May 2020 Newsletter

Dear Friends Pursuing Christ,

Mark your calendars, May 10th (yes that is Mother’s Day 2020) for Worship in the Park. Worship in the Park with Blend | First Christian ChurchWe will gather at Jacob Carver Memorial Park at 11:00 am to worship God and to celebrate the Church out of quarantine. Bring a chair and if so desired, a face mask. We will have some on hand as well. Let us give thanks to God for His Redeeming love, His faithfulness, for this time of equipping for ministry. God is in control. For members who might not feel comfortable being around people you can view the recorded service that will be posted after worship on our YouTube channel and Facebook page. Following worship, we will have donuts, coffee, juice and some friendly “socially distanced” fellowship. I am so looking forward to seeing you. I will bring name tags (hahaha). I love you and long to see you.

Last week in worship we studied John 21:1-13. The disciples were out fishing all night with not a fish caught. Jesus calls out to them, “Friends have you caught anything?” Their response was “NO.” Jesus tells them to move their net to the other side and wow!!!!! The net fills with so many fish it almost rips! That is how it is with Jesus. When we try to do ministry on OUR own it bears little fruit (fish in this case). When we go with Jesus under his direction…oh my, oh my. The thrill of adventure. The promise Jesus tells us in John 15 is if we stay connected to Him, we will bear much fruit.

The two articles I read last week on character traits of fisherman, one by Justin Hoffman, the other by Jeff Buck, are worth reviewing as we emerge from our quarantine. So here they are: Be Determined – Stay focused, Humor (don’t take yourself so seriously. Enjoy God’s call on your life. Rejoice! – My commentary), Be Adventurous (life is always a thrilling adventure with Jesus!), Educate yourself, Be patient, Be honest (authentic – no fish tales), Be satisfied (Give thanks God is using you. Rest and relax in His leading), Be observant of your surroundings and the weather, Be adaptable. God has and is equipping us to be fishers of men, women, teens, children, young and old, rich and poor, employed and unemployed, friends, neighbors, coworkers, people who are like us, and people who are different from us.

At the time of this Bible catch there were a recognizable 153 species of fish…there are many more species detected today. In essence Jesus was demonstrating the diversity of the catch. Go catch everyone for Jesus. Remember we do not convert people, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility and privilege is to share the Good News about Jesus, plant some seeds, and then help to disciple people in their faith. More to come on the role we play on Sunday May 3rd at 11:00 am on Facebook live.

So, enjoy your weekend. This month of May is our break-out month. Come and see what the Lord has done…and let us keep watchful on what He is doing.

Lamentations 3:22-26 CEV says:

The Lord’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The Lord can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. Deep in my heart I say, “The Lord is all I need; I can depend on him!” The Lord is kind to everyone who trusts and obeys him. It is good to wait patiently for the Lord to save us.

Love and prayers in Jesus,

Ilona

 

April 2020

Dear FPC Family,

Sunday begins Holy Week as we celebrate Palm Sunday. Picture1Please join us on Facebook Live at 11:00 am.  We will worship together, study together and pray together. I eagerly await the day we can meet in person.

This week our schedule is as follows:

  • M, W, F – Call to Prayer @ 7:00 pm via Facebook live
  • Tuesday night study via Zoom: Revelation at 6:30 pm
  • Maundy Thursday at 6:30 pm via Facebook Live. We will have a service that will include Communion…make sure you have some juice/wine available.

Following the Worship Service, we will have a prayer vigil. The Vigil will run from 7:30 pm Thursday through to 3:00 pm Friday. I will be asking people to sign up for a time and will place schedule in our Facebook Messenger group chat. Please let me know a time you can pray. If I don’t hear from you, you will hear from Bev or myself. If you want some socially distanced space, you can use the sanctuary. If you don’t have a key ask Rex, David, or Keith for code. On Friday I will sent out an hourly prayer reading for Thursday evening through Saturday.

On April 15, Easter Sunday, we will worship at 11:00 am via Facebook Live. Be prepared to have an Easter Awakening.

Clorisa shared a great activity we can do as a congregation. Many Christians are placing Red Ribbons on their front porches, trees, etc. It is a symbolic recognition that we belong to Christ. Remember that when the Israelites were delivered from their bondage in Egypt, they were told to put the blood of a spotless lamb over their doorposts. Every home that did so was spared the death of their first born (Exodus 12). As Christians the Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, has delivered us from death and given us LIFE in the fullest sense of that word.

“You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb.”        1 Peter 1:19 CEV

As those who belong to Christ, let us celebrate our deliverance and assume to the fullest the sharing of the Gospel message and being prayer intercessors.

So, until we meet face to face, know that I pray for you daily. If you have a need please let it be known to me or one of your Elders (Rex, Jill, Shelley, David, Keith) or Deacons (Rod, Amanda, Elaine).

Remember – “The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. Now hurry! Tell his disciples he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. This is what I came to tell you.”
Matthew 28:5-7 CEV

He is risen!

Love in Christ,

Ilona

P.S. Make sure to check out the calendar for a full list of April events.

March 2020

Dear FPCers,

We are in the Season of Lent. We are preparing for that glorious Sunday, Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and all the blessings that we receive from His triumphant act of love. Many people sacrifice something such as sweets, TV, Social Media during these six weeks. But this year I would like to encourage you to stretch your faith muscle during this time. First, I am going to ask that you join us in a concert of prayer for our congregation. Below you will find a daily prayer list for a different person/family in our church. Please lift them up in prayer. Perhaps you can send a card, make a telephone call, or message them on Facebook on their special day. When we pray for one another we grow closer to one another.

Second, take some time each day to read the FPC daily reading or join others in a daily Bible devotion. David Bridgers has invited people on Facebook to join in a daily Bible reading called, “In Pursuit of Jesus” (Bible.com).  Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 11.50.20 AMThere are also free devotionals on the Bible app. I have also placed different devotional readings for Lent on the table in the sanctuary. If you say, “My day is so busy”, “I don’t know how I can fit it in”, “Please no, not one more thing to do”, let me challenge you to get up 5 minutes earlier. I promise you the more you stretch the more you will be blessed. Remember, it is only for six weeks.

Lastly, during the 1st three Fridays in March (6th, 13th, 20th), I will be leading a small group on a study called the “Invisible War”. The subtitle is “What Every Believer needs to know about Satan, Demons and Spiritual Warfare”. My resources for this study are the Bible (Ephesians in particular), C.S. Lewis, Chip Ingram and Martyn Lloyd Jones. We will meet at 6:30 pm and will end by 8:00 pm. The time will be divided into three segments: teaching, discussion and prayer.

Love and prayers in Jesus,

Ilona

Deacon and Trek Collection for the Month or March: Granola bars (100), Applesauce cups (100), Deli meat (ham or turkey), Sandwich bread (12 loaves), Sliced Cheese (100 slices), Chips or Cheese crackers (100 individual servings).  We will collect this beginning Sunday, January 20 and continue through February.

Daily prayers for: Carole and George Gurnett, Malachi, Michael (Pam’s Cousin) Marsha (Jessica’s mom-Breast Cancer) Amy (Lynette’s Daughter), Emmet, Nate, Brian.

 

Capture

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