Sisterhood

sisters.JPGBy Kelly Kalvig  (Pictured: Left to right – Jodi . Kelly . Leslie)

My husband, Jon, joined the FFC staff as a pastor in May. We have been blessed by all of you who have gone out of your way to make us feel welcome. Thank you! Our kids have loved every Sunday in KZ Church and Jon and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time with the youth leaders and junior and senior high students. We now look forward to a great school year ahead.

While this may not be your typical weekly blog story, I am thrilled to share some very exciting news in the life of our family. It relates to God answering our prayers and stretching our ability to demonstrate His gospel! We have been praying for years for my older sister and her husband to be able to have a child. My sister and I are very close so the pain of infertility she experienced became a burden we also carried. They had attempted in vitro fertilization on 4 occasions with no success leading the doctors to the conclusion that she could not carry a baby. However, they still had embryos that were theirs. God had been placing on my heart for a couple years that there may be an opportunity to help. After the birth of my third child, Lena, who is now 18 months, I was ready to offer myself as a gestational carrier for their embryo. 2 Corinthians 5:14 states that Christ’s love compels us to action. Because I believe that God is the author of all life, I knew that He would ultimately be in charge of whether or not this process would happen successfully. There was nothing in my control or theirs; we were all fully dependent on His will. And because it was completely in the hands of our Creator, I was ready to jump in feeling confident that He would answer our prayer!

As Pastor Mike has been teaching this summer, our lives are to be fully centered in worshipping our Lord. Romans 12:1-2 speaks about offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God. As I surrender myself to bringing Christ glory, I have been privileged and honored to offer my physical body in this way. To be able to provide a safe environment for this developing baby is just one way that I can offer myself sacrificially to others and humbly love those who are in need. I pray through this process that ultimately people would see and understand the gospel. For if our God sacrificed his only Son on behalf of the world for the forgiveness of all sin and the eternal salvation of souls; then, I, as a child of God am called and inspired to live for others.

I know many of you would agree with me that no matter what journey you have taken to become parents, your children are the greatest earthly gifts you have been given. I am honored to be able to be a part in the process of allowing another family to experience the same joy. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity and the freedom God has given me to walk with Him. I am 16 weeks along and anticipating that day when I will meet my new niece or nephew!

Jon and I humbly request your prayers for our family throughout the next year as we continue on this exciting adventure. Pray that God would receive much glory!

The Importance of Sending the Church

13566982_10153759285124537_5530105197183008047_nBy John Porter

Without a doubt, one of the greatest privileges and one of the most awesome responsibilities that God can entrust to a local congregation is to be the sending church for a missionary called to the mission field by the Holy Spirit. Biblically speaking, it is a more intimate fulfillment of the Great Commission. It is one thing to give your mission dollars; it is more difficult to give your children. Nevertheless, that ought to be the goal of every Bible believing church.
Of course, we know that Paul and Barnabas were the very first missionaries and that the church of Antioch was the first sending church. Therefore, Acts 13:1-4 narrates for us the beginning of what we now consider the “modern missionary movement.”
The Holy Spirit Calls
As one studies Acts 13, you see the Holy Spirit continues to call men to the mission field. Thank God for the fact that the calling and directing ministry of the Holy Spirit did not cease with the passing of the apostles.
The Local Church
Apart from the Holy Spirit, the sending church has a great opportunity and a great responsibility. This is what we find taking place in Acts 13. After having recognized the fact that God had a very special task for Paul and Barnabus to perform, the Antioch Church identified themselves with their ministry. From henceforth, they would be bonded and united together in the task of sending the Gospel to the regions beyond. (Condensed from Baptist International Missions, Inc.)
Here is a list of valuable ways we here at FFC are sending out the Jackson and the Lightner families, and our other missionaries
1. Providing meals when in the area
2. Provide mission vehicle as needed
3. Provide monthly support and one-time gifts
4. Commission them before they leave
5. Commit to pray for them on a regular basis
6. Communicate updates and needs
7. Send encouraging notes and packages
Thanks for everything YOU do to encourage our missionaries, your financial support to FFC Missions and your continued prayers.

Cambiare

Change Ahead

By Tracy Griess

Change.  A tiny six letter word can stir up so many emotions for us.  Anxious, fearful, tense, grief, suspicious, cautious.  We could go on and on with what most consider a negative reaction to change.  But we have all had them, we have all had that first thought about change that wasn’t exactly positive, and maybe even crossing over into the negative category.  How does a little six letter word do such damage and yet have the power to be a catalyst for something amazing?

Webster defines change as simply to make something different, to become something else. That’s it.  To make something different.  Some synonyms for change are to alter, refashion, review and revise. Those words don’t seem to have the same sting as we say them. However, they carry the same meaning.  When something needs to be different we refashion it, we alter it, we revise.  A quick search of the word change and you find that the first use was in the 13th century.  The word comes from the Latin word cambiare which means to exchange.  This makes sense and doesn’t sound quite as life altering if you think about simply exchanging something.  We have all exchanged things without too much trouble, right?   We exchange a blue shirt for a green one, or we take back a pair of shoes we received as a gift and exchange them for a more needed pair of pants.  Harmless, yet still different.  We had shoes, now we have pants that we needed.  We had a blue shirt but needed a green one. We changed something in our wardrobe for instance, for something that made our life better.  Well, can’t that be true of most change?  Can’t a change or exchange in our lives be seen as an upgrade?

IOS 933I think it can.  I heard someone refer to change this week as a new “version of something”.  Big companies do this all the time right?  Apple, for instance, is always working on the next version of their product.  Apple 6.0, moves to 7.0 rather quickly.  Apple users often grumble a little but soon are singing the praises of the upgrade or improvements that resulted with that change.  Right now I have a message on my iPhone that a software update is available.  iOS 9.3.3 is waiting to be downloaded and is described as something that will fix bugs and improve security.  Those seem like good reasons for an upgrade or a change, there doesn’t seem to be a need to worry or become anxious all we need to do is push the button.   Other things we don’t seem to have difficulty changing is the car we drive for something better or exchanging our phones when a new version is released.  At those times the only thing we consider is
how it will affect our budget or the bottom line.  We figure that out and make the change.  Happy.  Life improved.  So why don’t we look at all change with
this hope for the future?  Why isn’t our first thought when a change is announced, “This is great, the new 9.3.3 of ______is coming out, let’s get in line for this one.”  Because it’s hard to let go of things we have always known.  It’s easy to feel fear when what we have come to trust and love is shifting, or being altered.  We get uncomfortable knowing that we might have to learn a new way or get to know someone new.

God has something to say about this also.  God tells us to never be anxious.  In Paul’s letter to the Philippians we read “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”  (Philippians 4:6) In every situation we are directed to be in prayer, and be thankful.  Doesn’t this include when we are presented with change?  1 Peter 5:7 also tells us to cast our cares on God because He cares for us.  Both of these verses are familiar to many yet we don’t often heed the warning.  If we are worried or anxious we don’t have room for trust.  I think we also miss out on so much that is good, that is exciting, that is better by replacing trust with worry.

God has a plan for our lives.  I have made a choice to be a Christ follower, to place my life in God’s hands.  This means that I don’t get to choose when I believe this to be true.  I can’t decide that I believe God is in control only when I like the results or only when I am presented with a grand opportunity.  I have chosen God for everything.  This does mean that when cancer strikes or my kids are in a car accident or people I love move across the state, or the world or permanently change residence and move to Heaven I also trust God and His plan.  This means that when a change comes into my life I will thank God and trust Him for the results.  It won’t always be as easy as touching that iPhone screen to update to 9.3.3 but I will do it anyway.  I have come to see changes as upgrades, as a time for hope and reinvention.  I have come to look to God expectantly when things are being refashioned or revamped.  Because of God and choosing to submit my life to him, that really leaves me no choice but to embrace His plan.  I have found myself using the phrase “God you’ve got this because I know I sure don’t” often in my time with Him.  It’s true, I don’t “got this” thing called life but if everything always remains the same then there is no room for God to work in our lives.  We have to allow for things to be altered or reimagined because that is when God has moved us to something greater.

I also think of it this way, if our lives remain exactly the same during all the days God gives us here on earth, we have not given God room to grow us, to shape us to make us more like Him.  When God is shaping us he is changing us.  Didn’t our relationship with Jesus begin with a change?  We had to leave ourselves behind, get rid of the old way of doing things.  That was most definitely a change.  I haven’t met anyone yet that regretted the decision to sincerely follow Christ.  Yet I have met many that will tell you that the road was bumpy and packed with change.

As a body of Christ at First Federated, we face a time of alteration, refashioning, exchange and just plain change.  I sometimes feel like I can’t always focus. There are many changes taking place, so many needed upgrades, so many roles shifting,  people being sent out and people being sent in and, and, and…….whew,  just typing those words makes me think of the piles of papers, the full calendar days, meetings and lists I need to make.  And then I pause, and remember to be in prayer always and to cast my cares on Him.  And then I am once again renewed and look with anticipation toward tomorrow, next week and next year with complete excitement for what God has planned.  If we look to God and ask “how can I offer myself to you today Lord”, that changes everything.   If we as a body of believers  ask God to shape us, renew us, upgrade us to the best version of us then we can embrace the plan that God has for us. He will have room to move us to the 9.3.3 version of ourselves.

 

A Family Legacy

By Pastor Danny Lightner

You know how we have the tendency to NOT tell people what they mean to us until they die when it is too late? That is one of the things that always runs through my mind at funerals. As people are giving eulogies of their loved one, I think, “I really hope these people said these things to the person when they were living.”

Well, my family and I have experienced a death of sorts over the past several weeks. We have to say goodbye to relationships that we have built over the past 6 years, and it is tough! Many tears have been shed already, and there are more to come. Some of you have become family to us, and we are so grateful. And in a way, this kind of feels like our funeral—many of you have been telling us what our relationships and ministry has meant to you, and we are humbled and honored at the things that have been said.

This is my final blog as a Pastor here at FFC, so I wanted to take this time to reflect on what was most meaningful and significant to me over the past 6 years. If I had to boil my ministry here down to ONE favorite memory, ONE piece of ministry that has brought me the greatest joy, it would be seeing the men in our church step up and assume the biblical definition of manhood– accepting responsibility, rejecting passivity, and leading their families courageously.

God has burdened me over the years with the desire to see families function well—turning dysfunction into thriving. Men who lead and love their families well. Women who follow their husband’s lead and nurture their children well. Parents who are intentional about prioritizing their children’s holiness above their happiness, who have a strategic plan to launch their children out into the world on mission, bearing the image of Christ.580772_10151325860038496_839694947_n.jpg

One of the key resources I’ve
utilized to reach these goals here at FFC is a program called “Men’s Fraternity”, an intensive 3-year study for men on what biblical manhood looks like. We’ve had 50 men from FFC graduate from this program, completing all three years, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. As one of their assignments to complete year one, these men had to write a “manhood plan” for their lives, a list of strategic goals that they were going to be intentional about to love and lead their families well. Here is a list of what some of our men have committed to (and yes, I will keep this list forever, because it means the world to me!

  •  I want to make enough to provide security for my family and allow my wife to have the choice of working or staying home with the kids.
  • I met my father for the first time when he was in his 70’s and we talked for two hours, and I forgave him for running out on me. Little did I know it would be the only time I would get to spend with him because a year later he passed away. I am grateful for those two hours because it healed a 36-year absent father wound.
  • I accept the responsibility of providing financially and being a source of comfort to my wife. I accept responsibility to raise my son to be an honorable man, and give him that example through my own actions, and to raise my daughter to be a woman with high moral character and to witness how a woman should be treated with love and respect by how I treat her mother.
  •  I will pray with my wife and be the spiritual leader she has been waiting for all these years.
  •  The quest for authentic manhood has truly been an eye-opening experience, which I have enjoyed very much. It has given me a wonderful, consistent plan to finish strong for my wife and family with God’s help and direction (Man in his 60’s).
  •  I need to honor my father and mother by writing them a letter expressing my gratitude for the positive influence they have been in my life.
  •  I will carve out time to have a date with my wife at least once monthly and to get away for at least a long weekend each year in order to ensure that our marriage and love for each other stays strong.
  • I will never put work before family.
  • I will start becoming the spiritual leader in my family by praying before every meal and after every dinner reading a chapter from the Bible.
  • Every week, I will discuss with my wife household responsibilities and make sure they are evenly distributed.
  • Every day I will set aside time to turn off the TV or other distraction and actually talk with my family. Every other week, I will take my wife out on a date.
  • I will teach my children practical instruction about life. When I need to change a tire, I will have them help me.
  • I will take a walk together with my wife, without kids, every other week, to connect at a higher level with her.
  • I will implement the “post-it note program”—writing short notes to my wife or kids to praise character qualities I notice in them.

Wow! Jesus changed the world with 11 committed men. If these 50 Men’s Fraternity grads continue on the path they have outlined above, I have no doubt that God will use these men to greatly impact First Federated Church and the communities in which they live!

I guess it is no surprise then that even though I am switching ministries and leaving the pastorate for the mission field, my ministry is still all about family. Our family’s ministry in Zambia will be all about taking broken family units and making them whole. Providing family where there is none. And teaching the young men who grow up in my sphere of influence the very same things that I poured into the men here at FFC.
Invitation.jpgIt is no coincidence that the ministry I am heading to is called “Family Legacy”. I want more than anything to leave a godly legacy for my family. I want the men at FFC to leave a
godly legacy for their own families. And I want the orphaned children of Zambia to experience a loving family and leave their own godly legacy.

As I leave FFC, I want to talk to the men at FFC, especially those who graduated from Men’s Fraternity. Men, I feel exactly like the Apostle John must have when he wrote to his friend in the Lord Gaius in 3 John 3-4:

3 “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.”  4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Men, you have already made me proud. Continue to be faithful to the Truth, and faithful to the plans you have made to love and lead your families well. I promise you that I will do the same. I love you, men!302357_10150351998212369_1774387447_n.jpg

God’s Providence

By Chuck Boscaljon

Summertime is here and that means vacations and traveling! As we pack up the car and head out to parts unknown – how many of us, when we back out of the driveway say that quick ‘Dear God, give us traveling mercies’ prayer, and go on our way, not giving that prayer another thought?

When the kids were younger, my extended family would celebrate Founder’s Day (my dad’s birthday) at the end of July and as many of the brothers and sisters that could, would gather together and celebrate at my parent’s home in northern Iowa.

In 1993, my family lived in the Finger Lakes area in the state of New York. I had been out of work for an extended time and I was anxious to find a job.

We decided this would be a good time to get away for a time of vacation with a bit of job hunting thrown in. So we packed up the mini-van, said our ‘traveling mercies’ prayer and went on our way east to Iowa.

The trip started out smooth and uneventful, traveling along the Tri-State Tollway. As we approached South Bend, Indiana, we were behind a semi tractor-trailer, when suddenly I saw a piece of metal debris fly off of the trailer flipping and spinning in the air – and heading right toward us! My first reaction was that it was harmless but instantly knew that was not the case. I began to swerve toward the next lane when the object hit the windshield of our van, spraying bits of broken glass everywhere. The sound of loud, howling wind and screaming, scared children filled the inside of the van, and I looked to my right to see if Debbie was all right. She was, and a quick check of the four kids found them to be unhurt as well. Glass was everywhere as the wind blew into the newly created hole in my windshield. I wanted to know what had hit us but could not find the culprit.

Knowing that everyone was safe, realizing that being unemployed I didn’t have the money to buy a new windshield, and not knowing what else to do, I chased after the truck, caught up to him, and got him to pull off of the interstate.

After safely pulling off of the road, I looked again for the object that had hit us. And there buried at the bottom of a small trash container between our two seats I found it – a piece of metal, 15 inches long, 3 inches wide, and an inch thick.

CCF07132016 (2).jpg
I got out of the van and walked to the front of the van and could not believe what I saw. The hole that was punched through on my windshield was directly in front of Deb’s seat – at eye level. I was in total amazement that she had not been hit – that the heavy piece of steel upon hitting the windshield changed directions and landed between the both of us. I don’t know how that was physically possible.CCF07132016 (3).jpg

But maybe, just maybe, those ‘traveling mercies’ prayers we so often say and quickly forget about are prayers that God hears and answers. The only explanation I have for what happened that day was that God’s providence caused that piece of broken debris to change direction and miss hitting Deb.

So as you travel, please take the time to pray for protection on the journey – and don’t take it for granted. Our God is a God who does answer prayer!CCF07132016 (4).jpg

The Kenyan Experience​

By Mike Rose

“God into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15, ESV

There is something about leaving familiar surroundings and traveling to a distant land that leaves its mark on one’s life. I find it hard to adequately articulate, but I know it left its mark on me.

I just returned from a ten-day mission trip to Kenya, Africa. The purpose was to partner with Kenyans in sharing the gospel and letting people know about new churches being planted in the community. Several of the Kenyans were about to graduate from a six-month training period that focused on discipleship and church planting. They will be cubeproviding leadership to the new churches.  The American team was trained in the use of the “Evangecube” as a tool for sharing the gospel. There was much anticipation and a bit of nervousness as we went out to engage our respective communities. At first, it felt a little clumsy… a bit formulaic. But as I/we committed ourselves to the power of Holy Spirit and set our focus to help people have an encounter with the gospel, it all began to click.

photo 2The first person to make a profession of faith in Christ was a young woman who was recovering from an injured hip. I asked Wendy, one of our team members from Wyoming, to share her testimony with the lady. When she did, there was an instant bond. Seems they shared a common life tragedy and once it was identified, God’s Spirit used it to draw the young woman to Christ as the good news was proclaimed to her. It was thrilling to watch a new daughter of God being spiritually born. We prayed for her hip to heal and we went on our way.

photo 3The second day of “on the street evangelism” was spent with a fellow pastor, Bishop Joseph Carato, of God’s Glory Church. We experienced a quick connection and soon were  working as a gospel-sharing team. I lost count of the many people we were able to engage. I don’t believe I’m stretching the truth when I say we made over 30 gospel presentations in a 5-hour period.  One stands out specifically. When I walked through the door of their meager dwelling, it was all I could do to maintain my composure. It was a family of 6, living in a single room. There was no running water, no furniture to speak of, not even a chair; just a double-decker type of bed that stretched from wall-to-wall. The whole family slept there. A few clothes hung on nails on the wall, a few pots and plates and a little bit of food lay on the floor. As difficult as that was to take in, the fact that both father and mother were blind, left me speechless. Bishop Carato introduced us and explained the nature of our visit. He asked if it would be alright if photo 4his friend from America (me) shared the gospel with them. They consented. Because the parents were blind, the Evangecube was laid aside and the need to improvise was necessary and immediate! In that moment the Holy Spirit gave grace and help, just as Scripture says He will. The message of God’s love, Jesus’ death for sin and resurrection to new life came flowing out and it was obvious that they understood. I invited them to place their faith in Jesus and they said “yes”. Bishop Carato led them in a prayer of repentance and faith and then I shared the gospel again with the children. I was able to use the Evangecube because the children all have sight.  The two older daughters also believed on Jesus that day!

There are so many stories that could be told of believers we met and prayed for, relationships we forged and Kingdom work done, but I’ll sum it up here. The final day of our mission we celebrated.  We thanked God for what He had done the previous days, we rejoiced in the graduation of new disciples and their leadership in three new churches, andlast photo we were blessed to see both the family and the women who received Christ come to God’s Glory Church to be connected with a local body of believers.

I am so glad I resisted the many temptations to stay home instead of going to Kenya. Given all that is taking place at Federated and other pressures in my personal life, no one would have faulted me for bowing out. If I had, however, I would have missed great blessings. The blessing of growing in relationship with some wonderful people of our church, the blessing of meeting the warm and wonderful people of Kenya, the blessing of experiencing the power and work of the Holy Spirit in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and seeing many open their hearts in saving faith.

Thank you God for allowing me to have this experience. May you receive all glory and praise! Bless and multiply the believers of Naivasha Kenya. Bring a revival of passion for the gospel, compassion for the lost, and commitment to Your Kingdom agenda to First Federated Church.

 

Reflections on a Violin Recital

Violin 1

By David Bush

Our youngest son, Avery, has taken violin lessons for a number of years from a private instructor. Because of this, Beth and I have the opportunity to attend a couple of student recitals per year. Avery, at 16, is currently the oldest and most proficient student in the group which consists of boys and girls as young as 4 years old.

I’m not sure of the strategy behind giving a toddler a delicate instrument capable of inflicting auditory trauma on adult listeners, but apparently, some parents have big aspirations for their children in this area that will only be realized if they begin lessons at the same time the kid starts wearing PullUps.

Parental issues aside, it is interesting to observe the development of these students as they grow both in stature and skill. The faces of the future prodigies are a study in concentration as they attempt to play a melody comprised of whole notes on one string. Their parent’s heads bobbing forward with each slow beat, smiling broadly while filming the unaccompanied performance for posterity. Generous applause follows these triumphs from all assembled; equal parts pride, affirmation, and relief. Relief that the child made it through the song, or, more likely, that we were not the ones with a bow in our hands.

Elementary students attempt to master more complicated compositions, with characteristically vague titles such as “Barn Dance” or “Sailor’s Melody.” Usually accompanied by a pianist, these pieces are familiar and predictable, perhaps because we’ve heard our own child play them in years past. While the student is the one whose skills are on display, equal credit needs to be given to their teacher who must try to follow their exploration of two or three different time signatures. A perfunctory bow (offered under duress by the boys) signals the end of the performance.

The most advanced students bring an air of confidence as well as technical precision, offering up the works of Mozart, Chopin, and Beethoven with refined titles such as Minuet in G and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (“A Little Night Music”). With this group, the furtive glances at the accompanist are usually gone, the composition is generally played as written, and you can sense a more relaxed posture in the audience. The applause that follows these renditions is more a gesture of admiration and appreciation than encouragement.

Occasionally, there is an older student who has begun lessons later in life. Somewhat embarrassed, they work their way through simple melodies we have heard from the younger players. Knowing smiles are on our faces as we acknowledge the humility necessary to publically perform below chronological expectations.

Through all of the performances, their instructor patiently affirms every hint of progress – milestones that often she alone can appreciate.

As this ritual played out in front of me, I couldn’t help but reflect on the parallels to our respective faith walks. As new believers, we usually don’t know much, but our efforts to align our lives to what we do know takes effort and concentration. We’re literally re-wiring patterns of thinking and behavior with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and those invested in our growth are affirming every plodding step of obedience.

As we grow in our faith, it can be easy to become overconfident and somewhat erratic, racing ahead before a dramatic slowdown when we are surprised by life’s complications and a culture that doesn’t cooperate with our desire for change.

As mature believers, we are able to possess a settled confidence that comes from seeing God’s faithfulness through the years as well as having our own characters tempered in the crucible of sanctification.

Through all these stages of discipleship, God is present as a fully invested initiator, teacher, and partner who takes great joy in displaying our transformative progress into the likeness of Christ. Our growth brings Him glory, as it is a reflection of his ability to mold often uncooperative vessels into something that can bless and encourage others.

As the church we get to provide the context in which this journey of faith takes place; both developing skills through practice as well as encouraging any growth we see displayed. As a Body, we have the responsibility and joy of experiencing the simplest of melodies imperfectly performed as well as the blessing of an inspired work of art. And despite what we might think, we all have bows in our hands.

violin 2