Overwhelmed – 15 Years

This coming Sunday, our church will celebrate our 15 year anniversary. Wow. Sometimes, words come very slowly. Music often breaks my writer’s block. I was listening to “Big Daddy Weave’s” song, “Overwhelmed.” It fit! Here’s a portion of their lyrics:

I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

All that You’ve done is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I’m overwhelmed to think about what God has done in 15 years. Well let’s see…it’s approximately 780 sermons and 4,680 songs of praise. It’s exactly 200 baptisms and $650,000 given to missions. We’ve experienced funerals together…and miracles.

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Brian and Abby Strickland

It’s been many mission trips.

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Mission team to FBC, Chalmette

It’s countless children involved in Sunday, School, Children’s Church, AWANA, Upward and VBS. It’s an amazing group of youth and college students who have matured right before our eyes.

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Needs no caption

It’s been servanthood evangelism and Kingdom Assignments.  It’s been Fall Festivals and Easter Egg Hunts.

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FCC Connection Card

It’s been like eating regularly through worship, Bible study, and fellowship. I’m overwhelmed at what God has done in changing lives at Fruitland Community Church!

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The children’s sermon time at FCC

Below are some historic highlights:

FCC Historic Timeline

May 2, 1999 Informational Meeting for Core Group

July, 1999 FCC Prayer Team enlisted

September 12, 1999 Public worship kicks off at North Elementary

November 14, 1999 First Baptism and Lord’s Supper service

November 19, 2000 Celebration Sunday with $350,000 pledged for building

April 1, 2001 Groundbreaking Service

June 14, 2001 120 Chilton Builders arrive in Fruitland

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Chilton Builders motto: “God is Able!”

Summer of 2001 13 teams come to FCC for building and mission projects

October 21, 2001 FCC Building Dedication

September 8, 2002 AWANA ministry begins at FCC

September 7, 2003 FCC Constitutes as a church

January 8, 2004 Cape County Cowboy Church is launched

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CCCC is 10 years old!

March 14, 2004 8:00 am worship service begins

January, 2005 Field of Dreams Campaign to develop our property is launched

November 8, 2005 Antiguo Cuscatlan mission in El Salvador is launched

November, 2006 FCC Food Pantry launched

March 29. 2008 Upward Soccer begins at FCC

January, 2009 FCC votes to partner with Cuidad Obrera church plant in El Salvador

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Children from Ciudad Obrera

Fall, 2011 10 year anniversary remodel of building begins

Fall, 2012 FCC Widow’s Ministry began

February, 2014 BTCP Training for 60 El Salvadorian leaders is launched

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Our month long birthday celebration will include the following:

September 14 – Baptism and Lord Supper Celebration
September 21 – Church-wide Potluck
September 26 – FCC Food give-a-way
TBA – “Believers Ballpark” Whiffleball Field is dedicated in memory of Nolan Weber

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Believers Ballpark

So, this Sunday let’s look back and say “Thank You!” to the One who has made it possible. But, let’s look forward and dream, asking the Lord for His direction for the future. I’m not a prophet, but if the Lord tarries, we could see in the next 2 to 5 years (Lord willing):

Our building paid off. Praise the Lord!
A family pavilion built on our property.
A new church started in El Salvador and in the Cape/Jackson area.
More preaching…singing…Bible study… baptisms…kids…youth…students…missions.

So overwhelmed. So grateful.

Ice Water Bucket Challenge

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Honestly, I’m not wanting to pour ice-water on the “Ice Water Bucket Challenge.” It is a fad that has been entertaining, raised the awareness of the evil disease of ALS, and apparently raised millions of dollars for ALS research. I’ve been called out by my good friend Scott Chilcutt and I need to respond before I’m called out by others! There is so much pressure to come up with a bigger and better challenge. Mine would flop. Trust me. Haha. If others are starting to give because of this, that is great, but here are three questions that we might want to ask ourselves:

1. Can I give to the group asking for help with a good conscience?
2. What is my motivation for giving?
3. Will I give once the fad is over?

And I want to do something…something big…something meaningful…something eternal. My pastor, missionary friend Dan Hale has ALS. I hate what ALS is doing to him. I wrote about that on the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous speech.

Lou Gehrig’s Anniversary

But I always give out of conviction. Here is an article that explains why some find themselves in a moral dilemma:

The FAQs – ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge

This may not fit your conviction, but I will give a one-time donation to one of the three organizations listed in the above article.

Many of my friends have taken the challenge and been creative (I’ve enjoyed them!! Please don’t hear me criticizing! Some have been hilarious!) George W. Bush, Derek Jeter, Kermit the Frog, and many other celebrities have taken the challenge. I’ve even been drawn into watching epic fails and unknown people taking the challenge and then see them curse the people who did it to them. Why do it, if you are going to complain for 30 seconds after you’ve done it?  I’m grateful that awareness has been raised, but let’s give out of compassionate hearts, not to impress anyone else.

One of my daughters did the challenge and I was impressed that soon after she called me to see how our friend, Dan Hale, was doing.  She connected the fad to a real live person who is suffering.  I was proud.

I’m going to make a one-time gift to an ALS charity of my choosing and conviction. I’m going to continue to give to my church each and every week. My friend, Dan Hale, shares a passion with me for missions and specifically for El Salvador. We have worked together for the Kingdom. Those who have found Christ, will find the ultimate healing when they reach heaven. I am going to double my gifts to missions and to El Salvador in 2015 in honor of my friend, Dan Hale.

Will you join me in giving out of conviction to relieve suffering here on earth and for eternity?  Will you join me in giving beyond the fad?

Blessings! For the Kingdom.

A Ragamuffin

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I watched the movie, “Ragamuffin,” last night and I’m sorta of a wreck and still processing it.  It was based on the life of Rich Mullins.  Rich was a Christian who struggled with his brokenness. He wrote songs that were recorded by others as well as himself.  Here’s the trailer to the movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF7qbCTFja0&feature=kp

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What is a ‘ragamuffin?’  My on-line dictionary say it’s “a child who is dressed in rags and is usually dirty and poor.”  Brennan Manning, who had a big influence on Rich, wrote a book entitled, “The Ragamuffin Gospel.”  The Gospel is for the outcasts and prisoners; the sick and poor.  Mullins began to see himself as a ragamuffin.  He didn’t fit it, wearing ratty clothes and going barefoot.  Even more so, the hurting child inside him was broken and poor.

Brennan Manning wrote: “For Ragamuffins, God’s name is Mercy. We see our darkness as a prized possession because it drives us into the heart of God. Without mercy our darkness would plunge us into despair – for some, self-destruction. Time alone with God reveals the unfathomable depths of the poverty of the spirit. We are so poor that even our poverty is not our own: It belongs to the mysterium tremendum of a loving God.”

It was Rich Mullins’ brokenness that drove him to the heart of God.  What struck me about Rich’s life was:

  • His honesty.  This movie isn’t probably for small children…as there are honest portrayals of Rich’s struggle with alcohol (and there is some light cursing).  It also probably isn’t for some Christians who struggle with judging others.  The movie…Rich…was honest about his struggles and brokenness.
  • His art.  Rich struggled with the hypocrisy of some in the Christian Music scene, but he sought to write songs from the heart.  Some were cathartic with lyrics like, “hold me Jesus, I’m shaking like a leaf,” or worshipful like, “Awesome God.”  Rich didn’t try to be trendy or make lots of money, but to create art that came from his heart.
  • His simple life.  He did go barefoot and wear ratty clothes, but it was more than the clothes.  He chose to live simply.  I was amazed that he made the decision to only live on what the average person’s salary was for that area.  The rest he gave to churches and charities.  He never knew how much money he was making.  Later in his life, he moved to an Indian Reservation and ministered to the kids there.

I confess the movie gave me impetus to explore Rich Mullins’ life a little further.  This morning I began the book,”Rich Mullins: A Devotional biography: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven” by James Bryan Smith and I’ve found my Rich Mullins CDs (LOL).  I’m listening to “The Jesus Record” right now.

Rich always signed his autographs:  “Be God’s.”  Most of us are told to “be good,” but our goodness only comes from “being God’s.”  So what’s my take-away?  I’m a ragamuffin too and I’m praying for a heart that gets bigger and bigger for all the ragamuffins God puts in my path.  Be God’s!

 

Lou Gehrig’s Anniversary

Today is the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.  All of baseball is celebrating this date…

Lou Gehrig was a baseball icon who played for the infamous New York Yankees.  He was nicknamed Iron Horse, because prior to Cal Ripken, he held the record for most consecutive games in baseball history.  The nation was shocked when it discovered that Iron Horse had ALS and had to retire from baseball.  It fact, this “I’m the luckiest man…” speech was his last public appearance.  Now the terrible disease, “ALS,” is known as “Lou Gehrig’s” disease.

I love baseball and baseball history, so this story has drawn me in.  You can see a one minute summary of this famous moment:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/marty-noble-gehrig-delivered-a-declaration-of-inspiration?ymd=20140704&content_id=82741782&vkey=news_mlb

Except this year, it’s a little more personal.  One of my ‘Iron Horse’ pastor friends, Dan Hale, has ALS.  Dan is as strong as anyone I know…he and I share a love of the Cardinals and a love for International missions (not necessarily in that order–LOL),  He and I have seen victories and struggles on the mission field  and we were all shocked to discover that he had ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease.’  Dan has been the pastor of FBC, Millersville. for 25 years.  25 YEARS!!    More importantly been a great husband, father and grandfather.

Lou Gehrig was the luckiest man on earth because he got a chance to play for the New York Yankees.  Dan Hale is one of the most blessed men on earth because he knows Jesus, has a great family and church family, a bunch of friends, and a legacy of a pastor and missionary.  Now he hasn’t gone to heaven yet.  He’s still fighting.  He still posts devotions on Facebook and still tells people about Jesus.  He inspires me and hundreds of others.  

Most are thinking of Lou Gehrig today…I can’t help but think of my Iron Horse friend, Dan.  Would you take time to pray for Dan today?  

Dan…if you are reading this:  Sigue corriendo la buena carrera … te amamos y estamos orando por usted!

Stephanie’s Camp Fund

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More than 7 years ago, I had the privilege to do the funeral of a very special girl, Stephanie Marie Keister.  You see her picture above.  This was the cover of the funeral program that was printed that day.  It’s hard to believe that this coming Friday would have been her 21st birthday.  That’s a milestone birthday.  I try to remember her birthday most years, but this one is a milestone.  This blog is my way of honoring her and letting her parents, Mark and Billie, that we still care and we still remember.

Mark and Billie set up a special scholarship fund at our church.  “Stephanie’s Camp Fund” honors the memory of Stephanie and sends kids to camp every summer.  It is a privilege for me to give to this fund every year.  Camp is a life changing experience for kids as they literally unplug from social media and the world, and hear challenges from God’s Word.  Every year kids accept Christ and others surrender to missions.  Each year we scholarship kids who can’t afford to go to camp.  If you would like to give to “Stephanie’s Camp Fund” you can send a check to:

Fruitland Community Church, 6040 Hwy 61 North, Jackson, MO 63755 (and write “Stephanie’s Camp Fund” in the memo of your check)

Or you could give to your local church to sponsor a child for camp.  Kids like Stephanie remind us of the preciousness of life and to invest in kids.

Mark and Billie we love you and are praying for you!

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It’s time to give..for Stephanie…for the kids!

Blessings!

Why I’m Excited About VBS!!

Vacation Bible School at Fruitland Community Church will be this July 20-24.  Our theme is from Group, “Wilderness Escape: Where God Guides and Provides.”

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You can learn more about this specific curriculum by going to this link:

http://www.group.com/vbs/wilderness-escape

You can register your children to this week of VBS by going to this link:

https://www.groupvbspro.com/vbs/hl/fruitlandcommunity

But really what I wanted to blog about is…”Why I’m excited about VBS” and why you ought to prayerfully considering volunteering (here if you are from our church…or at your church!).

1.  Kids – Kids just VBS.  They love to sing, play, make things, and learn God’s Word in creative ways.

2.  Parents – Parents still send their kids to VBS.  It’s amazing.  VBS is a door to reach families!

3.  Truth – God’s Word is taught creatively and through relationships.  It’s powerful and memorable.

4.  Fellowship – God’s church gets stronger when they work together to share the love of Christ.  I’ve seen church members who didn’t know one another bond during the week of VBS

5.  The Lord – VBS is one way to serve the Lord…it really isn’t the only way (insert smiley face!)…yet is a powerful way.  Don’t dismiss it.  Pray and ask the Lord if you are to serve this year…wherever you find yourself.

I LOVE VBS!

For the Kingdom!

 

Special Family Night and 3rd Day of Teaching

This is day 5 of our mission trip…I have a separate blog about the trip if you are interested in reading more…

http://fccelsalvadorpartnership.wordpress.com/

For now…here’s Wednesday in El Salvador:

Before updating you on our Wednesday, I have to pause and reflect on last night.  Pastor Otto invited us to join his family on their “Family Night.”  What an honor.  His family consists of his wife, 3 sons, mother, and grandmother.  He explained how he led his church to not have anything on Tuesday nights so that each family could focus on family.  And we were invited to his house on family night.  It was so special.  Here’s Otto’s immediate family:

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Our translators joined us:

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It was a great group!

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The hospitality was great…the food was great…and we really bonded with this special family.  We learned a little history of the Bible teaching efforts in El Salvador and about the excitement of the BTCP program that our area pastors are bringing to El Salvador.  20 were trained in March; 23 this week; and plans are being made for Otto to train 24 in his church.  Another pastor is starting this in his church the next month (I don’t know how many).  Apparently, more pastors are waiting.  It’s on the verge of exploding.  It was so affirming!

Missing from the family night was Otto’s mother who is very sick in the hospital with cancer.  Before we left for the evening, we circled up, Otto called his mom, and I prayed for her over a speaker phone through a translator.  It was a very special moment.  Our group will continue to pray for Sonia.

That was last night…today was our 3rd day of teaching and it went well.  The students learned 8 special rules for interpreting the Bible (how to interpret parables, proverbs, etc.)  All 23 students have stayed engaged.  The ages range from 14 to 65.  Meeting a 14 year old boy (young man) who feels called to pastor was awesome.  We had special prayer for him:

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The group is still teaching us a chorus in English and we are about to get it!!

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It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day to teach!  It was a great day…to God be the glory!