Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Wasn’t it amazing to see Lee Burgard at church on Sunday? I don’t want to miss a Sunday because of the great things I am seeing all around. The Lord has been moving in our services and our discipleship classes. Many new faces are becoming a regular part of our family. The nursery is exploding with several new babies. We are so blessed with many talented and gifted people. Each Sunday there are several people who minister in many different capacities. As we are worshipping in the sanctuary, there are several teachers for adults, children, and infants. We are so grateful for God’s blessing and sending us humble servants who give of their time sacrificially. For instance, I thank the Lord for Sharon Dawson and her artistic ability. She made a huge crown of thorns that is hanging off of the cross at the front of the sanctuary. There is so much symbolism in the crown of thorns made for Jesus to wear on His way to the cross. Let me explain.

The soldiers took vines loaded with sharp, dangerous thorns; then they carefully wove together those razor-sharp, prickly, jagged vines until they formed a tightly woven, dangerous circle resembling a crown. This ended up being the crown that the soldiers violently shoved down upon Jesus’ head on the way to the cross found in Matthew 27:29.

The word used for “twisted” or “entangled” when it talks about how the crown of thorns was made describes something that has been woven together. That is the same Greek word used in 2 Timothy 2:4. It says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” In verse 3, Paul invites Timothy to join him in his sufferings, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. He is essentially saying that as committed Christians, we don’t have the privilege of getting too involved or intertwined with matters that are of this world and have no bearing on things in light of eternity.

That same Greek word, empleko, was used to describe a runner whose garments become tangled in his legs. The runner was running a good race at one time, but then got entangled in his floppy garments. They eventually impaired his ability to run at a pace to win the race.

So in a sense, no one who is a soldier of Christ allows himself to get twisted in the affairs of life. It reminds me of Paul’s message to Galatia when he said, “You were running a good race, who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7

As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to do everything we can to keep the temporal things of this world in the right perspective. Keep them in your hands but out of your heart. The next time you are sitting in the sanctuary preparing your heart for worship, and you see the crown of thorns, ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas of your life that need to be “untwisted” and brought back into balance. There is nothing in this world worth being entangled and ensnared over – nothing!

This Sunday we will be bringing in new members and continuing our series, “Defining Moments On the Way to the Cross.” Invite someone to come with you. You never know, it may shed light on an area that may need to be untwisted and make an eternal difference for Christ.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

God's Peace, Our Referee

God’s Peace, Our Referee

I told someone that I am going to call my devotional from here on out, “The Life and Times of FFCN People.” It seems that we have had a lot of unexpected events in the church this past year. It has been a mixture of good and bad. One minute we are celebrating babies being born, the next we are shocked of someone being diagnosed with cancer; from leaking roof problems to marriages being renewed; from other babies being born to heart attacks; from tile breaking down below the parking lot causing water issues to miracles before our eyes. Just recently Lee Burgard was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain, and the doctors found malignant tumors in Lorna Morse’s jaw. Lee is doing well after surgery and Lorna was able to go home last night. With everything that happens, I can see the hand of God moving in a powerful way. Each person, no matter the severity, has a special grace line directly from God because we read in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

As the pastor of our church, my prayer is that we will deepen our walk with Jesus with each announcement and prayer request. Rather than throw in the towel and give way to the emotions that want to get the best of us, we are called to place the Word of God as our barometer and rule. When I say, “rule,” I’m talking about God’s supernatural peace dominating and governing every emotion and situation that confronts us. If we do not intentionally make the decision to believe what God says about things, then worry, fear, insecurity, doubt, and other emotions will be the order of the day. Then we can talk about a roller coaster ride that will leave you numb. Instead, let the peace of God rule in your heart and let it result in praise and thanksgiving.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Colossians 3:15

The Greek word used for “rule” is called brabeuo. It describes an umpire or a referee. Now I know what it is to referee. I have refereed several Upward Basketball games over the years. That is just below the NCAA basketball tournament level. Okay, maybe I am stretching it a little. This means that when we have detrimental emotions weighing down on us and trying to dictate our outlook in life, we can make the choice to let God’s peace rise up from deep inside of us like a referee to moderate our emotions. As we do, we will be kept under the control of God’s divine peace He wants to place in our hearts. When this divine referee called “peace” steps into the game, it suddenly begins to call the shots and make all the decisions instead of anxiety and worry.

It is true; there are some weeks that are harder than others. But you don’t have to surrender to those emotions that try to steal your joy, mess with your relationships, or rob you of your victory. So when you feel overwhelmed by problems or a number of debilitating events that happen around you, intentionally set your heart and mind on Jesus and the Word of God. Let the peace of God call the shots in your life. Let the peace of God act as a referee in your everyday life.

Looking forward to see what God wants to do in our services on Sunday. He is preparing us for a great move of His Holy Spirit.

Thank you for all of the people who are praying and visiting the family of God. I am grateful for the encouragement and inspiration that comes from the body of Christ during each and every one of these situations. You truly turn challenging times into blessed times as you allow God to use you for His glory.

Joyfully serving the King of kings….

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not The Way I Used To Be

Not The Way I Used To Be
Ephesians 2:1-5

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”   —Ephesians 2:1-5

Have you changed over the years? I am not talking about your weight or height — your intellect or your personality, your passion or your lack thereof? I am talking about your heart. We were in staff meeting yesterday and we were talking about how many new people are coming to our church. Great things are happening. Hearts are being changed, relationships are being renewed, and new babies are being born almost every week (ok, maybe I’m stretching it a little, but not much). It was fun last Sunday to recognize one of our new babies, then I inquired if another one was present. Someone else stood up, then another, then another. There were four new infants in our service. What a blessing!

As new people come to church, or even people who have been here for years and are open for a new move of God, the tendency to make a decision for or rededicate your life to Christ in your seat with no one knowing, happens a lot. As a church, we are not afraid to open the altar. It is open for people to respond every Sunday. But it is difficult to become that vulnerable when you may have been hurt in the past or you just started attending or coming back to church. Please don’t hear me say that people can only effectively respond to the Spirit’s call at an altar of prayer. We can do it in our seats or driving down the road. The danger is that we will keep it to ourselves and will not benefit from the prayers and encouragement of others around us. The enemy of our souls wants you to keep major life changing decisions like that to yourself.

Paul reminds his readers, “Back then, you walked according to the course of this world.” The word “according” in the Greek (peripateo) means walking around habitually in one general area all the time. It is a path people cannot deviate from. You can say that they are trapped and can’t find their way out. They are stuck in this mode and can’t change by themselves. Most people are unaware of their condition when they are right in the middle of it. You will even hear people defend why they do the things they do. Their standard is found in the world and not God’s Word.

We just don’t gradually eliminate things in our life and all of a sudden find ourselves changed. Many have tried that route and have ended up overwhelmed and falling back into old habits. God wants to make a complete change in our hearts when it comes to our direction.

When Paul refers to the world, it is the Greek word kosmos. This depicts something that is fashioned or ordered. It is talking about the systems of the world like fashion, education, and entertainment. That is the standard in which people choose to do what they do. Fashion and the like are constantly changing on a whim. What is in today may not be in tomorrow. Why would you want to build your life on such a weak foundation? People do it all the time.

But Paul is talking about this being in the past. That is who you were but not who you are. Now the enemy doesn’t want you to know that God can do this transformational change – but He can!

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made you alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

That is good news today. Does that describe what has happened and is currently happening to you? Don’t keep it to yourself. Let it out! Make the altar your friend. Let the church be the church. God has placed us on this journey together to sharpen and encourage each other along the way. The first steps are always the hardest when you share a decision you have made. In the long run it is worth it all. I am blessed to be a part of such a great church who cares for each other and those who are yet to come.

Please continue to remember Lorna Morse today. She needs a special touch from the Lord physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Dave and Lorna will meet with the doctors today and find out what is going on in her jaw that is concerning the doctors.

Seeing God’s saving work in your life and how far He has brought you, is a testimony of the goodness of our God. Is there someone in your sphere of influence who needs to hear your story today?

I’m looking forward to a great day on Sunday.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

PS. Remember if you can receive texts on your phone, then you can text “join ffcn.alerts” to 292929, and you will receive cancellation notices of our services by text for free.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All Kinds of Prayer: God's Amazing Grace

God’s Amazing Grace

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.   — Ephesians 6:18

I have been focusing on Ephesians 6:18 in the last few devotionals. We have seen firsthand how praying always has led the way to a miracle from God’s hand.

On Sunday afternoon, I was visiting Lorna Morse in the hospital when I received a phone call from my daughter telling me that a tragedy has happened at the church. There was an open gym where people were playing basketball. Ron Rook was playing and he felt a little dizzy. He went down on one knee and then collapsed to the ground. Cody was standing near him and saw it unfold. He then yelled for some assistance and Chad Beach and Chris England sprung into action. They were not sure if he was hurt or just playing around at first. After noticing that this was no joke, they immediately began to perform CPR on him. Chad called to his son to call 911 while he bolted to retrieve our AED from the wall beside the kitchen. Ron was not breathing and his heart had stopped. After several minutes of working on him, Ron was revived. The paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital where Ron was instantly engaging in conversation like nothing had ever happened. It was a miracle that unfolded before our eyes.

But that is not the whole story. In 2010, Ron was instrumental in placing the AEDs in our church. We have one located in the main foyer and one in the family life center. Just that morning, Ron checked on each unit and made sure that the batteries were working. Not only that, but Ron made sure that people knew where they were before they started to play basketball that afternoon. He was joking and saying that some of us aren’t so young anymore and may need to know where they are. He said to his son Josiah that he would probably have to be the one to use it since no one else knew how to work them. Fortunately, Chad Beach was familiar with the AED (defibrillator).  As a matter of fact, Ron and Chad had a conversation that morning about those who were prepared to use them.

Some may call these things coincidences. I, and those involved, choose to call them miracles. God’s hand was involved in this all the way through. I am amazed at how God worked every detail out from the very beginning.

As I have been watching all of this unfold, I have been amazed at the grace of God. So many things that have happened have to be directly contributed to people of prayer believing in the power of the Holy Spirit to direct our thoughts and prayers in preparation for a move of God. My favorite saying rings true, “My availability gives God opportunity to do a miracle through me.” It is true. We just have to be prayed up, read up, fed up, stayed up (I’m trying to think of as many ups as I can), and readied up for God to do His best work through us.

Josiah, Ron’s son, was there when all of this transpired. His first response was to pray with his friend Grant for God to be in control. We can learn from our children that our first response to each event in our life should be prayer. I just had a thought. We can all be called, “First Responders,” if we choose to put Jesus first in all we do and say.

Let me be the first to say that this is just scratching the surface of this story. There are so many more pieces to tell from many different angles. It’s all for the glory of God. I believe everyone who is connected with this event will be changed forever. Let’s connect as many as we can so there will be a sweeping revival in the hearts of many. God is so good!

Ron has had a single bypass surgery and is starting on his journey of healing. Pray for him as he continues to be in step with God’s healing hand.

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the start of the Lent season as we head toward Easter. We will have a special prayer focus tonight from 6:00 – 6:45pm. Come and start it off right. I am looking forward to continuing my series, “Defining Moments: On the Way to the Cross.”

Be a “First Responder” and make a big impact in this world in need of a miracle…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike