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

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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.   

 

 

The Presence Of Greatness

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By David Bush

It was the summer of 1998, and I was finally embarking on a lifelong dream of recording my first studio album. While I’d recorded many sophisticated demo recordings for years, this was the first time I had the freedom, the budget, and the material to create and market a fully produced product. The advent of digital recording had freed us from the necessity of studio-based sessions, and my Producer and long-time friend John Andrew Schreiner visited several unconventional locations to include the best musicians, instruments, and tech personnel available to him.

One opportunity that presented itself was recording in the home studio of guitarist Michael Thompson in suburban Los Angeles. While I have recorded in dozens of locations in several states since that night, what I experienced there is something I will never forget.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know Michael Thompson from a hole in the wall, but producer John seemed really excited about our session. In fact, he said it was somewhat unprecedented. Usually, an artist who wanted Michael’s chops on their album would just send the audio files to him, have him lay down what he felt was appropriate, and send them back with no opportunity for input. For reasons unknown to John, he’d found favor with Michael and was being allowed to attend and produce the session – and he was even granted permission to bring the artist (me) with him.

I was paying good money for Michael’s talents, but it wasn’t until I walked into his home studio that I realized I was completely out of my league.

His studio was akin to a pop music shrine, a “holy of holies” into which few would ever be allowed to venture. The walls were adorned with platinum albums from the biggest pop and country stars of the era, complete with personalized notes of thanks from the artists for his guitar contributions to their success. Michael Jackson, Shania Twain, Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Madonna and many others gazed like cherubim down on us as we sat before the control panel.

Before I could comprehend the implications of my presence there, the phone rang. It was legendary Producer Babyface asking if Michael could come down to a studio in LA immediately to fix some guitar tracks for another major hip hop artist. “I’ve got a session with another artist tonight bro… I’m afraid it’s a bridge too far” he replied.

“What am I doing here?” I thought to myself. “This guy could work with anyone, anytime, and he’s blowing off Babyface to work with me!?” It was all so surreal. I was a 37 year-old ice cream executive from Des Moines. Regardless what magic he spun on my tunes, my album would not be joining his pantheon of greatness. Why was he willing to partner with and affirm my artistry in the face of such obvious insignificance?

I’m often reminded of this experience when I think about the privilege of prayer. Through Jesus our High Priest we are granted entry into the very presence of God who enthusiastically joins with us in a symphony of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession. We are not whisked away to make room for the next paying customer. We are invited to remain and enjoy His generous and inspiring presence. He receives us just as eagerly as He does kings, the wealthy and famous, and notable leaders in the Christian culture. Incomprehensibly, He even considers our transformed lives his trophies.

That night in Culver City, California nearly 20 years ago will not be repeated. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where I was ushered into the presence of musical greatness. May I never cease to be humbled, amazed, and exhilarated by the reality that I can commune with my Heavenly Father at all times, in all places with the joyous expectation that I will be heard.

Upside Down

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By Sherri Stufflebeem

When EF Hutton speaks, people listen. Remember that commercial? I’m dating myself, I know! I’m not sure anyone is listening to Mr. Hutton anymore, but I do want to be sure that I am listening to the right voices… not just the crazy ones in my head!

Over the past few months, God has very clearly spoken to my husband, Terry, and I… and once I/we started really listening, He made it very clear that He had something in mind for us that would shake up our world! Youza! Most of you know by now that we have accepted a Camp Program Director position at Camp Appanoose in southern Iowa. We weren’t looking for another ministry. At all. We LOVE FFC! We love the people, the ministry, the leadership and the KIDS!!! We were comfortable. Life was predictable. My days were mostly filled with things that I’ve done before – definitely do-able!

But somewhere in the middle of this, God started nudging and forming and preparing us for something else. And NOW… He has turned our world UPSIDE DOWN and pushed us to a place of faith that’s exciting and scary and unpredictable and filled with unknowns. Sometimes I’m screaming, “Aggghhh!” Sometimes it’s, “Yayyyy”! Either way it’s already stretching me and sending me to my knees. “Ahhhhh”. He’s got this. His plan is good… even if I don’t have a complete picture of what it’s going to look like!

So as I let this chapter comes to a close at the end of this month, I am filled with so much emotion. (I am a GIRL and am expected to do that, right?!) I am so, so THANKFUL for what God has taught me during my time here! I am blessed by so many of you and your faithfulness to this church and to our Children’s Ministry! I feel LOVED…. tears now…. and I just want to say that this has been a long bunch of chapters – ok an entire book! – that I will forever cherish, re-open, read again and again and smile with contentment!!

My prayer for you…Philippians 4:4-9:
“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

PS: If I come back for a visit and have my boots and cowboy hat on, you promise not to laugh, ok?!

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.