Dear FPC—
It’s here! The Kirkin/Scottish Festival weekend is upon us! The weather forecast looks beautiful for Saturday—but we may get snow on Sunday. So please be praying about that! I hope you will join us for this remarkable time of fellowship and worship. It is a great chance to invite your friends and see what God will do! Try this: “We are having a special event at church Sunday with bagpipes and drums. It is really cool. Would you come with me?” That’s all it takes!
Having conversations about faith often feels awkward. But how will anyone hear if we won’t share? Here are a few tips:
1) Pray! Pray about who to talk to, pray about what to say, pray for your friend, pray for guidance as you talk,.
2) Pray! (see above!)
3) Share your own story of coming to faith or growing in faith—it is more powerful than you imagine!
4) Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, let me look that up and get back to you.”
5) Don’t try to win –that turns your conversation partner into a loser. Just imagine you are introducing someone to your friend, Jesus.
6) Listen! Have a conversation, not a monologue.
For more ideas check out this blog post by Todd Hunter.
I hope you can join us on Sunday and hear about the amazing gift of new life and purpose Jesus gives us. In the meantime, here is a Celtic blessing to hold you over until the Kirkin’:
May the Son of God be Lord in all your ways;
may He shepherd you the length of days,
and in your heart may He receive the praise;
this is my prayer for you.

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves.”

Big Picture Question: What did God’s Word teach the people? God’s Word helped them know the right things to do.

Christ Connection: The Bible teaches us about God and Jesus. It helps us know the right things to do. We do wrong things a lot, but when we know and love Jesus, He helps us say no to sin. Jesus died to rescue us from sin.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story takes place at a special worship service after the Jews finished rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Ezra was a priest in Babylon at the end of the exile. Just as God had been with Nehemiah, He was with Ezra—granting Him favor with the Persian king, who gave him permission to go to Jerusalem.

Ezra had a special purpose for returning to Jerusalem. God’s people had lived in exile for 70 years. They needed to be reminded how to live holy lives before God. As a scribe, Ezra was an expert on the law of Moses. Ezra had “determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

After the walls were rebuilt, everyone gathered together at the Water Gate to hear Ezra read the law. Men, women, and children—anyone who could understand—came to listen. From early morning to midday, Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses. He stood on a platform so everyone could see and hear him. The Levites helped listeners understand the words of the law. When they understood, they wept. The law revealed their sin.

Ezra told the people not to weep, for the joy of the Lord is their strength. Yes, the people had sinned. But God would keep His promise to forgive. God’s Word is powerful. When Ezra read God’s Word, the people changed their ways and loved God more. The Bible says that Jesus is “the Word.” Jesus is God who came to live with people on earth. Jesus has the power to change our hearts.

Family Activity: Invite kids to stand before the family and read aloud from the Bible. Kids may choose a favorite Bible passage or read Nehemiah 8:1-12. Remind them that the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible tells us God’s plan to save people from sin by sending Jesus to die on the cross.

Dear FPC—
As Alice and I look out from our breakfast nook we see a riot of colors—leaves of so many shades—green, red, yellow, orange, and shades I don’t even have names for. It is stunning. God made a world that is full of diversity and variety. That is something we should celebrate and enjoy.
I have the privilege of spending some “pastor time” with the kids upstairs at C St Child Development Center. It is delightful—each child is so different and so special. They are like those varied leaves. It is the same with grown ups—although it is sometimes harder to remember. Think of a person you have been really upset/disappointed/unhappy with—that person was made in God’s image and has incalculable worth. That person is worthy of your prayers and good wishes. Ugh! That is hard! But in Jesus we are called to be reconcilers, not dividers; to break down dividing walls, not build them up. Luckily, we don’t have to do that alone—we can encourage and support each other as we try to faithfully follow Jesus. I hope you can join us on Sunday as we explore that call to be reconciled—to God and to each other.
Also—now is the time to start inviting friends to the Kirkin and the Scottish Festival—they are just around the corner! Worship with pipes and drums is rare—don’t miss it, and invite your friends and neighbors to come check it out!

Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation this week!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves.”

Big Picture Question: How did God protect His people? God helped His people rebuild the city walls.

Christ Connection: Nehemiah helped God’s people fix the walls around their city. The walls protected the people from their enemies. Jesus protects us from our enemies. When we know and love Jesus, He keeps us safe and we will live with Him forever.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Jerusalem as Nehemiah led God’s people to finish rebuilding the city walls. City walls and gates were very important in Bible times. Walls were built to be several feet thick. They protected a city from its enemies and provided a sense of safety and security. Gates were the center of city life, the meeting place for commercial and social transactions. Without these structures, the surviving remnant of God’s people struggled and was vulnerable to attack.

Nehemiah traveled from Persia to Jerusalem to lead the effort in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. Nehemiah’s leadership was effective. Nehemiah 3 describes all the people working together to rebuild the gates and walls. But it wasn’t long before Nehemiah met opposition. Sanballat and Tobiah were local governors who strongly opposed Nehemiah’s helping the Jews. The two mocked God’s people and tried to discourage them. Sanballat and Tobiah planned a surprise attack against God’s people, but God’s people found out. They kept working—with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.

God’s people completed the wall in just 52 days. Note how their enemies reacted: “All the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God” (Neh. 6:16). Nehemiah led the people to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem to protect them from their enemies. Jesus came to protect us from our enemies. He died on the cross and rose from the dead to rescue people from sin and death.

Family Activity: Provide play dough, interlocking blocks, or other construction toys. Challenge kids to build a wall. As they build, remind them that the wall around Jerusalem helped protect God’s people from their enemies. Lead kids to list reasons they can trust God when they feel afraid. Remind kids that they can pray and ask God for help anytime.

Dear FPC—
What a joy to celebrate World Communion—with each other and with believers in every time and every place. It is staggering to ponder that. That is almost as staggering as the good news that Paul told us about—how God acts to save, adopt, and redeem us AND give us a meaningful job to do as he works out his great plan of putting everything (everything!) right in Jesus. As you go through this week I hope you will ponder how your life “in Christ” is empowered by God’s Spirit to play your part in God’s plan. Now that is a great thing to pray about!
As we look ahead, you should be aware of this remarkable event—Q Commons, on Thursday October 24 from 7-9 pm. You’ll hear talks by best selling author Malcom Gladwell on talking with strangers, pastor Francis Chan on building true community, and author Rebekah Lyons on establishing healthy daily rhythms, as well as local speakers and conversation.
On Sunday we’ll discover the power that God has for you. Join us for worship at 9 or 11!

Stay warm out there!

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves.”

Big Picture Question: Why was Nehemiah sad? Nehemiah was sad because Jerusalem’s walls were broken.

Christ Connection: God promised to keep His people safe and give them a home. God always keeps His promises. Jesus died on the cross for our sin so we can have a home in heaven. When we trust in Jesus, we will be with God forever.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids; we have certainly come a long way together! From creation and the fall all the way through the Babylonian exile, God’s promises stand firm. This unit, kids will continue with the story of the returning exiles, now known as Jews—people from the kingdom of Judah. Two or three million Jews had originally been deported, but only a remnant—50,000 people—returned after King Cyrus gave them permission to go home. Nehemiah’s story takes place after Ezra led a second group of exiles back to Judah. Nehemiah was a Jew living in Persia. He served as the king’s cupbearer, a position of great trust.

Nehemiah received word about God’s people who had returned to Judah. They were in trouble and living in shame; the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the city gates were burned. They lived in fear, unprotected from their enemies. Nehemiah sat down and wept. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for days. He remembered God’s promise to His people. Their disobedience led to exile, but if they turned back to the Lord, God promised to restore their fortunes and give His people a home. (See Deut. 30:1-10.)

The king noticed Nehemiah’s sadness, and Nehemiah was afraid. After saying a quick prayer, Nehemiah explained the plight of his city. The king granted him permission to return to Jerusalem. When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he encouraged the people to rebuild the walls and stood confidently against opposition. Nehemiah trusted that God would keep His promise to protect His people and give them a home. When we trust in Jesus, we have a home in heaven with God. Jesus obeyed God perfectly. He died on the cross and rose again so we can have a home with Him forever in heaven.

Family Activity: Invite family members to point out things that make your home a safe place to live. Consider locks on doors or windows, smoke alarms, rails on stairs or porches, and so forth. Talk about how God promised to keep His people safe.

Go further: Build a Rube Goldberg machine to do some small task. Talk to your kids about ways we make things harder instead of seeking wisdom from God.

Dear FPC—
What a wonderful time of worship we had on Sunday! As you think about Jesus’ charge to us (each of us and all of us together) to be his witnesses how do you feel? Remember, our job is not to convert anyone—only God does that! It is just to be witnesses—to share what we know is true. As Bill Bright used to say, the only failure at witnessing is failing to witness! Also, don’t forget that often we witness through our actions, by how we live as much as by what we say. If you feel daunted, relax! Jesus didn’t just give us a job, he promised to give us the resources to do it too! God’s own Spirit is available to you—just invite God into your day, your meeting, your commute—and see what He does!
I hope you can join us this Sunday for World Communion Sunday. If you would like to wear the traditional dress of a culture that is important to you, please feel free to do that! We will be kicking off a new series called “Walking with Jesus.” Paul starts his letter to the Ephesians with a stunning, sweeping, breathless run-on sentence about God’s amazing gifts to us. Come and see what the fuss is about!

May God bless you this week as you bless those around you!

Pastor Steve