First Presbyterian Church Blog

Easter Food Baskets

EASTER FOOD BASKETS

Preparations for the Easter Food Baskets are now underway. What better way to celebrate the joy of the Easter season than by sharing compassion in our community? This Deacon ministry enables those in need to celebrate Easter with a special meal for their families.

You can help in one, or all, of three ways:

  • Drop food donations off in the church entryways or Fellowship Hall before or after services through April 2nd. (See insert) 
  • Cash donations will be used to purchase fresh items.
  • Sign up to deliver a basket on April 8 at the Deacon’s table in Fellowship Hall, where you can get your questions answered and find out more details.

 

 



Jericho Unearthed: HS/MS Sunday School, March 5

 
The battle of Jericho is one of the most enduring biblical stores. The description of the “walls falling down” is among its most well-known accounts. Yet for more than fifty years, some scholars have built a wall of doubt against the historical accuracy of the Bible using Jericho as one of its cornerstones. Join the High School/Middle School class as we watch the documentary Jericho Unearthed and return to the site of one of history’s most important battles in order to explore the crucial question relating to Joshua’s conquest: Did the walls of Jericho really come tumbling down? The HS/MS class meets in the Gold Room (South Building) on Sundays at 9:15 am. All High School and Middle School students are invited to come on March 5. As long as there is room, interested parents and other adults are also welcome.
 
 


Tuesday, February 28—For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

“[Jesus] must have been either the prince of impostors or what He really was, the lord of lords, the king of kings, the savior of mankind,” claims William Booth.
 
Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the most powerful man in the world. Augustus’ kingdom was enormous, and he was able to enforce a strict peace (the Pax Romana) within its borders. In many ways, Augustus was the best the world could offer as far as power and glory were concerned. Against this imposing king we see the familiar setting of the nativity—a poor couple away from home and a young woman giving birth in a room occupied by animals. It does not seem very impressive at all; yet the nativity is very much about the competition between two rival kingdoms, one represented by Caesar and the other by a little, wailing baby called Jesus. Where did the real power and glory exist?
 
Augustus caused the known world to be counted in his census; the birth of Jesus caused the angels to sing in the heavens. Augustus altered the course of a young couple’s lives, making them journey to Bethlehem for the birth of their son; the birth of that son altered the course of world history forever. Augustus used the threat of his armies to force a temporary peace amongst men; Jesus used obedience, humility, and suffering to bring about an eternal peace between God and humanity. It was under the authority of another Caesar that Jesus was put to death; that death and His subsequent resurrection made salvation possible for all who call Jesus lord. Augustus and Rome reflected all the glory of the world; Jesus reflected all the glory of the God who made the world.
 
The kingdom that Jesus introduced was and is the dangerous, radical alternative to the powers of this world. By praying this last part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” we are declaring that we pledge our allegiance to the kingdom of God. We also are declaring that we will dedicate our lives to seeing this alternative kingdom become a reality here on earth. It is thus a prayer of mission, a subversive prayer, and a commitment to not simply accepting the kingdoms of this world or their values.
 
It is also a prayer of empowerment. Jesus spoke and acted the way He did because He was the rightful king of kings. We are His children and, therefore, are rightful heirs to the kingdom. We have within us the very Spirit of Jesus, and that is a Spirit of true power, authority, and glory.
 
Finally, this is a prayer of confidence. It is only because God is king that we can pray the rest of the “Lord’s Prayer” with conviction. We pray with boldness because we are praying in the name of the king, the victor over evil, the true light of heaven who outshone the glory of this world with the glory of the cross.
 
Jesus showed us that the world’s understanding of power and glory is flawed. Real power and glory is found in obedience, humility, grace, justice, love, forgiveness, and all the things that characterized His life. This is the power and glory that exists in the kingdom of God.
 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Write a list of things that count for power and glory in this world. Then write the things that count for power and glory in the kingdom of God. Pray that your life and the life of your family, friends, and other Christians will find its identity in the kingdom of God.
  • Read Revelations 5:1-14. Jesus is described here as both a lion and a slain lamb. What images do both of these descriptions bring to your mind? In a small group, discuss what these images tell you about the power and glory of Jesus, and how they can help you in your prayer life.
  • Take some time to reflect on what you have learned about the “Lord’s Prayer.” Give all the praise and the glory for the week of study you have had to God, including your prayers that will be answered in the future.


Monday, February 27—Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

“To cry out to the God of life in the midst of darkness, to hold on to joy while walking in a valley of tears, to keep speaking of peace when sounds of war fill the air—that is what prayer is about. It is indeed clinging to the Lord when all is being torn apart by greed, hatred, violence, and war,” says Henri Nouwen.
 
There is a recurring theme in Jewish thought that says salvation will come out of pain and suffering. An image that often was used for this was childbirth; the pains of giving birth are great, but out of those pains comes new life and new hope. Jesus truly lived out this theme, as His life was characterized by temptation, trials, and suffering. Perhaps the moment of Jesus’ life that best symbolizes all of these things is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prays that He might be spared from the cross. Jesus shrinks momentarily from His duty but does not yield to temptation. He resolves to give Himself over fully to the will of the father. This is obedience staring evil in the face and defying it. It was out of this trial, this temptation, and pain that eternal salvation was brought to the world.
 
So why, if we are trying to imitate Jesus, are we taught to pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’?” When Jesus prayed this prayer, the father refused His request. Jesus was delivered into the hands of the evil one, but that is precisely why we can pray this prayer with confidence; Jesus defeated evil on the cross so that we could be delivered.
 
This does not mean that evil no longer exists or that temptation and times of trial will not occur in our lives. There are generally three wrong ideas we have about evil. The first is to believe that evil does not exist or does not matter. The second is to see only evil in everything and to forget about the good of creation. The third is to become self-righteous and to believe that deliverance will come as a result of our own virtue. The reality is that to pray this prayer is to recognize our own weakness and the danger of sin, but at the same time to know that we have a savior who is strong enough to deliver us. The evil one is powerful and active in this world, and he is opposed to God’s good creation and perfect will, but the victory of Jesus is more powerful and more active. This prayer asks that we would not be tempted more than we could bear and that with the strength of Jesus we would be able to resist evil and pass safely through the testing of our faith.
 
We do have some responsibilities when it comes to this part of the prayer. We need to be disciplined in our attitude toward sin. We should not be seeking out temptation nor should we allow sin to go unchecked in our lives. This is also a prayer for the world. We are asking for the forces of evil to be bound and for the light of God to shine into the darkest places. This is not a request that can be made from a safe distance. Christians need to live and pray right in the place where the world is in deepest pain. In a way, we need to allow the kingdom of God to be birthed in and through us into the sin and brokenness of the world. This requires sacrifice and pain on our parts, but we have the promise that through our trials and because of the victory of Jesus, new hope and new life will be birthed into the world.
 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Read 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 with a partner. Discuss what temptations exist in your life and pray for your partner, family, friends, and others that God would reveal the way out. Discuss some practical ways of avoiding or dealing with temptation and commit to praying for each other and holding each other accountable.
  • Take a walk around your community and look for the strongholds of sin that need prayer. Make a list of them and pray that God’s deliverance would break into them.
  • Reflect on the cross. Praise God for the victory He won over evil through the death of Jesus.


Expedition Bible: New HS/MS Sunday School Class for March

 
On March 5, 12, and 19, the High School/Middle School Sunday School class will be exploring what we can learn about the truths of the Bible from modern archeology and from visiting the Holy Land. On March 5, we will watch Jericho Unearthed, which examines whether archeologists have proven or disproven the Bible’s account of the Battle of Jericho. On March 12, we will watch The Soul Shepherd, which explores what it means for God to be our shepherd by following the lives of Bedouin shepherds tending their sheep in same places Abraham and David watched over their flocks thousands of years ago. Finally, on March 19, we will watch The Jesus Tomb Unmasked, which investigates explosive claims that archeologists have discovered a “bone box” containing the remains of Jesus! ? The HS/MS class meets in the Gold Room (South Building) on Sundays at 9:15 am. All High School and Middle School students are invited. As long as there is room, interested parents and other adults are also welcome.


Breaking the Huddle: New Adult Sunday School Class Starts March 12

 
Beginning March 12, Pastor Eric will be teaching a new adult Sunday School called “Breaking the Huddle.” For the past few years, we have been working hard at becoming an ‘Inside Out’ church. We are striving to be a church that exists for the sake of those who are not already members of our fellowship. We’ve made great strides in this, but we still have a long way to go before we reach our goal of seeing new people regularly come to faith in Jesus through the ministries of First Pres. This class will present a strategic church wide plan for moving from a huddled church, to a witnessing church, to a conversion church. It is based on the book Breaking the Huddle by Everts, Gordon, and Schaupp. Books can be ordered through Amazon or will be available in the church library. The class will meet in South Chapel on Sundays at 9:15 am.


Ash Wednesday Soup Dinner & Service

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE

Wednesday, March 1st                                                                                                                                                                         Soup Dinner at 6:00pm in Fellowship Hall and Service at 7:00pm in the Sanctuary.

Please join with us as we begin our Lenten journey with a worship service of contemplation and reflection. Dinner is $3.00 per person or $10.00 per family .

 



Choral Evensong Service TONIGHT!!!!

CHORAL EVENSONG – “Seeking the One who found us”

TONIGHT at 6:00pm  Sanctuary
PLEASE ENTER IN SILENCE

Evensong has been part of Christian worship since 1549 with roots in the  English monastic tradition of the Middle Ages. The Chancel Singers lead the service which includes sung psalms, hymns, and gospel readings. Evensong is an ecumenical service offered to our community – those who are spiritually curious, the religiously overworked, and all who seek a deeper relationship with God.

Please join us for this contemplative service of spirituality and worship.

 



A Glimpse of Jesus: The Life of Kerry Franzke

FPC member and gifted musician Kerry Franzke went to be with Jesus on January 23rd. At Kerry’s memorial service on Feb. 11, her husband Steve shared the following comments about what he and Kerry learned during their last journey together. You can listen to Kerry and Steve’s ancient Irish melodies and organ music on YouTube.

When I started to prepare for what I was going to say today I decided it was going to be highlights from the 36 years of our marriage. I changed my mind. Instead, I decided to focus on the last 29 days of our marriage because the first 36 years and 28 days pale in comparison to these last 29 days. I don’t know about each of you, but the only way I seem to get to know God more is through trials. I don’t seem to listen much when life is going along just fine. Kerry is the same way. Any past trials she and I went through can’t even compare to these last 29 days of our marriage. I don’t mean it in a negative way. The gifts God gave us: that is, the awareness of His presence, His love for us and His leading us goes far beyond words. But, I’ll try to tell you about it the best I can.
 
The days from December 26th to January 23rd were the most profound days of our lives here on earth. Our love for each other was magnified and became so intense. It was God’s presence and Him pouring His love into our hearts. Again, it goes beyond words.
 
God prepared us for these last 29 days back in 2006-2010. In the past we always had a difficult time studying the bible together—we would argue because of my selfish pride. I always came off as being right. By 2006 our marriage was close to ending. I couldn’t stand it anymore and neither could Kerry. One night I asked God to do something, anything. I was desperate. The next morning Kerry said she wanted to study the Bible with me. I said OK! Things between us began to change. That was the beginning of us delving into scripture in a new and deeper way. We discovered an expository preacher from the past, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. There are several books of his sermons in print and we devoured many of them over several years. His book on biblical doctrine prepared us for these last 29 days of our marriage. We gained a very real assurance of our salvation and a deeper understanding of God’s purpose for us. We were no longer afraid of death. We both started encouraging other Christians about assurance and God’s purpose.
 
Back to the beginning of our journey; on December 26th we went to the emergency room at Tacoma General Hospital. It became a 6 hour ordeal and they finally did a scan and found a very large mass at the head of Kerry’s pancreas. Outwardly we looked pretty calm. But on the inside we both knew death and life in heaven were more real than ever before. We were left alone while they prepared to admit her to Tacoma General Hospital. We prayed and talked about it. I remember two things she said. “Let’s look at this as an adventure” and “it’s win, win for me. God will either heal me or take me home to heaven.” That night the reality of God’s presence became very intense for both of us and continued to grow throughout the next 28 days as we praised and worshipped Him and prayed a lot every day. She stayed at TG for 4 days while they got tissue samples and unblocked a bile duct. She was home for the next 18 days before being admitted to the hospital a second time.
 

 
I’d like to talk a little bit about her music. God’s love for us and our love for each other was reflected in the music she wrote, published and recorded. Not until after she passed did I realize she wrote those pieces for me. Even though she told me over and over “I wrote this piece for you,” it didn’t really sink in until after she was in heaven. While she was home between the two hospital stays I saw her sit down at the piano only twice. Each time she stared at the keys and then the manuscripts of the two pieces she was working on and then she would get up and go back to her bedroom. I didn’t say anything until a few days later. As we talked about it, it became very clear that we shared the same conclusion. She expressed it perfectly. She said “our music is a chapter that God has closed.” I also lost a desire for music. We both had no regrets or bad feelings about it ending. We thanked God for the years we had together working on her beautiful songs. After her passing I realized through the years of her composing and us recording, I never even considered it all might come to an end. It was such a tremendous gift from God.
 
During her second stay in the hospital she was getting weaker by the day and her confusion was getting worse. Her body was failing. In a moment of clarity she told me she wanted to go home and be with Jesus. She asked why can’t I go now? I encouraged her that God’s timing would be perfect. I kissed her and told her I loved her very much. That night I told God I had seen enough. I pleaded with Him to take her home. I told Him it was very hard to see the results of the Fall of Mankind in the body and mind of my dear wife. Thursday, the next day we started the hospice path. I requested that all but pain meds be stopped, but the amazing thing was she only asked for pain medication twice in the 4 days of her hospital stay. God was protecting her from pain. I was advised by the doctor who was responsible for her daily care to wait until Friday to stop everything so there was no chance she would be discharged early and I wouldn’t be ready for her to come home. That night instead of pleading with God to take her I listened and waited. In His way God made me very aware that I was only looking at her flesh; that is—her mind and body and not her spirit. At that moment thoughts flooded my mind of her interactions with everyone: hospital staff, friends, and me. She was so appreciative of everything everyone did for her—the little things. She never complained about anything to me. Her countenance showed brightly the face of Jesus. From that moment on she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I thanked God for that glimpse of Jesus in my wife.
 
We prayed daily for God to heal Kerry in a miraculous way and we also prayed He would take her to heaven. We prayed these two petitions the entire time. It didn’t seem wrong at all to pray both of these things. It was very clear to me God was leading us where He wanted us to go.
 
She came home Saturday morning. We didn’t listen to music throughout this entire time until the afternoon before she went to heaven. That Sunday afternoon I played her 64 compositions for her very quietly in her room. After about 4 hours she told me that was enough and in a moment of clarity she said “Let me go, I want to go home.” I said “OK.” She slept and I checked on her often. At about 4 am I was notified by email we sold one of her compositions at an online sheet music store. It was an organ piece she arranged from a Telemann orchestral piece. It was the first organ piece we sold. At about 8:25 that morning her breathing became more relaxed until 8:30 when she breathed her last breath. I kissed her and got on my knees and praised and thanked God for taking her home in such a gentle way. I continue to thank Him on my knees every day. The name of that piece of music that sold 4 hours earlier is called “Rejoice.” I believe God was telling me to rejoice at the fact Kerry is now with Him in heaven.
 
There are many things God did through this time that I haven’t talked about that made it very clear to Kerry and me, and others that He is sovereign in all things. Through this trial He has been so kind to Kerry and to me. The longer I’ve been a Christian the more I can’t wrap my head around how loving He is. His love is beyond measure.
 
If I didn’t have a relationship with God in Jesus all I would have been able to talk about are fond memories of the life Kerry and I had together. I don’t think these fond memories would sustain me from this moment on. All they would do is remind me she is no longer with me. That would be very sad.
 
So, I ask each you. If you were in my shoes could you rejoice at the fact your loved one is in Heaven with Jesus, or not? Or if you were in Kerry’s shoes would you be able to say “I want to go home and be with Jesus, why can’t I go now?”
 

Some of you know Kerry never wanted to be the center of attention. I think that’s why she didn’t want a memorial service. I’m glad Eric convinced her that it would be the right thing to do. She agreed with one stipulation: The good news about Jesus Christ must be preached. So, from now until Eric preaches that good news about Jesus think hard about what I’ve said.



Friday, February 24—And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

“It is impossible to lift our enemies up in the presence of God and at the same time continue to hate them,” wrote Henri Nouwen.
 
The scariest words in this prayer are “as we.” We understand that God wants to forgive us our sins; He showed that by sending His son to die for us. We also can come to grips with the idea that we are supposed to forgive others—as hard as that may be. Things get serious, though, when we add the words “as we.” In this prayer, we are asking, for God to forgive us in exactly the same way as we forgive those who wrong us. The gospel of Matthew puts this in stronger terms; “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
 
Jesus wasn’t setting up a merit system here; there is no way our forgiveness of others could ever earn the forgiveness of God for our sins. It is only by the grace of God that we can ever be forgiven. What Jesus was doing was setting up a culture or paradigm of forgiveness. His followers would forgive others because it was the righteous thing to do and because they had seen this modeled by God Himself. Forgiving sins is an essential part of what it means to be a child in the kingdom of God. If you refuse to forgive others, how can you claim to be a follower of the forgiver-God? It is the equivalent of saying, “I don’t believe in the kingdom of God.” When the world sees that men, who are sinful, can forgive each other, then people can know that God, who is infinitely merciful and graceful, can certainly forgive them, too.
 
Unfortunately, we live in a world that has rejected the idea of sin and, therefore, perceives no need for forgiveness. Our world has raised up the concept of tolerance in place of forgiveness and is satisfied if we merely put up with each other; however, tolerance is at best a weak parody of forgiveness. The father in the story of the prodigal son didn’t tolerate his son; he ran to forgive him. Sin does exist, and we need the forgiveness of God. We don’t want to be simply tolerated, settling for second best.
 
Forgiveness is shocking, it is dangerous, and it makes people angry. This was a major part of Jesus’ kingdom announcement. He claimed to be able to forgive sins—something only the temple was supposed to do. Then He called His followers to live out that same model of radical forgiveness and to implement the victory of the cross in a sinful world. We are expected to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness, to offer our forgiveness freely and repeatedly to others, and to stand in the pain and sin of the world and plead for its forgiveness from God as well. It is our birthright as children of God to breathe in His divine forgiveness, and it is our responsibility to breathe it out onto a broken world.

 

Study and Prayer Suggestions

  • Make a list of people you need to forgive or from who you need to ask forgiveness. Pray for all the people on the list, seeking the Holy Spirit to fill you and others with forgiveness. Keep the list until you have asked for forgiveness and felt God’s power of reconciliation in your life.
  • Find some newspaper or website articles that describe incidents in the world that require forgiveness. Pray that forgiveness would be brought into the pain, sin, and brokenness of these situations.



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