STOP GOING TO CHURCH FIND YOUR FAMILY RHYTHM Page 5
LITTLE KIDS BIG LESSONS Page 4
TRUE STORY Page 10
LOST IN TRANSLATION Page 12
CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD Page 8
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Mark Shetler CONTRIBUTORS Dan DeMuri, Fred Hammer, Glenda Harr, Dawn Jeske, Jeff Koons, Jennie Nagy, Matt Newton, Dan Palmer, Will Race, Dan Wade, PC Walker, Betty Wood COVER PHOTO Will Race PHOTOGRAPHERS Andy Gee, Will Race
THE COMPASS IS A PUBLICATION OF
First Covenant Church of Sacramento PO Box 276450 Sacramento, California 95670 916.861.2240 www.firstcov.org
CONTENTS ON THE COVER 3 Stop Going to Church CULTURE 6 Faith Cubed 12 Lost in Translation 13 Enjoy Christmas MARRIAGE & FAMILY 4 Little Kids, Big Lessons 4 Marriage in God's Image 5 Find Your Family Rhythm PEOPLE 10 True Story 10 Meet Our Middle School Pastor 11 Meet Our Global Outreach Intern 14 Joe and Jesus ON THE PATH 6 On Mission Together 12 Beyond the Guitar MINISTRY 7 From Hurt to Hope 14 Achieving Community Through Service NEWS 8 Christmas Around the World 15 Christmas Mall COMPASS MAGAZINE 2 Upcoming 15 Events
COMPASS Magazine is First Cov's new quarterly publication. In a church our size, it can be an overwhelming task to meet everyone and know everything that is happening. The COMPASS will serve as a platform to bring our church family closer together. Within its pages, you will find true stories about the people and ministries of First Cov. And, most importantly, it will help guide you farther along the Path to becoming a fully-devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
SUNDAYS • 8:30 A.M. The familiar sounds of First Cov, from the best of the cherished songs of our faith to the most loved worship songs of today.
WELCOME TO FIRST COV Welcome to First Cov — and to the first edition of the COMPASS. For the past few months, our team has been developing the vision of publishing a magazine that would serve two purposes. First, we wanted a way to tell some of the many stories of faith that are being written throughout our First Cov family. We want you to know about real people and how they are being affected by real faith to make a real impact in our world. Second, we wanted to create a useful printed resource that would outline the many ways you can get connected at First Cov. There are countless ministries, events and activities in our church for people of every age group and personality. The COMPASS will help you find those things that best meet your needs. We know that there are many ways to grow spiritually — and every church develops its own unique process. At First Cov, we have designed a JESSE SMITH SENIOR PASTOR simple strategy that we call the Path. We are not claiming that this is the only way to become a fullydevoted follower of Christ, but it works well for us. We want everyone who makes First Cov their home to be involved in three things: Worship (the regular gathering of believers to thank God for His help in our lives and to learn from His Word); Equipping Classes (six week classes on relevant topics that offer tools for godly living); and Growth Groups (small gatherings of people in your neighborhood who support each other through study of the Bible and prayer, and who challenge each other to serve people in the community). We believe that if you step onto the Path with an open heart and mind, God will help you grow in your relationship with Him and with others. I believe that the COMPASS will be a tool that will guide you along the Path and help you find your place within our church family. Enjoy this issue. There's some awesome stuff in the pages of this magazine!
WRITE TO THE COMPASS Do you have a comment about this issue, a question about one of our columns, or a story idea for a future issue? Email us at email@example.com.
SUNDAYS • 10 & 11:30 A.M. An intentional approach to inspire honoring and engaging worship that is fresh and relevant in our culture today.
We love kids and teenagers! We have a full schedule of classes on Sunday mornings, from nursery to high school.
worship with us
EDITOR IN CHIEF Grant Cox
top going to church? These four simple words are undoubtedly the last four words you would ever expect to hear from a church. We are not trying to free up seats during our Sunday worship services. We are not becoming a virtual church where we ask you to sit in front of a computer monitor at home and take digital communion while wearing pajamas. We are, however, asking you to do something much more important: stop going to church. Especially if you are Christian. I grew up in church. My dad was a pastor throughout most of my childhood. The churches he pastored were typically small churches that had, over the years, grown stagnant. They were no longer interested in extending the love of Christ into their communities. Instead, they were consumed with churchy activities. Sunday morning services. Tuesday night choir rehearsal. And, of course, Wednesday night potlucks. They merely went to church — the building, that is. And they went like clockwork. A church should never be confused with a building. Church is not a place. It is not a service, a location, or an event. It is a people. First Corinthians, Chapter 12, describes the church as one body, in which all its people are different parts. When you wake up on Sunday morning and you love Jesus, you are not going to church. You are the church. The church is not a place you go. It is something we are supposed to be. Throughout the Bible, the church is referred to as a people. When Saul, for example, began to "destroy the church" in Acts, Chapter 5, he was not taking a wrecking ball to a large brick building with a steeple. He was dragging men and women out of their homes. Scripture even talks about areas like Galatia and Corinth and speaks of "the church" in that region — referring to the people who loved Jesus there, not the place where they met to worship.
STOP GOING TO CHURCH.
When we talk about the church as a place we go, we reinforce a mindset in which the church is a holy location instead of a holy people. It breeds within us a consumer mentality. Instead of coming together as the church to serve, we see the church as a place we go to be served. We consume the coffee. We consume the music. We consume the message. We consume some free booklets and the fill-in-the-blank answers to the pre-printed sermon outline. And while these things can be tools that help us grow in our faith, they can also become crutches that foster a consumer mindset. When we adopt that mindset, are we really living as part of the body of Christ? On page 14 of this issue, you will read about our recent ACTS project. On a Saturday in October, the people of First Cov went out into the community to serve. No pressure. No agenda. Our only goal for the day was to simply serve the people who cannot serve themselves. On that day, we were not surrounded by stained glass or seated in cushioned pews. There was no sermon. There wasn't even a guitar. But that day, on school campuses and in non-profit organizations throughout the area, we were the church. If you do not call yourself a Christian and are not sure whether you love Jesus, we welcome you to join us on Sunday mornings for worship or an equipping class. We just hope you realize that our church is the people in the room who love Jesus — not the place where we happen to meet.
We choose to be the church. And we hope you do the same. By Grant Cox • firstname.lastname@example.org
little kids LESSONS
By Dawn Larson Jeske • email@example.com
We plant many seeds in our preschool. The playground even has a beautiful garden that yields delicious produce that started as seeds planted by our preschoolers, now overgrown with beautiful sunflowers, wildflowers, green beans and tomatoes. We do not just plant seeds in the ground, though. When we encourage honesty and kindness, we plant seeds of character. When we model prayer and thankfulness, we plant seeds of faith. When we read Bible stories and talk about the true meaning of Christmas and Easter, we plant seeds of truth. In our preschool, every child receives a children's Bible — the same one we read to in our classrooms — to take home to their families. Our goal is to develop a home-school connection to help the seeds we plant grow as much as possible. The preschool years represent a brief time in a child's life. As such, we do not always get to see those seeds take root and grow — especially for the 30 percent of our students who come from unchurched or non-Christian homes. But once in a while, God provides a gift of encouragement to continue planting those seeds. Five years ago, a petite, dark-haired woman stood in the doorway of our preschool, wearing a full sari. As she stood behind a stroller with her shy, bright-eyed little daughter, she asked me, "You have school?" And with those three simple words, First Covenant Preschool had the opportunity to begin ministering to families from India. Her name was Sunitha. Her little girl was named Shreya. Her husband was a software programmer. They had just moved to America because he was offered a year-long job in Rancho Cordova. Many of the programmers' families, like Sunitha's, lived in a nearby apartment complex. Their wives could not drive, so they chose this location — which placed them within walking distance to stores and schools. In India, Sunitha had been working as a chemist. Once her family moved to America, though, she began to struggle because of her limited English. Learning to raise her daughter in a foreign country also proved difficult. So she began looking for a preschool where her daughter could begin to learn English. She found our preschool and enrolled her daughter. And on that day, I handed our little children's Bible to a Hindu mother. Since that day, fifteen more Indian families have enrolled their children in our preschool. And each time, I hand them a Bible. They continue to come to First Cov because of our ›› CONTINUED ON PAGE 13
Your marriage tells a story about who God is. The Bible begins with God creating the world and the creation account reaches its climax in the creation of Adam and Eve. It is a fascinating story of God creating all things and finally forming his crowning achievement, man created in his own image. Imagine the scene. Adam was in the garden, sinless, enjoying a perfect relationship with God, accomplishing a great task of tending, cultivating and expanding the Garden of Eden and yet there was a problem. He was alone. No suitable helper could be found. Adam was lacking. So God put him to sleep and formed woman from Adam's flesh and Eve completed him. Together they were called Man and equally were created in the image of God. "So God created man This was the first marriage and even today it has supreme theological relevance in our lives. in his own image, You could hardly overstate the importance of the institution of marriage to God. Marriage is a In the image of God holy institution created by God before sin entered the world. Sadly, the Church has lost its credibility he created him; in a fallen world as divorce has ravaged the ranks of the evangelical community. We have forgotten Male and female the glory that God has entrusted to us in the covenant of marriage. I often wonder if seeing the he created them." deeper meaning of marriage would inspire us to strive for unity and love in our homes. I wonder if the realization — that the marriage of a man and a woman tells a story to the world about God — would give us vision and passion for what our marriages could be. And here is the story: God loves to bring unity out of diverse things. He loves this because it is a revelation of His very nature. God exists in trinity — or tri-unity. Scripture is clear that there is one God existing in three persons, 4 COMPASS MAGAZINE namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is an
By Dan Palmer • firstname.lastname@example.org
E N E S I S 1 : 2 7
incredible mystery and yet if we are truly made in His image this mystery should be revealed in our lives, as well. Unity out of diversity is the story of the universe because it is the story of God. We see it in His divine character; we see it in the institution of marriage. A man meets a woman and they are different indeed. In marriage, though, a spiritual and physical bond is created and they mysteriously become one in reality and in the eyes of God. In time, a child is born. She also is unique and independent and her own person and yet still shares the physical, emotional and intellectual traits of each parent. All three are separate and yet they are one. It is a mystery. It is a physical representation of a spiritual reality. Your family tells a story about God. Your marriage and family represent unity amongst diversity. Of course, the picture is incomplete because God is greater than the picture painted of Him — just as the glory of the Alps outshines even the greatest artist's representation of them. Even so, a story is told. Does your family tell the truth about God, or does it tell a lie? Throughout eternity, the members of the Trinity have always been equal in importance, personhood and deity. But differences in their roles have also always existed. For example, God the Father has always been the Father and has always related to the Son as His Father. Even though all three members have equal power and share all other attributes, the Father has a greater authority. He is in the leader role. In creation, the Father speaks and initiates, the Son carries out the work of creation, and the Holy Spirit sustains creation through His continuing presence. In Redemption, the Father sends the Son into the world, the Son is obedient and comes and dies for the sins of the world, and the Holy Spirit comes and equips and empowers the Church. Looking at God can teach us so much about how to function ›› CONTINUED ON PAGE 13 in our marriages. It
F I N D YO U R
By Fred Hammer • email@example.com
We want to help you find Jesus Christ, grow in your faith, and learn who God is and how He works in your life. On Tuesdays, we play, connect, and explore through activities and games. We also discuss spiritual topics in small groups and see how they apply to our lives.
We live in a busy world. As the father of a ten- and twelve-year-old, I am overwhelmed with the importance of spending time with my kids. Life gets complicated. Times get tough. We pack each day with time-consuming activities. Before we know it, the time comes to load the car with supplies for our child's college dorm room. Life will quickly pass us by if we let it — robbing us of precious family moments with our children. That's why it is crucially important for us to develop a rhythm of communication within our families, increasing the quantity of quality time we spend together. In their book, "Parenting Beyond Your Capacity," Reggie Joiner and Carey Niewhof explain, "Every family has a rhythm — your family has one, too. As we go from day to day, we establish and shape a rhythm that in turn shapes our kids. Rhythm is simply how we arrange our time. It establishes what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Things that become part of the daily rhythm are the things our families will come to believe are most important. Rhythm silently, but significantly, communicates value." So where do we begin? We need to create a healthy rhythm. We need to identify patterns in our schedules that work best for our unique family. As parents, we have a short window of opportunity to maximize relationships with our children by the way we handle our time. Below are four specific times in the day of every family. We can leverage these times to build faith and communication with our children.
Morning time provides a blank page for your family to start fresh, relationally speaking. A
Our ministry to families and children with special needs. Each month, we provide free respite care for special needs children and their siblings. There is never a need for explanation or apology; we will accept your children with open arms.
An exciting environment where students can experience and express real faith. We are passionate about introducing students to Jesus by teaching the truth that God is crazy about them regardless of what is going on in their lives.
sundays 7:30 p.m. in the chapel cOnnect with gOd. cOnnect with Others. cOnnect Others with gOd.
Meal time is an optimal
BED Intimate Build time to begin a focused, Counselor TIME conversation intimacy formal discussion. It can be an effective environment for us to intentionally discuss certain core principles and values as a family in a proactive way. The key during meals is to discuss things with your children. The goal for this time is to be natural and fun.
Drive time is a convenient time to stimulate the kind of informal dialogue that allows kids
to drive their own agendas. These times give parents an opportunity to build a relationship through non-threatening experiences. At some level, you can actually function as a friend or companion, interpreting life together with your children.
SUNDAYS • 10 & 11:30 • Room 207
Our ministry tO cOllege students and yOung adults
few simple, encouraging words carefully spoken or written can instill purpose and give your children a sense of value. As a parent, you should ask yourself, "What can I say or do that will give my child the strength to face the challenges that will arise today?"
Bed time carries great
CONNECTION ENGAGE WITH OTHER MOMS AND DIG INTO GOD'S WORD
9:15 - 11: 15 A.M. IN THE CHAPEL
value. Too often, parents miss the potential of this precious time because they send their kids to bed. Instead, take them to bed. There is something special about the private domain of a child's room. It provides you with a chance to intitiate intimate conversation and become a counselor who listens to the heart of your child.
When children are young, structure makes it easy to plan conversation. As they get older, we must learn new rhythms. Teenagers are far more independent and unpredictable. As parents, we simply need to be more creative and learn to cooperate with our children's natural patterns. Remember, our goal is not to do everything, but to engage in doing more. Find a rhythm that works for your family and commit to it.
Parents who engage in small ways can make a significant difference in the lives of their children. Portions of this article were adapted from "Parenting Beyond Your Capacity," Chapter 6, (Joiner & Nieuwhof, 2010).
ON MISSION TOGETHER In the book of Matthew, Jesus' command is clear: love God, love others, and make disciples. Growth Groups are founded on these three commands. As such, they play a significant role in the life of First Cov. They are also an integral part of the Path to becoming a fully-devoted follower of Christ. Since our Growth Group ministry launched over two years ago, we have heard countless stories of changed lives. God is using groups to help us become more intentional about reaching out to the people who live in our neighborhoods in our everyday lives. Each group consists of people from different ages and life stages. Each day, we develop a stronger grasp on the realization that these differences do not matter — because the people in each group have a common bond in Jesus Christ. That bond alone is helping Growth Groups impact lives throughout the Sacramento area. We encourage you to engage in Growth Group life. We, as a church staff, are also committing to this missional lifestyle, because we are on Jesus' mission together with you. Here are a few comments about real-life Growth Group experiences from First Cov staff members.
EL DORADO COUNTY SACRAMENTO COUNTY
Growth Groups meet throughout the Sacramento region.
find a group near your neighborhood
visit www.firstcov.org/growthgroups By Matt Newton • firstname.lastname@example.org and Dan Wade • email@example.com
He is a great addition to the group — before he says "good night" and is whisked off to bed. It is a privilege to be part of a church that reaches out into our communities together with these great Growth Groups.
My wife and I have been meeting with a growth group in Stone Creek for two years now. It is awesome to meet with people who are in different places in their lives, and share with each other what the Lord is teaching us through Sunday morning messages. Each of us in the group takes a turn hosting some sort of an event in our neighborhood, and everyone else in the group provides support for the hosts so they may be free to meet the neighbors. I love developing deeper relationships with those in our group!
MIDDLE SCHOOL PASTOR
My wife, Brandi, and I have been so blessed by leading a growth group in the Anatolia neighborhood. We have found an incredibly deep connection with those who come into our home and share life with us. We have been challenged, loved, and encouraged by our group as we strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and love those around us. We are excited to see what new challenges and blessings come in the future!
CHILDREN'S MINISTRIES ASSOCIATE
Jamie (my wife) and I have been greatly blessed by our participation in our growth group, which has allowed us to connect with neighbors and friends from First Cov who we would have otherwise never met. From help with fixing our house to spiritual guidance, Growth Groups have definitely served in helping us all grow together.
Growth Groups have allowed my wife, Holly, and me to build relationships with people in all different stages that we probably never would have had the opportunity to meet. Our group has helped us become very intentional in reaching out to our neighbors and growing in our relationships with them.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHURCH ADMINISTRATION
One of my favorite moments in our growth group was the time we participated in the homeless outreach at First Cov and served dinner to a large group of homeless people. I was so proud of our group for serving dinner and making the time to sit with people we did not know, hear their stories, and simply talk with them. The community around our home is longing for relationships — not isolation. Our group has done a great job of serving our community together.
Jeff Koons Terry White
As a member of a growth group, it is a privilege to meet in a nearby neighborhood. In my group, there are three married couples, four single women, and two single men. Our leaders have a three-year-old son.
MEN'S AND FAMILY MINISTRIES PASTOR
Growth Groups have given my wife, Betty, and me the opportunity to connect with singles and couples who are different ages and in many different life stages. Our group has also taken the next step by joining together on several different occasions to serve in both our community and our church.
faithCUBED LIVING OUT YOUR FAITH INSIDE YOUR CUBICLE
By Jennie Nagy • firstname.lastname@example.org
The cubicle. Walk into any office in any industry and you will see one. It comes in a variety of dull colors and configurations. It is a necessity in organizing any business space. Within its fabric walls I have spent my career. Inside its interlocking framework I have faced (and still face) the daily challenges and struggles of living out my life as a fullydevoted follower of Christ. Psalm 15 recently convicted me as I spent time in God's Word. The verses in this short chapter crashed into my soul like shrapnel flung from a lethal weapon. In this case, the weapon was my tongue. In verse one, David asks who can spend time with God on His holy mountain. But as I read verse three, his response made my heart shudder: "The one who does not slander with his tongue, does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor." I had just spent the last eight hours inside my cubicle — griping about, snapping at, and complaining to my co-workers. My behavior did not even come close to David's description in this psalm. Stunned by the conviction settling into my soul, I recognized how far I was from being the holy person I am called to be in all areas of my life, including my workplace. Jesus Christ is the only person worthy of climbing God's holy mountain. Thankfully, He invites me to join Him despite my non-contrite heart. In fact, He joyfully carries me onto the holy mountain of God. The next day, my desk lamp seemed brighter; my cubicle felt more spacious. I realize I am still far from being the perfect reflection of Christ in my office. But with His help, a little more Jesus will fill the sixby-seven-foot piece of office real estate I occupy each day.
WRiTE TO THE COMPASS
ministry can come alongside you during tough times. It is a FREE ministry is available to anyone who is hurting or needing clarity in life.
CALL or EMAIL NOW FOR A CONFIDENTIAL APPOINTMENT
A Christ-centered, faith-based recovery program that offers support, teaching, and love for any type of hurt, habit or hangup. We are a safe place where you can share and not be judged. We meet every Thursday, including holidays.
IN THE CHAPEL
learn more at www.firstcov.org/CR
By Glenda Harr • email@example.com
e live in a time when life is hard! We grow up with plans for how life should look by a certain age and then we become disappointed when it does not turn out that way. We do not anticipate the many ways that our decisions (or the decisions of others) could change our life plan. We do not foresee the losses, heartaches, or difficulties in relationships that we will face. And we definitely do not foresee the times in which we will have no more than the strength to merely survive. In the book of Jeremiah, God gives us a great verse that says, "I know the plans I have for you … plans to give you hope and a future." Isn't that what we want? We want hope and a future. I wonder what God had in mind when He gave that message to the prophet Jeremiah. In Psalm 130:7, God gives us another verse that describes His desire for us to be fully redeemed. He assures us: "Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." So even when life brings us down, we are still not hopeless. In fact, He promises redemption! What were you hoping life would turn out to be? Are you living a redeemed life? Or has your life taken some unexplainable turns and produced some unshakeable scars? It is often difficult to admit when our lives do not end up where we thought they would — especially if they do not appear as good as the better lives of those around you. However, admitting is the first step of redeeming a past that has gotten in the way. When we admit — when we own where life is rather than where we wish it could be — we begin the journey of healing and crack open the door to our ultimate freedom. We are often tempted to deal with our hurts, habits or hang ups by ourselves, without the help of anyone else. But that's not the best way. When we bring our pain into the open and stop hiding it from our relationships with others, we can truly experience a new level of hope and find a new future on the horizon. The first step is always the hardest. I once heard a powerful statement: "Walk into the darkness and take the hand of God. For it is better than light and safer than a known way." When we step forward into that healing process — trusting that our Creator wants to take us into the plan He has for us — we begin to realize that sharing our pain IS a better and safer way to handle our pain. It can be scary to take that first step so, here at First Cov, we have made that step as easy as possible. We have two amazing programs designed to help you. Many people come to our church after trying other approaches to healing and say that they have found the care, safety, and confidentiality they needed within these two ministries.
DivorceCare is a six week support group for people who are separated or divorced. It's a place where you can gain wise counsel and be around others who understand what you are feeling. It's a place where you can begin to heal from the hurt of divorce.
New groups beginning soon!
learn more at www.firstcov.org/divorcecare
One of these programs is our free lay counseling ministry. When you meet with one of our lay counselors, you meet confidentially with a trained, skilled listener. During a lay counseling session, our counselors will help you begin to process through issues in your life that are preventing you from experiencing hope, freedom, and healing. This ministry sees men and women on a limited basis (six to ten sessions) and helps you deal with a broad spectrum of issues.
The other program is our Celebrate Recovery ministry. Many people assume that this ministry is only for those recovering from some form of addiction, but it is so much more than that. It is a 12-step program enveloped in the beautiful grace of God that invites any person with a hurt, a habit, or a hang up to begin the healing process. The members of our Celebrate Recovery staff are caring people who have all worked through the 12 steps towards a greater wholeness in their own lives. They personally know the struggles of being stuck in life's circumstances and have found a new freedom in allowing others to be a part of their healing process. Here is what some of them have to say about how Celebrate Recovery has helped them.
I have been blessed with the many friendships and loving support from the leaders and members at Celebrate Recovery.
New gr oups startin g in nO VEMBER
learn more at www.firstcov.org/griefshare
Through the 12 steps, I was able to identify my struggles with trust and abandonment issues stemming from childhood neglect and unexpressed grief. Celebrate Recovery gave me hope that things could change.
My husband and I both attended Celebrate Recovery and found a new trust after facing pornography issues in our home. I saw my husband put God first and fight for our marriage. I came to CR when my marriage dissolved. I arrived broken, hurting, and scared, but in CR I was embraced, loved and encouraged. I found the tools to pursue healing. My mask came off and my true self was revealed. WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG
მშვიდობა ꄮꐽ 和平
DAVE THE HORN GUY
Sacramento is the most diverse city in the country, according to a 2002 article published by "TIME Magazine." Our multilingual, multicultural city is privileged to have citizens from all over North, Central and South America. We have families with roots in the Far East, Middle East, and Near East. Our neighbors are immigrants from the African continent, European nations, and Caribbean Islands. Others come to Sacramento from the Australian outback and the far reaches of India. First Cov is celebrating the diversity of the Sacramento region this holiday season with our first annual Christmas Around the World Festival, December 9 and 10. This event aims to bring many elements of our community together as participants experience some of the unique treasures that specific cultures offer. Enjoy a variety of cuisines at our International Food Court. Selections will include fresh grilled burgers with Italian, Mexican and Greek twists, Polish sausages, Thai chicken satay, Texas pulled pork, Indian garlic naan, baklava, Pennsylvania Dutch whoopie pies, and much more. We will also offer a variety of cold and hot drinks for you to choose. We will have two stages, both featuring an eclectic and exciting mix of multicultural performers. Dance teams, choirs, instrumentalists, and martial arts troops will provide continuous shows ranging from 15 to 45 minutes throughout the festival. A peace banner exhibit featuring the languages of over 40 countries will also be on display. Children will also love the festival. They can choose from a variety of jump houses, carnival games and craft activities. Families can work together on creating special holiday art projects honoring Christmas customs from around the world. A multicultural art gallery will highlight watercolors, oil paintings, photography, sculpture, and other mediums featuring a broad spectrum of ethnic influences. ___________________________________________________ Admission to the event is FREE. Foods and some craft projects will be available for a nominal cost.
Խաղ SCOTLAND SCOTTISH HIGHLAND DANCERS
Fifâ ཞི་བདེ Рекъел FRI, DEC. 9 5 - 9 P.M. SAT, DEC. 10 12 - 8 P.M.
LATIN AMERICA LATIN AMERICAN ART GALLERY
ꄮꐽ ﻥﻡﺍpèc শান্তি
ղաղություն hacaña Asmomdwoe
RUSSIAN PHOTO DISPLAY
ALLIAMO OLK DANCING
hÁlÁ WATER COLORS
TRANSFUSION DANCE COMPANY
ꄮꐽ ﻥﻡﺍ শান্তি Barış
CHINESE LION DANCERS
NING HOU OIL PAINTING
BY JULIE SCHOCH
LEE'S KOREAN MARTIAL ARTS
ሰላም E'tokmite'k शांति
ުސ ޅ ަ 平和 ܐܡܠܫ
NATIVE AFRICAN CRAFT DISPLAY
KAYTI GRACE PHOTOGRAPHY
pèc'h c'h friðurП paix Patz а к о й Pes WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG
Will Race Role at First Cov. As middle school pastor, I buy pizza, collect couches, talk about video games, tell wild stories, hold court, play dodgeball, interpret text slang and emoticons, play catchup, walk the fine line between friend and pastor, pray unceasingly, and equip students for ministry. I am constantly confused, amazed, broken, encouraged, challenged, uplifted, restored, drained, and blessed by our students. I believe my role — through the power of the Holy Spirit — is to guide people into deeper relationships with Jesus through my example, my encouragement, my words, my life. First set foot on First Cov. April 2009 for an interview with Mark Shetler.
On staff since. July 1, 2009 Birthday. Every year about the same time! Wife and kids. Praise God, I do have a wife!
Her name is Brandi. She is a registered nurse, a scrapbooker, and a phenomenal triathlete! We have been married for 11 years and have three kids. I asked each what they love to do the most. Sierra (7) responded "gymnastics and soccer." Logan (5) also said "gymnastics and soccer." Cade (2) said "backflips on the trampoline."
Favorite Scripture. 1 Corinthians 1:18 Favorite Quote. "Some photographers
take reality ... and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation." — Ansel Adams
Favorite eatery. The Squeeze Inn Last book you read. "The Gift of Fear"
by Gavin Debecker
Last movie you watched. "Ben Hur" At Starbucks. Blended Strawberry Lemonade Mac or PC. DUH! MAC! The only way to go and here are ten reasons why: 1. Mac is a worldwide trendsetter. 2. Mac has better advertisers. 3. Mac has top of the line processers and graphic cards. 4. Mac doesn't need to be rebooted every five minutes. 5. Mac is virtually immune to virus. 6. Mac customer service is unrivaled in computers and in all business. 7. Mac is cheaper if you add in total time, resource, and replacements. 8. Macs need less maintenance. 9. Macs can talk to PCs. 10. Mac has the longevity gene.
By Mark Shetler firstname.lastname@example.org
eArL & CINDy BoyNtoN
"If you saw the car, you'd know we shouldn't be here." Earl Boynton describes the auto accident that nearly claimed his life and the life of his wife, Cindy. He continues, "I guess God still has something in store for our lives. One day, we will go home to be with the Lord, but we still love life. We're still here. So we ask, 'What do you want us to do now, Lord?'" Earl and Cindy — who have been married for 48 years — were returning home from a three day prayer conference in the Monterey area on May 21. It was nearly 3 p.m. when their car shifted lanes and began rolling down an embankment along Highway 152 near Gilroy. "Somehow the car went out of control," Earl recalls, "and I was trying to compensate for its cowboying down the road, jerking back and forth. I don't remember the car rolling, but then I woke up and shattered glass was all around me." Their car was totaled. Their injuries were serious. They were airlifted separately for emergency treatment. Earl was flown to a hospital in San Jose. He escaped with a fractured rib on his left side and was released from the hospital within the first twelve hours. Cindy's condition, however, was extremely severe. At a hospital in Santa Clara, doctors discovered significant injuries to seven cervical vertebrae. A large portion of her skull was exposed. Her collar bone was fractured. A few days later, Earl began to experience unbearable pain. Medical experts performed more tests and found two additional fractures on his right side. Doctors told him that — with proper caution, physical therapy, and about a year's time — his recovery would be complete. Earl — a retired high school science teacher — marveled at his Creator. "God put it in our DNA to allow the body to heal itself," he says with a smile. But Cindy would remain in the hospital for weeks to come. She endured multiple procedures, tests and surgeries. Once her frail body became stable, doctors transferred her to a Sacramento hospital. Her nurse, Penny, is an immigrant to the United States from China. The two women developed a special bond and Penny checked on Cindy regularly. During their moments together, Cindy encouraged Penny in the things of the Lord. One day, Cindy began to share with Penny memories of her children's younger years, when she would read books to them about the difficult conditions of the underground church in China. "As a family, we used to pray for those Christians over there," she said. Penny's eyes welled up with tears as she responded, "You didn't know me at the time, but you were praying for me." She continued, describing God's miraculous protection throughout her life and His unexpected plan for her to come to America. "You never know," said Cindy, "how the Lord can use something as simple as reading and praying with your children to do something miraculous." Earl and Cindy both recognize the many miraculous things God did for them in the days and weeks following the accident. Despite pain, injuries, and the horrible side effects of medication, Cindy remained aware of God's presence in her hospital room.
For a short time, she enjoyed the company of a Christian roommate. They prayed together frequently in their hospital beds and were excited to meet each other's visitors. "The Holy Spirit lived in that room," Cindy proclaimed. She remained in the hospital, but Earl had already returned home. During that time, their growth group surrounded him. "They provided food, transportation, prayer, whatever we needed. Our whole church took care of us, but especially our growth group," he said. Earl and Cindy serve as coaches for six growth groups and lead a seventh group themselves. The couple remembers the first Sunday they returned to First Cov, about a month after the accident. "I want to go to church!" Cindy exclaimed. "Are you sure?" Earl asked, knowing that her body had not completely healed. Cindy said nothing, but gazed into his eyes with overwhelming intent. He knew at that moment she had already made up her mind — they would be going to worship in the morning. "I just wanted my church family to know that their prayers worked and that our God is wonderful," she said. The couple's romance began over fifty years ago. At a dance hosted by the Arden Hills Country Club, the young Earl, an employee of Aerojet at the time, saw Cindy, an attractive young nurse who worked in the surgery unit at Sutter Memorial Hospital. They exchanged a few words. He asked for her phone number. One week later, on Easter Sunday morning, Earl decided to call. "What are you up to today?" he asked, unaware of the spiritual significance of the Christian holiday. "Well, I'm going to church," Cindy hesitantly answered. She described to him the big family dinner she would enjoy after returning home from church. She asked about his plans for the day and — as he had no family in the Sacramento area — he told her he planned on eating a store-bought chicken pot pie. Cindy refused to let that happen and invited him to join her family. A perfect example of chivalry, Earl arrived at the door with flowers for Cindy's mother and a box of candy for Cindy. Earl's only misstep that day — though he did not learn about it until years later — was the bottle of wine he offered Cindy's father. Because of their conservative church background, Cindy's family did not drink. But Cindy's dad wanted to avoid embarrassment and awkwardness for young Earl. So he graciously accepted the gift, ran across the street to the neighbor's house, borrowed a corkscrew and two wine glasses, and shared a glass with Earl. "What a neat Christian man he was," Earl recalls, "that he didn't want to hurt my feelings by telling me they didn't drink." The young couple's affection for one another grew quickly, but a serious concern remained. Earl had not yet committed his life to Christ and Cindy would not marry a man who did not believe in her Lord and Savior. As the relationship progressed, she continued to initiate conversations that forced Earl to face the spiritual issues he had avoided for years. He was an educated scientist who believed in the existence of a higher power, but he had countless questions to ask about Christianity. He met with Cindy's pastor to begin asking those questions. The answers led to an even longer list of questions, so he made another appointment with her pastor. The pastor challenged Earl to kneel at that very moment, confess his sin and his need for a Savior, accept Jesus Christ, and then continue working through his questions as a Christ-follower. Earl accepted the challenge that day and began an incredible journey as a scientist with many questions and a deep, strong faith in Jesus. Earl's decision to follow Jesus also opened the door for another life change — asking for Cindy's hand in marriage. She accepted and the couple married later that year. "It was 1962," Earl recalls. "I can always remember the year because I bought my first new car in 1961 and then got married the next year." Earl and Cindy have four grown children — Tim, Terri, Mark, and Tanya (Tanya is their adopted daughter from Korea). They are grateful that all four of their children have a relationship with the Lord. Earl often prays, "O God, how could you bless two people who stumble in life so much?" First Cov has played a significant role in the Boyntons' life together. Throughout the years, Earl has served in junior high Sunday school and as the Sunday school superintendent. He was also chairman of the elder board at the time Ted Smith became senior pastor. Cindy was a leader for the Pioneer Girls, a mentor for Mom's Connection, and has led the prayer team for our middle school ministries. Both Earl and Cindy possess a deep love and appreciation for our church family, especially as they have received so much support during the past few months. A few years ago, Cindy had a dream. In the dream, she says the message of Christ in our church was so mightily shared with the surrounding community and the power of the Holy Spirit was so strong that the roof literally blew off of our church facilities. That dream continues to inspire her to pray faithfully for our church every day.
Stephen R odriguez Role at First Cov. I am the global outreach intern. I just finished working on the Global Outreach Manual, which will aid all teams departing on short-term global outreach trips. I fill in as needed when Pastor Mark is not able to handle global outreach related projects. I also work as the college and young adult ministries intern. In my spare time, I serve as a volunteer in high school ministries. First set foot on First Cov. 11 years ago. I
was just starting college and was looking for a new college group, which I desparately needed because my previous college group had only two members: my friend and me.
On staff since. May 26, 2011, which just happened to be my birthday! What a great gift! Birthday. See above. Only 31 years prior to that. I was born May 26, 1980, at Fort Ord — a military base on Monterey Bay. Wife and kids. [LOL] No wife or kids yet. One day, though, in God's perfect timing. Inshallah. (Arabic for "God willing.") I would enjoy having a family one day. That would be nice.
Favorite Scripture. Psalm 19:1-2. I love looking at the stars! As vast and as expansive as the galaxies are, our God is infinitely bigger. I love this verse. Favorite Quote. "Nobody ever outgrows
Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years." — C.H. Spurgeon
Favorite eatery. Either Chipotle or Outback Steakhouse. And there is a nice little Mexican restaurant around the corner from my house. I can't remember its name, but it is really good. Last book you read. Just finished rereading A.W. Tozer's "Pursuit of God." That book is always a great read. I have to give a shout out to Pastor Dan Palmer, who turned me onto the writings of Tozer so many years ago. I am also reading Bruce Metzger's "Bible in Translation: The Ancient and English Versions." Last movie you watched. "Transformers." The first one.
At Starbucks. Regular coffee with hazelnut and a little room for cream. And just a dash of cinnamon on top. Oh yeah. Good stuff. Mac or PC. PC — because I don't know any better. If I had a Mac, it would be safe to say that I would never go back.
lost in translation:WILD AT HEART IN THE CITY
By PC Walker • email@example.com
I enjoy being outside. I love camping and I enjoy a good hike. I enjoy the mountains and roughing it in the rugged wilderness. Though this be true, I am not too inclined to carry a pocket knife at all times or attempt to round up my meals armed with only my bare hands and a multi-tool (although I do own one). In his book, "Wild at Heart," John Eldredge speaks of coming alive in the adventurous outdoors where we answer deeply rooted questions: What am I made of? What am I destined for? What really brings me alive? Though I do enjoy the outdoors, I actually sense myself coming alive when I am wandering the streets of midtown Chicago, San Francisco, or Sacramento. Something about being in the big metropolitan city atmosphere makes me feel like Hiro on the first season of "Heroes" the first time he shows up in Times Square. I feel like that every time. I want to hug and say hello to every disinterested city-dwelling passerby because everyone should be as excited to be there. I like walking blocks at a time to a small swanky coffee shop to sit and read by the storefront window. I like walking along with my white ear buds connecting my ears to my front jeans pocket. I like finding a parking place (even though I do not too much enjoy the search for one). I enjoy the architecture of Victorian homes, studio apartments, and skyscrapers. I enjoy small independent business thriving among large corporate business. I enjoy small city parks where it seems the mayor is playing a real-life city-planning video game in
BEYOND THE GUITAR with Dan DeMuri firstname.lastname@example.org
which the city is dying of low oxygen and lacking recreation. I enjoy the diversity and creativity that surrounds a bustling city. I enjoy visiting places Christians don't normally visit. I enjoy endless individuals who represent the endless relationships I could have. My heart is teeming with life in the culture around me, but it is a life driven by brokenness. In Acts 17, Paul's heart breaks for the city of Athens when he sees the state of its culture. Something was terribly broken, and he was deeply distressed by what he saw. His heart breaks for the city. When he is given an opportunity to speak to the people, he begins with, "I see that you are a very religious people." His entire interaction begins with a respect for the people. Though he realizes how lost and broken they are, he still offers them respect. This respect allows him the opportunity to present Jesus to them clearly and with boldness. Our culture is desperately broken. You do not have to look further than the evening news to be overwhelmed by that reality. My heart breaks for my culture and my city. If I begin with anger toward my broken culture, I have already lost. Cornel West wrote: "You cannot lead the people if you do not love the people. You cannot save the people if you do not serve the people." Our city and our culture will not likely be saved if we do not first love our city enough to have broken hearts for what we see and hear. ›› CONTINUED ON PAGE 13
who's that guy? Well, thank you for asking. (I know you didn't, but just roll with it.) I'm Dan DeMuri and I help facilitate worship in our modern services here at First Cov. I've been a part of this church family for over 18 years now and have been involved in some form of worship ministry almost the entire time. I also met my wife, Meghan, in this church and now we have two beautiful daughters named Adalyne and Holly. Meghan and I have both spent formative years of our lives at First Cov and we love this church. It is definitely the place that we call home. We are so thankful and blessed that I have the opportunity to be in full-time ministry in our home church. I encourage you to pull me aside on a Sunday morning and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you!
why you? Fair question — honestly, I don't know. If you would've asked me ten years ago if I saw myself getting involved in full-
time ministry, I would have answered with an emphatic "No!" I majored in criminal justice in college and, before joining the First Cov staff five years ago, I was an elementary school teacher. Not exactly the background of a typical ministry staff person (although my course in interrogations has been more helpful than I would have thought). But about six years ago, God began to stir my heart and I began praying about pursuing ministry. I struggled with the fear of walking away from a career I had only just begun. I also struggled with the realization that we might not have the income to pay our monthly mortgage. I struggled with the idea that — to find a full-time ministry position — my wife and I might have to leave our home church. The list of fears seemed endless. But I experienced such a true peace when I surrendered my worries to the Lord and simply said, "Okay, God. I'll do it." He has blessed me and moved in more ways than I could have ever imagined. It's not always easy, but there's no place I'd rather be.
what will you ramble about? I'm glad you're so excited. I
can feel your anticipation grow as my words leap from this page! Beyond the Guitar will be a regular column in future COMPASS issues. My hope is that — through this column — we can take a journey together as the body of Christ and grow in the depths of our worship. We were created in God's image and we exist purely to bring Him glory. Too often, we relegate worship to a musical event that only happens during a Sunday morning church service. But our very existence is an act of worship and we need to see every waking moment of our lives in that context. I would love to tell you that as a "worship leader" I have this all figured out. But I don't. And God is constantly challenging and shaping my understanding of what it means to truly worship Him. I hope to use this column to share those things with you, and I pray that God will use it to help you better understand how to truly worship Him.
LITTLE KIDS, BIG LESSONS
MARRIAGE IN GOD'S IMAGE
growing reputation as a good school — and because First Cov is a safe place to practice English and make friends. Many of these families have since moved to other cities or have returned to India. Hopefully, their preschool Bible has moved with them. One of my favorite photographs in my office is a picture of my little friend, Surya, hugging his preschool Bible with all his might. (See photo on page 4.) It gives me hope that some of the seeds we plant in our preschool will one day bear fruit. One morning last spring, I sat in my office, filling plastic Easter eggs. I heard someone say, "Miss Dawn, I have a question for you." I looked up to find Phani, Sriyans' mother, standing in my office. I expected her to ask about the school calendar or snack schedule. Instead, she asked, "What is this 'Easter?'" Her son, Sriyans, had become so intrigued with his class lesson, which used Resurrection Easter Eggs to illustrate the Easter story. (Resurrection eggs are a set of 12 plastic eggs, each one filled with a different item representing a part of the Easter story, such as a miniature donkey for Jesus' ride into Jerusalem and tiny nails representing the cross.) Phani was confused by her son's constant chatter about eggs with nails and pennies inside. She also wanted to know what he meant when he said that this "Jesus" is alive. So there, in my office, surrounded by boxes of plastic eggs, I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with her. I showed her where to find the Easter story in the preschool Bible that Sriyans had already taken home. Phani thanked me for the information, picked up her son and went home. She did not accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior that day. But she did leave with a seed planted deep inside her heart — a seed planted by her preschool son. Isaiah 11:6b says, "A little child will lead them." Thank you, Lord, for taking the seeds we plant into preschoolers' hearts and using them to reach entire families.
can teach us how to tell the story of God through our families. For example, even though the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have different roles and functions within the Godhead, they are completely unified. God is the leader and yet He exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him the name above any other name. God the Father declares that He will be glorified when, at the name of Jesus, every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. But Jesus is unconcerned with His own glory and declares that He only does what His Father does. Jesus glories in His dependence on the Father and also tells his followers that it is best that he leaves so that the Holy Spirit can come. Likewise, in humility, the Holy Spirit declares that He is present to remind people of what Jesus taught and to point them to God. And around and around it goes, like a carousel of praise or a hot potato of encouragement. The unity and love of the Godhead constantly passes the praise and, in humility, seeks to honor its other members. It is a beautiful picture. It is God's character. It is His holy intent for our families. A Christian marriage or family, in which each member is unconcerned about self and only seeks to exalt and serve the other members, would be a light in a dark world and would tell a truthful story about the God who created us in His image, loves us, and died to redeem us. Sin has made us balk at roles, seek our own glory, abuse our power through tyranny and selfishness and protect ourselves through anger and withdrawal. Consequently, our marriages no longer tell God's story of unity of love and praise in the midst of the diversity of people. The underlying cause of failed marriages in the Church is the self-love and self-focus that has eroded the joy of loving others. It is my prayer that, as people who have been entrusted with representing God in a fallen world, we would become like Him by selflessly loving and serving our families and, in so doing, tell the world the story of God's great love.
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ENJOY CHRISTMAS WITHOUT BLOWING YOUR BUDGET By Betty Wood • email@example.com
Christmas is almost here but I'm still paying for last year's Christmas. I really need to start shopping! I want to get everyone just what they want so they really enjoy Christmas. After I spend all that time and money on shopping, baking, and cooking, I won't have time to enjoy Christmas myself!
If so, follow these three simple steps to enjoy Christmas without blowing your budget.
Review the true meaning of Christmas — the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Read Luke, Chapter 2, and look for things you may not have remembered about the original Christmas story. Evaluate your Christmas traditions and decide whether it is time to make some adjustments to your traditions to keep Christ in Christmas.
Plan for whom you want to buy gifts, and what you want to buy for them. Here are several questions to ask yourself: Do you have more people on your list than you can afford? Is it reasonable to buy the things that each person on your list desires? Do you have strong boundaries around what to buy? Have you identified which desired gifts you can not afford? (The gift should say something about the relationship you have and not the price on the tag.) Are you shopping for discounts when executing your plan and making your purchases before the December rush? Is it possible to start a few months before the busy holiday season and make some gifts? Are there opportunities to simply enjoy time with friends and family without gift exchanges? For many, deciding on a "no gift" agreement relieves so much pressure from a relationship. Try having a potluck with white elephant gifts and enjoy laughing together. Be creative! Enjoying Christmas does not have to be expensive.
LOST IN TRANSLATION ‹‹ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
I enjoy the part of my heart that leaps at the vision of getting to know a lot of people in this room, this coffee shop, this park, this city. It is the part of my heart that leaps within me to think about how many friendships I could create here, and how many of those friendships could lead to a difference made in how someone sees Christians. The people I meet in my city might one day hear someone say, "I hate Christians. All Christians are hypocrites and bigots." My hope is that — because of the respect I once offered them — they might respond by saying, "I actually have a Christian friend who I met in a coffee shop and he is incredibly different than that." My heart leaps at the opportunity to build life-changing friendships long before I ever see a convert. There are so many friendships to be developed in my city and culture. And while I would love to see people come to Christ in droves, they need to be able to trust Christians before they will ever begin to trust Christ.
I am wild at heart about my city.
Take a look at your budget. What can you really afford to spend on Christmas? Will you need to use credit cards or are you able to pay cash? If you plan to use credit, will you be able to pay off the bill in full when it is due? If not, think again about the use of credit cards. If you are still paying for last Christmas, credit is not a good option for you. A budget is a great way to set limits on your spending. ("No" is a Christian word we need to exercise with more discretion.) Write out your budget and then plan how you will implement it. If you are provided with a gift wish list from friends or family, make sure their requests are reasonable and within your budget. If not, be sure to discuss less expensive, alternative items that fit into your budget. Children learn great life lessons from parents with healthy boundaries. Christmas is meant to be a celebration that each of us can enjoy. Creative planning and boundary setting provide structure for everyone to enjoy Christmas without blowing the budget. WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG
By Will Race • firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 250 people who call First Cov their church home joined forces on Saturday, October 1, to make a powerful investment in our community by providing simple acts of kindness and service. ACTS, our annual community service day, allowed families, individuals, growth groups, and ministry groups to join forces in sharing the love of Christ with those in need in our community. Teams were dispersed to sixteen separate worksites — each with its own unique project. Among the sites were five nearby public schools. At Mills Middle School, ACTS participants built six planter boxes and weeded a field used for a gardening class. Robin Moyher reminisced: "I took the gardening class at that school 40 years ago." Robin and her teammates — representing two growth groups and men from our men's ministries — worked to improve the garden for a new group of students at Mills. High school student Erik Dunlap served on a team that provided food for the homeless and street people in Rancho Cordova and downtown Sacramento. "My favorite memory was when that dude came up to the bus and I gave him food through the window." As the man thanked Erik for the food, he said that the group's generosity meant a lot because it was his birthday. Erik sang "Happy Birthday" to him before the bus pulled away. When a separate group arrived at the Youth For Christ House in Citrus Heights, Gladys Standard, the site director, broke down in tears. "You don't understand how this is an answer to prayer," she said. The center, which houses an after-school program, was in desperate need of deep cleaning. So thank you for pulling weeds. Thank you for digging in the dirt. Thank you for cleaning toilets. Thank you for building tables, running table saws, and hammering nails. Thank you for gathering trash, grilling hot dogs, and praying! Thank you for brightening lives, encouraging hearts. Thank you for being eager to serve, working tirelessly, and committing to your community. Thank you for the sore muscles, blistered hands, and bright smiles. Most of all, thank you for answering the call to help our church family achieve community through serving. Your investment in our community made an incredible difference in the lives of people who need the love of Jesus.
Learn more about how you can get involved in our orphan care ministry at www.firstcov.org/chosenones
MEN'S CONFERENCE 2011
JOE AND JESUS
By Jeff Koons • email@example.com
Deep in the redwood forest of Sonoma County, 230 First Cov men gathered last month to attend the largest men's conference our church has ever hosted. During our time together, we celebrated in worship, studied the Word of God, and challenged each other to lead strong and courageous lives, using the book of Joshua as our guide. Living as a man in modern day society is no easy task. God calls us, as men, to be leaders in our homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods; society teaches us to merely follow. Associate Pastor Dan Palmer, our keynote speaker, challenged us to accept the leadership roles that God places on every man, and reject the passivity that is destroying families throughout our country today. Two weeks before the conference, I met a young man in the church lobby named Joe. I invited him and, although he had the desire to attend, he could not afford the registration fee. We were able to work it out; he paid all he could and the church provided a scholarship for the balance. One day before the conference began, I received a voice message from Joe, saying he would not be able to attend after all. I returned his call and, during our conversation, realized that he had changed his mind because he didn't know any other men and didn't have a ride. I have been in ministry for over 26 years, and God still amazes me when He orchestrates circumstances in our lives that bring glory to Himself. God obviously had been orchestrating events in Joe's life all along. I came to find out Joe's neighbor attends First Cov and was also going to the conference. He worked out the details with Joe and assured me that Joe would be there. When we met in small groups for the first time on Friday night, I was amazed to find out that Joe and his neighbor had been placed in my small group — another instance of God's incredible orchestration. Saturday night's general session was powerful. After worship and our time in the Word, Pastor Jesse transitioned into a time of communion. After communion, I looked up and saw Joe and a friend walking toward the area where my son, Brandon, and I were sitting. And at that moment, under the gorgeous trees at Alliance Redwoods Conference Center, Joe gave his life to Jesus Christ. Joe wasn't alone in his decision that weekend. Since our fruitful time at this year's men's conference, many other men have chosen to take significant steps to live strong and courageous in their everyday lives.
Save the date for the Eighth Annual Men's Conference, Sep. 7-9, 2012, at Alliance Redwoods Conference Center in Occidental.
9:30 - 11:30 a.m. in the rehearsal room
MOSAIC is our NEW ministry to senior adults, led by Pastor Emeritus Ted Smith. We invite you to join us for fellowship, food, worship, and Bible study.
-------------------------- THE FIRST COV --------------------------
CHRISTMAS MALL Imagine 100 area families who are homeless or in serious financial need. What if they were given a shopping spree to purchase Christmas gifts, making their holiday season memorable? Enter First Cov's Christmas Mall. In cooperation with Powerhouse Ministries of Folsom and Francis House of Sacramento, approximately 300 people in need will be treated to their own Christmas mall experience on Saturday, December 3. Various growth groups and ministry teams will set up small boutiques throughout the church campus that day, displaying items such as toys, backpacks, school supplies, sweatshirts, hats, women's accessories, and gifts for men. Upon arrival, each family will receive vouchers allowing them to select gifts that they can purchase that day for family members. Children will be able to select gifts for mom and dad; parents will be able to choose items that they know their children will love. Volunteers at a gift wrap station will help them select the perfect wrapping paper, bows and tags to make the gift extra special. We will treat these families to hot appetizers, holiday treats, and a selection of hot and cold beverages while they enjoy the sounds of Christmas carolers, live instrumental selections, and the unique melodies of Dave the Horn Guy. The First Cov Dance Studio will provide additional entertainment with a holiday theme. Other attractions will include a barber shop, a beauty salon, a massage spa, and a cookie decorating station for the kids. The goal of this event is to provide a true Christmas experience for guests — one that they would not otherwise have this Christmas, without the generosity of the people of First Cov. Volunteers and item donations are still needed for this event. Learn how you can get involved in this event by visiting the website listed below.
3-5 p.m. • Worship Center Our congregational meetings are always an exciting time for our church family! Join us as we engage in worship, pray for our church, receive new members into our church family, and approve the new budget. We invite everyone to attend, but membership is required to vote. At the same time, we'll have a fun ornamentmaking party for children (kindergarten through fifth grade). Nursery is available for children (ages five and under).
FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS 6-10 p.m. • Room 214 Team up with friends to figure out riddles and rhymes that will lead you all over the Rancho Cordova area, ending at a surprise location for an awesome dinner.
SCRAP, CRAFT AND SEW FOR WOMEN, ALL AGES 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. • Room 112
Bring your latest project, a snack to share, and finish up all those handmade Christmas gifts.
DURING SUNDAY MORNING SERVICES 8:30, 10, 11:30 a.m. • Worship Center A unique and meaningful worship experience designed to help remind you to be thankful for all you have.
Visit www.firstcov.org/christmas for details Help make the holidays brighter for families in need by volunteering at this unique outreach event.
FUSION WINTER RETREAT
FOR COLLEGE AND YOUNG ADULTS Diamond Arrow Conference Center •Nevada City Winter Retreat remains the biggest college and young adult event of the year. A great weekend away to worship, refresh, and connect with one another before the chaos of another semester begins.
CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD
Dec 9 • 5-9 p.m. Dec 10 • 12-8 p.m. Celebrate the season with an international food court, multi-cultural music and dance presentations, countless carnival games, an ethnic art show, and do-it-yourself crafts.
DURING SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP 8:30, 10, 11:30 a.m. • Worship Center An opportunity for parents to pledge to raise their children in a way that will encourage them to open their hearts to Jesus at an early age, and to raise them in the training and instruction of the Lord. Call the church office to register your child for one of our dedication services.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES
3 and 5 p.m. • Worship Center There's something distinct about Christmas Eve — something almost magical. Encounter the miracle of Christ's coming to earth through one of these powerful and uplifting services.
CHRISTMAS DAY SERVICE
10 a.m. • Worship Center On Christmas morning, take a break from all the activity. Bring the kids in their pajamas and join us for a 45 minute service featuring Christmas carols and a reading of the Christmas story.
DEC30 CITY RUSH
FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS 6 p.m. - 7 a.m. • Room 214 City Rush is an all-night progressive activities event. What does that mean? We start at the church campus, then move from location to location, activity to activity. All night fun!
WOMEN'S EQUIPPING CLASS BEGINS FOR WOMEN Jan 18 to Mar 7 • 6:30-8:15 p.m. • Chapel
MEN'S EQUIPPING CLASS BEGINS
FOR MEN Jan 18 to Mar 7 • 6:30-8:15 p.m. • Room 200
WOMEN'S EQUIPPING CLASS BEGINS FOR WOMEN Jan 19 to Mar 8 • 10-11:45 a.m. • Chapel
WINTER EQUIPPING CLASSES BEGIN
Jan 22 to Feb 26 • 10-11 a.m. Equipping Classes are short-term courses that last six weeks, provide you with tools to develop a significant skill set, and help you apply what you learn through weekly homework assignments and personal challenges. View the class schedule at www.firstcov.org/equip.
FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS 3 p.m. • Room 214 Powderburn is a great weekend away at the snowy wonderland of Jenness Park. This is a great weekend for students to build relationships with Jesus and each other, while enjoying a live band and an inspirational speaker.
FOR WOMEN, ALL AGES Mission Springs • Santa Cruz Mountains We are returning to beautiful Mission Springs this year with a dynamic speaker and music that will inspire you. Watch for details and registration in the spring.
For more information about these events, visit www.firstcov.org or call the First Cov office at (916) 861-2240.
AROUND THE WORLD
DEC 9 5 - 9 P.M. DEC 10 12 - 8 P.M.
Celebrate the season with an international food court, multi-cultural music and dance presentations, countless carnival games, an ethnic art show, and do-it-yourself crafts.
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES
DEC 24 3 P.M. • 5 P.M.
There's something distinct about Christmas Eve — something almost magical. Encounter the miracle of Christ's coming to earth through one of these powerful and uplifting services.
CHRISTMAS MORNING SERVICE
DEC 25 10 A.M.
On Christmas morning, take a break from all the activity. Bring the kids in their pajamas and join us for a 45 minute service featuring Christmas carols and a reading of the Christmas story.