First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
221 North Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008
815-544-6402

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016



Mes amis,

Here's the schedule for Christmas on the corner of Lincoln and Main where weather doesn't factor because of increasing light, salt, and leaven:

December 24 (Christmas Eve)

Worship in the sanctuary at 4:00 p.m.
Worship in the chapel at 11:00 p.m.

December 25 (Christmas Day)

Worship in the chapel at 7:20 a.m.
Worship in the sanctuary at 9:50 a.m.

Whenever I've taught homiletics, I've always started classes with two quotes.

Barth: "It's not a matter of whether one wants to preach but whether one can."

Parenthetically, both quotes explain a lot if you know what I mean.

Macleod: "If it's worth preaching once, it's worth preaching twice; and if it's not worth preaching twice, it's not worth preaching once."

Moretheless, and it's for those in worship at the second service on 12/18 to know and for others to find out, there's a powerful blessing awaiting folks - invite, welcome, include, and love and forward this schedule - on Christmas Eve in the sanctuary at 4:00 p.m.  Hint.  Martin Luther said, "Music aligns the heart with God."
Yes, David was right: "God inhabits the praises...[aka worship]...of His people."  So I'd make 'em all!

Despite -2 degrees with a wind chill coming down at -15 degrees, worship was great on 12/18 and worship attendance, especially at the second service, was pretty impressive as well as Holy Spirited!  Listen to the prayers in the archived version of the service on www.bnnsradio.com for more on that.

During the 12/13 broadcast of KD on www.bnnsradio.com, Tony led an apocalyptic moment about refreshing the soul by refreshing the remembrances by refreshing the behavior of Christmases past.  In other words, if you're wondering why some folks just aren't into it/Him like before - God knows Jesus isn't what He used to be in so many churches today - go to the archives of www.bnnsradio.com, click on 12/13, and listen to Tony explode with joy and love and wonder and praise and...

Then invite, welcome, include, and love every Sunday...beginning this weekend!

Blessings and Love!

Friday, December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016



Friends,

While I've experienced some really nasty weather in my time, especially when I was undershepherd of the Delaware Presbyterian Church at the Water Gap between New Jersey and Pennsylvania while in seminary back in the middle 70s, I've never cancelled a worship service in over 2300 appointments.

Of course, I've also led worship for a handful on many occasions!

Cool.

Bad choice of words right now.

Anyway, "Where two or three are gathered in My name," He said, "there I am in the midst of them!"

That's my way of saying there will be worship at the appointed times this Sunday and every Sunday at 7:20 and 9:50 a.m. even if it's just the singing nun et moi.

And, remember, we will have worship on Christmas Day (Sunday) at the appointed times even though we will be having our traditional offerings on Christmas Eve (Saturday) at 4:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Of course, we are really hoping for a window of decent weather, like last week for our unparalleled children's program which our seasoned citizens extolled as the best ever, for our annual cantata during the second service.

However, if the weather is really nasty, I encourage folks to exercise common sense, especially if you have problems moving about so I don't spend the next month or two with you in the ortho units of our superb local hospitals, and tune in to worship via www.bnnsradio.com.

Also, during this time of the year, our telephones are very, very, very busy with calls about our Compassion Closet, Christmas baskets, and many other exigencies.  So if you call and no one answers, that doesn't mean no one is here.  Just wait for the directory and leave a message for whomever is needed and she/he will get back to you before the parousia.

Stay warm!

Stay safe!

Use your common sense in traveling around when...

Blessings and Love!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 20, 2016



Have you ever thought or said "No body loves me." I want to let you know that you are loved very much. God loves you so much that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for you. Jesus died so that you can live eternally with Him. His heart aches every time you are hurting in any way. God promised to ALWAYS love you and be with you. God also promised you free will, so you need to make the choice to love Him too. God's love for you is unconditional, so nothing you do or say can make Him stop loving you. So no matter what life throws at you, take comfort in knowing God loves you. So next time you think or say "No body loves me" remember, Jesus died for you and God loves you unconditionally.

Danielle Larson

Sunday, July 10, 2016

July 10, 2016



In the world today, we have a lot of darkness. Lately, you hear "Black lives matter" or "Blue lives matter." The truth is "ALL lives matter." Jesus didn't come to save just black lives or just blues lives, but to save ALL lives. We ALL have fallen short of the the glory of God. Jesus came so that ALL of us may have eternal life, if we believe in Him. Jesus said "Come ALL who are weak and burden, and I will give you rest." Jesus was an invitation for us ALL to be able to live for eternity with Him, not just certain people. Jesus also said "Love one another as I have loved you." As well as "Love your neighbor as yourself." Even with the ten commandments we were told not to kill. So how come people find it hard to love one another, but not to kill one another? Like I mentioned before, the world is full of darkness. Satan is using the darkness to fill us with hate, anger, bitterness, and so much more so we turn from God. We need to stand up, and show this world there is light by showing love, God's love. God created us to love everyone, and that includes our enemies. God's love is unconditional. God loves us ALL and that is why He sent Jesus to save us. So lets start showing the world the light. All we have to do is show that ALL lives matter by loving one another with God's love.

Danielle Larson

Friday, June 10, 2016

June 10, 2016



Friends,

Mark your calendar now for the annual Heritage Days Community Church Service at the Belvidere Community Building on June 26 at 10 a.m.

Featuring a community choir directed by Karen Kahler and one of my favorite local messengers (AR), this is one of the three annual worship services bringing the Church of Belvidere and Boone County together to worship God while shedding...well, uh, you know...

Our first service will be as regularly scheduled in the chapel at 7:20 a.m. while our second service will be directed to the Community Building in obedience to John 17 and our continuing remnantal allegiance to God and country: "'Return to Me,' says the Lord, 'and I will restore you!'"

BTW, second servicers will be stunned by how many first servicers go to both services!!!

I've been asked why all churches in Belvidere and Boone County don't participate in this opportunity to honor God and beg Him, "Long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light.   Protect us by Thy might, great God, our King!"

Well, to be honest which is the only Christian thing to do, some churches don't like to mix God and country and don't share our belief that America has been especially and exceptionally blessed by God to bless Him and love everyone like He loves us in Jesus.

Annnnnnnd there are many churches - I am being honest not judgmental when noting this - who think they're in franchises aka denominations and sects and whatevers that are "more saved" than everybody else and "know Jesus more than anybody else" who don't want to associate with the rest of the body that they think are...

Really.

They are the ones who fence their tables of Holy Communion in complete disobedience to our Lord's invitation, inclusion, welcoming, and agape.

They just feel, uh, spiritually superior to the rest of us who know we don't know it all and are just scratching the surface of our relationship with Jesus.

Annnnnnnd there are many very, very, very faithful yet financially struggling friends around who won't come because they can't overcome giving up a week's collection aka $.

Frankly, we've suffered every year with that.  Deleting a week's collection around this time of the year when $ is as scarce as common sense in this Presidential race is very, very, very painful.  People tend to forget bills for ministry don't stop when people miss a service or two or three or...in the summer.

Which brings me to an annual reality.

Our giving is down...way down...around this time of the year.

Annnnnnnd this year, it's even worse with the recent renovations to our most recent major renovation to a six-figure tune that dipped into shallow reserves depleted in our most recent major renovation. 

We did not expect to have so many necessary and new and costly renovations.

"It happens," as Gump said.

I'm not worried.

Prayerfully sober?

Yes.

Worried?

Absolutely not!

We are asking our Lord to provide the wherewithal to weather this annual drought.

You have been generous; and I trust your generosity will inspire more of the same.

I've even been asked to attend a finance committee meeting in the near future; which means I will probably be asked what we should do for a quick fix to the challenge.  Because I trust you and our elders, I don't like to attend too many committee meetings.  So when I'm asked to attend one, I know there's a crisis and I will have to make some bold decisions.  I am prepared to recommend cuts that will cause mini-eruptions and misunderstanding; but I am prepared to do that if it is necessary.  I don't think it will be necessary; but I am prepared to make such recommendations. 

Parenthetically, I am prepared to make a very tough recommendation if necessary; and I have already made a clearly reasonable and faithful recommendation - see below - that indicates I will have no hesitancy making a very tough recommendation if finances do not improve in the next two months.

Of course, don't forget I will not beg anyone to fork over; for Eugene confirmed what I was taught by my home pastor and our Lord Himself: "I never tried to get people to do anything when I was pastor.  You don't have to persuade Christians to follow Jesus.  You don't have to motivate Christians."

So this is just information and invitation and...we'll see...

Yes, He will...

Speaking of decisions, I had a vision about a year ago that intensified about six months ago that incarnated in the past two weeks.

Session authorized me to share that vision with a special committee of Julie, Katie, Leslie, and Tyler.  It involves the exciting evolution of our youth programs for the future.  While I will hold the announcement until a formal confirmation from session of the special committee's deliberations, I know you will be rejoicing with us.

Annnnnnnd echoing the call to obedience to Jesus in John 17 noted in the first few paragraphs, I am excited to announce several faithful families of the Church in Belvidere and Boone County will soon be sponsoring a monthly youth gathering at our local YMCA.  I think it will begin in late August.  Praise the Lord!

Blessings and Love!