From Pastor Jon’s Desk: Change in the Church

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When we gather together as a church this Sunday, Pastor Dave will preach a sermon and then many of us will go to our Growth Group either immediately following the service or later that evening. Eventually we will all go home, go to bed, and go on with the rest of our week as if nothing changed… Is this it? Is this the Christian life? Is this why Jesus came to this earth to die…just so that we can funnel through the doors of a building for three hours and then leave? Is this the life that Christ has to offer? The sad fact is that for many Christians (often times myself included) this is reality.

The past few weeks, I have had the new task of forming the Growth Group questions. The passages I have been studying and the passages Pastor Dave has been preaching on have truly been impacting my life. Since I started this task, there is one word that has been racing through my mind, beating in my heart, and pulsing through my veins. That word is CHANGE! Jesus did not come to this earth in order to save us just so that we can continue in a more comfortable, pleasant lifestyle. He SAVED us in order to CHANGE us.

When the word CHANGE is thrown around in Christianity, people tend to love the idea, but hate the reality. Change sounds so “amazing” and “uplifting”, but the reality of CHANGE is that it is often frustrating and difficult. We may start out so well when we try to CHANGE, but then we fail. So we try again, and then we fail again, and so on. It becomes a daunting and never-ending task. So we then do what comes natural to us, and we flip on our Christian Cruise Control and “enjoy” the ride. When this happens, that is when true failure occurs.

We must understand that CHANGE is not an event, but a process. True CHANGE takes faith in Christ, yielding to the Holy Spirit, and time. In order to succeed, we must make CHANGE a daily endeavor and not just a once-in-a-while event. Ephesians 4:22-24 says we must “renew our minds,” which means that we must CHANGE how we both view and live our lives. This is done by following James 1:21-22. In other words, we must not only hear the Word, but do what it says!

Cancer and Other Diseases

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Our church has been remarkably hit with the pain of cancer. Three of our beloved church members (Jim Rosien, Arlena Tinnes, and Julie Zieser) have been recently diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing various treatments (i.e. infusion, chemotherapy, etc.) in response to this terrible illness. Each one of these dear saints has approached the news and difficulty of cancer with great joy and courage. Each serves as a living, breathing illustration of strong, genuine faith in God. I am proud to be their pastor.

But as a young church pastor, I am often at a loss as to what to say or do when staring into the face of cancer and various other diseases. Sure…it was easy to banter back forth in college, with other healthy classmates, concerning a particular case study of what we would do as a pastor in this or that situation…but real life is different. The truth of the matter is that sometimes I feel rather foolish offering the hope of the Gospel and reaffirming the goodness of God to people who are really hurting and in great pain. I mean…it’s easy for me to say those things…I’m so healthy and strong, but they’re the ones dealing with the reality of intense pain.

In fact, as I was recently walking the halls of a hospital, I remembered back to my Army days. It was in the military that I learned just how strong, resilient, and powerful the human body could be. However, en route to yet another church member struggling with their health, I was reminded of just how fragile and weak the human body could be. In just a moment in time, you can go from completely fine, walking around, living your life, to suddenly fighting for your life and unable to do all the things you once loved to do.

I mean…what is a young pastor to do in moments of crises in his congregation’s life? What counsel should he give? Where should he point them? In fact, pastor or not, what should you do when you encounter painful circumstances in the lives of your family and friends?

Well…I’m no expert, but I have learned to do the following four things when staring into the face of cancer and other various illnesses:

  1. Do believe the Gospel yourself and point them to the ultimate hope of the Gospel. In other words, it is never foolish to remind people of the goodness of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The very Gospel that saved you (and that has or can save them) has imbedded within its message the fact that one day all things wrong will be made right. There is coming a day when “this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality…” (1 Cor. 15:54a). Simply put, there is coming a day when even cancer and other terrible diseases will be no more.
  2. Pray. The Bible is so clear: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b). We must earnestly pray for healing, comfort, and that our loved ones would be overwhelmed with thoughts of the goodness and grace of God in the midst of their pain. Prayer is not a magic rabbit’s foot that guarantees healing, but if healing is a part of God’s plan for them, He will certainly use prayer to bring that about…so pray!
  3. Recognize that your presence (devoid of any talk or counsel) is ministry enough. Job’s three friends kind of missed the memo on this one. They honestly thought that more talk and counsel was the answer. Indeed…most of the time when it comes to people who are hurting…less is more in terms of talk. I have found that simply being with people in crisis is ministry enough.
  4. Point them to God’s fierce love for them by means of loving them yourself. Growing up my father phrased it like this: “God is all we need, but each other is all we have.” Don’t take this pithy statement too far or rip it out of context, but simply put, we are to be the tangible expressions of God’s love toward all people, but especially towards those who are in great pain (cf. Matthew 25:31-40). Thus, be sure to end your phone calls, text messages, food drop offs, care packages, etc. with a note or line that simply says (using your own words and style)…I love you, but God loves you more.

Indeed…to all of my dear congregants struggling with cancer and other terrible illnesses…I say just that. Stay strong.

Sincerely,

Pastor Dave

Sermon Series Schedule for James

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This Sunday, January 17, we will launch our brand new teaching series that we’ve entitled, “Wisdom From Above: A Study in James”. This series will be 13 weeks long and will run through Sunday, April 17. Below is the sermon series schedule for your convenience.

In this series, we will discover what God wants us to know, understand, and experience in the midst of our…

PAIN – James 1:1-8 (Sunday, January 17, 2016)

  • A message on the purpose of pain…

TEMPTATIONS – James 1:9-18 (Sunday, January 24, 2016)

  • A message on the pull towards sin and the hope of the Gospel…

ANGER – James 1:19-27 (Sunday, January 31, 2016)

  • A message on the anatomy of anger and the remedy of Bible saturation…

CHURCH SERVICES – James 2:1-13 (Sunday, February 7, 2016)

  • A message on the foolishness of favoritism in the church…

FAITH – James 2:14-26 (Sunday, February 14, 2016)

  • A message on the biblical manifestation of faith and a response against antinomianism (i.e. hyper-grace)…

WORDS – James 3:1-12 (Sunday, February 21, 2016)

  • A message on the power of our words to bring about life or death…

RELATIONSHIPS – James 3:13-18 (Sunday, February 28, 2016)

  • The crown jewel of our time in this book…this message will focus our attention on the power of godly wisdom in our everyday relationships with people…

CONFLICT – James 4:1-12 (Sunday, March 6, 2016)

  • A message on the destructiveness of selfishness in our everyday relationships and the healing of humbleness…

PLANNING – James 4:13-17 (Sunday, March 13, 2016)

  • A message on the folly of strategizing and making plans without God in the picture…

POSSESSIONS – James 5:1-6 (Sunday, March 20, 2016)

  • A message on the uncertainty of riches and the counterintuitive nature of faith in God…

SUFFERING – James 5:7-12 (Sunday, April 3, 2016)

  • A message encouraging patience despite hardships…

PRAYER LIFE – James 5:13-18 (Sunday, April 10, 2016)

  • A message on the power of prayer in our individual and corporate lives…

RECONCILIATION – James 5:19-20 (Sunday, April 17, 2016)

  • A message on the need for the pursuit of reconciliation in our everyday relationships…

PFBC: Prayer List #11

Prayer #2

The following list of prayer requests can be prayed for in your own “quiet time” with the Lord, in your own family worship time, or in a small group setting (i.e. Growth Groups). Please keep the following requests in your prayers:

The Aubrechts – Pray for Rachel’s grandma who is battling many different health issues right now, including pneumonia. Also, please keep Justin in your prayers as he starts up a new business with his friend, Adam Fisher.

Carl Benson – PRAISE THE LORD! Carl was able to get a new job in Kalona. Pray that he continues to get good hours at work.

The Capps Family – Pray for Craig and Ila’s son, Shane, as he just accepted Jesus Christ as his own personal Lord and Savior. Please pray that he is discipled well at his church and that he overcomes the many temptations in his life.

Mary Case – Pray for Mary in regards to her eye sight and overall health.

Ray Cooper – Please pray for Ray’s son, Xavier, whose been recently committed to the Genesis Medical Center in Davenport because he’s hearing voices.

Tonnie Crile – Unspoken Prayer Request.

Veronica Dunbar – Please keep Veronica’s best friend’s daughter, Savanah Keene, in your prayers as she battles mono.

Tracy Fagen – Pray for Tracy’s daughter (Jamie) and her husband that they would come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Also, please pray for Tracy’s son (Jeff) and his wife that they would grow in their Christian faith. Tracy would also like prayers for her three grandchildren: Andre, Blake, and Landon.

Rick Fields – Pray for Rick as he battles ongoing health problems. Also, pray for Rick’s son, Dillon, who was just recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 22.

Bill Fiordelise – Pray for Bill as he recovers from his second neck surgery.

Steve and Diana Fordham – Pray for Steve and Diana as they battle many different health problems.

Kendra Gingerich – Please pray for Kendra’s mother, Ruth, who is nearing the end of her life. Pray for comfort and encouragement for the whole Gingerich family.

The Goodlanders – Pray for the Goodlanders and their overall health.

Matt Latcham – Please pray for Matt’s mother who is battling cancer.

Rhonda Reed – Pray for Rhonda’s mother, Jean Sampson, and her overall health.

The Rosiens –  Please pray for Jim as he undergoes infusion to remove the cancer from his brain. Also, please pray for Jan as she recovers from a procedure that removed her kidney stones.

Danica Smith – Pray for Danica’s mom, Joanne, as she recovers from a massive heart attack. Also, please keep Danica’s father, Jeff, in your prayers as he ministers to his ailing wife.

Arlena Tinnes – PRAISE THE LORD! Arlena gets the next 10 weeks off from chemotherapy. Continue to pray for healing and strength.

Doug Tinnes – Pray for Doug’s friend, Ed, that he would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Also, continue to pray for Doug and Julie’s grandson as he battles health issues.

Elisabeth Tinnes – Please pray for Elisabeth’s siblings and their salvation.

Michaela Tinnes – Please pray for Michaela’s friends, the Helm family, as they grieve the loss of their mother.

Judy Wolf – Pray for Judy’s daughter (Sandi) as she continues to battle cancer in her lower body. Sandi does not know Christ and so prayers for her salvation are also needed. Also, please pray for Judy’s granddaughter (Maddie) who is slowly going blind. She too does not know the Lord and prayers for her health and salvation are greatly appreciated. Also, please pray for Judy’s great-granddaughter (Errin) who is recovering from heart surgery…Errin is just 3 years old.

Mike York – Please pray for Mike’s wife, Becky, as she is struggling with tendonitis.

Julie Zieser – Please continue to pray for Julie as she evaluates different holistic approaches to fight her cancer.

PFBC Leadership Team – Pray for your Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Deacons that God would grant to us wisdom, discernment, and vision as we enter 2016.

Our Church – Pray that we would embrace our mission and vision to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.

Our Visitors – Pray for our many visitors that continue to come to PFBC. Pray that God would work in their hearts and lives. Pray that God would grow our church numerically and spiritually.

Our Missionaries – Pray for our many supported missionaries that God would grant to them success as they preach the Gospel of Peace.

Our Country – Please pray for our country and our upcoming election in 2016.

Please Note: We will periodically update this prayer list. If you would like a prayer request to be added to this list, please let Pastor Dave or Pastor Jon know. Thank you!