First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
221 North Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Some dates to put on your calendar now:

1. This year's Good Friday service (see below), hosted annually by our family of faith, is April 3.  Because of last year's attendance, we have moved the service from the chapel to the sanctuary.  Don't cheat anyone!  Invite!  Welcome!  Include!  Agape!

2. With Karen, Fred, and Ric taking the lead, our family of faith has resurrected the annual community patriotic service to be observed on June 28 at 10 a.m. at the Belvidere Community Building.

3. With Darlene and Donna's help and encouragement,  Greater Chicago's Spirit of Life Chorus, featuring a 75+ member choir, will be on the corner of L&M on December 6 at 4:30 p.m. for a community Christmas concert.

Another note:

Annually reviewed by Blackhawk Presbytery and available to anyone, minutes of Blackhawk Presbytery and our Deacons and Session meetings are not mailed to anyone but always available for review on site; and, remember, any meeting of deacons or elders or Blackhawk Presbytery, apart from executive sessions, are open to anyone's attendance.  There are no secrets or sneakiness in the Kingdom (see John 3:19-21). 

Blessings and Love!

A Service for the Worship of God

Good Friday

April 3, 2015

“The Seven Last Words of Jesus”

First Word


“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34
Dale Anderson, Pastor, First Assembly of God

Second Word
12:20 p.m.
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:43
Brian Phillips, Pastor, The Grove

Third Word
12:50 p.m.
“Woman, behold, your son!…Behold, your mother!”
John 19:26-27
Martha and Tomas Valladares, Pastors, Salvation Army

Fourth Word
1:20 p.m.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
Scott Nellis, Pastor, Evangelical Mission Covenant Church

Fifth Word
1:50 p.m.
“I thirst.”
John 19:28
Tom Linderman, Pastor, Grace Point Community Church

Sixth Word
2:20 p.m.
“Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit!”
Luke 23:46
Dan Pope, Pastor, Open Bible Church

Seventh Word
2:45 p.m.
“It is finished!”
John 19:30
Cory Whitford, Pastoral Staff, First Baptist Church

Thank you for worshipping with us today as we recall our Lord’s passion and meditate on His seven last words as guided by local pastors who love Jesus by the book.

Today’s offerings – please deposit them in the “Gifts for Ministry” box in the narthex – will be shared evenly between the Compassion Closet of St. James and First and Wounded Warriors.

It’s Friday!

But Sunday’s Coming!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mes amis,

As the Goreflakes continue to punctuate the coldest February on record - a tribute to climate change that seems to be heading more North than South concomitant to the reality that there's always been climate change undaunted by human interest/intervention/ideology - it appears we're going to get a few to several more inches this coming Sunday morning.

Surprise!  Surprise!


"Now we see in a mirror dimly..."

I don't get what's on His mind when it comes to the bad weather that we've been having almost every Sunday since...

While I have my suspicions...

Anyway, this is just a reminder that we never cancel worship on the corner of L&M and never will except, uh, you know, for the parousia or something like that.

However, please use common sense if you have particular problems with physical mobility, balance, driving in the snow, and so on.

Annnnnnnd remember, you can always tune into the live broadcast of our second service every Sunday by clicking on  While there's no substitute for "being there" as ours is an incarnational faith, it's a link!

Blessings and Love!

P.S. BTW, what's below was written to folks in a church that I've been trying to help in another part of our presbytery.  I've been told others may...


This may be your greatest opportunity to honor Jesus and model something/Someone better for your particular congregation, franchise, community, state, nation, and world.

In a world that bruises, beats, batters, and butchers, you have an opportunity to show how people can come together, remain together, and move into the future together unafraid in/through/for Jesus.

Our world and, sadly, so many churches of all flavors/franchises like to divide, destroy, and...

They like to fight.

Not Jesus.

Not people who love Jesus.

And you, as elders and deacons and Sunday School teachers and pastors and members, are called, depending upon His grace, to pray and labor to imitate His mercy, grace, forgiveness, and agape.

This is your kairos moment - a divinely appointed time for you to show how you are different from the world and how Jesus keeps you together.

This is no time to quit.

This is no time to give up on each other or anyone, like you, trying to love Jesus by praying and laboring to love like Jesus.

Recently, I was told of a family who attended a public event in which there were several families who used to go to the same church and how they...

You get the picture.

What a terrible, awful, unfaithful, and...witness to Jesus!

Imagine - don't "reimagine" - how people apart from Jesus are repelled from Jesus by people who say they love Jesus while hating and divorcing themselves from others while making the unconvincing claim that Jesus heals, unites, bridges, and...

You get the picture.

When I first arrived in Belvidere over ten years ago, I often said, "Please do not tell anyone that I'm your pastor; because I don't want people to think you got your irascible, irregular, and irreconcilable behaviors from me...Please do not invite them to join us for anything until you confess, repent, and start acting out your faith instead of just mouthing it like you mouth meaningless litanies in worship...If you're not going to act like Christians, don't pretend that you are...If Jesus has not changed your desire to get along with each other and others and live lives of strong calm sanity, how can you have the audacity to tell others what Jesus can do for them that He, obviously, hasn't done for you?..."

Or something like that.

While we've still got challenges on the corner of L&M, it's a heaven of a lot better than it used to be since we stopped blaming Jesus for some "Christians" who, obviously, need lots more of Him in their confession, conduct, and countenance.

Take a deep breath.

Rap yourselves around Him in a Psalm 1 kinda way.

When necessary, remember we are the people of 1 John 1:5-10.

Be willing to admit your mistakes.

Be willing to say, "If I am wrong by the example of Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, please tell me so I may confess, repent, and our relationships may be restored."

Be eager to share/ask/invite, "I was wrong.  I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  I love you."

If not us...

Blessings and Love!

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!