Good evening all,
Welcome to the Thursday evening of my Wednesday evening email! Last night we were at church and then right after, Mitzi and I went out to dinner for our 20th Anniversary (Marine City Fish Co - Yum!). One more wonderful thing that I am thankful for today. So many blessings, and all of you are included in that. I pray that you all had a great day of Friends, Family, Food and... the Father. It's so very exciting to see what blessings he has in store for me and my family, all of you, and FCC! I can't wait!
This evening I want to give you a heads-up for our upcoming Advent sermon series:
"Outbursts" - Getting ready for Christmas
Typically, we get into a little bit of hot water with our outbursts. As parents, we get to witness first-hand the outbursts of our kids, usually at the most inopportune moments (think of those times in line at the grocery store checkout and our kids suffer a meltdown because they can't have any candy). As children, they get to witness their parents' outbursts also, always at the most inopportune times (think of our behaviors while driving in the middle of rush-hour traffic after we've had a bad day). With the impending Black Friday almost upon us, think about our behaviors or those of others as outbursts of gluttony and rage have defined this day.
As we allow God to take us deeper into His Word and build up our faith and love and trust in Him, our Advent season messages will be focused on "outbursts" also. Except these outbursts will be of joy and wonder, as God came into our world to save us from the pain and fallout of sin and sickness and death. When people found out what God was doing in their midst through the gift of Jesus for them, their only responses could be amazement and worship to God for what He was doing for them. We'll look at these outbursts during the Advent season as we draw closer and closer to Christmas:
May our response to God's love for us through the birth of Jesus be the same as these heroes of faith! Pray continually this month that this pure joy God gives us won't fade or take a back seat to all of our Christmas preparations.
Yours in Christ,
Good evening my friends in Christ!
Well, Mitzi and I are on our way to Florida to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Well, we’re sort of on our way, actually. The flight was supposed to have a 5:50 pm departure with arrival there around 8:30. Well, it’s 5:37 pm, and instead of listening to the flight attendant going through their safety lesson, we are sitting in the airport still, because the flight has been delayed until 8:20 (unless there’s been another delay I’m not aware of, but kinda anticipating one). Yeesh. Instead of enjoying the swaying palms and general warmth and beauty of Florida, we’re killing time under the fluorescent lights and stale air of the airport.
Despite this, it is a cool way to describe what is coming up the Advent season that’s right around the corner. Even though we’re not even to Thanksgiving yet, the season of hope and promise will begin on the Sunday right after Thanksgiving. Advent allows us, and as Christians demands of us, to refocus our faith lives on Jesus our Savior. But what in the world does that mean, anyway: “refocus our faith lives”? What I believe it means is that God puts these kinds of events before us to draw us closer to Him, and He does this by reminding us of the greatest love story ever told & experienced in Jesus’ birth for us. He reminds us that it’s too easy for us to simply glide into Christmas without giving it all much thought; to continue to put our faith lives on cruise control until we click it off on Christmas day. If that’s the way I’d approach my marriage & family, I’d miss so much (plus I’d probably be divorced)! The sheer joy of Mitzi and the boys and “doing life” together. It’s hard for me to imagine anything different. I already miss the boys!
So why should it be any different in our relationship with Jesus? Each of us has allowed it to happen at various times. But the great news (the literal meaning of the word “gospel”) is that as we move farther and farther from God, yet He is as close to us as the Bible and prayer. As a planet moves farther and farther from the sun, the sun continues to draw it back to itself, in a never-ending cycle of far-and-yet-near. He continues to use His holy gravitational pull on us through the gifts of His Word and the special intimacy of prayer with Him. Please don’t neglect or reject this gift!
We’ll discuss the power of prayer this Sunday in our “Great FCC Prayer Revival.” As last week, it will mainly be a practical message, but this week we’ll focus on how to prayer and the benefits of it. Please come and be a part of the discussion. Don’t hold back any longer on a vital and intimate relationship with God through prayer. Here’s a great quote I found on the power and strength that is found in prayer: “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” John Bunyan
Lastly, I want to remind everyone that we will celebrate Thanksgiving once again on the eve before. That’s Wednesday 11/23 at 7:00 pm. Come with a heart that is open to Thankfulness to God for His many, many blessings.
Update on our flight: It’s been delayed one more time, now scheduled to depart at 9:00 pm. We’ll see… May God continue to give us His peace that “far surpasses our human understanding.” See you Sunday,
Good morning and welcome to another edition of my weekly email!
Once again it comes to you a bit late, as last night I was completely engrossed in a book by Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach of Discovery Church in Simi Valley California, “Messy Grace.” It’s written from a very unique perspective with the Christ-commanded job of all Christians to be Jesus to EVERYONE (not just those who are “good” like us). You see, Caleb grew up in a home where both of his parents were gay. Yup. Mom was a lesbian and dad was a homosexual male. It raises some very good questions as to our Christian roles in this 21st Century into which each of us have been immersed.
So what does “messy grace” mean? In a nutshell, it means loving EVERYONE. Don’t believe me? Read it here:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John 3:34-35” Also here: “We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:19-21” (Text in red is Jesus’ words.)
God has given Caleb a very unique and blessed point of view on homosexuality and the Church’s role within it, and what a “messy” opportunity it is to both love those in the LGBT community and at the same time not waver on the holy truth of God’s Word. He got an “insiders” vantage point of the LGBT community as well as at the same time growing in God as he was made a believer in Jesus during this very time, in high school. You have to admit this book is going to raise more than a few eyebrows in the Christian demographic. Yet at the same time, it will also raise eyebrows of hope in the truth of Jesus’ suffering and death for them, and for the love that can and should be found in His Church.
From the Amazon book reviews:
One story in particular broke my heart. When he was a teenager, Caleb went with his mom and her partner to a gay pride parade. While there, they met a group of 'Christian' hecklers waving signs that said, "Fags go away," and "Jesus has no room for you." The hecklers used water-guns to shoot them with urine. As they were being verbally and physically demeaned, Caleb looked at his mother and asked her, "Why are those people acting like that?" Her response was heartbreaking: "Well, Caleb, they're Christians, and Christians hate gay people. Christians don't like anyone who's not like them."
Yes, the Christian Church has come a long way in these last 50 years or so in becoming more inclusive of those around us. (Think of a homeless person trying to get into a house of worship back then, or an alcoholic or a drug abuser or even someone with physical disabilities.) Yet the issue of homosexuality has become the “hot potato” of modern churches. “What do we do with them?” they may ask. “As long as they don’t try to show up at OUR church, we can ignore it and maybe they’ll go away. Or at least to some other church or…” is another response that is explicitly or implicitly given.
Do you see the hypocrisy of all of this? We pick and choose who we will love and invite and let into God’s churches. I’m sure God is shaking His loving and holy head when He looks down on all of this. If we can’t even have an election that isn’t heated and hateful, what hope do we have in loving EVERYONE inclusively. Remember that God has the power to do ALL THINGS! God lets us know of His will for this in Ephesians 3:20 – 21. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Please not that “messy grace” doesn’t apply only to the LGBT discussions that are going on. Think to yourselves where each of us have come down on the un-loving and un-grace filled opinions and actions toward anyone “who isn’t like us.”
What a challenge and opportunity God has placed before us, as He gives us everything we need to carry out His mission of love and messy grace. PLEASE EMAIL ME at Pastord@fisherssaintclair.org WITH ANY THOUGHTS YOU HAVE ON THIS POST. ALL RESPONSES REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL.
You can find the book “Messy Grace” on Amazon.com here.
Remaining in love with Jesus,
FISHERS COMMUNITY CHURCH
Pastor Joseph Doenges
WORSHIP SUNDAY 10:00 AM
301 N. 6th Street
St. Clair, MI 48079
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization