Don't Settle for Mud Pies

In his sermon last weekend at the West Campus, Ken Lippold (Director of Equipping Ministries at FBCG) took a page from Pastor Jeff’s book by quoting C.S. Lewis:

"Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half hearted creatures fooling around with drink ... and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea. We are far too easily pleased." (The Weight of Glory)

How true! How often do we find ourselves focused on and settling for far less than the joy, peace, contentment, and pleasure that God wants to give us? How often do we settle for the "mud pies" that our culture tries to force-feed us – instead of refusing to accept anything less than the "holiday by the sea" that is the promise and purpose of Christ?

We want to start off the New Year with a spiritual challenge for the entire FBCG family! This weekend Jeff and I will begin a 9 week series entitled, TAKING HOLD: Knowing and following Jesus. Each week we will focus on one dimension of spiritual growth that is absolutely essential to our maturity as followers of Jesus. Each week will be accompanied by a spiritual challenge – an action, a decision, a discipline – that we believe God can and will use in your life – in our church – for his purposes.

A Daily Devotional called 10 Minutes with God will be posted on this blog each day during the series.

It occurs to me that the coming of a New Year can mean either doing the same old things and living the same old life for another year on the calendar – or – committing to doing some NEW things and living a NEW kind of life. I think if God were making the choice for us – he would most likely choose the NEW over the old – don’t you?

Make this the year of TAKING HOLD of all God wants for you! Join us this weekend as we begin 2010 at FBCG.

10 Minutes with God: Connecting Sunday to your week

We have created a devotional guide as a companion to the “Taking Hold” sermon series in order to help you build the practices of prayer and scripture study into your daily life.

For the next 8 weeks you will find a daily (Monday through Friday) devotional guide on this blog. We encourage you to establish a consistent time and place for your “10 minutes with God” – and to keep your Bible and a small notebook (journal) close at hand.

Thanks for joining us in the adventure of “10 minutes with God!”

A Christmas Tradition

Most families have a number of Christmas traditions that they look forward to repeating year after year. Maybe you light Advent candles, bake cookies together, or watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year. Traditions are a big part of how we celebrate the story of Christ’s birth. And the same is true for our church family!

One of our fun church family traditions is gathering to worship on Christmas Eve. This year we have four services scheduled:

3:00 p.m. West (child care)

4:00 p.m. East (child care)

5:00 p.m. West (child care)

6:00 p.m. East (no child care provided)

We will sing carols, listen to the children’s bell choir (at the 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 pm services), read the timeless story of God entering this world as a baby, and we will worship our newborn King. But there is another unique tradition that I want you to be prepared for – and that is our special Christmas Eve offering. Every year we give a generous gift somewhere outside the walls of FBCG – and usually to a project that involves children.

This year our gift will go to Kenya Children’s Fund – an organization that provides Christian education, nutrition and health care to some of the poorest children in Africa. Among the children served are the Kuan children – 13 children from the same family who are refugees from the war in Sudan. FBCG has had a significant ministry to this family over the last few years – and we hope that by our gift this Christmas we can help make sure the children are cared for in the coming years.

Thank you for being part of the FBCG family tradition - and may the love and joy of Christ fill your home and your hearts this Christmas!

A Giving Spirit

When I checked my voice mail messages this past Monday I had a message from an FBCG member who said he had a “question about Prepare the Way.” I have to admit I wondered if the question might be critical because I know that sometimes talking about money makes people uncomfortable. When I returned the call, the man explained his question to me. “I have some money,” he said, “and I want to know if you want me to give it all now, or if you would rather I save some in case there is a building campaign next year?” I love calls like that!

He didn’t ask me to explain Prepare the Way to him. He didn’t need me to convince him why he should consider participating in our initiative to reduce our debt. He had already decided in his heart that the money in his possession did not belong to him – so he was ready to give it back to the Lord. He just needed to know when and how (I ended up telling him that giving half now and half later would be just great!)" That’s what I would call a “giving spirit.”

The Bible teaches that generosity does not begin with money; that is, our giving does not depend on how much we have. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus watching a poor widow who gave the equivalent of a couple of pennies to God while the affluent were making a show of their large donations. Of this woman Jesus said, “…this poor widow has given more than all the rest.” What Jesus meant, of course, was that generosity is a condition and decision of the heart before it is anything else.

At Christmas time we think a lot about giving. We spend a great deal of time, energy and money in order to give gifts to those we love. And that is good. But I want to encourage you to expand your giving this Christmas season to include the One who loved you first! The man who called my office did so not so much because his bank account was full – but because his heart was full.

Our giving always reflects the condition of our hearts; which is another way of saying we give to that which we love – just like God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave….” – John 3:16

Celebrating the wonder of God’s love,

Pastor Brian