From The Associate Pastor’s Desk: How Do I Love The Unlovable?

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Have you ever struggled to love someone that you knew you should? Maybe it is a lazy coworker, or an obnoxious sibling, or a mean boss. We read of Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. We all know that there are people who we are called to serve and to love but sometimes it seems that the expectation is that we should be doing this naturally. When we do not feel this way it is easy to ask what is wrong with me? There is something wrong with us. We are naturally programed to love those who love us and to hate those who hate us. For the Christian this should not be so.

During my high school years, I was a homeschooled student who was duel-enrolled at the public high school. This allowed me to attend any classes I wanted to as well as compete in athletics. During my time playing basketball I had a particularly hard time fitting in. I could not understand this because I was an above average athlete. I assumed this would punch my ticket to acceptance if not popularity. I was wrong. There was a particular group of boys who made it their goal to make me feel like an outsider. I can say there was no love in me for these individuals. I knew that I should be trying to reach others with the gospel but I was so concerned with what people thought of me that I completely lost sight of that.

I think many of us have people in some if not all areas of our lives that for whatever reason we find difficult to love. This is where we need to understand that love is not a feeling but an act of obedience. We are sinful people who are prone to love people who love and add benefit to us, and to treat people who don’t with indifference or even animosity.

There were days during my time in school where I realized that even though I did not have a natural love within me for particular individuals, I was called to love them anyway. How is it possible to love someone you don’t feel like loving? It is possible because we love our Savior who loved us when we were unlovely and continues to love us even when we fail Him over and over. We can act in love toward someone out of obedience to the Savior. It follows this principle, “He who has been forgiven much loves much, but he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Now it isn’t as if Jesus was saying here that some believers didn’t need as much forgiveness as others. He is saying that those who truly recognize how much they have been forgiven will truly love the way we should. I believe that when we fail to love, we fail to recognize just how bad we were and even still are.

So, what is the point of all this? The point is, we can truly act in love toward people we find unlovely. Not out of a “faking it” love, but because we truly love our Savior for what He has done for us. It is at this point He will begin to change our hearts and we will be able to truly love those who are unlovable. Who is the person in your life that you are being called to act in love toward? You really can love that person if you recognize the love that God has first shown you.

Are You In Pain?

Mark Vroegop

Last week, Pastor Tim and I (along with our families) had the special privilege of attending the GARBC National Conference in Des Moines. The theme of this year’s conference was entitled, “The Essence of Worship.” It was a great theme with many great messages on the what, why, and how of proper worship. I am so glad that we were able to attend this conference.

However, of all the messages last week, one hit me in a unique way. It was given by our Keynote Speaker, Mark Vroegop. His message was entitled, “The Minor Key of Worship: Learning the Grace of Lament.” I have never cried so many tears during a message.

Are you in pain? Is someone close to you walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death? This message will immensely speak to and bless your heart. Take a listen at https://garbcconference.org/conference-news/the-minor-key-of-worship-2/.

PFBC: July’s Upcoming Events…

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July is nearly here! Below are the projected schedule of events taking place out here on the prairie…

Wednesday, July 3 = All Church Prayer and Fasting Day & Summer Night of Prayer at 6 PM

Thursday, July 4 = Independence Day!

Saturday, July 6 = Church Work Day from 8 – 10 AM

Sunday, July 7 = Communion, Food Fellowship, and Quarterly Meeting, Starting at 10:15 AM

Monday, July 8 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM

Tuesday, July 9 = Donuts, Coffee, and Prayer from 6:30 – 7:30 AM

Wednesday, July 10 = Youth Group from 6 – 8 PM

Sunday, July 14 = Missionary Speaker, Louis O’Tool, Preaching at 10:15 AM

Monday, July 15 – Saturday, July 20 = Jr. High Camp at IRBC (Counselors = Pastor Tim and Jess Caster)

Thursday, July 18 = Eastern Iowa Biblical Counselor’s Coalition Meeting at 8:30 AM (Pastor Dave Attending)

Wednesday, July 24 = Youth Group from 6 – 8 PM

Friday, July 26 – Saturday, July 27 = Teen Boys’ Campout (More Details To Come!)

Sunday, July 28 = Leadership Team Meeting at 2 PM

Monday, July 29 – Saturday, August 3 = Sr. High Camp at IRBC (No Counselors Attending)

All Church Prayer and Fasting Day

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We are calling for an All Church Prayer and Fasting Day on Wednesday, July 3. Why? Because we should be practicing these spiritual disciplines, not just listening to preaching on these spiritual disciplines.

Here is the plan…10 days prior to our day of fasting, on Monday, June 24, please prepare yourself by reading “Prayer Changes Things” from Our Daily Bread (copies are located on the foyer table). From this booklet, you’ll read one devotional a day, for ten days, on the power of prayer. Then, from the time you wake up on Wednesday, July 3, until the time we meet that evening at 6 PM for our Summer Night of Prayer, fast and pray. We will break our fast by taking Communion together during our Summer Night of Prayer.

And what should you be praying for during our All Church Prayer and Fasting Day? Well, as hunger pangs erupt throughout your day of fasting, channel those pangs and pray/do the following:

  • Read one of the following Psalms and praise God for the attributes you encounter in the Scriptures (Psalm 3, 33, 63, 93, or 123).
  • Spend some time confessing your sins and shortcomings to God. Claim the promise of 1 John 1:9.
  • Write out every blessing in your life. Try to list 20 or more. Then thank God for those blessings.
  • Pray for your unsaved family members and friends.
  • Think through your family and business needs and pray over them.
  • Pray for our Missionaries. Ex. Joy Akkerman, the Galbraiths, the Kisarets, the Millers…
  • Google the names of our national and community leaders, pray for them by name.
  • Just for fun: pray for three of your closest friends and then text them to tell them you just prayed for them. It’s a blessing to be a blessing!

Won’t you join us for our church’s first All Church Prayer and Fasting Day? We are hoping that this day (and the ten days of preparation beforehand) blesses, encourages, and strengthens your faith. Please join us!

Three Quick, Well-Timed Encouragements For Anyone Who Is Crazy Busy Right Now…

Crazy Busy

Busy, busy, busy. I don’t know about you, but life is crazy busy right now. Indeed, that’s kind of the nature of summertime, isn’t it? Things are just so fast paced and crazy busy. From you stay at home mothers out there who are toting kids from day camp to day camp to you farmers out there frantically putting your seeds into the ground, things are just fast paced and far too busy right now. So, here are three quick, well-timed encouragements for you to pocket away as you get ready to scramble out the door towards your next to-do list item:

  1. God loves you. Now, don’t roll your eyes at the simplicity of this statement. This no mere platitude, it’s a Gospel fact. You, no matter what you do or don’t do, are loved by the God who made you and sits enthroned above you. You are loved by a God who is never frantic or haggard because of the enormity of His to-do list. You are loved by a God who knows you by name and knows the very number of hairs on your head. You are loved by a God who never slumbers or sleeps, but always keeps watch over you. Yeah, you might be crazy busy right now, but God is perfectly and totally and calmly in control of everything. Trust Him.
  2. Your family needs you. I just feel led to say this to you tired moms and dads out there. You work so hard. Some of you might be at the point where you think, “What’s the point?” Hear me…discouragement is a very close cousin to depression, and you need to know that your work matters and your family needs you. Your family members, specifically your kids, might be unthankful, but whether they realize it or not (and whether you feel it or not), you are needed by your family. Keep going.
  3. Done is better than perfect. This final point goes out to all my fellow perfectionistic people out there. I feel ya. I really do. We desire for everything to be done just so, accomplished with excellence, and performed to perfection. But when life gets cranking and things become crazy busy, you must develop the mantra, “Done is better than perfect.” Just get it done. Sometimes you have to dot every “i” and cross every “t”, but at other times you just need to get it done. Don’t allow your desire for precision/perfection to prevent you from getting things accomplished. It may not be perfect, but done is better than perfect. Make sense?

Well, there you have it. Three quick, well-timed (I hope) encouragements for your very busy, fast paced life. Just before I end, and you get ready to dash out the door to your next appointment, be sure to do two things (Yes, I’m adding to your already overwhelming to-do list): 1) Thank God you have the ability to do all that you’re doing…some people are flat out on their back right now (literally) and are unable to do anything…your crazy busyness is actually a grace of God. And 2) Remember that this crazy busy season is just that…a season. It won’t last forever. Take some measure of hope in that.

From the Associate Pastor’s Desk: The Need For Unity

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“Can’t we all just get along?” I’m sure you have thought this or heard this at some point. I know my mother had to think it when she struggled with the conflicts between me and my eight siblings. Maybe you’re tempted to think it when you are watching any news network these days…or perhaps in looking at conflicts in our churches, even with calls from God over and over to pursue unity.

I think it’s easy for young people especially to idealize unity in their minds before they start to really experience all the nuances of the conflicts of life. As we age and gain experience, we rightly come to realize that unity is virtually impossible with such a broken species. This can cause those with more experience to grow cynical and to even stop pursuing unity, except maybe with their own small, like-minded tribe.

This should not be so for the Christian, but sadly, even with all the commands and warnings in Scripture against disunity, we are still almost indistinguishable from the world in terms of our unity. Some of the most bitter struggles come between those bearing the name of Christ. We have all seen it. Whether it is Christian children fighting over an inheritance, or a church unable to set aside personal preferences and desires for the sake of our mission.

I am someone who generally tries to stay out of the muck of polarizing Facebook or Twitter discussions. I just do not really see any benefit to the discussions in those formats. I broke my rule a while ago when I saw a post laying out the political divide in our country. This post condemned the conflict and said, “We all need to unify to make the world a better place.” Not many people could argue with that statement, right? Who does not want less conflict and a better world? I still had to ask what seemed like the obvious question, “Unify around what?”

When talking about unity, this always needs to be the question. It is easy to throw out statements calling for peace and unity, but those things require a unifying principle. In this country, in years gone by, we could generally unify around our founding principles: “We find these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” These and other principles were ideas that we could all unify around. This seems like a great center point for a nation, but as a church what is our center of unity and what can we unify around?

Just as our best hope for unity as a country is found in our founding principles, this is even more true in the Church of God. So, what are the essential principles that we must accept in order to have unity? Namely this, our hope. And our hope has a name, and His name is Jesus Christ. It is important though, that we know who the true Jesus is. If we do not, then our unity will be a mirage because the only true hope for finding unity rests in the objective truth claims of Jesus, both in who He says He is and what He has done.

We must not unify for unity’s sake. We must all pick up our cross and follow Him, and when we are truly pursuing Christ, we will find unity with the other believers who have chosen to do the same. Those who have chosen to do as Paul says in Philippians 2, specifically, “Let each of you esteem others as better than self.” The first mark that Jesus said would characterize His disciples would be their love for one another. Is your life characterized by that love? If it’s not, you will never achieve the unity that Christ calls us to have.

PFBC: June’s Upcoming Events…

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Summertime is such a fun, busy time of year. Indeed, there is lots going on out here on the prairie this summer. Below are some of the events coming up in June. Please be sure to pray for all the people involved with each of these events…

June 2 – Special Missionary Speaker, Shannon Reis, in our Sunday School Hour at PFBC

June 5 – Summer Night of Prayer at 6 PM at PFBC

June 9 – Leadership Team Meeting at 2 PM at PFBC (Pastors and Deacons Attending…)

June 10 – Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM at PFBC

June 11 – Donuts, Coffee, and Prayer from 6:30 – 7:30 AM at PFBC

June 14 – Teen Girls Sleepover Party at PFBC (Jess Caster Supervising…)

June 16 – Father’s Day

June 17-22 – Jr. Boys Camp at IRBC

June 20 – Eastern Iowa Biblical Counselor’s Coalition Training in Coralville, IA (Pastors Attending…)

June 24-29 – Jr. Girls Camp at IRBC

June 25-28 – GARBC National Conference in Des Moines (Pastors Attending…)

From the New Associate Pastor’s Desk: Fear Not!

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Below is Pastor Tim’s first blog post as our new Associate Pastor out here on the prairie…Enjoy!


As we prepared over the last month for our move, my wife and I experienced several moments of anxiety and fear. Most anyone would agree that these feelings are completely normal with all the transitions we were facing, such as: Leaving so many friends and family behind, quitting good jobs, leaving a house we loved, preparing for a baby to arrive at any time during this process, and packing up and moving our entire lives to an entirely new place. I cannot tell you the number of times my wife and I said to each other, “I cannot wait till this transition is over and we are settled in with our new baby and new church family.”

While we did our best to pray and consider if this move was God’s will in our life, I must confess there were multiple times during this process that fears struck at my heart. Thoughts like…”Did we make the right decision?” “Will these people be kind?” “Will our ministry be effective?” Or even just the practical fears of…”Will the baby come while we are trying to load the moving truck?” “Will the baby be healthy?” Through all these fears, God kept answering me with the words from the hymn, How Firm A Foundation, specifically the portion that goes, “Fear not I am with you. Oh be not dismayed. For I am your God. I will still give you aid. I’ll strengthen, help thee and cause you to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

The words of this hymn point us to Isaiah 41:10, which states, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God is talking here to His people, Israel, as they faced tremendous threats from enemies all around them. The comfort God gave them was to point to His own character and power. They could trust in His good plan for them.

While I can say that many of the fears my wife and I faced through this process have been proven to be empty, I know my flesh will tempt me to grow fearful of the many terrible things that could come into my life. I know all of you have your own fears and anxieties, but let me do as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3-4 and give you comfort with the comfort that God has given to my wife and I…When you consider the very real threats you face, or even just the imagined ones, know that God will hold you fast and truly work all things together for your good and His glory. Consider the mercy He has shown you. Remember His providence in the past. Anticipate your eternal future with Him. Ponder His love already shown to you. Trust in His righteous, omnipotent hand!

 

The Pavilion Project

Pavilion Project

Lord willing, in just a few short weeks, we will begin to break ground on our latest building endeavor – the Pavilion Project! This pavilion will serve our church well as we use it for fellowship, ministry (especially during the summer months), and storage. Indeed, as a reminder, our Pavilion Project will feature a garage for our church van/trailer, a storage area for our outdoor equipment, a food serving area, and a covered picnic area. The total project should cost us no more than $50,000.

Well, as we near the groundbreaking and building stages of this project, I want to remind you all of a few things:

  1. Dedication – This Sunday, May 19, we will dedicate this whole Pavilion Project to the Lord. Our Dedication Ceremony will be short, but sweet, and will take place immediately following the Morning Worship Service. And why are we dedicating this project to the Lord? Well, as Psalm 127:1a states, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” One commentator notes, “God is both the Master Architect and the Master Builder, and we are merely his hired hands.” Our Dedication Ceremony is meant to remind us of these truths and to refocus our attention on the ultimate aim of this project – the glory of the “Master Architect and Master Builder!”
  2. Involvement – Though we will have some contracted work in relation to our Pavilion Project, a lot of the work to build this pavilion will be on us as volunteers. Indeed, your help is needed with framing, sheet walls, electrical working, etc. In short, we need your help! Please be ready to volunteer your time, expertise, and hard work to this Pavilion Project. The more volunteers we have for this project, the faster this project will get done. So, please, please, please (there’s your triple please) volunteer yourself to help with this project, when the time comes.
  3. Patience – Now, all of that begging and pleading to say this, please be patient with this whole Pavilion Project. I can almost guarantee you that this project will take much longer than you or I are envisioning right now. That’s just the nature of these types of tasks. Ideally, we’ll have this project done by the end of the summer and we’ll be able to use our pavilion a few times this fall, but that may or may not happen. Patience is key. In fact, let’s not try to rush this project at all because (as I often say) slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
  4. Generosity – Finally, let me make an unapologetic plea to each of you. That is to say, please give towards this project generously. I know, I hate talking about money just as much as you probably hate hearing about money, but money is a reality when it comes to a project like this. Now, to be clear, the Pavilion Project itself is totally paid for, however, funds are needed for some extra items that will serve to enhance our Pavilion Project (i.e. grills, picnic tables, etc.). Any money donated to this project will go towards the purchasing of these items. Indeed, this Sunday, May 19, we will collect a special offering for our Pavilion Project, and I would encourage each of you to give generously and joyfully towards it.

Prairie Flower, exciting times lay in front of us. Indeed, terrible times lay in front of us. However, through it all, we will trust the One who holds the future. I am so looking forward to what God is going to do in and through us as we build this Pavilion Project together for His glory…

Guest Blogger: Marti Owen, “Rhubarb and Reminders”

rhubarb crisp

In this week’s blog, special Guest Blogger, and former Prairie Flower member, Marti Owen, shares with us about the process of grief as she reflects on her mother, Hazel Benson, and her recent passing to Glory last month. She also gives to us her mother’s tasty Rhubarb Crisp recipe! Please continue to pray for the Benson and Owen families as they continue to grieve their precious loss…

So Many Reminders

Mother’s Day, spring lilacs, recipes, etc.! There are so many reminders of Mom. When a friend of ours offered to help us with some house projects, the only payment he requested was my Rhubarb Crisp. I agreed with slight hesitation, my Rhubarb Crisp recipe was passed on to me from my dear mother. Her transition to Heaven is still fresh, and I’m faced with many reminders of her. It seems that I’m not in control of my emotions when a trigger word is mentioned…then the tears come. GriefShare calls those “emotional hijacks.” I realize this is part of the grieving process. I know she is experiencing the joy of being in the presence of her Lord and Savior. My head knows this and I’m happy for her, but my heart feels the loss. As I move on, I choose to be thankful. I’m grateful I had my mother for as long as I did, that she was the person she was, and that God had given her to me. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 (ESV) “Sometimes we say. ‘God is good,’ with tears running down our cheeks.” –Dr. Joseph Stowell

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

  • 3 cups of cut up rhubarb, 1 pkg. (3 oz.) of strawberry or raspberry gelatin, and ½ cup of sugar.
  • Place the washed and cut up rhubarb in a 9×9 baking dish. Sprinkle the gelatin and the sugar on top of the rhubarb.
  • Topping: Combine ½ cup of butter, 1 cup of flour, ¾ cup of brown sugar, and ½ cup of oatmeal. Mix well and sprinkle on top of the rhubarb. Bake for 45 min. at 350 degrees.