Weekly update from the 48 year old

That’s right – another birthday – another year of blessings – two years away from the big 50 – can this really be me? Don’t mistake this for a mid life crisis or unstable emotional state, but I’m wrestling with this reality – and I’m not sure I like the ramifications. I can feel it in my body, especially after a 41 mile bike ride. I get asked if I can receive senior discounts (and by the way, from now on, I’m taking every one of them). The big C word – you know the one that starts with colon and ends with an “osopy” – two years away. My daughter will graduate from college next May. My son will graduate from HS next May. Marla and I will be very close to an empty nest as birthday #49 rolls in next summer – that actually has a nice ring to it.

So what’s the point of this Monday morning whine? I’m glad you asked – because here is what birthday #48 brought to mind on my Sunday afternoon bike ride:

  • I don’t spend enough time counting my blessings and I’m going to do better! We used to sing that hymn regularly – “count your many blessings name them one by one” – and I’m going old school this year and singing that hymn in my heart and my life! I would challenge you to do the same thing.
  • I spend too much time “doing” and not enough time “being” – and I’m going to do better! If you were in church Sunday, you know what I mean by this, but I’m making a commitment to put first things first in my life this year – and I would challenge you to do the same thing. Every day in God’s word is a non-negotiable! Regular time doing the Mark 1 thing – Silence, Solitude and Prayer – just like Jesus.
  • I allow too much negativity to impact my heart and impact my soul – and I’m going to do better! I could write for a week on this but I’ll simply say this – negativity crushes the spirit and I can and will do better – will you join me?

Several quick updates and reminders:

  • TOMORROW MORNING – RELOAD for Men at 6am in the Family Life Center (note the new location) – Dr. Tim Wenthe will be leading our study – Men, be there!
  • TOMORROW evening from 6-8pm – FEED is cooking (formerly Proverbs 31) and YOU are invited to join them!
  • Father/Son cookout at Weldon Springs this Saturday from 5-7pm – you need a ticket but there is no charge for the gathering – contact Joyce Mathias or call the office for more information.
  • Coffee at the Crossing Game night – Sunday night July 30 from 6:30 – 8pm – come on out, I can’t wait!
  • Connections event for ALL at Little Galilee on Sunday August 13 from 5-8pm – Pool, Zip Line (from 5-7pm) and great fellowship! BYOF – bring your own food.
  • MOBILE Food Pantry – hosted by FCC -held at the American Legion – Saturday August 19 – help needed from 9am-noon.
  • Block Party – Sunday August 27 from 5-7pm

Have a great week – looking forward to week 3 of our Just Like Jesus series on Sunday as we look at Identity – Who are You?

blessings,

GT

Mid-summer thoughts on a peaceful Monday morning

Right now – 6:25am – my context is just about perfect: on my deck on a somewhat cool, peaceful Monday morning with a cup of hot coffee and several thoughts rolling through my mind! Hope you are having a great summer – I can’t believe how quick summer 2017 is flying by! Let me share several thoughts this morning:

  • I am truly excited about the opportunity to share with FCC a series of messages I began to outline in late April following my Spiritual Formation retreat in Tennessee. On that last Thursday in April, the plan was to spend the day hiking but God had other plans – the weather simply didn’t cooperate so instead, I spent a couple of hours at a couple of coffee shops in northern North Carolina and began to sketch out what I wanted to share. Yesterday we looked at the Blessed life and specifically the challenges we face due to the duplicity of our hearts – even the man after God’s own heart struggled . . . and failed. This week we are going to look at Jesus and how He was able to sustain balance in his life – I really hope you will be at church this week!
  • Several exciting events are happening in the next couple of weeks – I plan to be apart of all of them and hope you will join me!
    • The VAULT teen fair this FRIDAY from 5-9pm – so excited to see the dream and vision of our own Michelle Witzke becoming a reality right before our eyes!
    • CLINTON Cares – this Saturday on the square – continued support for the ongoing Opiate crisis in our country and specifically in DeWitt county.
    • Montgomery family celebration at Texas CC this Saturday from 2-4pm – let’s honor and celebrate Dixie Montgomery for her 80th birthday, her 60th wedding anniversary and her 60th year of playing the organ!
    • Father/Son cookout at Weldon Springs – Saturday July 29 from 5-7pm – get your ticket Sunday!
    • Coffee at the Crossing game night on Sunday night July 30 from 6:30-8pm!!!
  • I am really thankful for longtime Christian leaders who have left their mark with me in one way or another – I’m thinking of three this morning:
    • Jeff Higginson – longtime area YM and staff member at Inner City Mission in Springfield – passed away last Monday at the much too young age of 58. I will really miss Jeff’s smile, the joy he brought to life, his incredible love for all things Chicago Cubs (if you think I’m bad, you have no idea), and most importantly, his lifelong desire to serve Jesus whenever and however possible. Thanks Jeff for making a difference for Jesus!
    • Dan Clymer – Dan married Marla and I and we were blessed to study w/ him at LCC during our college years. Dan had a vision for New England – the least churched region in our country and Restoration House Ministries was birthed in 1996 and consider the impact of the past 20 plus years: on Easter Sunday 1996, about 1,000 people were in worship in a handful of independent Christian Churches in the six NE states. This past Easter, over 16,000 gather to worship in many more independent Christian Churches through New England. Dan is retiring shortly, but his vision and impact will live on through the various churches planted in the past 21 years! Thanks Dan and Linda for making a difference for Jesus!
    • Maxine Seggelke – from missionary in Korea to print shop visionary at LBI and LCC to lover of all things mission related, the world is a better place because of the Joe and Maxine Seggelke’s of the world! Joe passed away in 2013 and Maxine went to be with Jesus last night. I had the blessing – and it was a blessing – to pray with Maxine, along with Tom and Bud and Bonnie on Thursday morning at the Lincoln hospital – there is something both special and sacred and a life long Christian servant asking Jesus to take her home! Thanks Maxine for making a difference for Jesus!
  • Several other reminders:
    • Block Party is just around the corner! Sunday August 27 – who are you inviting?
    • Family Camp at LGCC Labor day weekend – Michael Mallick is dean.
    • Sabbath End begins Sunday September 10 at 5pm – check out the K next month for more info.
    • Fan the Flame at ISU featuring Michael W Smith – Saturday September 23!
    • Multiple Church sermon series September 10 – October 1 with 20 churches from the Decatur area – who is willing to take a yard sign and promote?
    • One service Sunday on September 24 at 9:30am!

Have a great week – see you Sunday!

GT

 

 

 

 

 

Busy summer churns on!

What a great week of camp we experienced last week at LGCA – Junior Main 2! We typically have well over 100 campers (2016 was 129), but this year only 63 campers signed up for our week – the 4th of July holiday was smack dab in the middle of it. And yet, it was a great week in so many ways – here are several shout outs:

  • Great job Allison Hitchings – serving at Dean for the first time – very well organized and very few hiccups along the way!
  • Great job and thank you to several Clinton FCCers who gave up their week to serve: Cassandra Benton, Bret Hitchings, Marla Taylor, Samuel and MyKenzie Green, Jordan Taylor, Lexi Lea, along w/ several HS students who really made a difference in the lives of the campers!
  • Thanks and great job to several from nearby Jefferson St CC in Lincoln – Michael and Beth Mallick, Thomas Welte and three HS students – couldn’t have pulled it off w/out you!
  • Highlight of the week? Seeing 15 campers make the decision to accept Jesus and be baptized – 12 of the baptisms were at 2pm Friday at the pool, including FCCers Addy Koritz and Brenna Hitchings!
  • Something new this year – because of YOUR generosity, each camper was given a Bible and an incredible Bible study tool for use the rest of their lives – thanks FCC for your generosity (special offering on May 28)!
  • Thanks to the LGCA staff – Ken, Max, Bob, Kevin, Bev and the summer staff were great!
  • Still not too late for YOU to get your children and grandchildren signed up for camp – FCC will pay half-tuition! Make it happen!

Several dates/events to keep in mind:

  • RELOAD for Men – Tuesday July 11 at 6am at the Cable Building!
  • Wednesday July 12 – 6pm Bible workshop for parents of children led by Allison and Cassandra!
  • Casas por Cristo Men’s mission trip – Aug 5-12 – 16 are confirmed – room for 4-5 more – money is almost raised to build the second house – see Ryan Sosaman or Gage Lyons for more info!
  • Father/Son cookout at Weldon Springs – Saturday July 29 – 5-7pm – you need a ticket – this event is led by Joyce Mathias, Joyce Trummel and Mary Holland.
  • Ladies – BSF is coming to Clinton this fall on Tuesday evenings at FCC – an open house will happen in the Family Life center on Tuesday August 8 at 6:30pm.
  • New to FCC this fall – SABBATH REST – a weekly gathering on Sunday evening from 5-6:30pm for a time of worship, Biblical encouragement and prayer – more info to follow – launches on September 10.

PRAYER – please be active in your prayer life w/ several prayer requests:

  • Please pray for Kent Hickerson as he recovers at home from major back surgery – thanks to his daughter Jill for staying w/ him during his recovery!
  • Please pray for Ruth Harvey as she recovers in Springfield from brain surgery.
  • Please pray for Morgan (Witzke) and Ryder Mills as they begin a new ministry in the Kansas City area with Christ Church this week!
  • Please pray for Levi Kaufmann from our church as he leaves for the Marines this week!

Finally – an update from Mark Behrends about what is happening w/ Next Steps and both the benevolence and student ministries:

The Next Step’s building renovation program was launched in May of 2013 to better protect our children, attract new people to our church, and to enhance our ministries. Through God’s provision and your sacrificial over and above giving to the Next Steps program FCC has to date been able complete over $2.5 million worth of remodeling and facility upgrade projects debt free.

In the past four years much has been accomplished. Most noticeably are the new and inviting ministry spaces. In addition to these renovated spaces there have been upgrades made to many of the mechanical and electrical systems to make our building more energy efficient. There have been upgrades in the technology, security systems, fire safety, and several major maintenance items have been addressed including flat roof replacement, bell tower restoration and repair of water intrusion issues.

Even with all that has been accomplished there is still more to be done. Work will start immediately on Step 3 moving the food pantry and benevolence ministry to the Cable building while creating an inviting, vibrant and exciting space for student ministry in the lower level of our main building. Please look for volunteer opportunities as this project progresses. Much of the moving necessary by shifting ministry locations will be done by volunteers as well as minor demolition. Skilled trades will be assigned to local contractors. The target completion date for this step will be Labor Day 2017.

If you have questions, please contact myself, Mark Behrends or Dana Kornemann.

blessings

GT

 

 

Camp week 2017 is rolling!

I love camp. I really love Little Galilee Christian Camp. And on top of that, I have an extra special love for Junior Main camp at Little Galilee! It takes me back to 1999, when I was just getting started in my role in the Admissions Office at Lincoln Christian College and I received a phone call that would change one week of my summer for what has turned out to be the rest of my life. My friend Ernie Harvey the dean of a Junior Main camp – I’m pretty sure during the month of August – and he needed an evening preacher. I said yes and I’m pretty sure this is summer #19 serving as either preacher or dean, or both, for a week of Junior Main camp.

Thankfully, we now have a dean who is much more creative than me – Allison Hitchings has a great week of camp and we are rolling! The faculty still leans heavily on Clinton FCC, from ministry staff like Cassandra Benton and Samuel Green, to cabin moms and dads like MyKenzie Green, Jordan Taylor, Marla Taylor and Brett Hitchings and a ton of teens as well. Jefferson Street CC in Lincoln has become a good faculty partner as well, with morning preacher Michael Mallick and cabin parents Beth Mallick and Thomas Welte, along with some High School students from JSCC as well. And one of FCC’s mission partners – Jacob Vangen from Rhode Island – is our camp missionary this week.

So – here are five facts, challenges and prayer points for you to consider and adopt:

#1 – 85% of people who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior do it before the age of 18, and 85% of them do it before the age of 14 – and we are spending the week with dozens of campers who are under the age of 14! Most important – will you PRAY for many Jesus decisions this week? We will be doing a baptism service at the pool at Little Galilee at 2pm on Friday, the absolute highlight of our week!

#2 – I love how high school students serving at camp end up growing in their faith and seeing new avenues of service to the Lord – will you pray for our younger faculty this week? I remember when MyKenzie and Jordan and Hannah Hills and Ben Dial and Morgan Mills and Gabby Mallick were HS faculty – it is really cool to see what God is doing in their lives today! I’m excited about the next generation and how God will use them!

#3 – PRAY for Little Galilee – one of God’s very special places! They continue to fund raise for a new, modern dining hall – they are at the $1.3 million mark on the way toward $2 million dollars! I love the debt free approach and it is so neat to see how God is blessing the camp! And it is NOT too late for you to get your kids or grandkids to LGCC this summer – FCC will pay HALF-tuition for a camp session!

#4 – WORSHIP – I’m so proud of Samuel Green and the work he is doing w/ our second service at FCC, but my favorite worship experiences each year are at 6pm each night of camp – Samuel has put together another all-star worship team lineup this week! YOU are invited to come and experience camp worship – join us at 6pm!

#5 – MISSION – We are blessed in Illinois with over 500 independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ – Indiana has even more. Rhode Island has 4. And they have all been started in the last 8 years. Jacob will be telling our campers all about New England and both the needs and blessings of the great work of Restoration House Ministries and church plant preachers like Tanner Green, Jared Cowgur and Jeff Stalnaker who serve in Rhode Island!

Our camp week is rolling – I can’t wait to see what happens!

Several other reminders:

  • This Friday – YOUNG at HEART at 10:30am in the Family Life Center – if you are over 55, I can’t wait to see you there!
  • Blood Pressure Checks – this SUNDAY July 9!
  • Father/Son cookout at Weldon Springs – Saturday July 29 from 5-7pm – get your tickets from Joyce Mathias on Sunday!
  • Men’s Mission Trip – we are hoping for 20 and I believe have 14 committed at this point! We continue to raise $ for a second house!
  • #iheartdewittco is coming!
  • Pray for Kent Hickerson – he is having surgery on his back this morning

Have a great week – see you Sunday!

GT

Back in the 61727!

Vacation 2017 was incredible – love so much the beauty of God’s creation witnessed while traveling to South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado! And the stop in Omaha for some college world series action was the cherry on top of the Sundae! Good stuff! Thanks to my awesome wife of a quarter-century for putting up w/ me for 14 days – just the two of us – a trip of a lifetime! Much has happened at FCC and in Clinton, and more is just around the corner:

  • Junior High Mission Trip 2017 is underway – the team made it southern Mississippi about 9:30pm last evening and are ready to serve today! Please pray for Cody and the team of 25 – that God would transform and change hearts, that they would shake and shine brightly, and that goals will be accomplished in the name of Jesus!
  • Great job to everyone involved in the Tour De Witt 2017 on Saturday – the 62 mile ride was great! Except for the strong west wind! Major kudo’s to the Lobb’s and everyone involved – the date is already set for 2018: Saturday June 30, 2018 – I would love to see 50 from Clinton FCC participate in 2018 – four options: 9, 24, 40 or 62 mile rides – let’s do this FCC!
  • Thanks so much to our special guests who were in service with us yesterday for giving us inside look at life in China as followers of Jesus! I cannot share their names in this public forum but am so thankful for the testimonies shared and the work being accomplished in the name of Jesus by our monthly mission partners!
  • What a blessing to participate in the going away party for Abby Wilson at FCC yesterday afternoon – it was a surprise and it was powerful! Loved hearing testimony after testimony of the impact this young woman of faith has ALREADY made and look forward to seeing how God will use her as she teaches at a University in China!
  • Last night brought our second all-church connections event – a picnic at the park in Wapella – good times! Thanks to Melinda Heinlen and Lindsey Moody for making this happen – good times! Plan now for our August connections event at Little Galilee on Sunday afternoon August 13 – pool and zipline and much, much more!
  • If you are over 55, plan on attending the July Young at Heart – Friday July 7 at 10:30am in the Family Life Center! Huge thanks to the Wise’s and the Dial’s for their continued great work!
  • Camp! Many of us from FCC go to camp this coming Sunday July 2-7 and I cannot wait to preach five “CHRISTMAS” sermons – theme this year is Christmas in July!
  • Men’s Mission Trip to Mexico – we need YOU men! August 5-12 is the date – if you have a passport and are physically able to work, connect w/ Ryan Sosaman and Gage Lyons! We want you, men!
  • Congregational meeting: Both Mark Behrends (96.4%) and Gage Lyons (94.5%) were overwhelmingly approved to serve as Elder!
  • This Sunday I’m preaching on FREEDOM – read the first part of Galatians 5 as you prepare for worship!

have a great week – see you Sunday!

GT

Vacation update

On May 30, Marla and I celebrated 25 years of marriage and we are on the trip of a lifetime – visits to Custer State Park, Yellowstone and now Rocky Mountain National Park. What a blessing it has been to disconnect w/ Marla – and Marla only – for the past 10 days! That said, we can’t wait to get back to good old central Illinois! Several quick thoughts this morning and some prayer requests:

Thoughts/Updates:

  • This Sunday is our congregational meeting for the purpose of affirming Mark Behrends and Gage Lyons as Elder candidates – the meeting will take place at the conclusion of both services.
  • Also this Sunday – all-church picnic at the Wapella park – bring your own food and plan to connect with your church family!
  • Great job to everyone involved w/ VBS 2017! Special huge thanks to Cassandra and Allison for leading w/ excellence!
  • Thanks to Samuel and Allison for leading the all-church presentation on the recent spiritual growth survey from February!
  • Thanks to Scott DeWitt and Bob Phillips for preaching the past two Sundays!
  • Thanks to everyone involved in the June 10 Mobile Food pantry!
  • God’s creation is INCREDIBLE! I’m preaching this Sunday a message entitled “Creation or the Creator . . . or both?” Can’t wait! Also this Sunday, you will get to hear from one of our monthly mission partners who serves in a country where you cannot be a Christian – and yet the church is doing incredible things! Don’t miss Sunday!

Prayer requests:

  • Please pray for the Micah Wakeman family – elder at Mt Pulaski CC and Decatur firefighter, he passed away last week in a farming accident and his visitation is tonight and his funeral is tomorrow. I LOVE the entire Wakeman family – Marla and I have watched as they raised their family – their two oldest are very close in age to Jordan and Peyton. Micah and his wife Laura changed and are changing their world through foster parenting and mission trips – one of Jordan’s classmates shared this from Micah’s journal during a trip to Uganda – his level’s of importance:
    • First – Jesus
    • Second – Those you are serving
    • Third – Every other team member
    • Fourth – ME
    • This really sums up a great man who truly loved Jesus with all his heart!
  • Please also pray for Little Galilee weeks of camp and especially the week several of us from Clinton will lead July 2-7! Last year, about 25 campers made the decision to follow Jesus at our week of camp – praying for God to move hearts again this year!
  • Finally, will you pray for Peyton and his team of students and their teachers as they travel home from Spain on Wednesday?

Have a great week – see you Sunday!

GT

VBS is here weekly update!

In just a couple of hours, we will have a couple hundred people rolling through the halls of FCC as VBS 2017 gets rolling. Super excited about this week for so many reasons! Will you pray right now and throughout the week for the children, teens and adults who are a part of VBS 2017? Thanks in advance! Here are multiple things to keep track of:

  • This Saturday June 10, we are hosting a MOBILE FOOD Pantry at the Cable Building – help is needed from 9am until noon and food is distributed from 10-11:30am. Can you help? We could certainly use you!
  • This Thursday evening June 8 – at 7pm in the foyer outside the sanctuary – a meeting will take place for the Men’s Mission Trip 2017 to Mexico to work with Casas por Cristo. Scott DeWitt will be leading the meeting and Gage Lyons and Ryan Sosaman are leading the charge at FCC. If you are able to do physical labor and have a current passport, we want you!
  • Elder Recommendation forms are due TODAY at 4pm in the church office!
  • Congregational meetings for the purpose of affirming those recommended to serve as Elder will be on Sunday June 25 at the conclusion of both morning services. The ballot will be listed on the screen and in the news notes on both June 11 and June 18.
  • Saturday June 17 brings the Kingdom Classic 5K at Little Galilee to support COPE – get registered today!
  • Also on Saturday June 17, the Vault is hosting a dinner and an auction to raise funds for our new youth center in Clinton – take advantage of this great opportunity!
  • Saturday June 24 – the annual tour De Witt – I’m riding, are you?
  • Little Galilee camping season is HERE! Are you taking advantage of FCC’s 1/2 tuition scholarship for one session of camp? Let’s do it!
  • Sunday June 25 – All church picnic at the Wapella Park during the evening – ALL are invited and welcome!
  • Tuesdays June 13 and June 27 – RELOAD for Men at the Cable Building at 6am – Samuel Green will be leading on the 13th and I’m back on the 27th – Karen Rice and Ginny Carter are going to make sure we don’t starve!
  • Saturday July 29 – Father/Son Cookout at Weldon Springs – this is another event brought to us by Joyce Mathias, Mary Holland, Joyce Trummel and crew!

Finally this morning, three final thoughts:

First – thanks to Little Galilee for continued partnership in ministry! They allowed us to do our rescheduled 5K to Raise 5K at LGCA on Saturday and are a special ministry partner! Thanks Ken, Kevin, Bob, Max, Bev and crew!

Second – please remember families in our church who are experiencing loss – so difficult for so many – blessings and love to the Lord, Dumser, Lehman and Walden families!

Finally – we are almost out of here! Marla and I leave Friday afternoon for a two week journey to South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado! Thanks in advance to Scott DeWitt and Bob Phillips for preaching in my absence!

blessings,

GT