October 2019

The Psalmist writes, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Each of us is created in the image of God but we are also unique. If you met my sisters Betty and Joan, you would know we are sisters (we look alike) but our personalities and the way we approach life is different.

So it is also for the Church Universal and yes for our church family as well. We love God and are part of His family but we are different. We have different conversion stories. We have different gifts and diverse ways that we express our love for God.

Some people seem to be drawn closer to God in a Cathedral, others in a cornfield.  Some Christians draw closer to God in a disciplined Bible Study, others in prayer and devotions. Some believe music is a must others say silence please. We want to grow in our faith and know God more intimately.

In October during worship, we will be exploring ways to help us engage with God. Our primary purpose will be for us to grow individually in our relationship with God.  Flowing from the discoveries we make will be a greater appreciation and love for each other. Some of the Bible Characters that we will discover with different sacred pathways of encountering God are David, Moses, Mary, Martha, Paul, Mary (Jesus’ mother) and many more. I can’t wait to begin this series.

You continue to be in my prayers.

Love and blessings,

Ilona

September 2019

Dear Friends Pursing Christ,

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:

And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

These were words written by a man who was in prison in because of his belief in Jesus Christ. In fact, this whole letter is known as a letter of Joy. What could be so joyful about being in prison? Paul knew how to make lemonade out of lemons. Actually, God gave Paul a perspective for life which would help him manage in any circumstance. Here is another life lesson God taught Paul:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether being in plenty or want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)

While in prison Paul wrote letters to the churches to encourage them in their faith, he led a centurion and his family into a relationship with Jesus (Acts 16:34) and he gained insights about living for Christ. Paul states another fact about his situation:

“Now I want you to know, brothers that what has happened to me has served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear to the whole palace guard and to everyone that I am in chains for Christ.  Because of my chains, most of my brothers in the Lord have encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

There is so much to learn about life in Christ from this short letter. During September I would like us to do a joint study. Each week I would like us to meditate on a chapter in Philippians. I would like each of us to pick a verse that speaks to us and write it down and if possible, memorize it. More than memorizing it let us spend some time thinking how we can apply it to our daily life. For example, I will select Philippians 1:4, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…”) My actions step is to pray daily for each member of the congregation. Each Sunday, as we gather, I will ask if anyone wants to share their chosen verse and how they applied it. For those who are home bound we can talk about your weekly discoveries. Each day I plan to read the assigned chapter and see what other life lessons I can learn.

  • Week of September 1 (Philippians 1) verse I picked:
    • Applied lesson:
  • Week of September 5 (Philippians 2) verse I picked:
    • Applied lesson:
  • Week of September 12 (Philippians 3) verse I picked:
    • Applied lesson:
  • Week of September 19 (Philippians 4) verse I picked:
    • Applied lesson:

I believe we will be blessed by these readings and encouraged by our sharing time.

I said that I would update you on our finances. In the month of July, we received $3,000 in offering. Our expenses were $4,600. We received an extra $2,000 in special gifts for God’s House, memorials, for our piano accompanist, and from our small investment fund. Please remember that your gifts are needed to help meet are regular expenses. Thank you for your financial gifts to FPC and your service as you use your gifts of time and talents to share the Good News of Jesus with other people.

Have a blessed September. Looking forward to worshiping and visiting you.

Love and prayers in Jesus,

Ilona

 

               

 

 

August 2019

Dear Friends Pursing Christ,

Thank you, thank you to all who made VBS, “Gone Fishin”, a wonderful experience for the 21 children that attended. It was amazing! When I brought some children home from VBS they were chatting joyously about the events of the day and they were singing so loudly I am sure the other drivers on the road heard them. When closing night came, I heard adults planning next year’s VBS. A first ever! It made me smile. Normally volunteers are dragging and saying I can’t wait for tomorrow. But what really grabbed my heart was how excited the children were in receiving Bibles. In fact one child could not make it the last night and asked if she could have a Bible before she left! The Bibles came from the family and friends of Hally Yust. Hally, at age 9, died from a rare water amoeba from a lake in which she was swimming. She loved God and His word. Hally’s family and friends raised money to supply children with Bibles in Haiti and in the USA.  What a legacy of love. Thanks be to God. On Friday night, Rod and Jill invited the VBS children and their families to their home for fishing, swimming, and a meal. Many families came and fished in their well-stocked pond. We ate, we laughed, and we played together. We had a great time!

A special thank you for all who volunteered their time and talents. Lead Fishermen: Bev Claypool, Keith Murray; Teachers/Leaders: Natalie Madison, Angelika Schmitt, Elaine Sturm, Ty Eckhoff, Samara Lewis, Faith Leuker; Dinner and Snacks: Lora and Herschel Young, Rex Eckhoff; Arts and Crafts: Shelley Needham, Jill Smith; Games: Keith Murray, Ben Madison, Rod Smith; AV (music): Kandice and Rex Eckhoff, Ilona Buzick; Registration: Pam Murray, Ilona Buzick, Jessica Woltkamp; Extra Workers: David Ullery, Phil Needham, Amanda Dubinick, Velma Stewart, Keith Cook, Laurin Carver, plus many prayer warriors.

VBS brought us much joy but it was a bittersweet week with the passing of Corky Cook into heaven. We celebrated her life with us and now her life with Jesus on July 22. Please continue to pray for Kevin, Keith, Kelly and their families.

July’s schedule of activities are over and it’s now time to resume our previously schedules activities. Small Groups will resume in August at 10:00 am. Wednesdays at 1:00 pm we will begin a study on 2 Peter and Friday’s, “Making your Case for Christ” will resume on August 16th. Trek is moving to Sunday evening at 6:30 pm for the coming school year and will resume September 8th.

Continue to keep your session and deacons in prayer as they seek to serve you and help guide us in a direction that pleases the Lord. Prayers are needed for the workers and weather to team up together so that God’s House can be completed. Prayers for Dale and Donna Farr, Gloria Chenoweth, Nate, Emmit, Sterling College, and the Whitcraft Family.

Love in Christ,

Ilona

July 2019

Dear Friends Pursing Christ,

Summer fun has begun!!!!!!! Life in the church does not slow down in the summer, in fact there can be a lot more activity. This year’s mission team to Camp Courageous from FPC had 16 adults and teens. We were divided into teams that wrapped Christmas presents (hundreds if not thousands), stained a huge deck, and some of us worked in the office. We spent time with the campers and set apart time for study and prayer together.

Picture1Coming up this month is VBS and we will be “Gone Fishing”. On Tuesday July 16th at 6:30 pm our 3-day extravaganza begins.  Crafts, games, food and yes learning about Jesus is on the agenda.  This year we will begin VBS by serving dinner at 6:30 pm. Then on Friday night at 6:00 pm, the Smiths will host a closing program for family, friends and members of FPC on their farm. There will be fishing, food and the VBS kids sharing their stories of the week. You don’t want to miss this event!

Summer also invites us to take some time to get some well-deserved R and R. Those that have signed up will gather together for a retreat at the 4 R’s down at the Lake of the Ozarks. We will study together, pray together and have some fun time together. This year’s theme is “My heart, Christ’s Home”.

What I like most of all is I plan to read and reflect more. I will read more of the Bible, add more “books of interest” (books about baseball, biographies, espionage, murder mysteries, even a cookbook or two), and I reflect on sermons or talks I have heard this year from members of FPC, friends, authors etc.

At Midway’s 2019 baccalaureate service Rex told the class of 2019:

“Far too often, facts are treated as opinions and opinions as if they are facts. This is where your skills are put to the test, discerning the truth. Scripture tells us that truth is a valuable commodity that should be bought. In Proverbs 23:23–25 it says “buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad”. The idea here is that by educating yourself and gaining insight into the reality of truth, you build a foundation for success that is worth more than you could ever imagine. So keep in mind your teachings and continue to gain wisdom so that you can know truth. It is in this truth that you honor all who have spent time educating you, but most of all, your parents and yourselves.”

Very wise words from Rex the Elder…not younger.  This is how I will be approaching my summer reading. I will be very conscious of what I am putting in my mind and ask God to help me remember what fact is and what is opinion to enrich my growth.

At the Westline women’s retreat, Hannah Newkirk spoke and gave us “10 habits to Develop for Spiritual Care”. Here they are: 1. Stop the comparison game, 2. Pray every day (Read Fervent by Priscilla Schrier a game changer for a healthy prayer life), 3. Be present, 4. Make your bed in the morning and do the dishes at night (men put your tools away as well!), 5. BE GRATEFUL (definitely a mood elevator), 6. Don’t assume negative intent, 7. Build a Bible reading habit, 8. Start a one sentence journal, 9. Focus on little changes to attain reasonable goals, and 10. Serve other people intentionally.

It is obvious that we can learn from each other.  We do not get enough of sharing our Picture2lives with each other. This July, we will not have our 10:00 am Small Groups. This will afford all of us a little extra R and R. However, on July 7th, 14th, and  21st, at 10:30 am I will host “Conversation and Donuts”. It will be a half hour gathering where we can share our summer stories, laugh together, cry together, really BE TOGETHER in a very relaxed setting. Come when you can and we will all sit, chat and relax together.

I love you all very much.  Have a blessed summer.

Ilona

 

June 2019 Newsletter

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Dear Friends Pursing Christ,

As I look at our congregation, I see many of our members who grew up in the church. As you grew up you heard Bible stories, memorized verses, learned some hymns and, yes, some contemporary worship songs. That’s a great heritage and something to be very thankful for these days but that is not the norm now. In fact, I would say that is not everyone’s story at FPC.

In 2019, I would say the majority of Americans are not familiar with who Jesus is and what the Bible has to say about being a follower of Christ. If they believe in God at all, it is often fuzzy, and a very generic belief. There is no understanding of a relational God who invites people into a personal relationship with Him. There is not a clear understanding of the difference that Jesus makes for today and for eternity.

In the study, “Making Your Case for Christ”, the authors write, “…People may not know making your caseGod, (but) God still loves them and wants to reach them with his offer of forgiveness through Christ. And whether they be in your school, workplace, your neighborhood, your family, Jesus said to ‘Go and make disciples…teaching them everything that I have commanded you.’ (Matt.28:19-20) To do this effectively, you are going to have to be clear about what you believe and some of the reasons why you can be confident it is true. Put another way, you need to be ready to make your own case for Christ.” (pg.12)

During June and July, we will have opportunities to equip us to become better in sharing our faith and also opportunities to share our faith. In June, a group of members and teens from our youth group will go on a mission trip to Camp Courageous in Monticello, Iowa. At camp we do manual labor to help make the camp more accessible to the campers. Although we are not “preaching” about Jesus to the campers, we are living out our faith. Campers and staff have seen the love of Jesus. They see our joy and our love for them by the way we work and interact with them. They watch us pray. They watch our every move. They desire to hang around us!  Chris, one of the campers decided that the song, I Can Only Imagine, was to be our theme song! Please join us on Sunday, June 23rd to hear about the team’s “Adventure for Jesus!”

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July 16th -18th we will host our “Gone Fishin’” VBS from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. The VBS team has been working on this ministry for months. We already have over 20 people volunteering.  Please keep the team in prayer. On Friday night, July 19th, the Smith’s will host a BBQ for our VBS families and our congregation is encouraged to attend. Phil Needham promised for all who want to fish at the Smith’s a fishing pole will be available.

To equip us, there will be a study offered for teens and adults called, “Making Your Case for Christ”. The study will begin on Friday, June 14th at 7:00 pm. It will help us develop an action plan for sharing what we believe and why we believe it. Later in July, the 26th – 28th, there will be an adult retreat at the 4 Rs Retreat Center at Kinderhook. The cost is $100.00 per person. The study time will be based on Robert Munger’s book, “My Heart, Christ’s Home”. Registration begins on Sunday June 2nd and will close on Sunday June 30th. It will be a time of study, fellowship and some great R and R.

Press on as a congregation to love God and serve others and have a blessed June.

Love in Christ,

Ilona

 

April Newsletter

Dear Friends Pursing Christ,

HumbleHere is a true confession from your pastor. I am feeling overwhelmed. I am sure you know the feeling. Life seems to have me by the tail and whirling me around. What must I do to stop my heart from palpitating and my mind from racing? My response is to go to God’s Word.  FPC’s daily Bible reading for today (Friday) is 1 Peter 5.  Ah what a nugget of truth that I can cling to these days. Let me share it with you: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (6-9).

Thank you Jesus! I pause and I pray. I personalize this text and pray God’s Word back to Him. I pray it not once, twice, but three times. I believe I will reflect on it a lot today. God’s remedy for me always can be found in Scripture. God’s Word is good and trustworthy. Isn’t that what the disciples learned. Jesus

shared with them what was going to happen to Him in His last days on earth. It was filed away in their minds. The angel at the tomb reminded the women that First Day of Resurrection: “Remember how He spoke to you while in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful man and be crucified. And the third day rise again.” (Matt. 24:6-7). God keeps His Word.

As we travel through Holy Week, April 14-21, we will be reminded over and over again Easterthat God’s Word is trustworthy and reliable. God’s Word is Life. God means what He says. Pay attention and heed His Word. The schedule for Holy Week is as follows:

  • Sunday, April 14th – Palm Sunday at 11:00 am “Unraveling the Promises of God”
  • Thursday, April 18th-Maundy Thursday at 7:00 pm “The Journey: From the Table to the Cross”
  • Friday, April 19th at noon until Saturday April 20th at noon – 24-hour Prayer Vigil at FPC
  • Sunday April 21 – The Day of Resurrection “How then Shall we Live?”
    • 6:00 am Sunrise Service at Westline Christian Church
    • 9:30 am Easter Breakfast
    • 10:30 am Easter Egg Hunt for Children
    • 11:00 am Worship Service

I look forward to celebrating the Lord’s Suffering and Resurrection with you.

Love in Christ,

Ilona

February 2019

Dear Friends Pursing Christ

Last month a challenge was set before us to allow God to stretch us in our faith and to demonstrate it by how we use our time, talents, and financial giving. God has given us a vision for God’s House and a desire to reach our community for Him. The questions each of us must answer are: How do I fit into this mission? and What is God prompting me to do?

What are your answers? What commitments and goals did you make? Remember with Christ Jesus all things are possible. We have had time to think. The time has come for action!

On Sunday mornings in worship we have been deepening our understanding of grace. graceGrace is the free unmerited gift that God gives to us through the work of Christ Jesus on the cross. It is not cheap, for it cost God the life of His one and only Son. God’s grace is flowing continually through us. C.S. Lewis said, “Grace is God enabling us to be the people we were meant to be.” Hallelujah!

Let’s take the next step. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who was hanged for his part of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote:

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is the dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship, we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death-we give over our lives to death. Thus, it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us in the beginning with the communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time-death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (99)

Let that soak in. Read it in light of Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Question: What is your next step? Write it down. Commit it to God in prayer. Share it with a person who will hold you accountable.

Love in Christ, Ilona

Here are upcoming events to highlight: 2/2 workday at 10:00 a.m. 2/10 Congregation/Corporation meeting after worship, 2/16 Valentine Dinner at 5:30 (Chili and Dessert cook-off), 2/24 Coin Jar Collection, 3/6 Ash Wednesday service at 6:30 pm

commitment