Dear FCC Church Family,

February has come; it’s here, and there’s no escaping it. That is, there’s no way to avoid going through February on our way to spring. How does that make you feel? I imagine that, for most of us, February summons up a wintry mix of widely different emotions.

It’s usually one of the coldest months of the year, and, for those of us in the more northern climes, it’s often the month with the most snow. That can be depressing if you hate the cold or have trouble navigating on ice or snow-packed roads. But it’s also the month when myfriend and I would usually go skiing–because the snow was better and the crowds smaller.

Some people hate February. They long for the warmth and soft breezes of May. Others look forward to February. Our grandson, for instance, has his birthday in February; he awaits the month with great anticipation. Personal or family history can play a big part in how we feel about February. Valentine’s Day can be a bright spot in the middle of the month, a reminder of the joy of being loved. Or it can be an awful weight, a reminder of the stabbing pain of losing someone you loved. This year, in our family, February brought both wonderful and awful news, both in
the space of a week.

One of the most important lessons we can take from February with its mixed bag of blessings and sorrows is the necessity of having the right perspective from which to look at life. God has given us a prism through which we may view what happens in and around and to us. That prism is the love that he has for us. Looking at life without that prism filtering my view, all I see in the bright, uncompromising white light is the stark and cold reality of painful existence on this earth. February is just an awful month that reinforces the dark and damp of my soul in its pain from all of my losses, all of my failures, all of the storms that have battered me and left me wounded and weary, lonely and sad, angry and bitter for being forced to endure such misery.

But perspective changes everything. When I look at my life through the prism of God’s love for me, instead of seeing how cold and dark and painful it is, I see a brilliant and dazzling array of colors within the light, a display that invites me to joy and sparks wonder within me. I not only see what the light reveals–the reality of what has happened–I see the beauty inside what happened. The deeper truth–beyond what happened, beyond what I feel, beyond my sense of being stuck in an endless storm–is that underneath my experiences is a rainbow of the reality of God’s love, a rainbow of colors that has been there all along, even though I couldn’t see it until I looked through the prism. That reality–that God intensely and fervently loves me–means that on the loom of every painful February God is weaving a wondrous and beautiful tapestry of a beautiful and joyful February. If I look through that prism and focus on what I see there–that
God loves me!; if I take that point of perspective as my starting point for viewing my Februarys, the Spirit of God will (quite literally) transform my life.

As a “for instance,” consider what I read this week from the ministry of ‘Reasons to Believe.’ Some look at the vastness of the universe and conclude that humans are insignificant and that life is the result of random chance plus time; it’s all meaningless. But take a look at the
same universe through the prism of God’s love and a different picture emerges:

“With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we wanted to share some of the “love letters” God has written into the design of the universe. The first one is BIG! Astronomers have recently found a way to map superclusters of galaxies, and have named ours “Laniakea.” It contains about 100,000 galaxies and stretches 520 million light-years across. Images reveal that our Milky Way Galaxy is set within the Laniakea Supercluster in a just-right position to preserve our galaxy’s unique spiral structure, essential for complex life. In fact, our spot in the supercluster is the only place human life could possibly thrive. In other words, no matter how far away you look, you find God optimizing the universe to be your home.” (Reasons to Believe, February 4, 2020)

That’s pretty neat, right? And that makes me think of what Jesus said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3, NIV)

If God cared enough to make a vast universe, including one part that includes over 100,000 galaxies spread across 520 million light years of space, and placed this one planet in the only spot in that unfathomable recess of creation where we could thrive; and if he also promised to prepare a place for us where we would live with him forever–with every bit as much care as he took to prepare the first place for us to live!; don’t you imagine that he has also prepared a way through your February, a way to live in the midst of your February, that would be just as spectacular, and just as perfect for you to thrive? It’s all there, waiting to be seen when you look through the prism of God’s love for you.

Looking at February through God’s love with you,
Pastor Barry

PS We don’t have quite the same capacity as God, but we have also prepared a nice place for you to come and celebrate the love of God with us. Sign up and join us for dinner and fellowship on Saturday, February 15 (5-7:30 pm). All you need to bring is your prism.

From the Trustees

Jim Congrove The trustees met Tuesday, January 28. Members of the trustee board for 2020 include Mike Bowman, Tom Puckett, David Aikin, Paul Studebaker, Christine Winter and Jim Congrove. Lisa Hoag as business administrator also serves on the board. Officers were elected with Jim Congrove, chairman, Christine Winter, vice-chair and Paul Studebaker, treasurer.

The financial report for the end of 2019 was reviewed. We are pleased to report that because of our member’s generous giving and the careful management of expenses, we ended the year comfortably in the black. Our investments with the Christian Church Foundation also returned an appreciable gain for 2019.

A contract has been finalized with Midwest Coating for roof repairs. They will begin work when weather permits, which could be as early as late March. Other projects that have been authorized include: repairs to steps on north and west sides of the building, improved handicap access at the southwest door, and repairs to the north doors behind the sanctuary to allow an easier exit in case of emergency. Bids for other masonry and painting projects will be secured in the near future.

Jim Congrove, Chair of Trustees

Elders Update

Your Elder Board met on Tuesday, January 7th, and again for a brief meeting after worship on Sunday, January 19th. Hyacinth Self was
elected as Chair and Lisa Rundell as Vice Chair for the year. Jim Chapin will remain on the board as an Elder Emeritus. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 4th. We will also meet on Sunday, February 16th, for our study of the book The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero.

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger,
abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

Goodbye January with its short, cold days. Hello February with its
slightly longer, but maybe not any warmer days. This is Kansas, after all. So, how have your New Year’s Resolutions played out? Still maintaining or have you forgotten and just given up? Good news: God is all about second chances. Think about Abraham, King David, Jonah, Paul and so many others stained by sin ranging from simple disobedience to murder. Remember when Peter denied Christ three times? Talk about needing a holy do-over! No sin is too great or severe to be erased. No one is too far gone to come running back to the arms of our faithful and loving Father and receiving forgiveness. As Jesus exemplified in the parable of the lost son in Luke 15, He longs to welcome and restore us back to the family.

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” Micah 7:18

This February, remind yourself every day that you are a child of God and He loves you. If you’ve messed up, be it in a tiny or a gargantuan way, all is not lost. Let’s show ourselves and each other some grace – He certainly does. “Love is patient, love is kind…” 1 Corinthians 13: 4

Hyacinth Self, Elder Chair

Worship


Praise the Lord, First Christian! Praise Him with your voices, your hands, your instruments, and most of all with your HEARTS!

“From Psalms to Revelation, the Bible encourages us to “sing a new song to the Lord” ,(Psalm 96:1; 144:9; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3). Psalm 40:3 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” A new song is one that arises from the spirit of a person whose heart overflows with adoration for God. Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians about music is preceded by the command to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). When we are filled with the Spirit, then psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are the natural expression of our hearts. A Spirit-filled person is a singing person. One clear indication that a person is filled with the Holy Spirit is a natural desire to sing and praise God. Musical ability has little to do with it. God created us to find great spiritual expression through music (Psalm 135:3; Judges 5:3). Scripture is filled with music, and God delights when we use what
He created to worship Him (Deuteronomy 31:19; Psalm 33:2; 149:3).

Music finds its highest purpose when used as a tool to extoll the greatness of God. It can console, encourage, teach, and even admonish those who are away from God. Music is a biblical way of expressing our worship of the Lord. Spiritual music gives voice to our joy and adoration unlike anything else. Whether a psalm or a hymn or a spiritual song, the purpose of music is to glorify God, and He wants us to use this gift as a means of worshiping Him.”

Copyright 2002-2020 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.

Greg Boyle, Worship Leader

Children’s Ministry


Upstairs, our kids have begun the journey of following Jesus as our lessons have included his baptism by an eccentric cousin, the commissioning of his disciples to be “fishers of men,” and his challenging teachings about loving others…even those that treat you badly.

We tasted honey like John the Baptist ate, but no one seemed to want to crunch on a locust. I get it. The kids fished for people (moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc…) because everyone needs Jesus. The younger kids were enwrapped
with Kay’s puppet show that emphasized Jesus’ teaching about loving others even when they’re not kind. We’ll keep following Jesus as his ministry unfolds, and he even teaches us how to pray to our heavenly Father.

In the words of Max Lucado…

“When Jesus said, ‘Come to me’, he doesn’t say come to religion, or a certain church, or certain way of doing things. This is a personal invitation to come in prayer to God, an invitation to know Jesus, our Savior.

In truth, Christianity is simply a desire and an effort to see Jesus. That’s all it is. We are trying to catch a glimpse of a man, not a program or a teaching. We are trying to see a man who called himself the Son of God…a man who truly was the Son of God. Our God is not so far above us that he can’t see and understand our problems. Jesus isn’t a God who stayed on the mountaintop. He’s a Savior who came down and lived and loved and died for his people. This is the One we come to every time we
pray.”

Jennifer Boyle, Children’s Ministry

The Giving Tree Preschool

The Giving Tree students are enjoying a great second semester of preschool. We have been exploring winter, snow and arctic animals. With the cold weather upon us, we are thankful to have the Fellowship Hall included in our license for indoor recess. After learning about the letter Q, quiet-time and quilts, we ended our week with Pajama Day. We enjoyed popcorn and watched a movie on the big screen T.V. The Fellowship Hall made a great movie theater. Thank you to the church family for sharing this space with our preschool children.

When we think of February, the word love often comes to mind. We are fortunate to work, play and learn in an environment where love is abundant! At The Giving Tree we use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to learn about Jesus’s love for us and the love we have for Him in return. We will also explore the love we share with family and friends, and what special gifts those relationships can be.

With February upon us, The Giving Tree will begin enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year. If you have friends or family with children age 3 to kindergarten, please let them know about our wonderful preschool. Enrollment for returning, alumni and FCC church families will begin on February 1st and will open to the community on February 17th. The Giving Tree is truly an excellent program with amazing teachers. Our teachers
strive to teach God’s love through all of our activities while preparing children with kindergarten readiness skills.

Julie Hafenstine, Giving Tree Preschool Director
Julie@fcclawrence.org
785-838-3668
www.lawrencepreschool.com

Giving Tree Preschool Logo

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