October 2020 Newsletter

I began the September Newsletter with these words: “Can you say this with David, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.” The NCV translation states it plainly, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.” Do you believe that? Are they more than words? Is that your attitude in life or are you always satisfied? Are you yearning for more?

Those words have haunted me. I have recited, prayed, and meditated on the 23rd Psalm. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is “My all in all”. How well lived is this text in my life? 

When times are good is my first reaction as I wake in the morning to revel in Him? In those tough times do I go to Him first or do I seek counsel of others and then eventually meander my way to Him? Life with the Lord is a journey, an adventure. As I reflect on my life, I find that I seek Him more all the time in good seasons and in seasons of struggle and hardship. I know that I want more of Him in my life. Bob Sorge’s Book has been a tool that has helped me grow in my life with Jesus. He reminds of the basics of life with Jesus and pulls me deeper into that loving and intimate relationship with Him. Sorge writes: God feels more deeply and passionately about me than I do about Him.  Even when my passions are burning hot and bright for Him, they do not approach His intensity and love for me (p. 108). WOW! So true, So true. Amen and Amen. When I accept that truth of the 23rd Psalm takes on a richer meaning. I understand the depth of God’s provisions.

God is called the “Provider” in scripture. He is also the one who Prepares us for each moment of our day. He is ever present in our lives. He prepares us for our daily living and for life eternal. 

As I have mentioned in worship, I believe God is preparing His Church for some tough times of persecution. He has called the Church to follow Him and then to be leaders in our communities, country, our world. We are called to be faithful witnesses and to led people around us in tough times. In October and November, we will be studying in worship both of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. God is speaking afresh to us as He did to them. Be prepared. Be a people of prayer. Be a people of Hope. Be a persistent people pursuing Jesus. Be faithful worshippers of Jesus!                        

My love and prayers continue for all of you, Ilona

Prayer Requests Friends fighting COVID: Connie and Husband, Abby, Dick Getty, Friends fighting cancer: Lois, Dr. Polly, Amy, AJ, Tom, David (Amanda’s Uncle), General Healing Requests: Linda Sickles (back), Carole (Elaine’s sister), Loretta B (recovering from surgery, healing, freedom from pain), Tucker (custody battle), Casey (brother of David B), Jason Woodfin (Lynette’s son), Todd and Pru (Missionaries), Prayers for our country: President/Administration/Election, Supreme Court Nomination, Senators, House of Reps, Governor Parsons, Students, Teachers, Military, Police, Churches (faithful witness), Salvation of those far from God    

Small Groups: Sundays at 10:00 am (all ages) Thursdays at 7:00 pm (See Jill Smith for information) Fridays at 10:00 am or 6:30 pm new study begins on Oct. 16 – Moving Mountains – Praying with Passion, Confidence and Authority. This is an 8-week DVD series on prayer led by John Eldredge. Some of the prayer topics for study are prayers of intervention, consecration, healing, listening, and warfare. We will discuss unanswered prayers. The study will be divided into four segments: DVD study, discussion, prayer, and fellowship!

Sept 25-26, 2020 Prayer Vigil

Dear FPCers and Friends,

On Friday, September 25th at noon we will gather at the church for a 24-hour Prayer Vigil in concert with Franklin Graham’s “Prayer March 2020” which will take place in Washington DC on Saturday, September 26th. This vigil will be a bit different than past vigils. There will be times provided for us to gather as a worshiping community at different hours of the day with specific purposes. We will have a communion and healing service, a midnight concert of prayer, early morning prayers of praise, followed by prayers for our country and the march. At noon on Saturday we will close with songs and prayers. During the vigil we would like members to take a time to pray for our country, community, and church. We would like you to join us in the sanctuary but if you cannot you can spend an hour in prayer at home. Here is the corporate worship schedule for the Prayer March Vigil 2020:

Friday September 25th

  • Noon – Prayers, Communion, and Healing Service
  • 6:00 pm – Worship in songs, Prayer, and Teaching followed by a prayer caravan

Saturday September 26th

  • Midnight – A Concert of Prayer
  • 6:00 am – Call to Prayer: Praying for our country and for the Prayer March
  • 11:30 am – Closing Prayer and Worship

The sanctuary will be open for prayer from noon on Friday until 12:30 pm on Saturday. If you are interested in participating in the prayer caravan, please let me know so we can plan the routes as we pray through our communities.

I look forward to traveling with you in this prayer vigil.

Love in Christ,

Ilona

“What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen for his own.” Ps. 33:12

September 2020 Newsletter

Can you say this with David, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.”? The NCV translation states it plainly, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.”  Do you believe that? Are they more than words? Is that your attitude in life? Or are you always satisfied? Or are you yearning for more? Do you desire more in your relationship with Jesus? Can you say, “I have everything I need because I have Jesus. In Christ all my needs are met. The Apostle Paul in writing to the Philippians said, “I have learned to be to be satisfied with the things that I have and everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4: 11-13). This is a powerful confession from Paul. Christ had become his all and all. This is a faith of sufficiency, a life without lack.

Are you yearning for a faith like Paul’s, or David, or Mary, or Martha’s? Is there a Christian man or woman that you see and say I wish my faith could be like?  Dallas Willard in his book, Life Without Lack, writes “Seek the Lord and wait for Him to show up. Set aside time to devote yourself to prayer and other spiritual disciplines that will strengthen your faith and prepare you to receive from Him. Listen for God when you pray. Watch for Him and wait on Him throughout the day. If you want to have a deeper, more trusting faith, seek God and be prepared to go with Him. He will bring you into a faith of sufficiency as He reveals Himself uniquely to you.”

Starting September 1st and going through October 22nd, you are invited to be a part of a daily devotional reading from a book called Secrets of the Secret Place. Each family in the church will receive this book. Every day in our Facebook Messenger group (Church News Articles) I will post daily questions and thoughts to follow our readings. I hope that you will contribute to the conversation. If you prefer an email let me know. The sermon series for September and October will complement our readings.  Each chapter is short but quite thought provoking. Read it by yourself, as a family, or invite a friend to read it with you even if you need to read it together over the phone. I believe this journey will strengthen and deepen your faith and bring you into a “life without lack.” Eager to begin this journey with you.  

Love in Christ, Ilona

August 2020 Newsletter

HOPE AND HAPPINESS

Hope is what we need right now in our country, in a world that seems out of control.  Joni Eareckson Tada writes: “The best we can hope for in this life is a knothole peek at the shining realities ahead.  Yet a glimpse is enough.  It is enough to convince our hearts that whatever sufferings and sorrows currently assail us aren’t worthy of comparison to that which waits over the horizon.”  RC Sproul writes: “Hope is called the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19) because it gives stability to the Christian life.  But hope is not simply a “wish” (I wish that such and such would take place). Rather it latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made.”

During worship in August, we are going to look at what God says to us about hope as we discover relationships Jesus had with people. These people had their lives changed for the good. They went from despair to hope, from being alone to friendship and family. They received a new identity.  Their lives were transformed.

During the next few weeks, I would like to challenge you to do your own study on hope. I have made a list of Scriptures to meditate on for the next month.  They will be an encouragement to you.  Take time to read, reflect and write them out as you read them.  It is another way to help you to ponder God’s words. There are Scripture Sheets available at the church for you for your writings, and meditations. Enjoy the readings.  I will post on messaging the Scriptures and quotes from other Christians concerning hope. 

Love in Christ, Ilona

REFLECTION SCRIPTURES: July 27: Romans 15:13, July 28:1 Peter 1:3, July 29: Romans 12:12, July 30: Psalm 71:14, July 31: Lamentations 3:19-22, Aug. 1: Psalm 34:18, Aug. 2: Romans 5:3-5, August 3: Psalm 119:18, Aug.4: Psalm 119:166, Aug. 5: Romans 15:4, Aug. 6: Colossians 1:4-5, Aug. 7: Psalm 119: 147, Aug. 8: Acts 2: 25-26, Aug. 9: 1 Cor. 15:19-20, Aug.10: Titus 2:13, Aug.11: Psalm 65:5, Aug.12: James 2:16, Aug.13: Ps. 22:26, Aug.14: Ps. 119:147, Aug.15: 1 Thess. 2:19, Aug. 16: Titus 3:7, August 17: Hebrews 10:23, August 18: 1 Peter 1:13, August 19: 1 Peter 3:15, August 20: Ephesians 1:18 Aug. 21: Colossians 1:27, Aug.22: 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Aug.23: Psalm 42:1

Announcements:

FPC Farmers Market: Sundays from 10:00 am – 11:00 am. If you have produce to spare bring it to the church. We are sharing our bounty with our neighbors.  See David Bridgers for more information and how you can help.

Friday Small Groups: Starting Friday, August 14 at 10:00 am or 7:00 pm, “How Happiness Happens”. This is a six week dvd series by Max Lucado.  Come find out the secret to lasting JOY in a world of comparison, disappointment, and unmet expectations.

Sunday Small Groups for all ages at 10:00 am, Worship at 11:00 am

August 16th at 12:00 pm, Covered Dish Dinner with Dessert Bake off Contest. Desserts will be judged on taste, creativity and clever name.

Prayer Requests: Lois (chemo Tuesday), Amy (recovering from surgery),AJ (Shrinkage of tumors, wisdom for him and parents regarding treatment), Maddison, Zach and Matt, Amanda’s Step Father (ICU blood pressure issues), hew (baby), Carole (Elaine’s sister), Loretta B (recovering from surgery, healing, freedom from pain), Todd and Pru (Missionaries)

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