Confession: My favorite hour of the day is typically the first. As an almost 49 year old, I have really learned to love rising early - before anyone else - and enjoying coffee, the Word and a daily walk, typically in silence and solitude. Really good stuff. But on a rare occasion - like this morning - I have a tough time getting up and "embracing" the day. On days like today, I try and engage in a simple exercise: I compose "LOVE lists" in my mind. And so, here you go - on this morning when the struggle bus is my reality, let me share with you some of things I love:
MY CHURCH - I love First Christian Church of Clinton - what an amazing place to gather to worship, fellowship and grow in the knowledge of the Word and in our journey with Jesus! Here are just a couple reasons why I love my church:
** I love my church because we are willing to partner with folks like Randy and Ann Anderson to bring Fan the Flame concert series to central Illinois. Last night, Jason Gray, Chris August and Andy Gullahorn blessed close to 400 folks with their Living Room Sessions concert - good stuff! But that's not all - the money raised above the cost of the concert goes to the Vault youth center project right here in Clinton! This was the 13th Fan the Flame concert since it became a reality in August of 2013, and the 8th held at our church. Eight concerts over the past four and a half years at our church! What a blessing!
** I love my church because we continue to be part of the Intentional Church Conference held in nearby Decatur. Our 11th conference was Saturday and 400 people from all over the midwest gathered on a beautiful Saturday to be encouraged by Dave Dummitt from 242 Church in Michigan and Roger Storms from Arizona. We are one of just two churches (along with Lincoln Christian University) that have been a part of the planning for ALL 11 conferences! What a blessing!
** I love my church because we host upcoming events like the 2nd annual Mother/Daughter banquet on Saturday May 5! This year, we will be blessed by national speaker Jill Savage! So thankful for the vision of Joyce Mathias and her team and their willingness to make this event awesome.You can get your tickets at church on Sunday or in the office this week. What a blessing!
** I love my church because of the great staff we have at Clinton FCC! EACH member of our staff loves the Lord and loves the church, and wakes up every day ready to serve in the name of the Lord. We enjoy each others company and truly embrace the team concept! Special shout out to Jennifer Causer and Mandi Ries in our office - they have went above and beyond the past six months and do such a great job! This Wednesday is the day we honor administrative professionals - make sure you thank Jen and Mandi for ALL they do! What a blessing!
** I love my church because of the Godly Elders that lead us! So thankful for Mark Witzke, Mark Behrends, Ken Klein, John Rodgers, Nate Bostic, Gage Lyons, Dana Korneman and TIm Wenthe! Each of these men model what a follower of Christ should look like and I'm thankful to serve in leadership with them. What a blessing!
** I love my church because we are NOT willing to stay where we are but are willing to try new things and ideas and strive to look like Jesus! So many good things are happening right now! ROOTED is off and running with 115 participants in nine different groups. The Neighborhood Care Center is striving each week to be the hands and feet of Jesus for our community. First Kids and Reveal student ministries are impacting the children and teens of our community both on the FCC campus and in the schools themselves. What a blessing!
** I love my church because its NOT about ME! And its NOT about YOU! Its ALL about Jesus! Let's never forget that and strive to embrace ALIVE in CHRIST living modeled in Philippians 2! Where can you serve others this week? How can you be a blessing to others? We are called to live out the JOY and HUMILITY of Jesus. What a blessing!
** I love my church! I hope you LOVE your church as well!
MY FAMILY - I also very much LOVE my family. I am so blessed and cannot thank the Lord enough!
** I love my mother Dorothy and my late father Jim for the spiritual roots they planted within me at the earliest of days, and their insistence on making FCC Champaign a part of our routine each week - Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night! I didn't always appreciate it at the time, but I'm so thankful now. What a blessing!
** I love my in-laws Jerry and Lavina Knackmuhs - so thankful to be a part of their family and so blessed by their constant willingness to help make our life better in every way! I love their passion for the Lord and their desire to walk with Jesus! What a blessing!
** I love my son Peyton and cannot believe he will be a HS graduate in less than four weeks! I think it is super cool he can throw a discus 186 feet and LOVE watching him dunk a basketball, but much more than that, I love his academic excellence and his leadership ability. I'm so excited he is 1 of 115 going through ROOTED and cannot wait to see what the Lord does with his life in the years ahead! What a blessing!
** I love my daughter Jordan and cannot believe she will be a college graduate in 12 days and is getting married in 47 days! I'm so proud of her - she has never had a B on a report card and just reflects the LOVE and JOY of Jesus as she lives her life! I think she is going to be an AWESOME teacher in New England - whether in a grade school classroom or as in ESL (English as Second Language), and she will be a huge blessing for her soon-to-be husband Jacob as he serves in one of just three independent Christian Churches in Rhode Island! What a blessing!
** I love my wife Marla and don't have enough space in this blog to tell you all the reasons why! She is a GREAT HS math teacher! She does a GREAT job teaching our grade school students each week at 9:30am in FIRST KIDS! She is a GREAT model for me in the spiritual disciplines - she is up early each morning in the Word and in Prayer. She is a GREAT mom, daughter and wife! My kids are so lucky to have her as their mom! I'm so blessed to have her as my wife! What a blessing!
MY LORD - MOST importantly, I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I love that he DIED the death of a criminal to become SIN for me! But EVEN more than that, I'm thankful he came to bring me - and you - LIFE, and LIFE to the full!
Have a great week and do not forget about these upcoming opportunities:
** Tomorrow - RELOAD for Men at 6am
** Thursday - Ladies Night Out at 6:30pm
** Sunday April 29 - ALL CHURCH Ice Cream social at 6pm
** Tuesday May 1 from 4:30-6pm - Nelson's chicken dinner sponsored by Rotary - all money raised is given away to local food banks, including FCC's!
** Tuesday May 1 at 6:30pm - Area Men's Fellowship at Little Galilee camp!
** Saturday May 5 - Mother/Daughter Banquet
** Sunday May 13 - 8:15am service - end of the year choir cantata
** Sunday May 27 - one service Sunday at 9:30am