast Club returns for Jr High and Sr High at 7:15am in the Underground
Friday January 19 - Women's Coffee Break at 10am in the Underground
Sunday January 21- Sanctity of Human LIFE Sunday - "Every. Life. Matters."
Tuesday January 23 - Reload for Men at 6am in the Family Life Center
Thursday - Saturday January 25-27 - Illinois Regional Qualifying Speech and Debate Tournament sponsored by the NCFCA, held at Clinton FCC - 150 students and their families from a six state region will gather in the 61727 and YOU can be a part of this event as a community judge! Contact Cody Monkman for more information.
Sunday January 28 - "The Hands and Feet of jesus" - Cody Monkman bringing the morning message.
Sunday February 18 - Ministry ordination of Allison Hitchings at 9:30am in the Sanctuary - also that morning, former FCC minister Adam Brucker will preach during both services and also bring the message during the ordination.
Have a great day - see you Sunday!
What a couple of weeks it has been! From the snow during Christmas week, to the frigid temps that followed, to the freezing rain/ice we tasted yesterday, winter is alive and well! And yet, in this first month of our New Year, much is happening and opportunities are all around for those connected to Clinton FCC.
Yesterday, we launched a new series - Radical - and looked at what our call as followers of Jesus. Late in his life, one of Jesus' closest friends and disciples - Peter - called followers of Jesus to embrace the call of Holiness. Peter challenged us to live lives that are different - to desire the "set apart" life. This month, we will look at three tangible areas of life where we can and should be different - where we can and should be "set apart." This week, we will look at the #metoo crisis and how the church and followers of Jesus can and should react and respond. On January 21, we will look at the LIFE issue and how every life matters. On January 28, Cody will be bringing a message about what it looks like when a church and community accepts the call to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. Radical - let's do it!
Keep the following in mind:
** RELOAD for men is back tomorrow January 9 at 6am - come on out - Norman Emery is scheduled to share!
** Tomorrow night January 9 at 6pm, FCC is hosting a Security seminar for area church leaders and security teams - we are expecting a huge crowd and thanks go out to Jered Shofner - DeWitt County Sheriff - and Ben Lowers - Clinton Police Chief - for making this a reality!
** Wednesday January 10 - First Kids is back, as well as several small groups and a couple of Rooted beta groups. There is still room for YOU in a Rooted beta group - connect in the next couple of days w/ Samuel Green if you are interested in jumping in!
** Sunday January 14 - 1pm - Summer Trips meeting for Jr High and Sr High parents and students in the Underground.
** Sunday January 14 - REVEAL is back.
Finally this morning, will you life of the following folks who are hospitalized or facing surgery this week?
* Lois Dillow
* Velma Kennedy
* Charlotte Milton
* Al Morgan
* Joe Murray
* Jane Ann Thomas
* Rachel Torbert
* Russ Utterback
Thanks in advance for praying!
Blessings to each of you,
Happy New Year to you! My hope and prayer 2018 is an incredible year of growth and blessing for you - especially in your walk with Jesus. I am really excited about 2018 for multiple reasons - FCC's new VISION and Rooted will be rolled out, the Neighborhood Care Center will look for new and better ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus, brand new connections and reunion gatherings will take place and ministry to the next generation - children and teens - will continue to be a top shelf priority at Clinton FCC.
And yet at the top of any "list" of what matters most and has top priority continues to be this: Jesus. We will continue to follow - bottom line. We will continue to submit to Jesus - bottom line. We will continue to both know and live out the teaching of Jesus. To steal a tagline from multiple December sermons: It's NOT about YOU - or ME - it's ALL about Jesus! Here is a New Year's verse to memorize: "If anyone is IN Christ, He/She is a NEW CREATION - the OLD is gone and the NEW has come" - 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Over the next week plus, keep the following in mind and make the most of these opportunities:
#1 - Area Men's Fellowship at Clinton FCC - THIS THURSDAY January 4 at 6:30pm - great food, awesome fellowship and spiritual encouragement! Be there MEN!
#2 - Sunday January 7 - regular Sunday morning programming schedule resumes! 8:15am - classic worship; 9:30am - Bible School and small groups meet; 10:45am - modern worship.
#3 - Tuesday January 9 - 6am - RELOAD for Men returns - Norman Emery will share w/ us - DON'T miss it Men!
#4 - Tuesday January 9 - 6pm - FCC is hosting a security seminar for church leaders and church security teams - thanks to Sheriff Jered Shofner and Police Chief Ben Lowers for making this a reality!
#5 - Wednesday January 10 - 6pm - First Kids resume
#6 - Friday January 12 - 7:15am - Breakfast Club is back
#7 - Sunday January 14 - REVEAL for Jr High and Sr High returns.
Finally this morning, pray for our Clinton FCC group led by Samuel that are attending PASSION this week in Atlanta, GA w/ thousands of college and even HS age students! Prayer of course for safety, but also for spiritual transformation!
Blessings to each of you - STAY WARM my friends!
As I sit on the couch in my living room early on December 26, Sadie and I are the only ones up on this cold, dark morning. 7 degrees outside and the snow and ice make the morning walk a challenge - who wanted all of this white stuff? Yet with coffee in hand and fleece covering most of body, I'm able to reflect - that is what I want to do for a couple of minutes this morning:
* What a blessing Christmas Eve at FCC turned out to be! Just over 500 at our 9:30am ONE SERVICE Sunday despite snow most of the day! Almost 500 for our 4pm Christmas Eve service! Right at 200 for our 6pm Christmas Eve service! I'm no math major, but that totals 1200 in worship on Christmas Eve - yes I realize many attended both the morning and evening gatherings, but I'm truly blown away and thankful at these numbers - especially considering the winter weather advisory and such!
* Speaking of Christmas Eve, Samuel and Ruth planned the 9:30am service together - and it was such a great service - thanks a great UNITY service Samuel and Ruth! It was really awesome to hear our choir share with us!
* Speaking of Christmas Eve at 4pm and 6pm, Samuel Green and his team did another great job - I absolutely LOVE our Christmas Eve services at FCC! If you didn't get a chance to attend, you can find video of the service at my Facebook page - thanks to Ben Pertl for videoing! Many have asked about the children's video - it was produced by Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY and you can find it on youtube.
* December was a great month at FCC! Here are some of the blessings from this month:
- Young at Heart - our revitalized YAH ministry made its mark in December with a trip to Christmas in the Chapel and their December large group gathering!
- ONE 27 blesses many - Cody and team made dozens of fleece blankets on Saturday December 2 and these gifts were given out the following week - great idea coming from the Neighborhood Care Center!
- Choir Cantata preview on December 3 - hundreds were blessed by the music of Christmas from various church choirs - hosted by FCC!
- Keepsake Christmas by FIRST KIDS on December 13 - 150 children, family and others gather to learn about Christmas and create their own nativity!
- Grab n Go - December 16 - over 300 from our community are blessed by YOU!
- Elder/Staff and Spouse caroling night at Liberty Village on December 19 - good times singing blessings!
Three reminders of upcoming events:
** THIS Sunday - ONE SERVICE Sunday at 9:30am - FAMILY SUNDAY - we will be looking at Christmas through the eyes of the Magi
** Thursday January 4 at 6:30pm - Area Men's Fellowship at FCC - not the change in day and time! 90 minute gathering will include at AWESOME meal and good fellowship! ALL men are welcome! This monthly group blesses Little Galilee camp!
** Tuesday January 9 - RELOAD for men in the Family Life Center at 6am!
I leave you this week w/ a poem from Chuck Swindoll on the Christmas hangover:
Twas the day after Christmas, when all through the place,
There were arguments and depression- even Mom had a long face.
The stockings hung empty, and the house was a mess;
The new clothes didn't fit and dad was under stress.
The family was irritable, and the children-no one could please;
Because the instructions for the swing set were in Chinese!
The bells no longer jingled, and no carolers came around;
The sink was stacked with dishes, and the tree was turning brown.
The stores were full of people returning things that fizzled and failed,
And the shoppers were discouraged because everything they'd bought was now on half-price sale!
Twas the day AFTER Christmas- the spirit of joy had disappeared;
The hope on the horizon was twelve bowl games the first day of the New Year!
blessings to each of you! See you Sunday!
As i wrapped up my morning walk through the dark streets of the Geo-center, it struck that today was literally the darkest Monday of the year - winter solstice is just three days away. What a crazy contrast in one sense with Christmas upon us in a mere week. During the darkest week of our year - every year - we celebrate the ultimate gift of LIGHT - the birth of Jesus Christ. I realize many scholars believe Jesus was probably actually born sometime in the spring - mid to late April is typically the best guess. But this year, and every year, in the midst of our darkest days, LIGHTS are everywhere. And we are getting ready to remember and celebrate the LIGHT of the world being born in the most humble of circumstances.
This Sunday - Christmas Eve - gives you multiple opportunities to celebrate Jesus - will you make the most of these?
Sunday morning at 9:30am, we will have a ONE SERVICE Sunday at 9:30am - Ruth and Samuel have planned this service together and the adult choir will be sharing a special in song. The message this week is Christmas through the eyes of the Father - the story of 3 trees! First Kids is doing a special Christmas pajama party downstairs in the First Kids area - you will NOT want to miss this Sunday morning!
Christmas Eve services are set for 4pm and 6pm - Samuel and his team have put together a 50 minute service that will help each us worship our newborn King, Jesus Christ! Invite, invite invite! I would love to see both services packed!
News and Notes:
Christmas Offering - New Life Pregnancy Center in Decatur - let's show them the love of Jesus through this special offering!
Christmas at FCC - I LOVE the look of our building - I think it is the most beautifully decorated church year in, year out I have ever been a part of! Gigantic thank you's to Mary Holland, Joyce Mathias and Nancy Beeker for the days spent making FCC such a beautiful place to worship! THANK YOU Mary, Joyce and Nancy!!
ONE Service Sunday on December 31 at 9:30am!
Area Men's Fellowship at Clinton FCC - Thursday January 4 at 6:30pm in the Family Life Center. ALL men are welcome and invited to enjoy a great meal and really good fellowship with other men from area churches. The purpose of this gathering is to support Little Galilee Christian Camp - an offering is taken to bless our camp. I PROMISE you a 90 minute evening - you will be on your way by 8pm.
Great job Allison and Cassandra on hosting Keepsake Christmas on December 13 - what a great night for families!
Great job Marcia Wise and team w/ our final Grab n Go - over 300 attended on Saturday!
I really love our church - and I hope you do as well! It is an honor to serve at Clinton FCC!
Let me leave you this week w/ a poem entitled the true meaning of Christmas by Brian Walters:
In today's' day and time, it's easy to lose sight, of the true meaning of Christmas, and one special night.
When we go shopping, we say 'How much will it cost? Then the true meaning of Christmas, somehow becomes lost.
Amidst the tinsel, glitter and ribbons of gold, we forget about the child, born on a night so cold.
The children look for Santa in his big, red sleigh never thinking of the child whose bed was made of hay?
In reality, when we look into the night sky, we don't see a sleigh but a star, burning bright and high.
A faithful reminder, of that night so long ago, and of the child we call Jesus, whose love, the world would know.