First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
221 North Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

Monday, April 14, 2014


Holy Week commenced with a big praise parade at both services on Palm Sunday (yesterday) that almost took care of the grays (for more on that, click on, go to the right column of archived editions, click on the "Retirement" issue, and work on the puzzle).

This week is pregnant with opportunities to increase intimacy with Jesus and taste the paradise that is eternally in store for everyone through Him as Lord and Savior.

Actually, I think every hour of Holy Week is filled with opportunities; including our regular schedule of educational, fellowship, Midweek, board meetings, and so on.  For more information, just go to, check your bulletin again, click on, pull out the most recent newsletter, or call Karen and Kathie at the church office (815-544-6402) for updated information.

Parenthetically, while the weather report this week hints at locusts and the Rock River turning into blood, I'm expecting something from Someone a little less eschatological.

Moretheless, some Holy Week highlights (this week):

Noon - 3:00 p.m. 
Mountaintop Cell(ular) Ministry
Go to for more on that!

Maundy Thursday Worship in Sanctuary
7:00 p.m. followed by showing of "The
Passion of Christ" in our youth room
movie theater.

Community Good Friday Worship
hosted by, uh, us in the chapel!
Noon - 3:00 p.m. featuring seven
local pastors who love Jesus by the
book.  15 minutes segments to "come
as you can and leave when you must."

Sunday (Easter Day)
Worship Services at 7:20 and 10:00 a.m.
And don't miss Sunday School for all
ages, unless, of course, you already
know everything there is to know

Yo!  Don't be selfish!  Forward this to folks who will be blessed by blessing Him this Holy Week with their attention, allegiance, and affection via attendance.

Blessings and Love!

Friday, April 11, 2014


Some quickies:

1. Women's Lenten Breakfast in Fellowship Hall on Saturday before Holy Week!  That's tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.  While that's around lunch time for me, I hear the speaker, music, food, and fellowship will be great!  Psst.  Also, being a guy, I won't be breaking the gender barrier! 

2. Speaking of breakfasts, especially for men who are on their own tomorrow, I paid for four tickets to tomorrow's Belvidere Bucs Baseball Flapjack Breakfast at Applebee's from 8-10 a.m.  However, I'm driving my favorite Special Olympian to practice at 7:30 a.m. and then have to hit some hospitals and then...  So I can't go!  Of course, I won't starve.  But that means I have four tickets available for anyone who wants to take themselves and kiddies or whomever.  Just call 815-544-6402 and I'll put the tickets in an envelope and tell ya where to pick 'em up. 

3. I need a kidney donor!  Now!  A faithful friend and L&M family member needs a kidney.  If the Lord is nudging you to consider being a donor, please call us at 815-544-6402 now!

4. For those wondering about the grays, click on ("Retirement").  You can help trim!

5. See page 15 of The Shopper (4/10/14).

6. While we have shown it many times, yes, there will be a showing of Mel Gibson's Passion after next Thursday's Maundy Thursday worship service in the youth room. 

7. Pick up your palms on Sunday at both services!

Blessings and Love!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Do you realize how special/important you are to Him?

I thought about that while praying over the pictures in our new directory on Wednesday during MCM; and paraphrasing my buddy Tony a bit, I mused about God calling everyone "up there" together, pulling out His directory that includes eternal pictures of you and me and all of His children, and saying, "Look at her/him!  I just love her/him!  I'd just die for her/him so we can live together forever!  I did!  I will!"

I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday at 7:20 (chapel) or 10:00 (sanctuary).

That's a.m.


Also, there are only a few tickets left for our Family of Faith Swiss Steak Dinner on Saturday.  My boss has told me that ya gotta call by tomorrow morning!  It's like Sunday!  Snooze and lose!

Blessings and Love!

Friday, March 28, 2014


So many accelerating miracles on the corner of L&M!

Some are obvious, some are confidential, and all are awesome.

Having said that, the spiritual battle for souls accelerates as well (see below).

The movie Noah is symptomatic; and Leslie will be talking about it in both services tomorrow!

And baptisms!

We're also continuing our series on scratching the surface by digging deeper as we continue our mini-series on our Lord's seven r(R)evelationary letters to the, uh, seven churches of John's Apocalypse.

7:20 and 10:00 a.m. (with the singing nun starting at 9:50 a.m. before the 2nd to start aligning hearts).

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!”

Are you still looking for a different way to do church?
Are you tired of the SOSO RELIGION?
Are you put off by posers in pews, politics and pulpits?
Try our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main!
(Belvidere, Illinois)

Sundays at 7:20 and 10:00 a.m. and so much…

Friday, March 21, 2014

Men's Breakfast
Saturday at Church
7:30 a.m.
Faith, Fellowship, Fun, Manly
Snooze and lose

Friday, March 14, 2014


It's Friday...but Sunday's Coming!

Observing our 175th during both services at 7:20 and 10:00 a.m., there will be an extended fellowship hour with expanded goodies after the second service.

Hitting the streets today, you will want to pick up a copy of Lisa Rodgers' superbly written column on our 175th in the Boone County Journal; which you can also read right now by clicking here.

Reminding moi of the recent dedication of the Tom Sparks memorial that symbolizes our dedication to building upon the best of the past for a better future of fidelity to Jesus by the book, there's a surprise in the sanctuary - a new appointment, again, symbolizing our dedication to building upon the best of the past for a better future of fidelity to Jesus by the book!  It's the right time with the right message!!!


1. Don't miss today's inaugural broadcast of "The Old Gray Dog Ponders" at 11:30 a.m. on

2. And if you click on by 11:15 a.m., you'll catch Joe's "Add a Little PEP" that's been running every week from 11:15-11:30 a.m.

Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Meeting with a peer earlier today, he said, "My sermons have been really tough lately.  Maybe it's time for a fluff sermon."

You may want to check out "Clerical Error" on for some related thoughts.

Well, as my friend talked, I thought of Kurt Vonnegut's conclusion to a "sermon" on Palm Sunday 1980 at NYC's St. Clement's Episcopal Church: "This has no doubt been a silly sermon.  I am sure you do not mind.  People don't come for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.  I thank you for your sweetly faked attention."


Anyway, I did say this to my peer and friend, "I'll never forget sitting in preaching class back in 1974.  The class was right after our daily chapel service.  Dr. Macleod, before saying anything else, started, 'When you have the privilege of preaching in Miller Chapel, please have something to say and don't waste everybody's time.'  Uh, I had just preached in chapel a few minutes earlier.  I never forgot that.  I haven't been able to preach a 'fluff' sermon ever since."

Sooooooo try as I have, the Lord just won't let me preach a fluffy message for our 175th anniversary of life and ministry on the corner of Lincoln and Main this Sunday.


What do Exodus 20, Philippians 3, Revelation 1, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber have in common?

Blessings and Love!

P.S. BTW, Don't miss the inaugural broadcast of "The Old Gray Dog Ponders" this Friday at 11:30 a.m. on  When it comes to Reformed theology, I am a BB gun compared to his heavy artillery!  He is the most clear and concise yet comprehensive Reformed theologian known to me.  You will not be disappointed.  Please forward this to others so they don't miss out!