Courageous Thanksgiving

Courageous Thanksgiving

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

At first glance, the words “courageous” and “thanksgiving” don’t seem to go together. But when we remember that Paul wrote these words from prison – uncertain that he would survive – and still found a way to express thanksgiving to God, we see that perhaps these words do belong together!

What does it mean to offer thanksgiving “in everything?” How can Paul be thankful while he is in prison? How can we be thankful when we face uncertainty or pain? How can we be thankful when the cornucopia isn’t quite so full? It means that we are to be “courageously thankful!” That is, we are to trust that God is unfailingly good even when his goodness seems hidden from our eyes. It means to intentionally cultivate an attitude of the heart that allows us to be grateful even during the most difficult of circumstances.

When I think of this kind of gratitude, I always remember the example of Matthew Henry, a 19th century Biblical scholar, who was once robbed by street thugs. He later wrote in his journal,

“Let me be thankful; first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

That’s courageous thanksgiving!

This weekend we will celebrate thanksgiving as a church family. We won’t be carving a turkey or feasting on pumpkin pie – that will come next week as we celebrate in our homes. But we are going to give thanks! Our services this weekend will not feature a sermon (but that’s NOT the reason to be thankful!) – but rather a time when we will share with each other – and with the Lord – our spiritual thanksgiving for what he has done and is doing in our lives. Come prepared to share your personal words of thanksgiving – or a passage of scripture that has been particularly meaningful to you in recent days.

Let me start by expressing my thanksgiving to God for the love of a wonderful wife and four healthy sons, and for the great privilege of belonging to and leading this church family!

Pastor Brian

Courageous Hope

Courageous Hope

FBCG Mission Fest Nov 15
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for
what we do not yet
have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:24-25

I believe that HOPE is the second most powerful force in the world! The most powerful force, of course, is love (1 Corinthians 13:13) but hope runs a
close second. Hope sustains in the midst of great suffering. Hope inspires great achievement. Hope can save a floundering marriage or a nation at
Hope is more important than the air we breathe or the food that we eat. We need air, food, water, shelter and clothing to stay alive physically, but
we need hope to stay alive spiritually. We need hope to be human. We need hope to believe in anything. And HOPE, properly understood, requires

What is HOPE and why does it require courage? Let me define it this way: Hope is the fierce longing for a preferred
future that shapes the way we
live today.
Now there are lesser kinds of hope that are more like "wishful thinking." Hoping to win the lottery or hoping that
the Cubs will win the
World Series qualifies as this kind of "lesser hope" (my apologies to Cubs fans!). True hope, fierce
, is a different thing altogether. True hope
is what you feel when your expectant wife goes into labor; it's what you feel the moment after you say the words "Will you marry me?" but before she
answers; and it's what the Bible says followers of Jesus are to feel ALL THE TIME.

HOPE, the Apostle Paul teaches us, is most fierce when it is focused on that which is certain but, as of yet, unseen. As followers of Jesus our hope
is certain because in Him we have the promise of eternal life. But we have not yet received the fullness of that promise - we have not yet seen or
experienced heaven! So we wait with a kind of fierce longing for that which God has promised to be revealed. This means we live now in light of what
we shall be! That's courageous hope!

This weekend at FBCG we will be celebrating this "courageous hope" by celebrating our commitment to Short Term Missions. Why do we joyfully go to
places like Turkey, Ecuador or Africa to share the hope of Christ when it takes so much effort to do so? Well, simply put, because Jesus told us to!
Jesus commanded us to use this time of waiting to share His HOPE with our neighbors, with our family, with our friends, and with the world that He
died to save.

Make it a priority to join us this weekend to celebrate the hope that Jesus gives, and to be part of sharing this hope with the world!

Pastor Brian

Visit my blog, Coffey Break. I'd love to hear from you.

Courageous Leadership

Courageous Leadership
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Joshua 1:9

God gave these words to Joshua as he set out to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. In fact, God repeats the phrase "be strong and courageous" three times in the first 9 verses of Joshua 1! I have sometimes wondered what Joshua must have thought as he received God's command. He had been one of twelve men sent to check out the land of Canaan. He had seen the fortified cities and fearsome warriors. He knew the difficulty of the struggle that lay ahead. Did he feel afraid? Did he feel inadequate? While we can't know all that was in his heart, we do know that God is preparing him for the task ahead by acknowledging that there will be challenges to be overcome and battles to be fought. God is letting Joshua know there will be times when he feels afraid and discouraged. But God is also preparing Joshua's heart by promising that he, the Lord, will be with him each step of the way.

While the challenges that we face as a church family are not to be compared with the challenges Joshua faced in conquering the Promised Land - we do find ourselves in a time that requires "courageous leadership!"

The leadership of FBCG, which includes both ministry staff and lay Boards, are facing two challenges that each will require courageous leadership in the months that lie ahead. The first challenge involves understanding and responding to all the feedback we have received through the Transforming Church Index survey and focus groups. It will require a certain kind of leadership courage to identify areas of our church life where we have failed or are weak; and it will take both wisdom and courage to created and implement the changes necessary - but we are committed, with God's help to do just that!

The second challenge we face revolves around the current economic crisis. The church is not immune to the economic forces of our culture! In the first two months of this fiscal year (which began on Sept. 1) we have fallen 11% behind budget. On the one hand, I believe it is extremely encouraging that even in the current economic atmosphere our church family continues to give and to give generously! On the other hand, we must be responsible as leaders to begin to prepare for the likelihood that our ministry and staffing budgets will need to be reduced significantly in response to lower levels of giving.

Here are a few things we are already beginning to consider:

  • Trimming back all ministry department budgets - including staffing - by 10%
  • Identifying another 5% that can be cut back at a future date
  • Studying the impact of moving to a four-day work week
  • Identifying more economical ways to accomplish the same or similar ministry events and purposes
  • Communicating with the FBCG family frequently regarding our budget needs
  • Focusing on more effective assimilation of new comers to FBCG so that they will be led to invest themselves in the mission and vision of FBCG

I want you as the FBCG family to know that we, as leaders, are not terrified or discouraged! But we are being challenged to lead courageously through these times. We covet your prayers as we head into a two-day retreat this weekend (Nov. 7-8) to begin to dig into the survey feedback. Let's trust together that the Lord has promised to lead us and to be with us - and that he will be glorified through this process!