First Presbyterian Church

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

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!

Not!

"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 www.bnnsradio.com.  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...

Friends,

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

Friends,

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
pathologies.

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

of

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
destroy.

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
            church.

            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!”