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

Maintaning-Christian-Unity

“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…

summer time

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!

prairie trees.jpg

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…

colorful-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

black-and-white-cemetery-christ-208315.jpg

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: desiringGod.org

 

A Letter to Our Children’s Ministry Volunteers…

Children's Ministry 2

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…