First Presbyterian Church

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

Script #110


Beloved,

These are increasingly irascible, irregular, and irreconcilable times exaggerated by a world out of control, nation deeply divided, and churches that do not have the faith breeding the courage and strength to tear down separating and segregating idolatries in obedience to the big ten reflected in His greatest commandment.

Everywhere - whether national politics or booster club rivalries or little league athletics or wherever - the speck-inspectors and my-way-or-the-highwayers are out and energized by the enemy to divide and destroy.

Selfishness not sacrificial service is a virus infecting the health of too many people and even churches that should know, uh, better.

Recently, my bishop shared an interesting story with me.

A pastor asked geezers like me, "Raise your hands if you would die for your grandchildren?"

Everyone raised their hands.

Then he asked, "Raise your hands if you would change the music in worship for your grandchildren?"

No one raised their hands.

Sigh/Selah.

Too many people can't seem to stop/help themselves from helping the enemy destroy what He created/called good.

Too many people act like Adamsons more than Christians.

It is one of the most exposing/disclosing/betraying evidences of being in or out of Him.

Fortunately, as focused and fueled by Biblically based and Christocentric worship at First, we are overcoming that plague/pollution.

More than less and more better than worse - with apologies to the grammar police - we are modeling Someone better in our life and ministry together for the glory of Jesus alone.

That's why we are being urged to increasingly invite, welcome, include, and love folks into the family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main:

    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?

    Are you searching for something/Someone real, honest,
        timely, and true to...?

    Try our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main
        in Belvidere, Illinois!

    Sundays at 7:20 and 10:00 a.m.

    And so much...

Yes, we are called to be salt - preserving what is good/Godly, promoting what is good/Godly, purifying/pruning/purging what is not good/Godly, and spicing up things!

And, yes, we are called to be light - a picture of something/Someone better and showing the way to Him alone for wholeness, health, happiness, joy, safety, and security!

Make it be so.

Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Script #109


Beloved,

Recently, I was asked why I am so increasingly passionate about peace, unity, and purity in, through, and for Jesus.

Uh, it's because we become increasingly passionate about what matters to Jesus as we become more intimate with Him; or as the apostle tried to articulate the experience/expression: "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me."

We begin to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: Jesus.

We begin to experience/express Joshua's boldness, strength, and courage as a fruit of intimacy with Him: "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

Well, I had a dream on Sunday.

I met someone for coffee who had left First about nine years ago; though the face kept changing to people who had left before, during, and after...

The faces were similar, recognizable, uneasy, and longing for something forfeited; but the eyes were indescribably vacant, cold, and dark.

As she/he tried to explain why she/he left, I interrupted and said/asked, "I hope you're not expecting to go to heaven when you die; because heaven includes all of the people who have loved Jesus.  You divorced yourself from members of the family when you left; so why would you want to spend eternity with people who weren't worth your time, love, and forgiveness for just a lifetime?  Why do you expect to live with them in heaven when you couldn't live with them on earth?"

I have never said anything like that to anyone; yet a sense of truth about it/Him has stayed with me since awakening.

Then Ella Jane's prayer (below) arrived on Monday morning; and shortly thereafter a personal note: "Bob, you and I are feeling the same heartbeat from the Father...'Make us one!'...This has been so strong and unshakeable with me for the past several weeks.  We need unity and love if we are going to impact the world."

Somehow - beyond me to calculate or comprehend - it all seems related to an outburst during Sunday morning's message that kept going through my spirit during a Sunday afternoon ordination: "We've already got too many Democrats, Republicans, Masons, Shriners, Lions, Elks, Moose, 81s, 1%ers, Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Congregationalists, Lutherans, Methodists, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, EVFs, AGs, and...with all of their idolatries, separations, and segregations so insulting to the One who sacrificed Himself for peace, unity, and purity and so damningly distracting from the only One who saves here and now and forever: 'You make converts twice as fit for...as you are yourselves!'"

We need more, uh, Christians.

I don't know what it all means.

I'm just scratching the surface.

But I think it has something to do with God as final arbiter.

Sobering.

Very, very, very sobering.

Blessings and Love!


Prayer for America
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

Beloved:

My heart is heavy with the need to pray for unity in our Nation and in the Churches.  If we do not unite as one, we give the enemy a great advantage over us.  I pray that your heart will be stirred to prayer to pray as Jesus prayed, "Father, make them one, even as You and I are One."  It is a time of repentance for the Church and for America.

Father God,

    I watch with horror as we increasingly turn from Your ways. Your precious Word speaks so strongly to our situation: “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men” (Ps. 12:8).
    The Psalmist David again asks the right question for our day, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3).

    Lord, You have greatly blessed our nation. From our beginning, there have been those in leadership who have honored You and sought to lead us in righteousness. You have made us a beacon for freedom around the world for those who are oppressed and downtrodden. The material blessings from Your hand have welled up in national generosity to help those who are hurting, both within and outside our borders.

    We recognize our imperfect human nature and structures. While fighting for freedom, we had periods of slavery within our own nation. Even with slavery behind us, freedom was not always available to all in the same measure. The list of our sins, Lord, is long. We slaughter the innocent in wombs of choice. We defile the sanctity of marriage and make it vile. We love the pleasures of darkness even while professing to be Carriers of Your Light.  We call good evil...and evil good.  We are filled with self-centeredness, self-pleasure, and a "me first" mentality while claiming You as Lord. We know little about self-denial and denial of our will to take up Your ways.  We build our lives and houses and allow Yours to go to waste.  Our Ministers have profaned Your mercy and grace, and have built personal kingdoms instead of blessing Your Kingdom. We are a Nation and a Church filled with idolatry that denies Your Power. We bow our knees to the gods of this world and have become a lukewarm church with a lukewarm message that entertains instead of transforms. Without Your mercy, who could stand?

    Throughout our nation’s history You have blessed us with times of spiritual awakening and revival. Your Spirit moved in our midst to restore godly worship. You empowered Your people to be witnesses to Your truths and to take stands for righteousness and justice.

    Oh God, do it again! Come upon Your people again in reviving power. Before our nation can be changed, our hearts must be changed. Turn us from selfishness and sin to Your loving ways. Forgive our Nation for turning from You, and for the sins of idolatry and wickedness.  Forgive Your people for our transgressions and slothful ways.

    Your Word tells us, Lord, that judgment begins in the house of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17). May Your mercy and grace also begin there. Pour out a spirit of repentance upon the Church in America. Forgive us for making our faith more about us and our comfort and preferences than about Your purposes on planet earth. Fill our pulpits with godly preachers who will proclaim Your Word fearlessly.

    We will respond to Your Word as those who are called by Your name, humbling ourselves before You and in prayer, seeking Your face and turning from our wicked ways. Father, will You then hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14).

On Bended Knees and Bowed Heart,
Pastor Ella Jane Coley

Passageway Ministries
P.O. Box 507
Bixby, OK 74008
918-366-4415

If you or someone you know would like to receive our "Thought for the Day", please call or send us an email asking to be put on our email list.
Visit our Website at
www.PassagewayTulsa.org

@#$%

    I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with the Lord and Lord's.

    The less I acknowledge I know, the more people come to travel avec moi.

    The doors on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois along with those of my heart are wide open.

    I've stopped trying to figure out what He's up to in my life; and that includes ministry entrusted to me.

    I've given up.

    I think that should have happened long before I dared to be an undershepherd.

    I don't know why it took me so long to leave religion about Him for a relationship with Him.

    Better late than...

    Go back to the dream and prayer.

    I've never been happier in my life.

    Read Psalm 131.

    He wants that for me...you...everyone.

    That's why He can be called...love.

@#$%

Blessings and Love!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Script #108


Beloved,

Last night was so pleasurable and painful for me as I watched Mass Appeal with friends, family members, and saints (see below).

It was so pleasurable to be with folks who get it/Him.

It was so painful to hear...see...know...

As I approach this weekend of encouraging people to deepen their relationship with Jesus alone to open up His Holy Spirit in their lives in Sunday morning worship services, a memorial service for Bob Sanford on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., and  an ordination service for Janet Potter at 3:00 p.m. - all juxtaposed to the pleasure and pain of last night - I find myself thinking of our dearly departed Bob Hecox who often asked/warned, "Do you know what time it is?!"

Do you?

Do I?

Do we?

I believe the time has come to sacrifice - totally as in total commitment - our religion about Jesus for a relationship with Him reflected in our invitational, inclusive, welcoming, and loving vision for the corner of Lincoln and Main being a beacon for Jesus and safe haven for all.

It's happening!

He's happening!

Many new faces are appearing every Sunday and Wednesday and daily at First - hungry and thirsty for an authentic relationship with Jesus and people who love Jesus.

Many more are coming as they hear of a safe place where they can grow with a family of faith increasingly and calmly passionate about intimacy with Him being the foundation of safety, stability, and security during these perilous times.

Our table is not fenced.

Our hearts are open.

We do not seek to control, inhibit, or chain anyone to a religion about Jesus polluted, plagued, and paralyzed by the idolatries of infidelity.

We want everyone to be free in, through, and for Him - to be exactly who He designed our sisters and brothers to be.

To borrow/paraphrase some lines for those who see, hear, experience, and express authentic discipleship (Greg Holden):

    We will not be commanded.
    We will not be controlled.
    And we will not let our future go on...
        Without the help of our soul!

I love you and will die for you.

Most important, He loves you and already has...

Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Script #107


Beloved,

I cannot begin to express my thanks to God for Karen, Kathie, and Bill keeping us informed, updated, and compelled about the movement of the Holy Spirit in our family of faith through bulletins, newsletters, www.belvpresbyterian.org, and www.bnnsradio.com.

These are powerful, persuasive, and increasingly joyful times on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois as our Lord increases our peace, unity, and purity in, through, and for Him.

Indeed, I've given up tryin' to keep up with everything goin' on!

Again, that's among the many reasons for my thanks to Him for Karen, Kathie, and Bill keeping us posted!

Well, because of some outstanding personal commitments tomorrow - Thursday (10/18) - I almost missed noticing Mass Appeal will be shown in our media center and showroom at 6:30 p.m. 

This is a movie that raises many critical questions about authentic discipleship in today's church.

Starring Jack Lemmon, it's set in an upper crust Connecticut Roman Catholic Church and draws us into the struggles of Father Tim Farley to be more faithful than popular as prodded by seminarian Mark Dolson.

It helps distinguish a relationship with Jesus from a religion about Jesus.

The parallels to what's happening to/in our favorite RC Church in Belvidere - so sadly chronicled by local/regional newspapers - are staggering; as well as forcing anyone who says she/he takes Jesus seriously to look deeply into...

This movie will move you to the deepest recesses of your soul as it forces conclusions about authentic vs. posing discipleship.

I have seen it several times since first released in 1984; and look forward to seeing it again with you on Thursday.

BTW, invite some of our sisters and brothers from Saint James to come and watch it with us.  I'm going to send this to our local BMA and neighboring churches so they don't miss the opportunity.  Besides, the Thursday night NFL game doesn't affect cheeseheads or cubbies.

Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Script #106


Beloved,

Sadly, I have reached a conclusion about our world, nation, churches of all franchises, and...

So many are so determined to damn themselves.

People can't seem to help themselves from destroying what He has entrusted to us.

I don't think I am wrong anymore in saying, "Wherever I look, I see people who are negative about everything, backbiting, bantering, beating, bruising, beating, and butchering.  Civility has been replaced with constant crippling criticisms about everyone and everything; and people can't seem to help themselves from damning everyone and everything which includes them.  Even among Christians who should know better, I see increasing segregations, schisms, and separations in total defiance of every ethic that He taught about honoring Him by reconciling with each other.  Too many churches are a disgrace of dysfunction, division, and damning words, actions, and even looks.  How dare such churches tell the world and nation how to get along when they are poster children for not getting along?  The next time I see someone who has broken fellowship with a church and then parades around like Sister-Bertha-better-than-you, I'm gonna say, 'Even Gandhi would have smacked you in the head!'  Twain was right: 'The church is always trying to get other people to reform.  It might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little by way of example.'"

Fortunately, our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois is increasingly counter-current-ecclesiastical-civil-culture as a beacon for Jesus and safe haven for all of His children no matter who, what, where, when, or why.

Here's just one note of the many received this morning about what has become our Sunday morning experience/expression at First: "Pastor, just a note to say the Sunday service touched me deeply and the quiet time after communion was very moving to say the least and there were many tears as so many hearts were touched by the Lord...I praise the Lord and am grateful to be part of the Family of Faith moving closer and closer into the relationship with Him."

God knows we are not immune to that slippery and slimy old enemy trying to slither in among us to tempt us to become part of the damning culture of this sad chapter of human history.  We've had to stomp its head on occasion over the past 25 years.  But the apostle was/remains right: "It is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one.  Those who don't show love for one another do not belong to God...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."

Though we're just scratching the surface of our relationship with Him, we are praying and laboring to model Someone better for a world, nation, and too many churches so bent on damning themselves.

Jesus!!!

So invite, welcome, include, and love as many as possible into our family of faith at First!

God knows there are so many so hungry and thirsty for the trickles turning into rivers on the corner of Lincoln and Main!

Blessings and Love!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Script #105


Beloved,

Two quickies:

1. Sunday's worship services were anointed!  While I praise Him for lifting us into awesome holy communion as aligned by our chancel choir and praise team - Though these words are not adequate to articulate the experience/expression, our chancel choir and praise team get better and better and better every week in aligning hearts with Him/His! - I lament the lame choice not to board the bus (see below).

2. As you know, I haven't talked about the election; but I've dropped some hints on how to vote in the next edition of www.koppdisclosure.com: "Election Day Cometh for Believers").

Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Script #104


Beloved,

Recently, I was asked, "Well, aren't you going to say anything about the election?"

"Except for praying God's protection for the families of all candidates and for a clean election," I responded, "uh, no."

O.K., I do have a concern.

I'm concerned about people who are acting kinda apathetic about it.

We gotta vote.

I believe God is not double-minded about anyone/anything; and if we're intimate enough with Him, He will reveal someone who should get our vote.

That's about all I'm gonna say when it comes to November 6.

That's because I may be wrong by indigestion more than inspiration when it comes to my vote.

Besides, to take Paul out of context, everybody's gotta work out her/his own salvation.  I have a hard enough time figuring out how I'm gonna be faithful; let alone telling you how to be faithful.  You gotta figure that out for yourself. 

However, there is an interesting opportunity to learn more about one of the more important issues to Christians juxtaposed to this election.

Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago is hosting "A Civil Dialogue Between Evangelicals and Mormons: Commonalities and Differences" on October 23 at 7:00 p.m.  The featured speakers will be Dr. Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Seminary, and Dr. Robert Millet, Dean Emeritus of Brigham Young University.  Call 1-800-617-3209 for more information on how you can attend.

BTW, the most recent edition of www.koppdisclosure.com - "Can You Be a Servant Without Leading?" - has generated some interesting comments from around the country.  Click it on and check 'em out.

While the enemy is always prowling around and doing its best to bring out some folks' worst, the excitement and enthusiasm and increased involvement and many new faces every week on the corner of Lincoln and Main continue to herald First as a beacon for Jesus and safe haven for all without respect to color, class, or culture.

Praise the Lord!

Blessings and Love!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Script #103


Beloved,

Irregularity?

Do you suffer from it/it?

Psst.  Think/pray about the 2nd it.

An irregular attendee said to me not too long ago: "I feel out of the flow at First these days.  There are more new faces and things are happening and people are saying they're feeling something and I'm losing control and..."

Aaaaaaaah, there it/it is.

Anyway, she/he is irregular; and still expects to be in the flow of what it's/He's (hint to the identities in it/it) up to on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois.

We're broke ($) but increasingly filled with His Spirit (+).

Such is life/life.

Attendance is up at both services, more and more and more children are coming to worship and Midweek and Sunday School, adult classes on Sunday are increasingly well-attended, the Chancel Choir and Praise Team are growing with a refreshed spirit/Spirit, and...

Anyone who does not feel/experience/express it/Him is out of the flow, uh, because she/he is irregular and suffering from it/it.

The day of nitpickers, naysayers, negativities, and speck-inspectors has come to an end in our family of faith at First.

It's/it's over.

The train is at the station - check the parallel metaphor below - and it's about to...

Your choice.

BTW, it's also our choice to invite, welcome, include, and love others to the ride.

Psst.

If you have no clue about the preceding, you could be, uh, irregular.

Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Script #102


Beloved,

The providence of it doesn't escape me.

While assisting our parish nurse Vicki in last night's memorial service for Marge Hinrichs and thinking of this coming Saturday's service for Don Nelson and coming off two of the most spiritually deep while draining memorial services in my life and ministry for Sara Williams and Johnny Kemp, I had forgotten that tonight is my last book-signing at Ida Library (6:30 p.m.).

The providential part is Marge was a librarian for BHS and helped out at IL for many, many, many years.

So while I may sign a few books tonight if anybody comes, I'll probably say more about Marge than biker culture as a metaphor and challenge to churches.

Another providential moment, as promised, occurred on Sunday in worship; and I'm still saddened by those whose, uh, irregularity in worship has caused and will cause them to suffer being out of His increasing flow on the corner of Lincoln and Main.  Truly, occasional attendees are just going to miss...(see below).

Anyway, my buddy Jeff took prayer concerns before praying; and folks liked it. 

As you know, I'm very selective about announcements during/before worship because of our "limited" time for worship and Karen's precision in preparing announcements for all to take home and read; and I've always thought it's just better to pray about someone or something than list 'em first and then pray. 

So I'm going to try something this week with respect to including "prayers of the moment" and spending more time in prayer than listing items for prayer.

During prayer - either early in the service or at the table - there will be a time when folks can, uh, just pray about what they'd like to pray about.

If that doesn't work, we'll try something else.

It's a wineskin opportunity.

Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Script #101


Beloved,

As promised below, something/Someone big happened in worship on Sunday...for those who got on the bus (see below)!

Both worship services are growing in attendance.

Cool.

But that's not nearly as important as His Holy Spirit sweeping up people into peace, unity, and purity on the corner of Lincoln and Main.

Our attendance will continue to grow increasingly because we are increasingly yielding our worship, work, and witness to Him.

Our attendance will continue to grow increasingly because folks need heaven in a world and country going to...

Forget $.

Those days are over.

We will have to depend upon each other and the generosity of those who've still got $ to meet bills.

You don't have to ask people who are tight with God and who've been blessed with $ to support the church's worship, work, and witness.

They just do it.

He will take care of us as long as we trust Him to take care of us.

Again, I must stress my sadness over folks who aren't getting on the bus.

Someone said to me, "I didn't see...but I saw so many, many, many new faces.  There are new faces every week and..."

Do you remember when Ron Rand was with us about 7 years ago?

He said, "There are people who are green apples and not ready to commit to Jesus and there are spoiled apples who leave the church when they lose control of something or don't get their way on something and there are ripe apples who are ready to commit to Jesus and the family."

I'm praying for the green and spoiled apples.

They really, really, really need our prayers as in, "Sometimes it's better to talk to God about some people than to talk to some people about..."

They really, really, really need our prayers as in what's below.

But, my, oh glorious my, how I praise the Lord to see Him harvesting the ripe apples and the joy and happiness and love and...that's penetrating and permeating every corner of the church on the corner of Lincoln and Main.

I have been praying for nearly a decade for this moment; and I praise Him for it!

Yet, I confess, I'm saddened for those who've missed the bus or won't get on the bus or...

Read Luke 15 for more on that.

We can feel it/Him at First.

It's/He's happening.

Praise the Lord!

Blessings and Love!