One + God = Anything is Possible

img_2809What can one person really do?  Can just one person impact the Kingdom?  I have always thought the answer to those questions is an absolute YES!  After this weekend I believe that even more strongly than ever.  As we face such uncertain times in our personal lives, families, neighborhoods, churches and country, I believe we all must step up and show up for God.  God is here, he is just waiting for us to show up.  Over the last several weeks, God has allowed me to be a part of some amazing interactions.

This past weekend I was blessed to be a part of a giant free “yard sale” right here in Des Moines.  While there were hundreds of people involved in donating, prepping and volunteering, it was one man’s vision and determination that made it all come together.  One man, who simply loves Jesus, who saw a need and decided to meet it.  Bobby Depper is that man.  He is definitely a mover and a shaker.  If you are not familiar with his story, you should be.  At the end of this post I will include a link to his page.  Bobby is a formerly homeless man who was called by God in a most interesting way while living behind a dumpster.  Since Bobby showed up for God he has impacted thousands of lives.  He is bold with his faith and lives only to bring glory to his Savior.   Lives only to bring glory to God.  Let that sink in.  Pause and really take a minute to think about what that means.  He lives on complete faith that God will meet his needs.  He wakes up each day and simply shows up for God.  Forget about the steps you think you’re putting on your Fitbit.  This man that was diagnosed with AIDS several years ago puts all of our Fitbit steps to shame.   He truly lives each day to further the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

As I img_2814stood in the rain at the “free yard sale” for several hours watching as people with nothing or close to nothing sifted through clothes, shoes, bedding, hygiene items and much more, I couldn’t give enough thanks to God for allowing me to be a small part of it.  The people we met, the stories they told and the physical needs that were met were amazing.  But what struck me over and over again as I watched these people was realizing that each one had a story.  Each one had lived a life that I could only imagine.  But one thing I shared in common with them is that each person in attendance just wanted to connect.  They wanted to tell their story, to feel loved.  Just to feel.  Is that different than the rest of us?  I think it is what we all desire.  I see this over and over in the body of believers.  We all just want a connection with another person.  We flourish when we have relationships with people.  Our lives are changed through connecting with others.

img_2819God allowed me to interact with people I would have never crossed paths with if I had not been at that event.  He allowed me to hear stories, to offer encouragement, to feel what someone else was feeling.  He’s burned faces into my heart that though I may not know or remember all of their names I will pray for them as their faces come to mind.  All because I simply showed up.  God was already there, he was just waiting for His people to show up.

As I reflect on that experience I wonder why it left such a huge imprint on my life.  God has allowed me the privilege of being involved with the least of these for more than 30 years.  So why now?  Why this event?  I think the answer is simply to spread the word to more people, to encourage anyone reading this to get involved.   I mean really get involved.  The donations from so many people to make this event happen were amazing and I know Bobby is beyond thankful.  But if you only drop off a box of food or clothes you are missing out on so much more that God has for you.  You are missing out on the chance to connect with someone.  Someone that might not be exactly like you.  Someone with a different life experience than you.  Don’t keep missing it!  God’s been active right here in Des Moines for a very long time, will you show up?

Believe me, after a particularly long week I could think of many places I would rather have been on Saturday.  After all, I dropped off some stuff.   That was good enough, right?  But I pushed my selfish, sinful exhaustion aside, took my family and we showed up.  The impact on my sons and another FFC youth was reason enough to stand in the rain for several hours.   I don’t have words to tell you what it was like to watch an 11 and 12-year-old wander amongst people they had never met, people from very different backgrounds and offer them a hat, gloves, or some other needed item.  It never occurred to these two children that the people they were approaching weren’t worthy or deserving of a simple smile, handshake or hug.  To see the world through the untainted eyes of a child would do us all a lot of good.

Thank you Bobby Depper for loving God enough, trusting Him enough to be the one man that it took to make this happen.

*Bobby Depper’s page:

Celebrating Houses and Warming Hearts


By Chuck Boscaljon

What do you do when your house turns 100 years old?  You throw a birthday party!house

This past year our Life Group has been studying and learning about what it is like to live on mission and about being intentional in our neighborhood, and in the humdrum of everyday living.  We were challenged to do outreach in our neighborhood.  Debbie and I have lived in our house for 22 years, yet we knew there were people in our neighborhood we didn’t know – in fact, hadn’t even met. So we decided to change that by hosting an event at our house.

We have lived in our house since 1994.  Debbie and I have done a lot of work on the house to get it the way we wanted it to be.  A while back I was looking at some records and discovered that our house was built in 1916.  That makes it 100 years old!  What better way to invite the neighborhood over than to have an ice cream social and open house to celebrate our house’s 100th birthday!

We set a date, printed up some fliers and went door to door in our neighborhood making a point to personally invite everyone we could to our party.  I am not a “knock on the door of a complete stranger” kind of guy, yet we did make it a point to knock on every door on our street.  The response was 100 percent positive.  Not everyone said they were coming, but most seemed pleased that somebody was taking the initiative to try to get people together.

The date of the party came and we were very surprised and pleased with the number of neighbors that came.  We gave everyone who wanted a tour of our house and served ice cream in the back yard.  As neighbors meet neighbors (often for the first time), new friendships were started and old friends got caught up.  Almost everyone agreed that this was something long overdue, and something needed again.  

A good time was had by all, and now as I reflect on that night, I sensed by those who attended, a need for community.  There was a sincere desire to get to know their neighbors and an interest in the lives of those around them.  But the tyranny of the urgent takes hold of us and we struggle with maintaining even our current relationships.

October with its activities at the end of the month is a great time for us to be intentional and, well -neighborly!  Look for opportunities to speak to your neighbors – say hi, give them a wave.  Take time to strike up a conversation.  Show love!  Plant the seed.


Availability Personified


Availability Personified

Merriam Webster’s definition of the word “Available” reads as follows:

Available (adjective)

   : easy or possible to get or use

Or alternatively

   : present or ready for use

These definitions connote a sense of immediacy, responsiveness, and surrender. We might picture a construction worker with needed tools fastened to his tool belt, or an artist with a pallet of colors ready to be employed with a dip of a brush. If you have to wait, search, or rummage through clutter, the thing you need would not be considered particularly available.

While availability most certainly involves readiness, true availability also involves elements of duration and endurance. True availability doesn’t set time limits or convenience thresholds.

Fit For The King has attempted to define the issue of body stewardship in terms of physical availability:
captureIn the midst of a Christian culture that has erected roadblocks to physical availability for Kingdom work, it is inspiring to see radical abandonment of self to accomplish this goal. In the midst of a secular culture that has bred narcissistic and body conscious fitness devotees, selfless acts of physical surrender are also rare. The blood and organ donor, the fasting prayer warrior, and the self-denying pursuer of a fit and available body share a fellowship of holistic worship.

It would be hard to present a more authentic example of physical availability than Kelly Kalvig. A pilates studio manager and instructor, Kelly is passionate about good nutrition and consistent exercise. She has spent years sculpting bodies through rigorous exercise routines and encouraging healthy nutrition and lifestyles, and is acutely aware that her own physical state is a daily calling card for the business. Her commitment is unquestioned as she has rebounded from three pregnancies to return to an athletic physical state.

workout.JPGWith the rigors of her own childbearing in the past, it would be natural for Kelly to focus on the kinds of familiar physical availability that would help her serve her husband, her immediate family, and church. But recently God presented Kelly with a unique opportunity to physically serve her sister in a deep and intensely personal way.

Despite numerous attempts at conceiving naturally and through in vitro fertilization, Kelly’s sister Jodi was not able to sustain a pregnancy. With a number of fertilized eggs frozen and awaiting implantation, they were at a crossroads regarding how to proceed.

After much prayer and deliberation with her husband Jon, Kelly felt God was leading her to offer her body as a gestational carrier to sustain her sister and brother-in-law’s child. Her understandable compassion became a tangible and committed expression of costly love. This would involve implantation of their embryo via a natural transfer. Her surrogate pregnancy also opened the door to many other inconveniences, both known and unknown:

  • Nineultrasound months of pregnancy, and a painful and physically demanding delivery.
  • Numerous OB/GYN doctor visits.
  • An increasing impact on her ability to perform her job as a fitness instructor.
  • A body that will once again experience the gauntlet of pregnancy and recovery.
  • The unknown emotional toll that giving up a child she has nurtured and delivered will take.

Kelly is currently 20 weeks pregnant with Jodi and Heath’s child. All are grateful that the pregnancy is progressing without complications.

In a Christian culture that can minimize the commitment Jesus asks of us, Kelly’s physical availability and she and Jon’s willingness to be inconvenienced provides inspiration to all who have surrendered their bodies to Kingdom purposes. Kelly’s willingness to let God love and serve another through her physical body embodies our definition of what it means to be Fit For the King.

Kelly, right, and sister Jodi


Finishing Well


By: John Porter

II Timothy 4:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

Those of you who knew my father, Roy Porter, knew he lived this throughout his life and walk with Christ. He retired from Northwestern Bell at the age of 58, after working there for 35 years, and then came on staff at First Federated Church as the Director of Mission for the next 23 years.  He never officially retired until the Lord took him home. You could say without a doubt that he fought the good fight, he finished his course, and that he kept the faith.

Let’s face it: starting well is relatively easy. Finishing well is a different matter! In a race, everyone starts at the same line.  When the gun goes off, it’s the one who has trained physically, emotionally and spiritually who will win.

First Federated Church and each one of us needs to strive to finish well as we continue through this transition of ministry and in our day to day lives considering the impact we have on those that God brings into our lives. I am talking about obeying Jesus’ Great Commission, to make disciples of others. That Commission applies to every Christian at some level. If you know Christ as Savior and are walking with Him, then He calls you to make disciples of others.

You can begin at home, your neighborhood, your work place, where you shop, where you work out, anywhere your life takes you. Godly men should be handing off the faith to younger men in the faith (II Tim. 2:2). Godly women should be training younger women in the things of God (Titus 2:3-5). When you’re gone, there should be others who will carry on with Christ because of your influence.

Pray that First Federated Church would continue to be a strong witness for Christ in Des Moines through the many people whose lives have been impacted through its ministry, and around the world through the support of workers and ministries that are raising up disciples to share the gospel.

Are you living for the purpose of building up the body of Christ and extending His kingdom through your labors, your time, and your money in accordance with the gifts and opportunities that God has given you? Will you finish well?


Reformation Sunday

screen-shot-2013-02-17-at-12-03-03-amBy Jon Kalvig

Sunday was a monumental day. In many ways it was a decisive change of direction for our future.

Those who showed up weren’t forced to be there. With the exception of a few, most had never engaged in this type of vision in their entire lives. And yet nearly everyone arrived with eagerness, excitement and such positive attitudes. Yes, this Sunday dawned a new day for our church.

Oh, no, this has nothing to do with the building or a meeting held to vote. In fact this group doesn’t have the right to vote, but they have a voice and they vote with their feet. And they made a declaration last Sunday that should motivate the rest of our church. This is our high school students. A group of teenagers who have no interest in staying rooted in the former ways but are ready to embark on a process of cultivating a ministry that reflects our vision of Loving God, Loving Others, Making Disciples.

Our senior high students pioneered new ground, not once but twice, on Sunday.  During the morning they were sent out into nearly every ministry of the church and served during the 9am hour. It was hard to miss them. If you came on Sunday you were likely greeted at one of the doors by one of these students. These students helped in the cafe, the children’s ministry, the tech booth, worship team and even an usher assistant.  How did they end up in all those areas?

They came to that conclusion following a couple sessions of spiritual gift assessment and identifying for themselves a “sweet spot” to serve. The choice was theirs. And with some general oversight and direction, they leaned into the process. And while their unchurched friends were likely sleeping at 8:30am, they were arriving at the church ready to own the ministry of our church. They came ready to serve you. And they aren’t stopping there. Twice a month these young leaders will be found in areas throughout the church giving their time and abilities toward carrying the weight of their church. And in the process setting a bar for us adults of what it means to belong to the family of God.

You’ll recall I said there were TWO game changers that took place on Sunday. The first Serving Sunday was followed up with our first Senior High Life Groups that night. That’s right, our students broke ground in an area we believe is vitally important for true relationships in the Body and progressive disciple making. Just as we see is critical for our adults. These ninth through twelfth graders met in homes on Sunday night to digest life and faith, through the lens of Scripture. And they did so face to face. Life on life. Heart to heart.

Perhaps September 18 will be known as reformation Sunday for our Student Ministries. A day when a group of teenagers stepped out in faith to pursue a new future. Not because it was easier or more familiar. The exact opposite was true. They could have voiced frustration or declared their disinterest by not showing up to either. I actually expected it to happen. Shame on me for underestimating them. Perhaps their hearts are more pure than mine. Maybe there are a few lessons to be gained from the example of these young ones.

Will we refuse new vision based on our own lack of having walked that path?  Will we commit to giving our time and abilities to the building up of the Body through its various ministries?  Are we teachable? Responsive? Available?  Are we too old to have the faith of a child?

I’d like to make a request; or maybe it’s a plea. Would you fan the flame in our students? Would you encourage them next time you see them. And would you display the same attitude of mind as Christ Jesus (Phil 2) so that our students have a great example to pursue here at our church. We have a generation looking up to us. May we take the command of God (Titus 2) to instruct through our teaching and our example how to live unashamed, unafraid and unleashed for the Lord.


The Table

9-15-16Written by Deyonne Miller:

Perhaps some of you are like me; time and again, as I have sought God and His will for my life, He doesn’t lay it out in a step-by-step manner. He doesn’t give me the road map. Oh no, my journey starts with a desire or nudge from God asking me to take a step in a certain direction. Often times, as I start a journey of obedience, I feel like I am wandering in a forest–wondering if I will find a straight path to an open clearing.

This is my story about how God nudged me through an open door to serve Him. It is about how God took my passion for encouraging women and my gift of hospitality to create connections and community with others.

Last year God nudged me to leave my position in corporate America. I knew that God was creating opportunities, but wasn’t sure exactly WHAT, HOW or WHEN. WHAT I did know is that my next chapter in life would include working with others; working with the heart. I knew that this next step was in total faith and belief that God is Jehovah Jireh—‘The Lord will provide’.

About the same time as I started my journey, Marcie Eriksen also began to realize that the pressures of a stressful job, requiring long hours and many weekends, was keeping her from one of the most important things in her life: connections with other women. She became challenged in our Sunday night study group with this question,”What space is too full in your life that needs to be freed up for God to work?” Needless to say, the Lord spoke to her loudly and clearly! Work was in the way of what God wanted for her life. She immediately freed up some time by quitting a little “part-time gig”.

The world would say that the ‘stars aligned’ when Marcie and I had parallel experiences, but I say God had a beautiful plan and it was only beginning to unfold.

Last January, Marcie joined me in facilitating a faith-based book club with a group of random young women. Most of these women did not know each other, most of them were not connected to a church and most of them came from different denominations. One common thread with these young women was that they were seeking connection with others.  Over the months, we learned from each other, shared laughter, tears, and joy together. We grew to love these women and wanted to continue connecting with each other.

After the book club, Marcie and I asked the women if they would be interested in trying out a new way to connect with other women and build deep relationships. They agreed.   That is when ‘The Table’ began. We knew after the first meeting, that this approach was something different; something authentic and powerful. It opened the doors to create community, deepen our love for each other and God through a simple format. I had my answer to ‘HOW’ I was to work with other women – as a guide to deepen and encourage others in their walk with God.

The ‘WHEN’ was easily answered as together Marcie and I decided to explore expanding this concept to all FFC women. We are so excited to introduce ‘The Table’ and invite all women to attend the October 3 Table event to learn more!

All it took was being open to hearing what God has for two women and being willing to walk the path of faith. Oh, what a journey this has been!  Can’t wait to see what God does next!

Here are some thoughts from Megan and Jacie, two Federated women who have already experienced ‘The Table’:

Growing up as the youngest of four kids, I spent a lot of time sitting around the dinner table catching up with my family. Being hundreds of miles away from many of my family members, long family meals are something I’ve become nostalgic about as an adult. I so enjoyed my time participating in the table. I often find it difficult to strike up conversations with people I don’t know well but have desired new relationships with other women for a long time. The structure and the setting of the table was a true blessing, as it provided me with a way to get to know other women and find space to share as well—Megan Kelderman

The Table has been such a blessed outlet in helping me get to know, on a much deeper level, a lot of the familiar faces I’ve seen for years through the halls of FFC! A lot of young women who I KNEW of or had said hi to, I now KNOW & call them friends! What a blessing it is to grow closer to this church family bringing more opportunities to serve & be Jesus’ light to one another!—Jacie Fasselius


Disrupting a Color-Coded Life

colorcoding-__squarespace_cacheversion1283917353669By Tracy Griess

At the Griess home, one of our weekly rituals is to compare our calendars as we get ready for a new week.  So as I look at the calendar to plan out the week and the month I see a lot of filled days.  I see a color coded key that helps us, at a glance, know who has what activity and on what day.  As I look at the calendar, more than just the highlighted games, workouts, practices and appointments are on my mind.  I see more than just a filled calendar that to the untrained eye would seem to be, too much.  I see beyond the times and locations to the people involved in each activity.  There are football friends, church friends, neighbors, life group friends and the countless other opportunities for connection.  Some might look at my calendar and offer advice on how to create margin or to perhaps re-think how much our family has going on.  They might not see past the crazy busy days to what is really important with each item on our calendar.  They might not see that with each activity we have an opportunity to connect with each other and with other people, to take advantage of an opportunity that God might be giving us to have a lasting impact on someone’s life.  

That is what we try to focus on during these busy seasons of life.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times that our busy life can seem overwhelming.  We have kids, demanding jobs, and a plethora of extra activities, yet we are ok.  If we can see through the color-coded lists and allow God to work.  As I mentioned, there are times when things can seem overwhelming and we wonder, perhaps even mutter a complaint and think about getting rid of something.  However, God always uses something or someone to show us that this is exactly how and where He wants our life to be.

I recently had an opportunity to once again, as life seemed too full, too busy, just too much, to put things into perspective. I sat at my dear friend Joyce’s funeral and heard an amazing account of a life lived well for Jesus.   The time that God had for her on this earth came to an end August 29th, 2016.  We had been friends for 16 years.  We shared so many great times, sad times, hard times and amazing times.  As it became clear over the two weeks prior to God calling her home that her time was ending, I simply could not turn my memories off, and I really thought about how she impacted my life.  

At the time we became friends our children were very young, in fact, all of them were under 4 years old.  Our lives were different then, simple. We didn’t need color-coded calendars.  Playdates and lunches and church activities were the only extras on our calendar then.  But then our kids entered school and sports and other activities.  So the world of committees and games and volunteer work and just a lot of extra became a huge part of our lives.  With each child and each activity came new groups of friends.  Even though she lived in Illinois and we moved to Iowa, we remained close.  We often would talk about the way our lives had changed.  We discussed how busy we were, yet we both kept adding things on.  Whether it was a Bible study for middle school girls or teaching Cubbies, PTO or starting her own business, Joyce was busy.  As I listened to her pastors talk about her life and all that she was involved in and how she always had time for people, they wondered how she did it.  Her life was full.  How did she stay so involved yet always have time to connect with people?  What became so glaringly evident was that God used every single group and committee and client to accomplish His work.  Even over the last 18 months as she battled cancer she still made it to every game and meeting and Bible study that she possibly could.  Thousands of people were impacted by the way she lived her life for Jesus.  She used every busy day to have an impact on someone else’s life.   She used these opportunities to talk about her Lord and Savior.  

So as I sat in that church, barely able to breathe at times because I knew how much I would miss my friend, I thanked God once again for using Joyce to show me that we have so many opportunities to bring glory to Him, and it’s almost as if I heard her say to me “don’t waste a moment”.  She never stopped trying to make a difference.  She wasn’t quiet about how God had worked in her life in big ways and in small ways.  As her pastor said, and we all knew, Joyce was not perfect but she was passionate about Jesus.  Wow!  Is there any better compliment than a town full of people who say you are passionate about Jesus?  

What I walked away from that day thinking about was this.  We really do not know how many days we have on this earth.  We absolutely want to use every opportunity to bring God glory.  So I won’t slow down, and I won’t complain.  I will look at each group of people I have the privilege of being with as an opportunity given to me by God to represent Him in a way that brings glory and honor to my Lord and Savior.