Apple and Pork weekend is coming – are you ready?

This weekend, ten of thousands are coming to DeWitt County for our annual Apple and Pork weekend – are you ready? Are you already starting to salivate over your favorite food options? By the way, think Rotary pulled pork and YMCA pork cutlet – you can’t go wrong with either! I am super excited about this weekend and hope you are as well – here are ten reminders/updates as we get this weekly update started:

#1 – THIS SUNDAY is a ONE SERVICE Sunday at 9:30am – no programming at 8:15 or 10:45 this Sunday. We will continue our “Tell Me More” sermon series, looking at the question, “Why are Christians Hypocrites?”

#2 – FAN the FLAME – THIS Saturday evening at ISU’s Braden Auditorium featuring Michael W Smith – don’t miss this incredible concert event supporting Midwest Food Bank in BN!

#3 – DISCOVER FCC – Wednesday October 4 at 6pm – coming learn about the history, theology and ministries of Clinton FCC – this 75 minute gathering will include a tour of the building and also have a Q and A time – sign up this week!

#4 – BREAKFAST CLUB – every Friday morning in the Fellowship Hall, Jr High and Sr High students are invited to a breakfast of champions prepared by Kevin Peterson and a devo for the day by Director of Student Ministries Ben Pertl – 7:15am is the time and transportation to school is provided.

#5 – Wednesday’s at FCC – Choir practice, Community groups, FIRST KIDS youth groups – much is happening on Wednesdays at FCC – check it out! And by the way, the CHIMES Choir begins practice  next Monday night Sept 25 at 7pm – see Ruth Davidson for more info about the Choir and the Chimes Choir.

#6 – REVEAL for Jr High and Sr High – Sunday evenings in the main building at FCC – Jr High meets from 5-6:30 and Sr High from 6:30-8 – are your students plugged in?

#7 – SABBATH END – Sunday evenings at 5pm in the Sanctuary Foyer – worship, spiritual teaching and prayer – a great way to wrap up your weekend – join us!

#8 – FCC Food Pantry – currently, the Food Pantry is open from 1-3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays – expanded days and hours are coming – always room for more in this important ministry area – see Cody if interested in serving.

#9 – YOUNG at HEART for October – Friday October 6 at 10:30am in the Family Life Center – if you are 55 or older, WE WANT YOU! Talk to Marcia Wise or Jan Dial for more info!

#10 – MEN’s Opportunities – RELOAD for Men meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 6am in the Family Life Center – next breakfast/study is Tuesday September 26 – join us! Area Men’s fellowship happens on the 1st Tuesday of each month at various churches – next gathering is at Saybrook CC on Tuesday Oct 3 – van leaves FCC at 6pm – see Tim Wenthe for more info and join us!

Have a great week – see you Sunday for our one service Sunday at 9:30am!

GT

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September 11 – I hope we never forget

It was a pretty normal day back in 2001 – a Tuesday and I was on the road in my role as Director of Admissions at Lincoln Christian College. I stopped by Wapella Christian Church shortly before 8am to grab a cup of coffee w/ my friend Ed Bacon on my way to schools in Champaign-Urbana when Ed’s wife Susan told me the news of the first plane in the WTC. And then the second plane. And then the Pentagon. All day long in the LCCS car, the news kept getting worse.

That night, back in Chestnut, I was hanging out in the backyard w/ five year old Jordan and almost two year old Peyton as Marla prepared dinner when it hit me – life as we knew it was changing forever. I started crying and Jordan couldn’t figure out what was wrong – she was just a couple of weeks into Kindergarten and so naive and innocent. The questions kept rolling through my mind as the tears continued to flow: What kind of new world were my kids facing as they began to grow? Was this day of attacks just the beginning? What should Christians leaders do in response? Where do we go from here?

As our Tuesday evening wrapped up back in 2001, I found myself reminded of two realities we read about all throughout the New Testament: 1. In this world, there WILL be trouble – the storms of life will visit – and it won’t be fun. Life in this world will be really difficult at times. 2. Jesus makes ALL the difference in this world and for all of eternity – and Christ Followers are needed more than ever when days like 9-11-01 unfold!

Today it is 16 years later and a lot has changed . . . and a lot remains the same. It is more difficult than we ever imagined it would be to get on an airplane (and I’m thankful for that by the way). Terrorism has become a regular reality – cars drive into crowds, bombs explode in buildings, death numbers continue to rise – and sadly, much of this takes place in the name of religion. We are as divided as a country as we have ever been – at least in my lifetime. One of my favorite moments from 9-11-01 was watching members of Congress gather together on the steps of the Capitol and sing “God Bless America” – the common cry that evening was simple: there are no democrats or republicans today, just Americans. Turn on MSNBC or FoxNews most evenings and that spirit of unity and cooperation will be no where to be found.

But much remains the same: Jesus is STILL the ONLY true hope for a world that desperately needs a Savior! Christians are still called to be the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world – the make a difference in the name of Jesus! And, as Christ Followers, we must remember this world is NOT our home – we are just passing through!

I hope we never forget to tragedy of 9-11-01 – and I hope we never grow tired or weary of telling the story of Jesus!

Much is happening at FCC – take advantage of these great opportunities:

  • TELL ME MORE continues on Sunday mornings – this week, “Why do people do bad things?”
  • MEET and GREET at 9:30am THIS Sunday September 17
  • ONE SERVICE Sunday at 9:30am on Sunday September 24
  • BETH MOORE simulcast – FREE event!!! This Saturday September 16
  • FAN the FLAME – Michael W Smith – ISU Braden auditorium – Saturday September 23
  • RELOAD for men in September – TOMORROW the 12th and Tuesday the 26th at 9am
  • FCC Food Pantry is now serving our community on TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS from 1-3pm from the Cable Building – look for expanded days and times moving forward. If you are interested in serving in this important ministry, please contact Cody Monkman.

Finally, please continue to pray for those struggles w/ the realities of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – and look for continued opportunities to give and serve in the weeks and months ahead!

Have a great week!

GT

 

Father of the fiancee weekly update

What a great weekend for the Taylor family – Marla and I were blessed to be present in Knoxville when our daughter Jordan received a surprise marriage proposal from Jacob Vangen – the man of her dreams – what an incredible experience for a father! It’s hard to believe my little girl is getting married next June! It is pretty awesome to watch as your children grow into adulthood and make wise choices where the Lord is the driving force – my cup overflows!

September is here and so much is happening at FCC – don’t miss it:

  • TELL ME MORE launches this Sunday – our sermon series w/ 20 other area churches – cannot wait to get started. Who are you inviting? Did you use your invite card? We still have yard signs – help us out!
  • FRIEND SUNDAY – this week – make the most of this opportunity!
  • REVEAL for Jr High and Sr High and FIRST KIDS for preschool and grade school begin fall programming next week – teens on Sundays and FIRST KIDS on Wednesdays.
  • WELCOME reception for Ben Pertl – this WED. Sept 6 from 6-7pm in the Family Life Center.
  • BETH MOORE simulcast – FREE!!! Saturday September 16 at FCC!
  • New Attendee MEET and GREET – Sunday September 17 at 9:30am.
  • FAN THE FLAME – at ISU – featuring Michael W Smith – Saturday September 23.
  •  ONE service Sunday – September 24 at 9:30am

Have a great week! See you Sunday!

GT

 

Great night at FCC for Block Party III!

What a great night – thanks to everyone who played a role in making Block Party III a huge hit! On Friday it looked like rain and storms might cancel our event, but we were able to move forward and it was a blast! My crowd judge (RU) estimated between 800-900 were at FCC at one time or another from 5-7pm, so let’s settle on 1000! (I am a preacher after all) In all seriousness, thanks to the FCC staff (everyone but me had specific assignments and carried them out to perfection) and former office manager Karen Rice for organizing with excellence – way to go!

Busy month ahead for us at FCC – make note of the following:

  • Ben Pertl Meet and Greet – Wednesday September 6 from 6-7pm – come welcome our new Director of Students!
  • FRIEND Sunday – September 10 – who are you inviting?
  • TELL ME MORE sermon series w/ 20 other area churches launches on Sunday September 10 – who are you inviting to join you?
  • SABBATH END begins at 5pm on Sunday September 10 – join in the foyer outside the sanctuary for a time of worship, spiritual formation teaching and prayer!
  • REVEAL for Jr High and Sr High begins on Sunday September 10
  • FIRST KIDS Wednesdays begin on Wednesday September 13 at 6pm
  • BETH MOORE simulcast – Saturday September 16 – FREE!!! Thanks to Mr. Generous Donor who wishes to remain unnamed – we appreciate you!
  • New Member/Attendee Meet and Greet – 9:30am on Sunday September 17
  • Fan the Flame at ISU on Saturday September 23 featuring Michael W Smith!!!!
  • ONE SERVICE Sunday on Sunday September 24 at 9:30am

Thank you so much to Barb Baker for leading our benevolence ministry for the past several years. Barb has made the decision to resign leadership of this ministry team – please pray for this important ministry to our community! Barb has spent countless hours leading this ministry and made hundreds of trips from her home near Farmer City to FCC and I am very thankful for her service to our church and the Lord. We are currently preparing our food pantry for the move across the street to the Cable Building in the weeks ahead – look for more information in the weeks ahead!

Finally this morning, my heart is heavy for the community of Mt Pulaski and especially the students and recent graduates of Mt Pulaski HS. Early Saturday morning, one of their own passed away as a result of an auto accident. Please pray for this community and especially the teens and young adults who loved Evan and are struggling with this heart breaking storm of life. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in the Spirit” – Psalm 34:18.

Have a great week!

GT

 

 

 

The 3rd Annual Block Party is Sunday!!!

This Sunday in the FCC parking lot, we will host our 3rd annual Block Party from 5-7pm – the entire community is invited and I can’t wait for Sunday to get here! Several thoughts: Who are you inviting? How can you take advantage of this free gathering to be the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world? Are you available to help w/ set up or tear down? If so, please reach out to the church office (935-3139) – we would love to plug you in! Thankful for the staff at FCC – they each have a role to play in this all-church event and are doing a great job! See you Sunday night for the party!

Yesterday was a blessing – almost 100 gathered at the Presbyterian Church for a Hymn Festival celebrating the 500 year anniversary (in late October of this year) of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. So awesome to Christians from a variety of churches in our community gathered to worship the Lord and give honor to whom honor is due – our own Dixie Montgomery, who is in her 60th year of playing the organ! Huge thanks to Jeremy Lehman from Calvert’s in town for organizing the Festival – he is a pretty good organ player as well – and to Steve Hill and the Presbyterian Church for serving as host. And thanks to all from FCC who made it a priority to participate!

Please continue to pray for those families who are dealing w/ the loss of loved ones – the Boyer family, the Owens family (Barb Trago) and the Bostic family. Each situation is different but difficult and times like these give us a great opportunity to a blessing in the name of Jesus. Special thanks to all from our church who made the drive to Canton, IL on Saturday afternoon to show love and support to Trisha and Nate – I am honored to serve a church where so many take seriously the call to be Salt and Light and Love in the name of Jesus!

September is just around the corner and MUCH is happening – here several things to be aware of and participate in:

  • OPEN house for new Director of Student Ministries Ben Pertl on Wednesday evening September 6 from 6-7pm! Ben moving to Clinton this week and will begin his ministry w/ FCC THIS Sunday. Let’s show Ben love and support as he takes over Student Ministry!
  • TELL ME MORE – sermon series launches on Sunday September 10 – this is a group effort – 20 churches from all over central Illinois are participating! We have invite cards and yard signs – can you help us spread the word?
  • SABBATH END – a new Sunday evening gathering will launch on September 10 at 5pm in the Foyer outside the Sanctuary. Lay led, this gathering will focus on worship, instruction and prayer and ALL are welcome!
  • BSF Tuesday evening satellite group begins meeting at FCC on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8pm on September 12.
  • RELOAD for Men on Tuesdays September 12 and 26 in the Family Life Center!
  • BETH MOORE simulcast – thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Clinton resident, we are able to host this all day Saturday event for FREE! Saturday September 16 is the day and ALL ladies are encouraged to attend!
  • FAN the FLAME – Saturday September 23 – at ISU’s Braden Auditorium featuring my favorite – Michael W Smith! This concert will bless the Midwest Food Bank and will be Fan the Flame’s biggest concert yet!

Finally, on a personal note, this week begins senior years for my daughter Jordan at Johnson University and my son Peyton at Mt Pulaski HS. It seems like just yesterday they were climbing on the school bus in front of our home for grade school. Just a word of encouragement to those of you who have grade school students – make the most of EVERY opportunity! Time goes by far too quickly and what I wouldn’t do to be able to go back in time and miss a meeting or two and spend some time with 4th grade Jordan and 1st grade Peyton!

blessings to each of you – have a great week!

GT

Great night at Little Galilee – two busy weeks ahead!

Last night was so much fun – 200 plus gathered at Little Galilee for our latest Connections event – swimming, zip lining and fellowship – what a great evening at one of God’s special places! I haven’t checked with the rest of the staff yet but my guess is this becomes an annual event: FCC’s Little Galilee Swim and Zip Summer Fest! Or something like that. So thankful for the hard work of Lindsey Moody and Melinda Heinlen in putting together our connections events! Great job ladies!

The next two weeks are pretty busy at FCC – looking forward to the following:

  • THIS Friday August 18 – Breakfast Club returns from Jr High and Sr High in the Family Life Center
  • THIS Saturday August 19 – FCC is in charge of staffing the Mobile Food Pantry held at the American Legion building – help needed from 9am – noon.
  • THIS Saturday August 19 – Clinton Y Triathlon! I’m part of a relay team this year w/ Brian Glynn and Lindsey Moody – are you in? Not too late!!!
  • THIS Sunday August 20 – HYMN sing at Clinton Presbyterian Church at 3pm – our own Dixie Montgomery will be honored in this gathering sponsored by CAMA.
  • Tuesday August 22 – RELOAD for men – Samuel Green will lead the Bible Study.
  • Sunday August 27 – 3rd annual FCC Block Party from 5-7pm in the FCC parking lot!

Then, September really gets rolling:

  • Labor Day weekend – Family Camp at Little Galilee – FCC will pay half tuition for YOU and YOUR family to attend!
  • “Tell Me More” sermon study launches on Sunday September 10 – our joint venture with 20 area churches will look at four topics: life after death, evil in the world, hypocrisy of Christians and troubled relationships. We have 100 yard signs advertising this series and would love for YOU to help us get the word out!
  • REVEAL for Jr High and Sr High returns on Sunday evenings and FIRST KIDS is back on Wednesdays in September!
  • The Adult Choir will resume practice in September as well – always room for one more!
  • Apple and Pork weekend – ONE service Sunday on September 24.

Sunday, chairman of the Elders Mark Witzke announced the following staff changes:

  • Cody Monkman is transitioning to the role of Minister of Community Impact and Care – a new position that will focus on an expanded benevolence ministry at FCC, community impact and outreach, care for those in our church and community who find themselves in the hospital, nursing home or are shut-in for one reason or another, and greater involvement on Sunday mornings in worship services. Cody is super excited about this new role and we look forward to seeing where this leads!
  • Mark announced the hiring of Ben Pertl as our Director of Student Ministries – Ben has made his mark as youth director of two churches in the Charleston area and was a part of the Christian Campus house at EIU during his college years – in fact, he even spoke to our students during REVEAL in 2012 as a student leader/presenter for the campus house. Ben will be moving to Clinton in late August and will begin ministry at FCC on Sunday August 27. Make sure you reach out to Ben and welcome him to the team at FCC!

Lastly, I wanted to end this morning with some thoughts on what has unfolded in our country and our world the last couple of days – very troubling times – four thoughts:

#1 – Our world – especially in southeast Asia on the Korean peninsula – is a mess. Our own Tim and Kim Wenthe’s son Eric is stationed in Guam as part of his military service. I don’t have any good human answers or suggestions other than this – we need to pray. And pray. And pray. So thankful for the blessings of living in the land of the free – and I’m reminded once again, freedom isn’t free.

#2 – Our country – I’m pretty sure the USA is as divided as it has ever been and this is both heart breaking and tragic. The events this weekend in Virginia break the heart of God, I can promise you that! Just a reminder for all Christ Followers reading this – you are called to be the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World! So . . . be wise in your words; think about what you post on social media; remember not every argument needs to be undertaken.

#3 – Racism – bottom line – it is 100% wrong and 100% against God’ will for YOUR life. This is an area where there is NO room for argument – RACISM is always wrong and always breaks the heart of God. Peter struggled with RACISM but was given true clarity from the LORD in Acts 10 and shared the following: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” James said in 2:9 “if you show favoritism you sin and are convicted by the law as a law breaker.” Paul repeatedly reminded us “there is neither Jew nor Gentile”. Hatred of people because they are of a different race is SIN – bottom line!

#4 – Jesus – we cannot read, think or pray about the above three issues without seeing in all through the lens of Jesus – the only true hope for the world. We are called to the ministry of RECONCILIATION – how are you living this out? We are called LOVE like Jesus – how are you living this out? We are called to be TRANSFORMED – how are you living this out? We are called to be SALT and LIGHT – how are you living this out? Our world is a mess – our country is a mess – and we have the answer – JESUS!

Thanks for letting me share – make a difference this week!

GT

#iheartdewittco weekly update

Yesterday wrapped up a four week look at several Spiritual Formation principles and teachings, culminating with the challenge to not just settle for the Transaction, but to live the life of Transformation Jesus brought and Paul taught about. This week, we begin four weeks looking at the life of Jonah, and this Sunday will bring a “first-person” sermon from the perspective of the prophet himself. All month, we will tackle the question “What’s Your Excuse?” as we look at Jonah . . . and our lives in the context of the call to be the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world and Christ’s Ambassadors. Much is happening this month:

  • RELOAD for men – TOMORROW morning at 6am in the Family Life Center – great breakfast and Bible study for all men!
  • Tuesday evening at 6:30pm – Open House for the Ladies BSF discussion group that will meet at FCC on Tuesday evenings this fall – why not give it a look?
  • Tuesdays Aug 8, 15 and 22 – TRIAD educational gatherings for Seniors!
  • Wednesday Aug 9 – the Clinton Presbyterian Church is hosting Brent Vernon – a singer, songwriter and ventriloquist at 7pm – free will offering will be taken.
  • Sunday August 13 – Connections event at Little Galilee from 5-8pm – Zipline will be open from 5-7pm and the Pool will be open from 5-8pm – ALL are welcome – bring your own food!
  • Friday August 18 – Breakfast Club returns from Jr High and Sr High in the Family Life Center
  • Saturday August 19 – FCC is in charge of staffing the Mobile Food Pantry held at the American Legion building – help needed from 9am – noon.
  • Saturday August 19 – Clinton Y Triathlon! I’m part of a relay team this year w/ Brian Glynn and Lindsey Moody – are you in? Not too late!!!
  • Sunday August 20 – HYMN sing at Clinton Presbyterian Church at 3pm – our own Dixie Montgomery will be honored in this gathering sponsored by CAMA.
  • Sunday August 27 – 3rd annual FCC Block Party from 5-7pm in the FCC parking lot!

What a month! Make the most of the opportunities!

I share yesterday during first service about a reflection I had during my spiritual formation retreat back in April – here is what I wrote and the context was some of my greatest disappointments in life:  “I am incredibly disappointed in the behavior and actions of some life-long Christians who are simply mean, cruel and hurtful – almost to the point they seem to enjoy it – whatever happened to kindness?” And to be totally transparent, I’ve struggled with this for a while – where is the fruit of the spirit? Where is the joy of Jesus? Where is this “meanness” and “cruelty” coming from?

One of my favorite preachers and teachers is JK Jones, part of the ministry staff at Eastview CC – he shared a blog post this weekend on the subject of kindness and it really grabbed me – here is the first paragraph on his post on “Kindness”:

“Meanness has no place in the Jesus-following life. Ugliness toward another human being is unbecoming of a Christian. Harsh or caustic words run counter to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. If this blog accomplishes anything, I hope and pray it permeates with honest speech and transparent living. I have been guilty of not only behaving in an unkind manner sometimes but also guilty of using unkind words. I suppose that is what has been prompting me to pursue a deeper understanding and an actual living out of Christian civility. Recently I have been meditating on what Scripture has to say about kindness.”

JK looks at several Biblical examples of Kindness and also reviews a book written by Barry Corey, president of Biola University in California. You can find the entire post (and I would encourage you to read it!) at:

www.drjkjones.com/journal/spiritual-formation-and-the-power-of-christian-kindness-a-book-recommendation

So I leave you this week with a challenge: choose Kindness – even if it doesn’t seem natural – even if you are angry and frustrated – be kind – in the name of Jesus!

blessings,

GT