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.

PFBC: May’s Upcoming Events…


Below you will find the upcoming events taking place at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. The purpose of providing this schedule is to give you adequate time to plan for these events and/or pray for those participating in these events. Thanks for taking the time to stay current on all that is happening out here on the prairie!

May 3-4 – Mother & Daughter Retreat at IRBC

May 5 – Pastor Tim O’Tool’s First Official Sunday & Friendship Bible Study at PFBC

May 10 – Faith Baptist Bible College Commencement Service in Ankeny, IA (Shannon Steffen and Lance Lewis Graduating…)

May 11 – Youth Group Event: Adventureland Rally in Altoona, IA

May 12 – Mother’s Day at PFBC (Special Note: Youth Camp Registrations are due on this day to be eligible for PFBC’s 70% Scholarship…)

May 13 – Women’s Prayer Group at PFBC (10 – 11 AM)

May 14 – Donuts, Coffee, and Prayer at PFBC (6:30 – 7:30 AM)

May 16 – Eastern Iowa Biblical Counselor’s Coalition Training in Coralville, IA (Pastor Dave Attending…)

May 17-18 – Father & Son Retreat at IRBC

May 19 – Pavilion Project Groundbreaking Ceremony & Friendship Bible Study at PFBC

May 20 – Pastor Tim O’Tool’s Moving Day in Kalona, IA

May 26 – Special Speaker, Jon Jenks, at PFBC (Pastor Dave will be preaching at First Baptist Church in Elyria, OH on this Sunday for their special Patriotic Service…)

May 29 – Youth Group with Pastor Tim O’Tool at PFBC

May 30 – Pavilion Project: Foundation Potentially Finished at PFBC


Desiring God by John Piper


Have you ever felt like your heart desires God, but then you struggle being satisfied in Him like you think you should? I often find myself on a rollercoaster of feelings because I “feel” like my desire is not good enough or I “feel” like there is something deeper I am missing. I came across this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast and found it very deep, but encouraging. Hope you enjoy!

I Want Jesus to Be My Treasure — Is the Wanting Enough?

By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Source:


A Letter to Our Children’s Ministry Volunteers…

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Dear Children’s Ministry Volunteers,

I just wanted to take a few minutes of your time and thank you for your service and dedication to our Children’s Ministry Programs at PFBC. Whether you serve in the Nursery, Sunday School, Children’s Church, or AWANA, I want you to know that your work is noticed and greatly appreciated! I mean that. Your work is hugely important to the mission and vision of our church.

Think about it. Our mission and vision is “to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” As you serve our children, you are an active worker in this mission and vision. Indeed, you are helping us make new and better disciples as you showcase the Gospel (and all the implications of the Gospel) to our young people week after week. Thus, because of your work with our kids, we are moving forward as a strong church to the glory of God.

I know that volunteering is hard; and I know that our Children’s Ministry Programs provide unique challenges to you as it often tests your patience and endurance. But please keep on keeping on. Your work in this harvest field is vitally important! Who knows… maybe that young person who is trying your patience today might turn out to be a mother, a father, a business leader, a politician, or a pastor one day?

I remember back to one of my Sunday School teachers when I was a little boy. Her name was Gloria Landon. She was such a sweet lady who was small in stature, but mighty in service. She taught Sunday School for years. I was one of her students and I definitely tried her patience in class as I was a know-it-all who frequently blurted out the answers to questions before raising my hand. She really had to put up with a lot! But she kept at it as she taught, served, and corrected my well-intentioned, but annoying little habits. In fact, she was such an encourager as well. She was one of the first people to tell me: “David, you pray like a preacher. You should be a preacher when you grow up.” How grateful I am for Mrs. Landon and her service and dedication to her Sunday School class filled with little, annoying kids just like me.

So, there you have it. Just a quick note to tell you that your ministry among our students matters. It matters to God. It matters to the parents of those children. It matters to our church as a whole. It just plain matters. Thank you for serving and staying committed to your volunteer role, even when the going gets tough. I am truly grateful to each of you who serves so faithfully.

Serving With You,

David Cotner


Marriage and Divorce…

Marriage and Divorce

This Sunday, we’ll be back in our mini-series through the Sermon on the Mount and we’ll be tackling the very complicated, somewhat unclear, and always painful topic of divorce. Indeed, the statistics of divorce in America are startling and alarming with nearly 50% of all marriages ending in divorce. But what does Jesus have to say on this issue of divorce? Is it allowed for any reason or only certain reasons? Is it our go-to option or our last resort option? Well, as we’ll discover this Sunday, when it comes to the issue of divorce, Jesus aims at our hearts in marriage instead of trying to establish laws and loopholes for our marriage. So, the key question to ponder as we approach Sunday’s topic is simply this: Where is your heart in regards to marriage and is it geared towards reconciliation or loopholes? To prepare you for this very difficult and uncomfortable topic, watch the video below and be reminded of God’s grand vision for your marriage…

“Have fun!”


Almost every morning before I leave for work, my wife does three things to me: 1) She gives me a kiss, 2) She affirms her love for me, and 3) She usually says (with much enthusiasm), “Have fun!” I love the first two items, but the third item usually makes me roll my eyes or gently huff under my breath. Why? Because my wife knows how I feel about that statement. She knows that I firmly believe that having fun is not one of the major priorities in life. Indeed, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do regardless of the fun factor. She believes these things as well, but because she truly loves me, she tries to get under my skin by repeating this statement to me almost every morning. Ironically enough, she is having fun by telling me to “have fun!”

But in all seriousness, it’s not always about having fun. And please hear me, I’m not anti-fun. I love to have fun and enjoy life, but sometimes life isn’t so fun. Sometimes tasks are not that enjoyable. Sometimes things in life are just plain ho-hum and boring. Can I get a witness? So, what are better movers and shakers in terms of motivation besides having fun?

  1. When you can’t have fun, stay committed. Marriage isn’t always fun. Stay committed. Remind yourself that your commitment to your marriage isn’t contingent upon your feelings of fun, but the promise you made long ago. Work isn’t always fun. Stay committed. Remind yourself that the challenges of work aren’t given to you by God for your entertainment, but for your growth and development. Church isn’t always fun. Stay committed. Remind yourself that churches are filled with imperfect, broken people (just like you), but God will use such people in your life despite their flaws. Yes, when you can’t have fun in these spheres of life, stay committed and, take heart, as you stay committed, your feelings will eventually follow and you’ll have moments of fun again.
  2. When you can’t have fun, be grateful. There is tendency for us to become dissatisfied and greedy when we are bored with life. That is to say, we become dissatisfied with what we have and become hungry for something more. When you find yourself not having fun, remind yourself that you do not deserve all of the current blessings in your life. Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t buy into the cultural lie that you deserve all that you have in life. You don’t! All the good things that you have in this life come from a good and generous God. Yes, even if you worked hard for what you have, who gave you the strength and energy to work hard? That’s right, God Himself. So, when you can’t have fun in this life, be grateful for what you do have in this life.
  3. When you can’t have fun, remember Jesus. As Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he wasn’t having fun. As Jesus was dying on the Cross of Calvary, he wasn’t having fun. As the sins of the entire world were placed on His shoulders, Jesus was not having fun. But what drove these actions on Jesus’ part? Two words: Duty and Love. That is to say, duty towards His Father’s will and love towards us. How incredible! Yes, when you can’t have fun, remember Jesus (His duty and love) and be motivated to continue onward and forward.


From the Associate Pastor’s Desk: Your Check Engine Light is On…

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I looked down at my dash as I was driving in my truck yesterday morning and saw a plethora of lights that were on, all telling me something different about the car and not all good things. I couldn’t help but to sigh and chuckle at the same time. A sigh because of the pending problems that needed to be fixed; and a chuckle because I felt like that is how my life is going right now. That thought really got my mind racing (excuse the pun) and I thought it made a good illustration for the Christian walk the more and more I thought about it!


First, the Check Engine, the VTM-4 (no clue what that even is), and the Tire Pressure lights were all on. I have had them checked before, but they remain on because I think the sensors are all broke. This is frustrating for two reasons: 1) because there really isn’t anything I can do to change or fix the problem and 2) it throws the whole system out of whack. What if something were to actually break? The lights would be still be on regardless! This reminded me of our constant sin problem (Romans 7:14-25). Although we are redeemed, we have a constant struggle with our flesh, and it will never fully go away during our time here on earth. There is nothing we can do to fix it or make it go away, and it constantly throws things off in our lives. Our sinful flesh taints our best motives, it ruins our most important relationships, it holds our feelings captive, and eventually (like my car) our flesh will die.

It is deeply frustrating to say the least. So, what is the solution to a problem we can’t fix? Well when it comes to my car, all I can really do is look forward to the day when I get a new car. It’s the same thing, with our sinful flesh. Someday we will no longer have to drive around with this old, sinful clunker, because we will have a glorified body that has none of the effects of sin at all. The older I get and the more sinful I realize I am, the more I cannot wait for that day (Romans 8:1; Revelation 21)!


Next, the Cruise Control and Seat Belt lights (which is accompanied by a dinging noise that drives me nuts) were both on. The cruise control isn’t bad, much like life habits or routines; but if you aren’t careful before you know it, you might be going the wrong speed limit (I have been caught being the guy going too slow before). As for the seat belt light, it would go off if I would take just three seconds and buckle up. These two reminded of when we allow sin to needlessly rule over us. Like I said before, we will always have a struggle with sin, but we shouldn’t ever be at a point where we just give up and give into it. We must keep fighting against it! All too often, we say that we desire to overcome the rule of sin in our lives, but we allow our relationship with the Lord to be set on cruise control and stop paying attention. We say that we are sick of stumbling, but we get lazy and stop protecting our hearts like we once did. We put ourselves in questionable situations to begin with and then chalk it up to our flesh; or even worse, we try to drown out the binging noise of the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our hearts because we think it’s annoying…

So, what’s the solution? The Pharisees were experts at being on cruise control. They had no problem following the rules; but in Matthew, Jesus had to remind them that their hearts weren’t in their worship at all. Have rhythm’s and routines, because they are great; but don’t forget to pause, reevaluate, and make sure you are getting the most out them and not just going through motions. This will keep your relationship with The Lord vibrant and you will be better prepared to handle sin. Also, just put the seat belt on! Make sure you have accountability in your life. Have people in your life that are going to check on you and ask the tough questions. Make sure you aren’t putting yourself in situations that make it too easy to fail. When the Holy Spirit is nagging at you, stop ignoring Him and just run to Him! God will give us strength to overcome sin (Ephesians 6:10).


Finally, the Gas Light was on and “Service Soon” was flashing. Gas light. That’s all I have to say, and you already know the struggles that entail; because no matter what car you drive, you need gas (or some form of fuel) and it’s always running out. Also, my odometer flashes “service soon” when my oil life is low. I have it set to flash every 2500 miles, because I know it will take me much longer to get it changed. These two warning lights reminded me of how the Christian life was meant to be lived. Always needing a fill up and always needing to be changed. If we never filled up our car with gas we couldn’t go anywhere and if we never got our oil changed, then our cars would burn up. The same is true in the Christian life. If we didn’t have constant fellowship with The Lord then we couldn’t go anywhere. If, we never took intentional time to rest in The Lord and be in awe of Him, then we would be damaging our walks with The Lord in the long run.

What’s the solution? Make sure we are topping off continually and stop settling for $5 fill-ups. Make time to read God’s Word, pray, go to church regularly, fellowship, serve, listen to The Spirit’s leading. You make time to eat, sleep, and fill up your gas tank, so make time to fill up your spiritual tank. We don’t need to watch a movie, or go for a walk, or catch up on house chores to fill our tanks. Instead, we just need to take some time alone with His Word and quiet place to pray, so we can know what it means to truly rest in the Lord and His goodness! Also, make sure you change your oil frequently. Do things outside of your regular routine to allow God to really dig deep and change you. Try fasting for a meal, going to camp for a week, going to a retreat with the guys or gals, doing a service project with fellow believers, or just have some extended devotion time on Saturday morning to rest in the Lord.  Don’t let busyness be an excuse either.  Just like a car, the harder and further you go, the more often you should be filling up and changing the oil so your life doesn’t burn up like some of our cars do!


I over symbolized all of these things obviously, but it truly was the thought that popped into my head yesterday morning and I thought I would share 😊 – Jon Rocha



PFBC: April’s Upcoming Events…


Below you will find the upcoming events and activities taking place at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. The purpose of providing this schedule is to give you adequate time to plan for these events and/or pray for those participating in these events. Thanks for staying current on all that is going on out here on the prairie!

April 1 – 2 = IARBC State Conference in Ames (David Cotner, Jon Rocha, and Will Luers Attending)

April 3 = AWANA and Youth Group

April 7 = Communion Sunday, Food Fellowship, Quarterly Meeting, and Friendship Bible Study

April 8 = Women’s Prayer Group

April 9 = Donuts, Coffee, and Prayer

April 10 = AWANA and Youth Group

April 13 = Julia Rocha’s Baby Shower

April 14 = Last Growth Group of Semester

April 17 = AWANA and Youth Group

April 18 = Iowa Pastor’s Capital Visit (David Cotner Attending) & Eastern Iowa Biblical Counselor’s Coalition Training (Jon Rocha Attending)

April 21 = Easter!

April 24 = Final AWANA and Youth Group

April 26 = Secret Church

April 26 – 27 = IRBC Counselor Training

April 28 = Pastor Jon’s Last Sunday & Friendship Bible Study