First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
221 North Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

Monday, February 9, 2015


Yesterday's Youth Sunday was awesome!

If you missed it, you can catch it by going to the archives of

Some quick items:

1. Confirmation Class begins on February 18 with confirmation on May 24
(Pentecost).  Classes will be on most Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00 p.m.
followed by dinner with Midweek from 5:00-5:30 p.m. as our confirmands
serve as table helpers.  A calendar for confirmands will be available on
February 18.

2. This Wednesday's DD - 6:00-7:00 p.m. in our Board/Bored room - will
feature a look at the differences between the Founder of Christianity and
the founder of another religion at the root of much of our world's current
unrest.  We will also review the wonderful video shown at the beginning of
Youth Sunday that was filmed and edited by Nick and Kathie.  Psst.  We
also plan to show it before next Sunday's first service because we had some
technical difficulties yesterday.  Psst.  I also plan to use Nick and
Kathie's video in my next KD.

A word.

I do not do Facebook.

Never have.

Never will.

It is only listed on KD because it enables the site; but I do not
engage/enable it.

My reasoning, primarily, is because I write enough e-mails, blogs,
scripts, texts, and...

However, another major reason is because the technology becomes benign or
malignant depending upon the spirit(s) within those at their keyboards.
When posts have been brought to my attention over the years, I have been
stunned by the venting, venom, and everything but Christian deportment.

Parenthetically, yesterday, in Chicago, a 13 year old boy was shot to
death because of Facebook postings.

Truly, from what I have heard, seen on very rare occasions, and from
psychoanalytical reports that I've read, Facebook has become a cesspool
for irregulars, irascible, and irreconcilables transferring their pejorative

I also know people who use Facebook to hurt other people usually do that
after there has been something awesomely Godly in the lives of others that
they have excluded themselves from experiencing.

I also know from four decades of undershepherding that people who hurt
other people and especially their sisters and brothers in churches are usually
people who have been helped the most by their churches in emotional,
intellectual, spiritual, and financial ways.

It is demonic (check out the attached).

Yeah, people sure like to fight...and hurt...these days.

Our President was right on that last week.  Some Christians who need some
more Jesus in their lives act just like those...

But we are called to model something/Someone better.

I know people who love Jesus love like Jesus and are part of the solution
not increasing problem.

I praise the Lord for the saints on the corner of Lincoln and Main and
sister families of faith who get it/Him.

Blessings and Love!

Scratching the Surface


Spiritual Warfare

(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Victory)

It’s possible to distinguish the Lord’s light from darkness.

It’s possible to distinguish people living in the Lord’s light from people living in darkness.

God and His accomplices build bridges, relationships, friendships, and families; forgiving, reconciling, healing, helping, inviting, welcoming, including, elevating, and encouraging.

God says, “Come to Me, all and everyone who are weary and burdened, and I will take care of you and give you…”

God’s accomplices cooperate with His caring call.

Satan, the architect of darkness, and its accomplices tear down, pick apart, burn bridges, fracture families, separate, segregate, distance, degrade, denigrate, devastate, and seek to

Satan says, “You’re no good.  You’re bad.  You’re useless.  You’re not invited, welcomed, included, or loved.  You don’t belong.”

Here’s the good news: “Darkness cannot overcome the Lord’s light…My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One who lives within you is greater than the one in this world…Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Of course, as Luther cautioned, Satan is “a clever trickster” and its accomplices are sneaky, secretive, slimy, and slithering among the faithful like sleeper cells: “It/they come as angels of light.”  Jesus said, “They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Denise Frangipane: “Satan is a master of illusions.  He plays upon our weaknesses and exaggerates our problems.”  It/they come at our moments of vulnerability.

Certainly, victory is guaranteed for people who really believe in Jesus and are intimate with Him; or as Francis Frangipane wrote, “How do we defeat the enemy?  Victory begins with the name of Jesus on our lips.  It is consummated by the nature of Jesus in our hearts.”

Moretheless, Paul used the metaphor of a Roman soldier preparing for battle to remind us of how/why we can live victoriously (read Ephesians 6:10-20).

Here’s an example of how to pray with Paul’s metaphor as a guide:

            Lord, I thank You for providing all I need to live victoriously!

            You are all I need to live victoriously!

            Aware of the dark influences conspiring to move my mind from You,
            I close the psychic door; barricading it with the cross of Christ and
            sealing it with His blood.  Knowing You have granted volition to me,
            I only open this door for You.

            I wear the helmet of salvation which is lined with the promises of Your
            affection and protection.  Making all thoughts captive to You and
            protecting my mind which is a battleground for spiritual warfare, this
            helmet covers my ears, eyes, and mouth so I do not hear, see, or speak
            in unGodly ways.  I will not entertain anyone/anything that distracts me
            from Your holiness.

            I place the breastplate of righteousness over my heart which is the
            wellspring of my life.  This is not my goodness.  It is Your great
            graciousness that protects me.

            I wear Your belt of truth.  Your truth protects me.

            I wear Your gospel shoes of peace; therefore, I can stand firm, balanced,
            and always ready to follow You.  Firmly footed, I look up, stand up,
            speak up, and act up for You.

            I take the shield of faith, my trust and confidence in You as saving Lord,
            to protect me from the fiery darts, deceptions, lies, assaults, accusations,
            and all other dark strategies.  With the hinges of this shield, I am linked
            to all of the saints for protection of family, home, possessions, and

            I wield the Sword of the Spirit which is the Bible.  The Bible contains
            Your pure prescriptions for living victoriously.  Defensively, I can
            distinguish Your light from darkness because of the Bible.  Offensively,
            I can bring Your love, light, and salt into the world because of the Bible.

            I wrap myself in the mantle of praise because You “inhabit” the praises
            of Your people.  As my praises go up, Your blessings come down.

            I place Your cross before me as a banner and guide.  I have decided to
            follow You!  No turning back!  The cross before me!  The world behind
            me!  No turning back!  Though none go with me, yet I will follow You!
            No turning back!

            Thank You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for protecting and preserving
            me from here to eternity as I pray in Your holy, holy, holy name.  Amen.

In short, as Luther taught us to sing victoriously, “One little word shall fell
him!…Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus, it is He!…And He must win
the battle!”

Or as many have done so victoriously when it/they come knocking at the door, “Jesus, please get that for me.  Thank You!”

Friday, January 2, 2015


David sang, "God inhabits the praises of His people."

In other words, we tap into His best blessings for us in worship.

I used to lament over all of the time spent in preparation for worship by our musicians, sound crew, staff, and others when too many people just "blow off" worship for...

Not any more.

Now I lament over what silly and ultimately reckless people miss from Him through His in worship for His glory, laud, and honor alone.

Every worship service includes something for everyone to get closer to Him and experience Him as He moves upon us by His Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus.

What a tragedy when people forfeit what He has for us.

What a tragedy to miss a kairos moment that will never be repeated again.




Yet as I look at the weather forecast for some Sundays - like 1/4/15 - I urge caution for those who aren't as nimble as before.  While we do our best to clear the walks and lots, it is prudent to consider...

Always remember that while worship is more about incarnational experiences with Him and His than anything else, our worship services are archived for repetition and referral via

Getting back to our concern about navigating challenging weather, I am hoping folks will be cautious enough to avoid unnecessary stays in the hospital.

And speaking of hospitals, there may not be a polite way to say this; so I will be direct and trust you know our hearts are filled with love for our family of faith.

Hospital rounds are usually made very, very, very early most mornings to beat procedures/surgeries for personal and focused prayer and care.  So if you know someone who has been taken to the hospital at anytime, please be sure to call us sooner than later.  For example, even if it is late in the evening, call and, if necessary, just leave a message so we don't miss anyone in our early morning daily hospital rounds; for once we move into the schedule of the day and unscheduled crises that come every day, we may not get back to the hospitals until much later or even the next day. 

It also helps if you keep us updated on discharges, transfers, and graduations.

Every now and then, we have a one to two hour session on hints for hospital and nursing home visitations.  It's been about two or three years since our last session; and I will be coordinating with Becca, Julie, Karen, Lydia, Vicki, and others about our next gathering that I hope can be arranged for sometime in February.  Stay tuned to weekly worship bulletins, newsletters,, and for more on that.  We will open up this opportunity to our extended family of faith.

Thank you for helping us to pray and care for our family of faith.

Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I pray your new year is filled with the increasing graces of increasing intimacy with Him through worship, Bible study, sacrament, Sunday School, youth group, musical opportunities, mission, fellowship, and...

This Sunday's second service will feature a powerful yet brief and extraordinarily encouraging clip between the message and sacrament and there will be a precious moment in both services not to mention...

The ordination and installation of officers is included in Sunday's second service.

All Midweek activities resume on January 7.  That's next Wednesday.

Again, I pray a happy 2015 for everyone; and it will be extraordinarily happy if holy (see first sentence-paragraph).

Blessings and Love!

P.S. The prayer line is open: 815-544-3535.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Family and Friends,

With so much going on in our world, country, churches, and all of the below that seems so out of control, it's good to know God is sovereign over all that was, is, will be, and...more!

My friend the OGD who also happens to be the most articulate "Reformed" theologian in my experience has written some powerfully encouraging words about the strong calm sanity generated by trusting in our sovereign God (see below).

Annnnnnnd the revival on the corner of L&M accelerates as our trust increases (see attached).

Speaking of trust, we have our annual meeting to elect officers after the second service on Sunday (11/30); and everyone who has been, continues to be, will be, or thinks she/he may be an officer is invited to attend our "New/Used Officer Training" in the bored aka board room immediately following the annual meeting.  This is a good time to refresh our understanding of the essentials of our faith (profession) and how we pray, plan, and proceed to enflesh 'em (polity).

Speaking of enfleshing essentials, Jesus said, "As you do it for/to them, you do it for/to Me."

Our shared Compassion Closet in concert with our sisters/brothers at St. James is distributing 50+ food boxes a month and our last Compassion Meal for the hungry (yesterday) hosted 48 friends and extended family members with 8 more meals being delivered.

It's hard to keep up with the expanding enfleshment of essentials on the corner of L&M; which is why I urge you to stay tuned via weekly bulletins, regular newsletters,, and

Annnnnnnd it all begins, deepens, and blossoms as we increasingly trust our sovereign Father, saving Son Jesus, and sustaining Holy Spirit.

Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


While it's important to stay tuned to the plethora of announcements and opportunities for ministry via weekly bulletins, regular newsletters,, and, here are two timely announcements/opportunities:

1. The annual Salvation Army "Community Thanksgiving Meal" for the hungry and homeless of Belvidere and Boone County will be on 11/25; and we have the privilege of providing five servers for the first shift commencing at 4:30 p.m.  We already have three volunteers.  If you are interested - first come, uh, first serve - please call Karen at 815-544-6402; and

2. Our new officers will be nominated and elected on 11/30 after the second service.  "New/Used Officer Training" will be held that same day after the congregational meeting in the bored aka board room.  Somebody'll provide coffee and snacks; but ya may wanna bring a brown bag.  This is kinda mandated for new officers; but also encouraged as a refresher for continuing officers and our Nominating Committee and as an introduction for anyone who would like a crash course in our profession and polity.  Simply, we concentrate on the essentials of our faith and how decisions are made to honor Him.

BTW, I'll never forget Tony being confronted, "I don't like the way that you pray."  He replied, "Listen, lady, I wasn't talking to you!"



My friend and often mentor the OGD has written some wonderful commentary on prayer (see below).

Blessings and Love!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Permit me to amplify an opportunity for our family of faith on Wednesday.

While all of our Wednesday Midweek programs will proceed as scheduled this Wednesday, a prayer service organized by Diane Anderson "to pray and remember persecuted Christians" will be hosted by Immanuel Lutheran Church commencing at 7:00 p.m.

Though not significant and almost totally irrelevant, I have been asked to participate; meaning I will leave Deeper Discipleship early enough to get to ILC for the service.  Friends and family who attend DD can then decide if they will stay for the last few minutes of our weekly dive into, uh, deeper discipleship or drive over for the service. 

Noting our Mission Committee has been leading us in prayer at both Sunday worship services every Sunday for persecuted Christians around the world for the past few years, I accepted the invitation to participate in Wednesday's gathering in a John 17 kinda way to connect with ILC and others.

Any time we can be a part of tearing down idolatrous fences that separate us from what our Lord lived, died, rose, and reigns to accomplish among His children is a blessed opportunity.

Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 13, 2014


While tempted to comment on the political and prejudicial intrigue related to the current adult dysfunctions in School District 100 - and if I were inclined to try to explain that to folks, they wouldn't want to understand anyway - I ask us, humbly, to surrender the increasing adult dysfunctions in the district to the Lord so that those entrusted with the academic, athletic, and character-building prowess of children entrusted to them will remember their baptismal promises concomitant to Matthew 18:6.

If there is a strike this week with all adult leadership involved being culpable, the intrigue will be obvious and the fracturing of Belvidere catalyzed by you know what will accelerate.

Blessings and Love!