Relationship To Government

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By John Porter

The Lord Jesus made it very clear that we have a responsibility to human government. You remember that He was asked by His enemies, “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, or not?” He asked them to show Him a coin—He wanted to teach them from something they themselves had. He asked them whose superscription and whose image was on the coin. They said, “Caesar’s.” Then He made this significant statement, “…Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s”.  (Luke 20:25)

Paul said to a young preacher, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (I Tim. 2:1-3)

The duty of the believer as a citizen of heaven is spiritual. The duty of a believer as a citizen under a government is secular.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  (Romans 13:1)

We are to submit ourselves to governmental authorities for the very simple reason that they are ordained of God. It is true that the kingdoms of this world belong to Satan and that injustice and corruption abound in all governments, yet God still has control. God still rules—even over this earth. God has not abdicated His throne; He is riding triumphantly in His own chariot. Neither is He disturbed about what is happening on this earth.

Christianity never became a movement to improve government, help society, or clean up the town. The gospel is the power of God unto the salvation of the individual. What is the Christian to do? Our business is to spread the Word of God abroad and to obey the law.

Please pray for Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their families.

Please pray for basic respect and honor among all peoples.

Please pray for the Trump cabinet, the Senate and the House.

Continue to pray for First Federated Church and Pastor Mike and Connie as we continue through this transition in our ministry.

Thank You!

Having a Thankful and Humble Heart

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By: Dannetta Feleay

The past six months have had its ups and downs, …excitement, uncertainty, frustration and everything in between. The devotions, scripture readings, and prayers-September through December 2016-in Our Daily Bread have been a reminder of (God’s commands, promises), a challenge (that I must strive to be more committed in my walk with the Lord), and an encouragement and hope (that God will be beside me as I continue my journey). And I have used some of the thoughts from Our Daily Bread.

There are times “we” as Church members and attendees, who are also Christians, might disagree, complain or gripe to anyone, and not always in a pleasant voice. When we focus on our negative thoughts and others don’t agree with us, or don’t want to listen, our attitude might become angry and hateful.

Forgive me, Lord, when I bring anger into a situation. Soften my heart and help me use my words to encourage others.

Sometimes, we think we know how everything should be, that “our way” is the “only way”. We should seek God’s way, will, and opinion before we say something.

Philippians 2:3b tells us “…but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others”.

While there may be something to complain about, discuss the issue with the person in charge, also, if we look carefully, there always will be blessings to be thankful for.

Oswald Chambers said, “The knowledge that God has loved me beyond all limits will compel me to go into the world to love others in the same way”.

Teach me the liberating joy of being thankful. Lord, help me to find the blessings that are locked up in the things I complain about and be willing to encourage, and even sincerely compliment, others and give You the thanks, praise, and glory!

Our Pastor needs encouragement! And He deserves to be treated with love and respect. I know that Jim and I are not the only ones at Church who have seen how Pastor Mike has grown and how the Lord has used him to help us grow since he and Connie came.

1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone; Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king”

We have elected Godly men as elders and deacons to work with our pastor and our congregation. they have been transparent, willing to share their ideas and decisions and are also open to suggestions and willing to listen. They also should have our respect when we share our thoughts.

…Just imagine you were and elder, a deacon or the pastor, … if five or ten people came to you, with a preference as to what would be the best time to have our Sunday Morning Worship Service or the ABF Classes. They each had a different time and had a reason why their time was the BEST and ONLY time. This a mess I wouldn’t like to deal with.

The Offical Board and the various volunteer committees have done research and looked at different plans. I know they must be trying hard to please, but you know you can’t please everybody all of the time.

Our youth are very important. Many college students are involved in a ministry that is very popular. They are studying God’s Word and bringing their friends. It is called the Salt Company. Our Youth Department is using some of the Salt Co. ideas, and from what I’ve learned from talking with them, they are growing through the Small Life Group plan. I pray we are all open to trying new ideas to bring young people into our fellowship.

Marian trader told me I could mention her experience. She had a great time talking with a tableful of our youth in Fellowship Hall. This was a “new thing” for her and it happened because she was willing to step out in faith and wasn’t offended because they filled in at her table when she stepped away.

As a group, our leaders have been, and are, very straight forward about seekings God’s Will. They have asked us to pray for His Will. To know, understand, and discern God’s Will can be demanding and requires a lot of patience.

When we are concerned and struggle with situations and difficult circumstances, an encouraging word from someone can lift out spirits and renew our faith. This may be done with a kind word in a phone call, a card or written note. It won’t take a lot of time, but it could mean so very much to the other person.

First Federated Church needs and wants to be known as a friendly and Christ Centered Church. It is important for us to reach out, on a regular, consistent basis: to visitors, people who have come for the first time or the fifth time, to people you’ve seen, and maybe even spoken to, but don’t know, to people who are not in your ‘group’ or ‘ABF’, and also to your friends (this also shows we are a friendly church).

There is life changing power in the words of scripture.

Ephesians 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Colossians 3:12b-14 “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have agaisnt one another. And over all these virtues put on love, which bind them all together in perfect unity.”

 

OUR BODIES, OUR STORIES

 

By David Bush with Joe Tewell

“I don’t know if I can do this!” Marci confessed as she retreated to a bench. We were just halfway through her second session warm-up and things were already unraveling. I didn’t want a scene in the crowded fitness center, but it was against my nature to let someone fold so quickly. I formulated some phrases that I’d found were effective over the years in prodding my clients to give more than they thought they were capable of giving. After all, she’d hardly broken a sweat, and I knew I wasn’t doing her any favors by accommodating her preconceived barriers. If I caved every time an unfit client got winded I’d be out of a job.

Which verbal switch should I use on Marci? “Go ahead and quit then…I’m sure quitting will solve your problems” had proven effective in the past. I was ready to unleash this pearl of wisdom when I noticed that Marci’s cries of physical pain had somehow morphed into something deeper. Tears were staining her cheeks as she sat staring into space.
The uncomfortable scene that was playing out in front of me was enough of a shock to remind me that I wasn’t just a personal trainer trying to keep a client on task. I was also supposed to be a spiritual mentor and encourager to those who reached out for help after experiencing a faith-focused fitness ministry I helped facilitate. “What’s going on Marci?” was all I could muster at the time.

 

blogI soon discovered the answer to my question. Marci called me and asked if I could meet to talk. I was certain this appointment was when she was going to tell me my services were no longer needed and that she was going to address her physical issues some other way. Instead, she brought a sheet of copy paper to our meeting covered with writing. On the paper she’d listed significant dysfunctional relationships, tragic offenses, hurtful memories, damaging personal violations, and harmful responses and coping mechanisms: heavy drinking, sexual promiscuity, and broken relationships. One statement on the page particularly jumped out at me – “Fat is acting like a protective layer…” In a commendable act of transparency, Marci was revealing how her regrettable personal history had ultimately metastasized to her physical body.
It was a story I knew all too well myself.

 

blog-2All I could offer Marci was the same strong medicine that had revolutionized my life and perspective: surrender. Not compliance to a new diet or workout routine – after all, of what help is a set of burpees to a crushed and broken spirit? Marci’s greatest need was to surrender to the only Personal Trainer who is capable of transforming broken lives, bodies, and spirits: Jesus. I found that out for myself only after years of trying things my way and wondering why I could never outrun my past. Fully entrusting her scars, her fears, her shame, and her own misconduct was the only way out of the prison that held her.
Marci is finding, as I did, that surrender is actually liberating. It’s also necessary for anyone who says they want to follow Jesus. Marci and I are reminding each other of this each week as we meet to continue transforming our bodies and our spirits.

Fear and Hope Collide at the Manger

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By David Bush

An affront to the proud, Jesus’ presence always brings joy to the humble of heart

Appropriately enough, the arrival of Christmas and the New Year brings a Dickensian variety of perspectives with them. Hope, joy, and wonder mix with cynicism, uncertainty, and fear. For many, this time of year becomes “the best of times and the worst of times.”
This polarization is nothing new. Jesus’ presence has instilled both fear and hope since His arrival in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

For King Herod and those aligned with his interests, news of Jesus’ birth was an intimidating and unwelcome development. For lowly shepherds and soft-hearted dignitaries from the East, it was unimaginably good news.

The initiation of Jesus’ earthly ministry was a longing fulfilled for bold yet humble John the Baptist (he of “He must increase and I must decrease” fame). Satan saw Jesus as a usurper who represented the first real challenge to his earthly kingdom.
The common man rejoiced in the light of the gospel Jesus proclaimed and advanced during his ministry; all while the religious establishment reviled and plotted destruction.
In the consummation of the ages, we will again see the spontaneous worship of the redeemed contrast with the begrudging and bitter bending of the knee from the self-sufficient.

Like the narcissists of centuries past, those who commercialize and marginalize the celebration of this season will never understand the wonder and joy that comes to believers as a result of Jesus’ incarnation. On the cusp of an uncertain new year, the persevering hope of the Christ -follower will always stand in contrast to the fear and brooding of those earth-bound souls desperate to preserve that which is fading away.

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth anew, may the Lord grant us humble hearts to comprehend His rich provision in the midst of our great need. As we enter a new year, may we be firmly established in the confidence that comes from a surrender to God’s sovereignty and a strength not our own.

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people”
– Luke 2:10

On Mission With God

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By John Porter

God is on a mission. He has been on a mission throughout history to accomplish His purpose throughout the earth. Each time we see God in the Bible, He is acting in accordance with His purpose: to reveal Himself in order that His name would be glorified, that His Kingdom would be established and that some from every people would be reconciled to Himself.

God Reveals Himself to Reconcile the World to Himself

God has chosen to reveal Himself, His purpose, and His ways, involving His people with Him as He invites all the world’s peoples to know and worship Him.

God Initiates His Work Through His People

God chooses to accomplish His mission in a very personal way, He chooses to involve His people with Him, working through them to accomplish His purposes.

Jesus: On Mission with His Father

God wants us to be like Jesus, who always obeyed Him. He announced that He had come not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who had sent Him. (Matt 26:42; John 4:34, 5:30; 6:38; 8:29)

Knowing and Working in God’s Way

Even a casual reader of the Bible can see that God’s ways and plans are so different from the ways that people accomplish their goals. God said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isa 55:8)

Knowing and Doing God’s Will

How can you know God’s will? Since all true mission is really God on His mission, there is not a different mission for you, for me, for the people who lived a thousand years ago, or for believers on the other side of the world.  God’s mission is to glorify His name, to establish His kingdom and to reconcile the world to Himself.

On Mission With Jesus

Jesus was on a mission with the Father, and He calls every one of His followers to join Him in that relationship of love, power, and purpose. Nothing could be more precious than to follow God on a mission in the same way that Jesus did.  (From the writings of Henry T. Blackaby and Avery T. Willis, Jr.)

Come learn more about how you can be involved in God’s Mission for your life!

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: Mondays, January 16-May 8, 2017 at Valley Church in West Des Moines. Learn more about God’s unchanging purposes for the nations. Got questions or need more information? Call or email John Porter at the church office (515-255-2122,  jporter@firstfederated.org) or check their website: Perspectives.org

Experience a short term opportunity in 2017:

Uganda: June 29 – July 9, 2017

Dominican Republic: July 9-17, 2017

Thankful For Him

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By Tracy Griess

Thanksgiving is a time when we normally reflect on our year and give thanks for God’s faithfulness. Many families have the tradition of going around the Thanksgiving dinner table and telling what they are most thankful for. We see even more traditions on social media as we post 30 days of thanks. This year’s tradition seems to be expanding to use a common “frame” for a family picture that says “Thankful for Us.” While I have no particular problem with any of these things, and I always enjoy the photos, I have to stop and wonder with how much sincerity those thoughts are shared. I realize that might be somewhat of a controversial comment. And just to be completely clear, I am not questioning or judging anyone for their traditions or social media involvement. I am just setting the stage for what has been causing me to stop and think about true thankfulness and all that encompasses.

 
Can we truly express thankfulness to God for all He has done and in the next thought or actually spoken phrase express a negativity or selfishness? I think the answer is no. Don’t start thinking of ways to phrase an email of disagreement yet. I realize we all have a bad day once in a while. I know I do. But I also know I have a choice every single day to live with a thankful and grateful heart or to live half in and half out. It’s so much easier to live with one foot in each camp, right? We justify some of our negative thoughts by blaming others. Perhaps we think of how they treated us poorly. We think at times that people in charge can’t possibly know what they are doing when they make decisions, giving us a reason to “vent”. And think about that “venting” session for a while. Does anyone ever come out of that calmer and at peace? No, quite the contrary I think. We leave one of those sessions angrier and more certain that we were right and they were wrong. Nothing constructive comes from that.

 
The fact is if you are reading this post from the comfort of your home, an office or even as you wait in the carpool line you have much to be grateful for. If you are part of the body of believers at FFC you have even more to be thankful for. Yet, are we always quick to express true thankfulness? Or does our personal preference get in the way? If you have spent much time around me you have heard a couple of my favorite phrases at least once. One of those is, “What does your personal preference have to do with anything anyway?” This is so true! My personal preferences have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I have a thankful heart. Nothing. At. All. Now if I am choosing a new pair of leggings, because let’s face it, it is leggings and boot season then yes, I will choose my favorite brand or color. Personal preferences are all about getting our way. But at what cost do we hold tight to our personal preferences? To the way, we have come to expect things to be?

 
Each day we have a choice to put our personal preferences aside and truly look to God with a thankful heart. If you are sincerely looking to God with thanksgiving and gratefulness there is no room for personal preference.

 
My 12-year-old was studying for a Bible test last week and they were studying scripture as it relates to our purpose for being created. As I listened to him recite those verses and tell me he was created to bring glory to God and to demonstrate God’s power, I once again longed for all of us to have the faith and understanding of a child. I have heard thousands of verses recited from children, mine and yours. I have watched the light bulb go off on hundreds of occasions with children when they “get” what God is saying in a particular verse or passage. I desire that joy for all of us. And to be honest with you, I have struggled for several weeks with this idea of having a thankful heart. As I sift through not-so-sweet notes left in my box, emails written in all CAPS (you know that doesn’t mean they are happy) and stood face to face with people as they “vented” with a countenance that revealed so much more than even their words, I have had days that were hard to push the negative thoughts aside. But then God sends a message, almost always through a child. He reminds me that I still have a choice. I have a choice to praise Him. I have a choice to look beyond the WRITING ON THE COMPUTER, and the scrunched up noses and be thankful that He chose me to do His work. He chose me to bring Him glory and He chose me for such a time as this. There is so much that is good, so many people that are filled with the Holy Spirit and truly thankful hearts.

 
This is both an exciting and arduous time in our church life. We have a history here at FFC that is abundant with tradition and God-honoring ministry. However, there have been some rocky waters as well. We are at a point when God is changing our course and has so much more for us to accomplish for His kingdom. If all of us approach these next days with a heart that is truly thankful, God will be honored and glorified. If we can all set our personal preferences aside and really lean in and listen for God’s still small voice, great and amazing things can be accomplished for His kingdom.

 
So take this time, lean in to God and listen. Just Listen. Does that thought rolling around in your head really have the potential to bring honor and glory to God? Will that email you are about to send express a heart that is filled with the spirit of God? What does your facial expression really tell those around you? Does it radiate joy? Do people know how much you love Jesus? This year, as you sit around your Thanksgiving table, lean in to God and listen. Find that joy that you once had when you realized that God chose you. This body of believers that I love so much could accomplish more than can be imagined if we set aside our personal preferences and just serve God with thankful hearts. My prayer for each of you today is that you allow God to really speak to you in the coming weeks and that you take the time to simply lean in and rest in His presence.

Jesus Is Not Your Fanboy

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By: David Bush

I’ll be honest and tell you right up front that this blog is going to disappoint a lot of people. Akin to the kind of disappointment that settles in when you discover there is no Santa Claus, the realization that neither God nor Jesus are our personal fanboy as we or our favorite team pursue athletic excellence will likely come as a shock. A jolt similar to the one we receive when we look beyond out-of-context scriptures to realize God doesn’t love America more than other countries or guarantee followers of Jesus physical wellness, prosperity, or success.

When prominent athletes as polarized as Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick find competitive inspiration from scripture, and apparel companies are founded on the notion that the Apostle Paul was advocating a Christ-empowered path to athletic excellence, we have reached critical mass. Anyone who knows me is aware that I take physical fitness seriously. After all, I’ve founded a ministry devoted to raising the bar in the physical dimension of believer’s lives. But since I take scripture very seriously, I’m compelled to speak out when I see it routinely twisted and abused by many who should know better.

Before you paint your next team banner, give your next post-game victory interview, or design the tattoo that will grace your bicep forever, why not take a few minutes to understand what your favorite rah-rah scripture is really saying.

2Let’s start with the grand-daddy of them all – Philippians 4:13. Writing from a Roman jail cell, Paul affirms here that he has learned, through grievous trials, how to find contentment in Christ no matter the state he finds himself in. Rather than using this verse as pre-game motivation to secure God’s destiny of domination, it might more appropriately be used as a reminder to find contentment in Christ even after a punishing loss.

Thi3s exhortation to wait on the Lord promises that your strength will be renewed in the
process. Written to encourage the people of Israel who were in exile in Babylon, it is difficult to see an application to modern competitive sports. The audience it was written for was humiliated, at the end of their rope individually and collectively, and had no hope outside God’s direct intervention to change their circumstances and save them. In context, the hope they were given was that God would provide a Messiah, not eminent freedom or the strength to complete a Babylonian triathlon.

R4omans 8:31 and 8:37 become problematic any time two Christian schools compete against each other. At least when a Christian school is facing a public school we know whose side God’s on.

Paul wrote these words to encourage the church in Rome –  and, by extension, all of us – that His ability to transform our lives into conformity with Christ’s character and holiness is greater than all the selfish, fleshly, and worldly influences we encounter throughout our lives. Selfish, fleshly, and worldly ambitions like the need to win every competition and utterly dominate an opponent.

5Baltimore Ravens superstar Ray Lewis may be the poster child for fueling your mojo with scripture. He’s spawned an industry of inspirational posters, videos, and t-shirts. In the NFL, where bodies are weapons that are trained to inflict pain upon an opponent, claiming this verse should provide great comfort that you will not end up on the disabled list.

In reality, the prophet Isaiah penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to remind Israel that a day would arrive when they would not live in subjugation to their enemies, but would enjoy a renaissance under the rule of Christ in His millennial kingdom.

Any scripture that combines the words “arm” and “strength” are irresistible to athletes looking for inspirational body art.6

This makes Psalm 18:39 perfect for tatting on biceps and triceps as it states, “You  have armed  me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”

Just what battle Colin Kaepernick is fighting these days – with this verse famously tattooed on his left arm – is up for discussion. But I’m quite sure that the author, David son of Jesse, was referring to neither football or expanding the parameters of social protest.7

1 Corinthians 15:57 is a testament of gratitude to God by the Apostle Paul for giving us  victory over sin and death through Christ. It seems clear that many Christian schools feel this verse also can be applied to the gridiron.

I wonder how the coaching staffs of these schools feel when all the credit for a “W” goes to Jesus when they were the ones leading all the practices and calling in all the plays from the sidelines.

Scripture should inspire us. More often than not, however, we should find it inspiring us to move out of the arena of narcissistic and positive self-talk and into the crucible of selfless abandonment to God’s glory. Like the peddlers of the prosperity gospel, we seem constrained to spin scripture to our own benefit no matter the issue at hand. The question we should be asking ourselves in the midst of this inspirational tug-of-war is not whether God is on our side but rather if we are on His.